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.
The Black Community of Lawrence County had an organized church life during the Civil War and were not isolated from the news of national events, helping explain the enlistments of about 30 local soldiers in the US Colored Infantry, after federal law allowed such enlistments in 1863.
"The Christian Recorder" was published in Philadelpia by the AME Church of the United States. One 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 was the guardian of Viola Ann Day after her father Pvt William S. Day was killed by the Rebels in a 1863 skirmish at the Chicahomony Swamp in Virginia and after her mother died in 1866. Enlistments in the 28th USCI 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 Co and later became the first colored officer of the Civil War, as Chaplain of the 28th USCI.
Noah and Ross Anderson
28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B (Private) was born a free black child in about 1828 in Lawrence County, IL. He was married four times, three before the Civil War and one after. He married Emily A. Tann on November 11, 1848, Julia Ann Lucas on March 2, 1854, Elizabeth Day on June 26, 1856, and Polly Portee on March 20, 1870, all in Lawrence County. The 1860 census lists Owen Anderson as a 32-year-old Mulatto who lived in Allison Township of Lawrence County. Also living with him were his wife Elizabeth 21, children Nancy 3, 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. He was listed as 35 years old and stood 5’ 8” tall with hazel eyes, black hair, and a brown complexion. His occupation was listed as farmer. The men of Company B were mustered in two days later at Indianapolis. Owen successfully made it through the many battles and skirmishes in which his regiment fought in Grant’s series of battles in Virginia which led up to the Siege of Richmond/Petersburg. His luck ran out on July 30, 1864 at Petersburg in what is called the Battle of the Crater or Cemetery Hill. Owen was one of the black soldiers ordered to charge through the opening, or crater, created by an underground explosion. The battle was not well planned or lead; the commander of the black troops was actually drunk in his tent in the rear area. Owen was one of the many men wounded on that day; the 28th U. S. Colored troops lost almost half of their men there. He was sent to a hospital at nearby City Point where he remained until sometime in October of 1864. In November, 1864, Owen was again with his regiment. They triumphantly marched into Richmond, Virginia, on
April 4, 1865. At the end of the Civil War, there was much unrest in Texas so the 28th U. S. Colored Infantry took up duty at Brazos, Santiago, and Corpus Christi. Owen Anderson was mustered out on November 8, 1865 and headed home to Lawrence County. The 1870 census found 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 Margarett Lee 14. Only one child, Sarah (Anderson) Smith survived to adulthood. In an affidavit in support of her application for a minor’s pension, 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.
28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B (Corporal) According to family records, George Washington Carter was born in February of 1838 in Lawrence County, IL. He married Rachel Meeks on October 5, 1856 in Lawrence 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, as well as 50 year old Annie Meeks. Next door was the James Meeks family and nearby was the Woodrow Meeks family. We do not know what happened to Washington’s first wife, Rachel, and their infant. He 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, IN. He gave his age as 26 and his occupation as farmer. According to the company descriptive book, he was 5’11” tall with a brown complexion, black hair, and black eyes when he was mustered in two days later at Indianapolis. On May 1, 1864, he was appointed Corporal. The 28th Indiana (Colored) was first sent to Washington, DC where they served in the Capital’s defenses. They suffered severely in the Battle of the Crater during the Siege of Petersburg, VA on July 30, 1864, when nearly half of them were either killed or wounded. 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 Charles T Stuart, First Lieut and Post Adj. After the Civil War, the 28th was sent to Mexican Border in Texas as part of the American response to the French intervention in Mexico. Washington was mustered out along with the rest of his regiment at Corpus Christy, TX on November 8, 1865, having last been paid on August 31. 1865. He was then due a bounty of $300. After the war, 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, IL. 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 was born 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. On November 30,1863, the U S Dept of War had authorized the Indiana governor to raise one regiment of infantry composed of African Americans. Several young men from the Bond Township area heard that the 28th United States Colored Infantry was forming on December 24, 1863, in Indianapolis, Ind. Ready to answer the call to war, Samuel and several of his friends, relatives and neighbors joined Co B of the U S C I on December 26, 1863, for 3 years and mustered in on the 28th at Indianapolis. He was listed on the company descriptive book as 22 years old, 5’ 8 ½” tall with copper complexion, dark eyes and black hair. This regiment trained at Camp Fremont until the end of March. On April 25, they left Indianapolis for Washington, DC, where they were attached to the Capitol’s defenses. The 28th sustained heavy casualties in the Battle of the Crater at the siege of Petersburg, Virginia. Nearly half of its soldiers were killed or wounded in this battle and during a mine explosion. Samuel was one of these casualties on July 30, 1864, when he was killed in action. The casualty report indicates he was due $300 pay at the time of his death. There is no record whether that was eventually given to his father who survived until 1873. No record of his burial place exists, most likely at the site of his unfortunate death. An historical marker was erected in 2004 in Indianapolis, Indiana commemorating the brave soldiers of the 28th Infantry.
