POLL: How many people have ordered the pension records of their civil war ancestor(s)?

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Zella

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
May 23, 2018
Messages
2,764
I have an ancestor who died at Andersonville, so there would be no records. Would the National Archives have other files on him?

Also, can I military files of my grandfather (WWII) there also?

Thanks, I just now am looking into this so apologies for basic questions.
They should have your Civil War ancestor's compiled service record, though it varies widely how much is in there. What regiment did your ancestor serve in? Depending on the state, we might be able to get it for free for you from Fold3. :smile:
 

RhinehartRoots

Private
Official Vendor
Joined
Jun 6, 2019
Messages
52
I have an ancestor who died at Andersonville, so there would be no records. Would the National Archives have other files on him?

Also, can I military files of my grandfather (WWII) there also?
He would probably have compiled service records on file there. Those usually have some information about his service and his time as a POW. What state did he serve from?

Was he married? Some soldiers who died during the war still have pension files, because their widow (or even their parent or minor child) filed for pension benefits on their behalf. So there could be something. What was his name and regiment?

As for the WWII files, the National Archives in DC keeps military records up through 1917. After that year, they are stored in the National Archives branch in St. Louis. There was a fire in 1973 that destroyed many of the WWII records, though, so it's not a guaranteed thing that they even exist now.

My expertise lies more in the military records pre-1917. So if you have questions about your Civil War ancestor, let me know. I'll try to point you in the right direction.
 

RhinehartRoots

Private
Official Vendor
Joined
Jun 6, 2019
Messages
52
I just noticed that you have your ancestor's name and regiment right in your signature line! Let me see what he has on file now.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

RhinehartRoots

Private
Official Vendor
Joined
Jun 6, 2019
Messages
52
There are some states that have their service records digitized on to Fold3.com already. However, Pennsylvania is not one of them. So his service records will only be found at the National Archives.

Do you live in DC? If so, you may be able to get these on your own. If you can't, let me know. I may be able to help you as I do research for hire there.

I also searched to see if he has a pension on file, but he had nothing. Looks like the service records are going to be your best bet in this case.
 

David Wilson

Private
Joined
Apr 30, 2019
Messages
35
I have an ancestor who died at Andersonville, so there would be no records. Would the National Archives have other files on him?

Also, can I military files of my grandfather (WWII) there also?

Thanks, I just now am looking into this so apologies for basic questions.

Hi Terence,

Here is a good place to start. https://www.archives.gov/veterans

You have to pay for those records but if they don't find a record, they won't charge you. The more general information you have about the ancestor when you apply, the better.
 

Robert E Lee 1

Private
Joined
Jul 3, 2019
Messages
123
I have ordered a number of them, both for family members and for vets buried in the cemetery where I volunteer. I agree that if there's a pension file one should definitely get it. They contain a lot of personal and genealogical information that often isn't available any place else (e.g. details of all marriages, births of children, all the places an applicant lived after the war, details of medical conditions).
Where do ya get the pension record or how can I find our if my ancestor had one
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

RhinehartRoots

Private
Official Vendor
Joined
Jun 6, 2019
Messages
52
Where do ya get the pension record or how can I find our if my ancestor had one
Was your ancestor in the Union or Confederate army? The National Archives in DC has the pension files for Union soldiers. The Confederate ones are kept at the state level.

I'll be at the National Archives in a couple weeks, so if you have a Union ancestor, let me know and I'll see if I can help you find him. I can get these files at a cheaper rate than what the National Archives will charge you if you order from them directly. Let me know if I can help.

Brian
 

Robert E Lee 1

Private
Joined
Jul 3, 2019
Messages
123
Was your ancestor in the Union or Confederate army? The National Archives in DC has the pension files for Union soldiers. The Confederate ones are kept at the state level.

I'll be at the National Archives in a couple weeks, so if you have a Union ancestor, let me know and I'll see if I can help you find him. I can get these files at a cheaper rate than what the National Archives will charge you if you order from them directly. Let me know if I can help.

Brian
Thanks but I'm looking to join the Sons if confederate veterans so I'm looking for my confederate ancestors pension
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Bob Velke

Private
Joined
Jan 25, 2014
Messages
83
Per Craig Dunn's book 'Harvestfields of Death' on the 20th Indiana John Hoffman enlisted on 9/1/62 Company I. I have two indirect ancestors who were in Company K of the 20th Indiana
Please write to me if either of them is Corp. Mahlon F. Smith, Sgt William Horine, or Corp. James C. Stevens, all of whom where in Co. K.
 

Bob Velke

Private
Joined
Jan 25, 2014
Messages
83
No I have not ordered pension records. Only non direct relatives would have been eligible for pensions. Direct ancestors died in service, so no pension for them.
Oh, don't assume that! If a soldier had a spouse or any dependent (including parents, siblings, or children), then they might very well have claimed a pension with reference to his service. In fact, those dependent pension applications can be some of the MOST helpful.

