Anthony Holmead served his country in the War of 1812, and was awarded a pension years later. Thanks to the preservation efforts of The Federation of Genealogical Societies, The National Archives, Fold3 and Ancestry, Anthony’s pension file has been digitized and preserved, and is viewable for free on Fold3.
But when I went to Fold3 to view his pension file, I suddenly felt very sorry for this brave veteran:
Mr. Holmead’s is the only pension on Fold3 from the state of Colorado. Surely he wasn’t the only veteran to have survived long enough to file for a pension?
Hang on a second – Colorado statehood was in 1876, and that’s later than 1812, right? In fact, Mr. Holmead first applied for his pension prior to Colorado statehood. Was he psychic, perhaps? What’s going on here?
Here is the pension index card for Mr. Holmead – what might it tell us?
Let’s focus on the Service noted on his card:
which says “Pvt., Capt. Stulls Co. Dist. Col. Mil.”
OK, so Pvt. Holmead was not the sole representative of the Colorado Militia in the War of 1812 – he, in fact, served from the District of Columbia.
I wonder whether or not the folks at Fold3 know that Colorado wasn’t a state during the War of 1812. Apparently, they need to keep a statehood timeline handy:
Fold3 has War of 1812 pensions filed under Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and West Virginia, none of which existed, much less provided militia companies in the war.
Imagine you were Anthony Holmead’s descendant and that you knew he was a soldier in the War of 1812 who had lived his entire life in the DIstrict of Columbia. If you browsed Fold3’s collection of District of Columbia pensions, you would come away disappointed. Would it occur to you to look for him in Colorado pensions? Of course not.
I have contacted Fold3 about these multiple filing errors, and am eagerly awaiting their reply. Currently there is no mechanism to offer corrections on Fold3 as there is on their parent company, Ancestry’s, main site.
Thanks to all who support the Preserve the Pensions project in any way. I am a big fan of these records and have made donations towards this wonderful digitization project. Is it too much to ask that these records actually be findable once digitized?
Epilogue, 3 June 2015: Fold3 kindly and quickly replied to my question, stating that it IS possible to suggest corrections. For any image, open the information panel by clicking the small white triangles at the left of the image you’re viewing. You’ll see a “Suggest Correction” link that lets you suggest corrections, which Fold3 says will be automatically sent to their Metadata team.
I submitted a correction for Anthony Holmead’s file, suggesting District of Columbia instead of Colorado. That was 2 weeks ago and the correction has neither been acknowledged nor processed. Hopefully, Fold3’s metadata team will take action soon to do right by Pvt. Holmead.
Epilogue, 4 June 2015: Success! Private Holmead has been reunited with his compatriots in the District of Columbia militia on Fold3:
Fold3 seems to have processed most of the corrections that I submitted: there are no longer pensions mis-filed under post-war states Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, and Washington. There remain entries under Iowa and Texas that are not 1812 records (Black Hawk War and Texas Rangers service), so I suppose they need to stay there. West Virginia still has several pensions, but the actual pension records say West Virginia, so I suppose it would be tough to move those over into Virginia.
Congratulations to Fold3 on responding to these corrections. Not only are the veterans filed in their correct states now, but there are fewer states that we all have to scroll past to find the state we wish to browse into – an ergonomic benefit to boot.
I guess it’s time to send in my next donation to Preserve the Pensions!