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I recently sat at my desk and looked up on my wall where my Settlers & Builders of Gallia County certificate hangs. These were ten ancestors that made their mark in Gallia County, Ohio and they were ten ancestors that I proudly researched and helped to find their place within Gallia County history. I wanted to make sure that they were really known within Gallia County history.

On this particular day, however, I was bothered by a different ancestor – from the same family, but an uncle from three generations before me. I had never located evidence of him marrying or fathering a child, and at the time of my earlier research, there was no sign that he ever left his surroundings near the Ohio River prior to his death in April of 1920.  That was the extent of the life that I had heard of and researched of my 3rd great-grand uncle.  An uncle who could have easily slipped through the cracks of time as un-noticed, or labeled as too “unimportant” to be nothing more than another name on a single line in the family tree report.  As far as I could tell there was no story to tell.

But what did I know? I was merely going off of what the family historian (a.k.a. Grandma) had – or rather hadn’t told me about any military history with this ancestor.  Basically, if grandma hadn’t found it, it was probably because it wasn’t out there to be found. The “genealogy bug” had only bitten me a few years earlier, so I relied on Grandma to keep me up to date on these details. When I had inquired, she didn’t know anything about his military history, and therefore, in my young genealogist’s mind, there wasn’t  a military history to discover.  

EXCEPT…(Which is kind-of like a “but”.  It’s a big “wait a minute, look at this!” in our genealogy world.)

Except…I was contacted by a stranger through my Ancestry.com family tree who was wanting to share information that he had collected on my ancestor, Warren Hulbert. He had been working on a listing of Civil War soldiers, and wanted to pass along to me the tidbits that he had gathered with regards to the service of my 3rd great-grand uncle.  Unfortunately, the details he shared with me didn’t make sense. Even to my untrained genealogist eye, I questioned the validity of his claims that my ancestor had been a Civil War veteran.  An ancestor whom I should have been proud of in finding out that he served in the Civil War.   However, I wasn’t completely certain that he actually did.

The documents that were shared with me stated that Warren Hulbert had served in the New York Volunteer Infantry.  I would have expected him to have enlisted in Ohio where he was actually living.  Perhaps he had “gone home” to place his service in the state where he was born and spent a large portion of his childhood – but it still seemed highly unlikely.  What I realized was that if indeed my ancestor had served his country during the War of the States, then there was certainly more about his life that I had yet to reveal and discover.

*         *         *        *        *      

Warren Hulbert, MY Warren Hulbert, was born 25 September 1838 in Steuben County, New York. He was the fifth child born to Lester and Feronia “Laura” (Henshaw) Hulbert, and he was their third son. The Hulbert family would grow to 11 surviving children and one infant child who died in 1854. It is believed that shortly after the death of this last child, the family moved from New York to southern Ohio where they settled in Green Township, Gallia County.  That’s what I knew.  That’s all that I knew.  That’s all that I thought there was to know.

So you can imagine my surprise when I was informed otherwise by Mr. Ancestry.com Stranger, that there was a possibility that I had an ancestor who was a Civil War veteran that I was not previously aware of. Perhaps “intrigued” is a better word to describe it.  As previously mentioned, the tidbits presented didn’t seem logical to me.

A few years later, I was once again presented with this scenario – that MY Warren Hulbert had served in the Civil War.  I decided that I would pull all the documents and evidence of my ancestor’s life in Gallia County.  I also was able to make a connection at the National Archives who was able to provide me with the Civil War pension file of a Warren Hulbert of New York.  Laying it all out in front of me, I set out to find exactly what the truth was.

Who was the REAL Warren Hulbert?

A quick comparison quickly pointed out that we were indeed talking about two different individuals:

  • Warren (OH) was born in 1838, while Warren (NY) was born in 1842.
  • In 1840, Warren (OH) was living in Steuben Co., NY , while Warren (NY) was not yet born.
  • In 1850, Warren (OH) was still living in Steuben co., NY while Warren (NY) was just down the road in Wayland, Steuben Co., New York.  Close proximity, two separate individuals.
  • Warren (OH) left no evidence of being married, and Warren (NY) had a wife and child.
  • Warren (OH) died in 1920 (I have a death certificate and his Will), Warren (NY) died many years earlier, in 1890. (shown by record of Veteran’s tombstone)

Many other documents presented themselves such as census records, tax records, veteran’s pension file records – all showed these as two different individuals.  I suppose if I’ve learned anything in researching my family, it’s never to assume anything – but short of Warren Hulbert hatching an elaborate plot that consisted of a completely separate family and faking his own death 30 years prior to his actual death…well, that logic just simply escaped me.

Still…there was one particular record.  A record that actually referred to MY Warren Hulbert as a Civil War veteran.  A “soldier’s burial card” that meant his grave was registered with the County Recorder’s Office as a soldier, and in this case …in the Civil War.  I wanted to know more about this card that was registered to him, and was told that sometimes no other information can be located, but it does show that he was a potential soldier or he would not have had this card otherwise.

That led me to inquire at the County Recorder – what kind of registration information did they have for my Warren Hulbert to warrant this card?  The response I received was disheartening, but yet one more step in the direction of finding a final answer:

“I’m sorry, but I have no discharge for a Warren Hulbert.  I do have a listing for a veterans gravesite for a Warren Hulbert for 10/11/1920.  The listing I have does not specify in what war this Warren Hulbert served.  The listing indicates Mound Hill Cemetery but does not specify a grave location.  Wish I could be more help.”

Problem #1 – again, no record to verify that he was a soldier.  Problem #2 – Mound Hill Cemetery?  I don’t think so.  I have a photo from the Hulbert Family Cemetery where he was buried – which agrees with the death certificate that I also have.  So…no.  IF there is a mystery Warren Hulbert buried at Mound Hill, again – it is NOT my Warren Hulbert.

As I try to put into practice the genealogy skills that I learn, I know that there is always a level of family history that we may not know about our ancestors.  We didn’t walk with them to know every single detail of their lives.  But we can research thoroughly, and come to a well thought out conclusion.

For me, I believe that there are just still too many questions, and not enough complete answers for me to believe that MY Warren Hulbert was a Civil War veteran – and that any reference to such is actually a reference to another individual with the same name who lived in the same approximate area where another by the same name once lived, and one who did serve  and sacrifice during the Civil War.

Each man was a real Warren Hulbert in their own right, but still two very separate individuals.

~C.

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