Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Tale of Two Pensioners

A little over a year ago (before NARA raised their prices) I ordered the Civil War Pension files for three of my relatives (my 2nd great granduncle Samuel Fisher, Aaron Conroy the husband of my 2nd great grandaunt Lydia Fisher, and for Eli Yarian who is my 2nd great grandfather). They all have lots of useful and interesting information.

One problem though. I ordered the file for the wrong Samuel Fisher ;-(

Of course, I didn't know that until I opened the package from NARA. I had searched the Civil War Pension Cards on Footnote. I saw the card for Samuel Fisher that had served in Co. A 9th Regiment, Kansas Cavalry and ordered the file.

Anyway, after I got the NARA package I located the pension card for the other Samuel Fisher, the one I really wanted. The weird thing is that at the bottom of both of their pension cards it makes reference to the "other" Samuel. I just didn't see it. Or else I ignored the information. Not only that, the one I wanted also included his date of death, which matched my information. Sure wish I had clicked through a few more cards though. . .

But the government got them mixed up back in 1894, so maybe I shouldn't feel so bad. The moral of the story is don't assume there is only one person with the right name in the right unit (even though its wrong), or in the right location. I still haven't ordered the file on the "right" Samuel Fisher, primarily because of the cost. (I wonder how long it will be before Footnote has the Civil War Pension files online?)

On October 5, 1891 the Samuel Fisher who resided at Alfred in Douglas County, Kansas (the one who is my relative) filed an application (1064047) for pension based on his service in Co. A of the 9th Regiment Kansas Infantry for which he received pension certificate 1028602. Card shown above, image from footnote.

On March 3, 1894 the Samuel Fisher who resided at Osceola, Missouri filed application 1260663 based on his service in Co. B 9th Reg't Provisional Mo. Mil. [Missouri Militia]. He received pension certificate 890462 that was based on the service of the Kansas Samuel. Image from footnote.

If anyone out there is related to the Samuel Fisher described below, I'd be happy to send the file to you. . . it's about 100 pages.

Samuel Fisher resided in Lowery City, St. Clair, Missouri when he filed his application in August 1894. He was 67 years old and asked for a pension due to rheumatism and general debility. He stated that he had served in three different regiments of Missouri Militia. His original declaration also stated he served in the 9th Kansas Cavalry though he later said he didn't know how that got included.

On June 7th 1900, Missouri Samuel was living in Trenton, Hitchcock county, Nebraska. A special examination was held on that date. In his deposition, Samuel states that he was 74 years old on the 17th day of last March. He is a farmer and resides about five miles southeast of Trenton. He was born in Montgomery County, Kentucky near Mt. Sterling. In the fall of 1859 he moved to Grundy County, Missouri. Twelve years ago he moved to St. Clair, Missouri and in January 1899 moved to Hitchcock County, Nebraska.

He served six months in Co. E 9th Mo. Provisional Cavalry. The regiment was on duty at Chillicothe, Missouri doing guard duty and moving around Missouri guarding block houses and rail roads. In 1863 he was called to duty in Co. D 2nd Batt'n Mo. S.M. Cav. and also served in Co. E 8th Reg't Mo. State Militia. He states that he never served in Co. A 9th Kansas Cavalry. On August 9, 1894 he received a pension of $10 and saw that his certificate was for Co. A 9th Kans. Cav. and thought it was just a mistake. It was noticed when he was changed to the Des Moines, Iowa agency a short time ago.

He goes on to say that he has been married twice. First to Mary Dennis in Bass County, Kentucky in March of 1853. He thinks she died in 1872 in Grundy County, Missouri. He next married his present wife, Elizabeth Blue, on January 20, 1880 in Livingston County, Missouri. She had been married once before to John Mason who "disappeared and never could be found and my wife obtained a divorce from him about 1878 or 1879".

Samuel and Elizabeth have three children under the age of 16 years (dates recorded in the family bible): Otto Fisher, born Oct. 9, 1884; Everett Fisher, born Oct. 9, 1886; Edna M. Fisher, born Nov. 20, 1890. Witnesses to the deposition were Elizabeth A. Fisher and Richard Fisher.

