News: Annual Research Pilgrimage

Well here we are again in our nation’s capital on what has become an annual research pilgrimage to the seat of the largest repositories of Old Army Records in the country, Washington, D.C.’s branches of the National Records Administration Archives (NARA) and Library of Congress (LOC).  Kevin & I have returned again this year to continue our, never ending, quest to populate our Old Army Records collection with as many SU rich documents as are available.  Our goal is to provide you with access to the most comprehensive collection of records focused on the details of the Old Army soldier’s day to day life.  Now, anyone who has taken even a casual look at the either the NARA or LOC online catalogs would say, that is an impossible task.  We have considered that but have decided it is a task worth pursuing.

Desks, chairs, & Bookshelves in the NARA West Reading Room, March 2019.
Where Kevin & I spent the last week, NARA West Reading Room. Photo by Kevin O’Dell March 7, 2019.
Priorities

With that in mind we do our best to prioritize our records research and scanning. As we have mentioned in our past news posts, one of our main priorities has been gathering the General Court Martial Orders (GCMOs) for the various departments for the entire Old Army period, 1800 to 1899.  Well we are continuing that priority.  But we find it impossible to limit ourselves to just one records category.  So, while I continue to add to our already voluminous collection of GCMOs;  Kevin gathers records that are even more SU rich, such as registers and inventories. These type of records will provide you with a wider view of the issues an Old Army soldier had to deal with on a day to day basis and within his career; such as, what kind of work he was forced to do while sentenced to hard labor or what help could he get if he lost a limb.  These are just two examples of the type of information we’ve added to our Old Army Records collection that we haven’t found anywhere else on the internet.

Experience Helps

Despite weather forecasts of snow that threatened our travel and commuting plans.  Typical obstacles for travel across the country in the winter. Deciding which records to spend our, limited, time here to pursue has been the most difficult part of the trip, so far.  However, due to the experience we’ve gained by the many times we’ve repeated this trip and the excellent and professional help from the staff at both the NARA & LOC as well as at the Washington – College Park (I-95) Holiday Inn, our preferred place to stay when in the D.C. area, we’ve been able to successfully gather a diverse portfolio of records as evidenced by the following list of topics.

  •  Crime and punishment confinement data, including work performed by prisoners confined at military posts.
  • Marksmen/ sharpshooter qualifications, including shooting scores and rankings within a department and even the entire army
    • How did your Old Army ancestor rank?
  • Daily jobs performed by soldiers.

In the coming months, we will be adding the many records we’ve digitized, on this trip, to our database and will publish articles related to these very topics.  So, be sure to return often so as not to miss any of what promises to be both entertaining and informative content on our page.

Old Army Records Research Services

In addition to gathering records to populate our Old Army database, we were able to use our experience in conducting research at these repositories to fulfill a research request for a client.  We’re proud to offer our Old Army Records Research Services to anyone who would like us to locate & gather records from the 19th century US Army.  Feel free to contact us with your research request for availability & pricing.

As always, we look forward to hearing your thoughts and impressions of our website.  So, leave us your comments and suggestions as to what you would like to see on our site and what records you would like us to add to our Records Inventory.  Until our next news post, ENJOY.

1 year Anniversary of oldarmyrecords.com

In honor of the one year anniversary of the launch of oldarmyrecords.com, we present this short news post.

Thanks!

First, we would like to thank the many people who have helped and encouraged us in pursuit of our dream of bringing the details contained in 19th century army records to  history buffs, genealogists, authors, reenactors, historic site managers and others interested in the Old Army.  The list of supporters includes the Wyoming Technical Business Center (WTBC) staff (past and present); judges and sponsors of the 2017 WTBC Sheridan Start-Up Challenge; the staff of Sheridan Programmers Guild (the people responsible for the design of the website); our contract Document Scanner Operators in Washington, D.C.; the Sheridan Press and Gillette Record for their articles on our endeavor, and 1st Northern Bank of Wyoming.  For a more detailed list please visit our previous news post.

What’s Next?

So what’s next? Besides the unique and entertaining bi-weekly articles we post (here is the latest); we are still on track to bring the first data set from our Records Inventory online by the end of 2018 or early 2019.  As you might suspect, the chore of digitizing and indexing the sheer quantity of documents generated by 100 years of military operations is a huge task.  Add developing a comprehensive database and application to seamlessly integrate it with our website and you get some idea of the gargantuan task we have taken on.  But we feel it is worth it to finally be able to bring the details of the day-to-day lives of the Old Army soldier to those who are interested in this period of our shared heritage.

