Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Body of Cavalrymen Coming up the Road

In April 1863, my people who were slaves on various plantations between Hazlehurst, Union Church, Caseyville, and Brookhaven, Mississippi, were busy hoeing, plowing, bedding corn fields when they would come face to face with Grierson's Raiders.

Colonel Benjamin Grierson's cavalry brigade consisted of the 6th and 7th Illinois, and 2nd Iowa Cavalry Regiments. Grierson Raiders were used as a diversion to distract Confederate leaders as thousands of Northern troops moved into position for a major assault on Vicksburg. Grierson and his 1,700 horse troopers rode over six hundred miles through hostile territory, over routes no Union soldier had traveled.

Grierson's Cavalry Raid: Knocking the Heart out of MS

The raiders tore up railroads and burned cross ties, freed slaves, burned Confederate storehouses, destroyed rail cars and commissary stores, ripped up bridges and trestles, and burned buildings; raided plantations for needed supplies, food and horses.

Union Troops destroy railroad tracks.
Courtesy of Library of Congress

Colonel Benjamin Henry Grierson
Courtesy of Library of Congress

They arrived in small town Hazlehurst on day eleven of their mission, April 27, 1863. After considerable damage had been accomplished and the men and horses had a hearty meal, they headed west. Caseyville and Union Church were farming villages, best known for a church, Union Church Presbyterian Church, and for the Scotch Presbyterians who settle the area. Grierson's raiders arrived in the community April 28 1863.

Union Church Presbyterian Church

Testimonies of Family Members from Union Church and Caseyville, MS

Levi Adams reside upon the plantation of Mr. Sterling Cato...and am by occupation a farmer. I resided upon the plantation of Mr. Cato all through the war, and one morning in the spring of the year during one of the years of the war I do not now recollect the year — Genl Grierson came thro here—I had been down to the horse lot and had just fed the stock and was on the point of returning when my attention was called to a body of cavalrymen who were coming up the road. They rode up to where I was and on by. Some of them in the mean time stopped and went into the horse pasture they opened the big gate as they went in, they caught the two mules that were in the lot and a blaze-faced sorrel horse changed their saddle and bridles from some worn out mules that they were riding to Mr. Cato’s and immediately rode out and joined the main body...Came in the house and took the plates off from the table and toted off what there was upon the plates and took all down to where their horses were eating and they they got through they left the plates lying upon the side of the road. Mr. Grierson took off the grey horse and the sorrel horse and the two mules...I recollect everything that happened very well—it was not often such sights were to be seen.

Milly McLean's Testimony; I am 56 years of age reside about 2 miles from Union Church town upon the Millsaps Plantation and am engaged in making a crop. During the war I lived with Mrs. McLean. I was a slave and owned at the time by Mr. McLean. I was raised in the family and lived with them during the entire continuance of the war -- In the spring time, about the time for hoeing corn the first time, I do not recollect the year, a large lot of the Yankee soldiers who were riding horses and mules came to Mrs. McLean’s place and some of them rode through our front yard and there into the side gate of the pasture where we kept our horses and mules, and took them off with them. I was on the edge of the woods - and had a plain view of the pasture where I first heard that the Yankees were coming. I went out towards the woods - I was afraid that they would harm me - and I watched them I stopped in the woods all night - some of them stopped at the place and in the house all night - and some of them down to Union Church. When they left the next day they took off the mules - they left one broken down horse he died shortly afterwards we never worked him - I was the cook - there was a good deal of meat taken I can not tell now how much

Alex Roundtree testifies: Age 38 years; Reside in Lincoln County, Miss., upon the Buie place near Caseyville. I was born and raised upon it - I was sick the morning that Grierson and his soldiers came to the place. I had been very sick but was able to be in the crib shelling corn - and when his soldiers came along I looked upon them and saw our mules. There was eight of them and our roam horse the soldiers were riding them - One of our mules came that same night - then the soldiers road by the house between 10 and 11 o’clock - they were driving a large lot of horses and mules with them. They got our stock out of the field where they were ploughing. The mules were all in good order...They took the majority of our stock and had mighty little left after they went away. I saw them take old master’s saddle. It was newly covered and take it off...All of these things were taken spring during the war while we were preparing land for corn.

