The Amnesty Oaths

Taken by Residents of Desha County, AR

Following the end of the Civil War

 

 

(The following is an article prepared by the Desha County Historical Society and published in the Fall 1992 programs.  The article was prepared from information furnished by Honorable Gale Rowland, former Clerk of the Circuit Court and Ex-Officio Recorder of Desha County, Arkansas.  The source of the article was found by Mr. Rowland in the vault of his office among the old records stored and preserved there.  The bulk of the article appears here as it did in the program.  The article is for genealogical purposes only and may not be reprinted without permission.)

 

An amnesty oath is a general pardon, especially for political offenses against the government.  Those individuals who took the oath secured citizenship in the government of the United States, with all privileges incident to such status….

 

Arkansas seceded from the United States, by Resolution, dated May 6, 1861, and two weeks later was admitted to the Southern States Confederacy.

 

The Civil War ended when General Robert E. Lee surrendered the confederate forces to General Ulysses Grant at Appomattox on April 9, 1965.  On May 26, 1865, the Arkansas Confederate government came to an end.

 

The war, so far as Desha County, ended in October, 1863, when the records of the county were removed to Clarksville, Texas.

 

On December 3, 1863, President Lincoln offered in the Proclamation and Reconstruction of Amnesty, a pardon to all citizens with some exclusions, who would take the oath of loyalty to the United States.  That also, as soon as one-tenth of the citizens had taken the prescribed oath there in any state, there could be re-established a state government.

 

             The oath reads:

             “I, (repeat full name), do solemnly swear, in the presence of almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Union of the States thereunder, and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all Acts of Congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held void by Congress, or by the decision of the Supreme Court; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion having reference to slaves, so long and so far as not modified or declared void by decision of the Supreme Court, so help me God.”

 

President Lincoln was assassinated in Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 1865, and died the following day.  Vice President Andrew Johnson of Tennessee succeeded to the presidency.

 

On May 29, 1865, President Johnson issued a proclamation granting amnesty to all of the citizens of the southern states, a pardon on condition of their taking an oath of loyalty, with certain classes of individuals being exempted as ex-officers of the Confederate forces and those having taxable property in excess of $20,000.00, even these were to be pardoned under proper petition.

 

Under Lincoln’s proclamation Union clubs began to organize in the state.  In 1863 these clubs held meetings in Fort Smith, Benton, Waldron, Dardenelle, Helena and Little Rock and purported to represent one-tenth percent of the voters of the state.  The clubs elected delegates to a state convention to form a new state government.  The delegates met in Little Rock on January 4, 1864 and organized a new state government.  Three or four dozen delegates attended and represented 22 of the 54 counties, drew up a new constitution and set up a provisional government.  In March, 1864, the constitution was adopted and Isaac Murphy, as Governor, assumed office on April 18, 1864.

 

Desha County was reorganized under this constitution of 1864, then the Governor issued Commissions to the County and Township Officers on June 16, 1865.  The government was reorganized at a special session of the County Court at Napoleon on July 24, 1865.  (See 1980 issue of Programs of Desha County Historical Society, Spring 1981, Vol. 1, No. 1, Pages 33 and 34.)

 

This brings the article to the title.

 

Honorable Gale Rowland, Clerk of the Circuit and Chancery Courts and Ex-Officio Reorder (1978-1988) of Desha County, Arkansas, found, by chance, an ancient document in the vault of the office where the records of the office are stored.  The document, more than 120 years old, was found on November 10, 1986, lying unprotected on top of Record Book No. 38.  The identity of the document was not immediately recognized as the record of the oaths of allegiance to the United States under President Abraham Lincoln and Johnson Proclamations, as there was no identifying cover attached to the writing.  The document was later identified by Mr. Rowland.  A copy has been made and furnished to the Desha county Historical Society, which shows the deterioration of said document by time.  The original is still preserved by the Clerk.  Generally, the document shows the name, origin, age, a description of the individual written in clear script (cursive form) with the name of the person taking the oath in his/her own handwriting.

