Tag Archives: genealogy

Galvanized Yankees



One of the true pleasures of longtime membership in the Columbine Genealogical and Historical Society in Littleton, or a group like it, is that we learn so much from attending programs and sharing information with other members of the group. This was especially true recently during a presentation about Galvanized Yankees in the Civil War, presented by Karen Hancock. Her message for our group related to genealogy research. If we had such a person in our family tree, it might be a benefit in our search for Civil War records to find information about a Confederate solider in Union Army rosters. Since I had some difficulty understanding the larger questions, and the context of the subject, some additional research led me to some basic information.

What is a Galvanized Yankee? The term emerged when Confederate soldiers joined the Union Army for a variety of reasons, mostly relating to basic survival. Webster’s definition of “galvanlize” is to coat iron or steel with a zinc process to render it rust-resistant. The metaphor meant that although a Confederate soldier might switch from a grey to a blue uniform, the color change is a thin symbolic coating affecting outer appearance, but which does not define the heart-felt loyalties of the individual. A “white-washed reb”, or Galvanized Yankee, might change sides in exchange for release from prison, or might reenlist in Union troops if their home region was taken over by regulation or renegade troops in an effort to avoid execution or to protect property and family.

According to Wikipedia, 5,600 former Confederate soldiers enlisted in the “United States Volunteers”, organized into six regiments between January 1864 and November 1866. 1,600 Union army soldiers enlisted in the Confederate army, and were also referred to as Galvanized Yankees. Confederate Civil War records are often elusive due to their loss and destruction during the conflict. A genealogist may have better luck and find new information by checking Union Army rosters and indices.

Joyce B. Lohse


Leave a comment

Posted by on February 14, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , ,

Who are your relatives?

Mary Ann Elkin

Headstone of Colorado pioneer Eliza Routt’s mother

The big event in our family this summer was a trip to Illinois. We transported the cremains of my folks to their homeland, where we became reacquainted with the people and the soil of our upbringing and our ancestors. With this powerful experience still fresh in memory, I hope to shift the focus of this blog from western history in general to topics closer to the heart. This will allow me to share tips about researching, preserving and sharing family history.

You may wonder why it matters, or what is the big deal about family history and genealogy. Perhaps this list will put it into perspective. At least, this is a good starting point.

Can you climb YOUR family tree?
1 You
2 Your parents
4 Grandparents
8 Great Grandparents
16 GG Grandparents
32 GGG
131,072 GGGGGGGGGGGGGGG Grandparents!

Now, that’s what I call a family tree!

Joyce Lohse,

Leave a comment

Posted by on July 19, 2012 in Family history


Tags: , , ,

Estes Park and Stephen King

Stanley Hotel

Stanley Hotel in Estes Park

100 degree weather in Denver sent me scurrying off to the high country. Luckily, the Estes Park Genealogical Society invited me to speak at their conference on Saturday. It was a fine event —  friendly, well-organized, and productive. I spoke about Pioneer History and some of the research methods I’ve used with much success to learn about the characters for my biographies, and to sort out the truth about their lives from legends which surround them.

During my presentation, I gave a nod to some  pioneers who are favorites in Colorado’s Estes Park. They include Victorian author Isabella Bird, naturalist and homesteader Enos Mills, and modern fiction writer Stephen King. Stephen King?? An unlikely addition to my list, the author of the horror fiction story, The Shining, is a local favorite. The setting for his story was inspired by the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, which King had visited. Built in 1909, the 138 room Georgean hotel is a popular destination for Stephen King fans, who especially enjoy their ghost tours. Of course, the story was fiction and there are no ghosts associated with King and his novels. Or are there??

Although I’m not a fan of horror stories, I admire Stephen King for another reason. King is the author of one of my favorite books about writing. The title is On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. I highly recommend this book to anybody who is a writer, who wishes to become a writer, or who wishes to know more about Stephen King and the writing life. Gotta love Stephen for this one.

It had been many years since my last visit to Estes Park. A daytrip there would not be complete without a drive past the historic Stanley Hotel. It is a fine example of past glory days of Victorian resorts, majestically overlooking the picturesque valley and town of Estes Park at the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. The bad news is that traffic in the gateway community has increased to a loud and oppressive intensity and volume of people and automobiles. So much for the quiet, sedate mountain village of decades past. Although the scenario did not quite allow me to step back in history, it was a pleasant escape from summer in the city.

Joyce B. Lohse, 7/19/10

Leave a comment

Posted by on July 19, 2010 in Western history, Writing Life


Tags: , , , , ,

Who Are You?


Family history is a hot topic. On Friday evenings, a television show called, “Who Do You Think You Are?” features well-known actors or actresses, who embark on a journey of self-discovery by searching for clues and stories about their ancestors.

