by Bill Miller
I love doing genealogy because you never know what you will find in your ancestor’s closets. For example, a long forgotten safety deposit box in a WV bank contained photos and amazing records of a Confederate soldier’s return from the Civil War. If you had Confederate ancestors you might enjoy what we found.
Andrew Jackson Jones, my wife’s great-granduncle, was a 26 year old, single farmer outside Fairmont, Virginia, when the Confederacy captured Fort Sumter. Five days later, on April 17, 1861, delegates to the Richmond Convention, who had convened to decide what position they would take, passed an Ordinance of Secession. Many western delegates withdrew from that Convention, returned to western Virginia, and began planning opposition to the Ordinance. On June 11, 1861, in a Convention in Wheeling, VA, the delegates passed an ordinance to withdraw from Virginia and create a new state loyal to the United States of America. On June 20 officials were elected to fill the offices of the Restored Government of Virginia (which became West Virginia). Francis Pierpont, of Marion County, home of Andrew Jones, was elected Governor. He is still celebrated as The Father of West Virginia.
There was great division in that region. Residents were being recruited by both Union and Confederate sources, and families were being divided. Andrew likely lived in such a family. His older brother, David, was getting medical attention in Penn. and New York at the time. The records show that Andrew was apparently torn between the two sides. However, on March 17, 1863, the Muster Roll for the 20th Regiment, Virginia Cavalry, CSA, under Captain Ezekiel Martin and Col. Willey Arnett, shows that he enlisted in Williamsburg, (WV). Within weeks he was captured, and from March until May 1863 he was a Confederate prisoner in infamous Chase Prison near Columbus, Ohio.
Somehow he was involved in a prisoner exchange, and on May 13, 1863 he is returned to his Company in Virginia. At that point he begins an amazing two-year Journal of his adventures in the Virginia Cavalry of the Confederate States of America. Most of that time he was in the Shenandoah campaign, with his Journal in his saddlebag.
In October 1864, following nearly two years of fighting, A. J. Jones returned to his family farm in Monongalia County, West Virginia, formerly Virginia. He returned home as a “foreigner,” a man without a country. He no longer had the rights or privileges of a citizen of the United States of America. The attached documents show the long process he, and others of the Confederacy, had to go through to become citizens of the newly reformed United States.
Nine months after he return home to his West Virginia hills, on July 28, 1865, he entered the government building in Clarksburg, WV and registered his oath of loyalty:
“I, Andrew J. Jones, 20th Regt, Va. Cal., C.S. Army do hereby give this my pledge of honor, that I will not take up arms against the United States Government until I am regularly exchanged, and that if I am permitted to remain at my home, I will conduct myself as a good and peaceable citizen, and will respect the laws in force where I reside, and will do nothing to the detriment of or in opposition to the United States Government.”
Andrew J. Jones
Attached to the letter is a wonderful description of the man:
Description: Age 29, height 6ft. 2 inches, light complexion, eyes grey, dark hair, Occupation, farmer
Sworn to and subscribed 28th day of July 1865
- C. Bonny, Capt. and Pro. Mar. ?
For the next two years, Andrew Jones, and most other former Confederates, may have lived at home but they were not citizens of the United States. Finally, on September 7, 1867, President Andrew Johnson issued his famous Proclamation of Amnesty for all members of the former Confederacy:
Now, therefore, be it known that I, Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, do hereby proclaim and declare that the full pardon described in the said proclamation of the 29th day of May, A. D. 1865, shall henceforth be opened and extended to all persons who, directly or indirectly, participated in the late rebellion, with the restoration of all privileges, immunities, and rights of property, except as to property with regard to slaves, and except in cases of legal proceedings under the laws of the United States; but upon this condition, nevertheless, that every such person who shall seek to avail himself of this proclamation shall take and subscribe the following oath and shall cause the same to be registered for permanent preservation in the same manner and with the same effect as with the oath prescribed in the said proclamation of the 29th day of May, 1865, namely:
I, Andrew J. Jones, do solemnly swear (or affirm), in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder, and that I will in like manner abide by and faithfully support all laws and proclamations which have been made during the late rebellion with reference to the emancipation of slaves. So help me God.
On October 10, 1867 Andrew J. Jones, of Monongalia County, was married to Mary Gallahue of Marion County, WV in the Fairmont M. E. Church. A few weeks later, October 31st, 1867, he registered his Oath of Loyalty in Morgantown, Monongalia County, West Virginia. On November 29, 1867 he received a very special greeting and certificate from the United States of America, Department of State from William H. Seward.
“I certify that A. J. Jones of the County of Monongalia, State of West Virginia has deposited in this Department his original Oath, bearing date thirty-first day of October 1867, being in the form prescribed by the President’s Proclamation of September 7, 1867.
In testimony whereof, I, William H. Seward, Secretary of State of the United States, have hereunto subscribed my name and caused the Seal of the Department of State to be affixed. Done in the City of Washington, this 29th day of November, A.D. 1867, and of the Independence of the United States of America the twenty second.”
William H. Seward
William Henry Seward was United States Secretary of State from 1861 to 1869, during and after the Civil War. The Alaska purchase from Russia for $7.2 million, during the Johnson administration, would be seen as one of Seward’s greatest accomplishments. A. J. Jones was probably happier with the gift of U.S. citizenship.
To discover more about what your ancestors went through to get you here, come to the Lake Lure Genealogy Club. It meets the 2nd Tuesday of the month at 3:00 in Mountains Branch Library.