Dear Lavone Oldale,
Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!
“Date of death not on A.B.” is a twentieth century annotation written in the 1930s at the same time the Bureau of Pensions responded to inquiries from descendants seeking information about their Revolutionary War ancestors.
For example, we searched the National Archives Catalog and located the Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, ca. 1800 - ca. 1912 in the Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs (Record Group 15) that includes the file titled Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application File S. 3,613, John Wood, N.C. S.C.. In the John Wood (S3613) pension file, it states “Date of death not on A.B. I.L.L.” (image 2). The initials I.L.L. appear again on the Bureau’s retained carbon copy of its letter to Mrs. F. B. Henrichs of July 9, 1937 (image 11) where “RA-J/ILL” indicates the Bureau employees involved in drafting and typing the letter. RA-J probably drafted it; ILL was probably the typist.
Since the date of the Revolutionary War veteran’s death is not in the pension file, it seems likely that a Bureau’s employee (in the case of John Woods, it was I.L.L.) also checked the “Account Books” - hence “A.B.” The account books in question are most likely the series Lists of Veterans and Widows and Other Dependents of Veterans Pensioned Under Various Laws Enacted from 1818 to 1853 in the Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs (Record Group 15). These have not been digitized but are briefly described in the article “Follow the Money: Tracking Revolutionary War Army Pension Payments.” Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration, Vol. 40, No. 4 (Winter 2008): 46-57, in the section titled “Control Registers and Lists.”
A Revolutionary War pensioner’s date of death would not necessarily be located in the Bureau of Pensions’ records since there was no need to notify the Bureau. If the pensioner died, he would simply cease claiming his semi-annual payment. The government did not need to know the date of death if the veteran’s heirs did not bother to obtain the arrears owed to the pensioner upon his death. Usually, the veteran’s date of death is indicated in pension files when his widow claims a pension. In John Wood’s case, there was no widow claimant. Most Revolutionary War pension files that include references to “Date of Death not on A.B.” are filed in “S” claimant files (survivors - veterans without widows).
We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!
[Information provided by Claire Kluskens, Subject Matter Expert]