Categories
Minor Surnames Transcriptions

Minor Details: A Pension Certificate, A Letter, & A Curious Descendant

Not long ago a cousin set out on a quest to determine the provenance of a Minor family heirloom–a sword, rumored to have belonged to John Pearson (Pierson) Minor. Some folks suggested to my cousin that the sword must be from the American Revolution.

But J. Pearson Minor was born in 1791, not even a twinkle in his parents’ eyes during the revolution, and his father, Abia (A-bye-ya) did not serve in either a state militia or the Continental army during that period. So the sword is not likely to be from the 18th century.

Family lore had it that Pearson Minor did serve during the War of 1812, and there is evidence to support that story among the contents of The Minor Satchel, a leather case filled with documents, notes, and ledgers that I inherited from my mother, Marilyn, who retrieved it from the attic of the Whiteley (PA) Home Farm before it was sold in the 1970s.

The Evidence

After the Civil War, Congress passed the Act of February 14, 1871 to establish a monthly pension for elderly, infirmed veterans who had served at least 60 days during the war with Britain in 1812-1815. An attorney acting on my great-great-great-grandfather’s behalf filed an application. On March 15, 1872 J. Jackson Purman wrote from his Waynesburg (PA) office:

Pearson Minor, Esq:

Dear Sir-I have at last succeeded in getting your claim adjusted and a Certificate issued, which has been sent to your Post Office. Along with the Certificate you will find certain other papers, which you are to sign and have witnessed, and be sworn to, and upon these being sent to the agent, who pays the money at Pittsburg, you will receive your Pension. As these papers require great care in their execution, you had better come up to Waynesburg to execute them if you are able. If you are not able, go before your nearest squire and execute them. The Certificate you will keep in your own possession- You need not trouble yourself about any fee, as I will receive my fee from the Government.

Yours Sincerely,

J. Jackson Purman

Included in this set of papers is Form No. 26 from the Department of the Interior, Pension Office, Washington D. C. An office clerk used a black ink pen to fill in the pension certificate number ________

13669

and the pension agency _________________ charged with making the $8 a month payment

Pittsburgh

At the bottom of the page, the worker wrote the name of the pensioner

To Pearson Minor, Whiteley, Green Co. Pa.

and stamped the Commissioner’s name, J. H. Baker, before putting the one page document into a Department of the Interior official envelope and hand addressing it to Pearson Minor. This notification left Washington, D.C. on March 12.

PENNSYLVANIA, Plate 14 from Mathew Carey’s General Atlas, Philadelphia 1814. Digitally accessed at 1810’s Pennsylvania Maps (http://www.mapsofpa.com/antiquemaps31.htm), 14 Nov 2021.

In addition to government form No. 26, the “Pension Papers” contain a voucher from 1872 and another from 1874; an envelope from the Pittsburgh Pension Agent, James McGregor, that once contained a voucher; and the most important document of all–THE pension certificate #13669.


Transcription:

Department of the Interior

War of 1812–Survivor’s Pension

I certify that in conformity with the Law of the United States, approved February 14, 1871, Pearson Minor, late a Corpl (Corporal) of Captain T. J. Seeley’s Company Pa Militia is inscribed on the Pension List Roll of the Pittsburg (sic) Penna, Agency, at the rate of eight dollars per month , to commence on the fourteenth day of February, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-one. No sale, transfer, or mortgage of any description whatever, of the whole or any part of the pension payable in virtue of this certificate , is of any legal or binding force against either the pensioner or the United States.

Given at the Department of the Interior, this 9th day of March, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-two,


Back to the heirloom sword

My cousin received the sword from his father, my uncle and great-great-grandson of J. Pearson Minor. These documents strongly suggest that the sword was used by our patriarch during the War of 1812 when he served as a corporal with Captain T. J. Seeley’s Pennsylvania Volunteers, just as family lore suggested.

What remains a mystery is more about the pension, itself. Why did Pearson need a pension when he had hundreds of acres of land, and a son with whom he lived. On the surface it would seem that the Minors had the assets and labor necessary to care for Pearson, even if he was an infirmed, eighty-one year old.

