Jump-Starting My Civil War Research

Charles "Boy" Combs 1843-1869

Recently I completed the class “Civil War Research: Find Your Ancestors in the War Between the States” through Family Tree University. Now, I have always thought that I knew quite a bit about the War of the Rebellion (or heck, pick a term) thanks to my AP US History teacher in high school. Imagine my surprise with all the things that I didn’t know! My oldest child is a military history nut, and for the past several weeks whenever he would hear me muttering to myself while reading, he would come running over to see what new tidbit I had uncovered. Life in Civil War America by Michael O. Varhola is suggested as supplemental reading for the class, and it was excellent. We only read portions of the book for the class, but it was so good I am making time to finish it.

Besides filling in the holes of my knowledge about the war, I also picked up quite a few tips on new places and ways to search for my ancestors. This course will have me working on tracing my and my husband’s soldiers for quite some time. Possibly years! However, thanks to the National Park Service, I have a head start on where to go next in my research. If you have not seen the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System…go now.

Currently, I have been mining the 1890 Veterans Schedule for any little nuggets that I can find. Happily, I am having quite a bit of luck finding information for relatives on it. For example, my husband’s third-great-grandfather Button Gwinette Cody (indexed as Berton G Cody) can be found on the Flat Creek Township, County of Barry, State of Missouri enumeration. The enumerator recorded him as being a Captain in Co. F, 39th Indiana Infantry, enlisted 20 May 1861, discharged 25 April 1863, serving “1 year 8 months 5 days.” Further, it lists him as incurring a disability of “paralysis, blind, almost deaf.” Button died the next year.

Finally, this is all going to culminate in a field trip to the National Archives this March. My mother-in-law will be here to visit for a week and the two of us are excitedly planning the research trip. My husband is being very patient with us while we are laying out our little adventure. He has even been making suggestions on what he and the boys can do in DC while we are off at the Archives.

Wish me luck!


Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Shannon Bennett of Locust Grove, Va.


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3 thoughts on “Jump-Starting My Civil War Research

  1. I just returned from my own trip to The National Archives in DC. I was only there for 4 days. The next time I go, I will take at least 2 weeks. As for your husband and sons, they will not be bored-DC has so much to do, and everything is easily accessed. Be sure to take all of your digital accessories for copying documents.

  2. Thanks for the tip! I am trying to get all my equipment lined up. I don’t get to go on my own and do research since I have mommy duty, which means this trip is a treat for me. To say that I am going to jam pack it as full as possible is an understatement.

    My kids love going to DC. We live about 60 miles from there, and the train/metro rides seem to always be the highlight. Oh, and I just got a request for a re-visit to the American History Museum. Dad is getting an itinerary!

  3. I to am related to Button G Cody my great grandfather is Royal Cody my Grandmother was Mabel Cody my Great Great Grandpa is Thomas Cody I would love to get into Contact with all the Cody Relatives and have a huge family reunion before my dad passes away

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