James Meeks, Kentucky, Civil War, which one?

+2 votes

James Meeks, Kentucky Civil War, which one?

James Meeks (born circa 1820-1824, died 1870) registered for the draft in the Civil War in 1863 in Casey County, Kentucky.  He said he was 40 years old as of 1 July 1863.  It is definitely a Union draft, not Confederate, because the bottom of the page says Washington, D.C., and I checked the names of the important men at the bottom, and they were on the Union side.  I don't know for sure if he was called up to serve, but I found that there were 2 men named James Meeks or James Meek from Kentucky who served in the Union army:

A Private in Company M of the 6th Kentucky Calvary

A Corporal in Company H of the 30th Kentucky Mounted Infantry

Or possibly he was in the 1st Kentucky Cavalry in Company A or B (I have been unable to find a roster)

Company H of the 30th seems most likely, since many men mustered in from Camp Burnsides, Pulaski County, which is right next to Casey County.

James has been a brick wall since 1992.  I have a few people who might be his mother or father, but only circumstantial evidence.  His wife's name is uncertain, as it shows on census records as Delhis and Delie, and I have never found a marriage record.  Maybe finding his Civil War record (if he served) will help clear things up, as perhaps his wife applied for the widow's pension.

James lived in Casey County, appearing on tax lists off and on the the 1840s and throughout the 1850s and 1860s, and he died there in 1870. His family was apparently missed on the 1850 US census.  I believe he may have lived in neighboring Pulaski County during the years he did not appear in Casey County.

Oddly, his entire family, minus one son and one daughter, disappear after the 1870 US census.  I cannot find a trace of any of them.  Even my great-great-great grandmother disappeared after the 1880 census.  I assume she died, because her husband remarried in 1889.  So finding this record might be key to tracing other family members.   

Here are the sources I've found so far:

U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865: https://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?_phsrc=mUp3&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&qh=H6NoHa6zP7MQJFCBjb7k5A%3D%3D&gss=angs-c&new=1&rank=1&gsfn=james&gsfn_x=0&gsln=meeks&gsln_x=0&msbdy=1824&msypn__ftp=Kentucky,%20USA&msypn=20&MSAV=1&uidh=ulg&pcat=39&h=485062&dbid=1666&indiv=1&ml_rpos=1

Potential Civil War records:







WikiTree profile: James Meeks
in Genealogy Help by Susannah Rolfes G2G5 (5.8k points)
edited by Susannah Rolfes

3 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer

Here are the pension index cards. I actually found three.

If any of these are still interesting to you, you can order copies of their pension records and compiled service record from the National Archives. This page has links to the ordering pages.

Organization index to pension files of veterans who served between 1861 and 1900, National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 15, microfilm series T289, 

(1) on Fold3 at https://www.fold3.com/image/812358?terms=meeks

James Meeks

company M, 6th reg't Kentucky Cavalry

widow's pension filed 8 July 1889, application 399,598, no certificate number

soldier's date of death blank

(so she applied for a pension but didn't receive it)

(2) on Fold3 at https://www.fold3.com/image/1417208?terms=Meeks%20james

James Meeks

corp'l, co. H 30 reg't Kentucky Infantry

invalid pension filed 2 Apr 1887, application 604744, certificate 412984

widow's pension filed 4 Jan 1915, application 1039315, certificate 794901

died 26 Dec 1914, at Barron Co Ky

(3) on Fold3 at https://www.fold3.com/image/1040655?terms=Meeks%20james

James D Meeks

co. H, 16 Reg't Ky Inf

invalid pension filed 24 Mch 1884, application 509069, certificate 440328 [sic]

died 22 Oct 1913


general index to pension files 1861-1934, National Archives and Records Administration, microfilm series T288

(1) on Ancestry at https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/4654/32959_032986-01769/5020059

James Meeks

widow Sarah Brynor

M 6 Ky Cav

widow's pension filed 8 July 1889, application 399598, certificate [blank], filed from Ind.

(2) on Ancestry at https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/4654/32959_032986-01233/967779

James Meek

widow Lecty J Meek

H 30 Ky Mtd Inf

invalid pension filed 2 Apr 1887, application 604744, certificate 412984, filed from Ky

widow's pension fiiled 4 Jan 1915, application 1039315, certificate 794901, from Ky

(3) on Ancestry at https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/4654/32959_032986-01769/5020059

