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War of 1812 pensions a valuable source

The War of 1812, which lasted from 1812 until early 1815, was commemorated over the past few years, but the pensions resulting from that war should not be overlooked by genealogists.

Former soldiers could apply for pensions if they lived past 1871 (earlier if wounded and disabled), and their widows (if married before 1815), with qualifications expanding later.

Check the “Index to War of 1812 Pension Files” by Virgil White (at most libraries) or pensions online at Men aged 18 to 30 during the war could enlist, and some did so for short terms.

There are lineage societies based on ancestral service in the war: General Society War of 1812 ( for men, and United States Daughters of the War of 1812 ( for women.

The ins and outs of the records of this war — the pensions, the various military records at the national and state levels, as well as a good bibliography of books about the war and its records — are found in the latest Genealogy-at-a-Glance publication, “War of 1812 Research,” by the War of 1812 Preserve the Pension Fund.

This new four-page, laminated publication is $8.95 plus $4.50 postage from the Genealogical Publishing Co. Call 1-800-296-6687 or go to to order. This publication is one of the best in the series and well worth having in your genealogy notebook for reference.

The War of 1812 Preserve the Pension Fund was organized by the National Archives, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and to digitize the pensions and put them free online at For more about the project, and how to donate, see

Cemetery preservation in DeKalb County

Cemetery preservation is the May 17 Lunch and Learn panel discussion topic at the DeKalb History Center at the Old Courthouse on the square in Decatur, featuring this columnist, archivist Fred Mobley and others. It’s at noon and free; bring your own lunch. Call 404-373-1088, Ext. 23, or check for further information.

Upcoming conference

The Federation of Genealogical Societies will meet Aug. 31-Sept. 3 in Springfield, Ill. It’s a good national event to attend; check

Contact Kenneth H. Thomas Jr., P.O. Box 901, Decatur, GA 30031 or

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