52 Documents in 52 Weeks #15 – Susanna Repsher’s Affidavit

Person of Interest: Susanna (Williams) Repsher
Relationship: 3rd great-grandmother


Source Citation:  Widow’s affidavit, 21 February 1907, Susanna Repsher, widow’s pension certificate no. 632, 252; service of Jacob Repsher (Pvt., Co. I, 147th Pa. 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.


courtroom_1_smDocument Description: This affidavit (a written statement confirmed by oath or affirmation, for use as evidence in court) is one of many different documents found in Jacob’s Civil War pension file. It is on legal size paper and has a mixture of pre-printed, typed, and handwritten items on it. Susanna made her affidavit on 21 February 1907 at Bartsonville, Monroe County, Pennsylvania. The pension office dated it as received on 25 February 1907. It also has the signatures of two persons as witnesses. It does have one area that is covered by another piece of paper but that does not seem to be obscuring any wording.


susannaaffidavit001Document Scan and Transcription: CLAIMANT’S AFFIDAVIT
Filed by Taber & Whitman Co., Attorneys, Washington, D.C.
Act of June 27, 1890
Widow No. 862970
Jacob Repsher
Co. I 147 Pa
State of Pennsylvania
County of Monroe } s. s.

In the matter of the above described claim for pension, personally appeared before me a Justice of the Peace in and for the said County and State, Susanna Repsher age 70 years, whose P.O. address is Bartonsville, County of Monroe, State of Pa, who being by me first duly sworn according to law declares that she is the claimant in the said claim and that neither she nor the said Jacob Repsher were married prior to their intermarriage in 1851, that no person is legally bound for her support, that all the property she has consists of nothing more than her legal rights in her husband’s estate which consists of a lot of land about one acre with an old house & staple thereon and the same is covered with Judgement and mortgage for all that it is worth, there are a few old household goods, she says that she has nothing in her right, and no life insurance but a will was found and all the property was bequeathed to her but after payment of all the debts and expenses there won’t be anything left for her and she has no income of any kind and is unable to do any work.

That as to any will or life insurance.

Susanna X Repsher, her mark. (Signature of claimant.)

  1. Samuel P. Repsher
  2. Sallie A. Repsher    (Signature of two persons who can write if claimant signs by X mark)

Sworn and subscribed to before me this 21 day of Feb 1907 and I hereby certify that the contents of this affidavit were fully made known to affiant before swearing thereto, and that I have no interest, direct, or indirect, in the prosecution of this claim.

Amandus Possinger (Signature of magistrate)
Justice of the Peace (Official character of officer.)

If you have and official Seal impress it here. [Nothing here]


Analysis: This is a statement about the financial status of Susanna Repsher, widow of Jacob Repsher who served in Co. I of the 147th Pennsylvania regiment. She was trying to stress to the pension office the necessity of receiving the pension. She swears that she had no one legally obligated to care for her, that the little real property that she owned was not worth anything because there was a judgement and a mortgage held against it, that there were no household goods that could be sold to contribute to her upkeep, and that there was no life insurance for her to fall back on. In other words, she’s poor, broke and in need of a pension.

Susanna was not a literate woman. She had to sign the affidavit with an “X.” Her mark was not distinctive; it was just a simple x with no embellishments or curlicues. Because she signed the affidavit this way, she was required to have two persons who could write witness her statement. Those two witnesses were Samuel P. and Sallie A. Repsher. Although I know these to be two of her children from other evidence, their relationship to Susanna was not delineated in this affidavit.

There are a few genealogical tidbits to be found in this affidavit.

  • Susanna was 70 years old on 21 February 1907 which puts her estimated birth year around 1837
  • She was married to Jacob Repsher in 1851
  • Neither she nor Jacob were previously married
  • She had a bit of real property, one acre with an old house
  • In 1907, she was living in Bartonsville, Monroe County, Pennsylvania
  • Jacob passed away before 21 February 1907
  • Jacob died testate

screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-6-10-01-pmWhat can I do with these tidbits? Dig some more! This affidavit provides plenty of clues or direction on what to look for next. First, I would comb through the rest of the file to glean what I could from it. But let’s say this is the only document I had to work from. I would start looking for a marriage record between Jacob Repsher and Susanna in 1851 in Pennsylvania, I would look at the probate records at the Monroe County, Pennsylvania, since Jacob died with a will, and I would look for legal notices about judgements/mortgages on Jacob’s property. Looking for a birth record for Susanna would have to wait a bit since I’ve only got an approximate year, no maiden name, and no indication that she was born in Pennsylvania. One thing I love about genealogy is that it’s never-ending. There’s always some where else to look, a new stone to overturn.

