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Monday, May 28, 2018

Dedication of First 29 Pavers in Veterans Park in Franklin, Tennessee

Today was an incredible day. The first 29 pavers were dedicated in Williamson County's Veterans Park honoring some of the 300 African American veterans of the Civil War from this community.  The ceremony focused on their sacrifices and contributions.  My friend, Gary Burke, the great-great grandson of a member of the 17th USCI, and a re-enactor of the 13th US Colored Infantry participated.  Additionally, some of the histories of a few of the men whose pavers were dedicated was shared.  Ms. Thelma Battle, local historian, who recently discovered through DNA analysis that she is related to Private Felix Battle spoke about him. Four members of the local American Legion Post 215 shared the stories of Corporal Abraham McGavockPvt. John DubuissonPvt. Freeman Thomas, and Seaman Stephen Bostick.  It was a wonderful day.  I hope others are inspired to sponsor pavers so that we can continue to share their stories and honor their legacies. Please visit our website to find out how to be a part of this effort - www.SlavesToSoldiers.com


The Williamson Herald always provides wonderful coverage of our project and this event was no different. Thankful for their interest in sharing these stories. http://www.williamsonherald.com/news/article_c4848e84-5f37-11e8-b43a-ab64f7e26c9b.html We also had great coverage in the Tennessean about our project and the exhibit to share their stories at the Williamson County Archives.  The exhibit will be on display through the end of the summer.

https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/williamson/2018/05/27/black-civil-war-troops-tennessee-geneaology-research/632999002/








Friday, May 25, 2018

"A Soldier Never Dies Until He is Forgotten" - Memorial Day 2018

As we prepare to dedicate the first 29 sponsored brick pavers at Veterans Park on Monday, May 28th, I wanted to pause to remember the 59 African American soldiers from Williamson County who died in service to our country during the Civil War. Ten of these men died of wounds received in the Battle of Nashville. Many of their remains lie in unmarked or unknown graves. Please consider visiting our website at www.SlavesToSoldiers.com and sponsoring a brick paver in Williamson County's Veterans Park so that next Memorial Day each of them can be individually honored and remembered.

Of the nearly 275 African American Civil War US Army veterans from Williamson County 14 died serving in the 12th US Colored Infantry, 17 died serving in the 13th US Colored Infantry, and the other twenty men served in ten different infantry regiments. Seven of the deceased veterans from Williamson County served in the Army's Artillery's batteries and one was a member of the Colored Cavalry.

12th US COLORED INFANTRY

COMPANY A

  • PVT ADAM GIBSON, enlisted when he was 22 years old, died in Nashville on Dec. 29,1863 while being removed from the ambulance at Hospital No. 16, his headstone is in the Nashville National Cemetery
  • PVT MANSON GIBSON, enlisted when he was 28 years old, died at the Elk River on Nov 2, 1863 of "congestion of the brain", his remains have not been located and are probably in an unmarked grave
  • PVT LOGAN GOSEY, 20 years old when he enlisted, died of disease in General Hospital No. 16 in Nashville on January 29, 1864, his headstone is in the Nashville National Cemetery
  • PVT GILES JARRETT, 23 years old when he enlisted, died May 7, 1865 in Kingston Springs of anasaraca (often a symptom of malnutrition), his remains have not been located and are probably in an unmarked grave
  • PVT JAMES STRONG, 23 years old when he enlisted, died in hospital in Kingston Springs Feb. 8, 1865 of small pox, his remains have not been located and are probably in an unmarked grave

Pvt. Adam Gibson's Headstone
Pvt. Logan Gosey's Headstone

COMPANY G

  • PVT WINSTEAD OWENS, enlisted when he was 22 years old, Died of wounds received at the Battle of Nashville on Dec. 24, 1864, his headstone may be in Section E 2209 in the Nashville National Cemetery
  • 3rd Sgt. JOHN SNEED, enlisted when he was 27 years old, on February 10, 1865 he died of disease at a hospital in Huntsville, Alabama, his remains may have been moved to the Chattanooga National Cemetery but have not yet been located
COMPANY H
  • CPL. THOMAS JOHNSON, enlisted when he was 27 years old, he died in a regimental hospital on Oct. 1, 1865 in Kingston Springs, Tennessee of chronic dysentery, his gravesite has been tentatively identified as Section J, site 14941 in the Nashville National Cemetery
COMPANY I

  • PVT HARRY BRIGGS, enlisted at 45 years old, died of typhoid pneumonia at Regimental Hospital Sec. 53 Nashville and North Western Rail Road (near Johnsonville, Tenn.) on April 5, 1864, his remains have not been located and may be in an unmarked grave
  • PVT ABRAHAM WINSTEAD, enlisted at 51 years old, died March 1, 1864 of dropsy Hospital 16 in Nashville, his remains have not been located and are probably in an unmarked grave
COMPANY K
  • PVT REUBEN BOYD, enlisted when he was 38 years old, died in Nashville hospital No 11 from small pox, his remains were buried in the "Pest Hospital Cemetery" but have not been located
  • PVT ASBURY DEGRAFFENREID, enlisted at 19 years old, he died Dec. 20, 1864 at General Hospital No. 11 of a gunshot wound to the abdomen received in the Battle of Nashville on Dec. 16, 1864, He was initially buried in grave No. 10510 but his final burial (which is likely in the Nashville National Cemetery) has not been located.
  • PVT MICHAEL "MIKE" ENSLEY, enlisted when he was 33 years old, he died April 8, 1864 at the Regimental Hospital - Sec. 53 of N&NW Rail Road (near Johnsonville) of "flux", his remains have not been located and are probably in an unmarked grave
  • PVT ALFRED SPRATT, enlisted when he was 23 years old, he died of disease on Oct. 10, 1863 at the Elk River, his remains have not been located and are probably in an unmarked grave
13th US COLORED INFANTRY

COMPANY A
  • PVT SAMUEL ARMSTRONG, he was 19 years old when he enlisted in Franklin, he died of wounds received in the Battle of Nashville on Dec 20, 1864; he is buried in the Nashville National Cemetery in Section L-15321 
  • PVT EDMUND CARPENTER, he was 26 years old when he enlisted in Franklin, Died in Regimental Hospital at Camp L. Thomas March 12, 1864
  • PVT JOHN H. FRIARSON, he was 19 years old when he enlisted in Franklin, he drowned near Camp L Thomas on June 1, 1864 while bathing, his remains (if recovered) have not been located and are probably in an unmarked grave
  • PVT MILES GERMAN, 30 years old when he enlisted, he died at the General Hospital No. 16 (in Nashville) of wounds received at Battle of Nashville, on January 19, 1865, he is buried in the Nashville National Cemetery
  • Pvt. Samuel Armstrong's Headstone

