Category Archives: War of 1812

Stories about the War of 1812 including important battles, dates and people who helped fight America’s Second Revolution.

Video Release: D. Joshua Taylor on Societies

We here at Preserve the Pensions couldn’t be more excited for the release of our promotional videos. Featuring D. Joshua Taylor, David Rencher and Curt Witcher, each video offers a unique take on the importance of digitizing the War of 1812 Pension Application files.

It is our fondest hope that you all will share these videos not just on your social streams, but at your gatherings as well. Organizations of all types – be they genealogical, historical, military or educational – can help us spread the word, raise funds and complete this grand task. Sharing the important message of our mission; to save these precious original documents, is made easier with the power of video, and your participation matters.

The National Archives reports that these pension files are some of the most requested by researchers, which means that they are handled often. Raising the funds to digitize the pension files means that these will no longer have to be pulled from shelves; and the original documents will ultimately last longer and be preserved in a way that can be shared for generations to come.

This week: Josh Taylor, President of Federation of Genealogical Societies, explains how societies of all stripes can help this community project meet it’s goal to preserve this amazing record collection for generations to come.

Each Wednesday in October we will share with you here one of four videos available for use at your events. But if you just cannot wait to see them all, you’ll find them at our new YouTube Channel:

War of 1812 Preserve the Pension

Consider subscribing if you visit. We’ll be adding additional video content on our activities at conferences, War of 1812 events and Google Hangouts On Air.

Thanks for watching. We can’t wait to hear what you think. But more importantly, we can’t wait to hear where you plan to share these videos.

PS – Have your own War of 1812 related YouTube Channel? Let us know in the comments section so we can subscribe to your channel as well.

Accessing War of 1812 Pension Records

You’re following us here at Preserve the Pensions. You’ve signed up for our email newsletter. You’ve helped to spread the word with your tweets, pins, posts and likes across social media. Maybe you’ve even donated online or at one of our events. But have you actually looked at the fruits of all your hard work? Read on to learn how to access the collection, use features unique to Fold3 and search effectively.

View the Pensions at  FREE

Our partners at Fold3 have a lovely page set up just for War of 1812 Pension Applications at with it’s own search bar and browse button. This is your best access point to the collection if you are not a subscribing member of Fold3.

But what about those times when your working away from home or on a different computer and don’t have your favorite places or bookmarks? You can still access this collection easily at Fold3 with a few simple steps.

From the home page, about halfway down on the left, you’ll have the ability to select the “War of 1812″ record group.

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Search for a specific military engagement.

But don’t jump the gun! If you search for your ancestor here, Fold3 will look for that name across all record groups. Even if you select “War of 1812″ from within the search returns you’ll still be directed to a “Free Trial” sign up page. Instead, scroll down just a little farther.  You’ll be able to directly select the “War of 1812 Pensions” record group.

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Free Forever on

Now here’s what you came for: FREE. If you are after a specific ancestor, feel free to jump right in with a name search. Personally, I prefer the browse option myself. And here is why:

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Browse through the records.

For my Kentucky Cassity ancestors, surname variants are the norm rather than the exception; Casseday, Cassidy and Cassity to name a few. Here in one place I am quickly reminded of all the surname variants I should be looking for. Selecting “Cassity” leads to a single entry for Peter. Clicking on his name brings up a group of thumbnails to choose from. Selecting the first image in the set will open Peter Cassity’s index card.

Favorite Fold3 Feature: Filmstrip.

Once you’ve selected your way through either Search or Browse to the full size image level you have the option of opening and pinning a filmstrip of the entire collection. Hover your cursor over “Open Filmstrip,” click on the pin icon to lock the filmstrip open.

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Filmstrip feature on

Once you do you’ll see the advantage. Quickly scroll between record sets among same or closely named individuals. You’ll be able be to browse and select the images you want to view full size. In some of the larger pensions, the ability to scroll back and forth among the thumbnails to the exact image you want is far faster than using the back and forward arrows to navigate.

Free! With Limitations

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Sharing made easy!

Much of what you can do with these images once you’ve found them will be reserved for subscribing members. However there are a few very important features still available in the free version. Share a link to the image with email or social media. Sharing is done page by page but this is true for subscribers as well. You will also have the option to save a reference to your Ancestry family tree.

