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Madison County Genealogical Society

Minutes of the Meeting - February 11, 2010


The February 11, 2010, meeting of the Madison County Genealogical Society was held at the Edwardsville Public Library in Edwardsville, Illinois.

President, Robert Ridenour, called the meeting to order.


In the absence of our Treasurer LaVerne Bloemker, Secretary, Barbara Hitch presented the financial reports for the month of January 2010.


*** NOTICE ***

Dues for 2010 are now being accepted. We would very much appreciate receiving your renewal checks by ASAP. Present members will receive one more Newsletter in February.


Do you have a family member that is interested in (or even obsessed with) genealogy? A membership in the Madison County Genealogical Society would be a very thoughtful gift. A gift card will be sent to the recipient of any gift membership.

The following memberships are available:
Individual/Family Annual Membership $20.00
Patron Annual Membership $30.00
Life Membership $250.00

Contact our Secretary, Barbara Hitch, at, about a gift membership.

February Meeting

On February 11, 2010, Tom Pearson, Reference Librarian in the Special Collections Department of St Louis Library, presented a program on the Historical Background and Genealogical Records of the War of 1812.

Factors Contributing to the Outbreak of the War of 1812

Involuntary impressment of American sailors and merchant seamen into British Navy under the guise of "capturing deserters." More than 6,000 American sailors had been shanghaied by British press gangs by 1812.

Expansionist Ambitions
America had designs on foreign possessions in North America. A group of U.S. congressmen ("War Hawks") spurred this effort to expand U.S. territory and influence to Spanish Florida and British Canada.

Indian Troubles
Many people felt that British agents were purposely stirring up Indian troubles in the U.S. mid-western territorial possessions. (And they were correct.)

European Conflict
The "War Hawks" felt that Britain would be stretched too thin if forced to contend with simultaneous military campaigns in Europe and North America.

Continental System

The U. S. became ensnared in this tangle of English and French decrees and orders concerning European trade restrictions and boycotts (1806-1812).

American Strategy in the War of 1812

The first American strategy in the War of 1812 was to gain control of Canada by capturing Montreal or Quebec, then force England to negotiate to regain it. However, operations against the British forces in Canada (1812-1814) were unsuccessful, thereby forcing the U.S. in 1814 to adopt a defensive position. The second American strategy was to commission privateers (private vessels granted permission to seize British naval and commercial vessels) and thus hamper the British war effort. This was very successful - 500 privateers eventually seized 1,300 British prizes.

British Strategy in the War of 1812

The British early in the war blockaded American ports with 75 naval vessels, greatly reducing American imports and exports and angering many New Englanders dependent on foreign trade for their livelihoods. After Napoleon's defeat in 1814, the British were able to begin a land offensive against the Americans. The British were able to burn Washington, D.C., in 1814, but were unable to reduce or capture Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor.

The British also began a campaign against New Orleans in an effort to block commerce on the Mississippi River. However, a force of militiamen and Army regulars under Andrew Jackson decisively defeated a force of British regulars at the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815, but the battle took place two weeks after a peace treaty had been signed.

Genealogical Records of the War of 1812

Compiled Military Service Records (CMSRs)

War of 1812 soldiers could enlist for a bewildering variety of terms of service: 30, 60, and 90 days, and 6 or 12 months. These service records were compiled by government clerks from original muster rolls, pay rolls, etc. and cover volunteers in various military organizations raised by the states. A War of 1812 soldier could have served in more than one military organization during the war thus there would be a different CMSR for each military unit in which the veteran served. CMSRs were recorded on cards that are kept in jackets at NARA in Washington, D.C.

Most War of 1812 CMSRs have not been microfilmed. One exception is the CMSRs for the state of Mississippi, available in a 22 roll microfilm set [NARA series M678]). However, there is an Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer War of 1812 Soldiers (NARA series M602 - 234 rolls). This index is alphabetical by surname and includes name, rank, and unit or units in which the man served. This microfilm set is available at St. Louis Public Library (MI).

Muster Rolls and Rosters
Various rosters in book and/or electronic format exist for the following states and territories: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia. St. Louis Public Library owns many (but not all) of these book state rosters of 1812 soldiers. These registers can be easily found on by searching for: 1812 registers Virginia. (Replace Virginia with the state of interest.) [Ed: is an electronic catalog of items available at thousands of libraries worldwide. A search of this catalog will show you which libraries have the item you are looking for.]

Enlistment Records
Some men enlisted in the United States Army, Navy, or Marine Corps, rather than in a volunteer military organization raised by a state. Records of such Army enlistments are available on a microfilm set, Registers of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1789-1914 (NARA series M233- 47 reels), which is available at the St. Louis Public Library (SLPL). SLPL also owns various registers in book form of 19th century U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps officers.

