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Kimberly Powell

Dishing on the Neighbors: Records of the Southern Claims Commission

By October 2, 2012

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One of my Beaufort County, South Carolina, ancestors, Samuel R. Ihly, a self-proclaimed Southern loyalist during the U.S. Civil War, made claim to the U.S. Southern Claims Commission for reparations of $9,228 for "horses, cattle, hogs, sheep, poultry, wagons, produce, and provisions" supplied in support of the Union Army.1 His SCC case file, however, is disappointingly brief - basically just a statement that his claim was denied because he appeared on the muster rolls of Company D of the 2nd Regiment of South Carolina State Troops for a 6-month period from 1 August 1863 through 31 January 1864.2 The files of some of his neighbors, however, provide insight into some of my Samuel's missing story - with neighborhood interviews dishing dirt on both the "hot Rebels" and Union supporters, conscription laws, and the effects of the march of Sherman's Army through the community of Pocotaligo in late January/early February 1865.

Daily Life in a Rural Farming Community
The 1860 and 1870 U.S. census agricultural schedules paint an enlightening picture of farming life in the Pocotaligo community, both before and after the Civil War. Samuel R. Ihly owned one of the larger farms in the community prior to the war, with 475 improved acres, and 1398 unimproved acres valued at about $10,000. His farm, like most in the area, produced mostly what was needed to feed and support his livestock and family -- with crops including Indian corn, sweet potatoes, peas and beans, and cotton, supplemented by bacon, milk, and lard from his cows and pigs.3 In 1870, following the end of the Civil War, he owned a farm of just 35 acres, with $225 annual production. In contrast, neighbor Thomas McTeer estimated his farm production in 1870 at almost $50,000, on 300 improved acres and 2800 unimproved acres, fairly comparable to what he owned prior to the war (400 improved, 3100 unimproved acres, valued at $17,500).4

Testimony from the files of the Southern Claims Commission, take the information contained in the agricultural schedules to a new level, with details on not only what crops were grown in the community, but how and why they were raised, stored, and used. As the claimants were required to support their ownership and loss of crops and livestock, examples are found in almost every file, such as the following excerpts from the testimony of Rebecca Smith, a free woman of color living in the Pocotaligo district of Beaufort County:

"We killed 16 pen fattened Hogs for Bacon that season and had all the meat in the smoke house, some was hanging up and some was in pickle. We had used none of this meat for we had lived off the fifth quarter. Those would weigh on average 150 lbs and would make about 100 lbs of smoked Bacon. They carried off all - left us not a piece. They certainly got over 1500 lbs...."

"We planted Peas in most of our corn and made a good crop. The Peas were partly thrashed and partly in the hull. We had a little house full of Peas and I think they got 20 Bushels if not more. They left us none...."

"We had 4 Banks of Potatoes, but had been using out of one. The Banks held about 15 Bushels each...."

"We had 15 Turkeys, 5 geese, 12 Guinea Fowl, and about 30 to 40 common Fowls. They took every one. We also had 12 Ducks which the Soldiers took...."

"We save the Lard from all the Hogs. It was mostly in Jars - 2 five Gallon Jars and 2 smaller ones and some in other vessels. The Hogs made about 10 lbs on average and I am certain we had 150 lbs. We had not used of this Lard, having plenty of fresh fat...."5

Dishing on the Neighbors
While the information in his own file is sparse, Samuel R. Ihly is identified in a number of other claim files as a neighbor known to support the Union cause. Other Southern loyalists from the neighborhood are named as well. In addition, since people often chose their closest neighbors to provide testimony on their behalf, and each of these neighbors identified where they lived, particularly in relation to the claimant, a picture of the neighborhood begins to develop.

Joseph Rozier, age 65, residing near Nix Road, Beaufort Co. (lived there 37 years), in support of the claim of Catharine R. Belton, answered the following question "Who were the known and prominent Union people of the neighborhood during the war, and do you know that such persons could testify to the claimant's loyalty?" as follows:

"Nearly all the poor and working men about here were for the Union. James T. Dowling, Abner Ginn, Thomas M. Smith, Wm. Long, Wm. Airs, J. M. Lawton, although a slaveholder was a Union Man, Michael Deloach, Edward Nix, Michael Mixon, Nath Crapse [Nathaniel Cropse]....The neighbors regarded her as for the Union, although none dared to speak much of it for fear of being taken up and maltreated."

Catharine herself also identified several of the same men: "Joseph Rozier, James T. Dowling, Abner Ginn, William Long, Wm Airs and some others."

