Category Archives: A-Z Challenge 2019

RENTED land

This is my 7th year participating in the A to Z Challenge. In the 2015 challenge, I wrote about the Cleages formerly enslaved on the plantations of Samuel and his sons Alexander and David Cleage of Athens, McMinn County, Tennessee. Most of the people in these posts are not related to me by blood or DNA, however my ancestors were enslaved on the same plantations with them.

Late last year, I ordered the Civil War Pension files of the Cleage men who served in 1st Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery (USCHA), during that war. Through these files I learned that their lives were much richer and more complex than census, death and other records can show. I am using the information from pension files and records that I found through the pension files for this years challenge.

Today’s testimony is from Amanda Cleage’s Widow’s Pension File.

Deposition B

Mrs. Mattie Davis
56 years old
1239 Birch Street, Lost Angeles, California

I am the wife of Mason Davis.  I was born in Louisiana and raised in Texas, and lived in the state of Texas before coming here to California to reside. I have been living here in Los Angeles with my husband for 21 years, having come here from Austin, Texas.

I had lived in and about Austin, Texas ever since I was a baby and never lived in any other part of the state. I first became acquainted with Abram Cleag, the soldier, and his wife, the claimant, Amanda Cleag, when they first came to Dr. Phillips plantation near Austin, San Marcos, Texas, to which place they had gone with the Tucker family from Athens, Tenn., as they told me after I became acquainted with them.

I can’t state exactly what year it was that the Cleags came to Dr. Phillips plantation near Austin, Texas, but I knew them in and about Austin, Texas all of twenty (20) years.

The Cleags had rented land from Dr. Phillips and farmed it. My husband and I were also farming land which we had rented from Dr. Phillips, and we were the first people that the Cleags got acquainted with near Austin.

They remained on the plantation all of a year, and there worked in and about Austin, and at times worked for Dr. Phillips. After the Cleags left Austin, Texas to come here to Los Angeles, we followed them within a few months afterwards, and met them here and have known them ever since up to the time of Abram Cleag’s death in Long Beach, Calif., about a year ago. We used to visit back and forth and Mrs. Cleag and I do yet since they went to Long Beach from this city.

I know of my own knowledge, from association and observation, that the soldier, Abram Cleag, and his wife and widow, this claimant, lived together as man and wife all the time. I knew them in Texas, and all the time I knew them in Los Angeles, and Long Beach, Cal., up to the time of the soldier’s death, as aforementioned.

I personally know that they were never separated, never lived apart, and were never divorced during all these 40 odd years I knew them as man and wife, and I personally know that claimant has not remarried since the soldier’s death.

During his lifetime – Abram Cleag told us that he had been in a Tennessee regiment during the war, and it is my understanding that he was drawing a pension for his army service

*******

Mattie and Mason Davis were born into slavery. They raised seven childen. One died in infancy. They farmed in Texas. After moving to Los Angeles, Mason Davis worked as an express man, driving a delivery truck. For awhile, Mattie worked as a laundress.

The whole family was literate by the 1900 census. Both of them registered to vote. After Mason died in 1919, Mattie lived with her sons until her death in 1927.

Mattie and Mason’s great grandsons played “Farina” in the Little Rascals”.

Something I was surprised to learn about the family was that Mason and Mattie Davis’ great grandson, Allen Clayton Hoskins played “Farina” in the original Little Rascals.

QUITE a Surprise

This is my 7th year participating in the A to Z Challenge. In the 2015 challenge, I wrote about the Cleages formerly enslaved on the plantations of Samuel and his sons Alexander and David Cleage of Athens, McMinn County, Tennessee. Most of the people in these posts are not related to me by blood or DNA, however my ancestors were enslaved on the same plantations with them.

Late last year, I ordered the Civil War Pension files of the Cleage men who served in 1st Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery (USCHA), during that war. Through these files I learned that their lives were much richer and more complex than census, death and other records can show. I am using the information from pension files and records that I found through the pension files for this years challenge.

After posting the testimony given by Louis and Alfred Isbell saying they witnessed Susan Rice and Nelson Ragan married, I decided to look them up in the records. And this is what I found.

