Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Claim for Disability Pension - Civil War Pension File

Ellis Bickerstaff's effort to obtain a pension for his service in the Civil War began with this document, dated July 19, 1890. It appears to have been a two-sided document. In the transcription below, the words and numbers in italics indicate the handwritten responses on blank lines in the printed document. (You can click on the images to see them larger. The image will open in a new window. When you're done viewing it, click the back arrow on the upper left of your browser window.)

This document gives me Ellis's birthdate which, until I received this, I was only able to calculate to the year based on census records. It also gives me some information about his physical appearance.

Catarrah is a disease of the mucous membranes of the naval cavities. (The link sends you to a transcript of an article in the The New York Times dated March 3, 1865. No modern definitions here when we can find something closer to the time period!)

[Transcription of front]
220848 [rubber stamped in upper left]

E. H. Biggerstaff Applicant
Co. D , 157 Reg’t.,
Ohio Vols.
Enlisted 2nd May, 1864
Discharged 2nd Sept, 1864
Act approved June 27 , 1890

Filed by

[Transcription of inside]
Declaration of Soldier for a Disability Pension.

This must be executed before some officer of a court of record having custody of the seal.

State of Pennsylvania, County of Westmoreland SS.
On this 19 day of July, A.D., one thousand eight hundred and ninety ........... personally appeared before me a Notary Public of the County of Westmoreland a Court of record within and for the County and State aforesaid E. H. Biggerstaff aged 50 years, who being duly sworn according to law, declares that he is the identical E. H. Biggerstaff who was Enrolled on the 2nd day of May 1864, in Company D of the 157 Regiment of Ohio Vols., commanded by Captain Robert Bouls and was honorably Discharged at Camp Chase Ohio on the 2nd day of Sept 1864, and that he served for a period in excess of ninety days; That his personal description is as follows; Age 50 years; height 6 feet ...... inches; complexion Fair hair Brown; eyes Blue and was born at Steubenville Ohio on the 11th day of April 1840.
That he is now disabled for manual labor by reason of Catarrh and lung trouble and that said disability is in no respect due to any vicious habit on his part; and that he claims pension under the disability pension bill, being entitled thereto by reason of his inability to earn a support by manual labor.
That he has not applied for pension.
That he has not been employed in the military or naval services otherwise than as stated above
That he has not been in the military or naval service of the United States since the 2 day of Sep 1864
That since leaving the service this applicant has resided in the City of Steubenville Ohio in the State of Ohio and that his occupation has been that of a Carpenter
That prior to his entry into the service above named he was a man of good, sound, physical health, being when enrolled a Farmer. That he is now three fourths disabled from obtaining his subsistence by manual labor by reasons of his disabilities above described, and he therefore makes this declaration for the purpose of being placed on the pension roll of the United States, under the Act approved June 27 1890. He hereby appoints with full power of substitution and revocation McNEILL & BIRCH of Washington, D.C. his true and lawful attorneys to prosecute his claim; that his residence is No. ............, in ............................ street of Scottdale County of Westmoreland and State of Penna and his Post Office address is the same
Samuel B. McMillan [signature]
E. H. Biggerstaff [signature] Claimant's Signature.
Edward L. Rutherford [signature]
Attest--Two witnesses who can write

[Transcription of back side]
Also personally appeared Sam. B. McMillan residing at Scottdale State of Penna, and Edward L Rutherford residing at Scottdale, State of Penna, persons whom I certify to be respectable and entitled to credit, and who being by me duly sworn, say that they were present and saw E. H. Biggerstaff, the claimant, sign his name, (or make his mark) to the foregoing declaration; that they have every reason to believe, from the appearance of said claimant and their acquaintance with him, that he is the identical person he represents himself to be; that his condition is as stated and that they have no interest in the prosecution of this claim.

Samuel B. McMillan [signature]
Edward L. Rutherford [signature] signature of Affiants.

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 19th day of July A.D. 1890 and I hereby certify that the contents of the above declaration, &c., were fully made known and explained to the applicant and witnesses before swearing, including the words................ erased and the words ....................... added, and that I have no interest, direct or indirect in the prosecution of this claim.
John Rutherford [signature]
Clerk of the Notary Public

Other posts concerning Ellis Bickerstaff's Civil War Records:
Ordering Civil War Compiled Military Service Records - posted on 10/20/11
Reviewing Civil War Compiled Military Service Records - posted on 11/14/11
Ordering a Civil War Pension File - posted on 12/3/11
His Civil War Pension File Arrived - posted on 12/15/11
Civil War Pension File: First View - posted on 1/4/12
Civil War Pension File: Inventory - posted on 1/5/12
Civil War Pension File: Chronological Overview of Papers Pertaining to Ellis - posted 1/16/12


  1. Well done! I've got several of these waiting to tackle and have kept looking away because they're a challenge.

    Catarrah sounds very like sinusitis.

  2. I like the way you transcribed this using the italicized print for the responses. It's simple and effective. I need to do this for two of my ancestors but keep putting it off because it seems like an overwhelming task. Thanks for the example of how you're dealing with Ellis's file!

  3. Thanks Susan and Shelley for your words of encouragement. I've been putting off tackling this pension file (I'm grateful I have only one!) because there are so many pages - probably at least 40 documents! Overwhelmed is an understatement.

    I tried bold at first and it didn't seem strong enough. Underlining was much too time consuming because blogger doesn't offer an underline button. I'm glad you think the bold works, Shelley.

    Thanks again, ladies, for your comments.

  4. Great,everyone need should read it


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