Today is Memorial Day so it seems fitting that this post will conclude my exploration of my ancestor Salathiel Timmons and his Civil War pension application.
Salathiel filed for his pension in September 1882. It took 18 months to process his application, and in the end it was approved. It was not a sure thing by any means – in the 1882-1884 time period, only about 40-45% of pension applications were approved. Pension applications were administered in Washington D.C. in the great big building shown at left. There was a great deal of concern about fraud and there were lots of questions similar to what we see today when it comes to massive government assistance programs.
The handling of Salathiel’s application reflects these concerns. After his initial application, there were follow-up requests about this medical care. We already discussed the inquiry into the character of Dr. Chambers. Apparently, Sheriff Mitchell’s response was less than ideal. The Pension Bureau asked for records from other doctors, and Salathiel responded in an affidavit that Dr. Chambers was the only doctor who had provided treatment.
At the time his pension was approved, his symptoms were: (1) an enlargement of the heart and rapid action, (2) some joint creaking in shoulder and hips, but most rheumatic symptoms were muscular and (3) roughened laryngeal breathing. He was awarded a pension of $6 per month.
From time to time, increases to his monthly pension were considered. These were accompanied by follow-up medical examinations, so we have a pretty detailed look at how his health declined:
- In 1889, the doctor noted marked limitation of motion in his right shoulder and “crepitation” (noise) in his right elbow. The muscles of his right arm were atrophied and the doctor said it was partially paralyzed. Valvular disease of his heart was noted as well. His pension was increased to $12/month.
- In 1890, his right arm had tremors and could not be held still. He could not raise it above his shoulder. His throat was highly inflamed. His pension was increased to $17/month.
- By 1902, the paralysis had spread throughout his right side. He could no longer use his right hand at all. A doctor’s examination found that a stroke had caused many of these symptoms, and that the stroke was likely brought on by his rheumatic heart condition. His pension was increased to $24/month.
Salathiel and his family moved around quite a bit after the war. They stayed in the Charleston, Illinois area for about five years, then moved to homes in Ashmore and Humboldt townships (still in Coles County). By 1882 the family had moved to Iowa. They lived in and around Ames, Iowa (including the towns of Boone and Nevada) until about 1892. Then they moved to the Malvern area, first living on a farm in the Stony Creek township and finally in town. I noted in the 1900 census that they had a servant from New Jersey living with them – not surprising considering Salathiel’s poor health by that time.
Salathiel and Lydia’s son Charles was born before the war. Three years after the war, they welcomed a daughter, Effie Nora, to their family. In 1888, son Charles married Emily Bass and in 1910, daughter Effie married Ulysses Graves. Eventually, Salathiel and Lydia had seven grandchildren.
The family story is that Salathiel suffered additional strokes on April 24, 1909 and again on May 3, 1909. This last stroke was fatal, and he died that day. Lydia had died before him, in 1906. I’m pretty sure his daughter Effie cared for him in his final years. She did not marry until after he died.
I don’t know the date of this photo, but I estimate it to be around 1890. You can see that Salathiel holds the right side of his body a bit awkwardly.
Salathiel and Lydia are buried in the Malvern Cemetery and their graves are marked with a lovely headstone.
I wish I could visit it on this Memorial Day and leave some flowers! Our Memorial Day holiday was started in recognition of soldiers who lost their lives during the Civil War. Although Salathiel survived the war, he still paid with his life when we consider his lifelong afflictions.
And let’s not forget his brother Battle who died of disease during his Civil War service in 1863.
Tonight PBS is running a previously-aired episode of American Experience tonight that relates to the massive casualties of the Civil War. I might watch it.
One final note: I intend to collect everything I know about Salathiel into a small printed booklet and will make it available to anyone who wants a copy. I’ll post a note on the blog when it’s ready.