Saturday, November 10, 2007

Aaron & Lydia Fisher Conroy - Civil War Pension

Civil War Pension Application 1098499 filed March 11, 1892
Aaron Conroy, P.O. Pitkin, Gunnison County, Colorado
Enlisted February 17, 1865 and served as a private in Co. B, 7th Reg't, Illinois Infantry and was discharged at Springfield, Illinois on July 9, 1865

Request for a pension under act of June 27, 1890. Declaration made April 30, 1892.
  • He contracted kidney disease at or near Goldborough, N. Carolina on or about February 1865, caused from exposure.
  • Since leaving the service he resided in Illinois, Kansas, Iowa and Colorado. Peoria Ill, Lawrence Kansas, Des Moines Iowa, Pitkin Colo.
  • His occupation has been that of a Engineer and Machinist.
  • He is partially unable to earn a support by reason of the following disabilities: Neuralgia of the heart and kidney complaint & rheumatism incurred at Aspen Colo in March, April and May 1884 working in Spar Mine, but has had the kidney trouble since 1865.
Surgeon's Certificate. Examination was made on June 22, 1892 at Gunnison, Colorado. Aaron stated he was suffering from neuralgia of the heart, rheumatism, and diseased kidneys. He was 5 feet 6 ½ inches tall, weighed 140 pounds, and was 49 years old. The opinion of the examining board was that he was entitled to 4/18 rating for the disability caused by rheumatism and 4/18 for that caused by Diabetis Millitis. However, his request was denied on April 17, 1893 by the Bureau of Pensions.

On May 26, 1893 he filed another affidavit with additional evidence including statements by four of his neighbors; W. W. Stephen and John A. Henderson who both work with him, Charley Scales who is a butcher and Provision Stover, and Scott Dickinson who is a Hardware and Furniturer. A portion of their statement: "We are satisfied that these ailments are not caused by any vicious habits. We know him to be a strictly temperate moral and of a good repute since our acquaintance with him." Denied again.

On May 7, 1896 Aaron filed another application. Statements were signed by W. W. Stephen, John Dempsey and G. A. Dewey on his behalf. One of the doctor's stated that there was no evidence of diabetes millitis but that tests indicated that Aaron suffered with Bright's disease. The examining board rated him 6/18 for disease of the heart, 2/18 for rheumatism and 4/18 for disease of kidneys. Nearly a year passed, and on March 16, 1897 he was once again denied. However, his case was apparently referred to a "Medical Referee." There was a medical call slip where he was told to report for examination. At the bottom where it provides space for noting who made the examination is written "I went to Gunnison on 20th of July 1897 and no one present but McIntosh. Aaron Conroy. You see I have done my duty."

Finally, on September 28, 1897 he was awarded his pension at the rate of $6 per month, commencing on May 7, 1896. So it looks like he may have gotten some back pay.

On May 4, 1898 he filled out a circular that was included with his payment. The following questions were asked (I love his response to the third question!):
  • First. Are you married? If so, please state your wife's full name and her maiden name.
    Answer. I am married, wife full name is Lydie Ellen Conroy, maiden name Lydie Ellen Fisher.
  • Second. When, where, and by whom were you married?
    Answer. Thursday Sept 8th 1870 Lawrence Kas. by Chas Chadwick, Justice of pease.
  • Third. What record of marriage exists?
    Answer. Sunshine & Clouds. More Sunshine then Clouds.
  • Fourth. Were you previously married? If so, please state the name of your former wife and the date and place of her death or divorce.
    Answer. No I was not married before.
  • Fifth. Have you any children living? If so, please state their names and the dates of their birth.
    Answer. I have raised two. old Ills Soldiers girls one from 4 weeks old, up until She was married. The other from 3 years old until now She is 13 years. No children of my own.

On September 12, 1904 Aaron submitted a Declaration for Increase of Pension stating that he is 2/3 unable to earn a support by manual labor. And here, for the first time, it states that he was born on January 15, 1843. The request for increase was denied because he failed to appear at two hearings.

