Not only have I researched his life, I have written and spoken about him many times. Two of my lectures, Finding Eliza Jane and The POW Experiences of Two Union Civil War Soldiers are based on his Civil War pension file, compiled service records, and his POW records. I have a copy of a photo of him framed and hanging on the wall near my computer. I have visited the places he called home. I feel like I know this great, great grandfather personally.
When I started researching my family history twenty-one years ago, all I knew is that my great, great grandfather’s name was John Carder, that he came from the Shenandoah Valley, and that he had served in the Civil War. I didn’t know where else he had lived, for which side he served in the Civil War, or his middle name. Everything I knew was in the previous sentence.
My great aunt was living when I started my research so I asked her what she knew about him. She knew where he was buried. The next day, my parents and I picked up Aunt Marge and we visited John Carder’s grave. It was a government issue tombstone that you see on so many Civil War veterans’ graves. With the information on his tombstone, I was able to order his Civil War records and really start learning about him, my great, great grandmother, and their children.
Twenty-one years later, I have probably all of his siblings, his wives and in-laws, and over 8,600 collateral relatives and descendants. The one thing I have never been able to learn is the one reason I started doing my family history-to learn who John’s parents were. That is still my #1 goal. Who were the parents of John Mahlon Carder?