This week I had a chance to read a "new, old book." Revolutionary War Records of Fairfield, Connecticut was written by Donald Lines Jacobus and was originally published in 1932. Its title at that time was History and Genealogy of the Families of Old Fairfield, Volume III. Over the years, this has become one of the standard references for anyone researching ancestry in the town of Fairfield. Tens of thousands of genealogists have pored over copies of this book for the past seven decades.
Surprisingly, this valuable reference book was never reprinted until now. Anyone wanting to find the information therein had to find a copy that was printed more than seventy years ago. All the older, well-established genealogy libraries have copies, but newer libraries typically do not. Anyone wanting to add a copy to their personal library was out of luck until Genealogical Publishing Company and Clearfield Company decided to reprint it recently. This week I had a chance to read one of the modern reprints.
Revolutionary War Records of Fairfield, Connecticut contains transcriptions of nearly every known Revolutionary War record that refers to men of Fairfield. As it was transcribed by one of the best-known genealogy scholars of the twentieth century, the accuracy of this book is outstanding.
The book starts with transcriptions of all the pension applications filed by Revolutionary War veterans known to be from Fairfield. Arrange alphabetically by surname, most of the pension applications range from two paragraphs to two pages in this book. Almost all of the pension applications describe the applicant's service record and most include their commanding officers. Many of the applications list the soldier's wife (or wives, if married multiple times). The other information available varies widely from one application to the next but often includes the names of parents, brothers (especially if they served together), children, neighbors, and other people of the community with whom the applicant conducted business. Most of these pension applications provide a wealth of genealogy information.
Reading these pension applications is a fascinating way to spend an evening. You can get a terrific insight into the times in which these men lived, during the founding of the country and for fifty or sixty years thereafter. Many of these men suffered greatly, some in the war and others in their declining years.
One record that interested me was on page 370: Samuel Bennet lost all toes on both his feet due to frostbite while being held a prisoner by the British. He was granted a pension of $3.66 2/3 per month. I know they had half-pennies in those days, but I am not sure how they paid him that two-thirds of a penny.
As I thumbed through the pages I was surprised to find a number of free Blacks listed. Apparently, Fairfield, Connecticut, had a sizeable community of free Blacks at the time of the Revolutionary War, and a number of them served their country.
These Revolutionary War pension applications fill 369 of the book's 533 pages. The remainder of the book consists of American State Papers (court documents), Revolutionary War Muster Rolls, the town's 1775 tax list, a list of damage sustained in the town of Fairfield when the British burned the town in 1779, and a history of the Coast Guard by Cyrus S. Bradley, written a few years after the Revolutionary War. All of this is followed by a nearly 50-page index of every name listed in the book.
This book is excellent genealogy material. It contains transcriptions of original records of high genealogical value. It was transcribed by Donald Lines Jacobus (1887-1970), one of the founders of modern genealogy scholarship. He founded the New Haven Genealogical Magazine in 1922. Ten years later the magazine became The American Genealogist (often referred to as TAG), which he edited until 1960. The magazine is still published today. It was Jacobus' goal "to raise genealogy to the same high standards as other scholarly disciplines." What became known as the "Jacobus School" centered on him and TAG.
Jacobus was the first person named to the National Genealogical Society's Hall of Fame when it was established in 1995.
Revolutionary War Records of Fairfield, Connecticut is a well-known genealogy reference that has been around for years. It is great to see it back in print, available for purchase by anyone with an interest in Fairfield ancestry.
Revolutionary War Records of Fairfield, Connecticut is a hardcover book that sells for $60.00. It is available directly from the publisher at http://www.genealogical.com/item_detail.asp?afid=&ID=2984. Any other book store should be able to order it for you if you specify ISBN 0806317493.