Valley Southern Claims Commission Papers

Southern Claims Commission: Claim of Mary Blackburn, 1875, Claim No. 1378

Summary: Mary Blackburn filed this claim in 1875 for $476, claiming the Union army took two horses, two cattle, bacon, flour, a saddle, and two bridles in 1864. Mary was a 45 year old former slave whose freedom was bought by her first husband John Patrick. Included is testimony from four African Americans, including Mary's second husband Samuel, and her previous owner Henry Mish. The commission allowed $355.

Items Claimed:

Item Claimed: Amount Claimed: Amount Allowed: Amount Disallowed:
Two horses @ 150. each $300.00 $250.00 $50.00
Two head of Cattle 40. $80.00 $60.00 $20.00
300 lbs. bacon @ 25c per lb. $75.00 $35.00 $40.00
One Bl. of flour $10.00 $10.00 $0.00
One Saddle $7.00 $0.00 $7.00
Two Bridles @ 2.00 $4.00 $0.00 $4.00

Claims Summary:

The claimant is a colored women and was the wife of John Patrick during the war, he was a free man and bought her from her owner; they were industrious and well-to-do and were well known friends of the Union. The property charged belonged to John Patrick and was taken during his lifetime, by command of Gen.Averall in June 1864. The widow his present Claimant left no known kin. She has marrried since his death, Blackburn who was a Union soldier during the war.

All the facts in support of the claim are satisfactorially established by several witnesses. It is proved that the horses and cows were good, and in good condition when taken. We allow the sum of three hundred and fifty-five dollars.

A.O. Aldis, JB Howell, and Orange FerrisComrs of Claims

Testimony: Samuel Blackburn

United States of America, State of Va.

J.W.G. Riley, a commissioner selected and designated by the Commissioners of Claims appointed under the Act of Congress of March 3d 1871 to take and record testimony. Do hereby certify that the reason for taking the following deposition is and the fact is the matter of claim of Mary Blackburn Colored vs. the United States of America and the witnesses herein named being first duly sworn answers as follows.

Samuel Blackburn, (Colored) a Witness

1st Witness says I am 38 years old, I reside in Augusta Co.Va. by occupation a farmer. I have resided in this County for 28 years.

3d Witness says-I did not pass the United States military lines and enter the Confederate lines.

4th Witness says I never took any oath to the Confederate States.

5th Witness says I have taken the Amnesty Oath in Augusta County, in 1866. I never was pardoned by the President.

6th Witness says I never done anything for the rebel states except as forced.

7th Witness says I never held any office place of trust, profit or honor in the Confederacy.

8th Witness say being a colored man I never done anything for the Confederate Government, Army or Navy.

14th Witness say I never was engaged in blockade running.

15th Witness says I was not out of the State of Va. at any time.

16th Witness says I never was in any way interested in the navigation of any vessel to or from any port of the Confederacy.

17th Witness says I never was arrested by the Confederates, nor by the U. States Government.

18th Witness says I had some clothes taken by the Confederates and received no pay therefor.

19th Witness says I was threatened with beings shot because of my principals. I never was molested.

21st Witness says I have never contributed anything except about 2 1/2 months labor in Genl. Sheridan's Army, and with Genl. Burney at Hatcher's run, near Petersburg, Va.

23 Witness says I had no relatives in either army to my knowledge.

24th Witness says I never owned any Confederate Bonds or interest therein. Nor did any thing to support the credit of the Confederate States. I never give aid to the rebellion.

26th Witness says I never was engaged in making raids into the U.S. from Canada, or in the destruction of Commerce.

27th Witness says I never was engaged in holding in custody any person as prisoner of war.

28th Witness says I never belonged to any society for the expulsion or persecution of any persons, because of their loyalty to the United States.

29th Witness says I never was paroled by the United States.

30th Witness says I never held any office and being a colored man I have no education.

31st Witness says I never received any pass from the Confederate Government.

32d Witness says I had no disabilites.

33d Witness says I was a Union man all my days. I had no vote.

