I am making my way through the pension file of Emerson Randles of Coshocton County, Ohio. Emerson married a Mary J. Rampley whose first “appearance” in any record is on when they marry. The hope is that there is something in the pension file that provides some clues as to her family of origin.
But pension files can contain all sorts of clues. In Emerson’s testimony about his health, he mentions numerous places where he was stationed, involved in skirmishes, or imprisoned. All these locations are somehow tied to some sort of illness or injury, which is the real focus of most of the lengthy statement  Emerson made in New Bedford, Ohio, on 18 June 1889. It is in this statement that Emerson states:

I had the scurvy so bad in Victoria Texas that I had to drink vinegar. My teeth began getting loose, and the gums to shrink soon after I came home and the teeth have dropped out one by one until I have only 6 stumps of teeth left, and they do not amount to anything.

This deposition was contained in Emerson’s pension file which was located at the National Archives. The image used in this post was created from a digital scan made of the original deposition.

Even statements that appear to be entirely medically related can contain some good clues.Some of these details could be documented in Emerson’s service record. In this case, I’m not going to obtain a copy of his service record as my real focus is on Emerson’s wife and I don’t think his service record will shed any light (bright, faint, or anywhere in between) on her family of origin.

But it was interesting to learn about Emerson’s teeth–that’s an image one doesn’t even get from photographs during this time period as mouths in pictures from this era are usually closed.




One response

  1. My ancestor was in Andersonville Prison during the Civil War. He’s so fortunate to have survived with scurvy, malnutrition, and long-term disabilities that sound like colitis. A sad time.

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