Old Maps Help Locate Mystery Grave of WWI Australian Jockey

Mystery Grave TombstoneGot a mystery grave in your family history? It’s not uncommon. It can happen for many reasons: no headstone, unidentified body, paperwork missing or lost, graves moved, cemeteries abandoned.

During battles and the immediate aftermath, soldiers’ remains can also be lost. That’s what happened to Private Will Phillips, a “popular jockey” from Australia who joined the British forces during World War I.

Years later, Phillips’ great-nephew chased down his burial place. It wasn’t easy: he had to consult cryptic terrain and battlefield maps created during the chaos of war. He compared cemetery records of known and unknown burials. But he did eventually locate his Uncle Will’s grave next to another soldier’s (mismarked as someone else’s). In the process, he made another breathtaking discovery: a photograph of his uncle taken on the day he was killed in combat–standing next to the man he’s now known to be buried alongside. Read the full story and see photographs of Uncle Will here.

 

Heroic Rescue! 5000 WWI Photos Saved by a Rubbish Collector

WWI photos, World War I photographs

British volunteers for “Kitchener’s Army” waiting for their pay in the churchyard of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London. August 1914. Wikimedia Commons Image

One man has spent years rescuing thousands of WWI photos, letters and other artifacts from the trash. The full story, reported recently by the U.K’s MailOnline, tells the story of this heroic effort.

According to the article, dustman (garbage collector) Bob Smethurst began started this rescue mission about thirty years ago. As he dumped waste cans, he would sometimes spot old pictures, letters and other memorabilia spilling into the masher. He’d rescue them when he could. Now he’s got an enormous collection.

Mr. Smethurst noticed a lot of this World War I material being thrown out during the 1970s and 1980s as veterans died of old age. He guesses that a similar amount of World War II material has been heading to landfills or burn piles in recent years.

Have you ever rescued someone’s family artifacts from oblivion? Tell us about it on the Genealogy Gems Facebook pageA hat tip to Premium Member Kimberly for alerting me to this article!

10 Brothers Served in WWI: An Amazing Story

Tyne Cot Cemetery. Photo by Sgt Jez Doak, RAF/MOD, via Wikimedia Commons at http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/74/War_Graves_at_Tyne_Cot_Cemetary%2C_Belgium_MOD_45156481.jpg

The Press (York, UK) recently reported a story about 10 brothers who all enlisted to fight in World War I and the hubbub that followed.

“The family became minor celebrities because of the brothers’ service, and their story was used as a recruitment tool as the war went on,” reports the Press. Fortunately, most of these Irish immigrant boys came home alive. The story reports the recent discovery of one of their graves.

Have you ever found something like this in your family–stories of extraordinary sacrifice made during wartime? Tell us about it on the Genealogy Gems Facebook page!

FamilySearch Updates Include VA Pension Cards, South American Records

FamilySearch recently added another 192 million+ images and indexed records from North and South America and Europe to its growing FREE online collections. In the list at the bottom of this post you’ll find content from Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Spain, Switzerland, the United States, and Wales.

Notable collection updates include the 314,910 images from the Spain, Province of Barcelona, Municipal Records, 1387–1936,

collection, the 576,176 indexed records from the United States Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907–1933, collection, and the 189,395,454

Sample image from “United States Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907-1933.” Index and images. FamilySearch. https://familysearch.org : accessed 2013.

indexed records from the United States Public Records Index.

Here’s an example of a V.A. pension card, created by the Bureau of Pensions and Veterans Administration to record payments to veterans, widows and other dependents. FamilySearch describes the cards this way: “On the front of the cards for invalid veterans are recorded the name of veteran, his certificate number, his unit or arm of Service, the disability for which pensioned, the law or laws under which pensioned, the class of pension or certificate, the rate of pension, the effective date of pension, the date of the certificate, any fees paid, the name of the pension agency or group transferred from (if applicable), the date of death, the date the Bureau was notified, the former roll number, and ‘home.’ On the reverse side of the form appears the name of the veteran, his certificate number, and the record of the individual payments. The army and navy widow’s cards are similar to the invalids’ cards with the addition of the widow’s name and occasionally information regarding payments made to minors, but they do not indicate if the veteran had a disability.”

Collection

Indexed Records

Digital Images

Comments

Brazil, Mato Grosso, Civil Registration, 1848-2013 0 126,870 Added images to an existing collection.
Brazil, Minas Gerais, Catholic Church Records, 1706-1999 0 827 Added images to an existing collection.
Brazil, Pernambuco, Civil Registration, 1804-2013 0 94,516 Added images to an existing collection.
Colombia, Catholic Church Records, 1600-2012 0 111,526 Added images to an existing collection.
Peru, Puno, Civil Registration, 1890-2005 0 176,918 Added images to an existing collection.
Spain, Province of Barcelona, Municipal Records, 1387-1936 0 314,910 Added images to an existing collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1839 0 2,552 New browsable image collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1842 0 2,851 New browsable image collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1845 0 3,062 New browsable image collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1850 0 2,968 New browsable image collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1860 0 20,530 New browsable image collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1870 0 22,554 New browsable image collection.
U.S., Alabama, County Marriages, 1809-1950 324,971 690,459 Added indexed records and images to an existing collection.
United States Public Records Index 189,395,454 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
United States Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907-1933 576,176 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 644,004 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
Wales, Court and Miscellaneous Records, 1542-1911 0 84,676 Added images to an existing collection.

 

Mark Your Calendar for Upcoming Free Military Records on Two Major Sites

Military image at Findmypast.com.

Military image at Findmypast.com.

If you have relatives who have served in the military, why don’t you plan a little extra genealogical web surfing time this week? Here are two sites offering free temporary access to records:

1) In honor of Memorial Day in the United States,  findmypast.com is offering free searching of its collection of U.S. and international military records from midnight EDT on Thursday, May 23 until midnight EDT on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27.

Findmypast.com hosts over 26 million military records, with an emphasis on 20th-century records. That’s a plus for U.S. military records because so many from the 20th century were destroyed in a huge fire at the National Personnel Records Center in 1973. For the U.S., you’ll find World War I draft registration cards; World War II Army enlistments and prisoner of war records; Korean War casualties and POWs; Vietnam War casualties and even “casualties returned alive” (people thought to be dead but who came home) and an Army casualty file for 1961-1981.

There’s a much longer list for military records for the U.K. and Australasia, and a short, separate list of Irish military records. I’m guessing many of you in the English-speaking world have relatives who appear in these records.

Anyone can access these records by registering at findmypast.com.

2) In honor of Memorial Day next week, MyHeritage is granting free access to millions of military records from their most popular collections. The records can be accessed from here.

The free offer ends on May 28.

The collections will help you journey back in time to some of the most important conflicts in world history, which impacted American families as well as millions of families worldwide.

Here is the link to their official blog post – http://blog.myheritage.com/2013/05/memorial-day-free-access-to-us-military-records/

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