Tag Archives: Abraham Cleage

Are you a married man?

From my drafts. Abram testifies about his marriage and children.

Question 1.  Are you a married man? If so, please state your wife’s full name and her maiden name.
Answer: Amanda Cleag.

Question 2. When, where, and by whom were you married?
Answer: At Athens in 1862 by Rev. Henry Rowley

Question 3. What record of marriage exists?
Answer: Have none.

Question 4. Were you previously married? If so, please state the name of your former wife and the date and place of her death or divorce.
Answer: No.

Question 5. Have you any children living? If so, please state their names and the dates of their birth.
Answer: Sally Idena Cleag

“Had the soldier been married before his marriage to you?”

I published part I of Amanda Cleag’s Deposition during 2019 at this link – Amanda Cleage. While going through blog posts I never published, I found this one and decided to publish it today.

A page from the deposition

Part II of Amanda Cleag’s Deposition

Question: What persons or person are in or about Athens, Tenn. now who knew you and the soldier there before your marriage?

Answer – I don’t know of anyone in there. I have had letters written there to different persons whom I knew, but my letters have all been returned to me. Well, I knew Amos Jackson and his wife, colored; Mr. and Mrs. Ross, colored, and Mr. and Mrs. Blizzard, colored, and Mr. and Mrs. Turner, colored.

Question-Where had you lived after the war and before your marriage to the soldier?

Answer: I worked for and lived with Mr. and Mrs. John Bridges in Athens, Tenn., after we had been freed by General Sherman, and I lived with them until I went to live with Mr. Ben E. Tucker and his family, just above Athens, and left with them to go to San Marcos, Texas, for awhile. We were in San Marcos, Texas for about a year with the Tuckers, then husband and I went to Austin, Texas, on our own account, engaging in farming and where we first became acquainted with Mr. Davis and his wife, on Dr. Phillips farm. We all were on the same farm, renting land from Dr. Phillips.

Question: Where did your husband live after he came out of the army and before his marriage to you?

Answer: He lived right there in Athens, Tenn. Working for Dr. Atlee, and with whom he remained until he went with the Ben E. Tucker family and myself to Texas, as aforesaid.

Question:  Had your husband, the soldier been married, before his marriage to you?

Answer: No sir, he never had been. I know it because I lived right there with him. No sir, he did not have a slave wife. He never lived with any woman in martial relations before his marriage to me, that I know of or ever heard of. He may have run around with women, for all I know, but I never knew or heard of his living with any women as man and wife live together.  I lived continuously with the soldier from the time of my marriage to him as aforesaid, never being separated or divorced from him, up to the time of his death, which occurred here in Long Beach, California, April 14, 1908, and he was buried here in the cemetery.

Before my mother married my father she was also owned by Russell Hurst who owned the soldier, and mother told me that she had the care of the soldier as a little boy, for some reason or the other, and my mother always told me that the soldier never had been married before his marriage to me. My father, mother and the soldier were afterwards sold to the Cleags. Yes, father had been owned by the Armstrongs previously and used to go by that name and also the name of Cleag. By which one he was ever called.

My father and mother are both dead. I had four brothers and three sisters. Three of my brothers are dead, but I do not know where the other one is, if alive.  Two of my sisters are also dead, but the third one, Mrs. Sallie Ross, wife of George Ross, was living in Washington, D.C., when I last heard from her 5 or 6 years ago. If I am not mistaken she was living at Tacoma, near Washington D.C.

Question: How many times had you been married before your marriage to the soldier?

Answer:  I was only married once before my marriage to the soldier. I was first married to Lou Dedrick in Athens, Tenn., while I was still a slave and owned by Thomas Cleag. I was married about six months before the close of the war.  My second husband, the soldier, had not come out of the army then: I can’t fix the date better than that. I was married to Lou Dedrick by a colored preacher named “Uncle Sam Armstrong”.   He was an old man. I was married in “Cindy Dedrick’s” house, sister of first husband. I only lived with my first husband Lou Dedrick, for six months, when I got a divorce on account of cruelty and threats on my life. “went before the Grand Jury” and got my divorce. Lawyer Blizzard my divorce proceedings for me, and I was given a general decree of divorce by the Court and it must be of record. No, I haven’t my divorce paper now.  Yes sir, I was given one. It got misplaced and lost with other papers in Tennessee. Yes, I went into court to get my divorce. I know I did get a divorce from Lou Dedrick, and I was given a divorce paper. Lawyer Blizzard saw that I got my rights and I got the paper.