Charles Roundtree testifies: Age 59; reside on the Buie place in Lincoln County, Miss. Lived on the place doing the last 45 years. Was a slave before the war; owned by the Buie family, and was a field hand...in the spring of the year while the war was going on Mr. Grierson and a large lot of Yankee soldiers came to our place and stopped in the road and a lot of the soldiers went into the field where the hands were ploughing and bedding up land for corn and told them to stop their work and get the mules out - they did so and they put their saddles upon them, that they took off from the horses and mules that they were riding. They rode them off and led off the stock that they took the saddles off from...I was not ploughing myself but I was right with those who were - I was cleaning up the ground.

Confederate cavalry units pursued Grierson vigorously across the state, all they gained was mass confusion. Grierson raiders continue their successful raid through Mississippi to Union occupied Baton Rogue, Louisiana.

Levi Adams was born about 1832 in MS. He married Amanda Gaines. She was born about 1835 in Kentucky, died Dec 30 1934 in Crystal Springs, Copiah County, MS. Levi's descendants married into my maternal family.

Charles Roundtree was born about 1815 in MS. He married Caroline. She was born about 1825, and died 28 May 1924 in Vaughn, Lincoln County, MS.

Alexander Roundtree was born about 1835 in MS, died 04 Aug 1913 in Caseyville, Lincoln County, MS. He married Matilda Ensley, daughter of Joe Ensley and Lucinda? She was born about 1844 in MS, and died 09 May 1924 in Brookhaven, Lincoln County, MS.

Charles and Alexander may be father and son. Alexander named a son Charles. The Roundtree men were slaves on the plantation of the same slave owing family as my Markham family in Caseyville, Copiah County, MS.

Milly McLean was born about 1810 in Virginia. Milly's slave owner's daughter married a member of my family's slave owning family.

In remembrance of the 150 anniversary of the Civil War, year 1863, I submit this post to the West in New England's THIRD AMERICAN CIVIL WAR BLOG CHALLENGE

Daily Mississippian (Jackson, Miss. : 1861)
Dates: 04/28/1863 : 05/02/1863 Roll number: 20594
Library of Congress
Southern Claims Cases of Maria Catherine McLean Buie, Mary Lemons Buie and Sterling Cato

Monday, April 29, 2013

Amanuensis Monday
The Yankees at Brookhaven

Colonel Grierson leading his troops.
Courtesy of Library of Congress

A diversion to keep Confederate officers occupied so Major General Grant could move troops to Vicksburg was a cavalry raid launched into Mississippi from La Grange, Tenn., on April 17, 1863. It was the beginning of 16 days of nearly non-stop movement, widespread destruction and frequent battle. When it was over, Grant would accurately describe it as one of the most brilliant cavalry exploits of the Civil War. The raiders were lead by Colonel Benjamin H. Grierson and they visited the area where my people were enslaved. Here is a newspaper editorial of Grierson's raiders in the ancestor's hometown, Brookhaven, Mississippi.

We have information that the enemy entered Brookhaven yesterday evening, burnt the railroad depot, cut the wires, and after doing what other damage they pleased, leisurely retired (a portion of them at least) in an easterly direction.

Wonder if Maj. Clarke of the Conscript camp at Brookhaven was taken? Or are the conscripts furnished with muskets, powder and ball?

Well, well! we are free to admit that Mr. (we beg his pardon) Colonel Grierson and his boys have had a "good time of it" for the last week. It is actually amusing to think (although, we confess, annoying) how they have roved around, within forty or fifty miles of the Capitol of the State--eating fried ham and eggs and broiled spring chickens every morning for breakfast, at the expense of planters whom they choose to honor with a visit--luxuriating on fat mutton, green peas and (of course) strawberries and cream for dinner--and all this without caring for the terrible fact (confound their impudence) that they were within a few hours ride of Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton's headquarters, or thinking for an instant that the commander-in-chief of the State Troops lived, moved, breathed and had his being in the city of Jackson. It is actually provoking to think how Colonel (we mean Brigadier General--begging his pardon) Grierson and his jolly riders have enjoyed themselves for a whole week. Why it is really worth a ten month's furlough of a Confederate soldier, this pleasure excursion of the roving blades of Iowa and Illinois in the heart of the "Sunny South!" The fun they must have enjoyed is actually enviable!

