Ruth's Genealogy

“And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.”

My second great-grandfather Isaac Turner served in the Union Army during the Civil War. After the war, he moved his large family to Texas and became a farmer. His health apparently began to fail in the late 1880’s and at that time he applied for the pension due him from his military service.

Unfortunately, the wheels of the federal government did (still do!) turn very slowly and Isaac died in 1888, before his pension claim was completed. His widow Sarah then tried to obtain his pension and she, too, died before the matter was settled.

Four minor children remained when Sarah died, so her son-in-law James A Matthews again tried to obtain the pension, this time to benefit the children, now living in the home headed by oldest surviving son John Joseph Turner.

As part of his attempt to have the pension awarded to the minor children, James A Matthews wrote a letter to Commissioner of Pensions Henry Clay Evans:

JamesAMatthewsLetter1 JamesAMatthewsLetter2

Jessie Texas 9/16/97
Hon H. Clay. Evans
Washington, D. C.
There having been a pension on “foot” of Isaac Turner’s who served his term in the Union Army and began his pension business in 1887 as best can be learned and was doing business N. W. Wills & Co. Shortly after-words he died and after his death his wife Mrs S. S. Turner tried to work it up and about the time she had it nearly completed, Grover Cleveland was put in office and that threw every-thing out and recently she died and the children need it very-much if it be possible for them to obtain it.
I would be glad you would look the matter up and let me know at once whether any money can be drawn or not or what can be done.
I will state that some of you have in possession his discharge from the Service of the United States and that his bounty has never been paid. I have in charge all communications from Mr Wills & Co. and will state a few of the important fetures (sic) of the case. First, is a cond. reads as follows
Washington DC 1/8-1891
Sir: your claim for pension has been recorded and given a number and will be taken up for action in its regular turn. The intervening time can be employed in preparing necessary evidence.
Your calim is entitled (??) No 483931. Co E- Reg’t 4 Tenn Inf
What giving the number of his claim Co & Reg’t. he was in by giving you the number of his claim and so on will give you some advantage in finding it. Those gentlemen having the thing so near to hand you might furnish me some substantiel (sic) evidence you will please attend to this at once, and if anything can possibly be done in our favor please let me know at once and I think I can furnish sufficient evidence to carry it out.
Yours very truly

James A. Matthews,
P. O.  Jessie
Hill Co.|  Texas

From the Federal Military Pension File that I received from the National Archives, it is apparent that the minor children never received the pension benefits. No reason was given.

The entire pension file is available here.


This document was transcribed using Transcript 2.3:


Transcript 2.3 is “a program designed to help you to transcribe the text on digital images of documents.

Transcript is free for private, non-commercial use.” The document image to be transcribed is opened in the top of the screen and the transcription in done at the bottom. Very simple and very convenient!


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