“P” is for Pension File…and patience! We’re almost through digitizing the P’s in our 1812 Pension Files (can’t wait for Q-Z) and we’re excited about our growing War of 1812 Pension Files collection.
Pension files are a rich source for military and genealogical research. In 1813 and 1816, Congress approved a military pension for soldiers who served between 1812 and 1815 and suffered a disability or death.
In 1871 and 1878, Congress expanded the pensions to include more veterans. The 1871 act allowed men who had served at least 60 days during the war to draw a pension. Their widows were eligible as long as the marriage had taken place before the end of the war. The 1878 act expanded the pensions further to apply to veterans who had served 14 days in the war or any engagement, and to their widows, regardless of when the marriage occurred.
A veteran’s pension often includes his rank, place of residence, age or date of birth, and time of service. A widow’s application usually includes her place of residence, her maiden name, date, and place of marriage, circumstances of her husband’s death, and the names of children under 16.
In a few instances, the files even contain a tintype photograph of the veteran. Such is the case with William Perry. His file is 55 pages long and contains a gold mine of information including pages from his family bible showing births and deaths, and even a summons to appear before the Justice of the Peace for failure to pay a debt of $1.50.
In contrast, Malinda Hadley filed for a widow’s pension 25 years after the death of her husband Simeon. Her file is just six pages long and includes her rejected application because no record of Simeon’s purported militia group existed.
Our War of 1812 Pension Files collection are organized by state or organization, and then by the soldier’s surname and given name. The process for digitizing the pension files is painstaking and time-consuming. We will keep adding to the collection until it is complete. If you don’t see your ancestor’s pension file, keep checking back!