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Free Access to the Native American Collection

November 1, 2015 by | 28 Comments

82 - Broken Arm, Ogalalla Sioux
Do you have Native American ancestry? Or are you interested in Native American history? Then explore Fold3’s Native American Collection for free November 1-15.

Titles in this collection include:

  • Ratified Indian Treaties (1722-1869): Ratified treaties that occurred between the United States government and American Indian tribes. Also included are presidential proclamations, correspondence, and treaty negotiation expenses.
  • Indian Census Rolls (1885-1940): Census rolls submitted annually by agents or superintendents of Indian reservations as required by an 1884 Act of Congress. Only persons who maintained a formal affiliation with a tribe under Federal supervision are listed on these census rolls.
  • Dawes Packets: Applications between 1896 and 1914 from members of the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole tribes to establish eligibility for an allotment of land in return for abolishing their tribal governments and recognizing Federal law.
  • Dawes Enrollment Cards (1898-1914): Enrollment cards, also referred to as “census cards,” prepared by the staff of the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, commonly known as the Dawes Commission. The cards record information provided by applications submitted by members of the same family group or household and include notations of the actions taken.
  • Eastern Cherokee Applications (1906-1909): Applications submitted for shares of the money that was appropriated for the Eastern Cherokee Indians by Congress on June 30, 1906.
  • Iroquois Indian tribe, 1914

  • Enrollment of Eastern Cherokee by Guion Miller (1908-1910): The Guion Miller Roll is perhaps the most important source for Cherokee genealogical research. There are an estimated 90,000 individual applicants from throughout North America included within this publication.
  • Cherokee Indian Agency, TN (1801-1835): The records of the agent of Indian Affairs in Tennessee, including correspondence, agency letter books, fiscal records, records of the Agent for the Department of War in Tennessee, records of the Agent for Cherokee Removal, and miscellaneous records.
  • Rinehart Photos – Native Americans (1898): Photographs of over 100 Native Americans taken by Frank A. Rinehart, a commercial photographer in Omaha, Nebraska. Rinehart was commissioned to photograph the 1898 Indian Congress, part of the Trans-Mississippi International Exposition.

Have you found an ancestor in Fold3’s Native American collection? Tell us about it! Or get started exploring the Native American Collection here.

What is Bounty Land?

October 22, 2015 by | 81 Comments

Revolutionary War bounty land warrant for 160 acre
If you’ve looked closely at Fold3’s Revolutionary War Pensions and War of 1812 Pension Files, you may have noticed that some pension files include correspondence or claims regarding bounty land. And, of course, Fold3 also has the Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Index. But just what is bounty land?

Bounty land served as both an incentive and reward for military service. It was issued to eligible veterans or their heirs by the Continental Congress and federal government through congressional acts passed between 1776 and 1856. Most early federal bounty land was in military districts like Ohio and other parts of the former Northwest Territory. Later, land was set aside in the territories of Michigan, Illinois, and Louisiana. Post-1847, land anywhere in the public domain qualified.

Unlike military pensions, qualifying veterans didn’t have to demonstrate financial need to apply for federal bounty land, but they (or their heirs) did need to file a claim. Some states also offered bounty land, but the collections on Fold3 contain information about federal bounty-land claims.

Early on, federal bounty land applications were handled by the War Department, but later they became the purview of the Pension Office and Department of the Interior. If a veteran’s application for bounty land was approved, they would receive a bounty land warrant (sometimes abbreviated in the files as B.L.Wt.) for a certain number of acres. They could then either transfer or sell the warrant (which is what many did), or file it with a land office for a selected portion of land. They then received a land patent, which is what gave them ownership of the land.

Letter regarding a bounty land warrant

The amount of bounty land granted changed over time through a series of acts of Congress. Most Revolutionary War veterans were originally offered 100 acres (with larger amounts offered to those of higher rank), but many veterans of the War of 1812 were eligible to receive at least 160 acres, which in some cases was later doubled. In 1855, the minimum acreage for surviving Revolutionary War veterans or their heirs was also raised to 160 acres; those who had already been granted a warrant for a lesser acreage could apply for the difference. Eventually, qualifying veterans of the Mexican-American War and Indian Wars also became eligible to apply for bounty land. Civil War veterans were not offered bounty land.

Did any of your ancestors apply for or settle on bounty land? Tell us about it! For more information about bounty land, read the National Archives’ descriptive pamphlets for the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 pension files.

Tip: Finding Women in Civil War Photos

October 15, 2015 by | 4 Comments

Did you know that you can find photos of women in Fold3’s collections Civil War Photos and Brady Civil War Photos?

While it’s true that these collections are composed predominately of photos of men, there are numerous photos of women if you know how to look. One way to look is by simply browsing, but as it can take quite some time to go through the collections photo by photo, a faster way is to search, limiting your results to the Civil War photo collections.

