Category Archives: Slavery

“I have had two children…”

This is the house that Alexander Cleage purchased in 1860, about the time he bought Katie. The columns were not added until 1930, so they were not there during the life times of the people in this pension file. The porch where he married Katie and Philip was probably around back or on the side, but I could not see it on google maps.
“In 1860 Alexander Cleage, another prominent settler, acquired the farm and house for $20,150 ($609,921.08 in today’s money.) The Civil War practically bankrupted Cleage and the property was sold after his death in behalf of his creditors.” You can read details about this house in the application for designation as an historical site.

Deposition “C”

Case of Katie Cleage
March 1, 1890
Chattanooga, Hamilton, Tennessee.

Before me, R. C. Getchell, a special examiner of the Pension Office, personally appeared Katie Cleage, who being by me first duly sworn to answer truly all interrogatories propounded to …

That she is 41 years of age; that her post office address is No. 519 Cedar St., Chattanooga, Tenn.


I am the widow of Philip Cleage, the soldier. I just know Philip was a soldier and belonged to the first U.S. H Artillery. I don’t know what company he belonged to.

I was married to Philip Cleage before the war – I was about 16 years old when we got married. We were married at Athens, Tenn., and my old master, Alex. Cleage, married us. My master told me that I must marry one of the home boys, and so I married Philip. We were married at our master’s house, right in the porch. My master read a passage from the Bible and then told us we were man and wife. There was no one present at the marriage, except us two and the old master. I disremember whether the war was going on or not at the time we were married. It was long before Sherman’s men came along. I was 13 years old when my master bought me, and I guess it was about three years after that when we got married. I lived with Philip before we got married, and that’s why we came to get married. Cleage found out that I had been living with Philip and then he made us marry. I had just one child before we married and this child was born dead. I had another child in the next year after our marriage and this one lived but one day. Philip was living at the time this second child died.  This was all the children I ever had by Philip. I have had two children since my husband, both of them are now living. These children are both illegitimate, as I have never married since Philip died.

 I married Philip before he was mustered in the army. We had been married a good while before he enlisted. We lived and cohabited together as man and wife from the time of our marriage until he enlisted. We lived with Mr. Cleage all the time and we were both his slaves. Mr. Cleage is dead, but his wife is still living.Philip had right good health from the time of our marriage to his enlistment. He went into the army and died a soldier. He died in hospital, of smallpox. I didn’t know where the hospital was located. I was with Philip when he first come out with small pox. I was in camps with him when he broke out with smallpox. It was here in Chattanooga at his camps. I sewed in the regiment, and went to him and slept with him every night from the time the regiment came to Chattanooga until he broke out with smallpox. He was taken sick, and Dr. Wright, the surgeon of the regiment, said he had smallpox. I seen him all broken out with smallpox. After I gave him his tea, he broke out with smallpox, and was then sent to the hospital and I never saw him live any more. They sent me word that he was dead shortly after he was taken to the hospital. I wanted to go to the hospital with Philip; but the doctor said I mustn’t as I would die too if I went. He had the black small pox, so it was said. I had the (looks like: varalid) just after Philip died. I was vaccinated long before I married Philip.

(Question: were people being vaccinated for small pox on plantations in the 1800s?)

Can you make out the highlighted word?? varolid? Answer (variolid) and more information in the comments section.

The children I have had since my husband died are both living. One of them will be seven the first of next June, and the other five on the first of next April. I have had sexual intercourse with but one man since my husband died, and he is the father of these two children. This man is a married man. He is a colored man, and has a wife living. He was not married at the birth of the first child. I had no intercourse with this man after the birth of the second child. I had the man arrested and tried to get him to support the children and every once in awhile he would bring me some money. This man’s name is John Washington and he lives here in Chattanooga. No, I was never married to Washington. I had him arrested for bastardy. I never lived with him at all. I cohabited with him just long enough to have these two children. They put him in jail when they arrested him; and I didn’t know what they did with him.  I swear positively that the only man I ever married was Philip Cleage. I have never got any bounty or back pay, but have made application for both.

