52 Documents in 52 Weeks #12 – Hannah Hunt’s Widow’s Claim

Person of Interest: Hannah Jane (Longcor) Hunt
Relationship: 2nd Great grandmother

Source Citation: Declaration for Widow’s Pension, Form 3-015, 25 March 1918, Hannah J. Hunt, widow’s pension certificate no. 852,451; service of William H. Hunt (Pvt., Co. I, 70th New York Vol. Inf., Civil War); Case Files of Approved Pension Applications…, 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Document Description: This is a single page document within the whole of her husband’s Civil War pension file. It is on legal size paper. The Declaration for Widow’s Pension was Form 3-015 in use when this was signed in 1918. Blissfully, since old handwriting can be tricky to decipher, the blanks on the page were filled in with a typewriter. Hannah J. Hunt’s signature is present as are the signatures of the two witnesses. It was signed by Hannah on 25 March 1918 and stamped as received by the U.S. pension office on 26 March 1918. This document was created due to the laws passed (see below) surrounding the administration of pensions for Civil War veterans.

Background information regarding widow’s of Civil War pensioners: See my post here for some basic background on Civil War pensions.

Act of April 19, 1908

There are two specific acts mentioned on this document: Act of April 19, 1908 and the amendment of the original by Act of September 8, 1916.

The original act was passed by the 60th Congress of the United States and passed into law with approval by the House of Representatives and the Senate under Session I and was Chapter 147 of that session. The Library of Congress has the wording in PDF format [1] for this act on their website. It provided an increase in the widow’s pension amount and now gave the widow $12 per month in pension. The widow was entitled to a pension if her husband had served 90 days or more and the veteran’s death did not need to be incident to service in order to receive the pension. The act also stipulated that veteran and his wife had to have been married prior to 27 June 1890. This stipulation was to prevent what were commonly known as “mercenary brides” from taking advantage 0f the pensions. Mercenary brides were those younger women who married much older Civil War veterans for the sole purpose of claiming a pension.

The amendment to the original act occurred in 1916 and increased the widow’s pension amount to $20 per month. This act also put some additional restrictions around the marriage language of the original act.[2]

Document Scan and Transcription:
Act of April 19, 1908,
Amended by Act of September 8, 1916.

State of New Jersey, County of Sussex, ss:
On this 25th day of March, 1918, personally appeared before me, a County Clerk within and for this County and State aforesaid, Hannah J. Hunt, who, being duly sworn by me according to law, declares that she is 67 years of age and that she was born January 23rd, 1851, at Sparta, Sussex County, New Jersey; That she is the widow of William H. Hunt, who enlisted April 28th, 1861, at Paterson, N.J., under the name of William H. Hunt, as a Private, in Co. I, 70th Regt., N. Y. Volunteers, (inf.) and Co. L, 1st Regt., N. Y. Engrs, and was honorably discharged June 20th, 1864, having served ninety days or more during the CIVIL WAR.

That he also served [blank here, not filled in] ________.

That otherwise than as herein states said soldier (or sailor) was not employed in the United States service.

That she was married to said soldier (or sailor) December 24th, 1868, under the name of Hannah J. Longcor, at Andover, Sussex County, New Jersey, by Rev. W. B. Wigg; that she had not been previously married; that he had not been previously married [blank here, relating to any prior marriages] and that neither she nor said soldier (or sailor) was ever married otherwise than as stated above.

[blank here, relating to former husband’s service]

That said soldier (or sailor) died February 23rd, 1918, at Newton, Sussex County N. J., that she was not divorced from him; and that she has not remarried since his death.

That the following are the ONLY children of the soldier (or sailor) who are NOW living and under sixteen year of age, namely: (If he left no children under sixteen years of age, the claimant should so state.)
(No minor children) [and all spaces to list children are blank]

That the above-named children of the soldier (or sailor) are not now receiving a pension, and that such child ____ {is a or are} member of her family and _____ cared for by her.

That she has not heretofore applied for a pension, the number of her former claim being _______; that said soldier (or sailor) was ______ a pensioner, the number of his pension certificate being 359,438.

