Military Monday – The Civil War Pension of Jacob Bahle

I recently did take the trip to the National Archives that I promised last month to look for the Civil War pension of a paternal 3rd great grandfather, Jacob Bahle. Jacob spent a year as a private with the 6th Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery guarding the roads around Washington, D.C. Spending several hours at the Archives was a fantastic diversion for a Thursday normally spent at work. When a planned day participating in a fire department training exercise fell through, instead of saving my personal leave at work, I decided to enjoy my day off and head to the Archives.

My Research Card with the number blurred out.
I made my first trip to the Archives as a researcher a few weeks ago and filled out the request for my Research Card. A research card is required for all persons who conduct on-site research at the Archives. It’s very much an accountability tag. You swipe into the Archives in the morning, when entering and leaving each of the research rooms, and to access certain computer terminals and copiers. Each time you enter or leave a room, they also do a search of your papers to make sure you aren’t stealing some national treasures (called ‘Bergering‘). Don’t even try and take a bag into a research room – a security guard will promptly yell at you. While I saw this happen, I tried to be as professional a researcher as I could and read the rules in advance.
The National Archives on a gorgeous fall day. Joe Lowry photo (Instagram).
One of the many Federal collections at the Archives is the Civil War pension records. Pension records were originally managed by the Bureau of Pension under the Department of the Interior and eventually the records were transferred to the National Archives. (The Pension Bureau was subsumed by the Veterans Affairs Department when it was created in 1930.) Pensions were awarded to soldiers thanks to numerous appropriations passed starting as early as 1863. The Federal government was still paying two Civil War pensions as of 2013 to children of Union veterans. 
To view a soldier’s pension record, you must first search the alphabetical General Index to Pensions. Thankfully, this is available on Ancestry.com and several other genealogical websites. That will lead to the index cards presented last month. With those index cards, and the application and certificate numbers, I had what I needed to send an Archive clerk scurrying through the stacks for the necessary file. While these records are available as copies by mail, actually going to the Archives allows you to hold the originals. Because some pension files include handwritten letters, photos, and other personal information, you should make every effort to go in person when you are able.
Jacob’s pension file offered a number of different items. I spent about three hours with his file, capturing important information from each of the 46 pieces in the envelope. Some of the more fascinating details that I learned from Jacob include:
  • Neither he nor his wife could write. While Jacob could at least sign his name, on several Widow’s Pension documents, Rachel simply marked an ‘X’.
  • Jacob’s death certificate was signed by ‘Mrs. Henrietta Bahle’. A family tree passed to me by a relative lists a ‘Henrietta Bahle’ as Jacob’s wife, but every document in his pension file except his death certificate list his wife as Rachel Schnauffer. Numerous affidavits in the file detail their marriage from 1860 until Jacob’s death in 1908. Was Henrietta a different person or an alias? A daughter-in-law? Sister? More research is required.
  • Thanks to his death certificate, I know Jacob’s father was named George. Hello to my 4th great grandfather George Bahle!
  • According to one of his many pension applications, he “Received the injury to my right hand while employed in the Eagle Cotton Mill in Allegheny City, PA Sept 27th/65 by having it caught in the cog wheels of the machinery.” Ouch! He lost part of a finger as a result.
  • Jacob was initially awarded a partial pension of $6 beginning 25 Feb 1897. A November 11, 1903 surgeon’s certificate makes an award of $12.00 per month. When he died, his wife assumed a pension of $12, which was incrementally raised to $20 and then $30.
  • Jacob’s kidneys were not the efficient urine-producing machines they needed to be. He mentions kidney disease in several pension applications and the disorder is listed in multiple surgeon’s certificates. In addition, he suffered from lumbago (lower back pain), a double inguinal hernia, and rheumatism (“merely alleged”). His cause of death was listed as uremia – kidney failure.
I indexed his entire pension file. You can glean further bits and pieces below. Those highlighted in yellow are items that I scanned at the Archives. I didn’t scan his entire file because I could only scan to paper. If I had a thumb drive, I could have made electronic scans which are easier to work with. As it is, I had to rescan at home my printed copies to get what you see here. As all copies made at the Archives are onto blue paper to prevent theft of originals, I yellowed them to produce a more realistic copy of the originals (much to the dismay of some genealogists, I imagine).
  • Envelope – Act of Feb 6. 1907. Nothing remarkable.
  • Envelope – Act of June 27, 1890. Application date Nov 7, 1892 – Stamped “Rejected”.
  • Envelope – Receipt stamped 15 Apr 1921 advising death of Rachel Bahle and return of last payment.
  • Envelope – Act of June 27, 1890. Application date Feb 25, 1897.
  • Application Folder – Act of April 19, 1908 – Widow’s penion. Stamped “DEAD”. Commencing Sept 22, 1908 at rate of $12 per month.
  • Letter from Victor Scriba (sp?), Justice of the Peace to pension office affirming that on 22 Oct 1860, he married Jacob Bahle and Rachel Schauffer. Stamped 22 Sep 1908.
Click to enlarge.

