Select Page

Not my two front teeth

Drum roll, please. The Legal Genealogist is about to make a major announcement to my family:

I love you.

Gee… what a surprise.

No, really. I do love you. So that’s not the announcement.

But, as you know only too well, I have never, ever, ever, loved this time of year.

And since you all know it, that’s not the announcement either.

And though I know some of you think I’m a unAmerican pinko Commie freak who stubbornly refuses to do my part as a patriotic citizen in helping to revitalize the American economy, it doesn’t rise to major announcement level when I say that the simple fact of the matter is:

I loathe Christmas shopping.

I hate having to do it for others. I hate having to come up with a list for myself. I hate the commercialism, the “gimme gimme” attitude so many people have, the disappointment on the face of a loved one who doesn’t share my enthusiasm for what I chose, the feeling of disappointment I have when something I’ve chosen isn’t appreciated.

I hate having to try to figure out, year after year, what the “hot item” is for a particular age group, and I hate the knowledge that no matter when I start, I am always — always — going to be trying to order something on December 23rd for overnight delivery.

Bah humbug.

Fortunately, as each of you, my much-loved nieces and nephews, have gotten older, I’ve been able to make the shift from the “what are you getting me” mode to the “how can we do something good” mode. One by one, as each of you has crossed into adulthood, the toys have been set aside, and we’ve moved to a contribution in your name to a charity of your choice.1

Much better. For me, less stress. For you, I hope, the sense of doing something meaningful rather than collecting more stuff.

So as we enter the month of December this year, I’m returning the favor. I’m telling all of you, my nieces and nephews,2 — and here’s the announcement — what I want for Christmas:

I want a War of 1812 pension.

No, really. I do want a War of 1812 pension.

And you should want one (or more) too. We know darned good and well that my 3rd (your 4th) great grandfather Jesse Fore was a fifer in Captain Michael Gaffney’s company of South Carolina Militia3 — and he got a pension.4 And my 3rd (your 4th) great grandfather Elijah Gentry and his brother James Gentry and their father (my 4th, your 5th great grandfather) Elijah Gentry Sr. all served in the 1st Regiment Mississippi Territorial Volunteers.5 None of them survived long enough to get a pension, but Elijah Jr.’s widow might have qualified.

So, what I want for Christmas is a War of 1812 pension. And here’s how you do it.

Head over to the website of the Illinois State Genealogical Society, where I’m a member. (You do remember that your grandfather and great grandparents all settled in Chicago when they came over from Germany, right?6) They’re doing something really neat, and I hope you help our family join in.

It’s called the ISGS War of 1812 Pension Match Challenge. It’s part of the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ “Preserve The Pensions” campaign to raise $3.7 million to digitize all of the War of 1812 Pension Application Files at the National Archives and put them online where they can be accessed free.

And here’s how the challenge part works:

ISGS will MATCH any donation up to the first $10,000 that is made before December 31, 2012. This means that if you donate $10, ISGS will match your donation with another $10; if you give $100, ISGS will give $100. In addition, has announced it will also match the overall amount donated by ISGS, which means that the $10,000 raised plus the $10,000 in matching donations will become $40,000! Your $10 donation actually becomes $40 to help digitize these files!

Now c’mon. You were going to drop $10 on that Chia pet, weren’t you? The soap-on-a-rope? The pine-scented candle? The (sigh) car air freshener?

Do us both a favor. Buy me a War of 1812 pension for Christmas instead. Send that same $10 via an online form or by a plain old-fashioned check to the Illinois State Genealogical Society and its ISGS War of 1812 Pension Match Challenge.

You’ll make me very happy… and very proud… this Christmas.

Love ya. (I do, y’know… Really.)


  1. Letting each of you choose the charity has put me on some, um, shall we say interesting mailing lists in the past few years, but hey… the entertainment value has been enormous.
  2. No, not you in the under-21 and/or still-in-college crowd. You’re still getting your toys (or the cash), and I still want my caramel chocolates.
  3. Compiled service records, Jesse Fore, musician, Captain Michael Gaffney’s Company, 1st Regiment South Carolina Militia; Carded Records, Volunteer Organizations, War of 1812; Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1762-1984, Record Group 94; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  4. Jesse Fore (Musician, Capt. Michael Gaffney’s Co., 1 Regiment South Carolina Militia, War of 1812), pension no. S.O. 4,553, S.C. 7,041; Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Applications Based on Service in the War of 1812, 1871-1900; Pension and Bounty Land Applications Based on Service between 1812 and 1855; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  5. Compiled service records, Elijah Gentry, Pvt., James Gentry, Pvt., and Elijah Gentry Sr., Pvt., Captain Samuel Dale’s Company, 1st Regiment Mississippi Territorial Volunteers, War of 1812, RG 94, NA-Washington.
  6. See 1930 U.S. census, Cook County, Illinois, Chicago Ward 16, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 17, page 223(B) (stamped), sheet 18(B), dwelling 155, family 386, Hugo Geissler household; digital image, ( : accessed 5 Apr 2012); citing National Archive microfilm publication T626, roll 441.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email