This is an original source record since it’s a straight copy of the document found in the pension file. The affidavit was created for the Civil War pension board at the time of Susanna’s claim. The affidavit has lots of good primary information and we know that Susanna is the informant because it’s her sworn statement. First-hand information would be Susanna’s marriage to Jacob in 1851 (she was present), her age (she’s aware of the passing of years for herself), her address (she knows where she lives), the existence of Jacob’s will (she knows it was found and that she was the beneficiary), and her financial status (she knows how much she’s struggling).

The evidence is either direct or indirect based on the format of the research questions take. For example, it is direct if the question is “What year was Susanna married to Jacob Repsher, Civil War veteran from Pennsylvania?” That would be 1851 which explicitly answers that question. It is indirect if the question is “What is the marriage date for Susanna married to Jacob Repsher, Civil War veteran from Pennsylvania?” That would be unknown except for the year. We would need to combine it with other evidence in order to find the full marriage date for this couple.

CONCLUSION

Susanna Repsher was in some financial distress in early 1907 when she applied for a Civil War pension based on her deceased husband’s military service. She sat down with Amandus* Possinger, a Justice of the Peace, who verified that Susanna swore to the statements she made in the affidavit, in order to make some statements about her age, address, and financial status. Her children accompanied her to office in order to witness her statement since she wasn’t literate enough to sign her own name.


* I’d never heard of this name for a man before so I looked it up. It is derived from Latin amanda meaning “lovable, worthy of love”. Saint Amandus was a 5th-century bishop of Bordeaux. It was also borne by a 7th-century French saint who evangelized in Flanders.

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:
3-015
DECLARATION FOR WIDOW’S PENSION
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.

CONCLUSION

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.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #9 – Jacob Repsher’s Children

Person of Interest: Jacol Henry Repsher
Relationship: 3rd great-grandfather


Source Citation: Jacob Repsher (Pvt., Co. I, 147th Pa. Inf., Civil War), pension no. W.C. 632,252, claimant’s statement, made by Jacob Repsher, undated document; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.


Document Description: This is a hand-written 5″ by 8″ lined sheet of loose paper found in Jacob’s Civil War pension file which has 103 pages in total. This document has been copied onto a legal-sized paper. It looks to be written in pencil and lists his children in his own handwriting with a certification by him at the bottom. The children are listed in birth order and there are ten children listed in all.


jacob001Document Scan and Transcription: [original spelling (and misspellings) maintained]
Perhaps I Maid som Balk [?, not sure what this word is]
And I got mi first wife yet
and the childrens names and Births
Emanuel J. Repsher born Sep 8 1852
John J. Repsher born  July 3 1854
Aaron J. Repsher November 3 1877 [sic, should be 1857]
Samuel P. Repsher Sep 4 1859
Pherman J. Repsher July 21 1865
Jesiah K. Repsher July 8 1867
Arman S. Rephser July 27 1869
Mary E. Repsher August 24 1872
George A. Repsher March 12 1875
William H. Repsher Oct 2 1877
this is one After the other &
living – yours truly
Jacob Repsher
this is corect


Analysis: Jacob could write but spelled by ear for this document as evidenced by the “mi” for my, and “corect” for correct, and “maid” for made. He certified that he still had his first wife (either she wasn’t dead or they weren’t divorced) and that these were his living children at the time he wrote this list. What can’t be determined is if he’s listing the children from his own memory. I would, however, suspect that he was sitting down with wife, Susanna, to list them out rather than just relying on his memory. Not implying that men don’t remember children’s birthdays, but Jacob might have been more concerned about the support of his family and left all aspects of the children to wife, Susanna. Jacob’s listing is almost as good as Eliza’s affidavit from my first week’s post for 2017. He’s concerned specifically with all the living children at the time because the pension office was concerned with the possibility that minor children would qualify for a pension too.

