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DAR Headquarters
Washington, D.C. 
October 15-16, 2005

Lecture Synopsis: 

"Revolutionary War Pensions: An Essential Source for Early American Research"

Terry Davis Ward
DAR Genealogy Director

This lecture focused on the various pension laws enacted from 1776 to 1853. Included was a discussion of rejected and suspended pensions and their effect on proving Revolutionary War service.

Pensions records are a valuable source for family historians. The applications often list the age and place of birth of the soldier, his residence, military unite and length of service and testimonials from other soldiers, neighbors and relatives. Family information, such as the name of the spouse, marriage dates, names and ages of children can also be found in these records. Widows were required to prove the date and place of her marriage to the soldier and financial need when applying.

Statements from the pensioners themselves often name other members of their military units, including the officers under whom they served together and the relationship is stated. Thomas Gaddis’ pension contains a list of all the men you took the Oath of Allegiance in his presence!

 The final pension payment record provides information that can lead the researcher to a death date and place for the soldier and clues to the residence of the family at the time of the death.

© Daughters of the American Revolution, 2005.


Terry Davis Ward has been the Director of the Genealogy Department at DAR since 2002. She also served there as Corrections Genealogist for two years. Terry attended the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University and the National Institute on Genealogical Research at the National Archives. She has represented DAR as a speaker at several National Genealogical Society conferences.