Who's your ancestor? (And does it matter?)

Joined
Nov 23, 2019
Location
North Carolina
I have been so fascinated by my family members that fought and died in the Civil War that I am branching out to siblings and cousins. As I research the list just gets bigger and bigger. I started out with a grandfather's great-grandfather, who lived near my grandfather until my grandfather was 16. I had no idea while my grandfather was alive, that his great-grandfather served. I don't recall him ever talking about it. Missed connection! Since then I found out that my grandfather's parents each had a grandfather that fought on opposite sides in the war. To date, I've found 14 direct/indirect family members who fought in the Civil War. It has brought the war in sharp detail for me.
 

Dave D

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Joined
Feb 21, 2019
In the end, the words don't matter to me. David had no children so keeping his memory alive is something only his collateral descendants can do. As I keep adding to my family tree I keep adding soldiers who fought in the Civil War and I keep gathering their stories too. Ancestors or not, they matter.
My my paternal great grandfather was the only son to survive the Civil War - his two brothers and at least 2 cousins were killed in battle or died in a northern POW camp - none of these young men were married and had no descendants. So, I feel a familial obligation to identify them and keep their memory alive - only one of them has a marked grave.
 
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Joined
Aug 1, 2018
Location
Nashville, TN
I never knew I had an ancestor in the war until recently. We always thought my great, great, great grandfather came from Sweden after the war. It turns out that he came in 1861 and joined the 43rd Illinois Infantry as a corporal. He fought at Shiloh and the Vicksburg campaign. He reenlisted in 1863. He was promoted to sergeant. He went back to Sweden after the war to get his wife and kid. They settled in Nebraska. There's an Engdahl street in Oakland, Nebraska named for him. The interesting thing is his original name was Gustov Anderson. That was the name he enlisted under. He changed his name to Engdahl when he returned to the US. I always wondered why.

It's possible I have Confederates on my mother's side. Especially from her father who was Cherokee. The Cherokees sided with the Confederacy. Unfortunately, I don't know much about his family because my mom was adopted by her stepfather when she was four. Her mother's family came out of Virginia after the war. Once again, we don't know much about them, but I probably have at least one Rebel in my line.
 

29thWisCoG

Corporal
Joined
Apr 12, 2021
It matters to me. In a collection of family pictures there was one of my GG Grandfathers tombstone, on it was etched "29th Wis Co. G", nobody in the family new anything about his service so I started researching... I was able to track down his enlistment all the way to mustering out back to his home when the war ended. It has given me a new hobby of civil war research, and reading books that give details on the battles he fought in, it has been very rewarding. Since I also am a firearms enthusiast, it intrigued me enough to purchase a repro musket, which lead to casting minie balls as well! Now I am in the market for a genuine Springfield similar to one that he may have used. I was fortunate that a soldier in his regiment published a diary of his war record, and it has given me great insight to what he experienced.
 

bdtex

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It matters to me. In a collection of family pictures there was one of my GG Grandfathers tombstone, on it was etched "29th Wis Co. G", nobody in the family new anything about his service so I started researching... I was able to track down his enlistment all the way to mustering out back to his home when the war ended. It has given me a new hobby of civil war research, and reading books that give details on the battles he fought in, it has been very rewarding. Since I also am a firearms enthusiast, it intrigued me enough to purchase a repro musket, which lead to casting minie balls as well! Now I am in the market for a genuine Springfield similar to one that he may have used. I was fortunate that a soldier in his regiment published a diary of his war record, and it has given me great insight to what he experienced.
Deleted my post. Posted in the wrong place.
 

Smalls347

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Joined
Mar 11, 2021
I am a direct ancestor if Edward Cuthbert, Cuthberts of Castle Hill, Scotland. James Cuthbert landed in South Carolina in 1737. My great....greandfather lived in the Cuthbert home until the war. I love learning all the things about the time period no matter what family. However, I really do love reading about my direct ancestors stories and history. My family was lucky and we have things from our Civil War home in Beaufort. It makes reasearching and reading stories online feel more real when I have the portrait of my ancestors eyes staring right at me. For me, knowing who my ancestor is helps reading the battles and all the stories easier to follow because of certain names.
 

digne

Private
Joined
Jun 27, 2020
I focus on my direct ancestors and their siblings. There's some cousins who fought in the war. I believe one of my direct ancestor's 3rd cousin was a Confederate General. But I'm not that interested in him at this time. Maybe someday.

But the siblings matter because what happens to your siblings deeply matters to you. My second-great grandmother was 3 year old when the war began and her 5 oldest brothers went to fight for the Union. Six months later, 3 of the them were dead along with her father. It is absurd to think her 5 brothers experience wasn't a huge part of her life story. And that by me telling their story I'm telling part of hers.
 