I was working here in Chattanooga when my husband’s regiment came here. My husband heard of my being here, came and got me and took me into camps, and I went and stayed with him every night until he was taken down sick. No objection whatever was made to my going into camp and living with my husband. I “served out” every day, but did all his washing.

I was a seamstress at my master’s house, but I slept with Philip every night. They gave us a room in which to sleep. Philip was employed on the farm and I in the house.

In camp, my brother and his wife and Philip and I staid together in one tent, occupying two bunks. My brother, Abe Cleage, went to Texas years ago, and I don’t know where he is now. The last I heard of his wife, she was in Rome, GA. I haven’t heard from her for a good many years. John Rowland and Ike Chilton know that we lived and cohabited together here as man and wife. I have lived here since the war. Everybody knows I haven’t remarried.

 I was engaged to be married to Washington, but the marriage was broken off.  This was why I had two illegitimate children by him. Both children were born before he married another woman.

 I have understood the questions asked me, and the answers to them have been exactly recorded in this deposition.

Tomas Giffe    Katie Cleage X (her mark) N.C. Gelchell


You can read some of Katie’s brother Abe’s story here Abraham and Amanda Cleage I have learned much more about them since receiving their pension files and I will be writing about them in the future.

Posts in this series so far
Katie & Philip Cleage
“Until I Was Obliged to Leave” – Katie Cleage
“My husband purchased her when quite a child…” – Jemima Cleage
“I stood aloof and they took him away” – James Royal
“Even then she followed him” – Isaac Charlton
“I had well nigh despaired of the case”

“I had well nigh despaired of the case.”

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Affidavit of Katie Cleage Widow

13 Jan 1890

Aged 42

When I first induced Capt. Thomas Giffe to take charge of my claims it had remained dormant for nearly five years and I had well nigh despaired the case, but, now I have good hopes of succeeding, and I thank Mr. Giffe for it. He is the only person who I gave any authority to, that I have any recollections of.

            I cannot read or write and I do not know nor recollect what has been written in my name heretofore. I have all confidence in Mr. Giffe. I desire that he be recognized as my atty. In fact, I found that it was impossible for me to get anything done correctly without employing any atty. here who could do my writing for me. I am willing to pay Chas and Has B King for anything they may have done for me, but I cannot consent to give them the credit of working up this case, after 5 years delay. I have paid them as follows – 1st $2, 2nd $1.50 in stamps and 3rd $1.00 making $4.50 altogether.

Katie Cleage (X her mark)


An interesting and informative article about Civil War Pensions that explains who was eligible, how much they received and how these both changed as time passed. Civil War Pensions.

“The Civil War pension system was color blind in that there was nothing in the application process that required applicants to be white. But recent scholarly works have made it clear that the process itself was far from color blind. Because African American soldiers were both less likely initially to be assigned to combat roles, and then less likely to be hospitalized (early disability applications required documentation from hospitals) if injured, they could not produce the documentation required by the application process. And they were less likely than their white counterparts to have the money necessary to complete the process. Ultimately the fate of black veterans’ applications was decided by white bureaucrats who found it easy to turn them down without fear of retribution. An interesting side note is that the Grand Army of the Republic actively campaigned for their black brethren to be granted pensions just as white veterans were.”

It was also often more difficult for formerly enslaved widows to prove they had been married because of the lack of documentation for “slave marriages”.


Thomas Giffe, Katie Cleage’s lawyer, was born in Ireland and came to the United States as a young man. He enlisted in the 74th Regiment, Ohio Infantry and was later appointed Captain of Company H, U.S. Colored Troops 16th Infantry Regiment. USCT regiments were led by white officers. After the war Giffe and his family lived in Chattanooga where he was a contractor, a businessman, an attorney and an active member of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.)

