Feeds:
Posts
Comments
Sussex County Courthouse

Sussex County, A Tale of Three Centuries by the Virginia Writers Project was published in 1942. The research was a collaborative effort between those employed by the Work Project Administration and educators who worked for the county. The volume features photographs and lists of all types. Chapters and appendices include details about the school system (school officials, teachers, graduates, facilities), county officials, war veterans, and early land grants. A free version of the book is online at Internet Archive.

The soldier enlisted under the enslaver’s surname but upon discharge reclaimed his father’s last name. After more than 20 years and despite support from more than a dozen witnesses, the invalid and widow’s applications were denied. Last week’s post included research notes from documents dated 1870-1892. This week’s post includes research notes from documents dated 1893-1895.

Invalid — 239,130 / —–
Widow — 263,191 / —–, Rebecca Birdsong

General Affidavit, A.P. Branch and Henry Ruffin, 28 March 1893
[Branch] 36 years old; post-office address, Lumberton, Sussex Co., Va.
[Ruffin] 58 years old; post-office address, Lumberton, Sussex Co., Va.
“That they have been knowing Rebecca Birdsong about 25 years and she possess [sic] no property … they see her two & three times a month and know that she has no income and she has no means of support other than her daily labor and is seldom able to do that”

General Affidavit, Henry Ruffin, 15 April 1893
59 years old; post-office address, Sussex C.H., Sussex Co., Va.
“That he was personally acquainted with Turner the former husband of Becky Birdsong but to his certain knowledge Benj Turner died before she married the soldier Joseph Birdsong. He further states that Joseph Birdsong was never married before his marriage to Rebecca Turner

General Affidavit, John Pearce, 15 April 1893
46 years old; post-office address, Sussex CH, Sussex County, Virginia
“That he was personally acquainted with Turner the former husband of Becky Birdsong”

General Affidavit, Willis Hall and Henry Ruffin, 29 October 1894
[Hall] 48 years old; residence Sussex C.H., Sussex, Virginia; post-office address, Sussex Co., Virginia
[Ruffin] 62 years old; residence Sussex C.H., Sussex, Virginia; post-office address, Sussex Co., Virginia
“They have been knowing Joseph Birdsong and Rebecca Birdsong every [sic] since their marriage”

Declaration for Widow’s Pension, Rebecca Birdsong, 24 May 1895
35 years old; post-office address, Lumberton, Sussex Co., Virginia
“[Joseph Birdsong] died 1879. That she was married under the name Rebecca Turner to said Joseph Birdsong on the 25 day of April 1868 by Rev. Barr, at Sussex Co. … She was married before her marriage to Joseph Birdsong, dissolved by death”
“Also personally appeared Willis Hall, residing at Sussex C.H. and Henry Ruffin residing at Sussex C.H. [acquainted with her] 20 years and 25 years, respectively”

General Affidavit, Allen Barlow, 11 December 1895
48 years old
“I have known Rebecca Birdsong … for 25 years. I have been living within 3 miles of them from the time of their marriage to the death of the soldier … I am now living within 4 miles of Rebecca Birdsong”

General Affidavit, Jack Peters, 11 December 1895
31 years old; residence, Sussex CH, Sussex Co., Va.; post-office adddress, Sussex CH, Va.
“I have known Rebecca Birdsong … for 20 years. I have been living within 2 1/2 miles of them from the time of their marriage to the death of the soldier.”

General Affidavit, Willis Hall, 16 December 1895
“I was acquainted with Joseph Birdsong while in service at Brownsville and Brazos Texas. … He came from the same neighborhood that I did & he corresponded with me from home while I was still in Texas.”


“United States Census (Slave Schedule), 1860,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9BSN-DQ9: 16 October 2019), Virginia > Sussex > Other > image 16 of 29; citing NARA microfilm publication M653 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Members of the Birdsong family in Sussex County, Virginia enslaved more than a hundred men, women, and children. This is the first of two pages enumerating the 62 individuals held in bondage by Samuel J. Birdsong; the second page appears at the end of this post. The enumerator recorded seven adults 65-80 years old and two children less than one year old and reported that there were four “slave houses” on the property.

The FamilySearch Wiki page gives an overview of the 1850 and 1860 Slave Schedules. The Bureau of the Census website provides the instructions to the US Census Marshalls.

“United States Census (Slave Schedule), 1860,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9BSN-8YD: 16 October 2019), Virginia > Sussex > Other > image 17 of 29; citing NARA microfilm publication M653 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).


.

The soldier enlisted under the enslaver’s surname but upon discharge reclaimed his father’s last name. After more than 20 years and despite support from more than a dozen witnesses, the invalid and widow’s applications were denied. This week’s post includes research notes from documents dated 1870 – 1892. Next week’s post will include research notes from documents dated 1893-1895.

