St. Clair County IL Civil War Descendant and Gustave Koerner House Preservation Project

St. Clair County (Illinois)
Civil War Descendant Project

Help! Locate documents, search online, ask and get answers to questions.

CW Descendant Application
Honor-a-Soldier Application

St. Clair County Civil War Certificate Home

Disposition of Applications and Documentation

Acceptable Documentation and Substitute Sources when you can't find a birth, or marriage, or death certificate.


Begin With the Proper Foundation
Work from the Known to the Unknown

Some researchers are tempted to search Civil War soldier resources, find a name that matches their own surname (last name), and try to prove descendancy by linking that person to themselves, working from the past towards the present. While a search of databases on this site might help you focus on a particular ancestral line, working from the past to the present is not recommended unless you have a very strong family tradition stating a particular soldier served in the Civil War. Instead, work from the present to the past, building on known facts that provide clues to earlier generations.

First obtain the death certificate, then marriage, and then birth records, for each generation. Collect documents for yourself (excluding death of course), and then do the same for each preceding generation, one at a time. Analyze each document for clues about the preceding generation, and decide (or ask) for sources to help you determine the next place to search or document to obtain.

For living persons, we only need proof of relationship from one generation to the next. For example, your mother's birth certificate need only show her name and her parents' names. In order to protect the privacy of living persons, please make a good quality photocopy of their certificates. On the photocopy, black out or obscure military service and social security numbers, date of birth, and other information you feel necessary. Vital records are usually recorded at the county courthouse. Church records are a good substitute.

Continue collecting documents in this same fashion (death, marriage and then birth) through the grandparent and great-grandparent generations until you hit the ancestor whose age was within acceptable range to have served as a soldier 1861–1865. The vast majority of the men who served were aged 15 through 22! Men could be drafted through age 44.

Search for Your Soldier

Confirm a man of the same name (or possible sibling) served in the 43rd or 22nd Regiments, or gave St. Clair as his residence when he was mustered in, (enlisted) by searching the databases on this site compiled for these categories.

Support possible sibling relationships, and differentiate between men of the same name, with further documentation (bible records, census, diaries, muster rolls, or wills may help).

If your ancestor or his sibling is not among the men named in the two databases listed above, continue your search for a soldier who served in a different regiment at the Illinois State Archives Web site. At present their site has the complete Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois online which lists most of the Illinois Civil War Soldiers.

Did your soldier serve from a state other than Illinois? Search the free Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (CWSS) database online. As a descendant of one of these soldiers, you may be eligible for a Certificate if he (or his sibling) lived in St. Clair at any time during his life. You may also Honor a soldier named in the CWSS. Print out the information on the CWSS web site and mail it in with your Honor-a-Soldier Application.

Military Discharge Papers are usually filed in the soldier’s county of residence. However, filing these papers was a voluntary act, and as such, may have never been recorded. Locally, inquire at the St. Clair County Recorder of Deeds Office at the Courthouse, 10 Public Square, Belleville, IL 62220. The SCCGS Quarterly is currently publishing an index to these discharges.

Now that you have identified a soldier whose name matches the man on your ancestral chart, obtain his official military service and/or pension records.

Original Civil War Military Service Records and Civil War Pension Application files are preserved at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Turn-around time fluxuates. We suggest you search (or have the National Archives search) for the Pension and obtain those files if found (suggestions below). If no Pension was claimed, search for the Service Record. See also Acceptable Documents. Use National Archives Forms. For Service Records use NATF Form 86. For Pension Files use NATF Form 85.

  • Each Form contains all the necessary instructions to order a service or pension file.
  • To expedite your order, it has been suggested you choose the credit card option.

Civil War Pension Application files contain the most genealogical information. These files should always be searched even though you know your ancestor did not qualify for - or did not apply for - a Pension. Why? Because his mother, his widow, or his children may have applied for pension benefits.

The following two pension searches may be done on your own. By doing the search yourself, you save the time it would take if the National Archives did the search (4 to 6 months). When you are certain a pension was claimed, order the file from the National Archives on NATF Form 85.

  • The best Civil War Pension index source is A General Index to Pension Files 1861-1934, available on microfilm series T288, available for rent through interlibrary loan at your local library or Family History Center, and with an online subscription to When your soldier is located, print 3 to 4 copies of the Index Card, one to send with NATF Form 85, one for your files, one that you will submit with our application, and keep one "for insurance."
  • Civil War veterans who were still living in our county in 1883 are noted in “St. Clair County Pensioners on the Rolls 1883”, published in the SCCGS Quarterly 25:2, 2002. This journal is available at the Belleville Public Library (link below). This list contains all of the information needed to order the Pension Application File from the National Archives. However, one local study showed approximately 75% of soldiers moved away from their home county after the war so the majority will not appear in the article cited.

Military Service Records provide the regiment and company in which the man served, the dates of service, rank, state, and date, place and nature of discharge. It is suggested you get copies of your soldier’s original file from the National Archives, even though you have similar information from the databases on our web site (original Muster Roll photocopies from the Illinois State Archives, or Discharge Papers are also acceptable). Coupled with other documentation gathered in your search, these files may support the hypothesis a soldier and your ancestor are one and the same. In rare instances these files alone may not provide the information necessary to distinguish two men of the same name. Order Service Records from the National Archives on NATF Form 86NATF .


