Monday, April 25, 2011

Civil War Pension Ephemera from the "Schmidt Collection" - #7 - Dependent Mothers

As a reminder, here are links to previous pension ephemera posts:

#1 - Horse Thieves and Deserters (here)
#2 - Red Tape (here)
#3 - Pennsylvanian Inquires After His Dead Son (here)
#4 - Ohio Military Home (here)
#5 - Squirrel Hunters (here)
#6 - "The Buddy System" (here)

And now on to the latest installment of Civil War pension items in my collection...

Before the Civil Wa
r, military pension benefits in the United States did not include mothers, fathers, or orphaned siblings.

As pointed out in other posts, the Pension Bureau - rightly or wrongly - served as a gatekeeper to minimize fraud and abuse in the system, and - to be sure - there was fraud and abuse.

However, imagine the poor mother addressed in the letter below...even today, with improved electronic record-keeping, people would be hard-pressed to produce the documents that were required. It appears that she had at one time secured the expertise of a pension attorney, but he may have dropped the case due to (understandable?) frustration at her inability to produce the required information for her claim or - (and just as likely?) - because he had dropped her case and correspondence in favor of multiple easier cases.

It is unclear what unit the soldier was attached to. Once again, though, it proves what a treasure trove a pension file might be if such supporting documentation is included.

Department of the Interior
Pension Office

Washington, D.C.

June 10, 1872

Dear Madam: In your claim No. 99,226 as mother of William A. Cook, proof is required of the support rendered by the soldier and of your dependence. The highest value reached by your property since the soldier began his contributions should be shown by the testimony of the assessors. It should be shown by the testimony of parties who can state dates and amounts to what extent and in what manner the soldier contributed to your support.

If he supported you by labor on the farm, that fact should be proved and it should also be shown whether he had assistance in carrying on the land.

If he labored away from home and used his earnings for
your support, that fact should be proved by the testimony of his employers.

If he sent you money from the army, the letters in which it was sent should be filed, with testimony from persons who saw it sent and received.

Your attorney has been repeatedly called on for the above evidence and no reply has been received.

Please notify this office whether the claim is to be completed or abandoned, returning this letter with your reply.

Very Respectfully,

C. W. Seaton
Acting Commissioner

Mrs. Sarah Cook

Hamilton Co.

1 comment:

Manwhit said...
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