If you know the name of a specific woman you want to look for, you can try searching the Civil War photo collections for the woman’s name, keeping in mind that many of the portraits of women are identified with their last names (e.g., “Mrs. Furnace“) or initials and last names (e.g., “Mrs. H. S. O’ Hare“). Because of this, it may be helpful to search using the last name only. Searching by last name will also allow you to find photographs that are titled with the husband’s name.

Some portraits are titled on Fold3 as wholly or partially “illegible.” However, many of these have been annotated with the person’s name by Fold3 users and are therefore still searchable.

If you’re interested in seeing photos of Civil War women in general, try searching the Civil War photo collections for terms such as “Mrs.” and “Miss,” as well as “wife,” “daughter,” and “family.” You can also search for terms associated with women’s roles during the war, such as “hospital” and “sanitary commission.” For photos of African American women, try searching terms like “slave,” “contraband,” or other related terms.

The following are examples of portraits of Civil War women that you can find on Fold3:

Have you found any interesting photos of women on Fold3? Tell us about it! In addition to searching the Civil War Photos and Brady Civil War Photos, you might also find a few photos of women during the Civil War in the New York State Military Museum Photos or the Civil War Horse Soldier Artifacts Collection.

Introducing Our New Viewer!

October 7, 2015 by | 1 Comment

We are excited to announce the release of our new and improved Fold3 Viewer! Don’t let the new, clutter free interface fool you, this new viewer is faster and more feature rich than our old viewer.

Here are some highlights of our new viewer:

  • More intuitive user interface
  • Faster image browsing
  • Easily save images to your Bookmarks folder and Gallery
  • Improved Annotation tools
  • Save in high resolution JPG or as PDF with source information
  • Save to your Ancestry Tree
  • Advanced keyboard shortcuts for power users
  • And much, much more.

In addition to these features, the new Viewer uses the latest HTML 5 technology. This means that you no longer need the Flash plugin installed. It is also designed to be very mobile friendly, so if you are using Fold3 on your phone or tablet browser, you will have all the same great features that you enjoy on your desktop.

When you launch the new Viewer for the first time, it will take you to a brief guided tour to familiarize you with the new design. You can revisit the tour information at any time by clicking on the Help icon on the Viewer toolbar.

We have also revamped our Fold3 Training Center to help you acclimate to our new viewer. Help topics include:

If you haven’t had a chance to try out our viewer, go kick the tires and let us know what you think by selecting the Feedback icon at the bottom left. Also, keep an eye on the Viewer because we aren’t done yet! We will be adding more exciting functionality over the next few weeks.

British Surrender at Saratoga: October 17, 1777

October 1, 2015 by | 139 Comments

Gates believes Burgoyne will soon launch an attack
On October 17, 1777, British and German troops under British general John Burgoyne surrendered to American general Horatio Gates, turning the tide of the Revolutionary War in the Americans’ favor.

In the summer of 1777, Burgoyne commenced his plan to lead his army down from Canada through upstate New York to meet up in Albany with other British troops moving in from the south and west. By doing so, he hoped to isolate New England and prevent it from presenting a united war effort with the other colonies.

However, near Saratoga the Americans had dug in, hoping to stall Burgoyne’s progress. On September 19, Burgoyne launched an attack, known as the Battle of Freeman’s Farm. Though at battle’s end the British commanded the field, they suffered much higher losses than the Americans, who outnumbered the British by several thousand and were also receiving a constant stream of new militia troops.

Burgoyne decided not to immediately attack the Americans again, perhaps waiting for word of the movements of fellow British general Henry Clinton. Finally, with supplies running low, Burgoyne began his attack in the Battle of Bemis Heights on October 7. This time it was the Americans who were victorious, led to success in large part by General Benedict Arnold, who, though previously dismissed by Gates, returned to the battlefield to rally the troops.

Terms of Surrender between Gates and Burgoyne at Saratoga

Burgoyne realized that at this point his two options were to retreat or surrender. He originally planned to retreat but discovered his path had been blocked by a contingent of Americans. Reluctantly, he agreed to surrender. After some back and forth between Burgoyne and Gates as to the terms, Burgoyne finally surrendered his army on October 17

Under the fairly generous terms of surrender, the British and Germans were to give up their weapons to their own officers after leaving camp. Then the troops were to march to Boston, where they were to return to England and never again fight in the war. (Congress, however, would later renege on this part of the agreement, and the troops remained prisoners of war for years.)

The American victory at Saratoga proved a pivotal event in the war. The victory led the French to openly side with the Americans a few months later, providing crucial funds, supplies, weapons, troops, and naval support.

