Category Archives: Tennessee

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.

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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.

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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

George Cleage X 2

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.

Note in the pension file, where both applications reside.

In 2015 I wrote about George Cleage. I thought I had his life figured out. He had served in the United States Colored Troops and had applied for a pension. I sent for his pension along with the others, thinking I would find out more about him. And I did.

When the pension file arrived, it contained the applications of two different men. One George Cleage applied from Athens, Tennessee in 1893. Another George Cleag applied from Corinth, Mississippi in 1894. At first I thought that two George Cleages had served, however there was only one military record so only one of them had served.

From the military records of George Cleage. He is described as “complexion yellow; eyes black; hair black. Click to enlarge

The quote below is from testimony given by Amanda Cleage during her widow’s pension hearing in 1908, gave the names her husband, Abram Cleage’s brothers and sisters.

“The soldier had four brothers, Isaac, Charley, George, Jeff and Jerome Cleag and two sisters Kitty and Sarah Cleag.” Amanda Cleag

This was the George that applied from Athens, TN. He lived his whole life in Athens. He filed his pension application but never followed up on it. He did not appear on the Veteran’s Census of 1890. He was described as “black” on all the U.S. Censuses he appeared in. On the other hand, the military record to the left, describes George Cleage as having a “yellow” complexion.

When Sallie Cleage Marsh gave testimony in Katie Cleage‘s Widow’s Pension case, she mentioned her son George Cleage, who lived in Corinth, Mississippi.

Philip slept in my house upstairs, until he went in the army. He slept with my oldest boy. My boys name was George Cleage, I don’t know whether he is living or not. The last I heard of him he was at Corinth, Mississippi.” Sallie Cleage Marsh

That was the second George and the one that I didn’t discover until I received the pension file. This George appeared in the Veteran’s Census of 1890 living in Alcorn County, Mississippi. He was always designated as “mulatto” in the census records. He filed all of the papers for his file and continued to file, including information that he had an arm amputated because of a war injury. He and his lawyer pursued his case until 1914.

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General Affidavit

State of Mississippi County of Alcorn. Personally appeared before me a Justice of the peace within for the County and state aforesaid George Clegg aged 52 years, a resident of the town of Hightown, County of Alcorn State of Mississippi, who being duly sworn according to law, deoses and says:

That he served in the United States being in Co. I First (col.) Artilery and that he was shot through the hand when on a march between Greenville and Ashville N.C. and about six months afterwards was struck by a piece of shell near Athens Tenn. and Dr. Elic Zander (Alexander) taken his arm off at Athens Tenn.

This is to certify that I requested J. R. Bumpass to write the above in the presents of B. G. Taylor and R. C. Cleagg. I was not prompted in the matter by any other person and did not ??? sign a previously prepared statement.

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

George (his X mark Clegg Affiant

Attest:
B.G. Taylor
R.C. Clegg (note – George Cleag’s adult son)

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I pick George Cleag from Hightower, Alcorn, Mississippi as the true veteran. Neither man ever received a pension.


Frequent Ablutions – a news item

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 files of the Cleage men who served in Co. I, 1st Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery (USCHA), during the Civil 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.


“Clint Cleage and Nelson Gettys, two enterprising gentlemen from Africa, believing in the efficacy of frequent ablutions, have each erected a Bathing House at this place and furnished them in good style, where they will be pleased to wait upon all who may wish to enjoy the “health-inducing shower.” Athens Post, June 2, 1854.

I found this little item while looking for articles about Cleages. I found no other mention of the bathing house and have no idea how it worked. After freedom both men operated various small scale businesses. Clint Cleage was Amanda Cleage’s father and also the father of Addie Cleage, Edmund Sherman‘s wife. I have a bill of sale for him to David Cleage which you can read in this post from the 2015 A-Z “Dick” Cleage. Both Clint Cleage and Nelson Gettys were enslaved at the time of their enterprise.

Clinton Cleage was Sallie Cleage Marsh’s husband. She gave birth to 14 children. He appears on the death certificates of those who died after death records were kept. He also appeared in the bill of sale mentioned above and this newspaper clipping. His daughter Amanda testified at her Widow’s claim hearing that he had a little restaurant in Chattanooga where she was married on her way West. And he appears below in Fanny Cleage Turk’s widow’s pension application. He appears in no census records, no death records and no directories. The last record he appears in was dated 1866. He must have died before 1870, the first census taken that he would have appeared in as a free man.

Clinton Cleage signed his mark attesting that Fanny Cleage Turk was who she claimed to be. Cleage is spelled three different ways in this document.