34th Witness says I have always been for the United States, and ready at all times to aid her cause.

Further this deponent saith not. September 6th 1871.

Samuel Blackburn his mark

Testimony: Adelaide Hunter

Adelaide Hunter, colered woman, a witness introduced by claimant to prove the taking of the property named in the petition, being duly sworn as follows.

1st Witness says I am 53 years sold. I reside in Augusta Co.Va. I am house keeper. I have was present when the property named in the petition was taken. I saw it taken. There were two horses, two Cows, One barrel of Flour, the Bacon of 3 Hogs, two Bridles and One Saddle. I suppose the hogs weighed about 150 lbs each.

4th Witness says the property was taken in June 1864 from the claimants premises in Augusta Co.Va. by officers and soldiers of the United States Army under Command of Genl. Hunter. An officer ordered the soldiers to take the property.

7th Witness says the soldiers come in and took the property.

8th Witness says the horses were rode and led away, and the Cows were driven. They carried the flour and Bacon away on their shoulders.

9th Witness says they were encamped about 1/2 mile away, where they took property too.

10th Witness says they said they wanted the property to help in breaking down the rebellion, and I suppose it was used for that purpose. I never saw it afterwards.

11th Witness says there was no complaint made to any officer.

12th Witness says there was no receipt asked for or given that I know of.

13th Witness says the property was taken in the day time, publicly between 10 A.M. and evening.

14th Witness says there was no encampment near, except for a few hours when they moved and camped for one night about 3 miles from claimants. There had been no battle or skirmish near. I knew none of the officers at all.

15th Witness says The one was 6 years old and in good condition and worth $150.00. The other was about 9 years old, also in condition and worthy fully $150.00. The Cows were worth $35.00 & 25$ or $60 for both. I do not know what the flour was worth. I suppose the Bacon was worth about 25 cents a pound. The bridles were worth $1.00 a piece and the saddle about $10.00 the property was all good and I think fully worth my valuation.

19th Witness says I would think the property was taken for the Army and not for private use.

20th Witness says-I suppose they needed the articles of property.

21st Witness says-I think they needed what they took.

22d Witness says-I think there was such a necessity as to justify and require the Government to pay for the property.

23d Witness says I think the officers and soldiers were acting under orders in taking the property.

Further this deponent saith not. Sept. 6th 1871.

Adelaide Hunter her mark

Testimony: William Poindexter

William Poindexter, colered man introduced to prove the loyalty of claimant, being duly sworn, answers and follows.

1st Witness says I am 47 years old. I reside in Augusta Co.Va. I am by occupation a laborer I have known the claimant for 15 years. I saw her frequently during the war, and after talked about the war, and I am fully satisfied that the claimant was in sympathy entirely with the Union cause, and she was so regarded by the neighbors. Had no oppertunity to do anything for the Union cause, and done nothing for the Confederates, except what was forced.

I am satisfied that in sympathy she would constantly adhered to the Union cause, & against the Confederates. Being colered, regarded the cause of the Union, as her friend.

Further this deponent saith not.

Sept 6th 1871. William Poindexter his mark

Sworn to subscriber before me this 6th day of Sept 1871.

WJ Riley

United States Commissioner and Special Comr for State of Va.

Testimony: Mary Blackburn

1. My name is Mary Blackburn, but at the time my property was taken it was Mary Patrick. My age is about 45 years my residence near Middlebrook in Augusta County. I have resided at the same place about four years. I am a house keeper.

2. I am the claimant, but the property was taken in the life time of my first husband John Patrick, who died in 1867 or 1868, & who purchased me from Henry Mish. I am the mother of three children all by my first husband, and all of them sold to traders whilst I was in slavery. I have never heard from them since, and know not where they are or whether dead or living.

4. I resided with my husband, in the same neighborhood for the six months previous to the beginning of the war. I lived with my deceased husband all the time of the War, and in the same neighborhood.

5. I was in favor of the Union cause.

6. I never did anything in word or act against the Union cause.

7. I felt a willingness to help the cause of the Union at all times, because of the manner in which my children were torn from me.

