Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Eastern Kentucky Civil War Claims

In 1871, the US government established the Southern Claims Commission to address southerners' petitions for compensation of supplies, livestock, and other items taken by the Union troops during the Civil War. These testimonial files include first-person accounts of how civilians survived the war, detailed circumstances regarding loss of property, and accounts of each family's history and loyalty to the Union cause. The information contained in these records may offer rare glimpses into the lives of people otherwise not found in census or church records, tax lists, etc.

In order to receive compensation, claimants had to meet the following requirements:

  • Claimant held United States citizenship
  • Claimant resided in a state that had seceded
  • Claimant could prove his or her loyalty to the United States throughout the Civil War
  • United States troops had taken the claimant's goods for official army purposes

Southern Loyalists (those who were Union sympathizers) from the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia qualified to file claims before the Southern Claims Commission (SCC) between 3 March 1871 and 3 March 1873. Congress initially expected the Commission's duties to last for two years, but extended its life until 1879 due to the overwhelming number of claims they received. 22,298 claims for property losses totaling $60,258,150.44 were filed. However, only 7,092 claims (32%) were approved for settlements totaling $4,636,920.69.

Even though Kentucky was not included in the above list, it appears that war claims were filed in the state and in some instances, approved. For Eastern Kentucky, these included the following:

Evan Jones, Floyd Co. KY, for $2,080.50
James Johnson, Carter Co. KY, for $25.15
Phebe Patton, Floyd Co. KY, for $130.00
Nathan Preston, Johnson Co. KY, for $400
John Scott, Pike Co. KY, for $616.40
William Womack, Carter Co. KY, for $112.50
[43d Congress, Second Session, 1875]

Additional Claims Filed
(H. R. 632) for the benefit of Alex. Drake, of Wolfe County, Kentucky ; to the Committee of Claims.
(H. R. 640) for the benefit of Abijah B. Gilbert, of Owsley County, Kentucky ; to the Committee on War Claims.
(H. R. 642) for the relief of Lewis C. Dils, late private Company B, Thirty-ninth Kentucky Volunteers; to the Committee on War Claims.
(H. R. 647) for the benefit of Samuel Beatty, of Lee County, Kentucky; to the Committee on War Claims.
(H. R. 651) for the benefit of Captain Lewis Sowards, of Pike County, Kentucky ; to the Committee on War Claims.
(H. R. 657) for the relief of M. B. Moseley, of Irvine, of the State of Kentucky; to the Committee on War Claims.
[46th Congress, First Session, 1879]

The absence of any regularly established tribunal for the adjudication of claims by Southern Unionists, the dissatisfaction of many claimants with the outcome of their cases, and objections to the act of March 3, 1873, which declared that all claims not presented by that date “shall be deemed barred forever thereafter,” led to the Bowman Act of March 3, 1883 (22 Stat. 485), and the Tucker Act of March 3, 1887 (24 Stat.505). Under the provisions of these acts, Congress could reconsider any of the claims previously disallowed by the Southern Claims Commission and transmit them to the U.S. Court of Claims for review and recommendation. A number of such claims were filed here in Eastern Kentucky.

War Claim of William Large, Lawrence Co. KY

Bowman Act

Samuel May, Floyd Co. KY (H. R. 625, 48th Congress)
The bill provides for payment of $3,000 in settlement for quartermaster and commissary stores taken from him during the war. But the claim as stated in the papers is for the sum of $2,119, $80 of which is for grass taken and receipted for July, 1862.
The balance is for hay, corn, oats, and rails alleged to have been taken by General Burbridge's command during a raid upon Saltville in September and October, 1864, part of which was receipted for and part not. All these claims were presented to the Quartermaster-General for allowance under the act of Congress of July 4, 1864.
Two different agents of the Quartermaster's department investigated the case, reported the taking of the property, but that the claimant was disloyal.
This claim was within the jurisdiction of the Quartermaster's Department under the act of July 4, 1864; was rejected by that Department because of the disloyalty of the claimant. An examination of the evidence leads us to the conclusion that the decision of the department was correct, and that we are not justified in recommending a reopening of the case.

William M. Caskey, Morgan Co. KY (H. R. 25595, 60th Congress; Court of Claims. Congressional, No.13886, Elizabeth A. Caskey, administratrix of the estate of Wm. M. Caskey v. The United States)
Claim: During the late War, to wit, on or about October 28, 1862, the United States military forces took possession of and used and consumed the following property belonging to said William Miles Caskey, in Morgan County, Ky., to wit, potatoes, hogs, corn, fencing, and other property, amounting in value to the sum of $1,448;
Report: The evidence shows to the satisfaction of the court that whatever property of the kind and character described in the petition belonging to claimant's decedent was taken from him by the military forces of the United States during the Civil War for use of the Army has already been paid for.

