Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Transcription Tuesday: Materials from the Alabama Department of Archives and History

I am a big fan of state archives, and the Alabama Department of Archives and History is a shining illustration of the reasons why. About a year ago I sent in a request for materials on my great-great grandfather, William T. Sisson. On the request form you can select four types of documents for them to search for the fee ($15?). They found three of the four types (and the fourth, his Civil War service record, I obtained from Footnote) and sent photocopies of the records, a research report, and a copy of a page from the unit rosters for Alabama Confederate soldiers.

Below is the beginning of my transcription of these documents. I will begin with the Confederate Widow’s Pension application of William T. Sisson’s widow, Susan C. [Caroline] Tant Sisson.

As I started to transcribe these documents, it became clear to me that I should have done this much earlier. Although I scanned them for information when I received them, they contain so much more, and compelled me to change, add, and update information in my genealogy program.

[First page – parts of three papers]

[Paper at left, typewritten]

Sisson, William T.
Co. C, 30th Ala. Inf. Reg.
April 1862, Talladega, Ala.

[Middle paper, typewritten]

Alabama Pension No. 31780
Elmore County
Name of Pensioner Susan C. Sisson
Widow of W. T. Sisson
Rank pvt Co. H 25 Regt.

Ala Infantry/ Cavalry/Artillery/Navy

Enlisted _____ at
County of _____
State of _____
Name of Com’n’d’r _____
Discharged _____ at
Wounded _____ at
Witnesses R. H. McKinney
Jno. J. Sparks
Remarks /initials/

[Paper at right, handwritten]

[Private] age 29 [or 79]
Mar. 5th 1862 – Talladega, Ala,
3 years ---
Muster in Roll dated Camp Curry, March 26th 1862 –

[Second page – appears to be photocopy of a record card, handwritten entries]


VETERAN’S NAME Sisson, William T.
Sisson, Susan Caroline
COUNTY Coffee & Calhoun & Elmore
MILITARY RECORD Pvt., Co. H, 25th Regt.

[Third page – beginning of application. Entries are typewritten.]


State of Alabama
Coffee County

Give your full name Susan Caroline Sisson
Your present, permanent, complete post office address Elba, Alabama, R # 4.
What is your number on pension roll? (Elmore Co.)
With whom are you now living? W. T. Sisson, her son, Elba, Alabama, R # 4.
Where were you born? Place Talladega County County Alabama State ____
When were you born? Month October Day 12th Year 1835.
Sate name of your father John J. Tant
If living, his present address Not living.
If dead, when and where he died Has been dead 25 years or more, Talladega Co.
What was the name of your husband? William T. Sisson
When and where did you marry him? 1874 in Talladega County, Alabama.
When and where did he die? 1892 in Talladega County, Alabama.
Were you living with him one year prior to his death? Yes.
Were you ever divorced from him No. If so, when and where? None.
Have you been married more than once? No. If so, give name of husband and date and place of marriage None.
Have you been on the pension roll of any other county in this State at any time? Yes. If so, state in what counties and the years of your residence there, County Elmore County year 1897, County Elmore, year, County ___ year ____. Have you ever drawn a pension in another state? No. If so, give the State None, County ___, and years ____.
Are you now receiving a pension from any other state? No. If so, give the name of State ___. Did you ever apply for a pension in this State and had your application rejected? No. If so, give year ___ and reason for rejection ___.
Has your name ever been dropped from the pension roll? No. If so, state in what county you were then drawing and the reason given None.
Have you ever lived in any other states? No. If so, give name of states____ Counties___.

Items of interest and information

1. Confirms his unit number (Company H, 25th Regiment). Cryptic references on the left-hand piece of paper on the first photocopy page to the 30th Regiment. The only reference in the body of Susan C. Sisson’s application is to the 25th Regt. The dates on the handwritten scrap of paper on the right side of the page do not seem to have dates that add up either for William or Susan, so these may have been from adjacent files. There may have been a William M. Sisson in the Talladega area (perhaps a relative). Searches in the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System do not really provide a lot of additional information. I’ll have to do some more nosing around in Footnote. Also need to get unit histories.

2. Confirms that Susan C. Sisson’s full name is Susan Caroline Sisson and that her maiden name was Tant. This was a big deal when I first received the photocopies, because I was not sure the Susan C. Sisson shown living with daughter Martha Edna Mulkey on the 1900 census for Talladega County, Alabama was the Caroline Tant Sisson listed on the Sisson Family Genealogy pages.

3. A year of 1874 is given as the date of marriage of Susan C. Tant and William T. Sisson (which does not match the 17 October 1875 date listed in the marriage records for Talladega County).

4. An approximate time frame for the death of John Tant is given (would be around 1898 or earlier). (Note to self: This is a family I want to do more research on. There was also a daughter named Martha, and she would have been the right age to be the same Martha Tant who married Lafayette Lee, the half-brother of my great-great grandfather J.M.C. Norman.)

5. My previous entry for the death date for Susan C. Sisson in my genealogy program – before 1920 (may have been based on the fact that I did not find her in the 1920 census) – was incorrect and had to be changed to "after 11 April 1923," based on the date of the application.

6. Route #4, Elba (Coffee County) is given as Susan’s place of residence on the date of the application. The other counties listed may also indicate other places of residence of Susan’s daughter Martha Edna Sisson Mulkey and her husband Ruben Mulkey. Although Susan is listed as living with her son W. T. [Wiley Turner] Sisson in 1923, on the 1900 and 1910 censuses she is living with her daughter (and I can't find her on the 1920 census, either). Edna and Ruben may have moved to Georgia in around 1920-23; they are living in Georgia in 1930.

7. 1892 is given as the year of William T. Sisson’s death, which does not agree with the date of 12 February 1894 indicated on the Sisson Family Genealogy pages.

8. Based on the replies in the form, Susan C. Tant had no husbands prior to William Sisson; she was his third wife and was somewhere between 35 and 40 when she married him.

So, after only a few pages, a lot of information has been provided and several discrepancies and unverified pieces of information appear that need to be followed up.


  1. Wow! There was a lot of information in the document. I will have to see if my ancestor has any files available. He was traded off to a Georgia Reg., so maybe not.

  2. Enjoyed this posting and seeing what you got from the archives. Maybe this will encourage others to pursue their state archives treasures more. I think too many rely on the instant gratification they may get from such as Ancestry etc.

  3. This is great to know that you are a fan of state archives. I am working on Genealogy research and need to explore archives and history to know more about people in the history. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information here with all.

  4. Hummer - One of my ancestors also served in units from different states (SC and VA). In your ancestor's case, that may mean not many files, but it could also mean a lot of files (I'll cross my fingers and hope it's the latter). Cheri - I was lucky to learn about state archives (starting with TX) before I subscribed to Ancestry. I've dealt with TX, AL, Ark, and SC archives, and have never been disappointed. Rich - If your experience with state archives turns out like mine has, you may find some real goldmines there!