Probably one of the best genealogical records to use are affidavits, depositions, and other similar “official” statements made in pension claims, court cases, etc.
While these statements are usually focused on the issues involved in the court case or the pension application, they can contain seemingly extraneous details that are genealogically significant. As we’ve mentioned elsewhere, additional about the individuals involved may not be mentioned if they are not considered germane to the issue at hand.
But sometimes they are.
These “off the cuff” items mentioned in affidavits, depositions and the like are one reason that researching the entire family and social network is so important. An 1860 statement in a pension file may indicate that the affiant remembers the date because it was the year his cousin (whom he names) broke his leg. Depending up on what you know (or don’t), that reference could be significant.