Saturday, January 30, 2010

Berger Pensions

While I sit anxiously patiently waiting for the Civil War pension record I ordered back in November for my ancestor, John Berger, I've been able to somewhat console myself with LoC's Chronicling America.  First I found a mention of John getting his pension in the 17 Oct 1891 Morning Call, a San Francisco paper.  This was two month before he died and what is even more interesting is that it took him nearly twenty years between when he applied and when he was actually granted the pension. Then, in the 5 Jan 1902 issue of the San Francisco Call, John's widow, Susanna is mentioned as getting a widow's pension of $8.  From the time of John's death to the time the pension had been granted, over a decade passed.  Now I feel badly over being so impatient about getting my copy of John's pension record from NARA considering it took John about twenty years just to get a pension and another ten years before Susanna got her widow's pension. Susanna, herself, was left with nine children to raise in a new town, thousands of miles from any relatives, at the time of John's death - five of whom were under the age of ten and her youngest (a year old at the time) handicapped with what would probably be called cerebal palsy today (family lore says she was "dropped on her head" at birth).  Her ten year wait for her widow's pension must have been a hard and difficult one.  It is interesting to note that there wasn't a flat rate when it came to pensions.  Civil War veterans in 1902 got $6 or $8 while veterans in the War with Spain got either $10 or $12.  One veteran (it isn't clear which war he was in) got a pension of $17 while the widow's pensions seem to vary anywhere from $8 to $12.

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