Category Archives: Tennessee

“Miss Kate Cleage of Chattanooga recently received…”

“Miss Kate Cleage of Chattannoga, recently received $3,000 pension from the government”
From- “State Capital” Springfield, IL This included back pension from 1866 forward

According to the inflation calculator, $3,000 in 1892 would be equivalent to $83,332 in today’s dollars.

$8 a month commencing February 20, 1866 and $12 month March 19, 1886. Thomas Giffe, recognized attorney receives a fee of $10.

There is no information about how Katie Cleage’s life changed after receiving her pension. She does not appear in any more news stories.


Information from Katie Cleage’s Pension file. The newspaper clipping is from

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

Appeal Allowed

The Commissioner of Pensions,


I return herewith the papers in the claim of Katie Clegg, No. 288,391, examined in connection with an appeal entered from the adverse action of your Bureau.

The records of the War Department show a service of the soldier from Feb. 4, 1864, to Feb. 19, 1866, when he died by reason of small pox.

The appellant filed her claim for a pension, as the widow of the soldier, in 1881, and the same was rejected in 1891, upon the ground that the claimant was not the legal widow of the soldier.

The contention of the appeal is that an injustice was done the appellant by the adverse action of your Bureau, and that in fact she is the widow of the soldier upon whose death the claim for a pension is made.

The claimant and the soldier were both slaves, and the only ceremony of marriage which is claimed to have been preformed was by the master, and in the period when both were held as slaves.

The claim of this alleged widow has been twice referred for a special investigation, to determine the question of slave or other marriage.

From the evidence thus obtained and otherwise filed in the case, it appears that this claimant and the soldier were both owned by one master in company with about one hundred other slaves. The claimant then being a house-servant, (seamstress), and the soldier a wagoner and sometimes acting as a coachman.

Neither of these two persons are shown by the evidence on file as having had martial relations with any of the other slaves, nor will the evidence in the case show as a fact that these two persons, while slaves, had martial relations, or were in any sense considered as husband and wife.

Whether as a fact, the claimant and the soldier were married by the master, in accordance with the customs of slave times, cannot be proven, in as much as the master is dead and no witnesses were present when the alleged ceremony was performed. It is shown by witnesses, whose testimony cannot be ignored, that the claimant and the soldier, at the date of his death, were recognized as husband and wife, and no good reason appears why this relation, at said date, is not as fully warranted as it might have been or possibly was, prior to the date of enlistment.

At the time the slaves, who were upon the plantation were this claimant and the soldier were owned, were dispersed by the advent of the Union Army in 1863, this claimant went to Chattanooga, and after the regiment to which the soldier belonged went to Chattanooga and was stationed there, these two parties met, and from this time they assumed the relation of husband and wife. That this relation was known and recognized by the soldier’s comrades and officers is clearly established – one of the regulations of the camp being, that none but married women whose husbands were stationed therein could be admitted. This claimant is shown by the evidence to have been admitted to the camp and to have occupied quarters therein with the soldier, as his wife; and it is also shown that she was with him when he was removed to the hospital. The relation which thus existed, and was recognized as lawful in these two parties, is one which Sec. 4705, R. S. apparently contemplates; and while this relation is not established as having existed in fact at the date of enlistment, yet, during a portion of the period of the soldier’s service it existed and so existed at the date of his death.

Some doubt has been thrown upon the merits of this case by the negative testimony of the claimant’s former mistress, who does not remember the circumstances surrounding the slave life of the claimant and the soldier; but, in this respect, she also expresses ignorance as regards the other slaves who were owned by her husband. It further appears that, in 1872, the hon. Second Auditor of the Treasury paid to a brother and sister of the soldier arrears of pay, upon evidence to him satisfactory as to the fact of the soldier’s celibacy. One of the witnesses was the former owner of the soldier, and when the soldier died in 1866, the laws of many of the Southern states did not recognize the marriage of people of color.

The pension laws recognize a condition as sufficient to admit a pensionable status and the condition of this claimant at the date of the soldier’s death is held as coming within the purview of Sec. 4705, R. S., and therefore, the action of rejection of the appellant’s claim is overruled and set aside.

You are therefore requested to issue a certificate for a pension in favor of the appellant as the widow of the deceased soldier.

Very respectfully,

Cyrus Bussij
Assistant Secretary

“and thus they were separated forever”

Claimant’s Appeal to the Secretary of the Interior

Atty Thomas Giffe

State of Tennessee County of Hamilton in the matter of claim for Widow’s Pension No. 288 -391 Katie Cleage claimant. On this Apr 6 1891.

