Is this soldier my ancestor? (Northern Alabama)

digne

Private
Joined
Jun 27, 2020
I'm trying to confirm if this Confederate solider was my ancestor.

The soldier:
W.T. Beard, 7th Regiment, Alabama Infantry, Co. D, Private
The 7th Alabama was "disbanded prior to the Battle of Shiloh, as the time of service of most of the companies expired in April, 1862." (source). I can find no record of what this soldier did next.

My ancestor:
William Thomas Beard
BIRTH ABT 1835; Location: ?, ?, Alabama
DEATH ABT. 1865
Wife: Marina E. Combs (Marriage Date: 28 Mar 1858; Location: ?, Madison county, Alabama)
He lived in Madison county, Alabama (near Huntsville), in both the 1850 and 1860 census.

This is one of the poorest branches in my tree. Most all of them were illiterate, so there aren't many records. There is a family story about William being killed by bushwhackers after Civil War, probably because of hard feeling regarding the war. William's step-father-in-law was killed by bushwhackers in an apparently separate incident. That incident is more clearly documented, on his tombstone and other places (when the federal soldiers came through and learned he was a loyal union man, they apparently paid for his tombstone). But I can find anything to support William's story. I have figured out what church they went to. And there is a book, that was made by some relatives that I'd love to be able to find, but apparently it was not circulated widely.

Did William initially enlist and become disillusioned? The date of death is based only on family stories. But it seems likely he died during the war.
 

Bob Velke

Corporal
Official Vendor
Joined
Jan 25, 2014
On Fold3, you were looking at:

Civil War Service Index (CMSR) - Confederate - Alabama

when what you want is:

Civil War Service Records (CMSR) - Confederate - Alabama.

His service records (such as it exists - 6 pages) is HERE. A letter therein says that he was 25 years old in 1861, born in Marshall County, and that he was an attorney at law. The 1860 census that you pointed to says that he was a farmer so I'm guessing that it is not your guy.
 
Last edited:

lupaglupa

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Location
Upstate New York
I have found the best thing to do when I suspect someone might be a family member is to research that person fully - if there is good evidence about them as an individual then I can quickly tell if they are who I hope they are. In this case, the W T Beard you found has a pretty good list of records that show him to be another man, albeit one with the same exact name.

I see why you're frustrated though - I found few records about your William.
 

digne

Private
Joined
Jun 27, 2020
On Fold3, you were looking at:

Civil War Service Index (CMSR) - Confederate - Alabama

when what you want is:

Civil War Service Records (CMSR) - Confederate - Alabama.

His service records (such as it exists - 6 pages) is HERE. A letter therein says that he was 25 years old in 1861, born in Marshall County, and that he was an attorney at law. The 1860 census that you pointed to says that he was a farmer so I'm guessing that it is not your guy.
THANK YOU! That's the issue. I was so confused as to why I couldn't find the full CMSR and I was worried since the regiment only lasted a year that there was nothing else.

I have found the best thing to do when I suspect someone might be a family member is to research that person fully - if there is good evidence about them as an individual then I can quickly tell if they are who I hope they are. In this case, the W T Beard you found has a pretty good list of records that show him to be another man, albeit one with the same exact name.

I see why you're frustrated though - I found few records about your William.
Yes, I've found very little about him. Nothing in the local paper. By 1870 his widow remarried. And that census is very telling. Lots of illiteracy in the neighborhood and in their household (the new husband, and the kids can't read). None of the neighboring families reported their children attending school in the past year, so there probably wasn't a school near enough to attend.
 

lupaglupa

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Location
Upstate New York
Yes, I've found very little about him. Nothing in the local paper. By 1870 his widow remarried. And that census is very telling. Lots of illiteracy in the neighborhood and in their household (the new husband, and the kids can't read). None of the neighboring families reported their children attending school in the past year, so there probably wasn't a school near enough to attend.
I have well-to-do ancestors and others who were barely making it. The difference in records is dramatic. People with money leave a lot more traces behind them.
 

digne

Private
Joined
Jun 27, 2020
I have well-to-do ancestors and others who were barely making it. The difference in records is dramatic. People with money leave a lot more traces behind them.
Very true!

I don't even know the burial site. I should make another attempt to find probate records. The 1860 census says William owned $2,000 in real estate, which would imply that there should have been a probate. I have no idea what church they attended and I haven't gone in-depth on this county enough to get the full range of what might be available. So those would be the logical next steps. Overall, I've just not had as much luck with Alabama records (I have ancestry all over the state). My ancestors just didn't make the newspapers there as often as other states. That may just be additional confirmation of their poverty.
 

lupaglupa

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Location
Upstate New York
Another issue is the hit the newspaper industry took in the South during and after the War. There are a lot fewer sources from that times as the disruption of the War cut the number of papers and how much information they could write.

As to probate, there may not be anything, despite there being an amount of property to pass on. I've failed to find records for much of my family. I think when the passage of assets was clear and the amounts were relatively small they just let it go without a lot of official action.
 

DaveBrt

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
Very true!

I don't even know the burial site. I should make another attempt to find probate records. The 1860 census says William owned $2,000 in real estate, which would imply that there should have been a probate. I have no idea what church they attended and I haven't gone in-depth on this county enough to get the full range of what might be available. So those would be the logical next steps. Overall, I've just not had as much luck with Alabama records (I have ancestry all over the state). My ancestors just didn't make the newspapers there as often as other states. That may just be additional confirmation of their poverty.
Since he had land, you may fine something of value in the land title records. Unfortunately, they are rarely on line, but its worth the effort if the local genealogy group (in the library?) is willing to look for you.
 

digne

Private
Joined
Jun 27, 2020
Another issue is the hit the newspaper industry took in the South during and after the War. There are a lot fewer sources from that times as the disruption of the War cut the number of papers and how much information they could write.

As to probate, there may not be anything, despite there being an amount of property to pass on. I've failed to find records for much of my family. I think when the passage of assets was clear and the amounts were relatively small they just let it go without a lot of official action.
I should clarify that I meant newspapers into the 1880s and up through about 1900. Overall there's just a lot less about my Alabama relatives.

I've had more luck with my Louisiana relatives. Not a lot in the 1860s (but that's true on all branches of my family), but once you get into the 1880s and later they're all over the paper. I don't know if the part of Louisiana where they lived was less affected by the way (they lived in Opelousa during the war, and moved to Crawley by the 1880s — Opelousa fell in 1863). Or if they were just better off financially and had better status. Maybe both? I still haven't found civil war soldiers on this line, but that's another topic.
 

lupaglupa

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Location
Upstate New York
I'm really interested in the family story coming down that he was killed during the War for (possibly) having pro-Union sentiments. Those family story usually have a basis in truth to them, though often the details change in the re-telling. Have you looked at any information on the Union regiments from north Alabama?
 

DaveBrt

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
I'm really interested in the family story coming down that he was killed during the War for (possibly) having pro-Union sentiments. Those family story usually have a basis in truth to them, though often the details change in the re-telling. Have you looked at any information on the Union regiments from north Alabama?
Agreed -- have you looked in the US records?
 

digne

Private
Joined
Jun 27, 2020
Good thinking DaveBrt!
I'm really interested in the family story coming down that he was killed during the War for (possibly) having pro-Union sentiments. Those family story usually have a basis in truth to them, though often the details change in the re-telling. Have you looked at any information on the Union regiments from north Alabama?
I have, but not closely. I should look again. This is Northern Alabama which was more pro-Union than other portions of the state. It is also where the Union Alabama regiments came from.

There are a lot of oral family stories about the incident. Some have been recorded. The story of the father-in-law, Shadrack Golden, getting killed changes on every telling. "Old Huntsville" a new defunct website had this version of the father-in-law's demise:
"The demise of one scalaway[sic], Shed Golden, who lived at near by Hurricane Creek is well documented. Shed was one who reported to the Yankees when confederate soldiers came to visit their families.W e have no way of knowing if Shed reported Edom Vasser. But we do know that Shed's treachery was discovered and the bushwhackers shot him and threw him in a sinkhole. The buzzards soon found him and so did the yankees. They made everyone in the cove attend the funeral at gunpoint. They also made them erect a big tombatone[sic] and inscribed it with words proclaiming Shed as a fine patriot and Union man. The Tombstone stands to this day in Bragg Cemetery and is the tallest tombstone in the cemetery."
another descendant wrote that Shed:
"and a neighbor was killing hogs at what is now called Campbell Springs, near New Market, Al. The neighbors excaped[sic] but Shadrick was taken to be killed ( Rebels in many sections did more harm than Union Soldiers) As he was being taken to his death he begged to go home for tabacco. While there he managed to toss his small amount of money behind the fire's back log so his family could get it later, He was taken to Bailes Hill and shot. In part a 1972 letter from New Market continues , The Goldens were very good civil people, believed in the constitution of the United States and what it stands for. When Union Forces learned of the murder, they came in and forced the Rebels to give Shadrick Golden a decent funeral. He is buried at Bragg Cem, New Market, Al. His tombsone[sic] reads: In memory of Shadrick Golden, born July 4, 1808, in the year of our lord. On the 13 of January, 1865, he was taken off and murdered for maintaining the Union and Constitution of the United States."

I have no details about William's death beyond some vague details from a distant cousin.

Martha, one of William's daughters is said to be the source of some of the information about her father's death. But she would have been only about 6 or 7 when her father died — so may not be the most informed source. She is said to recall, "the guerrilla-type men that lived in the mountains. They called them 'bushwhacker' would sweep down and raid the people's home taking what ever they could get their hands on." Families "would hide their food beneath the feather mattresses" so the bushwhackers wouldn't get it. This distant cousin of mine claims that Martha, her great-grandmother, "said the bushwhacker came into [Shed's] house and dragged him out side and strung him up a tree and hung him." Martha "couldn't get it out of her mind." This cousin speculates that Martha's version of the event may be the memory of her father's death and not Shed's.

But the lack of contemporary records, does point to a certain level of unreliability. Have things been confused together? What details were missed by the children? Did William avoid confederate conscription?...
 

lupaglupa

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Location
Upstate New York
Wow. Sounds like the bad blood has lingered to the modern day <sigh>. My people are from northeast Mississippi, not too far from this area. They had a long period where the Yankees were technically in control but only ventured out from their stockades in daylight, and then only in well-armed groups. Meanwhile when they weren't there the land was open for raiders of every description - Confederates, those who called themselves Confederates, and those who just took advantage of the chaos. It was a very tough time. A lot of people who originally opposed secession changed their minds as the War dragged on. But there were still loyalists to the Union and during Reconstruction they were often shunned or worse.

In the 1860 Census Martha is 9 months old. If her father was killed during the War she would have been at most 6. But she would have heard the stories of what happened all her life. I'm betting that what she tells of her father's death is more true than not. It may be that he was attacked after the War.
 

digne

Private
Joined
Jun 27, 2020
Wow. Sounds like the bad blood has lingered to the modern day <sigh>. My people are from northeast Mississippi, not too far from this area. They had a long period where the Yankees were technically in control but only ventured out from their stockades in daylight, and then only in well-armed groups. Meanwhile when they weren't there the land was open for raiders of every description - Confederates, those who called themselves Confederates, and those who just took advantage of the chaos. It was a very tough time. A lot of people who originally opposed secession changed their minds as the War dragged on. But there were still loyalists to the Union and during Reconstruction they were often shunned or worse.

In the 1860 Census Martha is 9 months old. If her father was killed during the War she would have been at most 6. But she would have heard the stories of what happened all her life. I'm betting that what she tells of her father's death is more true than not. It may be that he was attacked after the War.
I remember reading how for the Union, taking control of an area, such as Corinth in 1862, was one thing. It was quite another thing to keep control of it! It must have been a scary time for everyone. Let alone add in people trying to personally benefit from all the chaos. From what I've read about the bushwhackers they were bands of raiders made up of people loyal to one side or the other — or no side at all —depending on the group.

The South is such a mix of things. On this branch of my family are:
  • The Hills, the true believers in the Confederacy, joined up in 1861
  • The Moores, one guy who joined in 1863 — He was part of a brigade that, in the words of Department of the Gulf Commander Major-General Dabney, was comprised primarily of "... men who have entered the army very reluctantly."
  • The Beards, the likely Union loyalists
It's amazing to me that by 1900 they were all related by marriage.
My ancestor was Martha's sister Idella, who was born in 1861.
 

farrargirl

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 9, 2017
Location
Baldwin County, on the Alabama Gulf Coast
Good thinking DaveBrt!

I have, but not closely. I should look again. This is Northern Alabama which was more pro-Union than other portions of the state. It is also where the Union Alabama regiments came from.

There are a lot of oral family stories about the incident. Some have been recorded. The story of the father-in-law, Shadrack Golden, getting killed changes on every telling. "Old Huntsville" a new defunct website had this version of the father-in-law's demise:

another descendant wrote that Shed:


I have no details about William's death beyond some vague details from a distant cousin.

Martha, one of William's daughters is said to be the source of some of the information about her father's death. But she would have been only about 6 or 7 when her father died — so may not be the most informed source. She is said to recall, "the guerrilla-type men that lived in the mountains. They called them 'bushwhacker' would sweep down and raid the people's home taking what ever they could get their hands on." Families "would hide their food beneath the feather mattresses" so the bushwhackers wouldn't get it. This distant cousin of mine claims that Martha, her great-grandmother, "said the bushwhacker came into [Shed's] house and dragged him out side and strung him up a tree and hung him." Martha "couldn't get it out of her mind." This cousin speculates that Martha's version of the event may be the memory of her father's death and not Shed's.

But the lack of contemporary records, does point to a certain level of unreliability. Have things been confused together? What details were missed by the children? Did William avoid confederate conscription?...
Hi....
Am posting a few bits I learned from the related Cagle families on public Ancestry trees, plus verifying your GG uncle’s death while a POW at Camp Douglas...
The last item is just a thought. If no one can account at all, for Wm.Thomas’ death, maybe a thought...
4192D173-7448-4D89-A141-7EBD2FB835F1.jpeg

Sorry for the lack of resolution. You can find your GG uncle in the Al. 27th Regiment, Co. F, the New Market Rifles. Also, last image is the 1870 census of inmates in the Huntsville jail. Thomas Beard was separated by marker, as he was the only white inmate....
These may not be of much help, but wanted to try 👍🏻👍🏻
 
Joined
Apr 24, 2019
Location
Northwest of Big Shanty
Golden. Yep, we're related. Tons of them went into Georgia and Alabama well before and during that time period. Progenitor John Golding, B. Dunston, Lincolnshire, 1635. D 1685 Caroline, VA. The Civil War broke my branch of that family in half.
 
Last edited:

digne

Private
Joined
Jun 27, 2020
Hi....
Am posting a few bits I learned from the related Cagle families on public Ancestry trees, plus verifying your GG uncle’s death while a POW at Camp Douglas...
The last item is just a thought. If no one can account at all, for Wm.Thomas’ death, maybe a thought...View attachment 421222
Sorry for the lack of resolution. You can find your GG uncle in the Al. 27th Regiment, Co. F, the New Market Rifles. Also, last image is the 1870 census of inmates in the Huntsville jail. Thomas Beard was separated by marker, as he was the only white inmate....
These may not be of much help, but wanted to try 👍🏻👍🏻
That photo is definitely Martha, I've seen it before. She married a Cagle. The Cagles intermarried with the Hills and the Moore in several places.
The rest is possible. I'd need to verify each bit piece by piece. That's the difficulties of common names, illiterate ancestors and places that lost records. I'm most skeptical of the Jail record, but if there's one thing I've learned, it's best to get all the facts before making a conclusion. Just because something doesn't fit with your knowledge doesn't mean it's not true. But these are the issues:
  • I tend to believe the oral story, but I always like to cross all my Ts and dot my Is. And in this case I need to rule out other possibilities to help prove the oral story.
  • The age of the guy in jail is right (35), but he is going by Thomas and not William.
  • I found another Thomas Beard in Huntsville who is also 35 in the 1870 census. I wonder if this is the guy in jail and he was enumerated twice? Or it could just be a super common name?
  • Even if it isn't him there's a strong chance that it's a relative, the Beards had been in the area for awhile. So I should see if he fits someone where else in my tree.
  • William's wife appears to have remarried in 1869 (according to the 1900 census), but the 1870 census doesn't list marital status, and I haven't found a wedding record etc... to prove it. She could have been living with a man she wasn't married to, or she could have divorced William.
Golden. Yep, we're related. Tons of them went into Georgia and Alabama well before and during that time period. Progenitor John Golding, B. Dunston, Lincolnshire, 1635. D 1685 Caroline, VA. The Civil War boke my branch of that family in half.
Ooo! You're related to just the Goldens, or the Beards too? My only connection to the Golden is a Step relation. Shad Golden would be my step-5th-great-grandfather.
 
Top