The Pension File: Waiting on Moses and Isabella

May 22, 2016

I last posted about the pension file of Nelson Brown. If you will scroll all the way to the bottom of that post, there is a link. When you click on that link, you should be transported to a pdf about Nelson and his wife Bella. 

Sugar, not to be outdone in the former-slave-and-USCT category, produced his Uncle Edward’s book “A Saga of the South”. 

His Uncle Edward quotes a paper by Inabinett. Sugar actually has this paper that he obtained from the Caroliniana Library. We don’t have permission to reproduce any of that paper here, which is a good thing because he has misfiled the paper, which is a nice way of saying it is somewhere in his wannabe filing system. 

The page above states that “Daddy Jack” is a former slave of Alexander James Lawton, and Daddy Jack Taylor was a preacher who performed the marriage service for Isabella, a slave of Alexander James Lawton, and Moses Graham, a slave on a neighboring plantation. 

Alexander James Lawton also assisted in a federal pension application for Isabella. Moses was killed in the service. 

The regiment he served in? The 128th. The same as Nelson Brown. 

And as a bonus…

The Freedmen’s Bank Records. 

A close-up for the account of Amelia Graham follows. 

I’ll be back in 42-120 days with the pension record. 

The Pension File: Meet Nelson Brown

May 19, 2016

We haven’t talked about Nelson Brown, have we?

We HAVE talked about Nelson’s wife, Bella Brown, whom is believed to have given birth to Winnie Joe Brown by a white man, precisely unknown. In 1880, Bella Brown was enumerated on the census next to a Lawton family. There’s no man in Bella’s house, but there are several children, one being named Joseph.

I came across a record index for pensions. There’s Bella Brown, and she’s listed with Nelson Brown. This was my first true link that Bella’s husband was named Nelson. There is no census for 1890, and I can’t find him on the 1870 or the 1900 census. The only census-type record I can find for Nelson Brown is the 1890 Veteran’s Schedule, and he is recorded as having served in the 128th Regiment of the USCT.

I haven’t ordered a census file in perhaps 18 years. Ouch, the price has gone up. But I couldn’t stand it. I needed to know more about Nelson Brown. I chose to have the file delivered electronically, because I don’t want more paper. Plus I’d scan the paper and then load it to the blog, which is a few steps too many for me.

My grandmother received a monthly pension, which makes me think that I should look for a pension file for my grandfather. But first: Nelson Brown.

This file was chock-full of surprises and details. During slavery times, Nelson Brown was owned by Joseph Maner Lawton, which is not the same one that I mentioned in a recent post, but rather an ancestor. Bella Brown was owned by William McBride. Her maiden name was Duncan, and Nelson Brown also went by Nelson Lawton. If you are a black person looking to break through the 1870 brick wall, a pension file might just be your way to go.

There are over 100 images in this file. I’d say I got my money’s worth.




Happy Monkey’s Day, 2016

May 11, 2016

Recently we observed a national holiday.

We give delicious food items to our kin, and share a happy day of lounging about.

That’s right – it’s Monkey’s Day! (Which I totally made up. There’s no such thing. Unless you are Sugar’s cousin in South Africa, who lives next to a nature preserve near Durban.)

Happy monkey pictures are from SugarCousin LaRoy. These are vervet monkeys. They love love love visiting every day. The whole troop comes! The patriarch is Big Guy, who has been visiting for so many years that he comes into the garden and waits for bananas and peanuts.


Some days a little pool action is needed.

I’m sure I squealed when I saw the baby.

Man’s work is from sun to sun,

Monkey’s work is never done.

George Mosse and Barthlomew Mosse of Dublin: Where’s the Link?

May 11, 2016

(I have to prattle on a bit first. I wrote this post a week ago, and when I pushed “Post”, the Internet melted, and there was an error! No post! It is sad when your own wireless network rejects you, which is nothing that a grilled cheese made with an English muffin won’t fix. In other news, I call Sugar my English muffin sometimes, which sounds both endearing, yet naughty somehow. Onward the the Mosses.)

The newspaper article about George Mosse calls him a kinsman of Bartholomew Mosse. But how? I poked around a bit on ancestry, but found nothing conclusive. 

Dr. Bart was a social leader advocating for better medical care for women and their particular medical needs. 

At. His. Own. Expense. 

His only daughter was Jane. 


Dr. Bart was the son of Thomas Mosse. 


He was the founder of the Dublin Lying-In Hospital. 

 By his wife Jane he left two children. The only daughter is named Jane also. Who is the son? Is it our George Mosse?!

I’ll be needing some Irish Stew. 

