Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member


(16,266 posts)
Tue Jan 10, 2023, 12:36 PM Jan 2023

Interesting find concerning my Confederate ancestor

My brother sent me a link to a request for pardon and amnesty submitted to Andrew Johnson for participation in the "recent rebellion" dated 1865. It was my Great Grandfather and I believe that he was an officer in the local militia. He would have probably been exempt from front line service because of his position as a plantation owner. (with all of its evil implications) His father had apparently gathered in a heck of a lot of land, rumored to be about 100 sq. miles in Northern Alabama, by swindling the Native Americans out of it...But that is another story.

My GGF had done the paperwork and sworn the oath for the pardon , but he was denied amnesty under the 13th exception. The 13th exception was for participants whos net worth was over $20,000 dollars. Great Granddad apparently had to wait until 1868 for the universal pardon and amnesty. In the years following the war, the family lost its ill-gotten wealth to the point that my Grandfather (born in 1862) left Alabama in about 1900 with just a wagon, horse and new wife to start over in Florida. The family continued to decline to my father, who never owned a house and died, rent three months overdue, penniless, in debt, and left us, without insurance of course, to pay for his funeral on time....

When I first became interested in family history, I was warned by an elderly relative, in no uncertain terms, that it best be left unexplored. I find the history is fascinating. We don't get to pick our ancestors.

Interesting find concerning my Confederate ancestor (Original Post) Chainfire Jan 2023 OP
So I'm not the only one here with a slave keeping ancestor Walleye Jan 2023 #1
My father's folks came before the revolution. Chainfire Jan 2023 #4
That's quite an interesting history, a true American Tune Walleye Jan 2023 #5
Hi neighbor, I grew up about 20 miles west of you in MD. beveeheart Jan 2023 #13
Elkton, Cecil county maybe? We're probably related Walleye Jan 2023 #17
Queen Anne's County beveeheart Jan 2023 #24
And look at the family progress! leftieNanner Jan 2023 #2
He probably wouldn't like me talking to damn Yankees! Chainfire Jan 2023 #20
What a story, a true rise and fall epic. brush Jan 2023 #3
You're right we don't get to pick our ancestors Doc Sportello Jan 2023 #6
All I know is my grandparents from Russia were assholes housecat Jan 2023 #7
They didn't get to pick us, either. Thank goodness for that Warpy Jan 2023 #8
From an article that I read about my GGF, I don't believe that he was religious. Chainfire Jan 2023 #21
Ha! My ancestors never developed a taste for farming Warpy Jan 2023 #22
My great-great grandfather was a slave overseer. RipVanWinkle Jan 2023 #9
There's a historical marker on the road through my little home town. jaxexpat Jan 2023 #10
I have Confederate ancestors too. ananda Jan 2023 #11
My grandma on my Dad's side warned about horse thieves & bandits. GentryDixon Jan 2023 #12
Sad DownriverDem Jan 2023 #14
My uncle searched for an ancestor who did not buy his way out TNNurse Jan 2023 #15
Three G-G-Grandfathers and Seven G-G-Great Uncles RustyWheels Jan 2023 #16
The farm I grew up on was partially acreage my ancestor twodogsbarking Jan 2023 #18
My mother's father appleannie1 Jan 2023 #19
Family history is intensely interesting GeoWilliam750 Jan 2023 #23
I remember how shocked I was beveeheart Jan 2023 #25


(28,118 posts)
1. So I'm not the only one here with a slave keeping ancestor
Tue Jan 10, 2023, 12:44 PM
Jan 2023

My something like 10th great grandfather brought enslaved Africans from New York to the Eastern shore of Virginia. During colonial times he owned practically the whole county. He had connections in the English Court. He also enjoyed slaughtering Indians. As far as I know none of them participated in the Civil War they were probably pretty land poor by then. It really is fascinating to find out where we came from.The thing is though I don’t really feel ashamed my finding out that my ancestor was a horrible person. I’m just happy the family produced my loving mom


(16,266 posts)
4. My father's folks came before the revolution.
Tue Jan 10, 2023, 01:50 PM
Jan 2023

A father, his wife, and three sons got off the boat in Philadelphia, from Scotland via Ireland. One brother fought, and was killed, in Washington's unit during French and Indian wars, one brother and entire family but one 15 year old daughter and a small son, were killed in their homestead, outside of Philadelphia by French and Indian raiders. The same band also killed some of their neighbors on the raid. The daughter and son were taken prisoner and survived living the life of a Native Americans and at least she lived to an old age. Her story is widely circulated with many books written about her.

The surviving son (my direct ancestor) and the Father were both revolutionary veterans, serving the rebels. They had left the North, before the revolution to settle first in Georgia where they began to amass wealth, and then Son and Father moved on to Alabama where they became quite wealthy. It is amazing to me that the Father, born in the mid 1700s, lived to be 100 years old, and his wife lived to be 99! I have seen his will and the contents were quite interesting. Clothes must have been an expensive commodity at the time because, among other items, there is a detailed description as to who got what article of clothing! Apparently they just didn't take everything to Goodwill when someone died.

