Proof, in the Form of a Letter

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A cousin shares a Civil War letter that confirms the death of my ancestor, Charles Carson, in 1863

Many of the men in our extended Carson family enlisted when called to defend the Union in the Civil War. My ancestor, Charles Carson of Trenton, New Jersey was not among them. He would have been 37 years of age when the war broke out, but for some unknown reason he did not enlist. Whether he suffered from a physical infirmity, or whether it was due to family obligations – he had a wife, and by varying accounts either six or eight children at home – we may never know. Perhaps his skills as a sawyer were needed on the home front. What is known is that many of his kinsmen did serve, and it is through the records they left as a result of their service that has allowed this researcher to paint a much fuller picture of the extended family.

Charles Carson married into another Carson family when he took Caroline Carson as a bride in Monmouth County, New Jersey 29 Jun 1845.1 Caroline’s younger sister Amy Carson married a man of Germanic descent, William Hausman, who later went off to war, serving in Co. E. of the 21st New Jersey regiment.2

In 2008, William McGovern, a Carson descendant through the Hausman’s daughter Bertha, reached out to me via the GenForum message board, and informed me of the existence of a letter written by William Hausman and his reference to Charley Carson within it. McGovern thought I might possibly be able to identify Charley. In 2016, he gave me permission to publish the contents of the letter. I am still not clear whether McGovern owns the original letter, or whether he has only a copy.

William Hausman was convalescing in the Tilton Army hospital in Delaware when he learned of the death of Charles Carson and penned a response to his wife on the back of a song sheet3, probably distributed that night at the event he describes in his letter. Oh, how I wish that her letter to him had also been preserved to know her thoughts and feelings on the death of her brother-in-law.

I offer a complete transcription of the letter below. Emphasis mine. Note that the letter had only about seven words per line; I have not maintained the exact formatting due to the nature of its presentation on this blog. The spelling and punctuation is as it appears in the original, however.

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               Tilton Hospital     June 10th, 1863

Dear Wife

          I now take this opportunity to send you a few lines to inform you that I am well, and hope these few lines may find you and the Children the same. I Received your letter From the 3d day of June on the 5th, and I was Glad to hear that you was all well, but I was sorry to hear that Charley Carson was Killed, and I think it is very bad for his family. A man is apt to Get Killed at home, as well as the Soldiers in the Field of Battle, we have heard that General Hooker, has crossed the River Again, I think its likely that our Regiment is over Again with him, but if they have Another fight, I will not be in it this time, All the soldiers in this Hospital had a Good Ride free off Expence, yesterday to a Union Meeting at a place called Dover, About 50 miles From here, we had a very nice time

[p. 2]

and came back to the Hospital last night About 9 Oclock, All the soldiers had a Good Dinner From the Cizens of that place I Expect to be home next week. If you get this letter you need not to answer It. I have got a pretty Good Job in the Kitchen, and my time passed away very fast and I Get plenty to eat, they had not men Enough, and the Doctor asked me if i would not help them, and I sayed yes, and I have been in there ever since
send my love to you and the Children
no More at present

From Your Affectionate
Husband
William Hausman

Thank you to my cousin William McGovern, who provided a copy of the letter to this researcher and allowed publishing of the content of same.

Happy Independence Day today. We owe a debt of gratitude to all who have served and are serving to preserve our freedom, and to their families who sacrifice so much in their absence.


Sources:

1 Monmouth County, New Jersey, Marriage Returns, Book D-1, Folder M, Carson-Carson, 1845, County Clerks Office, Monmouth County Archives, Freehold; copy provided by John Konvalinka, CG, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], ca. Dec 2004.

2  For the 1857 Hausman-Carson marriage and his unit number see William Hausman (Pvt., Co., E, 21st NJ Inf., Civil War), pension no. 143,808 (Invalid), Case Files of Approved Pension Applications…,1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Record Group 15 : Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

3  A very similar example is here: “Mother, is the Battle Over?” song sheet, (publisher Charles Magness, 12 Frankfort St., N.Y., [n.d.]), digital image, Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/resource/amss.hc00018b.0 : accessed 4 Jul 2017).

Web Sightings: National Archives Video Programs

Since at least 2004, the United States National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has held free public programs on a wide variety of topics about their holdings at the Washington, D.C. and College Park, Maryland facilities. Some of these recorded programs of particular interest to genealogists began making their way online in 2012 as part of the “Know Your Records” series. Twenty such videos are now available for viewing on the National Archives YouTube channel.

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Three short introductory videos concerning military records are online, featuring Archives Specialist and resident military expert, John P. Deeben. I have embedded the videos below for convenience:

Military Research at the National Archives: Volunteer Service

This video tells us about military service records compiled for Volunteer soldiers who served in wartime from the Revolutionary War to the Philippine Insurrection, with specific examples of the CMSR for a Revolutionary War soldier.


Military Research at the National Archives: Regular Service

Registers of Enlistments for professional soldiers in the United States Army (1798-1914) available on M233 give information relative to the registration of soldiers and their discharge or separation from service.

Deeben also discusses the equivalent records for the United States Navy, called “Rendezvous Reports”. These reports (indexed as T1098 and T1099) cover the time frame between the Mexican War to about 1891. The records themselves are part of M1953.


Military Research at the National Archives: Pension Records

In this final video, Deeben introduces military pension files for service members (or their widows) stored at Archives 1, covering the period between 1775-1916. He shows examples of the records and information gleaned from them of interest to military historians and genealogists. He also reminds us that pension files for service in the Confederate military forces during the American Civil War are not held at the National Archives and must be sought at the state level.

In early February 2015, an announcement was made that future programs would be live-streamed. Check the monthly calendar and plan your viewing schedule accordingly by clicking in to this link: http://www.archives.gov/dc-metro/events/.

