Sunday, July 13, 2008

To Bury a Civil War Soldier

On April 11, 1884, the General Assembly for the State of Ohio passed an act that would allow the state to defray funeral expenses for any former Union soldier, sailor or marine whose family did not have sufficient funds to cover the funeral expenses.


In Vinton County, Ohio, a board was set up to review these cases and decide who would qualify for these benefits. A payment was approved for $28.40 to bury my great great grandfather Henry Smathers, on March 5, 1888.


I have written about both Henry and his wife, Louisa, in previous posts. (An Amputation in Georgia and Pension File Stories: Louisa Ish Smathers, Disappearing Woman.) Henry served two tours of duty, reenlisting for the second term on January 23, 1864. Five months later to the day, at Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia, Henry received the wound that resulted in the amputation of his left leg. The pension deposition of Louisa leaves little doubt that the family lived a life of postwar poverty.


Below is an itemized accounting of how the $28.40 was spent.


1 Coffin $15.00

1 Robe $ 5.00

1 Pair of Slippers and Gloves $ 1.40

Hearse and Team $ 5.00

Digging Grave and Filling $ 2.00


As of this moment, I have not found where either Henry or Louisa is buried. Perhaps, for them, it is enough to know where and how they lived.


Until Next Time . . .

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