NPR puts a name to an unknown soldier. This is a fascinating piece of modern detective work.
Now that we had the regiment, the next step was to visit the New York soldiers index, where a search in the National Parks Service Soldier and Sailors Database turned up four possibilities with the right initials: Thomas Abbott, Thomas Adams, Thomas Ardies and Thomas Austin.
Our next stop was visiting Vonnie Zullo, a professional researcher who does a great deal of her work at the National Archives in Washington.
At the Archives, we pull the pension files and military service records of our four soldiers — all with the first name “Thomas,” and the last initial “A.” Very quickly, Zullo rules out two of the possible candidates: Adams and Austin.
“One never actually reported to his unit,” she says. “And the other soldier was in a band — and he was 35 years old and much larger.”
And then there were two…