Finding A relative in the Civil War – Henry King (part 2)

Unidentified USCT Civil War Soldiers

Unidentified African American soldier in Union corporal’s uniform

I received Henry’s pension file and it helped answer my most burning questions: how did Henry King end up in the Union Army? Did he run away from slavery? If so, how did he manage to escape? [See part 1 Finding Kin in the Civil War – Henry KING aka Henry Tatman (part 1).]

As a genealogist, my explorations include researching my African-descent ancestors from before the Civil War.  Some of these ancestors were enslaved, but a large portion of my family were free.  Doing slave research can be emotional, especially when you have a blood connection to the persons who are enslaved.  There’s a sorrow that touches your spirit seeing your family in slavery documentation.

It meant a lot to read the pension file and learn that Henry had, in fact, run away from the Tatman plantation during the Civil War. A copy of Isabella King’s Widow’s Declaration, included in the pension file, states “that her husband was a slave and was ‘so said’ married to another slave ‘Matilda,’ who died about 1864.” Cyrus Tatman (the son of Henry’s last enslaver) corroborates this in one of his own affidavits: “…we know he was married the first time to a woman by the name of Mathilda Jason, who left Opelousas with Henry Tatman at the time the Federal army passed through here about December 1863, and they went to Berwick’s Bay, La., with the army.”

 

 

 

Recently a reader of this blog, Jessamy, contacted me about a book she had just inherited with information about my family.  (Thanks Jessamy!) Coincidently, the snapshot of what she shared is relevant to this story.  Spanning Three Centuries 1898 Onward, was written by Martha Alma Adelaide Tatman Hudspeth, Jessamy’s great-grandmother.  Hudspeth is the granddaughter of Cornelius Duchane Tatman (Cyrus Tatman’s father) and Hester Griffith.

“Grandpa’s slaves were treated fairly and they behaved well.  They were worth a fortune, which was all lost after the Civil War when the slaves were freed.  Some of the slaves chose to stay and continue working as free men.  There was old Aunt Tempie and her husband, Warren.  Their children were Henry, Bob, Lewis, Frank, Martin, and Martha.  Other slaves were Phyllis, Winnie, Phoebe, and Stella.  All stayed until long after they were freed, except Henry.  He ran away to the Yankees.  Frank died.”

Note: Phyllis, Winnie, Phoebe, and Stella were also the children of Tempie[y] and Warren.  Phoebe and Stella are living in Henry’s and Isabella’s household on the 1870 US Census.

 

Spanning Three Century 1898 Onward

except from Spanning Three Century 1898 Onward by Martha Alma Adelaide Tatman Hudspeth regarding Henry King and family.

 

Henry Tatman—now known as Henry King—was sworn in on June 21, 1863 as a private in Company H, 80th Regiment Corps d’Afrique of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) Infantry.  Henry’s official muster in was 1 September 1863 at Port Hudson, Louisiana.  Henry was promoted from Private to Corporal on 2 November 1863 and up to Sergeant, 22 May 1864.  His rank was reduced down to Private on 20 January 1865.   He was promoted, once again, to Corporal on 15 June 1866.  His muster-out date was effective 31 August, 1866, in New Orleans, Louisiana.  During his service, his medical records show that he also was admitted in the hospital several times, including to treat him for fever.  Below, you will find his military service summary.  Also, from Fold3 I’ve posted some of the details on his rank movements.

 

HenryKingPension023

Henry Tatman aka King service from Fold3

Muster in, Rank promotions

Henry Tatman aka King service from Fold3

Reduced Ranks, promotion, and muster out.

 

The file is combination of both Henry Tatman’s invalid pension application and Isabella’s widow’s pension file.  On August 12th, 1890, Henry submitted an invalid pension and over the next two years, multiple documentation supporting his application.  Henry said he suffered with rheumatism making him unable to do manual work.  However, the doctor observed that Henry had “no chronic Rheumatism” and therefore was ineligible for a pension.

 

 

Henry’s pension application was rejected 20 January 1892 and he died February 25th, 1896.  Henry never received his pension.  In his affidavit for Henry, the doctor may have accidentally foretold Henry death. In his note, Henry’s doctor dismissively observes that “… in our opinion, [Henry is] entitled to a 4/18 rating for the disability caused by Piles [hemorrhoids].” Henry died from chronic diarrhea, a known symptom of Piles.