R. W. Harris (administrator of the estate of John P. Harris), Floyd Co. KY (Congressional Case No. 4517, R. W. Harris, administrator of the estate of John P. Harris v. The United States)
The claimant in his petition made the following allegations:
That claimant's decedent was a citizen of the United States, residing in Prestonsburg, Floyd County, Ky.; that in the fall of 1864 United States forces under Gen. Burbridge took from deceased property of the value of $603 and appropriated the same to the use of the Army; said claim was presented to the Quartermaster General and the Commissary General and disallowed because they were not convinced of the decedent's loyalty. The property claimed for was 500 bushels of corn, 1,000 rails, 8 hogs, and hauling with team 21 days.

Harrison Swango, Wolfe Co. KY (HR. 4514, 49th Congress; H. R. 2351, 50th Congress; QM Claim Nos. 1701, 1703, 2287, 2291)
Harrison Swango, a farmer residing in Wolfe County, Ky., during the late war, filed in the office of the Quartermaster-General, US Army, a claim based on four counts, amounting in the aggregate to the sum of $2,315, for property and stores...and which he claims were taken from him by the United States troops during the late civil war for the actual and necessary use of the Army, and that all of said property and stores were so used. His claim was rejected on the 27th day of February, 1880, on the ground that the Quartermaster-General was unable to certify that he was convinced of the loyalty of claimant.

His claim was proven by the following witnesses in due form of law, viz, Harrison Swango, W. L. Kash, J. C. Swango, and W. F. Little - 6 tons of hay, 100 bushels of corn, 20 cords of dry wood ($165)

Also by claimant and Sarah Ellen Kash and Mariah McLain as to one horse, valued at $125, taken by Capt. Harrison Cockrell while in charge of his company...

Also by the claimant and G. B. Swango and J. C. Swango -18 mules and 1 horse ($1,655)
These items are each proven to have been taken by and used in the service of the US Army; the last named items, 18 mules and 1 horse, were taken by Col. John Dils, while in charge of a portion of his regiment on a raid.

Also, by Sarah Ellen Kash, Darius Brooks, and claimant, as to claim for 200 bushels of corn, valued at 75 cents per bushel, $150, taken and used by Federal soldiers on or about April 1, 1864, by a Michigan regiment commanded by one Colonel Brown.
On the question of claimant's loyalty, seven witnesses testify to the effect that they resided in same neighborhood during the late war from and including 1861 to and including 1866, and that his loyalty was never questioned to their knowledge. [The witness list included Hon. Geo. M. Adams, member of Congress (43rd ) and W. P. Taulbee, member of Congress (50th).] 

The record nowhere bears any intimation of disloyalty on the part of claimant save in a letter of one J. G. Trumbull, agent of the Quartermaster's Department, who states that the claimant was reputed in his neighborhood as being disloyal during the late war. The bill was recommended for passage.

Tucker Act

Emma F. Everman, Carter County, KY (H. R. 7629, 61st Congress; Court of Claims. Congressional Case No. 14468, Emma F. Everman v. The United States)
That during the said war (Civil War; MP), to wit, in or about December, 1863, the United States military forces, consisting of troops belonging to Company K, Fortieth Kentucky Mounted Infantry, in charge of Sergt. John C. Blevins, by proper authority, took from petitioner's premises, at or near Grayson, Carter County, Ky., at least 800 bushels of corn, which was then and there reasonably worth the sum of $800, for which no payment has been made.

Julia F. Yates, Lawrence/Johnson Co. KY (H. R. 7614, 61st Congress; Court of Claims. Congressional Case No. 14565, Julia F. Yates v. The United States)
The claimant, in her petition, makes the following allegations:
1. That she is a citizen of the United States, residing in the county of Lawrence, State of Kentucky, and that during the late Civil War she resided in the county of Johnson, in said state.
2. That during the late Civil War, to wit, in the spring of 1865, the United States military forces, consisting of the Thirty-ninth Kentucky Mounted Infantry, by authority of Col. David Mims and Capt. Thornsberry, of said regiment, took from petitioner, at Paintsville, Johnson County, Ky., one fine young horse of the value of $175 and converted the same to their use; that no payment has ever been made, either in whole or in part, for said property.

