Friday, August 17, 2012

Pension Records are a Great Source of Information, Part I

Recently while looking for some old photographs I ran across some pension records that I had ordered about 12 years ago from the National Archives and forgot that I had kept. These records were on two of my Union soldier ancestors.

One of these of men, John T. Vincent (Co. D, 12th Kentucky Infantry), my great, great, great grandfather, has had me stumped.  For some time as I have not been able to locate his actual service records on microfilmed records of the regiment. But, his pension was confirmed by Congress on September 6, 1888, which is included in these records and states, "An act granting a pension to John T. Vincent. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of the Interior be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to place on the pension-roll, subject to the provisions and limitations of the pension laws, the name of John T. Vincent, of Clinton County, Kentucky, late a private in Company D, Twelfth Regiment of Kentucky Volunteer Infantry."

Other information such as his date of birth and death are of course easy to find via other methods such as his grave stone and from a state death certificate (of which was included as provided by Vincent's widow in these records). Vincent was born on May 18, 1838 and died July 17, 1923 of "chronic interstitial nephritis." The included death certificate also included the names of his father and his mother's maiden name (James A. Vincent and Sarah Chancey), and although his father's place of birth was left blank, his mother was born in Virginia.

Vincent was married four times and that information is also included in the pension records. He first married Nancy Jane Reid on January 6, 1858, and she died on February 12, 1866. Next was Malinda Sidwell who he married on November 8, 1866, and she died April 12, 1901. He next married Ida Murrey who died August 2, 1916, and he finally married Mary Ballenger on  December 19, 1916, and who survived his death.

Enumerated on a 1915 form are John T. Vincent's children:
Martha Ellen, born May 27, 1860 (Living)
James Marion, born June 6, 1862 (Living)
Emery Cole, born May 10, 1864 (Dead)
Perry Jane, born February 12, 1866 (Living)
Arminda Bell, born April 17, 1869 (Living)
Albert Harlan, born May 1, 1871 (Living)
Sarah Francis, born April 29, 1874 (Living)
John Grady, born August 25, 1876 (Dead)
William Thomas, born October 23, 1867 (Dead)

One from list some Civil War information that I have been seeking. The "Declaration for Widow's Pension" filled out on January 18, 1924, says that Vincent enlisted at Albany, Kentucky on October 15, 1861 as a private. Interestingly there is nothing in the file that provides testimony from any comrades to prove his service. I can only speculate that there was proper documentation in the War Department of Vincent's service to verify his claim to a pension. I now need to go the the National Archives the next time I am in Washington D.C. and see if his service records are indeed there and were somehow just left off of the microfilmed version in error.

Image of Union veterans is courtesy of Library of Congress


  1. You have a tough task ahead of you. The Adjutant Generals Report of the State of Kentucky does not list John T. Vincent as a member of the 12th Ky Infantry. However, a preface to the muster roll states "The muster out rolls of non veterans of this regiment are not on file at the AG's office of Kentucky. The muster in rolls are substituted in lieu thereof." It seems the officers never provided much in the way of reports to the state AG. A similar name appears on the roll of the 12th Cavalry, with an enrollment date of October 18, 1862, at Munfordville. I hope I did not send you on a wild goose chase, but I wanted to give an alternate source for your research especially since the widows pension form was dated so late.

  2. ....."Declaration for Widow's Pension" filled out on January 18, 1924, says that Vincent enlisted at Albany, Kentucky on October 15, 1861 as a private. Interestingly there is nothing in the file that provides testimony from any comrades to prove his service.

    --at this point he probably out lived all his comrades from the service he was in..

  3. SteveG-Thanks for the information. I am really curious what happened to his service records.

    Anonymous-I agree that he probably outlived most of his comrades by 1924, but there are affidavits in his pension paper records as early as 1889. They are from neighbors that were not former soldiers verifying that Vincent was broken down in health and unable to work regularly to support himself and his family.