It’s not always this easy

We all hope to find the answers readily available like the below from the Revolutionary War pension application of Jacob Higginbotham. [i]

Here, Jacob’s son, John, gave the date of his parents’ marriage, names of all the children along with their dates of birth.  We see that Joseph and Benjamin are twins and that Jacob Senior died in January 1836.


Truth is, these can be found but are very rare indeed, normally we have to hunt and search for them.  Even now I am trying to determine which, if any, of these children are the father to a specific Higginbotham.


Sometimes the answers are well hidden and we must use all possible records.  The above came from a military pension record which is where I found proof that one of my scoundrel 2nd great grandfathers ran out on wife number 1 and therefore was never legally married to wife number 2.  If you see that there is a pension record, you should get it.  Whether it is a military pension or a railroad pension.  In them, they were required to show evidence of marriage if the spouse was to get any benefits, same with children.


After looking in all the standard places like census records; birth, marriage, and death registers; probate, and land records, you should start looking at possible military service, church affiliations, and even historic government meeting minutes.


Sometimes you will need to think outside the box.  I have found missing information in Visa applications, in history books that are written about a neighbor but the family of interest gets caught up in the storytelling.  I have found proof on how to distinguish a previously unknown son with the same name as his father in a small memoir book written by someone else.

[i] Higginbotham, Jacob Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Applications, pension number R 4977, ( accessed 24 May 2021) citing NARA publication M804.