Friday, February 16, 2007

Was your family member a Southern loyalist?

Did you know there were Southerners who remained loyal to the Union during the Civil War, and those who suffered personal property losses, could file a claim for damages with the Southern Claims Commission? Yes, it's true. But before you go on the defensive, read on. In her article, "Southern Claims Commission Records," Gena Philibert-Ortega provides insight on this little-known resource, along with places where these records can be accessed. The so-called "Southern loyalists," we are told, made 22,298 claims between March 1871 and March 1873. Of course not everyone who claimed loyalty really were, as the article points out, "people did what they had to do to receive compensation [and] did not consider it "lying" to "lie" to a Yankee." The most refreshing aspect in learning about these records is realizing that many more little known resources may be out there hiding in plain sight to help us in our search for ancestors.

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