Join hosts Janice and Cherekana of Speak On It ! with Leslie Anderson for a conversation … “Stories from the 1st U.S. Colored Cavalry.” The program is Thursday, November 11, 2021 at 8pm (EST) on BlogTalkRadio.

The 1st U.S. Colored Cavalry included free men, freedmen, freedom-seekers, and white officers from the United States and around the world. Who were they? Where did they come from? Where did they go? And what of those who didn’t survive? Many who returned to civilian life established families and contributed to their communities. Others struggled with debilitating injuries, madness, and broken hearts. This program examines the pre-and post-war lives of selected troops and officers by using pension applications and sources from local history. Learn about strategies and sources that you can apply to your research.

Named a Virginia Humanities Scholar in 2020 Leslie won the 2013 NGS Family History Writing Contest. Her publications include Virginia Slave Births Index, 1853-1865 (Project Editor), Alexandria (Co-author), and the Magazine of Virginia Genealogy. Leslie’s genealogical education includes Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, and Genealogical Institute on Federal Records. She’s a member of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, the National Genealogical Society, and the Virginia Genealogical Society.  

This reference book is available online. Chapters are organized into ten parts:
Part I: African and Other Roots; Part II: Africans in Early North America; Part III: In The House of Bondage; Part IV: Transculturation; Part V: The Civil War, Emancipation, and the Quest for Freedom; Part VI: The Maturation of African American Communities and the Emergence of Independent Institutions; Part VII: African Americans and ‘Wars for Democracy’; Part VIII: Gender and Class; Part IX: Migration, Renaissance, and New Beginnings; and Part X: Searching for Place.

*This is one of the longest pension applications I’ve examined. Today’s post includes research notes for documents dated 1866-1885. Next week’s post will include research notes from a document dated February 4, 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.

Mother — 119, 679 / 94,739, Fannie Wilson

Letter from [illegible] Taggard, Assistant Adjutant General, to Commissioner of Pensions, Washington, DC, 19 July 1866
“‘He is reported killed in a skirmish with the enemy, January 25, 1865.’ The name of Paldo Wright is not borne on the rolls of Co. E. 1st U.S. Cold. Cavalry on file in this office.”

Sworn Statement, Fannie Wilson, 26 October 1866
43 years old; residence, Henry St., Newtown, near Portsmouth, Norfolk Co., Va.
“Her said son was killed by a gunshot in the head in action in line of duty at Fort Powhatan, Va. on the 25th Jany 1865 … her said husband died Oct 1/55 (the same year of the ‘yellow fever’) at Norfolk Co., Va. … [Fannie’s personal property] consists of
personal estate (furniture) about enough to furnish one good room … That prior to her son’s enlistment & death, she was ‘keeping house’ and dependent wholly on him for support”
“Also personally appeared E.G. Corprew and Albert Robinson, residents of Portsmouth, Va. who on oath declare that they have been for more than 15 years acquainted with the claimant Mrs. Fannie Wilson”

Sworn Statement, Fannie Wilson, 21 August 1873
“Declares that after her first husband America Wilson was sold and carried away from her as has been set forth … she was married again by consent of their masters to one Lamb Wilson, that this event took place about one year after her first husband was sold from her. That she continued to live with her second husband until the fall after President Lincoln was killed. That she then separated from him and they have not lived together since. That he is still living or was a short time ago.”

Declaration for Restoration to the Pension Rolls of a Person Whose Name Has Been Dropped Under the Act of February 4, 1862, Fanny Wilson, 18/19 April 1882
residence, corner of Pine & Griffin streets, Portsmouth, Norfolk Co., Va; post-office, Portsmouth, Va.,
“Her means of subsistence have been proceeds from washing, cooking, etc “
“Also personally appeared Thos. Peeden, residing at…. South street, Portsmouth and Moses Barrington, residing at … Clifford st., Portsmouth, Va,”

Sworn Statement, Moses Barrington, 11 March 1882
“Says that he has known the said claimant Fannie Wilson … 21 years … I know that her son left his employment and went over to Norfolk and enlisted in the service of the United States.
“I know that he was his mother’s support before he went in the Army in 1863. After her son Paldo Wilson went in the Army his mother Fanny Wilson keep a cook shop for a long time for a living. After that she went and hired out in service to learn a living. After that she taken in washington [sic] for a living.”

General Affidavit, Alexander Wilson and Laister Brown, 13 March 1884
[Wilson] 40 years old;
[Brown] 49 years old;
citizens of Norfolk, Norfolk Co., Va.
“We were well acquainted with Pauldo Wilson, son of Mrs. Fannie Wilson … the last owner or owners of the said soldier are all dead.”

