Adjutant General's Office, 13 Aug 1907, Benjamin Franklin was enrolled 14 Jun 1864 at Knoxville TN and was mustered in same date as a private of Co. H, 1st US Colored Heavy Artillery, to serve three years, and was honorably discharged 31 Mar 1866 with his company, as a private, at Chattanooga TN. Claimant Sarah Fine (her X mark) Franklin states at the bottom of the sheet that she was dependent on her brother, Ben Franklin, for her support, being only 12 years of age at the time.

Correspondence, Sarah Fine Franklin, Greeneville, Greene Co. TN, to Mr. J.L. Davenport, 22 Oct 1909, Will you please inform me where this man Benjamin Franklin is at present that has been drawing his money. This man is my uncle, my brother Benjamin Franklin died at Capt. Stores [sic] house just after the war before he drew his bounty. My uncle Jim Spurgeon got my letters and tore part of them off before I got them and then would give it to me and my mother got the letter then and made away with it and I have been informed that this Jim Spurgeon is signing his name in my brother Benjamin Franklin name and drawing the bounty my brother should have left for me. P.S. We were orphans.

Correspondence, J.A. Cudly, Chief, Law Division, to Chief, Special Examination Division, 25 Oct 1909, Bureau of Pensions, I transmit herewith a letter purporting to have been written by Mrs. Sarah F. Franklin of Greeneville, Greene Co TN, requesting information as to the whereabouts of one Benjamin Franklin, who is alleged to be the writer's uncle, it being stated that the writer's brother, Benjamin Franklin, died at Capt. Stove's [sic] house just after the war, and before he drew his bounty, and that the writer's uncle, Jim Spurgeon, got her letters, tore a part of them off before she received them and then made way with the money, he, Jim Spurgeon, signing the name of the writer's deceased brother, Benjamin Franklin. You are to call upon the writer to obtain from her such information as she may possess tending to show that Jim Spurgeon has impersonated, or is impersonating, a soldier by the name of Benjamin Franklin.

Deposition of Sarah (her X mark) Fine Franklin, 4 Nov 1909, at Greeneville, Greene Co TN, by H.L. Williams, I don't know my exact age, but when the war came up I was a child 8 or 10 years old. I am a wash woman and cook. My address is Greeneville, Greene Co. TN. I belonged to Mr. Joe Spurgeon of Sullivan Co. TN and I had a brother Benjamin who also belonged to Mr. Spurgeon. During the war me and my brother Benjamin were sold and I was bought by Mr. Enoch Bachman of Sullivan, and my brother was sold to a Mr. Franklin who lived in Cocke Co. TN. I had an uncle named James Spurgeon who belonged to my ----- [master?] and he was a blacksmith and worked at Muddy Creek, Sullivan Co. TN, till after the war closed. My brother enlisted in the army from Cocke Co. TN under the name Benjamin Franklin and I saw him while he was a soldier at Blountville..... He wrote to me from Ohio after the war. It was near PA, but I don't know the P.O. He had gone home with Capt. Story who knew him in the army. Then I heard later that he had died at Capt. Story's. I was informed of that from somebody in Washington City who wrote that he had been buried in military style. Capt. Story wrote me right after the war that my brother was sick and that if he lived till this fall he was coming after me. That was the same year the war closed, I believe. .... Then I did not know anything more about the matter till I wrote about my brothers bounty and then I was informed that my brother was alive and getting a pension. But I know this is wrong and I believed at once that my uncle James Spurgeon was posing as my brother and getting his pension. My said uncle was a Campbellite preacher and had gone to Maryville TN and the man who got the pension was at Maryville ..... Then again when I got Captain Story's letter it was given to me by my said uncle and it had been opened and Captain Story's address was torn off. Then again I saw a man who had been to Maryville I think, and told me after my uncle had preached at Rogersville for a time, that my uncle was a Spurgeon but was going under another name, which he did not remember, but when I mentioned "Franklin" he said he believed that was it...... My brother was short and black and he was tolerably heavy set. He had a very sharp chin and was only a boy when he enlisted. I don't think he was over 16 or 18 years old. My uncle James looked something like my brother but a good deal older. I expect he was 10 years older than my brother. No sir I am sure my uncle was never called Benjamin or Franklin before he left this part of the state perhaps 25 years ago.

