Author Archives: Rebecca Whitman Koford, CG

Indians, Heirs, and an Act of Congress

The Chandonia/Chadonnet descendants may guess that they have Native American ancestry, but not know much more than that.  The pension of John B. Chandonia (aka Jean Baptiste Chandronnet) lends a whole new dimension to his life and service in the War of 1812.  If we compare online sources for John and his family with his War of 1812 pension, we see a completely different picture.  As each source is analyzed, we can compare it with the War of 1812 pension for John for additional information in the pension that can support, change, or enhance the information gleaned about his life.

  1. FindaGrave: If researchers are looking for the wife and children of John, a good way to start would be by working from death to birth.  FindaGrave has a listing for John B. Chadonai [sic] (1790-1837), a “Potawatomi Scout” in the War of 1812.  He is buried at the City Cemetery in South Bend, St. Joseph County, Indiana.  No additional death or birth information is listed, nor are wife or children are mentioned. It does not state if John was a white man or Native American/Indian working as an interpreter.[1]  Compare with War of 1812 pension:  In the pension, we find a few more pieces of information concerning John’s life and death.  1) John’s surname is consistently spelled “Chandonia,” but we also see that this is a widow’s pension and that she is illiterate, so the phonetics and not the spelling need to be the focus of future searches.  2) John is listed as a ““a half-breed Pottamatomie Indian.”  3) John died at South Bend, Indiana in May 1837.[2]
history, genealogy, headstone, family history, War of 1812

John Chadonai headstone.

  1. Marriage Records: A beautiful image of John and Mary’s marriage record can be found on ancestry.com, but it is important to confirm it is the same couple.  The marriage date and place found in the pension file make it a certainty (see next).  Jean Baptiste Chandronnet married Marie Louise Chapolton in a French-speaking Catholic church in “Détroit, Ste-Anne, Michigan.”  It gives that Jean [John] was the fils majeur [adult son] of Charles Chandronnet and Marguerite Marcot, born in St. Joseph.  He married Marie Louise Chapolton, daughter of Benoit Chapolton and Therese Melche.  Marie signed the record with an X.  The marriage was performed 8 February 1815.[3] Compare with War of 1812 pension: John’s wife is Mary L. Chandonia, neé Chapolon.  They were said to have married 8 Aug 1811 by Rev. G. Richards in Detroit, Michigan.[4]  It appears that Mary, age 80 at the time of her deposition, understandably may have gotten the date a bit wrong. Having each record to compare with one another is important to any investigation.
  1. Census records and Children: Since John died before the census began enumerating full households in 1850, we can only guess that the following are the right family, especially given the difficulties in name spellings.  Note that if looking for evidence of John’s Native American heritage, it is not found in these census records.
  • Mary L. “Chawdanie,” age 54 in 1850, appeared to live with the widow Mary Brissette and her children in St. Joseph County, Indiana. Their race is not listed, and assumed to be white.[5]
  • Mary L. Chandonah, age 66 in 1860, now lived with the family of Charles B. Chandonah [no relationships listed], and a few Bresett children in South Bend, St. Joseph, Indiana. Their race is not listed, and assumed to be white.[6]
  • Mary “Shandonia,” age 77, lived with the Anthony and Emma Lamaram family in 1870, still in South Bend. Their races are all listed as “white.” [7]
  • Finally, the 1880 census is the last enumeration we find for Mary. She is now listed as Mary “Chadnois,” age 95, mother-in-law of Anthony Lamaraud (husband of Emily).  Their races are all listed as “white.” [8]

Compare with War of 1812 pension: In a deposition dated 27 Aug 1872, the children of John and Mary are listed as Charles B. Chandonia and Mary L. Breset.  Perhaps Emma/Emily died by this time?  Also noted in the file is the fact that John and Mary are the grandparents of Theo. Charles “Charley” Chandonia.

What you do not find in any other record online except in the War of 1812 pensions about John and Mary are:

