Dropped from the rolls

The last paper in Katie Cleage’s file was an announcement that she had failed to pick up her $12 pension check after November 1893. In 1898, they dropped her from the rolls. After fighting for her pension for over ten years, she received it for one year.

It took me a lot of looking to find a death record for Katie Cleage. I found the record below on ancestry.com, but I first disregarded it because I thought the “W” in the fifth column meant she was white. In fact, I had earlier attached it to Kate Cleage, the white daughter of slave holders Jemima and Alexander Cleage.

After looking and looking for a record for my Katie, I took a closer look at the white Katherine, although the birth date was right for her, I discovered that she had married in 1890 and over the following years had given birth to four children. She did not die until 1936.

I went back to the death record above and saw that the “W” in the fifth column stood for “widow”, not “white”. The age was off by about ten years, but everything else was right. Who was there giving the information at her death bed? A neighbor? Her ten year old son or seven year old daughter? The race column is sort of blurred, but shows with ditto marks that the race is black. Given the date of November for the last pension check, and the December 16 date of death, I decided that this was my Katie Cleage.

City Cemetery was listed as the place of burial on the death record. I had a hard time finding it using maps of present day Chattanooga, google and find-a-grave. Finally, with the help of other researchers and the Chattanooga Historical Society, I learned that City Cemetery became present day Citizen’s Cemetery.

That completes what I know about Katie Cleage. Things I wish I knew – what happened to her two children? What did she do during that last year of her life? I hope that no one took advantage of her and stole her money.

Citizen’s Cemetery, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Google photo.


10 thoughts on “Dropped from the rolls

  1. I have been completely enthralled and involved in your research about Katie! That letter stating that her pension was ended brought sadness and tears! She fought so very hard to receive so little! Your research felt as if I were reading a short novel and now it’s ending. Beautiful research and so wonderfully established. Thank you for sharing your family history. God bless you.

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