Archive for the ‘World War II’ Category

Have You Exploited Footnote Lately



Missing Airmen Report


As a serious genealogist there is no doubt that you have earned your position at the research table in many libraries and historical societies in many of your ancestral regions.

You most likely also have subscribed to various online services such as, and various subscription genealogical societies.

I have written about on this blog several times in the past but now I want to call your attention to the massive amount of new information that is available to you on footnote. You will also note that many of the groups of records that are online at footnote also allow you to interact with the original records by submitting your own notations and additional documents, photos and research notes.

Footnote pioneered this interactivity a few years ago by allowing people to interact with the 1930 census and the Vietnam Wall records. Footnote does charge a reasonable annual fee to obtain full access to all of the data on their site, but they also provide many collections that are totally free to use by anyone.

Earlier this week I went to a local church supper and the program was a slide show and talk presented by my sister-in-law Janet Hillenbrand who presented an extremely interesting talk about her father Charlie Bennett who was a B17 pilot during World War II.

Charlie was on his 13th bombing mission on April 13th 1944 and though they had an engine shot out by flak over the ball bearing factory target, they were on their return and only a couple of miles from allied controlled Luxembourg when another flak burst along with a cannon shot through the cockpit from an ME109 forced the crew to bail out and the plane crashed.

One man was badly wounded and sent to hospital and all of the others were captured and spent the rest of the war in POW camps. The crew was split up and as Charlie was an officer he was sent to the north east part of Germany and actually was treated with more respect that he had expected.

Charlie always gave thanks to the Red Cross for the food packages that they received and claimed that in some cases the prisoners fared better than the boiled cabbage food rations that their captors were given.

It was an excellent program and the family has all of Charlies old uniforms and medals, letters, diaries and photos in an archive that is just great. Charley received the Distinguished Flying Cross and returned after the war to take over his family owned hardware business. Salt of the earth American history story for sure.

When I got home after the program I went to and noticed that they have a large collection of World War II Air Force photos online in their free section that you all have access to and I found many images that were of interest regarding B17s.

Then I logged in to my account and searched on Charly’s name and found three documents that were original government documents called Missing Airmen Reports that gave all of the details about Charley and his crew mates.

This is just one small case of the sorts of things you will find on footnote. You can go to to learn more about the other categories of original records available online at footnote. You really need to exploit all types of original documents to flesh out your own genealogy and to help you find new clues that are in the National Archives Genealogy records

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Professional Genealogist in Upstate New York Locates only Surviving Sibling of World War II Parachutist Killed in Action 1945.

News release:

Professional Genealogist in Upstate New York Locates only Surviving Sibling of World War II Parachutist Killed in Action 1945.

In Europe it is quite normal for some citizens to pay honor at the graves of American Service men who died in battle while helping to rid Europe of the Nazi menace. One such lady is Ms. Rianne Prevoo of Margraten, Holland, The Netherlands. Ms. Prevoo has taken it upon herself to visit and decorate the grave of one specific soldier, Pfc. Paul J. Scott, who was killed in the last part of the war in Europe.

Pfc. Paul J. Scott was a member of the 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR,) 17th Airborne Division and he was killed March 24th, 1945 during Operation Varsity. This was to be the last full scale combat airborne drop of the war. The history of this event is told on the website of the 513th PIR at .

U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was a field witness to this operation from the bell tower of a church on the west side of the Rhine.

Ms. Prevoo has been regularly visiting Scott’s grave and decorating it with flowers and flags on special occasions. She did not know anything about Scott, she just felt duty bound to pay tribute in some small way to one of those who paid the ultimate price to rescue her country from evil.

Ms. Prevoo knew that Scott was from New York State as it stated so on the gravestone. At some point in time she was zeroing in on Seneca County, NY and she was put in touch with a newspaper reporter from the “Finger Lakes Times” by the name of David Shaw.

One day at the Seneca County court house Shaw ran in to Dick Hillenbrand, professional genealogist from Upstate New York Genealogy. Shaw mentioned the story and Hillenbrand volunteered to do the research necessary to locate any possible surviving members of Scott’s family.

In a whirlwind of activity, emails, phone calls and data base sleuthing, Hillenbrand had success! He located Mrs. Irma (Scott) Gansz of Cayuga County, NY., who is the only surviving member of Paul Scott’s family. Mrs. Gansz, 84, was stunned when Hillenbrand very carefully explained to her what it was about. Her immediate response was “Well My Heavens!”

It turns out that all of Paul’s several brothers and sisters are deceased and that no one in the family had ever been able to make the trip to Holland to visit the grave in the American Cemetery in Margraten, where over 800 American soldiers are buried. Mrs. Gansz was just so appreciative of the kindness of Ms. Prevoo that she could hardly say a word.

Prevoo has been put in touch with her surrogate adopted family and photographs of the grave and the only known surviving photo of Paul are being exchanged. Pfc. Paul J. Scott was awarded the Purple Heart with Oak Leak Clusters, posthumously. Let us all reflect on these events and honor all of our service men and women from previous and current wars.

Hillenbrand may be reached at
Upstate New York Genealogy –

This story is told by reporter Dave Shaw in the Finger Lakes Times newspaper on Thursday July 17th, 2008. (search for “Tyre soldier’s grave.”)
(Permission is given to reprint this article in its entirety.)

(Note: this news release format is quite different than the normal Blog posts here on Upstate New York Genealogy Blog, as some other newspapers have shown interest in the story and this is the easiest way to present it to them.)

Dick Hillenbrand

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Rochester WW II Vet dies in Motel in Iowa Leaving $263,000 in Cash

Man born in Rochester, New York in 1925, served in U.S Navy during World War II, dies in Motel leaving a large sum of cash. Police are asking for help to locate a possible brother and daughter of John Richard Grant, who was discovered deceased in his motel room at the Sheldon Motel, in Sheldon, Sioux County, Iowa.

Sheriffs discovered some papers, the back of a gold watch and other belongings, and in two vinyl cassette tape cases was $263,000, most of it in $50 and $100 bills.

There was no reason to believe Grant got the money illegally, so the money should go to his next-of-kin, police said.

A brother might be working as a harbor master for the U.S. Navy in Japan. The late John R. Grant, a WWII U.S. Navy veteran, also might have a daughter. Again, nobody seems certain — at least not yet.

Grant had documents showing he served in the Navy during World War II. He was buried April 17 at the Keokuk National Cemetery. His obituary noted he was born on Nov. 7, 1925, in Rochester, N.Y. His parents were Harold and Cora Grant.

Grant paid $500 per month to stay at the motel. Officials say he had also stayed in Kansas, Minnesota and near Chicago.

Read the full story in the “Telegraph Herald” newspaper at:

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