In this presentation, I will discuss the results of my transcription of and research on several documents related to Martha Misemer’s application for pension after her husband’s death in the Civil War: a one-page Widow’s Claim for Pension, dated January 27, 1866; an undated Claim for Widow’s Pension, With Minor Children; a two-page excerpt, dated March 14, 1867, from a document verifying the information provided in the Claim for Widow’s Pension, With Minor Children; and a cover sheet and casualty sheet concerning the death of Henry M. Misemer, dated May or June of 1865.
These documents play an important and distinct role in the larger McFee-Misemer Collection, elucidating the aftermath of the Sultana Disaster for one woman and her children, whom we have to come to know through the study of the personal letters in the collection. At the same time, the manuscript offers a view of life for women in the 1860s, providing detailed information about the realities of Martha’s life as a widow and newly single mother, and raising key questions about her life and the lives of women like her. It also provides a concise history of Henry Misemer’s life and career in the United States Army.
Scholars who are interested in feminist history, the impacts of war on civilians, the evolution of legal protections for women and children, the genealogical history of the Misemer family, those affected by the Sultana Disaster, or the Civil War more generally will find a wealth of information within these pages to aid them in conducting further research on those subjects.
Western Carolina University