Monday, May 16, 2011

New on the Shelf : Michigan Veterans Obituaries, 1899-1938

If your relative was a veteran, and you are unable to locate a death certificate in his home county, consider that he may have died in a veteran's facility or Soldier's Home.  Same story for an obituary...something may have been published in an unexpected venue because of the veteran's residence at the time of his death.  In Michigan, the "Old Soldiers' Home" was and is located in Grand Rapids. 

A recent addition to the Van Buren District Library (VBDL) Local History Collection is a series of just such obituaries.  Soldiers Obituaries, 1899-1938, compiled by Francis Hall, a three-volume typed set, it gives transcriptions of obituaries for soldiers from around the state.  Some notices are somewhat brief, but others more extensive giving family survivors' names, birth & parent information, and specifics about military service.  Most at least include a date & place of death, prior residence or home town, and burial information.  The original manuscript includes a notation that the exact source of the compilation is not known, but is surmised to be from the Soldiers Home or an American Legion post.  Many of those listed died in the Soldiers Home or had been recent inmates there.

Soldiers in the set are represented from communities around the state.  The following obituary appeared for Allegan resident, Judge Hannabal Hart, dated March 19, 1900:

The funeral of Judge Hannabal Hart who was stricken with apoplexy last Sunday night and died at four o'clock yesterday will be held at two o'clock Wednesday.  Judge Hart was born in Canada sixty years ago and came to Allegan with his parents in 1850.  He enlisted in Company D, Fifth Michigan Cavalry and was wounded in the right arm at Gettysburg.  In politics he was a Democrat and was Circuit Judge of Allegan County in 1893-4.  After the war, he studied law and graduated from Ann Arbor, entering the last office of Judge W. B. Williams and later formed a partnership with Hoarce D. Pope which lasted twenty years.  He was a Mason and a member of the Episcopal Church and was beloved by all.  During the service in the war, he was a Sergeant.  Interment in Oakwood Cemetery.

An every-name index to the collection has been created by VBDL Local History volunteer, Jerry Anderson of Kalamazoo.  The index will be placed on the VBRGS website in the near future, and also added to the library's Local History Master Index (LHMI).  

In the near future, the library hopes to add to its indefinite loan Microfilm Collection the Historical Register of Inhabitants, 1885-1927, from the Old Soldiers home in Grand Rapids.  For information about you may contribute to the Local History Collection "Adopt a Microfilm" program, contact us.