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Portee Cemetery

During the Civil War, local residents were not isolated from the news of national events. Because of the evolving redefinition of why the Civil War was being fought, the U S Dept of War authorized the governor of Indiana Oliver P. Norton on November, 30, 1863, to raise one regiment of infantry composed of African Americans. Enlistments were accepted beginning on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1863. This regiment was known as the 28th United States Colored Infantry.


The Black community of Lawrence County had an organized church life during this period. "The Christian Recorder" was published in Philadelphia by the AME Church of the United States. Enlistments in the 28th U.S.C.I. were encouraged by AME ministers in Indiana.  AME minister Garland White served as a Private in the same company as many of the men from Lawrence County and later became the first colored officer of the Civil War, as Chaplain of the 28th U.S.C.I.


One Lawrence County subscriber of "The Christian Recorder" was James H. Pettiford of Russell Township.  James Pettiford was born about 1820 in North Carolina.  He was a brother of Reuben Pettiford and Wiley F. Pettiford, who served in Co B, 28th U.S. Colored Infantry.  He later became the guardian of Viola Ann Day after her father, Pvt William S. Day, was killed in 1864 fighting for the Union.

There were twenty soldiers from Lawrence County, Illinois who volunteered to take part in combat. They had never been slaves, nor had many of their parents.  Once enlisted, the men were paid less than white soldiers, were given old uniforms and poor equipment, and at first, could not become officers. Still they took the train to Indianapolis and were credited against the number of men Indianapolis was mandated to supply to the war. 

The recruits trained for three months at Camp Fremont and on April 25, 1863, six companies of the 28th U.S.C.T. left Indianapolis for Washington, D.C. where they were attached to the capital's defenses. Most of the Lawrence County men were part of Co. B of the 28th.  At Arlington, Virginia, they were assigned to burial detail. Their Captain was Charles S Russell.

Co B’s first combat came near White House, Virginia on June 21, 1864.  This was a part of Grant’s continual flanking of Lee’s army, leading to the Siege of Petersburg.  William Day was killed in action on June 23, 1864 at Jones’ Bridge over the Chickahominy Creek in Virginia.  His regiment was under the command of General Sheridan at that time.

The 28th sustained heavy casualties in the Battle of the Crater at the siege of Petersburg, Virginia. A Union regiment of Pennsylvania miners dug a shaft under Confederate lines and filled it with four tons of black powder. Just before dawn on July 30,1864, a Union soldier lit the fuse; the explosion created a crater 170 feet long by 60-80 feet wide and 30 feet deep.  The 28th U. S. Colored Infantry was one of the first to be sent in after the explosion. The men charged through the opening, but soon got trapped in the “Crater” and became easy targets for Confederate soldiers who gathered at the top and fired down on them.  Nearly half of the black soldiers were killed or wounded within a few minutes. Soldiers from Lawrence County killed that day were Samuel Cole and James Taylor. Those wounded in action included Sgt. Horace Russell, Sgt. William Brown, Corp. Owen Anderson and Pvt. Edward B. Pettiford.  Sgt. Edward C. Sims was trampled during the retreat.  Among the ambulance drivers was Oliver Russell. 


After the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, the 28th moved to the Texas border as part of the American response to the French intervention in Mexico. They were mustered out at Corpus Christi, Texas, November 8, 1865. They returned to Indianapolis, on January 6, 1866, to a reception in their honor and 138 years later, in 2004, an historical marker commemorating this regiment was erected in Indianapolis. No mention was made of the Lawrence County men who left their farms and families to fight for the Union cause.  

Portee Cemetery is located in the eastern section of Bond Township, southeast of Pinkstaff and about 5 ½ miles north of Lawrenceville. There are over 300 interments there of deceased black residents. In addition to black veterans from WWI, WWII, Korea, and the Vietnam conflict, there are at least two Civil War veterans buried there.   

African-American Civil War Soldiers from Lawrence County

Noah Anderson - Private, 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B; 

Noah Anderson was mustered in at Indianapolis, Indiana, on December 28, 1863, and mustered out October 21, 1865.  


