Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Without Means of Support

Where would she turn next?  Alone and with limited means, Rebecca had to find a way to support herself. Her life had changed drastically in a few short years. 

It was 1852 in Macon, Georgia and Rebecca Gurganus was widowed and sixty nine years old.  If she and her deceased husband, David Gurganus, had children, there is no evidence of such and so, by all appearances, she was truly very alone.  

Rebecca had been married to David for thirty-six years.  She was 33 years old when she married David, a 53 year old widower with three boys at home. His boys James, David and John Wesley were all from his first marriage to Mary Swain and by 1830 were married and had moved away.

A Long Hard Winter, Library of Congress 1893 
In 1847, David had attempted to obtain his Revolutionary War pension, but like many applicants, he was unable to provide sufficient proof.  It had been 67 years since his first tour and while he remembered the names of a few men with whom he served, it had been almost 50 years since he lived in Pitt County, North Carolina where he entered the service. He then moved to Edgefield, South Carolina and later settled in Macon, Georgia.  It’s not difficult to imagine why he no longer had proof of his service and why none of the men with whom he had served were around to testify in his behalf.  


Beginning in 1849, David, aged, impoverished and with few options, turned to Bibb County for help.  From that time until his death, he and Rebecca appeared in the Inferior Court minutes on the Pauper Account, relying on the county for assistance.

Sometime in the early 1840s, David’s widowed daughter, Mary Ellen Pratt, who was in her early 50s, moved in with David and Rebecca and together they all lived about 4 miles from Macon, on the road to Forsyth.  Life was not easy, but they were together and for a time, that was enough.  Coming events would change Rebecca's life dramatically.

To see where Rebecca fits in, click on the Gurganus tab above and then select "David Gurganus Sr." 


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

4 comments:

  1. How sad to think some were left so destitute, after their brave service, for want of a network of friends or acquaintances who could vouch for their sacrifice so many years before. Too bad no one thought of a different way to verify service. Those who outlived their compatriots--or took up land offers in other states--would have been the most affected, it seems.

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    1. Yes, I have often thought how much easier things are today. Back then, even if an individual initially kept proof, after a couple of moves, it seems those types of items would easily be lost. Living in a day of scanners, file cabinets, online databases etc., it's difficult to even fathom how they organized such things.

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  2. I wonder if any veteran of the Revolutionary War had an easy time obtaining that pension. This story is similar to that of the ancestors I've researched -- they all seemed to have made multiple attempts, couldn't remember names, didn't have discharge papers, you name it. How did you discover the Pauper Account?

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  3. Wendy, it's very interesting as well to see the history of the laws associated with the claims as it changed and evolved and that's part of the reason some reapplied.

    I found the Pauper Account record by tediously going through the unindexed Inferior Court records a page at a time. Yes it was boring in a way, but I picked up a lot of little tidbits that I otherwise wouldn't have found, including the reference to my ancestor's sister's murder, which I knew nothing about. It was well worth my time.

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