12 January 2015

Military Monday: Benjamin VanHorn in the Civil War

Awhile back Family Tree Magazine posted a helpful image concerning potential wars your ancestor might have fought in. If your ancestor was born between 1811 and 1848, then they may have served in the Civil War. That said, if your ancestor was very young or very old when he served, then the years may be off accordingly. My 3x great grandfather Chrispin Pierson VanHorn was born 21 September 1839 but I can find no evidence of his serving. His brother, Benjamin Franklin VanHorn, was born 8 March 1843 and did in fact serve the Union. 

Benjamin was 20 when he registered for the draft. At that time he lived in Valley Township, Chester County in the Seventh Congressional District for Pennsylvania. He is not married and notes he was born in Pennsylvania. 

One source, found through Ancestry.com, revealed that Benjamin was “Drafted to Company H, Pennsylvania 90th Infantry Regiment on 02 Sep 1863.Mustered out on 26 Nov 1864.Transferred to on 26 Nov 1864.”  


Sometimes that wiggling leaf is just so exciting that it is easy to forget not all Ancestry.com hints are relevant to your specific person. And that was the case when it popped up with the “Civil War Prisoner of War Records, 1861-1865 for B Vanhorn.” Not my Benjamin. A close look reveals that B. Vanhorn, a Private from Co F, Regiment 95 was born in Ohio. He was held at Andersonville, Georgia and was exchanged out. 


After the war, he (that is, my Benjamin) married Margaret Hensel. They moved to Virginia then they moved to California.  

It was in California, that he field for his pension. His application confirms that he served in Co. 11 and Co. 90 of the PA Infantry. He applied on 24 April 1882. His application was #447.286 and his certificate was #421450. 

One of my goals this year is to “dig deeper into Benjamin’s CW service/POW time.”  That goal takes me to the National Archives site. The Federal Military Pension Application (NATF 85) costs $80. For a service record though, a Compiled Military Service File (NATF 86) is only $30. It contains the compiled records for those who served before 1912.  

I have to admit that I am torn. He is not a direct lineal ancestor but I really am curious. I will probably him and haw the rest of the morning until the mailman comes and then make a last minute impulsive decision! 

Do you have a Civil War ancestor?
Do you think you might have an ancestor who fought in the Civil War? You can search through Ancestry.com or Fold3 for military records. You can also search the Soldiers and Sailors Database on the National Park Service site. Fill in your soldier’s name (I only used his last name since sometimes he went by Benjamin and sometimes he used his middle name Franklin) and his state. The database results will provide your ancestor’s battle unit, side, company, rank upon enlistment and mustering out, any alternate name, his film number, any plaque number and finally and notes. For example, my Benjamin  has “General Note – See also 90 Pa. Inf.”  as his note.  His battle unit is the 11th Regiment Pennsylvania Infantry. Another research option is to hire a professional researcher.

Fellow family researcher and genealogist Jerrie Finley provided copies oof the photos of Benjamin seen here.  

Ancestry.com. Civil War Prisoner of War Records, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.  

Historical Data Systems, comp. U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009.  

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records (Provost Marshal General's Bureau; Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865); Record Group: 110, Records of the Provost Marshal General's Bureau (Civil War); Collection Name: Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865 (Civil War Union Draft Records); ARC Identifier: 4213514; Archive Volume Number: 2 of 3 

National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000.
Military Monday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.