Friday, May 20, 2011

My Lawson Ancestors

Spencer B. Lawson, son of Jonas and Sarah Bailey Lawson, was born in Hawkins County, Tennessee in 1825. Lawson enlisted in the United States Army and served during the Mexican War. In 1850 he married Mary Ann Johnson, daughter of William D. and Dorothy Lane Johnson. To this union were born six children. Amanda Jane, born 1861 is my maternal great grandmother.

According to Mary Ann's obituary published in Big Stone Gap, Virginia in 1925, Spencer made the choice during the Civil War to remain loyal to the Union, saying that he would not take up arms against the flag he fought under. It was further asserted that he was taken as a prisoner of war and interned in the infamous Andersonville prison.

I visited Andersonville about fourteen years ago and found that there was no record of a Spencer Lawson, although there were other Lawsons from Hawkins County who had been held there. Subsequently I obtained records from the National Archives which I have reproduced here in part. These documents indicate that Lawson was indeed held as a prisoner of war, and following a series of hospitalizations he died in Annapolis, Maryland 1n 1865.
Mrs. Lawson later filed for benefits as a military widow. I have many pages of documents and affadavits that were generated during the processing of her claim. She finally collected a pension based on Spencer's service during the Mexican War.

The final document on this post is the drop report upon the death of the beneficiary in 1925. It indicates that she was drawing a pension of $30.00 (thirty dollars) per month at the time of her demise.

Spencer B. Lawson 1825-1865 RIP

Mary Ann Johnson Lawson 1830-1925 RIP


Anonymous said...

Fascinating. Also, I am struck by the elegance of the handwriting.

Vee said...

Really interesting! You should write a family history.

Secondary Roads said...

I spent a couple of years gathering family history and genealogy. It is interesting, as you have discovered.

vanilla said...

Jim, before reproduction of papers by mechanical means, I guess legibility was a desirable quality in handwriting!

Vee, have no idea how I could produce a narrative from the olio of data in my notebooks.

Chuck, genealogy is a fun exercise, but, like my physical workouts, I haven't practiced it in some years.

Anonymous said...

I remember how excited I was in the 3rd grade to learn script. All of my sons dreaded it and have stuck with printing, including my 25-year-old stepson. All three of them print like they just learned how. I gather this is pretty common.

vanilla said...

Jim, your observation intrigues me. I shall have to see if my local elementary school is still teaching cursive writing. They had better be!

Ilene said...

Thanks for posting. It is very interesting, what we don't know about our ancestors. I remember Dad saying that he didn't want to know about his family tree, because he might find that someone was hanging from it. This was followed by his hearty laughter. It is interesting that your research has found the opposite to be true. Concerning cursive handwriting, when the high school teachers in our district complained that kids can't write in cursive anymore, they were told that it is now considered an art and not a necessity. Guess that makes me an artist! But my handwriting is not nearly so beautiful as in these documents.

vanilla said...

Ilene, when I decided I wanted to look into family genealogy, I asked Dad about our ancestry. He said, "I was laid on a fencepost by a blackbird, hatched by the sun, and blown away by the West Wind." He really did not want to talk about it.