Civil War

I’m sorry that Mrs. Lynch is trying to be so large.

This partial letter is excerpted in Hugh Buckner Johnston, Jr., ed., “The Confederate Letters of Ruffin Barnes of Wilson County,” North Carolina Historical Review, vol. XXI, no. 1 (January 1954):

Camp near Kinston

Feby 22d 1864

Dear wife,

Your letter by Tom has been Read. I am glad to hear that you are all well. I am well & hearty. I am sorry that Mrs. Lynch is trying to be so large. I think the best way you can manage is for her to stay to herself. I want you to let her go Back to her house & stay there. If you & she can’t get along, there is no use trying to stay together. You may give her all that you think you can spare. I told Lynch when he came I could let him have what you could spare. You may tell Lynch that I had rather she would stay in her House as you & she can’t agree. I don’t see why she made such a bargain & then flew from it so quickly. The Best way you can do is to attend to your own Business. I think you will be better satisfied. I want you to tell Lynch that our Bargain shall all be right. I told Lynch his wife could have corn from my House & all the Bacon I could Spare. I left that to you to say what you could Spare & he & I were to settle that ourselves. You may tell Lynch that all will be right with me & him & tell his wife I rather she would not stay as one of the family. I think you had best attend to your own Business than to be run over by a negro. You know already she will not do to depend upon.

[The remainder of this letter has been lost.]

Footnotes to the letter: “Caroline Lynch was a free Negro woman born in 1837.” “Wyatt Lynch, an illiterate free Negro, was born in 1830. He was a plasterer and brickmason by occupation.”

In another letter written 23 May, 1864, Captain Barnes told his wife, “Tell Lynch he must make my colt gentle.”


In the 1860 census of Saratoga, Wilson County: Wyatt Lynch, 30, wife Caroline, 23, and child Frances, 3. However, in the 1870 census, Lynch’s wife is named Nicey. Lynch married Nicey Hall on 5 June 1860 in Wilson County. It appears that Nicey and Caroline were the same woman. Nicy was the freeborn daughter of Lucy Hall, who is listed in the 1850 census of North Side Neuse, Wayne County with her children.

A good barber and most exemplary man.


Wilson Mirror, 15 November 1893.


Lemon Tabon, the barber so well known to all our people as a good barber and most exemplary man — quiet and orderly in his conduct, was attacked with paralysis on Tuesday Oct. 31, and died at his home in Wilson on the night of the 12th of November leaving as good name as that of any one white or black who has lived amongst us. He began his career at Wilson several years before the war, went as servant to Capt. J[acob] S. Barnes and remained in the 4th regiment till the close of the war — returning resumed his business as barber.


Lemon Taborn (later spelled Tabron) was born free about 1834 in Nash County, North Carolina, to Celia Taborn. He moved to the town of Wilson before 1860.


The Wilson Advance, 24 September 1880.

You know, missus, the white folks are not as strong as the …

Transcript of the six pages of Jim Ellis Dew‘s Confederate soldier’s pension application:



On this 24 day of Sept., A.D. 1932, personally appeared before me, M.D. Owens, C.S.C. in and for the State and County aforesaid, Jim Ellis Dew, col., age 94 years, and a resident at Wilson postoffice, in said County and State, and who, being duly sworn, makes the following declaration in order to obtain the pension under the provisions of an act entitled “An Act to amend and consolidate the pension laws of the State of North Carolina,” ratified March 8, 1821: That he is the identical Body Servant who enlisted in Co. ____, ____ Reg., N.C. State Troops, on or about the ____ day of ____, 1861, to serve in the armies of the late Confederate States, and that whole in said service at Wilmington, in the State of N.C., on or about the ____ day of July 1862, he received a wound or wounds, etc.

He further states that he is, and has been for twelve months immediately preceding this Application for Pension, a bona fide resident of North Carolina;

That he holds no office under the United States, or under any State or County for which he is receiving the sum of three hundred dollars as fees or as salary annually;

That he is not worth in his own right, or the right of his wife, property at its assessed value for taxation to the amount of two thousand dollars ($2,000), nor has he disposed of property of such value by gift or voluntary conveyance since the 11th of March 1885;

And that he is not now receiving any aid from the State of North Carolina or under any other statute providing for the relief of the maimed and blind soldiers of this or any other State.

Sworn and subscribed to before me, this 24 day of Sept., 1932.           /s/ Jim X Ellis Dew    /s/ M.D. Owens, C.S.C.


