Civil War

Thomas Deans, Co. H, United States Colored Heavy Artillery.

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

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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.

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  • 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.

Daniel Shellington’s military history.

“This description, or extract from the official records, is to be considered strictly confidential, and is furnished to the disbursing officer to enable him to detect frauds. He should question each claimant fully as to military history, and, in cases of deceased soldiers, the heirs should be questioned as to the military history of husband, father, brother, or son, as the case may be.

“Before making disbursements the disbursing officer should be fully satisfied that the parties claiming the money are the persons they represent themselves to be. In case of doubt as to the identity of the soldier, payment will be refused, and the disbursing officer will reduce to writing the questions and answers, and at once transmit the same to the Adjutant General of the Army, with a full report.”

“Daniel Shellington, Private, Co. I 35th Reg’t. U.S.C. Troops was born in Wilson, N.C., was enlisted the 25th day of May 1863, at Newbern, N.C., by Capt. Crofts, and was mustered in the 30th day of June, 1863, at Newbern, N.C., by Major Bennett, for 3 years.

“At the time of enlistment he was 25 years old, and 5 feet 7 inches high, Black complexion, Black eyes, Black hair, and by occupation a Farmer. He was discharged 1st day of June, 1864, at Charleston, S.C. Capt. Jaalam Gates was commanding officer, and Luke Maddic first sergeant at time of soldier’s discharge.

“Remarks.

“Joined at original organization. From Oct 31/63 to June 30/64 he is reported “Absent sick in Genl Hosp at Beaufort S.C.” From Oct 31/64 to [illegible] 28/65 “Absent sick in Genl Hosp at Beaufort S.C.” [illegible] Dec 1st 64 from wound rec’d in Action”; No record of free or slave status; Present & mustered out with company; Sgt. Moses Lee mustered out with company; Prvt. Major Leavy discharged for disability July 17/64 by reason of wounds received in action”; Prvt. George Bell died of small pox at Summerville S.C. March 16/64; Reuben Orinan deserted while on detached service at Portsmouth Va. no date given; Albert Crutis & William Ross company musicians; No record of principal musicians”

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In the 1870 census of New Bern, Craven County, N.C.: grist mill worker Daniel Shalington, 36; wife Maria, 32; children Cora, 9, and Isabella, 6 months; and domestic servant Sabria Carter.

Pvt. Daniel Shallington died 1 September 1878 and is buried in Wilson’s Cemetery, Portsmouth, Virginia.

Record of burial of Daniel Shallington.

Confidential Lists for the Identification of Claimants, U.S. Freedmen’s Bureau Records of Field Offices 1863-1878, http://www.ancestry.com; U.S. Headstones Provided for Deceased Union Civil War Veterans 1861-1894, http://www.ancestry.com.

Iredell County Chronicles, no. 8.

Statesville Daily Record, 17 December 1951.

In the 1870 census of Eagle Mills township, Iredell County: in the household of S. Blackburn, 62, white, cook Fannie Blackburn, 47, and her children (and possibly grandchild) Andy, 26, Armsted, 20, Tempy, 20, Wiley, 14, Alfred, 10, and John, 1.

On 6 October 1880, Alfred Blackburn married Lucy Blackburn in Iredell County. T.A. Nicholson performed the ceremony. In the 1900 census of Deep Creek township, Yadkin County, N.C.: farmer Alfred Blackburn, 40; wife Lucy, 40; and children Rubin, 18, Mary K., 17, Obie A., 15, mail carrier, Amand B., 13, Henry H., 12, Magie I., 8, and Walter R., 6.

This 1898 document, signed on its reverse by A. Blackburn, was recently offered for sale at auction. The pre-printed form from the U.S. Post Office Department is notification of a failure to complete a route. On the back, Blackburn’s handwritten note to his brother Wiley Blackburn about a deduction to Wiley’s salary related to the shortened route. worthpoint.com.

In the 1910 census of Deep Creek township, Yadkin County: farmer Alfred Blackburn, 52; wife Lucy A., 54; and children Reuben C., 28, Mary, 26, Oby, 24, Amanda, 22, Majie, 18, Walter ,16, and Hugh, 9.

