Thursday, January 5, 2012

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - Paths to Discoveries

This week I have been working on the article for the War of 1812. In the process I did a thorough review of the pension file for Ardil Gates and decided to focus on his military experience. Again I don't want to give away too much of the story, but do want to share the serendipity moments involved in this research. Ardil served under Captain Rufus Tilden in the New York Militia. He volunteered at Malone on July 8, 1812 and served as a private and was released as a POW about December 1912. He includes this information in the pension applications, providing a bit more information in the second application. The U.S. Pension Office, stating that they can find no record of him being a POW, made me curious about finding such a record today. What I really wanted was a company record of the events surrounding his service.

So, I went online and did a search for Captain Rufus Tilden and the War of 1812. There was some information about him at History of Moira, New York This really did not mention his company's service information.
Another link to this site for a history of the battle.
History of Fort Covington, New York (Part 1)
He had been a revolutionary soldier, was familiarly known as "captain," and in .... was a member of Captain Tilden's command at French Mills in the war of 1812. .... a company under Captain Rufus Tilden of Moira having occupied it July 8, ...
This provided some additional information, but I was seeking even more details.
The reference for these articles was Frederick J. Seaver, Historical Sketches Of Franklin County and Its Several Towns, Published by J. B. Lyon Company, Albany, NY 1918, Library of Congress copyright free,

The next link was for
The first Battle of the Salmon River ["French Mills" (near to Fort Covington, NY ... It was from Fort Covington that Major Guilford Young (Troy Militia), aided by Capt. Rufus Tilden (Moira Militia)...
This is a fantastic article about the battle at French Mills from a Canadian perspective. It provides some information about the capture of Captain Tilen's Company and what happened to the prisoners. I requested permission of this group to include their information in the article and they very graciously approved this usage.

My next step is a little out of sequence as I was researching in to look under stories and publications for Rufus Tilden. There was referenced the same book as referenced above. When I clicked on the link it was suddenly obvious that the full book is available on It has been digitally scanned and has OCR indexing, which is critical, as the original book does not have an index. All three brothers show up indexed in the book from a list of men who served, but not specifically addressed in the history. Upon exploring the book I found two additional sections that provide an even clearer picture of the service of this company. These are included in the section of Malone, where he enlisted at, and includes a chapter on the War Influences on that town. The second section was on Franklin County and the War of 1812.

Mr. Seaver explains how he gathered authoritative data rather piece-meal from people of the area who had knowledge of the events that occurred. He states that, "The suggestion has been urgently made to me now and again by various parties that the information acquired concerning Malone and Franklin couny affairs during newspaper work here covering a period of forty years, together with the data at my command contained in the files of the Malone Palladium, make it a sort of public duty that I prepare and publish a history of Franklin county."

The book is available in fully readable digital format on several websites. Copies of it are also available for sale. Even though I have used the book online, I hope someday to obtain an original copy.

With gratitude to Mr. Seaver, and having found no other history of the company of Captain Rufus Tilden, I learned much more about Ardil's service and POW experience. This is the type of material that brings our ancestors story to life. The author mentions several types of records he utilized in gathering this information and points me in the direction of further research. We must push ourselves to dig deeply for the serendipity moments of discovery in our research.  

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