Saturday, October 3, 2020

Let Us Reason Together Just a Little

"I owned the mother of said Crittenden Parks and he was born my son and has belonged to me ever since," testified Daniel F. Parks in early 1867. 'Crit' Parks had told Union officers he was sixteen years old when, on 3 October 1864, he enlisted in the U.S. Army at Owensboro, Kentucky. Daniel valued the boy at $800 … and a slave owner received $300 in Federal, post-war reparations.

Crittenden had been mustered in, as a Private, to Company G of the 118th Regiment, U.S. Colored Infantry. "In con­sid­er­ation of said enlistment and of said compensa­tion," Daniel Parks agreed more than two years later to "manumit, set free and forever release said Crittenden Parks from all service due me."

Crit became a laudable observer

Full-colored lithograph: Colored Troop Recruiting Handbill.I encountered my subject while researching Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Post 130. For at least thirty years, Black Civil War veterans kept segregated fraternity at Richmond, Kentucky. Jeremiah Turner (1840-1915) liberated his person from Squire Turner (1793-1871) in 1864. To volunteer for service the 112th Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops, Heavy Artillery. Afterward, 'Jerry' led the all-Black Sedgwick G.A.R. Post 130 as Commander in 1907 and 1909.

War took 'Crit,' as he was known colloquially, to Virginia. The 118th laid siege to, and in early April 1865 occupied what had been the Confederate Capitol at Richmond. In mid-summer the 118th shipped off to the port of Brazos Santiago. From Fort Brown they patrolled the Texas side of Rio Grande River for banditry, French forces opposite, and to prevent former Confederates from establishing a new government and army in Mexico.*

Detail of Crit Parks' enlistment papers.
Note the schoolhouse and newspaper reader in the recruiting poster, above: though Crit Parks only left 'his mark' (right) on enlistment papers, I found written commentary submitted to the press in his name after he was mustered from service at Texas on 6 February 1866. I hope you will find the small body of work worthy of note.

Crit returned to his Ohio County, Kentucky roots. Described as copper-skinned at enlistment, he was enumerated as Mulatto in 1870 lodgings at the county seat of Hartford. Other than a Black cook, all others domiciled with William H. Miller's family were Euro-American. Crit labored as a Rail Hand, undoubtedly contributing to arrival of the Elizabethtown and Paducah Rail Road the following year. Five-foot, seven inches tall at enlistment, the young man assuredly possessed brawn.

Nineteen-year-old Sena Brown gave birth to son Ballard Parks c1873. Their entry in the 1900 census imprecisely declares a 26-year union, though she and Crit did not formalize a marriage contract until the end of 1883. The earliest appearance of our subject in newsprint that I discovered was dated March 1875. The Hartford Herald gave lurid account of the couple's estrangement under the headline 'Jealousy and Pistols.' "All parties" in the love triangle were described as "conspicuous members" of "upper crust colored society." Unable to make bail, Crit was jailed. In more sober reporting the following week, 'Crit. Park' (punctuated) was described as "one of the civil rights gentlemen," likely mere code illuminating race. A county grand jury indicted him for carrying a concealed weapon, he was promptly acquitted on a charge of breaching the peace by a more local Justices Court. "Crit Parks, of color" was fined $25 and sentenced to ten days of imprisonment for a (perhaps repeated) weapons charge one year later. Daughter Sallie Parks was born to Crit and Sena about 1877. According to her death certificate, daughter Emma Parks was born to Crit and Sena 29 April 1879.

Image of 'Storeboats at Louisville, Kentucky' ~ 1880, from Steamboat Times.
Crit was one of six men of color in a crew of eighteen to load a pair of flat-boats at Hartford's wharf on Rough River Creek in mid-January 1880. He drifted south, bound for New Orleans with 26,000 staves and 130,000 hoop-poles … components for barrel-making. Sena and the three children were enumerated without Crit in the 1880 census that summer: she is depicted as Servant on D. B. Walker's Brandy Springs farm at Garrard County, Kentucky. That same week Herald readers were informed Crit and a partner were prepared to dig or clean wells at reasonable rates "anywhere in Ohio County."

By the time Crit and Sena formalized their union Crit had acquired a town lot at Hayti, a racially segregated district on Hartford's fringe. We know because he'd only paid $2 of $5.30 due on property tax assessed in 1883.

