Casefile Clues

12 December 2012

Harming Aaron and the Unit Index at

This started out as a post about Aaron G. Firman's Civil War pension cards and has morphed into a discussion of "name prejudice" and a little interesting nuance to the "organizational index" to Civil War pensions on

This is the "General Index" pension card for Aaron G. Firman (Fairman) who served in a Vermont unit in the Civil War. It is available on

U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934, Record for Aaron G Firman; digital image on, 11 December 2012
For reasons that elude me, at some point Aaron starting being referred to as Firman instead of Fairman. Of course, since his widow was receiving a pension in 1864, he died during the war.

If I didn't know better, I might be tempted to think his first name was "Harm" instead of Aaron--largely because I have more ancestors named Harm than I have ancestors named Aaron (always keep in mind the prejudice of any transcriber when using record indexes). But I digress.

At any rate, this card indicates that there was a minor's pension and before that a widow's pension. Those records can contain significant detail on the family and should be viewed where possible.

The index card indicates that Aaron was in Company I of the 7th Vermont Infantry. There should also be an "organizational" index card for Aaron. Not that I really need it in this case, but this alternate index is helpful when General Index cards are difficult to read, indexed incorrectly, etc.  These cards (the "organizational index" cards) are indexed at FamilySearch (free) and the digital images are hosted on (the cards are also microfilmed in NARA T289 Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900, compiled 1949 - 1949, documenting the period 1861 - 1942).

These cards on are supposed to be easy to browse and usually they are--except for Aaron.
The image below shows how Aaron's card is filed on in the organizational index--notice all the "[BLANK]" entries:
Aaron's unit is on his card as shown above. I'm not certain why it is filed on the way it is.

A card filed the right way should have the correct "drill down" information and details as this card does for an Illinois veteran:

You can see the state and unit information in the red box just as it is on the card. This allows users to manually browse these cards, which I like to do so that I can see other men in the same unit who obtained pensions, like below: allows me to browse a list of all the men in Company D of the 78th Illinois Volunteer infantry who received a pension. A nice feature.

But for some reason, some units are not posted in this fashion on -like Company I of the 7th Vermont Infantry:

So when using the "organizational index" at  keep in mind that some units may be classified as [BLANK].

Don't ask me why--we're just passing along information.

[these comments are current as of 12 Dec 2012]