Aaron was listed as being born in 1877 and I think this is a mistake and should be 1857. Also, there’s a significant gap between Samuel and Pherman which suggest some children that were either stillborn or died at a young age. Just from this list of living children, it’s impossible to tell. Other sources must be considered if one is trying to figure out all the children of Jacob and Susanna.

This is an original source in that it is Jacob’s listing of his living children, one after the other, complete with his own interpretations of how words are spelled. When I look at the original copied onto the legal-sized sheet sent to me it does not look to be tampered with or changed in any way. I have cropped it for this blog. It hasn’t been transcribed or changed in any way to be incorporated into another document.

The information seems to be primary information in that Jacob was the children’s father and, as far as I have determined to this date, always lived with the family. He wasn’t a traveling salesman or worker/captain on a ship or career military. He was a humble shoemaker and would have witnessed (or been extremely close) the births of his children at home.

The evidence is direct if the research question is, “Who were the living children of Jacob Repsher, of eastern Pennsylvania, and his wife at the time he was applying for his Civil War pension?” It would be indirect, meaning it would have to be combined with other sources, if I were trying to determine all the children that Jacob and Susanna had together. Additionally, while he says that “I got mi wife yet” other evidence must be combined with this in order to determine where and when the couple were married.

CONCLUSION

This is a great document in Jacob’s own handwriting with his signature at the bottom. When combine with the numerous other documents found in the Civil War pension file, some of Jacob and Susanna’s children’s birth dates can be determined. Some death dates can also be determined because the pension office took a while to determine the legitimacy of Jacob’s claim. Living children from one document might be deceased by the time another document was generated. All of this can be used to locate the family in census records and also to possibly track down birth records (certificates or registers), death records, and a possible marriage record for Jacob and Susanna. When weighing evidence, this weighs strongly towards being a reliable source despite Jacob’s spelling errors and one 1877 instead of 1857 as a birth year.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #1 – Eliza’s Deposition: Exhibit J

Person of Interest: Eliza (Menard) Wood Hunt
Relationship: 3rd great-grandmother


Source Citation: Lyman Wood (Pvt., Co. G, 83rd NY militia, Civil War), pension no. W.C. 446,752; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. This is Lyman Wood’s full pension file which includes all documents in the file related to soldier’s pension certificate (PC) no. 685,626, soldier’s original invalid claim (IC) no. 249,602, minor children’s certificate (MC) no. 555,302, widow’s certificate (WC) no. 446,752, and soldier’s (Theodore Anderman) invalid claim (Inv.) no. 1,318,492. It is 245 pages in total.


Document Description: This is a deposition (out-of-court oral testimony of a witness that is reduced to writing for later use in court or for discovery purposes) found in Lyman Wood’s Civil War pension file. Lyman Wood was Eliza (Menard) Hunt’s son by her first husband who had the last name of Wood. The deposition was hand-written by F. C. Loveland, a Special Examiner, who was assigned to evaluate Lyman’s claim for a pension. The document is on legal-sized paper and is marked “J” to correspond to the examiner’s exhibits list in the pension file. It is part of the larger examination of Lyman’s pension claim. The deposition is dated 05 September 1882 and signed by Eliza Hunt.

This single 7-page document in a file that consists of 245 pages in total is a wealth of information running the gamut from genealogical to medical to geographical to chronological. Eliza named family members, provided causes of deaths, listed places they’ve lived and when they lived there, and offered up comments in general that give the reader a feel for how she spoke and her vocabulary.


Background information regarding Civil War Pensions: The National Archives (where pension files are stored) has a wonderful article titled “A Reasonable Degree of Promptitude” on the variations of Pension Laws. These laws, and their interpretation, had widespread effects on pensioners (and how their disabilities were defined), their families, the legal profession, and society in general.

Another National Archives article titled “Anatomy of a Union Civil War Pension File” is a great read for background on what can be found in a Civil War pension file. According to the article written by Claire Prechtel-Kluskens for the NGS Newsmagazine:

“The pension file will contain records for all claims relating to one veteran—the soldier’s, the widow’s, the minor children’s, and the dependent father’s or mother’s. If a Civil War widow later became the widow of a second Civil War veteran, all records relating to both veterans may be consolidated in one file.”