Image of 1884 advertisement for Ohio County Fair; includes woodcut of men on horseback.
The erstwhile infantryman must have been adept in the saddle. Under new management, The Ohio County Fair Company in 1885 reconstructed it's amphitheater. Crit secured public approbation and a monetary prize in the riding ring: he was that year judged "best colored rider" in competition.

On 28 May 1888 the U.S. War Department's Bureau of Pensions received Crit's filing, wherein he stated he was an invalid as result of his Civil War service. He began receiving $8/month, paid in arrears to date of discharge, when a Federal pension was issued in June 1889.

To step back to a wider issue for a moment; with considerable encouragement from the G.A.R., U.S. Congress had sought to expand veteran pension eligibility in 1887. U.S. President Stephen Grover Cleveland rejected potentially budget-busting legislation. (Among other objections, his veto reasoned disability must not be "the result of [veterans] own vicious habits or gross carelessness.") The G.A.R., nearing its peak of political influence, developed into a highly effective lobbying organization … with strong ties to the Republican Party. Their nominee for U.S. President, Civil War veteran Benjamin Harrison, did not win the popular vote but was elected 6 November 1888. Harrison signed the Dependent and Disability Pension Act in 1890. The G.A.R.'s National Pension Committee crowed the bill was “the most liberal pension measure ever passed by any legislative body in the world,” according to Donovan. Federal expenditure spiked. Quadagno determined "By 1894, pensions consumed more than 37% of the entire federal budget." The last Civil War pension recipient, a veteran's daughter, died June 2020.

Tintype: ‘Young enlisted soldier,’ Military Images magazine; Doug York Collection, Civil War Faces.
Young enlisted soldier, Union Army
Crit disturbed Hayti's Sunday peace on 17 August 1890. He was again jailed for carrying a concealed, deadly weapon. Racial violence increased in the post-Reconstruction period. Lynching, whipping and shootings spiked at Kentucky in the 1890s. White Supremacists directed hostility at Black veterans in particular. Considering his lifestyle, it may have been in Crit's interest to navigate society while armed: about age forty-two and "in a drunken condition," he was viciously bludgeoned in October 1892.

Sena, "in going home from church," came along her husband in a grocery store. Passing "a dive at Hayti," Crit, who was described as "a respectable negro," diverted from her, probably continuing night-long attendance at the house of ill repute. Where he played banjo before a row ensued. Crit had drawn a knife and returned it to his pocket when he was struck from behind, according to a Hartford Republican account.

"Knives were drawn, an ax in the hands of one citizen was brought into dangerous proximity to the brain of another citizen, the peace of the community was seriously disturbed and the Sabbath desecrated," declared the episodically high-principled Republican in subsequent reporting. Crit's assailant, operator of a "tippling house" who had shot a man the preceding 4th of July, was jailed … on what was expected to become a murder charge.

Crit survived. "A large piece of his skull bone was removed," reported the Herald, "which will have to be replaced with a plate of silver, but beyond this, it is thought his injury will not be permanent." A jury acquitted Crit, probably of disturbing the peace, in March 1893. The ax-wielder was acquitted on one charge; he pled guilty to malicious wounding and was fined $50.§

Just two weeks prior to the attack, Crit was present and no doubt advocating when the Ohio County School Superintendent visited Hayti's segregated schoolhouse. Promise of new desks was tendered. Crit was on the speakers program when the county's Colored Teachers Association met in early January 1894. At a Black Baptist Church he took affirmative position on the question 'Should Corporal punishment be excluded from the Common Schools?' This erudite participation may indicate that Crit had himself received schooling. It seems clear that an intelligentsia in his community held our subject in some esteem.

Reporting on "Sunday revelries" of 22 April 1894 is some of the most colorful I've come across: one gets a sense of 'Gay Nineties' that "characterized a class of Hayti society for some time." Under sub-headline 'Hayti Puts on Her Fighting Clothes and Makes Things Howl,' the Republican reported Crit at a "blind tiger." After "hard scrimmage" in the home of Shanks Brookins, opponents "got into the yard and before the fight was over they had fought over a whole half acre of ground, which was torn up as though it had been the scene of a bull fight."

