Upcoming Issue

We’re working on a transcription of an affidavit from a Mexican War pension. This couple moved from Illinois, to New Mexico and  California, back to Tennessee, only to return to California.

The affidavits discuss the family’s financial status and the health of the veteran. The veteran’s grandsons helped the veteran with his work and fortunately they and their relationship to the veteran are stated in the papers.

Stay Tuned!

Federal Benefit Records

One of the most overlooked records for researchers looking for American ancestors in the pre-1900 era are federal benefit records. A significant proportion of American citizens received some sort of benefit during this time period–usually through military service. For service before the American Civil War, those benefits were generally land warrants although some later veterans did receive pensions. For service in the Civil War, pensions constitute the majority of these benefits. Spouses were often included and other family members may be named.

Of course affidavits were given with the intention of maximizing the probability that the applicant received the benefit. It was not unheard of for someone to exaggerate their financial situation–not all, but a few. The affidavits can be analyzed on their own, but should also be utilized for clues.

They are one of our favorite items to analyze in Casefile Clues.

What’s in Issue 4-19

Issue 4-19 discusses a petition to appoint an administrator with the will annexed in Illinois in 1877:

Administrator with the Will Annexed

Apparently Mimke left a valid will that was admitted to probate, but no executor was appointed to oversee the execution of that will. It could be that Mimke’s will either did not nominate an executor or that the one nominated was unable or unwilling to act. Antje’s petition does not provide any additional specifics—it does not need to address those specifics. Usually administrators of an estate perform their duties and disburse property according to current statute.

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Background Check types

Background checks help employers safeguard their reputations by creating safer, more secure work environments staffed by qualified employees. It is critical that employers take advantage of this protection and adopt best practices for how background checks are conducted.

The National Restaurant Association offers several resources to help employees learn about the background check process and what they should expect when they are seeking employment. This article addresses the various background check types and whether they can be done online, since there are professional services like The Island Now which specialize specifically in this area.

Background Check Types

There are three main types of background checks conducted on individuals seeking employment:

State Criminal Records Check This check is the most common and often the most cost effective. It is performed by the state or local agency which enforces the law, typically the law enforcement agency. The individual is required to sign a release that acknowledges the authority of the agency. This is known as an Individual Certification Release or ICR. In the event that a background check reveals a conviction of a felony, the employer may require the individual to obtain a criminal records check from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This is known as an FBI Check.

State laws vary. If the employment has no direct or indirect control over the hiring decisions of an individual who has a conviction of a felony, then the individual must obtain the appropriate clearance from the FBI. (Employment with a federal agency, state or local government is considered direct control, whereas employment with an employment agency that is controlled by an employer is considered indirect control.) The individual is not a prohibited or prohibited from receiving a firearm under state law.

The Background Check

The FBI maintains a national instant criminal background check system for all firearms sales. If the individual has a firearm-related conviction or is prohibited from possessing a firearm, the FBI must perform a background check on the individual to ensure that the information provided by the individual is current and accurate. The Background Check Check System uses records maintained by state and local law enforcement agencies as well as federal law enforcement databases, including the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). The FBI’s criminal background check system includes the following criteria, as of January 1, 2008:

An individual who has been adjudicated a delinquent child for committing any of the following felonies, or who has been adjudicated a delinquent child for committing an act which, if committed by an adult, would constitute a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year, but is less than 10 years, is prohibited from purchasing or receiving a firearm.

An individual who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

An individual who has been adjudicated a delinquent child for committing an act that would be a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence if committed by an adult, but is less than 10 years, is prohibited from purchasing or receiving a firearm. A person who is a mentally ill person or a person who is suffering from a mental disorder or disease. A person with a history of substance abuse and/or domestic violence. A person with a history of misdemeanor drug abuse. An individual who has been convicted of a crime of domestic violence within the preceding 10 years.

A police officer shall use reasonable and common caution to determine that a person is in danger. If the officer reasonably believes that a person poses such a danger, the officer shall, to the extent practicable, take such action as is necessary to avert the danger. In making a determination as to whether the person presents a danger, the officer shall not rely on any fact other than that person’s physical presence.


Making a Chronology of What Eliza Jane Said in 1892


Part of our analysis in this issue included a chronology of statements made by Eliza Jane Ramsey in her 1892 affidavit in support of her widow’s pension based upon her husband’s service in the Mexican War. There’s more to the analysis than that chronology, but it’s a good organizational tool all the same.

Year Event
About 1795 Harrison Ramsey born.
Before Mexican War Harrison Ramsey’s first wife (unnamed) died.
1846 Harrison and Andrew Ramsey work in the Galena, Illinois, mines.
1847 Harrison and Andrew Ramsey enlist in Mexican War.
During Mexican War Andrew Ramsey died.
1854 Harrison Ramsey meets Eliza Jane.
1855 Harrison Ramsey marries Eliza Jane.
1858 Harrison Ramsey dies.
1892 Eliza Jane Ramsey makes out an affidavit in support of her widow’s pension claim.

A New Guardian

Issue 4-17 discusses a guardianship appointment where the previous guardian’s appointment is revoked. Here’s part of the document we analyzed:

This day on evidence to the Court, and the court being advised in the premises, and it appearing that George Fennan who has been appointed by this Court Guardian of Franzise Bieger aged 5 years on the 27th day of January last, and of Louise Bieger aged 1 year on the 27th day of May last, and also administrator of the estate of Peter Bieger decd of this state he is hereby removed from his said office

Father and Heir-at-Law (from issue 4-16)

Part of issue 4-16 (discussing a land patent issued based upon a surrendered land warrant):

Father and Heir at Law

Harrison Ramsey is styled in the patent as the “Father and heir at Law” of Andrew Ramsey. The reference to Harrison as an heir-at-law of Andrew suggests that Andrew had no children. Heirs-at-law are individuals who inherit from a deceased person based on the rules of intestate succession as defined in contemporary state statute (individuals potentially mentioned in a will are legatees or beneficiaries—not heirs-at-law). Had Andrew had living descendants at the time of his death…

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