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Fairfield

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Dec 5, 2019
I focus on my direct ancestors and their siblings. There's some cousins who fought in the war. I believe one of my direct ancestor's 3rd cousin was a Confederate General. But I'm not that interested in him at this time. Maybe someday.

But the siblings matter because what happens to your siblings deeply matters to you. My second-great grandmother was 3 year old when the war began and her 5 oldest brothers when to fight for the Union. Six months later, 3 of the them were dead along with her father. It is absurd to think her 5 brothers experience wasn't a huge part of her life story. And that by me telling their story I'm telling part of hers.
But it does matter. Research is easier when you are operating with greater knowledge. Furthermore, putting together a family history entails more than proving links--it is also answering the question WHY. When I wrote up the stories of the ACW soldiers from my town, each entry had a section where I listed relatives who also fought: brothers, fathers, first cousins and in-laws.

Kindred feeds into itself. The actions and opinions of a person's entire family impacted him/her. You may not be interested in your direct ancestor's 3rd cousin but it is possible that you direct ancestor was very interested.
 

lupaglupa

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I also had an Uncle in the 43rd MS.

William Marion Steele GGG Uncle (M,P) - Private – 43rd Mississippi Infantry Co. G - Enlisted on May 10, 1862 in Smithville, Mississippi. Listed as Absent Without Leave from near Chickasaw Bayou, LA starting on April 17, 1863. Not shown to return.
He was in Captain Winter's company! Captain Floyd Winter is my gr-gr-gr-grandfather :smile: That side of my family all lived in Smithville, MS, where William Steele enlisted.
 

nc native

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 30, 2011
Location
NC Piedmont
My ancestors are important to me for at least a couple of reasons. The first is the genetic traits I received from them for good or bad. Knowing who your ancestors were can explain why a person does some of the things he does and wonders where did that come from.
Knowing your genetic traits can also help a person prevent disease when they know certain conditions run along a family line. In my case I have to be careful about my sugar consumption. Diabetes runs in my father's line of descent from his mother and her family line that includes the only officer among my direct Civil War ancestors. Genetics can also explain the physical characteristics a person has. My auburn naturally wavy hair comes from my mother's line and my brothers do not have this trait.

Another reason my ancestors matter is the strengthening of family ties and in some cases knowing your genealogy can help you discover new family members who become acquainted with you. Around three years ago a lady who was adopted emailed me because she had been trying to find her father for many years with no success. We shared a significant amount of DNA so I went through my family history and put the pieces together and one of my great uncles who was a law enforcement officer that had a wild streak turned out to be the man who fathered her. We have become good friends besides being second cousins. Besides this, finding the families you are related to and learning more about them is very interesting and worthwhile it that you get a bigger picture of who you are and the role your ancestors had in founding communities, surviving difficult situations and making the world they lived in a better place in many cases.
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
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Dec 5, 2019
My ancestors are important to me for at least a couple of reasons. The first is the genetic traits I received from them for good or bad. Knowing who your ancestors were can explain why a person does some of the things he does and wonders where did that come from.
Knowing your genetic traits can also help a person prevent disease when they know certain conditions run along a family line. In my case I have to be careful about my sugar consumption. Diabetes runs in my father's line of descent from his mother and her family line that includes the only officer among my direct Civil War ancestors. Genetics can also explain the physical characteristics a person has. My auburn naturally wavy hair comes from my mother's line and my brothers do not have this trait.

Another reason my ancestors matter is the strengthening of family ties and in some cases knowing your genealogy can help you discover new family members who become acquainted with you. Around three years ago a lady who was adopted emailed me because she had been trying to find her father for many years with no success. We shared a significant amount of DNA so I went through my family history and put the pieces together and one of my great uncles who was a law enforcement officer that had a wild streak turned out to be the man who fathered her. We have become good friends besides being second cousins. Besides this, finding the families you are related to and learning more about them is very interesting and worthwhile it that you get a bigger picture of who you are and the role your ancestors had in founding communities, surviving difficult situations and making the world they lived in a better place in many cases.
Excellent reasons! I can add from personal experience: I am a member of a small ethnic group in Maine (I'm Norwegian-American) and am surrounded by people who descend from UK and from Canada/France. There are no relatives nearby--so I was delighted to fall in (online) with an enormous number of cousins back in Norway.

Most of us don't live where our distant ancestors lived. Tracking the journey from point A to point B is fascinating. It is also humbling to realize that we are mostly all immigrants (whether it be a few months or a couple of centuries).