 

 

 

Later that year, after Henry’s death, Isabella applied for her widow’s pension. From September 1896 through to the end of 1897, numerous reports were submitted in support of Isabella’s widow’s pension application.  On January 22, 1898, Isabella’s petition was finally approved with a monthly payment of $8, effective September 1896. Isabella was dropped from the pension rosters on May 3, 1906, after her death in February of that year.

 

 

 

There’s a healing that comes about when you view manumission documents or see that an enslaved person successfully ran away.  I enjoyed learning more about Henry.

Happy searching!

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Finding Kin in the Civil War – Henry KING aka Henry Tatman (part 1)

 

Unidentified Civil war soldier3

Unidentified African American Union soldier in sergeant uniform holding a rifle

Early August 2017, I received a shaky leaf hint on Ancestry.com, alerting me to a military record.  Note: The shaky leaf is an indicator that lets the user know that there is a possible record that may be a match to a person in your tree that is displaying the leaf.  This leaf led me to a U.S. Civil War Pension index record for a Henry King.

Henry was a known relative on whom I had completed some research and included in my family tree.  The US 1870 census indicates that 30-year old Henry King lived in Opelousas, Louisiana with his wife, 25-year old Isabella and several others who I know are his sisters.  Living next door are Henry’s parents, Warren King and his mother, Temperance (Tempy).   Tempy is the sister of my 3rd great-grandfather, Moses Jason, and the daughter of my 4th great-grandfather, Godfrey Jason.

Henry King 1870 US Census

Year: 1870; Census Place: Ward 1, St Landry, Louisiana; Roll: M593_530; Page: 8A; Family History Library Film: 552029

The following US Federal 1880 census, Henry, again, is living in Opelousas with his wife Isabella.  Henry’s siblings have moved out of his home and his parents, are no longer living next door.  However, all the family are still living in Saint Landry Parish – living not far from where the family had been enslaved.

Henry King 1880 US Census

Year: 1880; Census Place: 1st Ward, St Landry, Louisiana; Roll: 469; Family History Film: 1254469; Page: 153A; Enumeration District: 039

On a document dated April 18, 1848 document in Saint Landry Parish, Henry and his enslaved family’s ownership are being transferred.  Mary Ann Ferguson, the wife of Isaac Griffith is donating this enslaved family to her daughter, Hester Griffith, the wife of C. D. Tatman.  At the time of this transaction Henry is four-years old.  You can read more about this story and the connection to my family in this previous post>>> Jason Family of Ville Platte, LA –  Brick wall knockdown.

Henry King slave doc2

Henry King and family being “given” to the Tatman family

So, now I’ve discovered some fascinating information about this 1st cousin 3 times removed.  Henry fought in the Civil War.

This was a shocker to me.  To be honest, I didn’t expect to find any of my Southwestern Louisiana relatives to have fought in the Civil War.  I know that really is a naïve statement, especially since most of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) that fought in the Civil War were from Louisiana.  Of the estimated 185,000 USCT, the highest number of volunteers, a little over 24,500 of them, were from Louisiana.  Note: There are some estimates that show there were as many of 200,000 USCT volunteers. Estimate of USCT soldiers.

Henry King civil war pension index

The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Record Group Number: 15; Series Title: U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934; Series Number: T288; Roll: 262

This index record is of combined file of both the Invalid Pension (#902964) and the Widow’s Pension (640104) applications.  The certification (459472) on the Widow’s line indicates that her application was granted.  Henry submitted his application on 23 Aug 1890 and Isabella filed her widow’s application six years later on 2 Sep 1896.  According to this record Henry was a part 8th Regiment Colored Afrique Louisiana Infantry and also the 80th Regiment US Colored Infantry.  According to the National Park Services on the Civil War, the 8th Corps de Afrique Infantry was organized September 1, 1863 and eventually reorganized as the 80th.  More details can be found here: Brief overview of the 80th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry

Even though, the index doesn’t contain a lot of information, I reviewed what it does contain to determine if this could be my relative.  Comparing the index to known information I had about Henry, I was able to surmise this could, indeed, be my Henry:

  • Assuming Henry joined in 1863, he would have been around 19 years of age which is viable age for war volunteer.
  • Solider in the index for a person of African descent, like Henry.
  • Solider and widow filed from Louisiana, which where they both resided.
  • Henry’s wife was also a match to my Henry.

