The last Civil War Veteran – Was He Or Wasn’t He??

Kathy WI

Cadet
Joined
Mar 18, 2021
My considered opinion is that there is plenty of room for doubt here. On the other hand, sometimes crazy sounding stories turn out to be true.

Anyone who has dived deeply into family history and genealogy knows that census records, from any era, are only as good as the taker and the informant. Age discrepancies are very common, as the recorder estimated birth year based on the person’s age as stated by whoever answered the door. Also, data was not taken uniformly over time and areas. Some years much background info was requested, others very little. It makes comparison over time very challenging.

Family stories are even less reliable. How many of us were told we had a grandmother who was a Cherokee princess, or an ancestor who signed the Declaration of Independence? My own grandmother told the latter myth all her life, but for the life of me — even knowing the individual’s name — I can’t corroborate our descent

No disrespect, just reality. Walter might have done what he said. Or not.

Fun discussion!
 

Lincoln56

Corporal
Joined
Jul 24, 2016
Location
Texas
I spent 35 years researching the records of the 7th Louisiana Infantry. I discovered that after the war, many men who had never served claimed to be veterans. There were lots of reasons for this, mostly to obtain a pension. As the years passed and the number of actual veterans began to decrease, many phony veterans stepped forward. Today this would be called stollen valor. "Blow, Gabriel, Blow!" on amazon.com The bios of 1'026 Louisiana Veterans.
For whatever reason and motivation this has probably occurred after every war in every country in which troops from that country have been engaged in every era. Financial considerations for pensions surely must be first and foremost in the bulk of the cases though of course there are those that want to inflate their prestige amongst their peers for whatever emotional gratification this provides them.

Stolen valor indeed! I can't conceive of anyone stooping low enough to do this to boost their ego and be able to wear the mantle of being patriotic and heroic, or whatever other 'reward' they realize from doing this.

This disrespects and dishonors the men and women that actually stepped forward and put themselves in harm's way, sacrificed, and placed their lives on the line.

It is especially offensive and disrespectful to the the memory of those that made the ultimate sacrifice.
 

Kyle Kalasnik

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 3, 2014
Location
Potter County, PA
I am of the opinion, that this backfired on Walter Williams.

He lied in order to receive a pension.

Then as time passed he was one of the few left standing.

What can he do? ...
1. Come clean, look like a liar ana thief and face the repercussions.
2. Roll with it order to save yourself the embarrassment and punishment?

Definitely a situation I would not want to be in.

Respectfully,
Kyle Kalasnik
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
My considered opinion is that there is plenty of room for doubt here. On the other hand, sometimes crazy sounding stories turn out to be true.

Anyone who has dived deeply into family history and genealogy knows that census records, from any era, are only as good as the taker and the informant. Age discrepancies are very common, as the recorder estimated birth year based on the person’s age as stated by whoever answered the door. Also, data was not taken uniformly over time and areas. Some years much background info was requested, others very little. It makes comparison over time very challenging.

Family stories are even less reliable. How many of us were told we had a grandmother who was a Cherokee princess, or an ancestor who signed the Declaration of Independence? My own grandmother told the latter myth all her life, but for the life of me — even knowing the individual’s name — I can’t corroborate our descent

No disrespect, just reality. Walter might have done what he said. Or not.

Fun discussion!
Absolutely @Kathy WI !

Everything you said is 100% correct.

I've actually read some pretty good fantasy stories (on a popular site that specializes in graves).

The well meaning contributors always get names confused ... and they post stuff that will take many new researchers down
into a dead-end tunnel.
 
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