Confederate pension check for the widow of William B. Poore

Finding direct evidence of William Billy Poore’s service in the Confederate army proved to be a lot harder than for his two older brothers, Francis Marion Poore and John F. Poore. Enlistment and muster records exist for Francis and John but not for William.

The lack of official service records, such as muster rolls, is not unusual. Confederate officials deliberately destroyed many records to avoid their falling into enemy hands. Further, untold records burned in the fire that broke out in Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital, on April 3, 1865.

Indirect evidence of William’s service comes from the pension his widow Emily applied for after his death in 1913. The application also shows why such records have to be used with care and why the facts have to be double-checked.

Clearly someone, perhaps a pension official, helped Emily to fill out her pension forms because there are historical errors in the information. For example, in response to the question about who commanded William’s company the answer given was “Capt. J. J. Shannon.” James J. Shannon did command the Jasper Grays until he resigned because of poor health on December 20, 1862. But, according to the same form and William’s Confederate grave registration, William didn’t enlist until April 7 or 9, 1863. So Shannon couldn’t have been William’s commander at the time he was in the 16th Mississippi.

Another way to confirm Civil War service is through the 1910 U.S. Census. Census takers marked if a person was a veteran and a survivor of the Union or Confederate Army or Navy.

For William, I also turned to a “List of Confederate Veterans of Jasper County,” Source Material for Mississippi History, Preliminary Manuscript, Jasper County Vol. XXXI, (Works Progress Administration for Mississippi, 1935). This list is another indirect source because it was compiled more than 20 years after William’s death.

What records have you turned to trace your ancestor’s Civil War service?