Posts tagged ‘widow’

Alfred Bell War of 1812

The War of 1812 is sometimes referred to as the forgotten war.  There is a current effort to preserve and post online the documents related to the War of 1812.  The pension files contain important genealogical information which dates back to a time for which documents can be hard to find.  To learn more about this preservation effort, please visit

Alfred Bell who fought in the War of 1812 is my husband’s ancestor.  This picture is of Alfred Bell and his wife, Martha.

Bell, Alfred & Martha

I was able to find an Index record card that summarized the information that is contained in Alfred’s War of 1812 pension application and his widow’s subsequent survivor’s application.

Page 1-Alfred Bell

The War of 1812 pension document images can be found on the website, as of the date of this post, are free to the public indefinitely.  There are a total of 66 images on that relate to Alfred Bell

I found good background information concerning the War of 1812 Pension documents in an article, Genealogical Records of the War of 1812 by Stuart L. Butler in Prologue Magazine, Winter 1991, Vol. 23, No. 4 which can be found at:

“Pension application files for most War of 1812 veterans, however, will be found in the second series of pension files, i.e., those based on the acts of 1871 and 1878.  These acts, based on length of service alone, relate mostly to militia veterans called to federal service.  The 1871 act provided pensions to veterans who had served at least sixty days or to their widows if they had married before 1815.  The 1878 act provided pensions to those veterans, or their widows, who only served fourteen days.  By the time these acts were passed, most applicants were widows or minors rather than veterans themselves.  A typical file usually contains the soldier’s or widow’s application file, a statement of service usually provided by the Pension Bureau, and other papers prepared by the Third Auditor’s Office.  Of the two, the widow’s or minor’s application is potentially the richest in genealogical information.  This is because the widow had to provide proof of marriage, including the date or place of marriage, and usually the maiden name.  Important data about marriages before 1815 found in some of the files may not be available anywhere else” (Butler)

Documents in Alfred Bell’s file show that he applied for and was granted bounty land in 1857.  At the time of the bounty land grant, Alfred had moved to Utah.  Of course, the US government gave land where it was available.

Page 6-Alfred Bell

Alfred Bell was granted 160 acres in Minnesota.  Land Patent lawyers helped those with land grants that they could not use, to sell them.  Alfred Bell’s military bounty land warrant contains both his name and Ira Dain who purchased the land from him.  It also contains the location of the land which is near Chatfield, Minnesota.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell what Alfred was paid for the land.

_Alfred bell Land Warrant

These military bounty land warrants can be found at the website of Bureau of Land Management, General Land office records

Alfred Bell had served a year and a few days with Tennessee Volunteers during the War of 1812 and thus qualified for a pension under the terms the Act of 1871.  These applications that were filed 60 or more years after the solider’s service in the War of 1812 required the applicant to authenticate his term of military service and establish his identity which was usually done through swore affidavits.  He also might provide documents that told who his dependents were.

Page 11-Alfred Bell

Among the documents in Alfred Bell’s pension file is the marriage certificate for Alfred Bell and Martha Elder.

Page 24-Alfred Bell

However, by the time the paper work was done and the pension granted, it was 1874 which was the year Alfred died.  His widow, Martha filed for widow’s benefits upon Alfred’s death but her application was rejected.  The Act of 1871 required for the widow to have been married to the solider during the War of 1812.  Martha and Alfred were married in 1832

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Martha Bell filed again in 1879 and was granted a widow’s pension.  The Act of 1878 did not require the widow of the solider to have been married to him during his military service.  The document that appears above shows the rejection of Martha’s original application and that the claim was reopened in April of 1879.   The pension benefit was 8 dollars a month.