“Missing” Southern Unionists

Posted on April 20, 2013 by


Pardon my absence, folks, but in the wake of neck surgery, on Monday, I’ve been recuperating… trying to feel well enough to “get back in the game” in the blog.

Despite the time spent recovering, I did take a few ventures (between naps) into online Southern Unionist claims. As such, I’ve discovered… “missing” Southern Unionists. Now, how widespread this problem is… I just don’t know yet.

Here’s what I can tell you…

For those who pivot their search of Southern Claims on what’s available in Fold3 (and, please… don’t get me wrong… I love that Fold3 makes these records available online, saving me a trip to the NARA II site in College Park, Maryland!!!), I have to give fair warning… not all persons who applied are indexed by county. I’ve brought this up before (see here).

How can one know this?

Take the listings by county, in Fold3, and compare them to the names listed in Gary B. Mills’ Southern Loyalists in the Civil War. I should add… this isn’t for the feint of heart. Mills list is alphabetical, and not grouped by state or county. Noooooo… you have to go through the entire book (that’s over 650 pages). In the end, however, it’s very likely you’ll find more applicants than what appears in Fold3’s index.

But, that’s still not the point of my post. No, no… there’s more. All the stuff above… I knew before this week. What follows next… I realized only this week.

The Fold3 index listing for approved claims from Hardy County, West Virginia

The Fold3 index listing for approved claims from Hardy County, West Virginia

I happened to be perusing claims applications from Hardy County, West Virginia (see the image above, from Fold3, showing only three claims approved for Hardy Co.), and while surfing the Web, found a page from “Genealogy Quest” that listed approved claims for West Virginia. No big deal though, right? I mean, all the names should be in Fold3 and/or in Mills’ book (right?).

Well, they aren’t.

Here’s the image of the “Genealogy Quest” page regarding approved claims for Hardy County…


Making a quick comparison of the two images above, we see discrepancies. In fact, both lists are missing names that appear in the other list.

I happened to be going through the claim for William M. Randolph this week, and know that he and John W. Duffey may well have been Hardy County’s top Unionists (those with Confederate leanings even called Randolph a “Union Devil”… but I’ll get to that in another post). I tried to find reference to Duffey’s claim in Fold3 (yes, if the claimant doesn’t appear in the index by county, conduct a search in the claims records in Fold3… you might still find them… maybe), but he wasn’t there (and I even tried to find him by “Duffy”). So, out of luck in my Fold3 search, I turned to Mills’ book… and once again… no John W. Duffey.

Thankfully, the Web serves as a third tool in finding Southern Claims applicants. Google Books (thankfully) reveals the following page from the Index to the Executive Documents of the House of Representatives (1876-77)take a look at the very last name in the image



So, yes… John W. Duffey was actually an approved claimant for Hardy County.

So… despite problems with the index in Fold3 and Mills’ hefty index in print… how many Southern Unionists have fallen between the cracks and aren’t being tallied in research?

I guess, now… I need to be more on the guard for this sort of thing…