Saturday, February 1, 2014

War of 1812 Pension Find for Amos Butler

A couple weeks ago I made a time zone conversion error that resulted in an hour to wait around for a webinar to begin. (Actually I converted correctly but had the wrong start time stuck in my head.) Having already gone through the email and basics I check each day I started doing some genealogy searches to fill the time.

I don't remember how I ended up on what I did, but I found myself at Fold3 looking at the progress of the War of 1812 Pension Files project.

Years ago (before the rise of email and the internet) we did like many genealogists did -- requested a pre-printed form, filled it out with the magic words "please send the complete file" printed in ink at the top of the form, mailed it off using the U.S. Post Office, and waited. We actually requested one ancestor's pension file twice and got a few different pages each time. But it was cost prohibitive to send for every relation's file in hopes of finding a clue for our research. And since we had the most important file, a trip to see the records in person was lower on the list of places to take a research trip.

Fortunately, the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 prompted the Federation of Genealogical Societies along with the National Archives, Fold3 and to come together in the Preserve the Pensions project to raise funds for the digitizing of the War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land files and placing them online for free. The goal is to raise $3.7 million dollars by the 2015's 200th anniversary of the War of 1812's end. is covering half of the project cost by matching each dollar raised.

I was happy to see that it was now reporting the database was 13 percent complete. (The last time I checked it was more like 5 percent.) Unfortunately, most of my main surnames I want to look at are at the end of the alphabet and, of course, they seem to be scanning the files alphabetically starting with A. 

As I glanced around at what was available for each state now (it varies by state) I remembered a particular person in one of my collateral lines, Amos Butler of Otsego County, New York.

To my happy surprise I found his file was digitized and it contained 46 digital images. And an even happier surprise -- these digitized images are in color not black and white! Now I couldn't wait for the webinar to be over so I could concentrate on Amos' pension file.
War of 1812 Pension File for Amos Butler

So what did I discover?

The very first image is a header card or jacket cover that extracts pertinent information from the pages within the file. I've seen one before but this one was very nicely filled out. Some of that information on the card I have seen elsewhere. The real news for me in this case was that the file contained a "family record and sold. discharge ctf. filed in brief." Oh, joy!

Now don't get too excited. Remember, not every pension file contains pages torn from the family bible but occasionally you come across one.

Like any really good genealogist I made sure to download all the digitized page images in the file -- so I would have the complete file. Reading through the pages I realized this file mostly consisted of his widow's claim for a pension. (Sometimes you find these separate.)

When I came to digital images number 9 and 10 of Amos' file the fact that these images are in color came to life -- there sat two pages from the family bible. (They are in fact the front and back of one page.)
Bible Page of Amos and Clarinda Butler

The page torn from the bible contained birth information for both Amos Butler and his wife Clarinda North along with their many children on one side and on the other side Amos and Clarinda's marriage information.

Amos Butler son of John Butler and his wife Cloe, was born August 4th 1793.
Clarinda, wife of Amos Butler, and daughter of Benjamin North, and his wife Weighty, was born September 1st 1804
Warren B. son of Amos Butler and his wife, Clarinda was born August 20th 1821
Benjamin N. son of Amos Butler and his wife Clarinda was born Sept. 19th 1824
Hiram G. son of Amos. Butler, and his wife Clarinda was born July 10th 1826
Menzo W. son of Amos. Butler and his wife, Clarinda, was born Nov 6th 1827
Gabriel N. son of Amos Butler and his wife Clarinda, was born August 18th 1829
Sumner Ely Butler was born June 3rd 1831
Amos Butler Jr was born March 29th 1833
Deloss Butler was born April 21st 1834
Jerome Butler was born July 2 1836
Bible Page of Amos and Clarinda Butler
Waity Elizabeth Butler was born March 11th 1838
John G Butler was born July 1st 1839
Victoria Butler was born December 2nd 1840
Clarinda Butler was born February 7th 1842
Amos Butler Jr. was born September 16th 1844
Frank Butler was born March 10th 1850

Amos Butler, and Clarinda North, were married December 25th in the year of our Lord 1819

Were all these names and dates new to me? No. 

The marriage date in the bible matches the date I had from in a newspaper abstract. I had some of the children's exact birth dates but not all. One interesting thing I noted from the bible page is that Clarinda's mother's name was spelled Weighty while Clarinda's daughter's name was spelled Waity. But clearly (at least to me) it is the same name: Weighty got her name from Waite, the maiden surname of her mother (Clarinda's grandmother.) Again not spelled the same but clear in its intention.

Other interesting information gleaned from the pension file so far:
  • From widow's brief: 
    • Aaron and Abby Jane North were witnesses to Amos and Clarinda's marriage. [Note to self: investigate their relation to Clarinda.)
    • Amos and Clarinda's cohabitation was shown by affidavits of Daniel W. and Belinda W. Wait. [Note to self: investigate their relation to Clarinda.]
  • From Aaron and Abby North's affidavit: they were present at the marriage of Amos and Clarinda "in the house of Benjamin North in the town of Middlefield." [Note to self: recheck research done on the North family of Middlefield.]
  • In a note accompanying Clarinda's declaration for bounty land, it says: "The above named widow is the mother of eighteen children and all of her sons are supporters of the present administration."
  • In the correspondence letters: I learned that Clarinda's lawyer died while she was trying to get her widow's pension thus delaying the process. 
  • In the correspondence letters: I learned that Clarinda "temporarily lived" in Cleveland, Ohio, for a short period of time. [Note to self: recheck prior research to recall who of Clarinda's relatives went to Ohio.]
In the process of analyzing this new information I noticed that though the note in the letter says she was the mother of eighteen children, the bible page lists just 15 children while prior to finding this pension file I had uncovered 16 children. Perhaps this disparity is the result of stillborn or children who died young. Another reason to recheck and compare this new information with my prior research.

I am sure analyzing the pension file further will yield more clues and avenues to research. I can not wait to see my ancestor's pension file digitized and learn if I had really been sent "the complete file" so many years ago. 

Source Citation:
"War of 1812 Pension Files", database, Fold3 formerly Footnote (, entry for Amos Butler (Sergeant, Capt H. Sawyer's Co NY Militia, War of 1812), bounty land warrant no. 11143 including widow Clarinda Butler pension no. WO 35338, WC 22728; citing Case Files of Pension and Bounty Land Applications Based on Service in the War of 1812, 1871-1900; Pension and Bounty Land Applications based on Service between 1812 and 1855; Records of the Department of Veteran Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, D.C.

Note: The War of 1812 Pension Files, once digitized, are available on Fold3. They are free to search and view. If you want to download or print an image, you will need to create a log-in account which is free, no subscription necessary.

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