 

             It is interesting to note that the first name on the list is that of James Murphy, the Clerk of the County and Probate Courts of Desha County.  He is described as age 35, 5 feet 5 inches in height, dark hair and hazel eyes.  He took the oath of allegiance at Camden, Arkansas on August 5, 1865.  This was some twelve days after he had been engaged in the reorganization of Desha County and a month and thirty-six days since he was commissioned Clerk of the Courts of Desha County by the Governor.  The record shows that he was born in Halafax ( appears to be Canada from the deteriorated record.)

             The second name on the list is John R. Chiles, born in South Carolina, age 49, 5 feet 5 ½ inches tall, sandy hair, blues eyes, and a farmer.  He served as Treasurer of Desha County from 1854 through 1856, and later served out the term of E. Mills from July 10, 1875 and the term of E.K. Eddington from August, 1879; then was elected Treasurer and served from 1880 through 1884.

             The third name on the list is Jacob Pentecost, Justice of the Peace from Jefferson Township, who was one of the members of the County Court and present when the county was reorganized on July 24, 1865.  He is shown on the amnesty record as being age 42, 6 feet in height, dark hair, blue eyes, a farmer and born in Tennessee.  He signed as “Jacob Pentecost.”

             The fourth name on the list is Josephus Hopkins, born in Arkansas, age 29, 5 feet 9 inches tall, dark hair, hazel eyes and a farmer, and signed as J. Hopkins.

             The next name on the list is James P. Clayton, born in Mississippi, age 35, 5 feet 5 inches in height, dark hair, dark eyes and a lawyer at Napoleon.

             The next name is I.B. Borgus, born in North Carolina, age 51 years, 5 feet 11 ½ inches, dark hair and a farmer, signed as L.B. Bogus.

             Columbus H. Tindall was listed next, born in Arkansas, age 22 years, 5 feet 7 inches tall, light hair, dark eyes, a farmer.  He signed as C.H. Tindall.

             The next name on the roll is Joshua L. Evans, born in Virginia, age 24, 5 feet 6 inches, light hair, blue eyes, a farmer and signed as J.L. Evans.

             Next on the list were:

             Eliza B. Mayson, born in Kentucky, age 69, 5 feet tall, gray hair, blue eyes, occupation shows as “Lady,” signed E.B. Mayson.

             James Marlatt, born in Pennsulvania, 58 years old, 5 feet and 10 ½ inches, sandy hair, hazel eyes, a merchant.

             Stephen T. Howell, born in Tennessee, age 31, 5 feet 5 inches tall, dark hair and eyes, Sheriff, signed S.T. Howell.

             Dan J. Murphy, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, age 31, 5 feet 5 inches tall, dark eyes, dark hair and a lawyer.

             William A. Rudd, born in Kentucky, age 22 years, 5 feet 9 inches tall, dark hair, blue eyes, Tax Assessor, signed W.A. Rudd.  He succeeded J.T. Porter and served from January 1866 to July 10, 1875.

             John Hyde, born in England, 33 years old, 5 feet 5 inches tall, light hair, blue eyes, occupation, marble worker.  He served as County Judge from 1866 through 1874 and was removed under the Reconstruction Act.

             All of the above names took the oath at Camden, Arkansas on August 5, 1865 at the Union Army headquarters stationed there.

             The remaining names on the list had been clipped from the page.  The pages following list the names clipped from the sheets.

             The first thirteen names are the same as appear on the first page where the bottom lines had been clipped from the page.  Then follows:

             John F. Braden, (place of birth erased by time from the document), 5 feet 9 inches tall, dark hair, eyes not described, then follows (Recorded September 12 1865, James Murphy Clerk then follows a notation: This oath was taken before E.R. Shivly, Captain and A.C. Adjutant at Camp Douglas, May 13, 1865. Camp Douglas was a station of Union forces, east of Gould in Lincoln County, Arkansas).  The town of Douglas is still in evidence, or at least the location on the Arkansas River.

             John B. West, born in Alabama, age 29, 6 feet tall, dark hair and dark eyes, farmer.

