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Civil War Pension Application of William Jones Bowling

William Jones BowlingWhat follows is a transcription of the Confederate pension application filed by my great-great-great-grandfather, William Jones Bowling (pictured) in 1911.  Underlined portions are written in either W. J. Bowling’s hand or that of the clerk in order to fill out the application.
Form A

For Use of Soldiers, Who are in Indigent Circumstances

The State of Texas

County of Donley

I, W. J. Bowling, do hereby make application to the Commissioner of Pensions for a pension to be granted me under the Act passed by the Thirty-first Legislature of the State of Texas, and approved March 26, A. D. 1909, on the following grounds:

I enlisted and served in the military service of the Confederate States during the war between the States of the United States, and that I did not desert the Confederate service, but during said war I was loyal and true to my duty, and never at any time voluntarily abandoned my post of duty in the said service; that I was honorably discharged or surrendered in Camp Douglass [sic] prison in Illinois when war ended.  Liberated about 1st of May 1865 (Give date and cause.) that I have been a bona fide citizen of this State since prior to January 1, A. D. 1880, and have been continuously since a citizen of the State of Texas.  I do further state that I do not hold any national, State, city or county office which pays me in salary or feeds one hundred and fifty dollars per annum, nor have I an income from any other employment or other source whatever which amounts to one hundred and fifty dollars per annum, nor do I receive from any source whatever money or other means of support amounting in value to the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars per annum, nor do I own in my own right, nor does any one hold in trust for my benefit or use, nor does my wife own, nor does any one hold in trust for my wife, estate or property, either real, personal or mixed, either in fee or for life, of the assessed value of over one thousand dollars; nor do I receive any aid or pension from any other State, or from the United States, or from any other source, and that I am not an inmate of the Confederate Home, and I do further state that the answers given to the following questions are true:

  1. What is your age? 71 years
  2. Where were you born? Haywood Co. Tenn.
  3. How long have you resided in Texas? about last of 1875 to present
  4. In what county do you reside? Donley
  5. How long have you resided in said county and what is your postoffice address[?] 3 years[,] Lelia Lake
  6. Have you applied for a pension under the Confederate pension law and been rejected?  If rejected, state when and where[.] never]
  7. What is your occupation, if able to engage in one? Minister of Gospel
  8. In what State was the command in which you served organized? Tenn and Miss
  9. How long did you serve?  Give, if possible, the date of enlistment and discharge[.] 8/1861 to discharge 1865
  10. What was the letter of your company, number or name of battalion, regiment or battery? 1st Ala. Tenn & Miss Regiment & Company K Inftry. surrendered under McCall Island no. 10
  11. If transferred from one command to another, give time of transfer, name of command and time of service[.] Exchanged at Vicksburg in 62 then to Miss [indecipherable]
  12. What branch of service did you enlist in — infantry, cavalry, artillery or navy?
  13. If commissioned direct by the President, what was your rank and line of duty? not comm
  14. If detailed for special service, under the law of conscription, what was the nature of your service and how long did you serve? was volunteer
  15. Have you transferred to others any property of any kind for the purpose of becoming a beneficiary under this law? no

Wherefore your petitioner prays that his application be approved and such other proceedings be had in the premises as required by law.

(Signature of Applicant) W. J. Bowling

Sworn to and subscribed before me, this 25 day of March, A. D. 1911

J. H. O'[name indecipherable]

County Judge Donley County, Texas.

Affidavit of Witnesses

[Note: There must be at least two credible witnesses.]

The State of Texas

County of Donley

Before me J. H. O'[name indecipherable], County Judge of Donley County, State of Texas, on this day personally appeared J. B. Cope, who are [sic] personally known to me to be credible citizens, who, being by me duly sworn, on oath state that they personally know W. J. Bowling the above named applicant for a pension, and that they personally know the said W. J. Bowling has been a bona fide resident citizen of the State of Texas since prior to January 1, A. D. 1880, an that they have no interest in this claim.

(Signature of Witness) J. B. Cope

The Civil War in My Family

The Civil War began 150 years ago today. Several of my direct ancestors fought in the Civil War, but I have yet to find a relative fighting on the Union side, even though some of them lived in the North during the conflict.

