Civil War Ancestors: Farm Boys to Soldiers, Part 3

The Civil War officially ended with Confederate President Jefferson Davis’s capture on 10 May 1865. Our Great-great-grandfather, Andrew J. “Frank” McCune, had been discharged from the Confederate Army on 15 Apr 1865, after three years of service, following Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, VA, on 9 Apr 1865. He returned to his home in war-ravaged Georgia to recover from war wounds and struggle through the years of Reconstruction. Based on my research, I believe he immediately went back to the fields as a farm laborer.

Following the war, Georgia went through a period of political upheaval and the terms scalawags, carpetbaggers and Ku Klux Klan became commonplace. Agricultural production suffered as a result of the ravaged fields and farms, the changes in labor, and bad weather conditions. The Freedmen’s Bureau provided 40-acre plots to freed slaves, but many of the lands confiscated by the Union during the war were returned to their planter owners by President Andrew Johnson. The majority of farming people, both black and white, were sharecroppers due to high property taxes for landowners.

Andrew had married Sarah E. Davis, 16, daughter of Daniel and Lucinda Davis, on 4 Dec 1864, in Muscogee County, GA.  I don’t know how or when the two met. In 1860 Sarah, 12, was living in Muscogee County, GA., with her parents, and Andrew, 15, was in Walker County in northwest Alabama with his parents. I don’t know what brought him to Georgia around 1861. His parents seemed to have stayed in Alabama, but their whereabouts is questionable.

On 16 Jul 1867, Andrew’s name appears in the State of Georgia, Returns of Qualified Voters and Reconstruction Oath Books, 1867-1869, for Coweta County, solemnly swearing that he would “faithfully support the Constitution and obey the laws of the United States[1].” This was a required oath for all Southern men who wanted to vote.

In 1870, Andrew J., 25, is listed in the U.S. federal census working as a farm laborer in Fayette County, GA. Living with him are his wife, Sarah, 25, their children, Lucinda, 4, Martha, 3, and John, 6 months, and his brother David H. McCune, 20, a farm laborer, described in column 18 of the census as “idiotic[2].” Andrew obviously felt an obligation to care for his brother. I’m not sure of his parents’ location in 1870.

In 1880, Andrew, 34, and Sarah, 34, were still living and farming in Fayette County. Their children now are Lucinda, 16, Martha A., 14, John M., 12, Emir, 8, William A., 5, (our great-grandfather), Nettie, 4, and Minie, two months.  Sarah’s parents, Daniel and Lucinda Davis, both age 72[3], lived next door. Daniel was farming too, so I wonder if he worked the fields alongside his son-in-law.

I searched for Andrew in the Georgia Property Tax Digests and found his name listed three times between 1868-1878 in Fayette County but never as a landowner. So I’m assuming he continued to sharecrop.

Sometime between 1880 and 1885, Andrew moved his family from Fayette County to Russell County, AL. Cotton mill employment must have seemed more lucrative to him than farming. Even though I haven’t found death dates for Sarah’s parents, Daniel and Lucinda, they possibly were deceased by this time, and Andrew and Sarah chose to return to the area where she had grown up. Perhaps they followed some of their adult children or had other family  members there.

Andrew’s name is listed in the 1885 Muscogee County land records so we know the family was living in the area. He didn’t own any land, however. A news article, “A Gathering of Days,” in the Columbus Daily Enquirer on 18 Sept 1888 lists A. J. McCune of the 30th Georgia Infantry as one of several war veterans who formed the Confederate Veterans Association in preparation for a soldier reunion for Georgia, Alabama and Florida during the Chattahoochee Valley Exposition scheduled for October 9[4].

The 1890 census was destroyed by fire, as some of you may know, so I don’t have a residence for Andrew and his family at that time. The 1894 Columbus City Directory lists Andrew living in Girard, AL, and working at the Eagle and Phenix Mill[5].

Portion of image of p.2 , Andrew's war pension application, (see footnote citation).
Portion of image of p.2 , Andrew’s war pension application, (see footnote citation).


On 25 May 1894, Andrew petitioned the Russell County, Alabama, Probate Court for a war pension stating that he was wounded while serving as a private in Co. G, 30th Regiment of the Georgia Volunteers, C.S.A. during the Civil War. He declared less than $400 in total property value and stated he was working as a factory operative. A physician recommended approval of the petition based on Andrew having a ruptured hernia. The petition payment was approved 19 August 1894, but no amount was stated[6].

