Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ben Losee, My Beloved Union Soldier

My first research trip ever was back when I was 16. Knowing my grandpa's family had long standing roots in Freeport, NY, I started my research by going to the Freeport Memorial Library.

Libraries are instrumental to genealogy research, however, it is not really the place to start. You really need to start at home. I'll write more about that another time.

While at the library though, my grandmother noticed a memorial plaque. The Freeport Memorial Library is just that a memorial. In fact it is the first memorial library in New York State dedicated to the memories of the men of Freeport who died in the Civil War.

Among the names listed on the plaque was Benjamin F. Losee. At the time I did not know how I was related to Ben but I knew by the unusual last name that I just had to be related. After many years of digging I discovered that he was my great-great grandfather's brother.

Ben enlisted in the Union Army when he was just 19, according to his records. However, I suspect that he was actually younger. He was a member of the 139th NY Infantry, Co. A. He died from typhus at Point of Rocks, VA and is interned in City Point National Cemetery in Hopewell, VA.

It took me a while to track down where he was interned; in part because his last name was misspelled on his headstone. It appeared as Losa, although the letters in his military pension file clearly showed that he wrote his name as Losee.

After jumping through some legal hoops and contacting my congresswoman, I was able to get them to change his headstone.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Everyone is invited...

I began researching my family tree when I was 16; back in 1990. I started my research simply because I was confused. I had these cousin who showed up at family reunions for both my paternal grandmother's family and my paternal grandfather's family. What?

I thought that maybe we're just really friendly and invite all sorts of extended family members or perhaps these cousins are just really, really hungry. My grandma, who I call Nanny, explained to me then that her brother married grandpa's second cousin. So these people who kept showing up, they are my 1st cousins once removed and my 3rd cousins once removed. WHAT?

How can someone be your cousin more than once?
And what is this removed nonsense?
And I get that Uncle Richie is Nanny's brother but how is Aunt Jeannette related to Poppy???
Second, huh?

At 16 years-old existence in and of itself is confusing, I didn't need inbreeding added to the mess. But it wasn't inbreeding at all. This type of intermarriage is actually very common in families. Often it is caused by one introducing their siblings to their in-laws extended family. In this case though, my grandpa (a.k.a. Poppy) didn't know Jeannette before she became engaged to Nanny's brother.

Poppy and Jeannette met at Richie and Jeannette's engagement party. Poppy asked Jeannette what her maiden name was; Losee. With great surprise he announced that Losee was his mother's maiden name. And after some discussion the two pieced together their cousinship. And at 16 I started piecing it together too through documents and family stories.

If you have family connections just like this, don't just accept it at face value, see if you can link it together through documents like birth, death, and marriage certificates. That's how I got hooked!

Happy Family History Month

October is Family History Month and to celebrate I am starting this blog to share my experiences in researching my family tree.