Deposition, 4 Nov 1909, Edward (his X mark) Woodford, I am 65 years old, am a labourer, my address is Greeneville, Greene Co. TN. I was a private in Co. M, 1st U.S. C.H.A. My captain was William R. Storey, from Ohio, I think. I enlisted Oct. 13th, 1864 and was discharged May 13, 1865. I knew two men in my regiment named Franklin. They came from Cocke Co. from old "Speculator Franklin," but they were not in my company..... I don't know what became of the Franklin boys. No I don't know that they were any kin to each other. One was named Benjamin and the other was James, I think. Benjamin was black and not a tall man. He was young and had no beard..... I knew of the preacher James Spurgeon but don't know if I ever saw him. They tell me that he gone down below here by the name of James Franklin and I have also heard that he draws a pension and that his name is Spurgeon, but I don't know anything about the man myself.... I know this woman Sarah Fine Franklin here and she's claiming that Benjamin Franklin was her brother but I could not say whether he was or not. I am not related to any body connected with the matter.

Deposition, 5 Nov 1909, Henry (his X mark) Spurgeon, I am 79 years old, am a laborer. My address is Johnson City, Washington Co. TN. I was a slave of Joseph Spurgeon. I had a sister Millie Spurgeon and she had a son named Ben and a daughter Sarah, full brother and sister. Sarah lives in Greenville TN now. Before the war, Ben was sold to a man named Rosingham and taken to VA and sold at Richmond, and was taken to Mississippi. We heard of him down in MS before the war. He was then at Jackson MS. That was the last I heard of him till after the war was over. After the war he wrote to the Spurgeon where he was raised, and I was told by my master's son-in-law, d---d [???], that the letter came, but I never saw the letter or how it read. I heard, I don't know how, that Ben had been in the army. I don't know where Ben was when he wrote the letter. I don't know what name he was going under. No sir I never knew him be called Franklin, except his birth name was Benjamin Franklin and he was owned by the Spurgeon and those were all the names I knew him to have. No sir I never knew he was owned by a man named Franklin. No, I never heard he was in Cocke Co. TN. He was taken from Richmond to Jackson MS before the war and that is all I heard of him till after the war. Of----[???] he could have been sold after he was sent to Jackson and he may have been in Cocke Co. after that. No, I never saw him in time of the war. Yes sir his sister Sarah might have seen him. I have not seen her for 25 or 20 years. No sir I never heard of Ben being with a Captain Storey in Ohio or that he died there. I had a brother named James Spurgeon, who died in Knoxville TN, 12 or 13 years ago. He was a Campbellite preacher and a blacksmith. He was never in the army and never drew a pension. I know of a small black man named Franklin, don't recall his first name, a preacher at Maryville, educated at the Maryville College. I heard him speak in Jonesboro TN. I don't know if he had been a soldier. No sir he was not old enough to have been in the civil war. Oh no sir, I could not say a thing as to what company or regt. Benjamin Franklin Spurgeon was in, if he was in the federal army as I heard. Ben was 15 or 16 years old when the war came up. His mother was 4 years older than me, and she must have been about 18 when Ben was born. I expect I was 14 or 15 years older than Ben. I have no interest in this case. Have understood the questions and my statements are correctly recorded in this deposition which has been read to me. Ben was not grown when I last saw him. He was black. He had no peculiarity about him. He could not read or write. Have heard this read and it is correct. Henry (his X mark) Spurgeon. Attest, Benjamin F. Moore, and Lola McQueen.

