Monthly Archives: September 2015

Donation's collected at the New York Family History Conference in Syracuse

Thank you, New York!

Today in Syracuse at the New York Family History Conference, we were delighted to watch as Mike Hall finished his most recent fundraising effort for the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions. He has been walking, running, biking, and swimming all year in order to reach 1812 miles – all of which were matched by Judy G. Russell and the readers of The Legal Genealogist blog – one dollar per mile was guranteed.

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Judy Russell explains her fundraising efforts for the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions.

Well, Judy’s readers certainly came throgh on their word:

  • Total donations made through the Preserve the Pension website: $3316
  • Total donations made through The Legal Genealogist: $2120

Did you know Judy Russell doesn’t like odd numbers? 

So she rounded up, and made the final donation $2500.00!

It wasn’t enough.

At today’s lunch, sponsored by the New York Genealoigcal & Biographical Society and the Central New York Genealogical Society, we were all there to see Mike finish his miles. We were all there to witness the presentation of this incredible donation to the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions fund. We were all there to watch as Judy once again made a call – for the attendees to open their wallets, find that spare dollar bill in their pocket – to come together for the preservation of these precious documents.

And boy did they ever!

New York is full of wonderful people. Around 350 of the region’s finest were sitting in the ballroom at lunch today. Donations large and small were piled on the table. Quarters, $50 bills, checks, even Canadian currency! All was contributed with laughter and smiles.

Together, Preserve the Pensions walked out of the lunch today with another $2300.00!!

All together, this effort – Mike’s miles, Judy’s work to spread the news, cash and coin donations during the conference – saved over 70,000 pages of the War of 1812 pensions. Mike was able to raise $450 per mile.

You can watch Judy’s presentation of the donation on this short video.

Congratulations to Mike – for his tenancity, his creativity, and his determination to see this through and to do it with style. Our continued thanks to Judy for lending her voice to this effort; for continuously working as cheerlearder for this campaign. To her readers for making sure that every mile was worth more and more. And to those attending this conference – proving once again how incredible the family history community really is.

We did some great things in New York this weekend – and we thank you, sincerely – for the continued effort and energy towards this groundbreaking project. Even with this progress, we still have so much to do – and so we ask you again to reach into your wallets, and please make a donation today.


We’ll be cheering Mike on in person in just one week!

Here is Mike’s latest report on his efforts to run, bike, and swim 1812 miles in 2015! We hope to see many of you in Syracuse, New York, for the big finish!


We are in the final stretch of my march towards completing 1812 miles by swimming, biking, or running for the Preserve the Pension project. As you might already know this my own personal triathlon campaign for the War of 1812 Preserve the Pension project! Remember the challenge is out there for one and all to complete the project with funds raised before I complete the 1812 miles combined, and the miles on bike as a stand-alone goal. The table below shows my progress to date:

Disciple/Month February March April May June July August Total
Swim Miles 1.25 .5 .5 2.5 3.0 1.0 .25 9
Bike Miles 80 240 168 112 308 121 166 1195
Run Miles 49 97.3 99.1 62.3 153 52.15 81.65 594.5
Grand Total Miles 130.25 337.8 267.6 176.8 464.0 174.15 247.9 1798.5

So with 1798.5 total miles completed as of Monday, 7 September 2015 that leaves 13.5 miles to completion of the combined challenge, and 617 miles for the completion of the additional stand-alone bike challenge.

On Saturday, the 8th of August I ran in Herriman Black Ridge Sprint Triathlon (1/4 mile swim, 15 mile bike, and 5k/3.1 mile run) in Herriman, Utah. I had a really fun and enjoyable race, finishing 3rd in my age group. It was huge surprise realizing that I had finished on the podium. It was the icing on the cake of all my training this year with triathlons. I have loved the opportunity to race in triathlons this past year, as it has reminded me of how the veterans of The War of 1812 endured the various hardships placed upon them both during and after the war. Many of the veterans had to fight proving that they were eligible to receive a pension. Yes, nothing has changed with government “red tape”!

Showing off my medals upon completion of the Herriman Black Ridge Sprint Triathlon.

Showing off my medals upon completion of the Herriman Black Ridge Sprint Triathlon.

On Saturday, 15 August, I was in Cape Town, South Africa for the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), and while there I decided to participate in a trail race. It was held in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, Kleinmond, South Africa. It is a very beautiful National Park along the southern coast of the country. I ran the East Cape Winter Trail Series Long course (15K/9miles). My time was not that great due to the fact that I stopped several times to take some pictures. From the race course, you can view both the Indian and Atlanta oceans as they meet here. It reminded me of those War of 1812 sailors, and Marines who cruised the world looking for British shipping to disrupt. I wonder how many of them sailed these waters of the Cape of Good Hope, and then had to sail the rougher seas of gaining a pension in their later years.

The back half of the trail race overlooking the Indian and Atlantic oceans.

The back half of the trail race overlooking the Indian and Atlantic oceans.

So what is on the deck for September? On Saturday, the 12th I will be racing in the ARC half marathon in Syracuse, New York. It will be my first ever half marathon (13.1 miles). Then sometime between the 17th and the 19th of September I will complete the War of 1812 Triathlon challenge at the New York State Family History Conference/Federation of Genealogical Societies Regional Conference also in Syracuse, New York.

During the War of 1812, the veterans trained and fought hard often wondering if they would ever win, which they finally did. As I have raced, my goal was just to finish, but the couple of times that I ended up on the podium made all that training worthwhile.  As I have traveled, I have also wondered what those valiant veterans were enduring just to survive so that they would see their loved ones again. It was easy for me to return home with all the conveniences of modern day life. For me to return home from almost anywhere in the world only involved a couple of days of travel at the most, while those War of 1812 veterans had to endure days and months of tedious travel, often uncertain if they would ever see their loved ones again. Let’s not forget the War of 1812 veterans or their families.

So if you see me out and about in Syracuse, give me a big smile, honk of the horn, or just a simple shout-out, and I will return a big smile and a wave! But better yet, visit the Preserve the Pension Project website and contribute to a great cause.

THANK YOU and Semper Fi (Always Faithful)!


War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions – on the air!

We are very excited to share that our very own Fran Jensen – dedicated and passionate volunteer for the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions effort – was interviewed recently by Scott Fisher for his Extreme Genes Family History Radio show!

genealogy, family history, extreme genes, Scott Fisher, War of 1812, Preserve the Pensions, NARA, history, preservation

Extreme Genes – family history radio.

From the Extreme Genes website:

Fisher then visits with Fran Jensen, who, along with some colleagues, are reading nearly every new War of 1812 pension record as it comes out on Fold3.  You’ll be amazed at the gems they have found, and you’ll benefit from Fran’s insight on what to expect when you dig in to this awesome National Archives collection.

The show includes a great deal more, so be sure to listen to the entire recording – and sign up to receive the Extreme Genes podcast as well, or listen via the iHeartRadio app. Extreme Genes is the only national syndicated radio show focused on family history, and is hosted by Scott Fisher and David Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historical and Genealogical Society.

Listen to the most recent broadcast here, which includes some wonderful stories that Fran has discovered through her volunteer efforts.

You can also connect with Extreme Genes on their Facebook page.

To keep these stories – and the thousands more like them yet to be found – alive, we need your support! Please help us to digitize 100% of the War of 1812 Pension files held at the National Archives and Records Administration, and make them free forever on We can only accomplish this with support from members of our community like you.

Donate today!