Thomas and Mary Davidson are buried in Hubbel Hill Cemetery in Tonganoxie, Leavenworth county, Kansas. They were my husband’s 2nd great-grandparents.
I have been trying to order John Edwards’ pension record for years and years with no luck.
I posted about this in March and didn’t hear anything since then.
I decided to get aggressive and made some phone calls. I’m finally figuring out that it is better to speak directly to people instead of sending an email. I waited on hold to the National Archives for about 20 minutes, after the recording assured me every thirty seconds that the wait was 1 minute and 8 seconds. Hmm. Not sure who recorded that message.
I finally got through and then to my dismay was told that I needed to speak to someone else entirely. Thankfully, it was a quick transfer and the next person picked the phone up immediately. I don’t think I could have handled another wait on the phone. Especially since my kids seem to think that this is the time to make messes, loud noises, need immediate attention, or fight with each other.
The woman I spoke with was very helpful. She explained to me the reason finding my ancestor’s pension record was so difficult. He died in 1931 and the records were closed out in 1929. That means that they definitely have everything from 1929 and before,but it gets tricky beyond that. The VA had the records (and could possibly still have the records). The problem is that the Civil War records weren’t put in a separate section to themselves. They are mixed with other pensions (including WWI). As they find these older records, they pile them up and send them to the National Archives. But only as they find them. They haven’t gone through them all specifically to pull the Civil War records out. That means that my ancestor’s pension file could be in either place.
The reason I’ve had so much trouble in the past, is that the automated ordering system at the Archives immediately kicks a message back to me saying that they don’t have records for the date I’m searching. I called the VA and they also told me the same thing. There is obviously some miscommunication between them. I think that it would be wonderful if the VA would take the time to go through the files and forward all of the Civil War pensions to the NARA once and for all. I don’t when this will happen. I know that I’m not the only one that has had this problem though.
Anyway, back to my story. The woman gave me the number to their resident pension expert and told me that he should be able to go and see if the record is there. If not, he could walk me through the process of obtaining the record from the VA.
After a few days of phone tag, I emailed my ancestor’s information to him and he went and searched for it. I now know that John Edwards’ pension is NOT at the National Archives.
Here is what he told me:
The way to access the file that you are requesting is via the Department of Veteran Affairs. We recognize that we should have these files in the National Archives and we are working with the Department of Veteran Affairs to have them transferred to us. You need to write a letter to the VA Freedom of Information Officer. State that you are requesting access to the pension file under the Freedom of Information Act. You must state your willingness to pay applicable fees or provide a justification to support a fee waiver.
The address to the VA FOIA/Privacy Act Officer is:
Department of Veteran Affairs
Veterans Benefits Administration (20M33)
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420
So, I now have another letter to write.
I’m hoping that it doesn’t take months upon months to hear back from the VA. I guess I shouldn’t be too impatient though. I’ve been waiting almost 8 years, what’s another 6 months? I think that I may give them my parents’ address as a backup in case they take too long in getting back with me. We will be moving next summer and then moving again the summer after that. (Gotta love the military!) I would hate for them to finally send his packet and have it lost in the abyss of undeliverable mail. I just hope that they are able to give me some sort of confirmation, or that there is some way for me to verify that they have received my request and are processing it. We’ll see. I WILL get his pension packet someday in the near future….
I don’t have any ancestors (that I know of yet) that lived in Georgia or South Carolina. It is so hard living in a place full of so much history and not being able to do any research here!
I have been working on my DAR membership for the past few months. The patriot I chose was Nathaniel Brittain, my 5th great-grandfather. He was from Virginia, and served in B. Company of the 8th Virginia Infantry during the Revolutionary War. Imagine my surprise when I found out that his unit fought in the Battle of Sullivan’s Island in Charleston, SC on June 28-29, 1776. Of course I had to make a road trip!
After the War, Fort Sullivan was renamed Fort Moultrie after Colonel William Moultrie, who fought during this battle. Today, it is a part of the National Park Service.
So, we piled all of the kids in the car and drove to Charleston. It’s only about 2 hours away, but it’s kind of a boring drive – not much to see on the way. They grumbled a bit, but were fine after we stopped for food. We took them to the aquarium first, and then headed across the bridge and over to Sullivan’s Island.
