Missing loyalist claims paperwork

Posted on August 25, 2012 by


Last weekend, when walking around Harpers Cemetery, in Harpers Ferry, I lucked upon a headstone that caught my attention. I wasn’t looking for it, but there it was… the headstone for “Uncle John” Neer‘s parents, George and Amelia Neer. It was a pretty cool find. I took a couple of photos and continued on my way.

Then, just yesterday, while perusing my copy of Gary B. Mills’ Southern Loyalists in the Civil War: The Southern Claims Commission (1994), I realized that John William Neer wasn’t the only Neer who applied for a claim. It appears that George Neer applied for a claim as well! It escaped my attention for the fact that George applied as a resident of Loudoun County (even though he had many dealings in Harpers Ferry, and is buried there)… which is slightly off my radar as my key focus is on the Shenandoah Valley. As indicated in Mills’ book, George Neer applied (Commission No. 11046) in 1873, and his claim was approved. Regretfully, after turning to Fold3 to find a copy of his paperwork, it wasn’t there. In fact, his name isn’t even in the database.

Certainly, absent claims paperwork is no great surprise. I’ve seen it before, and in most cases there are scans of empty folders in Fold3. In some cases, there might be one piece of paperwork, as in the case of John Albert Racer, of Page County, Virginia…

The John A. Racer folder…

The only document in the John A. Racer folder indicates that it was pulled “for reference”.

At least the single document in Racer’s file tells us something. Racer’s application was disapproved, but, as we can see on this single slip, it’s apparent that it was pulled again in 1891 (?) “for reference”. In some cases this indicates that an appeal may have been made, and… maybe somewhere in the pile of government paperwork, we might see that his claim was eventually approved… or not. Until the paperwork is found we simply won’t know. As for John Albert Racer… he will make for an interesting post, so be looking for it.

In the meantime, I guess I need to add George Neer’s file to my list of things to look into when I’m in NARA II, in College Park, Maryland.

* Thanks to a Tweet from my friend over @SlaveryDatabase I learned that some of the Southern Claims Commission files were accidentally destroyed at NARA in the 1950s. Sad to hear.