Key Documents in American Revolution Pension Files Link Colvin Parents and Siblings.


In 1838, Robert Colvin wrote to Washington hoping to win his mother her Widow’s pension.

Thanks to the wonders of the digital age, the relations between three American Revolution Colvin soldiers can be firmly established: John Colvin, his brother, Mason, and their brother, Henry, more familiarly known as “Harry.” All claimed Culpeper as their home. The documents, part of each of the patriots’ complete pension application files and those of  John Colvin’s widow, Sarah, have been digitized by Footnote.com and have been downloaded in their entirety (one file alone was in excess of twenty-five pages,) to the Colvin Study database.  These pensions records, rich in detail, serve as key elements in the ongoing study of this old Virginia family.  Perhaps one of the most fascinating among the more than seventy documents acquired,  is the handwritten letter of Robert Colvin, son of John, who, writing to the Interior Dept in the early 1830s from their homestead at Colvin’s Tavern, offers support of his mother’s widow’s pension. In that missive, he identifies himself, his father, and his siblings to pension officials. While genealogy libraries often contain  abstracts of these same records, the digitized version of the primary records leave little room for confusion or speculation as to who was related to whom, when they were born, and other critical vital statistical data.  As well, these files contain letters of inquiry by latter-day descendants wanting military information about their revolutionary ancestors; the official responses to said letters by military leaders (also included,) usually provided  the verifying data needed to secure membership in hereditary societies such as Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and others.  Evidence which typically  required weeks and months to ascertain.  Men and women in their twilight years, for example,  were expected to recall minute details about their wartime experience fifty years prior.

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About Alex Colvin

Senior, History, minoring in Anthropology, University of Houston. Charter President, Walter Prescott Webb Historical Society, (Webb UH Main 2014-2015) University of Houston. Additional publishing credits can be found at the link:
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