Truncating My Way From Missouri to Michigan

I’m pretty certain it indicates that Elzy Lake served in the “Forty-ninth Infantry, I-Mi.”

And I’m not understanding why in its “Union Soldier’s Compiled Service Records, 1861-1865” thought it necessary to truncate the name of the state from which the individual served.

Because this makes it look like Elzy served from Michigan. I thought the days of having to abbreviate and truncate place names were over. Apparently I was wrong.

The “military unit” certainly seems to indicate that Elzy was from Michigan.


There’s just one problem with that.

Elzy Lake did not serve in the 49th Michigan Infantry. He served in the Company I of the 49th Missouri Infantry.


What is known about Elzy Lake is directly related to his military service at this point. He served with William Lake in the same unit. I know William’s connection to the Lake family of Bee Branch Township, Chariton County, Missouri. I’m not so certain of Elzy’s. At this point, I’m not completely certain what the relationship is between William and Elzy other than that they served in the same unit, were from the same county, and had the same last name. Those commonalities point to a potential connection between the two men, but are not sufficient for proof of any specific relationship.

The reference links to an image of the Compiled Military Service Record of Elzy. It clearly is from a Missouri unit.


Part of cover card for Elzy Lake. Taken from NARA M405. Compiled service records of volunteer Union soldiers who served in organizations from the State of Missouri.

There’s the usual lessons in this post:

  • Any transcription or compiled database can be wrong
  • Using too many locations when performing a search can cause the right matches to be overlooked
  • Always go back to the original and never rely on a transcription

Then there is the frustration with for apparently truncating the word “Missouri” to “Mi.”

Or else they got the two states mixed up.

I’m hoping that the former is the case.


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