Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ancestry and Academics©

Case of Grandview High School, Grandview, MO.
It's not every day that a presenter can capture the attention of 50 students. Actually the experience of watching sleep-deprived teenage eyes widen with interest will make any teacher, or presenter, renew their conviction of being an advocate for integrated learning.  Twenty five students per class generated sufficient energy and healthy competition when genealogy was incorporated in their English class.

Grandview High School
Armed with a WWI military helmet, emancipation papers, a family quilt, photos of ancestors born as early as 1838, and an 8 generation chart beginning in 1807z, I was able to incorporate reading, math, science, writing, history, art and more in the curriculum of two English classes at  Grandview High School. 

Show and Tell
The students had recently read the life of Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.  And, they seemed slightly interested. But when I brought in the show and tell, and walked them through their own family history, hands raised, questions were asked, and there were even correlations made to their reading selection.  Administrators and other teachers stopped by, the classroom teachers participated, and the students were engaged. Even students shy to answer, shared a bit.  By day 2, the homework assignment return rate raised to about 90%.  Like any good genealogist, they were required to do the paperwork before the online research. Computer time was an incentive, but not one of them wandered off to the social media sites.  They stayed focused and determined.

The Teachers
The student teacher, Diane, assisted with generation charts. Homework assignments were given for oral history from parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

The race was on! We used the school library computers for research, and every student was able to find something.  Teacher Amy controlled the group as excitement mounted - "I found my great grandmother," someone shouted across the library, proudly printing off her 1930 census record.  A recently arrived Latino found information and microfilm rolls of his parent's pueblo in the Family History Library catalog.  An uninterested student found his father listed in the social security death index. He showed up on day 2 with a few more names on his sparse generation chart.  I even secretly pulled up an inmate index for a foster child who didn't think there were records to access. Yes, we had to use a bit more than, but there's so much to reference.

The Academics
The workshop for Ancestry and Academics© is flexible.  A time period must be determined.  At Grandview High the workshop was designed to accompany the Civil War Era, but the same can be created for Early Colonial period, Reconstruction or any other historical reference: 
Reading/Literature - Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl  (Harriet A. Jacobs)
Writing - oral interviews and reports
Math - generation estimates, birth dates, and other vital record dates to determine possibilities
American History - wars, politics, laws
Social History - slaves, slave masters, abolitionists and communities, food
Geography - underground railroad, north vs. south, colonies (allowed us to go before the Civil War)
Science - DNA (we didn't have time to go in depth, but enough to whet the thirst of a few)
Art - generation quilt.  Teachers assigned art project relevant to reading. They were hanging in classroom.

If time permitted, you could pull out Google Maps for charting routes, (another great way to incorporate math and geography. Discussions on flora and fauna as a means of survival can even work its way into a bit of botany. The options to use genealogy as a learning tool are unlimited. 

Kathleen Brandt

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Albuquerque Old Town - History & Culture

Hispanics, Jews, and Confederate Soldiers

In order to research your ancestors, it is imperative to know local history! And although family researchers treasure our museum docents and local tour guides, don't rely on them for your historical research. Do a bit more digging to uncover the full story. 

A walking tour of Old Town Albuquerque, today, highlighted the fact that misinformation may be given.

1)  "There is very little difference between Hispanics and Latinos.  OUCH
Mr. Tour Guide, "Hispanics are not small and petite";  and "Latinos are not larger and more stout!" This is 2011 and we have been submerged in an era of politically correct. The best answer of the two terms - hispanics and latinos - could not possibly be based on physical characteristics. Carlos Fuentes explains the cultural use of the two terms (along with chicano) in the early chapters of The Buried Mirror - The Reflections on Spain and the New World. 

