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Samuel A. West Family on Blue Branch Road

A Civil War Remembrance 
From A Southern Claims Commission Case File

Written by Linda Stevens Munroe, great-great-great granddaughter, June 2008

Samuel A. West was born on January 28, 1809 in Spartanburg County, South Carolina to Walter and Nancy Ligon West, along with five known brothers and sisters--Elizabeth, Lydia Ann, Mary Ann, James W. and Walter O. The elder Walter was the son of Joseph West, born in 1742 in Frederick County, Maryland. Joseph and Mary Offutt, born May 24, 1746 in Prince George's County, Maryland, were married in Maryland in 1765. The couple migrated to Spartanburg County, South Carolina and were the parents of eleven children-Kinsey, Elisha, Burgess, Walter, Cassandra, Elizabeth, Anna, Thomas Joseph, John, Nancy and Stephen. One of Joseph's sons, Walter, and Walter's wife Nancy Ligon, journeyed from Spartanburg District, South Carolina to Giles County Tennessee. Their oldest son, Samuel A. West, is first found on the 1840 Federal Census, Giles, as a head of household. He received a land grant for 341 acres in 1849 and an additional 10 acres in 1850 in Giles County.
Samuel married Minerva Ann Samuels, a lifelong resident of Giles County, in 1833. To their union were born ten children, John W., David K., Homer R., Emma Frances, Martin V., Mary Tennessee, James K. Polk, Andrew Jackson, Minervia A. and Samuel Markus. The Samuel West farm was located in the 14th Civil District of Giles County, enumerated as the northern subdivision on the 1860 Federal Census, near the town of Lynnville.
Records preserved at the National Archives reveal a story of the West family during the turbulent Civil War times in Giles County. Under the Act of Congress of March 3, 1871, claims could be made by loyal citizens for monetary reimbursement of supplies furnished to Union troops during the Rebellion. Samuel's brother, Walter O., filed a claim as executor of his brother's estate. The documents tell a story of family sacrifice and hardship, as was common to many families living at this time.

Receipt from Lieutenant Watkins
A receipt from a Union army officer, written by Lieutenant J. {John} F. Watkins of the 8th Iowa Calvary Regiment, detailed the Union army's seizure of 1000 pounds of salt pork from Samuel's smokehouse for the use of "U. S. soldiers." The lieutenant's regiment belonged to the 1st Brigade, 1st Division of the Calvary, Army of the Cumberland, commanded by Brigadier General Croxton. The 8th Iowa unit camped near the West farm in Lynnville on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in 1864. One week prior to their encampment in Giles, the soldiers had participated in the Battle of Nashville. Records also show this unit at Campbellsville on November 24, near Columbia on November 24-27, and in Franklin on November 30. Soldiers in the 8th Iowa regiment later joined other troops in the infamous Wilson's Raid to Macon, Georgia.
When the soldiers came to seize the salt pork, Minerva remarked to Lieutenant Watkins that the confiscation would be very hard and her children would suffer from it. The Union officer spoke very kindly to Minerva and asked for a pen and ink to write a receipt so that the family could receive reimbursement. At the time, the salt pork was worth 20 cents per pound, according to testimony. Minerva stated that the officer and her husband agreed on the 1000 pounds because her husband had weighed eight hogs. The salt pork was taken by men on horseback. Minerva testified she was told there were 5000 soldiers in the regiment. She knew there were a great many. According to Minerva, her husband sent the receipt to Washington City, and if it was not on file there, she did not know where it was.
Samuel Markus, the twenty-five year old (in 1878) youngest son of Samuel and Minerva, testified that his father gave the receipt from Lieutenant Watkins to his father's attorneys for collection. He said it was good fat pork that had been salted three or four weeks. Samuel Markus related that the soldiers took the salt pork one, two or three pieces at a time all in one day. He described a very large body of soldiers involved in the removal.
This incident was not the only time the family had experienced soldiers commandeering their property. Minerva told how Confederate soldiers had taken her husband off and threatened him, seized two horses and some corn on the well known Wheeler's raid. Just as their property was seized, Minerva told of two sons who were conscripted in 1863 or 1864 into the Rebel Army. She testified that she told her sons she was opposed to them entering the Confederate Army and said "if they had to fight to fight under the stars and stripes." She said she never contributed to their outfit, nor did she aid the rebels in any way. Minerva related that she always furnished the Union soldiers with clothing she had to spare when they came to her house, which was often. She denied ever being in any social society for the benefit of the Confederacy.

