Civil War Research in New York State

When performing research on Civil War Union service men it is quite normal to check the National Archives for Military and Pension Records.  It is also VERY important to check with the New York State Archives in Albany to see what they might have on your ancestor.  Believe me they have a lot!


Find out if the "Return of the Town Clerk... 1865" exists for the town that your ancestor lived in.  These books were filled out by the Town Clerks as required by a military law, and they were supposed to include not only the veteran's name and unit, but date and place of birth and parent's names, including the MOTHER'S MAIDEN NAME!  Now don't get your hopes up too much yet because the NYS Archives has been collecting all of these that they can find and they have put them on 37 rolls of microfilm that you can borrow through inter-library loan.  Many of the registers are missing, and of those that exist, a great many of them are incomplete with much of the required data lacking.  But "Hey you never know" like the lottery, you might get lucky.

Here is a link to the NYS Archives 1865 Town Clerk's Registers collection description, but you will have to contact a librarian to see which towns exist:
http://nysl.nysed.gov/  You have to sign in and do a search for "1865 town clerk" to come up with the citation and description of teh collection of 37 rolls of film.

Here is the best link that I know of to start your NYS Civil War research at:
http://www.dmna.state.ny.us/historic/research/civilResearch.htm

Cornell University Library - Digital Collections On-line - Just go to either their "Making of America" or their "New York State Historical Literature" collections, and enter the phrase "Civil War" in the search box, and read.  It will take a while.

The Civil War Center - Maps, Photos, Biographies, Histories, Documents, Individual States' Materials, Battles and Campaigns, Rosters, and much more.

The Civil War Archives - This site is very well arranged and also has a collection of Civil War Diaries and Letters published.

Civil War Rosters - This site is chock full of Regimental information and even has a list of all of the men that received the Congressional Medal of Honor that were from New York State.

A few remnants of the 1890 Federal Census do exist and fortunately for us, if your veteran still lived in NYS, and you know which county and town he lived in then, you might get some military information from the census.

Here is a great book for doing NYS Civil War research:
HOLZER, LORELLO, TREFOUSSE & McPHERSON, editors,
"The Union Preserved: A Guide to Civil War Records in the New York State Archives" 1999.  I bought mine a couple of years ago at the NYS Museum Gift Shop, but you can find them at several book vendor sites online, such as; ABEBOOKS.COM , BOOKFINDER.COM , AMAZON.COM , and many others of your favorite new and used book vendor sites.
It is a MUST READ, in my humble opinion.

(end)

Dick Hillenbrand - www.ny-genes.com