This is an exciting prospect for anybody who is interested in family history. The bad news, as has been discussed by my local genealogy society, is that the personalities featured on the show have the advantage of a staff of researchers to show them the way toward their family origins. Many of us, who have been conducting family research long before it became readily available on, have been researching our family for decades before reaching the conclusions met by these people in an hour-long segment. This is not sour grapes speaking. Instead, this is a warning to newcomers. Do not expect to find your family history in a heartbeat. However, the journey is the reward. Embark on it with relish, and enjoy the ride.

My next entry on this blog will concern what happens when you find a noteworthy individual in your family tree. This might be a person who has become famous through public service, or one who might be of questionable repute. On one hand, we have the first governor of Colorado and his wife, and on the other hand, we have a well-known pioneer scoundrel. The results are most interesting when they meet in the pages of history.

In the meantime, the Association of Writers and Publishers conference takes place this week in downtown Denver. Although I will not be able to attend, my pals from Women Writing the West will rally for a gathering while they are in town.

On Saturday, High Plains Library District will host an Authors’ Open House at their library in Firestone. This event was snowed out last year, but should come together fine this time around in spite of a little spring snow this week. Local authors will make presentations and sign books. Time spent in libraries in rural Colorado is time well spent. Come by and say Howdy!

Joyce B. Lohse, 4/7/10

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 7, 2010 in Denver history, Family history


Tags: , , , , , ,

Forever Young

1900 Census

As Women’s History Month winds down, census records are on my mind. They are a blessing and a curse to the biographer. Once again, I am researching a Victorian Colorado woman who was fashionably demure about revealing her age and birthdate. Elizabeth “Baby Doe” Tabor was born in 1854. I am not sure of the exact date, because I have encountered negative evidence in that regard. She attained the age of six by the 1860 census. If my math is correct,  she would have been 46 years old in 1900. The newly widowed Baby Doe figured it out differently. In 1900, her birthdate is shown as 1861 and her age as 38, thus not breaking the dreaded 40 barrier.

Baby Doe was not unusual. Literally every woman I have researched during the Victorian Age lied about her age and birth year on census records. The age is never higher. Male pioneers rarely deviate from their birthdate. What does all this mean? Perhaps women back then felt a need to work harder to maintain a youthful demeanor and appearance for a variety of reasons. It could strictly be a case of feminine vanity. As a result, I work harder to prove my facts, and I usually discover more insights along the way. So it goes.

This subject was on my mind recently as I filled in my 2010 census form. Thinking ahead, would my children’s children some day find some interesting data as a result of my entry? In spite of their flaws, or possibly because of them, census records reveal interesting facts and perceptions about those who precede us.

Joyce B. Lohse, 3/28/10

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 28, 2010 in Denver history, Family history


Tags: , , , , , ,

Family Photos

As a genealogist, I place a high value on family photos. They are important threads in the fabric of any family, which allow us to reach back in history, and touch the lives of our ancestors. This past week, my sister and I were fortunate to visit our Mom back in Illinois where we grew up. I admit it, I grumbled some at the suggestion of dragging out slides with screen and projector. After all, Kodak announced the demise of Kodachrome film just last week.

It turned out to be a great experience. With the passage of time, the images have taken on new and different meaning. As we viewed them, we laughed til we cried. So many shared memories were contained in those images.

The danger is that the identity of our ancestors in those images can be lost. In addition, as technology changes, the format becomes obsolete. We are looking into scanning our slides and storing the images, possibly in DVD format, for maximum storage and durability, until the next technology change.

It is so easy to throw photos in a shoe box and forget about them. Time spent organizing, labeling, watching, sharing, and preserving precious photos is time well spent, which will, no doubt, be appreciated by our descendants.

Joyce B. Lohse
2 July 2009


Posted by on July 2, 2009 in Family history


Tags: , , ,

Spring Forward in Colorado

As we spring forward deep into March, daylight savings time looms. In spite of this change, with its annoying psychological adjustments, spring brings hope and optimism, and a full history calendar. The highlight of this spring has been the arrival of a small but mighty little baby named Cutler. All difficulties dim and recede with the arrival of a grandchild.

A birth of a different sort will take place next month with the publication of my next book, General William Palmer: Railroad Pioneer, a “Now You Know Bio” from Filter Press. This book will come on the heels of the Pikes Peak Library District’s symposium collection about William Palmer, to be introduced on March 13, with a chapter I wrote included in the text. “Women Out West” magazine is making a comeback with publication of its winter issue containing my piece about Molly Brown. Looks like a busy springtime in the Colorado publishing and history world.

My appearance and presentation schedule includes the following:
April 18 – Carbon Valley Library, Firestone, Author Open House and Presentation
April 19 – Englewood Public Library, Author Open House
April 21 – Columbine Genealogical & Historical Society presentation, “Lurking In Cemeteries: A Researcher’s Guide”
June 10 – Pikes Peak Genealogy Society, Penrose Library, Colorado Springs, “Family History: Truth & Mystery”

Joyce B. Lohse – 3/7/09

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 7, 2009 in Western history


Tags: , , , , , , , ,