On 19 January 1919, Oby Alexander Blackburn died in Hamptonville, Deep Creek township, Yadkin County. Per his death certificate, he was born 5 July 1884 in Hamptonville to Alfred Blackburn and Lucy Carson, both of Iredell County; was single; was farming for himself; and was buried in Carson Town.

In the 1920 census of Deep Creek township, Yadkin County: farmer Teen Blackburn, 63; wife Lucy, 62; and children Mary, 34, Maggie, 28, and Henry, 17.

On 1 August 1926, Hugh C. Blackburn died in Hamptonville, Deep Creek township, Yadkin County. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 March 1901 in Hamptonville to Alfred and Lucy Blackburn; was single; was a farmer; and was buried in Pleasant Hill cemetery.

Lucy Ann Blackburn died 10 August 1929 in Deep Creek, Yadkin County. Per her death certificate, she was 74 years old; was married to Alfred Blackburn; was born in Iredell County to Milton Blackburn and Edie Carson; and was buried in Pleasant Hill cemetery. H.H. Blackburn was informant.

In the 1930 census of Hamptonville, Deep Creek township, Yadkin County: farmer Alfred Blackburn, 84; daughters Mary, 45, and Madgie, 35; and boarder Luther Revals, 18.

In the 1940 census of Deep Creek township, Yadkin County: farmer Alfred Blackburn, 90, widower; daughters Mary, 48, and Madge, 42; and granddaughter Anne Love, 16.

Madge Blackburn died 11 August 1969 in Mocksville, Davie County, N.C. Per her death certificate, she was born 14 July 1898 to Alfred and Lucy Blackburn; was never married [in fact, she married John Lindsay in Yadkin County on 14 January 1922]; and lived in Hamptonville, Yadkin County.

Henry Harold Blackburn died 3 March 1970 in Statesville, Iredell County. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 May 1888 to Alfred “Teen” Blackburn and Lucy Blackburn; was married to Daisy Carson; lived in Hamptonville, Iredell County; and was a school teacher.

Reuben Cowles Blackburn Sr. died 9 November 1970 in North Wilkesboro, Wilkes County, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was born 13 September 1881 to Alfred and Lucy Blackburn; was a widower; and was a retired rural mail carrier.

Mary Candis Blackburn died 10 August 1984 in Mocksville, Davie County. Per her death certificate, she was born 28 February 1883 to Alfred Blackburn and Lucy Carson; lived in Hamptonville, Yadkin County; was never married; and had been a school teacher.

Amanda Bell Carson died 4 May 1985 in Yadkinville, Yadkin County. Per her death certificate, she was born 22 July 1886 to Alfred and Lucy Carson Blackburn and was a widow.

Alfred “Teen” Blackburn, 25 January 1949, unattributed photo, Iredell County Public Library Flickr

The Wide Awakes.

Yesterday, the New York Times published a feature on the revival of sorts of a Civil War-era political movement, the Wide Awakes, who mobilized against slavery and in support of Abraham Lincoln. Both artist-activists and re-enactors have been moved to create political and social change in the spirit of the Wide Awakes, who engaged in raucous, but peaceful, marches in the streets of Northern cities.

 

Take them down, too.

Here are Wilson’s two Confederate monuments. The clock is ticking.

XFountains

XConfederate monument

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“Although Confederate monuments are sometimes designated as historic, and while many were erected more than a century ago, the National Trust [for Historic Preservation] supports their removal from our public spaces when they continue to serve the purposes for which many were built—to glorify, promote, and reinforce white supremacy, overtly or implicitly.

“While some have suggested that removal may result in erasing history, we believe that removal may be necessary to achieve the greater good of ensuring racial justice and equality. And their history needs not end with their removal: we support relocation of these monuments to museums or other places where they may be preserved so that their history as elements of Jim Crow and racial injustice can be recognized and interpreted.”

Read National Trust’s full Statement on Confederate Monuments: http://ow.ly/JMUD50AbAuR

Photos, Wilson, June 2020.

Tell them I want to see them.

Camp Near Orange Court House VA., November the 16, 1863

Mrs. Mary J. Edwards, Wilson P.O., Wilson County, N.C.

