Showing posts with label pension files. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pension files. Show all posts

Monday, November 22, 2010

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 26

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within paint a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure with you a few pages at a time.

Page 43-44: Document covers with no informational value.

Page 45: Cover for a General Affidavit for the Mexican War



Page 46: Mexican War General Affidavit for Max Baerecke




Text is as follows (handwritten parts in italics):


In the claim of Max Baerecke, late a private of the 15th regiment U.S. Inf.

Personally before me, a notary public in and for aforesaid County and State, Max Baerecke, said claimant, aged 59 years a citizen of the town of Milwaukee, County of Milwaukee, State of Wisconsin, well known to me to be repatable and entitled to credit, and who, being duly sworn, declares in relation to aforesaid case, as follows:

While _____ [line] in the service of the U.S. and in the fall of 1847 while at New Orleans, La., I was attacked by and suffered with yellow fever. I entered the general hospital at that place and was there confined with such disease for about six months and was honorably discharged while at said hospital on account of disability on or about April 15th 1848. Ever p_ _ _e and in consequence of was as a re_ _ _ _(?) of such disease, I have been afflicted with almost total deafness in both ears and my eyesight has been partially destroyed and greatly impaired, so much so that by reason thereof I was and am disabled from pursueing or attending to any vocation or business and cannot earn a subsistence. My said _ _ _ of pension is based upon such injury and disease as aforesaid.

Signed, Max Baerecke

Page 47: more signatures and text related to page 46.


My Max Baerecke is a veteran of two wars, which sometimes complicates things when you're going over a pension file. Page 46 of this particular file is an affidavit regarding Max's service in the Mexican War. Based on his sworn testimony, it looks like he fought his biggest battle against yellow fever.

The description of near complete deafness and blindness sounds very sad indeed. But is it entirely true? I wonder if the description was made to sound a little more horrific than needed for the sake of the pension application.

Either way, this is a nifty little document that I can add to the timeline in the life of my third-great grandfather.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 25

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within paint a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure with you a few pages at a time.

Page 42: Notification to Pension Commissioner of Amalia Baerecke's death




This is a copy of the letter sent to the Commissioner of Pensions notifying him of the death of Amalia Baerecke. It says the following:

Tuesday, Jan. 16th 1912.


Hon. Commissioner of Pensions.


Dear Sir:


I herewith inform you of the death of Mrs. Amalie Baerecke, widow of Max Baerecke Priv. & Sgt I 26 Wis. under certificate No. 615496.


She died on the 4th day of Jan. 1912.


Kindly send me necessary blanks & information.


Very respectfully


Mrs. C. J. Smith
670 33st Mil. Wis.

After studying the copy of the document, I think it was written on a folded notecard with good penmanship. The writer, Mrs. C. J. Smith, is Lena Baerecke Smith, daughter of Max and Amalia Baerecke. The "necessary blanks" she is asking for are the forms necessary to ensure the widow's pension pays for Amalia's funeral services. Perhaps there were forms that needed to be filled out in order to discontinue the pension process as well.

Stamps on the document confirm that is was received by the finance division of the Bureau of Pensions on 20 January 1912.

I tried to look up the address of Mrs. C. J. Smith on Google maps, but there are north and south versions of 33rd street. Based in the 1910 census, I think they lived on what is now North 33rd. In the future, when I go more into depth with the Baerecke siblings, I will determine exactly where she lived.

On to part 26.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 24

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within paint a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure with you a few pages at a time.

Page 41: Mortuary Bill for Amalia Baerecke


How much did it cost to die in 1912? $153.30 according to this bill for the mortuary services for my great-great-great grandmother. 

Here is the breakdown:

Casket - $60.00
Box - $5.00
Robe - $6.00
Embalming - $10.00
Washing and Dressing - $2.50
Gloves - $2.00
Carriages (?) - $28.00 (looks like it says "carriagers.")
Hearse - $10.00
Germanic & evening (?) - $1.50
Decoration and Flowers - $13.30
Opening Grave - $12.00
Lowering Device - $3

Total - $153.30

The bill is dated 6 January 1912. The business was called Christian Ritter & Son: Funeral Directors and Embalmers. They were located at 276 Fifth Street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The phone number was "Grand 1631." 

