Harriet Vitty Smith, revisited

I last wrote about Harriet in my 2015 52 Ancestors Challenge post, Closest to Your Birthday.  Since then, I have found a mother’s civil war pension file that has given more details about Harriet’s life.

Harriet’s husband, Thomas D Smith, died at Ridgewood, New York on 26 August 1862.  Harriet was 42 years old and left with no means of support for herself and her eight children, most of whom were dependent on her.  She was in good health, able to work some and received support from her oldest son, Edwin D Smith.  Edwin had enlisted in the Union Army in October of 1862, but sent his wages to his mother and provided for her in the time after his service.  Unfortunately, Edwin contracted illness during the war and became progressively more unwell.  In the fall of 1868, he was confined to bed and no longer able to work; Edwin died in the Spring of 1869.

Harriet’s son, George Smith, provided that she had lived in Kings and Queens Counties in New York, until 1885, but she now lives with him.  He provided that her health had declined, and by 1889 Harriet was nearly blind.  An apparent niece Emma Phillips, whom with Harriet had lived in New York, also testified to Harriet’s poverty and partial blindness.  Many extended family members provided depositions in support of Harriet’s request for the pension.

Her niece, Adela Flood, gave testimony that Harriet’s husband Thomas, “died in Ridgewood, Queens County, NY in or about 1863..and all the property that he left was one horse and wagon and some household furniture, in all amounting to about two hundred dollars”.  Harriet’s aunt, Sibyl Shaw, testified that Harriet had received Edwin’s wages.  Her brother and sister, Henry Vitty and Sarah Moore, also testified to Harriet’s dependence upon her son Edwin.  Her daughter Mary Johnson, and grandchildren provided nursing care for Harriet in her later years.

Harriet was granted her pension request.


Though in declining health after the deaths of her husband and eldest son, Harriet lived with and had an apparently close-knit family.  At the time of her death, Harriet had become totally blind and “perfectly helpless” and was taken care of by her two remaining living children,  son George Smith and daughter Mary Johnson, who gave her their “best care and attention”.  Though she died pennilessly she was rich in family love.