Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sometimes Life is Just Hard ...

Samuel Bernard Slade, infant son of S G and F C Slade,
findagrave memorial #119440666; photo by Lisa G

Some relatives are just plain fun to research; they draw you by their interesting lives or exciting adventures. Sometimes, though, a relative will grab my attention for other reasons. Samuel G Slade, my third great uncle, is one of the later. I first came across him while searching for military records for the Georgia Slades. Each new thing I learned about Samuel G and his hard life kept me digging to learn more about him.

Samuel G was the youngest of the 11 children of my third Great Grandparents, Samuel Slade and Chloe Harrison. He was born and raised in central Georgia. At the age of 19, Samuel G and his bride Mary C Smith were living with his parents at the time of the 1860 census. It looked like a bright future for the young couple. However, according to information on the Slade Genealogy website, Mary Smith Slade died early in their marriage, and the couple did not have any children.

In July 1861, Samuel G joined other men from Pike County, Georgia, when he enlisted to serve in Company A, 13th Georgia Volunteer Infantry, CSA.(1)  During the Battle of Monocracy in July of 1864, Samuel's leg was wounded such that it had to be amputated below the knee. After his capture by Union forces at the Battle of Monocracy, he was sent to the Military Prison at Hampton, Virginia, then involved in a prisoner exchange later that summer.(2) By February of 1865, now back with the 13th Georgia, Samuel was placed on extended medical furlough.

Samuel G Slade, record of diagnosis, 22 Aug 1864 (2)
Apparently Samuel G was in Georgia long enough to marry Fannie Coker in January of 1865.(3) By the 1870 census, Samuel G and Fannie had three children with two more born in the 1870s. Things seemed to be looking up for Samuel G and Fannie.

The couple's seemingly peaceful life started a downward slide in September of 1878 when their year-year-old son, Samuel B, died.(4)  Several unsourced online family trees mention that a second son also died during that period. Then, about a year later, Fannie Coker Slade passed away due to a fever.(5) In November of 1879, Samuel G was a widower, left to raise four children, all under the age of 13.

Samuel G Slade, application for payment for limb

Although Samuel G's leg had been amputated during the Civil War, he had not received an artificial limb or military pension from the government. About a month after his wife's death. Samuel G applied to the state of Georgia for a $75 payment for a leg.(6) Samuel G's file contains only this application and one supporting form attesting to his condition. Nothing more. His file was in all likelihood closed soon after it had been opened. In February of 1880, Samuel G Slade died. The cause of death listed on the 1880 Federal Mortality Schedule was suicide.(4)  Not yet 40 years of age, Samuel G had lost two wives and at least one young child, as well as having a lasting disability from his war injury; apparently he must have felt that life was just too hard to continue.

The impact of these events has caused me to spend some time researching the lives of Samuel G's four surviving children. They were first cousins, three times removed, not close enough to ordinarily be a high research priority, but as a mother and a teacher I've found myself wanting to know more about them. What would life hold for these children who had known such upheaval in their lives, losing a brother (or two), their mother, and their father, all in less than a two-year time span?

Thankfully, there were some bright spots in the adult lives of the Slade children. Within a few months of their father's death, all four children were living with the James W Means family in Pike County.(7) They were listed in the 1880 census as Mr. Means' wards so apparently they were all together, in a home with food and, hopefully, care and attention. This also probably meant that neither 14-year-old Ella or 12-year-old J C Slade was put in the position of having to raise the younger siblings while themselves still children.

One of the Slade boys became a teacher, a school board trustee, and even served as the county Sheriff. Another Slade brother went in the lumber business. Both of the sisters married and had families of their own. Life did go on for the Slade children, sometimes for the better. At times, life is just hard for an individual or within a family. And sometimes a spark or concerned individuals can help people not just endure but perhaps even thrive.

(1) Henderson, Lillian, Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia, vol. 2, Hapeville, GA: Longrine & Porter, 1959-1964; accessed through
(2) "Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations From the State of Georgia", packet for Samuel G / S G Slade; accessed through
(3) Slade-Harrison Family Bible, transcription and provenance posted on
(4) "Samuel Bernard Slade", FindAGrave memorial #119440666; citing Ebenezer United Methodist Church Cemetery, Lamar County, Georgia; memorial page and photo by Lisa G provide information.
(5) 1880 Federal Mortality Schedule, Georgia, Pike County, District 551; accessed through
(6) Georgia. Confederate Pension Applications, Georgia Confederate Pension Office RG 58-1-1, "Samuel G Slade". accessed through Georgia Virtual Vault.
(7) 1880 Federal Census, Georgia, Pike County, Zebulon; accessed through

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