Continuing on the theme of vital records that were intentionally created by the federal government–in this case the U.S. military. You may not be aware that many military posts maintained their own burial records for deaths that occurred among both military personnel and (sometimes) the nearby civilian population. Among the many responsibilities of the post quartermaster–the officer who was generally in charge of procuring military supplies and equipment for the troops–was the disposition of the remains of deceased personnel. In that respect, quartermasters arranged for burials and maintained the records of the post cemetery, including registers or lists of deaths and burials as well as maps of burial plots.
These records document an interesting and somber facet of military life on the frontier. They chronicle combat deaths from ongoing skirmishes with the Native American population, murders, accidents, and disease. Even some of the civilian deaths–especially those of women and infants resulting from complications during childbirth–reveal the fragility of life on the frontier. Quartermaster burial records at the National Archives exist for more than forty Army posts. Some of the more well-known posts include Fort Hays, Kansas (ARC ID 894844), Fort Concho, Texas (ARC ID 654239), Fort Laramie, Wyoming (ARC ID 301837), Fort Selden, New Mexico (ARC ID 1137086), and Fort Monroe, Virginia (ARC ID 635372). You can locate descriptions of quartermaster burial records in the Archival Research Catalog by using the search phrases “burials post cemetery” or “interments post cemetery.”