Pvt. Miles German's Headstone
COMPANY B
  • PVT TUCKER BURNETT, enlisted at 19 years old, he died of disease within a few months of mustering into the army on Jan. 1, 1864 at Camp Mussey; his remains have not been located and are probably in an unmarked grave
  • PVT GEORGE HELMS, enlisted when he was 21 years old, died from wounds received at the Battle of Nashville on Feb 11 1865, at the General Hospital, Nashville, His headstone has tentatively identified in the Nashville National Cemetery in Section B, # 6164
  • PVT MONROE MOORE, enlisted at 20 years old, died Dec 15, 1863 at Regimental Hospital, Camp Mussey of disease, his remains have not been located and are probably in an unmarked grave

COMPANY D
  • CPL JOHN PIDER (POINTER?), enlisted at 19 years old, he died June 20th of accidental wounds received on the 2nd of June at Waverly, Tenn, his remains have not been located and are probably in an unmarked grave


COMPANY F

  • PVT HENRY CRAWFORD, enlisted at 19 years old, he died on May 3, 1864 of typhoid at Hospital No 16 in Nashville, his remains have not been located and are probably in an unmarked grave
  • PVT HORACE WINSTON, enlisted at 19 years old, Died in General Hospital No. 16 of Gangrene from severe wounds received in the Battle of Nashville on January 6, 1865, his headstone has tentatively been identified as being in Nashville National Cemetery at Section L #15464 

COMPANY H
  • PVT HENRY CHAPPELL, enlisted at 18 years old, died January 5, 1864 of disease (Camp Mussey), his remains have not been located and are probably in an unmarked grave
  • PVT JAMES PARHAM, enlisted at 20 years old, died at US General Hospital No. 11 in Nashville, on January 22, 1865 of small pox, his remains are buried in the Nashville National Cemetery Section E 2008 Section P # 12263
  • PVT PETER WATERS, enlisted at 18 years old, he died on January 21, 1866 at the Pest Hospital in Nashville of Small Pox, his remains have not bee located

COMPANY I
  • PVT ROBERT BITTICK, enlisted at age 45, Died of Jan. 20, 1864 in Nashville of disease (typhoid fever) at hospital No. 16, his remains are buried in the Nashville National Cemetery 
  • PVT ANDREW CRAWFORD, enlisted at 18 years old, died in May 1864 in Nashville General hospital No. 16 from small pox; his remains are buried in the Nashville National Cemetery Section K – 130; #10615
  • PVT NICK CRUTCHELOW, enlisted at 21 years old, died of disease May 6, 1864 at Camp L Thomas; his remains have not been located and are probably in an unmarked grave
  • CPL. WILLIAM REDMAN, enlisted at 21 years old, Killed in Action at the Battle of Nashville Dec 16, 1864, his headstone has not been identified.

14th US COLORED INFANTRY

COMPANY C
  • PVT ROBERT SPRATT, died Dec.2,1865 in Post Hospital in Chattanooga on Dec 2, 1865; Buried at the Chattanooga National Cemetery, Plot: J, 3546 
COMPANY I
  • PVT JOHN WM WOODWARD, enlisted at 18 years old, he died August 23, 1864 in Chattanooga of chronic diarrhea; his remains are buried at the Chattanooga National Cemetery in Plot: J, 3288 
    Pvt. Robert Spratt's Headstone
Pvt John Wm Woodward's Headstone


15th US COLORED INFANTRY

COMPANY A
  • PVT ANDERSON BOXLEY, enlisted at 22 years old, died in a Hospital in Nashville on July 18, 1865 from dysentery, his remains are buried in the Nashville National Cemetery in Section J 15197
  • PVT WILLIAM JORDAN, enlisted at 20 years old, died in a hospital in Nashville on May 26, 1865 of typhoid fever, his remains have not been located
COMPANY B
  • PVT PETER HUGHES, enlisted at 23 years old, died at Wilson General Hospital, Nashville January 23, 1864 of pneumonia, his remains are buried in the Nashville National Cemetery Section E 2108
 COMPANY D
  • PVT PRESTON MOSS, enlisted as a 31 year old, he died in General Hospital Nashville, Tenn No. 16 Dec 1, 1864 of chronic disease of the heart; is remains are buried in the Nashville National Cemetery - Plot: , L.15361, his wife and minor child applied for a pension in his name
COMPANY E
  • PVT JOSEPHUS SWANSON, enlisted at 21 years old, died in Cumberland Hospital in Nashville March 30, 1866 from complications of small pox, a headstone has been tentatively identified for him in the Nashville National Cemetery Section R # 7720

16th US COLORED INFANTRY

COMPANY C
  • PVT JAMES BARKER, enlisted at 44 years old, died at pest hospital from pneumonia, in Clarkesville, December 25, 1864; a headstone for his remains has not been identified


17th US COLORED INFANTRY

COMPANY E
  • PVT NOAH ELMORE, enlisted at 26 years old, died of typhoid pneumonia in Murfreesboro, his remains have not been located
COMPANY G

  • PVT CHARLES CLAYBURN, enlisted at 18 years old, killed in action in the Battle of Nashville – Dec. 15, 1864; his remains have not been located
COMPANY H
  • PVT DANIEL DOTSON, enlisted at 27 years old, Died at Nashville May 29, 1865 of scurvy also “rheumatism of the heart; he “left no effects of any value”; his remains are buried in the Nashville National Cemetery L - 15651
  • CPL HENRY MCPEARSON, enlisted at 28 years old, wounded at Battle of Nashville Dec. 15, 1864 by gun shot (arm broken); died at Wilson US Hospital Feb 21, 1865; his remains are buried in the Nashville National Cemetery Section L 1515411 
COMPANY K
  • PVT JOHN JACKSON 1ST, enlisted at 21 years old, died Jan.10, 1864 from wounds received in the Battle of Nashville, his burial location has not been identified

Pvt. Henry McPearson's Headstone


42nd US COLORED INFANTRY

COMPANY H
  • PVT AMOS POTTER, died in Huntsville Post Hospital of acute dysentery/typhoid fever on Oct. 9, 1865, his remains have not been located but may be buried in Chattanooga

44th US COLORED INFANTRY
COMPANY B
  • CPL HARRISON ROBERTS, enlisted at 17 years old,died in USA Post Hospital in Huntsville of consumption Feb. 24, 1866, his remains are buried in the Chattanooga National Cemetery Section J # 3909


46th US COLORED INFANTRY

COMPANY H
  • PVT ISHAM ANDERSON, enlisted at 22 years old, died of dysentery in hospital in Brownsville, Texas Sept 16, 1865, his remains are buried in the Alexandria, Louisiana National Cemetery Section B Site 1202

47th US COLORED INFANTRY

COMPANY K
  • PVT ABRAM DOUGHTERTY, enlisted at 32 years old, on May 5, 1864 he died in Regimental Hospital in Vicksburg of pneumonia; no final gravesite has been located
  • PVT MILES WILSON, enlisted at 44 years old, on March 8, 1865 he died of small pox at the Corps d’Afrique General Hospital, New Orleans, Louisiana; no final gravesite has been located
Pvt. Isham Anderson's Headstone


51st US COLORED INFANTRY

COMPANY I
  • PVT ALEXANDER GORDON, enlisted at 37 years old, died from drowning in Red River Dec. 23, 1865, his remains have not been located

