Papers (1873-[1887-1901]-1958) of a Black lawyer, minister and teacher, in New Bern, N.C., who handled pension applications for many African Americans who served in the Union Army and Navy during the Civil War or their widows, consisting of pension affidavit ledgers, pension certificate ledgers, correspondence, pamphlets, daybooks, photographs, poetry, essays, application forms, tax receipts, etc.
Frederick Douglass was a black lawyer, minister, and teacher of New Bern, North Carolina. During the 1880s and 1890s he handled the pension applications of many blacks who served in the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy during the Civil War.
Most of the collection consists of ledgers (1887–1897) that contain affidavits supporting these applications. For a detailed discussion of the nature of the applications, see the narrative description for collection #248, which reflects nearly identical material.
Among the most important references in the applications are details of the Dennis Wordsworth case, mentioned in collection #248 (#323.1.c, pp. 168–171; #323.1.d, pp.22–24, 44–46); the explosion of a gun aboard USSLenape at Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1867 (#323.1.b, p.32); the murder of Andrew Beasley by Zacharia Woodard (or Woods) (#323.1.c, pp. 163–166, 172–173); the disposition of the Lettice McLoud claim, mentioned in collection #248 (#323.1.c, p. 216); murders by the Ku Klux Klan (#323.1.c, p. 177); the arrest of Dennis Wordsworth for sending a letter to General Benjamin Butler (#323.1.c, pp. 168–171; #323.1.d, pp. 22–24, 44–46); and a mutiny and riot in the 37th Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops at Camp Hilton, near Wilmington, N.C., in 1865 (#323.1.a, pp. 179–180).
The majority of the claims were filed during the 1890s; consequently, most of the applications were made by widows. Others reflect the progressively increasing disability of surviving veterans. References of a medical nature include the consumption of raw liver for the improvement of eyesight (#323.1.c, p. 218); the injury of John Roberts, mentioned in collection #248 (#323.1.d, p. 260); and a diagnosis of Windsor Granger by Dr. Thomas M. Jordan referring to "bone scurvy," neuralgia, and rheumatic dialysis. It is interesting to note that a larger percentage of claims from men in Granger's unit (2nd Regiment, U.S. Colored Cavalry) mention bone scurvy as part of their debility.
The collection contains several additional volumes. One ledger consists of copies of pension award certificates, indexed by letter groups (1889–1891). Another (not indexed) is a combination of estate records, pension claim affidavits, and pension award certificates (1890–1903). The estate papers pertain to the estates of Martha Pate of Craven County (1890–1891) and Phoebe Parson of Jones County (1892–1893). A roll book for the Pleasant Hill School in Craven County (December 1873–April 1880) contains the name and attendance record of each student. Also included are two daybooks reflecting purchases of groceries and other products by a variety of individuals, including Frederick Douglass (1910–1911) and Douglass's bank book (1892–1894).
Also in the collection are a fragment of History of the 37th Regiment, U.S. Colored Infantry (1866); a copy of The Planet (1916), yearbook of the West Street Graded School in New Bern, which includes lists of graduates (1904–1916), photographs, poetry, and essays on tuberculosis, mosquitoes, and houseflies; scattered correspondence (1886–1958, undated), which includes a letter concerning the need for female domestic servants from New Bern in Orange, New Jersey; forms pertaining to pension applications; and Pamlico County tax receipts (1883–1900).
Gift of Mr. Thomas A. Johnson
Purchase from Battleground Antiques
Processed by J. Reedy, May 1982
Encoded by Apex Data Services
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.