War of 1812 Authors Support ‘Preserve the Pensions’

In honor of the War of 1812 and the Preserve the Pensions project, we are delighted to announce that the following authors have donated signed copies of their books that honor the history of the War of 1812.  These books will be available at the upcoming FGS Conference in Springfield, IL; look for the Preserve the Pensions area as you enter the Expo Hall! Proceeds from these will go toward the continued digitization of the unique soldier’s benefit pension records, currently housed at the National Archives.

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Autographed books will be available at the 2016 FGS Conference in Springfield, IL.

Now, to introduce our generous authors:

Donald R. Hickey, Ph.D., is “Mr. 1812.”  He is a professor of history at Wayne State College in Nebraska.  Called “the dean of 1812 scholarship” by the New Yorker, Don is an award-winning author who has written eleven books and a hundred articles, mainly on the War of 1812 and its causes.  He is best known for The War of 1812:  A Forgotten Conflict (Bicentennial edition, 2012). For promoting public understanding of the War of 1812, Don received the Samuel Eliot Morison Award from the USS Constitution Museum in 2013.

Bert J. Hubinger was born in New Jersey and raised in Florida, traveled the sea in search of adventures in sailing, diving on shipwrecks, and maritime history. Bert is a teacher, editor, photographer, and frequent contributor to a variety of publications. He is Director of the Annapolis Writing Center and former editor of The Journal of the War of 1812, author of Sea Drums and Other Poems, 1812: Rights of Passage, 1813: Reprisal, and the newly released 1814: Raze of Glory, the third and final published novel in his trilogy on the War of 1812.

Laurie C. Lewis is a Marylander through and through. Surrounded by the rich local history of Maryland, D.C., and famous War of 1812 treasures like Fort McHenry, Laurie has found much inspiration.  God, family, and country are her anchors and the themes of her books, designed to lift and inspire readers.  The Free Men and Dreamers, a five-volume series of historical fiction novels, begins with Dark Sky at Dawn to introduce the history of the nation and its people in the uncertain years just before the War of 1812.  Laurie continues her tremendously powerful stories of a country unsettled by war in Twilight’s Last Gleaming, Dawn’s Early Light, Oh, Say Can You See?, and In God Is Our Trust.  More information on Laurie can be found at http://www.laurielclewis.com/.

Can’t wait to make a donation to save the incredibly important pension files from the War of 1812? Click here to donate online!



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War of 1812 Veterans Meet Modern Day Active Duty Soldiers

David Rencher, Ed Donakey, and Rick and Pam Sayre staffed a Preserve the Pensions booth at the annual Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Institute of Land Warfare Global Force Symposium and Exposition in the Von Braun Conference Center in Huntsville, Alabama, 15-17 March.

Huntsville is home to several major Army activities—the U.S. Army Materiel Command, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, U.S. Army Contracting Command, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, U.S. Missile Defense Agency, Marshall Space Center, and supporting activities. On display were a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, numerous tactical equipment displays, new weapons, and many other life-size versions of Tonka toys for soldiers. Plenty of generals, from one-star to four, wandered the exhibit hall with purpose. Retired U.S. Army Colonel Rick Sayre renewed old acquaintances and made new ones as he explained the purpose of our booth. We were, as the manager of exhibits and sponsorships for the show said, “Probably the most unique booth here, with no weapons” or Army support services to sell.

So, why were we there? We introduced our War of 1812 soldiers to their counterparts of 204 years later. We explained the importance of honoring past soldiers by raising funds to preserve and digitize the records of their service and soldiers’ or widows’ pensions. Everyone from generals to high school ROTC students politely listened and learned, and most reached into their pockets to contribute. Several came back the second or third days of the exposition to report they had looked at our website overnight. Others said they would help because their spouses or their parents are genealogists and would expect them to donate.

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Our patriotic booth at the AUSA Global Force Symposium.

These historical documents illicit an emotional response – from all of us. 

One attendee offhandedly remarked that she had no American military ancestors because her grandparents had come over from maybe Hungary, but she knew absolutely nothing about them. In a slow moment at the booth, Pam asked her mother’s name, a rather unusual one, and quickly did a search of the 1940 census online at Ancestry. We gave her the names of her grandparents, their places of birth in Romania, and their address in 1940 Chicago. At first she was skeptical that it was the right family. When told that the man had been a gardener, she paused, then said, “That’s right. That IS them. My mother said her father was a gardener and he brought flowers home when they needed food.” With tears in her eyes, she walked away.

She came back the next day, though, and wanted to know more, mistakenly believing we had found her 1940 family on the Fold3 website with the 1812 pensions. We sat patiently then, and helped her meet her family online at Ancestry.com. She told everyone she worked with to come by and donate to Preserve the Pensions.

We weren’t able to help anyone find a War of 1812 ancestor, because it requires working back in time from yourself, and most people didn’t have the requisite knowledge of their own family tree to do so. But almost everyone who stopped by the booth was thoroughly touched and impressed with this project.

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Two civilian employees of the Army went home to check out the Preserve the Pensions site.


We took in $1,310. Matched by FGS, that became $2,620, and doubled again by Ancestry, the grand total was $5,240. We’d say the soldiers of 2016 really “get” what we’re doing for the soldiers of 1812. And they truly “get” Preserve the Pensions. Our thanks to the AUSA community.

Report submitted by Pam Sayre.


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Fundraising in March

We’re looking forward to an incredibly successful 2016 for the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions fundraising campaign, and we wanted to share with you where those donations are coming from!

We have two maps to share – the first represents those states from which we received individual contributions. The second will show states from which we received donations through a society program or match campaign.


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Contributions from individual donors, March 2016.

Way to go California! 23 total donations from the state!


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Contributions from Societies, March, 2016.


Take a moment to compare to previous months – you can see we had a significant increase in donations from across the country. Want to see the maps side-by-side? Check out our image gallery on Facebook.

Don’t see your state represented? Don’t wait – set up your automatic monthly donation today, and help us digitally preserve the War of 1812 pension files forever – and make them freely available to all! Can we obtain a donation from every state in the Union by year’s end? We would love to see a rainbow of color across the nation!

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