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Sunday, March 9, 2014

52 Ancestors: #10 - Jack Sherrod – “A Man of First Class Standing”

That is the description that Special Examiner of the Bureau of Pensions, T.H. Goethe provided after interviewing Jack Sherrod. Well, I don’t know what “above the average” means but I agree that Jack was first class. 
This post is in response to Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.  If you want to know more about this challenge check out her blog NO STORY TOO SMALL. This week I’m writing about my great-great grandfather, Jack Sherrod.  Jack was my paternal grandfather, Sylvester Powell’s grandfather.  Sylvester’s mother, Fannie Sherrod was Jack’s eldest child.

Jack’s Pension File

The 135th United States Colored Infantry (U.S.C.T.) was formed in Goldsboro, North Carolina on March 27, 1865.  This infantry lasted until October 1865.  If I was a newly enlisted soldier, I would say that was great timing!

I found Jack’s pension file at the National Archives and it provided a lot of information.  First, the authorities thought that Jack had died during the war and was impersonating another soldier. Jack had to tell his life story just to prove that he didn’t die during the war and that he was Jack Sherrod and not Jack Sherwood, his comrade who died beside him. Incidentally, Jack Sherrod and Jack Sherwood were being transported to the army hospital when Mr. Sherwood died of pneumonia.

Because of his declining health, in 1905, 61 year old Jack Sherrod began applying for an invalid pension increase. He had a large goiter under his neck and a “wen” on his right hip. His folder included testimonies from Jack, his sisters, Jennie Cox and Annie Mitchell. Additional testimonies came from some of his former army comrades, some white people in the community and his neighbors: Noble, George and Patrick Exum who might had been his wife’s family.
Jack’s pension file gave me “happy highs” with the amount of information that it provided.  I’m happy that I was able to confirm and find more information about him. But I was also sad because of his struggle and what he went through to fight for his pension increase for a few extra dollars.  For example, in his file was an envelope that read “picture of a soldier.” Finding the envelope made me happy, but once I saw his picture I was sad again.  It was his picture and he was leaning against a chair.  He had a tumor the size of a granny smith apple on his right hip and a goiter which may be the largest that I have ever seen under his neck.  In his testimony Jack talked about how a few of his ailments did not occur until he became a soldier.  It also made me very sad that Jack had to be photographed in the nude.

The pension file confirmed Jack’s parents name and confirmed Cassie’s family, the Exums. Second, I discover that Jack had 3 half-siblings including a brother, Stephen, who had the same mother as Jack.  In fact, I found Stephen in the 1870 and 1880 census in Wayne County but Stephen and his family disappear after the 1880 census.  I’m happy that I have a Union solider in my family, but as fate would have it; my ancestor’s name is not on the USCT Memorial in Washington, DC.  Ironically, Jack Sherwood’s name is on the Memorial wall. This makes me wonder how many other soldiers' names are missing from the Memorial.

Jack and Cassie

Jack Sherrod (8/14/1843 - 5/8/1915) and his wife, Cassie (3/1850-6/20/1940) were the parents of Fannie (1869-?) who married George Powell, William (1871-1916), Ida (1873-1918) who married Alonzo Wilson,  Mary (1877-1895), John (1875-1904) who married Addie Edwards, Benjamin (1879-1937) who married Annie Edmundson, Dallas (1881-?) who married Mary Taylor, Exum (1883-?), Arthur (1885-1955) who married Effie Diggs, Sissie (1887-1887) and Cora (1888-1972) who married Columbus Ward, Robert Powell and John Barnes.

His Siblings

The cohabitation record for Stephen Davis stated that Stephen’s mother was Tempy Davis, which meant Jack and Stephen had the same mother.  In Jack’s pension file, he stated that his mother’s name was Tempy Davis and his father was Denis Barnes who Jack said “was sold away when I was small.”  I don’t understand why Jack did not adopt the last name of “Barnes” or “Davis?” Jack also testified that his brother, Stephen, lived in Greenville, North Carolina and two his sisters: Jennie who “lived on the land of James Flora,” near Fremont and Annie lived on Green Street in Wilson, North Carolina.

In 1870, Stephen Davis was living in Wayne County with his wife, Elizabeth and his mom, Temperance Davis. Yes, Stephen and Jack’s mom was alive and she was 45 years old but by 1905, Jack said Tempie was dead.

  1870 Census for Stephen Davis' Family

In 1905, Annie Mitchell was 64 years old and she lived on Green Street in Wilson, North Carolina.  Annie said that she was originally owned by the same slave holder as Jack: John V. Sherard but she was sold away before the war.  Jack’s sister, Jennie was 59 years old in 1905 and she lived 2 miles from Fremont, NC.  In Jennie’s deposition, she said that she and Jack had the same mother.  She also said that Jack was born and raised in Wayne County.  Jennie Cox, Jack Sherrod and Stephen Davis had the same mom: Tempy Davis. 

Slaveowner John V. Sherard
In Jack’s testimony, he said that “the solicitor was his one and only slave owner” and that was John V. Sherard (1822-1897). Note, John V. Sherard’s last name was spelled different from Jack's.  John V. was the son of Gabriel Sr. and Elizabeth Sherard. Gabriel Sr. died in 1847 and Elizabeth died in 1873.  According to the Sherard/Sherrod family history which I found in the book “Heritage of Wayne County North Carolina” by the Wayne County Historical Association, it stated that John V. was one of the earliest graduates of UNC Chapel Hill. On the 1860 slave census, John V. is listed as a slave owner in Goldsboro, NC with 15 slaves.  One of which is Jack but who are the others and are they all related to each other. 

1860 U.S. Federal Census - Slave Schedules for John V. Sherard

Jack Sherrod did very well for himself and his family.  It’s apparent that even when faced with adversity, such as slavery, a family separated, fighting for pension increase, Jack always remain a man of “first class standing.”

Top picture is Jack Sherrod;
Bottom row from the left: son, Dallas Sherrod;
son, Arthur Sherrod; Arthur's son Kemmie and Arthur's wife, Effie Diggs Sherrod;
daughter, Cora Sherrod Ward Powell Barnes.

[1] 1870 Census: Nahunta, Wayne, North Carolina; Roll: M593_1165; Page: 163B; Image: 330; Family History Library Film: 552664.
 [2] 1860 U.S. Federal Census - Slave Schedules, National Archives and Records Administration, 1860. M653.


  1. Sounds like you had the same luck at the National Archives w/pension files that I had! Glad you found these. Interesting post!!

  2. Yes I did. It took me back another generation. I'm so thankfully. Don't you love it. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Enjoyed your post. I've also been participating in the 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks challenge. Your post caught my attention for I recently, in the last year found connections to "Sherrod" surname and it was through a US Commission Claimed filed in 1871 that I found the owner of my great great great grandfather, Silas Sherrod was owned by General Benjamin Sherrod in NW Alabama. Col. Benjamin was born in Halifax, NC; moved to Wilkes Co. Georgia and they moved to Colbert and Lawrence Co. Alabama.

  4. Thanks for the info Judi.

    I will probably check this Claims site to see if any of my ancestors filed a claim and It appears that my Sherrods remained in North Carolina.

  5. Minnie,
    I happened upon your post and I am happy to read it. I am a descendant of Jack Sherrod via his son Benjamin.

  6. Thank you.

    Did you attend the family reunion a couple years ago?

    If you have any additional information about Jack and his family. Please don't hesitate to share.