Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Martha Nowell's Confederate widow's pension application

Mattie and Varie
On 15 July 1913, Martha Elizabeth "Mattie" Nowell went to Comanche County Judge J. H. McMillan to apply for a Texas State Confederate widow's pension. We learn some more interesting things from this pension application packet from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Widow's Application for Pension No. 21935
Martha indicates in her application that her husband died ten days prior on 5 July 1913, in Comanche County, Texas, and that they were married on 7 Feb 1867 in Winston County, Mississippi. Also that she is 69 years old, was born in Winston County, Mississippi, and has resided in Texas for about 45 years. She has lived in Comanche County for about 35 years, and her post office address is Comanche, Texas RFD 4.

At the time of submitting the application she didn't know Joseph B. Nowell's regiment during the war, but that wasn't a problem because he already had an accepted pension on file to refer them to. However, she did have to find two witnesses to verify that she was indeed the widow of J. B. Nowell, had not remarried in the ten days since he died, and had lived in Texas continuously since at least March 1, 1880. J. E. Brown and M. L. Brown vouched for her on that.

Joe and Varie Brown family
Now, J. E. Brown may well be Martha's son-in-law, Joel E. Brown, who married daughter Emily Elvira "Varie" Nowell, and lived nearby in Comanche County. I have no idea who M. L. Brown is, but likely one of Varie's in-laws.

The State and County Assessor, M. E. Hall, also had to submit a certificate indicating the assessed value of any land and personal property associated with Martha Nowell, which was, in fact, "Nothing".

So all of this information was submitted in Martha's pension application to George W. Kyser, Commissioner of Pensions. It was filed July 31st, approved September 1st, and "allowed from" December 1st, 1913.

Sam and Bettie Davis
But also on file with Martha's pension application is an Application for Mortuary Warrant submitted by her son-in-law, John S. Davis on April 1, 1926. Sometime after J. B.'s death, Martha went to live with daughter Bettie Frances (Nowell) Davis' family in Henderson County, Texas. She appears in their household on the 1920 census.

Mortuary Warrants, when approved, helped pay all or part of the funeral expenses for a pensioner. While this particular application makes no mention of the requested or approved amount, another Mortuary Warrant attached to the pension file of a different ancestor who died in 1919 indicates that the State would pay up to $30 of the burial expenses.

Mattie with a granddaughter
The mortuary warrant application indicates that Martha E. Nowell died on 15 March, 1926 in the home of J. S. Davis in Chandler, Henderson County, Texas. That he is her son-in-law, and his post office address is Chandler, Texas R 2.

Also attached to the application is a Certificate of Undertaker and Certificate of Physician. Dr. M. M. Moss of Brownsboro, Texas, was of the opinion that Mrs M. E. Nowell's last illness was influenza.

The Certificate of Undertaker is a bit more interesting. It features several crossed out passages from the standard, typed form, replaced with handwritten corrections. If I put the handwritten text in quotation marks, it reads like this:
I, "We Blake Cade & Smith", do certify that I am undertaker "we deal in caskets" in the town of "Chandler" County of "Henderson", State of "Texas", that I had charge of the body of "we sold the casket for Mrs. M. E. Nowell", who died in "near" the town of "Chandler", County of "Henderson", State of "Texas" on the "15th" day of "March" 1926. That said body was prepared for burial by me "friends of deceased" on the "15th" day of  "March", 1926, and that I am of the opinion that warrant herein applied for should be issued to the said "J. S. Davis" who makes the foregoing application.
Well, Family, that's your family history lesson for today. To download the family photos to your computer, click on the image for the original size, right-click and save. If you are on a Mac, well, you can figure it out. ;-)

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