William Verpo Curtis' Claim
Submitted by Robin Sterling
Southern Claims Commission File
William V. Curtis (10339) Allowed
Submitted 20 Mar 1872
Transmitted for warrant 2 Apr 1875
1 mule and 1 mare
Remarks: Claimant was an earnest and devoted Union man. He opposed secession at the start and voted for Sheets the Union candidate for delegate to the Convention. He was never in the Rebel service, though arrested on one or two occasions by them. He had three brothers in the Union army, and three others killed by Rebels at home during the war. Claimant was elected sheriff of Winston County by the Union men of that county over the sesech candidate in 1863 by a majority of 300. While acting as sheriff he acted as guard for the Rebel Mail passing through the county. This was not a compulsory service, and yet it was an unwilling one induced by the peril to his own person made manifest by the assassination of three brothers, one of whom was a Probate Judge of the county by the rebels. We find him loyal. The mule and mare were taken in the Spring of 1865 and we allow the sum of three hundred dollars.
To the Honorable Commissioners of Claims, Under the Act of Congress of March 3, 1871, Washington, D.C.: The petition of William V. Curtis respectfully represents:
That he is a citizen of the United States, and resides at present in Winston County, Alabama.
That he has a claim against the United States for one gray mare and one horse mule as follows: 1 dark bay horse mule, 14 hands high, 7 years old ($150); one iron gray mare, 15 ½ hands high, 6 years old ($150).
That all the items in the above schedule were of the full value therein set forth and were taken from your petitioner for the use of and were used by the United States army. The dark bay horse mule was taken by Colonel Prosser’s men on the Byler Road in Winston County, Alabama on or about 2nd or 5th day of January 1865. The same was carried by said army to Decatur, Alabama and used by said command and the iron gray mare was taken by General Wilson’s men from his [residence] in Winston County, Alabama about the last of March 1865 and carried on to Decatur, Alabama and used by said command in said army.
That no voucher, receipt or other writing was given therefore by the person taking the same as aforesaid.
That your petitioner resided at the time his said claim accrued in Winston County, Alabama.
That William V. Curtis of Winston County, Alabama was the original owner of said claim, and that he is still the present owner of the same..
That your petitioner remained loyal adherent to the cause and the Government of the United States during the war, and was so loyal before and at the time of the taking of the property for which this claim is made.
That said claim has not before been presented to any department of the government nor the Commissioners of claims.
That Stilson, Bundy and Webster, of Washington, D.C., are hereby authorized and empowered to act as his Attorneys for the prosecution of this claim.
Wherefore your petitioner prays for such action as your Honorable Commission in the premises, as may be deemed just and proper.
[signed] W.V. Curtis, Witnesses: [signed] Simeon Harbison and Charles A. Tyler.
State of Alabama, County of Winston: I, William V. Curtis, being duly sworn, deposes and says that he is the petitioner named in the foregoing petition, and who signed the same; that the matters therein stated are true, of the deponent’s own knowledge except as to those matters which are stated on information and belief, and as to those matters he believes them to be true; and deponent further says that he did not voluntarily serve in the Confederate army or navy, either as an officer, soldier, or sailor, or in any other capacity, at any time during the late rebellion; that he never voluntarily furnished any stores, supplies, or other material aid to said Confederate army or navy, or to the Confederate government, or to any officer, department or adherent of the same in support thereof, and that he never voluntarily accepted or exercised the functions of any office whatsoever under, or yielded voluntary support to, the said Confederate government. [signed] W.V. Curtis, Witnesses: [signed] Simeon Harbison and Charles A. Tyler
Sworn and subscribed in my presence the 14th day of November 1871 [signed] A.B. Hays, Judge of Probate.
Names and residences of witnesses who will be relied upon to prove loyalty:
Jonathan Barton, Larissa, Winston County, Alabama
James D. Smith, Houston, Winston County, Alabama
Names and residences of witnesses who will be relied upon to prove the other facts alleged in the foregoing petition:
Samuel Radford, Littlesville, Winston County, Alabama
Loyd H. Cagle, Littlesville, Winston County, Alabama
A.J. Ingle, Larissa, Winston County, Alabama
Post Office address of claimant: Houston, Winston County, Alabama
Before the Commissioners of Claims, Under Act of Congress of March 3rd, 1871.
In the matter of the Claim of William V. Curtis of the County of Winston and State of Alabama.
