U.S. Southern Claims Commission, Allowed Claims, 1871-1880, Patrick County, Virginia, images of which are published on ancestry com.
Thomas Shelton and wife Elizabeth D Allen of Patrick County, Virginia had twelve children. They were hard working farmers like most of my closest ancestors of Southwestern Virginia. Elizabeth nee Allen, gave birth to seven sons. When the political conversations turned to the idea of the south secceeding from the US, my ancestor, Thomas did not think it a good idea. He debated the issue with his family, friends and neighbors, so that when the war came to Patrick Co Va, he had five sons who supported secession and two who did not.
My grandfather, Thomas and Elizabeth's son, Charles Madison "Matty" Shelton, was one of the five who joined the Confederate army and was a POW but survived the war. Two of his Confederate brothers did not come home. James P Shelton and Josiah A. Shelton died as a result of the war as well as Thomas' brother Levi and others in the immediate family.
When the War officially began, it was no time before certain folks tried to force Thomas to sign an oath of allegiance to the Confederate cause and as expected, he did not sign. Twice Confederate officers came to his home and arrested him because he would not sign something in which he did not believe. On their third attempt they were successful in obtaining a signature but not in changing his point of view. He signed in order to save his family, because pistols were drawn and aimed at two of his sons; yes, the two who were Union supporters.
Thomas tells the story of how he helped the other two sons to hide in the woods until he could arrange to have them safely transported to Franklin Co TN where one joined the Union Army there and the other went on to Ohio to join the Union forces.
George W Shelton entered Union service in Tennessee. He was underage and was soon discovered to not have Union issued weapons and so he was discharged as underage and non-conscript in late 1862. His whereabouts are unknown after this date.
The other Union son looks to have ben Samuel E. Shelton (as I have found Confederate records for all the other sons but him). One such Samuel Shelton enlisted in Ohio. He returned to Patrick Co Va, married there in 1876 and raised a family.
Duiring the war, when Confederate soldiers came to the Thomas Shelton farm looking for help, Thomas and Elizabeth did take them in, clothed and fed them, gave them supplies and helped them to get back to the lines. In a short while part of General Stoneman's regiment came to the Shelton farm and ravaged all their property in broad daylight. They took horses, all their food supply, fodder, household goods including silver, everthing of value.
After the war, with two sons deceased, friend of the family, Atty., Benjamin Campbell assured the Sheltons he would file claims to recover the money due them for the two deceased sons and for the plundering of the farm. However, Mr. Campbell soon passed away and Thomas began the long process of trying to support his family and filing his own claim.
The U. S. Southern Claims Commission has available for viewing a 58 page document regarding Claim #12917 Thomas Shelton made in 1871. It was such that he could not recover the letter he was sent regarding his sons deaths (had been in the possession of Benj. Campbell's heirs). [Images of which are now on my website*] ....and so many residents of Patrick Co VA came out to swear affidavits as to the character and honesty of Shelton. They knew him to be a man worthy of this claim, and even though his political views were different from theirs he was admired for his courage. The long list of predetermined questions asked by the Commission were answered truthfully as Thomas told of how he remained on the side of the Union, regardless of being forced to sign the Confed. oath. He asked about and was truthful about how felt when he heard the news of each battle. Thomas Shelton told of being happy to hear of the Surrender. Neighbors told of how, during the war, Thomas struggled to work and make a living after his farm was all but destroyed. Special Agent Andrew Stedman came to Patrick Co and recorded these affadavits from the community in support of Thomas Shelton, Union supporter. Amongst those giving statements were Larkin Rucker, John L. Anglin, James L Harbour, Asa Wood, George Rogers, James B Taylor, M. A. Howell, D. Howell, Wm. W. Stoops, Dr. W. G. B. Taylor, James Light and many others.
Within this document it is stated that his farm was savagely plundered by the Rebel Army in broad daylight because he, Thomas Shelton, was a well-known Union supporter. He and wife, Elizabeth D Shelton did witness this. It is stated that they had seven sons, all of whom were soldiers in the Civil War. Two of his sons joined on the Union Side. Five sons enlisted in the Confederacy, against his wishes. Two of his sons, both Confederate lost their lives in the war, Josiah A Shelton and James P Shelton. Thomas Shelton was duly reimbursed in 1871-1874 finally for the stolen farm animals, supplies, food and household goods by the Southern Claims Commission.
Our present day Shelton family is well known to maintain pride in our convictions, regardless of the consequences. Every member I know, has a similar story about living according to their beliefs which are more often than not unpopular amongst their peers. So it is with great pride that I write this story and add pages of this document to my genealogy files. What I take away from this information is that at a time when emotions were still running high regarding the War Between the States, peace was found amongst friends who respected the rights of a neighbor. The ideals of the freedoms given all Americans by our founding fathers were obviously of great importance to these fine folks of Patrick Co VA.
Deborah Shelton Wood, ggg-grandaughter of Thomas and Elizabeth D Shelton.
* http://sheltontree.tripod.com/josiahashelton/ http://sheltontree.tripod.com/jamespshelton/
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