Lou Dedrick went away after I got a divorce from him, and I have never seen him since or heard of him. I don’t know whether or not his sister, his sister is alive and if her so, her place of residence. He had no other relatives that I know of. He never was a soldier, but had lived in Athens, Tenn., for a long while. I was just a young girl when I married him, about 14 or 15 years old. I was too young to marry him. I had one child by him, which subsequently died. I had 2 children by the soldier, which also died. My oldest child, a daughter, died during the San Francisco, Cal., earthquake.

I swear between God and man I was only married once before my marriage to the soldier, as aforesaid, and that I never lived with any man as his wife, without being married to him. I only had those two marriages. That is the God’s truth. Yes, I was divorced from Lou Dedrick, and Lawyer Blizzard got the divorce for me in Athens, Tenn.

The soldier had four brothers, Isaac, Charley, George, Jeff and Jerome Cleag and two sisters Kitty and Sarah Cleag. The four boys lived in Chattanooga, Tenn., and they all died there. Kitty also died in Chattanooga and Sarah died in Atlanta, Ga. The soldier has no relatives alive that I know of. I know that they all died before my husband, except Sarah, who died since his death. Her name was Mrs. Sarah McMillan, and she died in Atlanta, GA.

After my marriage to the soldier as herein before set forth, we went to San Marcos, Texas, with the Tucker family and remained there a year with them. When they went into Virginia some place to live, as Mr. Tucker was a sick man and died in Texas, and my husband and I went to Dr. Phillips farm, a mile from Austin, Texas, and we lived there and in and about Austin, Texas, until we came here about 22 years ago, and have lived in Los Angeles and Long Beach all the time since then. Mr. and Mrs. Davis, whom we knew in Austin Texas, came out here shortly after we did.

While in Austin, Texas, I can refer to Mr. and Mrs. L. Leverman, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Jenkins, Mr. and Mrs. Bantam, all colored people. Also the following white people:  Mrs. Mary Deets, George Marcum, a storekeeper, Mr. and Mrs. Bertie Barns, grocery business, the finest in the city, and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Freedman.

Question: you have stated in an affidavit that you were married to the soldier in the year 1866 in Athens, Tenn. How about that?

Answer: That is a mistake. I was married to the soldier in Chattanooga, Tenn., while on our way to Texas as I have told you, and it was about two years after the war was over. The person who drew up that affidavit misunderstood me.

Question; Can you write your name?

Answer: No I cannot. No, I never learned to write my name.

Question; who wrote your name “Amanda Cleag” to that pension application I now exhibit to you?

Answer: My name on that pension application now exhibited to me, was written by my deceased granddaughter, Avalon Pierce, at my authorization. Yes sir, I told my granddaughter Avalon Pierce to write my name to that pension application, because I could not write my name, and afterwards I swore to the correctness of the contents of said application, and the notary public, who drew up my pension application, and before and how it was executed, said it was all right. He said my granddaughter could sign my name for me, because I was unable to write it myself.  Mr. Spooner was the notary public I appeared before to execute only application for pension. He didn’t tell that I had to sign by mark, because I couldn’t write, but another notary public, before whom I appeared to execute an affidavit in my said pension claims, said I would have to sign by mark, and I did so.  My granddaughter, Avalon Pierce, also signed my name as aforesaid, has been dead for three months, having died in this city on account of tuberculosis.

Question: By whom can you prove that the soldier was not married before his marriage to you, and that you lived continuously with him from the time of your marriage to him to the day of his death?

Answer: I don’t know as I can prove that he was never married before his marriage to me outside of my own statement, but I can prove by Mr. and Mrs. Davis that one lived together as man and wife in Texas from the first time they knew us there, and also they have known me all the time I have lived in California, or nearly all the time. No, sir, I have not remarried since the soldier’s death.