  • Mary was awarded benefits based on an Act of Congress, approved 3 March 1847, “An Act for the relief of the Widow and Heirs of John B. Chandonia.”
  • Previous to the war, at the massacre of the whites by the Indians at Chicago, John saved the life of the Captain in command and his wife.
  • He joined as an interpreter and was eventually captured and held in a British prison until the end of the war. During his service he was described as “young, active, enterprising, and daring,” and was said not only to have helped his commanders with intelligence but been active in interceding on behalf of the army “possessing an influence over them [the Indian tribes] that no one else, who favored the American cause, did- all these circumstances combined gave him the power of rendering to the United States greater services than any one else at that time…”[1]
  • So, what are the value of the files being digitized by FGS and the Preserve the Pensions project?  Beyond measure.   By searching these pensions and comparing them with other sources, we find a story rich with detail and personality.  The initial petition in 1846 to hear Mary’s case before Congress may be echoed by us today…“…regretting that so just a claim should have been so long neglected, thereby permitting the widow and children of so meritorious a man to drag out a life in penury and want – hereby report a bill for their relief, and recommend its passage without delay.”Where else could we build the story of a Potawatomi born, French speaking, Native American patriot?  Let us search these records without delay and work to support, donate, and preserve so meritorious a memory for our own veteran ancestors and their families.

 

Stories such as this one could simply not be told without access to important historical documents, like the Pension files of the War of 1812. Help us today by making a donation supporting the digital preservation of this incredible collection.

 


 

[1] Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 23 Jan 2016),memorial page for John B. Chadonai (1790-1837), Find A Grave Memorial no.109,706,013, citing City Cemetery, South Bend, St. Joseph County, Indiana; photo by Diana Brown, used with permission.

[2] John B. Chandonia (Indian Interpreter, U.S. Army, War of 1812), WO 8492, WC 4417, widow Mary L. Chandonia, War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, Records of the Veteran’s Administration, RG 15; National Archives (NARA), Washington DC; digital images, fold3.com (https://www.fold3.com/image/304392594 : accessed 23 Jan 2016).

[3] “U.S., French Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1695-1954,” digital images,Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com : accessed 23 January 2016), Détroit, Ste-Anne, Michigan, Registre de Sainte Anne Detroit 1801 á 1842, p. 1729; imaged from microfilm identified as “Gabriel Drouin, comp., Drouin Collection”, Montreal, Quebec, Canada: “Institut Généalogique Drouin.”

[4] John B. Chandonia (Indian Interpreter, U.S. Army, War of 1812), WO 8492, WC 4417, widow Mary L. Chandonia, War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, RG 15; NARA.

[5] 1850 U.S. census, St. Joseph, Indiana, population schedule, Portage, page 21 [stamped 11], dwelling 144, family 144, Mary L. Chawdanie entry; digital images, Ancestry.com (https://ancestry.com : accessed 23 Jan 2016), referencing NARA microfilm publication series M432, roll 171.

[6] 1860 U.S. census, St. Joseph, Indiana, population schedule, South Bend, page 4,  dwelling 22, family 22, Mary L. Chandonah entry; digital images, Ancestry.com (https://ancestry.com : accessed 23 Jan 2016), referencing NARA microfilm publication series M653, roll 295.

[7] 1870 U.S. census, St. Joseph, Indiana, population schedule, South Bend, Ward 4,  page 4,  dwelling 20, family 22, Mary Shandonia entry; digital images, Ancestry.com (https://ancestry.com : accessed 23 Jan 2016), referencing NARA microfilm publication series M593, roll 360.

[8] 1880 U.S. census, St. Joseph, Indiana, population schedule, South Bend, ED 162,  page 39 [stamped 395],  dwelling 396, family 397, Mary Chadnois entry; digital images, Ancestry.com (https://ancestry.com : accessed 23 Jan 2016), referencing NARA microfilm publication series T9, roll 309.

Neighbors, Neighbors, Neighbors: More Research Opportunities in the War of 1812 Pensions

Researching the War of 1812 generation can be a challenge.  Few records survive, and some, such as birth and death certificates, were never created.  Genealogists have encouraged us over and over again to seek the neighbors.[1]  The technique known as “cluster genealogy” is a way to find our ancestors among their friends, relatives, and community.  If your ancestor did not make a record that leads to the answer you are seeking, one of his neighbors may have done:  in a deed, will, diary, family history, or court record.

Here are a few samples of how the newly digitized War of 1812 pension records are helping to fill in those gaps:

