Archive:Civil War Pension File, Ingerson Whitney
Civil War Pension File of Ingerson Whitney
Widow: Celesthia A. Whitney
Widow Applic. # 503431 No certificate
National Archives Building, Washington, D.C.
Private, Unassigned Company, 14th Maine Infantry
Ingerson Whitney enlisted in the 14th Regiment of Maine Infantry on 1 March 1865, and was discharged 11 May 1865. He died 3 January 1890, and on 20 December 1890 his widow, Celesthia A. Whitney, signed a Widow's Declaration for Pension.
In the declaration, she states that she is 49 years old, and the widow of Ingerson Whitney, who enlisted at Bangor, Maine on 2 March 1865 in an unassigned company of the 14th Maine Volunteers. Ingerson contracted a severe cold at Camp Berry, Portland, Maine by reason of exposure, which caused his death on 3 January 1890. She declares that she was married to Ingerson under the name Celesthia A. Grey on 30 May 1857 by Elder Whitney at Hudson, Maine. Neither she nor her husband had previously married. She further declares that she has two children who were less than 16 years of age at the time of their father's death. They are: Edmund B. Whitney, age 12, born 22 June 1877; and Bertie A. Whitney, age 14, born 9 April 1875. Celesthia later testifies that she and her husband lived all of their married lives in Hudson, Maine
The file contains certified copies of three records from the records of the Town of Hudson, Penobscot Co., Maine. All are certified by David R. Andrews, Town Clerk. The first record is of the marriage of Ingerson and Celesthia Whitney. Both resided in Hudson. They were married 30 May 1857 by Rev. Amos Whitney. The second record is of the births of the two children under age 16 at the time of their father's death. The dates were certified as previously reported. The third record is of the death of Ingerson Whitney. He died in Hudson on 3 January 1890, age 65 years, 9 months, 4 days.
The success of Celesthia's application for pension benefit is dependent on her success in convincing the Pension Commission that the proximate cause of her husband's death 25 years after his service was the "severe cold" he caught while at Camp Berry. Celesthia testified that Ingerson returned home in very poor condition, and never recovered completely from the "cold". She testifies that Ingerson remained debilitated and had a severe cough the rest of his life. She also summoned the testimony of many neighbors and some of his fellow soldiers. All testified to his debilitated condition and the constant cough he endured. On 3 May 1895 the Commission on Pensions rejected her pension application, denying her claim.
Celesthia pursued the claim for a long time. She appealed to the Pension Commissioner and to her congressman. Eventually through persistence and a change of attorneys to one who agreed to represent her without fee, the Pension Commissioner granted a special Commissioner's Review. This also came to no good end, her petition being once again rejected. Every rejection was based on the fact that she could not prove that her husband's death was related to the "severe cold" he caught at Camp Berry. Celesthia was forced to abandon her claim.
In further researching this family, it is well to keep in mind that Hudson, Penobscot Co., Maine in the 1860 census was previously named Kirkland, Maine in the 1850 census.
In the 1850 census for Levant, Penobscot Co., Maine we find the family of James and Mahala Gray. The name is not spelled Grey, as in Celesthia's pension application. In that census, Celesthia's name is spelled Celesta. Also, in the 1860 census for Hudson, Maine, Ingerson and Celesthia are living next door to the James Gray family. Again, the name is not spelled Grey.
Although it is not spelled out in the pension file, I believe I know the reason for the pension claim rejection. In every Civil War-era successful pension application, a relationship must have been established with the medical community. In investigating every claim, the soldier's records of contact with the military medical professionals are summoned. The records or testimony of the attending physician(s) who cared for the soldier after discharge are summoned. Testimony is allowed by people and fellow soldiers who new the soldier and could testify about his health. And, before the pension is granted, the soldier must undergo a complete physical examination by a government-authorized physician. These medical records form an important part of the basis for granting a pension. Pensions are granted during the Civil War-era due to disability or death related to the soldier's service. It was never claimed that Ingerson was cared for by a military or civilian physician. Since he never applied for an Invalid Pension, he never underwent a physical examination. The only medical grounds for the application were testimonies by Celesthia and others about his physical condition for 25 years after his service. No wonder the Pension Commission had a hard time accepting that the cause of death 25 years after service was a "severe cold". If he had sought medical attention in the military or after his service, Ingerson may have found out that he was suffering the effects of more than just a "severe cold".
Copyright © 2006, Kenneth L. Whitney and the Whitney Research Group