  • Envelope labeled “Marriage Certificate” – Empty.
  • Questionnaire completed by Jacob Bahle for Department of Interior, Bureau of Pensions, dated 22 June 1898. Includes name of children.
Click to enlarge.
  • General Affidavit by Christian Rheim, aged 72 (1611 Howard Ave, N.S.), dated 14 Oct 1908.
  • General Affidavit by Luise Schmidt, aged 83 (No 3rd Street, N.S.), dated 13 Oct 1908.
  • General Affidavit by Chriszinthia Mausch, aged 78 years (No 222 Wabook Ave, N.S.), dated 19 Sep 1908.
  • Surgeon’s Certificate, handwritten on form, dated 2 Mar 1902.
  • Surgeon’s Certificate, typed on form, dated 11 Nov 1903.
Front. Click to enlarge.
Back. Click to enlarge.
  • Widow’s Pension application, Act of April 19, 1908. Approved, $12 per month. Upgraded to $20 per month 21 Nov 1916.
  • Declaration for Widow’s Pension, Act of April 19, 1908, stamped received 22 Sep 1908.
Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.
  • General Affidavit by Rachel Bahle, aged 66 (832 Perry Street), dated 14 Oct 1908.
Click to enlarge.
  • Death Certificate of Jacob Bahle, died 14 Sep 1908.
Click to enlarge.
  • General Affidavit by Jacob Bahle, aged 69 years (832 Perry Street, Allegheny), dated 28 July 1902.
Click to enlarge.
  • General Affidavit by Issac Seafer, aged 62 (55 Taggert Street, Allegheny) and by George E. Meyer, aged 38 (Ternon and Brighton Road, Allegheny), dated 28 July 1902.
  • War Department Pension Record Card, dated 5 Dec 1892. Provides basic service information already known.
  • Form from Department of Interior, Bureau of Pensions, to War Department, Record and Pension Office, requesting full medical and military history. Stamped 15 Oct 1895. In the notes, states: “The name Jacob Bakle has not been found on the rolls of Co. H, 6 Pa. H.A.” and “No [medical] records found.”
  • Surgeon’s Certificate, handwritten on form, dated 12 Dec 1892.
  • Surgeon’s Certificate, handwritten on form, dated 30 Oct 1895.
  • Surgeon’s Certificate, handwritten on form, dated 31 Mar 1897.
  • Invalid Pension form, Act of June 27, 1890. Dated 6 Deb 1896. J.E. Detrich, Examiner – stamped “REJECTED”.
  • Invalid Pension form, Act of June 27, 1890. Dated 5 Jun 1893. J.E. Detrich, Examiner – handwritten “Rejection. No notable disability shown under Act of June 27, 1890”
  • Declaration for Invalid Pension (Act of June 27, 1890). Declaration completed by Jacob Bahle listing service history and current disability. Nothing remarkable or unknown. Dated 3 Nov 1892.
  • Declaration for Invalid Pension (Act of June 27, 1890). Declaration completed by Jacob Bahle listing service history and current disability. Nothing remarkable or unknown. Dated 23 Sep 1895.
  • Declaration for Invalid Pension (Act of June 27, 1890). Declaration completed by Jacob Bahle listing service history and current disability. Nothing remarkable or unknown. Dated 24 Feb 1897.
  • Declaration for Increase of Pension (Under Acts of June 27, 1890 and May 9, 1900). Declaration completed by Jacob Bahle listing service history and current disability. Nothing remarkable or unknown. Dated 30 Sep 1901.