The plantation of Benjamin Isabel was near to both the plantations of James H. Reagan and William L. Rice in McMinn County. These are the presumed slave holders of Nelson Reagan, Susan Rice and Alfred and Louis Isabel. I have not found records linking them to these slave holders, but the ages on the 1850 and 1860 slave censuses point that way.

Click to enlarge. I was not sure if Nelson Ragan was living on the Reagan or the Rice place. You can look for a young man about 22. I started adding names on the right side of the column, but ended up adding them in the yellow. The column heading says it’s for the name of the slave owner, but if it’s my added typing in yellow, it’s for the enslaved.

Their mother, Milla was born about 1810 in North Carolina. Louis and Alfred were both born in Tennessee in 1831 and 1838 respectively. Alfred Isbell married Leticia Rice in 1850 during slave times. She and her parents had been born in Virginia. Letcia gave birth to 16 children. By 1910, only three were still alive. Louis married Amanda and they had at least one son, John. None of them could read or write.

In 1870 the brother’s, their wives, young children and mother lived next door to each other in McMinn County. Louis owned real estate worth $400 and was a farmer. Alfred was farm labor and had no real estate. Both had personal worth of $200.

By 1880, Louis, Amanda and Milla were gone. John, now 13 was living with his uncle Alfred and was counted as one of their children. Alfred and John were working as laborers. John was able to read and was attending school. Nobody else in the house was literate.

In 1889 Louis was shot to death. Why? By whom? I have been unable to find the answers. Alfred was the administrator of his estate, but I do not know how it was disposed of. In 1900 his widow, Amanda, was an inmate at the McMinn County Infirmary. I do not know what her ailment was. She died befoe 1910.

In 1900, Alfred and his wife and son Henry lived next door to his nephew John and his wife. Both owned their homes. John was a preacher. Alfred was a farmer. Henry worked on the railroad and both wives were not working outside of the home. The younger people were all literate. Alfred and Leticia were not.

In 1910, Alfred, Leticia, son Henry and Henry’s wife Nellie and their son Austin were sharing a house and farming on land owned by Alfred. Like his Uncle Louis, Austin was shot to death. He was 17.

Click to enlarge

Alfred Isbel died at age 79 in McMinn County of Senility and Chronic Nephritis ( kidney failure). He was a farmer and a widower. His son Henry was the informant. He is buried in Hammond’s Cenetery, a black cemetery in Athens, McMinn, TN.

Statewide registration of deaths was not required until 1914. That is why I could not find death certificates for everyone. Sometimes there will be information about burial which can be very helpful in filling in the blanks.

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I used censuses from 1860 to 1910, and death certificates for the information in this post. I found the records on Ancestry dot com and find-a-grave.


PHILIP Born Dec. 21, 1857

This is my 7th year participating in the A to Z Challenge. In the 2015 challenge, I wrote about the Cleages formerly enslaved on the plantations of Samuel and his sons Alexander and David Cleage of Athens, McMinn County, Tennessee. Most of the people in these posts are not related to me by blood or DNA, however my ancestors were enslaved on the same plantations with them.

Late last year, I ordered the Civil War Pension files of the Cleage men who served in 1st Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery (USCHA), during that war. Through these files I learned that their lives were much richer and more complex than census, death and other records can show. I am using the information from pension files and records that I found through the pension files for this years challenge.

State of Tennessee
Monroe County

On this the 2nd day of March A.D. 1869 personally came before me a Justice of the Peace in and for the county and state above written Rose Shurman and Eliza Wilson, persons whom I certify to be credible and who being by me duly sworn declare that they were personally present at the birth of the following children born unto Nelson Reagan now deceased and his wife Susan Reagan viz. Philip Reagan born the 26th day of December 1857, Sarah Reagan born the 20th day of June 1860, Mary Susan Reagan born the 20th day of June 1864. That they remember the facts from private record of which the above is a copy of the names and dates and also from being present in the capacity of fellow servants and nurses and also from an intimate acquaintance with said children up to present date. They further declare that it was not customary to make church or other public record of the birth of children at the time and place of the birth of said children. They further declaim that they do not believe Mrs. Susan Reagan can produce better testimony than this affidavit in support of the dates of birth of said children as no physician was in attendance at said births and that they make this statement from personal knowledge having no interest whatsoever in the pension claim of Mrs. Susan Ragan.                     

