Pension Story

Benjamin Brown

Company C, 103rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry

Submitted by: Donna Walker Wefenstette


He joined Company C, 103rd Illinois Infantry Volunteers on August 11, 1862 and was mustered in Oct 2, 1862. The muster roll reads: 55 years old, 5' 8" tall, dark complexion, gray eyes, grizzled hair. He was discharged on disability March 28, 1863 for chronic dysentery.

On June 17, 1879 Benjamin Brown went to lawyers, Searns & Learnan, in Canton, Illinois who helped him fill out papers for a pension. Six affidavits were taken on the following dates: July 31, 1879 from Thadeus Knott, M.D., Ben's doctor before & after the war August 9, 1879 from Carey Westerfield, in same regiment August 16, 1879 from Jeremiah Vion, in same regiment August 18, 1879 from T. H. Fleming, M.D., regimental surgeon August 29, 1879 from Amos Lawrence, in same regiment August 18, 1879 from Ben himself All these affidavits were sent to the Department of the Interior, pension office in Washington, D.C.

On Feb 7, 1880, the commissioner gave the application number 310.215 but returned it for more information regarding his health and medical treatment both before and after the war. (Since they had the affidavits, including one from Dr. Nott his family physician, it's not clear why they wanted more information!)

November 11, 1880, the pension office requested a full military history from the adjutant general's office in Washington D.C. January 20, 1881, the adjutant general's office returned a form to the commissioner of pensions with the military history. February 5, 1881, the surgeon general's office returned a form to the pension office for a report of hospital treatment and a form with the certificate of discharge for disability. By then, Ben had died and the application is stamped ABANDONED.

February 3, 1881, Ben's wife, Elizabeth, went to a different lawyer, Charles J. Main of Canton to file an application for a widow's pension. ( This form confirms her maiden name of Spears and the date of her marriage as October 25, 1825 in White County Tennessee)

The pension office again took up the application, this time for a widow’s pension, assigning the number 480.475, and on June 22, 1881 they requested information from the adjutant general's office regarding the military records of Amos Lawrence, Jeremiah Vion and Carey Westerfield as to the presence or absence on or about the time they were with Co C, 103 Ill Vol Co.

August 6, 1881 the adjutant general's office returned information on these three, that they were indeed with the 103rd regiment at the time of Ben's disability.

On June 22, 1883 the pension office sent P.M. Slaughter a letter regarding the standing in the community and general reputation for truth of T. H. Flemming, M.D. The handwritten reply is: "Canton, Ill June 25, The general reputation for truth and standing in the community of Dr. T. H. Flemming is good (underlined) Yours Resp P.M. Slaughter"

June 22, 1883, a letter was sent to Dr. Thaddeus Nott but was returned by the postmaster with a handwritten note on the letter: T. Knott m.d. is dead J H Hyde pm (post master) psd (initials) asst (Dr. Nott died Aug 5, 1881)

Feb 7, 1887 the pension office sent a letter to Mrs. Benj Brown but it had a hand written note on the envelope "return to writer".

March 22, 1887 a letter was sent to the postmaster in Bryant, Illinois for "the last known post-office address of Mrs. Elizabeth Brown who lived in your vicinity in 1881." There is one line on a piece of paper "Died at this place three or four years ago."

Her application is also stamped ABANDONED.

It appears that neither Ben nor Elizabeth received a pension. I believe if he had filed a claim in 1865 or 1870, he would have received a pension, but 18 years after the fact made the pension office suspicious. The claims floundered in the bureaucratic paperwork and time ran out, first for Ben and then for his wife, Elizabeth.

Return to Scrapbook page