55th US COLORED INFANTRY

COMPANY F
  • PVT JOHN COLLYER (COLLIER?), enlisted at 31 years old, on May 22, 1864 he died of disease at Memphis, his remains have not been located

ARTILLERY REGIMENTS


1st US COLORED HEAVY ARTILLERY BATTERY C
  • PVT JAMES ROBERTS, enlisted at 20 years old, he died April 2, 1864 of pneumonia caused by typhoid fever in Knoxville Regimental hospital; his remains have not been located

3rd US COLORED HEAVY ARTILLERY BATTERY K
  • PVT JOHN JORDAN, enlisted at 38 years old, died of disease on Nov. 7, 1864 in Regimental Hospital at Ft. Pickering in Memphis, no burial location has been identified

4th US COLORED HEAVY ARTILLERY BATTERY C

  • PVT WILLIAM A. IRWING, enlisted at 28 years old, he died of dysentery in a hospital in Columbus, Kentucky on August 25, 1863; no burial location has been identified

8th US COLORED HEAVY ARTILLERY BATTERY A

  • PVT JAMES GORDON, enlisted at 39 years old, on Jan. 27, 1865 he died at USA Hospital for Colored Troops at Paducah, Ky. of pneumonia, no burial location has been identified

2nd US COLORED LIGHT ARTILLERY BATTERY C

  • PVT HARVEY WILLINGTON, enlisted at 25 years old, died in USA Hospital No. 16 Nashville, Tenn. March 23, 1864 of typhoid feverl; his remains have not been located
  • PVT PETER BATTLE, enlisted at 19 years old, died in Wilson Hospital Nashville Feb 15, 1865 of pneumonia, his final resting place has not been identified

2nd US COLORED LIGHT ARTILLERY BATTERY E

  • PVT ALFRED CARTER, 22 year old farmer, died in a hospital in Helena, Arkansas of pneumonia April 26, 1865, his remains have not been located

CAVALRY

3rd US COLORED CAVALRY COMPANY M
  • PVT THOMAS PATTON, enlisted at 23 years old, died April 28, 1865 of chronic diarrhea in a regimental hospital in Memphis; his final burial site has not been located

"A Soldier Never Dies Until He is Forgotten"

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Runaways and Resistance Against Slavery in Williamson County

In the course of my research, I have come across numerous instances of the enslaved fighting back against the conditions that kept them in bondage. There were a few reports of organized slave insurrections in Williamson County and many accounts of individuals attempting to run away from bondage. 

Slave Insurrections. In December 1838 and again in December 1856 the newspapers reported on possible "slave insurrections." Its not clear to me whether these revolts were actual or just feared - but they demonstrate that the white population understood how tenuous their position was in maintaining their status of power.
The Mississippi Free Trader Saturday December 15, 1838
The Baltimore Sunday Thursday Dec 20, 1838
Vermont Phoenix, Friday January 4, 1839
Hartford Courant Wednesday Dec. 10, 1856
Runaway Ads. Further proof that the enslaved continuously resisted the condition of their enslavement and attempted to run away is found in the many newspaper ads published in the newspapers in middle Tennessee during the more than 150 years that slavery existed in this area.  Here are just a sampling of them from Williamson County.
Nashville Whig Wednesday, May 12 1813
A boy named Abraham was a runaway
from John H. Easton in Franklin.
Nashville Whig, Tuesday, Mar 8, 1814
A boy named Moses had runaway from David Craig,
six miles east of Franklin
The Mississippi Free Trader, Wednesday, January 3, 1816
A man named Winser, a cooper, had run away in Mississippi,
and was expected to head back toward Nashville
and was sought by his owner Stephen Nolen in Williamson County
Nashville Whig, Wednesday April 2, 1817
Three people, probably a family, a man Calloway,
a woman and child ran away from Stephens
who bought them from William Bissel
of Williamson County. They were being
held in a jail in Hickman County.
Nashville Whig Saturday May 1, 1819
A man named Peter ran away from Riley Slocumb near Franklin.
He was a shoemaker.
Nashville Whig Wednesday June 28, 1820
 A man named Patrick, a shoemaker, ran away rom J. H. Hall near Franklin. 
Nashville Whig Wednesday August 1, 1821
A man named Perry ran away from John Hightower from Williamson County. 
Nashville Whig, Wednesday May 28, 1823
A man named Charlie, a blacksmith, ran away from Thomas Cash 9 miles south of Franklin.
He was originally purchased from the Rev. Gideon Blackburn of Williamson County. 
Nashville Whig, Monday, January 10, 1825
A man named Ben ran away and was expected
to go to Nolensville in Williamson County.
He used to be enslaved by Amos Johnson there.
He was being sought by George Sterling Smith in Huntsville, Alabama
Nashville Whig, Monday, October 3, 1825
A girl named Eliza Kemp ran away.
She belonged to the heirs of J. Camp and was being sought by Peter Perkins
(probably administrator of the estate)  who lived three miles northwest of Franklin.
Nashville Republican & Gazette, Tuesday April 1, 1834
A man named Joshua, a Baptist preacher,
had runaway from Serene J. Hulme near Franklin, TN
Nashville Republican & State Gazette, Tuesday, September 2, 1834
A man named Elijah ran away from an area near the Harpeth River in Williamson County.
He used to be enslaved by J.A. Gregory and had come from Green Country, Kentucky. 
The Tennessean, Tuesday, February 24, 1835
A man named Nicholas ran away from John Edmonson Jr. ,
11 miles south of Nashville in Williamson County.
Mississippi Free Trader, Tuesday, August 18, 1835
A "yellow" runaway named Granville was listed
as belonging to Thomas Manning of Franklin, Tennessee;
He was in the Yalobusha County, Mississippi Jail since June 29th, 1835. 
The Tennessean Thursday, June 9, 1836
L. R. Starkes was searching for a man named Jefferson who
runaway from Laurel Hill in Williamson County,
6 miles south of Franklin. Jefferson had been a body servant
(house servant) and had pierced ears.
The Tennessean, Tuesday July 2, 1839
Two men Ruffin and Jesse had run away from
Charles Locke at Hardeman's Crossroads
in Williamson County, Tennessee.
The Tennessean, Monday August 1, 1842
A man named Eli ran away from John Haley near  Eagleville
He was born in Virginia, sold to Mississippi and then brought to Tennessee.
Nashville Republican & Gazette, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 1844
A man named Albert, a carpenter, ran away
 from Thomas K. Handy in Franklin, Tenn.
The Tennessean Friday, September 20, 1844
A 12 year old boy named Ned ran away from John Haley of Eagleville.  
Republican Banner, Wednesday, July 2, 1845
 A man named Jordan ranaway.
Previously enslaved by Thomas A. Pankey of Franklin, Tenn. 
Nashville Republican Banner Wednesday, July 2 1845
A man named Harrison Black (its unusual that is identified with a last name)
has runaway from Thomas Brown , 6 miles from Franklin, Tenn.
Nashville Union and American, Saturday July 30, 1859
Runaway man named Harry belonged to a man named Owen of Franklin, Tenn.
Nashville Union and American, Tuesday February 12, 1861
Four people were being sought - Aggy, her daughter Liza, son Burton, and Joshua.
All of them sold by Newton Jordan to W. Pettus.  Newton Jordan was accused of stealing them away from the Triune area of Williamson County.
Nashville Union and American, Saturday June 22, 1861
A man named Davy ran away from Edward Eggleston.
He was "raised near Franklin in Williamson County, Tennessee"
and bought from Dr. Gale near Nashville in the fall of 1849.
He "has the marks of the whip on his back, one scar from the whip extends fro his side. 

