Monday, September 17, 2012

Civil War Veteran's Widow's Pension File: Useful or Not? - Military Monday

I'm uncertain about the usefulness of this particular widow's pension file because the widow is the third wife of my great-great-grandfather and I'm am a descendant of his first wife. Can there possibly be helpful information in this pension file? Is it worth my time to transcribe all the documents? Let's see.

The veteran is Ellis H. Biggerstaff/Bickerstaff who served in Company D, 157th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, from May 2, 1864 to September 2, 1864. The widow is Lucy Biggerstaff/ Bickerstaff.

There are 25 documents in Lucy's widow's pension file. They span nearly six years, from July 27, 1907 until March 4, 1913. Lucy died on May 14, 1913.

Below are the documents from the pension file that contain genealogy information, the date they were written, and information garnered from the documents.

Declaration for Widow's Pension, form 3-007, September 6, 1907
  • Lucy Biggerstaff was 65 years old [therefore born abt. 1842]
  • Lucy Irwin married Ellis H. Biggerstaff on January 15, 1883
  • Lucy was previously married to Ruben Irwin who died in Pittsburgh, PA, in 1871
  • Ellis's first wife [not named] died in Steubenville, Ohio
  • Ellis's second wife died in Homestead, PA in 1881
  • there were no children under the age of 16

Notarized statement dated 4 Jan 1908
  • Lucy owned 35 acres of land in Austintown, Mahoning County, Ohio; the deed was recorded March 26, 1901. She paid $40.00/acre and was willing to sell the acreage for that amount. There was a $400.00 mortgage on this property.
  • She owned 4 lots of ground in Versailles Township, Allegheny County, Pa. She was willing to sell the lots for $200.00 each.
  • Ellis had no life insurance

Statement of pastor who married Lucy Irwin and E. H. Biggerstaff stating
  • marriage date (January 15, 1883)
  • marriage location (Homestead, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania)

On April 15, 1910, Lucy finally obtained a widow's pension of $12.00/month

General Affidavit of Lewis B. Bickerstaff, 52 years; and John Bickerstaff, 57 years; dated January 19, 1920

  • Ellis's first wife was Emma Nelson who died on or about May 3, 1878, and is buried in Union Cemetery, Steubenville, Ohio
  • Ellis's second wife was Sallie McCune who died at Homestead, Pa., on or about May 1, 1881, and is buried in Union Cemetery, Steubenville, Ohio

Possible family members mentioned
John Biggerstaff, Nellie Biggerstaff - Notarized statement dated 30 Nov 1907
Lewis B. Bickerstaff, John Bickerstaff - General Affidavit dated 19 Jan 1920

If I had no other information about Ellis, I would have learned that
  • he had three wives
  • the names of the wives
  • approximate death dates of the first two wives and their burial locations
  • the date and location of Ellis's and Lucy's marriage

The other information is probably not helpful in regards to further research on Ellis and his first wife, Emma Nelson, and their descendants. I will not transcribe all documents and may not transcribe any. I will search for other sources to corroborate the information in the file.


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