  • Declaration for Pension (Under Act of February 6, 1907). Declaration completed by Jacob Bahle listing service history and current disability. Nothing remarkable or unknown. Dated 29 Aug 1907. Awarded $20 per month
  • Declaration for Increase of Pension (Under Act of February 6, 1907). Declaration completed by Jacob Bahle listing service history and current disability. Nothing remarkable or unknown. Dated 28 Aug 1907. Pension request increase to $20 per month on account of age. Pensions for veterans 75 years and older was set at $20 per month.
  • Declaration of Reissue (Under Act of February 6, 1907). Request that his pension application under Act of June 27, 1890 be dropped from rolls and reissued under the Act of February 6, 1907. Rate of $15 per month. Dated 18 Feb 1907. Box ‘checked’ for ‘Claimant does NOT write.”
  • Declaration for Increase of Pension (Under Act of February 6, 1907). Dated 16 Feb 1907. Pension is $15 per month.
  • Declaration for Increase of Invalid Pension (Under Act of June 27, 1890). Dated 16 July 1903. Pension is $12 per month.
  • Declaration for Increase of Pension (Under Acts of June 27, 1890 and May 9, 1900). Dated 15 Jul 1903. Pension is $10 per month.
  • Declaration for Increase of Invalid Pension (Under Act of June 27, 1890). Dated 29 Jul 1902. Pension is $10 per month.
  • Declaration for Increase of Invalid Pension (Under Act of June 27, 1890). Dated 25 Feb 1897. Pension is $6 per month.
  • Handwritten letter from Rachel Bahle to Commissioner of Pensions, dated 10 Jan 1917. Questioning a delay in response to her request for an increase in her pension under an Act of September 8, 1916. See next item.
Click to enlarge.
  • Handwritten letter from Rachel Bahle to Commissioner of Pensions, dated 14 Oct 1916. Making anapplication for Widow’s Pension Increase.
Click to enlarge.
  • Typed letter dated October 10, 1908 from Commissioner of Pensions to Mr. H.K. Tyler, attorney for Rachel Bahle, requesting additional evidence for pension. Supplied evidence included marriage certificate not under seal, nor under oath and testimony of one witness, Chriszinthia Mauch. Requests one additional witness statement.
  • Accrued Pension (Act of March 2, 1895). Declaration for Widow’s Pension stated death of Jacob Bahle and approvinf Rachel Bahle for widow’s pension. Submitted 2 Nov 1908; Reviewed 13 Nov 1908.
  • File card for pension of Jacob Bahle. Stamped “DEAD.” Lists pension rate at $20 per month, from Aug. 29, 1904.
  • File card for widow’s pension of Rachel Bahle. Stampted “Finance Div. Notified of Death”.
  • File card for pension of Jacob Bahle. Stamped “Rejected.” Dated 26 Sep 1895, Detrich, Examiner.
  • File card for pension of Jacob Bahle. Numerous dates of pension award.
Source:

Soldier’s Certificate No. 931,333, Application No. 1,137,044, Jacob L. Bahle, Private, Company H, 6th Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery; Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Veterans Who Served in the Army and Navy Mainly in the Civil War and the War with Spain (“Civil War and Later Survivors’ Certificates”), 1861–1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives Building, Washington, DC.

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