James D Meeks

H 16 Ky Inf

invalid pension filed 24 Mar 1884, application 509069, certificate 414328 [sic], filed from Illinois

by Harry Ide G2G6 Mach 1 (15k points)
selected by Susannah Rolfes
Thank you!  Since I know when he died and what his widow's name was, it's clear that, although he registered for the draft, he didn't serve, probably because he was too old.  I still wonder if he had some military service record somewhere, since he was part of a militia (per tax records), but that was probably at the county level.
+2 votes
One way to add some weight to a particular company/regiment, Susannah, is to see the full roster of the company. Often, brothers, cousins, and neighbors served in the same company. This I have found to be true in many of the companies I have worked on.
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (1.8m points)
Thanks, that is a good idea for next time!  I thought it was likely he didn't serve in the Civil War at all, because of his age, but you never know until you dig!
Age may surprise you. Had an ancestor who lied about his age to get in. Was 15 years old when wounded and captured at Gettysburg.
Yes, I actually wondered if he lied about his age saying he was 40 so he wouldn't have to serve, or so he would be more likely to be picked if he was older in his forties. I figure a great many people lied about their age, either because they wanted to serve, or because they didn't.
My grandfather served in WWI and WWII.  He lied about his age to get in WWI, he was a glider pilot.  He was too old to fly in WWII so he was an instructor.
+1 vote
I have his death record. He died of "pneumonia fever" in April, 1870 in Tates, Casey Co., KY.

It says on the census before that his wife's name was Dethes and he has 3 daughters and 2 sons. Since he was born in Kentucky, there may be a land grant to his father and that would be something to look for. I'll work on this some more later.
Yes, and the rest of the family disappears after that 1870 census except Elizabeth (who disappears after the 1880 census) and Allen (who I actually traced to his death in Fannin, TX, and have talked to several of his descendants; none of whom know any more than I do).  I spent a long time analyzing the handwriting on the 1860 census to try to learn his wife's name, and I determined that they actually wrote Delhis, and then accidentally crossed the L as if it were a T (not that this brings me any closer to knowing what her name was).  On the next census, when she is a widow, her name is Delie.

There is a John Meeks who had a son the right age to be James.  He had 6 males in the household that were probably his sons, I have found the names of 5, and James might be the other (but that person could have also been a nephew or hired hand or something), and when James appeared on the 1842 tax list as a White male age 21+, he is right next to Sally Meeks.  There were several men named Meeks who had a wife named Sally, and I'm trying to narrow which one might have been a widow or a femme sole at that time (she could have been an unmarried Meeks woman, perhaps an aunt or cousin, rather than his mother).  I think it is likely that John might be his father, and it's also likely that Sally was his mother, but both can't be true, and maybe neither is true.  

This was the first branch of my family I researched, made a trip to Casey County in 1992 and again in 1996.  It's been a brick wall ever since.  I keep pushing back the evidence for James Meeks in Casey County, originally the date was 1860 and now it is 1842, and yet, other than how many pigs he owned and things like that, I don't really know any more than I did.

I have a guess that maybe after he died, his younger children might have gone to an orphanage if their mother couldn't take care of them, or maybe they all died of an infectious disease, because they simply vanish.  The story about Elizabeth Meeks indicates that she might have run away, possibly when her brother Allen moved to Texas, though I don't know for sure, but her husband remarried in 1889, so I think she must have died by then, unless there was a divorce.  I have not had a chance to go back to Casey County to look for evidence of a divorce, or to look at deeds, where Delhis/Delie may have relinquished dower rights when land was sold.

I suspect they may have been in Pulaski County, unfortunately I don't known when I will get the chance to make a trip to look at Pulaski tax lists and deeds, any more than I know when I'll get the chance to go back to Casey County.  I was fortunate that a library an hour away from me happened to have some microfilm of Casey County tax lists, and there were a few years on Familysearch as well.

I would REALLY love some help!  I've been stuck for SO long, and every other descendant I've ever met has had james' son Allen as an ancestor, and has actually known a little less than me about James and his wife and other children, though I of course have searched everything anyone has found about Allen for any record of his parents' names.  Alas, they are not on anything I've found.

Finally, it's possible that there is a connection to Native Americans with the surname Meeks.  I traced a Littleton Meeks, who was a missionary to the Cherokee prior to the Trail of Tears, thinking perhaps this was the connection, the explanation for the family story, because, "Everyone," has a family story about a Cherokee ancestor, right?  But then I took a DNA test and I am 1.5% Native American, so I am thinking there is some truth to the story.  I think either James or his wife had a Native American parent or grandparent, but as it's a brick wall, I can't be sure.  I do know that the descendant of Allen also claim that the Meeks have Native American heritage, and the two branches of the family have not had contact since the 1880s, so the story goes back at least that far (which doesn't necessarily make it more accurate).  Anyone looking into this Meeks family should know that the research might turn in that direction at some point.  

So I would absolutely welcome you looking into it further, that would be awesome!  Be sure to read their profiles first, as the info you found was already on them, though I would be over the moon that you found it if I hadn't already done so!

