Saturday, December 26, 2015

World War I Letters of Russell County, February 8, 1918

The following letter originally appeared in the February 8th, 1918 issue of the Clinch Valley News.


The following letter was received yesterday from Robert K. White, a Russell boy, who recently went to France with an aero squadron:

On Active Service with the American Expeditionary Force, Jan. 4, 1918.

Editor Clinch Valley News:

Am writing you a few lines to let you know that I am still receiving your paper, and believe me, I am always glad when I get them, and would be glad if you would change it to my present address in place of the one it is coming in now. Enjoyed a fine Christmas, much better than expected. Had many things we wanted to eat and more, too. A little bit of everything.

How are the boys enjoying themselves at Camp Lee? Noticed in your paper where most all of the boys were coming home for Christmas. Well, this is most all I can think of or at least can write that would be of interest.

Very respectfully,

32 Aero Squadron, A. E. F., France

I have taken out $10,000 insurance which I thought would be the best to do. Most all the boys have done likewise.

1st. Lieut. L. W. Kunze, A. S. S. S. C. U. S. A.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Civil War Letter of Kate Cox to Price N. Demint

Strange things turn up in family archives. Ours has tons of legal documents, land deals, checks, IOUs, etc., along with the expected family letters and photos. Our family archive also has several letters from people we are not related to. For example, the below letter from Kate Cox of Carrollton, Kentucky, to Price Demint. Demint was serving in the 4th Kentucky Cavalry, which was stationed in the Russell County area. This letter was addressed to Abingdon, Va.

Carrollton, Ky
August 20th, 64

Mr. P. N. Demint

I expect you will be a little surprised when receiving letter from me; but I had not heard from you for so long I concluded to write. I am anxious for you all to get through fighting & come home for we young ladies scarcely ever have been[?] & especialy myself. I am waiting for some of Morgans brave men to come home before I marry. I was glad to hear you had got back into Va safe, yet I cant see how so many of you escaped. It is great wonder you all was not killed & captured. I seen Comfort the other day & they had just received a letter from you & was rejoyecing considerable over it as you so seldom wrote. I suppose though you all have forgotten your friends in Kentucky as you never shout[?] to write. Give my compliments to Mr. Ford Haydon & tell him his folks are all well. Mr. McElrath is prisnor at Rock Island Leah Bates received letter from him few days ago. Remember me to all the boys & tell them they must take good care of them selfs. Answer if worthy.

Respectfully yours
Kate Cox

Here is some basic information about people mentioned in the letters:

Kate Cox, possibly first cousin to Sarah Cox, who married Price N. Demint in 1866.

Price N. Demint, 3rd Sergeant, Co. B 4th Kentucky Cavalry. Enlisted June 2, 1862 in Abingdon, Va. Sick at Lebanon, Va, July and August, 1863. , b. 9-21-38 d. 2-26-1917, buried Carrollton, KY IOOF

Thomas J. McElrath, 2nd Sergeant, Co. B 4th Kentucky Cavalry. Enlisted September 10, 1862 in Trimble County, Kentucky. Taken prisoner as a private at Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, June 10, 1864. Sent to Rock Island, June 22, 1864. In hospital, Howard's Grove, Richmond, Va, February 25, 1865, discharged February 26, 1865. Remarks "PP".

Ford Haydon,  F. V. Hayden, private, Co. F, 4th Kentucky Cavalry. Enlisted September 10th, 1862 at New Liberty, Kentucky.

Comfort Demint, sister of Price Nuttall Demint.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Early Car Advertisements, 1912-1919

Below are early car advertisements which appeared in the Lebanon News between 1912 and 1919. Included are advertisements for several early car manufacturers which no longer exist, including Overland, Lambert, Flanders, Reo, Grant, Stewart, and Maxwell, as well as ads from Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Southern Claims Commission Claim of Jacob Ferguson, Slave

The Southern Claims Commission was organized in 1871 to allow Union sympathizers living in Confederate territories to make claims for goods confiscated by the Union Army during the war. Roughly 1/3 of applications were paid.

In Russell County eight claims were made before the Southern Claims Commission. Below is the relevant testimony in the application of Jacob Ferguson, a slave during the war who was allowed by his owner, John Ferguson, to work independently and earn an income.

The testimony is a bit unclear as to whether the Army confiscated Ferguson's goods during the first or second battle of Saltville. Both General Burbridge (First Saltville battle, October, 1864) and Stoneman (Second Saltville battle, December, 1864) are mentioned in the application, and one witness states it was near Christmas when the raid occurred.

Ferguson made his claim for $188 in 1878 and was eventually awarded $85.

The Testimony of Jacob Ferguson

My name is Jacob Ferguson. I am fifty eight years old, live in Russell County and have lived here all my life and am by occupation a Black Smith. I am the claimant, was the owner of the property charged in the claim when it was taken. I have never filed a petition in Bankruptcy and never was declared a Bankrupt.

I was a slave at the beginning of the war and was a slave some three or four months after the war ended. After I became free I farmed some but my general occupation was BlackSmithing. I owned the property claimed before I became free. I do not remember the day that I bought the property but I did buy it and raised it. I bought a sow from John Grace & raised hogs from her & the other articles I do not remember from whom I bought them. I done smith work & obtained the money in that way. I hired a hand to work in my place one year for my old Master he allowed me the privilege.

My old master John Ferguson who is now dead lived in Elk Garden Russell County Va. I do not live on his land & am not in debt to his estate. No one but myself has any interest in this claim.

I was close to the house when the property was taken but did not see any of it taken, the property was missing when I returned to the house on the same day. The property was taken in the day time, they come publicly and taken the property. There was no complaint made to the officer that I know of, no receipt was asked for the property that I know of & none was given. There has been no payment made for any property charged in this claim & no property was paid for that was taken at the same time there was no property taken from me by the Union army at any other time during the war. This claim nor any part of it has been included in any claim heretofore presented to Congress neither has it been presented to any court no department of officer of the United States nor to any board of survey, military commissioner, State Commissioner nor officer nor any other Authority. The Army that took the property charged in the claim were on a raid it was my understanding that the army had been in a battle at Saltville in Washington or Smyth county Va.

And further he saith not.

Jacob Ferguson (his mark)

The Testimony of Julia Ann Ferguson

I was present when the five shoats and the sow were taken. I actually saw the five shoats and sow taken. The property was taken in the day time publicly. This property was in my care and not at the same place that the other property charged in this claim was at. No complaint was made to any officer of the taking of the property. No receipt was asked for and none was given for the property. I did not know that a receipt would be worth anything. There was no person there but a few women folks and we were all scared. There has been no payment made on this property that I know of and no payment for any property taken at the same time. If there was any other property taken by the Union army during the war I do not know it. The Army was on a march had recently been in a battle at Saltville. And further she saith not.

Julia Ann Ferguson (her mark)

Additional testimony of Julia Ann Ferguson:

The sow was in good order and very large & I think would have weighed 200lbs net. I saw these hogs killed & I saw the soldiers cooking them near my house. The Army was commanded by Genl. Burbridge. There were officers present when the hogs were taken their head quarters were in our yard they told me that they were officers. I did not hear them say anything about the hogs but I saw them eating the meat after they were killed. I do not know the names of the officers that were present.

The Testimony of Sarah Ford

I am between 25 & 26 years old & daughter of Jacob Ferguson, the claimant. I was present when some of the property

I saw the five shoats one sow taken that is charged in the claim. The property was taken in the day time publicly.


The other property charged in this claim not at same place that these shoats & sow were at. These shoats & sow were being kept by my mother Julia Ann Ferguson for Jacob Ferguson.


The Army was on a raid and had recently been in a battle at Saltville. I do not know what the property was worth in U S money at that time. I do remember the year but it was about Christmas & further she saith not.

