Index to Pension Applications Files of Remarried Widows Based on Service in the Civil War and Later Wars in the Regular Army after the Civil War. Microfilm publication M1785, 7 rolls. ARC ID: 2589163. Records of the Veterans Administration, Record Group 15. National Archives at Washington, D.C.
This database features a card index to pension claims made by widows of veterans of the Civil War and later wars. The cards typically include the name of the claimant, name of the soldier, military unit, the widow’s certificate number, date of the claim/filing, and remarks.
Changes in Pension Regulations
Normally pensions were revoked when a deceased veteran’s widow remarried, but a March 3, 1901, act allowed a widow who lost her pension to remarriage to start collecting a pension again if she were widowed again following the later marriage or in cases when the later marriage ended in a divorce that was not the widow’s fault.
Beginning May 1, 1920, remarried widows of veterans who had served at least 90 days in the Civil War and were honorably discharged or died in service were eligible for a pension. In cases where the veteran served less than 90 days, if he died of a disability incurred in service, the widow would also qualify. The index cards of widows who filed under this statute typically marked have "Act of May 1, 1920" stamped in the remarks field.
Even if you don’t think your ancestors met the criteria for a pension, collections like this one are worth consulting. Many widows were not familiar with the intricacies of obtaining a pension and may have applied anyway.
Just because an application is referenced in this index does not necessarily mean that the widow obtained a pension. Once you’ve located a widow in this collection, your next step should be to obtain the pension file. Because the claimant had to prove she met all of the requirements, pension files are typically very rich in family history details and will reveal whether the claim was approved or denied. Files can include 100 pages or more. Some pension files are available on Fold3.com. If you’re unable to locate the pension file online, you can order a copy of the pension file from the National Archives and Records Administration.
Code of Federal Regulations of the United States of America, 1st edition. Online book. “Chapter 1: Veterans Administration, Title 38-Pensions, Bonuses, and Veterans' Relief.” Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1939.
Glasson, William Henry, Ph.B. History of Military Pension Legislation in the United States. Online book. New York: Columbia University, 1900.