A Gen Forum Saves the Day

23 03 2010

As I’ve been researching the backgrounds of the staff and commanders of the armies at Bull Run, I’m finding more and more that when I get really stuck, help has been coming from an unexpected source: genealogy forums.  There are thousands of them out there.

Yesterday I was searching for some information on Otis Tillinghast, McDowell’s AAAG who was mortally wounded on July 21.  I wasn’t having much success until I ran across a discussion on a Tillinghast genealogy website.  It turns out Kent Watkins - like Otis a descendant of the one of the founders of Providence, RI, Pardon Tillinghast - was intrigued by the marker for Ft. Tillinghast that he saw across the street from the Arlington, VA tennis courts where he plays.  In the discussion thread to which Google pointed me I found Mr. Watkins’s announcement that he had written an article on Tillinghast for the group’s newsletter, including an email address for its editor, Ms. Greta Tillinghast Tyler.  I contacted Ms. Tyler and asked how I could go about getting a copy of the newsletter.  I received a prompt reply along with a complimentary pdf of her fine newsletter, Pardon’s Progeny II (click to view the newsletter, with permission of author and editor).  The entire issue consists of Mr. Watkins’s 29 page (!) article on Tillinghast and Ft. Tillinghast, complete with footnotes and bibliography.

So, thanks to Kent and Greta.  I’m sure I’ll be using the article when I write my biographical sketch of their ancestor.

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4 responses

24 03 2010
Michael C. Hardy

Harry – I started using genealogy discussion groups when I wrote my first book on the 37th NCT. I posted every single man who served in that regiment (a process I repeated with the book on the 58th NCT). For both projects, I received numerous photographs, war-time letters and diaries, and post-war family stories that I was able to incorporate into my text. All of these greatly enhanced the project by bringing to light un-used resources. While it took weeks to accomplish (there were more than 2,000 men in both the 37th and 58th NCT), it is a process I plan to repeat with whichever regiment I decide to write about next.

Regards,
Michael

24 03 2010
Rick Allen

Those forums can indeed be very useful Harry. During my research on Andersons Brigade, I found quite a bit of valuable information in the nooks and crannies of GenWeb sites. It takes a bit of digging sometimes, but now and then, the effort bares fruit.

24 03 2010
Terry Johnston

Harry:

I agree. Genealogical forums have led me several times to well-informed descendants of soldiers, many of whom possessed unique materials pertaining to their particular ancestor. Though I have run into the occasional problem with sourcing these materials, i.e., they’re copies of copies of documents of unknown whereabouts and ownership. Still, on balance, very useful.

Though not the same animal, I’d also recommend the extensive online contact list of CW researchers known as Civil War Units File. A wonderful resource. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve been helped by its various members.

30 03 2010
Don

Harry,

I came across a gent named Tillinghast L’Hommedieu from the war not long ago. Wonder what the odds are he’s related to the same guy?

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