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    Genealogical research about Ephraim Knowlton Hanks, his family, and his ancestors.
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Pension request letter from Ephraim Hanks to the Navy
28 December 2004 16:33

A while back I sent a request in to the National Archives (NARA) inquiring about any records relating to Eph's enlistment in the Navy, as well as any deck logs for the USS Columbus. NARA sent back a note indicating that no enlistment records for Eph could be found, but they did have a letter sent by an "E.C. Hanks" from that period saying "he was going to be transfered to the Columbus." They also indicated the availability of the deck logs I've mentioned previously here.

I sent back a response requesting copies of some of the deck logs, as well as a copy of the letter they mentioned.

Yesterday I found a large manila envelope in the mail from NARA, and opened it with rising excitement. Inside I found a copy of the letter from Ephraim K. Hanks, written in 1877, to the Secretary of the Navy asking about the possibility of a pension for his service in the Navy. I'm not sure whether the letter was written by Eph's hand or whether it was dictated, but it appears to be his own words. The only other document I know of in Eph's own words is a journal entry describing his involvement in the rescue of the Martin handcart company in 1856, so this is very exciting indeed. His letter goes as follows (I have preserved the spelling and grammar):

Teardale Feb 4th 1887

Secatary of the Navy

Dear Sir
I hope you will excuse me for taking the liberty of writing to you conserning Pensions of old Sailors as i am one of that number I inlisted in Boston abord of the old ship ohio but was transfered to the Columbus seventy four Guns in fact they both ware 74 gun Ships. Went on a cruse up the Mettranian was discharged in the Spring of 1844 in New York I am old and feeble and dependant please let me know if i can get a pension E. K. Hanks
Teardale Piute Co Utah

I have provided thumbnail images of these letter above. If you click on them you can see larger images of the letter and its "cover sheet." Update: A Hanks cousin sent me an email indicating the letter was sent from Teasdale, Utah, as Teardale, Utah doesn't exist. I went through the same thought process, but can't convince myself that the near-perfect cursive 'r' in the name of the town is an 's', so my only guess is that the writer of Eph's letter made a 'typo'?

Also included from NARA is the response to Eph's letter from the Navy Department. A transcription of that letter is provided below, and clicking on the thumbnails to the side here will take you to larger versions of those images.

2 01 a' 87
1 eval.
Feb'ry 19 7 [???]

Your letter of the d???ist to the Hon. Secretary of the Navy has been referred to this Bureau.

In reply the Bureau states that the only pensions under the cognizance of the Navy Department are those under Sections ?756-?757 Revised Statutes of the United States, which authorizes a pension to a disabled person who has served in the Navy or Marine Corps ten years or upwards, as will be seen by the enclosure.

If you have served at least ten years the Bureau will forward you the requisite blanks for an application for said pension upon receipt of your request for the same.

Pensions under the general pension laws, for disability originating in the line of duty, are adjudicated by the Commissioner of Pensions, Washington, D.C., to whom application should be made, in case you are entitled to any relief of that nature.

Very respectfully,
Your Obd't Serv't.
Chief of Bureau.

Hopefully some deck logs will be soon in coming. Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season!


© 2008, Daniel C. Hanks