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Thomas Giffe, Atty
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Posts in this series so far
Katie & Philip Cleage
“Until I Was Obliged to Leave” – Katie Cleage
“My husband purchased her when quite a child…” – Jemima Cleage
“I stood aloof and they took him away” – James Royal
“Even then she followed him” – Isaac Charlton

I found the information used in this post on, Katie Cleage’s Pension file, Chattanooga Newspapers and other online sources sited above.

“Even then she followed him”

General Affidavit

State of Tennessee
County of Hamilton
3 Dec 1889

Claim of Katie Cleage, Widow of Sgt. Philip Cleage deceased late of Co. “A” 1st regiment U.S.C.H.A.

Personally came before me Isaac Carleton, aged 49 years a citizen of the town of Chattanooga, County of Hamilton, State of Tennessee

 I was a sergeant in the same company and regiment. With Philip Cleage. I knew him before he enlisted, and we were sworn in the same day. I did not know his wife at that time but he claimed to be a married man and in 1865 after our Regiment came to Chattanooga he obtained a furlough to go see his wife and when he returned he brought Katie with him and introduced her as his wife and they cohabited together until he took the small pox and was sent to the pest camp and even then she followed him to wait upon him but they refused to admit her. He died and she has not remarried and still mourns him as her deceased husband to this day. Sgt. Cleage died about one or two months before the Regiment was mustered out.

I further declare that I have no interest in said case and am not concerned in its prosecution.

Isaac Carleton

“I stood aloof and they took him away”

Chattanooga. View from Lookout Mountain. February 1864. Photographer George N. Banard

General Affidavit

State of Tennessee
County of Hamilton
4 Dec 1889

I, James Royal aged 46 years a citizen of the town of Cohutta in county of Whitfield state of Georgia. I, James Royal, was a private soldier in Company “A” 1st Regiment U.S.C. Heavy Artillery and first met the claimant Katie in Chattanooga when Sgt. Philip Cleage brought her into the camp of the same regiment and he introduced her to me as his wife. At all events, they lived and cohabited together in camp where no woman was allowed to remain unless she had a husband to protect her and when the ambulance came to move him to the smallpox camp, she insisted on going along to wait on him and nurse him, but I stood aloof and they took him away and the next thing I heard that he had died and I never saw her since.

My present P.O. address is Sherman Heights – Hamilton Co. Tenn. My home is Cohutta GA. I further declare that I have no interest in said case and am not concerned in its prosecution.

James Royal X his mark

Click image to enlarge

“My husband purchased her when quite a child…”

Affidavit of Mrs. Jemima Cleage: The former owner of both Philip and Katie when slaves

11 Dec. 1889

Jemima Hurst age 52

            I am the widow of Alexander Cleage deceased, late of Athens, McMinn County, Tennessee. I recognize the applicant, Katie, as one of our former slaves. My husband purchased her when quite a child, 13 years old, from my brother Russell Hurst – we then resided on a farm about 3 miles from Athens and my brother’s farm was about 6 miles distant. All the ceremony at that time necessary for slaves to marry was the consent of the owners. I think it was in December 1862, Katie was delivered of a stillborn child. And again in December 1863 of another stillborn child. And I was present at the birth of both children. In December 1863 Philip left us, all the slaves having been liberated by proclamation of the President, and I heard that he had joined the army. Katie remained with us some 8 months after Philip left us and then she went off.

            I further state they both were very young and had not been previously married and I have never heard that she remarried. She was always a good clean girl and I kept her in the house to sew.  I know what I here state from personal recollection. I have not seen her for a long time.

            And I further declare that I have no interest in said case and am not concerned in its prosecution.

Jemima Cleage

My Sister Interviews Me

My sister Pearl interviewed me in 2010 about my interest and findings in family history research. I talked about some of the stories I’ve blogged about – Dock Allen’s Escape, finding Eliza in the 1860 census and slave documents. I have found more information since the time of this interview – court records about the land case between the Turners, newspaper articles, and several Wills from slave holders who owned my Cleages and Turners.