'War in Hayti,' with Crit Parks and Dee Walker as "principal belligerents," is worth reading in its entirety. Informants told the Herald the duo imbibed from a jug of "rabbit foot" and "became gay." Further, "They clinched, pounded, scratched and bit each other in a manner that would have done credit to mastiffs." Though Crit struck blows with a griddle from the kitchen, his right thumb nail was "chawed off." Walker likewise lost "the major portion of his nether lip" before "cessation of active hostilities." It is undoubtedly a stretch to associate simulated war correspondence with Crit's history as a veteran.

Crit started home. His adversary overtook him, "making an ugly wound" on his already damaged cranium. With another axe. "And the clinching scene at the house was re-enacted save the weapon, which was a rock in the hands of Dee instead of the griddle in the hands of Crit as before." Crit gave $100 bond and faced a charge of malicious wounding; Dee was jailed in lieu of $250 bail and indicted on a felony.

The story does not end here, however.ǂ

Crit makes a statement, or two


Portrait of Cicero Maxwell Barnett (1864-1915).
First, the backstory. Cicero Maxwell Barnett (1864-1915) "in 1888 played an important part in the early political development in Ohio County, Kentucky," according the the Library of Congress. He founded the Hartford Republican and maintained what became a "long-standing quarrel with its rival," the Democrat-backing Hartford Herald. 'Colonel C. M.' Barnett had been unsuccessful in 1892 attempt to unseat Democrat incumbent Alexander Brooks Montgomery, in election to the U.S. House of Representatives. A practicing attorney just turned thirty-one, Barnett defended the homeowner his moralistic paper had accused of operating a blind tiger.

23 Oct 1895 clipping from The Ohio County News (Hartford, Kentucky), pg. 3, col. 4.
The Herald depicted Crit as "well known and substantial" in preface to an affidavit (right) printed 23 October 1895. A preface that also contended Barnett "was posing as a Prohibitionist before the whisky election in Hartford." (Ohio County was dry; nearby Beaver Dam, Kentucky considered nullifying a ban outlawing saloons in April ballot that put Barnett in the state legislature.) Crit attested "he was the prosecuting witness against Shanks Brookins … for unlawfully selling liquor." Our subject swore, just before appearance in a prosecution that was ongoing at the time, that Barnett confided to the apparent binge drinker he was "for whisky and wanted Brookins acquitted for that reason."

To further complicate matters, Crit recanted two days later. In subsequent affidavit provided by Barnett's Republican, he vouched to readers "Mr. Barnett did not tell me that he was in favor of the sale of whisky in the town of Hartford, and if it is so stated it is incorrect."

This account moves our story forward in two ways. Notably, a companion affidavit, by another purportedly substantial colored man, avowed Barnett produced a bottle of whiskey from which they drank during the Republican primary election. His testimonial concluded with his mark. Crit, who had left his mark at enlistment, apparently signed his affidavits, indicating acquired literacy. Someone could write a thesis on a freed slave supporting Kentucky Democrats' 1895 agenda. The initial testimonial seems at first blush counter to Crit's interests. It does imply he was involved in politics. If only, perhaps, as a pawn.

Crit's case was "stricken from the docket" in November. Brookins was fined a substantial $200 for selling liquor. Another case against Barnett's client Brookins, where charges are not described, was continued.

The record reveals our subject was to some degree a man of means. Or associated with those who were. Mr. and Mrs. Crit Park (sic), and a Miss Emily Brown, had featured prominently in a January 1895 Republican society column, 'Colored Department.' The trio were among a select African American group, including a preacher and his wife, to fête three young women of color destined for Central Tennessee College. Describing a supper following entertainment, a participant reported "The table was laden with such things as a king might envy."

I stumbled over Emma Parks' paternity. Perhaps I conflate two people: 'Emily Brown' was given an August 1879 date of birth … and depicted as step-daughter in Crit and Sena's 1900 census entry. By which time son Ballard had died. Emma Parks' April 1879 arrival may have prompted Crit's sojourn as a boatman. It is possible that Emma's husband, informant on her 1958 death certificate, simply assumed Crit had fathered his wife.

