William Thames of Clayton County, Georgia (1796-1892)

William left some clues for us in 1877

William is one of the early Thames men for whom we don’t know parentage, exactly, but evidence points to him being the son of Thomas Thames (son of Joseph Thames and Martha Newberry) by his first wife (name unknown). Because he was a Union loyalist during the Civil War, we are lucky to have his claim for damages caused by the Confederate Army, which was filed with the Southern Claims Commission. And because some other William Thames in Mississippi sold a wagon and two mules to the Confederacy (for $810 – wow!), the depositions that arose for William’s claim give us a few genealogical hints we can use to help track him down.

The claims file is 53 pages, but the first 43 are so faint that they cannot be read – only a few words here and there. But the final pages hold the depositions, and they are legible except for some blurriness due to an ill-focused microfilm camera.

William received $299 as a result of the claim. Unfortunately, because the claim paperwork is illegible, we don’t know what the damages were for which he received the money.

Here’s what William tells us:

  1. He lived in Clayton County GA since about 1834.
  2. He had a brother living in Alabama who was killed because of his loyalty to the Union.
  3. This brother had a son named William.
  4. He had kinspeople move to Red River in Louisiana or Alabama in 1817.

Here’s what his son James T Thames tells us:

  1. He was born about 1831 and he lived in Clayton Co GA a half mile from his father during the war.
  2. He had a brother named William who lived in southern Alabama during the war, but he did not serve.
  3. He heard he had relatives in other parts of Alabama, but didn’t know them.

And here’s what William’s son-in-law, S. A. Lee, tells us:

  1. He is 56 years old in 1877, so he was born about 1821.
  2. In 1877, he has lived in Clayton Co for 25-30 years.
  3. He is married to William’s daughter.
  4. William had a son named William who lived in Alabama, but he is now dead.

The only conflict I see in these stories is that William says his brother had a son named William in Alabama, but he claims no son named William himself. James and S. A. Lee tell us that William had a son named William who lived in Alabama.

We are pretty sure that the brother William described was John Thames who was killed by the Blackwell Crowd in 1865 at Jemison, AL (Chilton County). From The Richmond Whig, 8 Feb 1865, page 1, column 2:

“FIGHT WITH DESERTERS. The Rebel says a fight occurred one day last week between some soldiers of Major Barbiere’s battalion and some deserters not far from Wilsonville, Ala. The soldiers, who had surrounded the house of a man named Thames, at night, for the purpose of catching some deserters supposed to be there, two of whom were Thames’s sons, were fired upon from a neighboring corn crib. Old man Thames and one of his sons were killed, and another son captured and taken to Talladega.”

William was born in 1796 in North Carolina. We are unable to name his parents at this time, but knowing that he had a brother named John who went to Alabama will be helpful in sorting them out.

S. A. Lee is Seaborn A. Lee, whose wife in 1850, 1860 and 1870 is Elizabeth H (William’s daughter), born about 1823 in Georgia.

There is no Red River in Alabama, according to Wikipedia’s list of rivers in that state. There is, however, a very large river in Louisiana by that name. It flows from the west-central border of the state in a southwest line, ultimately emptying into the Mississippi River. It flows through parishes in which we find Thames’s in the first half of the 1800’s: Rapides Parish and East Baton Rouge Parish. Since William refers to them as “kinspeople,” I infer they are more like cousins, rather than siblings.


And here’s the transcript of the depositions:

(Page 1) The introductory page, a form, indicates that the claimant, William Thames, is of the County of Clayton and State of Georgia, and his claim number is 1743. It is dated 7th & 8th of February, 1877, at Atlanta in the county of Fulton and State of Georgia. Witnesses for the claimant, William, are S. A. Lee and James T. Thames.

