Archive:Civil War Pension File, William H. Whitney

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Archives > Archive:Military Records > Archive:Civil War, Pension Files > Civil War Pension File, William H. Whitney

Civil War Pension File of William H. Whitney
Parents: David and Mary Whitney
Father's Applic. # unknown Cert. # 148894
Moather's Applic. # 187955 Cert. # 212273
National Archives Building, Washington, D.C.

He is identified as William H.8 Whitney (David7, Jonathan6, Jonathan5, Samuel4, John3, Benjamin2, John1).

William Whitney died in the war before reaching the age of twenty. He left no direct descendants to mourn his early loss of life. Indeed, he didn't even have a brother to carry on his father's Whitney line. But, he did provide a pension to care for his parents, and the pension applications provide us with a rich store of his family's history, and an even richer treasury of genealogival information about them. Before today, little has been known about this family. In addition, this file gives us researcers a key which might lead to the unlocking of genealogical mysteries concerning Whitney families in the Lisbon, Maine area in the 18th and 19th centuries. Enjoy!

Private, Company K, 7th Maine Infantry

On 16 September 1871 the Second Auditor's Office of the Treasury Department informed the Commissioner of Pensions that they had issued Treasury Certificate #148894 to David Whitney, father of William H. Whitney of Company K, 7th Maine Regiment commencing on 5 June 1864, on which date William had died. The application for this pension is not in this file.

Mary Whitney signed a Mother's Application for Army Pension from Androscoggin County, Maine on 23 October 1869. She is 64 years old and resides in Lisbon, Maine. She is the wife of David Whitney and the mother of William H. Whitney, who was a private in Company K of the 7th Regiment of Maine Volunteers. He was shot at Cold Harbor, Virginia on or about 6 June 1864 and died of a gunshot wound. The soldier left no widow or child under the age of sixteen, and she was wholly or in part dependent upon him for support. She was married to David Whitney on 5 July 1833 (sic) at Lisbon, Maine by Nathaniel Purinton, Minister of the Gospel. Her husband David through bodily infirmities is unable to support his family. She has four children: Susan Whitney, born 27 June 1837; Lydia Jane Whitney, born 27 September 1838; Harriet Whitney, born 7 May 1842; and William H. Whitney, born 18 November 1844. The application is witness by David C. Gatchell and David Smith, both residents of Webster, Maine. (Note: Webster was divided from Lisbon in 1840.)

The application was filed 9 June 1870, and on 25 March 1871 Mary Whitney forwarded a personal affidavit. Since the death of her son, her means of subsistence has been derived from what little labor her husband and she have been able to do on a small patch of land purchased in part from the pay and bounties received by her son while he was in the army and from the arrears of pay and bounty due him which was collected after his death. This amounted to about three hundred dollars. They have had income from one cow and three hens. The money has been expended and the house and land merely make a home for her. There is no income. The names and ages of her children are: Susan T. Dunn, wife of William Dunn, resides in Lisbon and is 34 years old; Lydia J. Johnson, wife of Charles Johnson, is 33 years old and resides in Bath, Maine; Harriet Whitney, age 29, is unmarried and resides in Lisbon. Her son William H. would have been 20 years old if he had lived to 18 November 1864. William lived at home until he enlisted in the army, excepting when he was absent at work for various persons who employed him for various periods of time. He turned in his earnings and labored for her support from the time he was large enough to labor until he died. He was a farmer and laborer. He was employed at various times by Ammon Woodard, William Small, Jr., and Samuel Edgecomb, all of Lisbon. He was also employed by Elijah Galusha of Bowdoin and Mrs. Nancy Trufant of Durham. He sent money at various times by letter amounting to forty to fifty dollars or more. He also sent some money by allotments. He also furnished some money toward paying for the place where she now lives. He paid Mr. Ammon Woodard three hundred thirty-five dollars, which cleared the place of debt. William was "never married, and if any parent had a son who was careful, prudent, economical, temperate, and cared for a parent, I claim him to be one of these, and all who knew him will bear testimony to these facts."

There is testimony on 22 March 1871 from Dr. White of Lisbon Falls. He has been acquainted with David Whitney since January of 1860. He has been the Whitney family physician during that time. David has been unable to perform much manual labor by reason of the infirmities from chronic liver complaints and general debility. He has not been able to perform half the labor of an ordinary man, and his infirmities are increasing.

In the file is a certified copy from the Town of Webster, Maine Record of Births of the births of the children of David Whitney and his wife Mary:

Susan T. born 20 June 1837
Lydia J. born 27 September 1838
Harriet born 7 May 1842
William H. born 18 November 1844

The copy is certified by J.W. Maxwell, Town Clerk of Webster, Maine on 17 April 1870.

