Posts Tagged ‘Howard University’

The Pension Office requested confirmation of Jacob Ashburn’s military service from his comrades. Their statements described their own experiences as well as Ashburn’s. This soldier’s daughter became “the first black woman to graduate from Howard University Medical School.”


Invalid – 738,659 / 532,123
Widow – 1,024,851 / 776,918, Penelope Ashburn

For Officer’s or Comrade’s Testimony, Edward R. Pitt and Albert Jones, 1 November 1890
“late Sergts of company K … well acquainted with Jacob Ashburn late a Private … May 1864 at Bermuda Hundred was taken with weakness of both eyes which prevented him from performing his usual duties of a soldier and had to be sent to hospital for treatment at Hampton Va. and that he remained at said Hospital until discharged and we also testify that the said weakness of eyes still continues to disable him so as to prevent his performing manual labor to the extent of at least 3/4.”


Bureau of Pensions asked the Record and Pension Office, War Department, 27 December 1893
Queried the whereabouts of these individuals May 1864 and June to November 1865: Ives Smith, Charles Pierce, Edward R. Pitt, and Albert Jones


Record and Pension Office, War Department responded to Bureau of Pensions, Department of the Interior, 28 December 1893
Smith was sick at Camp Mix, Va. and Camp Hamilton, Virginia at various times during this period; Pierce was not found on roll, Co. K, 1st USC Cavalry


Officer’s or Comrade’s Testimony, Albert Jones, 13 January 1894
“Jacob Ashburn in the year 1865, while we were at Bermuda Hundred, Va. came totally blind and stayed so quite a while after which he came so he could see some; but Ashburn never recovered fully from the loss of his eyesight; for his eyesight would go and come … he became so affected and while in the army I have led him from his post of duty while sentinel and I sergeant of guard.”


Deposition, Edward R. Pitt, 16 June 1894
“I am about 55 years of age, farmer, post-office address Bowers Hill, Norfolk Co., Va., residence same place.

“Before the war I was a slave on the farm of Eliza Wilder in Nansemond Co., Va. near Churchland Va.  I did not know Jacob Ashburn at all before the war. I first met him during service and very shortly after enlistment.

“I enlisted in Dec. 1863 at Norfolk, Va. in Co K  1st US C Vol. Cav. And I was discharged at City Point, Va. in March 1866. We were mustered out at Brazos Santiago, Texas, about a month before then. I was present with my company during the entire service. Jacob Ashburn was a comrade of mine during part of my service. I first met him again (after discharge) when he was working at Mr. Jas. Lawrence’s farm, near Churchland, Va. He worked there I guess about five or six years. I lived on Mrs. Eliza Wilder’s farm from discharge till 1881 when I went to Bowers Hill, Va. where I lived ever since. Jacob Ashburn after leaving Mr. Jas. Lawrence’s farm, he worked on same farm with me (Mrs. Wilder’s) for about four years. Then he went near Bowers Hill, Va. where I have lived ever since service discharge. I can safely say I have seen Jacob Ashburn at least once a week, and many times after than that.

“I never visited him but we used to talk and go together when we could meet. When working on Mrs. Wilders’ farm we saw each other daily and I [illegible] knew him well enough to state the exact condition of his health both during and since this. When I first knew him after enlistment and for about a year and a half his health was perfectly good in every way. We were comrades and I saw him daily and I did not notice any ailment nor hear him complain of any during that period of time. The first time I ever heard him complain of any ailment was while the regiment was in Bermuda Hundred, Va. We had marched up then from Fort Monroe, Va., about the middle of the summer of 1864 I think. The woods was very hot and dusty. I remember that Jacob Ashburn was marching with us, at least he started with us. No, I can’t say I actually saw him in ranks on that march.  I remember he was at Bermuda Hundred when we arrived a few days later. I remember that he told me he had been to the doctor. I think the doctor’s name was “Gray” but I can’t be sure of that. I recall that for some time Jacob Ashburn could do no duty and was complaining all the while & was off duty in and about the camp. I don’t remember of his ever going on duty again. His complaint was that his eyes gave him much pain and that he could scarcely see out of them. Yessir, I remember they looked weak and smaller. I don’t recall what treatment, or how much, he may have had during service. I remember he was sent away finally to some hospital – don’t know where – and I saw him no more till after my discharge when he was at Jas. Lawrence’s farm as stated before. It seems to me he was there when I first came home from discharge. As far as I now remember I do not recall his ever having to lay off from work on account of his eyes hurting or account of any other ailments. I do recall, however, that I have never seen him at any time since my discharge that he did not complain of, & seem to suffer from his eyes paining him. He always has said he was disabled from work on account of such eyes, and they have always appeared weak and swollen to ‘to look at.’ He may have, I don’t know anything about any medical treatment he may have undergone at any time. All I can say is that I have always known him to complain of his eyes from the time I saw him at Bermuda Hundreds [sic], Va. (as stated before) up to the present day.