My paternal grandmother's family was dirt poor, farm laborers apparently, and so I know little about them beyond the fact that my Grandmother's only sibling was killed in WWI at Croix Rouge Farm; something my Granny grieved over all of her life. My mother's family, German Mennonites, also came from Pa. but went West to California in the late 1880s. My Grandmother was born in a wagon traveling through Wyoming. My Grandmother identified as Pennsylvania Dutch, rather than expressing her German roots. ( I suppose that came from living through both WWI and WWII where being a German would not have been popular.) The German families kept the old language and my Grandmother learned to speak English in school.

I have always been a history buff but my interest in genealogy came late in life and it has been a fun ride. What I do know is that I can take no pride in my ancestor's accomplishments, or no shame in their failures; I had nothing to do with any of it. In the future my existence will prove to have been very boring to future students, no great achievements or failures; nothing to write home about. I will just be an uninteresting twig on the family tree.


(28,118 posts)
5. That's quite an interesting history, a true American Tune
Tue Jan 10, 2023, 01:59 PM
Jan 2023

I grew up in Dover Delaware and we had a young Amish woman who lived with us to take care of my younger brother. So I know a little bit about their cultures and our families became kind of close. I remember them speaking Pennsylvania Dutch. Sweet people. They really didn’t like their photo taken at all, my father was a photographer so he respected that, usually


(14,577 posts)
2. And look at the family progress!
Tue Jan 10, 2023, 12:48 PM
Jan 2023

I wonder what your GGF would think of your connection to DU.

We all have interesting ancestors. According to my late aunt, we have a pirate back there somewhere.


(51,155 posts)
3. What a story, a true rise and fall epic.
Tue Jan 10, 2023, 01:16 PM
Jan 2023

Guess that happened to a lot of those families back then.

But they had something to lose to start with, the Black people they enslaved started with nothing and left with nothing,many searching for their relatives in the hostile land America was to Blacks back during Reconstruction and jim crow (see August Wilson's play about it, "Joe Turner's Come and Gone.&quot .

Doc Sportello

(7,333 posts)
6. You're right we don't get to pick our ancestors
Tue Jan 10, 2023, 02:00 PM
Jan 2023

That's why I don't really get why people are proud because they have an ancestor who accomplished this or that. For all we know they may have been successful in business but a horrible person otherwise. All we as descendants can do is try to understand history and keep on pointing the way away from racism, greed and dominion that many in past generations relied on to conquer and control. It's diffferent of course for more recent relatives who may have done good or bad, despite knowing much of what we know now.

I have researched my own patrilineal descent beginning in Gettysburg in the 1700s and found in his will that our first ancestor here bequeathed a "slave girl" to his wife. As the Scots-Irish so often did, the younger sons who didn't inherit much made their way south, where one fought for the Confederacy. Like your story the prospects declined over the centuries and most were working class or middle class. I haven't found evidence they owned enslaved people but if they didn't I would think that is more due to their lack of affluence.


(109,634 posts)
8. They didn't get to pick us, either. Thank goodness for that
Tue Jan 10, 2023, 02:22 PM
Jan 2023

but I know the true believers among them would be absolutely appalled by my divorced, atheist old ass.


(16,266 posts)
21. From an article that I read about my GGF, I don't believe that he was religious.
Tue Jan 10, 2023, 05:58 PM
Jan 2023

My GGF grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth and had the reputation, when single, of being a party animal. The piece mentioned that his (ggf) wife was a member of X Methodist church, but no mention of him. I don't know about my GF, but I get the feeling he wasn't religious either and I know that my father wasn't. My GF's grave marker was engraved with the old Confederate meme, "Gone but not Forgotten) I was an adult before I understood that symbolism. The men in my family have two things in common, lack of strong religious beliefs and alcoholism. They were also, as far back as I can determine, Masons. I broke with that tradition; I never had the inclination to be a member of a secret society.

So my history is that of long-lived, Scottish, spoiled, plantation owning, drunken atheist Masons. I never put that all together until now! Try not to hold that against me.


(109,634 posts)
22. Ha! My ancestors never developed a taste for farming
Tue Jan 10, 2023, 07:37 PM
Jan 2023

so they became sailors and merchants, scholars, craftsmen and artisans, itinerant musicians, anything that kept them moving around and away from the plow. The women were all willing to take a chance on a stranger passing through than end up with lives like their mothers. They were, however, more Catholic than the Pope, some out of survival since they'd been forcibly converted, others because it was a national and political identity as well as a religion. The latter defined my mother, who still believed the Irish take on reincarnation.