Need Your Help!

Your input is critical to keeping the Old Army alive.  Please help us by answering the following questions:

  1. What Old Army topics interest you?
  2. What records would you like us to add to our Records Inventory?
  3. How would you purchase access to records within the database?
    • Would you prefer a monthly subscription?
    • Would you prefer a set price for a particular document?
    • Other suggestion?

Please leave us your comments and suggestions or, if you prefer, contact us directly.  Until our next news post, ENJOY.

Special Series

This summer marks the 150th anniversary of the abandonment of Forts Reno, Phil Kearny, and C.F. Smith on the Bozeman Trail (1865-1868).  To mark the occasion, Old Army Records will run a special three-part series dealing with the military departure from each fort.  Drawing from official military records, as well as diaries and letters written by the participants, the series summarizes the activities that immediately proceeded each decampment.  Therefore, we will publish the articles on the corresponding date of fort abandonment.  Check back on July 29th for Part 1: Fort C.F. Smith.

We hope you enjoy this brief run.  Our regular bi-weekly blog post schedule will resume on August 27th.

Latest Old Army Records News

Well here is some long awaited news on what we have been up to lately.  In addition to our biweekly website posts (like “7th Cavalry Duty Before and After Little Bighorn “, in honor of the 142nd anniversary of the battle, and the latest “Old Army Officer Duty:  Council of Administration” ), we have just completed our first contract with our Document Scanner Operators (DSOs) in Washington, D.C., who have added a considerable number of original Old Army Records to our growing database.  And, once again, a group of business owners and developers, the judges of the 2017 Sheridan Start-up Challenge and the staff of the Wyoming Technical Business Center (WTBC) have shown us their continued moral and  material encouragement and support.  Also, we have received addition local press coverage for our endeavor from both the Sheridan Press and the Gillette News Record.

Start-up Challenge continued support

On June 1st the Start-up Judges responded to a brief update presentation by Kevin and I and chose to show their continued support and belief in our endeavor by awarding us additional funds from the Seed Money Fund that was one of the prizes awarded to the winners of the 2017 Sheridan Start-up Challenge.  This award of these funds was in addition to the award in Febuary of our original request for funds from the Seed Money Fund.  In addition to these funds the judges and staff have graciously donated their time and expertise in their respective business areas to advise us in achieving our goals.

Sincere appreciation and thanks

Kevin and I would like to express our sincere appreciation and thanks to all of the people who have helped us bring our vision of enlightenment of the Old Army to this point.  To name a few of the standouts: the staff of the WTBC Sheridan office; John Dick, former office director, who helped us prepare for the 2017 Sheridan Start-up Challenge and connected us with the people with the expertise to clear the hurdles of setting up our business; Gini Horner, Receptionist, always cheery and helpful, exactly what is needed when going into a business meeting; and the current Sheridan office director, Scot Rendall.   Scot has only been the director for about a month but hit the ground in full stride.  He has helped us look at our dream as a business and advised us how to make it a profitable endeavor and still fulfill our vision.  Of course we wouldn’t be as far along in this journey if it wasn’t for the judges of the  2017 Sheridan Start-up Challenge;  who had the foresight to see our vision not only for its cultural value but as a business worth investing in.  Finally, Clint Langer of  Davis & Cannon, LLP, Attorneys at Law, for his expert legal advice in setting up our LLC and his gracious offer of free legal advice to the  Challenge winners .

Happy retirement Jon

We would especially like to express our thanks and congratulations to Jon Benson, former CEO of WTBC, on a job and career well done and wish him a pleasant and long retirement.

Press

Lastly we would like to thank Ashleigh Fox for reaching out to us.  Her article on Old Army Records, LLC appeared in the July 3rd issue of the Sheridan Pres sand was picked up by the Gillette News Record.

What’s next

So what’s next, you might ask.  We are currently putting the final touches on our database design so that we can integrate it into our website and bring some of the Old Army Records we’ve been indexing to the web.  If all goes as planned we should be able to take your requests for records by the end of the year. To start with we will launch the initial Old Army database with the General Court Martial Orders (GCMOs) dataset.  These orders are chock full of names, places, events and and punishment details that shed light on the lives of individuals soldiers and what they had to endure on a day to day basis.  Of course we will continue to publish our bi-weekly posts based on information taken from the Old Army Records in our database.  Check oldarmyrecords.com often.  You never know when we will be offering another free (absolutely no cost, gratis) item as we did in our June 11th post (check it out).

