Soldiers and sailors who die while serving in the military are usually young and single and often do not have any descendants. My wife does have a direct ancestor that died while serving the Union in the Civil War. His name is William Roland Hill and he died on the 23rd of May 1863 while on furlough from his service with Company A, 103rd Illinois Infantry regiment. He was married to Mary Hedge on 22 October 1857 in Fulton County, Illinois. They had two daughters: Flora Ann Hill born 3 Dec 1860 and Laura Hill born 20 July 1863.
One of my goals is to digitize all of the documents that I have accumulated about our ancestors and attach them to our family trees at Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. In December of 1992, I submitted the "Order for Copies of Veterans Records" to the National Archives for William Roland Hill. I was able to glean several facts from those records 23 years ago. I found it especially revealing to give those documents another review so let me tell you about my technique for analysis.
First, I used my Fujitsu Scan Snap s1500 Sheet Feed Scanner to make a PDF file of the copies received from the National Archives. The sheet feed feature is very handy as it speeds the process of scanning. Using my Adobe PDF software I was able to save the entire file of 17 pages as individual JPG image files. I find that JPG files are much easier to use when analyzing and transcribing original records. The JPGs are easier to zoom in and out and move around than the PDFs. A technique that I recommend is to look at each page of a pension file and give each page a file name that describes the date and the content of the document page. For example here is a chronological list of all of the documents that were contained in the Pension File:
1857-10-19 Hill-Wm Marriage Cert 1
1857-10-19 Hill-Wm Marriage Cert 2
1860-12-03 Hill-Flora Birth Cert
1862-08-12 Hill-Wm Enrollment Co A 103 IL Inf
1863-05-15 Hill-Wm Officer's Cert to Disability
1863-05-23 Hill-Wm Army Death Report
1863-05-23 Hill-Wm Death Cert by Doctor
1863-05-23 Hill-Wm Medical Record
1863-08-13 Hedge-Mary Widow's Declaration
1864-12-01 Hedge-Mary Marriage to Henry Woods
1865-07-01 Hedge-Mary Letter of Guardianship 1
1865-07-01 Hedge-Mary Letter of Guardianship 2
1865-11-17 Hedge-Mary Guardian's Declaration for Pension
1910-03-19 Hedge-Mary Neighbor Declaration
1917-01-27 Hedge-Mary Increase of Pension
There is something magical about putting genealogical information in chronological order. I find that chronological order helps to show the sequence of events as a process with a purpose. You can see that I used the four digit year, two digit month and two digit day as the first elements of my file name. This puts the JPGs in chronological order so that I can browse them in succession. I used the surname followed by the given name as the next elements of the file name. I used the maiden name Mary Hedge rather than Mary Hill or Mary Woods to keep the name consistent. I then created a description of the document title. Sometimes that was easy because the document already had a title. In the other cases, I created a document description based on the event being described.
Now let's take a look at the actual documents to see why they were needed for Mary Hedge Hill Woods to receive a Widow's Pension.
Mary Hedge needed to prove her relationship to William Hill by providing evidence of their marriage. The County Clerk of Fulton County, Illinois provided a transcript of his Registry of Marriages which attested as follows:
- Date of License: 19 October 1857
- Registry Number: 258
- Names of Parties: William Hill to Mary Hedge
- By Whom Married: O.L. Lillie, J.P.
- Date of marriage: 22 October 1857
- Certification date: 13 August 1865
|1857-10-19 Hill-Wm Marriage Certificate 1|
|1857-10-19 Hill-Wm Marriage Certificate 2|
|1860-12-03 Hill-Flora Birth Certificate|
Enrollment Date: 12 August 1862
Enrollment Place: Lewistown, Illinois
Unit: Company A, 103rd Regiment of Illinois Infantry Volunteers
Length of Enlistment: 3 years
Mustered into service as a Private on the 2nd day of October 1862 at Peoria, Ill.
On the Muster Rolls of Co. A of that Regiment for the months of May and June 1863, he is reported "Died of disease, while at home on furlough on the 23rd of May 1863, a private.
|1862-08-12 Hill-Wm Enrollment Company A 103 Illinois Infantry|
|1863-05-15 Hill-Wm Officer's Certificate to Disability of Soldier|
|1863-05-23 Hill-Wm Army Death Report|
George D. McManus being duly sworn says that he is a practicing physician now in the City of Oswego, Oswego Co., State of New York, but for several years and during the last sickness of William Hill, Private of Co. A. 103d Reg. Illinois Volunteers, I was a resident of Lewistown, Fulton County, Illinois and further that I attended the aforesaid William Hill in his last sickness at his residence in the town of Liverpool, Co. of Fulton, state of Illinois, and that he William Hill, died on the 23d day of May A.D. 1863- of Phthisis Pulmonalis } George D. McManus.
Subscribed and sworn before me this 16th day of May in the year 1864 and I hereby certify that the said George D. Mc Manus is a physician in good standing in his profession of good credit and entitled to full credit as a witness and that I have no interest whatsoever in the prosecution of this claim. } Robt. H. Martin, Notary Public
NOTE: Phthisis Pulmonalis is an old name for Tuberculosis.
|1863-05-23 Hill-Wm Death Certificate by Doctor|
|1863-05-23 Hill-Wm Medical Record|
|1863-08-13 Hedge-Mary Widow's Declaration- Army Pension|
|1864-12-01 Hedge-Mary Marriage to Henry Woods|
|1865-07-01 Hedge-Mary Letter of Guardianship 1|
|1865-07-01 Hedge-Mary Letter of Guardianship 2|
|1865-11-17 Hedge-Mary Guardian's Declaration for Pension|
|1910-03-19 Hedge-Mary Neighbor Declaration|
|1917-01-27 Hedge-Mary Increase of Pension|