Saturday, July 09, 2011

Who was JANE E.? The answer surprised me.

Jane E. is buried beside Samuel Reed (son of Hugh) in the Hugh Reed family burying ground.  The inscription on her stone reads:  

In memory of 
Wife of 
Who departed this life
March 10th 1868
Aged 44 years, 8 months
and 1 day 

That is all I've known about Jane until a chance discovery this week.  I found a marriage settlement for Samuel Reed and Jane E. Still at the SC Department of Archives and History!  I was excited at the possibility of finding out just who "Jane E." was.  This discovery, another trip to the state archives, and some online searching led to some very interesting discoveries. 

The marriage settlement is dated 17 February 1868, about three weeks before Jane died.  It seems to have been a very short marriage. The settlement deals with Samuel renouncing rights to any of Jane's property to which he might be entitled by law after their marriage except for "130 acres embracing the Mill & Pond."  It gives no clue as to her former identity other than her last name. 

However, on the same page as the settlement is a conveyance from Samuel to Jane regarding land held in trust for her nephew Judson Hair whom she apparently loved dearly.  Here I found the name of her first husband:  T. E. Still. 

I looked up Jane E. Still on Ancestry and found her in 1850 with her husband Tobias and two-year old daughter Rebecca in Barnwell County, SC.  Living with them were Joseph Hair (21) and Furman Hair (16).  I knew from previous research that Joseph and (David) Furman were Jane's brothers.  And I knew they were all already on my family tree! 

So, the second wife of Samuel Reed (son of Hugh) was his first cousin Jane E. Hair Still.  She was a daughter of Lavisa Reed and David Hair.  Lavisa was a daughter of Samuel and Mary Clark Reed. 

But there's more ...

Then I was curious as to when Tobias died and where he was buried.  There were at least two Tobias Still's in the Barnwell area at the time.  Nothing I found seemed to fit. 

My next discovery was Tobias's probate record on where I found a big surprise.  Click here to see the full record.

In Jane's petition for administration of the estate shown above, Tobias E. Still "departed this life on Black Island near the City of New York while a Prisoner in the hands of the Federal Army Intestate on or about the twenty-eighth day of April, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five." 

The prison was actually on Hart('s) Island in New York Harbor as shown on Tobias's service record to the left.  The date of death matches the probate record. 

Hart Island was used as a Prison of War camp at the very end of the Civil War and housed 3,413 Confederate soldiers.  235 of them died (around seven percent).  (For source and more information on Hart Island, click here.) 

Tobias was listed as a private in Company B of the 14th Regiment of the South Carolina Militia. The 14th was called to duty on 5 January 1865 at Branchville, SC.  Companies A and B were from Barnwell County.  Most of them were captured at Lynches Creek in February 1865.  They were sent to New Bern, NC, at first, and by April 10 they were at Hart Island.  The war ended officially on 9 April 1865 when Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox, but it wasn't until June that the release of prisoners began on the island.  Of the men from the 14th listed at this site who went to Hart Island, 50 percent of them died in April, May, and June of diseases such as pneumonia, chronic diarrhea, and typhoid fever.  

Photograph by Glenn Russell on Find-A-Grave (used with permission)
The men who died there were initially buried on the island.  Their remains were transferred to Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn on 9 June 1941.  

I believe the grave shown at Find-a-Grave as that of "Thomas E. Still" is instead the grave of Tobias E. Still.  (Click here to see the memorial.)  In several records I have found on Ancestry from the National Archives, "T. E. Still" was a prisoner of war at Hart's Island and died on 29 April 1865.  There is no other T. E. Still who was a POW who died on that date.  The only original record I found that said his name was Thomas was published in 1912.  It is easy to see how the name Tobias could have been transcribed incorrectly into Thomas somewhere along the way. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

My son Ian and I have made several trips to the South Carolina Department of Archives and History in the last week or so.  My initial goal was to look up some wills that were on Barnwell County's index at Family Search as well as what deeds they had.  We printed pages of the direct and indirect indexes of deeds granted to and from our Reeds, brought them home to study, and then went back to look up our finds.  The indexes range from the first deed record of our Samuel Reed in 1803 to 1930 when my own grandfather and his brothers deeded 2 lots in Barnwell and 67 acres of farmland on Turkey Creek to their mother for $10.00 and "L & A" (love and affection).  

I was browsing this index when I found the record of Samuel and Jane's marriage settlement.  It always amazes me how finding one such little nugget of info can lead to more that leads to so much more.  This is just the sort of thing keeps me going in this genealogical endeavor.  

Many thanks go to Mr. Glenn Russell whose photograph of the grave shows here.  Glenn went above and beyond in helping and encouraging me as I pondered the possibilities surrounding the grave of T. E. Still.  He's exactly the kind of person you love to run into.  He has posted over 3000 photographs for Find-A-Grave and told me that "it's not all that unusual for the name on a government headstone to be in error."  Glenn, thank you so much for all you do!


  1. Would love to know if you have any detail of the capture at Lynches Creek? My great grandfather Silas Griffin was captured there as well transported to Hart's Island and died there.

    Found some at the link above. You'll have to copy and paste it into your browser. If it does not work, please let me know. (samuelreedfamilyATgmailDOTcom)

    I found your Silas Griffin's record on Fold3. It states he was captured at Lynches Creek on March 1, 1865, arrived at Hart's Island on April 10 (by way of New Bern), and died on June 4, 1865 (also of chronic diarrhea). He is buried at Cypress Hills as well.