Civil War, Enslaved People, Military, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina

Pvt. Petty’s pension.

As detailed here, Edmond Petty was Eva Petty Walker‘s grandfather. Petty was born enslaved in the 1830s, probably in Wilkes County, North Carolina (Iredell County’s northwestern neighbor). On 26 April 1865, he enlisted in Company H, 40th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry, in Greeneville, Tennessee.  Intentionally or accidentally, his name was recorded as “Edward Pedy.” (Greeneville is about 120 miles from Wilkes County over the Blue Ridge Mountains through what is now Cherokee National Forest. This is tough terrain even today.)

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After mustering out in February 1866 at Chattanooga, Edmond Petty returned to Wilkes County, married and reared a family. In poor health and finally straitened, in 1883, Petty applied to the United States government for an invalid’s pension. He claimed disability as a result of suffering a sunstroke while drilling with his regiment.

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Petty’s disability affidavit provides rich details of his life. Prior to enlistment in the Army, he had lived “with B.F. Petty to whom I belonged in Wilkes County, State of North Carolina. I was there a slave.” (Benjamin F. Petty, who reported owning 23 enslaved persons in 1850, was one of the largest slaveholders in Wilkes County.) Since the war, he had lived in the Fishing Creek area of Wilkes County and had worked as a farmer when he was able. Petty claimed that his diminished eyesight and rheumatism were the result of sunstroke suffered while on duty at Greeneville and that, because of his condition, he was barely able to work.

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Edmond Petty’s file comprises 84 pages of testimony by his fellow veterans, neighbors and doctors about Petty’s medical condition and its causes, as well as his ability to support himself. Said H.M. Wilder, for example, “I found him hauling wood in a small one horse wagon to the town of Statesville earning a meagre living.”  In the end, he was awarded eight dollars a month for three-quarters disability due to rheumatism and one-quarter to heart trouble.

The Record & Landmark published a sarcastic piece about Petty’s appeal of his initial pension award in an article that reprinted across North Carolina’s Piedmont. The piece insinuates that Petty had done nothing to warrant his stipend, but more importantly reveals that Petty was the agent of his own emancipation. When Stoneman’s Raid passed through Wilkes County in late March 1865, capturing Wilkesboro, Petty escaped the Petty plantation and fell in with Union troops as contraband, following them all the way to Tennessee, where he enlisted to fight the Confederacy.

Record & Landmark (Statesville, N.C.), 18 March 1898.

U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com; File #471,881, Application of Edmond Petty for Pension, National Archives and Records Administration.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Civil War, Enslaved People, Military, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

They would not have taken them in church.

Part II of Bailham and Hannah Sauls Speight’s pension application file arrived today, and here are some extracts from witnesses deposed 4 June 1904:

  • Hannah Speight – “I claim pension as the widow of Bailham Speight but who served during the Civil War in the U.S. Army under the name of Bailham Edwards.” His brother Lafayette Edwards “lives at Bull Head which is eight miles from Goldsboro.” “I was born on Appletree Swamp near the town of Stauntonberg, Greene County. N.C. and was a slave; was owned by Lawrence Brown. I am the daughter of Rosetta Sauls. My father was Sheppard Sauls. I was known as Hannah Sauls prior to my marriage to Bailham Speight. … [A]fter our marriage we lived as husband and wife till he died December the 21st 1902.” “My husband was born and raised in Greene County. He was about six years older than I was still I knew him before he was grown….” “After his discharge he went to Georgia and was there just twelve months I do not know in what part of Georgia he was. No, I guess it was South Carolina where he went for he went away with Capt. Bill Taylor to work turpentine. … I married my husband about four years after the close of the war and we were married in the month of November in Snow Hill….” Married at Rebecca Bess’ house. She is deceased, as are witnesses Martha Sheppard, Luke Sheppard, and Charles Moseley. Maria Lofton did not witness, but could testify to marriage. She lives on Dr. Parrott’s plantation near Falling Creek. Amos Ellis, Lafayette Edwards, and Violet Edwards would have heard of the marriage, as would Isaac Lynch. … “My husband was raised five miles from Snow Hill on the Betsey Edwards place.” “My husband had a woman before the war. She might be called a slave wife and her name was Jennie. My husband told me she died in Newbern about the close of the war.” “At date of death of my husband I had one child under 16, viz., George Speight and he was fourteen on the 26th of last September. I never had George’s age set down by I remembered it all the same and I have always celebrated the twenty sixth of September as being his birthday and I am absolutely sure that he is now fourteen going on fifteen.” Midwife Mariah Moore lived one mile from Kinston in Harveytown. “After my marriage I lived for twelve months on the place of Dr. John Harvey and then I moved down here; moved here in the Fall of 1870 and have been here ever since. Everybody both white and black know me around here.” Deposition A.
  • Hannah Speight — Sixty-one years of age and lives four miles from Kinston. “I have had eleven children – ten by Bailham Speight and one by Loderick Artist. I never lived with Loderick Artist for during the time he came to see me I was living in the house with my mother and father. We were engaged to be married but after he got me in trouble he went and married another woman. He married her before I married Bailham Speight. He married a woman named Mandy and lived with her till he died ten years ago. He died in the neighborhood of Speights Bridge. No, I never went under the name of Artist nor was I ever known as his wife and never lived with him a day. Our relations were all of a secret nature.” Deposition B.
  • Rosetta Sauls – “I think I am 85; I can do no work and live with my grandson.” “Hannah Speight is my daughter.” … “I did not see her married because she married in Snow Hill and I was living in the country but Bailham come and got her from her my house and took her to Snow Hill where they were married and then they came right back to my house where they lived some three or four months and then they moved in a house to themselves.” “No, my daughter was never married to Loderick Artist and they never did live together but he was the father of her oldest child. He deceived my daughter and got a child by her and then went and married Mandy. All the time he was keeping company with my daughter she was living with me. My daughter never went under the name of Artist nor did she ever go under any name except Sauls and Speight. …” “Bailham Speight and Hannah were both members of the Baptist Church and had they been living improperly and not regularly married they would not have taken them in church.”
  • Lemon Speight – “On the 27th of last April I was 37 years of age.” Farmer four miles from Kinston. “Hannah Speight is my mother. I am the son of Loderick Artist who died ten years go. He never married my mother and I am the only child she ever had except those belonging to Bailham Speight. My father had a wife and her name was Mandy.” “I was married December the 12th 1889 and my brother George was born September the 26th 1889.”

And a letter dictated by Bailham Speight himself:

February 11th 1896, Kinston N.C.

Mr. I.S. Kurtz       Dear Sir, Relative to my age and the way that my name has been spelled. Now I wished to informs you that I used to belong to the old man names Edwards before the war (white) Therefore I enlisted in the Military Services of the United states. I enlisted by the name of Bailham Edwards and I answered at roll call. Bailham Edwards. But the Yankees, they called the name some what like this. Balum Edwards. But however you is speaking to the same man after all. …” [The letter is written in a very florid hand, and the signature does not show his “X.” However, other documents reveal that Bailham Speight could not, in fact, read or write.]

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