It gives you a chance to hear my voice and my thoughts about how to start your research.  I highly recommend being interviewed. I am enjoying listening to myself talk, for one thing.  If you can’t find anyone to interview you, interview yourself!  I think it makes a great addition to the legacy we are leaving for those following us.

2010 Story Corps interview with my sister Pearl asking me about my research and findings.

Pearl & Kristin walking through a field on cousin Ernest's land - SC 2013.
Me and Pearl walking through a field on cousin Ernest’s land – South Carolina, 2013.


Thomas Ray Allen 1847 – 1907

This is an introduction to Thomas Ray Allen. The other posts during the A to Z Challenge will expand on details mentioned here.

Thomas Ray Allen was born into slavery about 1845 on Foster Ray’s plantation in Lebanon, Marion County Kentucky.  Thomas’ mother, Clara was sixteen years old. His father’s name was Louis Allen.  Two years later his sister Sarah was born and two years after that his sister Annie (my great grandmother) was born. Slave holder Foster Ray was a farmer/merchant with lands in Kentucky, Missouri and Illinois.

Foster died in January 15, 1863 leaving everything to his wife Marietta Phillips Ray and his nephew Nicholas Ray. Unfortunately there is no probate list naming the enslaved.

Troops at Camp Nelson in May 1864

On August 15, 1864 Thomas enlisted as “Thomas Ray” in Company D, 5th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops – Calvary in Lebanon Kentucky.  He was 18 years old, 5 ft 5 in. with black hair, black eyes and copper complexion. Occupation given as “farmer”.  On March 25, 1865 Thomas was appointed bugler.  The bugler’s job was to sound directions to the troops when there was too  much confusion and noise for the commanders to issue orders by mouth.

On Thomas’ enlistment papers Addison Taylor of Marion County is listed as his slave owner, however in his pension file Thomas says several times that Foster Ray was his only former owner.  Foster Ray and Addison Taylor, who lived in the adjoining counties of Casey and Marion Kentucky, were cousins.

From March 14 through 18 Thomas was relieved from duty after falling from his horse and receiving a concussion. On March 19, he was returned to duty as they found nothing else wrong with him.  On August 15, 1866 Thomas was mustered out in Helena Arkansas, along with the rest of his regiment.

He returned to Lebanon Kentucky and in the 1870 census was living with his younger sister Sarah Ray Primus, her husband Felix and their young children. Felix and Thomas were both laborers.

On 9 March 1871 Thomas Ray and Georgiana McDougal (aka Martin) were married in her home county of Larue, Kentucky.  Her older brother Thomas MacDougal had also served in the USCT, although he was part of a different company.

Thomas Ray appears in the Indianapolis City Directory in 1877 as a hostler, a stableman who cares for horses. In January of 1878 he and his first wife Georgiana were divorced.  About 1879 he was introduced to the woman who would be his second wife, Katy Wiley by a mutual friend, Lottie Sullivan.  About this time Thomas decided to stop using the surname “Ray”, his former enslaver’s name.  He began to  go by his father’s surname, “Allen”.  He explained his choice in his Will here, Thomas Allen – Last Will and Testament.

Finding this envelope addressed to my grandmother C/o Mrs. Katy Allen sent me on a search to find out who Katy Allen was and from there to discover my USCT Uncle Thomas Allen.

Thomas Allen and Katy Wily were married by Rev. Jacob R. Raynor, a local Baptist minister on March 5, 1880.  In 1887, they were living in the cottage at 2157 N. Capital, which they bought and lived in until his death in 1907 and Katy’s move back to Ohio near the end of her life.

By 1887 his niece and nephew, George and Sallie Reed, had moved to Indianapolis. They were soon followed by their mother, his sister Anna Reed and the rest of her family by 1894.  They shared his home for several years.

In August of 1890 Thomas was 45 years old and approved for a military pension of $12 a month due to total deafness of the right ear and disease of digestive organs. In 1894 his pension was inexplicably dropped to $6 a month. Over the next 13 years he fought to have it raised to at least $8 a month, to no avail. He was examined by doctors who documented his deteriorating health.

