Do you ever cry over the lost ladies on your pedigree like some genealogists do?

For some time, I have been making a list of questions you need to know answers for if you want to find lost ladies on your pedigree. Questions like:

  1. What percentage of women filed wills?
  2. 250,000 persons were executed as witches–what language did convicted witches in France speak?
  3. What record category can be counted on to name women, identify women, prove relationships of women more than any other record category?
  4. What property could women pass on to their children?
  5. How many widows actually filed Revolutionary War Pension Claims?

Do you know the answers to these questions?

What are your chances of really proving the connection between yourself and the women who make up 1/2 of your DNA? Today, we’ll answer two of these questions here–#3 and #5 (overall, I now have 42 questions on my master list).

Answer #3: The record category you can count on to name women, identify women, prove relationships of women more than any other is Military Pension Records. In my opinion, pension records are the most valuable genealogy source to trace your pedigree ladies.

Study Bibliography:

_Eakle, Arlene H. “Women’s Work in Time of War,” Family History Magazine (Jan-Feb 2002): 21-29. Includes examples from Civil War and later wars pension fileswith locations of sources.

_Crackel, Theodore J. “Longitudinal Migration in America, 1780-1840: A Study of Revolutionary War Pension Records,” Historical Methods 14 (Summer 1981): 133-37. 39,000 widows, or 40% of the total, submitted claims for pensions.

_Hatcher, Patricia Law. “Revolutionary War Pension Files–A Fresh Look at the Resources Available,” Genealogy Bulletin (American Genealogical Lending Library Newsletter #27 (May-June 1995): 1-9. Especially valuable article on how to use the many different pension lists that have been published as well as a demonstration of the importance of seeking the whole file on National Archives microfilm publication M804.

_Schulz, Constance B. “Daughters of Liberty: The History of Women in the Revolutionary War Pension Records,” Prologue 16 (Fall 1984): 139-53. Beautifully illustrated from the actual files and thought-provoking insights to keep you searching until you find your correct lady.

Pensions have the potential to identify women accurately:

__proof of marriage: sworn affidavits, marriage certificates, eyewitness accounts of the marriage, acceptance of the marriage relationship by government officials, lists of children with ages and birthdates

__birth and death dates and places: sworn affidavits, family Bible pages, other personal documents

__personal statements of migration: residences c1750-1832 and later, place of marriage, place of application for pension, and place of death for soldier and for widow

__fill in gaps when other government records do not survive: majority of military pension claims and their supporting documents are not kept in the courthouse. And when a fire occurred, as it did in 1833, the government re-constructed the pension list so that it could continue to honor its obligation to pay

__may include 2-8 generations of pedigree ancestors with personal statements of relationship

__maiden surnames, other marriages and married surnames: personal statements of soldier, widow, sworn affidavits of eyewitnesses and relatives–this is about as close to real as you can hope to get because this first-hand information is sworn to be correct

Remember, unless your ancestor was exempt, he served in the military: age 16-60 in time of war, and age 18-45 in peacetime. Most colonial militias required muster of all able-bodied men ages 16-60+ depending upon the level of Indian activity in that area. And these same men were also to show up with weapons and horse when summoned. Military service of any kind entitled the soldier and his dependents (wife and children and sometimes, even parents or unmarried siblings) to a claim for help from the govenment. There are also a substantial number of women,themselves who served as soldiers in the early wars and more than 350,000 who volunteered to serve in World War II. Women are very much a part of our military today.
And following major wars, as soon as pensions and other benefits became available by law, attorneys actively solicited business from those who might qualify for these bounties. So even if your ladies were not inclined to place a claim, they were often pestered into doing so.

Answer #5: Buried in this post is the answer. Did you find it?

Why not break your losing streak? Get into the military pension files and capture the ladies documented there. While I have described American sources, these same records exist for other countries–many of them available on microfilm through the Family History Library and its branches.

Do you have a question about a lady on your pedigree that you cannot answer? Email me the question. I’ll add it to my list, and from time to time I’ll give the answers right here so every reader can benefit. Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

P.S. Remember, the Holidays are the best time to get additional facts from your relatives. Bribe them if you have to.

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