Category Archives: Tennessee

“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

“Until I Was Obliged to Leave” – Katie Cleage

Click photo for more information about it.

Today I begin with deposition made by Katie Cleage on 10 December 1989. Katie Cleage is not my ancestor. She and Philip were enslaved on the same plantation that my great grandfather Louis Cleage, his parents Frank and Juda and their other children were held in slavery. I have studied the whole community that made up the Cleage plantations in McMinn County, Tennessee in order to get a full picture of the life that my family lived during those times. I have found the pension files to be a wealth of information. I have also become interested in the extended community of Cleages for themselves as I study them.


State of Tennessee

County of Hamilton

10 Dec 1889
In the matter of the Claim No. 288.391 of Katie Cleage widow of Philip Cleage deceased, late a sergeant In Company “A.” 1st Regiment United States Colored Heavy Artilliary (U.S.C.H.A.) Personally appeared the claimant Katie Cleage before me, a notary public in and fore the county and state aforesaid and after being duly sworn deposes and says –

            I, Katie Cleage, am the widow of the late Phillip Cleage who was a Sergeant in Company “A” 1st regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery. I was born near Mouse Creek McMinn County and State of Tennessee and my P.O. address was the same when the war broke out.

I belonged to Alexander Cleage. He bought me as a slave from Lewis R. Hurst, when I was only 13 years old and he took me to his home in Athens McMinn County. Philip Cleage the soldier, was one of Mr. Cleage’s Boys. Phillip was the best looking boy on the plantation and I was installed in the family as seamstress. Philip was nearly my own color. He began to pay attention to me and the feeling was reciprocated. I had one child by Philip and my master made us marry and he read the marriage ceremony himself and pronounced us husband and wife. The child which was born before our marriage died and the next one, which was born after our marriage, died also.

In 1863 the Yankee Army came along and took all the men who were fit for the service and my husband with the rest. Before going away he advised me to remain at home and I did as long as I could do so in safety, but the white people grew so tyrannical, I was obliged to leave. I went to Cleveland, Tenn. and was employed by a Mr. Griggesby who was a telegraph operator. My brother was there also and when my term expired, I moved to Chattanooga, where I was employed by Mrs. Colonel Grosverner and Mrs. General Wagner and I went with them and the army away down in Georgia and back again to Chattanooga.

When those two ladies returned to go back to the North, they requested me to go along with them. I then told them that I was a married woman and that my husband was in the Colored Troops, and that I could not go, lest I might lose sight of him. So they left me and I hired myself to a Mrs. Delany, whose husband was an officer in a Regiment at Chattanooga. She paid me 75 cents a day and my meals for sewing for her.

 In the meantime, the 1st Heavy moved to Chattanooga and was here two days before I found out that it was the Regiment which my husband belonged to. I accidentally saw my brother and he told me that Philip was here. He went back and told Phillip that he had found me. Then Philip came and took me with him into camp and introduced to his friends and he prepared a place for me in Camp with him and I cooked for him and my brother Abe. And I still went back and forth and earned my 75 cents a day sewing as before for Mrs. Delaney.

Philip, my husband, was feeling bad one evening and was lying down with his head in my lap, and I noticed that there was a rash breaking out on his face and neck and next morning the doctor, Dr. E. McKnight, pronounced it small pox and sent him to the hospital but would not let me go with him. This was the last I seen of my husband, as he died and was buried away from me.


General Grosverner was at the Reunion of the Army of the Cumberland last September. I went to see him and he recognized me immediately and told me how I missed it by not going north with his wife! I have remained in Chattanooga every since the death of my husband and have not remarried. I am positive that Philip had never any other wife, for his master Alexander Cleage would not permit any of his people to marry outside of his plantation.

I made application for widows Pension in 1885 and from sickness and poverty I have been unable to bear the expenses procuring the needed evidence. I am now informed that my husband’s people are trying to take advantage of my silence and I now ask the honorable commissioner’s recognition of this claim.  I cannot see to sew as I used to do and have been trying to earn a living by washing. I have sewed so long that my eyes are ruined.

Witness J M Sutton

G R Phillips

Katie Cleage (X her mark)

Sworn to and subscribed before me this day, by the above named affiant; I certify that the forgoing affidavit was read over to aforesaid affiant, and it’s contents fully explained.

Witness my hand and official seal this 5 day of Dec 1889 J.A. Holtzlaw Notary Public.

