During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following are questions asked and The Genealogy Center staff's responses.
I’ve hit a brick wall with a Revolutionary War vet from N.J. The records for Revolutionary War vets are confusing. Any help with searching these records.
Revolutionary War muster rolls and other lists may seem confusing when there are several individuals with the same name serving from the same area. Which one is your ancestor? Learn as much as you can about your ancestor as a person, and also about the other men with that name in the area from records other than the actual military muster rolls. Pension files often have rich detail. Look at tax records, deeds, wills and probate records. Study histories of the area. Peruse manuscript material for that time period. Get to know the men’s families. You will develop a “feel” for these individuals as you begin to put flesh on their bones as people, and this may enable you to determine which soldier is which.
Looking for a Revolutionary War soldier’s parents. His name was Jonathan Byrd. Where do I turn to find records this far back? At a dead end. Likely they are from England.
There are plusses and minuses when you have traced your line back far enough that you are researching Revolutionary War ancestors and individuals living in Colonial America. Unfortunately, records are scarcer and often include less detail than their later counterparts. On the positive side, however, you may be more likely to locate research that already has been done on the individual, or on the family, that you are seeking in published family histories or online family tree websites. While caution is advised in accepting others’ undocumented research as fact, you may be able to use the information as clues to locate records you need to confirm your own research hypothesis. Other researchers may have located records that you have not yet found. The existence of early records will vary from one location to the next. You probably will find yourself relying more heavily on tax records, deeds and perhaps church records from the 1700s, rather than the vital records and census schedules that one uses for later periods. If you have not already, you will need to become familiar with any boundary changes in the area where your soldier lived, and determine what records are available for both the later county and the parent county, if applicable.