As always, we look forward to hearing your thoughts and impressions of our website.  So, leave us your comments and suggestions as to what you would like to see on our site and what records you would like us to add to our Records Inventory.  Until our next news post, ENJOY.

What Are We Up To: News Update

Well we haven't reported much of what we have been up to lately, mainly
because we've been so busy with a couple of very important milestone
events.  So, here is our News Update.  The first being on Feb. 13 we made 
our presentation to the Sheridan Start-Up Challenge judging committee - the 
same folks who chose us as one of the three winners of the Challenge back in 
May 2017 - for a portion of the seed money fund (one of the prizes of the Challenge). 
They once again gave us their vote of confidence and awarded us a portion of
the seed money fund.

That good news came as we were in preparation for our Research trip to the
Library of Congress and National Archives in Washington, D. C., where I am
now, as I write this post.  We have two objectives while we are here; the
first is in our never ending search for and acquisition of 19th century
U.S. Army records to add to our developing data base.  The second is to
train the two local Document Scanner Operators (DSO) we contracted with to scan
the documents we need.
NARA 1 building, researchers' entrance. Photo by Kevin O'Dell, 2004
National Archives Records Administration 1 building, researchers’ entrance, Washington, D.C., 2004
So far, the trip has been as productive and rewarding as we had hoped and
we are over joyed at the quality and enthusiasm of our DSOs, both ladies
are eager to get right into the records and gather as many quality scans
as they can.  We thank them for their professionalism and flexibility as
we make the adjustments needed to setup this system of data acquisition.
As for Kevin and I, we are staying busy with training our DSOs, making
connections and arrangements with the staff at both the LOC and NARA 1
(Washington facility) and, occasionally, scanning documents, our real
passion.  But we are also continuing our plans for our next major
milestone in the very near future.  Stay tuned and check back regularly
for that announcement.
In the mean time please check out the rest of our site, to read our latest Post titled 
"Old Army Duty: Soldier Firefighters"; I think you'll find it interesting
information on a little known aspect of the Old Army soldier's life.  As
always, leave us your comments and suggestions as to what you would like
to see on our site and what records you would like us to add to our Records Inventory.  Until our next news post, ENJOY.

Welcome to oldarmyrecords.com!

Welcome to the inaugural Post of oldarmyrecords.com

Kevin and I wish to invite you to visit our About page and learn what we are all about.  In fact, please take the time to wander through the entire site to get a feel for what you can look forward to in the near future.  Visit the Records Inventory page to see just a small portion of the records we already have digitized.  Read and comment on our posts; we look forward to hearing what you think and would like to see on our site.

We invite you along on our trek through the archives of the Old Army records and the odyssey that is our heritage.

Old Army Records Wins the Sheridan Startup Challenge

This last February, Jim and I spent six full days digitizing a variety 19th Century U.S. Army records at the National Archives in Washington, DC.  Immediately upon our return, Jim presented a notice for the Sheridan Start-Up Challenge (Challenge).  Each year the Wyoming Technology Business Center (WTBC), administered by the University of Wyoming Office of Research and Economic Development, sponsors startup businesses throughout the state of Wyoming.  Sheridan was selected as the 2017 host city.

The Challenge is a program designed to offer entrepreneurs in early stages of development support in turning their ideas into viable businesses and involved several steps.  Initially, participants complete an application.  Sixty-eight applicants submitted entries.  From this selection, a panel of seven judges selected ten entries for formal presentations.   The ten entries were whittled down to five finalists.

In the final step, the five finalists had to prepare a business pitch to the judges and the public.  Over the next ten weeks, the finalists received coaching from WTBC staff.  The five finalists gave a 15-minute presentation to the judges and a crowd of several hundred.  After a short deliberation, the director of the Sheridan WTBC office publicly announced the three Challenge winners.  Old Army Records is proud to say we were one of those chosen.  The three winning teams each received a cash prize, a share of a larger cash pool, pro bono legal assistance, and access to a variety of business/entrepreneur services offered by the WTBC.

We are grateful and appreciative of the judges and WTBC staff for their knowledge, insight, and encouragement through this entire process.  Winning the challenge has expedited the formation of Old Army Records, LLC and the development of this website, with its attendant database.