The 1901 Confederate Pension Applications digital collection is now complete. All 35,717 pension applications have been made available online. Formally referred to as “Pension Bureau: Act of 1901 Pension Applications,” these materials are part of the State Auditor’s records. The project began last year when the Collections Management Branch scanned the microfilm copies of the pension applications. To learn more about how the project was processed, visit the initial blog post here.
The 1901 Confederate Pension Applications contain genealogical information, such as name, age, and place of residence when applying for the pension. But the applications also capture service information including company, regiment, length of service, and wounds or disability. Pension applications filed by widows were filed under the name of the deceased soldier. Documents in the collection include: pension applications from soldiers and widows; documentation of disabilities by physicians; correspondence relating to the application; and witness statements, usually from men who served in the same company or regiment, attesting to the applicant’s service history. In very rare instances, the pension files may include copies of marriage and death certificates, or other supporting documentation. A majority of the applications also indicate whether the application was approved or disallowed by the state-level board of inquiry in an official statement usually located on the back page of the application.
More historical information about the 1901 Confederate Pension Applications is available in the MARS online catalog entry for “Pension Bureau: Act of 1901 Pension Applications:”
“As first begun in 1889, those applicants eligible for pensions were divided into four classes based on disability: first class pensioners were totally disabled ($72 annually); second class pensioners had lost a leg or arm ($60); third class pensioners had lost a hand or foot ($48); and fourth class pensioners had lost an eye, or were partially incapacitated due to other wounds ($30). Widows were classified as fourth class pensioners.
All persons entitled to pensions under the act, whether previously drawing pensions or not, were to appear before their county Board of Pensions on or before the first Monday in July 1901 for examination and classification. For pension applications before 1901, see the series, Pension Bureau: Act of 1885 Pension Applications. Applications for admission to the Soldiers’ Home, however, are included with applications under the 1901 act, even though some may date from before 1901.
Certain persons were excluded from benefits under the pension acts. Applicants owning more than $500 worth of property or earning a public salary of $300 or more were ruled ineligible for a pension, and no one receiving aid under laws for relief of the totally blind or maimed was eligible. Inmates of the Soldiers’ Home, recipients of pensions from other states, and deserters were also excluded from benefits under the pension acts.
Almost every succeeding General Assembly made some change in the pension laws. The amount received was lowered and raised, the property disqualification was raised to $2,000, and the date of marriage to make a widow eligible was moved forward several times until a widow was eligible if she had been married to a Confederate veteran for ten years before his death if his death occurred after 1899. Widows could remarry and still be eligible provided they were widowed again at the time the application was made…”
The pension applications also include unexpected details about the applicant’s life:
- One pensioner mentions that he was attacked by bush whackers after coming home from the war: http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p16062coll21/id/93686/rec/5
- A widow applied for her first husbands’ pension but includes information about both her first and second husband: http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p16062coll21/id/108423/rec/1
In a few instances, widows were filing pensions well into the 1960s and 1970s. The pension system ended in 1986.
The original blog post announcing the 1901 Confederate Pension project is available at: https://ncarchives.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/1901-confederate-pension-applications-online/