  • Although only age thirteen at the beginning of the war, Samuel Dorris attested in 1879 to witnessing the 1820 wedding of Roxena Davis and Daniel McBride. On this document is his signature, which can be compared with other documents, but he also swore to his own birthdate and the birthdates of the bride and groom.  In addition, he provided evidence of his own move from Livingston County, New York to upstate in Erie County between those years.[2]   This was my ancestor, and I had never heard of any relationship to the Davis or McBride families before.
  • To help local resident, Ira Fancher, obtain his pension benefits, seventy-five men in the community signed an affidavit in 1839 that said “We the undersigners being personly acquainted with Ira Fancher (an aplicant for a pension) for many years past are fuley of the belief that the said Ira Fancher is a man of truth under Oath” [original spelling preserved].[3] All of the signatures appear to be original and some even indicate the signer’s occupation. What an opportunity to find not only a whole community but their original signatures as well!
  • Silas Chatfield of the New York Militia Riflemen under Capt. John Richardson, who mustered out of Cayuga County, had an eighty-five page pension file that was unprecedented. Not only did he also have a signed document of many of his neighbors’ original signatures, attesting to his service and injuries – he had four!  Four separate lists of neighbors, friends, and fellow soldiers with original signatures from his new home in McHenry County, Illinois (circa 1843-1846).[4]   If anyone is researching any family in the McHenry County area, this pension is a goldmine.
Chatfield Pension file, page 45.

Chatfield Pension file, page 45.

For most of these soldiers and their families, the money provided by these government pensions was the difference between survival and destitution.  To us, they are a delicious peek into the families and communities that made up our ancestors’ world.  Capt. Chatfield entreated the Office of the Pensions,  “It is only to a grateful Cuntry and the ministers of its law that the wounded and other were disable Soldier and the intrepid defenders of its rights and honor can look for recompence of Valor and the reward of patriotism” [spelling preserved].  We can’t say any better than that.

These records are available for FREE forever on Fold3.com, thanks to continued contributions from our community. Make a donation today towards this effort to digitally preserve this incredibly valuable collection of American history.


 

[1] For a sample of cluster genealogy research, see: Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 11: Identity Problems & the FAN Principle,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage  

(https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-11-identity-problems-fan-principle : accessed 9 Jan 2016).

[2] Samuel Dorris affidavit, Daniel McBride (Pvt., Capt. Cook’s Co., NY Militia, War of 1812), widow Roxena McBride, WO 33726, WC 23130; digital images, fold3.com (www.fold3.com : accessed 9 Jan 2016), referencing Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files,  Records of the Veteran’s Administration, RG 15; National Archives (NARA), Washington, D.C.

[3] Ira Fancher (Pvt., Capt. Eli P Robinson NY Mil., War of 1812), SO 14847, SC 9382, BLW 86140-40, widow Anna Fancher, WO 10712, WC 11036, War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, Records of the Veteran’s Administration, RG 15; National Archives, Washington DC; marriage certification, Baltimore County; digital images, fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com/image/311362386/ : accessed 9 Jan 2016).

[4] Silas Chatfield (Capt., Capt. John Richardson NY Mil., War of 1812), SO 24112, SC 3136, War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, Records of the Veteran’s Administration, RG 15; National Archives, Washington DC; marriage certification, Baltimore County; digital images, fold3.com (https://www.fold3.com/image/304386935: accessed 9 Jan 2016); for the four separate lists of community members, see: https://www.fold3.com/image/304387082, https://www.fold3.com/image/304386993 , https://www.fold3.com/image/304387010 ,and https://www.fold3.com/image/304387022.

 

Trouble with Surname Spellings? Tips for searching multiple names in the War of 1812 Pensions at fold3.com!

Like many websites, to search for your ancestor properly, you need to change the surname spelling for every search you make. Fold3 is one of those, but there is a work-around you may not be aware of. When searching for a name with multiple spellings, try this trick. For this example, we will be using the surname “Clements.”

  • At Fold3, click on the tab “War of 1812” under the heading “Browse US Military Records by War.” When you do, a box will show up to the right about War of 1812 records available in the site. Now click on the dark blue words “Browse all War of 1812 Titles.”
  • Now your screen will show two columns. Go to the second column titled “Publication,” and scroll down to click on “War of 1812 Pension Files.”
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Layout on Fold3.com

  • A new column will show up on the right side, titles “State Organization.” Click on the state where your ancestor served. For this example, we will use Maryland.
  • The next column that now shows on the right is “Surname Starts With.” Here we click “C” for Clements.
  • Now another column shows to the right alongside the surname list. If we scroll through those names we find three surname spellings in the Maryland records only that may be variants of the Clements name: Clemans, Clements, Clemmer. Clicking on each of these will give the name of the soldiers who applied for pensions (or pensions applied for by widows under their husbands’ names).
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Surname searching on Fold3.com

Using this search technique, you may find surname spellings for your ancestor that you had not considered.  Don’t forget to search for your ancestor’s name (with each possible spelling) in the regular search – he may be listed in someone else’s pension, too.

Happy Researching!

Remember that records are made available online – FREE forever – by donations from people like you. Help us preserve the War of 1812 pension files and make a donation today!