RG-2. RECORDS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE AUDITOR GENERAL
The Office of the Auditor General was created in 1809 to replace and assume many of the duties of the offices of the Comptroller General and the Register General. These offices had been originally created to liquidate claims against the state for services performed during the Revolutionary War and to assist in the final settlement of public accounts. Similarly, the Office of the Escheators General was abolished in 1821, and its duties relative to the estates of individuals dying intestate without heirs or kindred were added to those of the auditor general. The auditor general was made an elective office in 1850 and became a constitutional office with the adoption of the Constitution of 1874. The Fiscal Code of 1929 transferred the function of tax collection from the Department of the Auditor General to the newly created Department of Revenue. Under the code the department became for the first time a true auditing agency.
As the chief auditor of the state’s fiscal affairs, the auditor general is responsible for insuring that the Commonwealth receives all moneys to which it is entitled and that public money is spent legally and properly. The auditor general adjusts claims against the Commonwealth, examines the settlements made by the Revenue Department, and oversees the examination of most financial transactions involving the state.
GENERAL ADMINISTRATIVE AND FINANCIAL RECORDS
Index to Churches and Beneficial Societies, transcribed 1841. (1 volume) Arranged alphabetically by name of church or society. This index contains the names of churches and beneficial societies in Pennsylvania. Information provided includes the name of the church or society and occasionally its location. African American churches and beneficial societies listed include: African Benevolent Association, African Methodist Episcopal Church of Columbia, African Zoar Methodist Episcopal Church, Colored Persons Philadelphia Library Company, and the Free Benevolent Sons of Africa.
RECORDS RELATING TO MILITARY SERVICE
Revolutionary War Pension File, 1809-1893. (4 boxes) Arranged alphabetically by surname of pensioner. A record of certifications prepared by the Orphans’ Court or the state Supreme Court entitling Revolutionary War veterans and their widows to obtain compensation provided for in the Act of September 22, 1785. Information shown varies with each document. While some certifications only list the soldier’s name, residence, and military unit, others also mention wounds suffered by the veteran and his rank, age, and date of enlistment.
An example of an entry for an African American is that of Griffith Smith. According to an affidavit signed by Secretary of War Lewis Cass on January 4, 1834, Smith served with his master, John Young, as an army drummer in the Revolutionary War from 1776 to 1779. As a result of his service, Smith was entitled to receive a pension of $25.60 annually from March 4, 1831 until his death. Included is a statement signed by John Frederick Weinland, Protestant minister of Germantown, certifying that Griffith Smith married Mary Brand on April 16, 1788. Also present is a petition from the General Assembly approving a widow’s pension for Mrs. Smith. Examples of other Revolutionary War pensions listed for African Americans are certificates for Edward Hector, a driver with Courtney’s Company of the 4th Continental Artillery, and for Stacey Williams of Humphreys Company, 6th Pennsylvania Regiment.
War of 1812 Pension File, 1866-1896 (bulk 1866-1879). (57 boxes, 26 folders) Arranged alphabetically by surname of pensioner. A record created as a result of the legislative Act of April 30, 1866 that (with subsequent supplemental acts) granted annuities, gratuities or pensions to Pennsylvania soldiers or their widows. The legislation stipulated that the soldier must have served at least two months duty or have been wounded or otherwise disabled during the war. Files contain notarized pension applications submitted by veterans or their widows that generally show the name, signature, residence, rank, regiment, and military unit of each veteran; the name of the officer under whom he served; his period of service; and the approximate dates of his enlistment and honorable discharge. From the 1870s onward the dates of marriages and of veterans’ deaths are also frequently recorded. Some applications mention widows’ ages.
While many African Americans served in the War of 1812, most ship and station muster rolls do not differentiate between the races. An example of a document that does identify race is the petition for African American Jesse Walls, which includes the application of his widow Myra Walls dated September 24, 1866 for the gratuity and annuity of her husband; an affidavit dated September 26, 1866 signed by Joseph Deamer from Erie stating that Jesse Walls was a seaman who had served as a fifer on board the U.S. Brig Niagara; and two letters from Edward Clark dated September 26 and November 5, 1866 also stating his acquaintance with and support of Myra Wall’s request and need.
RECORDS RELATING TO CIVIL WAR BORDER CLAIMS
Chambersburg War Damage Claim Applications Submitted Under Act of February 15, 1866. (4 boxes) Arranged alphabetically by surname of the claimant. Indexed externally by surname of the claimant. See related series Index to Damage Claim Applications (Submitted Under Acts Passed 1863-1871) [ca. 1871-1879]. A record of damage claims submitted by citizens who suffered losses during the burning of Chambersburg on July 30, 1864. The applications are itemized accounts of real and personal property lost by each claimant and assign to each item a monetary value. Included are affidavits of witnesses in support of claims, a record of the award allowed each claimant by the 1866 Board of Appraisers and the 1871 commission to re-adjudicate claims, and a record of the pro rata payment given to each claimant in conjunction with the 1866 state appropriation of $500,000 for the relief of Chambersburg citizens who suffered property losses as a result of the rebel invasion.
