Veselik Article Published by National Genealogical Society Magazine

A genealogical article written by William A. "Bill" Veselik, Archivist for the F.B. Kegley Library at Wytheville Community College, has been published in the January-March 2023 issue of the National Genealogical Society Magazine

The article is entitled “Tracing Military Service in State Militia Records.”

The National Genealogical Society was founded in 1903. Its magazine has a national circulation of about 10,000 individuals, libraries, and genealogical societies.

“I have been fortunate to have had my previous genealogical articles published in a variety of state journals and magazines around the country,” said Veselik, “but having my work published in the National Genealogical Society Magazine is a dream come true. The NGS is a national society and its magazine is well-respected by genealogists across the U.S.”

Veselik began developing the article in 2021 after tracing his ancestor, Thomas Allen, through early tax records in Smyth County. He noticed that Allen was ascribed various military ranks, such as Captain and Major, and in one of the last tax years before Allen’s death in 1843 he was described as “Col. Thomas Allen.” Realizing that, to the best of Veselik’s knowledge, Thomas Allen had never enlisted in the military and he was likely too young to have served during the War of 1812, the author began examining extant militia records available from the Library of Virginia.

“It was there that I found Thomas Allen had served in the 70th Regiment of Virginia Militia from Washington County and later in Smyth County after its formation in 1832. Allen’s military titles in the tax records corresponded to his promotions within the militia, even to the point that near the end of his life he was listed in tax records as a colonel, which was confirmed by militia documents showing Allen was elected the lieutenant colonel of Smyth County’s 143rd Regiment of Militia in 1840,” said Veselik. He noted that in official militia documents, a lieutenant colonel always would have used his formal rank, while in day-to-day activities it was customary to refer to a lieutenant colonel as “Colonel” in much the way a brigadier general simply would have been called “General” by his subordinates. Veselik said this obviously carried over to county tax records, which reflected that Allen was known in the community as a ranking officer in the local militia.

The article uses the case of Thomas Allen as an example of what kinds of militia records are available at the state level and directs genealogists to a number of useful sources that may further their research, regardless of the state in which their ancestors lived.

Genealogical articles written by Veselik have been published previously in the Magazine of Virginia Genealogy, the Wisconsin State Genealogical Society Newsletter, and Stirpes, the journal of the Texas State Genealogical Society. His articles on historical events and local families have been published in the Smyth County News & Messenger and the Wytheville Enterprise. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Virginia Tech and worked as public relations coordinator for Wytheville Community College before he retired and became the archivist for the F.B. Kegley Library at WCC in 2015.



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