Monday, April 8, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: J. B. Nowell's Confederate pension application

Joseph Benton Nowell
Martha Elizabeth (Dennis) Nowell
Joseph Benton Nowell applied for a Confederate pension in Comanche County, Texas on 8 Nov 1902. It is pension application number 9443, and was approved on 16 Feb 1903 by Chief Pension Clerk E. A. Bolmes and Comptroller R. M. Love. however, the law at the time stated pensions could only begin on the first day of April or October, so he wouldn't have received his first pension until April 1903.

The Questionnaire
Someone filled in the answers on the questionnaire for him, because J. B. Nowell was illiterate according to most censuses that he appeared on. However, he did sign his own name to the form.

From his answers to the pension application questionnaire, we learn that J. B. Nowell was 60 years old, had lived in Comanche County for 16 years, and his post office address was "P. O. Comanche". Also, that he had been a "bona fida resident citizen" of Texas since at least 1 Jan 1880.

J. B. was working as a farmer, but his answer concerning his physical condition was "Health Poor unable to work but very little" - which I suppose was intended to say that he was able to work, but very little. "Indigestion, Rheumatism & Asthma" are listed as his ailments.

He served 4 years in Company F of the 14th Mississippi Infantry, enlisting in 1861, and discharged in 1865. The only personal property he owned that was of any value was a stove (at least, I think that's what it says) worth $25, and one cow, also worth $25.

Witness Testimonies
Texas Confederate pension applications required two credible witnesses to submit statements under oath to the county judge. Testimonies that appear to have been jotted down by Comanche County Judge W. C. Jackson, but were signed by M. E. Nowell (J.B.'s wife) and W. T. Dennis (his brother-in-law) on 18 Nov 1902, were submitted along with his application.

Bear with me, County Judge Jackson wasn't big on punctuation.

Evidence of W. T. Dennis
"My name is W.T. Dennis I am 64 yr old I live in Brown Co, Texas I have Known the applicant J.B. Nowell about 44 year he and I Joined the Confederate army together and served together all through the war. I Know of my own Knowledge that the statements made by him in the application are true. W. T. Dennis"

Evidence of M. E. Nowell
"I am the wife of the applicant herein I have Known him since about 3 year before commencement of the war, we were Married in Jan 1867 I went to the army camp and saw the applicant herein J.B. Nowell one time while he was in the (illegible) and got letters from him all during the war, and saw him one time during the war while he was at home on a furlow. I saw him when he went off to Join the army and Know of my own personal Knowledge and not Just from hearsay that he Joined the army and performed the duties of soldier. I am 59 year old. M E Nowell"

Affidavit of Physician
An Affidavit of Physician was also included the the pension application, also dated 18 Nov 1902. In it, Dr. J. F. McCarty swore under oath to County Judge W. C. Jackson that he had examined J. B. Nowell and found him to be suffering from "Asthma Rheumatism & dispepsia" (yes, spell check, I know it's dyspepsia, but that is how the doctor spelled it), which rendered him unable to support himself through physical labor.

On the marriage date
In her statement, Martha Elizabeth Nowell says that she married J. B. in January of 1867. In her own widow's pension application, filed after J. B.'s death (I'll be posting the data gleaned from that one probably next Monday), she states their marriage date as 7 Feb 1867. However, the index of Mississippi, Marriages, 1800-1911, at has the date as 06 March 1867. Just thought I'd mention that.

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