I just got back from my very first genealogical conference - the New England Regional Genealogical Conference - in Manchester, New Hampshire. I learned so much from the presenters at the various sessions, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting two of my cousins from the Northeimer line.
One particular resource that I never knew about before is the web site, Footnote.com. I just subscribed to it and discovered so many fantastic records. Today, I have been amazed by two things:
1) The Navy Widows' Pension Applications, for which I found a 57-page packet of information on my 2nd-great-grandfather, Henry A. Goodhart, who served during the Spanish-American War. I now know that Henry was divorced by his wife Agnes before the war, and I also had a difficult time taking my eyes away from an autopsy report of his death. I now know the truth of his death: a problem with his heart due to some encounter while based on the Philippine Islands, possibly malaria or some other disease?
2) Gorrell's History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917-1919. In this book/manuscript, I am presently reading about the 88th Aero Squadron, in which my great-grandfather John Tyler Fairall (from whom I got my middle name) was a pilot. The manuscript has such rich detail on the history of the squadron, including thoughts and feelings of members of the squadron. There are even a few pictures included where I recognize John Fairall. Additionally, there is a photograph in the manuscript which matches a photograph in an album John Fairall created and was unmarked in that album. Now I know what that photograph showed: the grave markers of John Fairall's comrades, Lieutenants McClendon, Plummer, and Burns, who were killed in action. John Fairall makes reference of this sad occasion in one of his letters dated August 12, 1918 to his mother: "I lost three of my very best friends yesterday and one shot up very badly. All of them very fine chaps that I have met from time to time since I have been over."
Military history can be so incredibly interesting based on its stories of glory. Clearly, based on these two resources that I have found, my ancestors Henry Goodhart and John Fairall can "speak" to the darker side to war.