Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Worldwide Genealogy: 7 Tips When Researching U.S. Army World War II Soldiers

After nearly 30 years of researching my father-in-law's WWII military service, which began on 7 April 1941 and ended on 18 June 1945, I now know where he was on almost every day of that time. My husband and I have taken many terrific trips visiting those places and learning more about where he served. So it's no surprise I like to write about the war experiences of my ancestors. To skirmishes with Native Americans prior to the Revolutionary War right through the Global War on Terrorism. However, I write most frequently about my Civil War, World War I and World War II veteran ancestors' experiences. Today, I'd like to share with you what I've learned about researching U.S. Army World War II veteran ancestor -- one of the millions of citizen soldiers Tom Brokaw called the "Greatest Generation."

My seven tips are:

1. Order his military service record
2. Learn about the specific unit in which he served
3. Understand the role he played in his unit
4. Record the awards and decorations he earned
My father-in-law's ribbon "rack;" built using EZ Rack Builder[1]

5. Learn about the campaigns in which he served
6. Use unit societies' websites and books about units
7. Don't forget your women ancestors

To read the details behind each tip and the resources to use and how to find them, click over to 7 Tips When Researching U.S. Army World War II Soldiers at Worldwide Genealogy -- a Genealogical Collaboration.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Unrelated Riggins?

I had considered my three times great grandfather Alfred Riggin a space alien for some time. He dropped into Madison County, Illinois, in 1836 when he bought land, then pulled a disappearing act after the 1850 census was enumerated. The scant records about him indicated he was born in Tennessee about 1811 and that he married Sarah "Sally" Piper in Madison County.

I had one DNA match to a living descendant, and after communicating we both confirmed through records we had collected our shared common ancestor was Alfred, the space alien. I had four other matches that included the Riggin surname in their pedigree charts.

One DNA match particularly excited me as it was a descendant of a Teague Riggin, who came to the American colonies in the 1640s after he was exiled from Ireland by Oliver Cromwell. He married the boss' daughter and died a rich plantation owner in Somerset County, Maryland, in 1707. One of his descendants became a circuit-riding minister and settled in Sevier County, Tennessee. Three of his sons made their way to Madison County, Illinois -- one even founded the town of Troy where my space alien lived and another lost a state legislative election to Abraham Lincoln. Alfred must be the reverend's son. How many Riggin men would travel from Tennessee to one county in Illinois about the time the territory became a state and not be related? The exiting part for me was 1640 would be the furthest back in time for any direct ancestor in my tree. I even blogged about old Teague Riggin several times.

From the Centennial History of Madison County, Illinois; image
courtesy of Internet Archive

I would poke at the problem from time to time looking for definitive proof. I finally read about a reference to a book about the Riggin surname that was supposedly housed in the Los Angeles County, California public library. Unfortunately, they no longer had a copy. I did find it, however, on the website.

Harry Riggin, co-founder of Troy, Illinois, copyrighted image
purchased by my from Historic MapWorks for
non-commercial use in publications. It may not be reused
by others
The good reverend, who settled in Tennessee, had a son, who wrote a short biography about his father. It was included in the book! He had four sons, all were named...and none were named Alfred. This caused me to go back and review everything I had collected about the Riggin family. And staring out from my family tree was the proof that Alfred came from a different Riggin line. Since Rev. Riggin's son, John, married Elizabeth Reid, this had to be another John. And I knew Alfred's mother was Margaret Farris. I'd had that "proof" for several years! Argh!

Snippet from the Centennial History of Madison County, Illinois (John
Riggin and Margaret Farris are Alfred Riggin's parents); image courtesy
of Internet Archive

I now know who Alfred's daddy was and and I now know why one Riggin line disclaims the other (Alfred's daddy was more than a bit of a scoundrel), but I still believe the two lines are related in some way. How else do you explain the DNA match?

This post was written for the Little Bytes of Life May 18 blog party.

Finding Alfred's Daddy
Who's Your Daddy, Alfred Riggin
Lost an Election to Abraham Lincoln
On the High Road to Ruin
Indentured Servant to Landed Gentry