Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Analyzing a War of 1812 pension

While my computer is recovering for it's recent illness- that of the dead hard drive- my husband, Rich has contributed his own posting about a pension from the War of 1812: 

 Even though the bicentennial of the War of 1812 is over, there are still things going on commemorating this war. The sixth annual Oswego War of 1812 Symposium will be held on April 2 – 3, 2016 at the Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center at the Best Western Hotel in the City of Oswego, NY. Another big project that has been ongoing for several years is the Preserve the Pensions project. The goal is to digitize the War of 1812 pension records, all 7.2 million pages of them, and allow free access of these images on Fold3. They are currently digitizing pensions of soldiers with surnames starting with letter “M”.
Since my 1812 ancestor’s surname starts with an “L”, his pension has been added to Fold3. In 1878 Hannah Losee filed for a widow’s pension based on her husband Cornelius’ service in the war.  She was awarded a benefit of $8.00 per month. Much information of genealogical value was found in the pension including: Cornelius’ first wife’s name, Sarah Ames, who died in Greenburgh, NY about 1816; his marriage in the Town of Ossining, (Westchester County) NY on 19 Aug 1819 to Hannah (nee Anderson), the ceremony having been performed by Methodist minister Theodorius Clark, there being no written record; Cornelius’ occupation as blacksmith; his physical description of dark gray eyes, black curly hair, dark complexion, about 5’6’’ or 5’7” tall; a residence of Ossining in 1851 when Cornelius was aged 72; Cornelius’ death on 11 Aug 1864 in Ossining; and Hannah’s death date of 26 Jul 1885, aged 85 years, 7 months and 13 days. There were also references to three children, which included their ages and residences. The pension also states he contracted deafness from sleeping on the ground during his service.
Some of this information, such as Cornelius’ physical description, needs no further scrutiny. However, other items of information should be checked out using the web. For instance, the minister Theodorius Clark, who purportedly married Hannah and Cornelius in 1819 in Ossining, should be explored further. Since the minister’s name is rather uncommon, plugging his name into a search engine might prove fruitful.
A Google search yields the correct spelling of his first name, Theodosius.  His name appeared in yearly minutes that were published by The New York Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The 1873 Minutes of the Eighty-Third Session contains a memoir of the late minister. We learn that his first assignment was to Jamaica, Long Island in 1812. He was in Stamford, CT in 1815 - 1816; Ridgefield, CT in 1817 - 1818; Granville, MA in 1819; Pittsfield, MA in 1820 - 1821, Chatham, NY in 1822 – 1823; Saratoga, NY in 1824 and so on. From 1833 – 1834 he lived in Sing Sing (the village of Ossining was called Sing Sing until 1901) as part of the Mount Pleasant circuit and after that took several other assignments before retiring in 1837 at the age of 51 due to ill health. He attended the Sing Sing M. E. Church for many years prior to his death in 1872 and he is buried in Dale Cemetery in Ossining.
Now that we have this background information about Theodosius Clark, we can better analyze the statement in the pension concerning Cornelius and Hannah’s 1819 marriage. The 1819 date ties in well with the birthdate listed in the pension of the oldest child, a son Montgomery Losee, born Aug 30, 1820. But if Theodosius was ministering in Granville, MA in 1819, that is about 100 miles away from Ossining, NY. There is no indication that the couple had any previous connections with Theodosius. Since Hannah was in her late seventies when giving her depositions it is more likely that she may have remembered the date she was married as a nineteen year old girl but may have forgotten the name of the presiding minister. Since Theodosius resided in Ossining for almost forty years until his death, it is likely that Hannah was well acquainted with him. She might have mistakenly thought that he had performed the ceremony. The conclusion I draw from this is that another Methodist minister likely married Cornelius and Hannah.  
As genealogists we try not to take information in a source to be gospel truth. This pension example shows how analysis and correlation can be done with information gathered to arrive at a sound conclusion. The information in the pension concerning Cornelius’ military service needs to be analyzed in a similar way to test its soundness.  But this is for another day…

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