Owen Anderson  1828-1873 - Private 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B 
Owen Anderson was born in Lawrence County, Illinois, a free black about 1828.  He was married four times; his marriages all occurring in Lawrence County.  Three of his marriages occurred before the Civil War and one after.  He married Emily A. Tann on November 11, 1848; Julia Ann Lucas on March 2, 1854; and Elizabeth Day on June 26, 1856. The 1860 census lists Owen Anderson as a 32-year-old Mulatto who lived in Allison Township, Lawrence County.  Also living with him at the time were his wife Elizabeth 21 years of age, children Nancy 3 years, Sarah, 3 months, and Catharine Russell, 20 years of age along with 3-year-old Dolly Russell.   


Owen enlisted on December 26, 1863, with others from Lawrence County, in Indianapolis and was mustered in three days later.  He was listed as a 35-year-old farmer, 5’ 8” tall, with hazel eyes, black hair, and a brown complexion.  At the Battle of the Crater, Owen was wounded and sent to a hospital at nearby City Point where he remained until sometime in October, 1864.  Owen was again with Co. B, a month later in November.  They triumphantly marched into Richmond, Virginia, with the rest of the Regiment on April 4, 1865. Owen was mustered out on November 8, 1865, after being sent along with the rest of the 28th U S Colored Infantry to Corpus Christi, Texas. From Indianapolis, he headed home to Lawrence County. 

Owen married Polly Portee on March 20, 1870.  The 1870 census shows Owen, listed as age 46, living in Bond Township of Lawrence County.  Also living with him there were Mary Anderson 23, Nancy Anderson 14, Sarah Anderson 10, Rose Anderson 7, and Margaret Lee 14.  Only one child, Sarah (Anderson) Smith survived to adulthood.  In an affidavit in support of her application for a minor’s pension based on her father’s service record, Sarah stated that Owen died on April 18, 1873, and that only his third wife, Elizabeth, had borne him any children. His place of burial is not known.

Wm. Broady - Private, 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B; 

William H Broady was born in Illinois.  At the time of the 1860 census, William and Jane Broady were living with the Newton Blackwell family on Allison prairie in Lawrence County.  William and Louisa Jane Anderson had been married April 15, 1860.


William was mustered in at Indianapolis, Indiana, joining Co B., 28 U.S. Colored Infantry on December 28, 1863, and mustered out October 21, 1865 at Corpus Christi, Texas.  He applied for a disability pension in January, 1888, while residing in Pinkstaff, Lawrence County. On September 8, 1898, William was married to his second wife, Mary Ann Francis Blackwell. He reapplied for his pension in January, 1908. Among those who made affidavits on his behalf were Reuben Pettiford, John Purrie, Emmanuel Cole and Charles Boarman.  In March, 1907, he began receiving a pension of $15 per month. 


William Broady died July 20, 1909, in Carrier Mills, Illinois, at the age of 74 and is buried at Lakeview Cemetery in Saline County, Illinois.  A military tombstone marks his grave.


Washington Carter 1838-1909 - Corporal, 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B 

According to family records, George Washington Carter was born in February of 1838, in Lawrence County, Illinois and married Rachel Meeks on October 5, 1856, in the same county.  The 1860 census of Allison Township listed him as a 24-year-old laborer with wife Rachel, a 9-month-old infant, and 6-year-old Franklin Meeks living with him as well as 50-year-old Annie Meeks.  Next door was the James Meeks family and nearby was the Woodrow Meeks family.  History does not record what happened to Washington’s first wife, Rachel, and their infant.   Washington next married Sarah Jane Taylor on April 25, 1863, in Lawrence County.

Washington joined Company B of the U. S. Colored Infantry as a Private on December 26, 1863 at Indianapolis, Indiana and was mustered in two days later.  He gave his age as 26 and his occupation as farmer.  According to the company’s records, he was 5’11” tall with a brown complexion, black hair, and black eyes.  On May 1, 1864, he was appointed Corporal.  Washington Carter’s service record contains a note from “Head Quarters Post, Newport, Va,” April 28, 1865, saying, “Received of Capt. Louis R. Stille, Provost Marshall at City Point, Va., five prisoners of war at the hands of Corpl. Washington Carter, Co. B 28th Regt U S C Troops,” signed by Charles T. Stuart, First Lieut. and Post Adj. 