Andrew reapplied for his pension on 10 Jun 1899 declaring that his only possessions of value were a $2 watch and $45 in household furnishings. The petition stated he was unable to make a living by manual labor due to “said wound and old age.” His petition was approved 7 Aug 1899 by the Pension Board of Examiners. Again, no pension amount was given[7].

The 1900 Columbus City Directory shows A.J. McCune living in Girard, AL, and still working as an operative in the Eagle and Phenix Mill.[8]        The 1900 census for Russell County, AL, confirms that Andrew was working in the mill as a card stripper. In this census, he’s 30 years older from his age in the 1880 census rather than 20 years older. His age is given as 64 with a birth year of 1836. He states that he owns his home free and clear of mortgage. Also in the home are his wife, Sarah, their daughter, Nettie, 23, and son Jesse, 19. Both young adults are working as spinners in the mill. Brother Davey, now 45, is still living with them and not working. Living next door are their daughter, Emma, 33, and her husband, Steve Hardy, 45, a factory overseer, with their two children, Jesse, 8, and Debbie E., 1.[9]

According to an obituary notice in the Columbus Daily Enquirer dated 10 Jan 1907, Andrew died on 9 Jan 1907 at his residence at 325 McDougald Ave., Girard, AL, from pneumonia after an illness of six days. He was buried in Girard Cemetery, but his grave is unmarked. As Georgia didn’t require death certificates until 1918, I haven’t located an official death record for him.

An interesting tidbit in the obit notice was that Andrew was a member of Creek Tribe No. 11 of The Improved Order of Red Men, a fraternal organization which is still in existence today. Its website claims it’s America’s oldest fraternal organization. It evolved from the Society of Red Men formed in 1813 near Philadelphia by former Sons of Liberty and Sons of St. Tammany members[10]. I wonder if the family rumor about Granddaddy having Native American Indian ancestry got started because his grandfather was a Red Man!

After Andrew’s death, Sarah filed for a widow’s pension on 30 Jul 1907, and it was approved 16 Aug 1907. She declared property of a house and lot valued at $300, a $2 watch and $25 in household furnishings. She said she owned no horses, mules, cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, pistols, guns, bicycles, vehicles, goods or merchandise, or mechanical and farming tools. The pension amount approved for Sarah was not stated[11]. Sarah continued to live in Girard, AL, until her death on 8 Aug 1918. Preceding her in death were two daughters, Mattie and Minnie, and two sons, William and Jesse.

Sarah McCune's "X" mark signature, pension application, (see footnote citation).
Sarah McCune’s “X” mark signature, pension application, (see footnote citation).

It’s amazing to realize that we’re here today because Andrew survived his war wounds against all odds. He lived 43 more years after the war, supported his familty through the tumultuous post-war era, had eight children, many, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and all of us, his great-great-grandchildren.


Next time – Civil War Ancestors: Farm Boys to Soldiers, The Tillman Men of Upson County, Georgia


[1] State of Georgia, Qualified Voters and Reconstruction Oath Books, 1867-1869, Coweta County, ( accessed March 2016).

[2] 1870 U. S. census, Fayette County, Georgia, population schedule, sheet 56, dwelling 885, family 831, Andrew J. McCune; image, ( accessed 2015); citing NARA roll M593.

[3] 1880 U. S. Census, Fayette County, Georgia, population schedule, E.D. 54, sheet 78A, dwelling 41, family 48, Frank McCune; image, ( accessed 2015); citing NARA T9, roll 146.

[4] “A Gathering of Grays,” Columbus Daily Enquirer, 18 Sept 1888, online image, ( accessed 2015), 1.

[5] R.L. Polk, Columbus City Directory, 1894, database image, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1989, ( accessed 2015), 143.

[6] “Confederate Pension Applications, 1880-1940,” images, ( accessed: 2015), Andrew J. McCune (Co. G, 30th Ga. Volunteers), citing Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama; Microfilm Roll: McCulloch, Calvin H. – McDonald, Phillip).

[7] “Confederate Pension Applications, 1880-1940,” images, ( accessed: 2015), Andrew J. McCune.

[8] R. L. Polk, Columbus City Directory, 1900, Database image, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1989, ( accessed 2015), 306.

[9] 1900 U.S. Census, Russell County, Alabama, population schedule, ED 141, sheet 8B, dwelling 160, family 179, Frank J. McCune; image, ( accessed 2015); citing NARA, T623, roll 38.

[10] The Improved Order of Red Men, ( accessed 2015).

[11] “Confederate Pension Applications, 1880-1940,” images, ( accessed: 2015), widow Sarah McCune.

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