Letter, H.L. Williams, Special Examiner, to The Commissioner of Pensions, 5 Nov 1909, Johnson City TN, upon calling upon the complainant, I thought the information she gave was of sufficient importance to warrant an examination into the case of Benjamin Franklin, Co. H, 1st US Heavy Artillery, pensioned on the rolls of the Knoxville Agency, under certificate No. 864969, and whose address is Maryville, Blount Co. TN. The complainant has several different names and she appropriated the name of Franklin, as she informed me, because her brother had taken said name. She believes that her uncle, James Spurgeon, is impersonating her brother and gave what appeared to be good reasons for her belief, but I found a brother of said James Spurgeon and he testifies that James Spurgeon died in Knoxville TN, 12 or 13 years ago and that he never was pensioned. Of course it is not improbable that the pensioner is the man who rendered the service and that the complainant's brother was either not a soldier at all or that he served in some other organization. The affiant says that she saw her brother while he was a soldier and that after the war he wrote to her from Ohio where he had been taken by Captain Storey who had commanded a company in her brother's regiment; also that Capt. Storey wrote her that her brother was sick, etc. She states that she was informed from Washington during the period when Judge Lochren was Commissioner that her brother was dead (I cannot understand how she could have received such a communication from the Bureau, but she evidently had some kind of letter from Washington). She says that her brother was sold to a man named Franklin in Cocke Co. TN, and that he went from there to the army under the name of Benjamin Franklin and served in the regiment with Capt. Storey, but in a different company. Now this is an ignorant woman and she has had considerable correspondence in regard to her brother, etc., and it is impossible to determine how much of her testimony is based upon her own knowledge and how much of it is her own conclusions arrived at from information gained from others. Still the fact remains that she swears that her brother was in Ohio with Capt. Storey, etc., and it is a fact that Capt. William R. Storey commanded Co. M, 1st U.S.C.H. Artillery. Morever, Edward Woodford who was a member of Co. M, says that he remembers that two Franklin boys were in the regiment and that they had belonged to "Speculator Franklin" of Cocke Co. TN. It is probable that an examination of the papers in the claim of Benjamin Franklin will be all that is necessary to determine the true facts as to the pensioner's identity. The pensioner does not live in my district, and it might be expedient to send them to another special examiner. I spent some time among the colored members of the soldiers' home here and saw a number of those who had served in the 1st Colored H.A. but one, Jefferson Cates, was in Co. H, and he is too weak minded to give any information. One, Jeff. McQueen, a former member of Co. M, told me he remembered a young boy in the regiment who waited on the officers and that his name was Franklin, but he could give nothing further and I did not take his deposition.

Law Division, Correspondence 11 Nov 1909 regarding alleged service of Benjamin Franklin Spurgeon, under Capt. William R. Story, Co. M, 1st U.S.C.H.A. As the complainant in this case (Sarah F. Franklin of Greeneville TN) alleged that her brother was a slave of the Spurgeon family, it is possible that she is a daughter of Amelia J. Rutledge who filed an application for pension, No. 646472, and that she is entirely mistaken with reference to the identity of the man pensioned under certificate No. 864969, Benjamin Franklin, of Co. H.. Geo. C. Stewart, Law Division.

Correspondence, 11 Nov 1909, Acting Commissioner to Sarah Fine Franklin, Greeneville, TN, in your deposition of the 4th instant before Special Examiner H.L. Williams, you state, among other things, that your brother, Benjamin Franklin, was a slave of one Spurgeon, served with the Federal army, and after the close of the war died in the State of Ohio, as you were informed by a letter from Captain Story. You further state that you do not know to what company and regiment your brother belonged and that you suspect that your uncle, James Spurgeon, has "personated" your brother Benjamin Franklin, or Benjamin Franklin Spurgeon. It appears from records of this Bureau that Amelia J. Rutledge of Greeneville TN, on 14 Jan 1897, filed an application for pension as the mother of Benjamin F. Spurgeon, in Co. M, 1st US Colored Heavy Artillery, and you are requested to return this letter with an endorsement showing whether Amelia J. Rutledge was your mother.

Correspondence, 17 Nov 1909, Greeneville TN, Sarah Fine (her X mark) Franklin to the Commissioner of Pensions, Sir, I beg leave to say that Amelia J. Rutledge mentioned in this letter was my mother and the mother of the soldier.

Correspondence, 23 Nov 1909, Acting Commissioner to Sarah Fine Franklin, Greeneville, TN, in response to your letter of the 17th instant, in that Amelia J. Rutledge was your mother, and the mother of the soldier, you are advised that the application of Amelia J. Rutledge for pension has been abandoned since May 1897, when George Bancroft & Co., the attorneys of record in said claim, were advised that the records of the War Dept. failed to show that Benjamin Franklin Spurgeon had served in said company and regiment. Benjamin Franklin, late of Co. H, 1st US Colored Heavy Artillery, who resided at Maryville, Blount Co. TN, when last heard from, is a pensioner under certificate No. 864969, and prior to the allowance of his claim, testimony was obtained which established, to the satisfaction of this Bureau. his identity as the soldier who performed the service. There is no provision of law under which a dependent sister can be pensioned as such unless a claim was filed in her behalf before she attained the age of 16, or prior to July 1, 1880. For the reasons above stated no cause for further action on the part of this Bureau appears to exist.

Go Back to Family Section