Archive for the ‘Surname V’ Category

Though he was born enslaved in Louisiana, the soldier enlisted in New York and returned to Donaldsonville and Burnside, Louisiana on a bend of the Mississippi River.  His application for pension benefits as an Invalid included a score of names of family members and comrades-in-arms and officers thus providing many clues for further research.

Invalid — 1,288,325 / 1,172, 166


Questionnaire (Form 3-389), Joseph A. Virriste, 20 August 1902
[wife’s name] Mary Jane Anderson
[where, when, by whom married] Donaldsonville, Louisiana by Rev. Thos. Kennedy
[record] recorded at Donaldsonville, Louisiana
[previously married] Fillis Washington (dead)
[living children] Frank Varriste born 1866; Mary Jane Varriste born 1877


Questionnaire (Form 3-474), Joseph Verrio, 20 August 1902
[birthplace] Assumption Parish, Louisiana
[enlisted at] New York
[residence before enlistment] Assumption Parish, Louisiana
[occupation] laborer
[name of former owner] Baptiste Landry
[discharged at] Cedar Point, Virginia
[residence since discharge] Assumption Parish, Louisiana; nine years
[height / color / permanent marks] 5′ 9 inches / griffe / none
[previous service] [blank]
[other names] “I am now known by Francois Joseph nicknames
[current name] Francois Joseph
[present residence, nearest post-office] Ascension Parish, Louisiana; Burnside P.O.


General Affidavit, Victor Richard, 21 November 1909
64 years old; post-office address, Baston, Louisiana
“I have known the petitioner for fifty years. Was a member of the same army…”


Letter from Special Examiner to Commissioner of Pensions, 26 November 1913
“[The claimant] is of good native intelligence and memory, he is regarded as a steady and reliable old man; and the impression he made with me is a distinctly good one … The claimant cannot produce his discharge certificate and he has never had a photograph of himself made…. The fact of the different companies of the regiment being separated at various places is a reason why the claimant does not know more of the regimental officers.

“Victor Richard, original affiant is dead and it is not known that any other comrade now alive is resident in this district.
“The claimant’s true name appears to be Joseph Francois, but he does not know where he was baptized and he can produce no record of his age or the date of his birth. On the rolls the soldier’s name appears variously as Verrice, Vreece, Vyreece and as Joseph A. Virriste. All those are without doubt the attempts of one not familiar with it to spells not uncommon French  or Creole name which is properly EVARISTE — pronounced Ev—are—eece, or as the negro often gets it, — Ev-eye-reece, or corrupted or shortened to Varrice or nearly Vy-reece as it is on the rolls.”


Questionnaire (Form 3-442), 20 November 1912

Name Rank Present Post-Office Address
Lemuel Babb R.D. #2, Portsmouth, Va.
John Farmer Winchester Ave.
    alias Wm. Brown       Lakewood, Ohio
Fred’k W. Browne 2d Lieut. #33 Wiggins Court, Cincinnati, Ohio
Patrick Cofer Smithfield, Isle of Wight Co., Virginia
Thomas Cross Bowers Hill, Norfolk Co., Va.
David Grissom #28 Cleveland St., Norfolk, Va.
Duncan Jones Eliz. City, Pasquotank Co., NC
Gordon Jones #1418 High St., Portsmouth, Va.
Thomas Land #7 Burk’s Court, Norfolk, Va.


Deposition, Joseph Francois or Verrio, 23 May 1913
72 years old; post-office address, Burnside, Ascension Parish, La.
“I gave my discharge paper to a colored man Collisle Landry many years ago to get my back pay or bounty that might be due me & he never gave it back to me & I can’t tell what became of it. I was born on Grand Bayou in Assumption Parish, La. below here, that is in the swamp way back of the Bayou Laforche. My father was Michael Joseph & my mother Clarisse Joseph. My father died when I was small & my mother than had a husband named Jefferson Collins.  My first owner was Baptist John Bourg [sp?] long since dead. When I was 7 years old I was sold to Baptist Landry. When he died I fell to his son Anatole Landry now dead. I lived on the Landry place was a field hand until I joined the army. Mr. Landry’s place was in Assumption Parish, La. on Bayou Laforche 7 miles below Donaldsonville. I suppose I was christened somewhere but I can’t tell where or when. It must have happened when I was an infant because my owner was Roman Catholic. I can’t tell the year or date of my birth except by what my mother told me. My mother died 16 years ago & the year she died she told me I was born on July 13 & was then 56 years old.

