Q. My mother-in-law says her father was one of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in the Spanish American War. How can I find out if this is true?
A. Descendants of Rough Riders in the Spanish American War (1898) are among the most fortunate of military records researchers. For a quick check of your ancestor’s name, use the surname index at <www.accessgenealogy.com/military/spanish/rough_riders.htm>. If your ancestor did indeed fight alongside “TR,” you can find a digitized copy of his Compiled Military Service Record (CMSR) among the 1,235 online in the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) Archival Research Catalog. Go to <arcweb.archives.gov> and search for spanish american war volunteer or your ancestor’s name.
The largest single contingent of Rough Riders came from New Mexico, then still a territory. You can explore this history at the City of Las Vegas (New Mexico, not Nevada) Museum <www.lasvegasmuseum.org>. Use the Rough Rider Finding Aid (click on the Rough Rider image, then scroll down Rough Rider Memorial Collection) to delve into its archive of letters and documents from more than 200 members of the original regiment.
If it turns Out your ancestor wasn’t a Rough Rider but did fight in the Spanish-American War, order his service records using NARA’s Order Online system <archives.gov/order>. You can rent service-records indexes and pension records on microfilm from the Family History Library <www.familysearch.org> via your local branch Family History Center. Find it using our directory <www.familytreemagazine.com/fhcs>.
Since Pennsvlvania and Illinois (along with New York and Ohio) were among the states contributing the most volunteers to the war, you might want to check their state archives’ online databases of veterans’ card files at <www.digitalarchives.state.pa.us> and <www.ilsos.net/departments/archives/databases.html>.
Good starting points to learn to more about the Spanish-American War in general include the resource page at <www.hestoresearch.com/spaniamwarmil.html.> and the Library of Congress Web site <loc.gov/rr/hispanic/1898> View film clips about the war in the library’s American memory collection <lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/sawhtml/sawhome.html.>
From the March 2008 issue of Family Tree Magazine.