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Archive for February 11th, 2009

This is the 4th and final article in this series on Military Records. You can read the first three in the series at Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. These records can offer up quite a bit of information including your ancestors’ and collateral relatives’ vital statistics, birth date and location, residence at the time of registration, type of military service, campaigns they might have been involved in, next relative, occupation, address of their employer, identifying marks, their signature, and reason for infirmities if they applied for an Invalid Pension.

In Part 3 I used my great-grandfather’s (James Emory House) Application for Invalid Pension as an example. I will continue with his papers to show who he served under, campaigns he took part in, and the reason he applied for this.

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My great-grandfather appeared before a clerk of the Common Pleas Court of Coshocton County, Ohio on September 6, 1887 to submit this Declaration for an Original Invalid Pension.  In it he stated the date and place he enrolled to serve the Union and the State of Ohio in the Civil War and also what company and regiment in which he served.  The document lists that James’ regiment was commanded by Col. E.R. (Ephraim) Eckley and mentions that my great-grandfather was honorably discharged at Washington D.C.

When he was discharged from the service he was 23 years old and stood 5 ft. 8.5 inches, had dark complexion and hair and grey eyes.  It goes on to read, “That while a member of the organization aforesaid, in the service and in the line of duty at Near Corinth in the state of Missipi on or about the               day of April, 1862, he contracted a disease of his stomic which the doctors called catarrh of his stomic. That his disease of his stomic continued to afflict him untill he was discharged and has continued to afflict him more and more untill the present time.”

The continuation of the document tells the location of the hospitals where he was treated: one in Tennessee and also in St. Louis.  It also says that James did not have any other military service except serving for the Union.  His occupation prior to and following military service was Farmer and that he was considered one half disabled.

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In a General Affidavit dated June 21, 1888, 63 year old S.M. Baldwin of Butler County, Iowa stated that he was James Emory House’s sargent and later his First Lieutenant and knew James personally while in the service of Company “H”, 80th Regiment of the Ohio Volunteers.

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(Further transcription) That while in line with his duty as a soldier near a place called “Corinth” in the State of Tennessee some time in the month of Apl 1862 he the claimant contracted a trouble in his stomach and was sent to Hospital at St. Louis and after his return to the company it appeared that he could bear but little fatigue and was constantly complaining of trouble in his stomach.

The above paragraph gives me an approximate time and place that my great-grandfather’s illness began and that it was so severe he actually had to be hospitalized.  I also learned who his immediate superior was by this General Affidavit.

In another affidavit, given by William Derr who personally knew James House, the affiant stated that my great-grandfather contracted the catarrh of the stomach about April 30, 1862 and was sent to a hospital in Tennessee for about 10 days and then to a St. Louis hospital.  He returned to duty in July 1862 which indicates that the hospitalization lasted about 3 months. 

james_house_pension8Above is the Declaration for Invalid Pension that my great-grandfather submitted.  This application states that on July 9, 1890 James, at age 48, residing in Tuscarawas Township, Coshocton County, Ohio, made a declaration that he was the same man who enrolled as a Private in Company H of the 80th Ohio Volunteer Infantry on December 26, 1861 to fight in the Civil War.  Furthermore, that he served at least 90 days and was honorably discharged on May 22, 1865 at Alexandria, Virginia.  He asked for Invalid Pension due to the fact that he could not earn a living because he suffered from “disease of stomach, piles and heart, Catarrh of head and throat, and total loss of sight of right eye.”

It is not clear if he lost his sight due to the infirmaties he suffered from military service or had contracted glaucoma or macular degeneration.  Catarrh of stomach/head/throat, etc. is categorized as “An inflammatory affection of any mucous membrane, in which there are congestion, swelling, and an alteration in the quantity and quality of mucous secreted. In America, especially, a chronic inflammation of, and hypersecretion from the membranes of nose or air passages. in England, an acute influenza, resulting from a cold and attended with cough, thirst, lassitude and watery eyes; also, the cold itself. ” (Causes of Death in the Late 19th Century)

In August 1912 the Adjutant General official document read:

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF PENSIONS
Washington, D.C., Aug. 22, 1912,
Respectfully returned to the Adjutant General, War Department for a full military history and a personal description with age at enlistment.
2 Enclosures

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THE ADJUTANT
GENERAL’S OFFICE
WASHINGTON, AUG 27, 1912
Respectfully returned to the
Commissioner of Pensions
with the information that in
the case of
James E. House Co. H, 80th Reg’t, Ohio Inf
the records show personal description
as follows:
age 19, height 5 feet, 8 1/2 inches,
complexion dark, eyes grey, hair black
place of birth Coshocton Co, O
occupation farmer
Age at reenlistment 21 years.
The revocation of the muster out to reenlist as veteran and muster in as veteran is canceled, he was a veteran volunteer from Feb. 21, 1864 when reenlisted as such.
The military records furnish nothing in addition to that shown in former statements.
Geo Andrews, Adjutant General

On April 30, 1923 when James was 81 years old a Declaration for Pension was applied for: james_house_pension12
This application stated that James required attendance by another person because of his disabilities that included: totally blind in right eye, bronchial asthma, chronic indigestion, prostatic trouble, kidney trouble, rheumatism, weak and emaciated.  Furthermore, it stated that since leaving the service he had lived in Coshocton County, Ohio and the State Soldiers Home of Ohio (Erie County), and he had been unable to work.

On the bottom of that declaration is a stamp that specifies that the “Declaration accepted as a claim under Sec. 2 Act of May 1, 1920.”

And the final page in the file is dated October 1924.

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Above is the drop report stating that James House, who had received $72 a month with the last payment sent in August 1924, had been dropped from the roll due to his death which ocurred on Oct. 1, 1924.

From all of the information contained in James House’s pension file, I can conclude that he never did return to full health after being afflicted with catarrh during his service in the Civil War and that even though he had been able to work as a farmer after he was discharged, he couldn’t work full time and earn enough to live on.  I believe that as he aged the disease and other disabilities weakened him.

The overall picture of my great-grandfather’s life became much clearer after reading through this file as I could put dates to events in his life. 

I urge you to see what kind of picture you can get of your ancestors and collateral relatives with the aid of their military files (if they have any) in order to “flesh” out the person or persons you are looking for.

I hope this four part series has given you more avenues to look when doing research and inspired you to see what other stones can be turned over in order to document events in your ancestors’ lives.

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