List of additional claims

H. R. 2402: For the relief of Andrew Howard, Sr., Magoffin Co. KY, Committee on War Claims

H. B.2429: For the relief of Hibbard Williamson, Committee on War Claims

H. B.2446: For the relief of Mrs. Lucy A. Johns, of Laynesville, KY, Committee on War Claims

[All claims, 53. Congress, First Session, 1893]

John A. Dawson, Montgomery Co. KY - SERIAL-SET-ID: 1272 H.rp.110: Jul 28, 1866

William Large, Lawrence Co. KY - SERIAL-SET-ID: 3043 H.rp.395: Feb 17, 1892

Elizabeth Layne, Floyd Co. KY - SERIAL-SET-ID: 3420 H.doc.145: Jan 15, 1896

Martin S. Johns, Lawrence Co. KY - SERIAL-SET-ID: 5156 H.doc.775: Mar 1, 1907

Presbyterian Church, Mt Sterling, KY - SERIAL-SET-ID: 5267 S.doc.96: Dec 11, 1907

James M. Hall, Montgomery Co. KY - SERIAL-SET-ID: 5376 H.doc.388: Dec 17, 1907

Methodist Episcopal Church South, Mt Sterling, KY - SERIAL-SET-ID: 5267 S.doc.189: Jan 22, 1908

Samuel Beatty, Lee Co. KY - SERIAL-SET-ID: 5230 H.rp.791: Feb 11, 1908

Joseph E. Lindsey, Montgomery Co. KY - SERIAL-SET-ID: 6180 S.doc.213: Dec 21, 1911

M. E. Church, Louisa - SERIAL-SET-ID: 6181 S.doc.652: May 8, 1912

Ascension Protestant Episcopal Church, Mt Sterling, KY - SERIAL-SET-ID: 6785 S.doc.633: Dec 7, 1914

George H. Witten, Johnson Co. KY - SERIAL-SET-ID: 6892 H.doc.1634: Mar 2, 1915

R. W. Harris, Floyd Co. KY - SERIAL-SET-ID: 7100 H.doc.201: Nov 8, 1915

Martin Preston, Johnson Co. KY - SERIAL-SET-ID: 8981 H.rp.2648: Feb 21, 1929

Links of Interest
Guide to the Records of the U.S. House of Representatives at the National Archives, 1789-1989 (Record Group 233)

Information compiled, transcribed and researched by Marlitta H. Perkins, April 2012. Copyright © 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Among the Guerrillas - Adventures of Alfred Harrison, Lewis County Surveyor

The following statement by the Surveyor of Lewis County, Ky., will be of interest, as the locality and party are well known to many of our readers. As an expose of the condition of affairs on the border it derives its chief interest. He says:

“I will say that I am the Surveyor of Lewis county, and while I was discharging my official duties as Surveyor in the eastern end of my county, in company with six other gentlemen, we called at the house of a gentleman named Bloomfield, who lives on the Laurel Fork of the Kinnekinick (Kinniconick), for the purpose of lodging with him for the night – About dark the house was suddenly surrounded by about thirty men who soon robbed us of what money we had and other valuables. I lost about eight or ten dollars in money; a mare that I had been offered one hundred and fifty dollars for, and also a saddle and bridle, worth about fifteen or twenty dollars. A man that was with me lost, as he said, over one hundred dollars in money, and also a valuable watch. Another one of our company lost some money and a watch, and also his hat. Others lost money and clothing. In short, all that we had that was valuable they took.

They also robbed the house of Bloomfield of everything that they could find that was desirable, even taking and eating the victuals that were being cooked for our supper. And all this we had to bear as best as we could, as they were armed with rifle muskets, shotguns and pistols and greatly outnumbered us, while we had nothing with which to defend ourselves.

This gang of rebel ruffians had the audacity to tell us that they were men who had been drafted in Lawrence county for Government service, and were on their way to report.

And after they had robbed us and left the premises a short time, they returned and inquired for the Surveyor. I immediately walked to the door and reported to which they replied they wanted me to point them to Greenupsburg. I told them I could not do it, as it was very dark, and did not know the way. They said I knew more about it than they did and I should go with them – So I concluded that “prudence was the better part of valor.” I put on my hat and mounted a horse that they had taken from Bloomfield, and hitched at the fence for me to ride, and off we went. I and a man they called Capt. Fults, rode in front. After we had traveled a short distance, he asked me if I could take them to Vanceburg. I told him I could. He then said I might take them to Vanceburg, and there would take passage on a boat to Greenupsburg.