All of this information pointed to this being my cousin Henry.  However, the biggest clue that pointed to this being my Henry was the alias under which Henry served in the Civil War – Henry Tatman.  As I mentioned earlier, Tatman was the surname of the last known enslaver – C. D. Tatman and his wife, Hester.

Finding this record just elicited more questions: How was he able to join the Union Army?  To date, I’ve not found any manumission papers for Henry.  Did he runaway from slavery? When did Henry serve?  Where did he serve? How long were his services?

I had to get my hands on the pension file and get answers to my questions.  Stay tuned for my next post as I learn more about cousin Henry King.

Happy searching!

Memorial Day Salute to My Grandfather!

In my last post[“Mama, it was true! Your Daddy was in World War I!” ], I discovered that my Grandfather, Alsen Jason I had been in World World I.  This was a significant finding in my genealogical research, as it had been one of my mother’s questions for me when I started tracing my ancestry.  On this Memorial Day, I thought it would be good to share some newly found details.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I submitted a request for my grandfather’s military records.  Years ago, I had submitted a request, but the results of the search showed that he was not in the War.   Now, after I actually found the correct Louisiana World War I Services listing, I was able to provide the alternative spelling of my grandfather’s name, which was used during his service.

When I think of my relatives in Louisiana, many of them have limited their lives to only Ville Platte and the surrounding areas of Louisiana.  A few of these Louisiana clan members have ventured out mostly to places like Texas, and a visit here and there to California, where you find a lot of transplanted Louisianans.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I found my grandfather, Alsen Jason, not only enlisted in World War I, but actually in New Jersey catching a ship for him to serve overseas in France.  How’s that for a Bayou Chicot native!

I guess I need to backup a little and tell you what additional information I recently found.  From the Louisiana Service record, it states that my grandfather went overseas September 8, 1918 and returned to the States June 28, 1919 – nine months in a foreign land.   The key to finding the information was having the correct spelling of the name under which my grandfather served.

My initial response from the National Personnel Records Center is that they do not have any records for my grandfather, Alcin Jasson [Alsen Jason].  Here’s the response I received:

Thank you for submitting a request to the National Personnel Records Center.

We have received your signature authorization for request number 2-xxxxxxxxxxx.

The record needed to answer your inquiry is not in our files.  If the record were here on July 12, 1973, it would have been in the area that suffered the most damage in the fire on that date and may have been destroyed.  The fire destroyed the major portion of records of Army military personnel for the period 1912 through 1959, and records of Air Force personnel with surnames Hubbard through Z for the period 1947 through 1963.  Fortunately, there are alternate records sources that often contain information which can be used to reconstruct service record data lost in the fire; however, complete records cannot be reconstructed.

We are mailing you NA Form 13075 (or NA Form 13055) which asks for additional information concerning the veterans’ military service.  Please use this form to provide us with as much information as you are able.  This information will be used by our staff to help reconstruct service record data lost in the fire.

The form will be mailed to you within the next 24 hours.

Thank you.

End of auto-generated message

I completed the NA Form 13075 as suggested by the personnel office.  The alternative records are scheduled to be sent to me sometime in mid-June 2017.  I can’t wait for what they find.

I decided to see what additional records I could find in the online search databases.   Ancestry.com has a database–U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939–that housed more information on Alcin [Alsen].  The records shows that my grandfather, Alsen, left the States via the USS Mercury on September 8, 1918 out of Hoboken, NJ. He listed his mother, Louisa Joseph, as next of kin.  I found that the the Louisiana document had an error.  Per the transport record, Alcin Jasson was part of the Supply Company of 806th Pioneer Infantry.  The Louisiana document mistakenly stated he was a member of company 606th.

US Army Transport Service Passenger Lists, 1910-1939 for Alcin Jasson _Sep 1918

I was even able to find a picture of the USS Mercury ship:

USS Mercury ship Alsen Jason sailed WW1

In reviewing other documents, I was able to get information as to where Jason served overseas.  Fold3 has records of experiences filed by the officers of the 806th Pioneer Infantry.  In his December 6, 1918 memo, B.J. Kavanagh, documented the experience report of the 806th Pioneer Infantry which included the supply companies.  He states that the group sailed out on September 8th, 1918 on the USS Mercury and debarked at Brest, France, 14 days later.  They were initially at Camp Potanazen then, on the September 28th, they arrived at Foulain.  Later, they were put up in a civilian village of Mandres until October 3rd, when they returned to Foulain and finally made their way to Leonval.  This report didn’t speak much about the supply companies.  Here’s Kavanaugh’s experience reports submitted about the 806th Pioneer:

Fold3_Page_1_WWI_American_Expeditionary_Forces_Officer_Experience_Reports

On Ancestry.com I also found the transportation information from France, for Alsen.

