Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Benjamin Thompson's Civil War Pension File

In today's blog entry, I'm going to revisit one of my ancestors, Benjamin Thompson. Since my first writing on him, I have been able to obtain greater detail into his life by ordering his Civil War Pension file. I first looked to census records to verify his marriage to my great grandmother, Hannah Thompson and his residence in Adams County, MS. Looking through additional documentation, his pension card and Hannah's pension card; I was able to obtain the unit in which he served, the date the pension was approved and the pension claim numbers.
With this information, I was able to order Benjamin Thompson's pension application from the National Archives. The documents included in the pension file offered quite a bit of personal information and insight to the lives of Benjamin and Hannah Thompson and genealogical information.
The pension application includes medical reports from the doctors that treated Ben Thompson, power of attorney letters from his lawyers, documents pertinent to Ben Thompson being granted a pension, sworn statements from family and community members and his wife Hannah.
I was able to locate a wealth of new information about the family, some of his personal history according to witnesses and people who knew him in the community of Sibley, Mississippi. One of the first things of interest I learned from witness statements is that Ben Thompson had been married prior to marrying Hannah Thompson. I was able to locate in the statements was that Benjamin Thompson married shortly after the end of the Civil War to Susan Robinson Thompson. They appear in the Natchez city census records as married in 1870 without any children.

Name: Benj Thompson
Estimated birth year: abt 1847
Age in 1870: 23
Birthplace: Mississippi
Home in 1870: Adams, Mississippi
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Value of real estate:
Post Office: Natchez

Household Members:
Name Age
Benj Thompson 23
Susan Thompson 19

Additionally according to witness statements from perhaps Susan’s brother and sister, they had two children together, Nicey and William Thompson. By 1900 Nicey is said to have been married to Nathan Minor. The son William is not mentioned to have a spouse or children. At the time of this writing, I have not been able to locate any definite record of either offspring.
Further review of the sworn statements, I also discovered that Hannah Thompson’s eldest daughter Elizabeth was fathered by a man named Andrew Jackson prior to her marriage to Benjamin Thompson. According to witness statements from friends and relatives of the Thompson’s, he passed in about 1890.
The documents also provide information on how and when Benjamin Thompson and Hannah Thompson pass away. According to medical records submitted to the Department of the Interior and the Pension Board, Benjamin Thompson suffered from several ailments including arthritis, blindness in his left eye, gunshot wounds in his head and his left side. Because of these ailments as well as a probable case of PTSD, Benjamin Thompson passed away prematurely in 1909. Another important document is the certificate to stop pension payments to Hannah Thompson for November 1936 due to her death.
I was also able to locate some significant landmarks and workplaces in the area. The York Plantation or York Swamp, as it is referred to locally, is a former plantation whose historical owners I am unable to locate at this time. From speaking to relatives who still reside in the area, it is set back just off Hwy 61 S. Another plantation also mentioned in the statements is Deer Park Plantation which is in Wilkinson County, MS. Also I’m unable to locate or confirm much information about this location.
I strongly recommend any researcher who has a family member who served in the Armed Forces and applied for a pension to request their pension files from the National Archives. It is well worth the investment.

Family Griot