2)  Albuquerque EVEN had Christian Hispanics who mimicked the Jewish traditions of 1) "not eating pork" 2) "lighting a candle on Friday." Mimicked?
Mr. Tour Guide, the discovery of Sephardic Jews in Spanish settlements such as Albuquerque and in the state of New Mexico is well documented.  "Conversos" also settled in Texas, Arizona, Colorado and California. Perhaps a quick read on the New Mexico Conversos would illuminate secrets of your ancestors.  You may wish to read articles on the crypto-Jews, or hidden Jews of the southwestern United States who began fleeing Spain more than 500 years ago. Their contribution to the settlements of the Southwest is well documented - see the Crypto Jews of New Mexico in To The End of the Earth by Stanley M. Hordes. For more information visit the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society.  

3) There was not a presence of the Sons of the Confederates and other Confederate organizations in Albuquerque. Attention to Detail?
Mr. Tour Guide, you must be kidding? Why not begin by looking at the plaques standing in the middle of Albuquerque Old Town Plaza. General Henry H. Sibley and Texas volunteers occupied Old Town Albuquerque in 1862. The Confederate flag still sways prominently in the Plaza.  And, the New Mexico Sons of the Confederate Veterans honored their soldiers with a plaque in April 1982. There are documents galore on Confederacy pre and post Civil war activities.

Local tours are of interest and quite valuable to the family researcher.  But, do your homework to verify facts and to uncover the truths. The bonus is the possibility of finding your ensconced ancestor in the records.  

Kathleen Brandt

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Illinois Civil War POW Camp - Part 4

Rock Island - Galvanized Yankees, and Seven Confederate Knights

 Rock Island Arsenal is the final post of the Illinois Civil War POW Camp series that has highlighted the three other (3) Illinois Civil War POW camps: Camp Butler, Alton Penitentiary, Camp Douglas. Rock Island, or Arsenal Island, is located on the Mississippi River between Davenport IA and Moline Il and is the nation's largest government owned (and operated) arsenal today.

About the Prison and Cemetery
The Rock Island Prison Barracks held over 12,000 Confederate prisoners between December 1863 to July 1865. Although the Civil War barracks no longer stand, there are two cemeteries. There are 1,964 prisoners in marked graves at the Confederate cemetery. Also on the site is the Rock Island National Cemetery (1863) the burial site of 125 Union prison guards; forty-nine (49) from the 108th  Regiment, United States Colored Troops (USCT). For an online search of names of the interred visit The Rock Island National Cemetery, website.

More Prison information can be found at the second oldest US Army Museum, Rock Island Arsenal Museum.
Rock Island and the Galvanized Yankees  
You may be easily led to records, if you find that your ancestor joined the Confederacy, but after the war received pension payments offered to Union soldiers.  Could it be your ancestor was a "Galvanized Yankee?: A Confederate Prisoner of War who took the Oath of Allegiance and joined the Union Army. Did your Confederate solder serve as a US Volunteer for the Union? 

What has not been discussed in this series are the Galvanized Yankees who served first as Confederate soldiers and late 1864-1865 converted to Union soldiers.  Perhaps here we should review the characteristic of galvanized metal.  It turns colors when it is coated with zinc.

There were 6 regiments, abt. 6000 men, who formed the U.S. Volunteers with the enlisted men having been recruited from prison camps. Three of the four Illinois Confederate prisoners (joining other Union  POW camps) proffered a substantial number of men who would later be called Galvanized Yankees (Alton, Camp Douglas, and Rock Island).

Rock Island prisoners formed the first two regiments in February of 1865 that were trained in Ft. Leavenworth.  Although much more can be said about Galvanized Yankees, you may wish to extend your POW search to Ft. Leavenworth records. Your ancestor may be found stationed along the Wagon Train trails from Missouri to Montana, Utah or California. for information on the trails visit: Wagon Trains 1840-1860.

Galvanized Yankees, untrusted by the Union, usually can be traced to the western states protecting settlements and battling the Indians at the end of the Civil war or shortly after. They may have taken up residence in a western state after the war.  They were not accepted into the Union's celebrated Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), and were usually shunned in their southern community.  Many settled west of the Mississippi after the war. 