Washington was mustered out along with the rest of his regiment at Corpus Christy, Texas, on November 8, 1865, having last been paid on August 31, 1865.  He was then due a bounty of $300. Washington returned home to his wife and one-year-old daughter, Ellen.  Other known children born to this union were Carrie, William, Elligood, John, Mireta, and Felix.  The Russell Township census of 1880 lists Washington as a 42-year-old laborer.  He applied for his pension on March 14, 1889.  On September 10, 1897, he married Mrs. Martha Woolfork in Saline County, Illinois.  The census of 1900 lists him as a 62-year-old farmer with his wife Martha and his two youngest sons.  According to records, George Washington Carter died on March 14, 1909.  No gravesite has been found.


Samuel Cole, 1841-1864 - Private, 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B 

Samuel Cole was born 1841 in Lawrence County, Illinois, the son of free blacks, Elihu and Aletta Morris Cole. His parents were early settlers who married in 1823, in Lawrence county.  The 1850 census records his father as being born in Kentucky, and his mother in South Carolina, living with children, Emanuel, Rebecca, Cynthia, Julia, Jemima, Samuel, Eda and Francis Marion, as well as a relative, 70- year old Nancy Atwood and Willis Atwood both from South Carolina.  Samuel’s brother, Emanuel, married Sarah Anderson in 1851, and they lived with their three young children next door to Samuel and his parents during the 1860 Bond township census.  Aletta had died in 1852, and Samuel’s father married Lucinda Portee in 1859. She and four of her children lived in the home with Samuel, his father and Joseph Tann.


Samuel and several of his friends, relatives, and neighbors from Bond Township, Lawrence County, Illinois, joined Co B of the 28th U.S.C.I. on December 26, 1863, for three years and were mustered in, two days later, at Indianapolis.  Samuel was listed as being 22-years-old, 5’ 8 ½” tall, with a copper complexion, dark eyes and black hair. At the Battle of the Crater, Samuel was one of these casualties; on July 30, 1864, he was killed in action. At the time of this death, he was due $300 pay. There is no record of whether that was eventually given to his father who survived until 1873. No record of his burial place exists, but most likely, it is the site of his death.


Wm. S. Day  abt. 1844-1864 - Sergeant, 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B 

William S. Day was born a free man about 1844.  The 1860 Census shows him as a mulatto living with William Crews, an attorney, in Allison Township of Lawrence County, Illinois, where he was worked as a day laborer. On October 20, 1861, William married Caroline Levan in Lawrence County.  The service was performed by William Clark, a Justice of the Peace.


On December 28, 1863, William arrived in Indianapolis and enlisted in Company B of the 28th U.S. Colored Infantry, as a private, for three years’ service.  He was promoted to Sergeant on May 1, 1864. Just six weeks later he was killed in action on June 23, 1864, at Jones’ Bridge over the Chickahominy Creek in Virginia. 


William was buried in Glendale National Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.  He had received clothing amounting to $37.00, but had received no pay at the time of his death. About a month after William’s death, his widow gave birth to a daughter, Viola Ann, in Lawrence County.  Caroline filed for a widow’s pension and a minor’s pension on June 12, 1865.  However, she died before her pension could be approved.  James Pettiford was appointed as the guardian for the young orphan Viola and continued to pursue her pension which was eventually approved.


Earl Goins - Private, 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company D

Earl Goins was born in 1822. The 1860 census shows him as a resident in Lawrence Township, Lawrence County, Illinois. He was mustered into Co. D, 28th U.S. Colored Infantry, at Indianapolis on December 28, 1863, and according to company records deserted March 17, 1865. He had returned to Lawrence County by the 1870 census but died May 7, 1877, at age 55 years, 3 months, and 9 days.   Earl Goins is buried in Portee Cemetery, Bond Township, Lawrence County Illinois under a non-military tombstone.   


