Apr 13, 2017

Civil War Widow's Pension Files

I spent yesterday looking up all my Civil War veterans on Fold3 which is offering their Civil War era records for free (see my previous post for details here).  I was lucky to find one ancestor with a Widow's Pension file and thought I would share the kind of information that can be found in these files.

First it is important to note that the Widow's Pension files are for widows or dependents of a veteran who died during the war who never themselves applied for their pension.  If the veteran had applied and was receiving a pension then died their dependents could apply to keep receiving the payments.  Those files are included with the original veteran application which sadly have not been digitized.  (But you can find the index to those pensions on Fold3).

My ancestor was killed in action in 1864 at the battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia.  He left a young widow and three daughters.  Here are the facts I discovered in the pension file.
  • Date of the veteran's marriage
  • Place of Marriage--at his mother in law's home
  • Denomination of Minister who preformed the marriage
  • Names of relatives of his widow
  • Names and full birth dates of all children
  • Details of the veterans service, place of death, manner of death
  • Residence and age of widow
This was quite helpful because I had only known of one child of this couple.  Plus it is stated in the file that a marriage record could not be found even back when she applied for the pension.  The widow's brother wrote a letter for her stating he attended the wedding giving the date and exact location--her mother's house along with details about the minister. 

Because the pages are handwritten they can be difficult to read.  These files typically contain around 20 or so pages so it a lot to sift through to find the genealogy gems but in my opinion well worth the effort.  Plus you can download them to keep for your files.

This particular ancestor of mine is distant, first cousin four times removed.  So I would not have considered actually spending the money to order the file.  Definitely a bonus to get all this information for free.  The Civil War records are still free on Fold3 through April 15 so you still have time to explore.  Happy Hunting!

No comments:

Post a Comment