30 September 2013

A Biography Disguised as a Pension Record

     I have been meaning, for years, to put together an application for the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).  I had one line that I was going to pursue, but upon seeing the pension application that his children submitted, I had some doubts as to his service.  Since then, I've decided to pursue an alternative ancestor: John Cash.

     John Cash applied for a pension in 1832, when he was 75 years old.  Thanks to this pension application, I know about his military service: dates, locations, jobs, etc.  But what really surprised me was the amount of information that I learned about the rest of John's life.

     John's application is mainly about his service, but does also detail where he lived and when he moved.  I now know that John and family lived in Amherst and Bedford Counties, Virginia, and moved to Elbert County, Georgia, in 1802.  But where the really good stuff comes in is actually after his death, when his wife and then his children apply to continue the pension for themselves.

     Take this portion of his wife, Lucy's, application for example:

     The document gives the date of John and Lucy's marriage, "as well as remembered," her birth date, and her husband's birth date.  The very next page states that these dates were recorded in a family Bible, but that it was lost in a house fire in December of 1831.  However, Lucy does remember that she and John were married by a traveling minister in the home of Charles Rore and that the marriage was not recorded with the government.

     As the documents go on (73 pages!), this lack of legally recorded marriage becomes a problem.  The family Bible was the only recording of the the couple's marriage and the children's births.  Government recorded vital records just aren't available for this time. Eventually, Lucy does receive a pension, but it's unclear if the children ever received benefits.

     Probably the most interesting document is one regarding the burning of the Cash family home.  The document itself is not dated, but other documents in the file state the the house burned in December of 1831.  The family was petitioning the community of McDonough, Georgia for charitable donations to support the elderly couple and their unmarried daughters.  The petition is followed by a list of those in the community who donated a dollar or so each to help the family.

     I am a bit concerned that this pension application, which mentions John and Lucy's children, does not mention their son and my ancestor, Moses Cash.  However, Moses is listed as one of John's children in his will.  

     When I started organizing documents for this line, I also realized that I was missing some pretty basic documents.  What do you mean I don't have death certificates for my 3x Great Grandmother and 2x Great Grandfather?  I'd simply never needed them to confirm the family line and hadn't ordered them.  I've started to do so now, and hopefully I won't procrastinate too much longer and can work on my DAR application.

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