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, 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!


“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. 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 ( : 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!