Soldiers of Blount, Cullman, and Winston County
This is my most ambitious project to date. I have already completed the majority of the research. Actually, my earlier books on Blount and Cullman County cemeteries are source material for my Confederates series. Now that I'm satisfied the vast majority of all the cemeteries in those counties have been surveyed, I can add tombstone information to the other information I've gathered on these old soldiers.
Project History: The project began a few years ago as I reviewed the actual 1907 Blount County Confederate Census in the Court House basement in Oneonta. The 1907 had been typed and published before, but I was surprised by the amount of mistranscribed information which had been taken as gospel for so many years. The listing and service records posted on my old site straightened out many of the mistakes. Then I discovered just how little had been done on area Confederates.
Next, I discovered whole companies of cavalry and infantry were made up of men from Blount County. So, I identified these companies and went back to the library and copied and abstracted services records of whole companies. Not satisfied with that, I went back to the library and spent about a year and a half of my spare time reading and transcribing microfilm of pension application from Alabama soldiers who served in Blount, Cullman, and Winston County. That represented 276 reels of microfilm which took on average 30 minutes per roll to review. I went through all 276 reels twice: once for Blount, and then again for Cullman and Winston. To make sure I got everything, I went through some reels three times.
I had already used my trusty digital camera to take pictures of every monument in two whole counties. Now, the curious were seeing me spend hours in front of a microfilm machine taking pictures of the screen. Got a few stares and questions. Reviewing the film and capturing relevant images took on average 30 minutes per reel, but typing up abstracts of the men, marrying them up with their service records and cemetery records took many more hours of home work.
You think I'd be done. But not yet. Next, I used the obituary index for the Southern Democrat to identify old soldiers, then I packed off to the court house to search for the obits. Then I discovered the Blount County Journal was not indexed, so I went through several years of those issues page by page looking for obits. Those obits I found, I typed up and added to my files on the Confederates. While I was there, I copied a box of rejected pension applications in the Blount County courthouse, and added those to my every growing files. The rejected applications were not included on the microfilmed copies from the State Archives. I also ordered dozens of pension applications from Texas of former Blount County citizens. That stack of papers from Texas is over three inches thick
As a result, I have collected hundreds of pages of information on area Confederates. I have so much information on the Blount County Confederates, I'm planning four separate volumes on just Blount: one on cavalry units, two on infantry units, and one more on miscellaneous Conferates. These miscellaneous soldiers are soldiers who served in various Alabama units here and there and lived in Blount County after the war for a while, or other old soldiers, such as those from other states like Georgia, who resettled in Blount County after the war. I'm also planning one volume each on Cullman and Winston County for a total of six separate volumes on old Confederates.
You'll find information in these books never before seen outside the microfilm. Some of it you will find as fascinating as I did when I first discovered it. Once you start reading the old affidavits of service, it's hard to quit. Even if you've seen some of this material before by looking up microfilm on your own ancestors, this will be the first time the information is typed, collected, and assembled with marriages, obits, and cemetery information.
The first three volumes are pretty much done. I've got a little fact checking to do on a few things here and there, organize the introductions, and do an index. The index is one of the hardest things to do in a project like this since by the time you get ready to do the index, you're ready to just be done with all the work. But an index is one of the most important parts of a book. How many times have you taken a book from the shelf at the library only to immediately put it back when you couldn't find an index?
The first three volumes represent the cavalry and infantry units. The fourth volume is the miscellaneous section and I'm still reading service records. Wallace State College has the only set of microfilm which spans the all the old Confederate States, and I have to be there to look up service records for all the other ex-Confederate States except for Alabama and Tennessee, which I can find here in Huntsville. The work is slow because I'm also looking up Cullman and Winston Confederates at the same time I'm looking up the Blount miscellaneous soldiers. I also plan to review some of the old Winston County newspapers for obits.
Each of the six planned volumes are already about 300 pages each. I'm really excited about publishing some of the old first hand accounts of what some of the soldiers did in the war. Some of the accounts are humorous, and some are heart rending. These books bring together for the first time information from several different sources in one place to include service records, census data, pension applications, marriage information, cemetery, and newspaper obits. If you have any Confederate ancestors buried in Blount County, there's an excellent chance they'll be represented in these books.
Nothing on this type of scale has ever been done in Blount, Cullman, or Winston County. Actually, I haven't heard of anything like this for any other county either.
I'm hoping to have these ready by late this year (2006).