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Archive for the ‘Company E’ Category

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.”


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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.”

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Born enslaved in Spotsylvania County, Virginia the soldier enlisted as a free man. When the war ended, he married in Spotsylvania in 1897. He is buried in Fredericksburg National Cemetery. Additional information about his life is available in this week’s sidebar which includes a brief documentary and other items of interest.

Invalid — 1,050,441 / 814,459

Declaration for Pension, Charles Sprout, 17 August 1891
48 years old; residence, Wilderness Tavern, Spotsylvania County, Virginia; post-office address, Wilderness, Spotsylvania Co., Va.
“Also personally appeared, Mary Gray, residing at Washington, DC and Mary Bailey, residing at Washington, DC … their acquaintance with him for 20 years and 6 years, respectively”

Declaration for the Increase of an Invalid Pension, Charles Sprout, 15 December 1892
residence and post-office address, Wilderness Tavern, Spotsylvania Co., Va.
“Also personally appeared John J. Berry [?], residing at Fredericksburg and A.B. Bowering, residing at Fredericksburg”

Declaration for an Original Invalid Pension, Charles Sprout, 4 August 1896
52 years old; residence and post-office address, Wilderness Tavern, Spotsylvania Co., Va.
“occupation, farmer … when enrolled a slave”
“Also personally appeared L.R. Colbert, residing at Massaponax, Virginia and Isaiah Long, residing at Sunlight, Va.”

Declaration for the Increase of an Invalid Pension, Charles Sprout, 26 July 1897
54 years old; residence, Spotsylvania Co., Va.; post-office address, [“Fredericksburg” is struck through] Dunavant, Spotsylvania Co., Va.
“Also personally appeared John S. Berry [?], residing at Fredericksburg, Virginia, and Charles W. Edington, residing at Fredericksburg, Virginia”

Questionnaire (Form 3-402), Charles Sprout, 23 March 1898
[married] Fannie Kemp Ward; Fannie Kemp Sprout
[when, where, by whom] “June 30th 1897 at her home in Spottsylvania [sic] Co by James Roberson
[record] Spotsylvania Co., Virginia
[previously married] “was never married before this”
[living children] “none living nor dead”

Questionnaire (Form 3-493), Charles Sprout, 31 August 1898
[residence; post-office address] Spotsylvania County; Dunavant
[residence after discharge] “I think I was discharged in June 1865 at City Point, Va. from there I went to Washington where I went to Washington where I spent about two months, and from there I went to Wilderness Tavern, where I was about eight or nine years and from there I went to Dunavant where I am now”
[nearest post-office to residence] Wilderness Tavern and Dunavant
[occupation since discharge] farming
[known by another name] no
[name in service] Charles Sprout

Questionnaire (Form 3-173), Charles Sprout, 31 August 1898
[married] Fannie Kemp Ward Sprout
[when, where, by whom] “June 30th 1897 by James Roberson, Spotsylvania Co., Va.”
[record] at Spotsylvania courthouse
[previous marriage] no
[living children] no

Declaration for Pension, Charles Sprout, 22 June 1908
69 years old; residence, Dunavant; post-office address, Dunavant, Spotsylvania, Virginia
“occupation was teamster … born October 6th, 1849, at Spotsylvania County, Virginia … residences since leaving service have been as follows: [illegible] 2 months after the war and since in Spotsylvania — Warren County, Virginia … Also personally appeared, John S. Berry [?], residing in Fredericksburg, Virginia and Samuel Coleman, residing in Fredericksburg, Viginia … their acquaintance with him of 13 and 13 years, respectively”

Questionnaire (Form 3-014), Charles Sprout, 13 June 1913
70 years old; residence, Fredericksburg, Virginia; post-office address, Fredericksburg, Virginia
“honorably discharged at Brazos Santiago, Texas, on the 4th day of February, 1866 … his occupation was teamster … he was born about 1843 … Also personally appeared John S. Boon [Brown?], residing in Fredericksburg, Virginia and George A. Scott, residing in Fredericksburg, Virginia … their acquaintance with him of 15 years and 10 years, respectively”

Questionnaire (Form 3-364), Charles Sprout, 16 June 1913
“Age shown by evidence, 70 years old; date of birth, December 12, 1842; claimant does not write
[Note: This document was date-stamped received by Pension Office — Leslie]

Letter (handwritten) from A.D. Cunningham, P.O. Box 72, Fredericksburg, Virginia, to Commissioner of Pensions,
21 February 1926
“This is to let you know that Charles Sprout is dead. He died last Sat. the 13th. He was buried in the national cemetery Tue. the 16th and I his adopted son Arthur D. Cunningham take this means of letting you know.”

