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Apologies… and an announcement

It had to be close to 9 a.m., Salt Lake City time, when The Legal Genealogist convinced both eyes to open … and focus … and all fingers to play at least reasonably nicely with a computer keyboard.

It’s the Saturday after the weeklong intensive Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, and the first moment I’ve come up for air after coordinating 20 class sessions and teaching 18, including five in courses coordinated by others.

It’s great fun and an astoundingly rewarding experience to help guide so many genealogists into a better understanding of the law and the courts… but it means that time for anything else1 is in short supply.

Which is why the very first entry for the 2020 alphabet soup is for … apologies.

I had hoped to have time for at least a couple of blog posts during the week and it just didn’t happen.

So apologies for the blog going unexpectedly dark for lo these many days.

But this first entry for the 2020 alphabet soup is also for… an announcement.

A very big announcement, from the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and a team of indefatigable researchers led by Patricia Rand who collectively put in more than 17,000 hours to create a fabulous new resource for genealogists.

It’s the newly-launched US Mexican War Soldiers & Sailors Database, a joint project of FGS and the National Park Service (NPS), and hosted on the website of the NPS’s Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park in Texas.

Mexican War database

As the press release about the launch explains:

“This online, searchable database contains information for over 85,000 U.S. and Mexican veterans who served in this war. Many records include personal details, such as hair color and occupation.

The database allows descendants of these soldiers and sailors to connect to their personal history and helps Palo Alto commemorate and tell the stories of those who served. This invaluable research tool benefits genealogists, historians, as well as people who may have never known they are related to a U.S.-Mexican War veteran.

This project started in 2007. Progress was extremely slow until 2015, when FGS joined forces with the NPS. FGS offered their expertise and numerous volunteers.

Patricia Rand, the FGS contact, recruited and trained volunteers who spent over 17,000 hours doing the tedious task of inputting data. Their dedication makes it possible for future generations to learn about those who served in the U.S.-Mexican War.”2

The sources for the data were the muster rolls and registers of enlistment of soldiers and sailors who fought in the Mexican War. The database includes 85,972 soldiers and 3,763 sailors born everywhere from the United States to Mexico to Germany to Ireland. Where the information about a man wasn’t set out there, it’s listed as unknown — but the site has a contact form just above the search box for anyone to help fill in those information gaps. With the permission of the submitter, even documents will be made available on the website.

The detail entered from those sources can be stunning. Francis Nicholas Adams was a 22-year-old native of Cork in Ireland when he enlisted in Boston on 23 December 1844 to serve in Company E of the 3rd Infantry. He was 5’6″ in height, with hazel eyes, dark brown hair, a fair complexion, a carpenter by trade — and not at all pleased with what he found in military service. His record shows he deserted on 15 November 1845.3

So with apologies for the delay, there’s the announcement of very very good news for us all.

Well, maybe not all of us. This is after all family Saturday around this blog and … no, Cottrell kin, George really didn’t serve, no matter what he said in his pension application…4

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “2020 alphabet soup: A is for…,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 18 Jan 2020).


  1. You know what else. Minor little things like breathing, eating, sleeping …
  2. Press Release, “FGS and National Park Service Announce Launch of US-Mexican War Soldier & Sailor Database,” dated 14 Jan 2020, FGS Voice, posted 18 Jan 2020 ( : accessed 18 Jan 2020).
  3. Entry for Adams, Francis Nicholas, US Mexican War Soldiers & Sailors Database, National Park Service ( : accessed 18 Jan 2020).
  4. See Judy G. Russell, “George Washington Cottrell of Texas: One Man or Two?” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 105 (September 2017): 165-179; PDF, Learning Center, Board for Certification of Genealogists ( : accessed 18 Jan 2020).
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