However, he doesn't give up! On March 15, 1907 he again applied for an increase, under the new act of February 6, 1907. And now we get a little more information about him. He is 5 feet 6 ½ inches tall, has a light complexion, gray eyes and light hair. His occupation is that of an Engineer. He was born January 15, 1843 in Wenchestard, Ind. Since leaving the service he resided in Peoria, Ill until 1869. Thence Lawarence Kansas until 1872. Thence Des Moine Iowa until 1879. Since Pitkin Colo up to Date. He is a pensioner by Certificate No. 945.276 at $6 per month. That he has heretofore applied for pension "Increase. Did not git it."

Persistence pays off. His pension was doubled, to $12 per month. He was dropped from the rolls under the act of June 27, 1890 and allowed under the act of February 6, 1907. There was a notation "age over 62" so perhaps that had something to do with the increase. I'm not familiar with the various acts under which pensions were given.

The rules changed again by the Act of May 11, 1912. So, on May 25, 1912 he submitted another declaration and request for increase. This declaration gives his height as 5 feet 6 inches, light complexion, blue eyes, and auburn hair. His occupation is not legible. He was born January 15th 1843 in Winchester, Randolph County, Indiana. His places of residence were Peoria Ill 1865 to 1868, Lawrence to 1871, Desmoines Iowa 1878, Leadville 1880, in Pitkin most the time to current day.

He apparently doesn't like the slowness of the system and writes a letter to the Pension Commissioner on January 15, 1913 which in part reads "I thought I would write you a line in regards to my former application which was allowed May 30th 1912. . . Private and Corporal Co. B. 7th Regment Illinois Volunteers Infantry. Yours very Respectfully, Aaron Conroy Pitkin, Colo. P. S. Now 70 years old to day. Born Jan. 15th 1843"

He didn't get a response right away so wrote another letter on March 20th 1913: "Dear Sir Mr. J. L. Davenport, commissioner of Pension. I see by the National Tribune paper of March 13th that you have ran up all the applications up to June the 3rd and my case being May 30th. Now it is March 20th and most all the old boys have got theres. I thought you might overlooked my case. Aaron Conroy number 945.276 My last aplation was acknalaged by you January 20th 1913. pleas look this up & ablige an old friend & Commarad."

The paperwork shows that on February 20, 1913 he was approved for an increase in his pension to $15 per month with an effective date of May 30, 1912.

Good old government bureaucracy at work. In May 1913 he receives a letter from the Bureau of Pensions "Relative to your claim for pension under act of May 11, 1912, in which you allege that you are 70 years of age, and that you were born January 15th 1843, you are advised that the best obtainable evidence of the date of your birth is required by this Bureau."

In his response, Aaron states that "My daughter now lives in Denver and her H.H. goods in Newbraska thoue she tells me she will write to the parties thare & try to git the old family bible if it is realy nessary." A typewritten transcript was sent to the Bureau from copies sent to Aaron by his daughter May.

Several more increases were given: to $18 commencing January 15, 1913; to $21 January 15, 1918; to $30 on June 10, 1918. These appear to be automatic increases.

On April 2nd 1915 Aaron had to fill out another family questionnaire. Most of the information was the same as previously submitted but with several additional questions:

  • No. 8. Are you now living with your wife, or has there been a separation?
    Answer. I am living with her yet & Expect to Untill Death.
  • No. 9. State the names and dates of birth of all your children, living or dead.
    Answer. Name of my oldest Daughter is Oliva Louise Conroy, Born Dec. 16, 1872 at Lawrance Kansas. Next Daughter Was Born in Pitkin Colo, Augt 11th 1884. Thay are both Married & have family of thear own And Living.