Henry Goins - Private, 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B
Henry Goins was born in Lawrence County in 1845.  He mustered in at Indianapolis on December 28, 1863, two days after he enlisted. He was described in Co B, 28th U.S. Colored Infantry as being a farmer, eighteen years old, with a brown complexion, hazel eyes, and black hair. He mustered out November 8, 1865. His Pension Index card states that he died April 30, 1918, in Indianapolis and is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in that city. (Lot#6067, Section F)


Levi Goins - Private, 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B

Levi Goins was born in Lawrence County and married Margaret Cole July 29, 1858. When he enlisted December 26, 1863, in Indianapolis for three years of service in Co B., 28th U.S.C.I. he was described as 27 years old, 5’9 1/2” tall with a brown complexion, brown eyes, and black eyes. His occupation was listed as farmer.  He mustered out at Corpus Christi, Texas, on November 8, 1865. The Pension Index Card for Pvt Levi Goins states that he died June 3, 1926, in Chicago.       


Eli Jones - Private, 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B

Eli Jones was born in 1819 in Lawrence County, Illinois, and died September 19, 1891, aged 72 years, 4 months and 5 days.  Eli enlisted December 26, 1863 with Co. B, 28th U.S. Colored Infantry and was mustered in at Indianapolis on December 28, 1863.  The Company Book lists him as 44 years old, 5’10” tall, with a brown complexion, black eyes, and black hair.  He gave his occupation as a farmer. Eli mustered out November 8, 1865. On his death in 1891, he was buried in Portee Cemetery.

Wm. McGiffin   1838-1919 - Sergeant, 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B 

William McGiffin was born about 1838 in Indiana.  In 1860, he was listed as a mulatto and found living with Nancy Gowen and her son Henry in Lawrenceville.  He was a day laborer then. Researchers believe this William was the Bill “McGiffie” who was the bodyguard and servant for Lawrenceville’s Capt. W. A. J. Mieure of Company G of the 11th Missouri Infantry, who died of typhoid on November 3, 1861 at Cape Girardeau, Missouri.    

William enlisted as a Private on December 26, 1863 at Indianapolis in Company B of the 28th U. S. Colored Infantry.  He was listed as 28-years-old when he was mustered in two days later. The company record stated that he was 5’5” tall with a copper complexion, dark eyes and black hair. He was a cook when he enlisted.  On the way to Washington, D.C., with the rest of his company, William became ill and was listed as sick in a Pittsburgh hospital in April of 1864.  Upon his recovery, he was promoted to Sergeant on June 22, 1864.  

Shortly thereafter William was arrested and charged with “Violation of the ninth article of war” and “Conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline.”  At the conclusion of the Court Martial, he was indeed found guilty, but no criminality was found; thus, he was acquitted and returned to duty. William was discharged on a surgeon’s certificate of disability on October 13, 1864 near Petersburg. The cause listed was double hernia which was said to have existed when he enlisted. 

The 1870 census shows William, single, living in Harrison Township of Knox County, Indiana. He was listed then as a 30-year-old day laborer living with Robert Patterson, a farmer.  By 1880, he had moved back to Lawrenceville, still single, and lived by himself.  He was listed as a “hostler” or a person who tended horses.  William was not found in the 1890 census, but by the 1900 census, he had been married for 14 years to Isabel Elen McGiffin.  William was listed as 63-years old and Isabel as 47.  The 1910 census found them still living in Lawrenceville with William earning a living by farming.  No records of any children were found. 

William McGiffin died on April 18, 1919, and was buried in Portee Cemetery northeast of Lawrenceville.  A tombstone for him was ordered in 1925 and shipped to F. P. Haines in Pinkstaff, Illinois, in 1928.  His widow Isabel died on April 25, 1929, and was buried near him in Portee Cemetery.


Wm. D. Morris 1841-1888  - Private, 23rd U. S. Colored Infantry, Company K 


William Morris was born in Illinois about 1841 to Jerry and Mariah Morris.  Jerry had been born in Kentucky and his mother in Virginia. The 1860 census shows William living in Lawrenceville, Illinois, in the home of George Clark, his brother-in-law, and Elizabeth Clark, his sister.  William was 19 at the time.  Also living in the home was 27-year-old John Morris.


