Eva Maria Stahler’s Widow’s Pension: The Battle Continues

IMPORTANT NOTE

Although this story about Adam Stahler and his widow continued to be fascinating, I now believe I was barking up the wrong tree branch, and they are not actually related to me.  I explain elsewhere how that happened.

BEWARE if you are researching the family of Joseph Kaser. There apparently were two Elizabeth Stahlers from Berks County, and the one I have been researching, whose parents were Adam Stahler and Eva Maria Henrich, is not the one who married Joseph Kaser. 

I have left this post for those people who might be researching the Stahler-Henrich lines.

The Soldier and The Widow

Adam Stahler, my 4th great-grandfather, a German immigrant, fought in the American Revolution–not just once but several times–not just as a humble private as many of my New England ancestors, but as a Captain.  However, when his widow, Eva Maria tried to collect her widow’s pension, she faced a legal ordeal. The battle for the pension lasted longer than the war had taken to fight.

During her lifetime, although the court paid her the minimal widow’s pension, she was unable to get the increased amount due the widows of officers. You can see how I discovered the widow’s pension here, and read about what the first part of the legal battle entailed here.

The Soldier’s Son and the Second Hearing

Ten years after her death, and twenty years after the first hearing, the story resumes when her son, Christian, goes back to court to argue that, as the song goes, “they done her wrong.”

By this time, 1852, Christian is in his seventies, and only one other child of Eva and Adam Stahler still lives–Eva’s namesake Eva Marie Stahler (Neur), who is now married and living in Ohio.

Christian had hired an attorney who came loaded with proof of Adam Stahler’s length of service and the fact that he was indeed a Captain, served the appropriate length of time and his family should collect a higher pension.

Apparently, the court found several holes in Eva Maria’s case, and one of them had to do with spelling.

In a letter that seems extremely sad in retrospect, Christian Stahler explains that neither he nor his mother knew of concrete proof of his father’s service (beyond the testimony of fellow veterans) at the time of the first appeal.  In fact, they had asked at the pension office at Pennsylvania capital city Harrisburg and been told there was nothing. Had they found any records they would have presented them.  However, the new attorney (presumably he gets credit) discovered pay records, enrollment records, and more official records that are testimony to the service of Captain Adam Stahler/Stohler.

…That the person she other employed to assist her with her application had a great deal of trouble with it. Spent some weeks riding the country to obtain the testimony necessary to support it. That had he known that the offices at Harrisburg could have shone any light upon the services of the said Adam Stahler he would have applied there and presented with what testimony he acquired from _____ ______ the testimony in that office, but there was nothing to inform him that there was testimony there.

Because of Adam’s rank, Eva would have been eligible to receive $280 a month instead of $120 for her widow’s pension.

Can’t you just feel the frustration that then 84-year old Eva must have felt in back in1832, along with all Adam’s fellow veterans who had testified?

In an earlier article about this pension, I focused on a letter that reported that the writer of the letter had studied the Revolutionary War rolls looking for Adam Stahler, Stohler, or Stoller and had proven that regardless of how it was spelled, there was only one Adam Stahler.  Apparently, during the first appeal, evidence presented did not convince the commissioner of pensions as to Adam’s service.  Part of the problem of course, involved the free-wheeling spelling of the 18th century.

In June 1852, the new lawyer in the case, J. E. Buchanan, says

The proof herewith submitted will show that he was called ‘Staller.’ In the copy of the record which shows that he was at time of the battle of Brandywine until at Chester Aug. 18th 1777 he is called ‘Staller’ and in one of the affidavits he is called by that name. He is called Stahler in the retinue of the 3rd battalion of militia officers dated May 21 1777. But in the Retinue on the same sheet he is called ‘Stahler’ which reconciles the apparent difficulty of the name. The names are the same in sound however.

And it appears that the bureaucrats just weren’t paying attention in the 1852  widow’s pension hearing.  A full year later, Mr. Buchanan (Esq.) writes again, introducing the testimony mentioned above from the man who analyzed the rolls.

 I forward to you additional testimony in the case of Eve Maria Stahler of Pennsylvania making application for an increase of her pension under the act of July 4 1836. In your letter of April 5th inst. I am requested to furnish in the form of an affidavit the opinion of some old respectable inhabitant of Northampton County Pennsylvania that there was but one officer of the name of Adam Stahler vs Stohler in the militia of that County who rendered services during the Revolutionary War.

I just don’t see how he could have explained it more clearly. And he chose, he said to forward testimony from the Secretary of the office where the records are kept as a better source of information, than the requested old soldier’s testimony.  And he repeats once again that although the names Stahler and Stohler and Stoller are spelled differently, they sound the same.

Surely after such a frustrating widow’s pension case, Christian Stahler’s attorney must have stalked off to the nearest tavern, muttering about the blockheads who could not understand that a name might be spent several ways but still apply to the same person.

Did they win the case? One piece of paper that might contain the answers, has faded beyond recognition and the columns of numbers do not make sense to me. So I have not been able to figure out yet who won the case. UPDATE: Another accounting is clearer and shows that Christian and his sister, the only surviving children were awarded the amount that their mother should have received. THEY WON!

But this story proves that genealogists are not the only ones who have a problem when surnames are misspelled.

Notes on Research

U.S., Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900, index found at Ancestry.com and 84-page file read and copied from “Application of Eva Maria Stahler, widow of Captain Adam Stahler,”  www.fold3.com/image/18467518?terms=adam%20stahler&xi
d=1945 
 Accessed at the Family Search Center, Tucson NW

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