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African-American Genealogy & Slave Ancestry Research Kentucky Reeds Slavery

Thomas Ray Allen 1847 – 1907

This is an introduction to Thomas Ray Allen. The other posts during the A to Z Challenge will expand on details mentioned here.

Thomas Ray Allen was born into slavery about 1845 on Foster Ray’s plantation in Lebanon, Marion County Kentucky.  Thomas’ mother, Clara was sixteen years old. His father’s name was Louis Allen.  Two years later his sister Sarah was born and two years after that his sister Annie (my great grandmother) was born. Slave holder Foster Ray was a farmer/merchant with lands in Kentucky, Missouri and Illinois.

Foster died in January 15, 1863 leaving everything to his wife Marietta Phillips Ray and his nephew Nicholas Ray. Unfortunately there is no probate list naming the enslaved.

Troops at Camp Nelson in May 1864

On August 15, 1864 Thomas enlisted as “Thomas Ray” in Company D, 5th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops – Calvary in Lebanon Kentucky.  He was 18 years old, 5 ft 5 in. with black hair, black eyes and copper complexion. Occupation given as “farmer”.  On March 25, 1865 Thomas was appointed bugler.  The bugler’s job was to sound directions to the troops when there was too  much confusion and noise for the commanders to issue orders by mouth.

On Thomas’ enlistment papers Addison Taylor of Marion County is listed as his slave owner, however in his pension file Thomas says several times that Foster Ray was his only former owner.  Foster Ray and Addison Taylor, who lived in the adjoining counties of Casey and Marion Kentucky, were cousins.

From March 14 through 18 Thomas was relieved from duty after falling from his horse and receiving a concussion. On March 19, he was returned to duty as they found nothing else wrong with him.  On August 15, 1866 Thomas was mustered out in Helena Arkansas, along with the rest of his regiment.

He returned to Lebanon Kentucky and in the 1870 census was living with his younger sister Sarah Ray Primus, her husband Felix and their young children. Felix and Thomas were both laborers.

On 9 March 1871 Thomas Ray and Georgiana McDougal (aka Martin) were married in her home county of Larue, Kentucky.  Her older brother Thomas MacDougal had also served in the USCT, although he was part of a different company.

Thomas Ray appears in the Indianapolis City Directory in 1877 as a hostler, a stableman who cares for horses. In January of 1878 he and his first wife Georgiana were divorced.  About 1879 he was introduced to the woman who would be his second wife, Katy Wiley by a mutual friend, Lottie Sullivan.  About this time Thomas decided to stop using the surname “Ray”, his former enslaver’s name.  He began to  go by his father’s surname, “Allen”.  He explained his choice in his Will here, Thomas Allen – Last Will and Testament.

Finding this envelope addressed to my grandmother C/o Mrs. Katy Allen sent me on a search to find out who Katy Allen was and from there to discover my USCT Uncle Thomas Allen.

Thomas Allen and Katy Wily were married by Rev. Jacob R. Raynor, a local Baptist minister on March 5, 1880.  In 1887, they were living in the cottage at 2157 N. Capital, which they bought and lived in until his death in 1907 and Katy’s move back to Ohio near the end of her life.

By 1887 his niece and nephew, George and Sallie Reed, had moved to Indianapolis. They were soon followed by their mother, his sister Anna Reed and the rest of her family by 1894.  They shared his home for several years.

In August of 1890 Thomas was 45 years old and approved for a military pension of $12 a month due to total deafness of the right ear and disease of digestive organs. In 1894 his pension was inexplicably dropped to $6 a month. Over the next 13 years he fought to have it raised to at least $8 a month, to no avail. He was examined by doctors who documented his deteriorating health.

Family members, former United States Colored Troop members and friends from throughout the years testified regularly that he was who he claimed to be, and that Thomas Ray and Thomas Allen were one and the same.  The also testified that he was ill and debilitated. Because this was long after slavery was over and he was living far from the place where he had been enslaved, nobody from the same plantation testified for him.

