Tag Archives: Confederate Pensions

1901 Confederate Pension Applications Digital Collection

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:

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/

1901 Confederate Pension Applications Online

The Digital Access Branch has begun uploading the 1901 Confederate Pension Applications to our online Digital Collections. There are over 35,000 applications in this series, and so far 4,500 are already available online. This is an ongoing project, and we will be adding more items throughout the summer and fall.

For this project, the microfilm copies of the pension applications were scanned by staff in the Collections Management Branch. There were approximately 80 reels of microfilm that became 80 digital folders with thousands of images in each one. We then exported the description from MARS and automated the creation of 35,000+ digital folders, one for each application. The folder titles contain the record group and series indicator, the MARS ID number, and the name and county of the soldier. We are currently in the process of matching the digital images from the microfilm to the correct digital folders. Once we have the images placed into individual folders, we can then easily link the images to the description from MARS and upload it all to our Digital Collections. Although the process is time-consuming, we have already exceeded our initial goal of having 10% of the applications online by the end of July.

The pension applications can provide much useful information about North Carolina Confederate veterans, such as the name; age (at time of application); place of residence; service information such as company, regiment, length of service, and wounds or disability; name of witness; and date of application. Also verification from the county pension board regarding applicant’s claim and whether the application was approved or disallowed by the state-level board of inquiry. The widows’ applications are filed under the names of the deceased soldiers. The pensions in this series resulted from a law passed by the General Assembly in 1901 to provide relief of certain Confederate soldiers and widows.

Under this new act “every Person who has been for twelve months immediately Preceding his or her application for a pension a ‘bona fide’ resident of the State, and who is incapacitated for manual labor and was a soldier or a sailor in the service of the State of North Carolina or of the Confederate States of America, during the war between the States, and to the widow remaining unmarried of any deceased officer, soldier or sailor who was in the service of the State of North Carolina or of the Confederate States of America during the war between the States (Provided said widow was married to said soldier or sailor before the first day April 1865)” was entitled to a pension.