US Army Transport Service Passenger Lists, 1910-1939 for Alcin Jasson _June 1919 return

As we celebrate and remember those who have served and many who gave their lives for this country, let us also remember that many fought in foreign lands only to return home to be persecuted and treated as second class citizens in the country for which they fought.  May their fighting not be in vain.

 

Happy searching! Continue reading

“Mama, it was true! Your Daddy was in World War I!”

Last night, I found some information that I wasn’t exactly looking for at the time.  Let me “go back a spell,” as the old folks used to say, and start this story from the beginning.

Growing up, my Mother would always state proudly that her father, Alsen Jason I, was in WWI; her brother, Alsen Jason II, was in WWII; her other brother, Clifton Jason, was in the Korean War; and her nephew, Alsen Jason III, was in the Vietnam War.  She would continue with stories of her other uncles, nephews, and relatives that had also fought in wars.  “They were very brave”, she would say, sometimes followed with a sly “I don’t know anybody on your Daddy’s side that fought in the war.”

Now, Mama, don’t go talking about my Daddy and his family, I would think this but, of course, I would never say out loud.

In 2010, my brother-in-law, John, who worked at The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, announced that he would be retiring soon.  I used this as an opportunity to finally get documentation on my grandfather’s WWI services so I could present this information to my mother.

I called John up and gave him my grandfather’s information.  I eagerly awaited a response from John with the good news.  I told my mother that I requested information on her father and, she too, was excited.

A few days later, John had news for me, but it wasn’t good.  He told me that he couldn’t find any service record for my grandfather.  I was devastated. I had to break this bad news to my mother.  She was silent and didn’t say a word.

I know that hurt her.   I chalked it up to maybe a name spelling, or a file that was destroyed in the fire or misplaced.  I had no idea what to think.  I didn’t want to believe the story was untrue.  People generally don’t have stories in their family saying a person served when they didn’t, but I had no recourse to find out any information. Over the years, since then, I would occasionally go to military databases and see if I could find my grandfather.  I would try different spellings of his name, but to no avail.

Last night, I hit pay dirt – and I wasn’t even looking for that record! As a normal practice, I like to conduct a wildcard searches, just in case I find I record that I haven’t seen before.  Familysearch.org is probably my favorite online site to do these types of searches.  My grandfather’s name, Alsen Jason, is one that have so many variations – I’ve lost count.    Alsen, I’ve seen also written as Alcin, Elcin, and Alsin.  Let’s night I did a random search for “Alsin Jas*” and I was hoping to find something new.  Right across the page, indeed was something I had not seen before.

The third record on the page listed an “Alcin Jasson” Louisiana Service record!  Could it be I had found an entry that proves that my grandfather was indeed in WWI?

familysearch March 2017 Alcin_Jas highlight

I quickly opened the record and saw information I had sought those many years ago.  The record was from the Louisiana World War I Services and it listed that my grandfather, Alcin Jasson [Alsen Jason] was, in fact, enlisted in the Army and served in WWI.  The record indicates that a 26-year old Alsen was inducted into the Army on June 19,1918 and served overseas starting September 18, 1918 through June 19, 1919.  He was honorably discharged July 12, 1919.

Alsen Jason I WWI information

“Louisiana World War I Service Records, 1917-1920”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q2TY-588Y : 8 February 2017), Alcin Jasson, 1918.

You may notice that the person shown on the page right above Alsen, is also a Jason.  Austen [Austin] Jason is Alsen’s brother!

I was delighted to find this record.  But knowing the hardship that African Americans fared in the services during WWI, I could only imagine the trials he may have encountered.

I contacted, my now retired brother-in-law, John, and gave him the good news.  John told me a website where I could request my grandfather’s records online.  He also gave me pointers on information I should include in the request.  The key, he said, was to make sure that I asked for the complete service and medical records.  I’ve sent the request and I can’t wait to get a response.

I have limited experience with the military records, so I’m going to have to do more research in this area.  That’s it for now.  I will keep all of you updated.

Happy searching!