Crit speaks for a special interest group


"The colored soldiers at this meeting" may indicate inter-racial assembly convened at Ohio County in May 1895. It more likely conveys organizational ownership. Herald reproduction of an unnamed group's statement, under the headline 'Decoration Day for Colored People,' probably signals "a day set apart for the decoration of and honoring the dead by strewing flowers &c., over the graves of the old soldiers of color," was planned by Black veterans. Summons for lodges, to the colored grave yard, to "show their kindness and respect for those who sleep beneath the sod," went out over the names of two African Americans: Crit Parks was depicted as 'S.O.C.' which to me suggests Soldier of Color. The signatory above him was affixed with 'Commander,' a title then in common use by the G.A.R. to describe post leadership. Inclusion of Crit's name may demonstrate not only personal ownership of a project involving "straightening up the graves," but shared responsibility for messaging.** G.A.R. legacy of societal influence includes anchoring ancient remembrance and consecration rituals as Decoration Day, annually on 30 May (what the U.S. Federal Government today commemorates as 'Memorial Day'): these Hayti men were enjoined in broader veneration efforts.

1 Jul 1892 clipping from The Hartford Republican (Hartford, Kentucky), pg. 1, col. 7.
Preston Morton Post No. 4 had been convening at Hartford since at least 1891. (Barnett leads Cicero Maxwell Camp No. 35, in public notice, right.)†† G.A.R. records, now maintained by Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, do not date when the post was mustered in. It may be instructive to know that notice of Preston Morton Post gravesite plans for Decoration Day in 1895 announced "Both the Blue and Gray will be strewn with flowers."

The enigmatic character of Crit's group resolved somewhat just after Christmas 1895. "Washington Eidson Post … Department of Kentucky located at Hartford" announced their monthly meeting in the Republican. Crit Parks' entry among eleven elected officers is followed by 'Agt.,' which is likely corruption of the position of Post Adjutant. 'Department of Kentucky' was parlance used by the G.A.R.: their regulations required the Adjutant keep "books properly prepared." Our socially ingrained subject may have taken on a considerable record-keeping workload. Including minuting meetings, keeping a Journal, a log of Courts Martial and a Black Book of candidates rejected for membership.‡‡
[This Moderate and Less Shamefull Way contains observations on the vital role of Secretary.]

"The colored voters of Ohio county met in mass convention" in mid-January 1897. Crit was no pawn in this affair: he addressed the assembly, which resolved to vote for whatever candidate "we may think best" in precinct conventions. They pledged to support whoever emerged as party nominee and "do all in our power to elect the Republican ticket."

'C. Parks' remained Washington Eidson Post Adjutant in 1899: marchers wended from Hayti's Methodist Episcopal Church to decorate graves of deceased comrades, and on for dinner on the ground in a grove. "Come one and all, let us have a good time on May 30th" declared public notice. Ambitious pageant was on offer. To include "excellent music," performed by a Hartford band, and another composed of local coal miners.

Primary education commenced amid 1899 harvest. Crit's stature was sufficient with the re-named Ohio County Colored Teachers Institute that he was chosen to present a Welcome Address at inception of a three-day event, mandatory for teachers of color. It may be that Crit served as a Trustee for the Colored School District.

Crit expostulates


"After Lincoln made us free the Republican party made us voters and gave us equal rights to the whites," Crit declared in polemic to which the Republican devoted an entire column at the end of September. "Besides this the Republican party in the Northern States let our children go to school with the white children. Do the Democrats do us this way? No, I say. They won't even let us ride in the same car on the railroads with them." Our subject implied membership in Hayti's Emancipation League. He rebuked a Colored Baptist Church Pastor: the recent arrival had "styled himself leader of the colored people of Ohio county, without ever consulting any of the leading brethren" according to Crit. The League's President, another preacher, had "thought best not to have the celebration this year on account of the smallpox in some of our neighboring towns." It irked Crit that horseraces promised by the usurper "proved a humbug and fraud." He rose to dudgeon in contending the cleric profited from 'Buck Pop,' illegally vended to Emancipation Day attendees at the fairgrounds. "Everybody knew it was only to make the said [Reverend] a few of those mighty dollars, that look as big as moons in his eyes …"

29 Sep 1899 Emancipation Day clipping from The Hartford (Kentucky) Republican, pg. 2, cols. 6-7.
Though Crit was principally animated by speeches' content, he led into commentary (right) with critique evocative of Samuel Langhorne Clemens' literary style as Mark Twain. Of the offending Pastor: "He had no starting point and found no stopping place, but just broke off. He was reckless and embarrassed from the very start and handled his subject in about the same way. He said he was sick when he got up to talk, and most of us thought so before he ran down …"

"Let us reason together just a little" wrote Crit, following on in his public challenge. "Will the gentleman tell me and my people where and when the Democrats ever did anything excepting just on election times and every negro that has any good old horse sense knows what that is for." Crit questioned "hope the revered brother has to get office from the Democrats. All the Democrats want with us colored fellers is to put them in office and then kick us out like we were so many hounds."

