Tag Archives: pension

Philip Mason: Civil War Vet… and Ladies Man? (52 Ancestors #32)

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For Veterans Day, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight Philip Mason, my third-great-grandfather and veteran of the 14th West Virginia Infantry. Philip was born 20 November 1834 in Monongalia County, (West) Virginia, the son of John and Elizabeth (Everts) Mason.

Philip married Martha Hibbs in 1858 in Marion County, (West) Virginia. (Of course, theirs would be among the three marriage records on the page that don’t have the exact date filled in. Thanks, Marion County clerk.) Martha died in 1893.

Not too surprisingly, Philip remarried after Martha’s death. On 3 July 1894, he married Amanda D. Lowers in Ritchie County, West Virginia.

Philip Mason and Amanda Lowers

Philip Mason and Amanda Lowers

As was typical for widows of Civil War veterans, Amanda applied for a widow’s pension after Philip died in 1909. It was in her declaration for a widow’s pension that I got a bit of a surprise:

philip-mason-pensionPhilip and Amanda were married on 3 July 1894. (Yes, I knew that.) Amanda D. Mason was divorced from Weeden N. Lowers on 21 June 1894.

What? Not only was Amanda married before, but she divorced her husband a mere 12 days before marrying Philip.

I haven’t tracked down the divorce file for Amanda and Weeden, but the dates makes me wonder how it played out that Philip married Amanda just 12 days after the divorce was finalized. Was Philip a bit of a ladies man?

Philip died 10 January 1909 in Washington County, Ohio and is buried in the veterans section of Oak Grove Cemetery in Marietta.

John, This Is Your Daughter: Or, How a Timeline Uncovered a Family Story

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John Peter Kingery managed to stay out of the Civil War until the 18th of August, 1864. He and his wife Elizabeth Jane had only been married for three years. They had 15-month-old son and Elizabeth Jane was pregnant with their second child. And when I say “pregnant,” I mean she was very pregnant.

Mary Kingery, daughter of John Peter and Elizabeth Jane, was born 1 September 1864. That’s a mere 14 days after John enrolled.

John probably saw his baby daughter before he left for his service with the 173rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The 173rd didn’t muster in until 18 September. John likely didn’t leave for Gallipolis, where the 173rd was mustering, until a few days before.

Imagine what Jane (as everyone called her) went through. A young mother with a toddler and a brand new baby, and her husband is going off to war. By 1864, the war effort is boding better for the Union cause, but it certainly wasn’t a guarantee of safety for anyone who was serving at the time. What were the weeks like for her as she waited for John to return home?

Did she get a letter when John was admitted to the hospital in January 1865? Did she know about the fever and the disease that caused his hair to fall out and his legs to swell “to unusual size”? John stayed in the hospital in Nashville until March. Did Jane learn that he had been furloughed home because of his illness? I almost hope that she didn’t, because on the way home, he became more ill and ended up in the military hospital in Cincinnati, and was there for several more days. He didn’t make it back to Lawrence County until sometime in April.

We’ll never know exactly what happened at his homecoming. But it isn’t hard to imagine that he spent some time reintroducing himself to little Mary, who had grown from a newborn when he left to a 7-month-old — an eternity to a baby. 

(NOTE: If John and Jane sound familiar, you might remember the story of Jane’s death and her burial as an indigent widow.)

Genealogical Tip:
This story was buried in John’s pension file. I didn’t find it until I put together a timeline of events as they were listed in the pension. Among the events:

  • 18 August 1864 – enrolled in the 173rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, per service record abstract from the War Department, in John’s pension file
  • “about the 22nd day of August 1864” – enrolled, per John’s “Declaration for an Original Invalid Pension”
  • 1 September 1864 – birth of Mary E. Kingery, per John’s pension questionnaire, dated 23 March 1915

At first, I didn’t think that John was home when Mary was born. I needed to establish two dates: Mary’s birth and when John actually left. John’s list of his children wasn’t written until 1915. How accurate was his memory? After all, he wasn’t exactly sure when he enrolled, and in one place in his pension, he lists his marriage to Jane as being in 1862, when the marriage record from the Lawrence County Probate Court clearly shows it was 1861. (At least he had the month and the day right.)

Mary later married John C. Stumbo. The 1900 census lists her birthdate as September 1864. Other censuses are also consistent with a birth in late 1864.

So when did John leave for service with the 173rd Ohio? Enrolling doesn’t necessarily mean that he left right away. There was often a delay between the time a man enrolled and when the regiment mustered in (when it officially came together). According to the Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, the 173rd didn’t organize until September; Company E, John’s company, didn’t muster in until 18 September. In all likelihood, John didn’t leave Lawrence County for Gallipolis until closer to mid-September.

Moral of this story: Always create a timeline for your ancestors. Sometimes there is a story just waiting to be teased out.


  • Kingery, John P. Civil War pension file. 173rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Application 574110, Certificate 428276.
  • Kingery, John P. 1870 U.S. Census. Windsor Township, Lawrence County, Ohio. Page 604.
  • Roster Commission. Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion. Vol. 9. Cincinnati: Ohio Valley Press, 1889.
  • Stumbo, John C. 1900 U.S. Census. Mason Township, Lawrence County, Ohio. ED 71, sheet 2A. (Showing Mary Kingery Stumbo’s birthdate.)


An Industrious Sober Man Was Eber Johnson

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When we think of the Civil War, we tend to think of the participants in two groups: young soldiers in combat and old white-haired veterans who later sat around telling tales of their days in the war. What is often overlooked is the toll — both physical and mental — that the war took on those who returned home.

When he enlisted he was a farmer and has always followed said occupation. Don’t think that his disease has been aggravated in the least by intemperance or any bad habits as Mr. Eber Johnson was always regarded as an industrious sober man prior to his enlistment. Since his return from the U.S. service he is still a sober man but unable to perform any manual labor to amount to anything.

Those words are from John Murnahan in his affidavit on 11 March 1886, filed as part of Eber Johnson’s application to obtain a Civil War pension. Eber, my great-great-grandfather, had been a private in Company D, 1st Ohio Heavy Artillery. He enlisted in October 1864 at the age of 41 (older than most enlistees). He was discharged 25 July 1865. Though he served just nine months, the war had a devastating effect on him.

After his death in January 1894, Eber’s widow Ann M. (Stephens) Johnson applied for a pension. In her application, she states:

My property consists of forty one acres of land with a cheap frame house and log barn left to me by my husband in his will. Valued at about 200 dollars. My tax on said property is $4.50 annually. I have no personal property outside of my household goods. I have no income of any kind outside of the third I get off of the 41 acres of land.

What happened that caused Eber to go from an industrious man to not being able to perform manual labor, to the point that his widow was left with just 41 acres of land and “a cheap frame house”? Those of us looking back can’t be completely certain, but in Eber’s mind there was no doubt as to what caused his physical decline. It was one long, arduous march from Knoxville to Bean Station, Tennessee in December 1864.

That it was on a forced march from near Knoxville to Bean Station, Tenn. It was in the middle of Winter and we had to leave our overcoats, knapsacks, etc and it was so severely cold that the water would freeze to our pantaloons.

Whether or not that one march was the direct cause of Eber’s decline is a matter of debate. One thing is certain: the Eber Johnson who returned home in July 1865 was not the same man who left in October 1864.

Eber’s pension application was eventually approved. The amount: $12 per month.


Eber Johnson’s signature. Declaration for Original Invalid Pension, 23 May 1885. Pension application 541396.

Eber Johnson, Civil War Pension file, application 541396.