In the bill above, I guessed on the word "carriages." It really does look like "carriagers." Whatever they were, there were 7 of them. Perhaps they were rented carriages to transport the funeral procession. I'm not sure how it was handled in 1912.

Also, I couldn't read the abbreviation after "Germanic and evening." It looks like "Wis" or "Nis." Either way, it indicates that the funeral service for my great-great-great grandmother was held in German.

It seems odd to have such a document in my collection, but I guess it's par for the course in a pension file. Because it is so unusual, I am pleased I can share it with you.

[Update: Reader Carol suggested in the comments that the "Wis" or "Nis" I was questioning may actually be "Vis," short for visitation. This makes sense, as the phrase would be Germanic & evening visitation. Thanks, Carol!

Update again: Reader Chris had a great suggestion in the comments as well. Now I have a new newspaper to research. Thanks, Chris!]

Monday, June 28, 2010

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 23

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within paint a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure with you a few pages at a time.

Page 40: Letter from Mrs. Lena Smith


Back in part 18 of this series, there was a letter from the government asking Lena Smith to furnish a bill for nursing (of her dying mother), and for Lena's husband to sign the statement. Below is Lena's reply to that request:


Dear Sir:

Miss Little the nurse has left Milwaukee, for Evanston Ill, and it is impossible for us to locate her. Dr. Sickles send her to us on the afternoon of the 3rd of Jan. and my mother dying on the 4th of Jan. She was dismissed on the afternoon of the 4th of Jan. at 5 o'clock. My husband paid her $4.00 before she left, personally. He never thought to ask for a receipt in that hour if bereavement. Hoping this is satisfactory I remain.

Very Resp'y

Mrs. Lena Smith

What I learned from this record:

I learned that Lena is a lot more polite than I would be. If the government was harassing me for a receipt just hours after a family member died--and after I've provided all the other receipts showing my mother's medical needs and steady decline--I'd probably write something like "HERE IS YOUR RECEIPT!" and...well....there are just so many pictures I could include with that letter. I'd probably get in trouble and not get reimbursed for the widow's medical and burial costs. Gold star to my third-great aunt Lena for exercising restraint.

On to part 24 here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 22

In part 18 of this series, there was a letter sent to Lena Smith asking for a receipt. The letter also requested that her husband handle the complex task of replying and providing the documentation. Below is said letter and response from Lena's husband.

Page 39: Response from Charles Smith



Milwaukee, April 8, 1912


Gentlemen,


Enclosed please find the letter, and as there was no other statement enclosed, I sign this, and acknowledge all  payments made by Mrs. Lena Smith, my wife, in all former documents as being paid by her.


Respectfully,
Charles J. Smith.


What I learned from this document: not much. Lena Smith had to jump many hoops to get reimbursement and close out her father's (then mother's) pension file. She filled out all those forms only to get another letter asking her husband to sign off on her efforts. Your tax dollars at work.

On to part 23

Monday, April 26, 2010

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 19

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within paint a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure with you a few pages at a time.

Page 35: Bill from the druggist re: items pertaining to the care of Amelia Baerecke


In part 18, there was a note from the commissioner saying that in order to be reimbursed for medical and death-related costs of her mother (Amelia Baerecke), Lena Smith would have to furnish bills attesting to the charges. This is one of those bills. Given the date, it's clear Lena went back to the druggist to get a copy of the bill specifically for the reimbursement request.

What I learned from this document:

The name of the druggist was Fred W. Kemp. A street address is provided. I could look up where he worked in relation to the Smith house. I could also research his business or look up Mr. Kemp in the 1910 census if I felt so inclined.

The date range in which these medical items were purchased: 28 Dec 1911 - 4 Jan 1912. These are the last days in the life of Amelia Baerecke. 

