Our Family

Our Family

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Confederates in the Closet (and Slaves!) Easterling and Carter

Impatient for my DNA report, I'm digging all I can on the internet looking for my alleged Choctaw Indian ancestry. My mom is especially proud of this. Turning over genealogical stones does find other things that we must face.

Sabra Ann is the alleged  Choctaw descendant and has the dark hair and high cheekbones indicating possible Native American ancestry.

Giles Bennett was a cavalryman for the Confederacy.

And, there were Slaves.

As a widow in 1906, Sabra applied to the State of Mississippi for a widow's pension available because of Bennett's service to the "Late Confederacy." She wrote that he served in the 27th Mississippi Cavalry. Documents from Ancestry.com place Bennett in the 4th Mississippi Cavalry and the Confederate States 8th Cavalry. That all may be true as some men enlisted, served their terms, and reenlisted in other regiments. We will have to request what records are in the U.S. National Archives to determine what official records show.

The 8th Confederate Cavalry as part of the Army of the Tennessee saw action from Shiloh to Chatanooga and Chickamauga, and the eventually failed defense of Atlanta. The regiment surrendered in North Carolina.

Cavalry, even as a private, was pretty good duty. Any fighting was usually on the edge of the battle or minor clashes when out for scouting or flanking. And you had a horse which can come in very handy for a hasty retreat as remarked by one British monarch recently reburied who would have given his kingdom for one.

The Confederacy could have been a noble cause if it was based on something other than a Slave economy in conflict with Northern Industrialism and westward expansion. (Note how I slipped those economic conflicts in there without dropping Slavery?)

And my ancestors did hold Slaves. In the 1850 and 1860 US Censuses there are Slave Schedules separate from the regular survey. Slaves are not named but counted as they at least equaled 3/5 of a person under the Constitution. They are listed under their masters' names.

In 1860 Perry County, Mississippi, several Easterlings and Carters show up as Slave owners in those censuses. The Easterlings and Carters appear to be Bennett and Sabra's relatives.

Going back further, the federal censuses in the South, at least, only named heads of households and then listed the residents designating which were free white and which were Slaves. In 1840, Sabra's Father, Matthew Carter is shown owning three Slaves. One Female between 24 and 36 years of age, and two Females below the age of 10. Sabra was born into that household that same year.

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