by Robert M. McAllister, August, 2001
The records which most genealogists use at the National Archives (NA) in Washington, DC, and in the Regional Centers, are the microfilmed census and other material, like military service records. There are a lot of other paper records of interest to genealogical researchers, some of which are poorly indexed. To help genealogists locate these records, some authors have published finding aids, which are used by a small staff of research assistants. In two recent trips to the NA, I was fortunate in being helped by two of the latter.
Wanda Shelton asked me to locate five pension records in a group referred to as the "Lost Pensions". My first attempt to locate these records was on Monday, August 27. Room 410 in the NA is the place to find the indexes, and where the Reference Service Slips are filled out, so that the actual records can be brought to Room 203 for your inspection, and copying. After describing what I wanted, the reference assistants brought out a well-thumbed book, "Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury, Inventory 14 (Revised), Record Group 217", compiled by William F. Sherman, with additions and index by Craig R. Scott, CGRS, Willow Bend Books, Lovettsville, VA, 1997. It appeared that Entry #722, Final Payment Vouchers, Third Auditors Office, contained what I wanted.
After submitting the service slips, I went to Room 203 and waited for the records to be brought to my desk. Three McAllister files were in the retrieved records. The first file in Box 12 consisted of papers describing the pension awarded William McCallister (W10) on September 18, 1833. His pension was eighty dollars a year, paid for wounds and disabilities received for services rendered to the United States during the Revolutionary War. He had served in Captain Sullivan's Infantry Company. He had been residing in Bradley County,TN for five years, and before that he lived in McMinn County, TN. The original pension was approved by Lewis Cass, Secretary of War. In 1842, a further confirmation of the pension was signed by a Justice of the Peace in Bradley County, and was witnessed by John Hambright. The last item in the file was a voucher for $40.00, dated October 31, 1842. William had died on October 3, 1842.
I should emphasize that I reviewed the actual paper records. They have not been microfilmed.
The second file, in Box 17, was for James McAllister who died in Henry County, KY, on November 30, 1849. A certificate filed in Jefferson County, KY named the estate administrator. The form for recording his death, and ending of his pension payments of twenty dollars a month, noted that he left no widow. There is no record of this James McAllister in the CMA computer data base.
The third file, also in Box 17, was for John McAlister, who died in Logan County, KY, on November 27, 1828. Other Kentucky counties in which records were filed were Todd and Fayette. Ephraim McAllister, a son of John, certified the date of death. John had been receiving a Revolutionary War pension of eight dollars a month since July 21, 1818. There is no record of this John McAlister in the CMA computer data base.
I could find no index for this series, Entry #722, Final Payment Vouchers. There may be more McAllister records in them.
After copying these files, I returned to Room 410, where I reviewed the reference book cited above. The exact description of the five files in Wanda Shelton's request, "Settled Accounts for Payment of Accrued Pensions", was found in Entry #724, rather than #722. I decided to return and copy the files in that group.
On Friday, August 31, I went back to NA Room 410, filled out the slips for the five files in Entry #724, and turned them in. Mr. Charles Johnson who had helped me on August 27, decided to take me into the stacks to locate the boxes. Using the Box numbers in Wanda's request, which were the same as in Craig Scott's book in the NA copy of "Lost Pensions", we could not locate any of the files. We returned to Room 410, where we talked to the research specialist who had worked with Scott when the records were indexed. He told us that the box numbers had been changed. He helped us to determine the correct ones. With this new information, we went back into the stacks, and found the files we were looking for. Mr. Johnson put the boxes on a cart and took them to Room 203, where I signed them out for review.
The first file (#2658, in Box 272) was for Henrietta, widow of William McAllister (W10). Essentially, the file contains the records for stopping William's Revolutionary War veteran's pension of eighty dollars a month, since Henrietta had died on November 15, 1858. The correspondence continued into 1860. There is no information in the file mentioning anyone of interest other than Henrietta and William.
The second file (#8105, in Box 58) was for Joseph McAllister (J18), who died in Pulaski, KY, July 22, 1833. Although he left no widow, the following children, with their counties of residence, are contained in the documents: Robert (Pulaski); Harvey (Pulaski) George (Knox, KY); John (Greenup, KY) and Adam (Dixon, TN). Witnesses to one of the documents were Joseph M., James and Nathaniel McAlister, and Jefferson Gilmore. These McAllisters were probably Joseph's brothers. Nancy Gilmore had been Joseph's wife. I believe that Nathaniel is N07, and that James may be JA03. Joseph had been awarded a pension of eighty dollars a month on March 3, 1831. His five sons probably continued to receive an equal share that amount for the rest of their lives. Although Joseph and Nancy Gilmore McAllister had a daughter Martha, she is not mentioned in the documents, probably because she died before 1833.
The third file (#6587, in Box 273) was for Daniel McAlister (D14) of Shelby County, KY, who died August 21, 1846. He had lived there for forty one years, and had come from Virginia. His wife Susan had died several years prior to1846. His heirs were his daughters Lucy Carson and Nancy Harris. They applied for the balance of his pension of thirty six dollars a month, in Oldham County, KY. The D14 file in the CMA computer data base does not list Daniel's wife's name. The death dates for their son Samuel and daughter Susannah can be shown as prior to August 1846.
The fourth file (#1548 in Box 220) was for John McAlllister (A17-3) of Richmond County, NC, who died December 24, 1848. He had lived in Richmond County for sixty years before his death and had previously resided in Kintyre, Scotland. His widow Sarah made a claim for the continuation of his pension of sixty dollars a month, on March 15, 1852.
The fifth file (#6759 in Box 274) was for John McCallister, discharged Private of Captain Nesmith's Company of Oregon Mounted Volunteers. The papers were filed in Marion County, Oregon Territory. John McCallister had fought in the Indian War with the Yakima Indians on the Rogue River in southwest Oregon near the California border in 1853. There is no family file in the CMA data base for this John McCallister.
The research in the NA was well worth the effort. Solid, well-documented information was discovered about four CMA family lines, plus some information about three families we did not even know existed.
This experience taught me that it pays to be persistent, even when researching in the National Archives.