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Find your Ancestors through Revolutionary Military War Records

Are you trying to find your ancestors that were born between 1725 and 1767? Records of birth, death, and marriage are scarce for people during this time. With no mandated government documentation during this time, most information was recorded by churches and families who kept journals or bibles to recount important family genealogy data like birth, marriage and death events. Since these records are hard to find, you might try looking for clues in military records, land grants, and pension applications to help fill in important ancestry details.

Could this be my Ancestor?

Before you delve into any military material, learn as much as you can about your relatives. In order to find records, you need to have a good idea of where your ancestor lived, approximate age, and who their immediate family was. If they were married, find out about their spouse and don’t forget to include known neighbors. This can help you to narrow down your search results and hopefully lead you to the right historical document. Don’t assume if you find a source with your ancestor’s name, that the details are about your relative, it could be someone else. Names are common, so finding a person with the same name who lived in the same area can lead to mistaken identity. Analyze all your collected data before drawing any rash conclusions or adding family ancestry data to your tree.

The Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783)

Life in general was hard for everyone. No electricity or modern amenities. The military personnel faced many challenges with this war, which also included a small pox epidemic. Each colony provided its own defenses with local militiamen who were lightly armed and had little to no training. The units served for only a few weeks or months at a time and stayed close to home. The Militiamen, Continental Army, Marines, and Navy were served by about 250,000 men.

Revolutionary War Records through CMSRs

Complied Military Service Records (CMSRs) might help you with discovering military unit information along with date and place of enlistment. This may help confirm where a person was living and add other genealogical research facts for your ancestor. CMSRs can be ordered online through the National Archives.


Pensions for Military Service, Disabled, and Surviving Widows

Pension Applications were granted to individuals who served for a specified period of time, or were disabled from military service, and to widows and surviving children. These files generally have more family data than the (CMSR) which could include medical information, where the person lived after the war, and may include birth and marriage details, or other family genealogy information. For the widow, the application usually included details of supporting documents of marriage and depositions from neighbors, family members, and affidavits from fellow military men.

Bounty-Land Warrant Applications

The federal government granted land as a reward for those who served wartime between 1775 and 1855. The bounty could be claimed by veterans or their heirs. The application typically provided service data, but also may include family genealogy information too.

Compiling your Ancestors Military Story

Use as many archives as possible to conduct your family heritage research. You may find multiple pension applications, service or movement records and more. If you are not successful, think about your ancestor’s siblings, cousins, known relatives, or close friends. Their information may end up helping you to locate your ancestor and help with building your family ancestry.

You can do your own in person research through a family history center, your local genealogical society, state library, or the National Archives which has 16 locations. Also try using the WorldCat to find what you are looking for. You may be able to borrow books or microfilms through the inter-library loan process if what you are looking for is owned by a library far from where you live.