In 2001, the Orange County California Genealogical Society (OCCGS) began the Adopt-A-Soldier project to generate biographies of American Civil War veterans interred in Orange County for publication in the OCCGS journal. Started under President Joan Rambo and Society Journal Editor Janice Weissgerber and continued under current President Hal Horrocks and Vice President Linda Serna, the project has grown to include an online index of the family histories of these veterans that highlight the many contributions they made toward the creation of Orange County.
First fueled by the Homestead Act and further by the completion of the transcontinental railroad, Civil War veterans moved west to find better opportunities and to leave behind memories of the war. First settling in the present-day Great Plains region to homestead the 160 acres provided by the act of 1862, the veterans later moved on to California, also called the “Promised Land.”
The society researched over 900 names between July 2010 and January 2012, starting with the 2001 list derived from a review of Orange County cemeteries and augmented with a recent review of the 1910 Orange County Census and 1890 Orange County Voter Registration records. Local Civil War groups and authors have provided additional names. We gratefully acknowledge the works of Margaret Alley (Confederates in California) and Gordon Bricken (Pioneers in Blue and Gray, Civil War Veterans in Orange County and Civil War Veterans-Orange County, California) as well as the efforts of Paul Gillette of the Civil War Roundtable of Orange County for registration of grave sites with the federal government and Charles Beal of the local Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society for photographing headstones and identifying GPS coordinates of the plots.
We hope our efforts provide you with some new information about Orange County and the lives of these veterans. We will continue to research this project and appreciate any information or feedback you can contribute. Please send comments to OCCGS Information. Our research also uncovered veterans of other wars of the 19th century and these stories will be featured in the future.