The long and the short is no, with a caveat. I must first point out that I have completed quite a bit of research on this particular ancestor over the years. I have been to the county where he lived the last half of his life, I have visited his grave. I have spoken to the local historian there, I have ordered land documents, I have every file available on Fold3 for Joseph Creed. I have even located photos through a distant cousin. So what was I hoping to learn from a pension file? I suppose I was hoping to learn a little more about his service. I know the units he was assigned to, but I was hoping that I would glean just a little more about his actual experience.
Alas, that was not to be. In fact, I must admit that I learned very little that I didn't already know. I now know that he had the measles during the war which he claimed caused the health problems he faced at the end of his life. I now know his brother-in-law's wife's maiden name. Obscure, but nice to know anyway.
So, is a full pension file the right option for you? It depends. Don't get me wrong, I'm always glad to add another piece of evidence to my pile so I'm happy I ordered the pension file. But I don't know that I would do it again, at least not for an ancestor I had few brick walls on. In my case, the pension file served to round out my information on this individual and add another source to my list. However, if you have a civil war ancestor that you know very little about the pension file is worth your money. The NARA does offer a Pension Documents Packet for $25 which provides the most genealogical rich documents of a Pension Application file. This is a more cost-efficient option, but would leave out quite a bit of the "meat" that may be found interesting. Here are just some of the genealogical items contained in the file (Note: File contents will vary).
- Soldier's birth date and location
- Soldier's physical description
- Wife's maiden name
- Affidavits indicating marriage date, place and names of individuals present
- Affidavits of service-related injuries (in my case this included statements from the neighbors that noticed his frostbite!)
- A full list of children with names and birth dates
- Physical description
- Military unit and time served
- Places lived since military service
|A list of Joseph M. Creed's children and their birth dates.|