Confederate Records of West Men from Giles County
Although Minerva's testimony does not name the sons who were forced to join the Confederate Army, civil war records at the National Archives show three West men, whose names match Samuel and Minerva's sons, listed as members of Confederate units. David K. West enlisted October 13, 1862 in Company D, Holman's Battalion, Partisan's Rangers, at Pulaski, Giles. This unit eventually became Company K, 11th Regiment (Holman's), Tennessee Calvary. The records for a D. K. West in the 11th Tennessee Calvary show he enlisted October 18, 1862 by Captain Jim Rivers. He was detailed in the hospital at Raymond, Georgia in March through April 1863, May through June 1863, and December 1863 through June 1864.
Two other West men, M. V. West and J. P. West, both enlisted as privates in Company I, 3rd Tennessee (Clack's) Infantry in November, 1862 within 2 days of each other, by Lieutenant Locke in Giles County. It is believed that these men were brothers Martin V. West and James K. Polk West…and sons of Samuel and Minerva. The record of M. V. West shows him on detached duty on the muster roll of May through June, 1862. Additionally, muster rolls from July 1, 1863 until the following February of 1864 show M. V. West as being absent, sick and in a hospital. There is also a card marked Prisoner of War, but further information about this is not given in the record. The last muster roll in February 1864 states he was "sent to the hospital July 3rd/63. Not since heard from."
Civil war service records for J. P. West indicate he enlisted as a private in Company I, 3rd Tennessee (Clack's) Infantry on November 8, 1862. He was sick in the hospital on muster rolls dated February 20, 1863, and May through June 1863. He is listed as absent without leave on the muster rolls of July through August 1863 and September through October 1863. Finally, the last record indicates he deserted from Lauderdale Springs, Mississippi on the muster roll dated November to December 1863.

Passes Through the Federal Lines
In order for the claim by Walter to be approved, the loyalty of his brother to the Union had to be established. Several documents are found in the file. One was a pass dated October 22, 1864 to the "Grand Guards and Pickets, Pass Samuel West through the lines, Good for 5 days." Another Pickets Pass from the Provost Marshals Office, Pulaski, Tennessee, May 16, 1865, was written for "Samuel West and conveyance good for 30 days by order Gen. Johnson, B. F. Price, Lieutenant and A. P. M." On the same date, a handwritten note was scribed from R. W. Johnson of the Head-Quarters, Sixth Division, Calvary Corps, M. D. M. stating "Pulaski, May 16, 1865, Samuel A. West is authorized to keep and hunt with a Rifle and shotgun with a limited supply of ammunition for each arm." Lee had surrendered to Grant in Appomattox on April 9, 1865, formally ending the Civil Car, but the times were still turbulent in Giles. It can be inferred that citizens in Giles needed permits from the occupying forces to carry arms.

His Brother's Testimony
In addition to the testimony of Minerva, Samuel's brother Walter told his account of the facts. Stating he was sixty-one years old, he testified he was a farmer who had lived all his life in Giles County except eight years. Walter told the commissioner that he lived within ten miles of Samuel's farm during the war. He said Samuel told him in 1863 on their way to the house of Samuel's son, John, and at other times, that the war was all wrong and that he was opposed to it. According to Walter, Samuel told him they would have to go back to the Union and that he wanted the south to go back. Samuel often spoke of the troubles of the war and that he wished the south had not rebelled. Minerva was described as agreeing with her husband, and who always expressed herself in favor of the Union. Walter said Minerva did not talk much, but was positive and emphatic in what she had to say. Further testimony from Walter revealed that his brother's public reputation was that of a loyal man to the Union. A copy of the Oath of Allegiance signed by Samuel on Feb 24, 1864, and signed by the Captain of 89th Iowa and Provost Marshal, gave further testimony of Samuel's loyalty. Another copy from E. S. Nixon dated Nov. 3, 1863 certified that Samuel A. West had taken the Oath of Allegiance to the Government of the United States and had filed a bond for $2000. Similarly, a receipt from Edward W. Rose, Clerk of the County Court of Giles, dated July 1865, certified Samuel A. West as a qualified voter of said county. Therefore, he was entitled to a vote in the election of 1865 under the Brownlow administration.

