Finding birth place of a Union soldier

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Member of the Month
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
As far as his enlistment goes I have records from 1863 and 1864. I thought it might have been a typo but what you say is possible, he could have registered one year and then enlisted the next. I'm not sure if there was a draft - maybe he had to register and then didn't get drafted until the next year? That could open up some more possibilities. I could search for records around both Scranton and Nottingham. Maybe knowing the area could give me more clues. I've been through the PA and National archives but if I can narrow it down to a city or county I might get better information.
The other Michael Brophy (PA 114) enlisted in Philadelphia; according to HDS, his residence was Tacony (Tacony is a part of Philadelphia). Nottingham is only 55 miles or so from Philadelphia (whereas Nottingham is nearly 197 miles from Scranton).

In Maine, if a man who registered for the draft was called up, that information was often recorded under the Comments column. The only comment on the Nottingham registration regarded his having filed a naturalization intention.

When your Michael Brophy (PA 45) enlisted, he was a substitute--and that certainly sounds like something coming out of the draft of the previous year. If he is not the Nottingham man, someone else registered (probably in Scranton area), was called up, and paid your MB to go in his place.

There is a Michael Brophy in Philadelphia on the 1860 census--but a younger man. There's another MB in Erie County (out by Pittsburg)--but he is older. However, there are 3 different men, named Michael Brophy, in New York City.

Going through archives online may not be the route to go in such a complicated case. Online or in-person, archivists and librarians are our friends. I'd contact both archives (each should have a contact link for assistance). Or, on this list is Bob Velke, a registered vendor (I believe that he does research into this kind of thing at NARA--but I don't know his fee schedule). He may be a good person to set to work on this--or simply to be a knowledgeable sounding board re NARA records.
 

Desdra

Cadet
Joined
Jul 16, 2021
ooh, I didn't see the Date of Discharge included the statement about being transferred. Your theory sounds very plausible. I'm going to do some more digging in the newspapers of the time. They had the most minute things that happened in a town written in the newspaper. Probably not in DC but definitely in small towns in Kansas.

"I'm sure he didn't die twice" LOL
 
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
I have done years of research, especially in Pennsylvania. Many of my family, including Civil War veterans, hail from the Keystone State. One thing is true about PA records there are no birth and death certificates prior to about 1890 which makes finding exacting dates for vital statistics difficult if not impossible. I have also learned that birth announcements in newspapers were far and few between during the 19th century unless a family had the money and time to make such announcements.

I read some of the other posts and all are good advice but one item I see that has been neglected are church records. Your ancestor was Irish and I would venture to say was also religious especially given he was in the Army fighting for the cause. If you can access them it sounds as if you may have two possibly three counties with which to focus your attention here in the U.S. and maybe a confined area of counties in Ireland as well. Knowing the approximate year will help tremendously. I've never researched Irish records so I cannot help you there but church records have an abundance of vital data; births, christenings, baptisms, marriages, and deaths. In fact, until the government seized this function, churches were the vital record keepers for their communities. My $0.02.
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Member of the Month
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
I have done years of research, especially in Pennsylvania. Many of my family, including Civil War veterans, hail from the Keystone State. One thing is true about PA records there are no birth and death certificates prior to about 1890 which makes finding exacting dates for vital statistics difficult if not impossible. I have also learned that birth announcements in newspapers were far and few between during the 19th century unless a family had the money and time to make such announcements.

I read some of the other posts and all are good advice but one item I see that has been neglected are church records. Your ancestor was Irish and I would venture to say was also religious especially given he was in the Army fighting for the cause. If you can access them it sounds as if you may have two possibly three counties with which to focus your attention here in the U.S. and maybe a confined area of counties in Ireland as well. Knowing the approximate year will help tremendously. I've never researched Irish records so I cannot help you there but church records have an abundance of vital data; births, christenings, baptisms, marriages, and deaths. In fact, until the government seized this function, churches were the vital record keepers for their communities. My $0.02.
You're right. NEGHS has been digitizing BMD records of Boston area archdioceses--and what a wonderful resource! The only problem is (at least for Boston's records) is that they are in Latin which may look strange.
 
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
You're right. NEGHS has been digitizing BMD records of Boston area archdioceses--and what a wonderful resource! The only problem is (at least for Boston's records) is that they are in Latin which may look strange.
That is true if they are Catholic. If the records are Protestant then they may be in something else. Moreover, if one has an approximate date like Desdra even the Latin might possibly make some sense.
 
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
You're right. NEGHS has been digitizing BMD records of Boston area archdioceses--and what a wonderful resource! The only problem is (at least for Boston's records) is that they are in Latin which may look strange.
I have located many German records for some of my relatives and I don't know a lick of the German language. But I was able to find relatives because I had a death date off a grave stone. I not only found the man I was searching but I located his entire family!
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Member of the Month
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
I have located many German records for some of my relatives and I don't know a lick of the German language. But I was able to find relatives because I had a death date off a grave stone. I not only found the man I was searching but I located his entire family!
Of course you're correct--but, unless one is familiar with BMD records, another language can be daunting. Norwegian genealogists posted a warning on Norwegian genealogical sites about a mistranslation by one of the large American sites: someone (who probably didn't know a lick of the Norwegian language) translated "fadder" as "father". It looks like father. But it means "witness" or "sponsor" (far is father). Now that is misleading.
 