The Nashville Daily Union, Sunday, April 20, 1862
A man named Sam was being held in jail in Davison County.
He belonged to Robert Owen of Williamson County.
The Nashville Daily Union, Sunday May 11 1862
A man named Jerry said he belonged to Thomas Handy of Williamson County,
he was being held in Davidson County jail.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Corporal Abraham McGavock, 14th US Colored Infantry (1842-1869)

Abraham McGavock was born about 1842 in Franklin, Tennessee.  He was the son of Dafney and Daniel Perkins and had 12 siblings including a brother (Fountain) and a sister (Mary London). Abraham, his mother Dafney and siblings were enslaved by the family of Nicholas Tate Perkins on the west side of Franklin.  His father Daniel was enslaved nearby on Thomas "Hardin" Perkins' Meeting of the Waters plantation on Del Rio Pike. 

When Abraham was about five years old he was taken from his parents and siblings and sold to James McGavock who lived where the Forrest Crossing subdivision is in Franklin today. He was put in the care of an enslaved young woman named Julia McGavock who had previously been kept at nearby Carnton Plantation. When Abraham was 21 years old, he enlisted in the US Army's 14th US Colored Troops to fight during the Civil War.  He was appointed corporal and wounded by gunfire during a skirmish in 1865.  He mustered out in 1866 with a still festering wound and died in 1869 of complications from his injury. His life's story is much richer and complicated than this simple description, though.  Please read on to understand not just his history but that of his incredible parents.


Enslaved by the Perkins Family

Daniel Perkins, Abraham's Father.  Abraham's father Daniel Perkins was enslaved by Thomas "Hardin" Perkins (born May 3, 1757 near Halifax, Virginia).  Daniel was born in  Virginia - probably also near Halifax on the Perkins Plantation.  He was born by at least 1772 but could have been born as early as 1760. According to statements made by his wife, Dafney, she remembered that he could recall hearing the cannons of the American Revolution being fired.  This was entirely possible.  Thomas Hardin Perkins was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Virginia line in 1777.  Daniel would have been a young boy or even a teenager, and the fighting and excitement of military action would certainly have been memorable to Daniel.  
Dafney Perkins statement, December 7, 1874, Nashville, Tennessee: My late husband, Daniel Perkins died just before the late war at a very old age, though he often stated that he heard the report of cannons during the Revolution of 1776

Thomas Hardin Perkins left Virginia and came to Williamson County in 1800, just as the area was being incorporated.  He brought a now adult Daniel and other enslaved people with him.  Soon after, Thomas Hardin Perkins began construction, most likely using enslaved laborers, of a two-story brick home which was completed about 1810. Its likely that Daniel was among those who helped to build the home or furniture for it because elsewhere in probate documents Daniel was described as a "joiner", indicating that he was skilled at fine carpentry work. Built at the forks of the Big Harpeth and West Harpeth Rivers, this house is called "Meeting of the Waters" and is one of the finest homes built in the county before 1830. 
Meeting of the Waters
Meeting of the Waters
Photograph from Southern Exposure Magazine

Perkins, Thomas Hardin
In 1801, Thomas Hardin Perkins shows up in the county records as holding 22 people in slavery in Williamson County. He paid taxes on 1,163 acres that year. By 1830, he was enslaving 159 people. In 1838, Thomas Hardin Perkins died. His estate settlement included Daniel who was described as "Daniel the joiner." Daniel was hired out for the year 1839 for $51 to someone named L. H. Bullock.  

After the settlement of Thomas Hardin Perkins' estate it appears as though Daniel may have gone to live with Hardin Perkins' grandson P.G.S. Perkins near the Meeting of the Waters plantation.  In the 1860 Census he owned just two enslaved people - and one of them was a 100 year old man.  In that Census, any enslaved people aged 100 years of age or older were named individually and in this case, this person was named 'Daniel."
1860 Slave Schedule - PGS (Stiver) Perkins - he enslaved two individuals.
One was a 100 year old black man named Daniel.

Daniel and Dafney's youngest three children were born in the period prior to the death of Hardin Perkins. Their son Fountain may have been first, followed by their daughter Mary in 1840, and last Abraham in 1842. They were all born on the nearby Nicholas Tate Perkins' plantation where Dafney was living.  According to Dafney,  Daniel died just after the fighting at Fort Donelson in Clarkesville during the Civil War (February 18, 1862). He is likely buried at the Meeting of the Waters plantation in a cemetery where both white and black Perkins are believed to be buried.

Dafney Perkins, Abraham's Mother, was Enslaved by Nicholas Tate Perkins  Nicholas Tate Perkins was Thomas Hardin Perkins' cousin and he emigrated to Williamson County from North Carolina around the same time. In 1803, he purchased a land grant on the west side of Franklin that was originally called Poplar Grove because of a grove of yellow poplar trees on the property. When Nicholas Tate Perkins came to Tennessee he brought some enslaved people with him, including Dafney Perkins.  
Statement of Dafney Perkins, dated May 28, 1889 in Topeka, Kansas: "I was born in Virginia. I moved to Williamson Co., Tenn. when I was 2 years old. I belonged to Nicholas Perkins who lived between Big Harper & Little Harper Creek near Franklin, Tenn. After Nicholas Perkins died I belonged to his grandson Daniel Perkins whose father Peter was already dead. Daniel Perkins still lives near Franklin, Tenn."
Dafney remembered being brought to Tennessee by the Perkins family as a very young child; she would have been about 2 years old at the time. Soon after his arrival in Williamson County, around 1810, Nicholas T. Perkins, most likely using enslaved laborers, constructed his "Two Rivers" plantation home on Del Rio Pike.

Two Rivers Home, Del Rio Pike, Franklin, Tennessee ca. 1810
Photograph By Skye Marthaler (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Nicholas T. Perkins constructed  "Montpier" in 1822 and  "River Grange" (also known as "Poplar Grove") in 1825.  He eventually amassed a plantation totaling 12,000 acres along the Natchez Trace and West Harpeth River.   Like his cousin Thomas Hardin Perkins, Nicholas Tate Perkins was also a large slaveholder.


This was the Mill that Caesar Southall says the slaves would meet at in the days before the Civil War.  He refers to it as Moses' Mill because it was owned by P.W. Moss for a period of time.  It is most well known as "Boyd's Mill."
Image courtesy of Rick Warwick / Heritage Foundation of Williamson County

The 1820 Federal Census shows that Nicholas T. Perkins enslaved 61 people, 28 of whom were "engaged in agriculture" (probably working as farm laborers). Many of those he enslaved were very young (24 were children under the age of 14). Dafney would have been a 10 year old girl. Just ten years later, the 1830 Federal Census shows that he was then enslaving 97 individuals, 14 of whom were girls between the ages of 10 and 23. Dafney would have been 20 years old. In the 1830s, Nicholas T. Perkins employed an overseer named William Denton to manage the people he held in bondage.

