Friday, November 6, 2009

NARA!

So I ordered my pension record for my John Berger about ten minutes ago from NARA.  I'm glad I did it because I think it will have a lot of information I've been wanting for a long time.  I only wish I had ordered it sooner because I would love to make it a Christmas present for my grandmother (John's granddaughter).  I do have some questions though and after combing the NARA site and various FAQs, I still haven't found the answer to them:
  • First off, John Berger filed a pension application in 1879 when he became an "invalid."  Then, after his death, his wife Susanna filed a widow's pension.  Which one will I get in the mail?  Both? What is even more weird is that if you go on Footnote, they only have his 1879 pension application, yet if you go on Ancestry they only have the pension his widow filed (but it does make note of the earlier pension).  I'm hopeful that I'll get both (for what I'm paying for it, I better!).
  • On a related note: what is the difference between the two?  I've seen examples of the widow's pension and it is mostly just her proving her marriage to the veteran.  In a pension application for an "invalid" is it just them proving their handicap or illness?
  • Will the same information in the compiled service record (something I will order in the future) be in the pension file I just ordered?  I don't think so, but I have to wonder if much of the information in the compiled service record (which is smaller than the pension file) is in the pension file.
  • This is more of a rant than a question, but NARA really needs to get rid of those stupid error messages.  I hit "submit order" three times and each time I got a different error message.  Luckily, I checked my account because there it was, it had been "received" so apparently the error messages don't mean anything.  After scanning a FAQ, I found out that this is a known issue and should be "disregarded."  Would it be really difficult to fix this, NARA?  I'm sure I'm not the only one who has been totally confused by it.
I'll write more about it later and I'd like to provide a step-by-step walkthrough of the ordering process because I know that that is something I would have liked.  I'm hopeful that I'll have the record by February, but it could be as late as March before I get it because the estimate is anywhere from 42-120 days.  This being the start of the holiday season, I doubt anyone will get their record in 42 days...

Other records to order from NARA:
  • John Berger's Civil War compiled service record.
  • John Clements's Civil War pension file.  (John Clements was the brother of my ggg-grandmother, Elizabeth Clemens/Clements Allen)
  • John Clements's Civil War compiled service record.
  • pension files and/or compiled service records for my Webbs and Wellons.
  • various WWI and WWII records, I still need to look into this some more.

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