abt. 1844-1864 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B (Sergeant)
William S. Day was born a free man about 1844. The 1860 locates him living with William Crews, an attorney, in Allison Township of Lawrence County, IL, where he was 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.Gov. Oliver P. Morton of Indiana was authorized on November 30, 1863 to raise one regiment of colored troops. He began accepting enlistments on December 24, 1863. William Day arrived in Indianapolis four days later and enlisted in Company B of the 28th U.S. Colored Infantry for three years service. He began as a Private and was promoted to Sergeant on May 1, 1864. The 28th USCI was first sent to Washington, DC for training, and then on to Arlington, VA for further training. The further training in some instances was burial detail for the colored troops. Their first combat came near White House, VA on June 21, 1864. This action 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 Gen. Sheridan at that time. William was later buried in Glendale National Cemetery in Richmond, VA. 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 on May 5, 1866, before her pension could be approved. James Pettiford was appointed as the guardian for young orphan Viola and pursued her pension. The minor’s pension for Viola Day was approved on June 7, 1864.
Miles, Henry and Harvey Day
Henry, Levi and Earl Goins
1838-1919 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B (Sergeant)
William McGiffin was born about 1838 in Indiana. In 1860, he was found living with Nancy Gonen (probably 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, MO. William McGiffin was one of the first black men to enlist when he 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. On the way to Washington, DC, McGiffin became ill and was listed as sick in the hospital in Pittsburgh, PS in April of 1864. The 28th Colored Infantry received training in Washington, DC and then moved to Alexandria, VA. They were part of General Grant’s continual flanking of the Confederates which eventually led up to the Siege of Petersburg, and the end of the war. McGiffin was promoted to Sergeant on June 22, 1864. Shortly thereafter he was arrested and charged with “Violation of the ninth article of war” and “Conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline.” At the end of the Court Martial, McGiffin was found guilty, but no criminality was found and he was acquitted and returned to duty. The 28th U. S. Colored Infantry was one of the regiments sent into the “Crater” in an attack at Petersburg on July 30, 1864. There they lost nearly half of their troops either killed or wounded. William McGiffin 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 found McGiffin, single, living in Harrison Township of Knox County, IN. He was listed 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 1900 he had been married for 14 years; his wife was Isabel Elen McGiffin. William was listed as 63 years old and Isabel as 47. The 1910 census found them still living in Lawrenceville. They were living in a mortgaged house and William was 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, IL in 1928. His widow Isabel died on April 25, 1929 and was buried near him in Portee Cemetery.
Wm. D. Morris
1841-1888 23rd U. S. Colored Infantry, Company K (Private)
William Morris was born in Illinois about 1841 to Jerry and Mariah Morris. The 1860 census found 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 23 years old, 5’11” tall, with black hair, black eyes, and a black complexion. He was credited to La Porte County, Indiana instead of Lawrence County, Illinois. William was a barber by trade. 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, Virgina on May 15, 1864, before William Morris enlisted. The 23rd sustained the heaviest losses of the Fourth Division in the Battle of the Crater near Petersburg, making necessary to recruit replacements. William Morris 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 freed black people and the chagrin of the white residents. Morris 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 Morris returned to Lawrence County after his service 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. He 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, Gergoie Clark, were also living there. The census listed his father as having been from Kentucky and his mother as from Virginia. 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 effects of serving in the Civil War. She could not substantiate the necessary facts, thus her claim was denied.