He culminated reflection on his emancipation and manumission with testimonial to "colored friends." It was anchored in military service: "We never will amount to anything if we follow the advice of the reverd brother. We won't have any such stuff put in our heads. Let's be men and walk up and vote for the party that shot for us on those bloody battlefields."

Crit, Sena and Emily were enumerated as (Black and) literate in the 1900 census. Crit's vacillating date of birth was recorded as October 1845, which would have made him just shy of nineteen years old at enlistment. Sena's birth was entered as June 1854. Crit owned his own home at Hayti, free of any mortgage. Employment as a Day Laborer was, like the vast majority of his neighbors, inconstant: the veteran reported being unemployed six months in the preceding year.
[A Race of Extraordinary Goodness describes a tragic victim of the Panic of '93.]

Image of County Jail and Jailer's Residence, Hartford, Kentucky.
"Ordinarily Parks is an orderly good fellow," observed the Republican in late January 1902 … after Crit was taken to the county jail (right) and fined $2.50 for trying to break into a woman's home on a Monday night. "He could assign but one reason for his conduct – drunkenness."

In 1910 Crit and Sena were domiciled at Hayti beside daughter Emily and Jackson Short (1870-1959), her husband of ten years. They were all enumerated as Mulatto. Purportedly aged 66, our subject farmed for himself; likely on his half-acre, East Hartford lot. Taxes due on that property were in arrears.

The G.A.R. carried 'Wash Edson' Post 218 on its books through at least 1912. Though the founding Commander had died, six stalwart members remained. A representative attended the organization's annual encampment at Louisville, Kentucky … where it was reported that a hundred members had died, statewide, the previous year.

Crit committed $47.50, to buy a casket for Sena on 24 May 1915. He agreed to pay undertaker Ernest Edgar Birkhead another $5 to arrange her funeral services. Probably beyond age sixty, she was interred at Haiti Cemetery. Crit settled up with cash on 26 June.

The widower lived less than five more months. For casket and services, Birkhead billed his estate $40 on 27 November 1915. Crit had died two days prior.

Donna Case image of Crit Parks grave marker, posted to Find A Grave, 2013.
The Republican reported Barnett recovering from typhoid fever. (He did not.) It made no mention of our subject. The Herald reported Barnett facing gallstone surgery "as soon as his condition will permit." On the back page, into the bottom of the second column, was fitted a death notice: "Crit Park (sic), a well known negro of Hayti, Hartford's colored settlement, died last week. He was quite an old man at the time of his death – about 70 years."

Crit's grave marker (above) at Haiti Cemetery was almost certainly installed at some point by by a veteran's group. It reads "Crit Parks, Co. G., 118 U.S.C.I." No period punctuates his forename.
NOTES:

Images enlarge when clicked.

Madison County jurist Squire Turner led a trio of gubernatorial appointees in codifying Kentucky's laws for the first time, 1851-1852. He by some accounts took greatest satisfaction when drafting property law. History characterizes Turner as pro-slavery: his central premise was that Western law historically prevented abject confiscation. I do not know reasoning for Yankee officers recording slave-holders' names at time of enlistment; whether that was in anticipation of compensation, or as contingency should the United States seek to return property.

Many thanks to Bill Williams, of the Madison County (Kentucky) Historical Society. For digging into G.A.R. archives to document the Wash. Edson post at Hartford. Group composition was not singled out racially in any retrieved reports.

* "Ohio County was the scene of intense guerrilla activity," observed Alfaro. Less than ninety days prior to Crit's enlistment, 21 July 1864, a partisan force ambushed a detachment of neighboring Daviess County, Kentucky Home Guards along Rough River Creek. Four, militant union sympathizers were killed not far from Parks and his slave family across the county line. Alfaro tallied 23,702 African American Kentuckians in military service during the Civil War.

Along the Rio Grande, "Black soldiers made a fine adjustment to the hot desert terrain and diverse culture of the Valley," reported Sergeant Major Thomas Boswell of the 116th U.S.C.I.. "If our regiment stays here any length of time we will all speak Spanish, as we are learning very fast."

