Monday, February 21, 2011

Military Monday - Genealogy meat in War of 1812 Pension file

Peace by John Rubens Smith.
John Rubens Smith Collection,
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
As I mentioned in this post, I recently requested a search of War of 1812 pension records in the National Archives for my ancestor, David Reed. Only twelve days after I placed my request through the National Archives eServices, I received copies of the file. This particular file is filled with information about David's widow, Mary Bryan Reed, and very little information about the Soldier himself. There were two governmental acts that directly affected veterans of the war of 1812 and their pensions: the acts of 1871 and 1878. The 1871 Act authorized pensions to Soldiers that served in the war for at least 60 days, or to their spouses if they were married prior to the ending of the war in 1815. The Act of March 9, 1878, revised the pension laws to allow Soldiers that served for 14 days of the war and widows of said Soldiers to be authorized a pension. This explains why my ancestor, Mary Reed, applied for widow's pension in August 1878. She would not have been eligible prior to the 1878 act as David and she were married in 1820, after the ending of the war. The following is a list of what was included in the packet:

- War of 1812 Claim of Widow for Service Pension document. This document is the initial paperwork that Mary Reed filled out to claim her widow's pension. It includes a wealth of genealogical information to include David Reed's unit, where he enlisted, a physical description of David, where they had lived since his discharge from the military, their marriage date and Mary's maiden name.

- Several memorandums to establish that Mary was indeed legally married to David Reed. In the case of the Reeds, they were married in Montgomery County, Missouri in 1820. Unfortunately, the courthouse and all records were lost in a fire in 1864. To establish their marriage the examiner referenced their earlier bounty land warrant application.

- Sworn affidavits from Mary and other witnesses proving her marriage and David Reed's death. The affidavit describing David's death is a sworn statement by Elijah Happy, Mary's son-in-law. It states that he was present at the death of David Reed and that David died of pneumonia.

- The Service Pension, War of 1812 Widow's Brief. This document is a summary of the pension eligibility investigation and is also a wealth of genealogical information. It provides the details of the investigation to include evidence of the Soldier's service, length of service and proof of identity. The Summary of Proof portion of the document includes marriage information and specifics about the death of the Soldier. It is also the official proof that Mary was eligible and awarded the Widow's Pension.

- A memo stating that Mary Reed was dropped from the pension rolls due to her death. It does not actually give the death date, but states the last day she received her pension payment.

Mary was paid $8 a month until her death some time after May 1882. I would describe information from this particular pension file as quality rather than quantity. The important thing is that I now have proof of several facts on this line that I did not previously have. I know very little about David Reed and Mary Bryan Reed other than what I now have from the pension file. I have found some research that indicates Mary was related to the Bryan family that pioneered Kentucky and were intermarried with the Boone family, of Daniel Boone fame. While I have no proof of Mary's connection with this family, I did learn from the pension file that she was from Clark County, Kentucky. Another line of research to follow.

As mentioned above, the marriage between Mary and David could not be proved by marriage certificate as the record was lost in a courthouse fire. The examiner of Mary's pension file instead referenced the widow's bounty land warrant received in the 1850s. It states that her mother and sister provided testimony proving Mary's marriage. If this is so, the bounty land warrant application could prove Mary's parentage and provide further information for me to research. The file also states that David Reed himself applied for and received 40 acres of land from a Bounty Land Warrant on May 10, 1851. The settlement number was provided for both land warrants so ordering copies from the National Archives is easy, using their eServices ordering service and NATF Form 85, Military Pension/Bounty Land Warrant Applications.

For more information on genealogical records of the War of 1812, check out:
Genealogical Records of the War of 1812, by Stuart L. Butler. Prologue, Winter 1991, Vol. 23, No. 4.

National Archives Military Resources for the War of 1812, a list of some helpful War of 1812 resources by the National Archives.


Jennifer said...

Thanks for the info about what can be found in one of those packets. I have a War of 1812 ancestor, but I don't believe that he received a pension. I'm actually still trying to figure out what his rank/service actually was.


Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

If you are sure he was in the war, you could request his service record from the National Archives. You can order them using NATF Form 86 (it is easier to order online than through the mail). The cost is $25, but you are not charged if they can not find a record. The only facts you must know are the veteran's first and last name, the state they served from and the war they served in. Also, he may not have gotten the pension, but his wife might have. There is a book entitled List of Pensioners on the Roll, in several volumes, that lists individuals receiving a pension in the year 1883 (both servicemembers and their spouses). If your ancestors were alive then that might be an option. As I am sure you have found, does have some War of 1812 databases, but my ancestor wasn't on those so yours might not be either. Good luck and I look forward to hearing if you are able to find him!

Jana Stokes said...

I am researching the Reed/Reid/Read surname in Caswell county, North Carolina around 1790-1850.
I found your blog while doing some preliminary research on the following abstract:
"Book EE, page 61. John Hendrick to Thomas Reed both of CC [Caswell county], for $160, ? A in Carrol Co., MO - being sw quarter of section 8, township 53, range 20 - said land granted by US to Walter P Dunnavent for services in the late War. 4 Aug 1838. Wit: Michael Gunn, George W. Vanhook, Paul A Haralson." (Source: Kendall. Katherine Kerr. Caswell county, North Carolina Deed Books 1817-1814. FHL US/CAN Book 975.6575 R28K v. 2. See also Google books.)

My survey of 1840 Fed Cen rec in Carroll county, Missouri so far has yield only David Reed. Do you know of others? Does the land description match land David Reed had in his possession? I haven't tried to check for Reed deeds in Carroll county---like I said, just doing some preliminary research and wanted to check in with you.
Jana Stokes