Document scan and transcription:

elizaaffidavit001Page 1
Deposition “J”
Case of Lyman Wood, No. 249,602
On this 5th day of Sept, 1882, at Branchville Junction, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, before me, F. C. Loveland, a Special Examiner of the Pension Office, personally appeared Mrs. Eliza Wood, who, being duly sworn to answer truly all interrogatories propounded to her during this Special Examination of aforesaid pension claim, deposes and says: that she was seventy seven (77) years of age on the 24th day of Feby 1882. & is the mother of this claimant. & has lived in this place about ten years. & that for a few years before coming here she lived Andover Sussex County N. Jersey. and that prior thereto on from 1866 back until about 1856 she lived at Mott Haven, N.Y., this before the streets were named or numbered., and that prior to 1856 + 1857 she lived on 15th St. N.Y. City bet” 7th & 8th avenue, that prior to this on in about 1845 to 1850 she lived at Andover Sussex Co N. Jersey where she had resided for many years, that while so residing at Andover this claimant Lyman Wood was born on Mch 7th 1837, my first husbands child.

Question: Please give me the names of your children by your first husband.
Answer:
Charles M. Wood.  Born Sept 3rd 1827.
David M. Wood       ”       ”    6th 1829.
Sidney B. Wood      “       Dec 16 1834.
Lyman Wood           “       Mch  7th 1837.
The three first died at 32 years of age. All of them.

Question: What was the cause of death of

elizaaffidavit002Page 2
each of others?
Answer: Charles died of bilious cholic. David died of heart disease.  Sidney was in the Regular Army and was killed.

Question: Which of your sons aside from Lyman had fits?
AnswerCharles is the only one aside from Lyman.

QuestionHow old was Charles when he first had fits?
AnswerAbout three years old. He never had any except in childhood.

QuestionWhat was the cause & how long did they last?
AnswerI don’t know what the cause was.  He only had a few.

QuestionDid yourself or husband ever have fits?
AnswerNo sir. Never.

QuestionWhat was the cause of your husbands death?
AnswerCramps. He was only sick two days & it took several men to hold him on the bed.  He was at work in the day first & drank too much water got the cramps & died so I tell you.

Question: How old was this claimant Lyman Wood when he first began to have fits?

elizaaffidavit003Page 3
Answer: At first, only two or three, at last he was about ten or twelve years old.

Question: What did you suppose to be the cause of them? The origins of them?
Answer: The good Lord only can tell that.  I did not know. I sent for our Doctor & he said he thought it was caused by nerves. He gave some medicine & he only had a few. It was Dr. Crittenden and he died long ago – years & years ago.

Question: Did he ever have any fits after he grew up & before he enlisted in the Army?
Answer: Not that I ever heard of or knew anything about. I think he was just as well as any man ever was when he went to the war. But he came back with fits & has had them more or less ever since, as often as every four weeks, sometimes more often.

Question: Have your ever known of his having any habit which would in any way affect his health?
Answer: I cannot tell you Mr. that I ever did. I cannot tell you that any of my children ever had any evil or vicious habits of any kind. I tried to train them up in the right way. And if they have had bad habits, I don’t know it.

Question: And have you not known of his having bad habits of intemperance in any of the years since the war?
Answer: No sir. He may have had a

elizaaffidavit004Page 4
little fun now and then but nothing that would in any way impair him.

Question: What was the name of your second husband?
Answer: Enoch Hunt. We were married in 1840. He died in 1866 & of chronic inflammation of the stomach.

QuestionWhat children had you by your second husband?
Answer: Only one living.  William H. Hunt.

Question: Is he the one who has made an affidavit in this case as a neighbor of the claimant?
Answer: He is the same man.

QuestionWhat is his physical condition?
Answer: He is crippled up with the rheumatism – thinks he got it in the Army. He was in “I” Co 70th Regiment NY Vols.

Question: How long have Wm been helpless with rheumatism?
Answer: Twelve or fourteen years. William is the only child of mine that ever had it. And his father never had it.

Question: The children by your second husband who have died – At what age did they die?
Answer: One a year old & the other two years and over.

Question: What was the cause of death?

elizaaffidavit005Page 5
Answer: One died of severe brain trouble & the other suddenly. I don’t know of what. They didn’t have fits.

Question: You say that William T. Hunt who is represented to be a near neighbor of the claimant, your son is also your son by your second husband & that he with his wife & family now live with you in this house?
Answer: Yes sir. He is my son.