Though 250 men of the 62nd U.S.C.I. skirmished, I did not find the 118th associated with the 12-13 May 1865 Battle of Palmetto Ranch … by some accounts the final armed Civil War encounter. Crit was detached from Co. G of the 118th, to serve as wood-chopper in subtropical climes at the end of November. He was mustered out three months later at White's Ranch, which had been a Confederate outpost just prior to the battle.

 Daniel F. Parks held fifteen slaves in 1860. One was male, in his mid-thirties, two women were in their mid-twenties; the rest were youths and all were enumerated as Mulatto. As was a boy of twelve, with Parks on a married niece's Davies County farmstead in 1870. Nephews administered Parks' estate there in 1874. He was 70 years old at death. Parks, who had in 1860 valued real estate at $3,000, and his personal estate at $12,000, declared no net worth in 1870.

A Daniel Parks, owned by Margaret Parks, Daniel F. Parks' widowed sister-in-law, enlisted 18 August 1864 at Camp Nelson, three weeks prior to Jeremiah Turner. Mustered in at age 24 as a Private to Company B of the 5th Regiment, U.S. Colored Cavalry, the self-liberated Daniel Parks (likely saw action and) died of disease 12 August 1865 at the Regimental Hospital at Lexington, Kentucky. He was interred at the National Cemetery there. Private Daniel Parks apparently never received even his first installment of a $100 enlistment bounty due at the end of 1864.

Portrait of Lula (Parks, Barnett) Drane (c1865-1935).
Also in the 1870 Hartford census was John Parks, Mulatto, born c1843. As he likewise worked as a Rail Hand, I assume John to be brother or half-brother to our subject. Charles Parks, Mulatto (born c1846), was at Hayti. Phenie Parks (born c1864, near the time of Crit's enlistment), was enumerated as Mulatto: the teen was Cook in a Euro-American household. A Joseph Parks (born c1840) was in this case enumerated as White; farming outside of Hartford. In his household, with Eliza Parks, Black, (born c1845), were four Mulatto children. Lula (center, in the photo) was eldest, born c1864.

Young Parks (b c1838) and the above Charles and Joseph were all enlisted as property of Daniel F. Parks. Joseph was mustered in, as a Private, to Company D of the 120th Regiment, U.S. Colored Infantry six months after Crit took up arms. Daniel F. Parks made the same oath, claiming Joseph as a son, when filing for reparations. Crit and 'Joe' co-appeared in Ohio County educational initiative.

Image of 1865 courthouse at Ohio County, Kentucky.
Crit was in 1870 domiciled in a Hartford ménage I contend was headed by William Hart Miller (1827-1871), who gave 'Miller' as his occupation. (The householder inherited after tavern-keeping at the Hartford House in the 1860s.) As 'William H. Miller,' he'd upheld the Union, representing Ohio County in Kentucky's House of Representatives, 1863-1865. Though records were preserved, Confederate cavalry under (Kentuckian) Brigadier General Hylan Benton Lyon (1836-1907) seized Hartford and burned the courthouse/Yankee barracks in December, 1864: Miller contracted to build its replacement (above) the following year. Seen as 'Captain' in a daughter's obituary, Miller's grave in a family cemetery bears a recently installed bronze plaque commemorating service as 1st Lieutenant in Company B, 6th Kentucky Mounted Infantry, Confederate States of America. It bears the name of William Harvey Miller. A family history researcher was unable to document assertion of Confederate service: it may be that a veterans' organization conflated two identities.

 Being an invalid carried no discernable stigma I could discern, when associated with the boon of a veteran's pension. Further, "The Civil War pension system was color blind in that there was nothing in the application process that required applicants to be white. But recent scholarly works have made it clear that the process itself was far from color blind," contended Gorman c2012, in treatise peer-reviewed by Virginia Tech's Center for Civil War Studies. She offered pertinent analysis: "Because African American soldiers were both less likely initially to be assigned to combat roles, and then less likely to be hospitalized (early disability applications required documentation from hospitals) if injured, they could not produce the documentation required by the application process. And they were less likely than their white counterparts to have the money necessary to complete the process. Ultimately the fate of black veterans’ applications was decided by white bureaucrats who found it easy to turn them down without fear of retribution. An interesting side note is that the Grand Army of the Republic actively campaigned for their black brethren to be granted pensions just as white veterans were."

