I’ve been working with a friend for several years helping him trace his lineage. He has been stymied trying to prove the lineage of his ancestor Dennis Burdette Warfield. Due to the writing on the back of old photos he received from his parents and grandparents, there is little doubt that the lineage we are using is correct, but proving it with sources is surprising difficult.
Dennis Burdette Warfield was born in 1845 in Baltimore, Maryland. He was raised in Dryden, New York by his grandparents. Census records and other documents confirm that fact. However, we still don’t know the names of his parents. It has been an interesting problem to research.
We knew that he fought in the Civil War, entering service at age nineteen as a private in 1862. After three years of service, he was mustered out of the military as a sergeant and shortly thereafter moved to the Gold Country in California where he lived the rest of his life as a prosperous business owner.
Would his military records provide any proof or hints of his parents names along with any other ‘new to us’ information? Maybe.
My friend ordered the full military for Dennis through NARA. I had been concerned that there were problems in the file after reading a description of its contents. The documents included in it didn’t match the facts that we knew. Given our current stalemate, ordering the file was worth the gamble.
The 71-page package arrived at his home yesterday and shortly thereafter I received an email message saying: “You were right!” “Someone tried to commit fraud by claiming they were my ancestor and filing for his military pension.”
It seems that a man by the name of D. H. Myers had made the fraudulent claim. He wasn’t a ‘good guy’ as you might have guessed. In fact, he was in the penitentiary for bank robbery when he sent the pension application in for processing.
We don’t know how he got enough information about Dennis Warfield to have made a claim with apparently legitimate information to support the claim. I’m guessing that he may have served with or known Dennis in the military and knew that he had moved far away and would probably never know about the fraudulent pension application Who knows. Two of the supporting ‘reference’ letters for the claim were written by jail mates of D. H. Myer, so this probably wasn’t his first trip down this particular fraud path.
I’ve encountered I.D. Theft in my personal life several times over the past few years due to theft of my information from sites that were hacked by bad guys. I hadn’t encountered a similar theft in my many years of genealogical research.
Obviously, it happened, both then and now. You may want to add one more weight of doubt to any military or pension records in your own research. The vast majority are correct or at least belong to the person they represent, but sometimes, bad guys attempted or even succeeded in fraud via I.D. Theft in military pensions.