Tag Archives: us colored troops

National Archives Research and New Information on WHITFIELD Family

Recently I visited Washington, DC and the National Archives.  I was looking into the pension files of US Colored Troops who were either members of my or my spouse’s family, or people of interest on my list of early black/colored Toledo families.

One of the family’s on my list is the WHITFIELD family.  When I first began this blog, I had found some information that lead me to believe that my earliest WHITFIELD ancestor, named Elias WHITFIELD born approximately 1862-1863 was from North Carolina.  I did some extensive research on the North Carolina WHITFIELD family and they did have a person with the same name and approximate same age who I believed had moved to NW Ohio and was a relative.

In my hobby of genealogical research, I often continue to research the same individuals over and over again.  I had a nagging feeling  that Elias may have been related to one of the earliest black families in Toledo also with the surname of WHITFIELD who were enumerated on the 1850 Census in the City of Toledo. I also discovered that the NC Elias WHITFIELD had moved to Washington, DC with his family and I later found a census record of him from the 20th century when my 3rd great grandfather Elias WHTIFIELD died in 1897.  Due to that discovery, I deleted all of the information I had on my NC WHITFIELD line and started from scratch back at Elias.  I did however, make a tentative link of him to the 1850 Toledo WHITFIELD family and decided to do some off-line research on this family so placed John WHITFIELD’s pension file at the top of my list of ones to request on my visit to the National Archives.

On the 1850 Toledo census the WHITFIELD family was headed by a man named John W. WHITFIELD Sr. and his suspected wife named Hannah.  Per the 1850 Census  – John  was born in approximately 1823 in Virginia.  His wife Hannah was born in Canada around the same year.  They had within their household five children in 1850 – John W Jr., Jacob and James (twins), daughter Ann, and baby Robert WHITFIELD.  All the children were born between 1840 and 1850.

While in DC, I reviewed the file of John W. WHITFIELD Jr. in regards to his pension.  Both he and his younger brother Jacob are known veterans of the Civil War and both fought in the US Colored Troops, 5th Ohio regiment.  They both enlisted here in Toledo for the regiment and went to Delaware County for training.  During their service, both experienced some medical issues/illnesses and John Jr.’s pension file centered on him having had a finger shot off during the war along with a cough where he spit up blood, which was labeled as a “lung disease.”  His younger brother  Jacob died in 1868 in the City of Toledo so did not recieve a pension, but John Jr. filed for one first in 1889 then again in 1892 after a law was passed where veterans didn’t have to prove a disability to receive a pension.  John Jr. had lived primarily in Toledo prior to and after the war but died in Cleveland, Ohio in 1905.

In his pension file, John Jr. had to create a statement and tell a bit of his life and service in the military, including any injuries he suffered.  In his statement, he stated that he was currently married but had been married before to a woman named Mary EDWARDS.  EDWARDS is another early black/colored Toledo family and I had them on a spreadsheet for future review.  Due to seeing Mary EDWARDS’ name, I decided to do some digging on her and her family to see if she had any children and if she and John Jr. could potentially be the parents of Elias WHITFIELD.

Reviewing the EDWARDS family showed that Mary EDWARDS and John WHITFIELD Jr. married in Toledo in 1887.  Also that Mary was born in 1851.  Due to the late marriage date and Mary’s year of birth, she could not have been the mother of Elias due to him being born between 1861-1863 and she was very young at that time.  It was possible but not likely for her to have a child so young and the marriage date didn’t make sense.  John Jr.’s pension file also included a note that he had not had any children so this made him not likely to be the father of Elias Whitfield.

However, I discovered that Mary EDWARDS had an aunt named Lavina EDWARDS born approximately 1840.  Lavina was the sister of Mary’s father – William EDWARDS Jr.  There was an entry in Toledo’s marriage records  via Family Search that showed that she married John WHITFIELD Sr. in 1859.  John WHITFIELD Sr. was no longer living in Toledo in 1860 and I had always wondered where he’d moved to or if he’d  passed away.  Doing a query with him and Lavina, showed that a John WHITFIELD was a saloon keeper living in Detroit in 1860 with a woman of the same age as Lavina, who was enumerated as Elvina.  I thought that that may have been a mis-spelling by the enumerator due to it being similar to Lavina  Within their household was also a Robert WHITFIELD who was the  youngest child of John Sr and Hannah in 1850 and it stated he was born in Ohio.  Also within that household were two other children – Samantha WHITFIELD born 1852 and a baby named Mary Ann who was born in 1860.  So I believe that the 1860 household was indeed John and Lavina Whitfield who had been married in Toledo in 1859.

I did some digging into Samantha WHITFIELD and it did show that her father’s name was John WHITFIELD on her death record.  She was also enumerated in the household of William EDWARDS Sr.  in 1870 in Toledo, Ohio.  William EDWARDS Sr., born approximately 1795-1803 was the father of Lavina EDWARDS, he was living with her in Toledo by 1880.  This further solidified a relationship between these two families.