More SugarCousins: Maude Constance Tilton, 1876-1937

May 1, 2016

And another thing…

A nice lady found my blog. She is a SugarCousin, and she wonders what we can find out about her grandmother from Savannah, a certain Maude Constance Tilton who married Joseph Maner Lawton. 

Before you gasp and exclaim *That’s my Joseph Maner Lawton*, well, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. There were several. Regardless of which one, you’re a cousin. 

I poked around the Internet and made a little tree. I added Maude’s parents and husband. 

Then I added Maude’s siblings… 

Then one generation back. 

Then I checked the City of Savannah’s Cemetery database. 

Aaa n d we’re off to the cemetery. 

The first stop is Laurel Grove. 

We are looking for lot 1874, which is where Mrs. Rosa M. Tilton, Clifton Mills Tilton, and Nathaniel O. Tilton are buried. We turn down a lane that we’ve never traveled before, near the front of the cemetery, and SugarSpotter spotted a stone that he needed to see. Demanded I take a photo, he did. 


William Maner Bostwick, 1875-1947

Sugar thinks that this Bostwick person to be a derivation of Bostick, especially because it is coupled with “Maner”. And who am I to argue about local names with a local? I have learned to pick only the fights I can win. 

On to 1874. The lot, not the year. 

Nothing. No markers. This is not the first, nor the second, nor the third time we have encountered this, right here in Laurel Grove. 

There *IS* a simply wonderful Sago Palm that surely was planted long ago. It’s HUGE. 

Sorry for my poor planning and lack of forethought for not having a Sugary frame of reference to show you how big this Sago is. I think I was unnerved that there were no markers. 

 There were a couple of outlined graves. If you read a recent post about the Bateson plot at #322, you’ll remember that we can talk to he nice cemetery conservator who has the marvelous database that shows who is where. 

We know that the Bateson brothers have not had their markers installed yet, so we bypass a visit there because we still have much to see across town at Bonaventure. Plus lunch. A girl’s gotta have priorities. 

Now at Bonaventure. We’re at the sign at the entrance, looking for Section F, lot 46. Sorry for the reflection on the map. 

The Tiltons that I can identify as being part of this group are Jane C. Tilton, Major N. O. Tilton, O. L. Tilton, Rosa A. Tilton, and Mrs. Rosa B. Tilton. 

Of course. the SugarSpotter find a Lawton next door. 

Now, back to the true reason of our visit. 






Because I did a little homework before we set off for the cemetery, I found these documents about Nathaniel on ancestrydotcom. 

That wraps up our cemetery tour. I’m guessing that there are lots more documents online about this family. When I find more, I’ll edit this post and add them. 

Good night, Tilton people. We’re thinking of you.   

The Lawton Memorial

April 30, 2016

One of Sugar’s cousins found a postcard for sale online. She wondered if anyone knew anything about the Lawton Memorial.

I know a bit, but first I’ll have to find Sarah Alexander Lawton’s will.

Here’s the postcard image.

The building is a Greek Orthodox Church now. We drove past a few weeks ago, and I snapped a photo out the passenger side of the rear of the church.


Large parking lot perfect for lots of parking. Family reunion perhaps?


Not long after I met Sugar, years ago, he took me on a little memory tour of Savannah. We went by his grandmother’s house on Taylor Street, to Laurel Grove, to Bonaventure, and to the Lawton Memorial. There’s a historical marker there, and I suppose I have a photo of it somewhere, but no worries, there are plenty of photos of the marker online. They’re just not *my* photos.

Here is Sarah Alexander Lawton’s will, with the images coming from ancestrydotcom. She addresses that she wants a portion of her wealth to go toward the construction of a memorial building, which of course became known as the Lawton Memorial.

Now to transcribe. Anyone up for the task?

George Mosse and the First Baptist Church in Savannah

April 24, 2016

In Savannah Dr. Mosse organized the Savannah Medical College and was a charter member of the Georgia Medical Society. In 1795 he became the first deacon of Savannah’s First Baptist Church which he helped establish. But he complained that he “made no dollars in Savannah” whereas he had “made pounds (sterling) on St. Helena’s and Hilton Head.”

Yesterday I posted about our day trip to St. Helena to see Mosse Road, most probably for Dr. George Mosse. 

Sugar found some papers at the Georgia Historical Society about George Mosse’s transition from the First Baptist Church before he moved to Robertville. I’ll have to wrest those papers out of his grip before I can post them here, then I’ll need to edit them by adding a watermark “Courtesy of Georgia Historical Society”. Until then…

We strolled over to the First Baptist Church in anticipation of the family reunion in June. I had talked by phone with a nice  lady at the FBC back in February who confirmed that George Mosse’s name was in the church history. 

Hey! Where’s the mention of our George Mosse?!

I’ve got to go to Sugar’s house and get those papers!

