Monday, October 5, 2015

Pleasant and Lucinda

Back in July, I wrote about finding the name of my third great-grandmother, Nancy Jane Flatt, and identifying her father, Pleasant Flatt, in the 1850, 1860 and 1870 US Census. In my post from 25 July, I hinted there was more to the story of Pleasant Flatt, my 4th great-grandfather. This post sheds some light on a difficult story, and perhaps provides insight into the household that Nancy Jane grew up in before she moved to Kentucky.

Jackson County, Tennessee Court records provide a marriage date for Pleasant Flatt and his first wife Lucinda McCormack. They were married on 20 January 1845. In the 1850 US Census, Pleasant, Lucinda, and their two sons Remus F. Flatt and William B. Flatt were living next door to Lucinda's parents, Johnson and Mercilla McCormack. Also living in the household was Pleasant's nephew, Benjamin Flatt, age 13.
1850 US Census, via Ancestry.
In 1851, Pleasant and Lucinda added another member of the family, a daughter named Sarah E. Flatt. Sadly things went downhill for the family during this year. Court documents in the loose papers of Jackson County show that Johnson McCormack and Pleasant Flatt had a fight, and Pleasant forbade Lucinda from visiting her parents. It is unclear what triggered the fight, but the transcribed documents show Pleasant to have been a harsh husband. Lucinda later separated from Pleasant, moved in with her parents and filed for divorce, citing "cruel and inhumane treatment."

By 1 August 1851, the Sheriff of Jackson County intervened to take Remus (also spelled Reamus) and William from Pleasant and deliver them to Lucinda. The text below comes from the TNGenweb, Jackson County Court loose papers reel 72, which has a transcription of the divorce case filed by Lucinda and a separate case filed by Pleasant Flatt against Johnson McCormack.

"Pleasant Flatt v John McCormack, Chancery, 1852

Bill of Complaint: Pleasant Flatt against Lucinda Flatt and Johnson McCormack. Complainant is father of Reams F. Flatt, William B. Flatt and Sarah E. Flatt. That about nine months ago, defendant, who is the legal wife of Complainant, without fault on his part, left Orator carrying his children above named to the home of defendant Johnson McCormack...he and Lucinda have since detained said children. Orator as father is entitled to possession and suitable...that said children or at least the two oldest, Reams Flatt who is age 5 and William B. who is age 3 be attached and delivered to Orator. 20 March 1852. Pleasant [his X mark] Flatt.

Order: To Clerk and Master, you are commanded to order the Sheriff of Jackson County, Tennessee on a writ of habeas corpus...take possession of Reams Flatt and William Flatt, children of Pleasant Flatt and deliver to Complainant. She, the Defendant and her father McCormick will make bond...20 March 1852.

Answer: Johnson McCormack, respondent, to Bill of Complaint. It is true that Lucinda Flatt came to this house at the time mentioned. Lucinda Flat, who is a daughter of respondent had for a long time a desire to visit her parents...absolutely forbidden by said Plaintiff Flatt. She proposed to do so, and said Flatt told her never suffer to return to his house again. Lucinda did come, which caused them to disagree and separate.

Complainant said she could only return by swearing to put her hand on the bible and swear she would never visit nor speak to any of her father's family again, whereupon Lucinda filed a petition for divorce, procured attachment and had the two children Complainant had in his possession delivered to her.

Since filing said bill, Lucinda Flatt has departed this life and her youngest child Sarah E. has also died. Said Pleasant Flatt has got into his possession the above mentioned children Reamus F. Flatt and William B. Flatt.

When Lucinda came to his house she did not bring Reamus and William with her as stated. Respondent denies he prevented Plaintiff from seeing his children, and states that as soon as after the death of defendant Lucinda as he ascertained that Defendant Pleasant Flatt wanted the children, he let him have them. 5 August 1852. s/s Johnson McCormack

Bond: $1000 to Pleasant Flatt, 28 April 1852
s/s Johnson McCormack; Lucinda [X] Flatt; s/s James Draper; s/s James M. Richmond

Depositions: 4 February 1854

George Stout, age 28. Went with Flatt at his request on Sunday morning to get the children to come out and visit their father. McCormack said that he did not allow Flatt to come about the house. Lucinda, Flatt's wife, objected...thought he would take them off...that they had heard threats. George [his X mark] Stout

Adam S. Huffines age 33. As Sheriff of Jackson County, I took the children out of Complainant's possession and delivered them to his wife. Was about the 1st of August 1851. If I did request McCormack to bring Complainant's wife to Complainant's house to get the children, I don't recollect. S/s Adam S. Huffines.

