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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Using Civil War Pension Files, Part III - The case of Ernst Reif

Our last post about Ernst, we reviewed the letters of the Adjutant General, and assistants, regarding the death of Ernst, and the extent of his wound.  He was injured by gunshot wound of the thigh, while engaged in combat at the Battle of Stone River, which developed into Erysipelas :

an acute, sometimes recurrent disease caused by a bacterial infection. It is characterized by large, raised red patches on the skin, especially that of the face and legs, with fever and severe general illness.


We continue with the War of the Rebellion Widow's Pension (Original With Increase)  page 103/220

Chicago Pension Office, case 184.488

Catherine Reif now Geeting, widow of Ernst Reif, Priv., Company H, 34 IL Vol.

Resident of Ogle County, State of Illinois, Post Office of Forreston,
Attorney, JP Jones, Rockford, Winnebago County, Fee of $ Twenty-five. having been filed Feb. 19, 1872

Rate of pension $ Eight per month, commencing October 20, 1867, day after soldier's death, (ending June 6, 1875 the date of widow's remarriage) and two dollars per month additional for each child as follows:

Child : Mary   Born August 2, 1867                                 Commencing October 20, 1867
                        Sixteen on August 1, 1883

Admitted and approved by Examiner, June 5, 1879 and Reviewer June 12, 1879

Dates Shown by Papers :

Enlistment Sept , 1861
Muster into pensionable rank Sept 7, 1861
Discharge June 4, 1863
Death Oct 19, 1867
Invalid app. filed  Oct 13, 1863
Invalid last paid to Sept 4, 1867
Widow's app. filed  Oct 28, 1878
Right accrued Oct 19, 1867
Claim completed Oct 28, 1876
Former marriage of soldier  NONE
Death of former wife  NONE
Claimant's marriage to soldier Oct 4, 1863
Claimant's remarriage June 6, 1875

Handwritten comment : Minor's claim heretofore allowed
Cause of death Erysipelas result of GSW (gunshot wound) Place of Death  House - after discharge

Page 104/220  Incidental Matters

Handwritten :

Minor in receipt of pension from the date of widow's re-marriage.

Widow's claim formerly rejected, on the grounds that it was barred by limitation.

Atty. JP Jones made inquiry Dec 19, 1878, relative to the date of commencement of pension which is regarded equivalent to re-opening the claim.

Page 105/220 Summary of Proof, No Former Marriage of Soldier

as shown by declaration of widow

Marriage of Soldier to Claimant

The marriage of Ernest Reif to Catharine Foy
is shown by certified copy of Public Records
Re-Marriage to Simon Geeting, June 6, 1875,
    by certified copy of Public Record

Dates of Birth of Children

By the affidavit of attending physician

Dates of Deaths of Children


Page 106/220     Proof As To Death (of Soldier)
Reports and Testimonies of Adjutant General, Surgeon General Officer, Fellow Soldiers Army Surgeon, Attending Physician, Certificate of Disability, Other Testimony

Soldier was pensioned at rate of $4 - contraction of left leg

Surg. Gen. USA March '78 : Reports soldier admitted to Hospital with GSW of the thigh and discharged  from service on June 4,  or 6, 1863 by reason of GSW

Certificate of Disability, July 2 '63 shows the same as above as  to cause of disability

Lieunt. Hanselods (sp?) Nov. '63  shows that wound was received in line of duty while advancing under the fire of the enemy

Dr. Frazey, Oct 28, 1876  Soldier was sound at enlistment, was his physician after his return home to date of 
death - Oct 19, 1867, cause of death was the result of GSW

Same Physician, Feb 19 '77 and May 23 '78  Soldier a constant sufferer from said wound prior to his death, died Oct 19, 1867 of phlegmonous erysipelas, the result of long continued suffering and low vitality which continued from the time of his return from the army until his death, entirely incapacitated for labor.

