PLATTSBURGH — Jack Bilow was a 9-year-old boy growing up in Chateaugay when his interest in family research was piqued by his grandmother, Lizzie Parmeter.
Bilow admits it's a bit weird, but watching "Son of Frankenstein," where the vault scene showed three generations laid to rest, added to his ancestral curiosity.
On these foundations, he has built years of research and a new publication, "A War of 1812 Death Register: Whispers in the Dark," containing thousands of soldier's names and information on a sometimes forgotten war. A treasure trove of genealogy information, he included birth and death dates, regiment served in, pension information, heir names and towns, when available.
YEARS OF RESEARCH
"Much of my research was done over seven years of going to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., among other places," he said from his Plattsburgh home. "I had to plow through thousands of name cards and pull out the ones that I wanted to include in the book."
His book covers the killed in action, missing in action, prisoner of war, the wounded and deaths in Vermont, New York and along the Canadian border. They came from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, D.C. He has also includes a special chapter on the Battle of Plattsburgh, including both American and British troops.
"I hired an English woman, Diane Graves, who traveled to England to do the British research on the Battle of Plattsburgh," he said. "I wanted to know that the information was truly accurate."
The geographical area covered in the book includes what Bilow calls the "northern front," from Maine to the Niagara Frontier. His research shows that prisoners were taken across the border to places such as Halifax (Nova Scotia), Montreal and Quebec City, where they died. He also found there were more French-speaking Canadians in the Battle of Plattsburgh than originally thought.