Home On The Range

Home On The Range

Was Manifest Destiny part of your ancestors' fate? We'll take you to the Great Plains and the Rockies to find the best resources for plowing up your frontier roots.

COLORADO

Statehood: 1876

Statewide Birth Records

Begin: 1910

Statewide Death Records

Begin: 1900

Statewide Marriage Records

Begin: 1900

Address for Vital Statistics: Colorado Department of Health 4300 Cherry Creek Drive S.

Denver, CO 80246

(303) 756-4464

State Nickname: Centennial State

IDAHO

Statehood: 1890

Statewide Birth and Death

Records Begin: 1911

Statewide Marriage Records

Begin: 1947

Address for Vital Statistics:

Bureau of Vital Statistics

Box 83720

Boise, ID 83720

State Nickname: Gem State

KANSAS

Statehood: 1861

Statewide Birth and Death

Records Begin: 1911

Statewide Marriage Records

Begin: 1911

Address for Vital Statistics: Office of Vital Statistics

900 SW Jackson Topeka, KS 66612

(785) 296-1400

State Nickname: Sunflower State

MINNESOTA

Statehood: 1858

Statewide Birth Records

Begin: 1900

Statewide Death Records

Begin: 1908

Marriage Index: 1958

Address for Vital Statistics: Minnesota Department of Health

Birth and Death Records 717 Delaware St. SE

Box 9441

Minneapolis, MN 55440

(612) 676-5121

State Nickname: North Star State

MONTANA

Statehood: 1889

Statewide Birth and Death

Records Begin: 1907

Statewide Marriage Records

Begin: 1943

Address for Vital Statistics: DPHHS/Vital Records

Box 4210

111 N. Sanders Helena, MT 59604

(406) 444-4228

State Nickname: Treasure State

NEBRASKA

Statehood: 1867

Statewide Birth and Death

Records Begin: 1904

Statewide Marriage Records

Begin: 1909

Address for Vital Statistics: Nebraska Health & Human Services System Vital Statistics

Box 95065

301 Centennial Mall S.

Lincoln, NE 68509

(402)471-2871

State Nickname: Cornhusker State

NORTH DAKOTA

Statehood: 1889

Statewide Birth Records

Begin: 1870

Statewide Death Records

Begin: 1881

Statewide Marriage Records

Begin: 1925

Address for Vital Statistics: Division of Vital Records

State Capitol

600 E. Boulevard Ave. Bismarck, ND 58505

(701) 328-2360

State Nickname: Peace Garden State

SOUTH DAKOTA

Statehood: 1889

Statewide Birth and Death

Records Begin: 1905

Statewide Marriage Records

Begin: 1905

Address for Vital Statistics: Vital Records, Department of Health

600 E. Capitol

Pierre, SD 57501

(605) 773-4961

State Nickname: Mount Rushmore State

UTAH

Statehood: 1896

Statewide Birth and Death

Records Begin: 1905

Statewide Marriage Records

Begin: 1978

Address for Vital Statistics: Bureau of Vital Records Utah State Department of Health

288 N. 1460 West St.

Salt Lake City, UT 84114

(801) 538-6105

State Nickname: Beehive State

WYOMING

Statehood: 1890

Statewide Birth and Death

Records Begin: 1909

Statewide Marriage Records

Begin: 1941

Address for Vital Statistics: Vital Records Services Hathaway Building Cheyenne, WY 82002 (307) 777-7591

State Nickname: Equality State

MARCH DOWN MILITARY LANE

Next, consider your ancestor’s military history as a starting point for genealogical data. The post-Civil War Regular Army was conspicuous for its high percentage of foreign-born soldiers. According to historian Robert Utley, a report of the Adjutant General for the years 1865 to 1874 showed half of all recruits were born in a foreign country. Of those, more than 20 percent were from Ireland and 12 percent from Germany. Was your ancestor among them? If so, you may strike it rich in enlistment or pension files stored at the National Archives.

Bill Doty, military records expert at the National Archives Pacific regional facility in Laguna Niguel, Calif., says the best place to start looking for your soldier is in microfilm publications M233, T288 and M617.

M233 is a set of 81 microfilm rolls called Registers of Enlistments in the United States Army, 1796-1914. The information on these rolls was compiled from enlistment papers, muster rolls of the Regular Army and other records. Unless your ancestor applied for a pension, these records may be the only source of information on military personnel serving in the 19th century. Information on these rolls may include when and where the soldier enlisted, the period of enlistment, his place of birth and age at the time of enlistment, his civilian occupation, a brief physical description and his regiment. Records are arranged alphabetically by surname, then chronologically.

T288 is a set of 544 microfilm rolls called General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. These files include pension applications relating to Army, Navy and Marine Corps service. Although the bulk of this group comes from Civil War service, the files also include earlier and later records. Pension records include the veteran’s name, rank, unit and term of service. In addition, you can find the names of his dependents, a filing date and application number.

According to Doty, an often-underutilized source of military records is found in microfilm publication M617. This is a collection of 1,550 rolls of microfilm called Returns from United States Military Posts, 1800-1916. The records are monthly post returns — or personnel reports — sent from the commander of a post to the Adjutant General’s Office, usually on a monthly interval. Returns include morning reports, field returns, troop movements and battles or skirmishes, officers on detached duty, casualties, the number of men absent, present or sick and the names of officers and enlisted men. You can find the name of your ancestor as well as his regiment, and the places he served. If the name of a post changed, the new name was generally the one under which all of the returns were filed.

Military records may be requested using forms NATF 85 (pension records) and NATF 86 (enlistment records). Forms can be obtained from the National Archives by e-mailing inquire@nara.gov or writing to the National Archives and Records Administration, Attn: NWCTB, 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20408. You’ll find additional information on forms at the NARA Web site <www.nara.gov/research/ordering/ordrfrms.html>.

Center for Western Studies

Box 727, Augustana College Sioux Falls, SD 57197 (605) 274-4007 <inst.augie.edu/CWS>

Frontier Heritage Alliance

1004 Big Goose Road Sheridan, WY 8280 <www.frontierheritage.org>

University of Wyoming American Heritage Center

Box 3924 Laramie, WY 82071 (307)766-4114 <uwadmnweb.uwyo.edu/AHC>

Western Heritage Center

2822 Montana Ave. Billings, MT 59101 (406) 256-6809 <www.ywhc.org/home>

DON’T FORGET THE WOMEN

The life of a homesteader was difficult at best, particularly for women. According to Elizabeth Jameson, author of All That Glitters: Class, Conflict, and Community in Cripple Creek (University of Illinois Press), homesteads were isolated, and a major problem for women was the lack of other female companionship.

Often, in the first year of homesteading, a wife helped build the shelter and became part of the work team. Unfortunately, this time usually coincided with a first or second pregnancy. In fact, according to Lillian Schlissel’s Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey (Schocken Books), one-fifth of the women on the overland trails were pregnant.

Once a homestead was established, the “butter and egg money” made by wives became a critical contribution to the family’s finances, and was often used to help buy seeds and other supplies. At times during the five-year homestead period, husbands would leave to work for wages on another person’s harvest or the railroad. At those times, the woman and children were left alone on the land.

Jameson notes that “although some feel this was a romantic period in history, it was the hardest period for the women. They missed kin, women friends and what they called civilized institutions.”
 

From the June 2002 issue of Family Tree Magazine

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