Desdra

Cadet
Joined
Jul 16, 2021
I have done years of research, especially in Pennsylvania. Many of my family, including Civil War veterans, hail from the Keystone State. One thing is true about PA records there are no birth and death certificates prior to about 1890 which makes finding exacting dates for vital statistics difficult if not impossible. I have also learned that birth announcements in newspapers were far and few between during the 19th century unless a family had the money and time to make such announcements.

I read some of the other posts and all are good advice but one item I see that has been neglected are church records. Your ancestor was Irish and I would venture to say was also religious especially given he was in the Army fighting for the cause. If you can access them it sounds as if you may have two possibly three counties with which to focus your attention here in the U.S. and maybe a confined area of counties in Ireland as well. Knowing the approximate year will help tremendously. I've never researched Irish records so I cannot help you there but church records have an abundance of vital data; births, christenings, baptisms, marriages, and deaths. In fact, until the government seized this function, churches were the vital record keepers for their communities. My $0.02.
Thank you so much! I did not know there were no vital records before 1890. That explains a lot. I will turn to the church records next. They almost certainly were Roman Catholic so I'll start there and go to the others if I can't find anything. Great advice, thank you.
 

Desdra

Cadet
Joined
Jul 16, 2021
That is true if they are Catholic. If the records are Protestant then they may be in something else. Moreover, if one has an approximate date like Desdra even the Latin might possibly make some sense.
I have a cheat sheet of common church record words in Latin. It helps but it's no guarantee for being able to figure out what the record actually says. I haven't had any use for it so far, I just picked it up one day in case I might ever need it.

I never thought about looking in Boston diocese records. I'll be sure to expand my search to include those. I'm pretty sure they were Catholic but I have no proof. I'll start with the Catholic records.
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Member of the Month
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
I never thought about looking in Boston diocese records. I'll be sure to expand my search to include those. I'm pretty sure they were Catholic but I have no proof. I'll start with the Catholic records.
The Boston records probably won't be of much use to you (I just mentioned them as an example).

Michael Brophy was, indeed, Catholic. If you look at his medical record from Leavenworth (post #13), opposite DOMESTIC HISTORY, is entered "Catholic".
 

Desdra

Cadet
Joined
Jul 16, 2021
The Boston records probably won't be of much use to you (I just mentioned them as an example).

Michael Brophy was, indeed, Catholic. If you look at his medical record from Leavenworth (post #13), opposite DOMESTIC HISTORY, is entered "Catholic".
Strangely enough I was just examining that record about 10 minutes ago and saw that notation. I missed it the first time I attached it to him. Thanks for looking carefully at it. I probably should go back and reexamine all the records I attached to see if I missed anything else. Thanks!
 
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
I have a cheat sheet of common church record words in Latin. It helps but it's no guarantee for being able to figure out what the record actually says. I haven't had any use for it so far, I just picked it up one day in case I might ever need it.

I never thought about looking in Boston diocese records. I'll be sure to expand my search to include those. I'm pretty sure they were Catholic but I have no proof. I'll start with the Catholic records.
I have taken three years in Latin and while I don't remember much of it (it was another life time) a persons name should be very close to his actual name. Moreover, you can look important vital statistic words like birth, death, marriage, in Latin and they should look the same or familiar when perusing the information. For example, nativitas is the Latin word for birth while nascentia is the Latin word for instance of birth.

Since Fairfield cited that record does list him a Catholic, you will have the birth year and his name that will make your search that much less daunting.

A final thought. Don't ignore the more local records if you're in the area or you know the period diocese in those areas. Hope this helps.
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Member of the Month
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
I have taken three years in Latin
An aside. Like many, I also struggled through Latin in high school--and grumbled because it is a "dead language" and I thought I'd never use it. Then, as a tourist in a small town in Belgium, I spotted a necklace and tried to converse with the shopkeeper. We tried every language that we knew without success. Then we tried high school Latin--and bingo! Right now, I wearing that necklace 😊

BTW there are two forms of Latin: secular (ancient) and church. But vital records are so standardized that this shouldn't make a difference.
 
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
An aside. Like many, I also struggled through Latin in high school--and grumbled because it is a "dead language" and I thought I'd never use it. Then, as a tourist in a small town in Belgium, I spotted a necklace and tried to converse with the shopkeeper. We tried every language that we knew without success. Then we tried high school Latin--and bingo! Right now, I wearing that necklace 😊

BTW there are two forms of Latin: secular (ancient) and church. But vital records are so standardized that this shouldn't make a difference.
I was trained as an Army medic and surgical assistant. Even after I worked in the medical field for more than 25 years. Many a word have I deciphered as a result of my Latin training. In addition, as a result of learning the language I certainly have a deeper appreciation of our English language.
 
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