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Brick Wall Busters: Basic Training
Proving an ancestor's military service is a matter of following orders.

As Judy Benjamin, Goldie Hawn's character in the film Private Benjamin, found out, military life is all about following the rules. That's not always true with genealogy, though following a few research conventions is a good way to start.

A relative's military service holds the promise of detail-filled records about his role in momentous historic events. For example, Roger Johnson, a Family Tree Magazine reader in Temecula, Calif., found anecdotal evidence his third-great-grandfather Levi Williams was a member of a military group called the Legion of the United States (the US Army's name from 1791 to 1797). But Johnson can't find records to prove it. To break throught his roadblock, he'll have to find out more about the particulars — what this group did, when and where it was active, and how his ancestor might've come to be a member. Let's get him started.

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