Sworn Statement, Sarah Barrington, 28 February 1885
residence, Portsmouth, Norfolk Co., Va.
“She has known Fanny Wilson for the past twenty seven years … lived only two doors apart”

Sworn Statement, Eliza Fisher and Polly McPherson, 28 February 1885
“Paldo Wilson worked as laborer for one Daniel Green, owner, (since dead)”

General Affidavit, Cary Brown, 11 April 1885
“I have known her all of my life. I and her and her son Paldo use [sic] to belong to the same owners before the late Rebellion. I and the said Paldo Wilson being children together on the same plantation, he being about three months older than I.”
[Note — This statement isn’t on a form. It’s handwritten and notarized — Leslie]

General Affidavit, A.A. Corprew, 15 April 1885
“I use [sic] to haul wood in a lighter and unload it within sixty feet of Mrs. Fanny Wilson door. I lightered then for a living…. [Paldo Wilson] was employed by one David Owens now dead.”
[Note — This statement isn’t on a form. It’s handwritten and notarized — Leslie]

General Affidavit, John Wright, 15 April 1885
“We were young lads together here in the city of Portsmouth … I left and went the U.S. Service in the latter part of (1863) and left Paldo Wilson here with his mother on the wood dock ”
[Note — This statement isn’t on a form. It’s handwritten and notarized — Leslie]

Sworn Statement, Edward Overman, 29 April 1885
“I have known the old woman since my early boyhood somewhere near 20 years and as she frequently came to the home of my parents I have had ample opportunities for observing her deportment which at all times has been excellent and worthy of imitation by all classes of her race … her home for near or quite 20 years has been near mine except at intervals when I was away.”
[Note — This statement isn’t on a form. It’s handwritten and notarized — Leslie]

Sworn Statement, James Copeland, 1 May 1885
“As one of the deacons of the church to which she belongs, namely the Zion Baptist of this city … she has never been remarried, nor cohabited with any man since I have known her which have been ever since (1868) … [Copeland has been on the] deacon boards of Baptist churches, hold monthly meetings to look into matters of that kind in conjunction with other matters pertaining to the welfare of the church, she living in the limits of the city ever since the close of the war. Would certainly have been reported to her church, and espelled [sic] … [she is] a member of my church, in good and regular standing.”
“I having been living here in this city since 1867, been a member of this church to which she belongs nearly (14) fourteen years, during which time I served as church clerk six (6) years and now I am one of the deacons of my church, and have been for years, certainly I am in a position to know.”

General Affidavit, William Smith, 8 May 1885 [date stamped by Pension Office]
“has known Mrs. Fanny Wilson since (1864). I use [sic] to live next door to her 8 years previous to (1878). … I have known her to take in washing and work in the truck field to earn a living”
[Note — This statement isn’t on a form. It’s handwritten and notarized — Leslie]

“Laurel Cemetery (1852-1958) existed for over 100 years as a nonsectarian cemetery for Baltimore’s African American community. In its early years, it was a premier burial site for people across Black Baltimore’s socioeconomic spectrum. However, years of improper maintenance led to the eventual demolition of the site in 1958. Today, the Belair-Edison Crossing shopping center occupies the footprint of the old cemetery.

“In spring 2014, University of Baltimore and Coppin State University professors initiated the Laurel Cemetery project as an inter-institutional project for students interested in cultural resource management, history, archaeology, and environmental sustainability. Through archaeological excavation, faculty and student researchers found conclusive evidence of existing burials. Their current efforts focus on public education, research into the lives of those buried at the site, and the erection of a memorial to recognize the burial ground.”

The above is excerpted from the Laurel Cemetery Memorial Project website. Resources on the site include maps, photographs, presentations and programs on YouTube, and a list of burials including those of U.S. Colored Troops.

The catalogue record for this item at the Library of Congress

“[Many hospitals] were built on a pavilion model, with separate, single-story, ward-size buildings arranged in rows or a semicircle and designed for good ventilation. These hospitals had additional buildings for kitchens and other supportive services.”
Glenna R. Schroeder-Lein. The Encyclopedia of Civil War Medicine (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2008), page 140.

According to his Compiled Military Service Record (CMSR) — not shown here — the soldier was 40 years old when he enlisted in New York City. His occupation was horse trader. After the war he and his wife settled in Baltimore.