On August 28, 1864, William enlisted in Company K of the 23rd U. S. Colored Infantry at Seymour, Indiana.  He was mustered in at Indianapolis four days later for three years of service.  He was listed as a 23-year-old barber, 5’11” tall, with black hair, black eyes, and a black complexion.  His enlistment was credited to La Porte County, Indiana, instead of Lawrence County, Illinois. For some unknown reason, he was sometimes listed as William Myres while in the Army.  The Company Muster Roll of Sept/Oct 1864, lists him as William Myres and notes that he joined as a substitute.  No other records could be located to confirm him as a substitute.


The 23rd U.S.C.I. became the first colored troops to fight in “directed combat” against Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.  This action took place in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, on May 15, 1864, before William Morris enlisted.  The 23rd went on to sustain heavy losses in the Battle of the Crater near Petersburg, making it necessary to recruit replacements.  William was one of those replacements.  After he arrived to serve with them, the 23rd fought in the Battle of Burgess’ Mill at Petersburg and in April of 1865, marched into Richmond to the delight of the freed blacks and the chagrin of the white residents.  William was promoted to Corporal on December 1, 1864, and reduced to Private shortly before being mustered out on November 30, 1865, at Brazos Santiago, Texas.


William returned to Lawrence County after the war and never married.  The 1870 census lists him as 28-years-old living in Lawrence Township, Lawrence County, with Jerry Morris 75, Mariah Morris 67, Margaret Morris 22, and three-month old Harry Hicklin.  William was again serving as a barber.  In 1880, he was found living with his sister, Elizabeth Clark, and her husband, George Clark, in Lawrenceville.  His mother, Mariah, and a niece, Georgie Clark, were also living there. 


William Morris died on March 4, 1888, of “consumption,” which is now called tuberculosis. His mother, Mariah, filed for a pension on April 5, 1889, saying William had died from the effects of serving in the Civil War.  She could not substantiate the necessary facts, and her claim was denied.


Edward B. Pettiford 1845-1926 

Private 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B       

Edward Pettiford was born about 1845. The 1850 census listed the family living in Lawrence County, Illinois.  His father, James Pettiford was 32 years old and his mother Mary Ann was 36.  Children in the house were John 8, Edward 5, and Isabella 1. The parents had come to Illinois from North Carolina; all were listed as Mulatto.  The family was not found in the 1860 census.

Edward enlisted in Company B of the 28th U. S. Colored Infantry on December 26, 1863 for three years of service.  When he was mustered in two days later, Edward was listed as age 18, standing 5’7” tall, with a black complexion, black eyes, and black hair.  He said he had been born in Lawrence County, Illinois and was a laborer.


The records of Summit House Hospital in Philadelphia show that Edward suffered a contusion from a shell blast at the Battle of the Crater. He rejoined his unit on September 14, 1864.  On April 18, 1865, Edward was on detached service at Point Lookout, Maryland, along with some others from his regiment.  Pension records indicate that Edward may have had additional service in Co D, of the 24th and Co I, of the 25th U. S. Infantry after the war.


Edward returned to Lawrence County after he had completed his service and married Margaret E. Lee on November 5, 1876.  The 1880 census shows that Edward’s birthplace may have been in Indiana.  He was listed as being black, age 32, and a farm hand in Allison Township of Lawrence County.  By 1900, Edward had been divorced and had moved to Paris, Illinois, where he was a 53-year-old barber.  At that time, he was living in the rooming house of Charlotte Moody. 


On April 11, 1911, Edward was admitted to the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers at Danville, Illinois.  He was listed as age 63, and a “protestant resident of Paris, Illinois.”  He was treated for arthritis and rheumatism, then discharged on April 18, 1926.


Edward Pettiford died at Paris, Illinois, on May 27, 1926, and was buried in Edgar Cemetery in that city. In his will, which was filed in Edgar County, Illinois, Edward left his possessions to his son, James Jackson Pettiford, his daughter, Mary Magdeline Burnett, and his friend, Mary Thomas.

Reuben Pettiford 1832-1903, Private, 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B. Pension Certificate #874,999

Reuben Pettiford was the eldest child of Nelson and Clarissa (Buck) Pettiford.  The 1850 census listed the family living on a farm in Lawrence County, Illinois.  Nelson was 50 and Clarissa was 45 at that time.  Children in the home were Reuben 18, Tempy 17, Betsey 15, John 11, Delia 9, Wiley 7, Ann 5, and Sarah 3.  His mother, Clarissa, had been born in Canada.  Nelson died in the 1850’s and Clarissa then married Austin Tann in Lawrence County in 1855.  