Some traits are not genetic. I do (and see) things in a certain way because my parents did--and they did so because their parents did. And so on.

Then there is the practical side: we may be in for an inheritance or we may need to prove land ownership.
 

nc native

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 30, 2011
Location
NC Piedmont
Excellent reasons! I can add from personal experience: I am a member of a small ethnic group in Maine (I'm Norwegian-American) and am surrounded by people who descend from UK and from Canada/France. There are no relatives nearby--so I was delighted to fall in (online) with an enormous number of cousins back in Norway.

Most of us don't live where our distant ancestors lived. Tracking the journey from point A to point B is fascinating. It is also humbling to realize that we are mostly all immigrants (whether it be a few months or a couple of centuries).

Some traits are not genetic. I do (and see) things in a certain way because my parents did--and they did so because their parents did. And so on.

Then there is the practical side: we may be in for an inheritance or we may need to prove land ownership.
One of the biggest surprises in my DNA profile and my family research has been the fact that I have a bit of Norwegian/Swedish DNA in me. To be honest I never saw that coming but some of my mother's ancestors who migrated to central North Carolina in the mid 18th century were from Sweden and in my DNA matches on Geni I am getting quite a few genetic hits from Norway, Sweden and even Finland. Before I started finding my ancestry I had always assumed that I was primarily English/Scottish and Irish as most Southerners are but I have found out I have a few French Huguenot and Swedish ancestors in my tree.
 

digne

Private
Joined
Jun 27, 2020
But it does matter. Research is easier when you are operating with greater knowledge. Furthermore, putting together a family history entails more than proving links--it is also answering the question WHY. When I wrote up the stories of the ACW soldiers from my town, each entry had a section where I listed relatives who also fought: brothers, fathers, first cousins and in-laws.

Kindred feeds into itself. The actions and opinions of a person's entire family impacted him/her. You may not be interested in your direct ancestor's 3rd cousin but it is possible that you direct ancestor was very interested.
Yes! That's the next level, I would go to to go deeper into that line. That confederate soldier was named Asa Hill. His regiment, the 35th (5th) Reg. Tenn. Inf., was full of other Hills. Asa's family was a prominent one in the area; although Asa himself was a poor cousin by this time. The men of the 35th elected Asa's 3rd cousin, Benjamin Jefferson Hill, as their colonel. Benjamin was later promoted to brig. general. To fully tell Asa's story, you would confirm who the other Hills who joined the 35th were — I recognize a few of them. This was a community acting together and it is likely a big part of why Asa joined the Confederate Army. There are also several people with Asa's wife's maiden name, and are probably her relatives.

At the moment, I'm really focused on the story of my 2nd great-grandmother who lost 3 brothers in the war. And so I haven't gone deeper on the Hill line yet, beyond Asa's core story.
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
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Dec 5, 2019
One of the biggest surprises in my DNA profile and my family research has been the fact that I have a bit of Norwegian/Swedish DNA in me. To be honest I never saw that coming but some of my mother's ancestors who migrated to central North Carolina in the mid 18th century were from Sweden and in my DNA matches on Geni I am getting quite a few genetic hits from Norway, Sweden and even Finland. Before I started finding my ancestry I had always assumed that I was primarily English/Scottish and Irish as most Southerners are but I have found out I have a few French Huguenot and Swedish ancestors in my tree.
So---maybe we're related! Clearly your mother is a lady of taste when it comes to choosing an origin of her ancestors because Scandinavia is lovely (and the food is terrific)☺️.
 

DixieRifles

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Collierville, TN
The index of the book about the 43rd. It's called The Camel Regiment, because the 43rd had a camel that travelled with them. His names was Douglas. He was killed by a sharpshooter at Vicksburg.
There is a guy on a FB Group “North Mississippi Civil War History” who posts all kinds of articles Bout the 43rd Miss. He posted a photo that is the only known photo of one of their camels tied to a hitching post in some town.
Check out the FB Group.
 

Fairfield

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Dec 5, 2019
The interesting thing is his original name was Gustov Anderson. That was the name he enlisted under. He changed his name to Engdahl when he returned to the US. I always wondered why.
I can hazard a guess, based on Norwegian naming systems. In Norway (outside urban areas), a person had three names: the forename (Gustav), the patronymic (Anderson) and the property name (possibly Engdahl, "dahl" means valley). Or he may have followed the Danish custom and assumed any name that had appeared in his family. Scandinavians were (and are) very flexible about names. My Norwegian grandmother was one of three full siblings--none of whom had the same name.
 
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