             Hecter M. Neile, born in North Carolina, age 57, 5 feet 8 ½ inches tall gray hair and blue eyes, farmer.  (There is a notation following this name with the word, “Paid.”)

             Russell Montgomery,  born in Mississippi, age 53, 5 feet 9 inches tall, gray hair and blue eyes.  A farmer.

             Davis H.C. Moore, born in North Carolina, age 31 years, 5 feet 10 inches tall, dark hair and eyes, lawyer.

             Nathan B. Skeels, born in New York, age 51, 5 feet 6 ½ inches tall, dark hair and blue eyes, a farmer.

             Robert C. Costello, born in Tennessee, 47 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall, light hair, blue eyes, a farmer.

             Robert C. Mayson, born in South Carolina, 47 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall, black hair, blue eyes, served as sheriff from January 1865, a farmer.  G.E. Mayson was sheriff from 1854 through 1858.

             Lafayette J. Caroll, born in Alabama, age 36 years, 6 feet and 3 ½ inches tall light hair, grey eyes, a farmer.

             A.H. McNeil, born in Mississippi, age 24 years, 5 feet 11 inches tall, dark hair and eyes, a farmer.

             Elisha Randolph, born in Illinois, age 48, 5 feet 8 inches tall, dark hair and hazel eyes, a farmer.

             Alexander Rudd, born in Ohio, age 49 years, 5 feet and 9 inches tall, black hair, blue eyes, served as coroner from January 1866, a mechanic.

             Patrick M. Gilroy, born in Ireland, age 42 years, 5 feet 7 inches tall, light hair and blue eyes, a farmer.

             J. Floyd Smith, born in Arkansas, age 23 years, 7 feet tall, dark hair, blue eyes, a farmer.

             John J. Brooks, born in Missouri, age 24 years, black hair, blue eyes, a merchant.

             William Cohn, born in Prussia, age 37 years, 5 feet 6 inches tall, black hair, dark eyes, a merchant.

             (These oaths taken before Provost Marshall J.D. Lloyd, Memphis, Tennessee, July 2, 1864.  Recorded September 22, 1865.  Attest: James Murphy, Clerk.)

             Robert W. Preston, born in Arkansas, age 33 years, 5 feet and 11 inches tall, light hair and eyes, a farmer.

             Alexander D. Taylor, born in Tennessee, age 41 years, 6 feet 1½  inches tall, dark hair, light blue eyes, a farmer.

             John Lain, born in Alabama, age 47 years, 5 feet 10 inches tall, dark hair, light grey eyes, a farmer.

             William Roberson, born in New York, age 34 years, 5 feet 8 inches tall, dark hair and light brown eyes, a merchant.

             Ann E. Rives, born in Virginia, age 50 years, 5 feet 5 inches tall, dark hair, dark brown eyes, a lady.

             Benjamin F. Grace, born in Kentucky, age 38 years, 6 feet tall, dark hair, light eyes, occupation – lawyer.

             Patrick H. Rundday, born in Ireland, age 39, 5 feet 7 inches tall, light hair and eyes, a contractor.

             John J. Cooper, born in Arkansas, 25 years old, 5 feet 7 inches tall, light hair and eyes, a merchant.

             Benj. F. White, born in Mississippi, 26 years old, 5 feet and 8 inches tall, light hair and light eyes, a farmer.

             Michael Costello, born in Tennessee, age 25 years, 5 feet 4 inches tall, light hair and blue eyes, a farmer.

             Wm. J. Pike, born in Arkansas, age 21 years, 5 feet 11 inches tall, light hair and hazel eyes, a farmer.

             Joseph H. Jones, born in Tennessee, age 28, 6 feet 1 inch tall, light hair and light eyes, a farmer.

             Ruben Malpass, born in Georgia, age 53, 5 feet 11 inches tall, light hair and light eyes, a farmer.

             Uariah Hones, born in Virginia, age 58, 5 feet 10 inches tall, grey hair and light eyes, a farmer.

             Martha Tucker, born in Missouri, 35 years old, 5 feet tall, black hair and black eyes, a lady.

