Burial records for military personnel posted online

A page lists the remains of officers taken from General George Custer's battleground in this handout image courtesy of Ancestry.com.

A genealogy website on Monday posted burial records online for more than half a million military personnel for the first time as part of a government bid to digitally preserve the aging paper documents.

The burial and headstone applications records, which include entries for General George Custer and President Abraham Lincoln, were previously available only on paper at the national archives in Washington, D.C.

They were posted on Ancestry.com through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the National Archives and Records Administration, said Todd Godfrey, the Utah-based company’s senior director for U.S. content.

“Every one of these records, except for the small portion the VA had already imaged, were all only available on paper and all in Washington D.C.,” he said. “So you would have had to go to that special National Archives building, know (the record) is there and ask for it. Then they’d spend the morning digging around for it and then bring it to you.”

The U.S. Army began tracking burials at national cemeteries and military posts in the 1860s. In 1973, data for 82 national cemeteries was turned over to the veterans department, where the records are overseen by the National Cemeteries Administration.

On its own, the NCA scanned more than 9,400 pages of entries before turning the work over to Ancestry in 2011.

Godfrey said Ancestry staff spent nearly 3,000 hours scanning and prepping the military records, at no cost to taxpayers, to be accessed by the public.

The military records are available through the paid subscription service, but “we also provided online access to the VA and their cemeteries for free at their locations so that they can search the records and serve their patrons,” he said.

“We have opened the doors to thousands of histories through the information contained in these burial ledgers,” said VA Undersecretary for Memorial Affairs Steve Munro.

Godfrey said amateur genealogists should delight in the records, some of which include handwritten notes that go well beyond a soldier’s name, rank and serial number.

The entry for Lincoln, for example, includes a hand-drawn black border and details that the Civil War-era president was “pistol shot by John Wilkes Booth, the ball entering 2 inches below and behind the left ear and lodged in the brain.”

Lincoln’s entry is honorary, because he was buried in Springfield, Illinois and not in Arlington National Cemetery.

Godfrey said that while digging around in the archive a few weeks ago he came across an entry for his own fourth great-grandfather.

Henry Wells Jackson was a 36-year-old California postal worker at the time of the Civil War. Cheated out of a paycheck, an angry Jackson headed to Washington to collect but was captured by the Confederate army and held in jail, Godfrey said.

“That made him mad, so (after release) he joined the Union army and three months later he was killed in battle.” he said.

The discovery adds a wonderful new piece to Godfrey’s family history, he said, but does leave him with one burning question: “I do wonder if he ever got his paycheck.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.