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:
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.
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
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?
Answer: Charles is the only one aside from Lyman.
Question: How old was Charles when he first had fits?
Answer: About three years old. He never had any except in childhood.
Question: What was the cause & how long did they last?
Answer: I don’t know what the cause was. He only had a few.
Question: Did yourself or husband ever have fits?
Answer: No sir. Never.
Question: What was the cause of your husbands death?
Answer: Cramps. 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?
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
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.
Question: What 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.
Question: What 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?
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.
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.
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.
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 [signature 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]
Analysis: From this simple 7-page document, consisting of questions and answers, we learn a great number of things.
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:
- Mr. Wood (first husband of my 3rd great grandmother, Eliza)
- Charles M. Wood (my 1/2 2nd great grand uncle, William Hunt’s 1/2 brother)
- David M. Wood (my 1/2 2nd great grand uncle, William Hunt’s 1/2 brother)
- Sidney B. Wood (my 1/2 2nd great grand uncle, William Hunt’s 1/2 brother)
- Unnamed child (sibling of my 2nd great grandfather, William Hunt’s full sibling)
- Unnamed child (sibling of my 2nd great grandfather, William Hunt’s full sibling)
- Maria Freeman (my 3rd great grand aunt)
- 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.
We 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!
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 questions 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.
Eliza 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.
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!