Although the majority of the 1890 census was burned when a fire razed the Commerce Department Building in 1921, and the few remaining fragments destroyed by 1935, there is one group of the population whose records have endured. In addition to the regular schedules taken in the census, a special census of Union Civil War veterans and their widows was taken at the same time. The idea was for war comrades to have the means to find each other and establish through affidavits their eligibility for veteran’s benefits. Each state has been collected in a series of books indexing the names from this census. This review covers West Virginia 1890 Census Index of Civil War Veterans or Their Widows.

The 1890 Census put the West Virginian population at 762,794. Union veterans in the state totaled 1,628, including widows. Confederate veterans were reported at 9,117 and 703 widows. Not surprising is that a southern state would have so many more confederate veterans, but perhaps a little surprising that there were so many Union vets. This index lists 18,873 individuals. Most likely some of the names are for Confederate veterans. There are also a number of names which are likely listed twice. Transcription errors and other problems pop up in any indexed record.

This index can help the researcher find original census entries. Entries include the individuals name, the county, locale or city, the supervisor’s district number, and the enumerators district. The index is sorted alphabetically by surname. According to the introduction, best efforts were made to account for handwriting and other issues, but the researchers are reminded to  remain flexible so as not to miss names due to minor spelling errors and other misinterpretations. The book contains a Table of Common Interpretations to help identify where interpretation errors most often occur. An example given is “Warren might appear as WARNER or Warner as WARREN.” Bryan Lee Dilts, the books compiler, has made effort to ensure the flexible researcher can find the records (s)he seeks.





Table of Common Interpretations

1890 West Virginia Veterans Census Film Numbers

Misplaced Enumeration Districts

Abbreviations Used in Locale Names

Map of 1880-1920 West Virgina

1890 West Virginia Veterans Census Index


West Virginia 1890 Census Index of Civil War Veterans or Their Widows is available from Family Roots Publishing; Item #: X928SB, Price: $15.15.