Personally came before me Notary Public in and for aforesaid County and State the said Katie Cleage, Widow of Philip Cleage alias Klegg late a sergeant of Company A 1st U.S.C. artillery heavy volunteers a citizen of the town of Chattanooga, county of Hamilton State of Tennessee, well known to me to be reputable and entitled to credit and who, being duly sworn declares in relation to the aforesaid case as follows:

That her claim or widow’s pension, having been rejected for the following reasons: that the evidence fails to show that she is the lawful widow of the soldier, or was ever married to him.

It has been shown that ever since the death of her husband that her sister-in-law and her brothers-in-law has been trying to supplant her and cheat her out of her just dues. And she believes that they have imposed upon the Hon. 2nd auditor by stating that the soldier had no wife and did they, perhaps, receive the pay, which was justly and rightly due to her. And she is willing and anxious to submit to the strictest scrutiny of this case. And therefore the Claimant appeals for a reconsideration of her Claim for the reason that gross injustice has been done to her in the rejection of this her claim.

As it has been shown that she was a poor ignorant slave, young and childish, about 14 years of age when Mr. Cleage, her master insisted that she should marry Philip, another slave and while Mrs. Cleage was absent home, he – the master – read something, or at least had a book in his hand, and told them that they were married. And as her master is dead and her husband is dead and she has been unable to find any person who was present at the time except other slaves.

She has proven that they were furnished by her mistress, Mrs. Cleage, with a cabin in which to live, that two children were born to them, that the soldier acknowledged her as his wife that they were recognized by officers and others to be husband and wife, that they were permitted to room together in camp when all women not having husbands in the Regiment were ejected and that she insisted on accompanying him to the pest camp to wait upon him and minister to him, but was denied that privilege and thus they were separated forever.

And she had remained his widow these 25 long years, and when at last she asks for her lawful rights she is asked to prove her marriage, a thing which was never at that time recognized by the white people or slave owners, except that it served to keep them at home, by making them believe that they were married.

She hereby appoints, with full power of substitution and revocation, Thomas Giffe of Chattanooga as her true and lawful attorney to prosecute her claim. Her post office address is Cedar St. Chattanooga.

Katie (her X mark) Cleage


I found the information used in this post in Katie Cleage’s Pension file.

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

“an appeal from the decision”

Office of Thomas Giffe,
Solicitor and U.S. Claim Attorney

Pensions A Specialty

South Div.
Widow 288-391
Philip Cleage Alias Kleg

Chattanooga, Tenn., April 6th 1891
Hon. Secretary of the Interior
U.S.A. Washington D.C.


I have the honor to present to you herewith an appeal from the decision of the Honorable Commissioner of Pensions – together with the letter – notifying the widow of the rejection of her claim, which is the only notice which I have received. I am her attorney, as may be seen by a perusal of the file of papers of the case, and I cannot conceive how it happened that I have received no notice until the widow produced the letter dated Feb 25th last. It is evident that the Hon. Commissioner is mistaken in the merits of this case. A careful examination of the evidence will show that it is a straight forward claim, honest and just. And knowing this to be so I would not be doing justice to my client if I did not do this.

Very respectfully your obt svt.
Thomas Giffe Atty for Claimant


I found the information used in Katie Cleage’s Pension file.

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

“Your above cited pension claim was rejected”

Department of the Interior
Bureau of Pensions
Washington D.C. Feby 25, 1891

South Div.
J.B.A. Ex’r

Widow No. 288391
Philip Cleage
Co. A 1 Reg USCHA


Your above cited pension claim was rejected January 30, 1891 on the grounds that after fair and thorough special examination the evidence fails to show that you are the lawful widow of the soldier or was ever married to him.

Very respectfully,
Guin B Ramm

Katie Cleage
519 Cedar St
Chattanooga Tenn.


Information used from Katie Cleage’s Widow’s Pension file.

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


Approved for rejection on the ground of the inability of the claimant aided by a special examination to establish her right as the legal widow of the soldier. From weight of evidence it appears that she was never married to soldier by ceremony or custom and that they did not cohabit as man and wife so as to constitute a marriage within the meaning of Sec 4705

January 30 1891


Information used from Katie Cleage’s Widow’s Pension file.