Rose (Her X mark) Sherman
Eliza ( Her X Mark) Wilson
Attest T. A. Boyd/ N. F. Spielman

Sworn to and subscribed before me and at the same time personally comes Mrs. Susan Reagan who is well known to me to be the person she represents herself to be and who being by us duly sworn according to law declares that the foregoing is the best witness she can present in support of the birth of said children for the reason no church or other possible record was ever made of the births of said children nor was any physician called to see her as she was in a state of bondage and she further discloses that in her original declarations she stated her husband said Nelson Reagan deceased was a private and that she is now informed her husband was in Co. “C” 1st Reg. U.S. colored artillery heavy and that she thinks she was led to make this error by the defective means of giving true information at the time and that this statement is made to correct the former affidavit as declaration.

Susan (her Xmark) Reagan
Attest: T. A. Boyd W. T. Spielman  

Sworn to and subscribed before me and I certify that the contents of the foregoing declaration were carefully read and properly explained before signing and that I have no interest in the Pension claim of Mrs. Reagan. T.T. Butter

State of Tennessee Monroe County Justice of the Peace

******

Susan Rice Ragan gave birth to five children. The first two were born before her marriage to Nelson Ragan. My great grandmother Celia’s father was said to be a member of the slave holding Rice family. The only maiden name I had known her to have was “Rice”. Perhaps her older brother Henry was a Rice too. That is why they were not included in the pension, although they were young children, they weren’t the soldier’s children.

After I realized that this was my great great grandmother’s pension file, I checked to make sure that Susan Ragan wasn’t W.R. Sherman’s first wife’s mother. she wasn’t. I looked for “Susan Ragan” in the 1870 census and found her with five children. One of them was my great grandmother, Celia. I had been looking for my great grandmother as Celia Rice in the 1870 census for years but, could never find her. That was because her first name was Ann, which I did not know until I found her death certificate a few years ago. In this census the whole family was listed as “Ragan”.

The Ragan household was number ten on the census sheet in 1870. The number for the household of my Cleage 2 X great grandparents, Frank and Juda and their children, including my great grandfather Louis, was five.

1870 Census. Click to enlarge.

I next looked for Susan Ragan in the 1880 census, but was unable to find her. I found her in the 1900 census, but not in the 1910 census. Finally, I decided to add Susan Rice Ragan to my family tree as my great grandmother ‘s mother. Immediately, I found her in the missing censuses using the name “Rice”. Susan Ragan had come up as “Rice” after I added her to the tree because my great grandmother’s father was a member of the slave holding Rice family and so I had ” unknown Rice” as her father’s name. Ancestry attached the name to her mother as a former spouse. So Ancestry searched for her under both “Ragan” and “Rice”.

In the 1880 census Susan and two of her children, Philip and Mary (Mollie) were living in Athens, TN. On the same sheet was William Roger Sherman with his first wife and their children and Sallie Cleage and her children. You may notice that Susan’s age here is given as “30”, making her nine years older than her son Philip. In the 1870 census, she was listed as being “40”. Ages in census records are not to be trusted.

1880 Census. Click to enlarge.

By 1880 my great grandmother Celia was married to Louis Cleage and they were living in rural Louden County TN with four children. Henry Rice was no where to be found. Sarah/Sally was working as a servant in a white household in McMinn County.


ON this the 29th day of March…

This is my 7th year participating in the A to Z Challenge. In the 2015 challenge, I wrote about the Cleages formerly enslaved on the plantations of Samuel and his sons Alexander and David Cleage of Athens, McMinn County, Tennessee. Most of the people in these posts are not related to me by blood or DNA, however my ancestors were enslaved on the same plantations with them.

