Archive:Civil War Pension File, James Cathcart
Civil War Pension File, James Cathcart
Widow: Caroline C. Cathcart
Widow's Applic. # 11221 Cert. # 5154
National Archives Building, Washington, D.C.
Private, Company E, 1st Maine Cavalry
Caroline C. Cathcart signed a Widow's Declaration for Army Pension on 30 December 1862 from Penobscot County, Maine. She is twenty-three years old, a resident of Lincoln, Maine, and the widow of James Cathcart. He was a private in Company E commanded by B. H. Putnam in the 1st Regiment of Maine Cavalry. He died in Washington, D.C. on or about 29 September 1862 of diarrhea contracted while a prisoner of war at Richmond, Virginia. She was married to James Cathcart on 24 November 1860 at Lincoln, Maine by H.C. Henries, Minister of the Gospel. Her name before she was married was Caroline C. Whitney. She has continued to be a widow since the date of the soldier's death, and he left no children.
On 25 February 1863 the Adjutant General's Office informed the Commissioner of Pensions that James Cathcart was enrolled on 4 October 1861 at Lincoln in Company E in the 1st Cavalry Regiment of Maine Volunteers, to serve three years. He appeared on the muster roll of the regiment in July and August (sic) of 1862, and was reported taken prisoner in action on 24 May 1862. His name does not appear on the subsequent rolls of the company. No evidence of his death is on file.
On 18 August 1863 the Surgeon General's Office informed the Commissioner of Pensions that Surgeon Charles Page has reported that James Cathcart died 29 September 1862 at Judiciary Square Hospital of diarrhea.
Caroline provided a certified copy of her marriage record from John F. Nute, Town Clerk of Lincoln, Maine. It states: "This certifies that J. H. C. Henries, pastor of the Trinity Chapel M. E. Society of Lincoln, Maine joined in marriage Mr. James Cathcart and Miss Caroline C. Whitney, both of Lincoln, at Lincoln 24 November 1860."
Caroline was admitted for a pension of eight dollars per month, commencing 29 September 1862. However, the office of the Commissioner of Pensions received a complaint from the citizens of Miles, Iowa in 1893, and an investigation was launched into whether the moral character of Caroline Cathcart was good enough to continue her pension.
Special Examiner J. F. Allison was dispatched to Iowa to investigate the situation. He filed a report with the Commissioner of Pensions dated 27 May 1893 from Sabula, Iowa. It states:
"Sir, I have the honor to return the following report without case in widow's claim Certificate #____________, C________ Cathcart, widow of James Cathcart, late private in Co. E, 1st Maine Cavalry, Post Office address Sabula, Jackson Co., Iowa. From the history of this case gathered from the testimony herewith and from interviews with the Postmaster, it appears that the pensioner and one G. L. Mills came together from some unknown point in Maine and located at Miles, Jackson Co., Iowa soon after the war, where they lived together in the same house and to all outward appearances have the situation of husband and wife. This state of affairs became objectionable to the Miles people, and their objections took such tangible shape that the pensioner and Mr. Mills left the town and located in Sabula, Iowa, where they have continuously resided under the same roof; the only other permanent occupant being a niece of Mr. Mills, who has now grown to womanhood. Pensioner never goes out in society: though otherwise than her supposed relations with Mr. Mills, her reputation is good. Pensioner has never borne children and there is no history of any adulterous conduct on her part, further than is inferable from the fact that they are both unmarried and have for over twenty years resided under the same roof and their business affairs appear to have been of common concern. An article published in a newspaper printed in Jackson County, Iowa severely commented on this case. I was unable to procure a copy of the article to attach as an exhibit to this report. Upon a careful consideration of all this evidence in the case I am of the opinion that said pensioner has been guilty of open and notorious adulterous cohabitation in violation of the Act of August 7, 1882. I recommend that the claim be specially examined for the purpose of determining whether the pensioner's conduct has been of such a character as to forfeit her title to pension under said act. Also that the pensioner be suspended pending this investigation."
On 31 July 1893 the U.S. Pension Agency at Des Moines, Iowa acknowledged to the Commissioner of Pensions that they had received his order of 28 July 1893 in the case of Caroline C. Cathcart, Widow. The payment of her pension was suspended. She was last paid twelve dollars to 4 July 1893.
Subsequently, an investigation was held, and depositions were taken from many parties, including witnesses from the towns of Miles and Sabula, Iowa. The witnesses told of the situation of cohabitation without marriage between Caroline Cathcart and G.L. Mills. Depositions were also submitted by the offending parties:
12 September 1893 at Sabula, Jackson Co., Iowa
Testimony and questions and answers of Mrs. Caroline C. Cathcart:
"am 53 years of age, no occupation, post office address and residence is Sabula, Jackson Co., Iowa. Am the widow of James Cathcart who served as private in E, 1 Maine Vol. Cavalry, don't remember the dates of his enlistment and discharge, or I should say he died in the service 29 September 1862 at Washington, D.C. in the hospital. Don't know from what he died. Married him 24 November 1860 at Lincoln, Penobscot, Maine by Elder Henries, don't remember his first name. There is a record of this marriage in Lincoln Co. (sic), Maine. My full name before marriage was Caroline C. Whitney. Have not remarried. Am still the widow of this soldier. Have not cohabited with man as wife since his death.