Question: Do you recall the number of his pension claim?
Answer: The claim papers otherwise show – It is #424,023. He was first in 70th NY Vols & afterwards in the US Signal Corps.  William T. Hunt I company 70th NY Vol. or US S Corps.Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 3.29.48 PM

Question: What was his health [illegible word, possibly “for”] few years after his discharge?
Answer: Good. He has only had the rheumatism a few years. But he is a great sufferer.

Question: Do you know Maria Freeman who has made an affidavit in this case?
Answer: Yes sir. She is my sister – Lyman’s Aunt.

Question: Who is Kate Wood another of your sons witnesses?
Answer: She is the widow of my son by my first husband, Lyman’s sister-in-law.

Question: I understood you to say that you lived at Mott Haven N.Y. now N.Y. City from 1856 to 1866.

elizaaffidavit006Page 6
Question: Where abouts, what part of Mott Haven was this?
Answer: It was just beyond the Harlem River & near the 3rd Avenue cars. He took the 3rd Avenue cars on the N.Y. City side.

Question: Can you remember the name of the street you lived on or some of the neighbors names?
Answer: Everything has changed there now I am told. Since it became part of New York City and the old people have died & moved away. I don’t know the people there now.

Question: How do you know you don’t? Have you been there lately?
Answer: Not in years and years, not since I came away.

Question: What has your son Lyman Hunt doing before he went into the army?
Answer: He was in Eastons Drug Store, that was the last work he did before he went inot the army. He was in the clothing store before that. But the work was hard there. He did not like that as well as the drug business.

Question: Did he ever have any fits while engaged at any kind of work before he enlisted?
Answer: He never did. He was a well strong sound man before he enlisted.

elizaaffidavit007Page 7
Question
:
 Has this claimant always lived with you ever since the war?
Answer: He has – has never lived away from me at all. He is my sole support.

Question: How soon after he returned from the army did have a fit?
Answer: Only a few weeks – a very short time.

Question: Who was his doctor at that time?
Answer: He took medicine of Doctor Easton as long as he lived.

Eliza Hunt [Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 5.02.31 PMsignature shown at right], Deponent

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 5th day of Sept 1882, and I certify that the contents were fully made known to deponent before signing.

F. C. Loveland [signature]
Special Examiner.


Analysis: From this simple 7-page document, consisting of questions and answers, we learn a great number of things.

GENEALOGICAL

Previously, I had been searching for a fourth Civil War serving brother to William Henry Hunt, my 2nd great grandfather and Eliza’s son. I found that brother (Sidney) in this document but also so many more people I never knew existed. The people in the Wood/Hunt family identified from this document alone are:

  1. Mr. Wood (first husband of my 3rd great grandmother, Eliza)
  2. Charles M. Wood (my 1/2 2nd great grand uncle, William Hunt’s 1/2 brother)
  3. David M. Wood (my 1/2 2nd great grand uncle, William Hunt’s 1/2 brother)
  4. Sidney B. Wood (my 1/2 2nd great grand uncle, William Hunt’s 1/2 brother)
  5. Unnamed child (sibling of my 2nd great grandfather, William Hunt’s full sibling)
  6. Unnamed child (sibling of my 2nd great grandfather, William Hunt’s full sibling)
  7. Maria Freeman (my 3rd great grand aunt)
  8. Kate Wood (wife of Sidney, my 1/2 2nd great grand uncle)

Also from the document, we learn that Enoch Hunt married the widow Eliza Wood in 1840 and that Enoch passed away in 1866.

screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-6-10-01-pmWe learn that Eliza’s sons from her first marriage (Charles, David, and Sidney) all died at 32 years of age. That puts Charles’ estimated death year around 1859, David’s around 1861, and Sidney’s around 1866. This helps provide a time span to look for these newly found brothers in other documents.

We learn that Sidney and Kate were married before 1882 (the date of the deposition) and that Sidney was killed before this deposition was taken. Sidney’s brothers, William (1/2) and Lyman (full) were still living in 1882. Since Sidney was in the Regular Army and was killed, his service provided another avenue of exploration.

We learn that Eliza was 77 years old in 1882 which puts her estimated birth year around 1805. Eliza had a sister named Maria (who married someone with a last name of Freeman) which will aid in the quest for Eliza and Maria’s parents as it gives at least two children in a household to search on. The more to search on, the merrier!

