m. 24 JAN 1842
m. 15 OCT 1867
Facts and Events
Unsuccessful Civil War Pension Applications for Joseph Onile Delaune
On 3 September 1915, Simon Joseph Onile Delaune, a veteran of the Civil War a half-century earlier applied to the Louisiana Board of Pension Commissioners for the Soldier’s Pension due him under Act No. 156, passed by the Louisiana legislature in 1908. He didn’t get it, due to the lack of surviving paperwork. After his death the following year, his widow tried again — more than once — but was also unsuccessful. But these repeated attempts, each with added documentation, left a valuable record for family researchers. The following article abstracts and summarizes information from the several printed forms in the Adjutant General’s [??] files.
In his application, “J. Onile Delaune,” as he generally styled himself, said he had been born 21 October 1845 in Assumption Parish. He had enlisted at the age of eighteen at Pineville, 30 August 1864, in Company C, 26th Louisiana Infantry, and was discharged 19 May 1865 at Mansfield, Louisiana, having served in the same unit the whole time. He never was a prisoner, never took the oath of allegiance to the U.S. government, and lived all his life following the War in Louisiana. Now seventy years old, he was “engaged in no business and can barely make enough to subsist.” His address in 1915 was 917 Second St., New Orleans, but he added “Napoleonville” at the end of his address. His application, witnessed by E. J. Tallieu and Edward Aucoin, was notarized by Oscar Dugas in Assumption Parish, and was recorded by the Board as No. 14691.
On September 6, Judge A. C. Allen, president of the board, sent an inquiry to the Chief of the Record and Pension Office at the War Department in Washington, requesting Delaune’s record. The War Department replied back on September 11 that “The name J. O. Delaune has not been found on the only muster roll on file in this office, that for September and October, 1862, of Company C, 26th Reg’t Louisiana Infantry, C.S.A.”
Delaune thereupon submitted an affidavit by A. Gilbert:
Nevertheless, written across the front of his application is the notation, “Returned Rejected. No Service Found.”
On his second application for a pension, dated 25 March 1916, Onile Delaune supplied the names of his surviving comrades: Appolinaire Gilbert of Bertie, Louisiana, and Norbert Coursier of Tallica [?], who were also the witnesses.
A request to the Commissioner of Louisiana Military Records in New Orleans for confirmation of his service brought a succinct reply: “ORILIE [sic] DELAUNE, No record found.”
Joseph Onile Delaune died 9 December 1916 in New Orleans. On 7 July 1921, his widow, Marie Rose Padron, gave it another try, filing a Widow’s Application for Pension, No. 17,222. She was now sixty years old and living at 920 Second St., New Orleans. Before X. M. Dugas, Clerk of the District Court, she gave testimony that repeated her late husband’s dates of service in Co. C, 26th Louisiana Infantry, though she now stated that he had enlisted at Alexandria.
Marie and J. O. Delaune had been married 10 December 1890 at Napoleonville by the Rev. F. Souriray (she was his second wife). The circumstances under which her husband had died, she said, were “very poor,” and he was buried in Napoleonville. Her own means of support were “my only child’s earnings,” and she owned no property of any value. Abel Landry, whom Marie had known for thirty-five years, and N. P. Aucoin, whom she had known for fifteen years, appeared to testify to the truth of her statement, which was witnessed by T. J. Delaune of Napoleonville and Alcée F. Delaune of Donaldsonville.
Another inquiry to the War Department on July 7, this time asking for names taken at the time the 26th Louisiana Infantry was paroled at Mansfield, brought another reply that “O. Delaune” still had not been found, but a list of similar names appearing in Company C was appended: Amede Delaune, Cledomire Delaune, Francois Delaune, and Enselieu Delome.
The Board sent a letter dated 16 September 1921 to advise the applicant that her application for a widow’s pension was rejected “for the reason that the records of the War Department at Washington do not show any service of your husband, O. Delaunne.”
On 11 June 1923, Marie Padron Delaune tried again, filing another widow’s application, No. 18,074. She was now 62 years old, still living in New Orleans. This time she gave her husband’s cause of death as apoplexy and her means of support as “none.” Those who testified this time to knowledge of the petitioner’s history were Mr. & Mrs. A. A. Bourgeois, living at 6126 Palton St., New Orleans, who had known her for forty years and twenty years respectively. The witnesses were Achille Giroir and Thomas Loftus (who added below his signature, “I also became his captain”).
A repeat of the earlier request for names of parolees at Mansfield in May 1865 was sent to the War Department, and a reply came back on June 21: “The name O. Delaune has not been found on the only roll on file in this office of Co. C, 26th Regt. La. Inf. C.S.A. covering the period Sept. & Oct. 1862, nor has record been found of the service, capture or parole of a man of that name and orgn.
