In 2012, cousin Liz Banas was able to secure from the fedeal government a copy of Richard Goodhind's Civil War pension file. Having served honorably in Company G of the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry regiment, Richard was entitled to a pension on achieving retirement age.

His file contains records of his payroll disbursements during the war, following the movements of his unit, including his time as a prisoner of war, right up to his muster out in 1864. As Richard applied for his pension, the government kept all correspondence back and forth in his file. Therefore, many of the documents are written in his own hand! In this correspondence, Richard was required to answer questions about his time in the service and his movements thereafter. This information fills a tremendous void for us, his descendants, as we have little to nothing of note passed down from Richard himself, oral or written, about his Civil War service.

I have made two .pdf files of the pension file: the first file deals directly with Richard himself. The second file deals with his widow Mary L. Stickles Goodhind Histon. Mary applied for widow's benefits after Richard passed away in 1911. She gave up the benefits when she re-married to John Histon in 1913, but then requested reinstatement in 1919 when John passed away. The file continues to her death in 1941 and includes the attempts to get payments for her funeral expenses by the old age home in Pittsfield where she spent the last few years of her life.

You will find the two pension files on the sidebar at the right.

Let's examine the first file with a little detail:

The first two pages of the file are Richard's original application, dated January 5, 1905 when he was 62 years old. The application confirms his dates of service.

The next three pages indicate that he will be considered for an "invalid pension" due to a "partial inability to earn a support by manual labor." We know at this time that Richard was still working as the Superintendent of the Hurlbut Paper Mill at South Lee, MA. But we also know that Richard had, by this time, a weak heart. Perhaps he felt restricted in his activities and thus was applying for the pension. Or perhaps he was just making sure his wife Mary would be taken care of in the event something happened to him. We don't know.

Pages 6-8 are the most enlightening pages in the whole file, as two of them are written in his own hand. The first page gives us something we never had before: the middle name of his wife Mary: "Louisa." In virtually all other documents, she simply gives her name as "Mary L." When listing his children, note that he gives Murray's middle name as "Malcombe," not "Malcolm." Such literary license in spelling names was not at all unusual at this time. But it also confirms Murray's date of birth as May 22, 1880. This is important because there is no official record of his birth at Dalton, MA.

On page 8, Richard is asked, "Where have you lived since discharge?" His answer is very detailed, "Left Russell 1866 to Dalton - 1880 to Huntington 1883 to South Hadley Falls 1886 to Hoyoke 1888 to South Lee 1905." Knowing his work places from other sources, we can now fill in his complete work history:

Until 1866, Zenas M. Crane at Russell, MA
1866-1880, Byron Weston Paper Co. at Dalton, MA
1880-1883, Chester Paper Co. at Huntington, MA
1883-1886, Hampshire Paper Co. at South Hadley
1886-1888, Beebe & Holbrook at Holyoke, MA
1888-1911, Hurlburt Paper Co. at South Lee, MA

Of all the 5 Goodhind brothers, Richard moved around the most. It is interesting to note that as of May 22, 1880 when Murray was born, Richard was still at Dalton. Richard's brother James Thomas died in an industrial accident at Chester Paper Co. in Huntington about 2 weeks later. And that's precisely where Richard went to work that same year! Their brother Frederick was already at the same factory. (In fact, Frederick never left Huntington in his long papermaking career.) Was Richard already at Chester Paper when his brother was killed? We don't know.

Question 12 asks for a physical description: 5 ft, 7 in tall, about 200 lbs., blue eyes, light brown hair and a fair complexion. And then another great piece of information: a "scar on left leg from bullet." Wow! We know from Richard's military history that he was wounded at Chancellorsville, Virginia in early May, 1863, the battle just prior to Gettysburg. So this is the wound he carried for the rest of his life.

The next document is a death certificate for his first wife, Charlotte Martin Cook, on October 15, 1878 due to typhoid fever. Next is a marriage certificate for 36-year-old Richard Goodhind and 21-year-old Mary Stickles on March 13, 1879, just short of five months after his wife had died (and only 2 days after the death of Mary's father, Jacob Stickles!).

The next two documents simply document his service again. Page 13 is the actual grant for a pension on the 4th of March 1907 (over two years to get the pension approved!). Then follow three more pages of government papers. Page 17 is a letter written to the government pension department by John T. Wilson, the Clerk of Court in Lee, enquiring about the stall in the pension. Their answer was evidently to send another paper for him to fill out, dated June 24, 1907.

On Oct 11, Richard fires off another letter to the Commissioner of Pensions, pointing out that two others who applied at the same time have already received their pensions. Page 20 seems to indicate that a pension was finally paid out sometime after Oct. 19, 1907.

Page 21 is an official "Declaration of Widow's Pension," filed on December 29, 1911. Richard had passed away on November 24, the day before his 69th birthday. His sudden death is attributed to "mitral regurgitations with ruptured compensations," a failure of one the valves of his heart. A death certificate is also provided.

Following two pages of government paperwork, page 26 is a letter to Mary which states she needs the "testimony of credible witnesses, having personal knowledge, showing whether the claimant lived with the soldier, without divorce, from the date of the marriage to the date of his death." In response, Mary sends a statement from Clerk of Court John T. Wilson of the same and witnessed by two other Wilsons (wife and daughter?).

The government found this acceptable and pages 29-31 notified Mary that she had been granted a pension...for $10 a month.

Pages 32-42 show several monthly payroll records, which include the time he was "absent with leave" as a prisoner of war. Those records mention Annapolis, MD and he may likely have been held with thousands of other prisoners from New England at Camp Parole.

A final intersting point in these records: Richard's official record of service states that he was promoted to Corporal at Gettysburg "for meritorious service." However, these records state that he was promoted to Corporal on April 1, 1864, not sometime after Gettysburg (which ended on July 4, 1863). In point of fact, the Corporal for Company G, one Gordon S. Wilson, was killed at Gettysburg. Was the position left open until the following year? Again, we don't know.

The second pension file deals with the newly widowed Mary L. Stickles Goodhind Histon's attempts to re-establish her claim for a widow's military pension, a claim that proved ultimately successful.


About Richard Goodhind
Richard's first family (with Charlotte Martin Cook)
Richard's second family (with Mary L. Stickles)

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