For the first time, the complete collection of Confederate pension application files in Kentucky has been made available online.
"The applications are searchable by name, unit and county, and provide invaluable information to genealogists, local historians, and anyone interested in Civil War history," the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA)said Monday.
I took a quick look at a few records. They provide a glimpse of the economic challenges and circumstances facing Confederate widows.
In 1929, Mrs. A.T. (Helen) Forsythe, almost 71, applied for a pension in Bourbon County when she was no longer able to work.
Her husband, Alexander, surrendered as a private with the 9th Kentucky Calvary in Washington, Ga., at the end of the war. He died in 1909 (they were married in 1886 when she was 27 and he was 41). Mrs. Forsythe had property valued at less than $500.
Accompanying Mrs. Forsythe's pension application was a statement from a physician, who said the widow, living in Paris, Ky., was no longer capable, because of heart troubles, of working to support herself.
"Three or four years ago, I caused her to break up housekeeping," the doctor said. "She was a running a rooming house and making a good living and because of my advise (sic) she sold out and had to quit because she wasn't able to do it."
Any Confederate veteran or widow of a veteran living in Kentucky in 1912 or after could apply for a pension.
Pensions for Union veterans were funded by the federal government.
In some cases, the application and supporting documents are the only surviving records of a soldier's service, the KDLA said in a press release. More than 60 military units are listed.
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