Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day - Remembering Military Service

This is what we call Memorial Day weekend, but the true focus should be on Monday. We are not much for doing anything fancy, maybe only a small family get together. My mother and stepfather have already been to four cemeteries and decorated nine gravesites, including my fathers. At my grandparents gravesite there were already flowers, which indicates that my aunt and uncle had been there. I try to go later in the day on Monday to see if anyone else has been to visit the sites.

It is incredible that this observance started following the Civil War and yet was not made a federal holiday until 1971. Supposedly it was originally held on May 30th, as that was a day of no previous military battles. The change in the name of the observance from Decoration Day to Memorial Day began in 1882. Today the focus is on all deceased relatives, whether they did military service or not. Our family includes several relatives who served in various branches of the armed services. I would like to share a little about them.

Our Revolutionary War ancestor Daniel Tidd, was born 10 February 1760, in Lexington, Massachusetts. He and five of his six brothers served in various regiments in this war. To honor him I submitted the information to the Daughters of the American Revolution and was awarded membership in December of 2005. Two brothers died at Valley Forge. I can only imagine the grief of the parents and the turmoil that they lived through. Daniel's widow received a pension and a bounty land warrant. The pension papers consist of 29 pages, which provide a wealth of family information. His death was announced in several newspapers of that time.
Newspaper the Independent Chronicle Vol. XXXVIII Monday, June 30, 1806, Number 2625 states, "In Holliston, suddenly, the 21st Jun, Mr. Daniel Tidd, aged 46, son of Mr. Amos Tidd, formerly of Lexington". I have preserved the original newspaper and other artifacts given to me by my grandmother Zella Straw Olsen. At his burial site in Holliston there is a brass marker of the Sons of the American Revolution.

Our War of 1812 ancestor Ardel Gates received a pension and bounty land.  He is included in the index at as follows, "War of 1812 Pensioner, Gates, Ardel, Rachel (Longstreet) (1st h Edwards, 2nd h Nichols), WC31132, m 21 Dec 1857 Eaton Co MI, sd 14 Jul 1880 Meeker Cty MN, wd 7 Apr 1890 Forest Prarie MN, srv. Rufus Tilden's Co NY Mil, lived Dodge Cty WI 1850-1 & Blue Earth MN 1871." His pension file contained 63 pages and provides evidence that this is our ancestor. The widow is his second wife and most of the information provided is about her. His first wife Aurelia Hall is mentioned in the pension. Within the file is a letter on letterhead of the National Society United States Daughters of 1812, requesting validation of the pension file, dated July 1925.

For our Civil War ancestor Samuel Reed we have both his compiled service record and a 64-page pension file. We are still trying to determine his exact parents, as there is more than one man of this name, born in this locality, in this time period. He died 6 October 1864 in Little Rock, Arkansas of dysentery, leaving behind a wife and two young daughters in Kansas. The pension file is for his widow and daughters. With new records on about military enlistments, additional information was found for him serving in the Mexican War in 1847. This index contains the following information:

"Samuel Reed abt 1823 Pennsylvania, United States 24
Reed, Samuel, age 24, Grey eyes, Brown hair, Fair complexion, 5'6", Born Pennsylvania, Huntington, Carpenter, enlisted 10 May 1847, where Hollinson, by whom Marey, Regiment and Company 4 Inf. H, Mustered out Date 24 June 1848, Cause of By Exp. of Service, where at Fort Columbus, N.Y., (Port)"

My grandfather served in the Oregon Agricultural College in Corvallis, Student's Army Training Corps. My father served in the Oregon National Guard. They did not file for pensions, but should have a service record.

However you observe Memorial Day today I hope you will reflect on the military service of your family. The military keeps some of the best records available to us today. If you have not obtained this information on your ancestors, may I encourage you to do it soon. In a recent email sent by someone doing onsite research in Washington D.C., they shared the careful preservation of these records. Fire and water damage have destroyed some of our records, so don't put off obtaining a personal copy either in person or through an onsite records accessor.

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