Revolutionary War Pension Files

By Connie Lenzen

An article published in the 10 October 2002 issue of the Vancouver Columbian.


David Clay, a soldier of the American Revolution, died in 1818 in Wilkinson County, Georgia. There are no records of his life or death in the county, perhaps because the courthouse records were destroyed at four different times.

His widow, Eve (Hardin) Clay applied for, and received a government pension based upon his military service during the Revolution. Eve had to provide documentation of her marriage and of David's death.

David Clay (Eva)
W. 6690
BLWt 5001-160-5
N.C.
Affidavit
State of Georgia
Wilkinson County
On this 29th day of March 1855 Personally appeared before me the Subscribers a justice of the Inferior Court within and for the County aforesaid, duly authorized by law to adm. Singular oaths. Eva Clay aged about 83 years a resident of said county and state aforesaid, Who being duly sworn according to law, declares that she is the widow of David Clay deceased who was a private in the Company commanded by Capt. Kornegay in the War of the Revolution, That she does not know the precise date of her husbands entering the Service nor time of discharge but refers to Certificates of Pension granted to him by R. McClellan Secretary of the Interior, dated 21st March 1855, Numbered 11,747 9,595 & 6,325 Recorded in the Pension Office in Book D vol. 10 page 327. Book A Vol 2nd page 72 and Page 209 Vol 3rd for further proof of service, marriage, death of [illegible] & c. She further states, that she was married to the said David Clay in the County of Warren & State of Georgia, on or about the 22nd day of September 1792 by one John Hatcher a justice of the Peace, that her name before her marriage was Eva Hardin that her said husband died in Wilkinson County State of Georgia on [blank] day of August 1818, and that she is still a widow, She makes this declaration for the purpose of obtaining the bounty land to which she may be entitled under he act approved March 3rd 1855 Never having received bounty land under this or any other act nor made any other application for bounty land except this present
Eva Clay her mark

Not everyone has an ancestor who lived and died in a "burned county," but we all have elusive ancestors. Federal records, such as pension records, may have the information that we need.

Approximately 80,000 Revolutionary War pension and bounty-land-warrant application files are in the National Archives and have been microfilmed on 2670 rolls by the Veterans Administration.

Pensions were to provide support for aged and disabled veterans and their wives.

The promise of bounty-land was an inducement to enter and to remain in service. Bounty-land warrants were granted to veterans or their heirs.

The records are arranged alphabetically by last name. Within the files, the records are unarranged. The documents may include pension applications, bounty-land-warrant applications, pages from family Bibles, copies of marriage records, statements of service, testimony of the applicant and of neighbors, and payment vouchers. If there are more than ten pages of records, they are divided into "Selected Records" and "Non-selected Records."

How to find a pension or bounty-land-warrant file:

1. Check the three volume set, Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files by Virgil White. A copy of this three-volume set is at many genealogical and public libraries.

2. If your ancestor, or one of his kin, is listed in the index, go to your local Family History Center and order the microfilm that contains the file. If you will be in the Seattle area, you can go to the Pacific Alaska branch of the National Archives. They have the entire set of films. [Website: http://www.archives.gov/facilities/wa/seattle.html]

3. You can also request a copy of the records from the National Archives. When you do, select the option of "complete file" which costs $37.00. Otherwise, they will send the ten "selected records". Use NATF Form 85 to order the files. You can request a copy of Form 85 by sending an e-mail to "inquire@nara.gov."


© 2000-2009

Connie Lenzen, CG

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CG, Certified Genealogist is a service mark of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by board-certified genealogists after periodic evaluation, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.