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

“The testimony is confused and contradictory”

Chattanooga, Tenn., July 31, 1890

Honorable Commissioner of Pensions
Washington, DC


I have the honor to return, herewith, all the papers in case # 288.391, of Katie Cleage, widow of Philip Cleage, late of Co. A. 1st U.S.C. Vol., H. Arty’ and whose post office address is No. 519 Cedar St. Chattanooga, Tenn. The soldier died in the service Feby’ 19, 1865 and claim made by Katie Cleage is the result. Case was referred for special examination to determine whether the claimant was the legal wife of the soldier and whether she has again married since the death of soldier.

In report of special examination dated March 28th 1889 the examiner recommended rejection and the case was submitted to the board of pensions for consideration. The case was subsequently referred for further special examination because the testimony obtained by the special examiner is more favorable to her case than otherwise.

I believe I have exhausted all sources of information relating to this case and relating to reputation of claimant. I am obliged to disagree with former examiner.  The claimant is an industrious, steady, hard working woman. She is not bright intellectually and is quiet deaf, which makes it difficult to obtain information from her. The fact that she has not been strictly virtuous at all times does not affect her reputation for truthfulness and I am unable to find any one who questions her integrity. 

The testimony is confused and contradictory and in some instances where shown to be inaccurate, the persons testifying were honestly mistaken, notably, James F. Bradford relating to death of Nelson McCaury. Bradford does not know claimant and was misinformed about claim and stated his views honestly and conscientiously. Lucy McCaury is an old colored woman, honest and conscientious, but is clearly mistaken in her testimony relating to claimants marriage, though on my second visit to her, she persisted in that statement.  Charles A. Cleage, Thomas Bradford, Sallie Cleage Marsh, all bear good reputations, but were clearly prejudiced and their testimony together with that of Patsy Cleage and Adeline Shurman is contradicted in many particulars by Jemima Cleage (claimant’s former owner) and by Dr. Atlee.

John H. Cleage and Mrs. T. A. Cleage Sr. were biased, not particularly against this claimant, but in general principals against all pensioners and applicants for pensions. Sgt., of soldiers Affidavit of William Pinter, later 1st Sgt. of soldier’s company is filed by request of claimant’s attorney. After careful consideration and in view of all the circumstances and the intercessors, I am of the opinion that the claims should be admitted,

Very respectfully 
Your Obd, Svt,
J. A. Davis
Special Examiner


This information is from Katie Cleage’s Widow Pension file.

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

“I always thought she was a right good darky”

Young African-American woman photographed by Hugh Mangum

Deposition V

31 July 1890
John L. Atlee, M.D.

I am 58 years of age, a practicing physician since 1853 and my post office address is Chattanooga, Tenn.

I practiced my profession at Athens, Tenn., from 1852 to 1884. During my practice there from 1853 to 1865 I was the family physician to Alexander Cleage. I recollect a colored household servant named Katie Cleage. I waited on her several times whilst she was a slave. I do not recollect what I attended her for. I do not know as to whether or not she was married or lived with any man as his wife. She was not married because they never married in those days. I do not recollect waiting on her in childbirth.

I do not remember, but I don’t have any recollection of ever attending her for any venereal disease. I don’t think I did, I would be likely to remember if I did. I have no recollection of her ever being locked up and my attending her for any disorder. If she had been locked up, I would remember it. She may have given birth to children but I don’t remember. I recollect Philip Cleage. I do not know whether he had Katie for a wife or not. It was in the early part of the war when I remember the claimant as a young girl, I should say in the neighborhood of eighteen years old. I have no interest whatever in this claim for a pension. I always thought she was a right good darky. I never knew anything to the contrary.

I have had no knowledge relating to her since the war. My answers have been correctly recorded.


Information from Katie Cleage’s Pension file. I found the photograph at Orange Magazine. The newspaper clipping is from

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

Lucy McCaury Questioned

Deposition U

31 July 1890

“The washerwoman” by Johnson, Clifton, 1865-1940

Lucy McCaury

Q.  Do you remember testifying before me the 16th day of last June, relating to the pension claim of Katie Cleage?
A. Yes sir.

Q. Have you any record of the death of your husband?
A. Yes sir, it is recorded in my family bible. He died Feb’ 14th 1858. I sent my bible down from Athens to Chattanooga Tenn. to the marble Works to have a tomb stone fixed and I don’t know how they got it on the tombstone. My husband was born in Augusta Co. Va. March 30, 1806. The date in my Bible was made a few days after he died. There was only the one Nelson McCaury.

