A soldier’s last letter ….

What have I done I asked myself, to deserve to be remembered by strangers in a town in which I had never been…”

You can almost hear him ask that now, over 100 years later as we remember him.

Corporal Wilson Mcpherson Osbon (1877-1899) wrote the letter on 28 Dec 1898, in gratitude for a Christmas care package of food and goodies sent from Mrs. R.S. Gleason of Aberdeen, SD. She had sent it to him and the three other young men who were serving in the Philipines from Howard, South Dakota in Company F – among them was his brother Orman King Osbon (1874-1903).

Portion of his letter – Aberdeen Daily News 22 Feb 1899

This would be the last letter Wilson Osbon would write back home. He was killed just a few weeks later on 15 Feb 1899.

I found his story in the Aberdeen (SD) Weekly News.
In looking into it further, I quickly pulled more than a dozen articles about him and his family in GenealogyBank.
It was gripping to read his last letter.

Even more gripping to read in the old newspapers that his brother Orman was also killed in the Philippines just four years later in a fight leading a group of 22 men against a band of local thugs – in Bolinao, Philippines.

Going beyond the historical newspapers I found Orman Osbon’s obituary in a 1903 report of the War Department. It was there that I learned one more key family detail – Orman Osbon had married in the Philippines and his wife, Antonia Osbon resided in Manila.

Annual reports of the War Department for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1903. Volume VII. Report of the Philippine Commission –
Serial Set Vol. No. 4634, Session Vol. No.858th Congress, 2nd SessionH.Doc. 2 pt. 7. p. 719.
I checked the other popular online sources – none of them give these details that filled in the family tree.

I could only find the complete record in GenealogyBank – dozens of articles and reports that gave the crucial details of this family and their loss of two sons in the service of the country on the other side of the world.

The handy search box made it easy – I entered the name and it searched all 219 Million records and documents – making it quick and easy to find the details of the family tree.

Give it a try right now – there is a special give it a try rate of $9.95.

Finding People with Common Names

Finding people with unusual names can be very difficult but it is easy to find them on GenealogyBank.

Today I was looking for Henry B. Platter and his good wife, Rachel (Bittinger) Platter. The Bittingers are my cousins and many of them are from Garrett County, Maryland.

Now, Platter is an unusual name. It would be easy for a search online to bring back every record that spoke about cooking, kitchens, plates or platters.

On GenealogyBank, I was able to instantly zero in on records
about them.

With just a few clicks I was able to find a dozen documents
about the Platter family. I began opening them one by one.
The first hit came from the historical documents and was a pension request by Henry’s wife, Rachel Platter. I quickly discovered Henry had served in the Civil War, a private in Company A, Second Regiment, P.H.B. Maryland Infantry and received a pension of $72 a month (certificate No. 1045070). (This is from: Pensions and increase of pensions for certain soldiers and sailors of the Civil War. Feb 5, 1925: Serial Set Vol. No. 8392, Session Vol. No.A68th Congress, 2nd SessionH.Rpt. 1385).

This is a terrific document – it gave me a lot of details about the family. The record showed that he and Rachel had married on March 12, 1867. That would have been hard to find anywhere else.

It also states that he died on October 4, 1923 leaving her in need of assistance; how long he had served in the Civil War and that his disability was caused during the war.

This document showed that she owned her own home, the value was $500. Perhaps her house looked like this one. It is a picture of her nephew Charles “Wooly” Henry & Sarah (Hoover) Bittinger and their family in front of the family home in New Jerusalem, Garrett County, MD.

It was taken in 1937 just a few years after Rachel Platter had requested a pension. Perhaps Rachel had a similar home.
(Photo by Arthur Rothstein; Library of Congress Photo LC-USF34- 026095-D).

Wow. It’s great that
GenealogyBank has been digitizing so many documents. I never would have found this one on my own. It was easy to find it online at GenealogyBank.

Their names, marriage and death dates, military service; details about their house, their income – bingo, there it was – all this family history in one document.

GenealogyBank added over 42.5 Million family history records last year and added another 2 million just this week. It now has over 216 million historical newspaper articles, obituaries, government and historical documents online. records and documents online.

Give it a try right now. It’s available at a great “get acquainted” rate – only $9.95 for 30 days.

I found documents that gave me the details I needed for my cousins in the back hills of Maryland ….. what will you find?