Pay and Account Books
Pay and account books for various volunteer military organizations are often in the collection of state archives and are sometimes reprinted in books or in periodicals. Again, these can be easily found on by searching for: Virginia pay 1812.

Regimental Histories
Many regimental histories have been written and can easily be found on Virginia regiment war 1812.

Lists of Impressed Seamen
Two NARA microfilm publications contain information about impressed seamen: Registers of Applications for the Release of Impressed Seamen, 1793-1802, and Related Indexes (M2025- 1 roll) and Miscellaneous Lists and Papers Regarding Impressed Seamen, 1796-1814 (M1839- 1 roll). These fils can be obtained from NARA (purchase) or the Mormon Church (rental).

Records of POWs, Enemy Aliens, and Privateers
NARA microfilm set "War of 1812 Papers" of the Department of State, 1789-1815 (NARA series M588 - 7 rolls) includes material on War of 1812 prisoners of war and on the registration of enemy aliens (British citizens living in the United States during the War of 1812). Set contents include: Roll 1 - Letters Concerning Letters of Marque and Enemy Aliens, 1812-1814; Roll 2 - U.S. Marshal's Returns of Enemy Aliens and Prisoners of War, 1812-1815 (Part I); Roll 3 - U.S. Marshal's Returns of Enemy Aliens and Prisoners of War, 1812-1815 (Part II); Roll 4 - Requests for Permission to Sail From the U.S., and Passenger Lists of Outgoing Vessels, 1812-1814; Roll 5 - Correspondence Regarding Passports, 1812-1814; Roll 6 - Agreements for Exchange of Prisoners of War, 1812-1813 and Miscellaneous Letters Received Concerning Prisoners of War, 1812-1815; and Roll 7 - Miscellaneous Intercepted Correspondence, 1798-1814.

Records of Courts-Martial and Courts of Inquiry
Proceedings of general courts-martial against both regular and volunteer War of 1812 soldiers are located in the Records of the Judge Advocate General, 1809-1890 (NARA Record Group 153 - 8 rolls).

Proceedings of general courts-martial against War of 1812 sailors and marines can be found in the Records of the General Courts-Martial and Courts of Inquiry of the Navy Department, 1799-1867 (NARA series M273 - 198 rolls).

Discharge Papers
Discharge papers can sometimes be found in bounty land application files. Records of the Adjutant General's Office (NARA Record Group 94) include some surgeons' certificates of disability issued to regular army soldiers during the War of 1812 (not microfilmed).

Bounty Land Records

Most veterans received grants of 40-160 acres, although a special act of Congress passed in 1814 doubled the acreage allotted to 320. War of 1812 bounty land acts prior to 1850 allotted land only to enlisted men, not to officers. Until 1842, War of 1812 bounty lands were located only in special military districts within the present-day states of Illinois, Arkansas, and Missouri. After 1842, War of 1812 veterans could claim any unrestricted public domain land with their bounty land warrants. Before 1852, War of 1812 bounty land warrants could not be legally assigned to a second party. However, a warrant recepient could circumvent this law by signing a power of attorney that allowed transfer of warrant to another person.

Bounty land application files typically provide soldier's name, age, military unit, place of residence when applying, and term of service. These files (War of 1812 Bounty Land Warrants, 1815-1858, M848 - 14 rolls) are indexed on roll no. 1 for assignees in the Arkansas and Missouri military districts. Other listings are in roughly alphabetical order.

The Illinois State Archives has an online index for Illinois public domain land sales which includes Illinois War of 1812 bounty land assignees:

Military Censuses
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, several states compiled lists of veterans of various wars residing in that state in a given year. St. Louis Public Library owns such registers for Iowa (1886) and Nebraska (1893, 1897, and 1915).

Cemetery and Burial Records
Cemetery and burial records can be founding many places: County cemetery books, "Goodspeed" type county histories of the 1880s and 1890s (These histories are basically written by the people or families mentioned in the books, so the information should be taken "with a grain of salt.") Pension files usually include a notice of death and may state burial place.

Illinois State Archives has an online database called "Database of the 1929 Roll of Honor" St. Louis Public Library owns a book that lists War of 1812 veterans buried in Tennessee. Once again, you can do a search for honor rolls: (War 1812 honor roll Virginia).

Hereditary and Lineage Societies
Members have an ancestor who was a War of 1812 soldier, sailor, or marine. Members have to submit proofs that their ancestor was a War of 1812 veteran, and proof that they are descended from that veteran. If the society allows public access to its files, such files can be gold mines for persons seeking information on a War of 1812 ancestor. Try a Worldcat search: (War 1812 societies).

Mr. Pearson gave attendees a Bibliography of War of 1812 Materials in the collection of St. Louis Public Library and a list of websites containing War of 1812 data. This bibliography and list can be found at: Biblio_1812.html/

This presentation was very well received by the audience.