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Mining Revolutionary War Pensions: A widow forgets her marriage date

Widows applying for benefits under various pension laws were required to provide proof of marriage in order to determine their eligibility for benefits and the rate at which they were to be paid. Many of the widows were unable to provide official documents or family records. Furthermore some widows could not provide an exact date, place, or name of an official who performed the ceremony. However many were able to obtain affidavits of witnesses, relatives and neighbors who could testify that the widow and veteran were legally married or consider so within their community.

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Hardy County, Virgina...

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Sarah Redman, wife of John Redman. Pension #W5691

Hardy County, Virgina (now West Virginia)

The case of Sarah Redman, wife of veteran John Redman, reflects one of the challenges faced by elderly widows when applying for pension benefits and exemplifies a process by which some of these widows succeeded in obtaining pensions. 

Sarah could not recall the exact date of her marriage and did not possess any written proof of the marriage.  She did not possess a family Bible, a church record or other document that she could present to Hardy County court officials to support her testimony.

She could not recall important facts and dates from her youth, information that was crucial to the approval of her application for pension benefits.   Her initial testimony reveals at the age of eighty plus years she could only provide two pieces of information: that she’d married more than fifty years previous to the year 1838, and that the marriage occurred prior to January 1, 1794.

Subsequent documents within the file, affidavits of Richard and Rachel Redman, reflected that both were present at John and Sarah's marriage.  Their testimonies provided acceptable evidence for pension officials to approve Sarah’s pension application. 

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