I stumbled across confederate pensions while researching my g-g-grandfather, Jean Severin Hebert. He Americanized his name to John S. Hebert – always emphasizing the S. I guess there were a lot of John Heberts so he wanted to stand out.
Anyhoo, there was a family story about him walking home from the Civil War. I wondered if it was true so I started digging. My quest took me to the State Archives in Baton Rouge, where I scrolled through microfilm (I hate microfilm, by the way. Something about hunching over that machine in the dark sends a shiver down my spine, especially when I come to an unused part of the film and I feel like I might tumble into the darkness. I obviously have issues) until I found him!
Fortunately for me and others, familysearch.org has made it possible to look at Louisiana confederate pension applications from home. Just go to U.S. records, Louisiana and then confederate pensions. They’re not indexed so you have to browse through the images. But it’s pretty easy to find your ancestor.
It took me about 10 minutes to find John S. Hebert of Amelia. He was taken prisoner at Vicksburg and released at Red River Landing. Unfortunately, the application didn’t confirm the story of him walking home from the war.
Another family story was that John S.’s much younger wife, Rosalie Penisson, had whatever money they had. The pension application states that John had no property, but his wife had 15 acres of land.
The application also showed me that John S. could write – few of my Cajun ancestors could. I have no idea where he would have picked up this skill. He must have grown up in a town or his parents were better off than others.
John S. died around 1920. My next quest is to find a picture of him and his wife. I’m hopeful that one exists because I love to look at my ancestors’ faces.