“I did not pay much attention”

Deposition T

28th day of July 1890

Jemima Hurst age 52

Jemima Cleage

            I am 76 years of age, the widow of Alexander Cleage, and my post office address is No. 114 Sycamore St. Chattanooga, Tenn.

During the war and prior thereto I lived at Athens, Tenn. My husband Alexander Cleage died January 4th 1875. The claimant Katie Cleage was a slave and belonged to me and was a house servant. She left me sometime after the war began, after the army came here to Chattanooga (Sept. 1863). When she left me she came here to Chattanooga. I saw her once after she left us. That was a short time after the war. She came to Athens to see her friends. I do not know whether she was married at that time. It did not seem like she was married. She did not have any man with her. When she left us during the war she was grown, I do not know how old she was. She was about thirteen years old when we bought her. It was before the war commenced when we bought her. I don’t think we owned her not more than a year – when the war came up. She was a seamstress and I took her in the house. She did not sleep in the house. She had a brother around, Charles and she used to sleep out in his cabin.

A girl named Sally and a girl named Jane done our cooking. We would change them back and forth. Malinda was the children’s nurse. Adeline was a nurse too sometimes. My daughter Mary married before Katie left us and I gave her Adeline. Mary married Alexander Brett, but I do not remember the name of the place in Mississippi where they now live, Mr. Brett is a railroad man and changes about.  Mary married February 22, 1860. After Mary married, Adeline, now Adeline Sherman of Athens, Tenn. never lived with us. Adeline and Katie never slept in my house together. Adeline belonged to another family and slept at their house.

Joe was the principal coachman but Philip Cleage used to take his place. Joe was quite an old man. He went back to Virginia and died there. Philips mother and father lived on the farm and Philip slept at their house. Philip’s mother died there on the farm after the war commenced. He might have lived with Sallie Cleage after that.

I knew Nelson McKaury. He used to preach some. I don’t know when he did die. He was a great man amongst the darkies. I remember hearing them speak of him. I do not know as to whether or not Katie and Philip lived together as husband and wife. Having so many, I did not pay much attention and never changed my mind. I didn’t know just how many slaves we did have, but we had about one hundred. I have no record of births on the plantation.

Yes, Katie had two children during the time she lived with us. Both children were stillborn. Both of the children were black, Katie is a mulatto and Philip was lighter than her. Dr. Atlee was our family physician. I think an old woman named Sallie waited on Katie when she was sick. Adeline Sherman was not living with us when the last child was born., I think she was when the first one was.

No sir, Katie was never attended by Dr. Atlee for any other sickness.  I always waited on the sick myself. Katie never had any other sickness that I know of. I don’t think Katie was ever confined in the quarters or for any punishment or any reason. She never was to my knowledge. I don’t remember whether there was any suggestion as to who was the father of her children. I can’t remember, I don’t remember anything about that. I had no recollection as to whether or not Philip was said to be the father.

I have never heard that the coachman Joe was the father. I don’t know that Katie and Philip associated together. They did not eat inside the lot and they did not stay there, only when called on to wait on us. Oh yes, they might have been together and I not know it.

If they had been given a room in the quarters to live together it looks like I would have known it, but then I might not. My husband never made a practice of marrying his slaves. He generally wanted to have something to say as to who they should marry. Katie’s moral habits were as good as the average slaves, she was not light naturally, but was good looking and passed herself off very well. We did not keep any record of the marriages of our slaves. I do not know of any man with whom Katie did live, she never lived with none that I know of. I have no interest in this claim for a pension. Katie was a truthful girl.

My son John was a boy 14 years old and was at home during the war. My Thomas was away all through the war and for two or three years after. He was cashier of a bank and was ordered to take the bank south and did so. His wife, Mrs. T.A. Cleage Sr. was sent south to him and was not at Athens. I have fully understood all your questions and you have set down my answers correctly.

By Clients Atty’

Q. Did you know of this old man Nelson McKaury going around and marrying the slaves?
A. He used to marry them. I don’t know that he married Katie, I know he used to go around and marry them.

Q. Katie says that you furnished her and Philip with blankets and a room. Do you remember anything about that?
A. Whenever any of our slaves wanted blankets, or needed anything they came to me and I furnished them and I would not remember whether I furnished Katie and Philip or not.

Jemima Cleage
26th July 1890


I found the information used in this post on ancestry.com, Katie Cleage’s Pension file.

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