Family members, former United States Colored Troop members and friends from throughout the years testified regularly that he was who he claimed to be, and that Thomas Ray and Thomas Allen were one and the same.  The also testified that he was ill and debilitated. Because this was long after slavery was over and he was living far from the place where he had been enslaved, nobody from the same plantation testified for him.

In 1904 the doctors found him to be suffering rheumatism, chronic diarrhea and disease of the stomach. His pension remained at $6. By 1906 Dr. John W. Norrel gave evidence that Thomas’ ailments made it impossible for him to support himself.  By July 1907, the medical testimony declared that he was in much worse shape and would not last much longer without some relief.

At age 60, on September 16, 1907, Thomas Allen died at home in his own bed.  He left his wife to apply for a pension as a surviving widow, which she did successfully.  Neither he nor she had any children.  In the 1910 census, Katy Allen was living in the same house and doing laundry to supplement her pension. She died in 1915.


Thomas Allen – Last Will and Testament 1907


Last week I decided to take one more look at a question I had about my grandfather Albert B. Cleage’s letters to his future wife, Pearl Reed. Who was the Katy Allen at 2715 N. Capital St. Indianapolis?  Albert sent Pearl letters there for several months in 1910. I had looked for Katy Allen several years ago when I first posted some of the letters on my blog, and found nothing. I only had her name and street address.

Recently I looked again and found Katy Allen listed in the Indianapolis City Directory for several years around 1910. She was listed as the widow of Thomas Allen. I then found her in the 1900 census with her husband and then I found his death certificate from 1907 (all on Ancestry) Thomas’ mother’s name was listed as “Clara Green”.  This was my great grandmother Anna’s mother’s name – which made him my grandmother Pearl’s uncle and her mother Anna’s brother. I had never found any relatives for Anna except those of her mother and children. Anna’s maiden name was given as “Ray” on some of her children’s records.

I looked some more and found Thomas Allen’s Will. It said he used to go by the name of “Ray” which was his former master’s name but he changed it to “Allen” after he got out of the service (he gave his unit as 5th US Colored Calvary). In the military record, there is his former slave holder’s full name! Now this particular branch of the family was very close mouthed about anything to do with slavery, although they did mention those Cherokee Ancestors who passed on no DNA. So, from looking for some info for my book about my grandfather’s letters, I found a new ancestor; my first United States Colored Troops family member; the last slave holder for that particular branch of the family and who the person was at that N. Capital St. address.

Last Will and Testament of Thomas Allen

State of Indiana

Marion County

I, Thomas Allen, a resident of Marion County, Indiana, and being of sound and disposing mind and memory, do make, publish and declare this to be my last will and testament, hereby revoking all former wills by me made.

I, Thomas Allen, known on the war records of Company D, Fifth United States Colored Calavry, and in matters relating to my pension business (act of June 27, 1890, Inv. Cft. 693170) as Thomas Ray, wish to explain that this difference is caused by my enlisting in the army under the name of my former master owner, whose name was Ray.  However, after my discharge, I took the name of Allen, which was my fathers name and which is my true and correct name, and the name und which I have transacted all other business and under which I was married to my present wife, and the name under which I am known and recognized by my neighbors, friends and acquaintances, and that Thomas Ray and Thomas Allen are the same and identical persons –

Item #1. I give and devise to my beloved wife, Kate Allen, the following described real estate, situated in the city of Indianapolis, County of Marion and State of Indiana, and described as follows: – Lot number twenty-five (25) in Ruddell and Vintons Park Place, Plat Book number four (4), Page one hundred ninety (190) in the Recorder’s Office of Marion County, Indiana.

Item #2. I give and bequeath to my wife, Kate Allen, all of the personal property of which I may die seized.

Item #3. I constitute and appoint Otts Delp executor of this will.  