We hope Maj. Gen. Grierson (we have a penchant for military titles) will not take off the wires of the telegraph as he proceeds--for, as it seems he can't be caught or headed off, we feel some curiosity to be regularly informed of his whereabouts.

Source: The Daily Mississippian
Evening Edition, Jackson, Mississippi
April 30, 1863
Microfilm Number: 20594
Mississippi Department of Archives and History

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday
Dr J J McLean

Dr J J McLean
Born in Robinson Co., N C
April 25, 1828
Died in Union Church, Miss
Aug 21, 1905

Buried in Union Church Presbyterian Church Cemetery
Union Church, Jefferson County, MS

Dr McLean was the doctor for family members during and after slavery in the communities of Union Church, Jefferson County, MS, and Caseyville, then Copiah County, currently Lincoln County, MS.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Amanuensis Monday
Obituary of Peachy Ridgway Taliaferro

Peachy Ridgway Taliaferro

Obituary written by a relative of Taliaferro, Albert Gallatin Brown, an extreme pro-slavery supporter. In my opinion, he exaggerated the grief of Taliferro's slaves. My 3rd great grandmother's daughter Mary P Winston was owned by Taliaferro.

Died at his residence, in Copiah county, Mississippi, on the 12th ins., after a painful illness of twelve days. Peachy R. Taliaferro, in the 47th year of his age.

Mr. Taliaferro was a native of Orange county, Virginia. At an early age he intermarried with Sarah Frances, the accomplished daughter of the late Thomas B. Adams, of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Following the inclinations of a naturally ambitious and enterprising disposition he emigrated to Alabama and after a short residence there removed to Mississippi and settled on the estate where he died. His house became the seat of hospitality. Enterprise aided by a quick and accurate judgement enable him to accumulate an ample fortune, and he dispensed his hospitalities(sp) and his charities in a manner altogether worthy of a Virginia gentleman. Ardent in his temper he was quick to resent an injury, and always ready to accept the profered(sp) hand of reconciliation.

In all the relations of life, as husband, father, master and friend he was affectionate, indulgent, kind and generous. Full of resentment towards those who had wronged or injured him, he was always quick to forget and forgive. And when once reconciled he never allowed a past difficulty to be revived by unnecessary recurrences. Sincerity was prized by him above all other qualities of the heart, and he would have no intercourse with those who practised(sp) deceit.

Mr. Taliaferro was connected with the Virginia family of the same name. His mother was a Gilmer and he was a cousin of Governor Gilmer of Georgia and the late Secretary Gilmer. The Peachy, Grattens and Taylors of Virginia, are his connexions(sp) by marriage or blood relationships. He inherited from his ancestors that political zeal which has made so many of his family distinguished--but he was not ambitious. Always active and efficent in elections he was never himself a candidate for any office.

In the death of P. R. Taliaferro the community in which he lived has lost one of its most enterprising and useful members--society a convival(sp) and cheerful spirit; the sick, the poor, and the distressed a friend who always helped with a liberal hand. To his bereaved wife and children his death is a terrible calamity and the rose were entwined in beautiful companionship. it falls like a mighty avalanche crushing the heart of his doting wife and shocking the minds of his affectionate children.

The true qualities of this good man's heart were conspicuously manifested in the treatment of his slaves. The best commentary is a simple statement of the fact that when his death was announced his servants, old and young, of whom he had a large number, wept in all the bitterness of heartfelt grief. In tears they followed his remains to the tomb and at a late hour of the night many of them lingered around his grave refusing to be comforted, for as they said they had lost their dearest earthly friend.

In politics Mr. Taliaferro was a Democrat of the Jeffersonian school, ardently devoted to the rights of the States, and in the late Mississippi canvass he voted with the State Rights party, and earnestly advocated their cause. His cool head and clear judgement convinced him that the rights of the States, were inseparable from the perpetuity of the government, and hence he claimed to be a Union Man. B

Source: Obituary Courtesy of Beverley Ballantine
Picture of Peachy Ridgway Taliaferro Courtesy of Beverly Smith

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

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

Saturday, April 13, 2013

To the Casket Dealer

Bertha Taliaferro died November 15 1930 at 5AM. Embalming was not a practice in rural communities in Mississippi. Her family and friends would wash and prepare her body for burial.

