May 31, 2014

Jacob Roush and Philip Roush, Virginia Militiamen: 52 Ancestors

Two hundred and thirty-nine years ago (almost to the day), two of my 6th-great-grandfathers took a bold step. The spring of 1775 had brought troubled times to the American colonies. Relations with Great Britain had grown increasingly strained. In early April 1775, the battles at Concord and Lexington confirmed that there was no turning back. The rumblings of discontent had sprouted into outright confrontation, and the American Revolution was underway.

Patriots in Virginia, as in other colonies, quickly formed local militia companies to protect their homes and fight for the cause of American independence. Jacob Roush and Philip Roush were among the men who enlisted in the Dunmore County Militia, under the command of Capt. Jacob Holeman, on May 29, 1775.

I first found evidence of Jacob and Philip’s service as I worked on my application for the Daughters of the American Revolution. The DAR uses the transcription of Jacob Holeman’s enlistment roster in Revolutionary War Records Virginia by Gaius M. Brumbaugh as its source.[1] This is an excellent derivative source, and I’m grateful for it. But as genealogists, we’re urged to seek the original source whenever possible. So that’s what I did when I visited the Library of Virginia during the recent NGS 2014 Conference in Richmond.

Wow. What a thrill to see the list itself! (Even though it’s a negative photostat, and still technically a derivative, it's as close as I’m ever likely to get to the original.) Somehow, holding it made the excitement of that long-ago time, and the power of the commitment these men made, seem like a tangible thing to me. It was no small thing to fly in the face of the royal government and pledge your loyalty to the colonial militia. Their lives, and the security of their families and livelihoods, were on the line.

The two-page document is titled, “A List of the Mens Names in Dunmore County Militia under the Command of Capt. Jacob Holeman.” On the second page, after the names, is the official decree: “By Virtue of the Power and Authority to me given as Lieutenant of the County of Dunmore I do hereby Enlist the with Nam’d Men under the Command of Capt Jacob Holeman. Given under my hand this 29th day of May 1775.”[2] (I’m still working to decipher the flowery signature of the official who signed it.)

A few of my observations about the list, some of which aren’t readily apparent from the transcription in Brumbaugh’s book:
  • The men are listed in three columns. All names on the first page are written in the same clearly legible handwriting; there are no signatures. A few names are crossed out, as though they were later removed from the roster. On the second page are 15 more names, written in a different hand, that appear to have been added after the official declaration.

  • In Brumbaugh’s transcription, the names are in alphabetical order, and the last name is given first (i.e., Roush, Jacob and Roush, Philip). On the original list, the names appear to be in the order that the men presented themselves. They are not in alphabetical order, and the first name comes first, just as it would be said aloud.

  • While many of these men were German, the spellings of their names were anglicized, probably according to how the scribe heard them. Rausch, which morphed into Roush, is spelled Rouse in four places here (brothers Philip, Jacob, Henry, and John Jr.). Zirkle, commonly seen as Circle, is spelled Cirkle (Andrew, Michael, and Peter). The surname Durst, which became Darst in later generations, is spelled Dirst (Abraham and Isaac—Abraham Durst is my 7th-great-grandfather). Clearly, spellings were not yet standardized.

  • Crease lines are evident, indicating the document was folded. A portion of the second page bears the address, “To Capt. Jacob Holman Dunmore County,” as though it was to be delivered to him. (no “e” in Holman in the address)

The Library of Virginia's terms of use preclude me from posting a picture of Jacob Holeman’s List here, and I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the chances that others have to view, photograph, and copy the document for their personal use. So I’ll share just a small portion of the list where the names of Philip, Jacob, and Henry Roush appear, to give you a sample of the beautiful handwriting. Philip’s name is just above the fold, with some wear evident.

I’ve heard we should seek the original record for the sake of accuracy and completeness. That’s fine and well, but from my experience, I’d add: do it for the sense of connection it gives you. Seeing an original document brings your family history alive in a way that a published transcription simply can’t do. And sometimes that history is just so cool, isn’t it?


© Copyright 2014 Shelley Bishop
The “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” series is coordinated by Amy Johnson Crow, CG, author of the blog No Story Too Small.

Related Posts:

[1] Gaius Marcus Brumbaugh, Revolutionary War Records Virginia (1936; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1995), p. 607-608.
[2] Shenandoah County, Virginia, Dunmore County Militia Roster, Captain Jacob Holeman’s Company, 1775; accession no. 21127, “Dunmore County Revolutionary War papers, 1775-1814,” Box 53, 2 leaves; Library of Virginia, Richmond.

May 26, 2014

The World War II Memorial: Tribute to a Generation

Family historians practice the concept of remembrance whenever they tell the story of an ancestor’s life. While we research our veteran ancestors year-round, on Memorial Day we also recognize the cemeteries where they rest and the memorials created to their service. On previous occasions, I’ve written about:

On this Memorial Day, I’d like to recognize our country’s striking memorial to the American servicemen and women of World War II. The National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. is a beautiful and stirring tribute to those who fought to defend democracy in a terrible war waged on two fronts.

Dioramas leading into the center of the memorial illustrate some of the soldiers’ experiences, starting with enlistment and saying good-bye to loved ones. This diorama depicts the landings on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, May 6, 1944.

One side of the circular memorial is dedicated to the Atlantic theatre of operations, and the other side to the Pacific. The names of battle sites and operations for each theatre are engraved around low fountains. A colonnade of wreath-adorned pillars—one for each state—rings the perimeter.

Engravings recall memorable quotes by presidents and generals. Some were originally meant to encourage men in the thick of battle, while others, like this one by General Douglas MacArthur, commemorate peace.  

The Washington Monument provides a fitting backdrop for the World War II Memorial. Across the wide expanse of the Reflecting Pool, the Lincoln Memorial stands in silent tribute to the sacrifices of another terrible conflict, the Civil War.

I’ll leave you with this quote from President Harry S. Truman, which summarizes perfectly what we pause to remember every Memorial Day: “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.”

May 10, 2014

Photos from the NGS 2014 Family History Conference

Richmond, Virginia, has been buzzing with genealogists all week. Thousands of attendees of the 2014 National Genealogical Society Conference enjoying four days of presentations—and each other’s company—have packed the downtown area. With ten session choices for each time period, a full slate of evening activities, and a busy exhibit hall, there hasn’t been a dull moment.

Since time has been at a premium throughout the conference, I haven’t had much time to write. I thought some photos might be a good way to convey the feel of the event, especially for those not able to attend in person. So here’s a little visual tour from the past three days:

Sessions are being held in both the convention center and the Marriott, just across the street. It felt nice to step out into the sunshine for a few moments while crossing to attend sessions in different buildings.

Lecture rooms for the most part have been comfortably full. As expected, though, lectures by Elizabeth Shown Mills and Tom Jones were packed.

The exhibit hall is spacious and easy to get around. Major vendors like FamilySearch,, and FindMyPast have large displays with demonstration areas.

DearMyrtle traveled around the exhibit hall doing spontaneous interviews with her “Ambush Cam.” Here she is in action.

Maia’s Books always draws a big crowd at every conference. Genealogists love books!

At the end of the day, it’s nice to sit and “talk shop” over dinner.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little photo tour of the NGS 2014 Conference. After I’ve had a chance to rest and recover, I’ll talk a little about some of the sessions I attended, and offer some recommendations for those looking to order lecture recordings on CD. I’ll also talk about some of my research discoveries at the Library of Virginia. But now, I’m off to attend my daughter’s graduation! Signing off from Richmond—



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