Witness my hand and seal, this 23rd day of July, A.D., 1907, at Indianapolis Indiana.

Wm. S. Steavens  Henry C. Bade  Thomas Allen

The foregoing instrument signed, sealed and acknowledged by said Thomas Allen as and for his last will and testament in our presence, who, at his request, and in his presence, and the presence of each other, have subscribed our names as witnesses there to, this 23rd day of July 1907.

Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 23rd day of July, 1907.

Bert Delp

Affidavit of Death

State of Indiana, Marion County, Set”

Otto Delp being duly swornm on oath says that Thomas Allen departed this life on or about the 10 day of November 1907 and at the time of his death was a resident of said County and State.

Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 14 day of November A.D. 1907       Otto Delp

Leonard M. Quill Clerk

Proof of Will

Before the Clerk of the probate court of the County of Marion, in the State of Indiana, personally came William S. Stevens and Henry C. Bade subscribing witnesses to the forgoing instrument of writing, who being by me first duly sworn, upon oarth depose and say that Thomas Allen testator named in the instrument of writing purporting to be his LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT, did sign seal, publish and decare the same to be his last will and testament, on the day of the date thereof; that the said testor was at the same time of the full age of twenty-one years, and of sound and disposing mind and memory, and that he was under no coercion, compulsion or restraint, and that he was competent to devise his property. And that the said testator so signed, sealed, published and declared the same to be his last will and testament in manner and form as aforesaid, in the presence of affiant and of – the other subscribing witness…thereto and that each attested the same and subscribed their names as witnesses thereto, in the presence and at the request of said testator, and in the presence of each other.  Wm. S. Stevens   Henry C. Bade

Subscried and sworn to before me in witness of which, I hereunto affix the seal of said Court, and subscribe my name at Indianapolis, this 14 day of November A.D. 1907

Leonard M. Quill Clerk

1854 Doctors Visits to the Turner Plantation

Turner Plantation house – Picking cotton – Slave dwelling – Lowndes County Courthouse, Hayneville AL

There are four lists from different dates for doctors visits to the enslaved on the Turner plantation. Sometimes those treated are named and sometimes they are just referred to as “Negroes”.  I have added the ages of those who are named based on other lists from the estate files.

Dr. C.B. Lampley was the doctor listed for this time period.  Lampley was born in 1830 in Richmond County, NC. His family relocated to Alabama by 1850. He married Thurza Rudolph of Lowndes County.  They had two children. In the 1860 census he enslaved four people, a 35 year old mulatto woman, a 30 year old black man, a fifteen year old mulatto girl and a 14 year old black male. They lived in two dwellings. He joined the Confederate Army where he became a surgeon. He was lamed and later resigned due to diabetes and general debility.  During 1854 and 1855 he visited the Turner plantation to treat the enslaved – pulling teeth, lancing abscesses, bleeding and dosing with medication.

Click on images to enlarge for easier reading.

1854 doctor visitsDocument3





Isaac Turk and Fanny Cleage

This is the first of a series about the freed former slaves from the Cleage plantations in Athens Tennessee once they were free.  Unless I mention that they are my relatives, they are not related by blood.  Our families came off of the same plantations – those of Samuel, Alexander and David Cleage, but were not blood relatives.

Isaac Turk, his wives Fanny Cleage and Malinda White and all 6 of his children were born into slavery. All of them lived to see freedom, except his first wife Malinda who died in 1857.

U.S. Colored Troops 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment, Knoxville Tennessee. I like to think the men I studied are pictured here.
U.S. Colored Troops 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment, Knoxville Tennessee. I like to think the men I studied are pictured.                             Source: Library of Congress      The USCT Chronicle


Isaac Turk describedIsaac Turk was born around 1828. He was 36 years old on February 8, 1864 when he joined the United States Colored Troops  in Knoxville, Tennessee. He stood 5 feet 6 inches with a dark complexion, black eyes and black hair.  His occupation was listed as “farmer”.  He had been a slave on David Cleage’s plantation in Athens, Tennessee.

