Monday, January 29, 2007
I am up to the end of 1864 in Team of Rivals. When I got to the summer of 1864, I was curious about the exact date and other details of my great grandfather's enlistment in the Union Army, so I went on ancestry.com and did some searching. Since genealogy research is an interest of mine, I've had a subscription for a long time, but it has been a while since I last searched it. The search utility, and access to the original documents has improved a lot. They are always adding more databases. After I discovered he enlisted in October 1864 and did some reading about Company F of the 15th NY Volunteer Engineers, I decided to search for a few other folks. My paternal grandparents died when my father was a kid, which of course was long before I was born. I had seen them in the 1920 Federal census for Philadelphia a while ago, and more recently I had located the ship manifest for when they came over to the United States from Sicily in 1913. But a few days ago I found my grandfather's WWI draft registration, it must have been newly added, or at least was only made easily searchable recently. This has us all very excited. The information is interesting - including his exact birthdate, address and that he worked at Hog's Island shipbuilding facility, but what seems to be most touching to all of us is that his signature is on it. His handwriting was nice! Aside from a few pictures, we have nothing this tangible. Seeing something so personal from nearly 89 years ago makes him more real, more vibrant.