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.


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

Chifford Shoffeitt
No other available

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

    1. There is more to Charles A.’s story – he told about his civil war experiences on A. And there is more to Edmond too. You have to put all the parts together. And A to Z is not helping me do that as I have to zip around to get the letter of the day in. Starting to drive me nuts.

    1. She had to prove that she was married to the soldier. If she had been married before, she would have to prove that he had died or that they were divorced. Same with him. She had to prove she was married in order to claim her pension.

  1. Martha was fortunate to have a witness who had known her and her husband so well and could testify clearly for her on the points that needed to be satisfied.

    1. Yes she was. She was lucky to live in the same area she’d always lived in surrounded by the people she grew up with.

  2. These depositions are fantastic! A step-ancestor of mine was in the Civil War for only a month then got sick & died. I needed to find out if his wife was still alive and with no other success finally ordered his file. I assumed there would be very little in it no longer than he had served. But it did give me the [near] date of his wife’s death in a deposition of the woman who was present at the birth of the son who the wife died bearing! Well worth it!

    1. The widow’s files are the best anyway. The soldiers files have so many doctors reports saying how bad off they were, although they contain some good info too!

  3. How did you learn that there were these pension files? Or did all the men who had served in the war have individual files? What a treasure trove to come upon? Have they been digitized or are they in paper archives?
    It might be driving you crazy, but it’s fun to read these pieces and to wonder how (or if) they will begin to fit together as we read on.

    1. Yes, that fitting them together. All the men who applied for pensions had them. Or if they died during the war and had a wife, she had a file. I found out when I found my grandmother’s uncle had been in the USCT in Kentucky and someone suggested I order his pension file, which I did.

      A small number of the widow’s pension files are digitalized on Fold3, a military records site. Most of them are in paper files in Washington D.C. and you have to hire someone to go pull them and copy them and send them to you. The first one I did of my uncle was sent to me as a paper file. The Cleage files were all uploaded to the researcher’s website for a limited amount of time and I downloaded them so I had a digital copy of them.

      Now I just have to figure out how these pieces are all going to fit together. I’m writing as I go.

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