Dear Sister,

I take my pen in hand to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well at this time and hoping you the same.  Bunyan, I want to hear from you. Let me hear from you, and let me know how you are getting along. Bunyan, I want you to let me know how everything is getting along, and write me all the news. I heard that you have been having chills. I want to know whether it was you who shot your thumb, or not.  Tell Mary Gray to write to me every time she can. Tell Sister Betty to write to me, for I want to hear from her. Tell Nanney also to write to me.  Tell Aunt Penny I want to see her. Tell Uncle London I want to  see him very badly. I have nothing to write, only very hard times here.  We are expecting to have to march every minute. I must come to a close by saying I remain your dear brother until death.  Excuse my bad writing.       George Woodard

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George Washington Woodard, son of James Bullock Woodard and wife Sallie Peele, enlisted in April 1862 as a private in Company A, 55th North Carolina Infantry Regiment. Debilitated by chronic diarrhea, Woodard died 23 March 1864, at a military hospital in Gordonsville, Virginia. On 2 September 1950, in the column “Looking Backward,” the Wilson Daily Times published Hugh B. Johnston’s transcription and notes about letters George W. Woodard sent home from war, including the one above.

“Aunt Penny” and “Uncle London” were, of course, Penny Lassiter Woodard, a free woman of color, and London Woodard, her enslaved husband. Penny Lassiter had reared George W. Woodard after his mother’s death. George’s father J.B Woodard had purchased London Woodard from another Woodard family member and sold him to Penny Lassiter in 1856.

Update: James Woodard’s father, Amos.

A few days ago, the blog of the North Carolina Civil War and Reconstruction History Center posted an article on James Woodard, whose Wilson County connection I shared here. This article explores the identity of James Woodard’s father Amos, who is recorded in family lore as having been sold away. Identifying two Amos Woodards from Wilson County who enlisted in regiments of the United States Colored Troops, researcher Cheri Todd Molter speculates that Amos’ sudden departure was due to his having run away to join the Army, rather than being sold away.

The records below offer descriptions of both men. Further research is required to determine which, if either, was James Woodard’s father, and if either were related to London Woodard.

Amos Woodard enlisted in Company M, 14 Regiment U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, on 24 April 1865 in New Bern, North Carolina. He was 18 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall, with black eyes, hair and complexion. He deserted on 13 July 1865 at Fort Macon, N.C.

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Amos Woodard enlisted in Company I, 14 Regiment U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, on 4 April 1865 in New Bern, North Carolina. He was 18 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall, with black eyes and hair and yellow complexion. He deserted on 10 June 1865 at Morehead City, N.C., and returned to duty in August.

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Totten defrauds veteran freedmen.

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In September 1867, Major William A. Cutler passed a report up the chain to his superior in the Freedmen’s Bureau.”… J.E. Totten at Joyners N.C. [Elm City] has been defrauding Freedmen by obtaining from them their “Discharges” from the U.S. Army by false representations …”

Bureau R.F.&A.L., Office Asst.Sub.Asst.Com., Rocky Mount, N.C., Sept. 6th, 1867.

Maj. C.E. Compton, Sub. Asst. Com., Goldsboro, N.C.

Major:

Howell Vine (colored) gave me the enclosed receipt, & I feel it my duty to send it to you, as he is anxious to obtain his discharge papers again.

From his statement it seems that he was deceived at the time he gave them into the hands of J.E. Totten and thought that Totten was sent by the Bureau to look after the interest of the freed people.

You will learn by the note written by Cd. Frank H. Bennett (register) that this not the only case of the kind.

I sent a note to the county clerk of Wilson county to find whether Totten had obtained the county seal to the certificate on the back of the claim.

I enclose the letter which I received in reply to the note.

I have the honor to be, Very Respectfully Your Obdt. svt, Wm. A. Cutler, Maj. & A.S.A.C.

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Though his encounter with J.E. Totten apparently took place in Wilson County, and the Bureau made inquiries with the Wilson County clerk, it is not clear whether Howell Vines ever actually lived in the county. Joseph Totten, 29, is listed as a store clerk in the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County, living in the household of Joseph Conte, 52, “g & gd march retl” [grocery and dry goods merchant retail].

