I will admit, I don’t know a lot about researching the War of 1812 soldiers as none of my ancestors served, but I have realized this year how difficult it is unless you are able to do research in the North Carolina State Archives, where most of the records are kept. Unlike the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, not a lot has been published to help genealogists out with their research on War of 1812 soldiers.
I decided this week to talk about muster rolls for the war of 1812. We have in our library a book called North Carolina Military Muster Rolls 1812 & 1814 by Ronald Vern Jackson. This book is an index of muster rolls during 1812 and 1814 for soldiers from North Carolina. For the purpose of this blog, I will refer to this as the Jackson Index. There is a note on the inside cover of this book to refer to the Simpson Index located in the North Carolina State Archives research room reference desk and that is also in our library under the title Adjutant General’s records : index to the manuscript muster rolls of the War of 1812
I set out to compare the 2 books and found the experience very interesting. The Jackson Index gives the name of the men, the regiment and company they served and a microfilm number corresponding with the year they served (MR1812 or MR1814). On the other hand, the Simpson Index lists the name of the men, the county they served in, the volume and page number of the original record book in the North Carolina State Archives.
What I noticed the Simpson Index is only for 1812 whereas the Jackson Index is for 1812 and 1814. I figured immediately there would only be about 1/2 as many men listed in the Simpson Index. What I found is that although some men listed in the Jackson Index for 1812 also appear in the Simpson Index, many do not.
First, let me give you an example of a man that I picked out by random who appears in both books and the type of information you can learn from both:
Lemuel Holloman is listed in the Jackson Index as Hertford Regiment 8th Company MR1812. The Simpson Index lists him as Hertford County vol. I page 36.
Now for some of the discrepancies, I do research on the Chavis Family in North Carolina so naturally I looked them up in the books. The only Chavis I could find listed in both is a John Chavis (or Chaves in the Simpson Index). He served Granville Regiment 9th Company MR1812, Granville County vol. I page 18. Simpson Index also includes a George Chavis that Jackson Index does not and Jackson Index also includes a Banston Chavis from Chatham County that Simpson Index does not.
So why are there discrepancies such as this? It turns out that the Jackson index was based on an 1851 publication from the Adjutant General’s Office called Muster Rolls of the Soldiers of the War of 1812: Detached from the Militia of North Carolina in 1812 and 1814 that was reprinted in 1926 and full of errors while the Simpson Index is based on the original records.
In genealogy, our goal is always to find the original records and this is an excellent example of why we need to do that. In this case, the original muster rolls are located at the North Carolina State Archives.
Interested in the War of 1812? The Department of Cultural Resources is commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812 in North Carolina with special events, activities, and materials to educate the public about “America’s Second War for Independence” and the role of North Carolina and North Carolinians in that war. For more information and resources please go to, http://nc1812.ncdcr.gov/