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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

PENSION NUMERICAL INDEX, 1860-1934

The Civil War and Later Veterans Pension Index, one of Fold3's earliest titles, now has a partner in the recently added Pension Numerical Index. Officially called A1158, Numerical Index to Pensions, 1860-1934, this card index from the National Archives is a great cross-referencing tool as it covers pension application and certificate numbers for men who fought in wars prior to, during, or after the Civil War.

Aside from being a rather cool index, cards may include up to twenty names for low numbers and four or five names for higher numbers. It is a helpful resource for confirming hard-to-decipher numbers on other indexes, or for cross-referencing application and certificate numbers.

While mostly comprised of Civil War and later pension numbers, the earliest cards include entries for soldiers in the Indian War, Mexican War, War of 1812, and "Old Wars," this last covering those who served from the end of the Revolutionary War to the beginning of the Civil War (1783-1861).

The cards are presented in numerical order, yet every card is indexed by name as well. The Pension Numerical Index can be used in tandem with other records on Fold3 like the Civil War and Later Veterans Pension Index (T289), and pension files for Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War. Let's look at a few examples.

Both Army and Navy certificate numbers are referenced. Search for a sailor named John C. Joyce and you'll find the51169 index card on which Joyce is one of five pensioners listed. The other four entries reference Army pensioners by application and certificate numbers. We also find Joyce's pension certificate #36486 cross-referenced on the card. After locating his file within the Navy Survivors' Certificates on Fold3, we find number 36486 indexed with his name, and it appears on many of the documents. Application "No. 51169" is noted on page 19 of Joyce's 89-page file.

A search for Peter Eckley brings us to a card numbered 84353. His name appears in the section for Army certificate numbers of dependants. Eckley was in the Indiana Infantry, Regiment 91, Company H, but the dependant in this case is his widow, Eliza Ann—noted by the "W" on the index card under "service." Of interest within her 42-page pension file are a Fort Wayne undertaker's receipt and a letter to her doctor acknowledging that the government will pay $10 of his bill for $354.75.

Imagine the long history of American military service indexed via the extremely large number of pensioners recorded on these cards. If a serviceman's story isn’t available yet on Fold3 within its extensive sets of military pension files, you can use the information on the Pension Numerical Index to order files from NARA.

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