Friday, August 28, 2015

Pursuing every lead

A regular topic on the blog has been the identity of my third-great-grandparents, the parents of Mary Alice Cain Read and her brother Harl Cain. Last month I wrote about a potential break in the brick wall, based on the recent Ancestry database for the US Social Security Applications and Claims index. The result of that search was a name for my third-great-grandmother, Jane Flatt, but no name for the father of Mary Alice and Harl.

Yesterday a large packet arrived from the US National Archives in St. Louis, containing the Civil War pension file of Pleasant Morgan. The file runs about 200 pages, there is quite a lot to go through. However, I am now feeling certain that Jane Flatt was the same person as Nancy Jane Flatt, second wife of Pleasant Morgan. This puts a new light on the marriage bond between my 2nd-great-grandparents Charlie Read and Mary Alice Cain, which was signed by Pleasant Morgan as surety on 14 February 1895.
Source: Ancestry; Marriage license of Pleasant Morgan & Nancy Jane Flatt.
Pleasant Morgan states in his pension application that he was born on 6 July 1845 in Jackson County, Tennessee (other sources have his birth year as 1846). He enlisted on 25 August 1863 as a private in Company F, 52nd Regiment of the Kentucky Mounted Infantry, and was discharged on 18 January 1865. I will leave the description of Pleasant's Civil War service for a separate post. The declaration states that Pleasant was 5'3", with a fair complexion, blue eyes and light hair.

The initial gold in this file were the answers supplied by Pleasant on two forms required by the Bureau of Pensions, one dated 4 May 1898, and a second dated 7 May 1915. On both forms, Pleasant answered questions about his current and previous wives, and provided some information on his children (though conflicting with other sources). While it is difficult to try to infer why he did not answer the questions fully or consistently over the years, from viewing the large pension file, it becomes clear that his primary focus was overcoming years of repeated rejections from the Pension Office.

In 1898, Pleasant lists his wife as the former Josephine Poynter, married 7 Dec 1892 (this could be 1894 or 1897) in Metcalfe County, Kentucky. His previous wives were: First, Eliza Finn and second, Nannie Flat (he says she died in June 1892 but this conflicts with other information that she died on 30 September 1894). Pleasant also lists the names of three children: Frank Morgan, Trudy Morgan and Evy Morgan (all children of Nancy Jane Flatt, and therefore half-siblings of Mary Alice and Harl). He does not name any children of his first wife. One such daughter, Lucy Jane Morgan, married Albert Shirley Read, a brother of my 2nd-great-grandfather Charlie Read.
Source: Civil War Pension File, US National Archives.
The 1915 document provides a potential answer on the identify of my 3rd-great-grandfather. Pleasant lists a name - Robert Kain.
Source: Civil War Pension File, US National Archives.
He also lists a marriage date with first wife Eliza Finn, 24 August 1865. I am grateful that Pleasant took the time to list the name of Nancy Flatt's first husband, as I have seen no indication of this on any other document. Unfortunately Pleasant did not list the names and dates of birth for his children. He lists numbers of children by each wife, but I also do not know if this is accurate.

Now I have a new lead, and am searching for more information on a Robert Cain/Kain who may have been living in Kentucky between 1877-1880, or at least prior to Nancy Flatt's marriage to Pleasant Morgan on 3 October 1884 in Barren County.

There's much more in this file, and I'll save this for future posts.

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