Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sarah Booth Brantley, From Civil War Widow to Living in Tomato

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Sarah Brantley's signature on Civil War pension application in 1865

For a long time I've been curious about Daniel E. Brantley, the brother of my third great-grandfather, Henry Day Brantley. Many members of their family fought in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, but I found Daniel listed as having fought as a Union soldier.

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I hit the jackpot with the digital contents of "Box 32714, Cert 101338" during a recent visit to the National Archives and can now share much more information about Daniel and his wife, Sarah.

As it turns out, Sarah is also a sibling of one of my direct ancestors.

Daniel was born in 1833 in Bertie Co., N.C.  but traveled with his parents, Augustus and Martha White Brantley to Haywood County, Tenn. where the Brantleys were among the earliest settlers. Daniel was the first child born to Augustus and Martha. 

From information later supplied by his youngest brother, Solomon, we know the Brantley family farmed 320 acres, lived in a frame house with four rooms and their father owned five slaves. Solomon wrote, "My father run the farm. My mother run the house and was boss over the negro women who done the cooking, spinning and weaving. I was an expert with a hoe. We cut wheat with a cradle. Tramped it out with horses and cleaned same with a fan by hand." When asked what he did after the war, Brantley wrote, "Building up what the Yankees tore down on my father's farm."

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l to r: Henry Brantley, Preston Brantley,
Willie Brantley and Virginia Brantley Lovelace

In the U.S. census of 1850, the Augustus Brantley farm was in District Five of Haywood Co. and Daniel was 17 years old. Augustus and Martha White Brantley are my fourth great grandparents (Another of their sons who was Daniel's brother was Henry Day Brantley. He was the father of Henry Preston Brantley who was the father of William Day Brantley who was the father of my maternal grandmother, Virginia Brantley Lovelace).

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l to r: Lena Booth Marbury, Allie Marbury Lovelace
and Virginia Brantley Lovelace
Next door to the Brantley's farm was the home of James and Nancy Mulligan Booth. Their youngest child, Sarah Louise Booth was also 17 in 1850. The Booths are my fourth great grandparents from my grandmothers paternal ancestry. Their oldest son, Billy, was the father of Sarah Evelena "Lena" Booth Marbury (she was likely named after her aunt) who was the mother of Allie Marbury Brantley who was the mother of my maternal grandmother, Virginia Brantley Lovelace).

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Marriage certificate of Daniel Brantley and Sarah Lousia Booth

Daniel Brantley married Sarah Louisa Booth on January 17, 1854 and Daniel purchased a farm in Ripley, Tenn. which is in Lauderdale Co. and very close to Haywood Co.

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Daniel enlisted in the Union Army in 1863 and fought in Company G., Indiana Infantry, 52nd Regiment.

The Brantley family literally became a case of brother fighting brother when Daniel's sibling Julius enlisted in the Confederate Army seven months after his older brother on July 10, 1863 and fought in the 12th Tennessee Calvary, C.S.A. He died on Dec 18, 1863 in Ft. Pillow, TN, only five months after enlisting.

Daniel and Julius' brother Solomon N. Brantley enlisted in the Confederate Army on October 1, 1863 and was a member of the 7th Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. Solomon was discharged in Gainesville, Ala. in May 1865. At the age of 75, he filled out this questionnaire which was sent out to all living Tennessee Civil War veterans.

But what happened to Daniel and Sarah Booth Brantley?

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Sarah Louisa Brantley Claim for Widow's Pension

At the National Archive I found a very large pension file regarding the couple that fills in a lot of blanks and, unfortunately, they don't live happily ever after.

Declaration and identification in due form.

Adjt. Genl. Of Ind. Reports him enrolled May 1st 1863. Died at Tyler, Texas Rebel Prison Aug 23rd 1864 of Diarrhea.

Adjt General U.S.A. reports him missing in action Apr 9th 1864 at Pleasant Hill, GA.

Com Genl. Of Prison reports that on Q. M. Genls report of U. S, soldiers buried in National Cemeteries, it appears that Daniel Brantley, Priv. Co. G. 52nd ind. died at Camp Ford, Tyler Texas, Sept 23rd, 1864.

