Posts Tagged ‘Mt. Calvary Cemetery’

The book Inscriptions in Triumph: Tombstone Inscriptions from the African American Cemeteries of Mt. Calvary, Mt. Olive, Fisher’s Hill, and Potter’s Field, Portsmouth, Virginia by Mae Breckenridge-Haywood and Dinah Walters (Author House, 2001) lists hundreds of interments and transcriptions from Portsmouth’s early African American burial grounds. It includes a selected number of photographs. Many burials were published on USGenWeb Archives Virginia.

Mrs. Breckenridge-Haywood is the former librarian of I.C. Norcom High School in the City and President of the African American Historical Society of Portsmouth, Virginia, Her advocacy for the preservation and promotion of African American history includes coordinating volunteer efforts to protect these cemeteries.

Thank you, Mae, for your dedication and hard work!


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Even an application for pension benefits as an Invalid can be a source of useful genealogical and community information.


Invalid — 729,437 / 531,419


General Affidavit, Thomas Riddick, 17 March 1890
50 years old; post-office address, Portsmouth …”That is well acquainted with Cyrus Washington being a member of the same company with him and while in the line of his duty at Texas he became effected [sic] with deafness and partial loss of sight which disability has continued to the present time and I believe him to incapacitated to perform hard manual labor to the extent of at least one half.”


General Affidavit, John Betsy, 3 January 1891
78 years old; post-office address, 709 County St., Portsmouth, Va….”I know Cyrus Washington well. We live near neighbors and see him every day. We know that he is a great suffering with his eyes and is also deaf.”


General Affidavit, Benjamin Jenkins, 3 January 1896
51 years old, post-office address, 709 County St., Portsmouth, Norfolk County, Virginia …. “I was in company & Regiment with Cyrus Washington. He was a sound man when he went into the army. I live near neighbor to him now and see him every few days. He suffers much. His eyes and is partially blind and almost deaf. At times he is unable to see or hear without using the voice very loud. His general health is fast going away and he is not able to work one half the time or to earn the half that a well man can earn.”


Statement, Thomas Riddick, 14 May 1899
“Shortly after we arrived at Brazos Santiago, Texas, Comrade Cyrus Washington was taken sick and sent to General Hospital at New Orleans, La. and did not return to his company till it was ready to be mustered out. We arrived in Texas in the summer of 1865, but I cannot tell the date that Washington became sick, or when he was sent to hospital. I know that he did not stay in Texas long.”


Deposition, Cyrus Washington, 19 June 1902
“I am about 70 years old; occupation, laborer; residence, cor of Godwin & Columbus Street, Portsmouth, Norfolk County, Virginia … “I was born in Sussex County as a slave to Spencer Pleagand [?] (dec’d). My father’s name was Cyrus Washington and he was a slave to a man name Wm. Harvey (dec’d). My mother’s name was Sylvia – but I can’t tell you her last name. I was called after my father. My full and correct name is Cyrus Washington and I have never been known under any other name.

“I was about grown but I can’t give you an idea how old I was when I enlisted. I enlisted at Fortress Monroe, Va. I can’t tell you the year or what time of year. I was stripped and given a thorough physical examination at enlistment and was sworn in at the Fort. I don’t remember the name of the recruiting officer for I volunteered.

“I was discharged at City Point, Va. after we came back from Texas, after the fall of Richmond along towards the Spring. I was mustered out at Brazos Santiago, Texas. I can’t give dates nor tell you how long I was in the service but I enlisted for three years. Don‘t think I was in the service quite three years.

“Immediately after discharge I went on the Bayes farm near Hampton, Va. and remained there a year, then I went to Bowers Hill for a year and have lived in this locality ever since.

“I have my original discharge certificate which should show you (Exhibited but ink on certificate is so faded as to render the writing thereon illegible.)”

“Q.  What was the title of the commanding officer of the regiment?
A. Colonel Cole. Major Seipp was next.