Comes now the Claimant before Robert P. Baker, Esq., Special Commissioner for the State of Alabama, and represents that he has heretofore filed with the above-named Commissioners a Petition for the allowance of a claim for property taken for the use of the army of the United States, which claim, as stated below, does not exceed the sum of three thousand dollars.
That the said claim, stated by items, and excluding therefrom all such items as refer to the damage, destruction and loss, and not the use, of property; to unauthorized or unnecessary depredations of troops and other persons upon the property, or to rent or compensation for the occupation or buildings, grounds or other real estate, is as follows:
1 dark bay horse mule, 14 hands high, 7 years old ($150); one iron gray mare, 15 ½ hands high, 6 years old ($150).
That, as stated in the Petition referred to, the property in question was taken from your petitioner of Winston Count, in the State of Alabama, for the use of a portion of the army of the United States, known as the command of General Wilson, and commanded by General Wilson, and that the persons who took or received the property, or who authorized or directed it to be taken or furnished, were the following: Col. Prosser, and General James H. Wilson.
That the property was removed to the camps of the army and used for or by them; all this on or about the 5th day of January and 30th of March in the year 1865 as appears by the petition presented to the Commissioners.
That the claimant is unable to produce the witnesses hereafter to be named before the Commissioners at the city of Washington for and because of the following reasons, to wit: the smallness of the claim and the great distance of the residence of claimant and his witnesses from Washington.
That, by the following named persons, the claimant expects to prove that, from the beginning of hostilities against the United States to the end thereof, his sympathies were constantly with the cause of the United States; that he never, of his own free will and accord, did anything, or offered, or sought, or attempted to do anything, by word or deed, to injure said cause or retard its success, and that he was at all times ready and willing, when called upon, or if called upon, to aid and assist the cause of the Union, or its supporters, so far as his means and power and the circumstances of the case permitted.
Jonathan Barton, of Larissa, Winston County, Alabama
James D. Smith, Larissa, Winston County, Alabama
That, by the following-named persons, the claimant expects to prove the taking or furnishing of the property for the use of the army of the United States:
Samuel Radford, Littlesville, Winston County, Alabama
Loyd H. Cagle, Littlesville, Winston County, Alabama
A.J. Ingle, Littlesville, Winston County, Alabama
The claimant now prays that the testimony of the witnesses just designated be taken and recorded, at such place and at such time as the Special Commissioner may designate at the proper cost of the said Claimant; and that due notice of the time and place of the taking thereof be give to the Claimant, through his counsel.
Submitted on this 11th day of December 1871 [signed] William V. Curtis, Claimant. Stilson, Bundy and Webster, Attorneys.
William V. Curtis, Claimant, vs. United States, Defendant: In pursuance of the Commission issued by the Commissioners of Claims at Washington City, D.C., to the undersigned, on the 18th day of November, A.D. 1871, I, Robert P. Baker, have called and caused to come before me at Larissa, in the County of Winston, and State of Alabama, on the twelfth day of March, A.D. 1872, James J. Curtis, claimant, Loyd H. Cagle, and Andrew J. Ingle, witnesses in behalf of the claimant in the cause now pending before said Commissioners in the City of Washington, in which James V. Curtis, of Winston County, Alabama is claimant and the United States is defendant,
The said William V. Curtis, being first duly sworn, says, in answer to the Interrogatories propounded to him that he is forty-four years of age, and a resident of Winston, near Houston, Alabama, and by occupation a farmer.
1 – I was at home farming
2 – At the same place.
3 – I never did.
4 – I was elected sheriff of Winston County in 1863 by the Union votes of Winston County, and run against Hiram Adkins, a red-mouthed Secessionist, and was elected by a majority of over three hundred. I don’t think that the oath of office was ever administered as our county was so broken up that no law and order prevailed and we were obliged to act from the old statutes that existed prior to the war.
5 – In August 1865, I took the amnesty oath at my own house, which was administered by Andrew J. Ingle of Larissa, Winston County, Alabama. I took it in order to retain my citizenship and be allowed the right of suffrage.
6 – I was never in the service other than a guard for the mail through this section, which was in 1864 and part of 1865.
7 – Nothing other than stated in answer to fourth question.
8 – No, sir.
9 – Nothing other than acting as a mail guard.
10 – No, sir.
11 – No, sir.
12 – No, sir.
13 – No, sir. No, sir.
