Week 6: Social Media

This post is literally appearing in a Facebook group, Generations Café, that has over 8,000 members.  You’re reading this because you already understand the value of Social Media for genealogy research.  I could provide you with multiple examples of how Facebook in particular has been helpful to my genealogy research.  But I’ll focus on only one example today – my recent inclusion in the Facebook page whose profile picture is at the beginning of this essay.

My first and probably most significant family history discovery was my 2nd great-grandfather, Miles Arnold (1821-1899).  I “discovered” him in the same way that Columbus “discovered” America.  Other people knew about him and he had an Ancestry profile for years before I ever found out about him.  Although his life is well documented, and my father knew people who knew him, I never heard of him until I started doing genealogy research after I retired from teaching in 2012. 

I soon discovered several 2nd and 3rd cousins who were also descended from Miles; they had trees on Ancestry and I benefited greatly from their research.  It didn’t take long to find out that Miles had served in the 76th Ohio during the Civil War, and that his unit participated in the Atlanta campaign in the spring of 1864.  The story wasn’t hard to find, thanks to the intrepid researchers who had gone before me. 

Here’s Miles’s story, briefly.  He joined up in 1861, and by the spring of 1864 he found himself with his unit preparing to move south from Chattanooga toward Atlanta.  The Battle of Atlanta was a two-day affair in July of that year; Miles was severely wounded and left for dead on the first day of the battle.  On the next day, when both armies went out to retrieve their dead, Miles was found alive.  He recuperated in camp until he was well enough to return home, which he did in August.  His wounds were serious and debilitating, but he nonetheless lived until 1899.

I belong to a bunch of genealogy Facebook pages, and a month or so ago I ran across The Atlanta Campaign History and Discussion Group on Facebook.  I decided to join, hoping I could find out more about this ancestor.  I have not been disappointed.

I posted my first comment on the page on January 9, 2023.  Within just a couple of hours, I had a response from a member of the group, providing some additional information about Miles.  I responded with a link to a book that had been written by descendants of Charles Dana Miller (Miles’s commanding officer) called The Struggle for the Life of the Republic.  It was published in 2004 and it was useful to me as I tried to understand Miles’s life while he was in the Army.

A subsequent post just a day or two later provided me a link to a blog post about the 76th Ohio – Miles’s unit.  Here’s the link to that post.  https://dan-masters-civil-war.blogspot.com/2022/07/to-falter-would-disgrace-name-of-old.html?m=1&fbclid=IwAR1O2vc29E4cDdkrhpiz17h46Lim-GaX2XBrkMaFIwXmUtscJLxsrVCm9D4.  It provided a specific focus on one individual, but it still allowed me to understand more about Miles.

On January 22, 2023, a group member posted a critique of a newly published book about this battle – July 22: The Civil War Battle of Atlanta by Earl Hess.  I didn’t know about this book, but after reading about it on the website, my husband ordered a copy (he got REALLY invested in Miles’s story when I was first finding out about it a few years ago – to the point of making a week-long trip by himself to trace the path of the 76th Ohio from Chattanooga to Atlanta). When he got the book, he read it cover-to-cover almost immediately, and said it gave him a lot more detail than he previously had about this campaign.  Even though Miles is my ancestor, my husband has become very interested in his story.

This group has over 1,000 members, although it has been around for less than a year.  As I understand it, a previous group focused on this campaign had been taken over by trolls and bots to the point where the administrators threw their hands up in despair and started over again.  I wasn’t part of the earlier group so I can’t speak to these problems.

I recently skimmed through the hundreds of photos, scans, and maps that have been posted in this group since its inception less than a year ago.  Anyone who is trying to understand the Atlanta Campaign and the Battle of Atlanta could get a good start by joining this group and participating in the conversations.


Author: iseekdeadpeopleblog

I am a retired high school history and government teacher. I've been doing genealogy research since I retired in 2012. I define what I do as "constructing a plausible narrative about the past." I don't claim to know everything about the ancestors whose stories I tell, but I try to imagine myself in their lives. I sometimes call it "creative non-fiction." I try to differentiate between what I know for sure and what I "think" I know.

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