Amanuensis Monday: Knowledge Gained from Townsend Pension

Gravestone of William James Townsend
It all started with this grave marker.
For the past 23 weeks, I've shared portions of my Great Grandfather William James Towsend (or Townson)'s Civil War Pension file. He served with the Ohio Infantry 143rd Regiment Company K.

I'm so thankful for the geneablogging community pointing me in the direction of hiring a professional genealogist to go to the National Archives and look up the case file. Having the specific record citation for William and his wife Mary Clabaugh made the research easy. In a few short months, and for an expense far less than what the Administration charged, I had 38 scanned images of information to enlighten my understanding about a great-grandfather and his wife.

Did I break down any brick wall?

Short answer. Nope.

Did I find out any new information to add to my family tree?


Did I learn more about the story of William and Mary Townsend of Edwards Station, Franklin, Ohio?


And isn't that what a family historian is after? The story in hi-STORY.

This post collects all the findings and questions I have generated from the past 23 weeks.


William Townsend Pension Application
  • Enrolled in Company K Regiment 133rd Ohio on 6 May 1864
  • Honorably discharged 20 August 1864 (3 months, 14 days of service)
  • Age 22 at time of service
  • Physical Description: height 5 feet 6 inches, complexion hair, dark; eyes Blue
  •  1 June 1864, he became sick with mumps and erysipelas.
    - at New Creek in West Virginia
    - disease settled in his eyes and eyes were swollen shut
    - doctor lanced his eyes
    - lost sight in right eye
    - left eye so badly damaged, he was almost totally blind
  • His 'active' service was less than 1 month. He spent the rest of his time in the field hospital.
  • William lived within 7 miles of Groveport, Franklin, Ohio following his discharge
  • He  attempts to provide for himself with manual labor as a farmer
  • By 1 Sept 1883,  he is unable to provide for himself.
  • He sought an invalid pension based on injuries sustained
  • William Townson did not sign his name, he only made his mark due to his blindness.
Civil War Pension Affidavit
  • Original Pension application was completed on 1 September 1883. Second affidavit seems to certify the person of William James Townsend and was completed on 7 Apr 1884. 
  • William again signed with a mark, on account of his being blind, though not stated in this file.
Civil War Claimant Affidavit for William J Townson
  •  He lived in Madison Township, Franklin County, Ohio for three years prior enlisting and after his discharge.
  • He was treated by Doctor Craine during his time at New Creek Station
  • He was treated by Doctor Chainney & Doctor Saylor afterward
  • He worked as a farmer prior to enlistment. He continued, as best he could, in farming after his discharge.
  • His farm labors included plowing, planting corn, building fences. 
  • Thos H Beck witnessed his written testimony
Witness Statement for William James Townson
  • Edward G Behm & John Rohn knew William James Townson intimately.
  • They served with him in Company K, Regiment 133rd, Ohio Infantry Volunteers
  • They lived in Edwards Station, presumably near William Townson (because this place appears elsewhere the in Townsend history)
Affidavits from William Gill & George Mansfield
  •  A Than was mayor of Groveport, Ohio in 1888. 
  • William C Gill and George Mansfield were well and intimately acquainted with my great grandfather. These men were members of Co K, 133rd Regiment of the Ohio Volunteers during the Civil War.
Physician Affidavit for William Townsend
  • William Townsend died on 13 November 1889 of acute uremia
  • Dr C R Clement had attended William for four years (since about 1885). He had been a medical practitioner for eleven years.
  • Dr Clement knew of William's vision problem and listed other illnesses as  ucphalia vedema and tesious of the kidneys (I do not know what any of this means of it was transcribed correctly).
  • William's widow Mary Towsend collected this information and submitted it in 1890.
  • A H Addington was Mary's Pension Attorney in Columbus, Ohio
Affidavit by John Fearn, 2nd Lieut
  • John H Fearn was the 2nd Lieut with Co K, 133rd Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War.
  • There was a forced march from New Creek to Greenland Gap, West Virginia. It was a 50 mile distance in 26 hours during May 1864. The whole regiment was exhausted after the march. 
  • At some point, William Townsend returned back to New Creek and had erysipelas and mumps. 
  • William stayed in New Creek's hospital while his unit moved to City Point, Virginia.
  • William never returned to service. 
