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Index to Tennessee Confederate Pension Applications

Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, Tennessee

In 1891, the state of Tennessee enacted legislation which established a Board of Pension Examiners, whose membership consisted of the State Comptroller, the Attorney General and three ex-Confederate soldiers, recommended by the Tennessee Division of Confederate Veterans and appointed by the Governor. These men had the authority to decide (a) if a Confederate veteran applying for pension was incapable of making a support, and (b) if his service was honorable. The burden of proof rested with the veteran, who was obligated to prove disability and/or indigency and separation from the service under honorable conditions.

Both Federal and Confederate veterans who were bonafide residents of Tennessee for at least one year before making applications were eligible for pension, provided they met the qualificaitons set forth by the Pension Act. However, the Federal Government's earlier and more liberal pensions to Union veterans prompted them to apply to that government rather than to the Tennessee Board. There was common agreement among states granting pensions to Confederate veterans that the applicant should apply to the pension board of the state in which he resided when making application, although this was often not the state in whose forces he served.

Most pension applications and their supporting papers contain information of much interest and value to soldiers' descendants, to genealogists, and to other researchers. They are more informative than official service records because they give more detailed information about a soldier's military personal, and family history. The application lists the veteran's place of enlistment, unit, period of service, battles participated in, and whether he was wounded or captured. Made out in questionnaire form, it also asked such information as place of birth, number of children, and value of personal and real property owned by the veteran.

Pensions from soldiers' widows were first issued in 1905. Their application show place of birth for both widow and husband, and in many instances the names and ages of children. As proof of marriage was required for admission in the pension rolls, a copy of the marriage certificate is often found in widow applications. Supporting papers consist of correspondence between the applicant and the Pension Board, letters or sworn affidavits from old comrades and neighbors attesting to the veteran's character and the nature of his military service, and abstracts of the soldier's service record furnished by the Federal War Department.

The Board kept three separate rolls, one for soldiers, one for widows, and one for colored soldiers. These are filed in the Archives in the same grouping. There are now 16,693 soldiers' pension applications, 11,180 widows' applications and 285 colored soldiers' applications.

The index is arranged alphabetically by the name of the applicant, followed by (a) the county of residence at the time of the application, (b) the unit in which the soldier served and (c) the pension application number, by which these papers are filed. The following explanations are included in order to clarify the terms used in the publication and to simplify it's use. A photostatic copy of a pension application may be obtained from the Tennessee State Archives for a fee.

I have copied from microfilm the names of those from Hawkins and Hancock Counties. Please bear in mind "that I may have overlooked some of these names in copying; so, please do you own research if you do not find your relative's name on here.

Index to Confederate Pension Applications - Hancock County TN

Index to Confederate Pension Applications - Hawkins County TN

Index to Confederate Pension Applications - Widows in Hancock/Hawkins Counties TN

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