Ruth's Genealogy

“I don't know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.” -Abraham Lincoln

The father-in-law of my first-cousin-three-times-removed was loyal to the United States during the Civil War. Dr Francis B Appling lived in or near New Lexington,Tuscaloosa County, Alabama most of his life. Though of eligible age (age 8-80, so it must have seemed as the war took its toll) for service with the Confederate Army, he apparently never served. His tombstone reads; “Dr F B Appling”, but I have found no evidence that he was actually a physician. He apparently did not support the Southern cause, either as a soldier or as a physician. Life must have been very difficult, living in the heart of Dixie!

In 1873, Dr Appling filed a claim with the Southern Claims Commission for compensation for “supplies or stores alleged to have been taken by or furnished to the military forces of the United States for their use during the late war for suppression of the rebellion.” That amount of $150 was disallowed in Dec 1873.

A bit about the Southern Claims Commission:

The United States Congress created the Southern Claims Commission on March 3, 1871 so that pro-Union Southerners who had lost property to invading Union armies could request compensation. Congress most likely took this step to help calm the sectional tensions of the Reconstruction era. There were also some clear political motivations underlying the creation of the Commission–northern Republicans had long hoped that Southern Unionists would join the Republican Party, and they hoped to cement their allegiance as the former Confederate states returned to full representation in Congress.

Congress initially expected the Commission’s duties to last for two years, but they extended its life until 1879 due to the overwhelming number of claims they received. During those nine years, Southerners filed 22,298 cases, claiming more than $60 million in damages. Special Commissioners were appointed to take testimony in cities and towns throughout the former Confederate states, so that claimants did not have to travel to Washington, D.C. Each claimant filed a petition and testified before the Special Commissioner, answering a list of fifty-seven to eighty standing questions that the Commission had created. The claimant then called witnesses, who also testified before the Special Commissioner. Many claimants also sent notarized letters from acquaintances who were not available to testify. The three members of the Claims Commission, Asa Owen Aldis, Orange Ferris, and James B. Howell (all northern Republicans), read each file and made a recommendation to the House of Representatives, who ultimately had the power to grant remuneration.

In order to receive compensation, claimants had to satisfy four general requirements:

  1. Claimant held United States citizenship
  2. Claimant resided in a state that had seceded
  3. Claimant could prove his or her loyalty to the United States throughout the Civil War
  4. United States troops had taken the claimant’s goods for official army purposes

The testimony that accompanied each claim addressed both the loyalty of the claimant and the circumstances under which the property had been confiscated. Ultimately, only 7,092 claimants–or about one third–satisfied all four requirements and received compensation for their property. The total cost of satisfying these claims came to $4,636,930.

A few of the disallowed claims received a second consideration in the 1890s. Under the terms of the Bowman Act (March 3, 1883) and the Tucker Act (March 3, 1887), claimants could transfer their cases to the Congressional Court of Claims and ask for an appeal on unfavorable findings.

This is what Dr Appling did. On 21 Feb 1889, he filed with the Court of Claims: Francis B Appling vs The United States. This time, in a preliminary hearing, it was decided that Francis B Appling, “the person alleged to have furnished such supplies or stores , or from whom the same are alleged to have been taken, was loyal to the Government of the United States throughout said war.”

On 30 Nov 1896, this claim was transmitted to the Court by the Committee on War Claims of the House of Representatives, for a full hearing on its merits, mainly that “the United States forces, by proper authority, took from his quartermaster stores and commissary supplies of the value of $150 and appropriated the same to the use of the United States Army, as follows:
1 mule…………………………………….$150

The Court’s findings of 4 Apr 1898 were that the United States Army did in fact take the above-described property, “reasonably worth the sum of one hundred and thirty dollars ($130).

29 years after his original claim was filed…on 27 May 1902, Under the General Claims Appropriation Act (the Bowman and Tucker Acts), authorized by the Court of Claims, Francis B Appling was allowed $130.

Did Dr Appling ever see the $130? I’m guessing not, since he died on 28 Jul 1900 and is buried at Sterling Cemetery in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama.

And what of the mule…?

The above cited documents pertaining to Dr Appling’s claim were obtained from’s Historical Documents 1789-1980.

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