  • Lieut Fearn did not see William until after the they were discharged and then not again until 30 January 1886. He noted that William looked feeble after their discharge.
Undertaker Affidavit for William Townsend
  • William Townsend was buried on 15 November 1889 in Hamilton Township, Franklin County, Ohio.
  • The undertaker was named Herma Sebtkzy and an address was given.
Declaration for Widow's Pension
  • The unit's captain was Thomas Libby
  • Mary was 44 years old when she filed for this Pension on 21 November 1889 (a week after William's death)
  • Mary was a resident of Edward, Franklin, Ohio.
  • William and Mary were married 10 November 1864 (after William served in the military and became blind)
  • Mary's last name was Clabaugh
  • Her children under the age of 16 were Harry Augustus (11), Emma Virginia (9), Samuel Leroy (5), and Ethel May (2).
  • Mary and William were not married prior to their marriage.
  • Her witnesses were Jame A Kile and C R Clement. C R Clement was William's doctor. 
Declaration for Widow's Pension June 1890
  • Mary was 43 years old when she filed for this Pension on 5 July 1890 (her age was listed as 44 in the prior pension record)
  • She married under the name of Mary Clabaugh to William on 10 November 1864 by the Justice of the Peace William Kyle in Franklin County, Ohio. 
  • Her witnesses were Mary E Kleinlin and Cal Towsend. 
  • A.H. Addington is her Pension Attorney
Mary Townsend's Wife Affidavit
  • Mary may not have been a church goer as there are not birth/baptism records recorded at a church. She also does not have any civil documents pertaining to the births of her children.
  • After her husband's death, she sold his property and bought a home in Edwards Station, Franklin, Ohio. The purchase date might have been 3 August 1890. Mary agreed to pay $400 dollars for the new home and had paid $216 prior to the pension claim. The balance is $184 with interest.
  • She's hoping to receive a pension to finish paying for the home.
  • She earns money as a day laborer.
General Affidavits Jennie Tewell, Midwife
  • Mary used a midwife named Jennie Tewell for at least two of her children (Emma and Harry) but she only knows of Samuel's birth though she was not in attendance. Jennie mentions she kept a record of her performances as a midwife
  • Jennie Tewell lived at 462 Poplar Ave, possibly in Columbus, Ohio.
General Affidavit by Ida Sanborn
  • Ida was 18 when she witnessed the birth of her brother Samuel. 
  • Ida was living in Edwards Station in 1890/1891. 
Reca Yous - Midwife Affidavit
  • 65 year old Reca Yous was the midwife or Mary's last child, Ethel May. 
  • Reca Yous was also from Edwards Station.
General Affidavits Nancy Miller
  • Nancy has a really nice signature.
  • Nancy is living in Reece's Station.
  • Mary's youngest children are living with her, not with extended family members.
General Affidavit by Charles E Klineline
  • 19 year old Charles Kleinline is from Edwards Station
  • Being much younger than Mary, he's known her all of his life
  • He places the value of her home at $300 and says Mary has a small assortment of household goods.
General Affidavit by Mary E Kleinlien
  • Mary Kleinlien, 45, is a resident of Edward's Station.
  • Mary Kleinlien has known Mary Townsend since they were little girls. They are not only neighbors but best friends
Application for Accrued Pension
  • William had received a pension while living up until 4 September 1889.
  • Jacob Miller and Alvis Herman Miller of Edwards Station witnessed Mary's signature on the applications, they know she is William Townsend's widow. They've known the Townsends for 21 years
Widow Pension Dropped
  • Mary (Clabaugh) Townsend died 28 August 1916.
  • Mary's final Pension payment was in 1 Jun 1916 for the amount of $12.
  • Mary had received the pension for 24 years (1892 - 1916)

 Return of Check and Plate Destroyed
  • A check of $36, dated 4 Sep 1916 was returned to the Pension Office
  • The plate that helped print checks for Mary Townsend was destroyed
  • Essentially, the file was closed for William Townsend and his widow Mary.

This summary is rather long. Next week I will share the questions I have generated from the pension file.

Until next week, you can see all of the knowledge I have gained to fill out the story about William James Townsend and his wife Mary Clabaugh. I have a better understanding of William's service and life after the Civil War. I know when he died and what became of his wife. I know the names of some of the people that William served with and the neighbors of the family. I also know that two of William and Mary's children served as witnesses. All in all, the records were well worth the money. 

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