I wish my ancestors were as easy to find in the census records as this Samuel was. Of course, it helps to know where he was. . .

In 1850, Samuel Fisher was a 22 year old farmer living in Division 2, Bath County, Kentucky. In his household was Mary Fisher, age 20; Levi Fisher, age 3/12; and John J. Fisher, age 10. All were born in Kentucky.

Samuel Fisher was 32 years old and living in Trenton township, Grundy county, Missouri in 1860. He was a farmer with a personal estate valued at $250. In the household was Mary, age 30; Martha, 8; Lydia, 5; Levi, 10; Moses, 3; and Moses, age 44, a farmer with real estate valued at $4000 and a personal estate of $500. Everyone except Martha was born in Kentucky, she was born in Indiana.

In 1870, Samuel Fisher was found in Liberty Township, Grundy County, Missouri. He was 44 years old, a farmer, real estate valued at $1600 and a personal estate valued at $900. He had been born in Kentucky. There were six children listed in the household, no wife: Martha, age 18, born Indiana; Lyddia, 15, born Kentucky; Moses, 12, born Kentucky; Mary, 9; John, 6; and Jesse J., 3. The last three were born in Missouri.

Samuel Fisher, age 53, was found in Lincoln Township, Grundy County, Missouri in 1880. He was a farmer, born in Kentucky. Listed with him was his 19 year old daughter, Mary M. and two sons, John R., age 15 and Jesse J., age 12. Also a 13 year old female with no relationship given - Annie Mason, age 13. His children and Annie were all born in Missouri.

The 1900 census for Grant Precinct, Hitchcock County, Nebraska shows Samuel Fisher, age 73, born June 1826 in Missouri, married 28 years, his parents were born in Kentucky, and he was a farmer. Listed in the household are: Betsey R., wife, born June 1880, age 59, had 12 children with 7 living; Richard, son, born Nov 1882, age 17; Otto, son born Oct 1885, age 14; Everett, daugt [sic, sex is male], born Oct 1886, age 13; and Edna, daughter, born Nov 1889, age 10. Betsey and the children were all born in Missouri.

Now, back to the pension file: In the letter submitted by the special examiner it states that Samuel "is drawing pension based upon the service of another man, although it is the service stated in his original declaration. How he came to hit upon that service is not clear, but there is nothing at this state of the investigation that indicates design or criminal intent."

It was recommended that his claim should be put on hold until it could be determined if the pensioner "was in the U. S. Service or not." For possible use in identification, a tintype picture of the man, taken about 20 years ago, was obtained, which is to be returned to the claimant. The examiner goes on to say "I do not put much reliance upon some of his statements regarding his services as he seemed to be somewhat muddled on this question." The examiner also recommended that the files of the two Samuel Fisher's should be separated to help eliminate future confusion. (Duh!)

On November 17, 1900 a letter was sent to Samuel Fisher at Trenton, Nebraska informing him that he would be dropped from the pension rolls because he was not the same Samuel Fisher who had served in Company A of the 9th Regiment Kansas Cavalry. He was officially dropped from the rolls on January 7, 1901 though he continued his battle for another four years. On October 11, 1905 his application was rejected "for the reason that the claimant has no title to pension. . . he did not render ninety days military service during the War of the Rebellion."


Apple said...

How disappointing to have the wrong file. I have ordered a couple of wills that turned out not to be the ones I sought. It is very interesting that he was able to collect your Samuel's pension for so long.

Lori Thornton said...

You've been tagged in the "8 Things About Me-Me."

Paula said...

I am doing research for Samuel Fisher, my GGGgrandfather, who is the man you describe from the deposition. You mentioned that if interested you could provide a copy of this file. I am very much interested in obtaining a copy as I am sure he is the correct Samuel Fisher. Levi Fisher born 1849 in Bath County, Kentucky is my GGgrandfather. Please email me at

Becky said...

Paula, my apologies for taking so long to respond. An email is on its way to you. Hope the file is of some help.