The medical items purchased included a syringe, medicine, a bottle of something and gauze. I think all of the numbers were medication and/or product codes.

It's both strange and fascinating to see the medical supplies provided to my great-great-great grandmother in the final days of here life.

Coming up, the doctor's bill. Stay tuned...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 18

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within paint a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure with you a few pages at a time.

Page 34: A Note from the Commissioner


Finance Div
BFS MEB

March 19, 1912

Mrs. Lena Smith,
Milwaukee, Wis

Madam:-

In your claim for reimbursement in the case of Amalia Baerecke, certificate number 615.946, there should be furnished a bill for nursing showing by whom paid.

Your husband should sign the statement herewith.

Very respectfully,

J. L. Davenport
Commissioner

What I learned from this document:

I didn't learn much factually. I can imagine Mrs. Lena Smith (my third-great aunt) spent all this time compiling everything needed for her deceased mother's pension and sent it off in anticipation. Then a letter comes, she opens it and it's the government asking for more paperwork.

Also, I like how the letter is addressed to Mrs. Smith, but she is ordered to have her husband do the signing for her, lest she get the vapors and faint over such a complex task.

Coming up: bills, bills, bills. Stay tuned...


Monday, April 12, 2010

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 17

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within paint a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure with you a few pages at a time.

Page 33 - Letter regarding the death of Amalie Baerecke (Max's widow)


Jan. 10th, 1912
U.S. Pension Agent
Dear Sir:
My Mother, Mrs. Amalie Baerecke died the fourth day of January 1912, at one o'clock P.M. She was attended by Dr. Wm. Sickles, whose office is in the Majestic building. Enclosed please find her pension certificate & voucher.

Very Respectfully
Mrs. C. J. Smith
680 33 St.

What did I learn from this document?

I know that my great-great-great grandmother died in the afternoon of January 4th. I have other documentation that gives the date (some in this file, some elsewhere), but this is the only record that gives an exact time.

I know the name of Amalie's physician and could research him or his office building if I feel so inclined.

I know "Mrs. C. J. Smith" is close enough to Amalie to have the authority to write a letter to the U.S. Pension Agent and get Amalie's affairs settled. I also know the street address of Mrs. C. J. Smith. Based on the information provided in this file, I believe I know the city and state as well.

Through outside research and communication with other Baerecke descendants, I know that Mrs. C. J. Smith is probably Lena Baerecke, the youngest child of Max and Amalie. If I didn't know that, I would assume that Mrs. C. J. Smith was the married name of one of the daughters and do what I needed to find out which one.

Mrs. C. J. Smith is my third great aunt. When I peek at the coming pages of this file, it appears that she handled the correspondence regarding the pension after Amalie's death.

Coming up, a letter that shows government bureaucracy and red tape were alive and well 100 years ago.

Stay tuned....

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 16

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within paint a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure with you a few pages at a time.

Page 31: Surgeon's Certificate of Ordinary Disability


The document says:

I hereby certify, that Max Baerecke Private unattached 15th Infantry is incapable of performing the duties of a soldier, for the following reasons: He has asthma.

And I further certify, that during the last two months, the said Invalid has been under medical treatment by me Sixty days; and in the hospital, Sixty days; And therefore, in the opinion of the undersigned, the interest of the Service requires that he should be discharged from the Army.

Given at New Orleans, La. 29th day of April, 1848. Charles McCormick, Asst. Surgeon

The above named Max Baerrecke was enlisted by Lt. Wright of the ___ Regiment of ___ on the 15th day of August 1847, at Milwaukee. He is 5 feet 4 inches high, 20 years of age, and by profession a Farmer. During the last three months, the said Invalid Soldier, now recommended to be discharged, has been on the sick list 90 days, and has been reported fit for duty, during the same period 0 days.

Discharged this 30th day of April 1848, at New Orleans; in conformity with the XXXII Article, (revised) "General Regulations for the Army," and directions received from General Headquarters dated ___

(signed) Geo M Brooke



What did I learn from this document?