Widow’s Application for Army Pension

State of Tennessee County of McMinn

On this 7th day of July A.D. 1866, personally appeared before me Clerk of the County Court, A court of Record, within and for the County and State aforesaid, Mrs Fanny Turk a resident of the town of Athens in the State of Tennessee aged forty one years, who, being first duly sworn according to law, doth on her oath make the following declaration, in order to obtain the benefit of the provision made by the act of Congress approved (blank) That she is the widow of Isaac Turk, deceased who was a drummer in Company “A” commanded by Captain A. B. Elliotts in the 1st Regiment of U.S.C. Heavy Artillery commanded by Colonel John E. McGowan in the war of 1861 who died whilst the service aforesaid, at Knoxville in the State of Tennessee, on or about the 16th day of June A.D. 1864, from effects of disease in the service, while in the line of duty. She further declares that she was married to the said Isaac Turk in the town of Athens in the State of Tennessee on the 1st day of August in the year 1864; and that her name before her said marriage was Fanny Clage that her husband, the aforesaid Isaac Turk died on the day mentioned, and that she has remained a widow ever since that period, as will more fully appear by reference to the proof herewith accompanying or to be hereafter filed. She also declares that she had not in any manner, been engaged in, or aided or abetted, the rebellion in the United States. She irrevocably appoints A.J. Johnson of Knoxville Tennessee her attorney, with full power of substitution and revocation on his part in her said behalf, and authorizes him to receive the Pension Certificate when issued. Her Post Office is at Athens in the County of McMinn in the State of Tennessee. That her domicile or place of abode is near the Court House in Athens, Tennessee, and on the south side of the street from the Court House. That she has no children by her late husband Isaac Turk. She also states on her oath that Isaac Turk was a slave and remained as such until after the 19th day of April 1861.

Fanny (her X mark) Turk (applicant)

Attest: A. J. Ivans. Henry Rowley

Sworn to, subscribed and acknowledged before me, the day and year first above written, and also personally appeared Henry Rowley and Clinton Clage residents of the town of Athens in the State of Tennessee persons whom I certify to be responsible and entitled to credit, and who, being by me duly sworn, say that they were present and saw Mrs. Fanny Turk make her mark to the foregoing declaration; and they further swear that they have every reason to believe, from the appearance of the applicant and their acquaintance with her, that she is the identical person she represents herself to be, and that they have no interest in the prosecution of this claim. They further state that the foregoing declaration and this affivadit were read over to, fully explained and understood by them before the signing and execution thereof.

Attest: A. J. Ivans.
Two Witnesses:
Henry Rowley
Clinton (his X mark) Clage

Sworn to and subscribed before me, this 7th day of July A.D. 1866, and I hereby…..

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I wondered why I had no comments and checked and somehow I had turned of “allow comments”! It’s back on now.


EDMOND Shermon -“Charles A. Cleage was married twice.”

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 files of the Cleage men who served in Co. I, 1st Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery (USCHA), during the Civil 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.

Below is testimony given by Edmond Sherman in the widow’s pension hearing for Charles A. Cleage‘s widow, Martha Kieth Cleage.

U.S. Colored Troops 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment, Knoxville Tennessee. I like to think the men I studied are pictured here.

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Deposition F
Case of Martha Cleage

18 February, 1909
Athens, Tennessee.

Edmond Sherman

I am about 74 years old. Laborer, P.O. Athens Tennessee. I have known Martha Cleage and Charles A. Cleage ever since Charles was young and ever since Martha was a baby. Charles A. Cleage was married twice. His first wife was Amy. He and Amy were living together when I first knew him. Amy Cleage died some years before the war, but I don’t remember what year it was. I was at her funeral and know she died some years before the war.

A year or two after Amy died, Charles A. Cleage married Martha Kieth. I was not at their wedding but I know they were married for I heard of it at the time and have often been at their home since and know that they lived together and recognized each other as husband and wife until he died.

I know that Martha Keith was never married before she was married to Charles A. Cleage for I had known her from her babyhood and she was young when she was married. I know that Martha has never been married but the one time and if Charles A. Cleage was ever married before he was married to Amy, I never heard of it, though I did not know him until after he and Amy were married. But I know that he was never married after Amy died except to this claimant Martha Cleage.

Charles A. Cleage belonged to Co A 1 U.S.C.H.A. and I belonged to Co. C of the same regiment. I have lived near Charles A. and Martha Cleage ever since they were married and I know they lived together until his death and that she has not remarried since his death.

I have no interest in this case. I have understood and heard above read and am correctly recorded. I cannot write.

