1901 Confederate Pension Applications

About this collection

This collection contains 1901 Confederate pension applications from the holdings of the State Archives of North Carolina. Formally referred to as "Pension Bureau: Act of 1901 Pension Applications," these materials are part of the State Auditor's records. The digital collection holds 35,717 applications and contains all of the 1901 pension applications in the custody of the State Archives. The process of adding these materials to the North Carolina Digital Collection ran from ca. May, 2014-July, 2015. More information about this project is available on the State Archives blog, History For All the People. Historical information about the 1901 pensions is available through the MARS online catalog entry for "Pension Bureau: Act of 1901 Pension Applications," parts of which are quoted below.

Materials in this collection include application forms for Confederate pensions, sometimes including correspondence or additional affidavits regarding a soldier's or widow's claim. The information provided includes name; age (at time of application); place of residence; service information such as company, regiment, length of service, and wounds or disability; name of witness; and date of application. It also contains verification from the county pension board regarding applicant's claim and whether the application was approved or disallowed by the state-level board of inquiry. The widows' applications are filed under the names of the deceased soldiers.

In 1901, the General Assembly passed a new pension law (P.L. 1901, c. 332) entitled "An Act to amend Chapter 198 of the Laws of 1889, for the relief of certain Confederate soldiers and widows." Under this new act "every Person who has been for twelve months immediately Preceding his or her application for a pension a 'bona fide' resident of the State, and who is incapacitated for manual labor and was a soldier or a sailor in the service of the State of North Carolina or of the Confederate States of America, during the war between the States, and to the widow remaining unmarried of any deceased officer, soldier or sailor who was in the service of the State of North Carolina or of the Confederate States of America during the war between the States (Provided said widow was married to said soldier or sailor before the first day April 1865)" was entitled to a pension.

As first begun in 1889, those applicants eligible for pensions were divided into four classes based on disability: first class pensioners were totally disabled ($72 annually); second class pensioners had lost a leg or arm ($60); third class pensioners had lost a hand or foot ($48); and fourth class pensioners had lost an eye, or were partially incapacitated due to other wounds ($30). Widows were classified as fourth class pensioners.

All persons entitled to pensions under the act, whether previously drawing pensions or not, were to appear before their county Board of Pensions on or before the first Monday in July 1901 for examination and classification. For pension applications before 1901, see the series, Pension Bureau: Act of 1885 Pension Applications. Applications for admission to the Soldiers' Home, however, are included with applications under the 1901 act, even though some may date from before 1901.

Certain persons were excluded from benefits under the pension acts. Applicants owning more than $500 worth of property or earning a public salary of $300 or more were ruled ineligible for a pension, and no one receiving aid under laws for relief of the totally blind or maimed was eligible. Inmates of the Soldiers' Home, recipients of pensions from other states, and deserters were also excluded from benefits under the pension acts.

Almost every succeeding General Assembly made some change in the pension laws. The amount received was lowered and raised, the property disqualification was raised to $2,000, and the date of marriage to make a widow eligible was moved forward several times until a widow was eligible if she had been married to a Confederate veteran for ten years before his death if his death occurred after 1899. Widows could remarry and still be eligible provided they were widowed again at the time the application was made. In 1927, pensioners were reclassified, and a special category for Class "B" pensioners was established to compensate former slaves who could prove they had been servants of soldiers, or who could prove they had served in some support capacity.

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