by Lisa Y. Henderson
Ann Revels, formerly Ann Chesnutt, filed claim #20191 with the Southern Claims Commission. She was 55 years old and lived near Fayetteville, where she cultivated 15 acres of land.
“I had one son that left Fayetteville about 1852. He went to Texas. I had not heard from him for 2 years before the war commenced. … I then had a letter from him in Kentucky he said he had been in the confederate army but he did not say whether by compulsion or how. I did not contribute anything for his support or military equipments.”
“I was not married during the war but I married in 1867. … I have 6 children: George Washington aged 42 years today if living. Andrew Jackson aged 40 years he was 2 1/2 years in the United States Army during the war he went in the Army from Ohio. Sophia aged 37 years. Mary Ann aged 30 years. Dallas aged 25 years. Amanda Chesnutt aged 17 years. George Washington I have not heard from for about 3 years. The balance of my children are living in and within 10 miles of Fayetteville.”
“I owned the property before I married my husband. I was born free. I made what I had by my hard work.”
Witnesses were: David A. Bryant, 50, Fayetteville farmer; Albert Hammons, 58, Fayetteville carpenter; William H. Haithcock, 46, Fayetteville carpenter (who testified that Ann “prayed the United States government might whip out the south and liberate the slaves.” Ann’s husband, Jonathan Revels, a 51 year-old farmer, testified that he and Ann were married in 1867 and stated that he was employed by Ann “pretty much all the time especially farming season from 1861 till the Army came.”
William S. Taylor, 25, painter, and Mary B. Taylor, 53 and a second cousin to Ann, who lived about 300 yards away.
“The claimant was a single woman during the war and owned the property in her own right. She has since married Revels who is a white man. She was slightly tinged with negro blood.”
Ann Chesnutt Revels was the grandmother of writer Charles W. Chesnutt.
The 1870 censustaker of Cross Creek township, Cumberland County, considered Jonathan Revels to be colored and listed him, wife Ann and stepdaughter Amanda Chesnutt as mulatto.
[Bizarre Side Note No. 1 — Amanda Chesnutt married Robert Holliday and had a son, Robert Sumner Holliday, in 1873. Robert graduated Shaw University, then medical school at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. He set up practice in Statesville NC, where he met and in 1918 married Mary Charlton of West Virginia, a Hampton Institute graduate who served as Iredell County’s supervisor of colored schools. Mary Charlton Holliday became an abiding mentor to my grandmother, Margaret B. Colvert Allen (1908-2010), and encouraged her to attend her alma mater. My grandmother met my grandfather at Hampton Institute (now University) and all five of their children, plus three grandchildren, matriculated there.]