Belleville Public Library
121 East Washington Street
Belleville, IL 62220
Phone: (618) 234-0441
The library archives collection focuses on Belleville, St. Clair and surrounding counties. See their
  • obituary indexes (Belleville 1840 - present) and (East St. Louis 1889 - c1979)
  • St. Clair county newspapers on microfilm (1840 - present)
  • county birth index 1878-1914
  • county marriage registers 1790 - 1916 and statewide marriage index to 1900
  • county death registers 1878 - 1943 and statewide death index 1916 - 1948
  • county probate indexes 1790 - 1964
  • church records including Catholic Parish records for all of Southern Illinois through 1930, United Church of Christ registers for St. Paul in Belleville and many others throughout the county (available in the SCCGS Quarterly), Methodist and Baptist church registers.
  • published and microfilm censuses with indexes
  • Civil War books (Compendium, Roll of Honor, Military census for St. Clair)
  • microfilm orders and
  • Internet database connections including the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System database online.

The library can provide contact information for nearly any state vital records office, genealogical or historical society, or online genealogical web site or Maillist. Ask for the Genealogist's Address Book.

St. Clair County Genealogical Society (SCCGS)
P.O. Box 431
Belleville, IL 62222-0431

The Society presents free lectures (open to the public) at 7:30 p.m., each first Thursday of the month, St. Luke’s Parish Hall, East “C” and North Church Streets, Belleville.

Here you can learn about genealogical resources needed to solve your research problem, have your documents analyzed by helpful members, and receive suggestions to complete the next step on your ancestor hunt.

The Society processes and analyzes all documents submitted for the Civil War Certificate Project. Click here to discover more about the SCCGS or visit the SCCGS Home Page.

St. Clair County Historical Society (SCCHS)
701 East Washington Street
Belleville, IL 62220
Phone: (618) 234-0600
The SCCHS serves as the administrator for the Civil War Descendant Program. Applications are mailed and received here. This society will mail the Certificates when all criteria has been successfully completed and approval is received from the St. Clair County Genealogical Society.

Hours: M–F 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

St. Clair County Courthouse
10 Public Square
Belleville, IL 62220
Phone: (618) 234-6600
Courthouse offices that may have your documents (fee based unless otherwise stated).
  • County Clerk - Vital records (birth, marriage, death). Visit weekdays and search some indexes in person. However, we recommend your search for these records begin with indexes at the Belleville Public Library.
  • Circuit Clerk - Wills and Estate records. Indexes are available at the Belleville Public Library.
  • Recorder of Deeds - Military Discharges and Land Records. You can phone in advance for availability of a military discharge on a particular Civil War soldier. Deed indexes are available through 1900 at the Belleville Public Library.

    The Illinois Regional Archives Depository (hosted on the Illinois State Archives web site) preserves many county records, including St. Clair. Photocopies are provided at cost (minimum $1.00). Click HERE to see which record groups they have for any county in Illinois. Turn-around time for St. Clair area documents is about 3 weeks.
Join a county Maillist

Ask questions, find relatives

The St. Clair County Maillist is available courtesy of Rootsweb. Here is a shortcut to join (subscribe) the St. Clair Maillist. Be sure to bookmark the page so you know how to unsubscribe. The St. Clair USGenWeb Project Maillist page will do the same but explain more fully the process so you can join Maillists throughout the country. And finally, if you do not want to join the St. Clair Maillist, you may still browse questions that have been asked and answered in the St. Clair Maillist Archive. Enter ILSTCLAI in the box on that site.
These groups have St. Clair County databases and help online. St. Clair County Genealogical Society: sponsor of the Civil War Certificate Program. See their online indexes and transcriptions of the 1870 agricultural census, biographical sketches, area church records (many translated from German), county-wide tombstone readings, newspaper obituary indexes and much more!

St. Clair USGenWeb Project, currently features an index to the 1930 census for St. Clair, and Genealogical Research online via Look-up Volunteers

Illinois Trails - St. Clair site, features the 1860 census for our county and miscellaneous transcriptions from a variety of sources.

Illinois State Archives web site hosts the Illinois Regional Archives databases as well as some of its own. See the Illinois statewide marriage index (including St. Clair through 1905), the statewide death index (1916–1950), and scroll down the page to find St. Clair-specific databases to Records Stored at Southern Illinois University - all online!

CW Descendant Application
Honor-a-Soldier Application
St. Clair County Civil War Certificate Home Disposition of Applications and Documentation Help!
Locate documents, search online, ask and get answers to questions.
Acceptable Documentation and Substitute Sources when you can't find a birth, or marriage, or death certificate. SCCGS Home

St. Clair County Genealogical Society
PO Box 431
Belleville, IL 62222-0431
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Links updated June 2011.
©1997- present, the St. Clair County [IL] Genealogical Society. All rights reserved.

Information may be linked to but not copied. Authorized by SCCGS Board of Directors.