Q. Didn’t you have a Lt. Co.?
A. Yes, I think so but I forget.

Q. Who ranked next below Major?
A. Captain Whiteman
1st Lt. ranked next … Hart
2nd Lt. ranked next …. Ricker
Orderly Sgt was Thomas Pitt. I tented with Fielding Washington and another comrade whose name I forgot.

Q. Name some other comrades
A.  Squire Bright (Navy Yard), James Smith and Alfred Jones (decd), a sergeant and Beverley Whiting.

I was never in a battle but we went up in front of Petersburg but not get in any battle.

“My witnesses were Alfred Jones and Nelson Elliott. I gave each 50c. I didn’t testify for either of them.”

[At this point, he goes into great detail about impaired vision and impaired hearing, being hospitalized at Corps d’Afrique Hospital, New Orleans, and the attorney who executed his voucher … extremely difficult to read. – Leslie]

“I have been married twice. My first wife Easter Newsom died at Hampton, Va. about two or three years after my discharge. I was next married to Susan Martin at Portsmouth about two years I guess before I got my pension. She was married before to Reuben Martin who died at Hampton before I married her but I don’t know anything more about it. I have no child under 16.”


Letter from Cyrus Washington to Commissioner of Pensions, 15 August 1910
“… I have a claim for pension pending before you. Mr. Wills represented me but I can hear nothing from him now. Being an inmate of National Soldier’s Home, Virginia, my original pension papers are there and I cannot at this writing furnish the number of the claim.”


General Affidavit, Cyrus Washington, 1 July 1990
70 years old; residence, National Soldier’s Home, Elizabeth City County, Virginia; post-office address is Hospital Ward 7, National Soldiers Home … “I will state that I was a slave and had no means of knowing my age. The enlisting officer put down 27 as my age when enrolled which I think was in March 1864. I cannot procure any public, church, baptismal, bible or family record or record of any kind to prove date of my birth there being none in existence as that I know.”


Death Certificate [copy], Cyrus Washington, 13 October 1911
[age] 70 years
[birthplace] Virginia
[occupation] laborer
[death date] October 13, 1911
[cause of death] acute nephritis
[burial place] Mt. Cavalry Cemetery
[undertaker] Jno. T. Fisher & Bro., Portsmouth, Va.


General Affidavit, Hester Washington, 8 July 1912
post-office address, 1115 Richmond Ave….”That there were no cemetery expenses in connection with the burial of Cyrus Washington other than the bill of the undertaker, John T. Fisher & Co.; that the cemetery in which the soldier was buried belonged to the said John T. Fisher & Co. and is known as Fisher’s Cemetery; that any expenses which there might be for burial in said cemetery are included in the bill of said john T. Fisher & Co. already on file, and said bill shows all amounts due the said John T. Fisher & Co. for such burial: that she has applied to the Commander of the G.A. R. Post of which soldier was a member for a certificate that the Post waive claim for any expenses incurred on account of burial of soldier, but the Commander is a ignorant person and while he states that there is no claim on the part of the Post he refuses to sign any statement unless the Commissioner of Pensions writes him to do so, which renders it impossible to obtain any statement.”


Letter from U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Pensions, 9 July 1912
[Includes a written note at the bottom that Silas Fellowes Post No. 7, G.A.R. have no interest in the claim – Dred Smith, Commander”]

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Mount Calvary, Mount Olive and Fisher’s Hill are early African American cemeteries in Portsmouth, Virginia. They’re adjacent to each other on a 13-acre plot.

A list of burials is available at the US Genweb Archives Portsmouth, Virginia but a more complete list of burials and photographs of tombstones can be found in Inscriptions of Triumph: Tombstone Inscriptions from the African American Cemeteries of Mt. Calvary, Mt. Olive, Fisher’s Hill, Portsmouth, Virginia by Mae Breckenridge-Haywood and Dinah Walters (Author House, 2001).


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Nelson Elliott contracted smallpox in 1864. He survived but the disease impaired his ability to fulfill his duties e.g. he was unable to stand night guard. Elliott named many comrades who vouched for him and he named those for whom he had witnessed. He worked as a shoemaker when he returned to civilian life. You might be interested in what he reported about his parentage.