The following African Americans submitted official claims for losses sustained as a result of the burning of Chambersburg: Jane Anderson, Maggie Anderson, Hannah Davis, John Diggs, Jane Fillkill, Eli Gates, Louisa Gates, Jesse Helm, Mary Ann Hill, Benjamin Hird, Louis/Lewis Jackson, Benjamin Jefferson, Catherine Johnston, Kitty Johnston, Eli Jones, William Jones, John Kelly, Evangeline Lewis, Sarah Mills, Caroline Morgan, Elizabeth Morgan, Louisa Nelson, Nancy Norris, Rebecca Norris, Philip Peterson, Edward Proctor, Benjamin L. Pulpress, Rebecca Robinson, Peter Slater, Charles Smith, Julia A. Standford, Diana Stevenson, Louisa Taylor, Mary Thompson, and Austin Tyler.
Chambersburg War Damage Claim Warrant Stub Books (Per Act of February 15, 1866), 1866. (4 volumes) Arranged numerically by the number of the certificate. Indexed externally by first letter of claimant’s surname in the Record of Chambersburg War Damage Final Awards Issued Under Act of February 15, 1866. Receipts for payments that were made to Chambersburg claimants from the $500,000 appropriated by the state in 1866. Information includes the name of the claimant, the number of the certificate, the date of the payment, and the amount of the payment.
Damage Claim Applications (Submitted Under Acts Passed 1863-1871), 1871-1879. (53 boxes) Arranged by county and thereunder alphabetically by surname of claimant. A record of damage claims of residents of Adams, Bedford, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, and York Counties. Each application consists of a handwritten petition and a printed form called an "Abstract of Application For Damage" (primarily relating to the Acts of April 9, 1868 and May 22, 1871). Information shown includes the claim number and filing date; the name and residence (county and township) of the applicant; an inventory of the personal property and real estate lost or damaged; the estimated monetary loss incurred; and the amount and date of the award granted. Particulars, such as the names of Southern commanders responsible for the damage, are sometimes noted.
Index to Damage Claim Applications (Submitted Under Acts Passed 1863-1871), [ca. 1871-1879]. (1 volume) Arranged by alphabetically by county, and thereunder alphabetically by surname of the claimant. An index of all border raid damage claims from the counties of Adams, Bedford, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, and York. There is also a supplemental section concerning claims from the burning of Chambersburg that were filed separately from the rest of the border county claims. The following information for each claim is provided: the date of filing, the date of appearance, the claim number, the name of applicant, the address of applicant, the original claim under the Act of 1868, the original award under the Act of 1868, the real and personal property award under the Act of May 22, 1871, the certificate number (first or second series), the name of the attorney or assignee, the name of the administrator, and any remarks. The Chambersburg entries have additional information regarding payment amounts issued pro rata to claimants in pursuance of state appropriations of $500,000 and $300,000 in 1866 and 1871, respectively. The names of the African Americans cited under Chambersburg War Damage Claim Applications Submitted Under Act of February 15, 1866 are included in this register.
Index to Issued War Damages Adjudicated Claim Certificates, 1872-1879. (1 volume) Grouped alphabetically by the first letter of the claimant’s surname. This index lists those claimants who actually received their adjudicated claim certificates, even though the claimants never received any compensation from the federal government. Information provided includes the claimant’s name and the corresponding certificate number. All of the African Americans named in the above mentioned War Damage Adjudicated Claim Certificates are included.
Index to Unissued War Damages Adjudicated Claim Certificates, 1872-1897. (1 volume) Grouped alphabetically by the first letter of the claimant’s surname. This index lists those claimants for which adjudicated claim certificates were prepared, but were never issued. Consequently, these certificates remained in the auditor general’s department. Information provided includes the claimant’s name and the corresponding unissued certificate number. The following individuals are some African Americans who were not issued damage claim certificates: #25: Jane Anderson; #604: Benjamin Jefferson; #599: Lewis Jackson; #887: Benjamin Pulpress; and #1623: Louisa Taylor.
Record of Chambersburg War Damage Claim Final Awards Issued Under Act of February 15, 1866, 1866. (1 volume) Grouped alphabetically by the first letter of the surname of the claimant. A record of the pro rata payment that each Chambersburg claimant received as a result of the $500,000 state appropriation. Information in each entry includes the following information: claim number, name of the claimant, total amount claimed (in real and personal property), number of the warrant, total amount awarded (in real and personal property), and the pro rata amount received. Claim file numbers in this volume include those for such African American claimants as #617: Maggie Anderson; #594: Hannah Davis; #630: John Diggs.
War Damage Adjudicated Claim Certificates, 1872-1879. (6 boxes) Arranged numerically by certificate number. Indexed externally in two separate volumes by the first letter of the claimant’s surname: the Index to Issued War Damage Adjudicated Claim Certificates, 1872-1879 and the Index to Unissued War Damage Adjudicated Claim Certificates, 1872-1897. This series documents Pennsylvania’s pledge to liquidate damages sustained by all claimants within the border counties. Pursuant to the Act of May 22, 1871, claimants were to receive certificates that validated their adjudicated awards within the state. Certificates were to be redeemed for their monetary value only when the federal government appropriated money for the relief of the claimants. However, not all the certificates actually made it into the hands of the claimants. Moreover, the ones that were issued proved worthless, as the federal government never allocated money to Pennsylvania for the relief of its citizens. Information found on the certificates includes the claimant’s name, the certificate number, the amount of the claim, and the date the certificate was prepared. The certificates also contain the signatures of the state auditor general, the governor, and the state treasurer. The following individuals are examples of African Americans for which claim certificates were made out: #250: Hannah Davis; #254: John Diggs; #384: Jane Fillkill; #455: Louisa Gates; #457: Eli Gates; and #579: Mary A. Hill.