Those bits of data–and perhaps more information about Minor’s military life–could be in the pension application itself, a document that resides in the National Archives, Washington, D. C. on microfilm M313, Department of Veteran Affairs, Record Group #15.

Yes. You guessed it. I have submitted a request for a copy of this record and eagerly await an archivist’s reply.

More Minor Details to come.


Source:

Minor, John Pearson (Pierson) Minor (Whiteley, Greene County, PA). Pension Certificate #13669 and assorted documents, 9 March 1872. Privately held by D. Kay Strickland, [address for private use] Pennsylvania, 2021.

Categories
Minor Surnames Transcriptions

Transcription: A Letter Home-Abia Minor

Abia Minor was born in Greene County, Pennsylvania in about 1815, the son of stock drover John Pierson Minor and his first wife, Hannah McClelland. As a young man Abia (a-bye-ya) followed his family’s tradition, bought and farmed land near the town of Bridgeville in what was then western Virginia. But he had aspirations that went beyond the Appalachian Mountains. By the early 1850s, Abia had purchased land in Moultrie County, Illinois with clear intentions of resettling there. That dream was deferred a bit by the death of his first wife, Elizabeth Thompson, and his remarriage to Harriet Ballard. Before the decade turned and civil unrest upended the nation, Abia and Harriet relocated to Township 14 N Range 6 E, Moultrie County, Illinois. The family farmed this Jonathan Creek land until emigrating to Harper County, Kansas in 1878, where Abia lived until his death eleven years later.


This letter, with its long, run-on sentences, was written to Abia’s Pennsylvania parents during that Jonathan Creek period, sometime after 1858 but before his step-mother, Isabelle, died in 1863. I read ancestors’ notes out loud to my dog–hearing the words makes the distance between past and present smaller. Since Abia wrote with NO PUNCTUATION, to clue you all in I transcribed the letter with spacing matching my breath, so reading Abia’s 159 year old words is more conversational.

The first two pages have been lost, so we begin Abia’s letter to J. Pearson and Isabella Minor on

Page 3

…Tell him to go out and look not to make it all talk

it has been awful cold here this winter otherwise it has been a fine winter or we would think it so if we had our usual crop for it has been dry all winter and better roads I never saw

good sledding for 3 or 4 weeks but the snow is gone now only where it drifted I have yet 160 rods along my fence that 30 feet wide and was between 4 and 5 feet deep but it has settled down to about 3 feet

the weather has been fine winter weather ever since the cold storm was over which only lasted 2 days

you wrote that you had been in Ohio this winter I wish you could have came out to see us I would like to come to se (sic) you and Thank you for you (sic) generous offer but I canot (sic) come this winter Polk is in Woodford Co going to school and I have to stay close to home

John is of age and wants to be doing for himself talks of going away this spring

I want to put a corn crop for I think we will raise good crop next year and I am trying to make some more fence so I can keep some stack without so mutch (sic) trouble in winter

Isabel [perhaps his sister] got home on sunday after she started they were detained by not making the connection and it cost her 21 dollars and some few ctz (sic) She will write to you and send her letter with this you said you would send her saddle and some flannel for me a warm (?) that would be quite a present to me for sutch (sic) flannel is hard to get here and if you send it box them in a light box and send them from any point on the railroad or if any one was coming out you could put them in a trunk and they can bring them through for nothing but if you send them out by railroad direct them to

Abia Minor

Mattoon*

Coles Co

Illinois

And take a receipt from the _ldier agent for them and send it to me by mail

please write to me as soon as you get this and I would like to have mothers likeness which you can have taken and send it in a letter and Isabel says you have yours taken on horseback I wish you would send me a coppy (sic) of it it can be taken on paper or leather and sent in a letter

give my respects to all my brothers and sisters

tell them to write to me and I will answer their letters and feel very thankful beside with the above I remain yours truly

Abia Minor

*Mattoon was 15-17 miles from the Jonathan Creek property, a town created by the intersection of the Illinois Central, the Terre Haute, and the Alton Railroads.

**Per the 1860 Federal Census, Abia wrote this letter while his at-home family included: second wife, Harriet, teenage sons John C and James, teenage daughters Permilia and Margaret, young Minerva, and very young William and Mary O.

Source:

Minor, Abia (Moultrie County, Illinois) to father [J. Pearson Minor]. Letter. undated, presumed between late 1850s and 1863. Privately held by D. Kay Strickland, [address for private use] Pennsylvania. 2021.

Categories
Strickland Surnames Transcriptions women's history

Amanuensis Day: The Last Will and Testament of Happy Stone

North Carolina, wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 for Happy Stone, Franklin County; accessed digitally on ancestry.com, 20 August 2021.

On a Tuesday morning in March three springs before her death, Happy Stone sat with H. H. Davis and Robert Mannas and dictated the terms of what should happen to her farm and estate upon her death. On 8 April 1853 Kerenhappuch departed this world, and at the 1853 June court her last will and testament was proven and recorded in Franklin County (NC) Probate Records, Book IV, pages 330-331.

In the name of God. amen. I Happy Stone of the State of North Carolina and County of Franklin considering the uncertainty of my earthly existence, but being of sound mind and memory, do make, publish and declare this to be my last will and Testament in manner and form following. To wit-

  • Item 1. It is my will and desire that this body of mine be decently interred and that all of my just debts be paid after my death.
  • Item 2. It is my will and desire that after my death that all the property of every description that I may possess at the time of my death be sold and equally dived (sic) as follows, (To wit) I give one sixth part after paying all expenses to my son William Stone. One sixth part I give to my son McCullar Stone, one sixth part I give to my son Washington Stone, one sixth part I give to my son Elias Stone, One sixth part I give to my daughter Mary Ann Howell, one sixth part i give to my grandson John Axum (?) Jenkins–but should he die before he arrives of age of twenty one, it is my will that the part left to him be equally divided between William, McCullar, Washing (sic), and Elias Stone and Mary Ann Howell and their Heirs.
  • Lastly I nominate and appoint my son William Stone my sole Executor to this my last Will and Testament. In testimony of which I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 19th March A.D. 1850.

signed, seal, and acknowledged Happy HER MARK X Stone

H. H. Davis, Robert Mannas

Because she had already sold her land to my 2x great-grandparents, Anderson and Julia Strickland, what remained were debts settled with the proceeds from the sale of her tools, furniture, livestock, foodstuffs, crops already planted, and two human beings, Nancy and Crofford*.

But that is a story for another day.

*alternative spellings: Crawford, Craff, Croford.


Related posts:

Amanuensis Day: Happy Stone’s Land Goes to the Next Generation

Categories
Maps Strickland Surnames Transcriptions

Amanuensis Day: Happy Stone’s Land Goes to the Next Generation

Geographical, Statistical, and Historical Map of North Carolina, 1823; digitally accessed from the UNC library, North Carolina Maps, 18 Aug 2021, (https://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/ncmaps/id/178).

My 4x great-grandmother, Kerenhappuch “Happy” Stone watched the sun rise from her home on Cypress Creek, Franklin County, North Carolina. Today, as I wait for the sun to peek from behind Storm Fred’s cloud cover, I wonder if Happy dreaded heavy rains like the ones the National Weather Service is predicting for my region. Would storms flatten corn and wheat patches? Would gullies fill and create streams meandering through cypress groves, causing havoc for boars and sows and piglets in their woodlots? Would Cypress Creek overflow as it headed toward the Tar River?

Happy worked her widow’s dower after her husband, Merritt’s death in 1823. Not alone, mind you. Her son, and my 3x great-grandfather, William G Stone, worked the adjoining 200 acres on the west side of Cypress Creek. Grandkids William, Catherine, Mary, and Julia–my 2x great-grandmother–were companions and helpers, no doubt. Hired white farmers like Jenkins Brazel and George Davis, and enslaved farmers like Nancy and Crawford watered horses, took cows out and brought them back in at night, slaughtered hogs, hoed rows of corn and potatoes, harvested the wheat, mended fences and roofs and chimneys.

In 1845 that village of people grew to include Happy’s granddaughter. Julia and Anderson Strickland purchased 144 acres, including the 95 acre widow’s dower, just a year after being married. I suppose the couple built their own homestead and began housekeeping shortly after the January sale, farming and child-raising as generations before them had.

Deed from William B. Williams to Anderson Strickland 1-29-1845

This indenture made the 29 day of January in the year of our Lord 1845 between William B. Williams of the County of Nash of the first part and Anderson Strickland of the County of Wake of the second part both of the State of North Carolina. Witnesseth that the said William B. Williams bargained, and by these presents doth grant bargain sell and deliver to the said Anderson Strickland his heirs and assigns for ever a certain tract of land situate lying and being in the land of Bennet Gay, Washington Harris, and William T Minga containing one hundred and forty- four acres more or less all within the bounds above described with all and every appurtenances there unto belonging or in any wise appertaining. Subject nevertheless to the life time right of Happy Stone dower right it being about ninety five Acres and I do hereby covenant to and with the said A. Strickland that I have before the execution of this deed full right absolute and lawful authority to sell the said land and premises and agree hereby to warrant forever defend the right and title of the same to him the said A. Strickland his heirs and assigns forever in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year above written.

Signed and sealed and delivered William B. Wms (sic) seal In the presence of Wm. T. Minga and Louis P. Dunn

State of North Carolina

Franklin County–I, Young Patterson, clerk of the Court of please and Quarter sessions for the county aforesaid certify that the Execution of the within Deed is this day duly proven before me at my office by the oath of William T. Mingo a subscribing witness thereto therefore let it be Registered this the 12th day of September 1854. ~~Y. patterson CCC

The foregoing Deed is truly registered this 12th day of September A. D. 1854 ~~D. Young P. R.


Franklin County Deed Book #31, Volume 2, P. 366.

Categories
Random Thoughts Strickland Transcriptions

Examining the Language of Slavery

During the mid-nineteenth century North Carolina was the global supplier of naval stores. The “Turpentine State” lay in the long-leaf pine belt–a region of dry sandy clay subsoil that ran from North Carolina, south to Florida, and as far west as southern Alabama and Mississippi.

The sap of turpentine orchards was harvested and distilled into spirits of turpentine and rosin; pine trunks were burned in earthen kilns to produce tar. These naval stores rendered ship hulls watertight and preserved hemp rigging. Camphene, a mixture of turpentine and alcohol, was a widely used illuminant until the development of Pennsylvania kerosene in 1860. By the late 1850s, naval stores were the South’s 3rd largest global export crop, exceeded only by cotton and tobacco.

Weekly Raleigh Register,(Raleigh, NC)
Wednesday, January 17, 1855

My 2x-great-granduncle, William Gray Strickland, owned several tracts of land in the pine belt, and put one 760 acre parcel up for sale in 1855. Its proximity to the North Carolina Railroad, which ran from the Neuse River town of Goldsboro through Raleigh, the state capital, and ultimately inland to Charlotte, was a major selling point, as was its piney woods, portions of which he had “boxed and attended to for one year.”

The land lay 12 miles north of Raleigh and the previous year, Gray Strickland had sent enslaved turpentine hands to tend portions of the piney forest. They would have cut a hole or box near the base of trees 8-15 inches wide and 3-4 inches deep, with a highly skilled boxer cutting up to 75-80 boxes a day from November until March. As the sap began to rise–peaking in July and August–“dippers” had harvested the resin from the bottom of each box and stored it in barrels shipped by river or rail to distilleries.

Turpentine operations were distant from the main Strickland lands; the isolation of the orchards made for hard, solitary work in insufferably hot conditions. And perhaps that distance created an opportunity for one enslaved man to seek freedom.

Dennis was about 21 years old, a sturdy five foot three, 150 pound man who sought freedom in December of 1853. As James G. Williams, Dennis found work in pine belt counties to the south and east of Strickland’s Wake County plantations, relocating as necessary from river towns to turpentine orchards. For almost two years the young man labored as a ditcher, a striker, a turpentine hand, a maker of barrels. Making his way as a free man.