Invalid — 525, 284 /335,088
Widow — 875,854 / 686,398, Martha Elliott

Affidavit for Commissioned Officer or Comrade, Wm. T. Pitt, 8 March 1886
Took sick with diarrhea and sent to hospital at Newport News, Virginia, never returned to his regiment, discharged from general hospital at Portsmouth.


Deposition, Nelson Elliott, 5 June 1890
“I am 48 years of age, by occupation a shoemaker, Post office address Godwin St. bet Queen & London St. Portsmouth, Norfolk County, Va.  … I took smallpox and was put in a Pest House at Buckroe near Old Pt., Va, I do not remember how long I was in Pest House as I was unconscious a good part of the time while there … I came out of there and joined my company. While in said Pest House I was exposed to the light and my eyes became weak but after I returned to my company, my sight did not trouble me much, until in the summer of 1864, when up in front of Petersburg Va. my sight failed me at night so that I could not see to stand guard, and was relieved from night duty on that account. … Squire Bright of my company was in Pest House with me, and can tell about my having small pox.  … [After I left Howard Elliott’s] I went home to my father, Josiah Elliott, then living near Portsmouth, and I remained with him several years. I suppose nearly two years.”


Deposition, Henry W. Elliott, 6 June 1890
“I am 38 years of age, by occupation an oysterman. The claimant and I are cousins and I have known and associated with him all my life except while he was in the army during the late war. When he was discharged from the hospital and the service in the early summer of 1865 he came to my father’s house (Howard Elliott), and he remained there about two months.”


Deposition, Howard Elliott, 7 June 1890
“I am 65 years of age, by occupation an oysterman. I am the claimant’s uncle … he was discharged from service from Balfour Hospital, Portsmouth, Virginia, in June 1865 … he got so bad that I sent him to his father who was living a short distance from Portsmouth, where I was living.”


Death Certificate, Sydney A. Elliott, 1 June 1895
Died Portsmouth; 29 years, 5 months, 5 days; married; born Beaufort, N.C.; father’s name was Nelson Elliott, born in North Carolina; mother’s name unknown; was a schoolteacher; buried in Wilsons Cemetery, 5 June 1907.


Marriage License, Nelson Elliott & Martha Turner, 4 February 1899
[Two marriage dates are reported on this record — Leslie]: the marriage took place Portsmouth, Virginia, on 6 February 1899. Husband was 57 years old, wife was 45 years old. Husband was born in Norfolk County, wife was born Warren County, North Carolina. Husband lived in Norfolk, Va., wife lived in Norfolk County. Husband’s parents were Josiah Elliott and Mary Elliott; wife’s parents’ names were not reported. The officiant was F.C. Campbell in Portsmouth, Virginia, on 5 February 1899


Deposition, Nelson Elliott, 23 November 1901
“Of course I drink some, but I cannot say how many times I have been drunk. I have been arrested only once so far as I can recollect for being drunk.

Dr. Kenny got my pension for me. He charged me nothing. Milo B. Stevens were or was my attorney in Washington. He received from the Government twenty-five dollars. I also paid J.C. Depuyton twenty-five dollars when I got my increase.

“My witnesses were Thomas Pitt, Squire Bright, Howard Elliott, Joseph Jones, Albert Jones, William Young. I had others whose names I cannot recollect. My witnesses charged me nothing.
“I made an affidavit for Thomas Pitt. He got wounded in the leg.
“I also made an affidavit for Squire Bright. He had rheumatism and disease of the eyes in service.
“I also made an affidavit for Howard Elliott. No, I did not make an affidavit for Howard. You misunderstood me on that point.
“Joseph Jones was not in the army. I do not recollect whether or not I testified for Albert Jones. I cannot recollect whether or not I made an affidavit for William Young.
“I cannot say how many affidavits I have made in pension cases for my memory is not very good.
Mr. Hannon executes my voucher; charges twenty-five cents. He swears me and I never execute voucher before the 4th.”