During this time period, Dafney gave birth to her first 10 children. In her pension application she refers to her husband Daniel as her "colored husband" which makes me wonder if the father of some of her first ten children was white. I can find no information about her first ten children, all of whom would have been born from about 1825-1838. Tragically, eight of these children were sold south "long before the Civil War and are gone" from her entirely.

Statement of Dafney Perkins, dated May 28, 1889 in Topeka, Kansas: "Abraham McGavock was my youngest child - I never had any children born since him. I had 13 children. The only one I know anything about is my daughter Mary Bailey here in Topeka. Three died & 8 were sold south long before the war and are gone from me entirely."

This statement by Caesar Southall gives a sense of how many people were enslaved on the Perkins Plantation. Caesar was enslaved on a nearby plantation and he says that:
It [was] said Perkins was so wealthy he did not know his colored people as he would meet them in the road and ask them who they belonged to.
Statement of Caesar Southall, dated April 9, 1881
I am a native of Williamson County, Tennessee and 48 years old, born September 2, 1832, the slave of John Southall of Williamson County, and lived [with]in 7 miles of the Perkins Plantation where Mrs. Dafney Perkins lived with her old husband, [outside] of visiting the same church Sundays, we went to the same mill "Moses Mill" and visited [backward] and forward the Perkins place. It [was] said Perkins was so wealthy he did not know his colored people as he would meet them in the road and ask them who they belonged to. I knew her and husband 15 years before the War. We called her Aunt Dafney then."
In the 1840 Census, Nicholas Tate Perkins was enslaving 50 people, including Dafney and probably her 11th child, son Fountain. That same year, Dafney's daughter Mary London was born and may be included in the census. Two years later Abraham was born in 1842. In 1843, when Dafney was 33 years old Nicholas Tate Perkins died.

Statement by Hardy Crutcher in Dafney Perkins' pension application, dated April 12, 1880. "I knew this old lady before the War as a slave as she and [her] children lived [with] in 2 1/2 miles of me in Williamson Co. for while I belonged to Crutcher she belonged to Perkins and her children belonged to same man she did who sold Abraham Perkins her son [to] James McGavock in that County. Dafney's husband belonged [to] Hardin Perkins, a cousin of her master. I knew Daniel Perkins [her husband] died as I knew him well. He was a friend of mine. I was not at his funeral but knew he died. I was a slave then."

All of Nicholas Tate Perkins' property, including the people he enslaved, went into probate.  


Portion of Nicholas T. Perkins' estate settlement, listing the enslaved people who would be set aside and divided among his heirs and next of kin: London, Anderson, Phillis, Harry, Yellow Jenny, Black Jenny, Sheridan, Bachus, Nancy 1st, Maria?, Chaney & Child Jim?, Josh, Ellen, Rotheater?, Henderson, Jasper, Daphne, Milly, Gabriel, Julius, Matthew, James, Betty, Fortune, Katy, Violet, Wilkin, Sam, Betsy, Sylvia Violet?, Mary LondonArch, Nancy 2nd, Henry, Delilah, Mahala, Hector, Peter, Smith, Amy Jane, John, Marshall, Albert, Fountain, Phillip, Ann, Elijah, Harriet, July, Eugene, Obediah?, Sidmore?, Nathan, Sophia, Ahern?
You can see on this inventory of property a list of the people enslaved by Nicholas Tate Perkins; the list included Daphne (Dafney), her daughter Mary London, and son Fountain.  A boy "Arch" is on the list right next to Mary London but no Abraham. I suspect Abraham may have been called "Arch" when he was younger.  

By 1850, 1851, 1852, 1853, 1854, and 1855, Dafney and her daughter Mary London were being held in a trust on behalf of Nicholas Tate Perkins' grandson Daniel P. Perkins and were hired out each year to earn money for him.







I do not know what happened to Abraham's brother Fountain. I have not been able to find him in any later records. I wonder if he was sold away as a child the way that Abraham was, or perhaps did not survive.

Abraham Sold to James McGavock

Abraham's childhood story is tragic and probably not uncommon. In 1848, when he was a young child, Abraham was divided from the Nicholas Tate Perkins estate and sold to James McGavock. Abraham was separated from his mother, father and siblings, and the only home he had ever known. Several records confirm this.

This statement by a woman named Julia McGavock Hughes, dated Sept. 28, 1889, describes in heartbreaking detail that she was given 4-year-old Abraham to "rear." Julia would have been just a teenager herself at the time.

I first knew [Dafney] some years prior to the war. We both were slaves and resided near Franklin, Williamson Co., Tenn. I belonged to James McGavock there and [Dafney] belonged to Daniel Perkins there. [Dafney]'s husband Daniel Perkins also resided there. He died there during the War in 1861 to 1865. [Dafney] and her husband had three children, to wit, Fountain, Mary London and Abraham. Abraham was sold when about 4 years old to my master James McGavock and was afterwards known as Abraham McGavock. The said Abraham was given me by my said master to rear, and I reared him until he was some 19 years old when he entered the Union Army.
Statement of Julia Hughes, dated Sept. 28, 1889

The James McGavock mentioned in the above statement was James Randall McGavock, the son of Randall McGavock who owned Carnton plantation on the east side of Franklin. James McGavock owned Riverside Plantation which was about 7 miles from young Abraham McGavock's former home on Del Rio Pike. The main house forms the centerpiece of the Forrest Crossing subdivision in Franklin today.
Riverside Plantation,McGavock-Gaines House, built circa 1835    


At the rear of the house are several outbuildings. The largest of these is a ca. 1832 double pen two-story log building. This building was originally used as a residence for James McGavock's family and later as housing for those he enslaved. Since Abraham and Julia were enslaved at Riverside during the time that this building was used as slaves' quarters it is quite possible that they lived in this cabin.
ca. 1832 double pen two-story log building originally used as a residence by James McGavock and his family and later as slaves' quarters. Information from the National Register Application for the McGavock-Gaines House application. Photograph from the Tennessean
In the 1850 Census, James R. McGavock was listed as enslaving 17 individuals.  One of these was an 8 year old boy.  Abraham was 8 years old in 1850, so this could be him.  


James Randall McGavock
1812-1862


1850 Slave Schedule for James R. McGavock
Williamson County, Tennessee, District 8


In the 1860 Census, just one year before the Civil War broke out, James Randall McGavock states that his real estate was worth $79,500 and his personal property (which included his slaves) was valued at $13,000.  Abraham would have been 18 years old.