Print Henley and Carrie Singleton, children of the deceased, went to the casket dealer Oscar J Young for a casket. Young was a farmer in 1900 but by 1910 he was a salesman and used a vehicle in his business, by 1920 he had a store. They may have looked around at what Young had or asked for the standard casket. They chose a half couch casket at the price of $150. They also got a robe, and hearse service was $10 additional.

Did Young bring the casket to the home, or did Bertha's children bring the casket with them in a horse driven wagon?

Bertha was buried the next day following her death, November 16 1930. She was buried in the Hunters Cemetery, likely next to her husband Thomas Taliaferro.

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF35-1326]
Federal Pension Records of Thomas Taliaferro

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bertha Taliaferro
How Many Marriages

Bertha was the second wife of Thomas Taliaferro. There were discrepancies in testimonies concerning whether Thomas was Bertha's first husband. Thomas Taliaferro served with the 50th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry, during the Civil War. Thomas had received a pension as an invalid, his wife applied for her pension as his widow. An investigator from the United States Pension Bureau was sent to investigate the validity of Bertha's claim.

Eight children were born to Bertha who testified she was not married to any of the fathers. A couple of the witnesses, Jane Gray and Jennie Brown, testified that Bertha was married, maybe twice, before she married Thomas. Several others testified that Bertha only married Thomas. The investigator could not find a marriage record in Copiah County, MS, with Bertha's name for any of the men who fathered her children. He only found one marriage record and that was for Thomas Taliaferro, 20 Sep 1901 in Copiah County, MS.

I noticed on the marriage record that she was Mrs. Bytha Williams. It was discussed within the pension records that Bytha and Bertha was the same person but it was not mentioned that the title Mrs. was applied to her name.

Bertha and Thomas' Marriage Certificate

Would it had matter if Bertha was married before she married Thomas? It would only matter if previous marriages would invalidate her marriage to Thomas. The investigator would gather information confirming that the marriages ended in death, or divorce and a marital relationship no longer existed. If it had been proven that Thomas and Bertha's marriage was not valid, she would not receive a pension as Thomas' widow.

Bertha's Children
1. Carrie Highgate; Father - John Brandon; Husband - Ed Singleton
2. Leon Beasley; Father - Bush Beasley
3. Mary Williams; Father - Lee Henley; Husband - Jim Boyd
4. Print Henley; Father - Lee Henley; Wife - Blanche Winston Banks
5. Unnamed Child; Father - Lee Henley; Child died young
6. Unnamed Child; Father - Matt Williams; Child died young.
7. Unnamed Child; Father - Tom Greenley; Child died young.
8. Unnamed Child; Father - Calvin Nichols; Child died young.

Bertha said she was born five years after the surrender but census records indicate she was born about five to seven years before surrender between 1858-1865. She was the daughter of Henry and Beckie Welch, slaves of Dempsey Welch in Copiah County, MS.

Calvin Nichols married my 2nd great grandaunt Jennie Copeland.

Blanche Winston Banks Henley was my dad's half second cousin once removed.

Per the 1860 Copiah County Slave Schedule, Dempsey Welch owned 52 slaves.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday
Thomas Taliaferro

Thomas Taliaferro
Born about 1844, Died May 04 1917
Son of Hilliard Taliaferro and Queen
Husband of Ann Lockwood and Bertha Welch Williams
Father of Tom, Jr., Roxie, Hilliard, Eddie B, Mattie, Henry, Annie, Frederick, Sallie, Vernon, Minnie, and Alfreda
Buried at Hunter Cemetery, Copiah County, MS

When I visited the cemetery, I did not note a marker for Thomas Taliafero's grave. He is likely in an unmarked grave.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Amanuensis Monday
Thomas Taliaferro's Letter - 1915

Thomas Taliaferro's letter made me giggle and reminded me of my maternal grandmother who said that when a man gets a wife, he gets a slave for life. Thomas was writing the United States Pension Bureau complaining about his wife's inattentiveness. She visited her children for weeks and was not available to tend his needs. Bertha Welch Williams was his second wife and they did not have children together.

