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Newton County Historical and Genealogical Society members investigate a Civil War site on Tuscalameta Creek. This photo is from the society's website.

When you write about your Civil War ancestors, don’t forget about the folks back home.

If your ancestors lived in a rural county, information about the homefront may be hard to come by. Muster rolls and battle accounts can tell you what your Civil War soldier was doing almost minute by minute, at least during a battle. But there is no similar record for the family back home.

With any luck, your ancestors’ home county will have a historical or genealogical society that can help guide you to local history books, newspapers, diaries, memoirs and other materials. Even if your ancestors are not mentioned in these records, the records may include info about neighbors, relatives and friends. This can lead to clues about your own family members and their activities during the war.

I was extremely fortunate when researching Poore Boys In Gray. Newton County, Mississippi, where my ancestors lived at the start of the war, had one of the best and most active groups in the state. The Newton County Historical and Genealogical Society not only had an archives but also published an excellent newsletter and website. The members were very active in researching and reporting the area’s history.

Even if your ancestors’ home county doesn’t have a historical society, there are other ways of gathering information that can give you insight about their lives during the war. I will touch on those in the next post.