Statement of Julia McGavock Hughes, May 4, 1882, Nashville, Tennessee: It was some 16 years before the war, my master bought a little 4 year old boy named then Abraham from Kemp Perkins, guardian of Daniel Perkins, he then became Abraham McGavock. The little boy nearing ?? was given me to raise. I and he slaves and I took care of him until he was about 19 years old when he entered the Army. He wrote me several letters. I knew his mother as then a slave living on Kemp Perkins [hired?] out as she belonged to young David Perkins. She lived a while on our place as she was hired about and she was there when Abraham was my master's slave. The old mother I now fully identify I have not met her for 10 years before and today she did not know me. She must be seventy years old. Master and all of us recognized her as the mother of Abraham McGavock. He was raised by me as if my son and never married or paid [attention] to girls when he left my slave home 1863."

Civil War


On June 8, 1861, Tennessee voted to secede from the Union during the Civil War.  This formally marked the area's entry into the war although preparations had already begun and surely Abraham, Daphne, Daniel and the other enslaved of Williamson County were well-aware of what was occurring. On February 24, 1862 Nashville fell to US forces. Abraham would have been 20 years old. Many enslaved people in Williamson County began to emancipate themselves and gather around the arriving US Army camps for protection, employment, shelter, and food. According to Dafney's pension file she and Abraham both went to Nashville during the War. Dafney said, "I became free by the coming of US Troops into our Country in 1863 by leaving and coming to Nashville alone." She may have been following US troops or seeking paying work.  Thousands of the enslaved from Williamson County took this path and fled to refugee camps (called "Contraband Camps") in Franklin, Brentwood and Nashville. Many were put to work building fortifications for the US forces, often without pay and little food or shelter.

We know that Abraham also left and was in the Nashville area.  Their flight may have been hastened by Congress' passage of the 2nd Conscription & Militia Act in July 1862 which granted freedom to any slaves that could get behind US Army lines.  When the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863, its freedom provisions did not apply to Tennessee, but it did include a section that made clear that African American men could serve in the US Army and Navy.  Within months the US Colored Troops were being organized in Nashville.

Statement by Dafney Perkins, April 12, 1880, Nashville, Tennesse: "I am a native of Virginia. and raised in 3 miles of Franklin, Williamson County, the place where Hood received such a whipping in 1864. I was slave of Nicholas Perkins April 19, 1861 and I became free by the coming of US Troops into our Country in 1863 by leaving and coming to Nashville alone. My only boy that had not been sold away off from me named Abraham McGavock and who had lived in 3 miles of me in Williamson County had come to Nashville before me. He had been the slave of James R. McGavock who lived in 3 miles of my master there."

Civil War Service


Inspection and Enlistment.  On November 15, 1863 Abraham enlisted in the United States Army's 14th US Colored Infantry along with 11 other men from Williamson County. I have written a longer blog post here about the 14th USCI here.  The 14th was organized in Gallatin, Tennessee and then was sent to Chattanooga.  As was described by one of Abraham's comrades, they, "made headquarters at Chattanooga. . . were as a Regiment in the fight at Dalton, Georgia, then Decatur, Alabama, then Nashville, Tennessee. On each of these [they] lost men and had all [their] wounded quartered at Chattanooga."
Statement of Lafayette Putnam, 14th USCI, Company H, March 29, 1881
Abraham and the rest of the men of the 14th USCI had the good fortune to be under the command of Colonel Thomas J. Morgan.
Col. Thomas J. Morgan
United States Army
Col. Morgan had been ordered to organize a regiment of US Colored Troops and later wrote about this experience in his memoir Reminiscences of service with colored troops in the Army of the Cumberland, 1863-65. The passages describing his time at the head of the 14th USCI provide us with a unique window into the experiences that Abraham would have lived through at this incredible time in his life as he transitioned from enslaved laborer to emancipated US soldier. For example, we know that Abraham would have been inspected and interviewed, naked, by Col. Morgan and some officers of the 14th, to determine their fitness for duty. 

Enlistment in the 14th USCI, Company G.  Abraham McGavock enlisted on November 15, 1863.  He would have been one of the "motley crowd" described by Col. Morgan that was sheltered in an "old filthy tobacco warehouse".  He was described as being a 21 year old farmer, of dark complexion, 5' 3 3/4" tall.  During the early days of his military service, the regiment was uniformed and armed.  They were then taught to drill and began the process of learning how to be soldiers.  During his free time, Abraham seems to have spent some time visiting his mother Dafney in Nashville.

Benjamin Ashworth was one of Abraham's comrades and he recalls these visits this way: "Abraham McGavock stayed at his mother's all the time he had to spare, doted on her. She washed his clothes and cared for him as only an old mother could do, and he left her as the Regiment moved south for Stevenson, [Alabama]."
Statement by Benjamin Ashworth, Co G, 14th USCI, March 1881 (Peter Bailey - Dafney's grandson, witness): Abraham McGavock stayed at his mother's all the time he had to spare, doted on her. She washed his clothes and cared for him as only an old mother could do, and he left her as the Regiment moved south for Stevenson, [Alabama]."

Dafney also remembers this time: "In Nashville, I looked up my son and he gave me $5.00 to rent a house on Line Street [today's Jo Johnston Ave] and I did it. He was in the 14th Reg. US Col Infantry then and was armed and uniformed."
Dafney Perkins statement, April 12, 1880, Nashville, Tennessee: "In Nashville, I looked up my son and he gave me $5.00 to rent a house on Line Street [today's Jo Johnston Boulevard] and I did it. He was in the 14th Reg. US Col Infantry then and was armed and uniformed."

After Abraham's Company was sent to Stevenson Alabama, according to Benjamin Ashworth, Abraham wrote to Dafney and sent for her to come stay with him there for several weeks.  Ashworth recalled that Abraham was, "quite proud of his old mother in showing her around and introducing her to his comrades."  During the War, "Corporal McGavock would often speak of her after and have letters read he got from her and send her letters at Decatur, Chattanooga & other points our Regiment lay and one at these places."
Statement by Benjamin Ashworth, Co G, 14th USCI, March 1881 (Peter Bailey - Dafney's grandson, witness):"I remember after there at Stevenson I was in his confidence he told me of his writing for her and she did come and stay with him several weeks, he there defrayed all her expenses. She brought no child along nor did I ever see any but this one Corporal Abraham McGavock. I remember he was quite proud of his old mother in showing her around and introducing her to his comrades, when her visit was finished he sent her back to Nashville, as I was one to see her off. Corporal McGavock would often speak of her after and have letters read he got from her and send her letters at Decatur, Chattanooga & other points our Regiment lay and one at these places."

Chattanooga

By February, 1864 the 14th US Colored Infantry, along with Abraham McGavock, was sent to Chattanooga, the headquarters of the Army of the Cumberland.



View of Chattanooga, Tennessee during the Civil War. Shows military encampments, including tents. 1864, TSLA
According to Col Morgan's memoir, their camp was laid out with "great regularity" and their "quarters were substantial, comfortable and well kept."  He also described that, 
the regiment numbered a thousand men, with a full compliment of field, staff, line and non-commissioned officers. We had a good drum corps, and a band provided with a set of expensive silver instruments. We were also fully equipped; the men were armed with rifled muskets, and well clothed. They were well drilled in the manual of arms, and took great pride in appearing on parade with arms burnished, belts polished, shoes blacked, clothes brushed, in full regulation uniform, including white gloves. On every pleasant day our parades were witnessed by officers, soldiers and citizens from the North, and it was not uncommon to have two thousand spectators. Some came to make sport, some from curiosity, some because it was the fashion, and others from a genuine desire to see for themselves what sort of looking soldiers negroes would make. 