Edmond (his X mark) Sherman
Deponent

Wittness
Chifford Shoffeitt
No other available

CHARLES A. CLEAGE “I was a sound man when I enlisted”

Through the pension files, I have 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.

In 2016 I discovered Thomas Allen, a previously unknown by me, uncle of my grandmother Pearl Cleage. Thomas Allen served in the United States Colored Troops. I used his pension file as the basis for my 2017 A – Z. This year I ordered the files of the Cleage men who served in Co. A, 1st Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery (USCHA), during the Civil War.

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.

Charles A. Cleage’s Grave stone in Hammond’s Cemetery, Athens, McMinn County, TN

You can read the 2015 post about Charles A. and Martha Cleage at this linkCharles A. Cleage.

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Deposition D

26 August 1890
Athens, McMinn, Tennessee

Charles A. Cleage.

My age is 73 years. Occupation farmer. P.O. address Athens, McMinn Co. Tenn. I was a private in Co. “A” 1 U.S.C.H.A. Enlisted in February 1864 at Knoxville and was mustered out with Company at Chattanooga, Tenn, March 31, 1866. I was a sound man when I enlisted. Had never had any severe sickness before I enlisted. Never had rheumatism or palpitation of heart or shortness of breath before that event.

I claim pension on account of palpitations of heart, contracted in service and line of duty at Roane Creek Gap in Upper Tennessee after we got the news of the surrender of Richmond Va. In the Spring of 1865. I had no sign of the disease before that time. Had never attended sick call but one time before that date. Attended sick call one time at Knoxville Tenn. on account of diarrhea. Had recovered from diarrhea before the attack of palpitation of heart. I had the diarrhea for which I attended sick call in the Spring following my enlistment.

I was attacked with palpitations of heart under the following circumstances. Our regiment, with a number of white troops under General Stoneman (I think) were going to North Carolina. When encamped at or about, Roane Creek Gap, we heard of the capture of Richmond by the Federal Forces, and the artillery were ordered to fire salute in honor of the event. I was on guard duty on post, about from 50 to 75 yards from where the artillery fired the salute. I think there were twelve pieces of horse artillery in line, I don’t know how many rounds were fired. The first round was fired unexpectedly to me, and I was shocked to such an extent as to cause bleeding at the nose, a heavy roaring in my right ear and giddiness that has followed me ever since.

When the relief guard came, I was excused from further duty for the time and sent to my camp. I was not placed in hospital. We had no hospital at Roane Creek Gap. We only remained there about three days after hearing of the surrender of Richmond. We then came back to Greenville Tenn, remained there about a month and then went on to Ashville N.C. and again came back to Greenville. I remained with the Co. all that time. Marched with the Co. to Ashville and between, I was never in hospital while I was in the service, we were at Chattanooga from September 1865 till mustered out in March 1866.

I had an attack of palpitation of the heart a few days after the shock from the Artillary salute occurred. I had the palpitations of heart at Chattanooga Tenn, at times and was put on light-duty on account of it. I did not attend sick call at Chattanooga but Lieut Harrod of my Co. gave me a prescription to get some pills at a store in Chattanooga.  Yes Sir, he knew I had palpitations of the heart, knew it because I told him of it. He and the captain ordered me to be put on light duty. When I was discharged I was troubled with shortness of breath and giddiness of head. The first noted attack of palpitations of heart, that I had after my discharge was in the summer following that event.

Yes sir, I had an attack of acute disease after my discharge. Before that attack of palpitation of heart, I had the small pox here at Athens, Tenn in May following discharge. I was working at carpentering when I was taken with small pox. Was working for James Turner (deceased) Don’t know how I contracted small pox, had not been about where small pox was since my discharge. Yes I had a pretty severe attack of small pox, think I was in bed about six weeks with it.

Can’t say just how long it was after the small pox before I had an attack of palpitation of the heart, but it was in harvest time that summer. I went out to do some mowing, when the palpitations came on and I had to quit. The attacks have gradually grown more frequent. I want it understood that I had palpitations of heart while I was in the service as stated, but did not have an attack after discharge until after I had the small pox. I don’t know that any persons, or commands engaged in firing the salute on the fall of Richmond, but the horse artillery. Our regiment carried muskets at the time. We did not join in the firing. I think it was generally known in the Co. that I had palpitations of the heart after that salute was fired.

Yes, I had some pains in my shoulders and arms while in service, and also had pains in my knees when we had hard marching. Don’t know whether the pains were caused by rheumatism, I have these pains more or less ever since. I have never been able to do a full days work since I was discharged. Was partially disabled before I had small pox. Can’t say how much I was disabled before that time, but by the way I felt when at work, I think I was fully one fourth disabled for purposes of manual labor before the time I had small pox.