Invalid — 125,499 / —–
Widow– 489,516 / 450,795, Catherine Jones

Declaration for an Invalid Pension, Walter Jones, 2 May 1867
43 years old; residence and post-office address, 69 Arch Street, Baltimore, Md
“He was wounded in a skirmish with the rebels about the 15th day of January 1865 as nearly as he can recollect near Suffolk, Va. striking him by a musket ball in the front and inner side of the left leg about six inches above the ankle which shattered the bone and lodged about two inches above the ankle…. always requiring a cane to walk, and limping in his movement
“Also personally appeared, George Riggs and Warren Riggs … residents of Washington, DC”

Declaration for Widow’s Pension, Catharine Jones, 2 December 1890
“The soldier died July 19, 1871 in Baltimore, Md. … that she was married under the name Catharine Cheevers to said Walter Jones on May 1861 by Rev. Stephen Howard at Gloucester, Va. … the soldier had been previously married but his wife had been dead for some time when he married claimant”
“Also personally appeared, Nancy Taylor residing at 594 W. Preston St., Balto, Md. and Caroline Moseley residing at 755 Raborg St., Baltimore, Maryland … acquaintance with her of 25 years and 25 years, respectively”

Sworn Statement, Caroline Moseley, 2 December 1890
50 years old; residence,755 Raborg Street, Baltimore, Maryland
“I was bridesmaid at the marriage of Catharine Cheevers and Walter Jones at Gloucester, Va. in May 1861 and I dressed the bride.”

General Affidavit, Catherine Jones, 9 December 1891
50 years old; residence, Baltimore, Maryland
“My husband Walter Jones was a member of Company C 1st Reg U.S. Cold. Troops.
In my original declaration I was mistaken when I said my husband was a member of Co K 30th US Cold Troops.”

Sworn Statement, Anthony A. Carter and Elizabeth Maddux, 16 December 1890
[Carter] 45 years old; residence, 511 Norris Ave., Baltimore, Maryland
[Maddux] 40 years old; residence Horning Ave near Carrolton Ave., Baltimore, Md.
“[Maddux] saw him carried out of the house, dead. He died on the corner of Pine & Josephine Sts., Baltimore, Md. Anthony A. Carter moved him into the house about ten days before he died.”

General Affidavit, Catharine Jones, 28 June 1893
49 years old; residence, Baltimore, Md.; post-office address, 594 W. Preston, Baltimore, Md
“Her husband died of the smallpox and all his effects were burned by the city.”

Handwritten Note Signed by John B. Giles, Laurel Cemetery, 30 June 1914
“I hereby certify holding Mrs. Dervella Lattimore responsible for (three dollars) 3.00 to John B. Giles Supt LC for the open of grave of Catherine Jones burried [sic] in Laurel Cemetery no of lot 47 Laurel Park area.”

“First Monday” features an extra sketch or sidebar.
Today’s posts include Walter W. Jones, Company K; “Hicks U.S. Genl. Hospital, Baltimore, Md.“; and Laurel Cemetery Memorial Project.

The following excerpt is from an article (with photographs) published in 1919 in The National Cyclopedia of the Colored Race:

“Calhoun Colored School is located at Calhoun, in the agricultural County of Lowndes, southern Alabama, 27 miles south of Montgomery, on the main line of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. Eighty five per cent of the people of the County are Colored, 95 per cent of the precinct.

“The School was founded in 1892 by Miss Mabel W. Dillingham and Miss Charlotte R. Thorn, Northern white workers at Hampton Institute. Shortly before nearly forty Negroes of the vicinity had lost their lives in a race conflict. After this catastrophe the people held religious services for two weeks, praying for a school from the North.

“Among the original trustees were Booker T. Washington, who continued in that office until his death, John Bigelow, and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who was succeeded by Richard P. Hallowell. General Armstrong, though in failing health, gave invaluable endorsement and counsel.

“Lowndes and the adjacent Counties south and west were of the most neglected regions of the South. There was almost no Negro ownership of land. The crop lien tenancy conditions were unusually repressive. The cabins lacked even the crudest sanitary equipment. The meager public school funds of Lowndes County were divided between White and Colored in the ratio of thirteen to one per child.

“Conditions at once shaped the work into the following departments: First, the school centre for a limited number of boarding pupils, with farm and industries; second, instruction of pupils from the cabins; third, community work; fourth extension work into the County and gradually beyond.

“Miss Dillingham survived only two years of Calhoun’s early toils and hardships. Miss Thorn is still principal.”

The complete article is available at Internet Archive.
[What was the “race conflict” noted above? — Leslie]

See also: The Calhoun School Principal’s House is on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). An excerpt from the nomination form on NRHP website notes:

“The campus of Calhoun School consists of approximately ten acres and some seven structures. Unfortunately, most of the structures associated with the school’s early history have been torn down and replaced by contemporary buildings. These older structures include a dispensary, a teacher’s bungalow, and Hampton Cottage, all built between 1900-1930. The only building of historic nature from the earlier founding period is Hampton Cottage, the present principal’s residence. Originally built as one of the six teacher’s cottages, it has been used by the principals since 1947 when the founder’s residence, Thorn Cottage, burned.”
The complete nomination form is at Calhoun School, Lowndes County, Alabama, National Digital Assets, National Register of Historic Places.