Dress parade of First South Carolina, (U.S.C.T.), Beaufort, S.C. This shows what the 14th USCI may have looked like on parade in Chattanooga in 1864.


Col. Morgan did explain that the 14th Colored Infantry didn't spend all their time in Chattanooga showing off their parade drills however.  He explained in his memoir that:

Soon after reaching Chattanooga, heavy details began to be made upon us for men to work upon the fortifications then in process of construction around the town. This almost incessant labor, interfered sadly with our drill, and at one time all drill was suspended, by orders from headquarters. There seemed little prospect of our being ordered to the field, and as time wore on and arrangements began in earnest for the new campaign against Atlanta, we grew impatient for work, and anxious for opportunity for drill and preparations for field service.
I used every means to bring about a change, for I believed that the ultimate status of the negro was to be determined by his conduct on the battlefield. No one doubted that he would work, while many did doubt that he had courage to stand up and fight like a man. If he could take his place side by side with the white soldier; endure the same hardships on the campaign, face the same enemy, storm the same works, resist the same assaults, evince the same soldierly qualities would compel that respect which the world has always accorded to heroism, and win for himself the same laurels which brave soldiers have always won.

In August 1864 the 14th US Colored Infantry were involved in their first combat when they were sent to Dalton, Georgia.  You can learn more about it in my blog post about the 14th USCI here.  Within weeks they were fighting again, at Pulaski, Tennessee, against a cavalry force led by Nathan Bedford Forrest on September 27th, 1864. Next, they were sent to Decatur, Alabama where they headed into combat on October 28, 1864 against John Bell Hood's Army.  After this series of engagements, the men headed on a long march back to Chattanooga, but their rest was not to last.  

On November 29, 1864 they were summoned to Nashville to fortify the City in advance of what would be the Battle of Nashville.  They arrived to a terrible ice storm and they would be hunkered down for two weeks. Benjamin Ashworth, Abraham's comrade recalled that he and Abraham went to find his mother Dafney Perkins: "She . . .was still living on Cedar Street [today called Charlotte Avenue] Nashville, and she washed and cooked for us. Corporal McGavock made her house his house and helped provide for her."


Statement by Benjamin Ashworth, Co G, 14th USCI, March 1881 (Peter Bailey - Dafney's grandson, witness): Hood's rebel forces in moving on Nashville we were pushed ahead and were in the fight here [Nashville] 15 December 1864 and me, Corporal McGavock and I went to see her [Dafney Perkins]. She . . .was still living on Cedar Street [today called Charlotte Avenue] Nashville, and she washed and cooked for us. Corporal McGavock made her house his house and helped provide for her. At last Hood was repulsed and we pursued them into Alabama, we too were in the charge at Nashville."

Once the weather broke, they faced off against John Bell Hood's Confederate Army on the morning of December 15, 1864.  I have described the courageous role of Williamson County's USCT soldiers in this battle in more depth in this post.  On December 16th they effectively finished off their opponents, and began to push them out of the area during Hood's retreat.  The 14th USCI pursued the Confederate's through Franklin to Murfreesboro, and eventually were sent back to Chattanooga where they went into Winter Headquarters.

Winter Headquarters In Chattanooga


Again, much of what we know about this time in Abraham's life comes from his comrade Benjamin Ashworth's statement in his mother's pension file: "I was like him, after deserters, collecting forage and such duties as a soldier must perform. The white troops mustered out and we [were ]in charge of public property. A number of our [men] were killed by them in the discharge of our duties as colored soldiers were disliked especially in East & Middle Tennessee. Our cook and two others were killed one day in Chattanooga by white troops to be mustard out. There were therefore so many incidents."
Statement by Benjamin Ashworth, Co G, 14th USCI, March 1881 (Peter Bailey - Dafney's grandson, witness): "I was like him, after deserters, collecting forage and such duties as a soldier must perform. The white troops mustered out and we [were ]in charge of public property. A number of our [men] were killed by them in the discharge of our duties as colored soldiers were disliked especially in East & Middle Tennessee. Our cook and two others were killed one day in Chattanooga by white troops to be mustard out. There were therefore so many incidents."
Abraham McGavock Wounded During Pursuit of Hood

During his time after the Battle of Nashville and Hood's Retreat, Abraham McGavock was engaged in what was described as a "running fight" by several of his comrades. He was shot in the shoulder and taken to the regimental hospital in Chattanooga. According to reports in his pension file, the bullet wound did not "go cleanly through" his shoulder.  While he was recovering there, Dafney made her way by train from Nashville to Chattanooga to care for her wounded son and Abraham made provisions for her to stay in the camp.

In his statement dated April 12, 1880, Sgt Lafayette Putnam, who served in the 14th US Colored Troops, Co. A with Abraham McGavock said,"I never saw but one of her [Dafney's] children that one named Abraham McGavock who fed and housed his mother at Chattanooga, at least she was in a little house back of his captain's tent."
 Statement dated April 12, 1880, Sgt Lafayette Putnam

On April 1, 1865, Abraham McGavock was promoted to Corporal.  There are no records in his file to indicate that his promotion was related to his injury or as a recognition for his actions in the incident - but it is possible - the timing would be about right.  According to statements in his pension, he was able to return to his Company but was not able to fully perform his duties after his injury.

Abraham McGavock mustered out of the Army on March 26, 1866 in Nashville with his regiment.
Post War Years


When Abraham was discharged, he went to straight to his mother Dafney and appears to have moved in with in her at her house in Nashville.  Soon after he went to see the woman who helped raise him on James McGavock's plantation from the time he was a young boy.  Julia was still living in Franklin at what she called her "slave home."  In a statement she gave in Dafney's pension application she described their reunion this way: "I remember it was 1866 and I was as glad to see him as a mother and I groped him and swung him around."

Statement of Julia McGavock Hughes, May 4, 1882, Nashville, Tennessee:"He was with his mother at Nashville after discharge as he came to see me I was still at my slave home in Williamson County. I remember it was 1866 and I was as glad to see him as a mother and I groped him and swing him around."
According to a statement from Henry Thompson, a comrade of Abraham's,during this immediate post-war period Abraham may have worked as a porter in a Nashville railroad station taking care of luggage and sweeping the station.  

Hardy Crutcher was a former slave from Williamson County.  He moved to Nashville in 1864 and worked as a shoe maker. He "lived within a 100 yards of ... Dafney Perkins, and her son Abraham McGavock on Gay Street.... I knew them intimately as they lived in a house he purchased already built on a leased piece of land near me and he died in that house, his mother the claimant present. ...Abraham was a steady, sober, hardworking young man ..." Note that Gay Street is just one block over from Line Street (Joe Johnston Ave) where Dafney was reportedly living just prior to the Battle of Nashville.  Perhaps they had  moved.