8. I had no oppertunity.

9. I had no relations in the Union Army.

10. I was not and I never made a contribution of any kind.

12. If I did anything it was on the Union side. I was in my feelings with the Union.

14. I always felt glad when the Union army whipped.

15. I had none.

16. I took no oath.

17. W.D. Henry, Jacob Carwell, & Michael Carwell, & Henry Mish all of that neighborhood.

18. I was never threatened at all and never arrested.

20. The Confederates took a horse, it was taken by Genl. McCausland's troops. I had no other property taken by the confederates.

22. I never did anything that I know of.

24. I was in no service of the Confederacy, military or civil. I never took any oath.

27. I never had charge of goods or stores of the Confederate army or Government, or any share or interest. I never was engaged in any blockade or other trade or business.

30. I had nothing to loan or subscribe, and I never contributed anything to raising or equipping troops or anything else.

32. I never give any information. I belonged to no society or organization. I took no oath. I never had a pass. I took no amnesty oath I never was a prisoner of the United States.

42. There were no fines levied against me. To questions from 44 & 51 inclusive, I answer no.

66. My husband John Patrick was the owner of the property when taken, he bought the horses, one from Wm. Basserman, near Middlebrook and the other from a man in Highland County, whose name I have forgotten, and the Cow and heifer (2 years old) he bought the cow and raised the heifer. We raised the hogs that made the bacon, and bought the flour, and the Saddle & bridles. We were living on rented land, belonging to D. Baylor. I suppose there were 150 acres, about 50 acres in timber. I have filed no petition bankruptcy.

69. I am married, my husbands name is Samuel Blackburn, we were married in 1868, December 31. My first husband John Patrick died in 1867 or '68, he was a Union man. he made no will. I had as I have stated three children, hamed John F. Patrick, Philip Patrick, & George M. Patrick, they were sold to a trader and carried off. I have no knowledge of them at all. My deceased husband did nothing at all in aid of the rebellion. My children were quite young when sold.

70. My husband bought me the year the War commenced, I think it was. I lived with my husband who rented land and farmed, he had been a free man for about ten years before he purchased me. he paid over one thousand dollars for me. I belonged to Henry Mish. I am not in his debt or employment. If my children are living would be interested. I suppose my present husband too.

72. I was present and saw the property taken. The horses were taken from the field and bridled at the house, and the saddle put on at the same time and rode away. The Cattle were in the Meadow close to the house, where the soldiers went and brought it down, and carried it to their Camp a short distance from my house and the flour out of the house. The property was all taken in day light. The Army came about 9 oclock A.M. and left in the afternoon.

74. There was no complaint made, by husband was sick at the time. I told one of them that I thought he might leave me a little flour. I knew no names of any soldier or officer, and did not ask for a receipt. I have never received any pay nor did my husband, ever ask or try to get any in his life time.

77. The Army was in camp, near my house for a part of the day. They came from the West and crossed the Mountain from Pond Gap to Summerdean, and when they left they started in the direction of Staunton. The Army was in command of General Averall, but generally known as Genl. Hunter's, and it was in June 1864. There had been no battle in that vicinity.

79. The horses were in good condition, and of good quality, one was a young horse and the other not old. They worked and rode well, and of good size. I think they were worth one hundred and fifty dollars each. The Cattle were fat, and from their size, they cow being very large and the heifer very large too. I think they were worty fifty dollars, and thirty dollars. The bacon was averaged by the weight of the hogs when killed, which was 150 lbs each for two and 100 lbs for the third, and we had used but little of the bacon, we had none but us two in family. Flour was worth ten dollars in good money. The Saddle was some worn and the bridles were very good. I do not know whether an officer was present or not. They were in camp in our meadow.

Mary Blackburnhis mark

Testimony: Michael Carwell

Deposition of Michael Carwell

My name is Michael Carwell, my age is 63 years. My residence near Middlebrook in Augusta County, my occupation a farmer. I have no interest directly or indirectly in the claim and in no way related.