A couple of contradictions here. In May 1898 Aaron states "I have raised two. old Ills Soldiers girls one from 4 weeks old, up until She was married. The other from 3 years old until now She is 13 years. No children of my own." The second girl would have been born about 1885, which matches the 1915 statement. In the 1900 census (Pitkin, Gunnison County, Colorado pg 10) it shows that Lydia has 1 child with 1 living. The 1910 census (same place, pg 13) shows she has 2 children, with 2 living. Confusing, yes? So are the girls theirs by birth or by adoption?

On July 16, 1925 there is simply the following statement: "The name of the above-described pensioner who was last paid at the rate of $50 per month to Jun 4, 1925 has this day been dropped from the roll because of death July 2, 1925." Another document says that "he has been a member of the Colorado Soldiers' and Sailors' Home at home Lake since November 13th 1920 and that he died on the 2nd day of July 1925."

Lydia Conroy applied for a widow's pension on July 11, 1925. She was living at Homelake, Colorado at the time. In her declaration made in Rio Grande County, Colorado Lydia stated "she is 81 years of age, that she was born May 8th 1844 at Stark County, Ohio. She has no children living under 16 years of age." Lydia signed her name on the deposition.

I previously had her birth as March 1845 based upon the 1900 census. A closer look at the image shows it to be May 1845. But this brings up several issues. I have her brother Solomon born in 1844 based on the fact that he was 6 years old in the 1850 census and 17 in the 1860 census. All of the other children of Michael Fisher are listed in order of birth in his will. Solomon is listed before Lydia; perhaps Solomon and Lydia are twins? Or maybe Solomon was born in 1843 instead. Michael's will was signed on March 19, 1845 and went before the probate court on April 21, 1845. Since Lydia is listed in the will she was probably born in May 1844 rather than 1845.

One of the witnesses for Lydia who attested to the fact that she and Aaron Conroy had lived together their entire married life was Mrs. Mame Stevenson, who lived at 2924 Colfax Ave in Pueblo. Mrs. Stevenson also stated that she was 57 years of age and a niece of Mrs. Lydia E. Conroy. Another name to investigate!

Lydia was awarded a pension on November 13, 1925 of $30 per month commencing on July 11, 1925. A "Drop Report" was issued on September 15, 1926. Lydia Fisher Conroy passed away on August 27, 1926. Her name is at the top of the report along with an address of 4924 Colfax Ave., Pueblo, Colorado. There is no other document that shows her death.

Summary:

  • Aaron Conroy was born January 15, 1843 in Winchester, Randolph County, Indiana
  • Lydia Ellen Fisher was born May 8, 1844 at Stark County, Ohio
  • Aaron enlisted February 17, 1865 and served as a private in Co. B, 7th Reg't, Illinois Infantry and was discharged at Springfield, Illinois on July 9, 1865. He was 5 feet 6 ½ inches tall with a light complexion, gray or blue eyes and light or auburn hair.
  • Aaron and Lydia were married on September 8, 1870 in Lawrence, Kansas
  • He was and engineer and machinist and worked in mines. He had a sense of humor, was probably stubborn, and above all, didn't give up.
  • Aaron died July 2, 1925 at Home Lake, Colorado
  • Lydia died August 27, 1926 probably at Pueblo, Colorado, 4924 Colfax Ave.
  • A niece, Mrs. Mame Stevenson lived at 2924 Colfax Ave, Pueblo in October 1925
  • Both Aaron and Lydia were somewhat literate.

Places of Residence during their married life:

  • Lawrence, Kansas to 1871
  • Des Moines, Iowa to 1878
  • Leadville, Lake County, Colorado to 1880
  • Pitkin, Gunnison County, Colorado until November 1920
  • Home Lake, Rio Grande County, Colorado until July 1925
Children (natural or adopted?):
  • Oliva Louise Conroy born December 16, 1872 at Lawrence, Kansas
  • Unnamed daughter born August 11, 1884 in Pitkin, Colorado
  • In February 1913, one of the daughters lived in Denver, Colorado
  • Both were married prior to April 1915

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