North Carolina Confederate Soldier's and Widow's Pension Applications (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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North Carolina, Confederate Soldiers and Widows Pension Applications, 1885-1953 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
North Carolina, United States
North Carolina flag.png
Flag of North Carolina
US Locator North Carolina.png
Location of North Carolina
Record Description
Record Type Pension Applications
Collection years 1885-1953
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites


What is in the Collection?

The collection consists of images of applications for pensions filed by Confederate veterans or their widows for the years 1885 to 1953. The records are divided into two basic sets:

  • Applications 1885 to 1901
  • Applications after 1901

The records are arranged alphabetically by the first letter of the last name within each record set. There are also indexes following the two collections.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for North Carolina, Confederate Soldiers and Widows Pension Applications, 1885-1953.

Collection Content

Sample Image

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

Information found in Confederate Soldier Pensions may include:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Address and Parish
  • Regiment name
  • Military experiences
  • Postwar life
  • References to wife and/or children
  • Nature of incapacity

Information found in Widow Pensions may include:

  • Name (Married and Maiden)
  • Deceased soldier's name and regiment
  • Cause and Date of soldier's death
  • Date of birth
  • Address and Parish
  • Date of birth
  • Date of marriage
  • Nature of the soldier's or widow's incapacity

The first general pension law in North Carolina for Confederate veterans and widows (Chapter 214) was passed in 1885. This law provided for the payment of $30.00 annually to Confederate veteran residents of the state who had lost a leg, eye, or arm, or who were incapacitated for manual labor while in the service of the Confederate States during the Civil War. Widows of soldiers who were killed in service were entitled to the same benefits as long as they did not remarry. Any person, however, who owned property with a tax value of $500.00 or received a salary of $300.00 per year from the nation, state, or county was not eligible.

These pension laws, however, underwent numerous changes over the next few decades. Chapter 116 of the laws of 1887 amended the 1885 law to include widows of soldiers who had died of disease while in service. The next general pension law was passed in 1889 and remained in effect until it was amended in 1901. As per this amendment, applications had to be certified, witnessed, and filed with the county commissioners who in turn sent them to the State Auditor.

In 1901, the General Assembly of North Carolina passed a new pension law (Chapter 332). Under the new act, "Every person who has been for twelve months immediately preceding his or her application for pension bona fide resident of the State, and who is incapacitated for manual labor and was a soldier or a sailor in the service of the State of North Carolina or of the Confederate States of America, during the war between the States (provided said widow was married to said soldier or sailor before the first day of April, 1865) was entitled to a pension.

The pensioners were divided into four classes:

  • First class, totally incompetent from wounds to perform manual labor, $72.00 per year
  • Second class, those who lost a leg above the knee or an arm above the elbow, $60.00 annually
  • Third class, those who lost a foot or leg below the knee or a hand or an arm below the elbow or had a limb rendered useless from a wound, $48.00 annually
  • Fourth class, those who lost one eye, widows, and those unfit for manual labor, $30.00 annually.

Certain persons were excluded from benefits under general pension acts.

No person holding a national, state, or county office for which he received $300.00 annually, no person with property valued at $500.00 or more, and no person receiving aid under laws for relief of totally blind and maimed was eligible (inmates of the Soldiers' Home, recipients of pensions from other states, and deserters were excluded from benefits under the pension acts, although inmates of the Soldiers' Home were granted quarterly allowances of $1.50 in 1909 -- increased to $3.00 quarterly in 1913).

Practically each succeeding General Assembly made some change in the pension laws.

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:

  • The name of the soldier.
  • The approximate date of birth.
  • The approximate date of death.
  • The names of family members and their relationships.

Search by Name by visiting the Collection Page:
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.


View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒ Select the "Beginning name - Ending name" category which takes you to the images

Look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.


What Do I Do Next?

When you have located your ancestor’s pension application, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. The pieces of information in the record may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. This information will often lead you to other records.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

  • Use the age to calculate an approximate birth date.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the residence or place of birth of the deceased to locate census, church, and land records.
  • Use the information from the pension application to search for additional military records.
  • Death dates may lead to death certificates, mortuary, or burial records.
  • Confederate records are often fragmentary due to incomplete muster and descriptive rolls. The records are otherwise considered a reliable source in family history research. The reliability, of course, depends on the accuracy of the informant

I Can’t Find Who I’m Looking for, What Now?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby states.


Citing This Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.  

Collection Citation:

"North Carolina, Confederate Soldiers and Widows Pension Applications, 1885-1953." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing State Auditor. State Archives, Raleigh.

Image citation:

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for North Carolina, Confederate Soldiers and Widows Pension Applications, 1885-1953.

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