Also personally appeared before me N.L. Stott, who resided at Simms N.C. postoffice in said County and State, a person whom I know to be respectable and entitled to credit and being by me duly sworn, says he is acquainted with Jim Ellis Dew, the applicant for pension, and has every reason to believe that he is the identical person he represents himself to be, and that the facts set forth in this affidavit are correct, to the best of his knowledge and belief, and that he has no interest, direct or indirect, in this claim.

Sworn and subscribed to before me, this 29 day of Sept., 1932.           /s/ N.L. Stott, Witness    /s/ M.D. Owens, C.S.C.


North Carolina, Wilson County

To the Pension Board of Wilson County:

I, N.L. Stott, being duly sworn, deposes and says: I have been a resident a resident of Wilson County for seventy two years, and have known Jim Ellis Dew (col) for twenty five years; that the said Jim Ellis Dew has lived on my farm for the past twelve or thirteen years, and I am satisfied that the said Jim Ellis Dew is the same darkey that served in the Civil War in the stead of Jonathan Dew at Wilmington, NC as stated in his application to the Pension Board; that he served under Captains White, Medlin and Sweetman, and that his wound was received while in service in or near Wilmington, NC. I further certify that in my opinion this old darkey should have been receiving a pension ever since the Penstion Act was created.

This Sept. 29, 1932.                     /s/ N.L. Stott

Sworn and subscribed to before me, this the 29th Day of September,          /s/ M.D. Owens, Clerk of Superior Court, Wilson County


North Carolina, Wilson County

C.G. Davis and J.W. Burnett, each being duly sworn, deposes and says: That he has known Jim Ellis Dew for the last thirteen or fourteen years; that he is a darkey of good character and absolutely reliable and dependable; that he believes that the statements he makes in his application to the Pension Board for a pension are true; and in his opinion should have been receiving a pension ever since the Pension Act was created.

/s/ J.W. Burnett    /s/ C.G. Davis

Sworn and subscribed to before me, this the 30 day of September, 1932.    /s/ M.D. Owens, Clerk of Superior Court, Wilson County


I, Bruce O. Evans, a Notary Public, in and for the town of Wilson, Wilson County, N.C., do herewith set forth what I believe to be a true story as told to me by an old negro, age, above 90 years, who is known in this town by the names of “Jim Ellis” and “Jim Dew.”

I sent for Jim to come to my house one day this past summer in the hope that he could help me with tracing some old history. I asked him to relate to me his experience during the war and this is about what he told me, and about in the manner it was told:

“It was at the time we were making ‘sorgum’ that I was sent to the war. I belonged to my master Mr. Hickman Ellis who married a Miss Dew. You know missus, the white folks are not as strong as the niggers and Mr. Jonathan Dew, brother to my missus, was not very well, and they let him draw a man to go in his place and they drew me. I was sent to Fort Fisher and went to work throwing up breastworks. The Captain was Captain Sweetman. The men who had charge of us were a Mr. Whiting – I don’t know his first name – and a Mr. Afton Loftin. Our white folks were fired into by some Yankees. I was ‘chocking’ the wheel of the gun (meaning the cannon) when one the balls went into the barrel of our gun and burst it. I was thrown with a piece of the lever of the gun and almost fell into the ocean. A piece of the gun went into my leg and I have been a cripple ever since. We stayed on the island for while. After a while, I came home. While I was in the war I was known as Jim Dew, but when I came back from the war I was called by my old name “Jim Ellis” because I belonged to my missus.”

From the knowledge I have of the Dew family history and from questions answered by him, which in every way tallied with records I possessed, I believe this old man’s story. It was told to me without knowledge that I might one day relate this hoping to secure a pension for him, or without the knowledge that my father, who is a newspaper man might use it as a story of Civil War days. He says he is about 95 years and I also believe this.

I unhesitatingly recommend that he be considered as an applicant for a pension and that pension be allowed him.

(Miss) Bruce O. Evans, Notary Public

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North Carolina,  In the Superior Court. Wilson County                                                            Before the Clerk

To the Pension Board of Wilson County:

W.A. Dew, being duly sworn, says: that he is citizen of Wilson County and has been for fifty eight years; that he is a grand-nephew of Jonathan Dew; that a certain negro owned by Hickman Ellis served in the Confederate War in stead of Jonathan Dew.

This 27 day of August, 1932.  /s/ W.A. Dew

Sworn and subscribed to before me, this the 27th Day of August,1932.    /s/ M.D. Owens Clerk of Superior Court, Wilson Co.


Jim Ellis, age 84, is listed as a lodger in the household of George and Louisa Hasting in the 1930 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County.

Transcribed from North Carolina Confederate Soldiers and Widows Pension Applications, 1885-1953, Originals at North Carolina State Archives.