Well, it seems to me to be a pretty important piece of paper for Max in applying for a military pension because it shows that he has medical issues. 

He's 5'4". Is that short or normal for the time? I suspect it's normal, but what do I know? I'm vertically challenged as well. 

So now Max is a 20 year-old asthmatic discharged from the military. What does he do next? I know he went back to Milwaukee because he eventually married there. But how did he fill his life until then? Farming? Did he have his own farm? Did he have any family in the area? I haven't found any other Baerecke folk there yet. Just another avenue I have to research.

Coming up, a handwritten letter. Who wrote it any why is it in the file? Stay tuned...

[Note: page 32 is just a cover for page 31. There is no valuable information contained within, so I skipped it.]

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 15

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within paint a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure with you a few pages at a time.

Page 30: Statement of the Surgeon of the U.S. Army


The document featured in part 14 was a statement regarding Max Baerecke's Civil War service. This document is regarding Max's time in the Mexican War. It states the following:

Sir, I have the honor to return herewith the papers received from your office in pension claim "Mexican War" with such information as is furnished by records filed in this Office, viz that " Baerecke, Priv, Co 15th Inf. entered Post (?) Hospital Newport Barracks, Ky. Oct. 9, 1847, complaint given as [Ilorbille?], and returned to duty Oct. 10, 1847. Michael Baerecke, Pv. -- Co. 15th Inf. entered G H New Orleans, La, Oct. 25, 1847, with Asthma and was sent to New Orleans Barracks March 2, 1848. Max Baerecke Pv. Co. L(?) 15th Inf. was discharged from service at G A New Orleans, April 30, '48 by reason of asthma. No medical records of the regiment on file."

[Signed] B. F(?). Pope, Surgeon, U.S. Army

What did I learn from this document? It's best to make a timeline.

* Max enlisted for the Mexican War on August 15, 1847 (per page 13 of this file)

* Max went to the hospital on Oct. 9, 1847.

* Max was discharged on Oct. 10, 1847.

* Max went to the hospital on Oct. 25, 1847

* Max was sent to N.O. Barracks on March 2, 1848.

* Max was discharged April 30, 1848.

When it's spelled out that way, it's clear that Max spent the majority of this portion of his military service under medical treatment. So while he was technically in the Mexican War, he really was mostly in a hospital bed. 

What makes this so interesting is that--based on documents in this file--we know he later enlisted in the Civil War despite his asthma.

What's next in the file? Well, it looks like a pretty important document for those seeking a pension. Stay tuned....

Monday, March 22, 2010

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 14

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within paint a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure with you a few pages at a time.

Page 29: Statement of the Assistant Surgeon of the U.S. Army

The document is dated January 26, 1887 and Washington D.C. is given for the location.


To the Adjutant General, U.S. Army.


Sir: I have the honor to return herewith the papers received from your office in pension claim No. "O.W. [Old War?], with such information as is furnished by records filed in this Office, viz: that "Max Baerecke Pr. Co. I. 26 Wis. Vols. was admitted to Genl. Field Hospital  11. (?) A.C. Brooks Station Va. April 27, 1863 with Chronic Rheumatism and returned to duty May 28, '63; that he was admitted to Finley G H Washington D.C. June 14, '63 with debility and transferred to Convalescent Camp June 16, 1863.


Records of Convalescent Camp Alexandria Va. June 16 to 30, 1863 afford no evidence in this case."


By order of the Surgeon General:


F C Ainsworth [I think], Assistant Surgeon, U.S. Army
No. 432745


What did I learn from this page in the file?

It gives some of the military medical history of Max during the Civil War. Between the mentions of asthma and yellow fever in previous documents, as well as rheumatism and "debility" in this page, it appears that Max was sickly. Or was he? Is this long list of medical problems common in pension files? Are dramatic descriptions part of the application process when money is on the line? These are the questions I ask myself as I try to form a mental image of my great-great-great grandfather.