Transcript of the deposition:

(Page 2) William Thames being duly sworn & being examined by the Special C[illeg – Com’r] says: That during the late war he lived in Clayton Co Ga at the same place where he now resides & where he has resided for the last 40 years past, that he was never in the State of Mississippi in his life & never during the war had any transaction either by himself or through an agent or agents, with the Confederate Government or any of its officers or agent, or the officers or agents of any state Government in rebellion against the United States. He further deposes that he never at any time during the war, sold or offered to sell to the Confederacy or any of its officers, a wagon or wagons and two mules or any other number of mules, receiving $810, for the same, that he had [illeg] [illeg] of transactions or trade in any way directly or indirectly of this character & absolutely knows nothing about such a thing. He further deposes that he had a brother living in the State of Alabama before & during the war & who was killed there on account of his Union-sentiment, that this brother had a son whose name was William Thames & that this is the only Thames of (Page 3) that name he ever knew of. He also had some kinspeople who moved to Red River in Louisiana or Alabama, in the year 1817, but of whom he knows nothing, nor does he now know where they are or their names, whether there was a William Thames among them or not, but deponent [illeg]ly & positively knows that he had no such transaction during the war or that alleged. He never had any transactions with the Confederacy of any sort during the war.

/s/ William Thames

Sworn to & subscribed before me at Atlanta Ga February 7th 1877

/s/ S. A. Dar[illeg] – Special Com’r

(Page 4) James T Thames, being duly sworn & being interrogated by the Spl Comr says: I am 46 years of age, I live in Clayton Co Ga & I am a farmer. I am the son of the claimant but have no interest in the claim, during the war, until the conscript law was passed, I was at home all the time, I was then conscripted and put in, & remained about 6 weeks in camp of [illeg]struction [construction?], returned home & remained there until the end of the war, & the six weeks was the only time during the war that I was ever absent from home for any length of time, & that was in the Spring of 1862. I was married then & had a family of my own during the war. I lived half a mile from my father, the claimant. I was with him almost constantly, worked with his land part of the time, & was familiar with his business. I know that he was not in the State of Mississippi during the war, for if he had been I would have known it & if he h[illeg – had] ever been in that state in his life I do not know it. I am positively satisfied that he never was there during the war. He never sold a wagon & two mules or any other (Page 5) property to the Confederacy or any officer or agent of the same during the war. He furnished or sold them nothing, & I know at one time when the Confederate impressing officers were about to seize his cattle, he had them driven off to prevent them from [illeg]ing them & they never did, but the Federal army did [illeg]t them when it came [illeg]. I had a brother William in South Alabama during the war, but he was not in the war. Do not know what transactions if any, he had with the confederate Government but I know that my father had none. I know of no other William Thames, though I have heard that we had relations in other parts of Alabama, but do not know them.

/s/ J T Thames

Sworn to & subscribed before me at Atlanta Ga Feby 8th 1877

/s/          S. A. Darnell

                Spl Com’r

(Page 6) S. A. Lee being duly sworn & being interrogated by the Special Com’r says: I am 56 years of age. I live in Clayton Co Ga & have for 25 or 30 years. I am a farmer by occupation. I am the son-in-law of the claimant but have no interest in the claim. I have known Mr. Thames the claimant for 30 years, know him intimately during the late war, was married to his daughter before the war. I lived about half a mile from him during the war, & attended to his mill. I saw him often & was with him nearly all the time, with the exception of a short service in the militia towards the end of the war, about four or five weeks. I was not absent from home over a day at a time – not more than a day or night at most. The claimant, I think I can safety state, was never out of the State of Georgia, during the war, & I know I can, & do safely state that he was never in the State of Mississippi during the whole war. He was at home all the time of the war, or about [illeg] & I am satisfied he never had any transactions with the Confederate Government in the sale of a wagon (page 7) & mules or any other property to them or any of their officers or agents during the whole war. I was familiar with his business affairs and am perfectly satisfied that he never did any such thing. He had a son by the same of William Thames who was alive during the war, but who is now dead. He was then living in Alabama, but I understand he was not in the war. I do not know whether this son has any such transaction or that above alluded to, or not, I could not say as to that. I know of no other Thames of that name & as far as I recollect I never heard of any other Thames of that name exceptin the claimant in this case.

/s/ S. A. Lee

Sworn to & subscribed before me at Atlanta Ga Feby 8th 1877

/s/          S. A. Darnell

                Spl Com’r

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