Yes, I have heard you read over the depositions of James Hurst, Thomas Bradford, Nelson Cate, Amos Jackson, Thomas Lillard, Catherine D.Keith, Charles F. Keith, and Mrs Martha M. Cleage. Don’t wish to introduce any other witnesses. I wish to be notified if the claim is further examined elsewhere. A.W. Bellew of Lily Band Ga. Is my Atty. I made no contract or agreement as to fee with him. Have paid him nothing, I have no complaint to make, as to conduct, manner of fairness of the examination of my claim. I understood your questions.  My answers are correctly recorded in this deposition.

Charles A. (his X mark) Cleage Deponent

Attest Joseph Matthews

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BOTH BURIED in Plot 40

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.

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Abraham/Abram Cleage, Amanda’s husband, died at the Long Beach City Hall in April 1908. A newspaper account is below. He was buried in the Long Beach Municipal Cemetery in a well attended funeral. His granddaughter, Avalon Pierce, age 14 who was being raised by Amanda and Abram, died of tuberculosis in October of the same year. She is buried in the same plot as her grandfather. I received some comfort from finding that they were buried close together. His gravestone was vandalized some years ago. There is now talk of replacing it.

Map of lots in the Long Beach Municipal Cemetery.
Click to enlarge
His father’s name was Jim Hurst (not Hearse) but Abram went by Cleage
Click to enlarge

Died at Work at City Hall

Aged janitor afflicted with acute indigestion and heart failure.
Long Beach Press, April 14, 1908
Had Long Served City
Abram Cleag, Colored, Friend of Many Administrations, Suddenly Stricken

A few minutes before seven o’clock this morning Abram Cleag, of 903 East Eleventh street, the old colored janitor who for many years has served the city most acceptable and faithfully as janitor of the city hall, died in the office of the tax and license collector where he had been taken by members of the police department and Dr. J. W. Wood who had been called a few moments before to attend him.

Mr. Cleag was not well this morning and feeling unable to do the work of sweeping and cleaning up around the city hall was accompanied to the building by his wife and granddaughter who were doing the work.

When Officer McMillan came to headquarters a few minutes before six o’clock he found the aged colored man sitting on the front steps of the building. He was very sick at that time and said so in response to McMillan’s greeting. But he did not want a doctor. A little later he went inside and sat on a chair and soon became so much worse that a physician was called regardless of the sick man’s desires. It was less than half an hour after the arrival of the physician that Mr. Cleag had died, suffering considerably before his death. His death was due to acute indigestion and heart trouble. The body was taken to Allen Walker’s undertaking parlors.

Members of the city hall force contributed to a fund this morning to buy flowers for the funeral of Mr. Cleag as a tribute to his faithful service at the city hall as janitor.

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Abraham Hearse (Hurst) was the real name of the man who was born in slavery at Athens, Tennessee, about 1840. He served in slavery until the emancipation proclamation of Present Lincoln freed the slaves and immediately thereafter enlisted in the heavy artillery at Knoxville, Tennessee, serving through the war and being mustered out at Chattanooga at the close of the war.

Soon after the war he was married and came west, stopping first in Texas and later coming to California. The family owned a home in Los Angeles which they sold about four years ago and bought the home in which they have been living here.

Hearse (Hurst) was drawing a pension from the United States government on account of his service in the war.

Deceased went by the name of Cleag because he was owned by a man of that name in his slave days.

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Yesterday’s post Amanda Cleage talked about Abram’s wife.

AMANDA Cleage

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.

Since that time I have learned that their lives were much richer and more complex than I could learn from census, death and other records. Some of the suppositions I made were wrong.

Historical Society Long Beach Cemetery Tour 2018 – Zadie Cannon as Amanda Cleage
Photo by Kayte Deioma

In August last year, I received a comment on this blog from Roxanne Padmore of the Historical Society of Long Beach offering me information about the death of Abraham Cleage. Of course I was! We began several months of sharing information and gathering more about Abraham and Amananda who had relocated from Athens, TN to Austin, TX to Los Angeles, CA and finally (for Abraham) Long Beach, CA.

The Historical Society puts on a graveside reenactment at the end of October in Long Beach Municipal Cemetery, where Abraham is buried. Abraham was highlighted in the past but in 2018 they wanted to tell the story from Amanda’s point of view.