“I have always believed him very much disabled on that account. I heard him say his disability was caused by the sun and dust on that march from Ft. Monroe, Va. to Bermuda Hundreds [sic] and Harrisons Landing, Va. before mentioned.  He told me this when I saw him, as stated, at Bermuda Hundred.  Whether his disability really was caused in that war I don’t know personally.”


Deposition, Jacob Ashburn, 5 January 1902
“I am 70 years of age; occupation, farmer and I reside near Bowers Hill, Va. … I was born in Nansemond County, Va., and was a slave; was owned by Elisha Ashburn and I am the son of Ned McClenny. I have never gone under any name other than that of Jacob Ashburn.

“After enlistment at Norfolk, Va., we went to Fortress Monroe, Va., and then to Harrisons Landing where we had a little skirmish and from there to Bermuda Hundreds [sic]; had no fight there and then we went between Petersburg and Richmond and had some skirmishes there; from there we came back to Bermuda Hundreds [sic] and we were then dismounted and we took muskets and laid in the intrenchments [sic] and laid there some three or four weeks and then we came back to New Port News [sic], Va., and remained there up until about two or three months had gone by and then the Regiment was split up; some went to Princess Ann[e] and others went to Norfolk, but the next spring they consolidated us and took us to Bermuda Hundreds [sic] and laid there a week when the sick members were sent to the hospital and others were sent to Texas. I was sick and went to the hospital. I was put in the McClelland Hospital at Hampton, Va. I remained there till I was discharged. I was suffering with blindness while in the hospital. We were in no regular engagements while we were in service. We had no men killed out of my company. The only time I was ever in the hospital was at Hampton. I was made assistant Cook at Bermuda Hundreds [sic] and held the job for some five or six months; ordinarily I was a private soldier.

Jeptha Girrard [sic] was my Colonel; I do not recollect name of Lt. Col.; Brown was our Major; Whiteman was my Capt.; Hart was one of my Lts.; North was the other.
Tom Pitt was Ord. Sgt. Ned Pitt was a duty Sgt. Steven Reddick was also a duty Sgt.”

“While I was in the army all that I ever had that time was wrong with me was disease of eyes, but since that time I have had other things – a tree fell on my head and nearly killed me; knocked the skin off one side of my head. I am also ruptured; have been ruptured about fifteen years. It just natural came.
“I never had any eye trouble before enlistment. My eye trouble started on a march between Petersburg and Richmond; it was caused by the dry dust.

“Ward got a lot of money out of me but did me no good.
“Melvin of Portsmouth got my claim through for me and I also at one time had a white attorney but I cannot recollect his name.
“Melvin charged ten dollars but personally I paid him nothing.

“The Post Master at Bowers Hill executes my vouchers; he charges me fifty cents; he always swears me. I have never executed my vouchers before the 4th. I have never pawned my papers in last few years but several years ago I borrowed money from Mr. Diesendorf and gave him my papers for security. I borrowed twenty dollars and paid him interest twenty per cent on the dollar for every quarter.
“I have only been married once; married Penny Copeland. We were married in Nansemond County by slave custom before the war; have lived together as husband and wife ever since. We have no children under 16 years of age.”


Letter from Lydia Eudora Ashburn, M.D., 213 E. 48th Street, Chicago, Illinois to Finance Division, Pension Bureau,
4 February 1930

“Mr. E.E. Miller
“Dear Sir,
“Mrs. Penelope Ashburn, my mother who has been living with me and whom I have been caring for the past fifteen years, whose pension  number is 776,918 died Jan 29th. Her pension check came Feb. 4th.
“According to the law as stated on the check, as I understand it. I am entitled to that particular payment; but, not being positive as to whether it was legal for me to use that particular check, I returned the same for further information.
“A necessary proof and date will be furnished at your request.
“Thanking you kindly I am
“Yours truly
“Lydia Eudora Ashburn, M.D.”

Note: I was curious about Ashburn’s daughter so I looked her up and found an obituary – Leslie
“Dr. Lydia Eudora Ashburne Evans was the first black woman to graduate from Howard University Medical School in Washington, D.C. and the first black woman licensed as a general practitioner in Virginia. Dr. Ashburne died Tuesday in the Hyde Park home of her grand-nephew. She was 105. The daughter of former slaves, Dr. Ashburne grew up in Bowers Hill, Va. and was one of 12 children. ‘My father was a big, strapping fellow who fought in the Union Army during the Civil War,’ Dr. Ashburne once said in a Tribune article.”
Sue Ellen Christian. “Lydia Ashburne Evans, Pioneering Black Doctor,” The Chicago Tribune, 20 January 1992 (accessed 28 December 2017

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: