Showing posts with label Civil War. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Civil War. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

He Never Came Home - Part 2

Reuben Ayers never came home.  As I shared in my previous post here, Reuben enlisted in August of 1861 in Haralson County, Georgia,  for what many thought would be a relatively short lived battle.   He fought alongside his neighbors and friends with the Georgia 35th Infantry while Frances waited for him to return home to her and their daughter, Molly.  But he never came home.

Instead, Frances, Reuben's wife of six years, learned in July of 1862 that he was among the many who had lost their life in Richmond, VA.  Frances was suddenly a twenty-six year old widow with a daughter to support.

In March of 1863, eight months after Reuben's death, Frances applied for the $73.83 due to Reuben which included bounty, pay and clothing.   Among his service records was the following application:

Widow in mourning exhibit, Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia
Widow in mourning exhibit
Museum of the Confederacy
Richmond, Virginia
State of Georgia
Harralson(sic) County
 To wit on this Nineteenth day of February 1863.   
Personally appeared before the subscribing Justice of the Peace in and for said county Frances Ayers who after being duly sworn according to law deposeth and saith that she is the widow of Reuben Ayers deceased who was a Private in Capt. Heads Company 35th Regiment of Georgia Volunteers commanded by Capt Thomas in the service of the Confederate States. . .  the said Reuben Ayers entered the service at Buchanan Harralson County, Ga on or about the 12th of August 1861 and died at Richmond Va on or about the 5th of July 1862, leaving a widow that makes this deposition for the purpose of obtaining from the government of the Confederate States whatever may have been due the said Reuben Ayers at the time of his death for pay bounty or other allowances for his services as a private as afforesaid.  Sworn to and subscribed to before me.
J.G Newman JP      Frances Ayers (1)

For three years following Reuben's death,  Frances and daughter, Molly, remained in Haralson County, Georgia and did the best they could during a difficult time.  Several years later, Frances met Robert A. Bailey who was nearly ten years younger than she and in 1866 they married. Once again Frances settled into the role of a farmer's wife.

Molly, the only child from Frances and Reuben's marriage, was eleven years old by the time her mother and Robert had their first child.   At the tender age of eleven, Molly had seen the ugliness of war, felt the pain of loosing her father and undoubtedly experienced the hardship shared by most Georgians in the post Civil War period.  Hopefully her mother's marriage to Robert Bailey and the addition of siblings added a measure of normalcy and happiness to her life.

By the 1870 census, Frances' sister, Olivia, and her husband John Ganus had returned to Georgia and lived just down the road from the Baileys.  As I shared in an earlier story, the two sisters and their families enjoyed each other's company for the next 17 years.

By 1870,  Frances' mother, Polly, had died.  In addition, her father, Joshua Rainwater,  and her brothers Abner and John, along with their families, had joined many others in the migration to Texas. Frances' older sister, Mariah, and her husband, William Barnwell, were living in Alabama.

Then in 1887, Frances' sister, Olivia, and her husband,  John Ganus, and their sons packed up and moved across the country to Colorado.  By that time, only Frances' oldest sister, Matilda, who was sixteen years older and was the widow of Josiah Goggans, also lived in Georgia.

Although in ways it may have been hard for Frances to stay in Georgia when so many of her siblings had gone, she and Robert had a growing, thriving family of their own and with that, many reasons to remain.


(1) Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Georgia, digital images, database, Fold3.com (www.Fold3.com: accessed 26 October 2014), entry for Reuben Ayres, 35th Infantry, Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Confederate Organizations, compiled 1903-1927, documenting the period 1861-1861. NARA M266, Record Group 109, Roll 0414. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Thursday, July 31, 2014

To Sign or Not to Sign?


It was over.  General Robert E. Lee had signed the surrender and Confederate soldiers began returning home. While technically the war was over, for many southerners the emotional scars were deep and would be slow to heal.  There would be many issues to resolve in the turbulent years that followed.  Many resented the government they felt had betrayed them and the resulting friction was more than evident .

Surrender of General Lee
Library of Congress
Upon their release, each rebel prisoner of war faced the decision of whether or not he would sign a document declaring his allegiance to the United States Government. Would he maintain his allegiance to a Southern government that had failed, or align himself with the government he had fought against?

Initially, I was surprised to find an Oath of Allegiance in Burton W. Cook's Civil War file.  While it would be easy to assume  a change of heart,  as I have read about the Oath of Allegiance, I have learned that many, if not most Southern Confederates signed simply because they wanted to return home.

Included among Burton W. Cook's Civil War file is a paper which reads:
"Name appears as signature to an Oath of Allegiance to the United States, subscribed and sworn to at Elmira, N.Y., June 19, 1965."
It further indicates that he had enlisted in Georgia 53rd, Company C, that he resided in Atlanta, Georgia and includes a physical description and was signed upon his release from the prison, Elmira in New York.  From this paper, I learned that Burton had a florid complexion, dark hair, gray eyes and stood 6 foot tall.  Because Burton appeared successful in his acquisition of land and goods, I had previously assumed that he had at least some education, but this paper seems to suggest otherwise.  Burton signed "by mark," implying that he could not write his name.  Had it been difficult for him to sign a paper he could not read,  presented to him by people he did not trust?

Although there is relatively little information on the form, for me it is a gem because it provides information found no where else about Burton W. Cook, married to Mary Ganus, my second great grandfather's sister.  It underscores the value of finding every source pertaining to each ancestor. From this document, I learned what Burton W. Cook looked like, where he lived, that he was among the many that were not educated, and that after years of war and imprisonment,  he signed his allegiance to the United States Government.  For the details it provides for me and for Burton's descendants, I am so glad that he signed.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014