In 1871 the U.S. government created the Southern Claims Commission, an organization through which Southerners could file claims for reimbursement of personal property losses due to the Civil War. Claims could be filed by residents of:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
The main stipulations for qualifying to receive a reimbursement were that: the claimant had to prove loss of property, that he had supported the Union during the war and that he not provided any assistance to the Confederates. Nearly 22,300 cases were filed by individuals and families, as well as businesses, institutions, churches, and other organizations. Not only do the names and locations of the claimants provide background information about the Civil War, but each claimant was required to provide witnesses. The witnesses had to answer the same 80+ questions that the claimant had to answer. Many of these witnesses were former slaves whose names rarely appear on any other legal document from the Civil War era. They also provided names and dates for family members who often lived on other plantations.
This database contains a complete index to all claims filed with the Southern Claims Commission, even those which were appealed. Gary Mills has combined all available indexes, created since these records were made public, into one. In it you will find all the information you will need to locate the case file.
Information available in the claim files can vary from packet to packet, but many of the files are very rich in genealogical information. For more information and historical background on the South Claims Commission, please refer to the Introduction of this book, available through the browse table below.
How to Search These Records:
To find out if an individual filed a claim with the Southern Claims Commission, begin by using the Index, which is what this database is comprised of. The index is organized alphabetically according to surname of claimants and provides:
- County and state in which the claim was filed
- Status of the claim (A = approved, D = disallowed, or B = barred)
- Approved = received some money
- Disallowed = claim denied, no money received
- Barred = barred due to failure to submit sufficient evidence by the deadline set by the Commission
- Commission number (all claims will have this)
- Office number (only disallowed claims will have this)
- Report number (only disallowed and allowed claims will have this. Barred claims will not)
- Year claim was filed
IMPORTANT NOTE: Be sure to write down the claim status and any associated numbers to the claim you are researching. These are vital to locating the actual claim.
Proceed to the following databases depending on if the claim was indicated in the index as being ALLOWED, DISALLOWED, or BARRED. Be sure to carefully read the descriptions on those pages and follow the instructions outlined in order to locate the paperwork for that claim.