John McLeland, father of Thomas Asher McLeland, took the unusual step of applying for a Civil War Service Pension based on the service of his deceased son James R. McLeland. J.R. McLeland (the first in a long string of J.R. McLelands in this family culminating with my father) died, unmarried, of disease at Fort Scott Kansas, in 1861, before he had the chance to fire a single shot. His rank at his death was 2nd Lt., Company F, 3rd Kansas Infantry Volunteers.
J.R. was John McLeland’s second son. But John was far from running out of sons with James R.’s death. At the time of J.R.’s death there were 3 other sons in the household and another on the way. However, at the time John McLeland applied for his son’s pension, the family had lost 2 sons and 3 daughters and John McLeland had outlived 3 wives.
I wasn’t sure, when I wrote away for this pension file, exactly what I’d receive. I’d never seen a pension application of this type before. When the thick packet arrived I but it aside for a few days. I was busy with other things. Then, in the quiet of a Sunday evening I opened the envelope and almost immediately started cheering. I hit the biggest jackpot of my 20 years in Genealogy. (Confession – I was a newbie and the pink highlighting is mine – Arrgh! and thank heaven for good scanners.)
Not only does this affidavit give me the names of all of John McLeland’s wives and the dates of their marriages, it also gives me the dates and places of their deaths. And if that wasn’t enough, the affidavit names each of John’s surviving children and gives their complete birth dates! What more could I possibly ask?
Well, in the packet there are affidavits signed by John’s oldest daughter Caroline McLeland Gallaher Livesey and documents signed by his oldest daughter by his second marriage Mathilda McLeland Hill and by her husband John Hill. In addition there is a date and place of death for John McLeland and a record of the guardianship procceding undertaken by John and Matilda Hill shortly before her father’s death that detail his extremely poor physical and mental health.
I guess you could say, not only did James R McLeland give his name to my father, but he gave his family to me!