I think that we must have chosen the windiest day of the year to visit. It wasn’t super cold, but we were being blown away. Two of my kids finished the Junior Ranger programs, so they had to fill out their booklets and learn about the fort. They had a hard time keeping hold of their papers with all of the wind!
I was a little disappointed that there weren’t more exhibits geared towards the Revolutionary War period, but I should have known there wouldn’t be much. The fort was in use through WWII, so a lot of the exhibits were geared towards that and the Civil War. The Palmetto Fort that was used during the Revolution is of course, long gone.
I’m still glad we made the trip. It’s always nice to walk in the footsteps of your ancestors.
I also was able to give the kids a great history lesson!
Here are some pictures from our visit:
(The first few were taken at Battery Park in Charleston, where there is a memorial to those that died or were wounded at this battle.)
The following obituary was printed in the Denison Bulletin (IA) on July 11, 1935.
John Edwards was my great-great grandfather.
Obituary of John Edwards Jr., Who Died on July 8
John Ewards [sic], was born June 2, 1877 in Crawford county and died July 8, 1935, aged 58 years, 1 month and 6 days.
When about a year old he moved with his parents to Michigan and then to Canada where he resided for seven years. They returned again to Crawford county where he has since resided, having lived in Dow City and later years in Arion. He united with the Latter Day Saint church in early life.
He leaved to mourn two daughters, Mrs. Mae Davie, Arion, and Mrs. Alma Widen, of Ogden, two sons, Alfred of Sioux City and Elsia [sic] of Missouri Valley; brothers Wallace of Arion and Elden of Pomeroy. There are also 19 grandchildren and numerous other relatives and friends. Funeral services were held Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the Dow City L.D.S. church with Elder M.O. Myers, of Deloit, in charge. Burial in the Dow City cemetery
This obit was helpful to me in putting together the timeline of when the Edwards family moved.
This is exactly what I need – a plan of attack for the coming year. I have quite a few projects that I want to tackle. Here is a list of the major ones.
- DAR Membership: I think that I have finally gathered all of my needed documentation. I now need to print out my information on the fancy paper, send my application in, and keep my fingers crossed that I get approved!!
- I plan on getting a month-long Genline membership and working on my Swedish roots for a while. The records here are great and I know that there are ancestors just waiting to be found!
- Get John Edwards’ Civil War Pension File. I’ve just sent a letter to the VA and am hoping that I receive a response sometime in 2011!! I may need to call and remind them that I’m waiting. It’s been about 8 years since I originally ordered it from the NARA and I WANT THAT PENSION!! I won’t take no for an answer.
- Find out what happened to Ella Jane Hattery (my 2nd great grandmother). I need to do some serious research on her. I am going to try tracking down some living relatives that might be able to answer some of my many questions about her very interesting life.
- Find out what part of Kentucky John Robertson was from. I need to take the information I learned about researching common names and apply it to this problem. Searching for John Robertson in Kentucky, before 1850 is going to be difficult, but I think that I can do it!
- Attend the NGS Conference in May and learn a lot of new things to help me in my research.
- Write out my children’s birth stories, before they end up being distant memories.
- Interview my parents about their early lives – and actually take notes or record them this time.
- Start researching my brother-in-law’s family in earnest. I’m excited about doing some Italian research!
- Contact my Papa’s 2 living siblings. See if they might have any old pictures or stories they are willing to share.
- Find out how to access the Leavenworth County, KS probate records and order/search for John C. Davidson’s will (and other Davidson family members also).
- Talk my husband into taking another genealogy-related trip somewhere. Maybe back to Virginia? New Jersey? Missouri? Iowa? I’m not sure where yet. We’re moving to El Paso this summer and we’ve decided that we’re stopping in Maine on the drive over. We are the only people I know that could possibly fit Maine into a trip from Georgia to Texas. The possibilities for genealogical stops are endless…
- Do a cemetery census of the Ulrich Cemetery in Douglas County, KS. Take pictures of all of the stones and rubbings where necessary.
- And finally (and this is a huge one) get all of the info I have in my big Rubbermaid container actually entered into my computer program so that I don’t waste my precious time by searching for it again.
I think that is probably enough to keep me busy this year!