Reuben was married three times. Before the Civil War he married to Jane Ruppel on December 14, 1853, and then after the war he married Ann M. Levan on June 15, 1866; both marriages occurring in Lawrence County.  Both of his previous wives had died before he married his third wife, Melissa Mayberry on April 7, 1889 in Mt. Carmel, Illinois. The 1860 census shows Reuben and Jane, his first wife, living in Allison Township of Lawrence County with their two children, Bell 5 and William 2.  Reuben was a farm hand with a personal estate of $100; he could not read or write, but his wife could.  

Along with his younger brother, Wiley, and several other African-American men from Lawrence County, Reuben enlisted in Company B of the 28th U. S. Colored Infantry at Indianapolis, on December 26, 1863.  There were at least 15 men from Lawrence County in Company B.  Reuben was age 30, while his brother Wiley was age 20.  They were both mustered in for three years of service two days later. 

Reuben was listed as a deserter on February 23, 1864, but this was later changed because he had been in the hospital.  Since sanitary conditions were poor for Civil War soldiers, and worse for black soldiers, many became ill several times during their service.  Reuben was one of these; his advanced age for a soldier, probably contributed to this as well. He was discharged because of disability on October 16, 1864. At that time, he had not been fit for field duty for eight months.  

The 1880 census shows Reuben and “Anna”, his second wife, living in Albion, Illinois, with children John 16, Ezekial 14, Sheridan 12, and Alfred 10.  An 1888 city directory of Vincennes, Indiana, listed Reuben as living at 1220 Seminary St.  In his pension papers, Reuben stated that he had lived in Grayville, Illinois, and later in the river bottoms east of Mt. Carmel, Illinois about five miles west of Lyles Station, Indiana.  Records vary as to the date Reuben Pettiford died, showing either January 1, 2, or 3 of 1903.  He was 71 years of age, when he died of heart disease.  Funeral services were conducted by the D. Gardner & Son Funeral Home of Vincennes; he was buried in the Fairview Cemetery in that same town. 


Wiley Pettiford  1843-? - Private, 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B  

Wiley Pettiford was born to Nelson and Clarissa Pettiford and was a brother to Civil War soldier, Reuben Pettiford.  The Lawrence County, Illinois 1850 census shows the family as Nelson 50, Clarissa 45, Reuben 18, Tempy 17, Betsey, 15, John 11, Delia 9, Wiley 7, Ann 5, and Sarah 3.  Nelson died in the 1850’s and Clarissa married widower, Austin Tann in 1855.  In 1860, Wiley, age 17, was living on the farm of John Westfall where he was a day laborer.  The farm was in Allison Township of Lawrence County but had a Vincennes, Indiana, address (a situation which continued for over a century). 

Wiley was one of the local African- American men who enlisted at Indianapolis, Indiana in Company B of the 28th U. S. Colored Infantry on December 26, 1863. He was described as age 20, standing 5’6” tall, with a brown complexion, hazel eyes, and black hair when he mustered in on December 28, 1863.  

Wiley’s military service consisted mostly of time in various hospitals. In his military records, he was listed as being in a hospital at least eight times. One time was after a battle at Jones’ Bridge, near Petersburg when he was sent to a hospital at City Point, Virginia. In May of 1865, he was in the hospital at Fort Monroe for a list of illnesses, including tuberculosis, skin diseases, and atrophy of the right arm.  Records show he was discharged at Hick’s General Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland, on November 9, 1865, while the rest of his regiment was discharged that same day in Corpus Christi, Texas. The only record of Wiley after the war was the 1870 census that listed him as age 27, and a farm laborer at the farm of Millie Mitchell in Bon Pas Precinct of Wabash County, Illinois.  No other records of him have been be found.


