The pension files of James F. Taylor and his widow Almarine Taylor contain more than 100 pages of testimony and notes, taken in both Dekalb County, Alabama and later in Titus County, Texas. Following is a summary of the material in these files.
James F. Taylor’s Disability Pension Claim No. 293927
James F. Taylor and his brother William F. Taylor served as privates in Company B of the 1st Alabama & Tennessee Volunteer Vidette Cavalry. James enlisted at Stevenson, Alabama (in Jackson County) on 15 September 1863 and was mustered out at the same place nine months later on 16 June 1864. During his service, in early March 1864, James contracted measles which caused a permanent lung condition that debilitated him for the rest of his life. In 1878 he applied for a disability pension (officially known as an invalid pension).
Among the papers filed in the case is his official discharge from Company B of the 1st Regiment of Independent Vidette Cavalry Volunteers (as it was described by his captain George F. Allen) dated 16 June 1864. The discharge describes him as age 24, five feet six inches tall, with a fair complexion and black eyes and hair.
- Affidavit of David L. Evans, dated 24 September 1878: He resides in DeKalb County, Alabama. He was acquainted with James F. Taylor before he entered the army and never knew him to complain of being unhealthy or to use a physician until he contracted measles while in the army. He has never been in good health since and us unable to some extent to support himself and his family. He is not related to James F. Taylor but has known him before and since his army service and knows him to be a truthful and honest man.
- Declaration of James F. Taylor, age 40, dated 31 May 1879: He resides in DeKalb County, Alabama and his post office is Porterville. He testifies as to the details of his service as shown in his enlistment papers and his honorable discharge. He declares that while in the line of duty at Bridgeport and elsewhere in Alabama on or about 4 March 1864 he was attacked with measles and carried to the hospital at Bridgeport and treated from 4 March to 29 March by the surgeon whose name he does not know. Since leaving the service he has resided in DeKalb County as a farmer. He was healthy prior to entering the service but is now an invalid, disabled from obtaining his subsistence by manual labor. He signed the application “James F. Taylor”.
- Affidavit of John Taylor and his wife Sarah E. Taylor, dated 21 April 1879 in DeKalb County, Alabama: “We are the father and mother of James F. Taylor and we know that he never was sick since he was a small child until he took the measles in the U.S. Army. Any we know that he has never enjoyed any health since on account of the disease settling on his lungs.” They state that he was in excellent health prior to entering army service, having never needed the services of a physician and never needing medicine. But “he is now an invalid disabled from obtaining his subsistence by labor“. John Taylor signed, Sarah E. Taylor signed by mark. Witnesses were Amos L. Ryan and his wife Mary E. Ryan wo lived two doors away in the 1880 census.
- Affidavit of Dr. James M. Jack, age 44, dated 14 June 1879: He has been for 15 years a resident near Porterville in Dekalb County within 4 miles of James F. Taylor. He has known and treated James F. Taylor for 8 years. James F. Taylor suffers from “an affliction of the lungs… caused in my opinion by measles and exposure, and that his condition is such that he is unable to make a living by manual labor. It is well known that Mr. Taylor was in good health when he entered the U. S. service and come back with a broken down constitution.”
- Affidavit of Dr. James R. Johnson, age 55, dated 17 June 1879: He resides at Lebanon, DeKalb County, Alabama within 4 miles of James F. Taylor. He has known Mr. Taylor for eight months. He has examined Mr. Taylor carefully and finds that he “expectorates a thick tenacious glairy like fluid and sometimes some blood caused by the measles settling on his lungs” which he contracted while in army service. The injury to his constitution has rendered him unable to perform manual labor. He has been treating himself with patent medicines, being unable to afford a physician.
- Affidavit of George H. Kirtland, dated 24 September 1879: I was personally acquainted with James F. Taylor before he entered the army and “never knew him to complain of being unhealthy” or needing the services of a physician until he contracted the measles while in army service. “He has never been in good health since and also he is unable to some extent to support himself & family.”
- Statement by James F. Taylor, dated 23 February 1880 in DeKalb County: “I lived in Walker Co., Georgia up till the year 1859. I then removed to DeKalb Co., Alabama, and remained there until I enlisted in the U. S. service. I was a farmer by occupation. Since my discharge I have been a farmer or tried to farm when I could work at all. I was attacked with measles while in the U.S. Army about the 3rd or 4th day of March 1864, was carried to the hospital at Bridgeport, Ala. and treated by the surgeons I never knew their names – was out of my mind when carried there. I was then carried back to camps and treated by our regimental surgeon Stafford. I do not remember his first name. I was discharged June 16th 1864. I have never been well since my first attack with measles. I was treated by Dr. A. J. Vann first, who now lives in DeKalb Co., Ala. then by Dr. W. A. Elrod of DeKalb Co., Ala. then by Dr. Lane of DeKalb Co., Ala. Since then I have not been able to employ a physician and have used patent medicines. I suffer very intense [and] acute attacks of pain in the breast and side, I use local remedies. I have been compelled to perform some labor since my discharge, very light labor of clear warm days on the farm. I have not been able to work any at all for more than two-thirds of the time since my discharge.” Dictated to Meredith Light, J. P. and signed by James F. Taylor.
