Wednesday, December 31, 2014

52 Ancestors - #16: Caroline B. Hobbs

Caroline B. Hobbs, daughter of Nathan Augustus Hobbs Sr. and Mary Elizabeth Lankford, was born in Greene County, Georgia on January 13, 1821. Caroline was the fourth child of eight—Robert L., Joel Garner, Rebecca B., Caroline B., Nathan Augustus Jr., Minor Smith, Elizabeth Fanny, and Marian Langford Hobbs. Caroline is my third great-grandmother.

Now I don’t want to spread misinformation regarding Caroline’s birth year so will state publicly that this one has me confused. The 1850 census listed her age as 26. In 1860 she was 36, 1870 she was 47, and in 1880 she was 50. The 1900 census listed her birthdate as January 1830. Her February 1901 pension application listed her birthdate as January 13, 1821 and said she had lived in Georgia for 80 years “since my birth.” And finally, her 1903 and 1904 pension applications listed her birth year as 1819. Since the 1901 pension application is the only record that listed a full date and the fact that James McWhorter, Greene County Ordinary, signed an affidavit stating that Caroline was born in 1821, I choose to go with 1821, although technically she would have been 81 years old since she was born in January and she filed the application in February. If anyone can prove otherwise, please let me know.

The 1830 Greene County census record for Nathan Hobbs shows that two “Free White Persons – Females  ages 5 through 9” lived in the home. The 1840 Greene County census record for Nathan Hobbs shows that two “Free White Persons – Females ages 15 through 19” lived in the home. I assume in both cases that this would have been Caroline and her sister Rebecca. Of course, it’s not safe to assume so again, know that I could be wrong.

Caroline married James Meriweather Lankford, son of Charles L. Lankford and Miss Moore, on December 1, 1844 in Greene County. The ceremony was performed by Jeremiah Lindsey. Together they had seven children—Mary F., James C., Emma S., Emerette R., Nathan, Laura J., and Marion Lankford. I would love to figure out who Miss Moore is.

Caroline gave birth to her first child, Mary F., on September 1, 1845 in Greene County, Georgia. Her second child, James C., was born in November 1849 in Woodville, Greene County, Georgia.

On August 14, 1850, Caroline and James lived in the 14th district of Greene County. Her parents lived three houses away. Their last name was spelled Langford vs. Lankford in this record. I’ve found that the “k” and “g” are often swapped out in the name Lankford. Their two children, Mary and James, lived with them.

Caroline’s third child, Emma S., was born in 1852 in Georgia, most likely Greene County. I believe Emma married James L. Wilson and died before 1880. She was buried at Penfield Cemetery in Penfield, Greene County, Georgia. Her fourth child, Emerette R., was born on October 1854 in Penfield. Emerette (AKA Nannie) lived with her mother her entire life. Caroline’s fifth child, Nathan, was born in 1856 in Georgia. Her sixth child, Laura J., was born in 1857. Her seventh and last child, Marion, was born in January 1859. Marion, like Emerette, lived with her mother her entire life. Emma, Nathan, Laura, and Marion were most likely born in Greene County.

I wrote this paragraph for my blog post on James M. Lankford. Because Caroline was mentioned, I will repeat it here: An 1860 slave schedule shows that James owned three slaves—a 65 year old male, a 50 year old male, and a 26 year old female. The word “Murder” is written beside the female’s name. A Southern Watchman article dated April 5, 1860 speaks of a female slave—most likely the 26 year old female listed in the 1860 slave schedule: “Three Children Drowned! We learn from the Washington Independent that a negro woman belonging to Mr. James M. Lankford, of Penfield, threw her three children into his well on Tuesday night of last week, and to make sure of their destruction she descended herself by means of the rope. She was drawn out next morning, and turned over to the authorities.” Bryant’s book How Curious a Land* devotes two and a half pages to the story of slave Becky, age 26. As the mother of three children, Becky was considered valuable to the Lankford’s. When Caroline caught Becky stealing dough, she threatened to severely punish her. The next day, Mary Lankford, daughter of James and Caroline, discovered Becky and her three children in the bottom of their well. Becky was still alive but her children had died. Local officials ruled the deaths murder and Becky was taken to jail in Greensboro. There were rumors of different versions of the event—did Becky murder her children to get back at the Lankford’s for threats made by Caroline? Or was Becky despondent over the threats, attempt suicide, and decide to take her children with her in death? James was known to drink and lie. Did he make up the story in a drunken stupor? Becky was valuable property to a slave owner so George Dawson, the lawyer hired by James, took the suicide angle. She was only tried for one death and it was never mentioned that it was her child. Becky was eventually found not guilty and returned to the Lankford household. If Becky thought her life was hard before, what must she have thought after all this!

