Thursday, September 25, 2008

People for Better Pennsylvania Historical Records Access

This morning I received an email from spokesperson Tim Gruber of PaHR (People for Better Pennsylvania Historical Records Access). According to Tim, PaHR is focused on lifting restrictions to state death certificates for purposes of genealogical and historic research.

I've contacted a number of states to access death certificates over the years, and have found these documents to be invaluable in my research. I am not affiliated with PaHR, but am interested in their efforts to increase access to these unique records.

Tim notes:

We are ordinary people who literally want to have better access to Pennsylvania's historical records. Our main concern is the restricted state death certificates. There are no membership dues merely the willingness to help in this effort. PaHR-Access is not affiliated with any political, commercial, institutional or religious organization whatsoever.

Visit PaHR to learn more.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Landon Story Update

If you read the August 30 post about Q.M. Sgt. James Landon, you may be interested to read this update.

Early last week, I visited the National Archives and reviewed the military service and pension files of Landon W. Silcott and John S. Lemmon, the two men Landon states were captured with him along the Chattahoochee River near Newnan in early August 1864.

Both of these soldiers had prisoner of war documents (a government form printed on a thin piece of paper measuring about 3.5 x 11 inches that gives basic details of the soldier's capture and interment) in their military service files. Neither mentioned Andersonville, but the fact that these papers were in this files is significant, for it establishes that they were indeed captured. Further, the dates and places of capture conform with Landon's story. It is particularly interesting in the case of Silcott, as his is the only name that appears on the official Andersonville rolls.

The pension file for Silcott, filed by his widow (who gave birth to his son, Landon Wilson Silcott Jr. while he was in prison) makes no mention of Andersonville. It is focused on her needs as a widow.

Lemmon's pension file contains one reference to his having been in Andersonville. On a side note, I found this single mention on the next to last page of his file, which easily contained more than one hundred mostly handwritten pages. The pages were organized in reverse order, that is, the most recent papers on the top of the pile. I found the Andersonville reference on his original application for a disability pension.

Late last week, I contacted Kim Humber, the lead park ranger at the Andersonville National Historic site, and offered to send copies of the files for review. Kim accepted, and copies will soon be on their way to Georgia.

If a review determines that Lemmon and Landon did indeed spend time as prisoners of war at Andersonville, their names will join Silcott's on the official Andersonville list.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Unplanned Read Through

Last Friday I received a revised copy of the proof of Confederate Faces. During the process, some of the footnotes had become reordered, and I was asked to take a final look to be sure all were back in place. I compared the proof to my manuscript and found that all was good. I had a few extra days, so took advantage of the time to read through the proof a final time. Found a few minor errors, mostly misplaced hyphens and commas.

I am informed that all is on schedule for the planned release in early November.