**Today’s post includes research notes for documents dated 1891-1892. Last week’s post included research notes for documents dated 1868-1888.

The widow’s former enslaver offered testimony about the widow’s age, her children’s ages, the year of purchase, and the year he moved “his people” from Hampton, Virginia to Dinwiddie County, Virginia. Pension benefit applications from the widow and the guardian dragged on for more than 20 years and were eventually denied.

Widow — 425,390 / —–, Margaret Washington
Guardian — 162,426 / —–, Albert Portlock

Widow’s Declaration for Pension or Increase of Pension, Margaret Washington, 16 November 1891
about 50 years old; post-office address, Hampton, Va.
[She married the soldier Isom Portlock] on the 1st day of October A.D. 1856 by Rev. Rich’d Parker at Norfolk, Va. … Claimant re-married … 1867 … [the soldier’s] legitimate children
Georgiana born November 1st 1859
Cyrus born September 15th, 1861
“Also personally appeared Lee Price, residing at Hampton, Va. and Annika [Amanda?] Robinson residing at same.”

Declaration for Original Pension of a Widow — Child or Children under Sixteen Years of age surviving, Margaret Washington, 10 December 1891
46 years old; residence, Hampton, Va.; post-office address, Hampton, Va.
“She was married under the name of Margaret Young to said Isom Portlock … 1856 by consent of former owners … names and dates of birth of all his legitimate children yet surviving who were under sixteen years of age at the father’s death,
Georgia Portlock, born Oct 1, 1859
Cyrus Portlock, born Sept 15, 1859
“Also personally appeared L.C. Williams, residing at No. 19 in Jefferson street, in Norfolk, Va. and Cyrus Portlock residing in Atlantic City, Norfolk, Va.
[Note: There are discrepancies in the reported birthdates — Leslie]

Names and P.O. addresses of officers and comrades of Co. F. 1st Reg’t U.S. Col. Cav., 31 March 1892

NameRankPresent P.O. Address
Jno. Walker2d Sgt.Elizabeth City, Pasquotank Co., NC
Beverly WestSgt.22 Cleveland St., Norfolk, Va.
Cuffy EmmersonPvt.Berkley, Norfolk Co., Va.
Wm. FullerPvt.Berkley, Norfolk Co., Va.
Henry SivillsPvt.Berkley, Norfolk Co., Va.
Edw. W. WhithersPvt.c/o J.F. Dezendorf, Norfolk, Va.
Isaac DeansPvt.Barboursville, Orange Co., Va.
Edw. ProctorPvt.South Mills, Camden Co., NC

Report from Special Examiner, Eastville, Virginia, to the Commissioner or Pensions, Washington, DC, 22 November 1892
“p.o. addresses are respectively: Georgiana until the Spring of 1893, Calhoun Colored School, Calhoun, Lowndes Co., Ala. After the Spring of 1893, Normal School, Hampton, Va., Cyrus, Atlantic City, Norfolk, Norfolk Co., Va. … Wm. B.F. Hudgins, who was the last owner of the mother and who appears to be a highly intelligent gentleman and to have a good memory, states that he bought the mother in 1858 and that she had two children then … Wm. Hudgins, moved his slaves off from Hampton to Dinwiddie, Va. in July 1861 … the soldier ‘kept company’ with one Jennie Selden after the mother of the minors was sold and sent away in 1858, that he ‘kept company’ with Jennie when his company was stationed in Norfolk for 7 [or 9?] months during service and that when his regiment was sent to Texas after the war ‘Jennie’ accompanied the soldier and occupied a tent with him there as his wife and was known by his surname although it is stated that they were not married and did not live together after service and that afterwards ‘Jennie’ would not have anything more to do with him.”

National Register of Historic Places — Final Nomination Form — Lambert’s Point Knitting Mill — #122-0934 reads in part:

“One of Norfolk’s most significant remaining historic industrial buildings from the late 19th century, Lambert’s Point Knitting Mill, built around 1895 to process cotton into cloth by carding, spinning, and knitting the fiber, was situated close to the Norfolk and Western Railway for easy transportation of raw materials and finished products. The mill featured the latest technology available, including steam heat, electric lights, and an automatic sprinkler system. In the early 20th century, there were at least 23 mill facilities in the Norfolk area, an indication of the city’s vitality as a port where shipping, manufacturing, and storage long dominated the waterfront and the city’s commercial thoroughfares. Lambert’s Point Knitting Mill is the sole survivor of those manufacturing facilities. With glass-block windows and a smooth concrete stucco exterior, the building is highlighted by a four-story tower on its south elevation. By 1910, the mill served as a woodworking and wood-processing facility.”

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