Question: By whom do you expect to prove that you were only married once before you marriage to the soldier, and that you were divorced from your first husband, Lou Dedrick?

Answer: I can’t get “no” proof of that, as I don’t know where any of those people are who knew me before my marriage to the soldier. Maybe some of those people can be located in Athens, whose names I have given you. I have given you all the information I possess in regard to that.

Question: How is it you stated in your pension application that you never had been married before your marriage to the soldier?

Answer:  I didn’t think it necessary to say anything about that because I had gotten a divorce from my first husband. I know I did. No, I never was married in my life more than twice, first to Lou Dedrick, and the second and last time to the soldier. Mr. J.G. Parrish of Long Beach, Calif. is my pension attorney, but I have not paid him or anybody the any money for services rendered

This statement of mine herein made to you is the exact truth and I have not concealed any important facts. There is nothing more I can tell you.

You have explained to me all my rights and privileges, and I waive my right to be present or represented in the further examination of my claim.

Witness:  J.G. Parrish  A.C. McPeak
Amanda (x her mark) Cleage
25th May 1909
Alford L. Leonard (special examiner)

Other posts about Amanda and Abram Cleag

Abraham and Amanda Cleage – this is the first one I published in 2015 before I ordered their pension files.

Sarah IDENA Cleag – Amanda and Abram’s daughter

RENTED land – a neighbor of Amanda and Abram talks about how they met

DEADRICK & DIVORCE – Amanda’s first husband gives his version of their marriage.

BOTH BURIED in Plot 40 – Both Abram and his granddaughter Avalon are buried in the same plot.

Sarah IDENA Cleag

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 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 files for this years challenge.

Today I will share some information and a few newspaper articles about Sallie Idena Cleag, Abram and Amanda‘s only surviving child.

Abram Cleag answers question about his marriage and children. Click to enlarge.

Sarah Idena Cleage was born in 1876 near Austin, Texas. She was named after her grandmother Sallie Cleage Marsh. She learned to read and write, something her parents never did, and moved to Los Angeles, California with them in 1888 when she was twelve years old. Two years later, at 14 she married Richard Pierce, a house painter nine years older than she was. They had a daughter, Avalon, when she was 18 and a year later she gave birth to a stillborn son.

The family continued to live with Abram and Amanda. Their relationship was a troubled one, more than troubled. Twice, husband Richard took shots at men Sarah was intimately involved with. They were finally divorced. Sarah left Avalon to be raised by her parents and went to San Francisco, where she died in the earthquake of 1906.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The articles are from newspapers.com

Abraham and Amanda Cleage

Tintype of an African-American Couple. From: Auction Finds
Tintype of an African-American Couple. From: Auction Finds…and the stories behind them.

Today begins the 2015 A-Z Challenge.  This year I will be writing a series of sketches about those formerly enslaved on the Cleage plantations in Athens Tennessee.  Most  are not related to me by blood.  Our families came off of the same plantations – those of Samuel, Alexander and David Cleage, but were not blood relatives.  Enlarge images by clicking on them.

Abraham Cleage was born into slavery in about 1838 in McMinn County, Tennessee.  By 1864, the Union troops were in control of Eastern Tennessee.  Abraham left slavery and enlisted with the United States Colored Troops Heavy Artillary Unit in Knoxville, TN on July 4, 1864.  His enlistment papers described him as 5 ft 7 in with black hair, black eyes and a dark complexion.  On March 31, 1866, he was mustered out in Chattanooga, TN.  He had $42.15 due him.

Amanda Cleage was born about 1837.  She and her parents, Clinton and Sallie, were slaves on David Cleage’s plantation in McMinn County. Abraham and Amanda married in 1870.  Reconstruction was over. With it’s end came the rise in  lynchings, Jim Crow laws legalizing segregation in trains, street cars, restaurants, waiting rooms and schools.  The right to vote was stolen through the use the poll tax, literacy tests, grandfather clauses and property ownership requirements.