Galvanized Yankee Research
To begin your Galvanized Yankee search a great place to start is with the NARA:
Most Galvanized Soldiers may be found through Union pension records.  Some of the Confederate prisoners were enlisted in the US Navy. 
  • M1017 Compiled Service Records of Former Confederate Soldiers Who Served in the 1st Through the 6th U.S. Volunteer Infantry Regiments, 1864-1866 (65 Rolls).
  • For information on the 1st through 6th U.S. Volunteer Regiments (Galvanized Yankees) be sure to research NARA: M594 - Compiled Records Showing Service of Military Units in Volunteer Union Organizations. Roll #219
Seven Confederate Knights
Prison life at Rock Island was horrific, as was all of the Illinois POW camps. But desertion for any reason was unacceptable to seven Confederate prisoners held in Rock Island.  These seven men, took on the motto "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" or It is sweet and glorious to die for one's country and formed the Seven Confederate Knights (7CK).

For detailed information on the 7CK  activity and many member names of this secret society in the Rock Island prison, be sure to review Confederate Veteran, Volume 20, Issue 2, pages 65-69.  This collection of memoirs and Civil War recollections can be a useful tool to any Civil War researcher (Union or Confederate) based on its historic value.

Kathleen Brandt

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Face of Genealogy

In response to an offensive photo that accompanied an LA Weekly article on 5 June 2011 the genealogy community has collected true Faces of Genealogy.  I am proud to share the face of my genealogy, the ancestor that sparked my curiosity, Wiley J. Morris (Tobe). Share your Face of Genealogy. 

Who was Wiley J. Morris (Tobe) ?
Cousin Morris Porter called him Grandpa Tobe but never knew that his real name was Wiley.  Morris was the last known relative to actually see Great-Great Grandpa Tobe, but was not the last to know him. (Morris Porter passed away in 2009.)

Wiley Morris' Bio
Born 19 Dec 1838, in Rutherford County, North Carolina, Wiley Morris, nicknamed Tobe, was born as a free-colored.  He was short in stature, with blue eyes, and although he appeared to be a white man he never passed for white.  Morris Porter remembers Tobe's long beard and eight (8) of his eleven (11) children.

Tobe's parents were mulattoes. His father Wiley was born a slave 6 Oct 1807, and was emancipated in 1855. He was the son of James Morris, Ireland (DNA confirms).  His mother Louisa Griffin, born 1817, was a privileged free-colored from North Carolina. Louisa's father also free, owned land by 1811, and educated his children.  Louisa continued the tradition by educating her five free-colored children; Tobe being the eldest. 

Tobe was a skilled Master Blacksmith (Coldwater Review, 1894) and an active member of the Republican party in North Carolina and Tennessee. He married Martha (presumably surname Carson) 17 Feb 1860 in Rutherford NC, and later married and divorced Peggy Frances.  His third wife was Mary A. Robinson. He died at the ripe old age of 86 on 3 Aug 1924 in Anthony Kansas. 

Please note all of the following documents and full citations are in author's file: 
  • Birth dates and 1st marriage dates taken from family bible of Louisa Griffin Morris.
  • DNA results in author's file.
  • Griffin NC land transactions in author's file.
  • Education records verified via newspaper clippings, written samples in Family Autograph book, and obituaries.
  • Republican Party involvement from Rutherford newspaper clippings from 1866-1868
  • Marriages of Peggy Frances from  Dawes Records
  • Marriage to Mary A. Robinson from Nowata, OK newspapers
Kathleen Brandt

Illinois Civil War POW Camp - Part 3

Camp Douglas - Missing Records

Few are aware of the four Illinois Civil Prisoner of War Camps - Camp Butler; Alton Penitentiary, Camp Douglas, and Rock Island.  These four facilities held approximately 53,000 Confederate prisoners. There were more than 647,000 prisoners captured during the Civil War. Many were paroled in the field, but 215,000 Confederate soldiers (and citizens) were held in Union prisons; 26,000 died while being held.  Of the 195,000 Union soldiers (and citizens) held in Confederate prisons, 30,000 died while imprisoned.