Late last year, I ordered the Civil War Pension files of the Cleage men who served in 1st Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery (USCHA), during that war. Through these files I learned that their lives were much richer and more complex than census, death and other records can show. I am using the information from pension files and records that I found through the pension files for this years challenge.

Witnesses to the Marriage of Nelson Reagan/Ragan/Regan and Susan Rice.

State of Tennessee
McMinn County

On this the 29th day of March A.D. 1867 personally came before me, a Justice of the Peace in and for the County and State above written, Alfred Isabell and Lewis Isabell, persons whom I certify to the credible and who being by me duly sworn declare that they were personally present at the marriage of Nelson Reagan deceased with Susan who is now applying for an army pension on account of the services and death of the said Nelson Reagan deceased, late a private Co. “A” as they have been formerly informed but are now informed was a pic Co “C” 1st Reg U.S. Colored Artillery Heavy and who died whilst in said service that said marriage took place in the county of McMinn and state of Tennessee on or about the 10th day of December 1855 and that one Isaac Cleig, a colored preacher, performed the marriage ceremony and the same was according to the usual custom for the marriage of slaves at the time and place.

They further declare that said marriage was followed by a constant cohabitation as husband and wife up to the date said Nelson Reagan enlisted in the army that they have never had a question raised or doubt expressed as to said marriage or cohabitation. They further declare that it was not customary to make marriage records for colored people in state of Tennessee at the time this marriage took place. That they make the foregoing statement from personal knowledge of the facts having no interest in any claims in which the same may be used as evidence.

Alfred (his X mark) Isbell
Lewis (his X mark) Isbell

Attest
T.A. Boy
W. T. Hielman

*******

I regret that when I got to my ancestors file, it did not have the transcribed testimony of the later cases.

NELSON Regan

This is my 7th year participating in the A to Z Challenge. In the 2015 challenge, I wrote about the Cleages formerly enslaved on the plantations of Samuel and his sons Alexander and David Cleage of Athens, McMinn County, Tennessee. Most of the people in these posts are not related to me by blood or DNA, however my ancestors were enslaved on the same plantations with them.

Late last year, I ordered the Civil War Pension files of the Cleage men who served in 1st Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery (USCHA), during that war. Through these files I learned that their lives were much richer and more complex than census, death and other records can show. I am using the information from pension files and records that I found through the pension files for this years challenge.

Nelson Ragan was my great grandmother, Celia Rice Cleage Sherman’s step father. I recently joined Fold3, a military records site owned by Ancestry, to look for information about one of the people in the Katie Cleage’s series. I could not find anything, so I decided to see if there were any interesting widow’s pension files from the same troop. I noticed that Susan Ragan was from Athens.

Her file was not all that interesting compared to Katie’s. However, as I went through it, I noticed a name I recognized – W.R. Sherman, my great grandmother’s second husband. He was writing the authorities concerning final expenses for Susan Regan and he listed himself as her son-in-law. It took me overnight to realize that that would make her my Grandma Celia’s mother. And my previously unnamed 2 X great grandmother.

Inventory of the effects of Nelson Ragan late a private of Captain S. R. Russell’s Company “C” 1st Regt U.S. Colored Artillery (Heavy) who was enrolled as a private at Knoxville in the state of Tennessee on the 18 day of Feby, 1864 and mustered into the service of the United States as a private on the 27th day of February 1864, at Knoxville in Company “C” of the 1st U. S. Colored Arty (Hy) to serve three years or during the war. He was born in McMinn Co. in the state of Tennessee he was 33 years of age, 5 feet 7 inches high, blk complexion, blk hair, blk eyes, and by occupation where enrolled a farmer. He died in Regimental Hospital at Knoxville, Tenn on the 24th day of March 1864 by reason of Typhoid Fever.

Inventory

No personal effects. Buried in his clothes.

I certify on honor that the above inventory confirms all the effects of Nelson Ragan deceased.

