Why Can’t I Find My Ancestor in Pension Rolls?

There are several possible reasons why someone can’t be found in pension applications or pension rolls.

  • Veteran did not apply
  • Variant spellings
  • File is not indexed or indexing is not good
  • Widow may have submitted the application
  • Veteran did not serve long enough
  • Laws at the time disallowed type of injury or service
  • Veteran or widow may have applied for “Bounty Land”
  • Records did not survive *
  • Veteran may have applied for a pension through a state, not the federal government

* Two fires destroyed many records, one in the War Department (1800) and one in the Treasury Department (1814).

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