“Pensions: Did You Stop Too Soon?”
Craig Roberts Scott, MA, CG, FUGA
Most researchers seem to believe that pension research is examining the pension application files. There is much more than that. There are other areas that will contribute to a search in military pensions. Some people have pensions, but you would not know it because they are not in the pension indexes. Pension law, a requirement for a pension, might explain why a person’s pension was denied. Pension ledgers and payment vouchers add to our understanding of the service and where the pensioner is located in later life. Final payments provide insight into the heirs of a pensioner.
Craig Roberts Scott, MA, CG, FUGA, is the author of The ‘Lost Pensions’: Settled Accounts of the Act of 6 April 1838 (Revised) and Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury, Inventory 14 (Revised). He has authored seventeen books and several articles in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Family Chronicle, and other genealogical publications. He is the President and CEO of Heritage Books, Inc., a genealogical publishing firm with over 5,300 titles in print. A professional genealogical and historical researcher for more than thirty years, he specializes in the records of the National Archives. He is a member of the Company of Military Historians, on the editorial board of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, and is a former Director of the Association of Professional Genealogists. A faculty member for several years of the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, and the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh. He is the coordinator for the annual Heritage Books Genealogical Conference and Cruise. He was awarded the Grahame T. Smallwood, Jr. Award in 2008 and UGA Silver Tray Award in 2009. He became a Fellow, Utah Genealogical Association in 2014.
- Session 1: “The History of Pensions, Pension Law and The Records of the Record and Pension Office”: Understanding these topics help us to understand how the pensioner may or may not have qualified for a pension. Many times a rejected pension has more genealogical information in it than an approved pension. The Records and Pension Office is especially important to a Civil War and after pensioner and their records contain pension records that can not be found in the pension itself.
- Session 2: “Pension Application Files”: There may be more than one pension or even one pensioner in a pension file. The soldier and his widow, for example. Undertanding how to interpert the application file, to understand who is doing the talking in the record, help us to better understand what is happening. Tracking down each and every one of the persons named in the pension provides insight into the individual provided by their neighbors and associates.
- Session 3: “Pension Ledgers”: Pension Ledgers document the financial history of the pension, when it began, how it was paid, where it was paid, and when it was terminated. It provides a “census” for the pensioner at the level of every March and September, rather than once every ten years.
- Session 4: “Pension Payment Vouchers, Last and Final Payments”: Payment vouchers, Last and Final Payments can provide the crucial information about the pensioner and his family that is not contained in the pension. They may describe service that is not contained in the pension and provide location data as the pensioner moves. Final payments usually identify heirs.