Dr. George Mosse: One Thing Leads to Another 

April 23, 2016

Doesn’t it, though? One pebble dropped in a pond creates infinite ripples.

We went to a tour of Datha Island. It’s a private community, with a guard and a gate, but we were able to secure a pass because we were part of a history group. I made lots of photos. Perhaps someday my path will wind back to posting those.

For now, I want to talk about George Mosse. I’ve talked about him before. Heck, I even named a dog after him. Not the first odd name I’ve done. I named a cat after Peter Tondee, who ran an inn in Savannah where the Liberty Boys met. The man, not the cat.

Islanders In History

From the Island Packet, Tuesday, June 29, 1976

George Mosse, Militia Surgeon, Lived Here, Mapped Island

By The Rev. Dr. Robert E. H. Peeples

A trim, versatile young Irish physician, kinsman of the popular Dr. Bartholomew Mosse of Dublin, arrived in Charleston in 1765. He began practicing medicine in the Parish of St. Thomas and St. Denis where he married Elizabeth Martin in 1767.

Following her death in childbirth he secured a small acreage on St. Helena’s Island, resumed his medical practice, opened a large general store and established a profitable tannery and leather manufacturing business. His 120oared barge made monthly deliveries of his merchandise alternately to Charleston and Savannah, returning with needed supplies. Several journeymen and apprentices augmented his work force of slaves. He planted benne from which sesame seeds were harvested for oil; he planted cane from which he manufactured sugar and distilled rum; he cultivated grapes and made wines commercially.

Dr. Mosse married again in 1771 Phoebe, younger daughter of aging planter Jonathan Norton. Her sister Sarah was the wife of Samuel Green of Hilton Head’s Fish Haul Plantation and they were frequent visitors here. They hired a resident male tutor for the seven daughters born to them, all of whom they raised; there were no sons.

From the 1775 outbreak of Revolution, Dr. Mosse and the St. Helena’s and Hilton Head Island planters were active patriots. The victory at Sullivan’s Island gave the state almost three years of respite from war. But the December 1778 fall of Savannah and the subsequent burning of Prince William Parish Church (Sheldon) by Royal Militiaman Maj. Andrew Deveaux, his wife’s cousin, brought war’s violence to Beaufort District. By May 12, 1780, when Charleston fell, all Georgia and Carolina had been lost through the bad judgment and worse military tactics of three Continental generals: Robert Howe, John Ashe and Benjamin Lincoln.

One more Continental effort was mad at Camden by Gen. Horatio Gates; his inefficient supply service left his men so hungry that they ate unripened fruit the day before the battle and were too ill to fight. Dr. Mosse served as a Militia surgeon during the battle and was captured by the British who marched him from the Camden battlefield to prison in Charleston.

Upon being paroled Dr. Mosse returned to his family. In May 1781 in contravention of the terms of his parole, the British arrested 129 of the leaders of South Carolina and confined them aboard the prison ships Forbay and Pack Horse in Charleston harbor. Hilton Head landowner and future S.C. Governor Benjamin Guerard and planter William Elliott of Myrtle Bank Plantation, whose wife was a close cousin of Dr. Mosse’s wife, were among those held illegally with Ddr. Mosse in the stinking, disease-ridden, overcrowded vessels.

Ddr. Mosse joined the others in writing on May 18, 1781 to Gen. Nathanael Greene, that “should it fall to the lot of any or all of us to be made victims agreeable to to the menaces herein contained, we have only to regret that our blood could not be disposed of more to the advancement of the glorious cause to which we adhere.”

A general exchange of prisoners was arranged, resulting in Dr. Mosse’s being put aboard ship for Philadelphia. As the ship passed the North Carolina coast the prisoners overcame their guards, seized control of the vessel and sailed her into port. From there, “after many perils,” Dr. Mosse made his way home safely.

In early 1782 Dr. Mosse supplied the S.C. military establishment with 115 gallons of rum and 300 pounds of “muscavado sugar” manufactured on his plantation. He became a Hilton Head landowner; his plantation adjoining that of his business partner and brother-in-law the Rev. William E. Graham and their nephew Capt. William Pope.

As the Treaty of Peace was signed in 1783 he was still shipping wine for the use of the Militia. Also in 1783 Dr. Mosse surveyed Hilton Head Island and made a detailed map, complete with names of concurrent property owners, dividing most of the island into plantation-sized lots for sale by Benjamin Bayley as agent for Henry Bayley, heir of original grantee Landgrave John Bayley in 1698.

Ten years later Dr. Mosse moved his family to Savannah in order to provide better educational opportunities for his daughters, the eldest of whom had settled there after marrying Capt. Patrick McKenzie, Revolutionary soldier from Maryland. His daughter Elizabeth married Capt. James Stoney and became mistress of Otterburn Plantation on Hilton Head the same year.

