This letter was written by James J. Allison (1816-1880) of Zaleski, Vinton county, Ohio. James was married to Selina Wartenbe [or Watenbee] (1823-1902).
James wrote the letter to his deceased brother-in-law’s wife, Frances Ellen (Gabriel) Wartenbe (b. 1822). Frances’ husband, Francis Wartenbee (1818-1871) died the year previous to this letter, leaving Frances in financial need. Consequently this letter pertains to an enquiry by Frances into the potential of receiving a pension for her son Robert B. Wartenbee (1845-1864) who had served in Co. D, 33rd Ohio Infantry during the Civil War. This letter reveals that Robert died of disease while home on a veteran’s furlough in February 1864.
In the letter, James advises Frances what documentation would be required to obtain the mother’s pension for her son’s service.
Zaleski, [Vinton county] Ohio
March 17th 1872
I received yours of the 14th with satisfaction and in answer thereto I would say that we have not forgotten you nor family. Do not think so. We all retain a lasting respect for you , more and sure on account of the deep regard and careful attention you had for deceased Brother Francis who has gone to a better and happier clime beyond our most sanguine scan of terrestrial existence as we sincerely hope and believe. We all sympathize with you in your troubles and affliction, and would fain do everything we can do for you, and [ ] as always will do what we can. We are poor as you well know and can do but little.
We have been much afflicted this winter. Elizabeth has been so that she could scarcely talk for some time. Selina had quite a sick spell — about three weeks. Our Lib had erysipelas and was compelled to stay in her room for some time. [ ] manual labor for more than four months. Yet with the assistance of kind Providence, we “get along.”
I went to Athens after receiving your letter in regard to your pension to see that man I spoke to you about in my letter. He is counted the last man in all this country to look after such claims. He did not give much encouragement about it. I stated the case to him fully as you wrote to me. He said it was not an entirely hopeless case but said there would be a considerable expense attending the collection or obtaining of the pension. He was getting quite old and did not wish to incur the expense at his own risk but believed with proper and efficient exertion it could be got. He said that it must be proved in the neighborhood that Robert was a good boy, that he was almost the main dependence of the family, that he was a good and faithful soldier, that he did not contract his disease by unnecessary exposure on his veteran furlough, and other things about his re-enlistment &c. &c., as you well know.
It appears to me that Underwood, living as he does in the vicinity (if he would act honest) might get the pension for you. Try him again if you see fit.
We received the photographs you sent and they were quite a present, as much so as any you could have sent.
Elizabeth says that she wrote to you personally since she left your place and received no answer. Write soon. Anything I can do for [you] by way of advice or otherwise, I will do.
Yours in truth and affection, — J. J. Allison
Write what the boys are doing. That man says that he is very sure [your son] John ¹ could get a pension of properly attended to. — J. J. Allison
¹ John H. Wartenbee served in Co. G, 91st Ohio Infantry. He was wounded at the Third Battle of Winchester in 1864 but survived, recovered, and completed service with his regiment.