Monday, December 4, 2017

MILITARY MONDAY ~ Civil War Pension File for Corporal John E. Hunter (1842-1870)

Civil War header
John E. Hunter
Son of Rev. Isaac C. Hunter and Emily Gillen
I have been researching the Hunter family for 15 years.  During that time I was able to learn about 3 of the 5 children born to Rev. Isaac C. Hunter and his wife Emily Gillen.  Both John E. Hunter and his sister Martha remained a mystery. 
  • Where did they go? 
  • Did they live to adulthood? 
  • Did they marry and if so to whom?
  • When did they die and where are they buried?
Enter DNA testing.  I was contacted on October 12th this year, by a Hunter descendant  who matched me via Ancestry.  

“You came up as a DNA match for me . Would you be interested in linking family trees? I am related to Hunter & Frampton.”

Through this one contact I was able to obtain information about the life of my maternal 2nd great granduncle, John E. Hunter.

Thankfully he had one son who lived to pass on his genes.  You can read about this DNA discovery on my blog post When Contact from a DNA Cousin Leads to Great New Information

I learned that John E. Hunter enlisted in the Union Army, as a Private, on 2 Oct 1861, in Ohio.1  He enlisted in Company H, Ohio 6th Cavalry Regiment.  He was mustered out on 28 Oct 1864.  I ordered his Civil War Pension File from Twisted Twigs on Gnarled Branches Genealogy.  Please click on the link to this website, found in the right hand column to learn more.

Here is what I learned from the pension file.

During his time of service he was both wounded and captured as a prisoner of war.

When I receive a pension file the first thing I do is save it to my computer under the appropriate surname and military file.  Once that is done I read through the entire file page by page.  Then at my next convenience I begin going through the pension file page by page and making notes of what I find and extracting the pages containing that information.
In this case Private Hunter’s file was 111 pages long.  Here are some of  the pages I extracted from the file.

TIP: You can read through these pension files several times and you will catch something you missed just about every time.  Today I realized I hadn’t caught the middle name of John E. Hunter – it’s Elwell.  AND…..even more important, the middle name of his wife, Lottie R. Miller.  Her middle name is READ.  I don’t have a maiden name for Lottie’s mother and this could be a lead.

Cover page and page 4 – I love seeing the old tattered pages such as the cover page.  On page four I’ve underlined important items such as where John was born, his age at discharge, his physical description – 5 ft. 6 1/2 inches, light complexion, blue eyes and dark hair, and his occupation – carpenter.  You can’t beat that for personal information on your ancestor.

Cover page  HUNTER_John E_page 4

Page 9 -  It’s a letter from John’s son, Heber Elwell Hunter. The letter was written to the Bureau of Pensions on 23 Jun 1935.  In it Heber is asking for a copy of the certificate of birth contained in the pension file.  He apparently needs it for an annuity insurance application.  He probably had no other record of his own birth.

Again I’ve underlined and indicated the items of interest on this page.  Private Hunter’s full name – John Elwell Hunter, Lottie’s full name, the exact date of birth of Heber E. Hunter – 12 Sep 1868 and the exact location of his birth – Louisville, Clay, Illinois.  Along with that you have Heber’s signature and his mailing address at this point in his life.

And page 63 – which is signed by Private Hunter’s widow Lottie and gives her exact date an place of birth.

Hunter_Page 9 - ltr requesting birth cert  page 63 Lotties date & place of birth

Page 78 - This is a page giving reference to his being a prisoner of war and that he was wounded.

HUNTER_John E_CivilWarPension File 78

There were many affidavits/depositions given during the application process for a pension.  Many of these are from family members, long time friends, doctors or people who served with the soldier.  They can provide valuable information regarding relationships, living conditions, places of residence, medical conditions etc.  One other thing I like about these affidavits is the signatures of those deposed.  I enjoy collecting signatures of my ancestors.  Here are a few from this pension file.

page 59 signature of Isaac Hunter
Isaac C. Hunter - brother of John
page 33 - signature of Emma Seed
Emma Seed - half sister of John
signature of Lottie R Hunter-12 May 1887
Lottie R. Hunter - widow of John
 It appears from statements made in his file, that John worked at various jobs after his military discharge. At one point he fell off of a building while doing work with his stepfather.  He worked as a clerk in a drug store for a short time and also apparently went to New Orleans, Louisiana to work for his brother Isaac Hunter, who was a Riverboat Captain.

He sustained a gunshot wound to the shoulder while serving in the Army. This is said to have left him with a lot of pain and related issues such as asthma attacks and palpitations.
John E. Hunter died while staying at his brother’s home in Shreveport, Caddo, Louisiana on 15 Nov 1870.  His cause of death was listed as “acute fatal pneumonia.”  He was 28 years old at the time of his death.

Other than the birth of his son in 1868, it sure sounds like life was rough for this brave young man when he came home from the war.

Information in the pension file tells us that his widow who was only 24 years old when John died, never remarried.  She lived until 1922 and was 76 at the time of her death.  For 52 years she lived as the widow of her Civil War soldier.  I would sure love to have a photo of either one of these two ancestors.

If you believe you are related to anyone mentioned in this blog post, please contact me, I’d love to hear from you.

Sources: 1. U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles

Happy hunting,
Michigan Girl 
Copyright ©  2010-2017 Diane Gould Hall


  1. Since Charlotte Read Hunter was a "Miller" upon marrying John E. Hunter on 20 May 1867, the concensus on is that she was born in Ohio to Thompson Miller and Abigail (Sparks) Miller.

    1. Thank you for your comment. First of all, I had her name as "Lottie" never having thought she was probably a Charlotte. I have her mother's name as Abbie (maiden name unknown) and now you've given me more info to go on. Can't thank you enough for sharing.


I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.