Map of Vanceburg, 1877
David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

On the way he inquired of me particularly who had good horses in that section of the county, and who kept shoes, boots and ready-made clothing in Vanceburg for sale, and whether there were any soldiers quartered there. - They also inquired if George M. Thomas, an elector for Lincoln and Johnson, lived in Vanceburg, and if there was a flouring mill in Vanceburg, that made flour for the Government. As we traveled on our way, some one would frequently call the Captain towards the rear as I supposed, to hold a consultation with him, and the another man would ride up by my side. I would then seize the opportunity to ask him some questions. On one of those occasions a young lad rode up by me, and I,” When did you leave Lawrence county?” “Last Monday,” said he. Said I, “This is Friday night; where have you been all this time?” “We have been out on a scout,” said he. “Last Wednesday we were in Flemingsburg, and we lost four of our men there.” “How did that happen?” said I. “Why,” said he, “we went in there in the night, and either the citizens or Yankee soldiers shot at us from the houses and killed two of our men and mortally wounded two more of them.”

On our way, the Captain and some others called at the house of a man named Blankenship, and took from him two coats, and a gun. A little further on they all stopped to feed their horses with some corn and fodder, which they took from the field of a Mrs. Cooper, and while their horses were eating they robbed several other houses. We then mounted our horses and rode to within about three miles of Vanceburg, but we had advanced but a short distance until we were met by Col. Clark and five other men on horseback, all citizens of Vanceburg. “Halt,” said the gallant Colonel. We halted. “Who are you?” said he. “We are conscripts from Lawrence county,” responded the rebel captain. “We are going to Greenupsburg to report. “Advance, one in number,” said the Colonel. “Who are you,” said the rebel Captain. “We are citizens,” was the prompt reply of the Colonel. Receiving this answer, the Captain then ordered his men to fire. – It was done. The Colonel and his men returned the fire and then retreated. The rebels pursued, but soon received a volley from some noble Union citizens who were waiting in ambush to receive them. The rebels then retreated a short distance and held a council. Some were in favor of making another effort to go into town. Others opposed it, saying that the road was lined with bushwackers. The Captain asked me if there were not Yankee soldiers in town. I told him I did not know. “But,” said I, “I do know there are a great many home guards there, and I have no doubt but they will give you a warm reception if you go in.” They then retreated in haste.

Time and space will not allow me to give particulars, but suffice it to say that they robbed every man they met on the road, taking their money and stripping off their clothes, boots, shoes and hats, and carrying them off. They also robbed almost every house on the way, searching the stables and took every good horse they could find. They even carried off in triumph, every good horse that they met on the way, either under saddle or in the harnesses. Such are the acts of a set of scoundrels, with whom many of the men living in the Loyal States, and pretending to be good citizens sympathize. But these are nothing more or less than fair specimens of the great masses of the people who are seeking to overthrow this Government. And, now, I will close this sketch by saying, that those who read this may hear from me at some other time.

Alfred Harrison
Lewis county, Jan. 2 (1865)

Alfred Harrison, found in the 1860 Lewis Co. KY Census, HH# 241/241. At the time of the incident he was about 42 years old.

Alfred Harrison mentioned a gentleman by the name of Boomfield but it is unclear if it was John, James or Reuben Bloomfield's house where he and his party planned to spend the night.

George M. Thomas, 1860 Lewis Co. KY Census, HH# 821/821. In 1864, he was 36 years old. George M. Thomas was born on November 23, 1828, on Salt Lick Creek, near the valley in Lewis County, educated in the common schools in the county — taught school, read law, and was admitted to the bar in 1851. Elected school commissioner in 1850, and served nine years. Elected county attorney in 1854, and served four years. Elected a member of the Kentucky Legislature in 1859, and re-elected in 1861. In 1862 elected Commonwealth attorney in the Tenth Judicial District, and served six years.

William Blankenship, 1860 Lewis Co. KY Census, HH# 1369/1369. At the time of the robbery on his farm, Blankenship was abt. 53 years old.

Several Coopers lived in William Blankenship's neighborhood. Mrs. Cooper was most likely the wife of Hiram B. Cooper who owned a farm next door to Blankenship. 1860 Lewis Co. KY Census, HH# 1370/1370. Hiram B. Cooper was away from home at the time of the robbery, serving in the Union Army in Co. K, 16th KY Infantry. He would not return home before summer 1865, leaving it up to his wife Catharina to run the farm and deal with situations like guerrilla raids.

Captain Fults' identity remains unknown. Harrison indicated that Fults was of Confederate persuasion which seems unusual since all Fults/Fultz men who ever served in the military in Kentucky during the Civil War were in the Union Army. Further research is needed.

Source: Ironton (OH) Register, January 19, 1865
Transcribed and annotated by Marlitta H. Perkins. Copyright © 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Links of Interest
Kinniconick Creek: A natural and historic treasure of Lewis County, by Dr. William M. Talley