Per muster records, Howell Vine (or Vines) enlisted in Company B, 14th Regiment, U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, on 21 March 1864 in Washington, North Carolina. He was described as 32 years of age; five feet nine inches tall; with black complexion, black eyes and wooly hair. He reported being born in Edgecombe County.

In the 1870 census of Sparta township, Edgecombe County: farmer Howell Vines, 36; wife Priscilla, 35; and children James and Jenny, 14, Lucy, 12, Sarah, 2, and  Charlie, 1.

In the 1880 census of Sparta township, Edgecombe County: farmer Howell Vines, 52; wife Cillar, 42; and children James and Jennie, 24, Lucy, 21, Sarah, 13, and Charlie, 10.

Lucilla Vines applied for a widow’s pension on 20 July 1891.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (subassistant commissioner), Roll 15, Letters sent, vols. 1-2, February 1867-February 1868, http://www.familysearch.org; U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The Borden “brothers” enlist.

On 25 April 1864, four Wilson County men — Dennis, Edward, Henry and Jerry Borden — presented themselves in New Bern, North Carolina, to enlist in Company C, 1st Regiment, North Carolina Colored Heavy Artillery of the United States Colored Troops (which was later known as Company C, 14th Regiment, Heavy Artillery). All bore the same surname, which was likely a mishearing of “Bardin” or “Barden,” and may have escaped from the same owner, but they were not brothers.

Here is Jerry Bardin‘s volunteer enlistment record:

And a muster record for Dennis Borden:

In 1872, Lydia Borden opened an account with the Freedmen’s Bank branch in New Bern. Per her account card, her husband was “Edward Borden (soldier) — d. of smallpox (1865?)” If this is the same Edward, freedom was short-lived.

Henry Borden was admitted to a military hospital in Hampton, Virginia, in April 1911. He was described as 85 years old; a resident of Bertie County, N.C.; and married to Cora Borden. He died 19 August 1911 in Windsor, Bertie County.

14th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Service Records Who served with the United States Colored Troops, http://www.fold3.com; U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865, http://www.ancestry.com; Freedmen’s Bank Records, 1865-1871, http://www.ancestry.com; Register no. 19392-20891, Hampton, Virginia, United States National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938, http://www.familysearch.org.

Wiley Simms house.

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Wilson Daily Times, 22 March 1975.

Per Kate Ohno, Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981): “Local tradition maintains that this house was built circa 1840 for James or Benjamin Simms, who were twins. The Simms brothers were born in 1787. Wiley Simms is said to have occupied the house after his marriage to Sarah E. Wilkins in 1862. Wiley Simms died in 1876 and the Simms family still owns the property. The house was built in the Greek Revival style and is similar to the Edwin Barnes House. The main section of the house is two stories high with a one-story shed extension at the rear and a one-story kitchen wing. Large, single-shoulder stepped chimneys are on the exterior ends. The attached porch is elegantly designed and is supported by tapered, reeded columns with a Greek key design below the capital. The two front windows and two front doors have typical reeded surrounds with square corner blocks. On the interior a hall-and-parlor plan is followed with a long narrow rear shed room giving access to an enclosed stair. The original woodwork has remained intact as have the unique floromorphic plaster medallions and cornices. Panelled wainscot is found in the two front rooms.”

For more on the 1922 tornado that struck the Evansdale community, see here.

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In the 1850 census of Edgecombe County: Willie Simms, 29, farmer. He reported $5178 real property. [“Willie” was the usual spelling of “Wiley” in 19th century eastern North Carolina.]

In the 1850 slave schedule of Edgecombe County, Willie Simms is reported with 11 slaves, four women aged 23 to 60 and seven boys and men aged 1 to 45.

In the 1860 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Willie Simms, 38, farmer. Simms, a bachelor, reported $25,070 in real property and $39,140 in personal property.

In the 1860 slave schedule of Saratoga township, Wilson County, Willie Simms is reported with 30 slaves, 13 girls and women aged 3 to 50, and 17 men and boys, aged 1 to 52.

The 1870 census of Wilson County lists many African-Americans with the surname Simms in Wilson County, especially in the southeast section. These include Rose Simms, 37, with her children Milly, 10, Susan, 7, and Lucy Simms, 8 months (plus Mary Hall, 23), listed next-door to Willie Simms.