The National Archives has many fascinating records documenting our history. Some of the most fascinating are contained in our Pension Files documenting veterans’ claims, or claims from their families, for benefits starting with the Revolutionary War. For a wife or parent to qualify for benefits on behalf of the deceased soldier they needed to supply proof of the relationship with that soldier. The result is a collection of letters, diaries, frakturs, embroidered family trees, photographs, and more than 100 Bibles containing family information. These files are heavily used by genealogists in their research on family histories.
Last month, one of our own, Jeffrey Kees who works at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, brought his Dad, John, to visit their family Bible. Jeffrey’s Great-Great-Great-Grandfather, Philip Kees fought in the Revolutionary War, and the Bible, which contains family history noted in the margins of the text, was submitted by his widow as proof of her relationship with Kees.
Jeffrey’s Great Grandfather, William Kees, served in the 155th Pennsylvania Infantry during the Civil War and we were able to display those pension records also.
The highlight of the visit was fulfilling Jeffrey’s wish to repeat his swearing in (the oath of office all Federal employees take when starting Government service) on the Kees Family Bible. Although Federal employees don’t usually swear over Bibles, we were happy to accommodate his request and it was very moving to see how the power of the records can touch us all.