Joan Griffis/Illinois Ancestors: Spanish soldiers helped colonists win Revolutionary War

Joan Griffis/Illinois Ancestors: Spanish soldiers helped colonists win Revolutionary War

Historians have long included details of France's assistance to the American colonists during the Revolutionary War. However, evidence shows that the Spanish Empire also provided aid in the form of money, ammunition, personnel, and medical supplies as early as 1776.

A new book, "From Across the Spanish Empire: Spanish Soldiers Who Helped Win the American Revolutionary War, 1776-1783," includes information on thousands of Spanish soldiers who served in Arizona, California, Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas military units. The author, LeRoy Martinez, identifies (in most cases) each soldier by name, military unit, rank, date, and source, and sometimes by age, place of origin in Europe, and other factors.

It should be noted that "the Sons of the American Revolution Society (SAR) can use the Spanish records to process applications for membership." Copies of these Spanish archival records have been placed in the National Library of the SAR, located in Louisville, Ky. The author has also helped many with their SAR applications.

From Across the Spanish Empire is a 284-page, softcover, illustrated, indexed book, ISBN 978-0-8063-5784-3, that can be ordered from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 260, Baltimore, MD 21211 as item number 8350 @ $29.95 plus $5.50 postage and handling. Visa and MasterCard orders may be place tollfree at 1-800-296-6687, FAX 410-752-8492, or online at

National genealogical event

The Federation of Genealogical Societies will be celebrating its 40th anniversary at its annual conference to be held Aug. 31-Sept. 3 in Springfield. The Illinois State Genealogical Society will be the local host. "Time Travel: Centuries of Memories" will include 160 sessions, 72 expert speakers, 10 luncheons and seven workshops.

Visit and click on selected items from the toolbar across the top which include home, program and activities, exhibits and lodging. If you need some convincing to attend this event, read "7 reasons you should attend FGS 2016" on the website above.

"Each day of the conference is full of sessions aimed at strengthening your research skills no matter what your level or area of expertise might be." To learn what the program will include, visit

Registration opens soon but it's not too early to start making plans to attend!

Railroad genealogical materials

Research materials relating to railroads in the US can be found in a wide variety of locations. Fortunately a website has been created that lists the resources available to researchers. Locations of Railroad Genealogical Materials, a 29-page document (in PDF format), can be found at It would be wise to make a copy of this file. The creator of this website, Jim Sponholz, can be contacted at

Cook County death records

FamilySearch has indexed an additional 3.7 million Cook County, Illinois death records, dating from 1878 to 1994 (but no records from 1910 to 1915 and no records for the city of Chicago.) Visit; the collection can be searched, free, by first name, last name, gender and race.

Search for missing persons

Megan Smolenyak has done considerable work with the U.S. Army, tracing the families of soldiers still unaccounted for from Korea, World War II and Vietnam. As a result, she admits that she has gotten "surprisingly good" at locating living individuals. Her website at provides a link to a form that can be filled out by anyone searching for a living person, such as a military buddy, favorite girlfriend or a distant cousin.

That form can also be accessed directly at After filling out contact information (name, address, email, phone) there are a few basic questions to answer. She says she loves to solve mysteries, so perhaps she can solve yours.

Queries, genealogical questions from researchers and genealogical materials readers would like to share will be printed in this column free. Joan Griffis may be reached via email at or by sending a letter to Illinois Ancestors, c/o The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

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