Did You Check? Search Strategies

As I mentioned, I like the browse option expressly because I can see potential name variants I might miss on direct search. Beyond the browse option, if you are having trouble finding your ancestors, consider the following: First, if you are unable to locate your ancestor in the state militias, look for them at the federal level.

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Review all the options, regularly.

Second, check back often. My Cathcart ancestors will at times be found under Kathcart and Kithcart. The collection is up to “J” currently.  According to today’s stats at Fold3, 19% of the pension files have been added. While that number may seem small, they also report the addition of over 55,000 records just last month.

The Long March to Victory

With the help of contributions from genealogists, historians, military enthusiasts, preservationist and educators alike we are working hard to raise the funds necessary to preserve the War of 1812 Pensions files. The success of our Celebrity Fun Walk fundraiser at #FGS2014 will add greatly to the number of images digitized. Your continuing support is essential to completing the collection.


The Largest Living Flag Ever for the Bicentennial Celebration of the “Star Spangled Banner”

Editor’s Note: Upon hearing that Angela Packer McGhie and her son were involved in the record breaking living flag as part of the ongoing celebrations at Fort McHenry for the Star Spangled 200th, we invited her to write this guest post on her experiences. 

By Angela Packer McGhie

I was sitting at home the last week of August and wishing I was at the FGS Conference in Texas. My friends were posting messages on Facebook about the conference, and the competition between four genealogy celebrities to raise money for the War of 1812 “Preserve the Pensions” Fund. I had done my part and donated money to the cause, but still felt a little left out. When my son came home from school that day, he told me that his 4th grade class was invited to a “once-in-a-lifetime” historic event. They would be taking a field trip to Fort McHenry in Baltimore to be part of a “living flag” commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812, the Battle of Baltimore, and the writing of the Star Spangled Banner. I thought that chaperoning this field trip would be a great way for me to honor my ancestor, George Augustus Neal, who served in the War of 1812.

On the morning of September 9th we drove to the school early so that we would be ready to join all the other 4th and 5th grade students on the field trip. The kids were so excited! They knew this was an historic day and they were eager to participate. The 100th anniversary celebration in 1914 had included a living flag, and this event was going to set a world record with over 6,600 people participating.

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Watching the educational program on the jumbotron while waiting to be placed in the living flag. Courtesy Angela Packer McGhie.

The excitement continued as we arrived at Fort McHenry and watched the educational program on the jumbotron.  They had a historic re-enactor portraying Francis Scott Key and telling the story of the writing of what would become the Star Spangled Banner from a ship in the Baltimore harbor. Another told the story of Mary Pickersgill who was commissioned to sew the giant 30 by 42 foot garrison flag that flew over Fort McHenry in 1814. This was followed by a War of 1812 fife and drum corps that played for the students, and other education and entertainment while we waited our turn to join in the living flag.

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View from the center of the “living flag” where Angela and her son were sitting. Courtesy Angela Packer McGhie.

They called one school at a time to gather on the grass in front of the Fort and gave every student a shiny red, white, or blue poncho to wear as they filled in their section of the flag. We were toward the end of the procession, and were given red ponchos to wear as we became the second red stripe under the stars. Once everyone was in place, we had several pictures taken from the helicopters hovering above us, and the photographer on top of the visitors’ center. The official program (which was broadcast live on YouTube) included speeches from the mayor of Baltimore, a local congressman and the governor of Maryland. The students were excited that the governor was there to address them.

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The living flag as seen from above. Photo courtesy Friends of Fort McHenry.

To me there were two highlights of the day. The first was learning that Myrtle Sanders was in the front row, and she had been part of the human flag in 1914! She was just a baby in her mother’s arms at the time, and now at age 100 she was participating again with us (you can see her the video link below). The second highlight was when they invited all 6,600+ students, teachers and chaperones to join in singing the “Star Spangled Banner” while we were in the flag formation. It brought the significance of the event to life.

You can see a brief news report of the event here:

Fort McHenry’s Star-Spangled Banner Living Flag is one of a weeklong series of events celebrating the 200th anniversary of our National Anthem. For additional information on other events, visit


The team at Preserve the Pensions War of 1812 would like to thank Angela for her gift of time and for sharing her day at Fort McHenry. Please donate today to save the fragile documents that make up the War of 1812 Pension Files; preserving them digitally forever.