Saturday, August 31, 2019

2019 #52Ancestors: Week 9 - "At the Courthouse"

For Week 9's theme of "At the Courthouse," we're going to be looking at a particular kind of court record that can be a wealth of genealogical information, and one that is often overlooked: Revolutionary War pension records.

On several occasions between 1776 and 1867, Congress enacted legislation that allowed veterans, their widows, and their orphaned children to apply for government pensions in exchange for their (or their relative's) service during the Revolutionary War. Each act after 1776 expanded on the benefits received by the veterans and their families.

In order to establish that the people applying for the pensions truly were entitled to the pension benefits, they had to appear in court and give testimony about such details as when and where they served in the continental army, which company they were in, and who commanded it. Widows and children of the veterans had to provide additional information, such as the date and location of their marriage, the date and location of their spouse's death, and the date and location of their own births. Occasionally they would be required to bring witnesses to attest to these facts, and to provide additional evidence that they were who they said they were.

Because birth, marriage, and death records were unreliable at best during this time, pension records can be an incredibly valuable source for vital information. As an example, we're going to examine the Revolutionary War pension record for John Wright, my 4th-great-grandfather. I was lucky enough to find his transcribed pension record online, which can be viewed at this link.

From this particular record, we find the following information:

  • John Wright served in the 3rd Virginia Regiment and saw a number of battles, as well as the Siege of York Town. He witnessed Corwallis surrender to Washington.
  • He was married to Elizabeth Walker on October 5, 1789 by the Reverend George Morris, at the home of her father.
  • Elizabeth Walker's father was named William Walker, and he lived in Goochland County, VA at the time of John and Elizabeth's marriage.
  • John was living in Fluvanna County, VA at the time of their marriage, and was living in Rockbridge County, VA at the time of his death.
  • John died on May 26, 1836 at the home of David Little.
  • Elizabeth had a sister named Mary Walker, who married a Humphries.
  • John and Elizabeth had a son named Lewis Wright who served in the War of 1812, and died prior to the deaths of his parents.
  • Elizabeth died in March of 1846.
  • John and Elizabeth were survived by the following children: Nancy, wife of Thomas Bird of Allegheny County, VA; Fanny, wife of Samuel Frasier of Rockbridge County, VA; Eliza, wife of Henry Frasier of Rockridge County, VA; Maria, wife of William Thomas of Bath County, VA; Matilda, wife of Andrew McFarland; and Patty Gillespie (husband's name unknown).
As you can see, this pension record offers a wealth of genealogical information that might otherwise have been lost to time. They are an amazing resource!

~ ~ ~

My descent from John Wright and Elizabeth Walker is as follows:

John Wright (1757 - 1836)
4th great-grandfather

Matilda Wright (1810 - 1870)
Daughter of John Wright

Sophia Lavinia McFarland (1841 - 1881)
Daughter of Matilda Wright

Ella May Lovejoy (1879 - 1952)
Daughter of Sophia Lavinia McFarland

Harold Warren Kessinger (1920 - 2012)
Son of Ella May Lovejoy

Joseph Wayne Kessinger (1958 - )
Son of Harold Warren Kessinger

Allison Quinn Kessinger
You are the daughter of Joseph Wayne Kessinger

~ ~ ~

No comments:

Post a Comment


Welcome to Rooted Heritage Genealogy! This blog is dedicated to both telling my ancestors' stories and to helping others to do the sam...