Samuel R. Russell
Capt. Comdg Company

Witness to above
Lieut. Ed. F. Browne

Station Knoxville Tenn
Date March 20, 1864

*****

MARTHA Cleage, Widow of Charles A. Cleage

“Black woman working in an Alabama kitchen”

This is my 7th year participating in the A to Z Challenge. In the 2015 challenge, I wrote about the Cleages formerly enslaved on the plantations of Samuel and his sons Alexander and David Cleage of Athens, McMinn County, Tennessee. Most of the people in these posts are not related to me by blood or DNA, however my ancestors were enslaved on the same plantations with them.

Late last year, I ordered the Civil War Pension files of the Cleage men who served in 1st Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery (USCHA), during that war. Through these files I learned that their lives were much richer and more complex than census, death and other records can show. I am using the information from pension files and records that I found through the pension files for this years challenge.

Deposition A

The Case of Martha Cleage, No. 898,476
On this 18 day of February, 1909, at Athens, County of McMinn
State of Tenn., before me, N. H. Nicholson

Special examiner of the Bureau of Pensions, personally appeared Martha Cleage, who being by me first duty sworn to answer truly all interrogations propounded to her during this special examination of aforesaid claim for pension, deposes and says:

I am 65 (?) years of age; my post office is Athens, McMinn Co. Tenn. I am claimant for pension or the widow of Charles A. Cleage late of Co. A 1 U. S. C. H. A. He never had any other service. My husband was sometimes called Charles A. Evans, because his mother was an Evans, but he was owned by David Cleage and took the name of his owner when he enlisted in the army. My owner was Judge Alex Keith and I married this soldier, Charles A. Cleage, two or three years before the war. I can’t remember just what  year it was. We were married by a colored preacher named Gillent Crawford and the marriage was with the consent of our owner. I lived with Charles A. Cleage as his wife until he died. I have never been married before I married Charles A. Cleage. I have not remarried since his death.

Charles A. Cleage had been married before. He had one wife before he was married to me. His first wife was Amy Cleage. She was owned by the same man who owned him. I knew her. I lived about a mile from them and knew her and visited her while they were living together. She died about three miles from Athens Tenn.

I was at her funeral. She died as near as I can remember a year or so before Charles A. Cleage and I were married. I know that she died before I was married to Cleage. I visited her while she was sick and was at her funeral and a year or two later Charles A. Cleage and I were married.

Charles A. Cleage and I lived together from our marriage until he died and were never divorced or separated. We always regarded our marriage as binding and never remarried after we became free. Charles A. Cleage died here in this house at Athens, Tenn.  June 16, 1908.

Yes Sir, I have only been married the one time and that was to Charles A. Cleage. We were living near Athens when he was enlisted in the army and I staid here awhile and then went to him at Knoxville Tenn and staid there while his regiment was stationed there. After his discharge we came back here and lived within three miles of Athens until his death.No. I never heard of him having any wife except Amy before he and I were married. I am satisfied he was never married except to Amy and myself. I knew him from my childhood. He was living with Amy when I first knew him. I am not sure of the name of the colored preacher who married us. It may have been preacher Robert McDermott who married us and it may have been Gilbert Crawford. I am not sure which it was. I was young at the time and I don’t remember positively but I know we were married at my master’s place. I can prove that I was never married before I married Charles A. Cleage, by Sally Cleage, Edmund Sherman and Jerry Cleage. I can prove by the same parties that Charles A. Cleage was never married except to Amy and me. I can also prove by my sister Sarah Smith that I have never been married but the one time. Also by my stepson Hilyard Cleage and by Jerry Cleage, who belonged to the same family my husband did (name “Jerry” erased and Hilyard” line 67 underlined before signing) All of them also know that I have not remarried since the death of Charles A. Cleage.

My attorney is John J. Jackson, Athens, Tenn. There has been no agreement between Mr. Jackson and I about his fee and nothing has been said about it. I want him to have whatever fee the law allows if my claim is allowed. I have not paid him anything. I have not paid the notary Public for swearing me or my witnesses to the papers in my claim. I do not want to be present or represented by my attorney during the further examination of my claim and waive notice of all further examination I have understood the questions asked me and have heard the above read and my answers are correctly recorded.Martha (her X mark) Cleage deponent

Witness
Rosa M. Pettill
No other available.