A veteran's pension file can be very interesting, of course, with lots of information about his service and more than you ever wanted to know about his medical maladies over the course of his life. (And, by the way, he didn't have to be wounded to receive a pension. Starting in 1870, a Union veteran was eligible for a pension if he could prove that he was disabled - even if that disability wasn't a result of his service. And starting in 1907, all surviving veterans were eligible for a pension.)

But if a dependent applied for a pension, then they had to prove their connection to the dead soldier, among other things. So many such files contain copies of marriage certificates, death certificates, discharge papers, and other official documents, plus a list of living siblings/children and their birth dates, letters from the soldier, testimonials from family/neighbors or fellow soldiers, etc. And then there will likely be details about the soldier's death or burial (to the extent that the family knew it) and other information about his life and service. It could be a gold mine of information!

I've seen MANY applications where Mom or Dad claimed that the dead son had previously sent them money on a regular basis and it was their only source of income, etc. And the file may include all of that great detail even if the application was denied.

If the soldier (actually, any person) had a father, brothers, or sons in the service, I'd certainly pull those pension files too. In attempting to prove her dependency, for instance, a mother would likely give details about the demise (or disability) of her husband and each of her children.
 
Last edited:

John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
8,199
Location
Central Massachusetts
By no means overlook the widows' and dependents' pensions. They often include even more genealogical information, since the widow has to prove marriage and the births of children, with certified records, affidavits from ministers, witnesses, local officials, etc. Besides summarizing the soldier's service record, they also give medical details concerning his death, particularly if he died of wounds or other medical issues stemming from the war -- even many years later.

Fold3 has begun putting the Union widows' pensions online, with 21% of the 2+million files posted so far. They are working chronologically, so those available are mostly of men who died during the war, and shortly after.


Also, can I military files of my grandfather (WWII) there also?
https://www.archives.gov/files/research/military/ww2/ww2-participation.pdf
I haven't looked for any of these myself. Check here: https://www.archives.gov/research/military/ww2
Remember, many WWII service records were lost in a fire in the 1970s -- but there was so much duplicated/triplicated paperwork coming out of the military by then that there's surely something to discover.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Bob Velke

Private
Joined
Jan 25, 2014
Messages
83
Fold3 has begun putting the Union widows' pensions online, with 21% of the 2+million files posted so far. They are working chronologically, so those available are mostly of men who died during the war, and shortly after.
They're not doing so any more. They digitized WC1 (5 Mar 1862) through WC148100 (18 Feb 1871) as of 2011 but then NARA suspended the project because of concerns about damage to the records.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
8,199
Location
Central Massachusetts
They're not doing so any more. They digitized WC1 (5 Mar 1862) through WC148100 (18 Feb 1871) as of 2011 but then NARA suspended the project because of concerns about damage to the records.
That's strange. In 2015, fold3 reported 11% of the records online. Now, they have 21%. I know there are some online now that were not there in 2015.
According to https://www.fold3.com/title/24/civil-war-widows-pensions/description
"In 2012, Fold3 began an ambitious project to scan millions of images from the Civil War Widows’ Pension files. In partnership with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), we have completed approximately 20% of the archive and hope to resume work on this collection in the near future. In the meantime, we have digitized pension files 1-148100."​
 

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
4,057
I ordered the pension file for one of my Union Army ancestors just two weeks ago. I am anxiously awaiting the results.
 

rbasin

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Messages
2,506
Location
Tampa, Fl
I have my GG Grandfather's court martial papers. From the 1840s. Couple of familiar Civil war names on them.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Bob Velke

Private
Joined
Jan 25, 2014
Messages
83
According to https://www.fold3.com/title/24/civil-war-widows-pensions/description
"In 2012, Fold3 began an ambitious project to scan millions of images from the Civil War Widows’ Pension files. In partnership with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), we have completed approximately 20% of the archive and hope to resume work on this collection in the near future. In the meantime, we have digitized pension files 1-148100."​
Even stranger, the article that you quote was posted on June 28, 2011.
That's strange. In 2015, fold3 reported 11% of the records online. Now, they have 21%.
And yet, the article in question from 2011 says that 20% were completed at that time.

Regardless, as the article says, digitization ended with WC148100 and they hope to "resume work" - so clearly, the work is not ongoing. And I've yet to see a widow's pension higher than 148100. Have you?
 
Last edited:

Bob Velke

Private
Joined
Jan 25, 2014
Messages
83
That's strange. In 2015, fold3 reported 11% of the records online. Now, they have 21%. I know there are some online now that were not there in 2015.
FWIW, at the top of that article, you can click on the Summary tab and then type WC148100 (or any lower number) in the search field and see that pension. But type any higher number and it generates "No results found."

I haven't tried every number, of course :smile:. Maybe they have put the widow's pension online for a few others (famous people or those that someone paid to have digitized?). Perhaps those are the ones that you have seen? Still, I've yet to see one.
 
Last edited:
Top