Monday, June 28, 2010

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 23

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 40: Letter from Mrs. Lena Smith

Back in part 18 of this series, there was a letter from the government asking Lena Smith to furnish a bill for nursing (of her dying mother), and for Lena's husband to sign the statement. Below is Lena's reply to that request:

Dear Sir:

Miss Little the nurse has left Milwaukee, for Evanston Ill, and it is impossible for us to locate her. Dr. Sickles send her to us on the afternoon of the 3rd of Jan. and my mother dying on the 4th of Jan. She was dismissed on the afternoon of the 4th of Jan. at 5 o'clock. My husband paid her $4.00 before she left, personally. He never thought to ask for a receipt in that hour if bereavement. Hoping this is satisfactory I remain.

Very Resp'y

Mrs. Lena Smith

What I learned from this record:

I learned that Lena is a lot more polite than I would be. If the government was harassing me for a receipt just hours after a family member died--and after I've provided all the other receipts showing my mother's medical needs and steady decline--I'd probably write something like "HERE IS YOUR RECEIPT!" and...well....there are just so many pictures I could include with that letter. I'd probably get in trouble and not get reimbursed for the widow's medical and burial costs. Gold star to my third-great aunt Lena for exercising restraint.

On to part 24 here.


  1. We can learn a lot about good manners from our ancestors, can't we Amy! I'm with you...I'd have been tempted to tell them what I thought.

  2. restraint can be so difficult. thanks for sharing, the letter is great.