Isaac was married twice.  He married Malinda White in 1844. The Rev. Samuel Hope performed the ceremony.  They had five children together, William (Do not know birthdate), Mariah born in 1849, Penelope “Neppie” born 1850, Steve born 1851 and Isaac born 1852.  Malinda died in 1857.

After his first wife’s death, Isaac married Fanny Cleage. Rev. Henry L. Rowley performed the ceremony.  Henry Rowley was enslaved, probably by Erastus Rowley, born in Massachusetts and a professor of languages in the 1860 census, who lived down the way from David Cleage where Isaac and Fanny were enslaved.

Isaac and Fanny had only one child, a daughter Margaret, born August 1859. Charlotte Bridgeman Cleage and Sarah Cleage were both present at the birth along with Dr. M.R. May, a white doctor who also lived near David Cleage.

In February of 1864, Isaac Turk made his way from Athens to Knoxville and enlisted in Company A, U.S. Colored Troops 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment as a musician, a drummer. On July 20 of the same year, he died in the regimental hospital from what was described as “congestion of stomach.”effects of isaac turk given to margaret

Knoxville Tennessee

July 25, 1864

Received of Lieutenant A.B. Eliott Commanding Company A 1st US colored Artillery “Heavy” the following effects of Isaac Turk, private Co. “A” 1st U.S. Colored Artillery “Heavy” now deceased, which I am entitled to as his Legal Representative, viz. child.

One hat, one cap, one uniform coat (musician) one blouse lined two pair trousers, two flannel shirts, one pr shoes, one woolen blanket.

Margaret(X her mark) Turk

Because Isaac Turk was not going by the name Cleage, I would not have known he was a slave on David Cleage’s plantation.  I discovered him while checking Charles A. Cleage, who I knew had been a slave on that plantation and also in the U.S. Colored Troops, in the Civil War Pension Index.  There I found Fanny Cleage Turk, widow of Isaac Turk applying for her pension.  In her file several people who had been enslaved on the same plantation gave testimony. Charles A. Cleage described how he knew the birth date of Isaac Turk’s daughter Mariah, who also applied for a pension as a child.

charles statement - birth“…Charles A. Cleage, who, I hereby certify, is a respectable and credible person, and who, being duly sworn, declares in relation to the aforesaid claim as follows:  that he and the said soldier Isaac Turk were slaves and belonged to the same master during the year 1849 and on up to the war of the rebellion they lived as the custom was, within a few nods of each other, both being married and having children; he further states he is enabled to fix the date of birth of Mariah Witt, daughter of said soldier Isaac Turk, by the birth of his own daughter Juley Ann Wats, which as his family Bible Record shows, occured July 29th 1849, said Mariah Witt being born just one month later which would make the birth of said child Mariah August 29th 1849.”

Fanny Cleage  first appears in the Article of Agreement between the overseer  Samuel Cleage in 1834.   I was unable to find Fanny or her daughter Margaret after the hearings. Fanny and the children signed their names with an X. I was able to follow most of the other children. In the censuses, I found that his sons eventually learned to read and write, although they could not in the 1870 cesus.  The women (sisters or wives) did not.  The grandchildren were all literate. Turk’s sons worked as laborers. His daughters did not usually work outside of the home.

When I began looking for the Cleage freemen and women after 1865, I found several men had enlisted in Company A, U.S. Colored Troops 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment based in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Knoxville is about 60 miles from Athens, depending on which route you take.  McMinn county is in the Appalachian mountain range, so it wasn’t a straight, flat walk.  I have identified 7 Cleage men who enlisted. The name is spelled various ways, even within the same man’s folder. They enlisted at different times and I wish I knew the story of how they decided to leave, how they got away and how they made their way 60 mile to Knoxville to enlist.

Routes from Athens to Knoxville, distance and time it would take to walk from Google Maps.
Routes from Athens to Knoxville, distance and time it would take to walk from Google Maps.

colored troops cleages