Monday, April 8, 2013

Military Monday: How often have you actually read the pension record?

  I should have known better... I really should have known better. I finally got back to my personal genealogy research after weeks away. It's been a challenge balancing my classes - I teach introductory genealogy - with my own work. There's always so much new to learn! Since I finally had time, I went right to the meaning to finish line... That would be my supplemental DAR application that's been sitting in a pile for a year. First stop, the ancestor's pension file. Of course, as I discovered, I'd never actually read the pension file.
   Like many genealogists, I do look at the file. The problem is that I often end only skimming the pages. I look for marriage records, death dates, and key pieces of vital records information. If it looks like straight paperwork (application dates, etc), I often end up skipping pages. I didn't do that today - and that's when I discovered I'd been making a major mistake. Buried in the paperwork was a reference to the fact that my ancestor had six children. I had two listed. Oops...
  I'm definitely going back to the birth records. I've already found at least eight kids (some died before the application date). 
   Lessons learned:
     1.Read the pension file. 
     2. Check everything twice.


  1. I stared at my 3rd great grandfather's (who was from Illinois) for 24 hours before it hit me that he was living in Kansas when he requested a revision to his pension. I'd been looking everywhere for his burial place in Illinois never thinking to look in a different state. And once I looked for him in Kansas, there he was!

  2. I've been reading the pension files for my family recently and finding so much great information I overlooked before. So worth it to take the time.