Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Left the Plantation to Join Federal Army

Unidentified African American Soldier

Thomas Taliaferro testified he was born August 1845, on Spring Hill Plantation, a slave of Peachy R Taliaferro in Copiah County, MS. After Peachy's death in 1852, Thomas was allotted to Peachy's son Charles in 1858.

Thomas' parents were Hilliard Taliaferro and Queen. His mother Queen was married to Shadrack Spotswood, likely a second husband. In 1870, Queen was living in the household of her son-in-law Jackson Brown and daughter Jenny Lind Spotswood Brown. Also in the household were Armstead and Gladden Spotwood, Queen's sons. Thomas was living with his father Hilliard Taliaferro in the 1870 household of Lawrence Sims, Copiah County, MS.

Large portion of Mississippi was in Union hands when Thomas Taliaferro left the plantation to join the Union army. He enlisted Nov or Dec 1863 with Company H, 50th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry. He was described as 5 feet 4 inches tall, complexion yellow, hair sandy, and eyes grayish.

Spring Hill Plantation circa 1930s
Built after fire destroyed the original.

Thomas Taliaferro was accidentally wounded by a comrade's bayonet, piercing through his left arm into the side near the heart. This incident happened on a march from Jackson, MS, to Port Gibson, MS, in May 1865. He was confined to his bed for about three months. He fulfilled his duty and was discharged at Vicksburg, March 1866.

He married Ann Lockwood around 1874 in Jackson or in Louisiana. The couple had several children: Thomas, Jr., Roxie, Hilliard, Henry, Minnie, Sallie, Eddie Bee, Annie, Vernon, Alfredia, Frederick, and Mattie. Thomas' wife Ann died of breast cancer October 1898 shortly after the birth of their last child Mattie.

Thomas married his second wife Bertha Welch Williams in 1901. Together, they raised his younger children.

Unable to do a full day of manual labor, suffering from fainting spells, rheumatism, epilepsy, and the injury during the war, Thomas filed for his invalid pension at the age of 45, which he received. Several people gave depositions or affidavits in his case including the slave owner's wife.

Charles Adams Taliaferro
Husband of Elizabeth "Betty" Macon Rice Taliaferro
Thomas Taliaferro's last Slave Owner

Elizabeth Rice Taliaferro testified that she "personally knew the soldier, Thomas Taliaferro from his boyhood to the day of his death; that prior to the war he was a slave of affiant's husband and left the plantation to join the Federal army. Shortly after the war closed he returned to our home community and from then on she knew him until the day he died."

Thomas died 04 May 1917 in Copiah County, MS.

Thomas and my ancestors were slaves of the same slave owning families.

Other Links Concerning Thomas Taliaferro
Bertha Taliaferro - How Many Marriages
Thomas Taliaferro's Letter - 1915
Will of Thomas Taliaferro - 1917
To the Casket Dealer

Federal Pension File of Thomas Taliaferro
Soldier's photograph from: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.printUnidentified African American soldier in Union uniform and Company B, 103rd Regiment forage cap with bayonet and scabbard in front of painted backdrop showing landscape with river
Charles A Taliaferro's photograph is courtesy of Suzanne Brown.
Plantation photograph courtesy of Beverly Smith.
Research Notes of Beverley Ballantine


  1. A very moving story. Hopeful and sad at the same time.

  2. Survival through slavery, sad and hopeful.

  3. This is so interesting. He may very well be one of my ancestors, as my grandfather was a Taliaferro from Hazelhurst, Mississippi. Thank you so much for posting your research.

    1. I would like to know more about your grandfather. Would you share his name and year of birth with me? LRudd at aol dot com

  4. Thomas was the brother if my husband's third great grandfather, Armstead Taliaferro. Sherrie, his family akso ended up as Tollivers, rather than Taliaferros.

    1. Please contact me tmccadn@aol.com

    2. Yes, Armstead Taliaferro is my ancestor as well.

  5. yiayia Armstead is an ancestor of mine as well. I would love to exchange information.

  6. yiayia Armstead is an ancestor of mine as well. I would love to exchange information.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.