SSC Department of Archives and History On-Line Index Page Logo

South Carolina Archives
Series Description

Confederate Widows Pension Applications, 1919-1938 


CALL NUMBER:        L 46118


CREATOR: York County (S.C.). Board of Honor.

TITLE: Confederate widows pension applications 

DATE: 1919-1938

VOLUME: 0.33 cubic ft. and 0.01 microfilm reel (35mm)

ARRANGEMENT: Series arranged alphabetically. For indexing purposes each application has been assigned a sequential number. 

BIOGRAPHICAL/HISTORICAL NOTE: South Carolina began granting pensions to needy Confederate veterans and their widows in 1887, but initially limited the pensions to veterans who were disabled by loss of limb or other injury during the war and widows of soldiers or sailors who had died in service. Both had to meet means tests, which were made even more restrictive in 1900. Responding to a provision of the 1895 state constitution, the General Assembly in 1896 expanded eligibility to poor uninjured veterans over 60 and poor widows over 60 and ushered in a major growth period for both pension funding and the number of applicants. Revisions enacted in 1900 refined the classification and procedures for pensions, defining a system that would remain in force until 1919. Unfortunately, few applications for Confederate pensions under any of the pre-1919 acts survive either at the state or local level.

 Act No. 176, 1919 S.C. Acts 275 established a Confederate Pension Department under the direction of a commissioner and a seven-member board and required all existing pensioners to reapply. The state board appointed a three-member board for each county to approve applications from local residents. Eligible pensioners included all veterans and widows over the age of sixty who had married veterans before 1890. The state pension board set the compensation and adjudicated any disputes forwarded from the county boards. The General Assembly provided $500,000 to pay for pensions. Changes the following year (Act No. 609, 1920 S.C. Acts 1099) eliminated the state board, named the comptroller general as pension commissioner, and authorized the local veterans camp to hear appeals of each county board's  decision.

The legislature dropped the age of eligibility for widows to 55 in 1920, to 50 in 1921, and to 45 in 1930. Under the 1920 amendment, widows were eligible if they had been married by 1900, but a 1929 amendment extended eligibility to widows who had been married at least ten years. The state continued to pay Confederate widow pensions until the last widow died in 1990. 

SUMMARY SCOPE NOTE: This series consists of county copies of pension applications and supporting documentation filed by widows of Confederate veterans and widows of soldiers and sailors who died in Confederate service. The state copies for York County do not survive. Information includes the names of the widow and spouse; the widow's residence; the date of death of the spouse; the date of the marriage; the widow's age and sometimes her date of birth; income and property of the widow; the spouse's unit and rank; and the date of the application. 

INDEX/FINDING AID: Names of applicants, their deceased husbands, witnesses, and commanding officers; places of residence; and selected subjects including military units are in to the repository's On-line Index to Confederate Pension Applications. For this series, an attempt was  made to standardize the names of military units.

County records relating to pensions and related records are described in Patrick McCawley, Guide to Civil War Records: A Guide to the Records in the South Carolina Dept. of Archives and History, published by the repository in 1994. 

ADDITIONAL FORM: Digital images of the applications are linked to index hits from the On-line Index on the repository's website.  Entire series also available in microfilm produced by the repository.

ASSOCIATED MATERIAL: State copies of applications from all other counties except Williamsburg are available in the series Confederate Pension Applications, 1919-1938, in the records of the Comptroller General. Approximately 250 applications under earlier laws are available in Series S126159, Applications for Confederate Pensions, 1888-1906. Most of these earlier applications date before 1895.

Lists of persons receiving pensions were printed as part of the annual reports of the Comptroller General in the series Reports and Resolutions to the General Assembly beginning in 1888. The 1901 list from the 1902 Reports and Resolutions has been reprinted in Brent H. Holcomb, editor, South Carolina's Confederate Pensioners in 1901 (Columbia, S.C.: SCMAR, 2001).

The repository also holds county copies of pension applications and county pension lists from a number of other counties. The South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina holds a Lexington County list of pensioners beginning in 1897.

GENERAL NOTE: Filmed with Confederate Pension Papers, 1945-1965. 

HIERARCHICAL NOTE: Forms part of the records of the Board of Honor for York County.