Testimony from Neighbors
J. W. Shields, sixty-six years old, was a lifelong resident of Giles who testified to Samuel's loyalty. Shields was not related to Samuel West. He had known Samuel for 30 years before his death and lived within 5 miles of the West farm during the war. Shields, a notary public, said Samuel was known by the community as a Union man. He stated that Samuel did not do anything at all that identified with the Confederate government.
Another neighbor, sixty-three year old Robert S. Montgomery, was a tailor and Postmaster who had lived in Giles County for the last 40 years. He testified that he was not related to Samuel, but had known him for 25 years before his death. He, too, lived about 5 miles from Samuel during the war. Montgomery testified that Samuel was considered a Union man and had that reputation.

Testimony from a Rebel Captain

The last deposition was from a former captain in the Rebel army, R. {Robert} A. Mitchell. Confederate records indicate Mitchell was a Captain in 3rd (Clack's) Tennessee Infantry, Company B. At the time of his testimony, he was thirty-eight years old. Having lived in Lynnville most of his life, he stated he was a merchant and did not live near Samuel. Mitchell testified that while he was in the Rebel army, it was "the common understanding among all of us soldiers that the claimant was a strong and emphatic Union man and he was so recognized and treated by us." The Rebel captain told about a time in 1863 or 1864 that reinforced Samuel's loyalty to the Union. "While we were south my father came home to get us some clothing and in coming to Lynnville passed by {the} claimant's house. The federal troops were at that time stationed at Lynnville. My father was reported to these troops and was caused a great deal of trouble and it was always understood that Samuel A. West reported him. And if we could have gotten hold of him at the time, we would have made it the most unhealthy act of his life." The 54 page confederate record for R. A. Mitchell has several pages of requisitions he made for clothing for his troops. Captain Mitchell was captured at Fort Donelson and held as prisoner of war at Johnson's Island, Ohio. His record also shows he was wounded in September 1864 near Lovejoy Station. In his deposition for the West claim, he stated that Samuel and "all his kin except one were strong Union people." His deposition does not indicate who this one might have been. Perhaps it was David K. West, the third son.

The Receipt Found
On February 28, 1878, the day after Minerva, Walter and Samuel Markus testified, an affidavit was given to the commissioner by Ewing, attorney and agent for the West claim. The affidavit stated that after the examination of Mrs. Minerva West, a receipt purported to be the original receipt given by Lieutenant Watkins was handed to Ewing by Captain John C. Lester, an attorney at Pulaski. The receipt was among some other papers and "its existence was not known to the affiant (Ewing) until that day when it was accidentally found." Another affidavit, signed by two sons of Minerva--Martin V. West and James P. West-- was dated May 29th 1865 and included in the claim. The brothers swore that the pork taken by J. F. Watkins was salted and packed and worth in the market at the time taken at least 20 cents per pound. This affidavit was sworn to and subscribed before Daniel G. Anderson, Justice of the Peace. Martin and James are the same men that were believed to have been conscripted into confederate service.
Claim Approved
Jones and Ewing were local attorneys for the West claim, No. 19545. Testimony was taken before C. W. Merrill, Esq., U. S. Special Commissioner at Pulaski, Giles County, on February 27 and 28, 1878. The claim was allowed on March 8, 1879 and $200 was approved for reimbursement to Walter O. West, executor of Samuel A. West, deceased.
West Graves Found in 2008
The graves for Samuel A. West and Minerva Ann West have recently been found by two descendants--Wayne Austin and the author on April 3, 2008. The author's eighty-four-year old mother, Ella Virginia Coffee Stevens, remembered playing as a child near a cemetery on a hilltop on Blue Branch Road. This unknown cemetery was in the general location where it was believed the West family lived. Ella's remarkable memory of the location almost 60 years later proved to be the piece that led to the discovery of the lost graves for these five West ancestors. Ella never knew as a child that the graves were her own great-great grandparents. In the small cemetery are the graves of Samuel and Minerva, as well two daughters-- Emma F. (West) Coffee, wife of Isaac Hamilton Coffee, and Minervia A. West. One son, J. Polk West is also buried alongside his family. This West Family cemetery is not listed in any Giles County Cemetery compilations to date. Wayne, the author, and Ella descend from Samuel and Minerva's daughter, Emma Frances West.


