Monday, April 12, 2010

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 17

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within paint a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure with you a few pages at a time.

Page 33 - Letter regarding the death of Amalie Baerecke (Max's widow)

Jan. 10th, 1912
U.S. Pension Agent
Dear Sir:
My Mother, Mrs. Amalie Baerecke died the fourth day of January 1912, at one o'clock P.M. She was attended by Dr. Wm. Sickles, whose office is in the Majestic building. Enclosed please find her pension certificate & voucher.

Very Respectfully
Mrs. C. J. Smith
680 33 St.

What did I learn from this document?

I know that my great-great-great grandmother died in the afternoon of January 4th. I have other documentation that gives the date (some in this file, some elsewhere), but this is the only record that gives an exact time.

I know the name of Amalie's physician and could research him or his office building if I feel so inclined.

I know "Mrs. C. J. Smith" is close enough to Amalie to have the authority to write a letter to the U.S. Pension Agent and get Amalie's affairs settled. I also know the street address of Mrs. C. J. Smith. Based on the information provided in this file, I believe I know the city and state as well.

Through outside research and communication with other Baerecke descendants, I know that Mrs. C. J. Smith is probably Lena Baerecke, the youngest child of Max and Amalie. If I didn't know that, I would assume that Mrs. C. J. Smith was the married name of one of the daughters and do what I needed to find out which one.

Mrs. C. J. Smith is my third great aunt. When I peek at the coming pages of this file, it appears that she handled the correspondence regarding the pension after Amalie's death.

Coming up, a letter that shows government bureaucracy and red tape were alive and well 100 years ago.

Stay tuned....


  1. Is that address in Milwaukee?

    The street numbering system changed in 1930 (or 1931...don't remember which), but if so, I think I know roughly where that would be now. It's a rough neighborhood today, but the flip side of that is that many, many of the original houses are still standing.

  2. I think you deserve the Ancestor Approve blog award. You can find out more here: Keep up the good work!!

  3. Kerry, yes I'm pretty sure it's Milwaukee.

  4. Interesting, keeping tuned.

  5. I am waiting impatiently for a pension file (the first one I ordered seemed to process much more quickly, but I bet I was just as an impatient for that one! LOL).

    They are such treasure-troves of information!