Did you have any ancestors who fought in the Battles of Saratoga? Tell us about it! If you want to learn more about the battles and subsequent surrender, start a search on Fold3.

Find: Drumming Out

September 16, 2015 by | 58 Comments

Being Drummed out of the Army
Are you familiar with the historical military practice of drumming a soldier out of the army?

This process of dishonorably discharging a soldier had its origins in the British army in the 17th century and was later picked up by the American military. Soldiers could be drummed out for a variety of reasons, from thievery to desertion.

Usually, during a drumming out, the guilty man’s head was shaved, the insignia and buttons taken from his uniform, and a sign detailing his crime hung around his neck. Sometimes he was dressed in felon’s clothes or white feathers were placed above his ears, and other times a rope was put around his neck and he would be led by the smallest drummer boy. The convict would then be marched between the lines of his fellow soldiers to the tune of “Rogue’s March,” and he would be taken to the entrance of the camp, where he was sent on his way with orders to never return.

“Rogue’s March” was often played by drums and fifes, though if they couldn’t be found, a trumpet was sometimes substituted and the process was called being “blown out” of the army. During the Civil War, “Yankee Doodle” was sometimes played instead of “Rogue’s March.”

The point of drumming out a soldier was to make his departure from the military humiliating enough that others would be discouraged from committing the same crime. So in addition to being drummed out, the local newspaper would sometimes write about the man’s crime to make it public. However, drumming out eventually fell out of favor as a punishment, and by World War II it had largely been dropped altogether in the U.S.

On Fold3, you can find a variety of records about drumming out:

  • A photo of a man being drummed out of the Union army for theft
  • A Civil War muster roll abstract for John Riley, listing “drummed out” as the manner in which he left the army; also contains details of his court martial for “absence without leave” and “drunkenness on duty”
  • An excerpt from the General Orders of the Confederate War Department remitting James T. Wilder’s sentence of being drummed out of the army
  • An excerpt from the documents of a Revolutionary War artillery company listing drumming out as one of the permitted sentences of a court martial
  • Veteran describes drumming out process during the Civil WarAn excerpt from the World War II War Diaries observing that “old time practices” of drumming a sailor out of the fleet “have not entirely disappeared but they are not regarded with official favor.”
  • A Revolutionary War diary entry in the Pennsylvania Archives describing a drumming out ceremony
  • A list of crimes and punishments (including drumming out) in a Pennsylvania regiment in the Revolutionary War
  • A newspaper article describing the process of drumming out during the Civil War
  • A newspaper article describing a drumming out ceremony in the British army in 1863

Do you have any stories about ancestors being drummed out of the military? Tell us about it! Or if you’re interested in learning more about drumming out, start a search on Fold3.

American Troops Intervene in Northern Russia: September 4, 1918

September 1, 2015 by | 88 Comments

Location of Allied, Bolshevik, and anti-Bolshevik troops in Siberia
On September 4, 1918, American troops landed in Archangel, northern Russia, as part of an Allied intervention toward the end of World War I; American forces were also sent to Murmansk, near Finland, and to Vladivostok, in eastern Siberia.

Following a Bolshevik takeover of the Russian government in October 1917, Russia signed a peace treaty with the Central Powers in March 1918. With Russia no longer fighting with the Allies, the Eastern Front collapsed, allowing Germany to send troops that had previously been committed in the east to the Western Front, which the Allies were desperate to prevent.

So in the summer of 1918, the Allies sent thousands of troops to Russia, including 5,000 Americans to northern Russia and 8,000 Americans to eastern Siberia. They were tasked with reopening the Eastern Front, which they would try to accomplish by aiding anti-Bolshevik Russian forces (and the Czech Legion, 60,000 former Czech prisoners of war) who were willing to fight against the Central Powers. The troops were also meant to prevent stockpiles of unused supplies the Allies had previously sent to Russia from falling into German or Bolshevik hands.

Distribution of American troops in northern Russia
However, just a few months after the Allied arrival, World War I ended. Despite this, the Allied troops were kept in Russia even though there was no longer a need for a new Eastern Front. Their mission became more nebulous, compounded by the individual allies’ varying motives and priorities.

Morale dwindled among American and other Allied troops stationed in northern Russia, especially after the WWI armistice in November. They often didn’t understand why they had been sent to Russia in the first place, let alone why they were still there when the war was over. As they became increasingly discontent, some Allied forces refused to follow orders, and several mutinies occurred. Finally, in summer 1919, the Americans in north Russia were pulled out, and in April 1920 the last of the American intervention forces were withdrawn from Siberia.

Did you have any relatives involved in the Allied intervention in Russia? Tell us about it! Or you can learn more about the intervention in the collections “US Expeditionary Force, North Russia” and “WWI Supreme War Council” on Fold3.