             Carral C. Smith, born in Louisiana, 27 years of age, 5 feet 5 ½ inches tall, light hair and dark eyes, a farmer, signed C.C. Smith.

             Alfred R. Lemond, born in North Carolina, 49 years of age, 5 feet 11 inches tall dark hair, light eyes, a farmer.

             David Short, born in Indiana, 34 years old, 6 feet tall, light hair, dark eyes, a farmer.

             Martin Moran, born in Ireland, age 45 years, 5 feet 7 inches tall, light hair and light eyes, a farmer.

             John B. Wells, born in Tennessee, age 45 years, 5 feet 9 ½ inches tall, light hair and hazel eyes, a farmer.

             Thos. Bissell, born in Rhode Island, age 36, 6 feet tall light hair grey eyes, a farmer.

             William R. Anderson, born in Tennessee, age 53 years, 5 feet 8 inches tall, light hair and light blue eyes, a farmer.

             L.W. Watson, born in Louisiana, age 34, 5 feet 7 inches tall, dark hair and dark eyes, a farmer, signed L.W. Watson.

             Isaac Love, born in Tennessee, age 47 years, 6 feet tall, auburn hair, light eyes, a farmer.

             James C. Coose, born in Tennessee, 43 years old, 5 feet 11 inches tall, light hair and light blue eyes, a farmer.

             Jno. B. West, born in North Carolina, 65 years old, 6 feet tall, grey hair, dark eyes, a farmer.

             Thos. W. Wilcox, born in Virginia, age 39, 6 feet 1 ½ inches tall, light hair and light eyes, a farmer.

             W.R. Wilkinson, born in Arkansas, age 37 years, 5 feet 11 inches tall, black hair, dark eyes, a farmer.

             Franklin Malpass, born in Georgia, age 49 years, 5 feet 8 inches tall, grey hair and dark eyes, a farmer, signed Franklin Malpass.

             Joseph Marlatt, born in Pennsylvania, 31 years old, 5 feet 9 inches tall, black hair, dark eyes, a farmer.

             Barton D. Seale, born in Missouri, age 35 years, 5 feet and 7 ½ inches tall, black hair and dark eyes, occupation a bookkeeper.

             Robert Ford, born in Tennessee, 48 years of age, 6 feet ½ inch tall, grey hair, blue eyes, a farmer.

             Thomas F. Leverett, born in Illinois, age 41, 5 feet 9 inches tall, light hair and light eyes, occupation – merchant.

             William J. Ellison, born in Georgia, 44 years old, 5 feet and 8 ½ inches tall, light hair, blue eyes, a farmer.

             A.M. Secreese, born in Mississippi, age 30 years, 5 feet and 1 inch tall, light hair, dark eyes, a farmer.  He signed by mark (X).

             A.J. Burnett, born in Kentucky, age 28 years, 5 feet 10 inches tall, light hair, light eyes, a farmer.  Signed by mark (X).

             J.E. Hoskins, born in Arkansas, age 41, 5 feet 11 inches tall, dark hair and light eyes, a farmer.

             Luther A. Sullivan, born in Alabama, age 45, 5 feet 8 ½ inches tall, amber hair and blue eyes. Occupation – physician. Signed as S.A. Sullivan.

             Hartley Malpass, born in Georgia, age 48, 5 feet 6 inches tall, grey hair and light blue eyes.  Occupation – a broken planter and signed H. Malpass.

             John H. Freeman, born in Virginia, 56 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall, light hair, blue eyes, a farmer.

             Julius C. Shopman, born in Kentucky, age 40 years, 5 feet 11 ½ inches tall, light hair, dark eyes, and a farmer.

             Clinton C. Smith, born in Tennessee, age 52 years, 5 feet 8 inches tall, light hair and blue eyes, a farmer.

             Chas. H. Gifford, born in Connecticut, age 32, 5 feet 8 inches, black hair and dark eyes, a farmer.

             John A. Farmer, born in Kentucky, age 35 years, 5 feet 6 inches tall, black hair and black eyes, a farmer.

