Well as always I am looking for an ancestor to write about for the week and they usually just pop right into my head rather suddenly, and I know, this is who I am supposed to write about this week. That is exactly what happened again this time, but in a more dramatic way than usual. This past week on Thursday, July 16, 2015 I was watching grandkids, which is my normal occupation in the past six years and I had two babies asleep in my lap, one who is 5 months old and one that is 9 months old. I had heard my cell phone ding and thought it was a text, but saw that it was actually a new entry on Facebook instead. I took a look to see what was posted and saw an entry for a War of 1812 pension and I thought, I know those names. I sent a quick message to the person who had posted, who had hope a family member would see the post and the wonderful information that was in the pension record. I told them, I am pretty sure this is a distant cousin of mine, and when I get to my computer I would double check for sure. Well I did and they were, YES!!!
When this soldier was applying for his pension he had apparently torn out the bible pages, with his and spouse’s marriage date and place, and some of their children’s birth dates listed to help get his pension. They even had both of their death dates listed as well in other parts of the pension papers. These were dates I did not have, other than the marriage date, which I had found a couple of years ago. Fantastic is the word I keep using, over and over.
To learn how you can help preserve the War of 1812 pensions, go to this link: http://www.preservethepensions.org/ and to access the images that have already been digitized and that you can see for FREE you can go to this link: http://go.fold3.com/1812pensions/.
Rebecca’s father’s middle name was either Mitchell or Madison, but it depends on which family is telling the story. I tend to go with Mitchell myself, but so far I haven’t run across an official record that says either one, only the middle initial of M. Rebecca’s full siblings were the following: Andrew Pickens Henry 1811-1870, married Hulda Ray, Elmira Henry about 1814-????, married the Rev. Stammers, Joseph Pickens Henry 1816-1899, married Eleanor Givens, James Bremar Henry about 1821-before 1865, married Margaret J. Mulligan, John M. Henry about 1823-????, married Mary Elvira Davis, William Calvin Henry 1824-1892, married Mary C. Givens, Mary Henry about 1826-????, married Jerry Alexander and Patrick C. Henry 1827-1911, married Mary A. Chambers, then Caledonia L. Story.
Since Rebecca’s father was a Baptist minister it looks like they moved around quite a bit. Rebecca’s parents were married in Livingston County, Kentucky on November 5, 1810. The family then left Kentucky stopping in Tennessee for just a short time where their first child was born, then to Lawrence County, Alabama by 1820, by 1830 in Greene County, Alabama and in Neshoba County, Mississippi by around 1840 or so as Rebecca’s fathers died there sometime between 1842 and 1845. I am sure Rebecca helped with all the day to day chores around the house as soon as she was old enough, but I don’t really know too much about her early life.
Sometime in the early 1830’s, Rebecca Melinda Henry met and then married John Kethley on February 28, 1834 in Sumter County, Alabama. John Kethley had fought in the War of 1812 in Capt. Elijah Adams Company which was part of the 10th and 20th Consolidated Regiment in the Louisiana Militia. I have been doing some looking online this weekend to see if I could find anything about this regiment but so far no luck. It is John’s pension record that I mentioned in the first paragraph that has the two old bible pages. John according to a number of different people was born October 11, 1796 in Montgomery County, Tennessee and was therefore about 17 years older than Rebecca. I don’t know if John was ever married before he married Rebecca, or if it was his first marriage too. The following are the two bible pages that were in John’s pension files. It looks like these two pages may have been one page originally.
Rebecca and John were the parents of at least eight known children, but there is a seven year gap from the first two children to the third child. After finding the birth dates in these pension papers, I did a little digging and was able to find some of these children and some more information about the family. These children were the following: John Bryant Kethley 1836-after 1900, married Sarah Rogers, William W. Kethley 1838-1912, married Nancy ????, Mary Kethley about 1845-after 1850, Needham Kethley December 31, 1848-before 1880, married Sarah A. Summers, Owen Singleton Kethley July 21, 1850-after 1860, Rush Buckner Kethley September 16, 1852-after 1880, married Elizabeth Cox, then Letha Summers, Joseph Kethley November 14, 1854-after 1870 and Sarah Harriet Kethley October 12, 1855-after 1860. The two oldest boys moved to Texas where they died, but it looks like all the rest may have stayed in Mississippi.
