Saturday, December 3, 2011

Collection Highlight : Michigan Soldiers Home Registers

In our May 16, 2011 post, announcement was made of the addition to the Local History collection of  Soldiers Obituaries, 1899-1938, compiled by Francis Hall, a three-volume set of obituary transcriptions for soldiers from around the state.  The source of that typed transcript has yet to be determined, but one possibility is that it is a result of records generated from the Michigan Soldiers' Home in Grand Rapids.

Since that acquisition, we have acquired Historical Register of Inhabitants, 1885-1927, microfilm of the original register of inmates from the Soldiers' Home.  The ten-reel set of microfilm includes a separate index giving the name of each soldier, a page reference, and sometimes a date of death is penciled into the remarks column.

In the records ledger, there is a full page for each soldier with their name at the top, and places to fill in the following information:
  •  MILITARY HISTORY - enlistment, rank, company & regiment, the when-where-why of discharge, disability
  • DOMESTIC HISTORY - place of birth, age, height, complexion, color of hair & eyes, religion, literacy, occupation, residence prior to admission, marital status, name & address of nearest relative(s)
  • HOME HISTORY - pension rate, admission & discharge dates, date & cause of death
  • GENERAL REMARKS - papers & effects including pension certificate number, other comments such as burial date, location and clergy
Granted, not all of these items are filled in for every soldier, but the potential is there for a great deal of useful information.  It can be difficult for many researchers to locate a place of death and burial for their veteran ancestors, so these records offer a new resource for that information.

For example, of Frederick Stuart formerly of Hamilton Township, Van Buren County?, Michigan, page 1054, we learn the following:
  1. Enlisted November 30, 1861, Kent, Connecticut, as a private into Company C 13th Connecticut Infantry
  2. Discharged April 16, 1864, New Orleans, Louisiana
  3. Nervous disability
  4. He was born in the United States and is 48 years old
  5. Can read & write, is a laborer by occupation and is single
  6. His nearest relative is a nephew, J. G. Eddy, 744 Broadway, Grand Rapids
  7. Admission dates July 16, 1889, October 7, 1890 & October 10, 1895
  8. During that time, his pension increased from $12 to $50 per month (Certificate #646663)
  9. Discharge dates, July 21, 1889 & May 24, 1894, per his own request
  10. Died October 31, 1921 of chronic bronchitis
  11. Buried November 2, 1921, Home Cemetery (may mean at the Soldiers' Home), Rev. Berry - Chaplain
The usefulness of this information quickly becomes apparent, so plan to add Soldiers' Home records to your genealogical research checklist.   There was more than one such home in Michigan and other states likely had similar facilities. 

These microfilm are part of the indefinite loan Microfilm Collection at the Van Buren District Library.  For more information about this or other collections, contact the library.

Nameless Picture of the Day
 unknown boys (probably twins)
Photographer - M. V. Chapman, Benton Harbor

Can you identify the boys in this photo?  Are you familiar with the photographer's name?  Please contact us if you any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the photo's catalog number with your e-mail.