Pension File Treasure Trove

Earlier this year I spent one wonderful day at the National Archives in Washington, DC.  I spent the morning looking at land records.  The afternoon was devoted solely to The pension file of my paternal 3rd great grandfather John L Gamble.

Me to john gamble

I was super excited when I received the file.  It was much thicker than I expected.  The file included the original pension request from my g-g-g-grandfather, the additional paperwork from his wife to continue with a widow’s pension, and ending with the paperwork to close the file at her death.  To say it was AWESOME is an understatement.  I was in full genealogy geek out mode.  Imagine every library celebration except dancing in the aisles.

Among the gems I found was death information for my g-g-g-grandmother, Alice Wise, marriage information for John L Gamble and his second wife, Margaret Thompson, detailed information about where John Gamble lived his entire life, an outline of parents, siblings with their birth dates and marriages, and death information for both John L Gamble and Margaret Thompson.  Additionally, I learned about John L Gamble’s military service, the illness he fought in a military hospital, and injuries he received as a child.

This was the first pension file I have found in my family.  I see it as another record set to add to my researcher pedigree.  I highly recommend using military pension records if you have any ancestors who served.  The government was extremely good at verifying and documenting details.  If you do not have the chance to visit the National Archives for research, you can order a copy of your ancestor’s pension file at
The cost to order is $80.  This amount is small in comparison to travel costs to visit Washington, DC.

I plan on sharing the pension details for all of these genealogy gems over the next several months. Be on the lookout!

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One Reply to “Pension File Treasure Trove”

  1. I agree! As I was trying to get off my computer last night (hah – always later than I mean to), I got to following “breadcrumbs” for a second uncle of mine whom I had never found a death for. I found an 18 page Civil War pension file on that tells me he divorced his first wife in NYC in 1877 and remarried in New Jersey, and that wife had died. He listed his three living children – two of whom I hadn’t known about! There was also a note about his death date (when they stopped paying his pension). Believe me, I wanted to stay up all night to continue researching, but I do need my sleep! And I won’t be able to do much work on this in the next week as we’re going away, but I hope to get back to this and blog about what I found soon. I’m looking forward to reading about what you found!

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