That she makes this declaration for the purpose of being placed on the pension roll of the United States under the provisions of the ACT OF APRIL 19, 1908, as amended by the ACT OF SEPTEMBER 8, 1916.

Witness 1: Harvey S. Hopkins, 36 Liberty St., Newton, N.J. [this is the County Clerk]
Witness 2: Harry E. Demerest, 4 Academy St., Newton, N.J.

Claimant’s signature: Hannah J. Hunt
Claimant’s address: Condit Street,
Claimant’s address: Newton, N. J.

Subscribed and sworn to before me this 25th day of March, 1918, and I hereby certify that the contents of the about declaration were fully made known and explained to the applicant before swearing, including the words ______ erased, and the words _______ added; and that I have no interest, direct or indirect, in the prosecution of this claim.

Signature Harvey S. Hopkins [same as witness 1 above], County Clerk , Sussex Co., N. J.

[Pension office stamp dated Mar 28 1918.]

Analysis: Hannah applied for her widow’s pension shortly after her husband William H. Hunt died. The declaration she made in front of two witnesses provides a short biography of her life:

Hannah J. Longcor was born 23 January 1851 in Sparta, Sussex County, New Jersey. She was just over 10 years old when her future husband, William H. Hunt, enlisted to fight in the Civil War on 28 April 1864. Hannah was 17 when she was married to William on Christmas Eve (24 December) of 1868 in Andover, Sussex County, New Jersey, by the Reverend W. B. Wigg. Neither she nor William had been married previously and she was widowed on 23 February 1918 when William passed away. On 25 March 1918, when she applied for her pension, 67-year-old Hannah was living on Condit Street in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey. At this particular time, she had no minor children (from William) under the age of sixteen.

This document is an original source found among the entirety of William H. Hunt’s pension file. It looks to be an unaltered photocopy of the legal size declaration.

The information found within the document is both primary and secondary. The primary information is Hannah’s marriage date, place and husband in that she was an actual witness to the event in which she participated. Her age of 67 is primary in that she observes the passing of each year and can attest to that. Her address at the time of application is primary. She knows where she was living and on what street. William’s death date may be primary. Hannah most likely witnessed his death as they were married for years and occupied the same house during that time. The secondary information relates to her birth date (while she was there, she wouldn’t remember it) in that someone had to tell her that. Her husband’s enlistment is secondary (although proved earlier with his application for a pension) in that she, as a 10-year-old, was most likely not present at the event. She knows these facts from other sources and from what William told her about his service.

Hannah Jane Longcor

The evidences is direct in that it answers the research questions, “When and where and to whom was Hannah J. Longcor of New Jersey married?” and “When and where was Hannah J. Longcor of Sussex County, New Jersey, born?” and “When and with what regiment did William H. Hunt of Sussex County, New Jersey, serve during the Civil War?” The information within this document provides specific answers to those questions without having to be combined with other information. The evidence in this document is indirect with regards to how much Hannah would receive per month as pension if she’s approved. To determine that, another document stating that she was approved must be combined with the language from the Acts of Congress. The absence of any minor children listed on this document cannot be considered negative evidence about the existence of children. There may be children resulting from the marriage of Hannah and William, they just weren’t minors when Hannah applied for a Civil War widow’s pension in 1918.


It’s not a surprise, given other research around William H. Hunt and his wife Hannah J. Longcor, that Hannah applied for her widow’s pension just 30 days after William’s passing. Other documents in his pension file show that William fought hard for his right receive his Civil War pension and Hannah wasn’t going to let that income go either. Being 67 years old, she needed some form of income to support herself now that William was gone. I knew, based on census records, that Hannah was born in January of 1851 in New Jersey but this document nicely provides a more specific birthdate and place of 23 January 1851 and Andover, Sussex County, New Jersey for Hannah. It also provided specific marriage information about her marriage to William. Nice! This is a good example of how a military pension file, while expensive, helped this genealogical researcher to fill in data gaps within my family tree.

[1] https://www.loc.gov/law/help/statutes-at-large/60th-congress/session-1/c60s1ch147.pdf
[2] Laws of the United States Governing the Granting of Army and Navy Pensions Together with Regulations Relating Thereto, (Washington, D.C.:  Government Printing Office, 1921), 152-153.


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