In 1904 the doctors found him to be suffering rheumatism, chronic diarrhea and disease of the stomach. His pension remained at $6. By 1906 Dr. John W. Norrel gave evidence that Thomas’ ailments made it impossible for him to support himself.  By July 1907, the medical testimony declared that he was in much worse shape and would not last much longer without some relief.

At age 60, on September 16, 1907, Thomas Allen died at home in his own bed.  He left his wife to apply for a pension as a surviving widow, which she did successfully.  Neither he nor she had any children.  In the 1910 census, Katy Allen was living in the same house and doing laundry to supplement her pension. She died in 1915.

 

Categories
African-American Genealogy & Slave Ancestry Research Kentucky Reeds

Making Connections

Last year I made contact with one of my DNA matches on 23 & Me, but I did not know how we were related because I  did not know that the name Primus was part of my family tree at that time.

Click to enlarge documents below. To navigate back to the blog post, click on the arrow up there at the top of the page.

My grandparents – Dr. Albert Buford Cleage  and Pearl Doris Reed in 1909 outside of Witherspoon United Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana during the time the letters were written.

In November of 2016, during “National Novel Writing Month” I was working on writing a book  using my grandfather Dr. Albert B. Cleage’s letters to my future grandmother, Pearl Reed Cleage.

At one point he was sending letters to my grandmother c/o Katy Allen. I couldn’t find Katy Allen the first time I looked a few years ago when I was first blogging about the letters.

I took another look and found Kate Allen in the Indianapolis directory.

Using Katy Allen’s address I was able to find her in the 1900 census, along with her husband Thomas Allen.

Looking at his death certificate, I was stunned to find that “Clara Green” was listed as his mother.  That was my great grandmother Anna Ray Allen Reed’s mother. Thomas Allen was her brother.

I found Thomas Ray in the 1870 census living with Sarah Primus/Prymous. Family relationships are not given in the 1870 census.  I had experienced family members living together without being identified as such before and wondered if Thomas and Sarah were siblings.

I set up a tree for Sarah and the Primus family and eventually found a death certificate for one of the children where Sarah’s maiden name was given as “Ray”, which was Thomas’  last name before he changed it from the slave owner’s surname of “Ray” to his father’s name, “Allen”.  Read about that name change in his Will here.

My grandmother’s handwritten family tree gives her grandmother’s name as “Clara Hoskins.” I was never able to find her using that name because she was married to James Green in the 1870 and 1880 census and using Clara Green.

I had found Perry and Rachael Hoskins living near Clara in the 1870 and 1880 census. They had also been free and enumerated in the 1860 census. I decided to take another look at them.

Although the Death Records for Marion County do not include the 1880 and 1890, I found their graves in Find-a-grave. And I found their Wills.

Perry died first. He left everything to his wife Rachael. Racheal left money to St. Augustine Catholic Churches priest and for the upkeep of her husband’s grave. She also left $20 each to Sarah Jane Primus and Anna Reed.  Unfortunately she did not mention any relationship with them.

One day recently, I received an email from 23 & Me.  I had 80 new relatives waiting to discover our link. I decided to go look and see who they were.

I have not checked 23 & Me recently because I can never make the connections between the DNA and my tree.  I wrote a contact who matched me, my aunt Gladys and several of my second cousins in the Reed line. She wrote back and gave me two names that didn’t mean anything to me. Then she added the message “Also look for the name Primus or Promise. My dad’s great grandmother was Sue (Susan) Rae Primus”.  PRIMUS! Just the family I had been looking for a connection with!

You can see Susan Primus up in the 1870 census as a nine year old. I had found Susan, one of Sarah’s daughters, but I had not found her marriage record, so her married name meant nothing to me, but Primus! These were the very people I had spent the last couple of months researching!  And because I had done all that research, I knew who they were.  The connection between two of my great great grandmother’s children has been made.

Now I want to find the link between Perry and Rachael Hoskins and my great great grandmother Clara.

You can find other blog posts about Anna Ray Allen Reed and family here The Reeds