Unnamed Children of the Unnamed Father-It Doesn’t Matter

An affidavit from 17 June 1915 made out by C. W. Smith of Marceline, Missouri, addresses the family bible of the parents of Civil War pensioner William Lake.

The affidavit indicated that the bible contained the family record of the claimant’s father–who is not named. It does not use the word “mother” in the statement.


The affidavit indicated that there were thirteen births referenced in the bible. Only two of those births are mentioned:

  • William on 10 January 1848
  • Sarah on 19 December 1848

Apparently the proximity of the dates is the problem and the affidavit stated that William’s date of birth should have been in 1847. In may be frustrating that the other children are not mentioned, but there is a reason:

their dates of birth were not germane to the pension claim of William Lake

Documents of this type are in pension applications for a reason. They are not in the application to provide information for future genealogists. They are in the application to help the application get approved and provide documentation for key aspects in the application. In this case that was William’s date of birth. Sarah’s birth is only mentioned because the dates are a little too close for comfort for the affiant. That’s the only reason Sarah is mentioned at all this affidavit contained in her brother William’s pension application.

Too bad the others are not mentioned.

And what about why it says record of “father” and not parents? That could be the result of bias on the part of the man writing out the affidavit.

Or it could be because John Lake, William’s father, was married more than once (which he was) and had children with both wives. That may be why it said records of the births of William’s father.

Records don’t exist solely to provide us with information and don’t assume we know why something was stated the way it was.

There may be something we don’t know.

William Lake was a private in Company I, 49th Missouri Regiment. This affidavit is from his pension application.


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