08 February 2020

Albany Grand Army of the Republic Posts

The Civil War saw over two million men enlist and fight with the Union Army. Over 450,000 men mustered into service from New York. Albany County did its part for the war effort, supplying thousands of men.

Albany County provided men for the following military units:

  • Cavalry: Regiments, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th, 9th, 12th, 13th, 16th, 18th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 25th, 1st Mounted Rifles, 1st and 2nd Veteran
  • Artillery: Regiments, Battery M, 1st; Battery C and M, 2nd; 4th, 7th, 13th, 14, and 16th
  • Independent Batteries, 11th and 12th
  • Sharpshooters: Regiments, 9th
  • Engineers: Regiments, 15th and 50th
  • Infantry: Regiments, 2nd, 3rd, 7th Veteran, 9th, 17th Veteran , 18th, 20th, 22nd, 30th, 34th, 43rd, 44th, 61st, 62nd, 63rd, 91st, 93rd, 104th, 148th, 175th, 177th, 179th, 184th, 186th, 188th, 189th, 192nd, and 194th1

To support and aid former Union soldiers, Surgeon Benjamin Franklin Stephenson founded the first Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) post in 1866 in Decatur, Illinois. Posts originally were set up like Union Army encampments that followed military specs. 

By 1869, the structure of posts dropped its military system and became similar to Masonic Lodges and the posts acted more as Fraternal organizations. Membership soon increased. Due to its political lobbying the GAR fought for Civil War veterans and their widows in gaining pensions. The efforts of the GAR enabled the establishing of May 30th as Decoration Day where the graves of the war dead should be decorated with flowers. In 1971 Decoration Day became known as Memorial Day and also a federal holiday.

The following is a typical GAR marker that holds an American Flag. Unfortunately these markers are disappearing from cemeteries due to theft and for maintenance reasons. The markers are removed with negative motives without regard to the deceased veteran nor his family.

Albany soon followed forming its own GAR posts named after military officers who died on the battlefield.

  • Lewis Benedict Post #5, chartered 30 January 1867

Lewis Benedict
photo credit: JD Haren

  • George S. Dawson Post # 63, chartered 26 November 1875
George S. Dawson
photo credit:
Col. George L. Willard Camp # 154

  • Lewis O. Morris Post # 121, chartered 20 August 1870
Lewis O. Morris
photo credit:
Col. George L. Willard Camp # 154

  • Timothy J. Quinn Post #601, chartered 04 October 1886
  • William A. Jackson Post # 644, 31 December 1889
William A. Jackson
photo credit:
Col. George L. Willard Camp # 154

The following Albany GAR Posts also formed Ladies Auxiliary Units:

  • Lewis Benedict Woman's Relief Corps
  • Lewis O. Morris Woman's Relief Corps

The Grand Army of the Republic dissolved in 1956 when its last member died. Albany saw its last Civil War veteran, Frederick W. Reohr, laid to rest on 16 August 1937. He was the last member of the Lewis  Benedict Post.2 The GAR was succeeded by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) which is composed of male descendants of Union veterans.

For further reading see:

1. Data culled from an photocopied undocumented source in 1981.

07 February 2020

Genealogy Conference Traveling Tips

2020 will see numerous genealogy conferences take place. Many of these events will take place out of your hometown. RootsTech 2020 is coming up in a few weeks! Are you ready? No matter which conference you plan to attend, it is best to have a game plan. The success of your trip depends on it. Simply, make a plan, then work the plan.

Attending conferences can be expensive; make sure you are ready. Here are some tips to help make your destination/conference a success. This is not an end all list but hopefully these tips will benefit the traveling genealogist.

Make your Conference Plan
Your plans should start when you decide that you wish to attend a particular conference. Most conference programs are announced months before tickets go on sale. Decide which presentations you plan on attending. Make a back-up choice just in case your preferred presentation is full. Sometimes a presentation and speaker attracts more attendees than originally projected. The rooms fills quickly and then you are out of luck.

Do not be late; get to the presentation room early. Refer to the above statement!

Purchase your Tickets Early
Take advantage of the early bird specials. If conference tickets are purchased before a particular date, large savings will be had. Most hosts offer savings up to 50% off. Get 'em early!

Now that know you are going to the conference do not hesitate getting your hotel room. Many times a conference is held in a hotel or a large nearby venue. If it is a large or national conference nearby hotel rooms fill quickly. If you are not lucky enough to have family and or friends who can set you up with a room, get your hotel/motel accommodations soon!

Waiting too long will get you left out in the cold or heat. No vacancy! Now you may have to reserve a room at hotel or motel that is quiet a distance away. If you traveled by airline, most likely you will need to take a taxi or Uber from your hotel to the conference location. Another unneeded travel expense!

When booking an accommodation at a nearby hotel always mention the conference. Many times conference hosts have set up discounted prices for their attendees with nearby hotels. If you drive to your destination, check whether the hotel and or conference venue provides parking. Otherwise you may be scrambling to find a parking lot. Another expense! If parking is not provided, seek out nearby parking garages and get their daily or multi day rates.

