|The Final Journey|
By the year 1846, John, weary of the battle,
made the journey into Greeneville, Tennessee where he stated his case one last
time to Andrew Johnson. Very old and destitute now, John was probably tired and
wearied from the long battle with the Pension Commissioner. His son, Berryman,
probably drove him in a wagon that day to the town of Greenville, Tennessee. The
records indicate that John and Edy were living alternately with their children.
Berryman lived approximately, 20-30 miles from Greeneville. This would have been
a good day’s journey from Berryman’s home in a wagon.
It is unknown where John met with Mr. Johnson that day in Greeneville, but it was probably at the little tailor shop, which still stands in the town of Greeneville. Mr. Johnson was known to have spent the majority of his time at this location when he was in Greeneville. Mr. Johnson took pity on John’s frail health and age and immediately sent a request to Mr. J. L. Edwards in Washington to ask him the same questions that had been asked for the past seven to eight years. One would surely get tired of answering these questions at some point but apparently Mr. Edwards did not.
A letter from Mr. Edwards on January 1, 1846 suggests that Mr. Johnson had left some papers at Mr. Edward’s office and I am assuming this had taken place on one of Mr. Johnson’s trips to Washington. These papers were in connection with the case of John Scalf Sr. What existed in these papers is unknown to me for they did not exist in the pension file of John Scalf Sr. Only a statement from Mr. Edwards stating they were being returned is listed. (Edwards to Johnson 1846)
A letter was sent to Mr. Edwards from Mr. Johnson on a date that is illegible, but the month and year is January 1846. This document states that Mr. Johnson knew the reputation of some of the men involved in this case and gave his recommendation concerning their characters. Mr. Johnson also stated that he had no solitary doubt upon the subject and that John had been “too long deprived of his pension upon the vague surmise of some malicious persons in his neighborhood.” He also stated that John was living upon the charity of his neighborhood and he solicited Mr. Edward’s attention to the old man’s case. (Johnson to Edwards-1846)
In March of 1846, Mr. Johnson sent another request to Mr. Edwards. This is not stated on the document but a copy of the jacket for this document states: to Mr. J. L. Edwards.
Mr. Johnson requested that a copy of the bounty land certificate for the alleged bounty land received by John be sent to him. For reasons unknown, it appears that Mr. Johnson determined from his investigation that John had not received this bounty land for Mr. Johnson took the matter one step farther and on June 12, 1846, he presented a motion to the committee in Washington. This motion reads as follows:
By Mr. Andrew Johnson: A petition of John Scalf, of Hawkins county, and State of Tennessee, praying for a grant, of two-hundred and ninety-seven acres of land on account of his services during the revolutionary war in the North Carolina continental line: which was referred to the Committee on Revolutionary Claims.” (Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, 1789-1873--FRIDAY, June 12, 1846-Library of Congress, Pg. 948)
This action suggests to me that Mr. Johnson determined from his investigation that John had not received any bounty land and was therefore requesting what he felt was due John Sr.
No documents were found in the pension file of John Sr. to suggest anything relating to this action or that John had requested bounty land. It is possible that this correspondence was lost or was not included in the pension file.
Whatever took place between Mr. Johnson and Mr. Edwards that was not included in the pension file, certainly proved to be effective for John for on January 28, 1846, it was ordered that John’s pension be reinstated. A record of the date of correspondence is the only document that relates information concerning this.
Mr. Edwards had sent a letter to Mr. Johnson and one to Mr. Lyons at the Knoxville Agency with a copy of the pension certificate. Mr. Edwards also noted on this record of correspondence that the certificate Mr. Johnson had requested from the State of North Carolina concerning the bounty land was furnished to Mr. Johnson along with the date. This does confirm that Andrew Johnson received the information from the state of North Carolina concerning the bounty land certificate.
In response to Mr. Edwards, a letter from Mr. William Lyons of the Knoxville agency was sent to the pension office requesting to know whether to pay Mr. Scalf from March 4, 1838 or from the date of “your last letter” which would have been January of 1846. This document is faded on one side but reads clearly enough to understand what it consists of. (Wm Lyons to pension office-1846)
Notation is made on the correspondence record of a letter sent to the Knoxville agency on April 6, 1846. It is unknown what this letter may have concerned but may have been the confirmation of the pension restoration.
Notation is also made of a letter to Mr. Johnson on March 16, 1848. This may have been to inform him of the death of John Sr.; however, this is only speculation, as this letter does not exist in the file.
John had spent the last seven or eight years pleading with any Justice of the Peace that would hear his story and many did. The family had spent money they could not afford and some of the clerks had sent letters without charge out of pity for the old soldier.
In a matter of only twenty-seven days, the influence of one man proved to carry more weight than the influence of the man who had the pension revoked. For years, malice and vengeance had caused an old soldier to be deprived of his rights and his honor. The honor of being a soldier in the war that established the freedom of this country was mangled but not destroyed. John Sr. rose to meet the occasion as he had at the battle of Guilford. John Sr. had not rested until the record was set straight. When most would have given up in the face of these disappointments, John persistently continued the battle.