Invalid — 239,130 / —–
Widow — 263,191 / —–, Rebecca Birdsong

Marriage License [copy], Joseph Reed and Rebecca Turner, 25 April 1870
[date and place of marriage] 25 April 1870, Sussex County, Virginia
[husband’s age and birthplace] 23 years old; Sussex Co., Virgin
[wife’s age and birthplace] 32 years old; Southampton Co., Virginia
[husband’s residence] Sussex County, Virginia
[wife’s residence] Sussex County, Virginia
[husband’s parents] unknown
[wife’s parent’s] unknown
[husband’s occupation] laborer
The wedding took place at “the house of Mr. R.F. Parker in Sussex.” The officiant was Rev. David Barr, minister in charge, Protestant Episcopal Church.

Questionnaire (Form 3-060), Joseph Birdsong, 4 December 1884
“While serving in Co E, 1 Reg’t U.S.C. Cavy, he was disabled by loss of left eye, by explosion of pistol in action at Chickahominy Va., about Aug 19 or 20, 1864, also incurred disease from which he died … [he was treated at] Regimental Hospital & Hospital at Williamsburg, Va. for some days after injury of eye”

Claimant’s Affidavit, Becky Birdsong, 16 January 1892
55 years old; residence, Lumberton, Sussex Co., Va.
“Joseph Birdsong and I were married in Sussex County 25th of April 1868 in the dwellinghouse of Robert Parker and further state that she lived formerly with one Ben Turner and he died long before the war of 1861. There is no record of his death by me or his former owner can be given because they are dead”

General Affidavit, Ralph H. Hall, 16 January 1892
40 years old; residence and post-office address, Sussex C.H., Virginia
“I have been a resident of Sussex Co. … for 30 years, and well acquainted with Becky Birdsong the widow of Joseph Birdsong knowing that they were lawfully married … and have been living in the neighborhood for 30 years … [Becky] has no means of support except that of her own labor … [Hall] was present at the death of Joseph Birdsong. He died the 6th day of Oct 1879. He being a member of the New Hope Baptist Church of Sussex Co. & I the church clerk. The book shows he died the day above mentioned.”

General Affidavit, Ben F. Hall, 16 January 1892
28 years old; residence and post-office addresses, Sussex County, Virginia
“I have been a resident of Sussex County, State of Virginia for 20 years and well acquainted with Becky Birdsong … and have been living in the neighborhood for 28 years “

General Affidavit, Becky Birdsong, 4 February 1892
55 years old; residence, Sussex Co., Va.; post-office address, Lumberton, Sussex Co., Va.
“I was married to Joe Birdsong the 25th day of April 1870 instead of the 25th [day of April] 1868 just as the certificate says. I married him under the name of Joe Reed and after we were married, he the said Joe Reed informed me that he had been a United States soldier and that he had served in Company C of the 1st Regiment United States Colored Troops Cavalry under the name of Joseph Birdsong … I have not been married to any but that of the soldier since the death of Ben Turner and the death of Ben Turner taken place before the war of 1861. I am unable to state the dte of death of Ben Turner and can’t find the date from his former owner because they are all dead.”

General Affidavit, Goodwin Blunt, 7 October 1892
63 years old; residence, Sussex, Sussex Co., Va.; post-office address, Lumberton, Sussex Co., Va.
“I have been well acquainted with Becky Turner and Ben Turner for 41 years … Ben Turner died in the County of Sussex in the State of Virginia on or about the [illegible] day of Apl in the year 1861 … And that the said Becky Turner after the death of Ben Turner married Joe Reed in the year of 1870 at the residence of Robert Parker in Sussex County, State of Virginia.”

General Affidavit, Henry Ruffin and Isham Rainey, 7 October 1892
“both residence of Sussex Co., Va.”
“That I have been knowing Joseph Birdsong before he entered the army of the US … he came home and married Rebecca Turner … under the name of Joseph Reed. He was 31 years of age when he was married … he was called Joseph Birdsong because he was belong to a man by name of Birdsong and he was enlisted under that name but when he came out of the army he took his father’s name which was Reed.”

This sidebar accompanies today’s sketch for Charles Sprout, Company E, 1st US Colored Cavalry.
Thank you, Mr. Wilinski for sharing this information with me — Leslie

Charles Sprout: A Civil War Soldier Revisited
“An exploration of the life and death of Charles Sprout, a soldier in the United States Colored Troops (USCT) during and after the Civil War. Using military and pension records held by the National Archives, it shows how the National Archives supports and provides synergy with other federal agencies, such as the National Park Service, in presenting an enslaved person’s unique military history.”

This brief documentary on YouTube gives a lot of detail about Charles Sprout’s life before and after the Civil War. Research was conducted by Jesse Wilinski, Archives Technician, National Archives, Washington, DC who also volunteers at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, Virginia. Also featured in the film is Peter Maugle, Park Ranger/Historian, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, Virginia.

Approved Pension File for Private Charles Sprout, Company E, 1st U.S. Colored Troops Cavalry Regiment (SC-814459)

Compiled Military Service Record for Private Charles Sprout
A serviceman’s CMSR includes a physicial description, details about his enlistment, his whereabouts during his service, notes about sums owned to a sutler or the U.S. Army, and legal status at enlistment.

%d bloggers like this: