I’d like to begin winding down my series of postings about the Civil War pension files of Patrick Ryan and his wife Delilah Rinehart Ryan of Grant County, Arkansas, by tying up some loose ends I’ve left dangling in my four previous postings about these genealogically rich documents. As I do so, I’m fully aware that most of you don’t share my intense interest in the people mentioned in these files. How could you, when they aren’t your relatives and the connections of your kin?
And Grant County, Arkansas, is not a place in which most readers will have roots, either. So it would be understandable if you weren’t particularly interested in what I have to report about that county south of Little Rock, whose northeast corner touches the southwest corner of Pulaski, the county in which Little Rock is located.
But even if you’re not a descendant of any of the families mentioned in these postings and don’t have Grant County ties, I’d like to persuade you that military pension files are inherently interesting and valuable as genealogical resources, and it’s worth your while as a family historian to look for any such resource caches left by your family members, and to pore over the documents in those files and try to understand the network of connections they usually capture.
Pension files can provide precious information not found in county records, information that fills in lacunae in county records. I’ve recently been working with a group of cousins who are part of my DNA group in an international Lindsay/Lindsey surname DNA study — working to comb through a Southern Claims Commission file pertaining to a branch of Lindseys related to me who settled in Franklin County, Alabama, in the late 1820s, one of whom, Miles R. Lindsey, filed a Southern Claims Commission application following the Civil War.
Franklin County was established in 1818. But almost all of its records burned in a disastrous courthouse fire in 1890. As a result, researching families in this Alabama county during much of the nineteenth century is daunting. The Southern Claims Commission files, which are full of affidavits from neighbors, family members, and friends of people who declared themselves Unionists following the war, allow us to reconstruct whole networks of interconnected families who supported the Union during the Civil War in slaveholding states like Alabama, and to identify sections of counties in which Unionism was particularly strong.
As Margaret M. Storey notes in her Loyalty and Loss: Alabama’s Unionists in the Civil War and Reconstruction (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2004), used judiciously as historical sources, these claims files can document in great detail what was happening in discrete areas of the South during the period leading up to the Civil War, during the war itself, and in the Reconstruction period and its Jim Crow aftermath. For counties like Franklin County, Alabama, which have suffered major loss of nineteenth-century records, these files are an invaluable resource to reconstruct ties between families, and to document events like births, marriages, and deaths, for a good chunk of the nineteenth century, when county records are no longer available to permit such reconstruction.
The same is true for Pat Ryan and Delilah Rinehart’s combined Civil War pension files: they document in great detail — for a network of interconnected families — relationships and events during the critical period in which Grant County has lost its early records, the period from early February 1869, when the county was established, to the middle of March 1877, when almost all of its early records burned. Pension files (or the kind of documents gathered by agencies like the Southern Claims Commission) can supplement missing county records and provide much-needed information genealogists working in such counties may not find in other sources.
And now back to Pat and Delilah’s pension files, which I began discussing in detail, with source documentation, in the third posting in this series. As that posting and the next in the series indicate, one of the discoveries I made when I obtained these pension files is that Pat Ryan had been married before he married Delilah Rinehart on 9 December 1869 — and no record of his first marriage to Rosanna Hill, the widow of his fallen comrade in the 3rd Regiment of Arkansas Cavalry, John H. Spann, appears to be extant. The pension files are the only source I’ve yet encountered that have information about Patrick Ryan’s first marriage.
As my previous postings indicate, we know of this first marriage because Elizabeth Hodges Hill, the widow of Rosanna’s brother Asa Hiram Hill, gave an affidavit in support of Delilah’s widow’s pension claim on 29 January 1894, in which she provides details about that first marriage of Pat’s, including the name of his wife and the fact that Rosanna was a sister of Elizabeth’s deceased husband. Elizabeth’s affidavit is at the head of this posting.
What Elizabeth Hill’s affidavit in the combined pension files of Pat Ryan and Delilah Rinehart Ryan says about Pat’s marriage to Rosanna Hill Spann opens a door for further research. Here are some gaps I’ve filled in as I’ve undertaken some of that research:
Asa H. Hill first married Mary Hodges on 25 Sept. 1852 in Itawamba County, Mississippi, and after her death, he then married Levina Elizabeth Hodges on 1 January 1865 in Pulaski County, Arkansas. I think, but have not confirmed, that Mary and Elizabeth were cousins. Mary was the daughter of Isaac and Rebecca McLain Hodges, who had moved to Itawamba County from Hardin County, Tennessee. Elizabeth is said to have been the daughter of a William Hodges who married Levina, daughter of Hezekiah and Mary Spann, in Hardin County, Tennessee, and who died by 1849, when Levina remarried to William Ingle in Itawamba County, Mississippi. I have not been able absolutely to confirm that Levina’s first husband was William Hodges, but (see footnote 2) it can be confirmed that William Hodges is on the 1840 census in Hardin County on the page immediately following the page on which Levina’s father Hezekiah Spann is enumerated, and it can also be confirmed that Levina was Levina Hodges when she married William Ingle on 27 November 1849.
At the time of her marriage to Asa H. Hill in 1865, Levina’s daughter Elizabeth Hodges was the widow Nix. Her first husband was Leonard Calvin Nix, who died as a Confederate soldier on 6 October 1862. Calvin and Levina E. Nix and their children are on the 1860 federal census in Union township, Pennington’s Mill post office, Pulaski County, Arkansas. Elizabeth’s name is given as Levina E. Nix, aged 20, born in Tennessee. Two households away is the family of H. (Hezekiah M.) Spann and wife Elizabeth.
By 1860, Asa and Mary Hodges Hill and their family had moved from Itawamba County, Mississippi, to Simpson township, Jefferson County, Arkansas, a township that would fall into Grant County at the latter county’s formation in 1869. By 1870, Asa had died and his second wife Elizabeth was the head of his household in Simpson township in Grant County, where she is listed on the federal census next door to Patrick Ryan’s parents Valentine and Bridget Ryan (Bridget’s name is erroneously given as Elizabeth on this census).
As I noted in my previous posting (it’s linked above), the John H. Spann who married Rosanna Hill, his brother James Jasper Spann who served in the same Union army unit in which Pat Ryan served, and who enlisted in Little Rock with him, and Levina Spann, whose daughter Elizabeth married Rosanna Hill’s brother Asa, were siblings. They were children of Hezekiah and Mary Nanney Spann, who married 18 June 1812 in Warren County, Kentucky, and moved from there to Hardin County, Tennessee, where Hezekiah is thought to have died by 1850. The Hezekiah M. Spann with wife Elizabeth who is listed on the 1860 federal census near Calvin and Levina Elizabeth Hodges Nix was another son of Hezekiah and Mary Nanney Spann. His wife Elizabeth was a sister to Calvin Nix. On the 1870 census, Patrick Ryan and wife Delilah are enumerated in Campbell township in Pulaski County, Arkansas, next door to the family of Hezekiah M. Spann.
When Hezekiah M. Spann died at Craig’s Mill in Saline County, Arkansas, in April 1879, his widow Elizabeth gave bond on 24 April 1879 in the county probate court to administer his estate with Joseph Potter, John D. Miller, and George R. Batchelor. George R. Batchelor, whose wife Catherine was a sister of Patrick Ryan, and who was born 20 June 1845 in Hardin County, Tennessee . . . .
In conclusion, one of the important pieces of information I learned from the combined Civil War pension files of Patrick and Delilah Rinehart Ryan — that Patrick had married Rosanna Hill Spann prior to marrying Delilah — opened entirely new vistas of research for me that illuminate connections between my Ryan and Batchelor forebears and the Spann, Hill, and Hodges families of Hardin County, Tennessee, Itawamba County, Mississippi, and Grant (and Pulaski and Saline) County, Arkansas, connections about which I knew nothing at all until I obtained these pension documents. They also cast light on the pre-Arkansas origins of a whole network of families in these central Arkansas counties, and demonstrate that these families were already connected to each other in various ways before they moved to Arkansas.
In my next posting, I’ll talk further about the Rinehart family and how it, too, fits into this network, and how it connects to the Batchelor family and to the family of George R. Batchelor’s step-mother Louisa Waters Robertson/Robinson, whose son George Anderson Robinson married, as his first wife, a sister of Delilah Rinehart Ryan, and who also served as a Union soldier after switching sides during the war. The Union service ties of these families are another thread tying these central Arkansas families together. And now I’d like to follow through on a valuable suggestion of an esteemed reader of this blog, John Blythe, and provide you with some charts to map out the intricate interconnections of the families I’ve been discussing in this series of postings.
This is the fifth posting in a nine-part series about this topic. The previous posting in this series is here, and the next posting in the series is here. That posting will end with a link taking you to the next in the series, if you’re interested in following this series to the end.
 On the 1850 federal census, Mary is in the household of Isaac and Rebecca (McLain) Hodges in Itawamba Co., Mississippi (p. 349A, district 6, dwel. 635/fam. 632, 8 October). Her age is 16, and the census indicates that she was born in Tennessee. Isaac Hodges’ age is given as 60, and his birthplace as South Carolina. Levina E. Hodge (as her name is spelled) is in the household of William and Levina Ingle in Itawamba Co., Mississippi (355B, district 6, dwel. 715/fam. 722, 19 October). Her age is 11, and she was born in Tennessee. William Ingle is 45 and was born in Georgia, and Levina Ingle is 35 and was born in Tennessee. Levina Hodges married William Ingle in Itawamba County on 27 November 1849 — see ““Mississippi Marriages, 1800-1911,” cited supra. William Hodges is on the 1840 federal census in the 6th civil district of Hardin Co., Tennessee, p. 250; Hezekiah Spann, Levina’s father, is on the preceding page (p. 249) in the same district of the county. By 1850, William Hodges disappears from the federal census.
 L.C. Nix enlisted 28 August 1862 at Little Rock in Wiggins’ Battery Light Artillery, CSA. His service packet states that he died 6 Oct. 1862: see NARA M317, Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Arkansas; RG 109, Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Confederate Organizations, compiled 1903 – 1927, documenting the period 1861 – 1865.
 1860 federal census, Union twp., Pulaski Co., Arkansas, Pennington’s Mill post office (p. 196, dwel. 231/fam. 205, 16 July). H. and Elizabeth Spann are on p. 195, dwel. 233/fam. 207.
 1860 federal census, Simpson twp., Jefferson Co., Arkansas, p. 888 (dwel. 823/fam. 769, 3 October).
 1870 federal census, Simpson twp., Grant Co., Arkansas p. 235A (dwel. 62/fam. 55, 15 August). Valentine and “Elizabeth” Ryne (as the surname is spelled on this census) are dwelling 60 and family 54. Dwelling 61 is listed as empty. Valentine and “Elizabeth” Ryan’s place of birth is erroneously given as Georgia.
 1870 federal census, Campbell twp., Pulaski Co., Arkansas, post office Little Rock (p. 93, dwel. 120/fam. 121; 2 Aug.).
 See the loose-papers probate file of Hezekiah Spann, Saline County probate court, 1879.