Civil War History

Separating Children From Parents In Current Border Crisis Needs To End

Politicians love to keep things murky, it makes rallying people to a cause simpler.

It is why in the current Border Crisis there is confusion over who these people are. Are they: illegal immigrants, undocumented workers or asylum seekers? They all get lumped into one big group.

For clarification, these are asylum-seekers. These are families leaving violent regions of the world seeking safety for their children.

…..

Those who know me know I read a lot of history and I recall a story I read about some asylum seekers.

They lived in a region of their country where lawlessness existed. Children as young as 14 and 15 were gunned down in cold blood. Women were raped. Livestock was stolen. Houses were burned. Children was shot dead in front of their parents and parents killed in front of their children.

Some of the atrocities was committed by gangs. Some of it was committed by the local law enforcement community.

The asylum seekers were Alexander and Polly (Hull) Beaty my maternal grandparents of the Civil War era. They left their belongings in northern Tennessee and headed north with their children to save their lives.

But, like many asylum seekers, their story is not a happy one. Three of their sons, and a nephew, were captured by the CSA. One of the men escaped with his life — the other three starved to death in a CSA prisoner-of-war camp. Those men are buried in graves with only a number to identify them. Their parents were never able to properly grieve their deaths.

The current Border Crisis is about parents trying to protect their children, something any decent person would do. The United States is abusing the situation for political aspirations. The kids are human shields in some ill-conceived negotiating tactic by Mr. Trump to fund a border wall (that he promised Mexico would fund).

Call the Department of Justice at 202-353-1555 and demand they end this state-sponsored abuse. Let your elected official know — this is not acceptable.

For Genealogists

  • A more complete telling of the Polly and Alexander story can be found here.
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Categories: 8th congressional district, Civil War History, My America

WWII Museum In New Orleans Worth 2-Day Ticket

28090156122_434df13030_zI recently spent several days in New Orleans and one of the sites I visited was the WWII Museum. It was actually the first museum I have ever been in when a second-day pass would have been a good choice. It can be purchased for an additional $6 — when you buy a regular ticket. If you have the time, it’s worth the few extra dollars.

The reason I recommend it is the museum is divided into two floors: the European campaign and the Pacific Theatre. There is enough to read and see on each floor to easily take several hours.

One of the Best Museums

Two things make this museum one of the best. First, you are issued an interactive ‘dog tag’ with your ticket. Once you register your dog tag in a kiosk or by boarding a fake train (which is neat), you then follow the person — a real soldier — along their path through the war. They will most likely fight in one or the other campaigns — I do not know if any of the soldiers in the interactive piece fought in parts of both campaigns.

This brings the war to life in a more personal way since you get to hear their story as you make your way through the museum.

Since the museum is associated with some of Tom Hanks’ work it includes soldiers from Band of Brothers (the author was one of the museum  founders) and The Pacific (Eugene Sledge, for example), so if you have seen those series, you will recognize some names.

The other aspect of the museum that adds to its appeal is the 4D special effects movie — Beyond all Boundaries which highlights the war’s beginning. It’s worth the extra $5. The film is about 20 minutes long. We chose to watch it before walking through the museum. (you have to choose a film time when you buy your ticket).

My only criticism of the museum is there are not enough stations for listening to the soldiers’ stories and, even on a mildly crowded day like the day my daughter, her boyfriend and I went, you often have to wait too long to use a listening station. Since there are several stations to visit this can slow down your walk through the museum. They have offset this somewhat by making the content available at home by logging in with your email address.

The museum is open seven days a week, except for a handful of holidays.

27913063470_10d5245318_mCivil War Museum

Just across the street from the WWII Museum is Louisiana’s oldest Civil War museum. The museum is a repository of Confederate items and includes artifacts owned and used by Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and other Confederate leaders. Although the museum is small, everything is housed on one floor, what they have is authentic and interesting. You can probably view everything in an hour or so.

Categories: Civil War History, Things To Do, WWII | Tags: , , ,

Mary (Hull) Beaty Pays Unbearable Price During Civil War

-flagsIn the modern era, starting over in one’s 50s usually mean reinventing or redefining a career — or maybe working through a mid-life crisis  — but for Mary (Hull) Beaty, my grandmother from the Civil War era, it was about rebuilding her life after the death of several family members.

When the War of 1861 — as it is called on government documents from the late 1860s — broke out, Mary Beaty, who went by Polly, had no way of knowing the high price she was about to pay.  By the time it was over, it would cost her two sons Andrew Jackson (AJ) and Thomas as well as her son-in-law Andrew Owens and shortly after the War ended, her husband Alexander and an infant grandchild, would also be dead.

The War, and the death of her family members especially her third oldest son Thomas, left Mary destitute and dependent on the charity of others to subsist.

Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

As Unionists, Mary and her family had the misfortune of living in northern Tennessee when the War began. This created a deadly situation after the State joined the Confederacy. In the borderland region of the Cumberland Plateau, it essentially put a target on the backs of the Beatys and other Unionists. Gangs, vigilantes and former neighbors turned on each other in what would become one of the bloodiest regions of the conflict. The only other portion of the country where a comparable level of violence and brutality existed was the Missouri-Kansas border.

In these two regions the War became very personal and acts of War were often thinly-veiled murderous acts of revenge and retribution. It was, in a very real sense, a return to the Biblical concept of an ‘eye for an eye.’ Due to the unconventional manner in which the War was fought in the borderland, civilians were subject to attack. These civilians were often women, children or the aged, left to fend for themselves after the males entered military service. Loyalists on both sides of the conflict utilized a ‘no-quarter’ approach to the War. Simply put, if you were captured, you were killed. And some of the murders were grisly, from beheadings to tortured deaths, carried out in front of pleading family members.

But before the War intensified to that level, there was an exit from the region and it is possible that Mary, Alexander and the younger children left. My grandfather’s (Rob Beaty) grandfather, James Knox Polk — later known as Big Jim — would have been about 12 or 13 when all of this was unfolding. Whether or not they left Tennessee is difficult to prove. But in a letter written by Mary’s nephew, Morgan Hull about six months before Morgan and Mary’s sons became POWs in 1863, Morgan notes that Jonathan’s family is in Kentucky (pdf). However this could mean Jonathan’s wife and son.

If the Beatys did move north to Kentucky, it was a matter of practicality and not cowardice as Mary’s husband Alexander, 17 years her senior, crippled by arthritis and closing in on 70, would have most likely found it difficult to protect his family. If they left the area, they probably went to Adair County (Kentucky) to join other Unionists from northern Tennessee. If Alexander and Mary stayed on their homestead, they were undoubtedly protected by Unionist Tinker Dave Beaty.

What is known for certain, is three of Mary’s sons and one son-in-law (Julia Ann’s husband Andrew Owens) enlisted in the Union Army and were mustered in at Somerset, Kentucky on Sept. 28, 1861. They became members of Company B 2nd Regiment of the Tennessee Volunteers. This regiment would see action at Mills Spring and pursue CSA John Hunt Morgan into Ohio before nearly 500 members of Company B were captured near Rogersville, TN in 1863. (Click here to see how they were treated. You can also read John Ransom’s Andersonville Diarya first person account of the ordeal.)

No Stranger To Hard Work

Based on pension records, even before the War broke out Mary was no stranger to a hard life. At the time of Alexander’s death in 1867, a doctor’s affidavit stated Alexander had suffered with ‘crippling’ arthritis for at least 25 years. This meant, Mary and the children tended the farm. But as the children aged, most of this work fell on her third-oldest son, Thomas.

In the 1868 Mother’s Pension application Mary filed, we uncover two facts about Thomas. First the application reaffirms that Thomas financially supported his mother (she states he gave her $10 per month). The application also means Thomas was unmarried and had no children. If he were married or had surviving children, his mother could not receive a pension based on his military service.

Pension Application

Reading the application, you get a sense of how much Mary needs the pension to survive. She is now 56 years old, her husband has been dead for about a year and she has no source of income. It appears she has not had any significant source of money for nearly five years. The only money she brings in is from sewing or knitting jobs. Thomas began financially supported her in 1855 and continued until his capture in 1863. Besides money, Thomas was also supplying labor. He had also been planting and harvesting the crops (oats, wheat and corn) on her 28-acre  farm.

The $8 per month pension was approved.

Death of Her Sons

Although it is difficult to know when Mary learned of her sons’ deaths, the first son to die is her oldest, Andrew Jackson. He dies on Feb. 15, 1864, on Belles Island, roughly three months after being captured. He was about 32. Thomas lasts a few months longer, passing away on May 16 around the age of 28, in the Andersonville, Ga. prison. Their brother-in-law Andrew Owens dies less than a month later on June 9th in Andersonville. He was about 28 years old.

Survivors

Andrew Jackson is survived by his wife, Jane. They had been wed nearly a decade — married on Christmas eve in 1854. Andrew Jackson also left behind two sons, John A., born April 26, 1861 and James, born on Dec. 8, 1863 — a month after his capture. This younger son, though, dies in 1865. One would presume Andrew Jackson never saw this son.

About two year’s after Andrew Jackson’s death,  his widow, Jane, remarries. She is 28 or 29 when she wed William Gunter on July 18, 1866. After’s Andrew’s Owens’ death, July married Creed Garrett.