Oliver Russell  1847-1911 - Private, 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company D      

Oliver Russell was born April 7, 1847, to James and Maria Russell in Lawrence County, Illinois. He was listed as 3 years old during the 1850 census; his father was a 44-year-old farmer who had moved from Kentucky with his wife and 4 children sometime between 1840 and 1842. There were 4 other children born before 1850. By 1860, James was listed as farming in Russell township with real estate valued at $1200 and personal property at $500. Oliver, age 13, was the middle child of six still at home. 

Oliver mustered in December 28, 1863. While the enrollment officers thought he was 18, he may only have been 16.  The company descriptive book lists 18-year-old Private Oliver Russell as a 5’6” farmer with brown complexion, black eyes and hair from Lawrence County, Illinois.

After the war, Oliver returned to Lawrence County where he married Elizabeth Gowen October 8, 1871.  Children listed with Oliver on the 1880 census were Edgar and Commodore.  Oliver married Catherine “Cassie’ Cole on September 2,1880.  She was the daughter of Emanuel and Sara Cole.  Children born to this union were Rosa, Bud, Arnett, Maude, Lemuel, Addie and Marie. They and some other relatives settled in Carrier Mills, Saline County, Illinois about 1894. The 1900 census listed 53- year-old Oliver with his wife who said she was the mother of 8 children, 7 still living at home; Oliver’s 51-year-old brother Zachariah also lived in the home.             

Oliver died June 30, 1911, at Carrier Mills and was buried in Lakeview Cemetery there. Oliver had filed for his pension August 28, 1884; his widow applied for her pension July 7th and the certification number indicates she received it.  She lived with her daughter Addie Jahren in 1920, and another daughter Maude Farrar in 1930, in Carrier Mills.  She died at the age of 91 in 1950.

Edward Sims 1837-1885 - 4th Sergeant, 28th United States Colored Infantry, Company D 

Edward Sims was born a free black child about 1837 in Knox County, Indiana.  His mother’s name was Sarah Sims; she was born in South Carolina.  While his father’s name is unknown, Edward later indicated on a census that his father had been was born in Indiana. Edward had at least five siblings, but the only one identified is John Sims, who later testified in Edward’s pension case. Edward married Eliza E. Morris on March 18, 1858, in Lawrence County, Illinois. 

Shortly after African-Americans were allowed to serve their county, Edward enlisted in Company D of the 28th U. S. Colored Infantry on January 4, 1864, at Indianapolis, Indiana.  He enlisted as a Corporal for three years of service, but was soon promoted to 5th Sergeant, and then to 4th Sergeant later in 1864.  When he was mustered in on January 7, 1864, he was listed as 27 years old, 5’8” tall, with black hair, eyes, and complexion.  His occupation was listed as a mason.       

Edward was one of the few who was not wounded or killed during his service.  He was mustered out on November 8, 1865, at Corpus Christi, Texas, having last been paid on August 31, 1865. The status of Edward’s first wife, Eliza is unknown. Edward married Mary C. Jones in Lawrence County on June 17, 1868.  The 1870 census found the couple living in Lawrence Township with Edward’s mother, Sarah Sims, and 18-year-old Ella I. Mills.  In 1880, they were still living there, but had added four children to the family, William, Charles, Malinda, and Sarah.  Another daughter, Dessa came a short time later.  

Edward Sims died on June 4, 1885, from pulmonary consumption (now called tuberculosis).  He was buried in Portee Cemetery north of Lawrenceville.  Pension records show that Edward’s parents, at least 5 or 6 siblings, and three of his children also died of the same disease.  Edward’s widow, Mary married James M. Morris in Lawrence County on August 4, 1887.


Mary Morris filed for a pension April 21, 1910. She received the amount due to Edward at $4 per month from October 11, 1883 ,to June 4, 1885. She did not receive a widow’s pension because the soldier’s death was not shown to have been due to his military service, and, she had remarried. The couple’s two children, Sarah G. and Dessa J., filed claims as minors but they were also rejected also despite an appeal by James M Morris.  


Reuben Tann 1840-1911 - Corporal, 6th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company E

Reuben Tann was born about 1840 in Illinois to Austin and Sally Tann.  He was the fifth of seven children; his siblings were George, Sarah, Marinda, Lydia, Levi, and Benjamin.  The 1850 census shows the family living on a farm in Lawrence County, Illinois.  Reuben was listed twice in the 1860 census, once in the home of his parents in Russell Township as a farmer, and again in another house in Allison Township where he and several others were day laborers.