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Henry Hill, Company E

A document in this soldier’s file reported that Henry Hill had been shot by his commanding officer Lieutenant Alexander.* However, other documents prove that the Lieutenant shot William Hill, Company H, 1st U.S. Colored Cavalry.

According to his Compiled Military Service Record, Henry Hill was born in Duplin County, North Carolina. He enlisted in 1863 at age eighteen and mustered out at Brazos Santiago, Texas in 1866.

Widow – 302,248 / —–, Margaret Hill

Declaration for Widow’s Pension and Increase, 14 March 1883
56 years old; residence, Norfolk, Norfolk Co., Va; post-office address, Norfolk, Virginia
“She is the widow of Henry Hill … that her maiden name was Margaret Johnson … married to said Henry Hill, on or about the 6th of September A.D. 1856, at Surry Court House, in the County of Surry, the State of Virginia, by consent of her former master … her husband, died in the service of the United States, as aforesaid, at Bermuda Hundred, in the State of Virginia, killed by Lieut. Spencer… for refusing of his commanding officers to take muskets as he was a cavalry man and he was ordered to take muskets, and he disobeyed and he was shot and killed dead … and that she has the following-named children of deceased husband, under sixteen years of age, who are now living, the dates of whom births are, given below, to wit:
Mary Hill, born August 9, 1858, living at Norfolk
Stephen Hill, born April 12, 1860, living at Norfolk
Woody Hill, born May 1863, living at Norfolk
“Also personally appeared Humphrey McCoy and Mary Walker, residents of Norfolk City”

Sworn Statement, Margaret Hill, 12 June 1883
“45 years old … she was born at Surry Court House, Virginia, sometime 1838, and when she was quite small her former owners moved to Sussex C.H. Va. carring [sic] her with them and that she remained with them at Sussex C.H., Va. untill [sic] the close of the war in 1865 … she first became acquainted with Henry Hill her p.o. was Sussex C.H., Va. and … [they] grew up together … do not know [sic] where her husband was born … she has no means of support except what little her children do for her and she is unable to do any kind of work”

*The officer was not court-martialed.

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****This is one of the longest pension applications I’ve examined. Today’s post includes research notes for documents dated 1890-1911. Previous posts included research notes for documents dated 1866-1885, February 4, 1886 and February 5-19, 1886.

This soldier was killed in a skirmish in Fort Powhatan, Virginia on January 25, 1865. Action on his mother’s pension application continued for more than 30 years. Her application was complicated by conflicting information about a second marriage which was further complicated by the fact that two men shared the same name. Witnesses in support of the mother’s application included childhood friends, neighbors, and former enslavers. They reported names of those enslaved with her as well as the names of enslavers and their relatives, They described the mother’s efforts to remain independent and details about her church membership. Dates for specific events were framed within the 1855 Yellow Fever Epidemic and President Lincoln’s assassination.

General Affidavit, Sarah Butts, 7 November 1890
“I have been intermatly [sic] acquainted with Mrs. Fannie Wilson … for over 28 years … we used to be about one hundred yards apart from 1862 to 1866. I know since that time she she has been living at the same place corner of Pine & Griffin Streets in Portsmouth. I have on different occasions visited her and administered unto her. … I further know that if it is required for her to obtain the signature of hundred of her church members which composes of more members of color than any other in town, she could obtain them.”

General Affidavit, Jesse Whitehurst, 7 November 1890
“I am personally acquainted with Mrs. Fannie Wilson … and have been very near 29 years. She used to keep a cook shop on the wood dock lower end of County St. in the years of 1862, 1863, 1864, & 1865. I have known her personally since 1862. … I have been living within a stone’s throw of her ever since 1883 and between the years of 1865 [?] 1883 [?]. I used to visit her some time….. I knew her son before he went in the Army, he used to work for one David Owen hauling wood from my lighter. I am a lighterman.”

Sworn Statement, Jesse Whitehurst, 5 January 1891
57 years old; residence, Griffin Street Extended
“I have known Fannie Wilson 28 years … She used to keep a cook shop & boardinghouse not 60 feet from where my lighter landed in in those years … on the lower end of County Street in the city of Portsmouth …. [Paldo Wilson] went in the U.S. Service … he was employed by one David Owens now dead who was a drayman in the city Portsmouth.
“I further declare that I have frequently seen Mr. David Owens on Saturdays pay Paldo Wilson $2.50 two dollars & a half for his week’s work. And he Paldo Wilson would run across the street & give it to his mother Mrs. Fanny Wilson.
“Paldo Wilson used to haul wood from my lighter before he went in the U.S. Service.”