Same Physician  Oct 26, 1878 writes direct to this office that in his opinion the erysipelas was caused by the wound in the leg or hip, - Am positive that the erysipelas was developed by the condition produced by the wound, (For full particulars see Minor's Brief)

To Be Cont.

UP NEXT : It is revealed that Catherine Foy and Ernst Reif married before the War in 1861, but the license was never filed


Catherine remarried to Samuel Nietz, who deserted her and her child, and she filed for divorce, two years later.....

A Soap Opera Indeed

Friday, December 2, 2016

Using Civl War Pension Files, Part II : The Case of Ernst C. Reif

Continued....The Pension File of Ernst C. Reif, US Civil War Veteran, 34th Illinois Reg. Vols.


Question: What were the requirements for an injured, invalid person who served the nation, to be able to obtain a government pension for support, in the event he could not support himself because of that injury?

Answer:  The War of 1861. Act of July 14, 1862

Under the act of Congress approved July 14, 1862, pensions are granted to the following classes of persons.
I. Invalids, disabled since March 4, 1861, in the military or naval service of the United States, in the line of duty.
II. Widows of officers, soldiers, or seamen dying of wounds received or of disease contracted in the military or naval service, as above.
III. Children, under sixteen years of age, of such deceased persons, if there is no widow surviving, or from the time of the widow's remarriage.
IV. Mothers (who have no husband living) of officers, soldiers or seamen, deceased as aforesaid, provided the latter have left neither widow nor children under sixteen years of age; and provided, also, that the mother was dependent, wholly or in part, upon the deceased for support.
V. Sisters, under sixteen years of age, of such deceased persons, dependent on the latter, wholly or in part, for support, provided there are no rightful claimants of either of the [???] last preceding classes.
Ernst C. Reif applied for his invalid pension on the 12th day of September 1863 in Ogle County, Illinois. The County Clerk, Albert Woodcock, filed the paperwork, with witnesses, Cyrus Billig and Robert Crunkleton, both residets of the county.  Ernst was 24 years old, sworn to testify the true answers to each question.  He confirmed that he was a volunteer of the 34th Regmt. of Illinois, and entered service at Mount Morris.  His company H was commanded by Capt. Miller, and the 34th Infantry was commanded by Col. Kirk, Bristol(?), etc.  He confided that he was discharged while in Louisville, Ky on the 4th of June in 1863.  Further, Ernst told his story of being engaged at the Battle of Stone River in Tennessee on the 31st of Dec in 1862.  He was shot in the front side of the left thigh, with the ball going through and seriously injured the bone so as to produce lameness, which still existed, and no prospects of improvement.  He refers to the Surg. Certificate that shows he was discharged and the certificate of Doctor Colescott of Louisville, the resident surgeon. He returned to Forreston, Illinois, and has been resting himself, not being able to labor on account of his disability.
Prior to his injuries, he was of good health and had good tempermant.  Now he is considered three fourths disabled and not earning wages.  He wishes to be placed on the Invald Pension Roll.  His represented attorney, C C Tucker, of Washington DC, said he will issue his pension certificate.  He agreed to have his pension mailed to the Post Office at Forreston, Ogle County, Illinois, because his place of abode is in this town, and it is a small place without numbers on the houses. He signed his name as the applicant, (and quite nicely, I might add)  
The two witnesses and the Clerk of Ogle County signed the form, and it was notarized.
On February 8, 1864, Ernst Reif was allowed a pension of $4 per month, commencing June 4, 1863.
A brief was written in the case of Ernest C. Reif, Priv, Co H 34th Ref. Ill Vols.
He reported that his post office address was Forreston, Ogle County, Illinois, along with his dates of enlistment and discharge.  
The brief asked for proof exhibited for Ernst to claim for an invalid pension.  The points written were as follows:
1  Discharge for gun shot wound of  left thigh rec'd at Battle of Stone River.
2. Adjutant General reports him wounded at the Battle of Stone River
3.  1st Lt. certified claimant became disabled Dec 31/62, that his Co. was ordered to advance under fire of the Enemy, and in so doing claimant rec'd a gun shot wound in the front side of left thigh, ball going through and injuring the bone so as to produce lameness & unable to walk without crutches. 
4.  Attndg Surg. certifies June 12/63 to gun shot wound of left thigh, Some contraction & adhesion of parts injured, cannot straighten limb at knee, walks on toes of injured limb, Disability one half and permanent.  Exm. not ordered.
Disabled by Contraction of left leg 
His Cert. No. 34.340, was paid to him, through the Chicago Illinois pension office from 1863 ending 1867.
The Report of the Death of a Pensioned Veteran :

A very yellowed form from the Department of the Interior, Pension Office, dated Nov. 29th, 1876

"Sir : Your respectfully requested to furnish official evidence of the enrollment, must, service duty, and discharge of death of Ernest Reif, who was a private in Company H, 34th Regiment of Illinois Vols. reported died October 19th 1867.

If the above name is not found on the rolls of said Company, will you so state, and report as to enrollment, in the case of any man bearing a similar name, whom you have good reason for believing to  the soldier inquired for.

Please, also, to furnish any evidence on file that may enable this Office to decide whether the soldier's death resulted from injuries received or disease contracted in the service and line of duty."

Please return this circular with your report. Claim No. 228.542
Very respectfully, signed JA Bentley, commissioner pensions
Adjutant General, U.S.A.

The reply is as follows:

The Adjutant General's Office has an acknowledgement of the receipt for the Pension Application
No. 228.542, (widow and child pension application)  dated Dec. 18, 1876, Washington, D.C.

They are repeating what had appeared in the Rolls on file in the Adjutant General Office :

"Ernest C. Reif, was enrolled on the 7 day of Sept, 1861, at Mt. Morris, in Co. H,
34th Regiment of Illinois Volunteers, to serve 3 years or during the war, and mustered into service as
a Priv. on the 7 day of Sept., 1861, at Camp Butler, in Co. H, 34 Regiment of Illinois Volunteers
to serve 3 years, or during the war.  On the Master Roll of Co. H, of that Regiment, for the period
from muster in to Feb. 28, 1862, he is reported present.  So reported until roll for Nov. & Dec 1862,
reports him.  Taken prisoner at Murfreesboro.  Subsequently reported wounded in Battle of Stone
River Dec 31/62.  In hospital at Nashville, until roll for May and June, 1863 reports him Discharged
June 3 1863, for disability.  Regt. was in action at Murfreesboro, Tenn. Dec 31/62.
Prisoner of war records furnish no information.
Certificate of disability reports him dischd. at Louisville, Ky.
June 4th 1863, which date is accepted as correct."

I am, sir very respectfully,
your obedient servant,

S N Benjamin, Assistant Adjutant General


Additionally, this letter...

On 4 Jan 1877, a form letter sent by the Department of the Interior, Pension Office, requested the full medical history as possible on the soldier, Ernest Reif, Co. H,34th Regt. Ill. Vols.
     Enlisted  Sept 7 1861
     Discharged June 4/63

Allegations of Claimant in regard to Fatal Disease or Injury,
     Wounded at battle of Stone River Dec. 31st 1862

Report of the Adjutant General U.S. Army
     Enlist.d Sept. 7/61 Pm. Co. H. 34th Ill Vols
     Wounded in battle of Stone River Dec 31/62
     In hospital at Nashville until June 1863
     Roll for June reports him dischgd. June 3 1863
          for disability

     Cert. of disability reports him dischgd. at Louisville Ky
     June 4, 1863

No comments on Death
No comments on Miscellaneous Statements

Please return this circular with your report.

Signed : J A Bentley, commissioner, pensions

The Surgeon General, U. S. Army
Claim No. 228.543

To be continued...Catherine Reif and her daughter, Mary, file for support as a widow and child of the deceased Ernst C. Reif