To see what else I have on this family and where the information was found, you can go to my online family tree at this link: http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?db=popfraley
Rebecca and John’s first two children were born in Alabama, probably Sumter County where Rebecca and John were married. So far I haven’t found them on the 1840 census yet, but by 1850 they were living in Scott County, Mississippi which is almost due west of Sumter County. They lived there for a number of years, but for some reason moved over around Vicksburg in Warren County, Mississippi before 1870 and lived there for a few years, before moving back to Hillsboro in Scott County, Mississippi. John had applied for his pension in 1850 in Scott County, Mississippi originally but apparently reapplied for his War of 1812 pension during the time they lived in Vicksburg in 1871.
Vicksburg is right on the Mississippi River and John’s occupation was a blacksmith, as were most of his sons, so I wonder if they didn’t move over to Vicksburg, during the Civil War or shortly after the war, since there was so much going on there and blacksmiths would have been in very high demand and great to have around. Blacksmithing was a very lucrative job back in those days and if you were good you could make a pretty decent living, a lot better than farming usually. I am again assuming that they therefore probably lived a fairly comfortable life.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia online we read: “The Siege of Vicksburg (May 18 – July 4, 1863) was the final major military action in the Vicksburg Campaign of the American Civil War. In a series of maneuvers, Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and his Army of the Tennessee crossed the Mississippi River and drove the Confederate Army of Vicksburg led by Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton into the defensive lines surrounding the fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Vicksburg was the last major Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River; therefore, capturing it completed the second part of the Northern strategy, the Anaconda Plan. When two major assaults (May 19 and 22, 1863) against the Confederate fortifications were repulsed with heavy casualties, Grant decided to besiege the city beginning on May 25. With no reinforcement, supplies nearly gone, and after holding out for more than forty days, the garrison finally surrendered on July 4. This action (combined with the surrender of Port Hudson to Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks on July 9) yielded command of the Mississippi River to the Union forces, who would hold it for the rest of the conflict. The Confederate surrender following the siege at Vicksburg is sometimes considered, when combined with Gen. Robert E. Lee's defeat at Gettysburg by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade the previous day, the turning point of the war. It cut off the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas from the rest of the Confederacy, as well as communication with Confederate forces in the Trans-Mississippi Department for the remainder of the war.”
Like I said previously, Rebecca and John moved back to Hillsboro in Scott County, Mississippi sometime before 1880 and are on the census which was dated June 11, 1880. John only lived seventeen days after he had been enumerated in the census records, because according to John’s pension records and from the information that Rebecca had given in August of 1880, John had died in Hillsboro on June 28, 1880 and was buried at the Baptist Church Graveyard in Hillsboro. So far I have checked www.findagrave.com and www.billiongraves.com for a record of their burial but have not find them listed, so either it hasn’t been recorded yet, or they may have never had a tombstone. Rebecca applied in August of 1880 for a widow’s pension for John’s service in the War of 1812 and was granted said pension until her death, which according to the pension office occurred on August 1, 1884 in Hillsboro. They did not say where Rebecca was buried, but I am assuming that it would have been the same place as John since she died in the same place, just four years later. The following is the pension page that showed the death dates for both Rebecca and John, the dates are also mentioned in a couple of other pages as well.
I have been looking this past weekend trying to find something about the regiment that John Kethley served in but so far I haven’t had any luck. John’s pension doesn’t mention any battles or engagements or what exactly he did during the war other than that he was a private and I have read through all 35 pages of the pension too.
Rebecca and John didn’t leave much of a foot print to follow, they lived, they worked, they raised their family and they died. There were children who died young and at least two children who moved away to Texas before their parents passed away. I can’t even imagine how hard that must have been on aging parents to have your two oldest children, leave to know you would probably never see them again. My children and grandchildren all live within two miles of me and I don’t know what or how I would feel if any of them moved off to a different state to live.
Another week and another story told, not a lot, but now you know, as radio personality Paul Harvey, use to say, “The rest of the story”.