Monday, July 25, 2011

Military Monday - How to Find Possible Civil War Soldiers in Your Tree

One of the best hints I took away from Ancestry Day in Fort Wayne came during the session given by Anne Gillespie Mitchell from  She showed us how to determine who in our family tree may have served in the Civil War using our Family Tree Maker program.

Here is how it works in 6 easy steps!

1.  Open your Family Tree Maker program and select a tree.  Take a look at the index on the left side of the panel.  At the top it will list how many are in your tree.  For me that number is 3734.  That's a lot of names to scroll through to find possible soldiers!  But wait, there is a quick way to cut that number down!

2.  At the bottom on the index you will see a button that says "Filter".  Click on that to open the filter panel.  First step is to click "Select All" and hit OK.  This should give you the number in your tree.  3734 appears for me.

3.  Now comes the fun part!  First click on "Filter Out" - Sex = Female.  Now my number is reduced to 1949! 

4.  Then "Filter Out" Birth - is before - 1818.  My number is now 1800.  But wait....let's go back and "Filter Out" Birth - is after - 1846.  Now I'm down to 897!

5.  We can also "Filter Out" Death - is before - 1861.  My number is now 877.

6.  One more step that I took was to "Filter Out" - Birth is Blank.  The number I'm left with is 220!  So much better than scrolling through the 3734 names I started out with!

My next step is to check out the Civil War Soldiers Records and Profiles on Ancestry to see if I can find these men in the records.  If you don't have an Ancestry subscription you can always check out the Soldiers and Sailors website the site is free and searchable by name or unit. 

The last hint that Anne shared was to check for gaps in the children.  If there are no children born between 1860-1865 that could be a clue to follow.

Once you have this information be sure and map your soldier's journey through the war by following his regiment's records.  Gather all the information you can and create a timeline.  Check for brothers and cousins who may have also fought.  Lots of times family members served together. 

All this information will begin to reveal a story to you.  Take the time to do a biographical sketch of your Ancestor.  What better way to honor them than to tell their story and share it on your blog? 

I look forward to reading everyone of them........


  1. This is so cool! Thanks for putting it on!

  2. This was great. I went from 4,294 in my entire database down to 80! The only one in my tree that I know much about (and have a photograph) is a great great uncle who died in battle. This will motivate me to explore some more of these names.

  3. I know! Isn't it wonderful! Best tip I've learned in a long time........