Source materials:
The Work of Mary West Rumora,
Tennessee State Library and Archives, Grant #20430: Book 5oc, page 245; Grant #21925: Book 6oc, page 767
National Archives, copy of receipt, Claim No. 57669
Union Regiment Histories, Civil War Archives, Iowa,
National Archives, copy of receipt, No. 7679, Claim No. 57669
National Archives, copy of handwritten note, Claim No. 57669
National Archives, copy of handwritten note, Claim No. 57669
National Archives, copy of Oath of Allegiance, dated 24 Feb 1864
National Archives, copy of Provost Marshal's Office receipt, dated Nov. 3, 1863
National Archives, copy of certificate from Edward W. Rose, Clerk of County Court, certifying qualified voter
Confederate Records of Tennessee,
National Archives, copy of affidavit from Ewing, dated February 28th, 1878
National Archives, copy of affidavit from Martin V. West and James P. West, dated 29th May 1865
West (Samuel A.) Family Cemetery, Samuel A. West Cemetery.

Family Group Sheet
Born: 28 Aug 1809 in ,,South Carolina, USA
Married: 1833 in Probably Giles, Tennessee, USA
Died: 27 Jan 1867 in Giles, Tennessee, USA
Born: 23 Feb 1817 in Giles, Tennessee, USA
Died: 25 Feb 1901 in Giles, Tennessee, USA
01. Name: John W. West
Born: Abt. 1835 in Tennessee, USA
02. Name: David K. West
Born 1: Abt. 1836 in Tennessee, USA
Born 2: 1840 in Tennessee, USA
Married: 14 Apr 1862
Spouse: Fountainella Portress
Married: 15 May 1878 in Limestone County, Alabama
Spouse: Susannah Strong McClellan
03. Name: Homer R. West
Born: Abt. 1838 in Tennessee, USA
Married: 11 Sep 1860 in Maury, Tennessee, USA
Spouse: Mary Etta Gilmer
04. Name: Emma (Emily) Frances West
Born: 29 Jun 1839 in Giles, Tennessee, USA
Died: 16 Nov 1874 in Giles, Tennessee, USA
Married: Abt. 1867 in Probably Giles, Tennessee, USA
Spouse: Isaac Hamilton Coffee
05. Name: Martin V. West
Born: 15 Apr 1841 in Giles, Tennessee, USA
Died: 14 Jun 1872 in Giles, Tennessee, USA
Married: 14 Jun 1866
Spouse: Martha Coffee
06. Name: Mary Tennessee "Tennie" West
Born: Abt. 1843 in Giles, Tennessee, USA
Died: 08 Sep 1930 in Maury, Tennessee, USA
Married: 02 Nov 1864 in Giles, Tennessee, USA
Spouse: John Stockard
07. Name: James K. Polk West
Born: 10 Jun 1845 in Giles, Tennessee, USA
Died: 22 Jan 1868 in Giles, Tennessee, USA
08. Name: Andrew Jackson West
Born 1: Abt. 1846 in Giles, Tennessee, USA
Born 2: 1847 in Tennessee, USA
Born 3: 1848
09. Name: Minervia A. West
Born: 18 Sep 1851 in Giles, Tennessee, USA
Died: 13 Jan 1869 in Giles, Tennessee, USA
10. Name: Samuel Markus West
Born: Abt. 1854 in Giles, Tennessee, USA
Died: 1946 in Maury, Tennessee, USA
Married: 24 Apr 1901 in Giles, Tennessee, USA
Spouse: Etta Campbell

As written by Linda Stevens, Jun 2008. Published here by Wayne Austin, 7 Jul 2008.