- Statement by James F. Taylor, age 41, dated 24 July 1880. He resides in Porterville, DeKalb County1 and has lived there for two years. “I have been examined by several physicians and all agree that I am laboring under chronic bronchitis and chronic liver disease, which was contracted while in the service of the U. S. Army. I was a private in Co. B, 1st Alabama Cavalry.”
The pension was never approved. Despite the testimony of his parents and others in support of his case, the Pension Office could not find any records for his regiment during that period. The latest extant muster roll for the unit was dated 29 February 1864 and shows James F. Taylor present. Subsequent muster rolls were either not located or didn’t exist, nor were there any records from the hospital at Bridgeport. Because no official records could be produced to confirm that his disability resulted from his army service the pension was not approved but rather tabled awaiting further proof. James F. Taylor took sick and died on 10 May 1882.
Almarine Taylor’s Pension Claim of 1887 (No. 293927)
Almarine Taylor applied for a widow’s pension in 1887. Her initial attempt to secure a widow’s pension by reason of poverty was filed under the same number as James F. Taylor’s claim, No. 293927.
- Affidavit of George H. Kirtland, age 53, dated 3 September 1887: He resides at Grove Oak in DeKalb County, Alabama. He was acquainted with James F. Taylor before the war. “James F. Taylor was a healthy man before the war and since the war he was diseased very badly.” He is well acquainted with Almarine Taylor, who he knows to be the widow of James F. Taylor. “She has three children with her John F., Jesse H., and Sarah E. Taylor and she is in indigent circumstances.” There are no public records of birth and deaths of children kept in DeKalb County.
- Affidavit of Dr. D. J. Sibert, dated 2 September 1887: He is a resident of of Thirty-Nine, DeKalb County. He knew James F. Taylor for two years prior to his death and lived within 4 to 10 miles of him. He was with James F. Taylor during his last illness. Taylor suffered from chronic bronchitis and “disorder of the liver” and was unable to work. He filled prescriptions for him between 12 January 1882 and regularly thereafter until 9 May 1882, “about which time he died”. This affidavit was prepared from memoranda in the possession of Sybert.
- Affidavit of Dr. A. J. Vann, dated 22 October 1887: He resides in DeKalb County, Alabama. On 22 September 1870 he attended Almarine Taylor, wife of J. F. Taylor, and delivered her of a male child. This “from memoranda in his possession”.
- Affidavit of Rebecca Campbell, dated 15 December 1887: She resides in Marshall County, Alabama. On 2 February 1872 she attended Almarine Taylor in the capacity of midwife and delivered her of a female child. Almarine was the wife of James F. Taylor then and since.
- Affidavit of Richard Myrick, age 53, dated 15 December 1887. He resides at Sauty Mills in DeKalb County, Alabama. He states that he was present at the marriage of James F. Taylor and Almarine Callahan on 30 September 1866. He was well acquainted with James F. Taylor before the war and knew him to be “a very stout hearty man”. After the war he was in very bad health and unable to do manual labor. Almarine Taylor, the applicant, is the same person married to James F. Taylor in 1866. She is in indigent circumstances and has three children named Jno. F., J. H., and Ellen S. Taylor. There are no records of births or deaths in this county.
Apparently nothing came of this attempt. But two years later Almarine Taylor tried again.
Almarine Taylor’s Widow’s Pension Claim No. 476626
The Dependent and Disability Pension Act of 27 June 1890 provided for pensions for veterans (or their widows) who had served at least 90 days, regardless of their financial circumstances although the amount was need-based. Having failed to obtain a pension under the prior law, Almarine Taylor filed for a pension under this Act.
In 1890, when she filed for the pension, she was living in Marshall County, Alabama in a now-defunct community called Mid located in the extreme northeast corner of Marshal County about two miles west of the DeKalb County line.
- Statement of Almarine Taylor, age 55, dated 23 July 1890. She resides in Mid, Marshall County, Alabama and is the widow of James F. Taylor. She declares that she was married to James F. Taylor on 30 September 1866 in DeKalb County, Alabama by Meredith Light, J.P. Her name at marriage was Almarine Callahan. James F. Taylor enlisted on 15 September 1863 in Company B of the 1st Regiment of the Alabama Vidette Cavalry Volunteers and was honorably discharged on 16 June 1864. He died in DeKalb County, Alabama on 10 May 1882. She has not remarried. [She made a similar declaration on 4 August 1890.]