MEDICAL

Some interesting medical information comes forth from this deposition.

Since this deposition is in relation to Lyman’s claim to have contracted epilepsy from the service, the Special Examiner asked Eliza a number of screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-6-21-26-pmquestions related to “fits” that her children might have suffered from.

  • Lyman is suspected of “having fits” before he joined the service and the Special Examiner is trying his best to get answers from Eliza. It is discovered that Lyman had fits when he was a child. Eliza says, “At first, only two or three, at last he was about ten or twelve years old.” She implies that he grew out of this fits and when asked to speculate about the origins, she throws it into God’s hands. Though hearsay, Lyman’s doctor was said to have attributed the fits to nerves.
  • Lyman’s brother, Charles, was the only one besides Lyman to have fits. Eliza says of his fits, “Charles is the only one aside from Lyman” and that he had them “about three years old. He never had any except in childhood.”
  • Eliza’s two unnamed children, from her union with second husband Enoch, both died before the age of two. One of brain troubles (hmm… epilepsy/fits?) and the other suddenly. Eliza doesn’t know of what but makes sure to tell the examiner flat out that “they didn’t have fits.”

Some causes of death are revealed during the questioning:

  • Eliza’s first husband, Mr. Wood, died a painful death over two days from stomach cramps. Yikes!
  • Eliza’s second husband, Enoch Hunt, died from chronic inflammation of the stomach. Hmmm… Is there a pattern here?
  • Eliza’s son, Charles Wood, died from bilious colic at the young age of 32.  This is related to the gallbladder and gallstones, perhaps he suffered from some serious complications that medical technology at the time could not address.
  • Eliza’s son, David Wood, died from heart disease at a young age of 32.

The Special Examiner, Mr. F. C. Loveland, also tried to get at Lyman’s proclivity to imbibe. He asked Eliza if she knew of Lyman “having bad habits of intemperance in any of the years since the war.” To which she responds [and I hear this being said in a terse manner], “I cannot tell you that any of my children ever had any evil or vicious habits of any kind. I tried to train them up in the right way.”

The deposition also reveals that Eliza’s other son, William Henry Hunt, suffers from rheumatism and questions are posed around his ailment.

GEOGRAPHICAL/CHRONOLOGICAL 

screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-6-22-56-pmEliza was a mobile person and this deposition provides a good start for constructing a timeline for her. Genealogists also call timelines a “chronological report.”

  • 07-March-1837 – Son Lyman Wood is born in Andover, New Jersey (where she had resided for many years)
  • 1845-1850 – Lived in Andover, Sussex County, New Jersey
  • 1856/1857 – Lived on 15th St. in New York City between 7th and 8th avenues
  • 1856 to 1866 – Lived at Mott Haven, New York (before streets were numbered and just beyond the Harlem River & near the 3rd Avenue street cars)
  • 1866 to ~1872 – Lived in Andover, New Jersey
  • 1872 to February 1882 – Lived in Branchville Junction, Sussex County, New Jersey

This timeline shows that the Wood/Hunt family moved and lived in New York City for about ten years. The reason for the move there would be an interesting thing to ferret out. The timing is before the Civil War broke out but perhaps Enoch could “read the tea leaves” and chose employment in a big city to make sure he had a way to provide for his family during rough times. His death in 1866 was most likely the impetus for the move back to the more sedate New Jersey.

CONCLUSION

This deposition is but one document found in a 245 page Civil War pension file. But it’s a doozy, chock full of useful data! I learned how the family migrated to New York City and back. I learned about familial causes of death, previously unknown siblings, medical ailments, and marriages. The only complaint I have with Mr. Loveland’s line of inquiry is his failure to ask the given name of Eliza’s first husband. It would be nice to know what Mr. Wood’s first name was!

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #20 – Hannah Jane (Longcor) Hunt

Relationship: 2nd Great-grandmother
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Hannah Jane was worried about getting her widow’s pension from the U.S. Government. She didn’t have her marriage certificate to prove that she was married to William H. Hunt. Her husband had fought in the Late War of the Rebellion from 28 April 1861 to 30 June 1865.[1] He had passed away on 23 February 1918[2] and she really needed the pension to make ends meet.