Some digging into baby Mary Ann from the 1860 Census in the household of Elvina and John WHITFIELD Sr., a death certificate turned up showing that she was the daughter of Lavina EDWARDS and John WHITFIELD.

Another person also had a death certificate that showed she was the daughter of Lavina (this time THOMAS – Lavina married Montgomery THOMAS after the death of her second husband Arthur SPENCER) and John WHITFIELD.  This daughter was named Lulu and she was shown to have been born in approximatly 1863-1864.

A review of the 1870 Census looking for Lavina showed that there was a Lavina SPENCE living in Toledo in the household of Arthur SPENCE.  Within that household included a male named Eli SPENCE.  I concluded that John WHITFIELD must have died between 1860 and 1863 as Lavina re-married a man named Arthur SPENCER in 1863 in Toledo.  By 1880, Arthur also must have passed away because Lavina was listed as a widow and she later re-married a man named Montgomery THOMAS in 1884. Due to her having a male named Eli in her household, I thought maybe this Eli SPENCE(R) was more than likely Eli(as) WHITFIELD.  I’ve seen before in censuses where the surnames of family members were incorrect, mostly due to the re-marriages of their parents and them being given the name of the widowed mother or stepfather instead of their biological surname.  I also  never have seen an Eli or Elias Spencer listed in the city directory of Toledo, however starting in the 1880s Eli or Elias WHITFIELD was listed several times until his death in 1897 and later he was listed as the deceased husband of my 3rd great grandmother Martha JONES WHITFIELD.

Unfortunately Elias WHITFIELD died prior to the establishment of death certificates in the City of Toledo.  So his parents were not listed on the death register since that information was not collected prior to the 20th century in Toledo.  I have never found him on census records in Toledo as Elias WHITFIELD, only in the city directory starting in 1883.  Due to these connections discovered via information on the EDWARDS family as a result of reviewing John WHITFIELD Jr.’s pension file, I am 95% sure that Eli SPENCER may be Elias (also labeled as Eli in directory information) WHITFIELD.  I base this on the fact that Eli would have been the middle or youngest child of John WHITFIELD Sr. and Lavina EDWARDS.  Mary Ann was born in 1860, Eli in 1862-63 and Lulu in 1863-64.  Both Mary Ann and Lulu lived until the 1920s so had a modern era death certificate that listed their parents as John and Lavina, so I feel safe concluding that my 3rd great grandfather Elias WHITFIELD was actually the son of John WHITFIELD Sr., and brother of John WHITFIELD Jr.

I am very excited to explore this connection further and the EDWARDS family, especially since William EDWARDS Sr.  would be a potential 5th great grandfather.  He was a Barber in Toledo and worked and/or lived in the same location as Barber William MERRITT who was a known black UGGR administrator in Toledo.

REFERENCES

1850 Census – Household of John Whitfield

Marriage Record of John Whitfield and Lavina Edwards 1859

1860 Census – Household of John Whitfield

1860 Census – Household of Willien(William Sr.) Edwards – includes Mary Edwards

Marriage Record of Lovinia Whitfield and Arthur Spencer 1863

1870 Census – Household of Arthur Spence 

1870 Census – Household of William Edwards

1880 Census – Household of Lavina Spencer

Death Record of Lulu WHITFIELD VENABLE

 

Notable Black Toledoans – Garland H. WHITE

I first came across the name of Garland H. WHITE when I was looking through newspaper articles about black residents of Toledo. Oftentimes looking through online resources of African American newspapers provides me with some interesting stories and insights into the early black community of Toledo and Northwest Ohio.

As noted in the Black Culture Series post regarding education and intellectualism, I discovered an article published on March 3, 1871 in a black newspaper called the “Weekly Louisianian” that stated that Garland H. WHITE of Toledo had filed suit against the Toledo school board for not allowing his daughter to attend the school of the ward that they lived in at the time. She was disallowed attendance due to the City of Toledo and its school board having segregated school facilities at the time; therefore his daughter, named Anna would have had to attend the “Colored School” of Toledo and not the one nearest to her home.

WHITE’s complaint did have an impact in the city, being that by 1873 Toledo Public Schools integrated the system and allowed children to attend the schools closest to them regardless of the race/color of the student.  WHITE, however, moved away from Toledo around 1873 and so his children may not have benefited from the integration of the schools in the city.

After finding this information out about WHITE and the integration of Toledo Public Schools, I decided to place him on my (LONG) list of individuals to research later and this past week, I decided to take some notes on him and others.

When I first begin to focus on an individual, I usually first refer to my transcriptions of the Census data of Toledo from 1840 to 1870.  Then I  use the magic of google and see what comes up with a query of their name and the location of Toledo. I was very surprised that WHITE had a lot of references in a general query so decided to make my next post about him.