Shelby McDaniel

My third great-grandfather Shelby McDaniel served in the 9th Texas Field Battery (Lamar Artillery). I actually have a copy of his service record courtesy of my cousin Chris. He was a private under Captain James M. Daniel’s Artillery and was 26 years old on the first muster roll. He went into service on January 18, 1862 at Paris, Texas and was to serve for the duration of the war. The descriptive roll taken on April 8, 1862 describes him as 5 feet 9 inches with a dark complexion, dark eyes, and dark hair. His occupation is listed as mason, his birthplace as South Carolina. At that time his “body [was] sound and health [was] good.” However, by the muster roll in May and June of 1862, he is listed as sick in a hospital in Little Rock, AR. I’m not sure what illness he had, but suspect it was one of the usual war time ailments such as dysentery. It looks like he was released and either was not well yet or became sick again because the muster roll for September and October of 1862 says he is sick in camp from June 1862. He was back in the hospital in Little Rock in November and December of 1862. The remarks say he had been in the general hospital since November 11, 1862. By the March and April, 1863 muster roll, the remarks indicate he was “detailed com. dept., Little Rock, Ark., Oct, 1862 by order Maj. Gen. Holmes.” I believe that his orders changed and perhaps due to his illness, he was transferred to the commissary department (if that is indeed what the abbreviations mean), but I can’t be positive. By the November and December, 1863 muster roll, he had deserted and been dropped from the roll. I can’t say as I blame him much, given he had been sick well over a year.

My descent from Shelby McDaniel:

Shelby McDaniel
+ Mary Shelby McDaniel
++ Elmer Theodore Thurman
+++ Doris LaNell Thurman
++++ Patti Jo Cunningham
+++++ Dana Michelle Swier

William Jones Bowling

William Jones BowlingI shared what I know about another third great-grandfather, William Jones Bowling, in a previous post, but I never published my transcription of his pension application, and given the wider scope of this post, I think I will save publication for later this week. In the post I linked, I noted that William Jones Bowling became a minister as a result of his experiences as a POW during the war.

My descent from William Jones Bowling:

William Jones Bowling
+ Stella Ophelia Bowling
++ Herman Cunningham
+++ Udell Oliver Cunningham
++++ Patti Jo Cunningham
+++++ Dana Michelle Swier

John Thomas Stallings

Another third great-grandfather applied for a pension in 1913 when he was living in Swisher County, Texas. The Stallings and Jennings families were some of the first families to settle in Swisher County in the Texas Panhandle. In his application, John Thomas Stallings states that

I surrendered in front of Petersburg, Virginia on April 23 1865 and was discharged from Federal Military Prison at Point Lookout, Maryland about the first of July 1865 the exact date of which I do not now recall.

It sounds like he was attempting to defend Petersburg at the time that it fell in April, 1865, an event that signaled the end of the war for the Confederacy. This website gives more information about his regiment’s movements during the war.

He was 69 when he made the application and lists his birthplace as Bedford County, Tennessee. He states he had been living in Texas since November 1881. He also says that he was unable to work at the time he applied for the pension. He says his command was organized in Unionville, Tennessee, and it appears he enlisted as soon as the war began in the spring of 1861 and served for the duration of the war with Company F, 23rd Tennessee Infantry. As far as I know, he was quite proud of his service in the Confederate Army; his grave marker mentions his service. A transcription of his marker from at Rose Hill Cemetery in Tulia, Texas, reads:

STALLINGS, John Thomas
23 Dec 1843 – 4 May 1916
CIVIL WAR TN 1ST CPL CO F 23
TN INF CONFEDERATE STATES ARMY

My descent from John Thomas Stallings:

John Thomas Stallings
+ Mary A. Silla Stallings
++ Annie Lola Jennings
+++ Udell Oliver Cunningham
++++ Patti Jo Cunningham
+++++ Dana Michelle Swier

John B. Jennings

John B. Jennings enlisted on June 13, 1862 at Tupelo, Mississippi for Alabama Confederate service, Co. E, 16th Regiment, infantry for 3 years, private, but it is unclear if he is the same John B. Jennings that was my third great-grandfather; the 16th Regiment companies were raised in Franklin and Lawrence Counties. The record gives little information, does not mention where the company fought, and, evidently, he was not wounded. John’s granddaughter, my great-grandmother Annie Lola Jennings “heard that he was in the Civil War.” A family member possesses a small framed photograph; on the back is written “John Jennings, Florence AL, United Confederate Veteran, 19th Reunion, Albert Sidney Johnston.” He’s a rather mysterious figure in general, however, so it doesn’t surprise me that his Confederate records are also shadowy.

