Archive:Civil War Pension File, George Calvin Whitney
Civil War Pension File of George C. Whitney
Invalid Applic. # 317279 Cert. # 221332
Obtained under the Freedom of Information Act
U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs
Private, Company I, 12th Illinois Infantry
On 12 Oct 1879 from Pottawattamie County, IA, George C. Whitney signed a Declaration for Original Invalid Pension. He was awarded a pension of two dollars per month commencing 18 Dec 1863 because of liver disease and resulting piles, which he incurred during his military service. The pension benefit was ended on 1 November 1882 because physical examinations revealed a remission of the disease.
On 6 Jan 1883 George signed a Declaration for Restoration to the Rolls. This effort was initially rejected, but he eventually won restoration, and was awarded two dollars per month from 2 Nov 1882 and four dollars per month from 17 February 1886. From then until 1934 when he died, George filed many applications for increased benefit, and answered inquiries concerning his family. The following is a distillation of information culled from all of those sources.
When George signed his first declaration he was 39 years old and a resident of Downsville, Pottawattamie Co., IA. On 13 Aug 1862 at Princeton, IL, he had enrolled in Company I of the 12th Regiment of Illinois Infantry. He describes himself at the time of his enlistment as 5 feet 10 inches in height; with a fair complexion, blue eyes, and auburn hair. He was discharged from the U.S. Hospital at Mound City, IL, on 17 Dec 1863. While in the service, and in his line of duty, at Corinth, MS, in September 1863 he incurred liver disease caused by hardships and exposure. He was treated at the Regimental Hospital at Pocahontas, at Jackson Hospital in Memphis, TN, and at Mound City, IL. He had been a farmer prior to his service, and is now greatly disabled. His Certificate of Disability for Discharge supports his claim of physical disability. The declaration is witnessed by George Brownlee and Frank Fleck. (NOTE: George Brownlee is the husband of Alice Whitney. Frank Fleck is the husband of Mary Whitney. Both Whitney women are the daughters of George's brother Joseph and Catherine (Frease) Whitney. KLW)
In testimony supporting evidence of his age, George says he was born 23 Feb 1840. This date is recorded in his father's Bible, which he now possesses. The Bible was printed in 1854, and also contains the birth records of his siblings. He knows of no public records of his birth or baptism. In later testimony he says he was born in New Philadelphia, Tuscawaras Co., OH.
After his discharge from the service George lived in Princeton, IL, until 1866, when he removed to Chatville, Ford Co., IL. In 1869 he removed to Jefferson, Greene Co., IA, where he resided until 1883. He then removed to the vicinity of Stuart, Holt Co., NE, where he resided until 1910. After that date he resided in Burkett, Hall Co., NE. (Note: The soldiers & Sailors Home in Grand Island was named Burkett after the turn of the century. KLW)
George married first Helen S. Ashman on 5 Feb 1868 at Paxton (Ford Co.), IL. She died 8 February 1912 at the State Hospital at Norfolk, NE. (The marriage date is reported elsewhere in an attorney-prepared document as 6 Feb 1868, and the death date is reported as 12 Feb 1911.) Neither had been previously married. He was married second to Martha E. Lewis (nee Shaw) on 6 Nov 1912 at Grand Island, Hall Co., NE, by Rev. Walter Fowell. The marriage is recorded at the courthouse in Grand Island. Martha had been married on 4 Mar 1868 to Moses Lewis, who died 26 Mar 1910 at Burkett, NE. He had served in Cogwell's Independent Battery and in Company F of the 10th Illinois Infantry. George's children are:
- Mrs. Jessie W. Kelley, born 24 Feb 1876, lives in Carson, NE (1915).
- Fred E. Whitney, born 16 Jan 1878, lives in Macksburg (Madison Co.), IA (1915).
In the process of his original application for a pension George supplied a number of affidavits from people who knew him after he returned from the service. Two are of interest. Charles F. Peck testified from Scranton, Greene Co., IA, that he became acquainted with G. C. Whitney in 1866 when they lived within 40 rods of each other in Ford Co., IL. They lived there about two years, and both moved to Jefferson, Greene Co., IA, where they lived in the same house for one year. After that year, they lived within 40 rods of each other for another three years. Since then, they have met frequently. Charles testifies to the disability that George suffered throughout the time he has known him. (Note: Charles is the husband of George's sister, Mary Whitney Peck. KLW)
Also providing an affidavit is Joseph Frease, a resident of Scranton, Greene Co., IA. He has been acquainted with George C. Whitney since 1852. He was intimately acquainted with him until his enlistment, seeing him several times a week. Joseph testifies to George's good health prior to his service, and to his poor health upon his return home. They each lived on a farm in Bureau Co., IL, until the fall of 1866. George moved to Greene Co., IA that fall, and Joseph moved there in the spring of 1871. They have been close neighbors there. (NOTE: I believe that Joseph Frease is the brother of Catherine (Frease) Whitney, who is George's sister-in-law. Joseph H. and Catherine Frease can be found in the household of Henry and Sarah Frease in the 1850 census of York Township, Tuscawaras Co., OH. KLW)
George C. Whitney was last paid at the rate of sixty-five dollars per month to 31 Dec 1933, and was dropped from the roll because of his death on 10 Jan 1934. Subsequent to his death, his daughter, Mrs. Jessie W. Kelley of Burwell, NE, submitted a request for reimbursement of $153.00 in burial expenses for her father. Jessie submitted a copy of George's death certificate with her claim. The following information is gleaned from that State of Nebraska Death Certificate:
George Calvin Whitney died on 10 Jan 1934 at 4:45 PM of Cerebral apoplexy (Hemmorhage) at Pershing Hospital, Grand Island, Hall Co., NE. He had resided in Grand Island for twenty-two years, and at the time of his death resided at the Soldiers and Sailors Home there. He was a white, married male, and the husband of Mary Whitney. He was born 23 Feb 1840 in Ohio, and died at the age of 93 years, 10 months, and 17 days. His father was Ephram Whitney, born in New York (sic). His mother's maiden name was Edith Ross, born in the U.S. The informant is Jessie Kelley of Burwell, NE. He was buried at Burkett Cemetery on 12 Jan 1934.
(Note: George C. Whitney's gravestone record at Burkett Cemetery, along with two of his wives, can be seen at . However, the gravestone of his first wife Helen S. Ashman in Stuart Community Cemetery, Stuart, NE, also records his birth and death: .
A telephone conversation with the person who maintains the burial records at the Burkett Cemetery reveals that George was indeed buried there, and there is no record of the removal of his body for reburial elsewhere.
(Note: In 1983 Mary Landkamer had photocopies of this file made by the Veterans Administration. Her address at that time may be obtained from me by private communication. KLW)