War of 1812 Bicentennial and Your Tennessee Genealogy

The Bicentennial of the War of 1812 occurs 2012-2015 across the Eastern United States.  Your ancestors living in Tennessee participated in the War of 1812 in considerable numbers.

Actually, Tennessee is called the “Volunteer  State” because when war was declared against England in June of 1812, Governor Blount notified President James Madison, that he would immediately muster 2500 Tennessee Volunteers for service.  Enlistments were 3 months to begin with, then later became 6-month enlistments.  And the soldiers are so designated–3-month men and 6-month men.

The sometimes severe record losses in Tennessee counties renders this war and its muster lists, pay rolls, militia rosters especially important–they are close enough in date to fill critical gaps where there is no 1810 census for any of Tennessee.  And no 1820 census for East Tennessee and substantial parts of West Tennessee.

The Tennessee Society of the War of 1812, has been actively engaged in the preservation of all data pertaining to Tennessee participation in this war.  And publishing information about those Tennesseans who mustered and fought.

An example of their efforts is Soldiers of the War of 1812 Buried in Tennessee compiled by Mary Hardin McCown and Inez E. Burns, 1959.  This volume includes:

  1. “Names Abstracted from Colonel David Henley’s ‘Wastebook’ Regular and Militia Personnel for Period 1793-1798 in Southwest Territory.”  The wastebook includes accounts from the Blockhouse at Tellico.
  2. “Petition from Overton County, 1813.”
  3. “Henderson and McGhee, Storekeepers, Maryville TN, Accounts October 1814 to  December 1815.”

The preface to this work describes the discovery of Prisoner of War Records in the British Archives, War of 1812, Ottawa Canada.  Mrs. Clarence W. Jenne, then president of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, working with the Secretary of War and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, arranged for copies of  some 2000-3000 folios from the General Entry Book of the Prisoners of War at Quebec and Correspondence of their Keeping and Exchange. A copy went to the War Department and a copy to the NSDAR library.

Twenty-Four Hundred Tennessee Pensioners:  Revolution-War of 1812 by Zella Armstrong, 1937.  Includes 23 Tennessee men held as prisoners at Quebec.

Tennessee Soldiers in the War of 1812:  Regiments of Colonel Allcorn and Colonel Allison, compiled by Penelope Johnson Allen, 1947.  Published by the United States Daughters of 1812.

These compilers, searching archives and libraries for War of 1812 documents since 1925, all  stress the need to locate lists of 1812 men in county and local histories, local genealogy society publications, files of old newspapers, Bible and tombstone records, church and court minutes.  Muster and pay rolls may also  still be preserved among the personal papers of both state and local government officials–originals as well as copies.

Tennesseans who served 1812-1815, can also be found in other printed war records segments:

  1. The original roster books kept by the British Admiralty, now indexed:  Harrison Scott Baker, II, American Prisoners of War Held at Halifax During the War of 1812 (June 1812-April 1815). Published in 2005 by the Society of War of 1812 in the State of Ohio and printed by Willow Bend Books (now merged with Heritage Books).  Public Record Office, London, ADM 103/167 and ADM 103/168.  It was customary for the British government to hold prisoners of war aboard naval vessels off the coast, instead of incurring the costs of building land prisons.  And many of the entries in this new index indicate the ships the men served on or were transported on. Baker noted that the dates of capture and the date of reception into the prison at Halifax, Nova Scotia could be separated from a few days to several months–suggesting that these prisoners were held somewhere else before being brought to Halifax. These 1,350 soldiers are all designated as members of the United States Army.
  2. Records Relating to American Prisoners of War, 1812-1815. Public Record Office, London records.  Family History Library microfilm, 11 reels, #1454583-93.  We need more of this collection indexed.  It covers the whole country, and Tennessee is included.
  3. 1814 Court Martial Of Tennessee Militiamen, compiled by James L. Douthat, 1993.  Published by the Institute of Historic Research, Signal Mountain TN.   Reprint of Congressional Report, 20th Congress, 1st Session, House of Representatives, 11 Feb 1828.   The index has over 7,000 entries including geographic and personal names.
  4. Roster of War of 1812, Southside Virginia–the Twenty-Six Counties in this area:  Albemarle, Amelia, Amherst, Bedford, Brunswick, Buckingham, Campbell, Charlotte, Chesterfield, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Fluvanna, Goochland, Greene, Greensville, Halifax, Hanover, Henrico, Louisa, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nelson, Nottoway, Pittsylvania, Powhatan, Prince Edward, compiled by James L. Douthat, 2007. Published by Mountain Press, Signal Mountain Press.  This area was a funnel for settlers into Tennessee–especially the eastern counties.  Be sure to check here for Tennessee men who returned to serve with their kinfolk.
  5. “The Pension Office to Congressman Andrew Johnson: A List, 1843-53,”  The East Tennessee Historical Society’s Publications (#38–1966):  98-108.  Compiled by Leroy P. Graf, etal.  During the preparation of Andrew Johnson’s papers for publication, the authors discovered names of pensioners of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 among the letters from  the Congressional Pension Office to Johnson.  These are summarized here by claim.  For example, Volume 84, #368, 18 May 1844, Amount allowed children of Henry Kilda [Kildey] (ZA); (M-B) [Kilday].
  6. “Do You Know This Family?” The Pellissippian (Jan-Mar 1999): 14-20. Begins with a photograph and includes combined muster and pay rolls of Capt. John English’s East Tennessee Drafted Militia, from 10 Jan 1814-14 July 1814, Washington, Rhea County TN.  With discharge information.

These are all great examples of the the bits and pieces of documentation available for this war effort–especially significant for Tennessee ancestors, the first to volunteer to serve.  And they represent a drop in the bucket of what remains to be collected.  Your favorite Tennessee genealogist, Arlene Eakle.

PS  Holly Hansen and her Family History Expos is planning a gigantic genealogy conference in Atlanta GA in November 2010.  I am going to speak, and if she will approve it–I will do two NEW sessions on Tennessee Genealogy.  Plan now to attend–for a lot of you, that is major travel.  I am convinced that it will be worth the effort.  She projects over 5,000 in attendance!

PPS  And watch for many more new indexes and published  record transcripts as the Bicentennial comes closer.

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One Response to War of 1812 Bicentennial and Your Tennessee Genealogy

  1. jhill8992 says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for the great information. I will be watching for more wonderful information from you.

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