Military Records and Resources
From the original founding of Yates County in 1823 through the present, county residents have answered the call of military duty.
Veterans of every single war in which the United States was involved are represented in the County's cemeteries. During the 19th century all
able-bodied adult males were required to train with the local militia, and this service was monitored at the county level. Service in
19th-century wars was for the most part regulated and coordinated by the state through the county government, and the military census done in
advance of the United States' entry into World War I was created the same way. A number of records having to do with the military service of
the County's residents are held by County agencies. They include primary and secondary sources.
The US Government passed laws regarding pensions for Revolutionary veterans on several occasions. In 1835 these Rolls were published, and the County Historian has two original copies of the portion covering New York State. Yates County residents are named in three of the sections of this roll, Invalid Pensioners, Pensioners by the law of 1818 and Pensioners by the law of 1832. Transcripts of these three lists are posted on line.
A list of persons, both veterans and widows, who applied for War of 1812 pensions was printed in one of the local papers many years
later, in 1872. This list has been transcribed and posted. A few other War of 1812 sources are discussed elsewhere on this site. The best information on War of 1812 soldiers is contained in one of two books that were compiled after the Civil War. A bounty land law was passed by Congress in the 1850s, and these records are in Washington at the National Archives; a cash pension law was passed in 1871, and the veterans and widows who are listed in the first item in this paragraph applied for this pension. The applications were copied into a book that survives, and copies of individual pages are available. For more information, see the Bounty Books page.
The 1840 federal census contains the names of all surviving Revolutionary pensioners. In addition, Congress authorized a compilation of all these
names in 1841, which includes the names of the pensioner, his age and the head of the household where he was living. A copy of this published Surviving Pensioners' Roll is in the County's holdings, and the Yates County portion has been transcribed and posted.
State law was amended in 1865 to require all towns to log details of the service of men who had enlisted between 1861 and 1865. The towns of Jerusalem and Torrey in Yates County retain these registers, and a transcript is available on line, together with an index. 24 May 2019
The 1863 Civil War draft roll is extant for all nine towns.
The 1865 New York State census contains references to the service of men listed in the enumeration, plus information on men killed during the war. A transcript of the information in the mortality schedules is available on line, as is an every-name index.
There are two printed lists indicating military service of Yates County residents. Both are published in book form: Walter Wolcott's
Military History of Yates County, NY (1895) (Index on line; book itself is posted elsewhere) and Robert H Graham's Yates County's "Boys in Blue" 1861-1865: Who they were and what they did (c1926). Name index to the latter is posted on this site, and the book posted elsewhere.
After the Civil War the federal government passed several pension laws intended to take care of disabled soldiers, and soldiers' widows or other dependent heirs. Many returned soldiers were also owed money by their local government in the form of bounties, or from the federal government in the form of back pay, clothing allowances, prisoner of war pay and so on. Everyone is familiar with the huge collections of pension applications and other records that are held by the National Archives; but applications also had to be filed at the local level, and an agent appointed to work everything through the bureaucracy. Yates County has two known surviving books of these records. They contain a great deal of information on individual soldiers and their families. A name index for these books has been created, and copies of one or more pages may be obtained. For more, see the Bounty Books page.
The 1917 World War I militia enrollment is extant for all nine towns;
A large set of card files of more recent veterans, including those of World War I, World War II and the Korean War are in the possession of the County Historian. It was compiled by former Historian Frank L. Swann. One of these files has now been indexed and photocopied, including nearly 800 record cards compiled by Swann during his long career. They are of World War I veterans, though a few Spanish-American War and Indian Wars veterans are included. Most give the name, race, serial number, branch of service, outfit, date and place of enlistment and discharge, the soldier's character and health, his or her date and place of birth, and information on spouse or next of kin.
Some naturalization records, particularly those of Irish immigrants who saw Civil War service, contain original or careful hand-drawn facsimiles of discharge papers. These were apparently filed for use as Declarations of Intent.
Oaths of militia officers were sworn before the County judge and have been filed with the County Clerk. These records begin in 1823, when the County was first organized, and contain the original signatures of the men swearing their allegiance to the Constitutions of the United States and of New York State.
Discharge papers recorded with the County Clerk have been filed by veterans since the 1860s.