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Question
I have just discovered an ancestor Thomas Mitchell (b 1834 Ayrshire, Scotland) emigrated to USA and was killed at the Battle of Bull Run on 21 July 1861.

Not being in America, is there any way to find out any more information about him. I am assuming he came to the New York area as that is where his uncle was living.

Thanks

Cathy

Answer
Hi Cathy,

There are usually some public records that can give you hints about the person's life.  The problem is that, especially with such a common name, it can be difficult to determine if the record you find belongs to your ancestor or someone of the same name.  Often you have to look at other hints in the record that show more info such as the name of other family members, the person's age, etc.

For example, I see in the 1860 Census that there is a Thomas Mitchell, age 30, living in Cattaragus, NY with Alexander Mitchell, age 39, John Mitchell, age 29, Margaret Mitchell, age 70, and Elizabeth John, age 20.  All except Elizabeth were born in Scotland.  

I'm not sure if this is the person you are looking for.  The age is off a little, but I have found that Census records are notoriously wrong on age.  If the other names match his brothers and mother, this could be the right person.  However, it could be that this is the wrong person and that the Census taker wrote down the wrong place of birth for Thomas in a different record.

Unfortunately, the name is rather common.  I see at least 21 men named Thomas Mitchell from NY who enlisted in the Union army.  There are also multiple immigration records from Scotland to NY of people with the name and about the correct age.

The information I pulled here is from Ancestry.com, which has a great deal of online records.  However, it is a pay site.  There are some other sites that may be of help that are free, such as familysearch.org or rootsweb.com.  You may want to look into those.  Rootsweb has places were you can post messages based on surname so that you may be able to connect to other researches who share your common ancestor.

I hope this helps!
- Mike  

U.S. History

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Michael Troy

Expertise

I can answer just about any question on early American History. My specialties are the American Revolution through the Civil War/Reconstruction. I also have greater expertise in matters relating to military, political or legal history.

Experience

I have lectured at George Washington University regarding the Civil War, as well as several elementary school Civil War demonstrations. I was also a member of a Civil War reenactment group for about 10 years.

Publications
http://unlearnedhistory.blogspot.com

Education/Credentials
J.D. University of Michigan B.A. George Washington University

Awards and Honors
Truman Scholar

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