52 Ancestors #13 Joseph A. Ferguson – Civil War Pension

This weeks blog is going to be on Joseph Ferguson. He was my 2x great grandfather on my mothers side. Joseph is reputed to have been born in Dublin 12 April 1827.

When my sisters & I went to Ireland in 2007,

Ireland 2007 Putnam sisters
Ireland 2007
Putnam sisters

I spent quite a bit of time looking for him, well his birth record or baptism record at any rate.

We had information that stated his father David Ferguson had been a doctor in Dublin.


New York Family History
New York Family History

While in Dublin I visited the National Archives, what a pleasure that was.
Even though I did not find David Ferguson or Joseph’s records I had a great experience looking through the old records. Preservation for genealogist is important and to be able to look at old original records is a privelage and care needs to be taken. When looking at some of the records I was required to use a pillow to cushion the record books so as not to stress the spine of the books. They bring you the book and a pillow, kind of neat.

Back to Joseph.
Joseph in the 1850 US census is listed age 23, a laborer, place of birth Ireland. Mary A. age 20, born in New York would be his wife, and Margaret H. age 1, born in New York would be his daughter. Also listed is an Ellen Ferguson, age 25 (?) also born in Ireland. Could this be his sister?

1850 US Census Forestburgh, New York
1850 US Census Forestburgh, New York

The next census we have a copy of is the 1855 New York State Census. Excuse the poor quality. It shows Joseph now 28 years old. Number of years in this city is difficult to read possible 7 or 9. He is listed as a farmer and a naturalized citizen  and owner of land.

FHL Film # 838341
1855 New York State Census Forestburgh, Sullivan Co.

We know his first wife and mother of Margaret Helen Ferguson was Mary Agnes Hall shown as Mary A. now 24 years of age, 6 years in this city and I can not read what County born in.
His children were: Margaret H. age 5 and Mariett age 3. Also in this census they have a servant living in the home who is only 11 years old and A David Ferguson  age 25 listed as brother and working as a teamster from Ireland and 7  years in this city.

Did David and Joseph come together from Ireland? Well I did look, but to date I have not found  a David and Joseph Ferguson arriving together from Ireland.



1856 Land Deed Forestburgh New York
1856 Land Deed Forestburgh New York

In this Deed taken from the land records for Forestburgh New York, we find Joseph Ferguson and his wife Mary Agnes paying the sum of $150 to Catherine Jane Limone(?) the wife of Benjamin H. Limone. for a parcel of property in Forestburgh, Sullivan Co. containing 200 acres.

1860 US Census Forestburgh, New York
1860 US Census
Forestburgh, New York

The 1860 US census shows Joseph 33 a laborer from Ireland with real estate value of $200, his wife Mary A. 30 from New York. daughter Margaret H. 10 also born in New York, Mary E. (Marietta) 8, David W. 3, and Charles T. 1 year old all born in New York.

The next piece of evidence to Joseph Ferguson comes during the Civil War. Since we had a letter written during the civil war from Joseph to his children we searched the records for him and ordered his files from the National Archives.
This is what we discovered from Josephs military records. They show he enlisted on Aug. 9, 1862 Co. A 1 Regiment New York Mounted Rifles.

At enlistment it discibes him as Age 35 years, height 5 feet 9 inches, Complexion Dark, Eyes Black, Hair, Dark born in Ireland, Occupation, Farmer.

He reenlisted in Sept. 1864 and was discharged Nov. 29, 1865. From his letter and his service record we know he was in Williamsburgh Virginia in October of 1863 and he reenlisted at Bermuda Hundred, Virginia Sept 3 1864.

There is no record of action. But the Bermuda Hundred was called the “Cork in the Bottle” and Action there occurred in May 1864 four months prior to his reenlistment there.

Bermuda Hundred Map May 5-16 1864
Bermuda Hundred Map
May 5-16 1864

In 1867 Joseph writes to his daughter:

Franklin Feb 23/67

Dear Helen I take this opportunity of writing you a few lines to let you know that I am in good health hoping that this may reach you and find you and your husband and little responsibility the same. I received yours of the 17th jan and was glad to hear that that you were so happy and contented,  a blessing that I never again expect to enjoy myself   you said you would come out here if I thought you could do any better here now the fact is I don’t know whether you could or not for although I have been here two years I am yet a stranger here because I hardly ever go any place nor I don’t mingle in society any more than I am obliged to although I have often been invited and urged to attend social parties but I am alone in the world and expect to remain so.

Franklin is a small place not much larger than Forestburgh I know you could not do much there and there is no other place of any importance within 6 to 8 miles from here and I am not acquainted enough with the business of either of those places to know much about them I guess though that there are more artist in them then  can make a good living I shall make some inquiry around and if I can hear of any place that would suit you I will let you know.

I suppose you heard me tell about losing my first discharge and $75 bounty,  I made an application for my bounty before I left the army but had(n’t) got it when I left Port Jarvis, I applied for it again a short time and the Second Auditor of the treasurary department at Wash. wrote to me that my claim had been settled and a certificate for the money sent to me Feb.19, 1867 to Port Jarvis now I think your mother must have got but I don’t think she ever got the money on it because she could not unless she could prove that I was dead I wish you would try and find out about it and let me know.

enclosed find a kiss rolled up in a five dollar bill both for my little granddaughter

I will now close with my love to you and your husband and a double portion to little Mary

Joseph Ferguson


So next we should find Joseph in the 1870 or 1880 US Census. It seems he has alluded us. For a while I was looking for him in New York State. There was no hint in the letter where Franklin was. Since he had been mustered out at Port Jarvis I thought Franklin was some where in upstate New York but then when I found him in the 1900 US census in Michigan. I still did not connect him to having moved there after getting out of the Union Army. In his records with the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Pensions, he is trying to get his pension, he states in 1898 he was married to Mary formerly Mary Shaftoe on Jan. 1, 1878 in Southfield, Oakland Co. Michigan, that he was previously married to Mary Agnes Hall divorced at Pontiac, Oakland Co., Michigan May 17th 1873. It also lists his children. There is a clue there. David W. he lists as David “Bill”. Next I can read Charles Theodore and the rest is fading away.

Joseph Ferguson Bureau of Pensions 1898
Joseph Ferguson Bureau of Pensions 1898

So Joseph is still trying to get his pension 30 years later. He had written another letter in 1892  stating ” I am dependent on what little labor I can do for a living and therefore have no money to spend on lawyer fees.” He is now 65 years old.

The 1900 US census Shows Joseph with a birthdate of April 1827,  73 years old being married for 22 years, having been born in Ireland and both of his parents born in Ireland, immigrated in 1848 being in this country for 53 years and being a Naturalized Citizen. Occupation Garden Laborer. Mary his wife  born in July 1933, 66 years of age, married 22 years having been born in New York, father born in England and mother born in New York.

Joseph Ferguson died May 5 1905 in Southfield, Oakland Co. Michigan and is buried in Franklin, Michigan. Do you think Mary Agnes got his pension?

Next I need to explore why on Mary Agnes Fergusons death certificate her father is listed as Lambert and her Mothers maiden name as Ester Hall when every record  by Joseph and the New York Published Family History shows Mary Agnes’ maiden name as Hall.