Depositions: 3 February 1854

James M. Richmond age about 33. Lucinda Flatt said Flatt and her father fell out, and Flatt would not allow her to see her folk and that it was hard to not see her parents, and that it was hard for her children to be taken away from her.

I was at a trial between McCormack and Pleasant Flatt on a warrant against him for his good behavior.

After Lucinda died, McCormack told me to tell Flatt he could come and get his children. I met Flatt next morning at McCormack's and he took the two largest...think it was the second day after his wife was buried. Reams and Bur was the names of the two children he got. s/s James M. Richmond

Margaret L. Richmond age 36. Heard a conversation between Pleas and Lucinda. Mr. Flatt said if she was to live with him, she could never speak to one of her folks again. She said she would go with him if he would treat her right. This was at the Vitetoes. She spent the night with us that night. It was before she signed the bill for divorce.

I am the wife of Esq. Richmond. There was a trial there that day before Esq. Richmond. Mr. McCormack was prosecuting Mr. Flatt. Mrs. McCormack said she wanted to talk to Mr. Flatt, but Mr. Flatt would not let her. Mrs. McCormack was waiting in the slave house, and said she did not want Mr. Flatt to know she was there, because he would make Lucinda and the baby [Sarah E.] sit out in the hot sun all day. s/s Margaret L. Richmond.

Affidavit: Above depositions taken at my own house 3 February 1854, and answers are in my own handwriting. S/s Henry Richmond, J. P.

Petition: Pleasant Flatt states wife Lucinda filed petition for divorce. Her father lives not far from Petitioner, and he has become maliciously inclined toward Petitioner, believes if she does not see her father, she will be more agreeable. He and Lucinda have lived together six years in harmony. Reamus F. Flatt age 5 and Wm Burr Flatt about 3, two of the children mentioned, are boys. 15 October 1851. Pleasant [X] Flatt

Bill of Complaint: Lucinda Flatt against Pleasant Flatt. Married in Jackson County 20 January 1845. Alleges cruel and inhuman treatment. Has three children, one an infant at the breast and the other two very small. He has threatened to take the two oldest children which are in his possession and leave the country. Asks they be returned to her pending divorce. Lucinda [her mark X] Flatt

Deposition: Allen Manear, about age 47. Known Flatt about 15 years. Live about one-half mile.

Question: State if you have not heard some charges against his morals in the case of one of his nephews, Benj Flatt's son.

Answer: I think I have heard since this matter took place that he whipped a child of Ben Flatts that was living with him right severely. I have understood that he was prosecuted for being the cause of the child's death before a justice of the peace and that he was acquitted. 27 December 1851 s/s Allen Minnear.

Answer & Crossbill: Complainant and Defendant were happy until the later part of 1850. About that time, Johnson McCormic, Complainant's father and McCormic's wife went to Defendant's house and whiped [sic] him in his own house after which Defendant removed from McCormic's land where he then lived. Pleasant [X] Flatt

It is tough to think about the children dealing with this situation, young Reamus and William Flatt. Losing their mother at a young age, a baby sister, being taken away from their grandparents, and moved out of Jackson County to neighboring Overton County, Tennessee by 1860. From the records, it appears Pleasant Flatt had remarried sometime between 1853 and 1855, as Nancy Jane was born about 1855 and the family appears in Overton County in the 1860 US Census.

Reamus and "Fagan" Flatt are referenced in an 1866 chancery case from Jackson County, Tennessee, as guardians of the state of Kentucky. The case involved the estate of Thomas Brown, father of Mercilla Brown McCormack (mother of Lucinda McCormack), and the Flatt children were listed as survivors under the estate, among other descendants of Thomas Brown. It is not clear from this webpage whether the Flatt children received a disbursement from the estate. I think "Fagan" Flatt is supposed to be William B. Flatt, but it is not clear whether the appointed guardian had the names wrong. I have not been able to find William B. Flatt in the records after the 1860 US Census, and he does not appear to be living in the household of Pleasant Flatt and family in Kentucky in 1870.

Reamus does appear in Civil War records as enlisting in Overton County, Tennessee at a very early age. I think he later changed his name or perhaps Reamus was a nickname and his true given name was something else. If this assumption is correct, there is more to his story for an upcoming post.        

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