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.

Late last year, I ordered the Civil War Pension files of the Cleage men who served in 1st Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery (USCHA), during that 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 pension files for this years challenge.

Nelson Ragan was my great grandmother, Celia Rice Cleage Sherman’s step father. I recently joined Fold3, a military records site owned by Ancestry, to look for information about one of the people in the Katie Cleage’s series. I could not find anything, so I decided to see if there were any interesting widow’s pension files from the same troop. I noticed that Susan Ragan was from Athens.

Her file was not all that interesting compared to Katie’s. However, as I went through it, I noticed a name I recognized – W.R. Sherman, my great grandmother’s second husband. He was writing the authorities concerning final expenses for Susan Regan and he listed himself as her son-in-law. It took me overnight to realize that that would make her my Grandma Celia’s mother. And my previously unnamed 2 X great grandmother.

Inventory of the effects of Nelson Ragan late a private of Captain S. R. Russell’s Company “C” 1st Regt U.S. Colored Artillery (Heavy) who was enrolled as a private at Knoxville in the state of Tennessee on the 18 day of Feby, 1864 and mustered into the service of the United States as a private on the 27th day of February 1864, at Knoxville in Company “C” of the 1st U. S. Colored Arty (Hy) to serve three years or during the war. He was born in McMinn Co. in the state of Tennessee he was 33 years of age, 5 feet 7 inches high, blk complexion, blk hair, blk eyes, and by occupation where enrolled a farmer. He died in Regimental Hospital at Knoxville, Tenn on the 24th day of March 1864 by reason of Typhoid Fever.


No personal effects. Buried in his clothes.

I certify on honor that the above inventory confirms all the effects of Nelson Ragan deceased.

Samuel R. Russell
Capt. Comdg Company

Witness to above
Lieut. Ed. F. Browne

Station Knoxville Tenn
Date March 20, 1864


16 thoughts on “NELSON Regan

    1. I know he didn’t have much to bring with him. He also died of typhoid fever, so they probably destroyed whatever he did have.

  1. What a great find, and what a perfect reminder to look at documents that “seem” related even though the names are not those you already know. That was certainly worth the look.

    1. I have. I feel like I’m running down this year, with lots to say that I’ll have to say later. Maybe some can be squeezed into an upcoming letter as I am writing on the run here.

  2. I’m continually amazed at the number of references you are able to find on your ancestors! I just finished reading the article on “Not Forgotten: Recovering Florida’s Silenced History from Prison.”

    I’d love to do more research on the Moses’ family, but don’t really know how to begin. They do seem to have been well treated by their former owners since they already have land and bank enrollment so soon after the war.

    So much to learn!

    1. Wilson had a skill – he was a plasterer. Two parent households with a skill did much better after freedom. His wife did laundry. They worked hard.

      I wouldn’t lay much to the kindness of their enslavers.

      I loved that article.

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