- Affidavit of Meredith Light, J.P., age 63, dated 23 September 1890. He resides in Thirty-Nine, DeKalb County. He was an acting justice of the peace on or about 30 September 1866 when he solemnized the marriage between James F. Taylor and Almarine Callahan. He has been acquainted with Almarine Taylor from her marriage until the present day.
This marriage does not appear in the DeKalb County marriage registers.
- Affidavit of Dr. G. B. May, age 62, dated 23 September 1890: He resides at Hillians Store in Marshall County, Alabama and has been “personally acquainted with Almarine Taylor for many years & has been her family physician for years & know her to be physically unable to earn a support”. He states that she is very poor and has no income from any source.
- Affidavit of Martha A. Myrick, age 32, dated 7 October 1890: She resides in Mid, Marshall County, Alabama. She states that on 10 May 1882 she was present at the residence of James F. Taylor in DeKalb County, Alabama and saw him die.
- Affidavit of J. F. Myrick, age 29, dated 7 October 1890: He resides in Mid, Marshall County, Alabama. He states that on 10 May 1882 he was present at the residence of James F. Taylor in DeKalb County, Alabama and was by his bedside when he died.
- Affidavit of John H. Holland, age 25, dated 7 October 1890: He resides at Hillians Store in Marshall County, Alabama. He has been acquainted with Almarine Taylor for ten or fifteen years and states that she is “totally unable to do anything in the way of labor to make a support”. has been her family physician for years & know her to be physically unable to earn a support”. He states that she is very poor and has no income from any source.
Almarine Taylor’s Widow’s Pension Claim No. 473617
By 1897 Almarine Taylor and her children had joined her Taylor in-laws in Titus County, Texas. After moving to Texas she tried again to claim a pension. Some of the persons testifying on her behalf were the same people who had earlier testified for her or her husband back in Alabama.
- Affidavit of Willis C. Carpenter, age 76, dated 9 January 1898. He resides near Cookville and has known Almarine Taylor for the last 46 years. She married James F. Taylor on 30 September 1866 after the death of her first husband T. Callahan, who died 13 April 1856. Almarine “lived with my family” until she married James F. Taylor. He personally knew Francis Taylor, former wife of James F. Taylor, who died on 30 November 1864. He was present at the funeral of both T. Callahan and Francis Taylor. He states that Almarine Taylor has no property and no means of support other than her daily labor, and is not physically able to do manual labor.
- Affidavit of James M. Southerland, age 57, dated 12 January 1898. He resides near Cookville and has been acquainted with Almarine Taylor for 45 years. Francis Taylor, former wife of James F. Taylor, died on 30 November 1864. Almarine Callahan was married to James F. Taylor on 30 September 1866. Almarine’s first husband, T. Callahan, died on 13 April 1856. J. M. Southerland was a neighbor of T. Callahan and Almarine when Callahan died. He has been personally acquainted with Almarine Taylor since about the year 1853 and they have been neighbors most of the time since. Almarine Taylor has no property and no means of support other than her daily labor.It isn’t clear how James M. Southerland and Almarine Southerland were related. James, age 9, was in the household of Henry and Anna Southerland in the 1850 census of Marshall County. This testimony suggests that he and Almarine did not meet for another few years.
Note that, despite these two claims that James Taylor’s first wife Francis died in 1864, a woman claiming to be her was alive as late as 1901. See the separate explanation.
- Affidavit of Dr. D. J. Sibert, age 46, dated 16 August 1898: He is a resident of of Thirty-Nine, DeKalb County, Alabama. He was called in to see James F. Taylor in early 1882 in Marshall County, Alabama and treated him until about 1 May 1882 when he was moved to DeKalb County Alabama to be nearer to me. The disease was a complication of lungs and liver trouble. The patient said that he had measles while in service for the U. S. at Bridgeport, Alabama. I think the disease was of long standing and probably occurred about as stated by the patient. “He died under my treatment about the 10th of May 1882.” (An attached note says that Dr. Sybert dictated the statement because he had been partially paralyzed since 1890 and was only able to sign his name.)
- Affidavit of William F. Taylor (brother of James F. Taylor), age 57, dated 8 September 1898: He resides in Omaha, Morris County, Texas but makes this statement in Titus County, Texas. “I were in the United States service with James F. Taylor during the year 1864 in the month of March he James F Taylor was sick with measles and was sent to the hospital at Bridgeport, Alabama and I was detailed to accompany him as a nurse while sick with measles.” He further states that he believes the disease caused his general health to “permanently give away” and he did not recover sufficiently to do duty afterwards. He was afflicted with a severe cough and the lung trouble continued to afflict him until his death.
