Alabama Soldiers Manuscript Collection
Back in the dark, dark ages of genealogy before Al Gore created the Internet, we had to genealogy the hard way. That meant actually driving to libraries, archives, courthouses, cemeteries, and relatives' houses to collect information. We used notepaper and writing utensils. Our cameras required film and it was expensive to buy and have processed. Photocopy machines weren't all that common before the 1970s and copies were on poor-quality paper. Even after that, the paper was better, but the machines were unreliable. Many of us old-timers remember driving 100 miles to a courthouse and finding an "out-of-service" notice on the only copier in the building. We wrote letters and waited weeks for replies. It was a bleak, dismal time. Genealogy took fortitude, resourcefulness and patience. The people on the planet with an abundance of those qualities were "little old ladies in tennis shoes."
Pauline Jones Gandrud (1904-1980) and her sister-in-law, Kathleen Paul Jones, (two of those little old ladies) haunted Alabama courthouses, cemeteries, libraries, and archives for more than forty years, collecting information on Alabamaís early settlers. They corresponded with hundreds of descendants. Most of their research findings have been published in the 245-volume series, Alabama Records.
A separate part of their materials, collected in forty-five notebooks, concerns Alabamaís soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Indian Wars. In 1975, Bobbie Jones McLane began transcribing the Alabama Soldiers papers. She completed 21 volumes, covering surnames A Ė O, before she gave it up and handed it over to me, Desmond Walls Allen.
When I brought the manuscript collection home from Hot Springs, my intention was to continue what Bobbie had done with it, transcribe Gandrudís notes and publish books. The information in the collection was absolutely too good to let it languish, unseen and unused. It didnít take me very long, however, to see why it had taken Bobbie 25 years to get two-thirds of the way through.
I took up the torch and
finished the project in one final volume which includes two parts: (1) a list of
the 1,744 men whose files, A Ė O, are already transcribed and
It was easy for me to see the project through the eyes of a researcher who just needs the information on one soldier (for me, he is John Sharp and his file was stranded in the untranscribed portion of the material). Putting myself in your shoes, I decided Iíd rather order just John Sharpís file in electronic format instead of buying a book. So I scanned the remaining files on soldiers whose surnames start wtih P - Z into .pdf format and am offering them for sale on my website.
The file on my John Sharp of Madison County is only a half-page long, but it confirmed the story that came down through my family about the Sharps living in a cave for a time around 1817 after their house burned. It mentions other researchers Iíve never met who were working on my family. Most of the other files are longer than the one on John Sharp. Some of these files, however, contain a only short paragraph with a brief mention, just a whisper really, about an Alabama soldier ó perhaps just a note by Gandrud about an 1840 federal census listing.
Other items that may be in the files are:
∑ Military pension application transcription.
∑ Bounty land warrant transcription.
∑ Marriage records.
∑ Notes from census records.
∑ Will transcriptions and probate records.
∑ Deed record transcriptions.
∑ Federal census notes.
∑ Items from published secondary sources such as an old county histories.
∑ Contemporary newspaper clippings about grave markers, family history, or heirlooms, and genealogy columns.
∑ Transcriptions of early newspaper items.
∑ Obituaries and death notices.
∑ Tracings of original signatures.
∑ Notes about phone calls regarding genealogy questions.
∑ Original letters from descendants ó these include a lot of wonderful information, including Bible records, pedigree charts, research summaries and more.
∑ Notes and transcriptions of letters from descendants.
∑ Carbon copies of letters from Gandrud and Jones.
Most files donít have but a few of these items, but some files are loaded with these kinds of things.
Gandrud made a valiant effort to collect data on all of Alabamaís Revolutionary War soldiers. She got a lot of the War of 1812 and Indian War veterans, but by no means all of them. And, though outside the collection parameters, she threw in a few Mexican War vets and a handful of Civil War soldiers. One Revolutionary War veteran was from the British side. And one patriot was a woman.Gandrud and Jonesí research was client-based. They responded to letters from people all over the country inquiring about Alabama ancestors. So their primary focus was on the soldiers whose descendants inquired about them. Because a man isnít listed in this collection doesnít mean he wasnít a veteran ó it just means information about him didnít find its way into Gandrudís and Jonesí papers.
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