Part 1 of this series highlighted Camp Butler outside Springfield ; and Part 2 Alton Penitentiary, on the Mississippi River near St. Louis. Part 3, takes a look at Camp Douglas, in Chicago, Illinois. 

Ironic - In His Honor Camp Douglas
Camp Douglas is named in honor of Illinois legislator Stephen A. Douglas. Douglas rivaled Lincoln, and died in 1861. The government took control of (or commandeered) his property and built a Union training facility and prisoner of war camp for Confederate soldiers.

Camp Douglas was originally used as a training camp for volunteer regiments, but with the large number of soldiers captured in the battles of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, it was converted into an overcrowded holding facility for Confederate prisoners, rivaling that of Camp Andersonville, the infamous POW camp for Union soldiers.

Camp Douglas operated as a POW camp from January 1863 to the end of the war in May 1865.  Statistics of between 17-23% death rate has been quieted, but records support Camp Douglas' mistreatment of soldiers, poor living conditions, and extreme death rate. The camp's barracks and buildings were demolished quickly after the war. 

Observatory Tower
It may come to a surprise to researchers that an observatory tower was built at Camp Douglas for spectators to view the prisoners.  For 10 cents a person onlookers could observe the camp and the prisoners.

This activity may best be explained by the pre-civil war stance of Chicago's white population. Chicago City Council condemned the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.  By 1860 there were over 955 free Negroes in Chicago, and 7628 free Negroes in the state of Illinois according to the census. 

Henry Marshall and the Black Confederates
Henry Marshall, Black Confederate
African Americans did serve with Confederate troop as servants, as did Henry Marshall.  If captured they too were imprisoned.  Marshall was one of the African American prisoners held at Camp Douglas. Commonly, reports give the number of eight African Americans were held at the prison. However, the actual number is unknown. Five are known: four were released by order of the Secretary of War;  and one died in captivity. For more information review Black Southerners in Confederate Armies: A Collection of Historical Accounts; Charles Kelly Barrow, Joe Henry Segars. 

Where Interred?
The Confederate soldiers were mistreated (cold, wet, hungry) resulting in up to  6000 soldier's deaths over the span of the war.  Originally the Confederates were interred in Chicago City Cemetery without markers and others were buried in the prison's small pox cemetery that did have individual grave markers.  However, these soldier's final resting place is in the massive unmarked grave at Oak Woods Cemetery on the south side of Chicago.

A monument gives Oak Woods Cemetery credit for being the largest burial site for Southern soldiers in the North. The monument was erected "to the memory of six thousand southern soldiers."  The National Archives - Prisoners and Casualties gives the official death count as 4454, but about 1500 were unaccounted for through record analysis.

Researcher's Nightmare
The 60 acre POW camp held as many as 18000 prisoners during the war.   The exact number is unknown, due to poor record keeping or perhaps to hide the horrific treatment and extreme death rate of its prisoners.  In January and February of 1863 an average of 18 prisoners died a day.  Many froze to death often due to inhumane punishment in Chicago's winters,  but also the spread of small pox claimed about 10% of the 7000 prisoners that year. In a four month period in 1864 over 1091 Confederate soldiers died in Camp Douglas. For more information visit Camp Douglas Prison at

For Union researchers at Camp Douglas, know that there were about 900 prison guards.  There were black laborers early on, but prisoners were able to blacken their exposed features using a form of charcoal, and walk out the front gate disguised as a laborer.  The city black laborers were dismissed, so escapees, healthy enough to do so, turned to the common tunneling method to leave the prison. 

Where to Research?
As mentioned early, Camp Douglas records are grossly incomplete or missing. The fortunate researcher however, may find military records in the military files/folders of the NARA or personal diaries of Camp Douglas survivors. 

