Monday, December 3, 2012

Confederate Body Servant Application
Valuable Tool for Genealogy Research

Mississippi has nearly 2000 applications of men seeking pensions who served as body servants during the Civil War. The application potentially answers the crucial question, who was the last slave owner for African American researchers, and provides the descendants of the soldier the detail of who provided services for the soldier during the War.

The pension program in Mississippi began in 1888, including pension for body servants who had sustained a disability due to the War that prevented them from manual labor. In 1892, indigent servants who were not able to earn a living were included.

Applicants applied to their pension boards in the county they resided. This was a local process, it was likely one member of the board knew the applicant or the soldier he had served. Pension boards used the information from the application to verify service. Occasionally a member of the soldier's family signed the application to assist the applicant with receiving his pension.

This is the information retrieved from James Farley's applications, dated 18 Aug 1916 and 09 Sep 1929. Farley resided near Hazlehurst, Copiah County, MS, a resident of Mississippi all of his life. He served beginning in 1861 or 1862 through Surrender. He was near Gainsville, Alabama at Surrender. Farley was never wounded during service. He served as a cook to Thos A Holliday who was in Co E, 4th Miss Cavalry. The commanding officers were Captain Sim Ramsey and Colonel Forest Wilburn.

Having the name of the soldier leads me into slave research. In a brief search, I found that Thomas A Holliday owned 3 slaves per the Copiah County, MS, 1860 Slave Schedule. His mother Mary owned 11 slaves in 1860. Additional research will be done on the Farley and Holliday families.

If you have southern roots, check to see if you have a family member or an individual from your family's community who served as a body servant. These applications are held by the State Archives where your ancestor applied.

James Farley's Application
Body Servants
4th Mississippi Cavalry
The Holliday Families of Copiah County, Mississippi

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