If you tuned into Who Do You Think You Are? last Friday night, you watched Vanessa Williams discover some surprising family history within her great-great grandfather’s Civil War pension file. Her ancestor, David Carll, a black man from Oyster Bay, NY, was a private in Company I, 26th Infantry, U.S. Colored Troops (U.S.C.T.), in the final years of the Civil War.
Checking his service record on Footnote, we learn that he served on General Jackson’s boat crew and was stationed in Beaufort, South Carolina, spending much of his service on duty in the hospital there.
The service record is like an outline of a soldier’s time in the army, while a pension file will reveal much more, as Vanessa found out. Locating David Carll’s name in the Civil War and Later Veteran Pensions Index reveals that he filed his application for a pension on August 13, 1890.
The certificate number on the index card – 1,048,798 – identifies the file, which is available at the National Archives in Washington, DC. It is there that Vanessa Williams and the NARA researcher assisting her reviewed the documents. One of the most significant items in his file was a tintype of David Carll, a very unusual and surprising discovery!
You, too, can find your Civil War ancestors by exploring Footnote’s unique historical records. Begin your search in the Footnote.com Civil War Collection, make connections, and follow the leads to discover rewarding surprises in your own family history.