My wife's great great grand uncle was Thomas Stokes of Utica, NY. Thomas Stokes enlisted in the Navy as a landsman (not sure what that is) July 28, 1859. He first served on the USS North Carolina and on Sept 16, 1859 was transferred to the USS Mohawk.
On January 13, 1860 he died while on the USS Mohawk. The circumstances of his death are not 100% clear. One report states that he was killed by the accidental discharge of a gun and another states that he was drowned.
After the Civil War, his parents Patrick and Julia Herland Stokes (my wife's 3rd Great Grandparents) applied for a Civil War pension for their deceased son. The federal government originally rejected this pension request, because Thomas Stokes died prior to the start of the Civil War.
Patrick and Julia were not eligible for the pension.
However, they re-applied and appealed to the hardship they experienced because of their sons death. Thomas had been sending a portion of his salary as a landsman home to help support his parents. It is important to remember there was no social security back then and very few companies had any form of old age pension.
In the application we learn a lot about the tough condition that Patrick was in physically in his old age. According to the record, Patrick had been blind for the last 15 years of his life and was unable to work.
Patrick Stokes was born in Ireland about 1805, he probably immigrated to Boston prior to 1840 and worked in Northampton, Mass in the Mills there until relocating with his family to Utica, NY prior to 1850. He died May 16,1885. His wife, Julia Herland Stokes was born in Ireland about 1807. They had three children together: Thomas, Mary and Ellen. Julia died in Utica, NY in 1890.
Four years after the initial pension application was submitted it was approved for Thomas' parents to receive a civil war pension which must have helped their financial burden until their death a few years later.