Q. Are you a pensioner?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. On what grounds?
A. My son.

Q. What was his name?
A. William McCaury

Q. What is your certificate number?
A. 114849

Q. Did Katie belong to Alex and Jemima Cleage when your husband married her to Philip?
A. Yes sir, just a short time

Q. Do you know how old she was when she was married?
A. No sir

Q Was she a young girl, or grown up?
A. She was grown up right smart when they bought her and fetched her there

Q. Was she married during the war, or before the war?
A. Just before the war

Q. Who did your husband belong to?
A. To Col. James Bradford. He is dead. His sons name is James.

By Client’s Atty’

Q. How long has your daughter Minerva been married?
A. I don’t know

Q. You still insist that your husband married Katie and Philip?
A. Yes sir, because I was there. I was only at one wedding on the Cleage farm.

Q. Were you ever at their cabin when Katie and Philip lived after they were married?
A. Yes sir, I was there once.


Q. Have you fully understood all the questions and have I set down your answers correctly?
A. Yes sir, that is all correct just as I say I because I know it.


Lucy McCaury lived with her daughter, Melinda Evans on D Street in Peabody Row, tenaments. Here is a map and two articles sent to me by Sam Hall of after I asked for help in locating the street.

Peabody Roe outlined in red

Peabody Row Elevated in Smoke – It Was Incendiary

‘The “Peabody row” of dwellings on D. street alley, between Ninth and Gilmer streets, was burned to the ground early this morning. The row consisted of twenty-one tenement houses, or apartments, which originally cost Mr. C. H. Peabody, the owner, $5,000, and ere valued by him at $4,000 at the time of the fire. The houses were occupied by colored people, excepting one in which Ellen Swaney lived. Nearly all the occupants lost their furniture, on which there was no insurance. Mr. Peabody had $1,500 insurance on the buildings. He thinks the fire was incendiary’

Political Pointers

One of the best known colored residents of the Seventh ward is Tom Solomon, a miller by trade, who was one of the unfortunate persons who suffered by the fire a few nights ago in Peabody row. He lost all his kitchen utensils and clothes, and consequently since then his wife and two children have been in a condition of more or less suffering.

About noon Saturday Tom applied to T. W. Fritts, the democratic candidate for alderman in the Seventh ward for assistance. Mr. Fritts directed him to call on Police Commissioner E. S. Daniels, who, he said, was a member of a committee which had the necessary funds for relief. Solomon relates the story of his experience with Commissioner Daniels, as follows:

“I found Daniels in his office, and told him Mr. Fritts had sent me to him to get some money. After stepping aside and consulting several minutes with Jordan Williams, another colored man in the room, Mr. Daniels asked me if I had my registration certificate with me. I replied that I did not but I immediately went home and returned in half an hour with it. Then I found Mr. Daniels in his office alone, and he asked me how much I wanted. My first idea was that he wanted to identify me by the certificate. I told him my circumstances and then he offered to loan me two dollars if I would leave my certificate with him. I asked him if he wasn’t willing to trust me for that amount, and he said he must have security, and said that on the day of election I could get the certificate by refunding the $2. Then I saw his object was to get possession of my registration certificate, and I indignantly left his office, taking the certificate with me. I still have it and will vote it on election day. Although I have suffered gret loss, and am forced to ask assistance of my friends for a few days, I will not sell my right to vote to anyone for any amount.

“The colored man Jordan Williams is the one who directed me to go to Mr. Fritts, accompanied me there, held a whispered conversation with Mr. Fritts, then accompanied me to Mr. Daniels’ office, had a private conversation with him before the proposition was made by Mr. Daniels to buy my certificate, and left me alone in the office with Mr. Daniels.”

Solomon volunteered this statement to the PRESS immediately after leaving Commissioner Daniels’ office Saturday, and said he was willing to swear to the correctness of every word.

The public will not be surprised to learn the democrats have a fund for purchasing certificates, but some will be surprised that the headquarters of the purchasing act should be in Circuit Judge Moon’s law office.

“The intention of the law” is evidently being vigorously carried out.


I have been unable to find a pension file for William McCaury or William Bradford (slave holder’s name) or Lucy McCaury. We heard from Lucy McCaury before at “A Bit of Confusion”

I found the information used in, Katie Cleage’s Pension file. The photograph is from Digital Amherst

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

“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, Katie Cleage’s Pension file.

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