The Florida State Archives has digitized its collection of Confederate pension records with over 13,000 pensions now available online. This is a great resource for anyone researching Florida ancestry after the Civil War.
The first Confederate pensions in Florida were authorized in 1885. Each veteran received the sum of $5.00 per month. The next three decades saw a new Confederate pension bill introduced at nearly every session of the Legislature. Residency requirements were added and adjusted, militia members and widows were declared eligible, various financial qualifications were added and changed, and the amount and method of distribution were changed many times.
The pension application files include both veterans' and widows' applications interfiled, although approved and denied claims are filed separately. A veteran's application generally includes his full name, date and place of birth, unit of service, date and place of enlistment, date and place of discharge, brief description of service and/or wounds, proof of service, place and length of residence in Florida, and other miscellaneous documentation.
The widow's application is filed with that of her husband and includes her full name, date and place of marriage, date and place of her husband's death, her place and length of residence in Florida, and proof of her husband's service. Some early applications also include the widow's date and place of birth. Confederate pensions were awarded to residents of Florida regardless of the state in which their service was rendered.
I decided to investigate the pension applications, so I went to the Florida Memory Project web site. I found it super easy to use. The only input field is a place to enter a soldier's or widow's last name or else to enter an Application Number, if known. In most cases, genealogists will be entering surnames.
I entered the rather common name of Williams and found eight pension applications for persons with the last name of Williams. Actually, only one was for a soldier of that name. The other seven were all widows with a maiden name of Williams who applied for pensions based upon their husbands' service.
I clicked on the application of R.L. Williams and found the following listed:
Pension Application A00121:
Given Names: R.L.
Service Unit: 3rd Regt Inf
Wife's Name: Norcissa Blair
Application County & Year: Madison Co 1903
Best of all, immediately below that brief amount of information were 13 links to the 13 pages in this pension application. I started going through them, one at a time. In this case, R. L. Williams died in 1895, and his widow applied for a pension in 1903.
Each page of the application and each attached piece of paper has been scanned and made into a separate PDF file. I would have preferred one file of thirteen pages. However, for some reason this one was done as 13 separate files.
I also looked at a few other pension applications while visiting the site. I was very impressed with the quality of the images. I have seen a lot of old records that have been scanned and placed online. These were some of the highest quality that I have seen. All were perfectly readable if the original record was recorded in good penmanship.
This is high-quality genealogy material: images of original records that you can view from home. The best part is the price: free.
You can view the Florida Civil War pension files at http://dlis.dos.state.fl.us/barm/Pensionfiles.html.
Other sections of the same site include World War I Service Cards for Florida residents and also Spanish Land Grants. This is an excellent site for genealogists.
My thanks to Leonard J. McCown for telling me about the Florida State Archives web site.