Depending on the distance you will either drive, take a train, or fly to your destination. Flying is obviously quicker but also more expensive. Usually the earlier you get your tickets the cheaper they will be.

When traveling, are you a bare bones no frills traveler? Or are you a traveler who likes to be pampered and needs perks. Different airfare classes are available for airline travelers. Economy, Comfort, and First Class being the most luxurious and expensive option. Many times the lower class options have restrictions on number of bags and carry-ons. Do your research.

No matter what airline class you fly. Get some rest on the plane. You will be up and going non stop once your conference begins. Why start the trip out being exhausted?

Packing your Gear
Are you a minimalist or a heavy packer? You know yourself. I like to travel light; simply bringing only what I need. My travel pack is a suitcase that converts to a backpack and I also bring a laptop bag that has a shoulder strap. Therefore I do not carry anything. Everything is on me, on my back and shoulders. This way I can traverse through the airport quickly, ducking and weaving in and out of the crowds. My preference is to not carry or wheel a suitcase behind me. Believe me, when moving fast the wheeled suitcase gets caught on many things including other people. Remember, if you have multiple stops you might have short layovers at the airport terminals. Get to the appropriate gate ASAP.

My goal is to bring what I need. Counting out my days traveling and the number of clothes that I will need. If I mistakenly did not bring enough shirts, I have the option to do a laundry wash at the hotel. Not through the hotel but from me using the coin operated laundry machines. I have not made this mistake in a while but it is an option.

Some other items, do not forget your usual toiletries, the hotel can provide these. Where comfy shoes. You will be on your feet all day throughout your trip.

Very important, pack your cell phone/camera/video/laptop/ipad chargers. If you phone has one, do not forget to bring your data cord to connect your phone to your laptop or ipad. Bring a thumb drive. You never know when you might need to transfer data. You very well may meet a distant cousin whom you can share genealogical data.

If you have business cards make sure you bring plenty of them for networking. If you have personal address labels, bring plenty of them. Many vendors offer raffles at conferences. Instead of writing down all of your information, slap a personal label on the raffle. It is easier and quicker.

Remember anything that you purchase will have to come home with you. Will you have enough room to pack additional items to bring home?

At the Airport
In the past I have always driven to the airport so that no one else needed to be burdened with dropping me off and then picking me up when I arrive home from my trip. The Albany International Airport has an economy parking option. Yes it is further away from main terminal however it is cheaper and there are regular bus shuttles that will transport you to the terminal every 10 to 15 minutes. The daily parking rate is $6 per day. Always arrive early, just in case. You never know what can happen!

Now you are inside the airport, checking in your baggage, make sure ahead of time that your bag is not too heavy or too large. While waiting to go through the security checkpoint some quick points. Do not attempt to go through while carrying drinks. Drink 'em up ahead of time. Have your id and ticket out. Money, coins, keys, shoes, and coats will need to be removed and placed in a plastic bin to be x-rayed. All carry-on bags need to be open and placed in a bin for inspection. Laptop computers need to be removed from carrying cases and also put in plastic bins and sent through the x-ray machine. Once through security, now make your way to your appropriate gate. Hopefully you will not have a long wait before boarding the airplane.

After landing in your destination location, plan on either a taxi/Uber/shuttle to your hotel accommodations, check-in, relax, and get ready to have fun!

06 February 2020

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

A group that parallels many aspects of genealogical societies is the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), a fraternal organization dedicated to preserving the history and legacy of those who fought to save the Union. The organization was established in 1881, chartered by Congress in 1954, and is the legal successor to the Grand Army of the Republic.
Programs and projects of the SUVCW include
The SUVCW is a network of over 6,000 men who form lifelong bonds, honor their patriotic ancestors, and promote historic preservation, education, and patriotism in their communities.

Types of membership include:

Hereditary Membership (Member & Junior)
  • You must directly descend from a Soldier, Sailor, Marine or member of the Revenue Cutter Service (or directly descend from a brother, sister, half-brother, or half-sister of such Soldier, etc.) who was regularly mustered and served honorably in, was honorably discharged from, or died in the service of, the Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Revenue Cutter Service of the United States of America or in such state regiments called to active service and was subject to the orders of United States general officers, between April 12, 1861 and April 9, 1865.
  • You must never have been convicted of any infamous or heinous crime.
  • You, or the ancestor through whom membership is claimed, must never have voluntarily borne arms against the government of the United States.
Associate Membership
  • Associate membership is available to men who do not have the ancestry to qualify for hereditary membership. Associate membership is available to any man who demonstrates a genuine interest in the Civil War and can subscribe to the purpose and objects of the SUVCW.1

To join the SUVCW, it is best to contact the nearest Camp or Department. The process will be much quicker. Click for the Department of New York. The local Albany Camp is the Col. George L. Willard Camp #154, Albany, NY. The Camp has a territory that includes Albany, Clinton, Columbia, Essex, Franklin, Greene Counties and parts of Rensselaer, Schenectady, Saratoga, Warren, and Washington Counties.