The testimony of James T. Dowling, age 60, residing near Nix Road, Beaufort Co., who identified himself as living within "2 or 300 yards of her [Catharine Belton]" adds yet a few more names to the growing list:

"Having only moved here in the fall 1864, I do not know how the people stood at the commencement of the war. The people of the neighbourhood were cursing the Confederates. They all said that they would rather see the Yankees would come and put an end to the war. I mean the poor white working people of this neighbourhood. The rich slaveholders were mostly all hot Rebels and the working people generally hated them. I can name Joseph Rozier, Wm. Long, Nath. Crapse [Cropse], Thomas M. Smith, Jacob C. Deloach, Samuel Ihly, the latter two I met in camp."6

Daniel H. Ellis, a Colonel in the 11th South Carolina Infantry Regiment, also identified Samuel Ihly as a Union supporter in his testimony to support the claim of neighbor, Emeline Condon:

"Samuel R. Ihly was about the only one around me except Mrs. Condon and her daughter."7

Read Every Page
If you are searching these records online, it is important to read through the files of all neighbors, not just those which turn up your name of interest in the search results. There are hundreds of names throughout these files on Fold3 which have not yet been indexed, in addition to those which are mis-identified. For example, William R. Tuten, includes some interesting insight into Samuel R. Ihly within his own mostly un-indexed testimony when asked "were there any Union people in this neighborhood?":

"I think some. I think old Sam Ihly was one. He expressed himself most freely of any man I heard talk."

The testimony of R. B. Avery, the agent who examined William R. Tuten, also provides some very interesting insight into how difficult it must have been to be a Union supporter within this neighborhood:

"This claimant was the first one of the batch of "Sand Hillers" examined by me. He was taken unawares and told the truth about his own and neighbors' sentiments and feelings over Confederate victories and reverses. I tried to learn whether there had been any Union men ever resident of the immediate vicinity and claimant did not seem to remember any except such as himself and at times I did not record the conversation on this point. Afterward I learned there were a few here before the war, who either run for it as soon as was war inevitable, or who had their head shaved, were tarred and feathered, and driven from the country. There were three thus treated, in a few miles of Sand Hill Church. None of the claimants referred to them, nor did I learn of them until after my examination of the claimants in the Sand Hill Church vicinity. I do not know whether any of them participated in these outrages, or endorsed them. The fact that these occurred show what chance a union man, not to say "loyal man," had of remaining undisturbed in this section...."8

William J. Peeples also shared similar sentiments when asked "Were you ever charged by neighbors or soldiers with being a Union sympathizer?

"Yes sir. I was charged by the Wheeler's men. They called me a damned old Union son of a bitch. They were the only ones who talked about me that way. My brothers, Sam Ihly and Wm. M. Bostick, and Felix Tuten and Wm. R. Tuten were all Union men, but we were afraid to express our sentiments."9

Felix W. Tuten also adds to the story, leaving me to think how hard it must have been for my 4th great-grandfather, Samuel Ihly, to have expressed his loyalist sympathies in this low-country South Carolina neighborhood:

Was there one man in this entire community who was publicly known as a Union man during the war?
"I don't think there was one who was publicly known as a Union man, who did all he could against the Confederacy. I don't think there was any such a man."

Was there any man who was suspected by his secession neighbors of being a Union sympathizer?
"Sam Ihly was said to be one. He said they were wrong for seceding. That is about all he would say."

Federal agent R. B. Avery noticed during the course of this interview a number of pamphlets pasted on the walls in Felix Tuten's parlor that read "Recruits! Recruits!! Recruits!!! $11 per month, and food, clothing and quarters. Apply to G. Allen Wardlaw, So. Ca. Army Office, hotel, Gillisonville." When asked about them, Felix said that Wardlaw had employed his son to obtain recruits for him in 1860 or 1861. Agent Avery leaves no question about his low opinion of "the loyalists of South Carolina" in his followup report to the Commissioner of Claims, Washington, D.C.:

"It will be seen that claimant's parlor was used for confederate recruiting station, and retains the evidence of its use until today. Of such material are the loyalists of South Carolina, so far as my observation went, and they don't seem ashamed of it."10

Each of the names included in this testimony has led me to additional claims files (both allowed and disallowed), in which the men or their widows either made claims of their own, or testified in defense of the claims of other individuals, which has added much more to my growing neighborhood portrait.