After sharing newspaper articles and information from records and speculating, we ordered Abram’s and Amanda’s Civil War Pension files. The information we found there changed the narrative significantly and prompted me to order the pension files for other men who served with Abram Cleage and their widows in Company I, 1st Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery, during the Civil War.

You can read the original “A” post from 2015 by clicking this link Abraham and Amanda Cleage. We will begin with Amanda Cleage as she talks about her life with Abram Cleage in this Deposition from her pension file.

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Deposition A

Amanda Cleag
25 May 1909
Long Beach, County of Los Angeles, California

I am 58 years of age. My post office address is No. 903 East 11th Street Long Beach, Calif. – Occupation, Domestic. I am claiming a pension under the Act of April 19, 1908, as the widow of Abram Cleag, who served in CO I, 1st U.S.C. Heavy Artillery, during the Civil War.

My husband, the soldier, enlisted in said organization in Knoxville, Tenn., July 12, 1864,, and was mustered out in Chattanooga, Tenn., March 31, 1866, as shown by his discharge certificate now in my possession and exhibited to you.

So far as I know, my late husband only rendered this one U.S. service, either military, naval or marine.

My husband was pensioned under the Act of June 27, 1890, Certificate No. 1064324, at the rate of $6 per month before his death, and I now hand you his pension certificate and an unexecuted voucher for filing in my pension claim.

I am not a pensioner, but I have this one pension application pending. I was married to the soldier under maiden name of Amanda Armstrong, in Chattanooga, Tenn., in about the winter of 1868. The soldier had been out of the army about two (2) years when we were married. I can’t fix the time any better than that. No, we were not married in Athens, Tenn. in the year 1862, as stated by my husband, the soldier, during his lifetime, in his marital history circular. No, I did not marry him before he went into the army. It was after he came out of the army – two years afterwards.

We were both then traveling with some white people, Mr. Ben E. Tucker and wife and children, on our way from Athens, Tenn. to Austin, Texas, and the soldier and I got off the train at Chattanooga, Tenn., and were married by a colored preacher, Rev. Henry Rowley, of the Methodist Church. Yes, sir, they gave me a marriage certificate, but I lost it here in Los Angeles, some way unknown to me.

My father, Clinton Armstrong, and brother Robert Armstrong, both then of Chattanooga, Tenn., but now both dead, were witnesses to my said marriage to the soldier. No one else was present. We were married in my father’s little restaurant in Chattanooga, but can’t give the exact locality. My father and brother used to go by the surname Cleag too, as he used to own us. We had to change cars at Chattanooga, Tenn., for Texas, and lay over there for about 2 hours, and that was when the soldier and I were married. I can’t say, whether or not a license was obtained authorizing our marriage. No, I do not know whether or not there is a public record of my marriage to the soldier.

I had known the soldier all my life, before my marriage to him. I was raised and owned by Thomas Cleage, near Athens, Tenn., and my husband was raised and owned by Alexander Cleag, the father of Thomas Cleag. I meant to say that I lived in Athens, Tenn. where I grew up. My owner, Thomas Cleag, having a wholesale dry goods store there, and my husband, the soldier was raised on the farm of Alec Cleag, near Athens., Tenn. Husband was a good deal older than I, but I knew him when I was a slave. He was bought in by our people from Russell Hurst, before the war. My father was raised by the Amstrongs and then sold to David Cleag, Alec Cleag’s brother. The Cleags never sold any of their slaves.

When General Sherman’s army came into Tennessee the Cleags were held as prisoners of war as they wouldn’t take the oath of allegiance, and they were sent North and I do not know whether or not, they – or any of them ever got back to Tennessee. I never saw any of them around there after the war was over.

One Thing Leads to Another

This is my 6th year participating in the A to Z blogging challenge. You can find the other 5 years at this link A to Z posts. And this link will take you to other Theme Reveals.

This post reveals my theme for A-Z 2019

During this A to Z Challenge I will, as usual, be focusing on family history. I want to do two things. First, I want to show that finding one document can lead you to other information in ways you never expected. Second, I want to follow some of those leads to bring more humanity to the formerly enslaved Cleages of Athens, McMinn County Tennessee, and their community.

During the past year I have completed two long running investigations where I posted daily, for 42 days each. In the first I used letters written by my grandmother, Pearl Reed Cleage, to her friend, Homer, from 1903 to 1905. In the second I used testimony from Katie Cleage’s Widow’s Pension File to tell her story in the words of those involved.

While doing them I learned the value of a good title. I hope that this knowledge will stand me in good stead during this year’s challenge and give me a little more leeway in presenting the posts in both alphabetical and time order.

Dropped from the rolls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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