- Affidavits of David L. Evans, dated 8 and 19 September 1898: He resides near Cookville in Titus County, Texas. He was personally acquainted with James F. Taylor and served in the U. S. Army with him. Taylor took sick with measles in March 1864 which resulted in a severe cough and lung trouble. He never regained his health, was unable to perform duties until he was discharged from the army. He lived as a neighbor to James F. Taylor for many years until his death, and knows that the lung trouble caused by measles disabled him from doing manual labor “at least half if not three-quarters of his time after discharge”.
- Second Affidavit of William F. Taylor (brother of James F. Taylor), age 57, dated 21 September 1898. He is a resident of Omaha, Morris County, Texas but makes this statement in Titus County, Texas. “I was in the Unites States Army service with James F. Taylor and know of him being sick with measles while in the Army.” When James F Taylor was discharged he “was troubled with severe lungs or cough.” I lived a neighbor to him after his discharge from the army continuously until the time of his death, and can swear that he was disabled at least half the time from performing manual labor by reason of his lung trouble.
- A note by the Titus County Tax Collector states that Almarine Taylor’s name does not appear on the tax rolls for the year 1887. (This is proof that she owns no taxable assets.)
- Statement of Almarine Taylor, age 64, residing “near Cookville” in Titus County, Texas, dated 10 September 1898: “I have no knowledge as to the whereabouts of any of the officers or the surgeon of my husband’s company or regiment, and do not know anyone that does. Therefore it would be impossible for me to furnish an affidavit from either.”
- Second statement of Almarine Taylor, age 64, residing “near Cookville” in Titus County, Texas, dated 1 October 1898: She states that two or three doctors attended James F. Taylor after his service and might testify that his condition was incurred while in the army. But she does not know their whereabouts and thinks all of them are dead except for Dr. W. D. Sybert who attended him in his last illness. She is otherwise unable to supply proof of his disability.
- Third statement of Almarine Taylor, age 64, residing “near Cookville” in Titus County, Texas, dated 18 October 1898: “I, Almarine Taylor, widow of James F. Taylor deceased, do hereby certify that I was not acquainted with the said James F. Taylor until about the year of the surrender but I was always informed that him and others that knew him that he never served in the Confederate army or navy.” She signed by her mark.
- Third Affidavit of William F. Taylor (brother of James F. Taylor), age 57, dated 18 October 1898. He states that James F. Taylor never served in the Confederate army or navy before volunteering in the U. S. Army. He knows this from his own personal knowledge “being a near neighbor before he went into the service of the United States and living near the said James F. Taylor when the war come up between the states.”
- Affidavit of Henry S. Taylor (brother of James F. Taylor), of Cookville, dated 18 October 1898. He states that he has personal knowledge that James F. Taylor never served in the Confederate army or navy before volunteering in the U. S. Army “I being personally acquainted with him and living near him for a number of years before he went into the United States Army.”
Notice that Almarine Taylor and her brothers-in-law William F. Taylor and Henry S. Taylor all appeared before the same judge on the same day.
- Her attorney in Washington, Joseph H. Hunter, notified the Pension Bureau on 9 February 1899 that Almarine Taylor had changed her address to Crescent, Texas. This must have been very temporary.
She was awarded a pension of $8 per month.
An Illegal Marriage?
On 22 August 1903 the Pension Office notified Almarine Taylor (whose address was then Mt. Pleasant, Texas) that her pension was invalid and would be terminated. The reason given was that James F. Taylor’s first wife Francis was still alive (and had not been divorced until 1867) and therefore Almarine’s marriage to James F. Taylor was illegal. Because, they said, she was not legally married she could not be pensioned as his widow.
Almarine Taylor apparently did not respond to the notice, as there is nothing in the file to indicate that she contested the decision. In the absence of a rebuttal, the Pension Office ordered on 10 October 1903 that the pension be dropped.
There had been testimony given by two men that James F. Taylor’s first wife Francis Reeves had died in 1864. However, Francis was still alive and was herself receiving a pension on the Civil War service of her third husband James H. Cantrell. The Pension Bureau apparently noticed that her marriage to Cantrell predated the death of her first husband James F. Taylor and asked her to prove that her own marriage was legal by giving evidence of a divorce from Taylor. She first responded that she and Taylor had been divorced in Winston County, Alabama but all records of that county had been destroyed and were unavailable. She later declared that she and Taylor were divorced by the DeKalb County chancery court in April 1867. That date was convenient for her, apparently being just prior to her marriage to her second husband, Samuel Wiley. It was unfortunate for poor Almarine, as it convinced the Pension Bureau that her marriage in 1866, a year before the divorce, was not a legal marriage.
For more on the first marriage, see the separate page on Frances M. Reeves.
- This community, later known as Portersville, is just southwest of Ft. Payne. [↩]