“We owned a hundred slaves “

Deposition “G”

Case of Katie Cleage
No. 288,39128
March 1890
at Chattanooga, Hamilton, Tennessee

Jemima Cleage
That she is 77 year of age and that her post office address is No. 114 Sycamore St. Chattanooga, Tenn

Jemima Hurst Cleage, age 52

Katie Cleage was my slave from the time she was about 13 years old until she gained her freedom. She had two children while she was my slave, but I know of no marriage by her to any one. Philip Cleage was one of our servants, but I know of no marriage between these two parties. I know of no cohabitation between these parties. We owned a hundred slaves at that time, and I know but very little of any of them. Katie was employed as a seamstress by us, and Philip was our coachman. Philip enlisted in the army and came to Chattanooga, and Katie came here also. I do not know who came first. Philip came back to see us after he had enlisted, but Katie had left in the meantime. I know nothing of either of them after that time. I know of no marriage or cohabitation between them after they left our house at Athens. I have seen Katie occasionally since the war. I know of no children Katie has had since the war. It is since the soldier Philip died of smallpox during the war, I guess it was.

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

Jemima Cleage


Jemima Hurst married Alexander Cleage in 1832. She brought with her four enslaved people. Their names were Anny, Judi (my 2X great grandmother), Jane and Matilda.

In his Will written in 1833, Jemima’s father, Elijah Hurst, left her those four women “… I will and bequeath to my daughter Jemima Cleage and her heirs forever the four negroes (sic) she has had possession of Big Anny, Judi, Jane, and Matilda together with all the other property I have given her.”

Jemima’s husband, Alexander, wrote in his Will “I give and devise to my beloved wife Jemima Cleage for and during her natural life the following described negro (sic) slaves – to wit: … Juda and her five children  to wit: Charles, Angelen, Lewis, Laura and Frank… I also give and bequeath to her for her natural life a negro (sic) man called Frank the husband of Juda…”   30th day of May 1860 Alexander Cleage

Juda and Frank were my 2 X great grandparents. Lewis was my great grandfather. It gives me some comfort to know that they had been free for almost ten years by the time Alexander Cleage died in 1875.


Alexander Cleage’s Last Will & Testiment
Elijah Hurst’s Last Will and Testament

I found the information for this post in Katie Cleage’s Civil War Pension file, on ancestry.com and familysearch.org.

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

10 thoughts on ““We owned a hundred slaves “

    1. Agree with you, Jemima does appear to be a sorry old prune, and has no interest in assisting an old slave that left her. 🙁

      1. Katie is in her 40s. Jemima is in her 70, so Katie was a young person when she left. However, yes, Jemima is not showing much sympathy.

        1. -Yet knew Katie had 2 children born.. -Jemima who would have “known” that “both died young” … and again did not say this in her statement… so as to question – the “marriage/relationship” of Katie to Philip and whose children they could have been eg Father.. Nicely done by the old witch. I do hope that Katie – received a pension, prior to her death… am waiting to find out from you. 🙂

  1. Oh my goodness…so she could swear under oath that she didn’t know something. Seems like a real lack of observation on her part! I can’t believe her position, nor her attitude. And happy belated birthday to your mother yesterday!

    1. Thank you for the birthday wishes. She would have been 96 yesterday.

      The ruling class often doesn’t “see” those they are ruling. As long as things in their world runs smoothly.

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