“[My mother] had a brother named Varrice much older than she was … My uncle Varrice died 18 or 19 years ago … I went away in the army & left him on the old home place & came back and found him there.  The last part of August 1864, my stepfather Jefferson Collins, Samuel Luzerbey, and I and Victor Richard and John Walkin — all 4 field hands — ran away to New Orleans to enlist in the army. … Jeff Collins & my mother broke up before the war & then she had Samuel Luzerbey & it was Samuel Luzerbey who was my stepfather who ran away with me. When we were first got to New Orleans to enlist, we met up with a colored boatman who was a hand on one of the New York mailboats. I believe it was the “Star” or the “Evening Star.”  …. We landed in New York on Sunday … we arrived in New York Tuesday, remained on the boat that day & on Monday we went to a recruiting office & enlisted. I can’t tell what street it was on. The Captain & colored man went with us…. I was sent to my Co. A that was located at Fort Magruder on York River. The companies were scattered about …. Victor Richard & I were put in that & John Walker & Samuel _______ were put in Company I of the 1st Colored Cavalry. Victor Richard witnessed for me in this claim. He died two years ago. He was the only …. the rest of my co. all came from Virginia & North Carolina. Samuel Luzerbey died about 6 years ago & John Walkin died long ago but his widow Ellen Walkin is a pensioner & lives now somewhere in New Orleans …. [I have no scars except] a shot in my buttock that I got before the war when the overseer shot me for running away in the woods for 6 months. I was 22 years old when I enlisted … Before I joined the army I spoke Creole French altogether & it was very hard for me to understand English when I first enlisted …. The first place we were located was Fort Magruder where we did garrison duty & then we were sent to Cedar Point near West Point, Va. & did garrison duty until we mustered out…. In the army I served under the name of Joseph Verrice. I did that at the advice of my stepfather of my stepbrother because I had run away & I was afraid my owners might get up with me. I had always heard that if we ran away & joined the Yankees & we got caught we would be killed & our bodies would be given to the buzzards so I took the name of Joseph Verrice because Varrice had been my nickname. Samuel Luzerbey’s real name was Samuel Joseph but he took the name Luzerby in the army & John Walkin went as Paul Joseph. I was never sick or off duty while I was a soldier.

“My Regt. had been in lots of fights before I joined & I was one of the recruits taken in to fill the places of men who had been killed in battle.  Lt Brown was a portly light-complexioned man. Orderly Sergent was John Fuller, a light brown man & slew footed & rather small in size. He was from N.C. or Va. Henry White & ____ Banks & ____ Thomas were Desk Sergeants. Corporals were ____ Banks [illegible] & ____ Ricks. Privates I recall are Robert Fall, John Moseley, Stephen Hair or Harold, Debby Nicholson, James Reed, Isaac Reed, Henry Whitehurst, & Thomas Armgage [Avery?]. …. I can’t recall any of those names at all except Robert Fall or Forbes, Victor Richard and John Moseley — just five of us in the tent together. When I came out the army I went to the same place in Bayou Fourchette 4 miles below here & lived 9 years & then I lived in Port Barron [sp?] opposite Donaldsonville 8 years & then I moved to the Burnside place over the River from here and have lived there ever since except 2 years. I lived on the Union place a few years ago & that place is in the James Parish & adjoins the Burnside property. I have worked as a field hand & yard man ever since I came out the army. Have never drank to excess or been in any trouble and I never had any bad disease in my life. I have been married 3 times and three times only. My first was Dicey Anderson.

“She died in Port Baron [sp?]  25 or 30 years ago. My next wife was Phyllis Washington who died about 12 years ago while I was staying here a while in Donaldsonville. My third wife was Sukey Baptiste. She died in New Orleans a year before last — no, Jany a year ago. We were separated when we died. I had no children except two now alive by the first wife & they are both grown. When I was discharged [illegible] at Cedar Point, well, maybe it was City Point. …. [My daughter by Dicey Anderson] is named Mary Jones … I did not sooner put in for pension because I had lost my discharge certificate”


Camille Collins, Deposition, 23 May 1913
54 years old; occupation, ferryman; residence, Donaldsonville, La.;


Deposition, Anderson Ross, 23 May 1913
76 years old; “not able to work as I am blind”; residence and post-office address, Donaldsonville, La.
“I am a pensioner & I was an Orderly Sergt. Company D, 99 U.S.C.T.  I have lived in Donaldsonville ever since I came out of the army. Before I joined the army I lived on the Maxile Le Blanc place down Bayou Laforche from here in Assumption Parish, 8 or 9 miles & 2 miles below the Landry place. … He lived on the Landry place before the war & I knew him good before the war & we was [sic] raised together but he is 3 or 4 years younger than I am. …. I knew his father Matthew Joseph & his mother Clarissa. His owners and mine were kinfolks.”

