South Carolina began granting pensions to needy Confederate veterans and their widows in 1887, but originally restricted the pensions to veterans who were disabled by loss of limb or other injury during the war and widows of soldiers or sailors who had died in service. Both had to meet income considerations, which were made more restrictive in 1900.
Responding to a provision of the 1895 state constitution, the General Assembly in 1896 expanded eligibility to poor uninjured veterans over 60 and poor widows over 60 and led in a major growth period for both pension funding and the number of applicants.
Revisions enacted in 1900 refined the classification and procedures for pensions, defining a system that would remain in force until 1919. Regrettably, very few applications for Confederate pensions under any of the pre-1919 acts survived either at the state or local level.
Act No. 176, 1919 S.C. Acts 275 established a Confederate Pension Department under the direction of a commissioner and a seven-member board and required all existing pensioners to reapply. The state board appointed a three-member board for each county to approve applications from local residents. Pensioners who were eligible included all veterans and widows over the age of sixty who had married veterans before 1890.
The state pension board set the compensation and resolved any disputes forwarded from the county boards. The General Assembly provided $500,000 to pay for pensions. Changes the following year (Act No. 609, 1920 S.C. Acts 1099) eliminated the state board.
Act No. 63, 1923 S.C. Acts 107 allowed African Americans who had served at least six months as cooks, servants, or attendants to apply for a pension. Then in 1924, apparently because there were too many applications, the act was amended to eliminate all laborers, teamsters, and non-South Carolinians by extending eligibility only to South Carolina residents who had served the state for at least six months.
The legislature dropped the age of eligibility for widows to 55 in 1920, to 50 in 1921, and to 45 in 1930. Under the 1920 amendment, widows were eligible if they had been married by 1900, but a 1929 amendment extended eligibility to widows who had been married at least ten years. The state continued to pay Confederate widow pensions until the last widow died in 1990.
The following document (my Great-Great-Great Uncle) along with other such documents can be found at the South Carolina Archives & History Department located in Columbia, SC.
Prudence Bellamy of Longs in Horry County, SC filed an application for pension for the service for her husband Richard B. Bellamy where he served in Wards Company of S.C. Artillery.