Sunday, November 20, 2011

Researching Civil War Veterans

Amy Johnson Crow, CG
On Saturday, November 19th, the Hamilton County Genealogical Society and the PLCH co-sponsored a talk with Amy Johnson Crow.  Her talk was of special interest to those whose ancestors include veterans of the Civil War. 

Probably the best source of genealogical and biographical information for Union Civil War Veterans is the Pension Record.  In order to qualify for a pension, applicants were often required to document their eligibility by providing proof of marriage, birth records for children and possible disability.  A General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934, is available on    It is arranged alphabetically.  A second index, arranged by regiment, then company, the alphabetically is available on and in a beta version at  It is called the Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served between  1861 and 1900- [1917]. 

Pensions for Confederate veterans were issued by former Confederate states.  Each state had its own eligibility requirements.  Veterans applied for a pension from the state in which he resided, not the state from which he served.  If a Confederate veteran was unfortunate enough to move to a Union state following the war, he was not eligible for any pension.

Civil War veterans were issued a military discharge record that they were to record in their county of residence.  If the record exists it is often located in the County Recorder's Office. This record includes the place of birth, age, physical description and the place of discharge.

It is well-known that the majority of the 1890 U.S. Census (Population Schedule) was destroyed.  However, there was an 1890 Special Schedule of Union Veterans and Widows.  About half of this record survived Including the second half of the Kentucky record through Wyoming. An index and images for this record can be found on also has browsable images.

Amy also suggested that researches search out the records of Veterans Organizations such as the (GAR),  The Grand Army of the Republic was an organization for Union veterans.  Individual Regiments also held reunions.  Booklets filled with memories, biographies, lists of unit members and lists of deaths since the last reunion were often published and distributed at these reunions.

Both the federal government and individual states created homes for disabled soldiers.  Some of these records can be found on  Most residents of these homes were required to have been honorably discharged and either disabled or indigent. 

Finally, some states and local governments provided benefits, although these records vary greatly.  In the 1930s, the WPA began a Graves Registration project.  Their purpose was to try to document the burial records of all veterans within a given state.  Should the records exist, they are most likely to be found at the County Recorder Office, County Auditor of the local office of veteran's affairs.

Lesson learned:  There is more out there than the Pension Record available through the National Archives.  I think all who attended would agree that Amy Johnson Crow opened our eyes to other possible resources.

Crow, Amy Johnson, CG. "After Mustering Out: Researching Civil War Veterans." Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County and the Hamilton County Genealogical Society. Cincinnati. 19 November 2011.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments on this blog are deeply appreciated and encouraged.