Sworn Affidavit, John Bracy, 20 January 1891
51 years old; residence, cor of County and Blount Streets Extended
“I have known [Fannie Wilson] ever since 1863 … in the fall of 1863 I was a lighterman and I hired Paldo Wilson from his mother Fannie Wilson and paid $2.50 per week to his mother for his services…. I further declare that she is old and is to be pitted [sic] … I further declare that she belongs to Zion Baptist Church Colored, the same church which I am a member and the congregation numbers over 2,000 souls … I further declare that in the years of 1863 & 1864 Mrs. Fannie Wilson use [sic] to keep a boarding house & cook on the old wood dock in the city of Portsmouth.
“I further declare that the said Paldo Wilson … was employed by one David Owens as a drayman and he paid him $2.50 per week.”

General Affidavit, Chloe Holloday, 7 March 1891
45 years old; residence, Pine Street, Portsmouth, Va.
“I known Mrs. Fannie Wilson I have lived right here by her every since the year of 1873…. I have visited her both night and day. .. I am at her house almost anytime night and day”
“Witnesses: Norman W. Rutter and Z.T. Hutchings, Sr.

General Affidavit, J.W. Rutter, 9 March 1891
“I have known Fannie Wilson ever since 1869 and during all these years she has lived in the neighborhood … our dwellings being within a few rods of each other and my position as a merchant and an officer in the community is of such a nature as to know her intimately.”

General Affidavit, Z.T. Hutchings, Sr., 11 March 1891
44 years old; post-office address, Portsmouth, Va.
“I have known the applicant since 1867 … She has lived quitely [sic] on the corner of Pine & Griffin Streets since 1867 in the month of January … I lived within three hundred feet of the said applicant 18 years … she has been sick during these weeks, laid there in the house weeks after weeks, and a month at a time, and no one to look after her or to attend to her, only what my wife and the community would do for her.
“I further declare that if there is one applicant in the United States, which the general government ought to look after according to its promise I think this is one…. I further declare that she is very old and sickly.”

General Affidavit, Missouri Watkins and Antinette Elliott, 13 July 1892
[Watkins] 45 years old; residence, Portsmouth, Va.; post-office address, Portsmouth, Va.
[Elliott] 48 years old; residence, Norfolk Co., Va.; post-office address, Portsmouth, Va.
“I have known Mrs. Fannie Wilson over 26 years, part of this time I lived 220 feet from her. Part of this time I lived within the same square with her. I have visited her in her sickness and administered unto her needs. She is very old and broken down in health. I further say that she has a good reputation in the community where she lives. … She owns the little house which she lives in but she had to morgauge [sic] it to get some money to live on.
“I live [right here] at the back of her, the said Fannie Wilson’s lot. … I have aided her again and again … I have been personally acquainted with her over 20 years. I live hear [sic] next door to her and have been hear [sic] over 6 years. I see her every day twice a day. She ownes [sic] her little house which she lives but it is got a lean [sic] on it.”

Deposition, Fannie Wilson, 24 July 1902
about 70 or 75 years old; residence, 936 Griffin St., Portsmouth, Norfolk Co., Va.
“I became acquainted with the father of Paldo Wilson long before the war. His name was America Wilson. He was a slave so was I. We were married according to slavery custom. … I heard that he was dead but he was sold away from me before the war and left me with seven children one of whom was the soldier.
“I had a man boarding with me by the name of George Morrison who died about 12 or 13 years ago. … He wanted to marry me but I didn’t want to … He paid for his room and lodging … Morrison married Rebecca Dixon and she lives on Clifford St near Chestnut st. She knows me ever since I have been living here.
“Q. When did Morrison start to live with you?
It was during the war and after my son Paldo was killed, soon after the war I should have said. I have been here over 33 years and he never saw me until my son brought him to this house. My son John is dead … I have no property except this little hut.
“My son Paldo was 16 years old when he enlisted. He was not married.
“My witnesses were Moses Barrington, Lovie Smith, E.G. Corporal (dead). They are all I can recollect.”
“Mr. J.W. Rutter, Washington, DC, executes my pension vouchers on the 4th and I pay him 50 c.
“The man Morrison whom I lived with married 15 or 20 years ago at Portsmouth, Va.”

Memo from J.W. Rutter, Notary Public, 1012 South Street, Portsmouth, Va. [on letterhead] to the Commissioner of the Pension Bureau, 13 March 1911
Fannie Wilson “died Oct 26th 1910 and burried [sic] Oct 28th
“Her daughter Letticia Taylor now a resident of New York City left these papers in my office so I return them to the Pension Bureau.”

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