Hardy Crutcher's statement, April 1880: "I have lived in Nashville since 1864 and . . . lived within a 100 yards of claimant Dafney Perkins, and her son Abraham McGavock on Gay Street in his lifetime. I knew them intimately s they lived in a house he purchased already built on a leased piece of land near me and he died in that house, his mother the claimant present. The lease ran out and ? the old lady was turned out of doors after he died. Abraham was a steady, sober, hardworking young man and his mother is a woman now very old."

Soon after Abraham's discharge, however, his wound and the subsequent infection appears to have severely effected his health.  He relied on Dafney to care for him.  

Jonas Taylor was a white man from Kentucky who had served as a blacksmith in the US Army.  After the war he moved to Nashville where he met Dafney Perkins, whom he referred to as "Aunt Dafney." He helped her and gave this statement in 1881 on her behalf in the pension application: 
I think it was in the last of 1866 or first of 1867 I made the acquaintance of Dafney Perkins, "Aunt Dafney." I found her begging and working for her son Abraham McGavock and self for he was sick and deathly sick. She told me how he was sick from a wound and could not [work]. In sympathy for the wounded of our cause [I] gave her provisions and a half now & a quarter again & so on as I could and saw Abraham a worthy, light fellow. A Doctor Hogle in North Nashville attended him as well and reasonably as any one. I took an interest in her and her son and gave her employment. Some of her race could help her care for Abraham ....

Statement of Jonas Taylor, April 4, 1881: "I think it was in the last of 1866 or first of 1867 I made the acquaintance of Dafney Perkins, "Aunt Dafney." I found her begging and working for her son Abraham McGavock and self for he was sick and deathly sick. She told me how he was sick from a wound and could not ???. I sympathy for the wounded of our cause gave her provisions and a half now & a question again & so on as I heard and saw Abraham a ? light fellow. A Doctor Hogle in North Nashville attended him as well and reasonably as ?? an could I took an interest in her and her son and gave her ??. Some of her race could help her care for Abraham who soon died and was buried at this place 16 years ago." 

This statement by Richard Spencer, one of Abraham's former comrades is heartbreaking regarding the condition in which Dafney and Abraham were living: "They were very poor and she worked hard to keep him in his sickness. When I visited him at his mother's he was thin in flesh, weak, had a cough and a sore on his shoulder near his shoulder bone. I think the sore was where he was shot in the army. ...I gave him a little money now and then when I visited him before he died - it was cold in the winter time and they had no fire in the house to make them comfortable."
Statement of Richard Spencer, dated October 1, 1889. "They were very poor and she worked hard to keep him in his sickness. When I visited him at his mother's he was thin in flesh, weak, had a cough and a sore on his shoulder near his shoulder bone I think the sore was where he was shot in the army. ...I gave him a little money now and then when I visited him before he died - it was cold in the winter time and they had no fire in the house to make them comfortable."

In his statement dated April 12, 1880, Sgt Lafayette Putnam, another comrade of the 14th US Colored Troops, Co. A, described Dafney this way: "for her age, very energetic beyond her age."  She was working as a nurse at the time to support herself and Abraham.

Abraham's Death

Dr. Lorenzo Hogle treated Abraham at the end of his life.  He did not survive for long after the end of the War. The pension file is slightly confusing on the exact date of Abraham's death, but he appears to have died on or about April 2, 1869. He would have been only 27 years old. 

His mother believed that she "had him buried at 'Mount Ary' and I paid $3 for the ground to bury him. This was a colored cemetery southeast of Nashville near Murfreesboro Pike."

Statement of Dafney Perkins, dated May 28, 1889 in Topeka, Kansas: I had him buried at "Mount Ary" and I paid $3 for the ground to bury him. This was a colored cemetery southeast of Nashville near Murfreesboro Pike.

Nashville Republican Banner, Sunday February 21, 1869
I think that Dafney's memory was either faulty on this detail or perhaps the person she hired to bury her son cheated her.  At the time that Abraham died, there are reports in the local newspapers of unauthorized burials in the Nashville City Cemetery.  I found records of Abraham's body being buried in the Nashville City Cemetery, not the African American Mount Ararat Cemetery where Dafney thinks he was buried.  Unfortunately, no headstone exists that identifies Abraham's body in either cemetery.

However, not everyone was taking advantage of Dafney at this difficult time. Dr. Hogle, in his statement says that he "furnished the clothes" that Abraham was buried in upon his death.
Statement of Lorenze D. Hogle, M.D., Sept. 30, 1889, Nashville, Tenn.

After Abraham's death, Dafney stayed in Nashville working as a midwife, nurse and cook, taking in washing and pursuing her pension. According to her neighbor and friend from back in Williamson County, "She was a very respectable woman, and acted as a mid wife among her neighbors here. And in that way helped to earn her living. She was always very poor. Had no property of her own and no one was legally bound to support her after the slaves were given their freedom."


Statement of Hardy Crutcher, Sept. 28, 1889. "She was a very respectable woman, and acted as a mid wife among her neighbors here. And in that way helped to earn her living. She was always very poor. Had no property of her own and no one was legally bound to support her after the slaves were given their freedom."

In the 1870 Census, Dafney appeared in the Nashville City Census with assets of $200. She confirms that she was born in North Carolina and accurately stated that she was 60 years old. On March 21, 1873, Dafney applied for a pension under Abraham's name.  She spent nearly 20 years trying to prove that she was his mother and entitled to a pension.  In 1880, Dafney appeared in the 1880 Census on Line Street (today's Joe Johnston Avenue). She was living with two other Perkins' - perhaps relatives or people related by ties to the Perkins plantation in Franklin. Her home was described by Abraham's doctor in her pension application as an "old frame shanty."
1870 Census, Davidson, District 13 - showing Dafney 60 years old, taking in washing
1880 Census, Davidson - showing Dafney aged 74, living on Line Street with a 100 year old man named Runnel Perkins and 11 year old girl named Rosa Perkins


Dafney Moved to Kansas

About 1886, when she was 76 years old, Dafney moved to Topeka, Kansas. She lived with her grandson Peter Bailey, Mary's son.  In 1887 she appeared in the Topeka City Directory living on Chase Avenue.

In 1889, Dafney was growing increasingly desperate for her pension and perhaps was aided in her efforts by her grandson.  She must have been incredibly persistent and well-loved because many of Abraham's friends, doctors and comrades were willing to testify on her behalf, as well as the white descendants of those who had enslaved her son. Her pension file contains 159 pages of statements. In 1890, Dafney's pension was finally approved. 
Wichita Daily Eagle, June 14, 1890, page 1

Unfortunately, whatever financial relief it provided for her was short lived.  By the end of the year her pension was closed due to her death.  I have not located her death certificate, gravesite or headstone.
Dafney Perkins pension discontinued due to her death. She was last paid on June 4, 1891.
However, the legacy of Dafney and her son Abraham McGavock will live forever.  Their love for each other, strength of character, and ability to persevere should inspire us all.  

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