While not directly tied to Samuel R. Ihly, I also gained a little insight into the lives of some of the slaves and free people of color living in his neighborhood. As just one of many examples, Rebecca Smith, a free-born woman of color who fathered five children with "a Northern white man named Mr. Wilcox," to whom she was not married because the laws of South Carolina would not permit it, stated:

"We free born colored people were worse off during the war than the slaves. The slaves had their masters to protect them while we had no protection whatever.....The free born colored men were all for the Union with few rare exceptions."

Her brother, Wally Smith, added:

"I was present when the property charged in this claim was taken. I had just come out of the Rebel Army. I was like the rest of the free colored people pressed to work for the Rebel Army, but ran away from them in North Carolina."11

Southern Conscription Laws
One other interesting tidbit that I ran across, is that several of the Union men from this area who filed reparations claims with the Southern Claims Commission, had their claims disallowed because their names appeared on the muster rolls of Capt. J. H. Buckner's Company D, 2nd Regiment S.C. State Troops, the same company in which Samuel Ihly served from 1 August 1863 through 31 January 1864. This company, along with others in the S.C. State Troops, was organized primarily for local defense, and required a period of six months service from 1 August 1863. Given the conscription laws in effect at the time, and the fact that this company was employed for local defense, it seems as if perhaps some of the neighborhood's Union supporters saw the State Troops as a means of escaping forced conscription and/or molestation, as is alluded to in the testimony of William Airs, Jr. in the SCC claim of his mother, Elizabeth Airs:

"She [my mother, Elizabeth Airs] was very much opposed to my going into the army and tried to prevent me from entering the service in every way she could. I knew however that the conscription Laws had passed and to avoid being forced into some regiment of the Confederate States and sent on a distant service, I volunteered into the State service, whereby I escaped being hunted up by the vigilance and conscription officers."12

Empty File! Where did the Records Go?
Beyond the Southern Claims Commission records available online, there are additional records on my research plan. The almost empty claim file for Samuel R. Ihly is likely due to his appealing the SCC decision (Claim no. 5661, Office no. 502, Report no. 5) to the U.S. Court of Claims, which means the rest of his case file should be found among the Records of the U.S. Court of Claims (NARA Record Group 123) -- and yes, this applies to some of his neighbors as well. A summary of the resolution, filed June 12, 1893, even gives me the case number:

Court of Claims. Congressional No. 4593. Samuel R. Ihly vs. The United States

"This case being a claim for supplies or stores alleged to have been taken by or furnished to the military forces of the United States for their use during the late war for the suppression of the rebellion, the court, on a preliminary inquiry, finds that upon the evidence it does not appear that Samuel R. Ihly, the person alleged to have furnished such supplies or stores, or from whom they are alleged to have been taken, was loyal to the Government of the United States throughout said war, and the case is dismissed for want of further jurisdiction. Filed June 12, 1893 by the court."13

I can't wait to read his own testimony, as well as that of his neighbors. I'm also interested to know, since so many men identified him as a Union supporter, including neighbor Richard Taylor whose claim was approved, why Samuel Ihly apparently never achieved the recognition he fought for for decades.

For those of you interested in searching for your own ancestors in Southern Claims Commission records, they are available online at Fold3.com (subscription required).


1. J.B. Holloway and Walter H. French, compilers, Consolidated Index of Claims Reported by the Commissioners of Claims to the House of Representatives from 1871 to 1880 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1892), 121.

2. Samuel R. Ihly (Beaufort Co., South Carolina) claim, no. 5661, Barred and Disallowed Case Files, Southern Claims Commission, 1871-1880; Records of the House of Representatives, Record Group (RG) 233; National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, D.C.; digital images, "Southern Claims - Barred and Disallowed," Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com : accessed 25 September 2012).

3. 1860 U.S. census, Beaufort County, South Carolina, agricultural schedule, Prince William Parish, pp. 9-10, line 4, Saml R Ihly; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 September 2012); citing microfilm series F 600204, roll 3, South Carolina Department of Archives and History (SCDAH), Columbia.

4. Ibid., pp. 9-10, line 26, Thomas McTeer. 1870 U.S. census, Beaufort County, South Carolina, agricultural schedule, Pocotaligo, Prince William Parish, pp. 7-8, line 8, S R Ihly and line 4, Thomas McTier; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 September 2012); citing SCDAH microfilm series F 600204, roll 5.

5. "Rebecca Smith recalled," undated testimony; Rebecca Smith (Beaufort Co., South Carolina) claim, no. 10078, Barred and Disallowed Case Files, Southern Claims Commission, 1871-1880; digital images, "Southern Claims - Barred and Disallowed," Fold3.com, digitized pages 19-20.