1832-1903, 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B (Private)
Pension Certificate #874,999
Reuben Pettiford, (1832-1903), 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B (Private),
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. 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: first to Jane Ruppel on December 14, 1853, then to Ann M. Levan on June 15, 1866, both in Lawrence County. He later married Melissa Mayberry on April 7, 1889 in Mt. Carmel, Illinois. The 1860 census found Reuben and Jane 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 Jane could do that for him. 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, Indiana, 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 never good for Civil War soldiers, and worse for black soldiers, many soldiers became ill several times during their service. Reuben was one of these; his advanced age for a soldier, probably contributed to this. He was discharged for disability on October 16, 1864. He had not been fit for field duty for eight months at that time. The 1880 census found Reuben and “Anna” 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 he had lived in Grayville, Illinois and later in the river bottoms east of Mt. Carmel, Illinois and about five miles west of Lyles Station, Indiana. Both of his previous wives had died before he had married Melissa. Records vary on when 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; he was buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Vincennes.
1845-1926 ,28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B (Private),
Edward Pettiford was born about 1845 in Indiana. 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.When African-American men were allowed to serve, many men from Lawrence County volunteered. Edward went to Indianapolis with that group and 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, IL and was a laborer. The “colored soldiers” were given menial jobs in the beginning, but were later called to fight in battles. The 28th Regiment first saw combat on June 21, 1864 near White House, Virginia. They accompanied General Sheridan’s Cavalry through the Chickahominy swamps on General Grant’s side-wheeling series of battles at they neared Richmond. During the Siege of Petersburg, on July 30, 1864, Edward was among those ordered into “the Crater” which had been blasted in the Confederate lines. Without good leadership, the men floundered and became easy targets. The 28th lost about half of their men there. Summit House Hospital in Philadelphia records show that Edward suffered a contusion from a shell blast. 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. The 28th USCI was sent after the war to Texas, where there was unrest. The regiment was mustered out at Corpus Christi, Texas on November 8, 1865. A public reception was held in Indianapolis on January 8, 1866. Pension records indicate that Edward may have had additional service in the 24th and 25th U. S. Infantry after the war.Edward returned to Lawrence County after his service. He married Margaret E. Lee there 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 died at Paris, Illinois, on May 27, 1926, and was buried in Edgar Cemetery in Paris. 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.
1843-?, 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B (Private),
Wiley Pettiford was born to Nelson and Clarissa Pettiford. The 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 many free African- American men who enlisted at Indianapolis, Indiana in Company B of the 28th U. S. Colored Infantry on December 26, 1863. Ministers of area African Methodist Episcopal churches were involved in recruiting black men to serve their country. Wiley 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. He was a farmer who had been born in Lawrence County, Illinois. His military service consisted mostly of time in various hospitals; like many soldiers he got sick often; he was listed in hospitals at least eight times. He was sent to a hospital at City Point, Virginia after a battle at Jones’ Bridge, near Petersburg. In May of 1865, he was in the hospital at Fort Monroe with 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; the rest of his regiment was discharged that same day in Corpus Christi, Texas. The only record of Wiley Pettiford after the war was the 1870 census which 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 could be found.
1847-1911 Private Co D 28th USCT
Oliver Russell was born April 7, 1847 to James and Maria Russell in Lawrence County, Ill. He was listed as 3 years old during the 1850 census; his father was a 44 year old farmer who had come from Kentucky with his wife and 4 children sometime between 1840 and 1842. There were 4 more children born before 1850. By 1860 they were listed as farming in Russell township; the value of his parents’ real estate was listed as $1200 with $500 in personal property. Oliver was now 13, a middle child of 6 still at home. On November, 30, 1863, the U S Dept of War authorized the governor of Indiana to raise one regiment of infantry composed of African Americans. Enlistments were accepted beginning Dec 24, 1863. Several young men from Oliver’s neighborhood joined Co D of the 28th U S Colored Infantry at Lafayette, Ind. 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, IIl . He mustered in December 28, 1863; all the recruits trained until the end of March at Camp Fremont. Their Captain was Charles S Russell. On April 25, six companies of the 28th left Indianapolis for Washington, DC where they were attached to the Capitol’s defenses. They were involved in the Battle of the Crater at the siege of Petersburg, Va on July 30, 1864 when their company sustained heavy casualties; nearly half of their soldiers were killed or wounded. After the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, the 28th was moved to the Mexican border in Texas. They were mustered out at Corpus Christi, Texas Nov 8, 1865. They returned to Indianapolis Jan 6, 1866 to a reception in their honor. Their regiment had suffered a total of 212 fatalities, two officers and 45 enlistees killed and mortally wounded and one officer and 164 enlistees who died of disease. In 2004, an historical marker commemorating this regiment was erected in Indianapolis. After the war, Oliver returned to Lawrence County where he married Elizabeth Gowen Oct 8, 1871. Children listed with Oliver on the 1880 census were Edgar and Commodore. Oliver married Catherine “Cassie’ Cole in September of 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 Co, Ill 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 Zacariah was also 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.
