Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Start At The Ending

After I found a couple copies of Civil War Documents that belonged to my paternal 3rd great-grandfather, I was motivated to dive into some major research.  But, where should I start?  Civil War records, immigration records, censuses, death records, Irish records???  I wanted to know so much and it was a little overwhelming.

I decided to start with a little digging on Ancestry.com.  I knew a little about my 3rd great-grandfather, but very little.  One of the things that popped up was a Civil War Pension Index.  I had heard a lot about them and knew they were a great source of information, but how lucky could I get?

The U.S. federal government granted pensions to Union veterans of the Civil War and to their widows, minor children, and dependent fathers and mothers.  At first glance, the index had my 3rd great-grandfather and -grandmother's names, his infantry number, and two file dates.  Two?  Why two?  On closer look, the first one was filed on 2 September 1890, over 13 years before he died.  This filing was marked as "invalid."  The second filing was done by my 3rd great-grandmother on 21 May 1904, less than a month after he died.  No mention whether or not either was accepted.  What happened during the Civil War that left my 3rd great-grandfather an "invalid" and why did it take him 25 years to file for a pension?  Did they really need that money, and if so, why?

Also listed were two application numbers and two certificate numbers.  Armed with these, I decided to head over to the National Archives web site.  After clicking around, I found an online form and was able to order the records.  What could I lose?  I had very little expectations even though I read that 100 or more pages is pretty common for this type of record.  The claims could be complex, especially if the claimant had difficulty proving the claims.

It took a couple of months, but I finally got the email that I had been waiting for - the records I wanted were found!  There it was in print, over 100 pages of information pertaining to my 3rd great-grandfather.  

Now I know where I'm starting...right where my 3rd great-grandmother left off three weeks after the death of my 3rd great-grandfather.

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Bills of Repairs September 24,1904

 This cover sheet is found in the Civil War Pension File of my paternal third great-grandfather.  The bills were submitted by a pension atto...