The Spirit of the Age,Raleigh, North Carolina,17 Oct 1855, Wed  •  Page 4

Then in late August of 1855, Gray Strickland began to track Dennis in earnest, running an advertisement in several Raleigh papers, including the Spirit of the Age, The Semi-Weekly Standard and The Weekly Standard.

The enslaver offered a reward worth $3000 in today’s currency to any North Carolinian who could catch and confine Dennis, and he offered to cover expenses of the collaborator who delivered the young man to Gray.

I couldn’t find an earlier advertisement for Dennis, which makes me wonder about the timing of this reward offer. Was Gray Strickland needing a strong, highly skilled worker?

Or did he need to capture this young man to prove to Dennis, to the rest of the black community enslaved on Strickland land, and to the larger community that he had the money and the power to catch, confine, and control.

The Weekly Standard,Raleigh, North Carolina, 30 Jan 1856, Wed  •  Page 3

In this “status update” Gray Strickland tells people to cease the hunt for a fugitive, and indicates what he thinks should happen to any enslaved person who seeks freedom. Unwritten is the warning otherwise transmitted to any enslaved person thinking of seeking asylum among abolitionists or creating freedom with new identities: “You will be caught. You will be punished. You will be separated from everything you know. I have that power.”

Historian Walter Johnson aptly notes that the language of ‘dehumanization’ is misleading because slavery depended upon the human capacities of enslaved people. It depended upon their reproduction. It depended upon their labor, and it depended upon their sentience. Enslaved people could be taught: their intelligence made them valuable. They could be manipulated: their desires could make them pliable. The could be terrorized: their fears could make them controllable.…The illogic of it all appears to reveal a simple linear truth that is often lost–oppression is never about humanity or lack thereof. It is, and always has been, about power.

Clint Smith, How The Word Is Passed

Sources

https://coastalreview.org/2019/08/the-turpentine-trail/

Cecelski, David, “The Turpentine State,” from the blog David Celeski: New Writing, Collected Essays, Latest Discoveries, https://davidcecelski.com/2017/12/17/the-turpentine-state/.

Outland, Robert B. “Slavery, Work, and the Geography of the North Carolina Naval Stores Industry, 1835-1860.” The Journal of Southern History 62, no. 1 (1996): 27-56. Accessed June 18, 2021. doi:10.2307/2211205.

Advertisement by Gray Strickland, The Spirit of the Age,Raleigh, North Carolina17 Oct 1855, Wed  •  Page 4; digitally accessed on Newspapers.com. Transcription below.

$100 REWARD

Since Dennis has been a runaway, I have heard of his being in Johnston county as a turpentine hand and ditcher; I have heard of his being about Averasboro’ as a maker of turpentine barrels and striker in a blacksmith shop; perhaps in Fayetteville [a prominent town on Cape Fear River] or its vicinity, and about Goldsboro'[a Neuse River town]. I cannot say whether these representations are true, but I have no doubt he is in Johnston, Harnett, Cumberland or some of the adjacent counties [all part of the turpentine belt], working about as a free man. I learn he passed in some places by the name of “John G. Williams;” he doubtless has other names by which he has passed during his long absence.

I will give the above reward for the apprehension and confinement of my Negro Man DENNIS, if taken in this State, or $200 if taken out of the State. Said Dennis has now been run-away about twenty months, viz: since December, 1853. He is slightly bow-legged, toes turning out a little, rather round shouldered and stoops slightly in walking; has a scar on one of his thighs caused by a snag, of dark complexion, 5 feet 3 or 4 inches high, aged about 21 years, and weighing when he left about 150 pounds.

I will give the above Reward of $100 for his apprehension and confinement in this State, or $200 if taken out of the State, so that I get him again. If delivered to me in Raleigh, I will pay all additional expenses beside the above Reward. Letters concerning said Runaway, to be addressed to me at Raleigh.

W. GRAY STRICKLAND

Raleigh, August 25, 1855