Select Page

Running to Syracuse

It was back in February, when the Federation of Genealogical Societies was holding its 2015 conference side-by-side with RootsTech, that Michael Hall made the decision.

MikeHallHe wanted to do something more, something different, to support the “Preserve The Pensions” campaign that has been a key project of the Federation of Genealogical Societies.

This is a massive effort, trying to digitize all of the War of 1812 pension records held by the National Archives. These records, documenting more than 180,000 pension applications for War of 1812 soldiers and their families, are among the most heavily requested documents at the National Archives and, because of their use, their age and their fragile nature, they are at serious risk. So they really need to be digitized to protect them forever.

The campaign to get them digitized carries an overall price tag that runs into the millions of dollars. And we’re just a little more than half-way there.

And oh boy is this the hard part of this, or any, fundraising campaign.

Everybody is enthusiastic at the start of a campaign, with an initial burst of “let’s do it” fervor.

And it’s possible to get people going at the end of a campaign, when the goal is in sight and the “one last push!” slogans can work.

But right in the middle… ouch. People kind of get tired of seeing the “donate now” buttons, other things come up that need and deserve our support.

So, Michael thought, how could he help bring this campaign a little further down the road?

It isn’t that he hasn’t already done a lot. Michael — who works at FamilySearch — has hand-crafted miniature War of 1812 figurines and sold them at every major conference to help raise funds for the pensions. His hand-crafted War of 1812 sailor figurines sold out at the National Genealogical Society conference this spring.

But he wanted to do something more.

So… he thought … what if he did something really different? What if he said he would run, bike or walk 1812 miles? Would anybody sponsor that?

And The Legal Genealogist couldn’t turn down that challenge. “Sure,” I said, “my readers and I will.”

So it’s now August. And, Michael reports, he’s going to hit that goal next month.

When the Federation of Genealogical Societies joins the Central New York Genealogical Society and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society in the second annual New York State Family History Conference in Syracuse on September 17-19, 2015, Michael will run right into the history books.

By that conference, and he will be attending, he will have done it — running, biking, swimming more than 1812 miles around the world.

He’s going to cross the 1812 finish line in Syracuse, and The Legal Genealogist is going to hand over a check for $1,812 — more if you, faithful readers, contribute more by then — in honor of his commitment.

So… wanna come along with me and Michael on this journey?

There are two ways to contribute. First, you can join in with The Legal Genealogist and other blog readers by contributing through PayPal. Use your PayPal account to send a gift of cash, and the email account to send it to — and every penny will be accounted for and transferred regularly to Preserve The Pensions — is legalgenealogist (at) (Make sure you substitute the @ symbol for the word in the email address!) We’re going dollar for dollar for Michael’s 1812 miles — and if enough folks pitch it, maybe we’ll go two dollars for every mile — or more!

If you don’t use PayPal or you’d simply prefer, you can go directly to the Preserve The Pensions website and click on the red Donate Now button (or just click here to go directly to the donation form page). Enter all your information and then, under Honors and Tributes, click on the “As a tribute to a living person” radio button and enter “Michael J. Hall” in the box there.

Remember, every dollar we contribute is matched by and becomes two dollars — and we’re going to need all the dollars we can get to bring this project all the way home. Every dollar contributed means two pages of a pension file can be digitized — and with matching funds from, that becomes four pages saved. UPDATE: Every penny committed to sponsoring Michael will not only be matched by Ancestry but by FGS as well. That means every dollar becomes FOUR dollars.

Let’s root for Michael, and bring this all the way home.


Mike Hall in South Africa.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email