On to part 15.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 13

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within paint a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure with you a few pages at a time.

Page 28: Page two of Max Baerecke's Disability Affidavit


The printed part of the form says at the top: "And during all of the said time my physical condition and ability to perform manual labor was as follows..."

And here is what Max said:

I had to give up my occupation as miller by reason of the disease of my eyes and am unfit to perform any labor which requires the use of my eyes, being also deaf on my one ear by reason of disease contracted, as aforesaid, I am disabled to perform one half of the labor that I could perform but for such disease [words cut off of copy]...to such disease. I have never since been able to return to my occupation as miller and it makes it most difficult for me [words cut off copy]...by reason thereof to find other employment.

The next statement on the form says, "I further state that the entire service rendered by me is as follows..."

And Max says:

I enlisted August 15, 1847 at Milwaukee, Wis. 15th Regiment Inf. U.S.A. commanded by Captain Mefford (?) and was honorably discharged on account of disability from hospital at New Orleans April 30, 1848; re-enlisted at Milwaukee August fifteenth 1862 in 26th Reg. Wis. Vol. served three years, discharged (mustered out) June 13, 1865, near Washington D.C.

Comments on this document:

I feel very fortunate to have this medical information about my third great grandfather. Most people don't get those types of details in their family history.

Max commented about his past as a miller and that he couldn't perform that job anymore. However, in my research, I learned that he was a barkeeper after he was a miller. This fact is evident in several city directories. Why didn't he include that in his work history? Were there concerns that the pension people would disapprove? A little selective memory? Or something else?

Coming up...a note from the Surgeon General's Office. Stay tuned...

On to part 14.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 10

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within paint a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure chest of information with you a few pages at a time.

Page 25: Statement as to Hospital Treatment While in Service. This document appears to be the statement of Max Baerecke himself. Based on the handwriting compared to the signature, I believe someone else wrote the document for Max, then Max signed it. Below is the text from the document, handwritten portions of the record are in quotes:



In the matter of the Claim for Original Invalid Pension No. __[blank]__ of "Max Baerecke" late "Private" of Co "15th" Reg't "Inf U.S.A. commanded by Captain Wofford."

I was treated as follows: "At Newport, Baerecke (Newport Ky.) about one month or more (think it was in month October) in the fall of 1847; From Newport barracks I was transferred to general hospital at New Orleans La. where I remained until my discharge April 30th, 1848.

At Newport barracks I was treated for chronic diarrhoea. At New Orleans I was treated for yellow fever.

1862-1865 after my re-enlistment in 26th Regiment Wis. Vol. and until my discharge was treated by regimental surgeon Dr. Francis Huebschman for disease of eyes."

"Max Baerecke"
Claimant's Signature.

This statement must be signed by claimant himself and NEED NOT BE SWORN TO.



What did I learn from this document? I learned great details about Max's military history and health history. Without this pension file, I may never have known Max was in Newport, Kentucky or a hospital in New Orleans. I also learned that, based on Max's own timeline, he served about 2 months in the Mexican War before falling ill.

Coming up next, a disability affidavit and more medical details. Stay tuned...


On to part 11.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 9

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within pant a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure chest of information with you a few pages at a time.

Page 23: Examination report. This document provides the details of the physical examination for Max Baerecke. Based on the information provided at the top, this event is for a pension application in regard to the Mexican War (remember, Max was in two wars and had 2 pension applications). The examination date was 26 May 1886. Below are the key details. Handwritten answers will be in quotes.

We hereby certify that in compliance with requirements of the law we have carefully examined the applicant who states that he is suffering from the following disability incurred in the service, viz: "results of yellow fever."

Pulse rate per minute "92;" respiration, "20;" temperature, "98 1/2;" height: "5" feet "4" inches; weight, "150" pounds; age "59" years.

He makes the following statement upon which he bases his claim for "original complains of pain in head + eyes, also pain (in?) stomach, feels weak + unable to work."

