Hollingsworth Pension - Goldmine of Family History

Pension records are excellent sources to use in ancestry searches. Several years ago I ordered a copy of the "War of 1812 - Claim of Widow for Service Pension" papers for my fourth great grandmother, Zilpha (Galloway) Hollingsworth.

This is my umbilical line, i.e. my mother's mother's mother's.....well, you get the picture. Another term used is matrilineal. Some say this line has the most validity because of the physical birth event and at the same time, it is the hardest to research because the surname changes with each generation.

Anyway, through this single document I was able to get almost a complete picture of the life of my fourth great grandfather, John Hollingsworth, born September 3, 1792. He was born and raised at Fort Hollingsworth in Franklin (now Banks) County, Georgia which I wrote about just a couple of days ago.

According to Zilpha, who was questioned on March 14, 1881, John Hollingsworth enlisted at Franklin County, Georgia on November 15, 1814 for a six month term. He served in the Georgia militia under Col. Booth in the War of 1812. John was honorably discharged at Fort Hawkins, Georgia on May 10, 1815. He received two bounty land warrants for his service. He was described as 6 feet tall with blue eyes, a fair complexion and dark hair. John was first married to Matilda White who died August 25, 1825. He then married Zilpha Galloway on October 11, 1827 in Fayette County, Alabama. He died there on November 30, 1880.

Zilpha kept a journal and in it she recorded the births, deaths and marriages of her entire family. John and his first wife, Matilda White, had six children. Although Zilpha was most likely not present at their births, she did raise them after her marriage to John in 1827. The oldest was only 10 years old. I am sure she carefully recorded their birthdates as well the birthdates of her own children. She wrote about Matilda's children as if they were her own:

  1. Samuel, born September 7, 1817
  2. Thomas, born September 30, 1818
  3. Jeptha, born May 28, 1820
  4. Phoebe, born January 9, 1822
  5. Mary, born November 8, 1823
  6. Matilda, born August 25, 1825, the same day her mother died.

John and Zilpha had fifteen children:

  1. Sarah, born July 17, 1828
  2. Jane, born December 24, 1829
  3. Hannah, born February 9, 1831
  4. Jacob, born June 5, 1832
  5. Greenberry, born November 13, 1833
  6. Frances, born March 1, 1835
  7. Zilpha, born April 27, 1836
  8. John, born November 15, 1837
  9. Henry, born August 30, 1840
  10. James, born August 11, 1843
  11. Wiley, born June 27, 1845
  12. Martha, born October 19, 1846
  13. Benjamin, born September 22, 1848
  14. Franklin, born October 29, 1852
  15. Marion, born January 23, 1855

Zilpha also kept meticulous records of loans she made and news about others in the community. She died April 15, 1894. She and John are buried in Hollingsworth Cemetery on Ford's Mountain in Fayette County, Alabama.

Pension records, available online and through the National Archives, are excellent sources for your ancestry search.