Roll of Honor of Burial Places o f Solders, Sailors, Marines and Army Nurses of All Wars of the United States Buried in the State of Illinois may be found at the Illinois State Archives microfilm 1956.  Confederates are identified as Confederate, Rebel, or CSA.

NARA microfilm, M598 - Selected Records of the War Department Relating to Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861- 1865Captured confederate sailors information may be found in Microfilm Publication M598, additional information may be found on the NARA blog referencing: Selected Records of the War Department Relating to Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861 -1865. Alton: rolls 13-20.
Suggested Books 
  • The history of Camp Douglas : including official report of Gen. B.J. Sweet : with anecdotes of the rebel prisoners. 1865. Tuttle, Edmund Bostwick. J.R. Walsh, Chicago.
Kathleen Brandt

Saturday, June 4, 2011

They Did Not Photoshop Their Birth Record

It's A Myth - Their Names Were Not Changed En Route
John Hoboglou is John Attas/Adasis.  John Attas is John Adasis
Your ancestors had paperwork to get on a ship for their overseas journey, they used the same paperwork to get off the ship at their destination. Without the help of Photoshop, scanning devices, and printers available to them, they were unable to change their name en route.  

So, before your feathers become ruffled by the "but my ancestors" story, know that the Immigration and Naturalization Dept (INS) of the USA, ran by the Federal Government, was no more of a push over then, than now.  They had rules! See the various processes in this short primer to understand the immigrant process: History of the INS  (Note INS now operates under the title United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

This is not to say that your ancestor's name was not changed.  It's to say it wasn't done at Ellis Island or any other USA port. There are no known documents to support this myth.  But known, and verified name changes occurred on both sides of the water.

Wartime - Greek Name Change
Greek immigrant, John Adasis (father Konstatine Adasis), journeyed to America under the name John Hoboglou. (I know...what???)  Same person verified by naturalization records, ship manifest, and oath of allegiance as he legally changed his name from John Adasis to John Attas. (see pics above). Explanation of the Hoboglou surname was not included in the records, but clearly confirmed this was the name he traveled under and was verified by Ellis Island records accompanied with his naturalization application.  Who was Hoboglou? I have no idea! But it was during Greek/Turk wartime, and there was probably a good explanation. Attas was the name the family adopted in the USA.

African/Slaves Were Immigrants (Unwittingly) Too
Back Up... African American ancestry does not apply. Although they too were immigrants, when Africans, destined for a life of slavery, were packed or dragged onto a ship they lost their names.  When they got off the ship they were given a description as an identifier, a price tag, and buyer's name.  No individual name required. No requirement for INS bureaucratic law to get involved in names and spellings. See Ex-Slave Alias on a3Genealogy site for information on slave surnames.

FYI: This is different than indentured servants, who often retained their name, but were contracted out at the port to work for their passage. Young children however may not have known their surname as they were often bargained for passage and separated  from their family.

Return to Myth
Your ancestor's name was probably changed: in school; prior to their overseas boarding; or perhaps as soon as they hit the streets of Chicago, NY, etc.  I've seen plenty official name changes accompany naturalization papers with the Oath of Allegiance, and on Civil War records.  I've even seen children (mostly girls) whose name changed while indentured. I've researched families who knew to change their prejudiced name immediately so they could secure work. Brothers and neighbors who came before them had already provided, in pre-travel arrangement letters, suggestions for an acceptable Americanized name.

Support the Myth
Family folklore tells us differently. "He was illiterate and didn't know how to spell his name," or "The clerk at Ellis Island changed the spelling," etc. But do the records at Ellis Island (or whichever port) support this random spelling change?