Upon examination we find the following objective conditions: "We find absolutely no signs of disease of any kind, the (man?) looks well [unreadable] has a ruddy look, good muscular development. Area over ---ness over liver and spleen normal. temps + heart healthy body is well several by a----- tri---. His (gums?) are somewhat ulcerated but ---- dirty + no doubt as cause of that, some trouble with digestion. Eyesight + hearing normal, he is bright + intelligent.

From the existing condition and the history of this claimant, as stated by himself, it is, in our judgment, _[left blank]__ probable that the disability was incurred in the service as he claims, and that it has not been prolonged or aggravated by vicious habits. He is, in our opinion, entitled to a "0" rating for disability caused by "results of yellow fever" for that caused by __[blank]__."



Page 24: Secondary page of medical examination. This record include several drawings of male figures, presumably so doctors can document exactly where the pension applicant suffered injury. For example, if someone lost an arm, you could show exactly which arm and where the amputation occurred. In Max's case, his claim of yellow fever could not be documented using this form, so it is blank.


What did I learn from this document? A lot! I got some physical characteristics of my great-great-great grandfather. Based on the doctor's assessment, Max was "bright and intelligent." From other records not in this file, I know Max once owned a saloon, so he was able to work at some point. I also know he wasn't much of an actor, as his claim of yellow fever disability was denied. Now we know why is was left off his next pension application.

Coming up, Max's medical history in his own words. Stay tuned....

Monday, January 18, 2010

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 8

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within pant a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure chest of information with you a few pages at a time.

Page 20 - Notations on the back of another page. It is difficult to read the handwriting. On top of that, someone has crossed out what was written. This looks like a note regarding information needed for Max's veteran pension to turn into Amelia's widow's pension. There are comments regarding marriage and proof of marriage.

Page 21 - Examination cover page. This document (photo below) appears to be an introductory page regarding a physical examination of Max Baerecke for pension application purposes. Part of the small print reads: It is desired in this case that the examination be made with special reference to "disease of eyes" [portion in quotes was handwritten]. There is also a handwritten note which states:

Make a careful examination of both eyes and describe all abnormalities present of structure and function. Do you find any incident of vicious habits.



Page 22 - Notes from widow's words. The handwritten notation states:

Claimant owing to her age, alleges she can't remember dates of enlistment and discharge, but remembers soldier's service in Civil War as in Co. "I" 26 Wisc. Inf. As she was married to soldier in 1850 her statements to the effect of the above named service being all soldier performed in Civil War would appear to be sufficient. [Signature looks like "Holden."]


What do these documents tell me? I learned about what pension applicants have to provide in order to request a pension. Max had to be examined to prove he had a real ailment. Amelia had to prove she was married to a veteran (and was the only wife). This is an interesting side note in history.

Coming up: Max's physical examination. What will the doctor find? Is it enough to qualify Max for a disability pension? Stay tuned....

Monday, January 11, 2010

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 7

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within pant a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure chest of information with you a few pages at a time.

Page 17a (left): Document pertaining to an "Old War Invalid" pension. Possibly a cover for a file.

Page 17b (right): Document pertaining to Max's Civil War service pension.

Though document 17a refers to the "Old War," the information provided refers to Max's service in the Mexican War. It provides his name and current address in Milwaukee. It says he was a private in the 15th U.S. infantry. He enlisted 15 August 1847 and was discharged 20 April 1848. He filed his pension application on 8 October 1885, claiming "yellow fever and disease of eyes" as disabilities. A secondary notation says Max re-enlisted "I 26 Wis. Inf. Late War."

Page 17b is the same format. Max's name and address are provided again. His service is listed as "Private 'I' 26. Wis. Inf. [and] Mex War." He enlisted on 15 August 1862 and was discharged on 13 June 1865. He filed a pension application on 10 July 1890 citing "old age, disease of eyes, deafness."

It may seem confusing, but Max was a veteran of two different wars and sought pensions for both.



