Kinsearching May 1, 2011




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Since the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution are well-known hereditary organizations and remain active in preserving early American history, many genealogical researchers want to become members. A wonderful new reference work that will be useful in helping to prove an ancestor’s service is Lloyd de Witt Bockstruck’s REVOLUTIONARY WAR PENSIONS AWARDED BY STATE GOVERNMENTS, 1775-1874, THE GENERAL AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS PRIOR TO 1814, AND BY PRIVATE ACTS OF CONGRESS TO 1905.

     As he explains in his informative introduction, Bockstruck attempts to identify and recreate the Revolutionary War pension files as they existed prior to the destruction of such records by fire in 1800 and 1814. Although the documents were devastated at the national level, the state governments of each of the Thirteen Original States created their own pension programs which produced pension files. The general government (like the Continental Congress), the federal government, and private Congressional acts also generated complimentary or supplemental data. The eighteen-page introduction provides valuable details about the background of the various sources and furnishes names of microfilmed and printed works as well as an online database concerning Revolutionary War records.

     To show the diversity of Revolutionary pensioners, Bockstruck lists in his introduction several names of African-Americans, Native Americans, women, and foreign-born individuals. He also supplies names of participants who were under the age of sixteen and of veterans of the Battle of King’s Mountain. Interestingly, he points out that the last Revolutionary War pensioner was Esther S. DAMON, the widow of Noah DAMON, who died in 1906.

     By combing through the variety of available resources, the author has compiled information on approximately 16,500 pensioners. Arranged alphabetically, each entry usually gives the name of the individual and the state from which he or she served or where resided. When possible, entries provide details about service (such as rank, dates and places of engagements, and wounds received) and family information like name of the widow or heir. Examples of entries range from Captain John Paul JONES, who “commanded a squadron and took many valuable prices” and surgeon Samuel EDMISTON/EDMINSTON, who accompanied the Flying Camp (see review in Kinsearching dated 6 March 2011), to William LESLIE of South Carolina, who “was wounded in his right arm 13 Aug. 1776 by the Indians” and Aaron WEAVER, a “free man of color,” who twice received wounds “in an engagement at the mouth of York River.”

     A thirty-six page appendix lists names of Pennsylvania pensioners whose war service is unidentified. They may have been participants in the Revolution or they may have taken part in later conflicts like the Indian Wars. Entries provide the name of the veteran or his widow or heir, the amount of the gratuity and annuity, the county of residence, and the date. Additional details may include the death dates for the veteran or his widow.
Needless to say, Bockstruck’s book is a monumental work. Besides the names of the 16,500 pensioners, the volume indexes approximately another 15,000 names of persons mentioned in the files. A copy of REVOLUTIONARY WAR PENSIONS AWARDED BY STATE GOVERNMENTS, 1775-1874, THE GENERAL AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS PRIOR TO 1814, AND BY PRIVATE ACTS OF CONGRESS TO 1905 should be in all genealogical library collections.

     The 1,066-page publication has soft covers, an introduction, an appendix, an addenda, and a full name index. To the book's price of $89.50, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.50 for one book and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx ground service, the cost is $7.50 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order 492) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211-1953. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

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