Train tracks are shown by the heavy black lines. Credit Line: Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Not long after their marriage the couple moved west to Austin, Travis County, Texas.  It is likely that they took a train. There was a train station in Athens and tracks connected all the way to Texas. Their daughter Sarah was born there in 1876.  In 1880 Abraham was working as a laborer.  In addition to their family, the household included a border, Richard Cleage, age 21.  There is a Richard Cleage, same age, who appears in the 1880 census back in Athens with two children born in Texas.

They lived in Austin from at least 1876, when their daughter was born, until they appear in the Los Angeles City Directory in 1888.  Abraham worked as a laborer.  Amanda kept house.

Free people celebrating Juneteenth in Austin, TX 1900.
Free people celebrating Juneteenth in Austin, TX 1900.for family reunions. See more at: Juneteenth.”

They would have participated in the local Juneteenth Celebrations. “Although news of emancipation came at different times during that Texas summer and autumn 1865, local blacks gradually settled on June 19 (Juneteenth) as their day of celebration.  Beginning in 1866 they held parades, picnics, barbecues, and gave speeches in remembrance of their liberation.  By 1900 the festivities had grown to include baseball games, horse races, street fairs, rodeos, railroad excursions, and formal balls.  Two distinct trends emerged with these early celebrations.  First the oldest of the surviving former slaves were often given a place of  honor.  That place of honor rose in direct proportion to the dwindling numbers of survivors with each passing year.   Secondly, African Americans in Texas initially used these gatherings to locate missing family members and soon they became staging areas

In 1888 the family relocated to Los Angeles, California where Abraham registered to vote and continued to work as a laborer.  In 1893 he filed for his pension as an invalid.  Amanda was not working outside of the home during these years.  By 1900, they owned their own home, with a mortgage.  Abraham could neither read or write. Amanda could read but not write. Abraham was 62.  Amanda was getting younger with each passing census and was enumerated as 48, although she was closer to 60.  She had given birth to 2 children and both were alive. I can only name one, Sarah, who was 24 and married to Richard Pierce, a carpenter who had been unemployed for 5 months during the past year.  Sarah had given birth to 2 children but only 1, 6 year old Evelyn was living.  Sarah and Richard could read and write.  They were all living with Abraham and Amanda.

Abraham died on April 14, 1908.  He is buried in the Long Beach Municipal Cemetery.  Although I found his information in several death indices, I have not found a death certificate and so do not know how he died. Amanda began to receive her widow’s pension the following month.

By 1910 only one of Amanda’s children was still living.  I cannot find Sarah anywhere, I assume she died.  Sarah’s husband, Richard Pierce has remarried and is living with his new wife and young daughter.  Evelyn, Sarah’s daughter is missing. It is possible she is living with the other living child.  Amanda began taking in laundry to support herself.


1916 found Amanda back in Austin, Texas, continuing to take in washing.  Perhaps she was working her way back East, because by 1920 she was once again living in Athens Tennessee, on her own and still doing laundry.  She gave her age as 58, but she was closer to 83.

On July 22, 1921, Amanda broke her leg, receiving a compound, open, fracture.  She was taken to Collins Chapel Hospital in Memphis. Her sister Lydia and her husband Charles lived in Memphis. Amanda may have been visiting or may have moved to Memphis to be closer to her sister.  Two weeks later her kidneys failed and she was dead at 84 years.  Lydia was the informant on the death certificate.

collins chapel home & hospital
From page 43 in “African Americans in Memphis” by Earnestine Lovelle Jenkins.

Amanda Cleage was buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery on August 9, 1921.  According to the Tennessee Historical Commission, “Zion Cemetery, comprising 15 acres, was established in 1879 by the United Sons of Zion Association who responded to the need for a respectable burial site for African Americans.”  As time passed and the original founders died, there was no organization to continue caring for the cemetery and it became seriously overgrown until it was impossible to find the graves. In the last several years improvements have been made and 5 acres have been restored.  Work is still progressing.  The 3 minute video below tells the story.


I gathered this information from census records, death records, city directories at Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.com and other above mentioned online sources.