14 – No, sir.
15 – No, sir.
16 – No, sir.
17 – I was arrested in the Spring of 1864 by a guard of Colonel Pickett’s men who came to my house in the evening and while under arrest by the first, another party came in command of Hokett, who belonged to Major Wren’s command and also arrested me. About 12 o’clock I broke guard and took to the woods and evaded them for three days. When I was obliged to give up, they then carried me to Jasper where I was detained for about three days, when I was arraigned on trial, and afterward liberated and sent home. I never took no oath to be liberated but was ordered to feed no more layouts to which I paid no attention as I continued to find the layouts and Union soldiers the same as before. I was arrested by Colonel Prosser’s command in 1864 for no other reason than that they were picking up all the men they found at home in the country. I was detained until I was taken to Colonel Prosser and after conversing with him for a short time, I was liberated. In 1865 while traveling the road near home, alone, I was arrested by a lieutenant belonging to General Alexander’s Brigade of General Wilson’s Division, and taken to Houston, Alabama when I was taken to General Alexander and after conversing with him I was released and sent home. I never was arrested after of the times spoken of.
18 – I had one mule, corn and bacon, fodder and provisions taken by the Rebels for which I never received anything other than a bad name, as they would call me a damned old Tory.
19 – I was threatened with my life and the burning of my property, and in fact they threatened to burn up the property of every Tory in the county.
20 – Nothing other than specified above.
21 – I never contributed any money or property in aid of the United States Government or its army, other than to feed United States soldiers and layouts, which I have done many and many a time; sometimes as high as twenty at a time, which was voluntarily done; and piloting layouts to the Federal lines by riding at night a distance of twenty miles.
23 – Had no relations in the Rebel army that I know of—and had three brothers, Derrill, Washington, and John Curtis, belonging to the Federal army. John belonged to a Missouri command, and the others I don’t know their commands.
24 – I have never had an interest in any way in any Confederate bonds, and never done anything to support the credit of the so-called Confederate States.
26 – No, sir.
27 – No, sir.
28 – No, sir.
29 – No, sir.
30 – No, sir.
31 – No, sir.
32 – No, sir.
33 – I sympathized with the Union cause. I voted at the election for representatives to the State Convention, and cast my ballot for C.C. Sheets, and after the adoption of secession my principles were never changed a particle, but I remained the same and was styled at Lincolnite. I never went with the State in Secession.
34 – I do. I never did. I did. I had three brothers shot by the Rebels on account of their Union sentiments. One, Thomas P. Curtis, Probate Judge of Winston County, Alabama was taken from his home and shot by the orders of Hokett, who was acting under command of Col. Pickett. George W. Curtis was shot at home in his own yard by men of Burtwell’s Regiment. Joel J. Curtis was taken from home and shot near Jasper by Captain Godwin’s men, who was commanding a post at Jasper, who had a slaughter pen for the purpose of killing all parties brought to him. [signed] William V. Curtis
Loyd H. Cagle, [substituted for James D. Smith] being called to prove loyalty, after being duly sworn doth depose and say that he is fifty years of age and a resident of Winston County, Alabama and a farmer by occupation. I have been acquainted with claimant for upwards of fourteen years and was intimately acquainted throughout the entire war, and met him on an average of once a month and had conversation with him on the war, its causes and progress. Our conversation was in private and public all owing to the circumstances by which we were surrounded. Claimant’s sympathies were with the Union and bitterly opposed to secession. I do not know that he ever contributed money or property in aid of the Union Government or its army. I know that he fed Union soldiers and layouts who were secreted to avoid Rebel scouts. I do not know that he was ever in any way interested in Confederate Bonds or that he ever done anything to support the credit of the so-called Confederate States. The reputation of claimant was that of a Union man by the loyal citizens generally and that he was regarded as one of their leaders. I know that claimant had two brothers in the Union army, B.F., and John Curtis—don’t recollect to which command they belonged. If the Rebels had been successful and had succeeded in establishing a separate government, I don’t think claimant would have ever been regarded as a loyal among them, nor do I think that he would have been safe, among them on account of his known union sentiments which was generally understood throughout the entire war. [signed] Loyd H. Cagle