Page 18 contains two documents that appear to be the backs of the pages above. There are some notations, but they don't provide any valuable genealogical information.

Page 19 contains most of the same information as page 17.


The date of receipt for the Mexican War pension application is 25 March 1887. It is unclear of the difference in dates is due to a problem with the application or just part of government bureaucracy.

Page 19b (below) is another cover for an application. This time, Amelia Baerecke's name is on the front. The date of Max's death (15 Dec 1904) is on this page. This document may possibly be the cover to Amelia's widow's pension application. The date of filing is 23 December 1904.


What do these documents tell me? They show the grounds on which Max was requesting a pension. It is interesting that Yellow Fever is mentioned in the earlier document on page 17, but not later. I wonder why? Perhaps there is correspondence or records deeper in the pension file that will explain the change of heart.

Coming up, documents submitted to turn this veteran's pension into a widow's pension. Stay tuned...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 6

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within pant a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure chest of information with you a few pages at a time.

Page 15: Examination Report

Page 16: Cover of Examination Report titled "Examination by Civil Surgeon"

Page 15 of the file appears to be a report of a medical examination for Max Baerecke. It says that he "was late a Private in Company 15th Reg't U.S. Vols." This means that this document pertains to Max's application for a Mexican War pension.

At the time of the examination (the doctor signed the document 9 March 1888), Max was afflicted as follows:

His eyesight is impaired. (myopia) V. - 15/200. Has staphyl__ p_____ of both eyes (tear in document and condition of the copy make the medical terms difficult to read).

Hearing is impaired by the presence of hardened ears' wax in both ears, especially in the left. The left ear passage, after the removal of the wax, exhibits an inflamed ___ with a chronically inflamed membrane of the tympanum, thickened + not any more transparent.

Suffers from Pharyngeal + Laryngeal ___ of long ___.

The report concludes with the statement that Max Baerecke "is incapacitated for the performance of manual labor by reason of aforesaid disabilities in about the following degree: 3/4 according to the usual rating of Pension __?___ ." I can't read the last word, but the diagnosis is understood.

The document is signed by the doctor (signature looks like it might say "E. Kramer"), and dated 9 March 1888. There is also an official notary public signature.




What did I learn from this document? Well, it describes the aged condition of my third-great grandfather. He apparently has a problem with his eyes, which is mentioned several times throughout the pension file. The ear wax, and subsequent remedy by the pension doctor, suggests that Max did not have regular access to medical attention. I suspect the family was quite poor.

Page 16 of the pension file is the cover page of this document. It confirms that the purpose of the examination is for a Mexican War pension.

Coming up, more details on the medical history of Max Baerecke. Stay tuned...

On to part 7.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 5

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents containted within paint a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure chest of information with you a few pages at a time.

Page 14: Certification of Marriage



The top left corner of this document says it's from the State of Wisconsin, Milwaukee County, which is where Max Baerecke lived most of his American life.

The text of the document says:

I, Otto Seidel, Jr., Register if Deeds in and for said County, hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and correct transcript from the records in my office as recorded in volume B of Marriages page 480; that I have carefully compared the same with said Records, and that it is the whole thereof.

In Testimony Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my official seal this 29th day of March A.D. 1905.

[Signature of Otto Seidel, Jr.]
Register of Deeds, Milwaukee County, Wis.
What does this document tell me?
Though names are not given, I assume the marriage in question is that of my third-great grandparents. It appears they were married in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. That's half the battle right there. The clues about the location of the record (Book B, page 480) may be all I need to find the record and the marriage date. However, much time has passed, and it's possible the record system has changed. Still, it's a good start.
Later on in the pension file, the marriage date is given, so with that information and what is listed in this document, I'm hopeful that a marriage record for Max and Amalie can be found. In time, I will rent the pertinent microfilms from my local Family History Center and see what they offer. Perhaps some unknown, yet-to-be-discovered family members are witnesses to the event.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 4

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within paint a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure chest of information with you a few pages at a time.


