I accepted a project digitizing a pension file from Record Group 15 (the Department of Veterans Affairs) for a researcher who was convinced that the veteran, Richard Wilson, was the grandfather of Richard Wright.
Being a supporter of The Hurston-Wright Foundation, I was interested in finding out if the researcher was correct. While I scanned the pension, I looked for details that would link Wilson & Wright and then verified it on the Googles.
I didn’t have to dig too deeply, because Richard Wright talks about his grandfather in his autobiography, Black Boy. In the book, Wright’s grandfather is ill and upset that he’s never received his pension, due to a clerical error. One of the first things I noticed as I was scanning the pages, was that Richard Wilson is also called Richard Vincent throughout the pension, and is probably the clerical error Wright’s grandfather discusses in Black Boy.
Before I even got close to the end of the 400+ pages I scanned, I felt certain that Richard Wilson was the grandfather Wright lived with when he was a young boy in Natchez, Mississippi. If you’d like to see the full pension, it’s available on the NARA catalog.