In Savannah Dr. Mosse organized the Savannah Medical College and was a charter member of the Georgia Medical Society. In 1795 he became the first deacon of Savannah’s First Baptist Church which he helped establish. But he complained that he “made no dollars in Savannah” whereas he had “made pounds (sterling) on St. Helena’s and Hilton Head.”

In May 1806 he bought a plantation at Robertville where several of his daughters had settled. There he died Feb. 17, 1808, and his wife six weeks later. They were buried in the plantation cemetery and the site of the grave of this Revolutionary War hero is now lost.

*More correctly, Dr. Mosse surveyed HHI for the SC Amercement Commission which had seized the Bayley property and sold it off for the benefit of the State Treasury. Dr. Mosse’s map bearing his signature is in the SC Archives in Columbia.

Our George Mosse was married 2 times. His first wife died in childbirth along with the child. His 2nd wife was Phoebe Norton, the daughter of Jonathan Norton who owned Warsaw Island, near Datha Island. The same Jonathan Norton who most probably deeded two acres of land for a chapel to be built, most probably the Chapel of Ease on St. Helena.

Continue along the road past the Chapel of Ease, and you will come to Lands End. It is truly a land’s end, because after all, we are on an island. It’s an old-style, mixed-housing beach community with private and public landings. It would be a bear to have to evacuate from those islands in case of a hurricane. But I digress…

One of the little roads in the community is named Mosse Road. Sugar remembered this from our last trip out this way, perhaps ten years ago. How does he remember this stuff?

So nothing will do except we make a day trip to Mosse Road.

Turn right onto Mosse Road, and you’ll see this:

It’s a sandy little track, not very long. That pip of light at the end is the light at the end of the tunnel where the road ends and you can see the river.

Sitting at the end of Mosse Road, you can look over and see the river a bit more clearly.

We turn left and head south. There are several public beach access points on the map, and we decide to drive along the first one we come to. It’s narrow, not even wide enough for two cars. We’ll have to back out because there’s no room to turn around. Problems like this have never stopped Sugar from driving down a lane.

Let’s walk out onto this trip hazard.

To the right:

To the left:

And straight ahead?

Parris Island.

*THAT* Parris Island. From a side that is rarely seen.

The breeze was delicious. We saw dolphins. And Sugar mused that this could be the spot where George Mosse put in his twelve-oarred boat.

Can you get enough of George Mosse? Well, that’s a good thing because we can’t, either. More Mosse fun to come.

Mary Robert Lawton Garrard’s House at 202 Gwinnett, east

April 20, 2016

Sugar and I have been tracking his great-aunt, Mary Robert Lawton Garrard, around Savannah. Our most recent discovery is that she lived at 202 Gwinnett, east. And since I’ve a bit of research to do for an out-of-state friend at the Georgia Historical Society, and we’re going to be in Savannah anyway, it’s an easy hop-skip-jump over to Gwinnett after lunch. 

Because lunch is important, and researchers need strength. 

As, of course, it turns out that we have driven by here several times in the past years. 

It looks like the house is occupied. There’s a light on in the downstairs. 

The house is directly on the sidewalk on both cross streets. We walk past the front of the house and around the corner. There’s a storage space under the front steps. 

Then at the back corner along the sidewalk, looking towards Gwinnett. 

Then at the back. The back of the lot is surrounded by a high brick wall. 

We don’t know if this is a single family dwelling, or if it’s been converted to apartments. 

But we do know that Mary Robert Lawton Garrard lived here. Out of her 6 children, 2 died before she died in 1902, and two died shortly afterward within a few years. 

Good-night, Mary. We’re thinking of you. 

A Great Blue Heron

April 17, 2016

There’s a stretch of road that I travel frequently. It runs parallel to a railroad track. The land is low and swampy in some places, and I’m guessing that the roadway and the base ground for the tracks were partially, if not wholly, created by large machinery digging ditches and using that earth for the base. At any rate, each side of the road has substantial ditches. 

I’m seen a Great Blue fishing along these ditches. There’s always standing water, and I suppose backwash from the swamp helps create a breeding ground for little creatures that a heron would want to eat. I’m always amused that this great, shy bird is hanging out fishing and wading in ditchwater. It doesn’t seem grand or fitting for him. 

On this particular day, Sugar was driving and I was daydreaming. We crossed on the little concrete bridge that goes over Bahama Swamp when he saw it. 

So he pulled a you-turn once and then again to go full circle so I could take some photos with my iPhone. At one point, the heron flew off, but only for a short distance. We could see what we believe to be white egrets in the background. 

And there’s your Sunday heron!



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