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Researching Southern Claims Commission records | Basic steps for searching any claim

> | Step-by-step strategies
> | Step-by-step strategies --> | Approved claims
> | Step-by-step strategies --> | Barred claims
> | Step-by-step strategies --> | Disallowed claims

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Records generated by the Southern Claims Commission (SCC) are multi-faceted in nature, so it is helpful to use a step-by-step approach to direct your research.

1. Determine which of your ancestors might be in the records of the SCC.

Study the map at the beginning of this guide showing the twelve states from which claims could be made to the Commissioners of Claims (Southern Claims Commission). Then make a list of all your ancestors who lived or owned property during the Civil War in any of those states. No matter their wealth or ethnic background, their presence or ownership of property in one of those states during the Civil War makes it possible that they were in some way included in SCC records.

2. Did your person file a claim with the SCC?

To find out, check either or both of the following alphabetical indexes:

Southern Loyalists in the Civil War: The Southern Claims Commission (alphabetical by name of claimant), R 973.745/M657S and also on Ancestry
Beyond claimant’s name, county, and state, this index tells

  • commission number, office number, and report number
  • year
  • status of claim

The Consolidated Index of Claims (alphabetical by name of claimants) [R929.3 U58C in printed and bound form; Records of the U.S. House of Representatives: Southern Claims Commission, 1871–1880, P2257, Part 1, in microfilm format]

Beyond claimant’s name and state, this index tells

  • commission number, office number, and report number
  • year
  • amount of money claimed, and how much was allowed or disallowed
  • whether barred, withdrawn, or dismissed (status of the claim)
  • nature of the claim (horses, corn, wheat, or other quartermaster stores)

3. Find out in which county a claim was filed.

Once you know the state where the property was taken, then it is helpful to also find out the county. If you do not know it already, consult either Southern Loyalists in the Civil War, mentioned in number two above, or his earlier index listed below.

Civil War Claims in the South: An Index of Civil War Damage Claims Filed Before the Southern Claims Commission, 1871–1880 (alphabetical by state, then by name of claimant), R 973.717/M657C

4.     Find out who in a specific county or neighborhood filed claims.

Whether or not your ancestor filed a claim, it is important to review the list of claimants from your ancestor's county and maybe even neighboring counties to see who did file claims.

Why might a geographic approach be helpful? Because your ancestor may have given testimony as a witness for a relative, neighbor, friend, former slave, or former slave owner who filed a claim, or one or more of those individuals may have mentioned your ancestor in their testimony.

Review the Geographical List of SCC claimants organized by state, then county, then name of claimant. [This list is found on the History and Genalogy website in PDF format and on roll 13 of National Archives microfilm publication M87, Records of the Commissioners of Claims (Southern Claims Commission, 1871–1880).]

  • Within the geographical list, locate the section for the state and county in which your ancestor lived, and then review the claimants.
  • How many claimants do you recognize from that county? Were any of them relatives or neighbors to your person? If your ancestor was a slave prior to the Civil War, is one of the claimants possibly his or her last slave owner?
  • Print a copy of the list of claimants from each county of interest.

The SCC records for people from your ancestor's county tell about the "neighborhood" and events that occurred there during the Civil War. Even if you cannot find information about your ancestor, you will get a “feel” for what life was like in a specific community.

5.     The next step in finding a specific SCC claim depends on whether the status of the claim was approved, barred, or disallowed.

Approved:
Claim was approved and money was granted. Usually the amount paid to the claimant was only a small percentage of what was originally claimed.

Barred:
Claim process was never completed so the SCC never considered the claim. This may have happened because

  • Paper work for the claim was not completed.
  • Investigators confirmed disloyalty or Confederate activity which made the claimant ineligible.

Disallowed:
Claim was completed and went through the full process, but the SCC decided no money would be granted. Claimant may have lacked sufficient proof of loyalty, proof of ownership of goods, or that the claimed materials were officially taken by the U.S. Army or Navy.

> | Step-by-step strategies
> | Step-by-step strategies --> | Approved claims
> | Step-by-step strategies --> | Barred claims
> | Step-by-step strategies --> | Disallowed claims

> | Main page
>
 | Resources