********

Thomas LILLARD

This is my 7th year participating in the A to Z Challenge. In the 2015 challenge, I wrote about the Cleages formerly enslaved on the plantations of Samuel and his sons Alexander and David Cleage of Athens, McMinn County, Tennessee. Most of the people in these posts are not related to me by blood or DNA, however my ancestors were enslaved on the same plantations with them.

Late last year, I ordered the Civil War Pension files of the Cleage men who served in 1st Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery (USCHA), during that war. Through these files I learned that their lives were much richer and more complex than census, death and other records can show. I am using the information from pension files and records that I found through the pension files for this years challenge.

Today I write about Thomas Lillard who gave testimony in Charles A. Cleage‘s Pension application hearing.

Charles A. Cleage Pension File
Deposition A
22 July 1890

Thomas Lillard

Maryville, County of Blount State of Tennessee.

I am 49 years old, and past. My business is a confectioner. PO as above. I served in Co. A 1st USC Heavy Artillery from muster in to muster out. I lived in the same town with claimant Charlie Cleage and knew him well before enlistment.

            He was a sound man and a stout one too at the time he enlisted at least if there was anything wrong with him, I didn’t know it, except he was sick at Knoxville. Yes he had good health too as far as I ever knew until just after the surrender of Gen. Lee.

           We was camped up in the N.E. part of this state on the Watauga River and the men were out firing the canon as a salute over the surrender. I was quarter master sergt for our Co. and was not out, but when the men came in Charlie Cleage’s nose was bleeding and he complained of a hurting in his ears and it seems to me they were bleeding too, but I can’t be “qualified” to it.

            I remember well the bleeding from the nose and I remember well he complained of his head hurting him too. He said the jar of the artillery caused it. He complained after that several times of the head and he always “laid it” to that firing of that salute.

            I don’t now remember that he complained of any other part of his body was affected by that firing. No sir, I do not now remember that I ever heard him complain of his heart or any trouble with his heart. If he did I have forgotten it.

            I did not live near him after the war, but have seen him several times. He has been weakly, but I do not know what his complaint has been.

            Since you asked me the question and used the word “palpitation” of his heart, it seems to me that I did hear it said while in the army that that was one thing that ailed him, but I don’t remember it definitely enough to be qualified to it.

            I think William Porter was sergeant when claimant was hurt. James Magill, now dead, was the orderly sergeant before Porter.

            I am not related to claimant nor interested in his claim for pension.

I have understood the questions asked me.  My answers are correctly written.

Thomas Lillard

********

Thomas Lillard was born into slavery in McMinn County. He was literate when he joined the USCHA and was promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant. After being mustered out, he married Mariah Iven in 1868 and they had eight children together. One died in infancy. Those surviving all received good educations and attended college.

Lillard was active in politics and held several offices in Maryville, Tennessee. He worked to establish St. Paul AME Zion Church and schools for black children in both Maryville and nearby Knoxville. He was also a businessman. The add below appeared in the local paper Maryville Times in 1882 and covered a variety of businesses.


Thomas Lillard's Store

Thomas Lillard’s Store Thu, Dec 14, 1882 – Page 4 · Blount County Democrat (Maryville, Tennessee) · Newspapers.com

He often appeared in the local papers, nine times out of ten about his ice cream parlor or politics. David Jarnigan’s daughters visit with Thomas Lillard’s wife appeared in The Maryville Times “Colored Notes” column in 1899.

lillard jarnegin visit

lillard jarnegin visit Sat, Jan 7, 1899 – Page 4 · The Maryville Times (Maryville, Tennessee) · Newspapers.com

I was surprised to find Thomas Lillard in my family tree, in a round about kind of way. His daughter Melinda was the first wife of Franklin Marion Kennedy. After Melinda died, leaving three small sons, Kennedy married Mayme Sherman. Mayme Sherman was the daughter of my great grandmother, Celia Rice Cleage Sherman’s second husband, William Roger Sherman.