05 February 2020

Newsletters for Genealogists

Genealogists are never completely finished with their work. There is always more to discover and learn. Learning new methodologies enables us to continue making our discoveries. A perfect way to learn more about genealogy is to read. And not just the usual textbooks and magazines, but, newsletters. There are plenty of newsletters out there to subscribe to. Some you need to pay for while others are free. Below is a short listing of free newsletters on genealogy. The list is by far from complete. But they are worth checking out. Read up!

04 February 2020

Capital District Genealogical Society Meeting & Presentation on Gravestone Conservation

On Saturday, February 22, 2020, the Capital District Genealogical Society will hold its monthly meeting and host Christopher White as he presents on Gravestone Conservation for the Genealogist. Details are below:

Gravestone Conservation for the Genealogist

Remember that gravestone that was so dirty that you could not read it or
the one that was tipped over? Learn what to do and what not to do so that
you help preserve gravestones for the next generation without damaging them.

All meetings are held at 1 PM on the 4th Saturday of month, except 3rd Saturday of month in May and November; no meeting in December.

Location: William K. Sanford Library

629 Albany Shaker Road

Loudonville, NY 12211

1:00 - 2:30  Meeting and Speaker
2:00 - 2:30  Refreshments with meet and mingle time (our
speaker usually is usually available for questions during this time)

2:30 - 3:30  Internet Resources Group and Discussion

03 February 2020

RootsTech 2020 Virtual Pass

The RootsTech Virtual Pass. What is it? It is the way genealogists who cannot travel to Salt Lake City for the conference. With the Virtual Pass, now 30 select recorded presentations from the RootTech conference come to you. You can watch and rewatch the presentations whenever you want. The recordings will be posted and available for viewing 15-20 days after the end of the conference. 

Purchase a RootsTech Virtual Pass for $129.

Classes included in the Virtual Pass:

  • Resources for Tracing Mayflower Ancestors – Lindsay Fulton, Donald LeClair, Ginevra Morse
  • Accreditation: What, Why, and How – Diana Elder, Jenny Hansen, Lisa Stokes
  • Challenges of Jewish Research: Names, Dates, Places – Janette Silverman
  • What do you mean the vital record is wrong? – Shannon Combs-Bennett
  • Essential Tools for the Hobbyist Genealogist – Olivia Jewell
  • Kicking DNA up a Notch to Unmask Unknown Ancestors – Roberta Estes
  • Finding My Story: Adoption and Family History – Amie Tennant
  • 10 Years Later: 20 Ways RootsTech Changed Our World – D. Joshua Taylor
  • Ancestry Search Tips & Tricks – Crista Cowan
  • Oral History for Beginners: Interviewing Is Key – Rachel Trotter, Rhonda Lauritzen
  • Report for Duty: Find Stories of Veteran Ancestors – Lindsay Fulton, David Lambert, Melanie McComb
  • The Leeds Method: Grouping DNA Matches to Identify Shared Ancestors – Dana Leeds
  • Finding Your England Ancestors Online – Jana Greenhalgh
  • The 2020 Genealogist’s Google Search Methodology – Lisa Louise Cooke
  • German Vital Records: Finding the Clues You Need – Katherine Schober
  • British & Irish Research: The Differences – Brian Donovan
  • Gathering the Life Stories of Living Generations – Deborah Abbott, Sunny Morton, Jay Newton-Small
  • A 5 Company Comparison of DNA Ethnicity Results – Diahan Southard
  • Any French ancestors? Research them yourself! – Muriele Gadaut, Jerome Malhache
  • Super Tools: Research Plans and Logs – Heather Murphy
  • Using the Online Scandinavian Church Records – Jenny Hansen
  • Geography of the British Isles: A Crash Course! – Myko Clelland
  • Y-DNA Basics for Genealogy & Parentage – Gale French
  • The First Documented Africans and Hear Their Story – Ric Murphy
  • DNA Clusters: Power in Numbers – Randy Whited
  • Engaging the Family in Telling Your Family Story – Nicole Dyer, Jana Greenhalgh, Olivia Jewell
  • FamilySearch Records: The Most Valuable Collections for your Family History – David Ouimette
  • Three Next Steps for Your DNA Test – Diahan Southard
  • Not in the Census? Try again! – Drew Smith
  • Locating Your Immigrant’s Hometown – Debbie Gurtler
Why purchase a RootsTech Virtual Pass?
  • Save $, eliminate travel and lodging costs
  • Learn at your pace. Watch, pause, re-wind, & re-watch
  • Watch on your schedule when you want.
  • Videos are available for 12 months after the date the videos post
To register, click.

For further info, click.

02 February 2020

FamilyTreeDNA Family Finder DNA Valentine's Day Sale - $59

For those who missed out on the past holiday DNA sales, FamilyTreeDNA has a sale on its Family Finder DNA test kit for $59. Regular price is $79. $20 off until Friday, February 14th.