Rothbard, in Beginning the Welfare State: Civil War Veterans’ Pensions c1996 acknowledged "a cadre of wealthy pension lawyers" also lobbied Congress, "perturbed at the falling off of pension claims during the late 1870s." The Libertarian economist explained "The Pension Bureau, the Grand Army of the Republic, and the Republican Party acted in happy symbiosis: the GAR lobbied for greater appropriations and personnel for the Pension Bureau, which in turn processed more claims for GAR veterans, who in turn gratefully voted for the Republican Party." I found Rothbard's broader thesis novel: Republicans' 1890 Dependent and Disability Pension Act paved the way for Progressive Era reforms and, ultimately, cash support in Democrats' New Deal.

§ Assailant Wesley Callahan, described by the Republican as a "worthless and disreputable negro, whose only means of support is keeping a dive at Hayti and voting the Democratic ticket," may have been unable to pay his fine. He was in jail in April. His Hayti home burned two days before his expected release. A threatening note, stuck in the gate to his home/tippling house, stated "forty men, white and colored, would attend to Wes if he fails to skip [town]." I leave it to the reader to speculate on community groups of bi-racial cohesion with such ardor. 'Wes' Callahan remained in Hartford reports of criminal conduct until his 1899 demise.

Our subject does not necessarily stand out in crime reporting in this era; nor do Blacks in particular. Violent acts at Hartford seemed ubiquitous. Crit was often acquitted on one charge and found guilty on another: it may be that - at Hayti and beyond the Town of Hartford's jurisdiction - his peers in Justice Courts did not convict … and that Ohio County and Circuit Court prosecution prevailed.

ǂ Dee Walker was shot to death, late August 1897. Walker had remonstrated with his Black assailant … over poor treatment accorded a young White man, intoxicated and wandering Hayti in early-morning hours.

 A jury had convicted Brookins in June 1895 and assessed a $200 fine … "with proviso that it was not to be paid but worked out on the streets at $1.00 per day." Perhaps it was Barrett who secured a new trial. Brookins killed himself – and a wife in the process of divorcing him – in 1916. See Uxoricide and Suicide in the Herald.

**
 Crit hoped 'Professor Geary' would choose a day "to cut the trees and make the posts and build the fence." This is reference to African American Schoolteacher Peter Allen Gary (born c1856). In March the Republican columnist called "colored people's attention to the deplorable condition of the colored cemetery of Hayti." An open field in 1895, livestock interfered with graves. "We are not able to rear up marble statues to mark the last resting place of our loved ones, but we can enclose the grounds" to prevent burials from being "torn to pieces by the cattle."

†† Both the Sons of Veterans camp and Barnett, its Captain, were named for Cicero Maxwell (1831-1865). Maxwell had been Attorney for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and living at Hartford prior to 1861 enrollment. He was mustered in as a Lieutenant Colonel, 26th Regiment of Kentucky Volunteers. The Union infantry unit was mauled at the Battle of Shiloh and Maxwell, prolific in reports including his own letter to Abraham Lincoln, was promoted to Colonel in June 1862. He returned to Hartford periodically, chronically afflicted with indigestion, and died from disease at Bowling Green, Kentucky. Attorneys quickly secured a pension for his orphaned son, William Preston Maxwell.

1859 Woodcut, 'The Murder of Lowe;' Harper's Magazine.
Maxwell can be included in ubiquitous and violent criminal behavior. The District Prosecutor left the Hancock County, Kentucky Courthouse in 1859 armed with a shotgun (a sitting judge bore a rifle). A shootout in the streets of the County Seat at Hawesville killed one adversary; Maxwell's political rival was seriously injured and taken into custody. Where cronies murdered him in his cell. A Grand Jury declined to indict the assassins, finding the extrajudicial killing of an unarmed inmate an act of self-defense.

Maxwell had publicly accused the victim of being a "tool" of another political actor. This is the precise language duelist Cassius Marcellus Clay (1810-1903) used to provoke Squire Turner in a speech before militia mustering at Foxtown, Kentucky in 1849. Turner's son Cyrus (1819-1849) promptly gave the same retort: the accusation was a "damned lie."