1837-1885, 28th United States Colored Infantry, Company D (4th Sergeant)
Edward Sims was born a free black child about 1837 in Knox County, Indiana. His mother’s name was Sarah Sims, but his father’s name is unknown. While his father was born in Indiana, his mother was born in South Carolina. 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. The 28th U. S. C. I. served well throughout the Civil War, mostly in Virginia. They marched and fought their way through the Chickahominy swamps and on to Petersburg, Virginia where they marched proudly into Richmond on April 4, 1865 (much to the displeasure of local residents). Edward was one of the fortunate few who was not wounded or killed during his service. He was mustered out on November 5, 1865, at Corpus Christi, Texas, having last been paid on August 31, 1865. The status of Edward’s first wife, Eliza is unknown, but 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.
1840-1911) 6th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company E (Corporal)
Reuben Tann was born about 1840, in Illinois to Austin and Sally Tann. He was the fifth of seven children; 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 where he was listed as a farmer, and again in another house in Allison Township where he and several others were day laborers. Reuben’s brother, Levi, also served in the Civil War. Levi was with the 28th USCI. By 1860, Reuben had moved to Philadelphia, Pennyslvania, where he enlisted in Company E of the 6th U. S. Colored Infantry on August 13, 1863. He was mustered in on August 19, 1863 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; 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 USCI 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 him a little shorter on the left side. This was a disability he had to live with the rest of his life. He spent several weeks in hospitals recuperating. He was 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 a Regimental sutler $15.00 for items he had purchased on credit. He was also due $6.00 per month from enlistment to April 30, 1864. Reuben was approved for a pension due to his injury. Pension records show he later tried to get the pension amount increased. Some doctors agreed that it should be increased, but others disagreed and his pension evidently was never increased. Reuben is next found in records showing he married Mary F. Carroll in Washington County, Mississippi on May 22, 1874. The couple is found living there in the census of 1880 with a daughter, Bertie, age 5, and a son, Edward, age 3. The 1900 census found Reuben listed as a day laborer, still in Washington County, but he was widowed 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 could be found.
1843-1864) 28th U. S. Colored Infantry, Company B (Private)
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 Jane Taylor, probably their mother, 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 come later, Louisa (1864), James Mantal (1865), Horace (1868), Henry (1869), and Emma (1871). James Mantal Taylor was the first to arrive after the death of our soldier, James, and was probably named after him.Many free African-Americans volunteered to serve their country when they were first allowed to do so. James stepped forward and went in a large 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. They first fought near White House, Virginia and then accompanied General Sheridan’s cavalry through the Chickahominy swamps on their way to Richmond and Petersburg. One of the greatest tragedies of the Civil War occurred near Petersburg when Union soldiers who had been miners dug a shaft under Confederate lines and exploded a large amount of black powder. The idea was to send Union troops into the opening in the Confederate lines and spread out from there. The 28th U. S. Colored Infantry was one of the first to be sent, but their Commanding Officer was drunk in his tent in the rear, leaving them leaderless. The 28th charged through the opening, but soon got trapped in the “Crater” and were easy targets. They lost about half of their men in a few minutes; James was one of those. He was initially classified as Missing in Action, but that was soon changed to Killed in Action. Cause of death was listed as a gunshot. No burial location could be found. Later Company records show he was due $300 for the bounty at enlistment.