She was a bit worried and confused. Before he had died, William had sent paperwork to the pension office stating that he and Hannah had been married on Christmas Eve of 1868.[3] Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 5.57.18 PMWhy were they asking her for more proof? How could she prove she was officially married when she didn’t have a document? The reverend that had married them was long gone.

Fortunately, the pension office provided her with some answers. The letter had come from the Commissioner in early May of 1918 explaining what she would need to do if there was no verified copy of public or church records.[4] She would have to find some people that knew her well and who would testify in an affidavit that she had been married to William. But who to ask?

She thought about it. Sarah! Sarah was at the wedding and had been a bridesmaid! Sarah A. Longcor was married to Joseph P. Longcor, one of her father’s brothers. Her brother, George, would also testify on her behalf. And what about someone not related? Hmm… Mr. Steele would probably agree to help. He had been at the marriage ceremony too.

When Hannah asked them to testify, they agreed. They all gathered at the Sussex County Clerk’s office in Newton, New Jersey, on 09 May 1918 to get the affidavits completed.

Sarah was sworn in and started her testimony:

“I reside at No. 152 Sparta Avenue, in the Town of Newton, in the County of Sussex and State of New Jersey and am the wife of Joseph P. Longcor.

I know Hannah J. Hunt widow of William H. Hunt and have known her for the past fifty five years.  Her maiden name was Hannah J. Longcor, daughter of Samuel and Eliza Longcor.  I also knew her husband William H. Hunt in his life time, and knew him for fifty years prior to his decease.

I was present at the marriage of the said Hannah J. Hunt and William H. Hunt on December 24-1868, and was bridesmaid at their wedding.

Hannah J. Hunt and her husband lived together continuously from the time of their marriage until the date of his death of February 23-1918, and they have resided in Sussex County continuously since their marriage, and I have also lived in Sussex County and have visited at their home frequently.”[5]

Hannah was so nervous when the testimony was over that she signed the affidavit. “No, no,” said the Clerk. “Mrs. Longcor is the one that needs to sign.” He crossed through Hannah’s signature and handed the pen to Sarah. “Mrs. Longcor, would you please sign under the crossed over signature?” he asked.

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George Longcor was sworn in and began his testimony:

“I reside at No. 48 Pine Street in the Town of Newton, in said county and state, and have resided in the County of Sussex all of my life, and am fifty four years of age.

I am a brother of Hannah J. Hunt widow of William H. Hunt deceased, that the said William H. Hunt died on February 23rd-1918 leaving him surviving his said widow Hannah J. Hunt.

I was a small boy when my sister and the said William H. Hunt were married, but remember their marriage and have visited their home frequently, in fact at least every month of the year since their marriage, and I know that they have lived together continuously from the time of their marriage until the date of the death of the said William H. Hunt, and that they were never divorced nor have any divorce proceedings ever been commenced by them or either of them.”[6]

Satisfied with his testimony, George signed his affidavit at the bottom.

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 6.10.31 PM

 

Charles S. Steele, an employee of the Sussex National Bank, was sworn to tell the truth in the same manner as the others and started his testimony:

“I reside in the Town of Newton in the County of Sussex and State of New Jersey, and am receiving and paying teller for the Sussex National Bank of said Town of Newton.

I know Hannah J. Hunt and have known her for more than fifty years past. I also knew her husband William H. Hunt, who died on February 23-1918. I was present at their marriage on December 24th-1868 and have known them both continuously ever since they have resided in Sussex County from the time of their marriage until the death of the said William H. Hunt on February 23-1918, and they have always lived together continuously since their said marriage until the date of the date [sic, most likely should be “death”] of the said William H. Hunt.”[7]

Mr. Steele then signed the bottom of his affidavit, adding a swooping flourish underneath it.Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 6.19.49 PMThe testimony was done. Hannah gathered and sent all the documents to the Pension Bureau and waited for news on whether she would receive the much needed pension.

