Part 2: Me and the 51st North Carolina
My interest in the 51st Regiment North Carolina Troops began in the 1960’s. My father obtained a copy of his grandfather’s civil war records from the National Archives. I was fascinated by those documents and my long-dead ancestor, Samuel Washington Ward, Company G, 51st North Carolina.
My father was born in 1917. My great-grandfather died in 1926. So my father remembered his grandfather and the stories he told about the war. “Pop” then retold those stories to me. Some of what my father told me turned out not to be true, but that’s a story for another time and place.
I held onto a romantic image of Samuel W. Ward through my childhood and into adolescence. Along the way, my mother obtained copies of Samuel’s two pension applications and found his record in North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster. For years, this was all the information I had about my great-grandfather, and I moved on through life without giving him much thought.
Fast forward to 2003. I was laid off during the recession of that year, and I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. I began doing Internet searches for Samuel Ward and for the 51st North Carolina Regiment. Although I didn’t find any more information about my ancestor, I did find some interesting tidbits about the regiment. I focused on finding out as much as I could about the 51st Infantry, knowing that it would shed some light on my great-grandfather’s experiences during the war.
I built an Excel spreadsheet containing all the individual records from North Carolina Troops. For the next few years, I added whatever information I found to the data set. My spreadsheet grew considerably. By 2006, work and family were monopolizing my time, and I put my data collection on hold.
Fast forward again, this time to 2018. After 43 years of working hard to make other people rich, I retired. Now I really had a lot of time on my hands. This idle time led to the resurrection of my research into the 51st North Carolina. Much to my delight, there was a lot more information on the Internet. I spent about a year gathering the additional data and stuffing it into the spreadsheet. Project complete, for now, but then what?
I had spent thousands of hours collecting information. The data is only valuable if it’s shared with others. And that’s why I built this website. I hope you find it useful.
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