For More Information
Take the Michael J. Leclerc suggestion: "try Googling “myth of name changed at Ellis Island." Research Recommendations: Bursting a Bubble, The Weekly Genealogist; Vol. 14, No. 22;
Whole #533; June 1, 2011

Other Articles on the Myth

Kathleen Brandt

Friday, June 3, 2011

Illinois Civil War POW Camp - Part 2

Alton Penitentiary and Smallpox Island
This series highlights the four (4) Illinois Civil War POW camps - Camp Butler; Alton Penitentiary; Camp Douglas; and Rock Island.  As mentioned in Part I, Camp Butler - Union and Confederates researchers would be remiss if they failed to discover Civil War POW camp records.  These POW records are especially a good resource for Confederate soldier researchers since there were more than 647,000 prisoners captured during the Civil War. Many were paroled in the field, but 215,000 Confederate soldiers (and citizens) were held in Union prisons and 26,000 died while being held.  Of the 195,000 Union soldiers (and citizens) held in Confederate prisons, 30,000 died while imprisoned. The four Illinois facilities held approximately 53,000 Confederate prisoners of war and as many Union guards passed through the POW camps.

Alton Penitentiary
Alton Penitentiary was built in 1833 with only 24 cells. It's early fortress construction took on the Quaker's idea of incarceration where "penitence" (penitentiary) would prescribe a combination of hard labor and isolation for criminals.  Perhaps, the visionaries realized that located on the Mississippi River between Alton, Illinois and the State of Missouri, just north of St. Louis, that escapes would be common.  However, cells were added and by the close of the Civil War there were 256 cells 4ft'x7ft.

This infamous penitentiary, known for maltreatment, disease and death, was opened to Confederate loyalist in 1862.  The 256 cells held up to 1500 soldiers (some reports claim 1900 soldiers by the end of the war) approximately 1300 Union guards (Alton Telegraph, Nov. 1862).  Prisoners were commonly stacked 3 to a bed.

Records were poorly kept and prisoners were clever in their escapes. Thirty five prisoners escaped through a tunnel August 1862; in 1863 some escaped using a ladder; and a less than successful attempt of overtaking guards in 1864 resulted in 2 escapees. Of the 80 plus prisoners who escaped, few were recaptured.  Approximately 2000 Confederate detainees escaped the Alton facility by death from dysentery, malaria, pneumonia and smallpox. The exact number is unknown, and burial plots were not identified. The smallpox epidemic killed many of the prisoners (6-10 per day) in 1863.  The actual number of prisoners who succumbed to the epidemic is unknown; at best guess 1300-1400. 

Smallpox Island
Sunflower Island, where Abraham Lincoln and James Shields fought a duel, was converted into a place to quarantine patients and bury the dead to prevent spread of the smallpox into the town of Alton.  This small island was located on the Mississippi. Burial plots were not marked and the island was later dredged to build a new lock and dam system in 1938. The island no longer existed by 1940. A monument was erected to acknowledge the Smallpox victims.

Researching The Camp Alton  Interred
The Alton Penitentiary was ordered closed 20 Jun 1865, and torn down in 1870. Researchers can turn to records, diaries and newspaper accounts to learn more of those interred on the penitentiary land or at Smallpox Island.  But if your soldier was one of the last 50 held in Alton Penitentiary, he would have been transferred to the St. Louis Gratiot Street Prison. A great resource: American Civil War Stories.

Union Guard Research
Be sure to look at the following regiment records if searching for Union Guards:
13th U.S. Infantry
77th Ohio Infantry
37th Iowa Infantry
10th Kansas Infantry
144th Illinois Infantry (mostly Alton city residents)

Confederate Prisoner Research
Roll of Honor of Burial Places o f Solders, Sailors, Marines and Army Nurses of All Wars of the United States Buried in the State of Illinois may be found at the Illinois State Archives microfilm 1956.  Confederates are identified as Confederate, Rebel, or CSA.

NARA microfilm, M598 - Selected Records of the War Department Relating to Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861- 1865Captured confederate sailors information may be found in Microfilm Publication M598, additional information may be found on the NARA blog referencing: Selected Records of the War Department Relating to Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861 -1865. Alton: rolls 13-20.

For More Information
Kathleen Brandt

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Surname Found on Landmarks

Are You Related?

