The War of 1812 pension file for my probable uncle’s father-in-law is a genealogist’s dream. It may also help me track my actual ancestor Benjamin Butler (born about 1819 in New York State).
At over 100 pages, the pension application for Jacob Baker from served in a unit from Vermont and lived in Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario, Canada, is somewhat repetitive. There is testimony from the same individuals that is repeated. It almost makes one wonder if a transcript of the original affidavit was retained in order that any subsequent affidavits would be consistent.
Arvin Butler (styled as Alvin in the signature line where he made his mark) made out a statement in St. Clair County, Michigan, in 1849. In summary, he indicated that he had known Jacob Baker for eighteen years, having first been acquainted with him in Windham Township, Ontario. Butler had heard of a fire in Baker’s home that virtually destroyed everything inside the home, including documentation of Baker’s War of 1812 military service.
Butler would not have known Baker at the time of the fire if the chronology was correct and he indicated that he (Butler) “was then told [about the fire] by his ‘affiants’ brother’ whose farm was adjoining…”
The phrase “affiant’s brother” is in quotation marks in the actual affidavit. I’m not certain why.
Because of their proximity to each other in the 1850 era in St. Clair County, Michigan (based on census and land records) and in the early-to-mid-1850s in St. Joseph County, Michigan (based on land and property tax records among other things), I believe that this Arvin Butler and my ancestor Benjamin Butler were brothers.
Or else just dudes with the same last name born in the same state at about the same time who just liked to hang out together in two different Michigan counties.
The questions though are:
Is Arvin referring to his brother in that statement? Or is there a reason for the quotation marks that indicates it’s not his brother to which Arvin is referring? If it is his brother, is is Benjamin or another brother? If it’s not his brother, whose brother is it?
At the very least the documents in Jacob Baker’s pension allow me to refine Arvin Butler’s movement between Canada and Michigan. The most important piece of information: the residence of Arvin Butler in Ontario. That gives me a place to look for additional information and is not something I had before. The marriage of Benjamin Butler cannot be found and this location may assist in that search–assuming he and Arvin really were brothers.
All because I looked at the War of 1812 pension file for the father-in-law of my probable uncle.
Note: readers can view Jacob Butler’s War of 1812 pension file here at Fold3.com for free (a free account is necessary to view any images).
Note: Arvin Butler makes an additional affidavit years later when Matilda Baker files a widow’s claim after Jacob Butler’s death. At that point, the family has moved to Minnesota.