New Military Burials Feature Lincoln, Custer, a Well-Disguised Jilted Lover and More Than 100 Years of History and Remembrance

Fri Nov 9, 2012 12:00pm EST

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

  PROVO, UT, Nov 09 (Marketwire) -- 
Going beyond name, rank and regiment, a new collection of military burial
registers on Ancestry.com provides insight into some of America's
greatest historical figures -- including Abraham Lincoln, General Custer
and others dating to the Civil War. The online, searchable collection
launches today courtesy of a partnership between Ancestry.com, the
world's largest online family history resource, and the U.S. Department
of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the National Archives and Records
Administration (NARA).

    "These began as around 60 amazing, handwritten burial registers -- more
than 9,000 pages of American heroes, where they are buried and other
details," says Dan Jones, Vice President of Content for Ancestry.com.
"And today they can be searched by individual names and viewed online on
Ancestry.com, allowing family historians everywhere greater insight into
the military experience of ancestors as well as notable personalities." 

    Highlights of the collection include:


--  President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln's honorific entry in an Arlington
    National Cemetery register is framed with a hand-drawn black border.
    Under cause of death it reads "Assassinated; pistol shot by John
    Wilkes Booth the ball entering 2 inches below and behind the left ear
    and lodged in the brain."
    
    
--  General George Armstrong Custer. Custer is among those officers "taken
    up on Custer's battleground" and brought to Fort Abraham Lincoln by
    steamer in 1877. Custer's brother Thomas and brother-in-law James
    Calhoun, who were killed at the Little Big Horn, are in the collection
    as well.
    
    
--  Captain Charles William "Charley" Paddock, USMC. Paddock, winner of
    the gold medal in the 100 meter at the 1920 Summer Olympics, and whose
    1924 Olympic appearance was portrayed in the movie Chariots of Fire,
    died in a World War II plane crash near Sitka, Alaska, where he is
    buried.
    
    
--  Vivia Thomas. According to legend, Thomas was a jilted fiance who
    left home to exact revenge on an army officer who broke off their
    engagement. Thomas traveled west dressed as a man and joined the army
    at Fort Gibson, her ex-fiance's post. She eventually shot and
    killed him, before dying herself. When the soldiers of Fort Gibson,
    who knew her as Private Thomas, learned of the story, they honored her
    courage by interment in the cemetery Officers' Circle.
    


    

From the 1860s until the mid-20th century, in some places, U.S. Army
personnel tracked burials at national cemeteries and military posts in
registers that included name, rank, company/regiment, date and cause of
death, age, grave number, and original place of burial in the case of
re-interments. The U.S. Army was responsible for all national cemeteries
from the 1860s until the early 1930s, and they were responsible for
depositing most burial registers at NARA. In 1973, the Army transferred
82 national cemeteries to what is now VA, where the National Cemetery
Administration (NCA) oversees them.

    Concerned for the fragility of these documents and wanting to expand
public access to the contents, NCA scanned about 60 handwritten ledgers
to produce more than 9,344 pages of high-quality digital images. Then in
2011, NCA initiated a partnership with Ancestry.com to index the ledgers
so users can search them easily. At no cost to the government or
taxpayers, Ancestry.com spent close to 3,000 hours indexing NCA's ledgers
records to make them searchable by name.

    The ledgers are one of two new Ancestry.com collections, U.S. Burial
Registers, Military Posts and National Cemeteries, 1862-1960 and U.S.
Headstone Applications, 1925-1963, both launching for Veterans Day 2012.
More than 500,000 individuals are included in these records.

    "We are excited to be able to share this wealth of primary
documentation," said VA's Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Steve L.
Muro. "With the help of Ancestry.com, we have opened the doors to
thousands of service members' histories through the information contained
in these burial ledgers."

    The Ancestry.com partnership supports NCA's commemoration of the Civil
War 150th anniversary (2011-2015). More than 72 of NCA's 131 national
cemeteries originated with the Civil War. More than 3.7 million
Americans, including Veterans of every war and conflict -- from the
Revolutionary War to the Global War on Terror -- are buried in VA
national cemeteries in 39 states. 

    About Ancestry.com
 Ancestry.com Inc. (NASDAQ: ACOM) is the world's
largest online family history resource, with approximately 2 million
paying subscribers. More than 11 billion records have been added to the
site in the past 15 years. Ancestry users have created more than 40
million family trees containing approximately 4 billion profiles. In
addition to its flagship site, Ancestry.com offers several localized Web
sites designed to empower people to discover, preserve and share their
family history.

    

For media inquiries:
Heather Erickson
Ancestry.com
801-705-7104
herickson@ancestry.com 

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