             David T. Cheatham, born in Arkansas, age 28, 5 feet 11 inches tall, black hair and blue eyes, a carpenter.

             William A. Erwin, born in Mississippi, age 26 years, 5 feet 8 ½ inches tall, light hair, blue eyes, a lawyer.

             John S. Hunt, born in Tennessee, age 33 years, 6 feet 1 inch tall, light hair and blue eyes, a farmer.

             James J. Howell, born in Tennessee, age 39 years, 5 feet and 8 inches tall, light hair and eyes, a farmer.

             Wm. E. O’Neal, born in Maryland, age 35 years, 5 feet 8 inches tall, black hair, dark eyes, a carpenter.

             George W. Myers, born in Tennessee, age 45 years, 5 feet 8 inches tall, dark hair and dark eyes, a farmer.

             Lave Williams, born in Rhode Island, age 74 years, 5 feet 11 inches tall, dark hair and light eyes, a farmer.

             H.S. Waddell, born in Louisiana, age 32 years, 6 feet tall, dark hair and light eyes, a farmer.  He signed as H.S. Waddell.

             Samuel Williams, born in New York, age 41 years, 5 feet 7 inches tall, dark hair and blue eyes, a farmer.  Signed S. Williams.

             Churchill H. Blackburn, born in Kentucky, age 37 years, 5 feet 8 inches tall, grey hair, blue eyes, occupation – planter.  (His signature has been blotted out by the deterioration of the document.)

             Samuel A. Richard, born in Maryland, age 56, 5 feet 11 ½ inches tall, grey hair, a farmer.  Signed L.A. Richards.

             D.A. Veer, born in Virginia, age 32 years, 5 feet 8 inches tall, black hair, dark eyes, a physician by occupation.

             John L. Boatright, born in Missouri, 36 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall, dark hair and dark eyes, a farmer.

             Leonard C.D. Westman, born in Tennessee, age 24 years, 5 feet 11 inches tall, dark hair, dark eyes, a farmer.

             Ruben P. Williams, born in Ohio, 38 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall, dark hair and blue eyes, a farmer.

             W. Warren Johnson, born in Kentucky, 38 years of age, 5 feet 8 ½ inches tall, light hair, blue eyes, a merchant.  (His signature to the document has been obliterated by age.)

             (The above oath taken 15th August 1865, before Thomas Priestly, Captain and Provost Marshall at __________ District of Kentucky, at Lexington, Kentucky.  Attest: James Murphy Clerk.)

             John C. Taylor, born in Tennessee, 62 years of age 5 feet 11 inches tall, grey hair, light eyes, a farmer.

             James W. Taylor, born in Missouri, age 22 years, 5 feet and 10 ½ inches tall, light hair and blue eyes, a farmer.

             George Temply, born in Kentucky, age 53, 5 feet 8 inches tall, light hair and eyes.  Occupation – hotel keeper.

             Thomas J. Baromb, born in Louisiana, 5 feet 11 ¼ inches tall, light hair and blue eyes, a farmer.

             Wm. Brodburne, age 48 years, 5 feet 11 inches tall, light hair, blue eyes, a farmer.

             S. Hockenberry, age 56, 6 feet 2 inches tall, grey hair and light blue eyes, a farmer.

             Able Knowlton ----

             (This oath was taken on 25th of August 1865, before Thomas Jabel, Provost Marshall of Helena, Arkansas. Recorded 31st Oct. 1865.  Attest, James Murphy, Clerk and Recorder.)

             Knox Knowlton – this oath same day before name officer.  Attest: James Murphy, Clerk.

             T. Bell and N.C. Ogle – these two oaths were taken on August 25, 1865 before Thomas J. Abel, Provost Marshall at Helena, Arkansas.  Attest: James Murphy, Clerk.)

A.     Cohn, born in Prussia age 49, 5 feet 6 inches tall, black hair and hazel eyes.  Occupation – merchant.

Bryan W. Thomas, born in South Carolina, age 70 years, 5 feet 10 inches tall, grey hair and dark eyes, a farmer.