Life Before The War

In 1860, a year before the War broke out, the Beatys were living in Fentress County. The oldest son, Andrew Jackson, has his own place. According to the Census report, Andrew Jackson, 29, and his wife Jane, 25, have an infant son, John. The report lists Kentucky as Andrew Jackson’s birthplace. Find a Grave lists it as Clinton County, Ky. which should be correct since his father, Alexander, owned land in Clinton County.

1850 Census Records

Just 10 years before the War, Mary and her family are living in Overton County, TN. She is listed as 40 years old (she may be slightly younger since she appears to be born in 1811 or 1812 (North Carolina)). Her husband was 57. The household consisted of the couple’s three teenage children:

  • 17-year-old Jonathan
  • 15-year-old Thomas
  • 13 year-old Rachel

And the younger children:

  • 10-year-old July — or Julie Ann
  • 8-year-old John T.
  • 4-year-old James Knox Polk (my grandfather’s grandfather)
  • 2-year-old Lewis

The only one not listed in her household is her oldest son Andrew Jackson., who, at 19, is one his own.

The Final Decade

According to the 1870 Overton County Census, Mary Beaty’s household consists of Mary, her oldest daughter Rachel, 31, and her youngest son, Lewis C., 19. The son that is in my direct line, James Knox Polk Beaty (Big Jim) and his wife Elizabeth (Garrett) Beaty — both 23, also live in Overton County. Their son John is two months olds.

Both households list farming as their occupation.

In 1881, Mary passes away. According to FamilySearch.org she is buried in Allardt Cemetery in Fentress County, TN.

Timeline

Since there are a lot of names and dates in this post, here’s a barebones timeline:

  • 1850s: All of the Alexander and Mary Beaty family, except Andrew Jackson, are living under one roof in Overton County. At 19, Andrew Jackson is on his own.
  • 1860s: Two households still exists, but now everyone is in Fentress County. Alexander and Mary’s with all of the children at home except Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jackson’s household includes his wife Jane (Ragan/Reagan) and infant son John.
  • 1861: War breaks out. Tennessee secedes from the Union. Near the end of September, Mary’s three oldest sons — Andrew Jackson, Jonathan and Thomas, as well as her son-in-law, Andrew Owens (July’s husband), enlist to serve with Company B.
  • 1863: A little more than two  years after enlisting, at least three of the four men are captured by the CSA (uncertain if Jonathan is captured).
  • 1864: Two sons, Andrew Jackson and Thomas, as well as son-in-law, Andrew Owens, die as POWs.
  • 1865: Early in the year, Mary’s grandson — Andrew Jackson’s infant boy (James) — dies.
  • 1866: Andrew Jackson’s widow remarries.
  • 1867: Mary’s husband, Alexander dies.
  • 1868: Near the end of the year, October through December, Mary applies for — and receives — a military pension based on Thomas’ years of service.
  • 1870: Mary Beaty — and my direct forefather, James, are living in Overton County in separate households. Mary’s household consists of her oldest daughter and her youngest son. The household of James Knox Polk and Elizabeth includes a child.
  • 1880: James, now known as Big Jim, and Elizabeth live in Fentress County.
  • 1881: Mary Beaty dies.

Mary Hull Beaty’s Family Tree

Based on the research conducted by Jack Masters and presented in his book Smith, Bowers, Hull & Beaty Family History, Mary’s lineage looks like this (just the males are included in the chart I am referencing — found on page 12 of the book):

  • Joseph Hull born in England, 1596
    • Samuel Hull, born in New Jersey, 1649
      • Samuel Hull, born in New Jersey, 1678
        • Samuel Hull born in New Jersey, 1703
          • Moses Hull, born in New Jersey, 1729
            • Moses Hull, born in New Jersey, about 1751
              • Josephus Hull, born in North Carolina about 1772
                • Mary (Polly) Hull

The Rest of The Story (I feel like someone else used that phrase)

This is the year of death for Mary’s children:

  • AJ (Virginia) and Thomas (Georgia) die in 1864.
  • Jonathan dies in 1907 in Fentress County.
  • July died in 1912.
  • My grandfather of the era, Big Jim, passed away in 1920.
  • Louis, the youngest, dies in 1916.
  • Uncertain when Rachel and John died.

Cordell Hull Connection?

Mary (Polly) is the daughter of Moses Hull and Elizabeth Crockett and is possibly a relative of Cordell Hull since he was born in Olympus, TN. Cordell was instrumental in the creation of the United Nations and is the longest serving Secretary of State in U.S. history. On her Civil War Widow Pension application, Mary lists Olympus, TN as her mailing address. Since Cordell was one of five sons, Mary can’t be a sibling, but it is possible they were cousins. At some point I intend to research the connection, if there is one.

Categories: American History, Appalachia, Civil War History, Cumberland Plateau, Family History, Genealogy | Tags: , , ,