On July 21, 1860, Caroline and James lived in Woodville, Greene County, Georgia. Their last name was spelled Lankford in this census record. All seven children lived in the home with them at this time.

On April 24, 1861, James joined the Confederate cause and enlisted in Penfield, Greene County, Georgia as a private in Company C of the Third Regiment Georgia Infantry, or the Dawson Grays, C.S.A. Caroline was left to raise the children alone when he mustered into service at Augusta, Georgia on May 3, 1861. James served until May 1865 when he was honorably discharged with his command and returned home.

On July 6, 1869, Caroline filed for and received a plot of land in Penfield under the Homestead Act, a federal law enacted to help with Reconstruction after the Civil War ended. The plot contained four acres and was bounded by lands of Robinson and Mercer University, belonging to her husband James M. Lankford. I personally don’t understand how the Homestead Act worked. Why was Caroline filing as head of household when James was still alive? Why was she given property bounded by land owned by her husband? If anyone can shed some light on this for me, please leave a comment to this blog. Caroline was required to attach a list of personal property to the application. She declared the following items:

Household and kitchen furniture          $100.00
25 hogs                                              $50.00
5 cows and yearlings                           $75.00
1 gold watch and chain                        $30.00
1 horse wagon                                    $20.00
Total                                                $275.00

The land, which could not be worth more than $2,000, was awarded on July 17, 1869. The homestead petition stated that Caroline was the head of household, consisting of herself and five children—Emma Lankford, Amerette B. Lankford, Nathan Lankford, Samuel Lankford and Maria Lankford. Caroline’s children are a mystery to me. Who is Samuel? I don’t find him listed in any other record for this family. I would consider that Samuel was Nathan’s middle name but Nathan was listed as one of her five children along with Samuel. Mary married in 1867 and James in 1868 so they were no longer in the home. And what about Laura? She would have only been 12 so why wasn’t she listed? She was with the family in 1860. I have no further information about her after that year. Most of Caroline’s children have been hard to track. Obviously, more work needs to be done on this line.

On June 21, 1870, the family lived in Penfield, Greene County, Georgia. Mary, James, and Emma have left the home and James is farming. They lived at the corner of Watson Spring Road. Caroline was “keeping house.”

By June 10, 1880, Caroline and her family have moved to Falling Creek, Oglethorpe County, Georgia. The enumerator listed her husband as J. L. Lankford. Only three children lived in the home then—Emerette, Laura, and Marion. Grandsons Walter Wilson, age 8, and Julien Wilson, age 6, are living with the family. Walter and Julien (or possibly Julius) were the sons of daughter Emma, who had apparently died. James and Caroline’s son, James C., lived next door with his family.

On several Indigent Widow’s Pension records, Caroline stated that her husband James died in Lithonia, DeKalb County, Georgia on October 29, 1887. J. Boswell and E. S. Powell, who fought with James during the war, signed affidavits stating that James died in 1888.

By June 16, 1900, Caroline had moved back to Penfield. Daughters Emerette (AKA Nannie) and Marion lived with her. Caroline was enumerated as being 70 years old, born January 1830. The record also showed that she had seven children, five of which were living. Caroline was able to read, write, and speak English. She rented her home.

Caroline first filed for and was approved an Indigent Widows of Confederate Soldiers pension in Greene County on February 22, 1901. She lived in Penfield. Caroline stated that she had been a resident of Georgia for 80 years since her birth. She further stated that she was born on January 13, 1821 in Greene County, Georgia. She declared that her husband was James Meriweather Lankford (this is the only time I’ve found his middle name spelled out) and that he was born in Jackson County, Georgia in 1820. Caroline also stated that she and James were married in Greene County, Georgia. James served with Company C, Third Georgia Regiment for six months and then with Company C, State Troops Regiment for more than two years. He was with the State Troops and not the Third Georgia Regiment when they surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia. She stated that James died in Lithonia, Georgia in 1888. Caroline’s application was based on her age and poverty—she had not been able to support herself for more than 15 years. She had previously supported herself as a seamstress. Caroline stated she had no real or personal property or income and that she had not owned a “dollars worth” of property since the death of her husband. She had been supported by help from her two daughters. Her application was approved by John W. Lindsey, Commissioner of Pensions. She authorized James B. Park Jr. of Greene County to receive the pension on her behalf and to remit the same to her at Greensboro, Greene County, Georgia by his check or registered mail.