Web Sightings: New Jersey Civil War Gravestones

This is the first post in what I intend to be a continuing series I am calling “Web Sightings“, highlighting websites I use in my own research.

New Jersey Civil War Gravestones [link] is an online database of headstone images of Civil War veterans and related service and biographical information aimed primarily at genealogists and family historians. Their mission “is to capture digital images of gravestones of our ancestors who served in the Civil War and are buried throughout New Jersey“.

This website is one of the many independent sites now utilizing software originally developed for the Gravestone Photo Project (GPP) in 2003 to house and display cemetery images as part of the larger Iowa GenWeb project.

More than one million gravestone images have been uploaded to GPP websites as a whole, and more than 12,000 of those images are part of the New Jersey Civil War Gravestones site. Soldiers from both sides of the conflict are included in this New Jersey database, as long as they were buried within the state. Since this is an archive of grave markers, there will be no entry in the database if there is no corresponding headstone image. This is one of the main differences between New Jersey Civil War Gravestones site and the better known cemetery website called Find A Grave.

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The site has a Quick Search function, which allows one to input a first and last name, and limit the search to a particular county within the state of New Jersey. This is the default search type, accessible on the site’s home page, or by clicking on Search on the menu bar. There is also an advanced search feature, accessible by clicking Search on the menu bar, then Advanced Search. Advanced search reveals additional parameters including search by record ID, cemetery, submitter information or upload date.

Searching for the grave marker of a service member is straightforward: simply input a name in the search box. I am searching for the surname Carson, so that is the name I used in the example below. If searching for a very common surname, you may want to include a first name and/or county in your search. As a general rule, I always do a very broad search at the outset, and then narrow the search only if I get too many results.

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I quickly received a list of eleven Civil War soldiers with the Carson surname buried in the state of New Jersey with gravestone photos contributed to the website.

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I recognized all five of the Mercer County names; three of these men were brothers, and are part of my extended Carson family from that area. Their information from the New Jersey Civil War Gravestones site appears below.

james-carson-nj-civil-war-gravestonesJames T. CARSON (1836-1910) Co. E, 21st New Jersey Infantry [1]. (Click on his name to go to the featured website.)

perrine carson nj civil war gravestonesPerrine CARSON (1821-1866) Co. I, 38th New Jersey Infantry [2]. Birth and death dates are from my own research, and are not part of his database entry. See my blog post regarding the provisioning of his headstone, part of the Office of Quartermaster General records (RG 92) at the National Archives here. A more legible image of his headstone is on the aforementioned Find A Grave site here.

george carson alias cassner nj civil war gravestonesGeorge H. CARSON, alias CASSNER (1834-1903) Co. F, 38th New Jersey Infantry [3]. Middle initial of H (for Henry) and his birth date is from my own research. I included an image of one of his pension cards (from T289) as part of a 2012 blog post here. The pension bureau confused the service of two New Jersey Civil War veterans named George Carson, and have papers incorrectly interfiled in their pension files as agents attempted to establish their separate identities.

The fifth man from Mercer County, John Wesley Carson, is not the same man as I have blogged about here previously, even though they share a name. Our John Wesley Carson moved about following the Civil War and died in Oregon.

There are several things to be aware of when using the New Jersey Civil War Gravestones site.

It is not all-inclusive. Not all Civil War veterans buried in New Jersey are included in this database. This is a volunteer-driven site and requires that a recent photo of the headstone be submitted, along with information about the veteran’s military service. The site owner will then verify the service before actually posting the photograph. If the soldier had no headstone, or service cannot be verified, then the submission will not be accepted.

All headstone photographs submitted to the site must be original images taken by the contributor. Images from other websites or taken by others may not be uploaded without their express permission. The photographer retains all rights to the image, but gives permission for the project coordinator to edit the image if necessary to meet certain specifications and to store and display the images “permanently for free public access“.

Getting permission to utilize the photographs may prove to be difficult. I have submitted two separate requests via the website’s contact form (12/2012 and 6/2014) and never received a response to either request.

Overall, this is a fantastic resource for those with Civil War soldiers buried in New Jersey. Kudos to the site coordinator for undertaking this worthy project. I wish I could name those responsible, but I have not been able to glean that information from the website, nor from a WHOIS search. And, a BIG thank you to those who have contributed their time and images. Should you have images you wish to contribute, please visit this link.

Finally, here is a link to other Gravestone Photo Project sites.

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Sources:

[1] New Jersey Civil War Gravestones, database and images  (http://newjerseycivilwargravestones.org : accessed 29 Jul 2014), entry no. 10384 for James T. Carson (1836-1910), citing Groveville Cemetery, Groveville, Mercer County, New Jersey; image contributed 24 Aug 2012 by “fredsays”.

[2] New Jersey Civil War Gravestones, database and images  (http://newjerseycivilwargravestones.org : accessed 29 Jul 2014), entry no. 6857 for Perrine Carson (no dates), citing Presbyterian Churchyard, Hamilton Square, Mercer County, New Jersey; image contributed 16 Sep 2010 by “fredsays”.

[3] New Jersey Civil War Gravestones, database and images  (http://newjerseycivilwargravestones.org : accessed 29 Jul 2014), entry no. 6853 for George Carson (d. 1903), citing Riverview Cemetery, Trenton, Mercer County, New Jersey; image contributed 15 Sep 2010 by “fredsays”.

Disclaimer: The author regrets the inability to obtain explicit permission to showcase images from this website and makes no claim to ownership of any image shown here. Clearly, all screenshots on this Web Sightings post were taken from the New Jersey Civil War Gravestones site, and every attempt has been made to make that obvious.