Surg. Genl. Reports D. Brantley Co. G. 116th Ind. Vols as having died since Sept. 16th 1864 at Camp Ford, Tyler Texas.

Daniel E. Brantley and Louisa Booth were married Jany. 17th 1854 by J. W. Rawls, Justice of the Peace.

Certified copy of public record by the county clerk


Nancy E. Brantley, born Mar 20th 1859

Laura Evangeline, born Feb 16th 1861

Established by the affidavit of the attending midwife

From this we know Daniel and Sarah had two daughters, Nancy and Laura. Daniel enlisted in the Union Army in May of 1863 when Nancy was four and Laura was two.

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Battle of Pleasant Hill, 9 April 1864, by Charles E. H. Bonwell
(or Bonwill), as illustrated in Frank Leslie's
illustrated newspaper (Frank Leslie's Weekly), 14 May 1864, pp. 120-121.

Daniel was reported "MIA" on April 9, 1864 after The Battle at Pleasant Hill.

He was taken, along with other prisoners, to Camp Ford in Tyler, Tex. where he would eventually die, most likely from dysentery. This Confederate-run prison, which had, up to that point, experienced a very low death rate, suddenly quadrupled in size when 2,000 Union prisoners of war, including Daniel, were placed in captivity after The Battle of Pleasant Hill.

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Non-commissioned officers, 19th Iowa Infantry,
exchanged prisoners from Camp Ford, Texas.
Photographed at New Orleans on their arrival.


During the war, the total number of prisoners who were held at the camp was slightly more than 5,500. Only about 327 prisoners died in captivity, giving the camp a mortality rate of 5.9%, one of the lowest of any Civil War prison. The deceased prisoners, including Daniel Brantley, were reinterred to the Alexandria National Cemetery in Pineville, La. in 1867.

Daniel is buried in plot: B O 1027.

If you are passing through Tyler, they have a small roadside park where Camp Ford was, although, the latest TripAdvisor review is, "Dilapidated."

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Sarah Louisa Brantley Declaration for Army Pension

After filling out many forms and supplying afidavits and documents like those above, Sarah received a pension of $8 per month until she married Green B. Jennings on Nov. 2, 1882.

She became a widow again when Jennings died ten years later on Jan. 29, 1892 at which time she began receiving her pension checks again.

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Legal Request Regarding Sarah Brantley Jennings

After a move to Arkansas "she got dropped off somehow" and, in 1903, enlisted the services of Ripley attorney, Thomas Steele, Jr.

Sarah really needed this pension.

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Statement from Sarah's daughter

On March 7th, 1913, her daughter, Laura E. Nicholas (married to Charles H. Nicholas) provided details on Sarah's real estate transactions. Together, mother and daughter had traded the land they owned for 44 acres near Barr, Tenn.  By 1913 the land was nearly gone. According to Nicholas, "It has all nearly washed away by the Miss. river. There are only about 12 acres left."

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Report to Commissioner of Pensions, Washington, D.C.

On March 10, 1913, William Sullivan, Special Examiner, sent a report to the Commissioner of Pensions in Washington, D.C. that included the information that Sarah had moved with her daughter's family to "the banks of the Mississippi River" in Tomato, AR. At the time, Sarah was "feeble, so much so that she is at present time confined to her bed." He described the home in which they lived as "a hovel on land that overflows at every high water" and he described them as being "very poor class."

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Tomato, AR on Google Earth

During this time, Sarah's neice and my second great-grandmother, Sarah Lena Booth Marbury was 44 and living in Haywood Co. with her husband and children, which included my great grandmother, Allie Marbury, who was 18 at the time. I wonder if they knew what had become of their Aunt Sarah? I actually remember my great grandmother well and sure wish I could go back and ask her now.

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Approval for Payment of Pension

It appears that after the report by William Sullivan, on March 29, 1913, Sarah was finally approved by the Bureau of Pensions to receive the money she was owed.

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Certification of Death

The last document in the file reports that Sarah died on July 23, 1915 at the age of 79.

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or to check out the genealogy research about my specific family lines, go to Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.

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