Widow’s pension applications are full of statements by neighbors, associates, and relatives testifying to the marriage of the widow, her residence in a specific area, her not remarrying again, the veteran’s military service, etc. Usually specific relationships by biology or marriage are not stated in these affidavits as documenting the relationship is not the purpose of these statements. It’s also possible that mentioning a close relationship may suggest that the affiant is biased towards the claim being approved.

That said, the statements can contain clues–big and small. At the very least the amount of time the affiant has known the widow or veteran can be helpful in documenting moves and migrations.

In August of 1856, Thomas Kirkland and William Yeager, both residents of Washington County, Kentucky, testified that they had known Thomas Brown for the past eighteen years and that he had been purported to have been a War of 1812 veteran. They also stated that they lived near him when he died two years ago and still live near the widow. In fact, William Yeager assisted with Brown’s burial.

Kirkland and Yeager made out their affidavit before a Justice of the Peace in Mercer County–not Washington County. This suggests that the Browns, Kirkland, and Yeager lived near the Mercer/Washington County line and this provides at least some direction for where they lived. Yeager’s assistance with the burial of Brown may suggest that there’s a relationship there besides a geographic one. Neither man made any specific statement regarding Brown’s military service and their vague reference to it would not have been sufficient to establish service. Fortunately there are other records in the pension application to document Brown’s service.

Brown served in Captain E. Berry’s Regiment, Kentucky Volunteers in the War of 1812. Fortunately his second wife was his widow long enough to qualify for a pension. There are significant clues in the short affidavit made out by Yeager and Kirkland. The area of residence within the county will be helpful if the Browns did not own real estate or appear in other records that can tie them to a specific piece of geography more narrow than the county.




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