United States Colored Troops

Lewis Bass, Co. C, 14th United States Colored Heavy Artillery.

“Birthplace, Wilson, N.C.; age, 66 years; height 5 ft. 11 in; weight 175 pounds; complexion, dark; color of eyes, Black; color of hair, Black; occupation, farmer.”

Relationships forged during slavery complicated the pension claims of Lewis Bass and his widow Frances Hassell Wiggins Bass.

Lewis Bass was born enslaved in Wilson County around 1835. Prior to the Civil War, he married a woman (who is not named in his pension file) and had a daughter named Benzona (whom I have not been able to identify in records). Bass never returned to Wilson County after the war, settling instead in Pamlico County, North Carolina. As Frances Bass told it in her pension application: “Lewis Bass told me that he had a woman in slave days. He did not tell me her name but told me he had a child by her; said his child’s name was Benzona. Lewis Bass said he never saw his slave wife after he left for the army as he never went back to that locality; said as soon as he was discharged he came right down here ….”

About 1866, Lewis Bass married Martin County, N.C., native Frances Hassel Wiggins, who had been married to Isaac Wiggins during slavery. Like Bass, Wiggins enlisted in the United States Colored Troops — Company F, 1st U.S.C.T., in his case — and never returned home. (“We were married so long before the war that we had a son who was large enough to go in the army. His name was Daniel Wiggins and he was a flag bearer in his father’s company so I heard. I have never laid eyes on either my husband or son since they left me to join the army.”) Frances assumed he was dead and went on with her life. She initially applied for Wiggins’ widow’s pension and swore — per lawyers’ advice, she said — that she had never remarried. applied for Bass’ widow’s pension, however, the question had to be settled — was she Bass’ widow or Wiggins’?

File #728893, Application of Lewis Bass for Pension, File #766477, Application of Frances Wiggins for Widow’s Pension, National Archives and Records Administration.

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

——

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.

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”

——

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.

Henry Borden, disabled Civil War veteran.

The National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers were established following the Civil War to provide living space for disabled American soldiers and sailors. Henry Borden, born in Wilson County, entered the home at Hampton, Virginia, a few months before his death in 1911.

The hospital’s registry shows that Borden had enlisted on 25 April 1864 at New Bern, North Carolina, and served as a private in Company C, 14th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery. [Three other Bordens from Wilson County — Dennis, Edward and Jerry — enlisted the same day. Their relationship is unclear.] He was discharged 11 December 1865 in New Bern. His disability: “old injury to right foot, arterio sclerosis, &c.”

Borden was born in Wilson County, N.C.; was 85 years old; was five foot three inches tall; had a black complexion, black eyes, and gray hair; had worked as a laborer; had lived in Bertie County, N.C., after his discharge; was married; and his nearest relative was his wife Cora Borden of Winton, Bertie County.

Borden’s rate of pension was 15 [dollars per …?], and he was admitted to the hospital on 26 April 1911. He died 19 August 1911.

Henry Borden was buried in Hampton National Cemetery, Hampton, Virginia. Per the cemetery’s burial registry, he was buried in row 10117; had been a member of Company C, 14th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery; died August 19; and was from Windsor, N.C.

Cora Borden applied for a widow’s pension on 19 September 1911.

——

On 24 December 1874, Henry Barreden, 36, black, married Cora Johnson, 17, “light black,” in Windsor, Bertie County, North Carolina.

In the 1880 census of Whites township, Bertie County: farmer Henry Bartly, 28; wife Cora, 26; and daughters Leah, 3, and Cora, 1.

In the 1900 census of Windsor township, Bertie County: farmer Henry Bardin, 64; wife Cora, 48; and children Leoha, 22, Ida, 20, Minnie, 17, Lazarus, 11, and Henry, 7.

Cora Burden died 14 February 1917 in Plymouth, Washington County, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was a widow; was 59 years old; and was born in Washington County to Cora Johnson. Lazarus Borden was informant.

National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938, http://www.ancestry.com; original data: Historical Register of National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15, National Archives, Washington, D.C.; Burial Register, Military Posts & National Cemeteries, 1862-1960, http://www.ancestry.com; Civil War Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934, http://www.ancestry.com.

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.

——

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.

Mrs. Johnson seeks a pension.

In March 1933, Lula Johnson applied to the North Carolina Confederate Pension Board for a widow’s pension.

Johnson’s application noted that she was 60+ years of age; resided at 608 East Nash Street, Wilson; and her late husband was John Streeter, also known as John Johnson. She did not know when or where Streeter/Johnson enlisted, but claimed he was a member of “Company H, 14 W.S. Colord Heavy Artillery.” The couple had married in 1922, and Streeter/Johnson died in June 1932, three years after he had begun to draw a pension. Arthur N. Darden and Darcey C. Yancey were witnesses to her application, which Yancey stamped as notary public.

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Lula Johnson’s application was denied. She was “not eligible” (underscored) for a pension. (To boot, she was “Negro,” underscored four times.) Though the Pension Board did not set forth a reason for denying Johnson’s claim, there is a glaringly obvious one. The 14th Regiment, Colored Heavy Artillery, were United States Army troops, not Confederate. The regiment — comprised of runaway enslaved men and free men of color — was organized in New Bern and Morehead City, North Carolina, in March 1864; primarily served garrison duty in New Bern and other points along the coast; and mustered out in December 1865.

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Here is a record of the military service of John Streeter, alias Johnson. He was born in Greene County about 1846 and had enlisted in the Army in New Bern in 1865. Three months later, he was promoted to corporal. John Johnson had served his country honorably, which did not entitle his widow to Confederate benefits.

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I did not find any evidence that the Johnsons actually lived in Wilson County. The address Lula Johnson listed as her own was that of C.H. Darden & Sons Funeral Home, the family business at which Arthur Darden worked. Was she (or her husband) related to the Dardens? Census records show John Johnson and his wife Mary in Leflore County, Mississippi, in 1900 and 1910, but Mary Moore Johnson died in Farmville, Pitt County, in 1913.

John Johnson died in Farmville, Pitt County, North Carolina, on 8 June 1932. Per his death certificate, he was about 90 years old; was married to Lula Johnson; had been a preacher; and was born in Greene County to Ned and Manervie Johnson. He was buried in Farmville, and Darden & Sons handled the funeral. (Charles H. Darden was also a Greene County native. )

Act of 1901 Pension Applications, Office of the State Auditor, North Carolina State Archives [online]; U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865  [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The 135th.

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Wilson County Public Library will present a lecture on the little-known 135th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops on November 15, 2018. The 135th mustered in Goldsboro, North Carolina, in March 1865 near the end of the Civil War. Approximately 200 of the 1200 soldiers in this regiment were from North Carolina. Though none are known to have been born in Wilson County, some of the many Wayne County enlistees likely had family connections across the county line, including Jack Sherrod.

Henry Jones’ enlistment.

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An enlistment card for Henry Jones, whose former owner was named as Jefferson Higginbotham here. That Jones described his birthplace as Wilson County, rather than Edgecombe or Wayne or Johnston or Nash, suggests that he left the area after 1855 when the county was founded. Jones’ identification of a non-Wilson County resident as his enslaver further suggests that he was sold away, rather than ran away.

U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.