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A farmer with ambitions of becoming an officer joined a New York regiment as a private. At the end of that term, he enlisted in the 1st U.S. Colored Cavalry as a Lieutenant at age 19 [Company G] and was promoted to Captain on December 7, 1864 [Company I]. In Spring 1865 he returned to New York on furlough and got married. The war ended. Instead of reporting to duty at the end of his approved absence, he stayed in New York. Big mistake: Absence Without Leave and Dishonorable Discharge.
— Compiled military service records of volunteer Union soldiers who served with the United States Colored Troops [microform]: 1st through 5th United States Colored Cavalry, 5th Massachusetts Cavalry (Colored), 6th United States Colored Cavalry (1997). Reel 0014 – 1st United States Colored Cavalry: Tines, Archer – Wheldon, Charles M. (online at http://www.archive.org/details/compiledmili0014akesunit) Vandervoort’s Compiled Military Service Record (CMSR) can be viewed at n393-n427

Years later, a woman pleaded with President Woodrow Wilson on the soldier’s behalf.

Invalid — 1,291,842 / —

Declaration of Invalid Pension, David Vandervoort, 11 October 1902
58 years old, “resident of the town of Sydney, Delaware County, state of New York who was enrolled on the 22d day of August,1861, in Co. E. 3d Reg. NY Cav Vols as a private … honorably discharged at Newport News, Va. on the 8th day of January 1864 and was afterward re-inlisted [sic] and appointed captain of the first Reg. U.S. Colored Cav and assigned his commission on Mch 24, 1865 but never received a discharge; That he is now unable to earn a support by manual labor by reason of disability which he has contracted during his army service and said his discharge consisting of rupture and rheumatism ….  also personally appeared Alfred Phelps, residing at Franklin, Otsego, New York, and Rawson B. Hultz, residing at Otsego, Otsego County, New York, [acquainted with claimaint] 30 years and 25 years, respectively”


Letter from Mrs. E.M. Burghdorf, 24 Dean Street, Deposit, New York, to President Woodrow Wilson, January 1916
“President Wilson, Hon. Sir,
“I am about to ask a great favor of you. It will not be much for you to do but will mean so much for the person for which I plead.
“David Vandervort [sic] was enrolled Aug 19, 1861, served faithfully until March 1865. Was three times promoted on account of bravery and March 1865 rec[eived] a furlough, came home and married the beautiful young lady that had waited so long, and from whom he had long been seperated [sic].
“Lee surrendered, the war was over, & he did not report or go back to get his discharge. And in Oct 17, 1865 he was discharged by Special Order 551 War Department. Now the favor I ask is that he be restored to the rolls by special order so he can get a pension.
“He is an old man now and helpless, nearly, with rheumatism and has no means of support.
“It seems to me that a grand soldier, that served so long and faithfully should be forgiven & restored when he had no idea he was doing wrong.
Please go over the matter carefully & put yourself in his place, and restore him. He will not live many years but it would be such a comfort to him to know he was restored and to have a pension so he would not have to depend upon charity.
“I have just lately found out that he was dropped by S.O.  If he could be dropped by S.O. he could also be restored by S.O.
“If you could see him I know you would grant this request. Be merciful for it means so much to him.
“I shall in no way be benefited by this. Am only trying to get justice for a brave & noble old soldier.
Yours very truly [signature & address]
“P.S. David Vandervort [sic], Co E 3d Reg. N.Y. Cavalry private – corporal, 1863 commissioned as 1st Lieutenant in 1st Reg. U.S.C. Cavalry promoted to Captain Co. I same regiment.”
[Note: The letter’s author underlined several words in her letter to the President — Leslie]


Letter from E.C. Tieman, Deputy Commissioner to Mrs. E.M. Burgdorf, 24 Dean Street, Deposit, New York, 11 January 1916
“Dear Madam,
“Your letter addressed to the President has been forwarded to this Bureau and filed with the other papers in the claim 12911842 of David Vandervoort who served in Company E, 3rd New York Cavalry and Company I, 1st United States Colored Cavalry, and whose claim under the Act of June 27, 1890 was rejected in November, 1902 for the reason that his service was not honorably terminated, he having been dismissed the service because of absence without leave.
“So long as the law remains unchanged, he will not be allowed pension under the Act of June 27, 1890 or any act passed since that date.”

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