Sarah Ford (her mark)

Additional testimony of Sarah Ford:

The soldiers killed the hogs in our yard and cooked some of them in our house and eat them there, there were some officers along with them but I do not know whether they authorized the property to be taken or not but they helped to eat them.

The Testimony of Susannah Ferguson

I am 45 years old & am not related to Jacob Ferguson & am a Hirdand.

I was present when some of the property charged in the claim of Jacob Ferguson was taken and I actually saw them take the 500lbs pork & 10 lb sugar & 4 bushels wheat and one fine hat. It was all taken in the day time & was taken publicly.


I did not think I had any right to say anything, I was afraid.


The army was on a raid & had a battle at Saltville as I was informed.


Burbridge's Army was the of the Army that took the property.

And further she saith not.

Susannah Ferguson (her mark)

The Testimony of James M. Price

I know that Jacob Ferguson owned property while he was a slave such as hogs and a horse, his master John Ferguson allowed him to keep property. Jacob hired his time one year or more to the best of my recollection. He lived in a house to himself & cooked for himself. My recollection is that Jacob gave his master a certain portion of what he made at Blacksmithing for his time. I am thirty seven years old & am by occupation a farmer. I know nothing of the condition of the Army except what I heard said. I saw them but was about 1 1/2 miles from them, the general talk was that the army took things to eat just as they could get it. And further he saith not.

James M. Price

The Testimony of Jacob M. Snead

I am fifty three years old and am by occupation a farmer. I know that Jacob owned a mare while he was a slave and my recollection is that he sold her while he was a slave, he also owned some hogs and some wheat, I bought wheat from him while he was a slave, he also had some [...].

I distinctly recollect that Jacob hired his time one year and perhaps more but I cannot say positively whether it was more than one or not. My understanding was that Jacob was to give his Master a certain amount for his time and that all he made over that amount was to be his own, he lived in a little house near the shop and cooked for himself. I was frequently in his house, he lived very well. I was about 1/2 mile from the army when it passed through. I kept in running distance. It was my understanding that they were living off of the people just as they could get it and further he saith not.

Jacob M. Snead

Remarks by Vince Gilmer, Commissioner in Chancery

The claimant is an honorable colored man (or negro) and I think a man of truth. The last two witnesses examined are both white and are men of truth and veracity, two of the other witnesses are relation to the claimant as shown by the depositions and the other of no relation and I think unbiased.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

John W. Martin's Taxes, 1856-1889

John Wesley Martin was a well-to-do farmer in Russell County. His father, James G. Martin was a veteran of the War of 1812 who married Margaret Price, the daughter of another prominent farmer, Thomas Price. John W. Martin was born circa 1822 and married Caroline Campbell on July 16, 1868. At that time John W. was 50 years old and Caroline Campbell was just 20.

In the 1850 Census John is living with his parents and has a real estate value of $500.

In the 1860 Census he is living with his widowed mother. His Real Estate worth is $1200 and his personal worth is $500. Real estate worth is the total value of all land; personal worth is the value of all "...bonds, stocks, mortgages, notes, live stock, plate, jewels, or furniture, but exclusive of clothing."

Examining the Agricultural Schedule of the 1870 census (his first not living with family), we see that John W. owned 290 acres of land worth $1,450. Ninety acres were improved and the rest were woodland. He paid $25 in wages for the year, indicating he had help with the farming, but not much. He owned 2 horses, 7 cows, 8 "other cattle", 10 sheep, and 6 pigs. The value of the live stock was given as $640. He farmed 15 bushels of winter wheat, 5 bushels of rye, 23 of corn, and 25 of oats.

Martin's wife, Caroline, died of "heart disease" on February 22, 1871, just two and a half years after their marriage. It's possible her death was related to a bout of scarlet fever she had when she was 11 years old which killed her twin, Emeline. John W. Martin died on March 27, 1891.

Below are tax receipts for almost every year from 1856 to 1889, and 1899 (for his estate.)