Thomas Lillard died in August 1911, leaving two grown children and his wife to mourn his passing.

David JARNIGAN

This is my 7th year participating in the A to Z Challenge. In the 2015 challenge, I wrote about the Cleages formerly enslaved on the plantations of Samuel and his sons Alexander and David Cleage of Athens, McMinn County, Tennessee. Most of the people in these posts are not related to me by blood or DNA, however my ancestors were enslaved on the same plantations with them.

Last year I ordered the Civil War Pension files of the Cleage men who served in 1st Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery (USCHA), during that war. Through these files I learned that their lives were much richer and more complex than census, death and other records can show. I am using the information from pension files and records that I found through the pension files for this years challenge.

*****

The entry below is taken from Katie Cleage’s file, you can read her complete widow’s pension file at this link. The ‘master’ she mentions below was Alexander Cleage.

Deposition S

21 June 1890

Katie Cleage

…There was a fellow around, David Johnakin coming to see me and master said I could not have any one but one of the home boys and I did not want one of them because I loved David, but master called me one day and told me he was going to make me and Philip marry. It was on a Sunday and a very warm day and master was laying at the far end of the porch and he got up and went and got some book and read something to us. I was very young and did not know and never did know what it was and then he told Philip he could just consider himself one of the married boys on the place. I disremember it has been so long, whether mistress was home or how it was. I just remember how old master made Philip and me have one another. …

Katie (her mark X) Cleage

After reading this, I wondered who David Johnakin was and what happened to him. There was no one who spelled their name ‘Johnakin’ in Athens, however, the person who transcribed Katie’s testimony spelled it like it sounded to them because Katie couldn’t write and didn’t know how to spell it. I did find “Jarnigan”.

Milton P. Jarnigan was a white attorney who lived in Athens, TN. He enslaved a small number of people. In the 1860 slave census (which gives no names for the enslaved, just age, sex and color) there was a 30 year old mulatto woman, a 15 year old mulatto woman, a 4 year old mulatto girl, a 4 year old mulatto male and a 2 year old black male that lived with him. He had no slave structure. He also rented out a 48 year old black woman and an 18 year old black man. This young man may have been David Jarnigan. He was rented to Dr. J. L. Atlee, the doctor Alexander Cleage on his place.

After freedom, in the 1870 census I found David Jarnigan living in Athens, Tennessee. His occupation was listed as “engineer”. I don’t know what that entailed. He was married to Kizzie. They had five children together before she died around 1879. The youngest child was born in 1878 and David was a widower in the 1880 census. The oldest daughter was missing from the household. She may have died or, at 15, she may have married and moved away. The oldest of the four children in the household was 12 and was literate. Their neighbors included Nelson Getty (of the bath houses) and Louis Evans, brother of Hillard Evans.

David moved his family to Knoxville and in 1883, he married Lizzie Evans and they had one more daughter the following year. David and his wives were unable to read or write. As adults, all of his children were literate. Over the years he worked as a laborer and a janitor. He owned his own home. After his 2nd wife died in 1917, he lived with his daughter and after she married, with her family. They remained in the home place.

David Jarnigan died of pneumonia. Exposure was a contributing factor. He was buried by Jarnigan and sons’ Funeral Home. This was an African American funeral home that still operates today. I do not know if they were related to David. He was buried in Daughter’s of Zion Cemetery, a black cemetery in Knoxville, Tennessee.

*****

Sarah IDENA Cleag

This is my 7th year participating in the A to Z Challenge. In the 2015 challenge, I wrote about the Cleages formerly enslaved on the plantations of Samuel and his sons Alexander and David Cleage of Athens, McMinn County, Tennessee. Most of the people in these posts are not related to me by blood or DNA, however my ancestors were enslaved on the same plantations with them.

This year I ordered the Civil War Pension files of the Cleage men who served in 1st Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery (USCHA), during that war. Through these files I learned that their lives were much richer and more complex than census, death and other records can show. I am using the information from pension files and records that I found through the files for this years challenge.

