Not long ago a cousin set out on a quest to determine the provenance of a Minor family heirloom–a sword, rumored to have belonged to John Pearson (Pierson) Minor. Some folks suggested to my cousin that the sword must be from the American Revolution.
But J. Pearson Minor was born in 1791, not even a twinkle in his parents’ eyes during the revolution, and his father, Abia (A-bye-ya) did not serve in either a state militia or the Continental army during that period. So the sword is not likely to be from the 18th century.
Family lore had it that Pearson Minor did serve during the War of 1812, and there is evidence to support that story among the contents of The Minor Satchel, a leather case filled with documents, notes, and ledgers that I inherited from my mother, Marilyn, who retrieved it from the attic of the Whiteley (PA) Home Farm before it was sold in the 1970s.
After the Civil War, Congress passed the Act of February 14, 1871 to establish a monthly pension for elderly, infirmed veterans who had served at least 60 days during the war with Britain in 1812-1815. An attorney acting on my great-great-great-grandfather’s behalf filed an application. On March 15, 1872 J. Jackson Purman wrote from his Waynesburg (PA) office:
Pearson Minor, Esq:
Dear Sir-I have at last succeeded in getting your claim adjusted and a Certificate issued, which has been sent to your Post Office. Along with the Certificate you will find certain other papers, which you are to sign and have witnessed, and be sworn to, and upon these being sent to the agent, who pays the money at Pittsburg, you will receive your Pension. As these papers require great care in their execution, you had better come up to Waynesburg to execute them if you are able. If you are not able, go before your nearest squire and execute them. The Certificate you will keep in your own possession- You need not trouble yourself about any fee, as I will receive my fee from the Government.
J. Jackson Purman
Included in this set of papers is Form No. 26 from the Department of the Interior, Pension Office, Washington D. C. An office clerk used a black ink pen to fill in the pension certificate number ________
and the pension agency _________________ charged with making the $8 a month payment
At the bottom of the page, the worker wrote the name of the pensioner
To Pearson Minor, Whiteley, Green Co. Pa.
and stamped the Commissioner’s name, J. H. Baker, before putting the one page document into a Department of the Interior official envelope and hand addressing it to Pearson Minor. This notification left Washington, D.C. on March 12.
In addition to government form No. 26, the “Pension Papers” contain a voucher from 1872 and another from 1874; an envelope from the Pittsburgh Pension Agent, James McGregor, that once contained a voucher; and the most important document of all–THE pension certificate #13669.
Department of the Interior
War of 1812–Survivor’s Pension
I certify that in conformity with the Law of the United States, approved February 14, 1871, Pearson Minor, late a Corpl (Corporal) of Captain T. J. Seeley’s Company Pa Militia is inscribed on the Pension List Roll of the Pittsburg (sic) Penna, Agency, at the rate of eight dollars per month , to commence on the fourteenth day of February, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-one. No sale, transfer, or mortgage of any description whatever, of the whole or any part of the pension payable in virtue of this certificate , is of any legal or binding force against either the pensioner or the United States.
Given at the Department of the Interior, this 9th day of March, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-two,
Back to the heirloom sword
My cousin received the sword from his father, my uncle and great-great-grandson of J. Pearson Minor. These documents strongly suggest that the sword was used by our patriarch during the War of 1812 when he served as a corporal with Captain T. J. Seeley’s Pennsylvania Volunteers, just as family lore suggested.
What remains a mystery is more about the pension, itself. Why did Pearson need a pension when he had hundreds of acres of land, and a son with whom he lived. On the surface it would seem that the Minors had the assets and labor necessary to care for Pearson, even if he was an infirmed, eighty-one year old.
Those bits of data–and perhaps more information about Minor’s military life–could be in the pension application itself, a document that resides in the National Archives, Washington, D. C. on microfilm M313, Department of Veteran Affairs, Record Group #15.
Yes. You guessed it. I have submitted a request for a copy of this record and eagerly await an archivist’s reply.
More Minor Details to come.
Minor, John Pearson (Pierson) Minor (Whiteley, Greene County, PA). Pension Certificate #13669 and assorted documents, 9 March 1872. Privately held by D. Kay Strickland, [address for private use] Pennsylvania, 2021.