Page 13: Mexican War Pension Survivor's Brief





Max Baerecke was a veteran of two wars. This document is a survivor's brief from his time in the Mexican War. It provides his name, current address, rank, company and regiment.

The recognized attorney is listed, along with law office location and fee ($25).

Max's dates of service are as follows: enlisted on August 15, 1847 and was discharged on April 30, 1848. There is also a notation of Max's service in the Civil War (O(ld) W(ar)) in Wisconsin from 1862-1865.

The length of time Max served in the Mexican war was 8 months and 15 days, per this document.

Max Baerecke was born August 24, 1827 and is 60 years old at the time of this document's creation on February 5, 1887.

There is a printed section that says, "Rate: EIGHT DOLLARS per month, commencing January 29, 1887...." but the lines below it are blank.

Signatures for the Examiner, Pension Searcher and Bounty Land Searcher are provided.

At the bottom of the paper, there is the handwritten notation "disabled," an approval date of 11 April 1888 and a signature of a reviewer. To the right is another approval date of 12 April 1888 and a signature of a re-reviewer.

What does this document tell me?

1. I already knew the residence of Max Baerecke, but this paper reiterates these facts. The exact dates of service in the Mexican War are new to me and will be added to his timeline in my genealogy software program.

2. This document has Max's birthday! And since it is a survivor's brief, it's pretty safe to say Max knows his own birth date! Yay! A birth fact!

3. I know that Max was deemed disabled and approved for a Mexican War pension. I'm guessing the amount was eight dollars a month, given the printed form, but can't tell for sure since the portion below was left blank.

What does the next page hold? More questions and answers of course. Stay tuned....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 3

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within paint a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure chest of information with you a few pages at a time.

Page 7 - Articles of Agreement


This page is the main portion of a contract for legal representation in the process of applying for a military pension. The attorneys were "Jas. H. Vermilya & Co." of Washington D.C. In the small print, it lists a fee of twenty-five dollars, which "shall not be demanded by, or payable to my said Attorneys...except in case of the granting of my pension by the Commissioner of Pensions."

The first half of the document has signatures of the notary who acted as a witness, Chas. Griedrich, another witness and Max Baerecke, pension applicant. His location is Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. The paper says he was a private in the 15th Regiment of the U.S. Infnatry Vols., in the O. War.

Max's signed portion of the document is dated 1 October 1885. He must have signed it and returned it because the attorney's signed portion is dated 7 October 1885.

What did I learn from this page?

1. I learned the address of Max Baerecke in 1885. He lived on 5th Street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A Google street view of the address shows an industrial area in the same location today.

2. I learned his role in the "O. War." In other documents, it appears that stands for "Old War" and implies Civil War. However, Max was in the 15th Regiment of the U.S. Infantry in the Mexican War. He had a different role in the Civil War. Perhaps they're calling the Mexican War the "O. War." Otherwise, this is an error.

3. I learned that Chas. Griedrich was a witness for Max. Was he a friend? A relative? Just some dude in the pension office? More investigation is needed.

Page 8 - Fee Agreement Cover Page
This is the front page of the pension application contract. It lists Max's name and a declaration of filing for an invalid pension. There is also a "notice to claimant" regarding fees (not to exceed $25) and the statute laid out by the U.S. Government.

Page 9 - Handwritten copy of page 7
This is a handwritten duplicate of page 7. No Xerox machines back then.

Page 10 - Copy of page 8

Page 11 - Articles of Agreement
This page is the same form as page 7, but it is dated later (25 Feb 1887) and has slightly different information. Max is listed as a member of the 15th Regiment of the U.S. Infantry in the "Mex War." This is correct. Perhaps page 7 was incorrect and they had to resubmit this form later.

The witnesses on this document are R. Pfeil and F. J. Gressing. More names for me to investigate.

Page 12 - Fee Agreement Cover Page
Information is similar to that on page 8.

Coming up... a "Survivor's Brief" with good information. Stay tuned...