Civil War Researchers
Flossie Price and Joyce Brunson along with John King are the key researchers of the Civil War Project. Between them they have completed 600 soldiers’ genealogical files. They began with a list provided by the Il Adj. Gen’l of all soldiers who enlisted and fought in Illinois regiments. From that they extracted about 1200 names of those who signed up from Lawrence County. Systematically they then research each one and locate facts about the soldier, such as who his parents, wife and children were, his war record, what occupation he was engaged in after the war, and where he is buried. Mike Neal and Dan Scherer then prepare the information for a future publication. Larry Curry uses some of these bios for the articles in the Lawrence County News.
Price began doing family research in 2002 because of an oral history story about an ancestor coming to Knox county with George Rogers Clark. She learned how to research at the Brockman House in Vincennes. Brunson began researching in 1970. Because of her profession as a nurse, she wanted to track the family’s medical conditions to see if certain ones were inherited. She initially took a Genealogy class in Vincennes University. Both ladies soon realized they had a knack for researching old family history.
When this project started, Price and Brunson volunteered, and both agree that telling the life stories of men who fought in a war 150 years ago has been made much easier by the evolution of internet genealogy research. When asked how they begin their research, Price said she starts with an internet site called Fold3, looking at Civil War files from the National Archives. From there she hopes to find a wife’s pension file, which will narrow the search, particularly if the soldier’s name is a common one. Then she looks up census records to locate the family and finally death records to find an obituary. Brunson begins by first looking on ancestry.com for a family tree with sources that may shorten the search, and then proceeds basically the same.
Both say that persistence pays off. Each soldier file may require 5-20 hrs. of research, only to determine at the end that the soldier never lived in Lawrence county, merely enlisted here, and had no further contacts here, and doesn’t qualify for the Society’s project. While this can be discouraging Price and Brunson feel that their research skills are honed by each file, whether it will be used or not.
When they “hit a brick wall” which happens occasionally to all genealogists, they ask John King for help. He began doing genealogy, one wet spring when he couldn’t get in the fields to plant. Now on his trips east to visit his daughter’s family, King takes the Metro to the Nat’l Archives in Washington, DC and reviews the actual files that are not yet digitized. In this way he has located elusive information, as well as court martials and heroic acts of courage, that round out the stories Price and Brunson are telling. Additionally he has researched most of the files relating to the 30+ black soldiers who enlisted from Lawrence County. King states that there are genealogy treasures to be found in pension files---marriage certificates, details about births, and once he even found a photograph showing an eye injury.
Over 100 photos have been found to date and identified as Lawrence County Il soldiers. As more are found they are added to the Museum Wall. The photos above are just a sample of what we have to share.