Yes, I know it’s Wednesday and I’m just now posting “Tuesday’s Tip”. You can blame the NHL playoffs for that! Haha 🙂
Anyways…this week I have been showcasing Thompson Baker. You have already read about his time in Union army during the Civil War. That brings us to today’s tip! Always look…and read…the pension papers!
You never know what you may find in pension papers. Look for both the soldier’s and his/her spouse. For example, Nancy Henderson Baker, Thompson’s wife, applied for the widow’s pension. In her statement, she verified not only that she was married to Thompson, but the date, place, and person who married them. (A copy of that page of her statement is below). Sometimes in pension papers you will find children’s names, ages, and if you are lucky enough, who they married.
My favorite place to search for pension records, and really any type of military record, is http://www.Fold3.com
…and when you find these documents, make sure you actually read them!
This week’s tip is to not get hung up on spelling. As you’ll see when you research census records, ship manifests, and even court documents, everyone had their own way of spelling names.
Take this week’s spotlight ancestor, Eve Weidner, for instance. As I have done research on Eve, I have seen both her first and last name spelled many different ways. For her first name I’ve seen Eve, Eva, and even Lucy (someone stated this was her “nickname”). Her last name has many different variations including Whitener, Widner, Wydner, Whiter, and many more.
You may be wondering why all the different variations in names. This occurs most often on census records when census takers either guessed at the spelling or just didn’t care if they spelled it right or not. This is why it’s important to take some liberties in spelling when researching your ancestors. In case you didn’t realize it, on ancestry.com you can choose “phonetic matches” and/or “names with similar meanings or spellings”. This is a smart tool to utilize when you may be a roadblock in your research.