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Category Archives: militaria

“Looking at graves? Count me in!”

That’s what my four-year-old said when I told him (somewhat apologetically) where we were going. A chance encounter had led me to discover four new ancestors of my wife, who lie in the small burying ground by the beautiful Bradford Center meeting house in Bradford, New Hampshire, only five miles (by a dirt track through […]

Faces of the Civil War — the Liljenquist portraits

I have been completely ground to a halt by the Liljenquist collection of Civil War portraits at the Library of Congress. Seven hundred cased photographic portraits of Civil War soldiers and sailors and their families — most of them anonymous — were donated last fall by the Liljenquist family, specifically the two boys, Jason and […]

of wars and rumours of wars

They’ve been somewhat eclipsed by the eighteenth-century documents, but there is a large pile of newspapers that have come out of the floors and walls of the Allin house, mostly between layers of floors — a squeak preventative? There are a few sheets from Providence papers from the 1880s, and several full or nearly complete […]

Thomas Allin and us: the house

This has been a busy spring with little time for posting here. But one non-genealogical component of our family life has recently taken on a genealogical and historical dimension. We have just bought a new house — new to us, but built in the 1780s by a Revolutionary officer, Lieut. Col. (later Brig. Gen’l.) Thomas […]

The mystery of the Samuel Matlacks

Browsing somewhere online the other day, my eye jumped to a newly-published regimental history of the 10th Kentucky Infantry in the Civil War. This was the regiment of my great-great-grandfather Samuel Matlack (1815-1881), regimental quartermaster, then lieutenant and aide-de-camp on the staff of Brig. General Speed S. Fry, at Camp Nelson, Kentucky. Samuel and Mildred […]

update on the Crosbie-Pitcairn pistols

I’ve now found confirmation of Captain (later General) William Crosbie’s place in the Anglo-Irish gentry Crosbie family which bore the swords-and-snake crest found on the pistols traditionally identified as Major Pitcairn’s (see my previous post, linked here). I had suggested that he belonged somewhere in the Ardfert Crosbie family found in Burke’s 1866 Dormant, Abeyant, […]

Pitcairn’s pistols were Crosbie’s—heraldry on a famous revolutionary artifact

The first spoils of the Revolutionary War are surely the handsome pair of Murdoch pistols long attributed to Major John Pitcairn, who is said to have lost them on April 19 1775 during the harrowing return from Concord to Boston (they were variously said to have been in the baggage train, or on his horse). […]

revolutionary rejection (pension applications)

I just rediscovered the digitized microforms of the Revolutionary War pension files (pensions granted from 1832 onward) available from ‘HeritageQuest’ via many subscription libraries (including the Boston Public Library, for Massachusetts Residents, and many other public libraries throughout the US). By my count my children have 39 ancestors listed in the DAR Patriot Index, of […]

the Delafield quarterings (English arms for Americans)

John Ross Delafield (1874-1964), a scion of New York’s pre-Gilded Age oligarchy, appears to have been the man who invented the 20th-century practice of honorary grants of arms by the College of Arms for the use of Americans of English (or British) descent. Delafield as a general; frontispiece to Delafield: The Family History, vol. 2 […]

Natalie’s people

I’ve finally made some progress on the family of my great-aunt Natalie, wife of my great uncle George A. Smith (born Schmitt) of Louisville and New York City. Smith, an actor on stage and screen, married Natalie, a New York socialite when they were both in their late 40s, during the war in 1944; they […]