Thursday, August 04, 2005

Happy McNeely Hunting

Recently, a fellow McNeely researcher, Pat McNeely, had the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC and do research at the National Archives.

We were both looking into the family of the Rev. William V. McNeely of Blount and Hamilton Counties, Tennessee and Scott/Logan Counties, Arkansas. Pat researches John C., and I research Mary M., his surviving children from his first marriage and his only known surviving children. Unfortunately we haven't been able to track his first wife, Louisa, because the Hamilton Co., Tennessee no longer exist for the period they would have married.

She did find his pension record:
"He is listed with pension file #575906, certificate #724643. His widow, Augusta S. McNeely, collected widow's pension upon William's death, widow's pension file #700384, certificate #504878. His service was from 15 Nov 1863, discharged at Clarksville, Ark., 8 August 1865. He entered service as Private and was discharged as Sergeant with the Company "C" 2nd Arkansas Infantry."

But that wasn't the interesting part. The record included the pension application of his third wife Augusta White McNeely, and to file for this she had to document ALL of his wives.

We already knew his second wife was Lucinda B.M. Cannon Chambliss Land and his third wife was Augusta White.

But in an affidavit from William's daughter Mary, she noted that her mother's maiden name was Louisa Fitzgerald and that she died in 1865. Pat tells it best:
"If you can imagine, I was in the "Reading room" on the second floor. I now have an official researcher card from there. Pretty heady stuff!

"Anyway, there wasn't a seat for me, so I was hovered over the end of a table slowly turning pages over from the file. When I saw the one from Mary, I almost whooped out loud! Could not stop grinning and tried to regain my composure. I was on a high from having discovered there was a file that morning! I nearly tripped getting to the copy machine. If I had had to wait, I guess I would have peed my pants!!

"While looking at microfilm on the first floor, I overheard another group talking. There was a man who was a pro and he was talking to two other researchers. He was talking about one client who was looking for a grandfather in her line but he didn't have any Rev. War pension file. He urged her to look at the brother's file. She was reluctant to spend the money for the research. She finally broke down and in the file were pictures of the parents and their names on the back. She was ecstatic when she called him. It just shows you never know what would be in those files until you get them."

The thrill of victory. Congratulations and thanks to Pat!