My descent from John B. Jennings:

John B. Jennings
+ Veto Curry Jennings
++ Annie Lola Jennings
+++ Udell Oliver Cunningham
++++ Patti Jo Cunningham
+++++ Dana Michelle Swier

Four of my mother’s second great-grandfathers served on the Confederate side in the war. I have not been able to verify service for her other second great-grandfathers Johnson Franklin Cunningham, John L. Willis, or Nathan Taylor Meeks. Johnson Franklin Cunningham may have been a bit on the older side when the war began. He would have been 38. My grandfather tells a story he heard from a relative about this ancestor being in the war, but I can find no service record. He lived in Oglethorpe County, Georgia at the time. John L. Willis may have been too young, having been born in 1849. He lived in Franklin County, Alabama during the war. Nathan Taylor Meeks was born in 1847 and may also have been a bit too young, certainly at the beginning of the war, but I could find no record that he enlisted later. He lived in Tippah County, Mississippi during the war. I have not been able to determine the name of her remaining second great-grandfather, but I do know the family was likely living in Illinois at the time, and it stands to reason that if he was of age to serve, he may have served in the Union.

On my father’s side, four of his second great-grandfathers were of age to serve, but I can find no service records. Conrad L. Gearhart lived in Licking County, Ohio at the time of the war; I’m not sure where Joseph Alfred Willhide lived, but he was in Iowa by 1880 after having been born in Maryland; William Henry Young was living in Sibley County, Minnesota, and Wilson Wages was living in Magoffin County, Kentucky. It stands to reason any or all of them might have fought for the Union, while Wilson Wages could as easily have fought on the side of the Confederacy. However, I could find no records. I do not know who his other four second great-grandfathers are with any certainty.

Whether my ancestors served in the war or not, the war had a profound impact on their lives. Many on my mother’s side would eventually settle in Texas and Oklahoma, most likely because, as my grandfather always puts it, Texas was viewed as a land of opportunity. Some of my father’s family, too, continued west, eventually settling in Washington State. It is less clear whether or not the Civil War impacted them as profoundly as it did my mother’s ancestors.

Stella

Stella Ophelia BowlingAugust 11, 2010 will mark the 72nd anniversary of the death of my great-great-grandmother, Stella Ophelia Bowling Cunningham. I find her endlessly fascinating, perhaps because I know more about her than I many of my other ancestors. She left behind a diary (pdf), a letter to my great-uncle Alvin Cunningham, and several other letters I haven’t shared on this site.

Stella’s father served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, as did most of my ancestors who were the right age because most of my ancestors lived in the South. If I had relatives in the Union Army, I haven’t discovered them yet. He was captured and sent as a POW to Camp Douglas in Illinois, where he had a conversion experience and became a minister. Stella’s mother was Mary Elizabeth Kennedy. Stella and her mother both played the organ. They came from a musical family. Family legend has it that David Kennedy, Stella’s great-great-grandfather, charmed the secret for making gun locks from the New York factory from which he purchased them for his gunsmithing business by playing the fiddle for the workers. Probably untrue, but a great story.

Stella and her family traveled from Tennessee to Texas in a covered wagon and settled near Dallas, living in Wise County (1880 Census) and perhaps Collin or Denton County, as Stella married in Collin County, and her family lived in Denton when the 1900 Census was taken. She definitely lived in Denton with her husband after her marriage.

Stella was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in Texas in the 1880’s and 1890’s. She seemed primarily to be concerned with keeping good order in her classes. She stayed with different families, one of which was the Cunninghams. She married their son Amos in 1894. They had seven children together: Herman Cunningham (my great-grandfather, 1895-1980), Dessie Mary (1897-1992), Lillie Manila (1899-1974), Alfred Morgett (January-April 1901), Velma Helen (1903-1996), Aubrey Bowling (1908-1977), and Nina Varena (1910-1990).

The family moved out the Panhandle region of Texas between 1910 and 1920. Stella lived in Swisher County, where my grandfather was born, and in Armstrong County. Her son Herman would meet his future wife Annie Lola Jennings in the same way that Stella met Amos: she was a teacher and boarded with Stella and Amos.

Stella had been engaged previously to John William Tolleson and Roscoe M. Payne. I actually had some really nice exchanges with descendants of John William Tolleson a few years back. All of us were very interested in the story of our ancestors’ engagement. Stella mentions burning some of Tolleson’s letters with Amos, though she did keep some from Roscoe, which I have copies of and have promised not to share. It looks as though Stella broke off her engagement with Roscoe because she didn’t approve of his business, which sounds like a pool hall.

For a time in the 1930’s, she lived in Rosebud, New Mexico, a town that no longer exists. Stella died in Claude, Armstrong County, Texas.

Perhaps one of the reasons I find her so interesting is that she did leave enough of herself behind in her writing for me to get a sense of her personality. To me, that’s what family history and genealogy are all about: learning about the real people in your family, what they were like, what they did. It saddens me that so many people think it’s a waste of time or that genealogists are only interested in finding famous ancestors.

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