Free Military Record Access = Great New Discoveries

Ancestry is offering free access to worldwide military records until tomorrow in honor of Veterans’ Day. Since my subscription expired recently and I haven’t yet renewed it, I decided to take advantage of the free offer to see what new information I might find.

I am always advocating taking new, looks at research, especially from a different perspective. I can’t say I’ve ever searched for family information using a one subject database like military records and pumping in name after name from the family trees. I guess that is probably because until the advent of the internet, it was difficult to search for all family members to be found in one database. The only exceptions I can think of to that were the census records and then, later, the volumes that listed Revolutionary War pensioners.

To my surprise, I spent five or six hours entering names in the Ancestry military records and I found more than a couple of nuggets worth their weight in gold. Images all found at

  1. My great grandfather was always known as Charles “E.” Adams. There is no birth record for him; his marriage and death records only give the middle initial. Due to uncles and cousins being named Edward or Edwin, I suspected that the “E” stood for one of those, but I found no proof until I searched the military records.

Charles Adams World War I Draft Registration

Problem solved: Charles EDWIN Adams

2. Charles Adams’ uncle, Lowell R. Adams, served in the Spanish-American War. I’ve known that for a long time because I actually have a photo of him with his men taken in Cuba. The military records filled in a lot more information on Lowell. He began as a private in the Maine National Guard in 1893. He was promoted along the way to sergeant and then second lieutenant until he became a first lieutenant at the start of the war. There were about twenty different images of his military records, but one of the most fun ones was this:

Lowell R. Adams, Marksmen’s Competition

In the last section on the bottom of the page, Lowell is the third name on the left. I am not sure how to interpret the scores, but he was in a marksmen competition shooting at distances of 200 and 500 yards!

3. Dave’s great grandfather, Clay Nation, was found in the World War I Draft Registration records. I found two new pieces of information about him. First, I knew his birthday was in September from the 1900 census. However, again, there is no birth record for him. His death record doesn’t include the day of the month and his gravestone only has birth and death years.

Clay Columbus Nation, World War I Draft registration

Problem Solved: He was born 18 September 1872

  This card also confirmed what I suspected – Clay Nation was unable to read or write. Look at the bottom of the left card. He signed with his mark “X.”

4. Clay Nation’s father was Joseph Michael Nation. He is found in the Civil War Draft Registration rolls of Cumberland County, Kentucky. Sometimes, he is found in records at Joseph, other times as J.M., but he apparently also went by his middle name of Michael, which is how he appears in the Cumberland County roll:

Michael Nation, Last Name on the List

5. Hampton Brasher, Dave’s 3x great grandfather, enlisted in the Civil War while living in Christian County, Kentucky. He died during the war as probate began on his estate on 5 July 1864. I had never found an exact date of death or cause. Did he die in battle or of illness? From earlier Civil War research, I learned that men were just as likely to die from illness as they were from battle wounds.

Hampton Brasher, Death Record

This record provided several new facts about Hampton. He was a sergeant serving in Co. H, MO Light Artillery, he died on 19 February 1864 in Rolla, Missouri and, lastly, he died of pneumonia.

Have you checked the Ancestry military records databases? If not, there still is time as free access doesn’t end until tomorrow, Veterans’ Day.


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