‡‡ Preston Morton G.A.R. Post sentiments of 1849 included "A true Union or Confederate soldier doesn't feel ashamed to fall in line with his old comrades, as each thought his cause right and just at the time of the trouble." Anonymous announcement in the Herald contended "Both names will stand in history as brave men as long as the world stands. It is the outside hater of all good things that always raises the disturbance between the brave men. As for politics it has nothing to do with our order …"

Waskie, at The Grand Army of the Republic, detailed local Post function. Aspirants were "... voted into membership using the Masonic system of casting black or white balls (except that more than one black ball was required to reject a candidate for membership). When a candidate was rejected, that rejection was reported to the Department which listed the rejection in general orders and those rejections were maintained in a Black Book ..." at state headquarters.

ADDENDUM

Frame from stereoscopic card, 108th USCI on guard duty, Rock Island, Illinois.
It seems fitting to conclude with contention that the Black veterans' post at Hartford was named for George Washington Eidson (1822-1889), who asserted he was age forty-three at enlistment 14 June 1864 (four months prior to Crit) at Owensboro.

'Wash' Eidson was born in Ohio County. Also depicted as copper-complexioned, he was mustered in as a Private to Company B of the 108th Regiment of U.S. Colored Infantry. The 108th saw action before being posted to Guard Duty at Rock Island, Illinois prisoner-of-war camp, where the above photo was taken. Eidson was mustered out as Sergeant in 1866 at Vicksburg, Mississippi. With haversack, canteen and $22.68 in pay. I found no explanation for his elevation in rank.

One Washington Eidson war record indicates 'service' was owed William Eidson of Hartford. William J. Eidson (born 1825) was possessed of 11 slaves there in 1860, some apparently inherited from his father. At enlistment of twenty year-old James Eidson at Hartford in December, 1864 William submitted a Consent in Case of Minor form to simultaneously manumit him.

Carte-de-visite, standing portrait of Samuel Martin, 108th USCI.
Washington Eidson applied for a veteran's pension at the end of 1884. His widow apparently received benefits in 1891. His surname replicates misspelling in military files, but a Haiti Cemetery marker is of the same make as Crit's. Charlotte Temple (Eidson) Wright (1861-1915), the couple's then-unmarried daughter, was Chapter Secretary of the Colored Teachers Association when Crit participated in 1893.

To culminate with opportunity to reflect on Wash Eidson's military service, as I think Black veterans at Hayti intended we do, I provide portrait (left) of 2nd Sergeant Samuel Martin (1845-1885), Company F of the 108th, taken at Rock Island. Eidson held nearly the same rank, in Company B. In pencil on the reverse: "Very light eye and hair, and light complexion ..."

2 comments:

  1. The 108th USCI suffered mortal loss about ten weeks following Eidson's enlistment. Twenty cavalrymen from the Tenth Partisan Rangers, C.S.A. under Jacob Coffman Bennett (1840-1904) pillaged the Union Provost Marshal’s office, looted merchants and threatened to burn the Owensboro, Kentucky bank … before setting sights on Yankee matériel at the city wharf. In transit elsewhere, from nine to thirteen men of the 108th guarded the supplies, and a boat loaded for transport. By several accounts the men opened fire on the raiders.

    Mills (2012) does an admirable job, assembling scant details of infamy following surrender by the small squad of colored troops on 27 August 1864. “Official Union Army reports glaringly do not mention the death of the black Union soldiers at all.” One guerrilla, Alfred Lafayette Dale (1840-1933) later reported capture and execution of 13 men. Newspaper accounts, though varied, in the main suggested only three of nine Black captives were killed, the rest escaping. “One can only guess as to the cause of the discrepancy. One possibility is that the local paper wished to play down the level of atrocity.”

    That evening Bennett and his men robbed the Hartford bank. Important to Crit Parks participation in a segregated G.A.R. post, Mills observed the rise of “a powerful cultural myth … that of the Lost Cause.” “Stories of gallant rebel fighters emphasized the swashbuckling aspects of the war. In the case of the partisan fighter turned bandit, Captain Jake Bennett, much of his eventual heroic status came from local and regional newspaper accounts over time — accounts that told of his daring and exciting exploits while ignoring his outright robbery and murder.” He cites Gallagher and Nolan (2000): “Much of this myth was constructed through “participants’ memoirs, from speeches at veterans reunions, from ceremonies at the graves of soldiers killed while serving the southern armies and other commemorating events.”

    https://digitalcommons.butler.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1079&context=jiass

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  2. Roger: I replied to your comment on my blog and I hope you saw it; if not, please look and reply. I have another post you might enjoy reading: https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/1283358229478890204/8721550573110419418
    Charles Leach - Ohio County History

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