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“It’s just cool to know your story – not your own, but your family’s.” – Kelly Clarkson
Do strong opinions and commitments to causes run in the family? That’s what pop superstar Kelly Clarkson wonders as her mother begins researching their shared family story.
Kelly’s mother has already built a family tree on Ancestry.com and has researched back to her great-great-great-grandfather, Isaiah Rose. In 1870, they find Isaiah in the U.S. Census, a 28-year-old coal digger in Ohio. That would make him 18 when the Civil War begin.
Research Notes from our ProGenealogists team: Because he lived in Ohio, we thought he probably would have served in the Union Army, so that’s where we started looking.
We located Isaiah on the 1890 Veterans Schedule of the 1890 U.S. Federal Census, which enumerated Union veterans. There we found that he had served for almost 3 ½ years.
Isaiah is also listed twice in U.S. Civil War Soldiers records, which include millions of soldiers from both sides of the conflict. There we learned that he re-enlisted in December 1861 after his initial three-month commitment when it became apparent the war would not be ending soon.
When researching Civil War soldiers, it’s a good idea to check to see if the soldier or his dependents applied for a pension.
We found Isaiah listed in the Civil War Pension Index, so we ordered his Civil War pension file, which would tell us more about the story of his service.
Throughout our research, the information we found on the Veterans Schedule helped us confirm that we had the right Isaiah Rose in other records.
As Kelly explores Isaiah’s military service records she uncovers a devastating fact — he was a taken prisoner and held at Andersonville Prison, one of most brutal places in the Civil War. Kelly travels to Georgia, where she learns about the horrific conditions in the camp. His situation seems dire but Kelly keeps digging in his Civil War pension application, and that’s when she learns how strong her 3rd-great-grandfather truly was. Isaiah Rose escaped his captors while en route to Savannah during a prison transfer.
She follows his trail to Marietta, Georgia, where Isaiah was the sheriff in the 1880s and was later elected to the state senate. Her journey ends with a visit to the cemetery where Isaiah Rose and several generations of the family are buried.
Along the way, Kelly realizes that something more than blood connects her to this Union soldier. They share one of the high points of her life, the chance she had to sing at President Obama’s inauguration, “a moment that would not have been possible without the service of my great-great-grandfather and others.”
Kelly discovered the strength that was passed through generations of her story by starting with Civil War military records on Ancestry.com. Will you find similar strength in your own family story?
If you would like to see the episode, you can find it on TLC.com.