This week, I once again received three stuffed packages of ancestral records from my "genealogist gem"; the one I spoke of a few blogs ago. I sifted through volumes of notes and records and within my bulging stack of papers, one in particular struck me; sending a ripple of excitement that tingled my toes!
The record that gave life to my middle-age (I hate saying that term!) heart, is a digital copy of a Congressional Record. And highlighted nicely by my "gem" was my ancestor Samuel Hobbs, noted in a Congressional Journal on January 12th, 1846. Samuel was representing himself and sixteen other citizens of Pennsylvania for "remonstrating against the admission of Texas as a slave state into the Union."
What on earth is this? I thought.
I slowly sat down at my kitchen table and glared at the document. I put on my thinking cap (I keep it handy at all times) and read slowly the statement at the beginning of the records: "Mr John Quincy Adams presented a memorial from..." and a long list followed of names of representatives from several states renouncing the proposed "slave state of Texas."
Now at this point I would like to make it clear to all Texans, I truly have nothing against your state. But at that time in our history, knowing my ancestor boldly and publicly denounced slavery--participating in a Congressional petition as an Abolitionist--reconfirms my purpose for genealogy.
Stunned with the discovery, I went straight to the Library of Congress website and searched for myself. Of course I have utilized their wonderful Chronicling America portal--their digitalized and searchable archived newspapers. But I had never peeked inside the portal for "A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875."
Why would I pause to consider that I might have an ancestor's name embedded within the great archived books of Congress?
I never did; until now.
The fact is, the Congressional books have volumes of petitions, debates and military promotions of American citizens from every state since the Continental Congress. One does not have to be a Congressman to have your name recorded in a Congressional Record. If your ancestor was promoted in military rank; if they signed a petition from their state that was forwarded on to Congress; if a widow requested a military pension for her deceased husband; these and many more examples could become an entry into the Congressional Record.
In exploring this site, I recommend going to "search all titles" and then type in your ancestor's full name in the large white square. The results will list which records have your ancestor's full name--that's the one to focus on. What I also love about this site is how the results highlight your ancestor's name in bold lettering; allowing your eyes to zero in on what you are looking for.
So bookmark this brilliant Library of Congress portal because you will undoubtedly become hooked; routinely placing several of your ancestor's names within their search engine.
You may be quite stunned at your discoveries.
I know I was--thinking cap and all.
Keep searching for answers,