25 October 2012

Getting Her Congressman Involved-1916 Style

I've read the letter written by Congressman Clyde H. Tavenner several times before, but this is the first time I've actually given the letter or Tavenner much more than a passing glance.

Like virtually all documents, the letter was created in response to something. The problem, as usual, is in determining what that something actually was. This something in this case wasn't all that difficult to ascertain.

The letter from Representative Tavenner is dated 20 Oct 1916 and in it he requests that Nancy Rampley's widow's pension payment be increased according to the "act of Sept. 8 1916."

The letter was apparently written in response to  HR11707 passed on 8 September 1916 which granted an increase in Civil War widow's pensions. The text of that bill can be viewed here; it increased the monthly pension amount of $20 for widows over the age of 70--explaining the comment to that import in Tavenner's letter regarding Nancy's pension.

An article in the Springfield Republican indicated how pensioners were to request their increase and shows why Nancy's request was handled in the way in which it was.

Date: Friday, September 15, 1916  

Paper: Springfield Republican (Springfield, MA)  obtained 

on   Genealogybank.com   

Date: Tuesday, August 19, 1913  

Paper: Belleville News Democrat
(Belleville, IL)  

obtained on 
It is not difficult to imagine that similar notices appeared in local papers where Nancy lived as well. The "relative in Minnesota" with whom she was visiting was likely one of her daughters and they could have easily have noticed a similar item in a local paper as well.

The image of Tavenner is taken from a column he apparently wrote in the Belleville, Illinois, newspaper. It's possible that his column mentioned the pension act and how to apply for the increase. The article in the Springfield, Mass. paper indicates that applications for increase were to be made directly and that no lawyer be involved.

Defeated in 1916

Tavenner did not win re-election in 1916. Based upon a newspaper clipping from after the election, it seemed that his loss had to do with the impending war in Europe and not the pension bill that was passed earlier that year.

Date: Monday, November 13, 1916  

Paper: Elkhart Daily Review (Elkhart, IN)

obtained on Genealogybank.com
The article mentioning Tavenner's defeat claims that Tavenner's campaign was possibly financed by Henry Ford.

All of this was a little more than I had originally intended to discover, but having newspapers at the one's ready disposal makes the discovery of such items easier than it was years ago.

Nancy's Letter?

The letter written by Nancy (or more realistically her daughter) is not contained in her pension file. How long it was retained by Tavenner is another matter entirely.  It may be in Tavenner's papers if they have been donated to a library or archives somewhere. For now, that will have to remain a mystery as I've already got too many items on my to-do list as it is.