Lawrence Co., Missouri
Zinns Mill was built in the late 1830s 
near the head of the Spring River 
and named for Henry Zinn, the owner.
You've decided to go to your ancestor's homeplace of 1850.  The first thing to do, is to grab a copy of the current AAA map, and with a highlighter in hand, begin marking any landmark, street name, alley reference, cemetery, and building that bears your surname.  Ok...this may not work with the Smith's, William's and Jones', but let's take the Zinn's, Strader's and Vestal surnames.

What's the Purpose?
If you've already done a fair amount of research and have confirmed that your ancestor's resided there, why not take one step further to verify after whom these landmarks were named?

The best that could happen: confirm that the once working mill was Uncle Peter's.  The worst that could happen is that you learn a bit of the social history of your ancestor's hometown.

Where to Go for Answers?
Land commission, deeds, obituaries and local history books will tell volumes.  Don't forget the land plat maps of 1850 (or whenever Uncle Peter lived there).  These maps not only tell you who owned the land, they are marked with neighbors names.  Be sure to also look at bordering counties.

There was a time when citizens improved and maintained roads. Did your ancestor live on the road; or was road maintenance assigned to your ancestor resulting in a road name?  This data can be found in the Court or Aldermen Minutes.    

Don't Hang Them on Your Tree!
This is clearly a surname exercise, and can be fun.  But, do not hastily put an unresearched stranger on your family tree, but be open to any genealogical leads.   

Kathleen Brandt


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Illinois Civil War POW Camp - Part 1

Camp Butler - Union and Confederates
With the many Civil War sesquicentennial celebrations, an increased interest in reenactments, and battle site visits have been the trend. But even with the renewed interest in Civil War history,  few are aware of the military prisoner-of-war camps.

Matching Civil War battles and the establishment of the various POW camps, may assist the researcher in determining a Civil War soldier's last resting place.

Illinois Prisoner of War Camp Stats
Union Tombstone - Note rounded top
When it comes to military prisoner of war camps, the state of  Illinois must be highlighted.  Of the thirty one (31) Union military prisoner of war camps, four were located in Illinois. Camp Butler; Alton; Camp Douglas; and Rock Island.  These four facilities held approximately 53,000 Confederate prisoners of war.

There were more than 647,000 prisoners captured during the Civil War. Many were paroled in the field, but 215,000 Confederate soldiers (and citizens) were  held in Union prisons; 26,000 died while being held.  Of the 195,000 Union soldiers (and citizens) held in Confederate prisons, 30,000 died while imprisoned.

Camp Butler, Springfield, Il
Camp Butler located in Illinois is about 5.5 miles from Springfield, Il in Sangamon County.  Troops arrived at Camp Butler in August 1861.  In 1862 Camp Butler, converted from a military training facility, began housing Confederate prisoners from the battle of Fort Donelson, TN.

Confederate Pointed Headstone. 
Camp Butler is the final resting place of 1,642 Civil War soldiers; 776 Union and 866 Confederate. During a smallpox epidemic 700 Confederate prisoners died and were interred. The Confederate graves can be distinguished by pointed headstones. Superstition states the pointed headstone is designed to prevent the Yankees (or the devil) from sitting on the Confederate soldier's headstones.

Note: This National Cemetery is not limited to Civil War veterans. Today, over 18,000 tombstones are in the cemetery.

Researching Your Civil War Soldier Burial
For a listing of interred soldiers visit   

Roll of Honor of Burial Places o f Solders, Sailors, Marines and Army Nurses of All Wars of the United States Buried in the State of Illinois may be found at the Illinois State Archives microfilm 1956.  Confederates are identified as Confederate, Rebel, or CSA.

NARA microfilm, M598 - Selected Records of the War Department Relating to Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861- 1865Captured confederate sailors information may be found in Microfilm Publication M598, additional information may be found on the NARA blog referencing: Selected Records of the War Department Relating to Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861 -1865. Record Group 109 and Descriptive Roll of Prisoners at Camp Butler, Il 1889 - 1904.

Kathleen Brandt