Thomas served with the 50th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry. He was a slave with members of my paternal family, owned by the Taliaferro family near Hazlehurst, Copiah County, MS. Thomas' descendants married into my paternal family.

Department of the Interior
Bureau of Pensions

Sir in Aug 1912 my wife left me sick and stayed of two months year before that my wife left me Sick and Stayed off one month and again She ask me to let her go to her son and Stay two or three days and She went and Stayed of three weaks and I went to her and ask her to come home So She could See after her bisuness and she told me She wasnt going home no where I have been cooking for my Self very near every since I and her been married whenever I give her money or anything She gives her children part and I dont like no such wife as that and whenever I bring in grocery She Cary her children a posion and I dont conSider her being a wife of mine and so that way I had to go to the Sheriff and give her away and he told me to let her go and not have any thing to do with her This is my last wife and She have fail to treat me right
your truly Thomas
Hazlehurst Copiah Co
781778 Miss

Letter from Thomas Taliaferro's Civil War pension records.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mama in the Middle

Annie Bell, Mama, Alice

This picture personifies my mother's relationship with her sisters-in-law, she was their mediator. Mama was often caught in the middle of their battles. I don't think my paternal aunts liked each other. There were very few moments of congeniality.

Aunt Annie Bell was the oldest of the three sisters. She was a half sibling, born seven years before my grandparents were married. Grandma married a man who could not be trusted to raise a female child who was not his and the decision was made Annie Bell would remain with grandma's grandma Alice.

Annie Bell Shephard Ealy

Grandma Gertrude had five children with her husband Mike: Mike, Jr., Alice, Rosie, Albert (my dad), and Ike. Aunt Annie remained in the same neighborhood regularly seeing her mother and siblings. She missed being raised by her mother and I suppose she felt jealousy toward her siblings for having a full time mother. Mike's children were jealous of Annie Bell. From their perspective, Annie was better fed, clothed and housed. They had to endure an abusive father.

Aunts Alice and Rosie had the same set of parents, raised in the same household and they had a difficult relationship. Aunt Alice was the sickly, delicate sister who was shielded from hard work in the fields. Aunt Rosie the youngest of the sisters worked in the fields, which caused resentment between the sisters.

Alice Durr Dent

The last few months of Aunt Rosie's life, she revealed she was sexually abused by her father. Aunt Alice never made that confession but the last months of her life she talked about how mean her father was, tears filling her eyes. I suspect both sisters were sexually abused by their father, each suffering in their own silence.

Rosie Lee Durr Scott

I don't have memories of the three sisters enjoying each other company. Alice and Rosie lived on the same street as grandma but I don't have memories of them socializing, I think they avoided each other. Annie lived in Detroit and would come to MS to visit her mother, and after grandma's death she would visit from necessity.

My mother's phone rung often with their disputes, minor slights turning to major arguments. How to cook an egg would turn to Annie Bell flying back to Detroit declaring to have nothing else to do with the Durrs.

In 1989, Aunt Rosie was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She wanted to spend her last months in my mother's household but mama told her she thought it would be best if she stayed with her sister Alice. Aunt Rosie reluctantly went to live with Aunt Alice. Daily I took my mother to care for Aunt Rosie. Nursing the dying was not Aunt Alice's thing and what she could do, Aunt Rosie didn't want her doing. Aunt Rosie died in the hospital 08 May 1990, busy talking. Her heart just stopped.

Ten years later, Aunt Alice became ill. Aunt Annie was called and she came to MS for her last visit. Again, my mother was the mediator and caretaker, and again Aunt Annie flew back to Detroit displeased with her MS kin. We received a call in late May or early June that Aunt Annie had suffered a brain aneurism. She died 27 June 2000, showed her annoyance by leaving nothing to her remaining siblings in her will. Aunt Alice would succumb to colon cancer the same year, 10 Oct 2000.

Illness and the dying process didn't bring them closer.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wordless Wednesday
Alice Mitchell Copeland Durr

Alice Mitchell Copeland Durr
Copiah County, MS
1870 - 1914
Daughter of Alex Mitchell and Mary Copeland
Wife of William Durr
Mother of Mike, Emanuel, James, and Eudell

Alice is my great grandmother