You can read more about the ending of slavery in Eastern Tennessee here -> Slavery Ends in Tennessee


Charles H. Grosvenor

“Colonel (later Brevet Brigadier General) Charles H. Grosvenor took over command of the 18th Ohio Regiment of Veteran Infantry at Chattanooga, TN on October 31, 1864. Earlier Captain Charles H. Grosvenor had been recognized for “gallantry and coolness” under fire when the 18th Regiment made several “brilliant charges” on the second day of the Battle of Chickamauga. The regiment was involved in the occupation of Nashville during Hood’s threat to that city. They followed the pursuit of Hood in the Tennessee River Valley during December 17-28, 1864. During this period the 18th participated in the bloody but successful assault on Overton Hill. Here again, the battle took a heavy toll among the unit’s officers and men. But the heavy fighting was over for the 18th Regiment. They were sent to Columbus, Ohio, and were mustered out on October 22, 1865. General Charles H. Grosvenor returned to Athens (Ohio) where he resumed his law practice.” From the page General Grosvenor

Katie & Philip Cleage

Philip Cleage was born into slavery about 1843 on the plantation of Alexander Cleage in Athens, McMinn County, Tennessee. Philip was the third child of the four known children of Julie Ann Evans. He grew up to work on the farm. Sometimes he drove the coach.

Katie Cleage was born on the Hurst plantation in Mouse Creek, McMinn County, Tennessee. She was the fourth of the seven known children of Hulda Hurst. When Katie was 13, Alexander and Jemima (Hurst) Cleage bought her from Jemima’s brother, Lewis Russell Hurst. She was put to work as the seamstress.

In 1862, when Philip was 19 and Katie was 16, they were married by the slave holder, Alexander Cleage. They had two children together. The first was stillborn. The second died soon after birth.

When Sherman’s army came to the area, Philip and other men from the Cleage plantations joined the 1st U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery (USCT).

As the confusion of war intensified, Katie decided she would leave too. She first went to Cleveland, Tennessee and after working a variety of sewing jobs, eventually ended up in the USCT camp in Chattanooga. She lived on the base with her husband until he died of smallpox on 9 February 1866. In 1883 Katie filed for a widow’s pension. Her life story is told in her depositions and those of members of her community, including others who had been enslaved on the Cleage plantations, neighbors, men who served in the same unit as Philip and members of the slave holding Cleage family.

Using these testimonies and related information I will reconstruct Katie’s life in the coming series of blog posts.

The United States Colored Troops Statue, Washington DC

African American Civil War Memorial, Washington DC

  • Abraham Cleage/Abram Cleag – I have so much new information, waiting to be written up.
  • Charles A. Cleage – I have his pension file and that of his widow, waiting to be written up.
  • George Cleage
  • George Cleage There were two, I have not written up this one yet.
  • Philip Cleage He died of smallpox, but his widow’s pension file is rich in information. Still have to write it up.

All of the men above belonged to the 1st Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery

Organized at Knoxville, Tenn., February 20, 1864. Attached to 2nd Brigade, 4th Division, 23rd Corps, Dept. of Ohio, to February, 1865. 2nd Brigade, 4th Division, District of East Tennessee, Dept. of the Cumberland, to March, 1865. 1st Brigade, 4th Division, District of East Tennessee, to March, 1866.

SERVICE.-Duty at Knoxville, Tenn., till January, 1865. Operations against Wheeler in East Tennessee August 15-25, 1864. Operations in Northern Alabama and East Tennessee January 31-April 24, 1865. Stoneman’s operations from East Tennessee into Southwestern Virginia and Western North Carolina February to April. At Greenville and in District of East Tennessee till March, 1866. Mustered out March 31, 1866.

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, my grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage’s uncle Thomas Allen (formerly Thomas Ray, who later dropped his slave name of “Ray” and took his father’s name of “Allen”), served with the 5h Regiment USCT Calvary.

5th Regiment, United States Colored Cavalry
Organized at Camp Nelson, Ky., October 24, 1864. Attached to 1st Division, District of Kentucky, Dept. of Ohio, to February, 1865. Military District of Kentucky and Dept. of Arkansas, to March, 1866.
Participated in Burbridge’s Raid from Kentucky into Southwestern Virginia September 20-October 17, 1864. Action at Saltsville, Va., October 2. At Lexington, Ky., October 19. Harrodsburg, Ky., October 21. Stoneman’s Raid into Southwestern Virginia December 10-29. Near Marion December 17-18. Capture of Saltsville and destruction of salt works December 20-21. Duty at Ghent, Paducah, LaGrange, Crab Orchard and Camp Nelson till August, 1865, and in the Dept. of Arkansas till March, 1866. Mustered out March 20, 1866.

Regiment lost during service 35 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 1 Officer and 151 Enlisted men by disease. Total 187.


So much new information waiting to be written up, but to see what I have already done, click on the underlined links above.

For more Sepia Saturday posts, click!