Today I will share some information and a few newspaper articles about Sallie Idena Cleag, Abram and Amanda‘s only surviving daughter.

Abram Cleag answers question about his marriage and children. Click to enlarge.

Sarah Idena Cleage was born in 1876 near Austin, Texas. She was named after her grandmother Sallie Cleage Marsh. She learned to read and write, something her parents never did, and moved to Los Angeles, California with them in 1888 when she was twelve years old. Two years later, at 14 she married Richard Pierce, a house painter nine years older than she was. They had a daughter, Avalon, when she was 18 and a year later she gave birth to a stillborn son.

The family continued to live with Abram and Amanda. Their relationship was a troubled one, more than troubled. Twice husband Richard took shots at men Sarah was intimately involved with. They were finally divorced. Sarah left Avalon to be raised by her parents and went to San Francisco, where she died in the earthquake of 1906.

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The articles are from newspapers.com

HiILLARD – “I always sign my name Evans”

This is my 7th year participating in the A to Z Challenge. In the 2015 challenge, I wrote about the Cleages formerly enslaved on the plantations of Samuel and his sons Alexander and David Cleage of Athens, McMinn County, Tennessee. Most of the people in these posts are not related to me by blood or DNA, however my ancestors were enslaved on the same plantations with them.

This year I ordered the Civil War Pension files of the Cleage men who served in 1st Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery (USCHA), during that war. Through these files I learned that their lives were much richer and more complex than census, death and other records can show. I am using the information from pension files and records that I found through the files for this years challenge.

Today we have Hillard, Charles A. Cleage‘s son giving testimony in step-mother Martha’s widow’s pension file.

Page 1 of Hillard’s testimony. Click to enlarge.

Deposition D

18 February 1909
Athens, McMinn, Tenn.

Appeared: Hilyard Evans

I am  56 years old. Laborer. P.O. Athens, McMinn Co. Tenn.  I am sometimes known as Hilyard Cleage, but I always sign my name Evans. Chas. A. Cleage was my father. My mother was Amy Cleage.  My mother was Amy Cleage, my father’s first wife. I remember when my mother died. I was small. Mother died in Nov. 1859. She died Nov. 7, 1859. We have an old record of the birth of my brother Phillip and he was born April 8, 1859 and I remember that he lacked one day being seven months old when mother died.

About a year, or near as I can remember, after mother died father married Martha Keith. I think they were married the next summer after mother died. I did not see them married. I was living with my grandfather then, but I remember that my grandfather took me to where they were on the Sunday after they were married and I ate dinner with them. I never  heard of my father being married except to my mother and to Martha. Martha, I remember was only a girl when she and father were married and I know she was never married before. I have lived with them and near them ever since they were married and I know that father and Martha lived together as man and wife until he died last June. They were never separated or divorced. She has never remarried since his death.

Yes, I was at my mother’s funeral and know she was dead before father and Martha were married.

I hear read my affidavits B.J. 4 and 6 signed Hilyard Evans and Hilyard Cleage and both are exact and were signed by me or rather sworn to by me and the two names are explained by the fact that I am sometimes known as Cleage but call myself Evans. Both statements are correct. I have no interest in this case. I cannot write. I have understood the questions asked me and have heard above read. I am correctly recorded.

Hilyard (his X mark) Evans
Deponent

Witness
Clifford Shoffeitt
No other available.

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People often think that enslaved people didn’t have surnames. They did. During slavery they were might be used by the white community and then again, they might not. In some probate records the enslaved were differentiated by adding a last name if there were two people with the same first name.

After slavery people sometimes used the name of the last enslaver, or they might pick the name of a parent instead. This makes it difficult to trace families as people may use one name in the 1870 census and another in the 1880 census. Connections can be made if households remain together so first names can be checked from one census to the next.

Hillard (Hilyard) Evans was the son of Charles A. Cleage, whose mother was Julie Ann Evans. The children of Charles A. Cleage and his first wife Amy Cleage, went by the last name of “Evans”. The children from his second marriage went by Cleage. Hillard’s death record says “Cleage”. His wife’s says “Evans”.