Andrew J. Ingle [substituted for Jonathan Barton] called to prove loyalty, after being duly sworn doth depose and say that he is fifty-two years of age, and a resident of Larissa, Winston County, Alabama, and by occupation a farmer. That he had been acquainted with claimant for about fifteen years and particularly during the war—during which time I met him on an average of about once a month and conversed with him in private and public, owing to the circumstances surrounded us, upon the war its cause and progress. Affiant was a Union man and so regarded by claimant. He was opposed to the war and the causes producing it, and was always in sympathy with the Union on all occasions that I heard him. I have stayed with him at his house frequently, and he has stayed on my place with me. His reputation was everywhere regarded as a Union man by all who knew him in this section of country. I never saw him arrested by the Rebels, but was informed that he was by himself and family—but afterwards made his escape. This was at the time that they shot one of his brothers on account of his Union sentiments. He afterwards was obliged to surrender himself and was carried to Jasper and detained for a few days when he was liberated. I don’t know upon what conditions he was liberated. He was elected sheriff in 1863 (I think) by the Union vote of Winston County at to prevent the County of Winston from being cut up and made parts of other counties, thereby abolishing Winston County altogether. He had three brothers shot on account of their Union sentiments. He had one brother that I know of in the 10th Missouri Cavalry (Union) and no relatives in the Rebel army that I know of. I don’t think he ever owned Confederate bonds or done anything to support the credit of the so-called [Confederate] Government. If so, I think I should have known it as we were as regarded, confidential friends. I do not know that he ever contributed any money or property in aid of the United States government or its army—other than to feed United States soldiers and layouts who were evading the Rebel scouts and being piloted from time to time into the Federal lines. If they, the Rebels, had been successful in establishing a separate government, I do not regard that he would ever have been able to have established his loyalty to their cause as his reputation as a supporter of the Federal government was too generally known. [signed] A.J. Ingle
Questions as to property: William V. Curtis, being called to prove property, states that in January 1865 on the advance of Colonel Prosser’s command, I had one dark may mule taken, valued by me at one hundred and fifty dollars. It was taken by Colonel Prosser’s command when the Colonel was nearby. The mule was seven years old and 14 hands high. I received no pay for the property, nor did I receive a voucher. I was also arrested at the same time and carried to Lawrence County, a distance of twenty-six miles when I was released when I saw Colonel Prosser in person—and allowed to return home. In March 1865, on the arrival of General James H. Wilson’s command, his command took from my place one iron gray mare, fifteen hands high, six years old and valued at one hundred and fifty dollars. The mare was taken by a squad of soldiers, one was represented as a lieutenant. I remonstrated with the party and begged with them to leave her, but they said that they were obliged to have her, as they had been cut off from their command and they were obliged to get to Decatur as, their lives were at stake. He said if it was their daddy’s nag he would take her. They rode her off and I never seen her after she was taken from my place. I don’t know that she was taken by the orders of the officers, and don’t know that the party who represented himself as a lieutenant, whether he was truthful in his representations or not, but do know that they were Yankee soldiers, and don’t know to what purpose she was applied. [signed] William V. Curtis
Loyd H. Cagle, being called to prove property after being duly sworn doth depose and say that he is fifty years of age and a resident of Winston County, Alabama and a farmer by occupation. I know that on the arrival of Col. Prosser’s command in January 1865 claimant had one dark bay horse mule taken by his command. The mule was about seven or eight years old and worth about one hundred and fifty dollars. He was also arrested by the same command and carried to Lawrence County where he was liberated and allowed to return home. I don’t know that he ever received any pay or voucher for the mule taken—did not see his mule after she was taken, and don’t know that the mule was taken by order of commissioned officers, or to what service she was applied. In 1865, in march, when the arrival of General Wilson’s command made a raid through this section that they took one gray mare from claimant—don’t know her age—and I should judge worth about one hundred and fifty dollars. I did not see her taken but know he had her, and know that she was gone when the command had passed. Don’t know whether she was taken by the order and authority of commissioned officers, but suppose she was as they were taking stock everywhere from the country through which they passed. I don’t know that he ever received pay for the mare that I know of, nor do I know that he ever received a voucher, nor do I know to which service she was applied. [signed] Loyd H. Cagle.