“One Amede Delaune, prvt. of above orgn. Enlisted Mar. 27, 1862 at Assumption, La., and on the above roll is shown, Present. Prisoner of war records show him, captured at Vicksburg, Miss., July 4, 1863 and paroled there July 8, 1863. No record has been found of subsequent service, capture or parole.”
The War Department, presumably unaware of the number of Delaune men in Louisiana in the mid-19th century, was trying to be helpful — but Amede was not our Delaune. That someone in the Pension Board office wasn’t paying attention is shown by Marie’s second rejection letter, dated 23 April 1923, which said her application had been rejected because “your husband was made prisoner at Vicksburg, July 1863 and no record of his return to the service is to be had from his command.” This despite the clear statement in every application that J. Onile Delaune had not enlisted until August 1864 — more than a year after Vicksburg.
But Marie Delaune obviously was not a quitter. On 28 September 1938, she made a third attempt to obtain the widow’s pension to which she felt she was entitled, filing an application that was given the original No. 17,222. She was now 78 years old, living at 913 Second St., New Orleans. Her husband’s cause of death was now given as “Congestion of Lungs.”
The form had changed somewhat in sixteen years, and Marie Rose Padron stated that she had been born 19 July 1860 in New Orleans and had been married (her first) to J. Onile Delaune on 10 December 1890. He had been born 21 October 1845 in Assumption Parish, near Napoleonville. He had enlisted about 30 August 1864, though she admitted she didn’t know where, and he had served “in his own rights,” not as a substitute. Asked about his commanding officers, she said: “Colbert Smith, Thomas’ Brigade. His captain was Lovincy Himel, 1st Lieut. – R. C. Martin, 2nd Lieut. – Jim Martin, 3rd Lieut. – Emile Tallieu.” Two of the men who had served in the same unit were Appolinaire Gilbert and Norbert Coursier. Asked if Pvt. Delaune had ever been captured, she said “Not to my knowledge.”
Marie herself had been a resident of Louisiana “all my life,” living in Napoleonville until 1915, when she and her husband had moved to New Orleans. She received no salary or other money from the State of Louisiana or any government, owned no property, and had no income at all. The information about her husband’s war service she had received “from a copy of a letter dictated by my husband 11/12/16.” Those testifying to her credibility were Claude L. Johnson and Mrs. L. B. Olschner, both of 532 Whitney Blvd., New Orleans, and both of whom had known her for eight years. (Mr. Johnson was also her lawyer in the effort to obtain her pension, and the Whitney Blvd. address was his office.)
Marie evidently had sought proof of her marriage to Onile Delaune, for included in the file was a handwritten note, dated 15 September 1938, on the notepaper of Rev. F. M. Jan of St. Anne Church, Napoleonville:
Sure enough, a marriage license and bond was located in the office of the Clerk of the District Court, Assumption Parish (Marriage Book 14, p. 217), and a copy was made for the Pension Board on 19 September 1938. In it, J. O. Delaune obtained a license to marry Miss Marie Rose Padron, dated 8 December 1890, and Delaune, as principal, and Louis E. Michelet, as surety, bound themselves to forfeit to the State of Louisiana the sum of $300 if any legal impediment to the marriage was found within two years.
On 27 September, Claude L. Johnson, Marie Delaune’s attorney, wrote a letter to the Pension Board, enclosing a new application and “a copy of the application for marriage license, also a letter from Rev. F. M. Jan with regard to the church records of the consummation of the marriage. I am trying to get evidence of this from other sources,” he went on, “but have not received the documents. There is, however, enclosed herewith a photostat of the christening of one of Mrs. Delaune’s children, which is, of course, evidence of the marriage. From my knowledge and investigation of the case, I am quite certain that this applicant is entitled to a pension, and that she is in very great need, and I would appreciate it if you would give this your preferred attention.” (A very dim and completely unreadable photocopy of the photostat of the original handwritten baptismal certificate is included in the file.)
The next item in the file is an undated memo by W. M. Stirling, secretary to the Pension Board, noting the absence of any service record or affidavits of service, and that “the only paper of value appears to be one filed with the first application of J. Onile Delaune in 1915 — supposedly signed by 1st Lt. R. C. Martin of Co. C and A. Gilbert, a private of the same company.”
On 12 October 1938, the Adjutant General’s Office at the War Department stated again that J. Onile Delaune did not appear on the sole surviving muster roll of Co. C, 26th Louisiana Infantry, nor had any service or parole record been found, though the officers mentioned were indeed identified as officers of that company. Since the Confederate Army records in the possession of the War Department were incomplete, “the failure to find the complete or any record of any person thereon is by no means conclusive proof that such person did not serve at some period not covered by the records.”
Marie Padron Delaune received a final letter from the secretary of the Pension Board dated 14 October 1938, regretting to inform her that application for a Confederate widow’s pension had again been rejected because of insufficient evidence of her late husband’s service.