David and Mary Whitney submitted the following letter, which was evidently requested by their attorney as testimony to their son's service and death:

Kansas City, Missouri
February 28, 1870
David Smith, Esq.
Dear Sir,
Your letter asking information in regard to William H. Whitney is just received. Whitney was a Private in K Company, 7th Maine Volunteers, and a re-enlisted veteran. He returned from his veteran furlough the night before the Battle of Cold Harbor. He slept with me that night and went into action with me the next morning, and was wounded by my side. He was struck by a minnie ball in the abdomen, and said to me that he was mortally wounded. With the assistance of another man I carried him inside the breast-works and from there he was taken to the hospital and died the next day I think. This was on the 3rd of June 1864 in front of Cold Harbor or at Cold Harbor as we usually say.
Poor Billy was an intimate friend of mine. He was beloved by the entire company. The circumstances attending the wounding of Billy are very strongly fixed in my memory. His death I did not witness, but the necessary evidence of his death of course appears on the rolls of that company.
Anything I can do in this matter to assist the parents will be cheerfully done.
I was a Sergt. at that time. If it is necessary to hand a certificate from a Com. Officer, Captain Chaning will give you one on seeing this.
Yours truly,
W.H. Savage
Broadway Hotel,
Kansas City, Missouri

Mary's claim was not allowed, and was eventually abandoned. She reapplied after the death of her husband.

There is testimony in the file from Uriah Whitney and his wife Caroline of Bowdoin, Maine concerning the marriage of David and Mary. The testimony was given 24 June 1884. Uriah testified that he is 72 years old and the younger brother of David Whitney. He was present at the marriage of David Whitney and Mary Trufant at her father's dwelling in Lisbon, Lincoln Co., Maine on 5 July 1836 (sic). Mary Whitney is now living, and is the mother of William H. Whitney, who died in the army. Caroline Whitney testifies that she is 76 years old and the wife of Uriah Whitney. She was also present at the marriage of David Whitney and Mary Trufant.

Mary and David must prove they were dependent on William for support. On 24 June 1884 there is testimony from Rev. George Plummer, age 58, of Lisbon Falls, Maine. He has lived with 1 ½ miles of David and Mary Whitney for over thirty years. He received a large portion of William's bounty money and wages. He was in trade at the time, and Mrs. Whitney used up a large share of said bounty and wages for family supplies such as groceries and clothing. Mr. Whitney was unable to do but a small amount of labor, having been injured by an accident from which he never fully recovered.

Ammon Woodard also testified that after William H. Whitney entered the service he was paid by William from his bounty and wages the sum of three hundred thirty five dollars, closing up the balance due him for the house and land where his parents resided. At that time, this provided a home for his parents. The house and land were worth about eight hundred dollars at that time.

George Plummer, age 58, of Lisbon and Nathaniel Purinton, age 40, of Bowdoin provide testimony together in a General Affidavit on 24 June 1884. They testify again to previously disclosed facts. In addition, they testify that David Whitney has died in August, 1883 at age 75. David had farmed a small piece of land since 1864, and had earned very little income from then until his death. He was not a well man, since he had been disabled in an accident. When he died in 1883, he left little if anything. Mary Whitney has very little, and is dependent upon her daughter with whom she now lives. The property which David Whitney had owned was gradually diminished for the support of himself and his wife until his death.

Mary Whitney provided testimony in an affidavit on 28 June 1884. She is 77 years old and a resident of Bowdoin, Sagadahoc Co., Maine. She resided in Lisbon since 1861, but removed to her present address in the fall of 1881. Her only support since the death of her son William H. Whitney was by diminishing her property holding.

There are several letters in the file written by William H. Whitney to his parents while he was in the army. I am sure that they were submitted as evidence of his contribution to the support of his parents. I have transcribed two them, but I have clarified spelling and punctuation and improved the grammar so that they can be better understood. It is possible that William was illiterate. One of the letters is written in distinctly different handwriting from the other, indicating that they were probably dictated to a literate third person.

Baltimore, Sept. 3, ____(Illegible)
Dear father,
I now sit down to write to you once more to let you know how I was getting along. I am smart and hope that you all are the same. The regiment has moved three miles from the place where they was. We aren't but 19 miles from Washington where I had a first rate time. I never liked any better anywhere. You know that I was going home but the company went right away. I have been looking for a letter. I wrote and put 14 dollars in the letter, and I want to hear from the folks and I want to hear from Susan and Johnny. I should send more money but there is a great many things that the boys need. You must write as soon as you can because the regiment may not stay long here. Write as soon as you get this. Give my love to all the folks, too. Good bye.
William H. Whitney
7th Maine Regiment
In care of Capt. Norris
Baltimore, Md

July 24, 1863
Camp near Harrison Landing
Dear father,
I thought I would answer your letter which I received on the twentieth and was glad to hear from you and hear that you were well. I am well and hearty and faint got time to write much, but will say I will put in fifteen dollars in this letter and if it goes safe I will send some more. Give my love to all the folks at home and tell them to write. Please answer this. So good bye from son and friend.

On 16 June 1887, the U.S. Pension Agency at Augusta, Maine informed the Commissioner of Pensions that the name of Mary Whitney, mother of William H., who was a pensioner under certificate 212273 and was last paid twelve dollars to 4 September 1886 has been dropped from the rolls because of her death on 23 November 1886.

Note: Mary Whitney testified in her application that a record of her marriage did not exist in the public record. That is why she had to provide witnesses to the marriage. The intention for the marriage was recorded in Lisbon on 16 May 1835. Twice in the file there is testimony as to the date of the marriage. Both testimonies give the day as 5 July. Mary's application says 1833 (written in by her attorney) and Uriah's testimony says 1836. This date is given by two elderly people long after the event took place. My best guess is that the marriage took place on 5 July 1835, right after the intention was published. KLW

Copyright © 2006, Kenneth L. Whitney and the Whitney Research Group

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