6. Catharine R. Belton (Beaufort Co., South Carolina) claim, no. 9366, Allowed Case Files, Southern Claims Commission, 1871-1880; Settled Accounts and Claims, Third Auditor; Records of the Treasury Department Accounting Officers, RG 217; NARA, Washington, D.C.; digital images, "Southern Claims Commission Approved Claims, 1871-1880," Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com : accessed 25 September 2012).

7. "Daniel H. Ellis, sworn," undated testimony; Emeline Condon (Beaufort Co., South Carolina) claim, no. 9371, Allowed Case Files, Southern Claims Commission, 1871-1880; digital images, "Southern Claims Commission Approved Claims, 1871-1880," Fold3.com, digitized page 32.

8. William R. Tuten (Beaufort Co., South Carolina) claim, no. 5676, Barred and Disallowed Case Files, Southern Claims Commission, 1871-1880; digital images, "Southern Claims - Barred and Disallowed," Fold3.com.

9. William J. Peeples (Beaufort Co., South Carolina) claim, no. 5667, Barred and Disallowed Case Files, Southern Claims Commission, 1871-1880; digital images, "Southern Claims - Barred and Disallowed," Fold3.com.

10. Felix W. Tuten (Beaufort Co., South Carolina) claim, no. 5675, Barred and Disallowed Case Files, Southern Claims Commission, 1871-1880; digital images, "Southern Claims - Barred and Disallowed," Fold3.com.

11. Rebecca Smith (Beaufort Co., South Carolina) claim, office no. 483, case no. 10078, Barred and Disallowed Case Files, Southern Claims Commission, 1871-1880; digital images, "Southern Claims - Barred and Disallowed," Fold3.com.

12. "William J. Airs, sworn," undated testimony; Elizabeth Airs (Beaufort Co., South Carolina) claim, no. 9364, Allowed Case Files, Southern Claims Commission, 1871-1880; digital images, "Southern Claims Commission Approved Claims, 1871-1880," Fold3.com, digitized page 19.

13. U.S. Congress, Cases Dismissed for Want of Further Jurisdiction, 53rd Congress, 2nd session, Mis. Doc. 24 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1895), 35.

October 16, 2012 at 10:07 am
(1) Alvie L Davidson CG says:

I love to read of the way researchers explore these SCC records and find information that exists nowhere else!

October 16, 2012 at 11:17 am
(2) Colin B. Gurney says:

It was interesting to read the note about the Confederates of Beaufort County, South Carolina. My ancestors, the LUBBOCK Family enlisted there and one went on to be the Governor of Texas.
My Brother Robert GURNEY emigrated to the United States in 1961 and he moved to live in Beaufort County about 6 years ago, not knowing the Family history. I visited him in 2008 and we had great fun trawling through Library records and visiting Atlanta, Charleston, Savannah etc. His daughter, my niece lives in Travis, Texas and she did some research there and the Family could not believe that the LUBBOCK Family came from Norwich, Norfolk, England the Home of the GURNEY Family. I love your news letters.

Regards and God Bless. Colin B Gurney

October 16, 2012 at 11:20 am
(3) ~Kimberly says:

Hi Colin,

Thank you for your kind words about my newsletters! Beaufort County is such a fun place for research, isn’t it?

October 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm
(4) ~Kimberly says:

So a very sweet friend of mine tried to pull the U.S. Court of Claims file for me at the National Archives yesterday and it came back as “Charged Out”!!! Which apparently means it is either with another researcher, or with an archivist (possibly for copying) and could be gone anywhere from 3 days to 3 months! What are the odds? If you happen to be a descendant of Samuel Ihly who requested a copy of this file after reading about it in my blog, please, please email me!

February 25, 2013 at 3:15 am
(5) Royal-Grips says:

I am truly grateful to the owner of this web site who has shared this wonderful article at at this time.

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(6) Margaret says:

Fantastic! Please keep us updated when you get to the next step with this.

March 19, 2013 at 1:33 am
(7) Yolanda says:

I read your information while holding my breath in anticipation of a new tidbit of information!

Rebecca Smith was my Great Great Great Grandmother!

I have transcribed and narrated her whole claim! I put it on CD for future generations!

It’s funny when you mentioned the “Sand Hillers” I knew exactly who you were speaking about!!!

I have been trying to figure with certainty who the Wilcox man was who fathered Rebecca’s children! The one a few of us have surmised was possibly him, was one Charles Wilcox who indeed was a merchant in Beaufort. However we have not proven it……yet!

Oh I have also partially transcribed the claim by one
Archibald Jackson….

Once again, it was a joy to come upon your site thank you!!

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