On 4 February 1901, in Norfolk, Virginia, Thomas Deans gave a sworn statement in support of his claim for a Union soldier’s pension.
I am about 57 years of age; my post office address is 117 Green St., Portsmouth, Va. Laborer.
My full and correct name is Thomas Deans. I was never known by any name other than Thomas Deans. I was a slave and belonged to Wiley Deans, who resides 10 miles from Wilson, N.C.
My fathers name was Harry Newsom. My mothers name was Rena Deans. I had two brothers and two sisters. Rose and Charity. Rose resides somewhere in Miss[issippi] and Charity is dead. Jacob Woodard and Jordan Woodard are my brothers. Jacob died soon after the close of the War. I have not seen or heard of Jordan for 40 years. He was sold away before the war. When these boys were born my fathers owner was Woodard — Stephen Woodard. I was only six weeks old when i was sold by Woodard to Deans.
I was born in Wilson Co. N.C. and when 18 or 19 I enlisted at Newberne N.C. in Co. H — 14th U.S.C.H.A. for three years but did not serve that long. I do not know whether I was in the service two years. I can’t tell how long I did serve. I enlisted about “shad” time, early spring, and discharged in winter, at Fort Macon, N.C.
I had no other service.
Poor was Col. Hopkins was St. and Capt. They changed so after that I do not remember the names of all the Sts. George Taylor, Samuel Boykin was my tent mates. Freeman Harvey William Jones, Alfred Dixon was in my Co. I was detailed at Morehead City loading and unloading goods. Any [illegible] for 4 months. I was in Hospital at Morehead for three months with fever. I never knew the name of the fever My Regt was not in any engagement. We were at Newbern Fort Macon and Morehead all the time.
I did not incur any disability in the service. There were no [illegible] results of the fever.
I never applied for pension until the new law was passed.
Since discharge I have resided at Wilson, Goldsboro, and Wilmington N.C. and Newberne N.C. and Norfolk, Va. I have resided in Norfolk since Feb 1900.
I have been employed at the Norfolk Navy Yard for one year, in the capacity of laborer and have received the same wages as other laborers, $1.52 per day.
Dr. Love Wilmington N.C.
Dr. Whitley Newberne N.C. have treated me, at times, in recent years.
Thomas X Deans
The National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers were established following the Civil War to provide living space for disabled American soldiers and sailors. Deans entered the home at Hampton, Virginia, a few months before his death in 1911.
The hospital’s registry shows that Deans enlisted on 8 March 1865 at Fort Macon, North Carolina, and served as a private in Company H, 14th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery. He was discharged 11 December 1865 at Fort Macon. His disabilities included a right inguinal hernia, rheumatism, impaired vision, and cardiac hypertrophy.
Deans was born in North Carolina; was 67 years old; was five foot seven inches tall; had a black complexion, black eyes, and black hair; could not read or write; had worked as a laborer; had lived in Phoebus, Virginia; was married; and his nearest relative was his wife Catherine Deans.
Deans’ rate of pension was 13.50 [dollars per …?], and he was admitted to the hospital on 24 March 1908 with pericarditis. At the time his personal effects were valued at fifty-five cents.
Thomas Deans died 21 February 1914 and was buried in Hampton National Cemetery, Hampton, Virginia. Per the cemetery’s burial registry, he was buried in grave 10553 and had been a member of Company H, 14th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery.
Deans’ wife Catherine was awarded a widow’s pension of twelve dollars per month.
- Thomas Deans
In the 1900 census of Norfolk, Virginia: on Caledonia Street, laborer Thomas Deans, 59; wife Catherine, 30; and mother-in-law Julia Joyner, 73; all born in North Carolina.
In the 1910 census of Phoebus, Elizabeth City County [Hampton], Virginia: Thomas Deans, 70, and wife Catherine, 41, washerwoman.
- Harry Newsom
- Rena Deans — on 3 August 1867, Jacob Woodard, son of Gabriel Woodard and Rena Deans, married Anna Tyson, daughter of Jack Tyson and Diana Tyson, at the residence of A.G. Brooks, justice of the peace. [This appears to be Thomas Deans’ brother Jacob and mother Rena.]
- Jacob Woodard — see above. Also, on 5 September 1870, G.W. Blount, J.S. Woodard, and J.W. Blount filed letters of administration for Jacob Woodard. [Was this Thomas Deans’ brother? His death date is consistent with Deans’ testimony that his brother died “soon after the close of the War.”]
- Joshua Woodard
- Wiley Deans — son of Bartley Deans Sr., a large slaveowner in Oldfields township, Wilson County.
- Stephen Woodard — most likely Stephen Woodard Sr., but possibly physician Stephen Woodard Jr.
Files #849,635, Application of Thomas Deans for Invalid’s Pension; #1,029,598, Application of Catherine Deans for Widow’s Pension; National Archives and Records Administration.