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William Coleman
This information about a former slave who enlisted in the Union Army was extracted from U.S. Pension files. (WC-179007)

William Coleman enlisted as a Private in Company A, 44th U. S. Colored Troops, at Chattanooga, Tennessee on April 7, 1864. He died of fever some five months later, on September 9, 1864, at Rome, Georgia.

His widow, Philis Rogers Coleman, then living in Benton, Tennessee (Polk County), filed an application for a pension based on his service in the Union Army.

She stated that she had married a slave belonging to Mr. George M. Coleman, who had taken the family name of his master. She said that a Negro preacher named Prince Davis had performed a wedding ceremony and that the following year, Franklin Coleman had been born to the couple on January 20, 1863.

During an inquiry on October 1, 1877, Nelson Lawrence, age 71, and Travis Rogers, 73 testified. Travis Rogers stated that he had sold Philis to the later George M. Coleman in 1861 and that Philis had married a slave named William Coleman, who also belonged to George Coleman.

Philis Coleman stated at the inquiry that she had for several years before the war been a slave held by Thomas Hall, in Murray County, Georgia. She said that Thomas Hall had sold her to Travis Rogers and that Travis had a slave named Felix, with whom she "accidentally" had a son, named William Rogers. She said that she and Felix never married and that Felix was taken away by soldier during the war and she never heard of him again.

She told the inquiry that she married a slave belonging to Mr. Coleman, the slave's name was William Coleman. They had a son, Franklin, at the time of the inquiry about 14 years old, and working at the mines in Ducktown, Tennessee.

Her application for a pension was approved and made retroactive. On September 18, 1879, Philis Coleman was granted $8 per month, dating from September 10, 1864. She would also receive $2 per month for Franklin until he reached age 16.

Although it is not recorded in the file when this woman died, her name was dropped from pension rolls at Knoxville on July 26, 1905, because she had not claimed her checks for a period of three years.


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