Civil War Blog

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U.S. Census Returns – 1890 Veterans Schedules

Posted By on March 30, 2011

Ancestry.com provides an database index to the surviving 1890 Veterans Schedules which listed Union veterans who were heads of households or their widows.  The index will held find the exact schedule on which the information about the veteran is found.  The schedules are easily located through Ancestry.com and copies of them are available to Ancestry.com members.  The following information is provided about the index:

This database is an index to individuals enumerated in the 1890 special census of Civil War Union veterans and widows of veterans available on microfilm M123 (118 rolls) from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Although this schedule was to be used to enumerate Union veterans, in some areas, Confederate veterans were listed as well.

The 1890 veterans schedules provided spaces for the following information: names of surviving soldiers, sailors, and marines, and widows; rank; name of regiment or vessel; date of enlistment; date of discharge, length of service; post office address; disability incurred; and remarks. Although all of this information is available on the census schedules themselves, information listed in this index includes the veteran’s name or widow’s name, rank, year of enlistment, and year of discharge.

Veterans schedules are often used as a partial substitute for the 1890 federal census, which was destroyed by fire. While fragments of the 1890 census may exist in state and local repositories, they are often difficult to track down and are incomplete. Although they do not list everyone who was included in the 1890 census, the veterans schedules are a partial head of household list for those who were old enough to have served in the Union military during the Civil War.

Veterans schedules can be used to verify military service and to identify the specific military unit in which a person served. A search of the state where an individual lived in 1890 may yield enough identifying information to follow up in service and pension records at the National Archives; it can often trace Civil War veterans to their places of origin.

Th following special schedule from Lykens Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, is shown as an example of the 1890 Veterans Schedule:

Click on picture to enlarge.

The first two columns show information taken from “Schedule No. 1” which was the 1890 compilation sheet for Lykens Township.  The “House Number” and “Family Number” correspond to the information found on Schedule No. 1, which for Pennsylvania, was destroyed by fire and for Lykens Township, there is no known back-up copy available.  The next column contains the name of the veteran (or the widow, but in the case of this sheet, no widows are listed).  The rank, company, regiment, state, dates of service and length of service follow.  Twelve veterans are listed here.  We know from other information that John Gunderman was a neighbor of Harrison Riegle and they are listed next to each other on the sheet.

The second table (at the bottom of the sheet) gives the post office address of the veteran or widow (in this case, all received mail at Gratz), the disability incurred (assumed to be incurred during the war) and remarks.  The information provided by the veteran was recorded by the census taker.  Some sheets contain no information leading to the possible conclusion that the census taker did not ask, or was too lazy to record anything.  This sheet appears to have comprehensive information about disabilities followed in some cases by remarks.

Not all the information may be correct.  One of the pieces of information from this sheet was previously questioned in the post on the Unknown Military Musician.

William Reed served in a New York regiment, but resided in Lykens Township in 1890.

Several of the men who were neighbors in 1890, served in the same regiment in the Civil War.

The names on this sheet are:

Hiram G. Fowler — John W. Fowler — William Reed — Philip McKiney — George Lubold — Sinary Erdman — Samuel Stroup — Henry Williard — John Bellon — Martin Schaffner — John Gunderman — Harrison Riegle.

The fire in 1921 in the basement of the Commerce Building destroyed most of the 1890 Census and part of the veterans schedules.  These veterans schedules are only available for states with letters beginning with “K” to the end of the alphabet plus the District of Columbia.  Thus, Union states such as Connecticut and Delaware are not available because they were destroyed.  The damage to the census led to a public outcry for the establishment of a permanent “National Archives.”  In December 1932, the Librarian of Congress, sent to Congress a list of documents to be destroyed, among them about 50% of the 1890 census records which had been heavily damaged by smoke and water.  By 1935, the approval had been granted and the damaged records were destroyed.

Original source data is from:  Special Schedules of the Eleventh Census (1890) Enumerating Union Veterans and Widows of Union Veterans of the Civil War; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M123, 118 rolls); Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.  The copy of the 1890 Veterans Schedule from Lykens Township is from Ancestry.com.  Some of the information on the fire that damaged and destroyed the census and the congressional order to destroy the remains was taken from Wikipedia.


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