War of 1812 Pension Records

If you love family tree research, then you know how exciting it is to find a new resource, especially for long, long, long-dead ancestors. It’s also amazing how many records now are available at the click of a mouse. It makes me worry for the survival of dusty archives, but that’s a topic for another day.

The other day, I checked out http://www.fold3.com. It’s a depository of military records. It’s going to have to pick up more data in order for me to spring for the subscription price. However, I enjoyed my free trial.

I discovered War of 1812 pension records on fold3. All I really knew about the War of 1812 was the Battle of New Orleans. It never occurred to me that some of my ancestors might have actually fought in it. I just assumed they were busy tending to their farming along the bayous in Louisiana.

From reading the pension files, it seems the federal government was a little skeptical that the Cajuns left their farms to fight in the Battle of New Orleans. I saw rejection after rejection of pension applications. However, there’s some really great information in there, and some good gossip about early day slimy lawyers.

Here’s the file card for Joseph Montet.

filecard

Joseph was born Joseph Philippe Montet in 1789. He and his wife, Marie Francoise Giroir, had eight children. I’m descended from Joseph Florentin Montet, their fourth child.

Joseph claimed to have served in Capt. Borel Aycock’s company. He said he signed up at Donaldsonville in 1814 and was discharged on March 1, 1815.  The records confirm this was true – although I read many records where no service could be confirmed.

application

The page above is the 1800s version of a fill-in-the-blank form. You can see where Joseph – or someone filling it out for him – filled in the blanks. Joseph later supplied an “x” for his mark on a signature so it’s doubtful this is his handwriting.

bounty

Joseph also made a claim for a land bounty, and here again, was something I didn’t know. If you served in the war, you could get acreage depending on when you enlisted. However, the land initially was in Arkansas, Illinois or Missouri. Later, though, bounty land warrants were awarded in a broader area.

Swearing that Joseph served in the war were Jean Baptiste Guillot and Simeon Landry.

I don’t know if Joseph Montet got his land. But it was fun to get another glimpse into his life.

Other pension files revealed death dates, marriage records and baptism records. Even better, fold3 is accessible from my laptop through the local library. UPDATE: It appears the library has discontinued access to fold3.

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