William Lewis Thomason is one of my 3rd Great-grandfathers on my mother's side. I grew up seeing a portrait of him on the wall at my grandfather, Jack Thomason's house. I have a photo of that portrait somewhere, but I can't seem to find it now. I'll have to do a search for it and place it here once I locate it.
I had heard the story of how William L. Thomason was in the Civil War and that he was captured and help prisoner up North by the Yankees and when the war was finally over he walked all the way back to Georgia from Illinois barefoot. What a fascinating story to hear, right?
As I began doing more research on this man, I come to find out that there was a lot of truth to that story. But I'll get to that in a minute.
William Lewis Thomason was born 26 March 1835 in Walton County, Georgia to parents Martin Thomason and Dicy Dial. He was one of six known children of the couple.
William married Lucinda Francis Allen in Walton County, Georgia on 22 April 1857. (I've also seen her name as Francis Lucinda; I do not know for certain which order her name goes). Together they had the following known children. There was one more child born, but must have died young. Lucinda Francis indicates in two different census records that she is the mother of 7 children.
1) John William Franklin Thomason (1859-1886)
2) James David Thomason (1867-1937) *my Great Great Grandfather
3) Lewis Evrit Thomason (1869- )
4) Benjamin Martin Thomason (1871-1953)
5) Thomas A Thomason (1873-1911)
6) Nancy E. Thomason (1879- )
From all the census records it appears that William was a farmer or laborer his whole life. Now, what about that story about him being captured by the Yankees and walking back home to Georgia. I located a scan of his Georgia, Confederate Pension Application on Ancestry.com. He applied for indigent pension 11 July 1897. Below is a transcription of that record.
Questions for Applicant
State of Georgia,
W.L. Thomason of said State and County, desiring to avail himself of the Pension Act approved December 15th, 1894, hereby submits his proofs, and after being duly sworn true answers to make the following questions, deposes and answers as follows:
1. What is your name and where do you reside?
W.L. Thomason. I live near Covington, Newton County, Georgia.
2. Where did you reside on January 1st 1894, and how long have you been a resident of this State?
I lived in Newton County-have lived in Georgia all my life.
3. When and where were you born?
March 25th, 1830 in Walton County, Georgia
4. When and in what company and regiment did you enlist or serve?
In July 1861, in Milton County in Company A, 5th Georgia Regiment
5. How long did you remain in such company and regiment?
Until the close of the war and remained in prison some time after the close of war
6. For how long a period did you discharge regular military duty?
Over 4 years.
7. When, where and under what circumstances where you discharged from service?
Was taken prisoner at Missionary Ridge, and was carried to Rock Island Illinois where remained in prison til after close of war.
8. What is your present occupation?
9. How much can you earn (gross) per annum by your own exertions of labor?
about half a living
10. What has been your occupation since 1865?
11. Upon which of the following ground do you base your application for pension. viz: first "age and poverty, "second "infirmity and poverty" or third "blindness and poverty"?
infirmity, blindness & poverty
12. If upon the first ground, state how long you have been in such condition that you could not earn your support? If upon the second, give a full and complete history of the infirmity and its extent? If upon the third state whether you are totally blind and when and where you lost your sight?
I have not been able to make a support for myself in about two years. I have a heart and lung disease and my eyesight is very bad.
13. What property, effects or income do you posses and its gross value?
none, a pony- worth about 15 dollars
14. What property, effects or income did you posses in 1894, 1895 and 1896 and disposition, if any, did you make of same?
Had nothing else in those years except a cow which I traded for pony and a few ghoats about two years ago.
15. In what County did you reside during those years and what property did you then return for taxation?
In Newton County I think I returned a cow and maybe a few hogs, not at the time.
16. How were you supported during the years 1895 and 1896?
I did some work and my boys helped me, but they are all of age now.
17. How much did your support cost for each of those years, and what portion did you contribute thereto by your own labor or income?
Sixty or seventy dollar and I suppose contributed 20 or 25 dollar on my own labor I reckon.
18. What was your employment during 1895 and 1896? What pay did you receive in each year?
Farming. Received not pay but what I made.
19. Have you a family? If so, who composes such family? Give their means of support? Have they a homestead?
I have a family consisting of my wife and one daughter. I have 4 boys all married but one. None of them own a homestead.
20. Are you receiving any pension, if so what amount and for what disability?
I am not receiving any pension.
dated 29th day of December 1896. It is marked with an x for his mark. (he could not read or write)
So there you have it. He says he was held prisoner at Rock Island, Illinois. I looked further and found his records at Fold3.com He was captured at Missionary Ridge 25 Nov 1863. he was sent to Louisville, Ky prison 7 Dec 1863 with remarks "for exchange". Then he was discharged to Rock Island, Illinois the same day. He entered Rock Island on 9 Dec 1863.
I contacted Rock Island and received the following print out from them regarding his time there.
|Excerpt of GA Regiments PDF--sent by James L. Jones, Archives Tech, Rock Island Arsenal Museum|
Digging around further on fold3.com I found his Oath of Allegiance to the USA after being held captive and right after he was released. It is dated 22 June 1865. If you look at the writing across the document it says "Transportation to Covington Ga".
So he really was captured and held prisoner in Illinois. Did he walk home barefoot? Well, he likely did walk the long road home since the railroads were destroyed. Was he barefoot? I'm sure his shoes were worn out, if he had any.
That is part of the story of the life of my 3rd great grandfather, William Lewis Thomason.
William passed away 21 Dec 1912 at the age of 77 years old.