Andrew J. Ingle, recalled to prove property stated that about the last of March or first of April 1865, I was at claimant’s place staying all night, when a lieutenant of General Wilson’s command rode up to claimant’s place and took one iron gray mare from the stable of claimant. I conversed with him. He said he was carrying a dispatch through to Decatur and that he was obliged to have the mare. He had scouts with him who were in advance. He said nothing about paying for her and I don’t think claimant asked for or received a voucher. It was nine o’clock in the evening when they came and after they had fed their horses and finished their suppers, they took his brother as a pilot and started off. I never saw the mare afterwards, and know that the animal was never returned to him. I know nothing of the taking of the mule—other than informed by him and his family. I do know that he had the property prior to Colonel Prosser’s raid through the country, and know that it was gone after they had passed through. The lieutenant when he took the mare from claimant, left a sorrel filly in her place with claimant, which I regarded was worth about seventy-five dollars. The claimant’s mare was about five or six years old and with about one hundred and fifty dollars. She was a very fine animal. [signed] A.J. Ingle
State of Alabama, Winston County: I, Robert P. Baker, Commissioner to take testimony in cases pending before "The Commissioners of Claims," now pending before them against the United States, and as Notary Public in and for the County of Morgan and State of Alabama, do certify, that William V. Curtis, of Winston County, Alabama, the claimant in this cause, and as a witness, and Loyd H. Cagle and Andrew J. Ingle of Winston County, Alabama, as witnesses, came before me at Larissa, Alabama, on the 12th day of March, A.D. 1872, the said witnesses to testify in behalf of William V. Curtis, the claimant in this cause; that before said witnesses were examined they were each severally sworn by me to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, relative to said claim; that the answers of each of said witnesses were taken down; that after the same were carefully read over to said witnesses, I caused each of them to subscribe their said deposition. And I further certify, that said depositions have not been out of my possession since they were so taken, nor have the same been in any way altered or changed. Given under my hand and seal this 20th day of March A.D., 1872. [signed] R.P. Baker, Special Commissioner
State of Alabama, County of Winston: Deposition of Benjamin F. Curtis, who being duly sworn deposes and says, I am 38 years of age and a farmer by occupation. I have lived in Winston County, Alabama for the last 20 years. I am acquainted with William V. Curtis, claimant. He is my brother. He was a Union man but was in the mail guard service in 1864. It was the Rebel mail that he guarded. He went in that service to keep from being conscripted. He served about three months. He was captured by the Federal troops and they let him go and then he came home and stayed and was not in service any more. He was a Union man all the time and was a friend to the Union men. [signed] Benjamin F. Curtis
Sworn and subscribed to before me at Curtis plantation, Winston County, Alabama. This the 21st day of May 1874. [signed] Enos Richmond, Special Agent and Commissioner
Claim of William V. Curtis, Winston County, Alabama for $300: In the above case, I cannot find any other evidence more than the claimant himself admits except he did not state that it was the Rebel mail he was guarding. The act of guarding the mail was voluntary on the part of the claimant from the fact he was sheriff of the county at the time and thereby exempted from all military duty. Aside from the two acts, that of being sheriff under Rebel rule and then guarding the Rebel mail through the county, his reputation for loyalty is good. After a thorough search for other disloyal acts or expressions of the claimant’s, I failed to find either. The Curtis family are all said to be Union men and three of claimant’s brothers was shot as stated by claimant on his evidence. The excuse given here for the claimant’s going in the mail guard service was to protect himself better from the Rebels after they had shot his brothers. I have taken but one deposition in the case and is from his brother Benjamin F. Curtis. Claimant is now living in Lauderdale County, Alabama, but I have interrogated all of the neighbors that lived near the claimant during the war. They all say he was a Union man and did much for the Union men in the neighborhood who were dodging the Rebels and evading service. The above is all the facts that I have been able to elicit in this case. [signed] Enos Richmond, Special Agent. Newburg, Alabama, May 23rd, 1874
The United States to William V. Curtis of Alabama: For the amount allowed him by Act of Congress, Private No. 71, approved March 3, 1875, entitled "An Act making appropriations for the payment of claims reported allowed by the Commissioners of claims under the Act of Congress of March 3, 1871. The sum of $300 payable in case of Stilson, Bundy and Webster, Washington, D.C. Treasury Department, Second Comptroller’s Office, March 24th, 1875 [signed] H. Spalding, Clerk. Treasury Department, Third Auditor’s Office, March 1875, [signed] James F. Allen, Clerk
Note: William V. Curtis was born 1827 and died in 1892. He was buried in the Mt. Olive Cemetery in Bankhead Forest.
The Winston Herald,23 Dec 1892