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Yates County Military Applications Records -

(Bounty Books)

An exciting recent discovery has made a great deal of military and other information available about Yates County Civil War and War of 1812 soldiers and their families. These are two books that were wrapped in paper and labeled "ledgers." They are in reality two surviving books of pension applications, and applications for such monies as back pay and back clothing allowances.

The two books were evidently found in a house in Penn Yan owned by George Excell, who in 19-- gave them to Jay D. Barnes, then the County Historian. Presumably it was Barnes who stored them away in their excellent disguise.

There were evidently several other books originally. The two survivors are Book 2, parts 1 and 4; and references can be found to at least other parts of Book 2. Both are medium-sized bound volumes, with every inch filled in by one of several clerks working for the County. John L. Lewis Jr. served as the agent for each of the applicants, so his commission is recorded in these records, as are the commissions of the various notaries public who witnessed the many oaths; every single statement had to be witnessed and sworn to, so many people are mentioned in the records besides the actual applicants.

Book 2, part 1 is nearly all applications for either a pension or some form of back pay. Pensions were due to soldiers' widows or other dependent heirs as aged parents and minor children. The applicant had to prove marriage in the case of a widow, and in a day before the existence of civil marriage records, this is a very rich source of information. A parent would have to prove that the dead soldier was his or her son; minor children's guardian would have to prove that the children were in fact those of the soldier.

Book 2, part 4 is mostly back up material submitted by applicants mentioned in Part 1 or elsewhere. You will find doctors' proof of disability, buddies' proof of an applicant's death in service; midwives' and physicians' proof of birth; clergymen's or J.P.'s proof of an applicant's marriage; and so on.

This book also contains a number of applications made under an act of 1871 granting surviving War of 1812 veterans or their widows a monthly pension. The documents recorded here are the applications, containing proof of service, and proof of marriage in the case of widows. Considering how difficult it is to get good information on veterans of this conflict, these applications are invaluable.

Both books have been indexed together, with a total of just under 5000 entries. Civil War soldiers' names are marked with a *; War of 1812 applicants' names are marked with a #. Unmarked names may be of wives, children, witnesses, parents, ministers, physicians; in fact any person brought in to support an application. Notaries' names are not indexed, except as the person appears in some other role; their names are followed by an Esq. Applications had to name company and regimental commanders, and these are indicated by rank in the individual entries; those who were applicants themselves do not have a rank appended for those entries. Ministers and priests (many of the Civil War soldiers were Irish) are indicated by Rev. in their name entries, and physicians by Dr.

The references in the index are to page numbers. Book A is Vol. 2, part 1; and B refers to Vol. 2, part 4.

The Index file is very large, so please be patient.


The books have now both been scanned, and prints of the images are available. To order a print, email the County Historian's Office. Include the phrase "Bounty Book images" in the subject line, and be sure to include in the body of the message the entire entry as it appears in the index, including name, distinguishing mark or title (if applicable), the letter indicating which volume, and the page number or numbers. Many applications required multiple filings, so if you want the whole thing, include all the page numbers. You will be billed $1 for each image. We will need your name and postal address so we can mail you your copies.