James H. McWhorter signed an Ordinary Certificate on February 22, 1901. McWhorter certified that Caroline resided in Greene County and had been a bonafide resident of Georgia since the day of her birth in 1821. McWhorter further certified that the tax digest of Greene County showed that Caroline returned zero dollars worth of property for taxation in her own name in 1899 and 1900.

On February 22, 1901, J. O. Boswell and E. S. Powell also supported Caroline’s application by swearing that she had lived in Penfield and that they had known her for 50 years. Both Boswell and Powell were acquainted with and knew her husband for 50 years as well. They were present when James M. Lankford enlisted with Company C, Third Georgia Regiment on May 3, 1861 and served in the same regiment. They stated that Lankford left his command in Portsmouth, Virginia when he transferred to the Georgia State Militia. Boswell and Powell both stated that Lankford died in Lithonia, Georgia in 1888; however, he was a resident of Greene County and had been all of his life. They knew Caroline to be his lawful widow and that she had remained unmarried since her soldier husband’s death. They also knew Caroline had no income of her own; she lived in their town, had no property since her husband’s death, and they knew that she was destitute. Both stated that Caroline was physically unable to wait on or support herself. She had been supported by her two daughters for 1899 and 1900 with Caroline contributing nothing. Their full and complete statement of Caroline’s physical condition was that she was 80 years old and not able to do anything whatsoever. Both stated that they had no interest or relationship in the recovery of the pension that Caroline would receive.

On February 23, 1901, J. M. McGaughey, MD and J. Wilson, MD swore that they had carefully examined Mrs. Caroline B. Lankford, applicant for a Pension under Act of 1900, and after such personal examination said that her physical condition was that she was 80 years old and extremely feeble and infirm on account of age and was absolutely unable to earn a living and could not leave her house. They had no interest in said pension if allowed.

George N. Boswell supported Caroline’s pension application by swearing an oath on October 8, 1901 to the following facts: James M. Lankford, Caroline’s husband, joined the army at Penfield, Georgia in February 1864 and served in the Georgia State Troops up to the surrender in 1865. Boswell swore that James M. Lankford was with his command in Augusta, Georgia when the command surrendered. Boswell swore his means of knowing the above facts were that he joined the company at the same time that Lankford did. Boswell stated that Lankford made a good and faithful soldier and was honorably discharged with his command in Augusta, Georgia at the surrender.

I don’t find an Indigent Widow’s Pension application for 1902 but find applications for 1903, 1904, and 1905 that basically state the same information each year. In each application, Caroline also authorized James B. Park of Greensboro, Georgia to receive her pension and requested that he remit it to James H. McWhorter at Greensboro. On January 16, 1905, Caroline declared that she was feeble due to age and that she was confined to her bed most of time.

Caroline died in Baldwin County, Georgia on January 8, 1906 according to an Application for Pension Due to a Deceased Pensioner filed by her son James C. Lankford on February 14, 1906. James declared that Caroline was on the Widow’s indigent Pension Roll of Greene County at the time of her death and that an unpaid pension of $60 was due to Caroline at that time. The application further stated that she left two dependent daughters and had no estate of any value sufficient to pay her funeral expenses which amounted to $65. It’s interesting that James C. declared that Caroline left two dependent daughters as Emerette would have been in her 50s and Marion in her late 40s in 1906 and both had been supporting their mother before she received her first pension payment in 1901.

The connection to Baldwin County is another mystery to me. Why was Caroline there when she’d lived in Greene County the majority of her life? Why can’t I find a death record for Caroline? A third mystery is the burial location for Caroline and her husband James. Why weren’t they buried in Penfield where other Lankford family members are buried? James and Caroline were prominent in the area during their lives.

I definitely need to do more work on this line. There are still too many questions that need to be answered.

*Bryant, Jonathan M., How Curious a Land: Conflict and Change in Greene County, Georgia, 1850–1885, published by the University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1996.

1 comment:

  1. I so enjoyed your story, although quite a sad and tough life she lived. If your not a member of the genealogy bloggers FB group, you should join and share this story. There is one blogger who we share slave stories with to release their names for researchers to find.