Deposition, Nelson Elliott, 23 November 1902
“I am about 60 years of age; shoemaker and I reside at corner of County and Pine Sts., Portsmouth, Va. I cannot explain just why I have my mail sent to Norfolk when I reside in Portsmouth.
“I was born in Norfolk County, Va., and was always free … I was born on Western Branch, Norfolk County”

“… Two of the Jones boys were Sgts. Squire Bright and Johnson were corporals.
James Smith, Jesse Ford, Richard Holt were my tent mates.”
[Note from 1863: Per the Special Examiner: “He says his father was a Frenchman and his mother an Indian. My father was Josiah Elliott.”]


Death Certificate, Nelson Elliott, 5 January 1907
Died Norfolk County, 66 years old; married; born Norfolk County; father’s name was Jas. Elliott, born in Virginia; mother’s name was Mary Dean, born in Virginia; was a shoemaker; buried in Mt. Olive Cemetery, 7 July 1907, by A. Copeland Undertakers


Declaration of a Widow for Original Pension, Martha Elliott, 11 February 1907
“[The soldier] was born at Isle of Wight County, Va. … [she] had been once previously married but first husband had died; soldier had been twice previously but both wives had died … her post-office address is 1003 County St., Portsmouth”


Claimant’s General Affidavit, Martha Elliott, 27 November 1907
“Her first husband was named Benjamin Turner, who died insane in the County Jail, in Warren County, North Carolina, about 25 years ago; that her husband, Nelson Elliott, the soldier had been married twice previous to his marriage to the claimant. His first wife was called Polly, his second wife was named Sydney Ann, both died in the City of Portsmouth, Va. The date of the death of the first is not now known to this claimant, the second died on the 1st day of June 1895.”


General Affidavit, Amanda Whitfield & Lillian Aytes, 20 December 1907
“1422 Chestnut St., Portsmouth, Va. and 908 Columbia St., Portsmouth, Va., [respectively] . . . [45 years old and 29 years old, respectively], affiant Amanda Whitfield is a sister and affiant Lillian Aytes is a niece of the claimant and were living in what was then Warren but now Vance County, N.C. …”


General Affidavit, Eliza Bell & Sarah Bell, 20 December 1907
“[about 60 years old and about 62 years old, respectively], [both of] 712 Columbia St., Portsmouth, Va. . . . Polly Elliott, the first wife of Nelson Elliott, died on Glasgow St. between Washington & Green Streets, in the City of Portsmouth, Va. About twenty years ago; affiants have no way of fixing the date exactly he was married to his second wife, Sydney Ann.

“The affiants were related to the said soldier, being his first cousins, and lived on the same street with him and in the adjoining lot at the time of the death of his said wife Polly.”


Letter of John G. Teicher, Special Examiner, Bureau of Pensions, U.S. Department of the Interior, 14 April 1909
“I examined the index to the marriage records of Norfolk Co., Va., the same do not show any marriage of claimant under the name Martha Turner, from 1876 to Feb. 5, 1899 the date of her marriage to the soldier. Said records show that Nelson Elliott was married to Sidney Ann Peebles, Oct 21, 1887, but no record could be found of his marriage to Polly, who it is shown, was his first wife. Original affiant Jos. Jones is dead.”


Death Certificate, Martha Elliott, 24 December 1924
@ 1203 Effingham, Portsmouth, Norfolk County; widower; 69 years old; domestic; [birthplace] N.C.; father Daniel Dunston born N.C., mother Elizabeth Dunston born N.C.; [informant] Mary E. Stokes, 1203 Effingham St … buried Mt. Calvery [sic], Dec 28, 1924… W.M. Grogan, 823 London St. [undertaker]”


Letter from Mary E. Stokes, Portsmouth, Va., to Commissioner of Pensions, Washington, DC, 20 April 1926
“Dear Sir:
“My mother, Martha Elliott, widow of Nelson Elliott … was drawing pension at the time of her death; that after her death I filed a claim for funeral expenses and the money due her as pensioner at the time of her death.

“I have been patiently waiting to hear from the said claim but up to the present time I have heard nothing.
“Please let me hear from you with regard to the same and oblige.
“I am Very truly yours,
“Mary E. Stokes”

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