“She is a steady, hard working woman”

Unknown woman ironing

Deposition F

14 June 1890

Millie Valentine

I am about 75 or 76 years of age, a washerwoman and ironer and my post office address is No.____ Cedar St. (between 5th and 6th in rear of street) Chattanooga, Tenn. 

I have been well acquainted with the claimant better than fifteen years. I have been a near neighbor to her, within sight of her house ever since I knew her. She keeps house and takes in washing all the time. She has two children in her family, the oldest one is between six and seven years I think. That is all there is in her family. The claimant has never been married since I have known her. She does not live with any man as his wife, if she ever did I didn’t know it. I do not know who the two children belong to. Why, she is the mother of them. There never has been any notoriety about her manner of living. There has never been any scandal or talk about it that I ever heard. She is a steady, hard working woman.

I am not related to her. I have no interest at all in this claim for a pension. I have fully understood all your questions and my answers have been correctly recorded.

Millie (her mark X) Valentine


Millie Valentine was born into slavery in 1825 in North Carolina. She ended up in Tennessee and lived in Chattanooga from at least the 1870 census until her death. In the 1870 census on ancestry.com, Millie appeared in the index to be living by herself. On the actual census form, I could see that she was living with her daughter Anne, her son-in-law Samuel King and their children Harriett and Andrew. There was another couple living there too. I was unable to determine a link between them and Millie, although there may have been one.

Twenty-one year old Samuel was literate and worked as a laborer. Annie was also twenty-one and could read but not write. She and Millie did domestic work. The two children were less than two years old. Samuel died at home of consumption in 1877. Annie died in 1879, also of consumption.

In the 1880 census 56 year old Millie was working as a laundress. Three grandchildren lived with her. Andrew was ten, Henry was eight and Minnie was seven. All of the children were in school. Granddaughter Harriett who appeared in the 1870 census, was not there and I fear she, like her parents, had died. She would have been eleven.

Looking at Chattanooga City Directories, we see that Millie continued to work as a laundress . Her grandsons lived with her. Andrew worked as a hackman and Henry as a laborer. Andrew died from consumption in 1894. He was twenty-four years old. Millie died the following year from chronic bronchitis. She was about 78 years old. I saw no more of granddaughter Minnie King.

Millie’s surviving grandson, Henry King married Cora Dixon in 1895. Henry worked as a laborer. They had six children. Three of them died before 1900. The surviving children were Harthenia King, born 1897; Lee R. King, born 1903; William King born 1906.

Tragically, two of them died before they reached adulthood. Harthenia was fourteen when she died of pneumonia in 1915. The death certificate stated that she had also a spinal disease that caused great suffering two years before she died. Twelve year old William F. King died from appendicitis In 1918 . Lee R. King was the only son that survived childhood.


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

2 thoughts on ““She is a steady, hard working woman”

    1. This is from a Civil War Pension file. They have pension files for the other wars too. I found information about his service on ancestry and also found his pension card, where Katie Cleage had applied for a pension as his widow. You have to have the card because it has the number of the file on it. I paid a researcher to pull the file at the National Archives in Washington, DC and I received a digital copy of all of the papers in the file. These testimonies were in the file. This file has so much testimony because Katie had to prove she had been married to him when he wasn’t there to say he was married to her and there were no documents to verify their marriage. Not all of the files have this much great testimony, but they all have information I didn’t know before and have helped me connect family members to each other. I have about 6 of these files for men formerly enslaved on one of the Cleage plantations in Athens, TN.

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