Every now and then we receive some terrific surprises in the files our FamilySearch partners are digitizing at the National Archives. Recently, several 19th-century photographs were literally brought to light as they’ve been tucked away for decades in the Civil War Widows’ Pension files. The photos and some interesting related documents and certificates have been scanned and now can be found on Fold3.
William Carman served in Company A of the Pennsylvania 115th Regiment. His widow, Emeline (McDermott) Carman, applied for a widow’s pension (#48977) after William died of wounds received at Chancellersville, Virginia. She included this colorized tintype of her husband in the 217-page file.
When viewing these images on Fold3, be sure to adjust the brightness and contrast by choosing tools on the left side of the viewer. You’ll be amazed at how well the faces and details emerge from these aged and faded photographs.
There are two photographs in the 197-page pension file (#49991) for Annie L. (Palmer) Kimball after her husband, William S. Kimball, died of a gunshot wound at a hospital in Richmond, Virginia. He served in Company A of the 5th New Hampshire Regiment. The images include this framed daguerreotype and a photograph of Martin Giles, alias Thomas Wilson.
This tintype of William J. Crawford was a delightful discovery in the pension application file for his widow, Margaret E. (Scott) Crawford. The page previous to the photo has a handwritten request to return the picture to Charles N. Crawford, a request that was obviously not heeded. William served in the 11th Missouri Regiment, Company L, and died of a bowel infection on 8 October 1864 at Lake Bluff, Arkansas. The file, WC #51588, contains 195 pages.
The pension application file for Frank Zimmerman’s widow, Eliza (Reden) Zimmerman is the largest at 354 pages (WC#52873). Frank Zimmerman, of Company I, 16th New York Cavalry, was accidentally shot near Falls Church, Virginia, “by the carelessness of a comrade in handling a carbine.”
There are four photographs in this file including a tintype with yellow tints added, a similar tintype, heavily scratched, a black & white headshot with writing on the back, and the same photo in sepia, also with writing on the back by his comrade William F. Von Deyn of St. Paul, Minnesota.
Each of these pension applications are large and intriguing files, and each tells a unique story. While most of the Civil War “Widows’ Pensions” are filmed in greyscale, Fold3 scanned these four files in color to bring the full details of the images to light. We hope you enjoy these peeks into the past. And, if you’re related to any of the men whose photos were discovered here, we hope you’ll let us know.