By 1860, Reuben had moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he enlisted in Company E of the 6th U. S. Colored Infantry on August 13, 1863.  He was mustered in, six days later, as a Corporal for three years’ service.  He was 22 years old, 5’8” tall with a yellow complexion, black eyes, and black hair.  His early experience in the Army was much like many others soldiers; he was listed as sick in quarters in October of 1863.


On December 14, 1863, Reuben was reduced from Corporal to Private; Adjutant General’s records show this was “due to incompetency.”  The 6th U.S.C.I. participated in several actions in Virginia and the Carolinas.  Reuben was wounded in action on May 31, 1864, in the Battle of Cold Harbor.  He was shot in the left thigh which broke his femur, making his leg a little shorter on the left side.  He spent several weeks in hospitals recuperating. Despite this injury, he returned to his company and was once again listed as sick in a hospital in May of 1865.


Along with the rest of his Regiment, Reuben was mustered out on September 20, 1865, at Wilmington, North Carolina, having last been paid to April 30, 1865.  He owed the Army $99.25 for clothing and $15.00 to a Regimental sutler for items he had purchased on credit. 


Reuben was approved for a pension because of his injury. Pension records show Reuben later tried to get the pension amount increased.  Some doctors agreed that it should be increased, but others disagreed and his pension was never changed. At some point after the war, Reuben moved to the South.  


Reuben married Mary F. Carroll in Washington County, Mississippi, on May 22, 1874. The couple was living there when the 1880 census was taken along with a daughter, Bertie, age 5, and a son, Edward, age 3. The 1900 census shows Reuben listed as a day laborer, still in Washington County, but he widowed by then.  A hand-written note in his pension file says Reuben Tann died at Wilmot, Mississippi, on March 25, 1911.  It also states the death certificate was in possession of a daughter, whereabouts unknown. No burial location has been found.


Levi Tann 1842-1864 - Sergeant,28th U. S. Colored Infantry 

Levi Tann was born about 1842 in Lawrence County, the son of Austin and Sally Cole Tann. Levi marred Harriet Anderson on December 18, 1862.


When Levi enlisted with Co B, 28th Colored Infantry, he was 22 years old with a copper complexion, black eyes, black hair and listed his occupation as laborer.  He enlisted on the 26th day of December, 1863, at Indianapolis and was mustered in two days later. He was appointed sergeant on May 1, 1864.


Levi died of pneumonia resulting as a complication from typhoid fever while in the Hospital for Colored Troops at City Point, Virginia, July 21, 1864, after being sent there for a slight injury (sprain).   His widow, 18-year-old Harriet, filed for a pension. She stated that the couple had had no children and she lived in Lawrence county. She received a pension of $8 a month starting from his date of death, July 21, 1864.


James Taylor 1843-1864 - Private, 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B 

James Taylor was born in Kentucky about 1843, the first child of John and Malinda Taylor.  By 1850, the family had moved to Lawrence County, Illinois, where they settled in Russell Township.  The 1850 census shows eight-year-old James living with siblings, Sally, Calvin, and Martha, and 25-year-old (Malinda) Jane Taylor, in the home of 37-year-old Rosella Taylor, possibly a sister to their father, John.  By 1860, they were living in their own home in Russell Township.  Children listed in the home at that time were James, Sallie, Calvin, Martha, John, Susan, and Alexander.  Five other children would be born later to Malinda, Louisa (1864), James Mantal (1865), Horace (1868), Henry (1869), and Emma (1871). 


James went with a group from Lawrence County to Indianapolis, Indiana, where they enlisted in Company B of the 28th U. S. Colored Infantry on December 26, 1863.  He was twenty years old at the time.


James fought with the 28th in several actions in the first half of 1864 including the Battle of the Crater.   He was initially classified as “Missing in Action”, but that was soon changed to “Killed in Action”.  His cause of death was listed as a gunshot. Company records show he was still owed the $300 bounty for enlisting. No burial location has been found, but probably it was at the site of his death.   

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