Question: What kind of relation exists between you and Mr. G. L. Mills of this place?
Answer: We are only friends.
Q: How long have you known him?
A: About thirty years. I first met him at Lincoln, Maine, my old home.
Q: Did he live in the same house with you there?
Q: Did you come with him from Maine to this place?
A: We came at the same time. He had a sister at this place then. I had a brother here also. No one was with us when we came.
Q: How long has Mr. Mills been living in the same house with you?
A: Ever since we came to this state, with the exception of about six months when I first came here. I lived with my brother during this time.
Q: How long have you been living in this place?
A: About 23 years.
Q: And he has remained with you all this time in the same house?
A: Yes, about all that time. He has, however, been gone a good deal.
Q: Who else has been living in the house with you?
A: My father lived with us about a year. He came in 1880 and died in 1881. A niece of mine, Minnie A. Whitney, has lived with me over fourteen years, and is now living with me. Another niece of mine, Mrs. Lizzie Densmore, lived with me about two years from 1870 to about 1872. These are the only ones who have lived any length of time with me in the same house, except Mr. Mills. I lived at Miles, in this county, about nine miles from here, during the year of 1872. I have lived in this place however, with the exception of that year, ever since 1869, or have regarded it as my home.
Q: Upon what kind of an arrangement does Mr. Mills live with you?
A: He furnishes part of the house, and I furnish part, and we divide the expenses of housekeeping as nearly as possible between us. He does not pay any board money. He buys all the necessary articles and I pay him my part of the expense. I do all the housekeeping myself.
Q: Does he transact any business for you?
A: No, I generally attend to all of that myself. The only thing he does for me is occasional marketing.
Q: Who owns the place you live in?
A: Mr. Mills.
Q: Do you pay him any rent?
Q: And you say there has been nothing improper in your conduct towards one another?
A: I do.
Q: Who pays all the bills?
A: He does.
Q: Are you not aware that the manner in which you have been living with Mr. Mills is likely to excite comment and give rise to suspicion that you are maintaining improper relations towards one another?
A: Yes, but people will talk about anything. If I lived by myself they would talk just the same.
Q: Are you regarded as the wife of Mr. Mills?
A: No, I am not.
Q: Why is it you have lived with him so long upon such an understanding?
A: I can't say why. I guess because he did not have any home, not I either.
Q: Was Mr. Mills ever married?
A: No, never to my knowledge.
Q: Have you ever occupied the same apartments together?
Q: Are you related?
A: My brother married Mr. Mills' sister. That is the relationship.
18 September 1893 at Sabula, Jackson Co., Iowa
A Summary of the testimony and questions and answers of G. L. Mills:
He is 53 years old, and the Town Marshall of Sabula, Jackson Co., Iowa. He has known Mrs. Cathcart since they were children. He served in the same company with her husband during the war, and they came to Sabula together in 1869. Caroline's brother married G. L.'s sister before they came here, and that accounts for both of them coming to the same place. Both of them boarded with her brother, Mr. Whitney of Sabula, for about a year after they came to Sabula. After that, they both moved to Miles, Jackson County, where he farmed for about a year. A niece went along and lived with them while they lived there. She is Mrs. Lizzie Densmore of Sabula. After a year, the moved back to Sabula, where they have resided ever since. Caroline was his housekeeper while living at Miles. She was interested in the farm with him, and they rented the farm together, and divided the profits. He paid all the bills, etc. and acted as her agent. She lived there with him because she was interested in the farm with him. When they left Miles they both went back to Maine, where they remained for about a year and a half. They each stayed with their individual families. They returned to Sabula together, moved into a place that he had bought in 1881, and they kept house together. They have been living together ever since. Nothing improper has ever existed between them. He accounts for his relationship with Caroline by saying that he was well acquainted with her husband. They were in the same company, and just before a fight at Middletown, Virginia, James Cathcart requested that if anything ever happened to him, he wanted him to swear on an oath that he would care for his wife, which he did promise. James was captured at that fight, and he never saw him afterwards. He has tried to the best of his ability to care for her, with her having no means of support other than her pension. He had never married, and thought that she could keep house with him. He pays all of the bills, and she pays him her part of the expenses. They each own part of the house furnishings, but the house belongs to him. He comments that if he wanted to live with a woman as a wife, he would select one in better health, because Caroline has always been sickly.
It was determined that the Act of August 7, 1882 had been violated, but for an unstated reason, the pension was reinstituted. In an application for increased benefit in 1916, Caroline states that she is seventy-six years old, having been born 25 December 1839 in Canida (sic, sp.). Her benefit was increased to twenty dollars per month.
On 15 January 1918, the Finance Division was notified that a check for $74.67 in favor of Caroline C. Cathcart of Sabula, Iowa had been returned by the postmaster. He informs them that she died 11 November 1917. The Bureau of Pensions last paid her twenty dollars per month to 4 October 1917, and she was dropped from the rolls because of her death on 11 November 1917.
Note: Caroline says she was born in Canada. There are three references to her brother David C. Whitney being born in Canada. One occurs in a document in his Civil War Pension File, and the others in the 1880 and 1900 censuses of Sabula, Iowa. All other references state he was born in Maine.
Copyright © 2006, Kenneth L. Whitney and the Whitney Research Group