52. I testify in behalf of the claimant.

53. I have known the claimant for about fifteen years, and knew her intimately during the war, and always found her willing and ready to do all she could for the Union cause. She would receive and conceal provisions &c for persons who were making their escape from the rebel army through the lines. She could be depended on, and her deceased husband John Patrick, whom I knew intimately was a faithful co-worker. They were free, Patrick having purchased hiw wife, the claimant in this casee, and they were past common for their industry and economy and regarded by all strictly honest, by their industry &c they made money and saved it. I was a Union man myself, and always felt safe in confiding in them, and trust my secrets and plans with them. I have known them to be threatened by rebels, because of their intimacy with Union men and because they were suspected for harboring Union men and provisions.

I was not present and did not see the property taken, but I do know that they had such property and the morning after the Army passed their property was gone. They told me that the Union Army commanded by General Averall or Crooks, who had crossed the Mountain from Pond Gap to Summerdean, had taken their property, and I believe they did. I never saw the property afterwards. There is no doubt that the property really belonged to them and no one else white or colered had any interest in the property. John Patrick was a farmer and made money at it. The horses were really good animals young and strong farm horses. I think they were worth one hundred and fifty a piece. I do not know what the cattle were worth, but suppose sixty or seventy dollars, bacon was selling at 25 cents in good money and flour ten dollars per barrel in good money.

M Carwell

I will add that I knew Samuel Blackburn the present husband of the claimant, during the War, he was a slave, belonging to John Randolph of Albemarle County, he went off with the Union Army, and remained until after the close of the war. I have no doubt of his loyalty, his reputation is that of an honest man.

M Carwell

Testimony: Henry Mish

Deposition of Henry Mish

My name is Henry Mish, my age is 62 years my residence near Middlebrook in August County. My occupation a farmer. I have no beneficial interest in the claim.

I testify in behalf of the claimant.

53. I have known the claimant Mary Blackburn, since 1837. She was my servant for twenty years. I got her with my wife, and sold her to her husband John Patrick deceaseed in 1869. He was a free man, and had been for a number of years.

54. They lived about one mile from me.

55. I saw them frequently sometimes, two or three times a week.

56. From all I heard them say and do, I regarded him and the claimant as in every way loyal to the Union.

57. I do not know of anything, of myself but heard from others that they did aid persons who were trying to go through the lines.

58. I know of nothing done by them against the Union. He was impressed at one time to haul a load of supplies for the Confederate army, but he told me that if done so again, they would have to tie him. The claimant I am satisfied never did anything at all.

60. I never heard anything against their loyalty to the Union, and believe that the Union men of the neighborhood had confidence in them.

61. Michael Carwell, Washington and Jacob Hess, John Engleman, & Geo Rubush, I think they all would testify to their loyalty if called upon.

62. I adhered to the Union myself and was treated as such by my rebel neighbors, during the war and since, and the claimant & her deceased husband knew I was.

63. John Patrick told me that he was threatened by some rebels.

64. From my knowledge of them, I could not testify to their loyalty to the Confederates, had they gained an independence. I was not present and did not see the property taken, but I saw the horses and cattle at claimants house about an hour before the Army arrived, and I know they were gone the next morning. They told me that the Union army had taken them, and I believe they did, as I never saw the property afterwards. The Army was in command of Genl. Averal and Crooks, and it was in June 1864. The horses were in good condition and so were the cattle. The horses were young & strong and I think they worth One hundred and Seventy dollars each. I paid that, for not as good. I would think the cattle were worth forty or forty five dollars a piece. I know nothing of the other property charged, but believe they were too honest to make a false charge. John Patrick decd. and the claimant, were of the most honest and industrious character. Samuel Blackburn, present husband of the claimant, is an honest upright man, and I believe loyal to the Union, I never heard anything to the contrary. I know he is a working republican.

Henry Mish

Bibliographic Information : Southern Claims Commission: Claim of Mary Blackburn, 1875, Claim No. 1378, Source copy consulted: National Archives, College Park, RG 217, claim #1378.

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