I will find out everything I can. I've been doing research on my own family since the '90s, and am always happy to help when I can! 

I think Elizabeth married Edmond Chapman and stayed right there in Casey. There is a record of that in 1881, and they had several children. He is a farmer.

I'll just send whatever I come up with. There are a lot of Meeks! Even just in Kentucky. 

It's possible, if they got divorced after the 1880 census. I know that she was married to James Matthew Luttrell, I have the records from the marriage record, as well as from the 1880 census record, and, of their four sons, I have found 3 death certificates, 2 indicate she was their mother, the other says Unknown. I am pretty sure I had a birth record from one of the sons as well. But I have actually wondered if maybe there was divorce, which wasn't talked about, but I haven't had a chance to see if there was one in Casey County.

The family story is that she was really depressed, and her husband was afraid she would run away, so when he and the kids left the house one day, they shut her inside. So she climbed up the chimney and jumped off the roof. When my grandma told me this story, I thought that it was a suicide, but at years later, when I could no longer ask my grandma to clarify, I realized that they probably lived in one-story cabin. If she was dexterous enough to climb up the inside of the chimney and get out of the house, she could probably get to the ground without breaking a leg or killing herself. I even imagine she might have climbed down a wood pile next to the house or something that made it even safer than I would suspect.

 If she did run away, maybe she ran away with another man, or maybe she ran away to join her brother on the way to Texas, or maybe she had some other goal in mind. It certainly does seem possible that maybe she ran away, got a divorce, and remarried another man in the local area. I'll have to check and see if that marriage record ties in to another Elizabeth Luttrell.

I actually just had a thought. Some years later, there was a newspaper article about bad blood between the Chapmans and the Luttrells, which erupted in violence in Dry Fork Church, in which one Luttrell and one Chapman were dead of stab wounds and several others had been shot or cut with knives. It sounds like maybe they were still angry about her leaving "Matt" Luttrell for a Chapman? It seems pretty bizarre, because it was years later, but I guess that might have been the start of what was potentially of family feud.

This was in 1909. The Luttrell man who died was "Matt's" brother, John Perry Luttrell. ("Liberty" is the county seat of Casey, thus, "...in jail at Liberty," which sounds very strange otherwise!)

My Elizabeth Meeks was born in 1846, per census records, d/o James Meeks and Delhis/Delie.

This one was born in 1865, d/o Nathaniel Roy and Emily Rodgers. Apparently, she had married a Meek and was a widow. Still looking for the original marriage to a Meek. Apparently the marriage did not take place in Casey County.

I found the 1910 US census on Familysearch, which showed the "wrong" birth year.

The census record was attached to a tree that said that this Elizabeth's maiden name was Roy. I confirmed by looking at her death certificate. This Elizabeth Chapman was born Elizabeth Roy.

If both her age on the census and her maiden name on that tree were wrong, then there was still another issue. I see that her name on this marriage was Elizabeth Meek, however all my other divorced female ancestors kept their married names until they remarried, so that immediately made me think this was probably a different Elizabeth Meek.

I also expected to find something in the marriage book, the judge giving permission for her to marry, as is usual for divorcees, and I don't see that here.

So I it's not her. But at least I was able to improve the Familysearch profiles of this Chapman family! I added 7 sources. And merged each of them had 3 profiles, now they are merged.
Yes, it was the Elizabeth Meeks who apparently was formerly a Roy. It just says her name at the time (Meeks) on the record. So a different person I guess. There's a database of all the marriages in KY from some time in the 1700s through the 1800s (if I remember right - I'm slightly sleep deprived at the moment). That's where I found the record.

I found a death certificate for a James Meeks in his 80s, but it says "alias Harris" and where it says on the form "name of father" it says Charley Harris, but under mother it says Meeks. Where and when he was born, it just says unknown. And someone wrote in "He did not know the date of his birth but on or about 1836". He died in Kentucky, it looks like it says Bussell on county. I don't see a way to attach it here. I mainly use ancestry dot com. If you want to give me your email address I can send you what I find, but with all these stories passed down, I can sure see what you mean about hitting a wall with it. Also, there seem to be a lot of Meeks families in Kentucky in the 1800s, and several James Meeks.
Yes, there are a whole lot of Meeks in the Casey and Pulaski County area especially! I think he might be the son of either Sally Meeks, who he is next to on the 1842 tax list, or John Meeks, who had a son the right age.

 I'm sure the county on that record that you found is Russell County. There were also some mix there, but I have not found any connection.

James has been a brick wall since 1992, and I don't know that I will ever get to the bottom of his origin, or his wife's. But I keep trying!

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