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John Hilyard Family ca. 1909

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Like a Dog With a Bone, or Are There Any Kind Souls in Pennsylvania?

I decided to focus a little while on my surname, Hilyard. This is a line I got stuck on before my hiatus. As records stood 6 years ago, I was going to have to travel to Pennsylvania in person if I wanted to learn more.

Enter the Internet.

My last known ancestor on that line is Thomas Hilyard. From what I've searched so far, I knew he was born about 1750 and died about 1817. His wife's name was Mary, maiden name unknown. They spent most of their lives in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, down in the western corner of the state.  I know of eight children they had, including my next ancestor Thomas P. Hilyard.

I won't go into all I know in this post, but just my superfind of the day. Google, dear Google, told me about a book called the "Journal of the Forty-Eighth House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,". Here the title continues on to a second page, but you get the idea. Perfect bedside reading if insomnia is your problem. If you are interested, it is available free in its entirety on Google Books.

However, on page 40, I located this little treat. "Mr. Coplan presented the petition and documents of Mary Hilyard, of Fayette County, stating the services of her late husband, Thomas Hilyard, in the Revolutionary War, and praying for relief."

Obviously, these are my people! Mary is applying for a pension that soldiers and widows of soldiers of the American Revolution were entitled to. Up to this point I have never been able to find any military records for Thomas. After learning of this, I did a pretty exhaustive search back at Fold3, and still couldn't find any mention of him.

Back to the Google. Some wonderful person had contributed this page to the USGENWEB Archives because it contained a record of their ancestor. My ancestor was serendipitously located on that same page.  It turns out Mary Hilyard was approved for her widow's pension of 40 dollars per year. Huzzah.

Now, how to find out more? Google explained that Mary HILLARD's file (yes the different spelling is ok, it's her) is located in Harrisburg, PA at the State Archives. Well, it takes nearly 8 1/2 hours to drive there from home, or Google maps also pointed out I could fly there in under three hours, starting at $237. Wait, it's Sunday and they are closed. Plus I have to work tomorrow.

My next step was to turn to Facebook. I put out a plea on the Pennsylvania Genealogy Network group for someone to go there and copy it for me. Come on, Internet, You can't let me down now!

Portrait of Alice (Holtzapple) and Jesse John Hilyard Family
taken about 1923--baby in center was born in 1922 and before my grandparents married in 1925

Back row: Grace (Tomlinson) Hilyard; Vaughn Hilyard (my grandfather); Leonard Tomlinson; Tessie (Hilyard) Tomlinson; Irene (Reese) Hilyard
Middle Row: Arthur Hilyard; Alice (Holtzapple) Hilyard; Jesse John Hilyard; Warren Hilyard
Front row: John Hilyard; Eugene Hilyard; Vivian Tomlinson; Marion Tomlinson; Agnes Hilyard; Louise Hilyard; Nonda Hilyard

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