Garland H. WHITE was born to a slave woman named Nancy in Hanover County, Virginia around 1829. Biographical information found about him shows that he was taught to read and write as a child. Prior to the age of 13, he was separated from his mother and sold to Senator Robert Toombs of Georgia. During his teenage years, he was a personal manservant to Senator Toombs and accompanied the Senator on trips back and forth to Washington, D.C. Around 1857-1859, WHITE escaped slavery via the Underground Railroad from Washington D.C. He settled in SE Ontario, Canada, then called “Canada West” and became an ordained minister in the London, Ontario AME church.

WHITE first shows up in Toledo on the list of Civil War draft registrations in 1863.  He was living in Ward 2 of the city at the time and listed his occupation as a “minister.”  His draft registration is below on line 15:

WHITE petitioned the government to serve as a recruiter for black troops, even before the federal authorities allowed black men to enlist in 1863.  His requests were denied but he was persistent due to having a goal of recruiting and serving as Chaplain for the first black regiments – the 54th and 55th Massachusetts regiments (the 54th was memorialized in the movie “Glory”).  Unfortunately he was not allowed access to those regiments but was later asked to recruit for Indiana’s first colored regiment – the 28th USCT.   WHITE both joined and recruited black soldiers for this regiment from all over the Midwest and was persistent in his writing campaigns seeking to achieve his goal of becoming a chaplain in the Army.    WHITE’s request was delayed but ultimately approved and he became the Chaplain of the 28th USCT in 1864 and received a rank similar to that of a Captain.  His rank made him one of the few black officers in the USCT during the Civil War (there were less than 20).   Even though he was appointed Chaplain and attained his rank, he was not authorized to wear an officer’s uniform due to the Army not wanting white soldiers being forced to salute him upon sight.

After the war, he returned to Toledo, where as noted above, he filed a complaint against the Toledo Public School board to desegregate the system.  At the time, he was married to wife Georginna and had three children, per the 1870 Census named Anna (born 1862 in Canada), Jane (born 1867) and son Emery/Henry (born 1869).  He was listed in the City of Toledo directory  as a minister between 1867 and 1872.

During the 1860s and 1870s he was also a frequent contributor to black media publications, including the “Christian Recorder” a publication of the AME church.  In one of his more well known correspondences, he described reuniting with his mother, who he had been sold away from as a child.  The letter was written toward the end  of the Civil War on April 12, 1865.:

Among the many broken-hearted mothers looking for their children who had been sold to Georgia and elsewhere, was an aged woman, passing through the vast crowd of colored, inquiring for one by the name of
Garland H. White, who had been sold from her when a small boy, and was bought by a lawyer named Robert Toombs, who lived in Georgia.

Since the war has been going on she has seen Mr. Toombs in Richmond  with troops from his state, and upon her asking him where his bodyservant
Garland was, he replied: “He ran off from me at Washington, and went to ‘Canada. I have since learned that he is living somewhere in the State of Ohio.” Some of the boys knowing that I lived in Ohio, soon found me and said, “Chaplain, here is a lady that wishes to see
you.” I quickly turned, following the soldier until coming to a group of colored ladies. I was questioned as follows:

“What is your name, sir?” “My name is Garland H. White.”

“What was your mother’s name?” “Nancy.” “Where was you born?” “In Hanover County, in this State.” “Where was you sold from?”

“From this city.”

“What was the name of the man who bought you?”

“Robert Toombs.”

“Where did he live?”

“In the State of Georgia.”

“Where did you leave
him?”

“At Washington.”

“Where did you go then?”

“To Canada.”

“Where do you live now?”

“In Ohio.”

“This is your mother, Garland, whom you are now talking to, who has spent twenty years of grief about her son.”

I cannot express the joy I felt at this happy meeting of my mother and other friends.

After his service in the war WHITE had aspirations of working for the Freedman’s Bureau but his request was denied.  In the mid 1870s he moved to Indianapolis, Indiana and then to North Carolina and served as an AME minister in both locations.  He ran for a seat in Congress in the 1870s in North Carolina as a Democrat, but lost to John Adams Hyman, a black Republican.  His relationship with the Democratic Party, which back  then was the party of the former Confederates,  placed him in a contentious position with his church family in Halifax, North Carolina and he was forced out of the church by 1880.

WHITE experienced a respiratory illness, which he associated with his service in the USCT and specifically the Battle of the Crater.  He applied for a disability pension in 1884 but it was not approved until 1890 when rules for pensioners changed and all who served were able to receive payments.  WHITE moved back to Washington, D.C., toward the end of his life and worked as a messenger in the Capital.  He died on July 5, 1894 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

REFERENCES:

Wikipedia – Garland H. White

Forged Through Fire – Bethel AME Church – Chaplain Garland H. White

1870 Toledo Census – Household of Garland H. White

Find a Grave Memorial – Rev Garland H. White 

Weekly Louisianian – March 3, 1871

Ancestry.com – US Civil War Draft Registration Records – Ohio 10th Congressional District Volume 1

Ancestry.com – City of Toledo Directories 1864-1880