Memorial Day in my own family and Preserve the Pensions

This Memorial Day weekend is a time to think about all the brave men and women who have been in the military service of the United States and gave their lives for us. I am especially thinking about one Korean War serviceman, Gerald J. Mueller, from Buckman, Minnesota. Jerry was married to my Mom’s only sibling, my Aunt Jeanie. Jerry never came home from the war. I was a toddler when he was declared Missing in Action (MIA). I remember his Mom, Grandparents, and two half-brothers. I recently reconnected with one of those half-brothers when we were both commenting on a Facebook page for Old St. Paul [Minnesota].

There are many websites that list the various MIA’s from 20th century wars. Unfortunately some records from the past century’s wars, especially up through WWII were lost in a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis back in 1973. I shudder whenever I think about that loss. It’s horrific enough that we lost so many military personnel in various wars and add to that with the loss of their records.

We have the chance to make sure the same never happens to some of our earlier military records. The War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land applications are housed at the National Archives in Washington, DC.  The National Archives has faced many years of decreased budget and decreased staffing. The Federation of Genealogical Societies has been spearheading the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions Project.

As of now, 35% of the funds have been raised. That does leave 65% more to go. If you donate $25, that amount is matched by Ancestry.com. If FGS, genealogists, historians, service personnel, hereditary organizations, and others raise the full amount, all those records will be digitized and online for FREE forever.

I just checked and more than 1 million digitized images are already online for free at Fold3.com. These encompass War of 1812 service anytime between 1812 and 1815. WE did this!

The search capability is helpful. Search by given name, surname, both names, geographic place, date, or topic. I searched for several surnames and found great details. Then I searched for the term Indian and found many pension records for Native Americans that will be helpful in a work project. The next search was for a couple towns where my own ancestors lived in Wisconsin and I found affidavits from men living in those towns in the pension records for other men.

We can’t let these records sit and chance further deterioration. They need to be digitized NOW. Please donate today. Please visit the Preserve the Pensions page on the Federation of Genealogical Societies website.

Donating is painless. There are several methods. I have made a few donations over the past couple of years and am proud to say I am a member of the Preservation Patriots who have donated $250 or more. Why not make one or more donations over the next few months and join me and many others who feel these records must be preserved. Any amount is welcomed. Donate Now. Please.

© 2014, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

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