Deposition of James Bythewood for minors of William Morris 33rd USCT December 30, 1876
Transcription: Exhibit E Case of Minors of William Morris, No. 171336
On this thirtieth day of December, 1876, at Jacksonville, County of Duval State of Florida, before me, James H. Clement a Special Agent of the Pension Office, personally appeared James Bythwood, who being by me duly sworn according to law, declares that his age is about 52 years that he resides at Jacksonville County of Duval, State of Florida, and that about the year 1863 (will not be certain of date) he got acquainted with a coloured man at Beaufort S. C., named William Morris, who had come from Florida on Steamer Boston where he was employed as a hand, Affiant hired on the same Boat as a Waiter, and served on the steamer with said William Morris about eight months, when both of them were discharged, in the Meantime Minerva the wife of William Morris had been brought to Beaufort with other coloured people by the U. S. Forces, She Minerva, brought two children with her and said William Morris recognised the children as his; One was a boy about six years old and the other a girl about three or four years old, the boy was named John and the Girl, Sarah, shortly after Morris (deceased soldier) was discharged from the Steamer Boston he enlisted in Co. "G" 33rd U. S. Col. Troops, and served in the same until he died, cant give date of his death, he died at Beaufort South Carolina, he died in Hospital cant give disease, he lived with Minerva and recognised here as his wife and the children John and Sarah as his Children up to the day of his death, about eleven Months after the death of William Morris, Affiant was married to his widow the Said Minerva, was married by Mr. Eaton, a Northern Minister cant give date of Marriage, but has a certificate which in trunk in possession of his Mother at Beaufort South Carolina, (About few years ago Affiant had a copy of the Certificate made which was certified to by Judge McLean which was filed with the copy of his appointment as Guardian of the Minor Children of William Morris. Affiant lived with and supported said Minerva as his Wife until her death, September 11, 1874, also supported the children of William Morris up to said death, since the death of his Wife, John one of the Minors has taken care of himself and Sarah the other Minor has been living with Mary Wilson, her Aunt at Palatka Florida, Affiant had four children by the said Minerva Morris, three are living, the oldest a girl is about eleven years, the youngest is a boy and is about six year old, they are in Beaufort S. C. with Affiant's Mother, Affiant thinks that shortly after his marriage and when the Claim for a Pension to the Minors was first made, that Mr. Henry Guild, of Beaufort S. C. was appointed Guardian, but on moving to Florida, Affiant was appointed by Judge McLean, was requested to become Guardian by his Wife, the mother of the Minors, it will be eight years next June since Affiant moved to Florida from South Carolina, Affiant has always understood that William Morris was a free born man and that Minerva his Wife and afterwards the wife of Affiant was a slave of Gov Mosely, Gov Mosely is dead, he has a daughter living at Palatka, she is the wife of Dr. Mirina, thinks there are other children of Gov Mosely living but don't know where they are.
The way Affiant, Marriage Certificate happens to be in Beaufort S. C., is this, When Affiant wife died or shortly afterwards, Affiant took his Children to his Mother at Beaufort, and took the Certificate there in the Trunk with the Children's clothes and left it there, In case Pension should be granted Affiant would make use of it for the benefit of the Minors, expects to charge them board to the death of the Mother, or would expend the Money or dispose of it according to the Order of the Court, Robert Mapson and Nelson Robinson are Affiants Bondsmen as Guardian, Robert Mapson is worth about fifteen hundred dollars in Real Estate, Nelson Robinson, is worth about twenty-five hundred dollars in real estate.
Witness Gdm? Monest
James (his mark) Bythewood Affiant.
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 31 day of December 1876, and I certify that the contents were carefully read over and fully made known to the Affiant before signing.
James H. Clements Special Agent
Notes: 1. If you have been reading all the documents hopefully you'll begin to see a little of the fog lift.
We really know very little about William Morris - he doesn't appear on the census in either 1850 or 1860. That is not because he's a free black. Free blacks appeared on the census.
A key to his disappearance may be the information in this deposition that he was a boat hand.
Here's what we know
He enlisted in the army on September 30, 1862 - that's from the Adjutant General which would make it an extremely reliable record. If this disposition is correct he served on the Boston for eight months previous. That would not have been quite possible as the Boston wasn't rented by the U. S. Government till April (which may explain why on his sister's deposition he was "North." He may have been part of a crew that picked up the boat and brought it back.)
2. The ages of the children are biased since the purpose of this document is to get a pension the younger they are the more money will be received since 16 was the cut-off. However, this does not mean that the information is not correct.
3. Because he is the legal guardian of the children you can see that he has an interest in the money i.e. rent for the children.