Although the pension was restored, it is unknown if John received any amount of back pay for the lost years. The records do not reflect that he did. John did receive $80.00 in the year of 1847. However, in the year 1848, as it had ten years prior, the pension abruptly stopped again as it had in 1838. The old soldier had given up the battle for good. Oddly enough, John had received his pension for the same amount of time as when it was first re-instated. John received the installments for one year when he was first admitted to the rolls. After the pension was restored, he received the installments for one year before he died.
On March 10, 1848 John Scalf Sr. closed his eyes in peace knowing that he had won the battle, as he had the first battle as a child in 1777. John was due a check in this month and he may have received this or he may not have. A note in the pension file reflects that he did not.
A note had been sent to the Knoxville Agency requesting to know when John was paid last. A note is dated March 9, 1848 from the Knoxville agency to the Pension Office stating that John had been paid to 4 September 1847 at $80.00 per anum. John Sr. would die the day after this letter was written. The first installment for the year of 1848, due in March was most likely not received. If it had been, it would have been returned. (Knoxville Agency-1847)
The battle was over for John; however, his wife Edy would have to face a few of the same trials with her widows pension as John had faced previously. Edy did not have the problems to the extent that John did but Edy was not physically able to go to the courthouse to make an oath in order to submit her proof of being the widow of John Scalf Sr. (McVey to Pension Commissioner)
This statement was sent to the Commissioner of Pensions. Edy was required to make her statement under oath and somehow Edy managed to do this. At this time, the Justice of the Peace stated that Edy was between 80 and 90 years old. Edy was unable to remember by now the date when she had married John. She stated she knew she had been married to John “not before he entered the service but before 1800.” (Statement of Edy Scalf)
Mr. James Cleek, who had been a neighbor and knew the couple in North Carolina made the statement that he knew they were married in Edgecombe County, North Carolina where he had lived and had known them at that time. (James Cleek-1851)
Most of the documents concerning Edy are documents that relate to her movements after the death of John. Each time Edy moved, the agency where she received her check would have to be changed.
By the enumeration of the 1850 census of Tennessee, John Jr., Ira, William and several of the families from the 1840 Hawkins County census were living in Claiborne County, Tennessee. Claiborne had been formed in 1801 from parts of Grainger and Hawkins Counties. Grainger had been formed in 1796 from Hawkins and Knox Counties so it is evident that these families had moved from Hawkins to Claiborne and was not due to county boundary changes. (1850 Claiborne Co. census)
Edy was now living in the home of her son, John Jr. and his wife, Martha “Patsy” Counts Scalf. Ira and his family were living nearby. Ira had married Rosannah Gibson 1830-1834 and they most likely married in Russell County, Virginia. Several epidemics hit the area during the 1850s and Ira lost his wife, Rosannah, and daughter, Pacify, in this epidemic.
It is unknown if any of the other Scalf, Trent, Collins, Lockhard, Painter or Williams families lost family members during this epidemic. According to the death records of Russell County, Virginia, this epidemic wiped out complete families during this time and Russell appears to be one of the hardest hit areas. Many families lost two and three children on the same day along with a parent and sometimes both parents and all the children.
The records suggest that Edy lived with her son, John Jr. It is reported that she went to Clay County, Kentucky to live with Ira and his new wife, Nancy Killion McVay sometime after 1854. It is not known if Edy died while living with Ira or if she died at the home of one of her other sons.
The last record I have from the pension file concerning Edy is dated 1854. On February 19, 1854, it was requested by John Elliott that Edy’s check be made payable at Louisville, as Edy had moved to Knox County, Kentucky. Edy would have been around 85 years old at this time. John would have been around 84 or 85 years old at his death if he was born in 1765 or 1766. Edy stated in her deposition that her husband was about four years older than her. This would calculate a birth date for Edy of 1768 or 1769. (Elliott-Feb. 19, 1854)
The Scalf Family History, by Elmer Scalf, states that Edy was living in Knox County, Kentucky in 1857 where she sold her bounty land of 160 acres. This can be found in the Chapter of John Scalf Sr. Revolutionary Soldier. Elmer states that she lived on until about 1860 and possibly in the home of her son, Peter Scalf who had moved to Knox County from Clay County, Kentucky. If this is correct, Edy would have been around 91 years old at her death.
This lady had suffered a tremendous amount in her 91 years but had stood by her husband and her family through all the trials and tribulations that afflicted them. She had witnessed this country in its infancy and then as an independent nation in her lifetime. She gave birth to sixteen children, losing two of them and her husband. She lived to know of numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. This lady had survived during the toughest aspects of frontier life and lived to recall it.
John Sr. does indeed deserve the honor bestowed upon a Revolutionary Soldier, but the faithful woman at his side also deserves as much honor for her undying dedication to him and her family.
Copyright (C) 2002-2008 by Margaret Fleenor, All Rights Reserved.