“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


I found the information for this post in Katie Cleage’s Civil War Pension file.

For links to the other posts in this series, click this link – Katie Cleage’s Pension Hearing

4 thoughts on ““My husband purchased her when quite a child…”

  1. Wow. Just wow.

    Happy and sad for you in finding this, Kristin. I’m still waiting/hoping to find some mention of my enslaved ancestors anywhere other than in wills/probate/administration records.

    Thanks for sharing.


    1. Katie isn’t actually my ancestor, she and my ancestors were part of the same enslaved community on the Cleage plantations. I did find a mention of my 2x great grandmother, Juda Cleage, in one of the testimonies. Even without that though, there is so much information that I now have a feeling for what it was like in that time and on that plantation. Invaluable. Probate records and Wills are good for placing ancestors in a particular place for sure and certain, but these pension files put flesh on the bones. Have you looked to see if any of the other enslaved on the same plantations with your ancestors joined the USCT?

  2. Superbly amazing that you found someone who shared space with your own ancestor! Tough to have both her babies stillborn, women had to go through so much hardship and grief.

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