Both sides sported prodigious drinkers who eventually died when they went crazy and then their livers exploded, so I'm delighted something came through on a stray gene and prevents me from drinking alcohol, unless I'm feeling masochistic.

I'm glad both my parents died unbelievers, no fear of judgment or hell. Otherwise, we'd maintained an armed truce over religion for decades.


(6,166 posts)
10. There's a historical marker on the road through my little home town.
Tue Jan 10, 2023, 02:38 PM
Jan 2023

It Reads, "Original Site of Uncle Tom's Cabin". Turns out Harriet Beecher Stowe visited friends (relatives) there and that's where she got the upload on slavery which she elucidated in her famous book. I've seen the Ohio River frozen when I was much younger. But my grandparents said it was a pretty common event before the commerce control dams were built in the 1920's-1970's. Walking across on the ice would be pretty harrowing even without being an escaped slave on the run.

Descendents of the Riley's, the people whom Stowe visited, still live around there, sans plantation. My folks came to the area in the early 1820's and I've never heard that any were wealthy enough to afford slaves. It's more likely they were, themselves, the descendants of indentured servants, the other colonial slavery.

The whole country south of the Ohio river, the Mason-Dixon or the Red River in Texas was slave holding territory. That was a long time ago but what's current is that most of the little county seats in that area still harbor statues of confederate traitors. They will strongly object to their removal. Pathetic.


(28,499 posts)
11. I have Confederate ancestors too.
Tue Jan 10, 2023, 02:42 PM
Jan 2023

And at least one farmer who had a couple of slaves.

I guess it explains the Texas side of the family, who
are very racist.


(2,934 posts)
12. My grandma on my Dad's side warned about horse thieves & bandits.
Tue Jan 10, 2023, 02:42 PM
Jan 2023

I didn't find any, but it doesn't mean she was wrong. Coming from Missouri & Kansas territory, there were a lot of them around.


(6,061 posts)
14. Sad
Tue Jan 10, 2023, 03:06 PM
Jan 2023

It drives me nuts when the south still fights the Civil War. Sometimes I can't help but wonder if it would have been better to let the south leave. What happened to your family's land?


(6,811 posts)
15. My uncle searched for an ancestor who did not buy his way out
Tue Jan 10, 2023, 03:11 PM
Jan 2023

of the Confederate army. He did not, to our generation's delight.

I can find the grave of my great-great-(maybe one more) grandfather with the CSA emblem, but that is from the other side of the family. Neither proud or ashamed, it just is my history. I know that family could not have bought their way out of anything,


(115 posts)
16. Three G-G-Grandfathers and Seven G-G-Great Uncles
Tue Jan 10, 2023, 03:26 PM
Jan 2023

I have (3) great-great grandfathers and seven (7) great-great uncles that fought for the Union.

- 1 with the Minnesota 1st - wounded at Gettysburg
- 1 with the Minnesota 2nd
- 2 with the Wisconsin 12th
- 1 with the Wisconsin 17th
- 4 with the Wisconsin 27th
- 1 with the Wisconsin 37th


(7,971 posts)
18. The farm I grew up on was partially acreage my ancestor
Tue Jan 10, 2023, 03:35 PM
Jan 2023

received as compensation for fighting in the Revolutionary War.
There was a small cemetery with grave dates prior to the Civil War.


(4,841 posts)
19. My mother's father
Tue Jan 10, 2023, 03:46 PM
Jan 2023

who descended from a very long line of Stuarts, dating back to the 900's, and 3 men that fought in the Revolution, was a member of the KKK. Her mother died when she was 10 and when he brought another woman into the house a couple weeks after her death, my mother's older siblings all left home at very young ages. My mom left home at the age of 15 and never spoke to her father again. My father's father abandoned him and his brother when my grandmother died when he was 3. We can't pick any member of our families, let alone our ancestors. I have been a member of Ancestry.com for a number of years and submitted a DNA test. I now know relatives I had never even heard of before and have been able to trace my mother's side back to Mid-Evil times. My dad's ancestors are from Germany and many of the records have been lost during conflicts there. Like you, I find it fascinating.


(2,508 posts)
23. Family history is intensely interesting
Tue Jan 10, 2023, 08:16 PM
Jan 2023

One thing that everyone should do, is to ask how people met, and all of the other fascinating things people have done.

One also learns how many of the horrific slave laws came to be passed.


(1,336 posts)
25. I remember how shocked I was
Tue Jan 10, 2023, 10:10 PM
Jan 2023

when I first saw slaves listed on census records for some of my ancestors on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I really shouldn't have been surprised though because of tales about my great-grandfather, one being that he made his whole family - wife, 4 daughters and a
son - walk out of a church service when a Black trio started to perform before the sermon.

Latest Discussions»Culture Forums»Ancestry/Genealogy»Interesting find concerni...