Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Ancestry Continues to Impress

Posted in Genealogy, Media, Technology by Andy Hall on April 7, 2011

I’ve been using Ancestry.com for a year or so now. While it’s been a tremendous help in tracing my own family lineage, it’s become invaluable in tracking some of the people I’ve discussed here on the blog. Even if I never looked up another family member again, I’d still consider it worthwhile. It’s not cheap, but for the blogging I do, access to online resources like Ancestry, Footnote and GenealogyBank are simply part of the price of admission.

But they continue to impress with new additions. Who would’ve though of this:

The Military Headstone Archive: a one-of-a-kind new collection

Ancestry.com has undertaken an ambitious project to chronicle military headstones, starting with 33 Civil War cemeteries. This interactive collection lets you search gravesites, attach headstone images to your tree and find GPS coordinates for your soldier ancestor’s final resting place. You’ll also get rich context about some of the Civil War’s most important battlefield cemeteries.

Explore collection

In practice, the system is a little dodgy. As a test, I looked up several headstone photos on Flickr, more-or-less- at random, and tried to find them in the new database. I couldn’t locate the first few, but did find that of David Mowery listed as below, at Shiloh:

. . . and this one for William E. Miller at Gettysburg:

One more tool in the collection, and a welcome one.

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10 Responses

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  1. Robert Moore said, on April 7, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Quite familiar with William Miller. Was later a member of the Carlisle GAR post, and an attendee at the two blue-gray reunions held in 1881, between Union vets from Carlisle and Confederate vets from Page County, Va. First reunion in Luray, second in Carlisle.

    • Michael Mcilvane said, on July 9, 2011 at 11:10 pm

      William E. Miller is my great-great-grandfather.

  2. Chris M said, on April 7, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    This is a really interesting database. I have been exploring the feature of entering only a burial place – North Carolina – and no name – just to see what comes up. 396 head stone cards. But be warned – it says Union Civil War headstones but I have seen Mexican War, Revolutionary War, and Spanish American war headstones. But that rather adds to the thing in my opinion.

    • Andy Hall said, on April 7, 2011 at 8:46 pm

      Yeah, I can see all sorts of ways it would be quirky and inaccurate, but they get lots of points from me for a clever idea.

  3. Vicki Betts said, on April 7, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    I wonder if they will ever get around to the national cemetery at Pineville, Louisiana–one of the sweetest little cemeteries around, and the final resting place of the Camp Ford POWs as well as federal and pre-Civil War soldiers from the Rio Grande. Also two or three WW2 German POWs from Camp Fannin also near Tyler.

    Vicki Betts

    • Andy Hall said, on April 8, 2011 at 9:06 am

      I hope they would get to the lesser-known cemeteries.

      On a side note, in the National Cemetery at El Paso (where my late father-in-law is buried), in a far corner of the place, there’s a plot where there are several PoWs from WWII and others are buried. From the website:

      In addition to U.S. soldiers and civilians, there are a number of non-U.S. citizens interred at Fort Bliss. In fall 1944, Chinese authorities officially selected the post as the place of interment for Chinese air force cadets who died while training at the fort; 55 are buried at Fort Bliss. Others resting here include four German prisoners of war, three Japanese civilian internees who were disinterred from Lordsburg, N.M., and one German civilian scientist who had been conducting research at Fort Bliss during the war.

      The PoW headstones are identical to U.S. veterans’ stones of the period, except engraved with different emblems. For many years (and maybe still), Fort Bliss had a large contingent of West German NATO troops who would cycle through the base for training, so that El Paso gradually developed a not-insignificant German community. Every year these folks have a small memorial service for these PoWs. Pretty neat.

      Googling around just now, I came across this story I hadn’t known.


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