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The Southern Claims Commission

from Southern Loyalists in the Civil War: The Southern Claims Commission by Gary B. Mills,

Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1994

            Not everyone who lived within the boundaries of the Confederate States of America was in favor of secession. Throughout the Civil War there were Southerners who supported the Union. These supporters usually fell into one of three categories: those who kept their views to themselves, those who openly supported the Union, and those who fled the South leaving family and property behind. Some religious groups, such as the Quakers, remained neutral during the conflict due to their pacifist beliefs. However, when the Union troops arrived in the South everyone suffered.

            On March 3, 1871, Congress created a way for pro-Union Southerners to request reimbursement for some of their losses. The Southern Claims Commission established guidelines by which they would accept claims:

            1. the applicant must hold American citizenship

            2. the applicant must reside in a state that seceded

            3. the applicant could document loyalty to the federal government throughout the conflict

            4. the applicant suffered official confiscation of goods.

The three-man Commission reviewed the application and evidence, accepted additional testimony, and determined the loyalty of the claimant and recommended an amount for reimbursement. The Commission filed a report at the start of each congressional session with the House of Representatives who had final approval for each claim. If the representatives approved the claim they then determined the amount to be reimbursed.

            The Commission received approximately 22,298 claims from individuals, family groups, churches, and businesses for $60,258,150. Between 1871 and March 1880, the date the Commission finally closed, only 7,092 (approximately one-third) of the claimants received any reimbursement. The approved claims totaled $4,636,929.69 and nearly all applicants received an amount greatly reduced from their initial request.

            Basically each case file, now maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC, includes the following:

            1. the claim petition and supporting papers

            2. the deposition of relevant witnesses (neighbors, ex-slaves, relatives, etc.)

            3. comments by the agent assigned to investigate the claim

4. a Treasury Department report regarding its search of captured Confederate records for evidence of Union disloyalty or Southern sympathy on the part of the claimant

            5. the final report and recommendation by the Commission

Not all case files still exist. Additional resources within the National Archives may help reconstruct some claims as well as provide supplemental information. Some of the resources include

            1. personal accounts of how the loss occurred and associated events

            2. military records for claimants or male relatives

            3. family letters and/or Bible records

            4. personal descriptions

            5. property inventories

            6. travelogs

            7. wills and probate records

Witness depositions show answers to over 130 questions including relationship to the claimant, place(s) of residence during the war, military service, and knowledge of the claimant's wartime activities and alleged losses. It is recommended that researchers review all the files from a particular community due to the extensive information they contain.

Johnston County claimants listed in Southern Loyalist in the Civil War: The Southern Claims Commission, a directory of case files created by the U. S. Commissioner of Claims, 1871-1880

 

Claimant

Commission No.

Office No.

Report No.

Year

Status

Fiche #

Adams, Quinton

13193

NA

NA

NA

B

4275

Altman, Alfred

4225

490

2

1872

D

251

Banks, William G.

(W. Gaston)

15706

NA

NA

NA

B

4299

Barber, Simeon

4457

NA

NA

NA

B

4300

Beasley, Fredrick M. C.

5302

501

2

1872

D

255

Coats, John R.

19949

NA

NA

NA

B

4373

Durham, Harry

17277

558

4

1874

D

1045

Eason, John

4226

NA

NA

NA

B

4418

Eldridge, Abigail

4227

NA

8

1878

A

*

Eldridge, Elizabeth

4229

529

2

1872

D

263

Eldridge, John

4228

530

2

1872

D

263

Eldridge, Susannah

4230

NA

NA

NA

B

4422

Gulley, John G.

17647

771

3

1873

D

780

Gully, Needham G.

9162

772

3

1873

D

780

Hay, James

1930

NA

2

1872

A

*

Hinnant, George W.

8322

578

4

1874

D

1253

Holland, Exum

16581

NA

8

1878

A

*

Hood, John C., Sr.

5303

562

2

1872

D

277

Jernigan, William

7630

NA

NA

NA

B

4531

Knox, Penelope

140

532

7

1887

D

2507

Laurence, T. R. ?

19948

NA

NA

NA

B

4565

Lee, John, 1st

5305

583

2

1872

D

284

Lee, Thomas

5304

584

2

1872

D

284

Morgan, Thomas

504

NA

7

1877

A

*

Parish, Mordecai

5922

NA

7

1877

A

*

Peacock, Nancy

5306

606

2

1872

D

294

Pierce, Arthur

14748

860

3

1873

D

823

Rains, Henry

22024

NA

4

1874

A

*

Shaw, Francis

9165

878

3

1873

D

833

Snipes, Bridgers

12583

892

3

1873

D

840

Snipes, David

12584

893

3

1873

D

840

Stephenson, Alfred

4658

NA

NA

NA

B

4746

Wells, Isaac

2328

NA

5

1875

A

*

Williams, Bryant

11894

936

3

1873

D

858

Worley, Levi

11207

NA

3

1873

A

*

Status Codes:  *A—Allowed Claim (wholly or partly)

                        If allowed, 1) provided full index citation to: Civil Reference Branch (NNRC), National Archive, 8th & Pennsylvania, NW, Washington, DC 20408. 2) If the case file is missing it may have been reviewed under the 1883 Bowman Act or the 1887 Tucker Act.  To check, Request congressional case number from: U.S. Court of Claims, Index Section, 717 Madison Place, NW, Washington, DC 20005.  If a number is found provide this information to: Suitland Reference Branch (NNRR), National Archives, 8th & Pennsylvania, NW, Washington, DC 20409. 3) If the missing case file did not appear in the Court of Claims Records and if a notation was found indicating a referral to the War Claims Committee, provide all information to: Center of Legislative Archives, National Archives, 8th and Pennsylvania, NW, Washington, DC 20408

            B—Barred Claim   D—Disallowed Claim   Dm—Dismissed Claim

            Individual fiche can be purchased.  Disallowed claims are arranged according to “office number” and appear as fiche 1-4272.  Barred claims are arranged in alphabetical order on fiche 4273-4829.  If appealed, the case file will be removed and a filmed note with identify the appeals venue.