James R. Clark, born in Mississippi, age 38 years, 5 feet 11 inches tall, dark hair and light eyes, a farmer.

Job Hyde, born in England, age 26 years, light hair and light eyes, a mechanic.

Mrs. E.A. Massey, born in Arkansas, age 25 years, 5 feet 5 inches tall, dark hair, blue eyes, a lady.

John P. Moore, born in Arkansas, age 36 years, 5 feet 10 inches tall, dark hair and light eyes, a farmer.

Alfred Burnett, born in Kentucky, age 20 years, light hair and light eyes, and a farmer.  (Signed oath by X.)

James Walden, born in Tennessee, age 56 years, 5 feet 11 inches tall, grey hair, light blue eyes, a farmer.

Ephram Fansler, born in Virginia, age 51 years, 5 feet and 10 ½ inches tall, light hair and light brown eyes, a farmer.

Alfred Edington, born in Tennessee, age 42 years, 6 feet tall, sandy hair and light blue eyes, a farmer.

George Hibbard, born in Missouri, age 31 years, 5 feet 6 inches tall, light hair, blue eyes, a farmer.

Robert H. Taylor, born in Georgia, age 29, 5 feet 11 inches tall, light hair and blue eyes, a farmer.

Thomas F. Deadman, born in Alabama, age 28 years, 5 feet 6 inches tall, light hair and blue eyes, a farmer.

Abner C. Wellborn, born in Alabama, 38 years old, 6 feet 1 inch tall, with light hair, blue eyes, a farmer.

             Enoch (K) Nolan, born in Ireland, age 31, 5 feet 9 inches in height, dark hair and hazel eyes.  Occupation – merchant.  Oath on December 29, 1865.

January 1, 1886, Jno. W. Brooks, born in Georgia, age 48 years, 5 feet 10 inches tall, light hair, blue eyes, mechanic.

January 12, 1886, John B. Singleton, born in Missouri, age 25 years, 6 feet tall, light hair, blue eyes, a clerk.

             Wm. Varden, born in Arkansas, age 34 years, 5 feet 10 inches tall black hair, dark eyes, a farmer.  Oath taken January 27, 1866.

             John Fanight or Tanight, born in Kentucky, age 65, 5 feet 5 inches tall, grey hair and light eyes, a farmer.  Oath taken on February 3, 1866.

             William Gardner, born in Rhode Island, age 58, 5 feet 9 ½ inches tall, black hair and dark eyes, a farmer.  Oath taken on February 16, 1886.

             Benjamin B. Britt, born in Tennessee, age 31 years, 6 feet tall, light hair and light eyes.  Occupation – gentleman.  Oath taken on February 17, 1886.  (Signed name in Old English script.)

             Cyrus L. Kline, born in Pennsylvania, 53 years old, 5 feet 8 ½ inches tall, dark hair and blue eyes.  Occupation – physician.  Oath taken on February 28, 1866.

             Thomas D. King, born in North Carolina, age 56, 6 feet tall, black hair, blue eyes.  Occupation – physician.  Oath taken on February 28, 1886.

             Rufus S. Mixter, born in Massachusetts, age 73 years, 5 feet 8 inches tall, dark hair, light eyes, and a farmer.  Served as coroner from 1838 to 1840.  Oath taken March 7, 1886.

             Miles G. Summitt, born in Kentucky, age 28 years, 5 feet 11 inches tall, dark hair and dark eyes, a farmer.  Oath taken on April 5, 1866.

             Elijah M. Price, born in North Carolina, age 31, 5 feet and 11 inches tall black hair and dark eyes, and a farmer.  Oath taken on April 30, 1866.

             Jno. M. Keefe, born in Ireland, age 25 years, 5 feet 10 ½ inches tall, dark hair and blue eyes.  Occupation – clerk.  Oath taken on May 11, 1866.

             James T. Porter, born in Kentucky, age 36, 6 feet tall, dark hair, blue eyes.  Occupation – cotton planter.  Oath taken on July 12, 1886.