Hannah finally received news that she had been approved for a widow’s pension of $25.00 per month in September of 1918.[8] And, more good news, it was retroactively effective back to 26 March 1918! She would now have some income with which to support herself. She smiled and breathed a sigh of relief.
Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 6.32.56 PM


[1] William H. Hunt (Pvt., Co. I, 70th NY. Inf., Civil War), pension no. W.C. 852,451; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. This is William Henry Hunt’s full pension file which includes all documents in the file related to soldier’s claim (SO) no. 359,438, widow’s claim (WO) no. 1,117,693, widow’s certificate (WC) no. 852,451, and soldier’s invalid claim (Inv.) no. 424,023.
[2] “Death of William Hunt,” obituary (28 February1918);  Bound newspaper stacks, Sussex County Historical Society, Newton, New Jersey.
[3] William H. Hunt (Pvt., Co. I, 70th NY. Inf., Civil War), pension no. W.C. 852,451; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Form 3-389, questionnaire dated 02 April 1915.
[4]William H. Hunt (Pvt., Co. I, 70th NY. Inf., Civil War), pension no. W.C. 852,451; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Letter to Hannah J. Hunt from the Pension Bureau Commissioner, dated 03 May 1918.
[5] William H. Hunt (Pvt., Co. I, 70th NY. Inf., Civil War), pension no. W.C. 852,451; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Affidavit of Mrs. Sarah A. Longcor, dated 09 May 1918.
[6] William H. Hunt (Pvt., Co. I, 70th NY. Inf., Civil War), pension no. W.C. 852,451; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Affidavit of George W. Longcor, dated 09 May 1918.
[7] William H. Hunt (Pvt., Co. I, 70th NY. Inf., Civil War), pension no. W.C. 852,451; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Affidavit of Charles S. Steele, dated 09 May 1918.
[8] William H. Hunt (Pvt., Co. I, 70th NY. Inf., Civil War), pension no. W.C. 852,451; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Form 3-732, approval of widow’s certificate 852,451 dated 09 September 1918.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #11 – Sidney B. Wood aka Henry Menard

Relationship: 1/2 3rd Great uncle
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I have a much larger story that I will be publishing later on in the year that relates to my 2nd great-grandfather William Henry Hunt and three of his other brothers who fought in the Late War of the Rebellion.

Sidney B. Wood is the 1/2 brother of William Henry Hunt. Sidney and William’s mother was Eliza Menard and Sidney was a child by her first husband (given name as yet undiscovered); William was a child by her second husband, Enoch Hunt.

This post specifically addresses the manner in which Sidney B. Wood alias Henry Menard died. I found it to be a fascinating little tidbit that illustrates the benefits of doing a thoroughly exhaustive records search.

I had assumed that Sidney had died in battle during the Civil War for a couple of reasons. Sidney’s mother Eliza had said in a pension file affidavit[1] that Sidney was in the Regular Army and was killed. William, speaking about his brother, said, “Brave boy, he reenlisted, fought all through the war, rose to the orderly sergeant in a regular Batt[alion]” and that his bones were bleaching in Richmond.[2] Since the Civil War was raging at this time, it would have been reasonable to assume that Sidney had died in battle. This highlighted the risk of assuming without verification.

Found within Henry/Sidney’s pension file[3] was a handwritten sheet with no form number. On this sheet was the following report dated 30 July 1869 by the captain of the battalion who Henry/Sidney had served under:

Respectfully returned with the information that on the 29th of April 1866 1st Sargent Henry Menard [Sidney B. Wood] of this battery had permission to take his horse and to leave the camp of the battery near Richmond Va. for the purpose of going to town for his own pleasure. While absent he became grossly intoxicated, rode his horse at a very rapid rate and being unable to guide or control him, ran into a tree on the edge of the sidewalk and fractured his skull. This injury was the cause of his death.

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 3.51.19 PMIt turned out that Sidney died in a drunk driving accident not on the battlefield. Obviously automobiles were still quite a few years in the future so it wasn’t as if his friends could take away the keys to the horse! Since Henry/Sidney did not die of anything related to his war service, the pension bureau rejected both his widow Kate’s and his mother Eliza’s applications for pension.


[1] Lyman Wood (Pvt., Co. G, 83rd NY militia, Civil War), pension no. W.C. 446,752; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Exhibit J, Affidavit of Eliza Hunt, 05 September 1882.
[2] William H. Hunt (Pvt., Co. I, 70th NY. Inf., Civil War), pension no. WC 852,451; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Letter from William Henry Hunt to Pension Commissioner, 03 September 1883.
[3] Sidney B. Wood (1st Sargent, Co. F, 5th Regiment U.S. Artillery, Civil War), pension no. W.C. 147,611; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.