Andrew Jackson McCurry and wife Mary Margaret Adams McCurry, circa 1880?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Andrew Jackson McCurry: Yankee

AJM's Gravestone
To pick up the timeline of AJM's life,  on November 18, 1862 the 39th Kentucky Mounted Infantry (Union) was organized at Peach Orchard, Kentucky and mustered in on February 16, 1863.  (AJM deserted the Confederate 37th Virginia Infantry November 24, 1862.)

April 2, 1863 AJM enrolled in the Union KY Volunteers, 39th Infantry, Company F.

June 11, 1863, he was mustered in for a three-year term as private in this unit.

September 15, 1865 AJM mustered out, still a private, at Louisville, KY.

Here is a bit about the 39th Infantry, Company F, including a photo of some of the members of Company F.  The photo is not good enough to say whether AJM is present or not although he certainly would have been quite tall compared to the other soldiers as he was 6 feet tall.  What the article doesn't say is that AJM's Union unit was involved in guerilla skirmishes of the nastiest kind with various Confederate units and sympathizers in the Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina border area.  So AJM fought with Stonewall Jackson as a Confederate in some bloody battles (although not the most bloody that Jackson commanded) and when he became a Yankee he fought bands of armed men and cavalry troops commanded by General John Hunt Morgan (Confederate).  He saw a lot of action in the Civil War.

On January 11, 1866 AJM married Mary Margaret Adams (age 14) in Scott County, VA.  My father said he understood AJM was a schoolteacher after the Civil War and married one of his students.  (Note that the marriage certificate my father found for the couple shows AJM's profession to be farmer.)  AJM would have been 27 at the time of their marriage, around twice her age. Five children were born-- no date, 1868, 1869, 1872 and 1874;  the last child was Daniel Boone McCurry, my paternal grandfather.

October 14, 1890 AJM's "History of Claim" states AJM filed for a military pension as a member of the 39th KY Mounted Infantry based on "alleged affliction of liver and head [heart?]...alleged rheumatism" and received $8 a month due to "rheumatism neuralgia and disease of liver."

August 10, 1896 a "Declaration for Invalid Pension"  form states AJM appeared before a justice of the peace in Union County, Tennessee to declare he was a member of the 39th KY Mounted Infantry and gives his date of service.  The application  further states AJM lived in Phebe, TN at the time of application and was 56 years old.  It says he is "partially unable to earn [a?] support by reason of Flesh [poison?] and hart trouble."  Please note the signature of A. J. McCurry X his mark.  I am not sure how a schoolteacher isn't able to sign his own name but perhaps this was related to his disability.  This form had to be filed for him to be on the pension rolls of the United States under the provision of the Act of June 27, 1890.  "Increase" is hand written at the top of the form which makes me think this was filed to increase the $8/month pension payment.

June 26, 2897 "Declaration for an Original Invalid Pension" was filed in Union County, Tennessee.  As always, this states AJM's membership in the 39th KY Mounted Infantry and his dates of service.  The personal description on the form is very interesting.  It says AJM is 57 years old, is 6 feet tall (very tall for the era), had a fair complextion, light hair and blue eyes, and was a farmer.  It goes on to give information about why the pension is claimed:  "I was nearly down for sum days before I was discharged I did not git down till [the 5?] day after I was mustard out  I got to Louisa KY, I cold not go any further for three months the doctor call the disease I had Typhoid fever".  The form notes that AJM was treated in a "private house".  I suppose this part was dictated as the handwriting is the same throughout the form.  The signature on this form is partly cut off in the photograph but it looks like it was signed Andrew J McCurry X his mark again.

The State of Kentucky's "Origin of Disability" form seems to be an affidavit from a Kentuckian who says he was First Duty Sergeant in the 39th KY Mounted Infantry in  support of AJM's disability claim.  This is very difficult to read but it appears to be filed in Floyd County, KY by James [Dingus?] age 64 who lived in [Alpharetta?], KY.  It states "Said Andrew J. McCurry came to his house a short time after he was mustered out of the service in the fall of 1865  He staid at my house about ten or fifteen days before he was able to [illegible] his jaws [illegible] and was [illegible] he could not open them he told me the fever had settled in his jaws"

Here is the muster roll for Company F of the 39th KY Mounted Infantry.  There is no First Duty Sergeant with a name similar to that on the form.  Private James Dingus seems to match.  Also note Private Hiram Morgan on the muster roll of Company F.

July 9, 1898 Hiram Morgan, aged 58, a resident of Bull Creek, Floyd County, KY who used the post office in Prestonsburg, KY also wrote a supporting affidavit for AJM's disability claim.  Morgan wrote: "while we were encamped at Louisa Kentucky that the claimant Andrew Mc.Curry complained of being sick and laid around in the barracks and was not able to stir about any much, and after we went to Louisville to be discharged he was still complaining, and had not improved in health, and remained in that condition up until the time was discharged.  After our discharge I have not seen him since that day."

November 3, 1901 a Department of the Interior Bureau of Pensions form asks for further details and James Dingus responded thusly:  "we were mustard out at Lousiville i returned home he staid with me 3 or 4 weeks he had a serious boil or [illegible] near the lock of his jaw he returned to Scott County VA where we both were raised saw him no more until about [4?] years ago when i made a statement in his case he left my house very weak"

February 16, 1903 - AJM dies at age 62 at his home in Union County, TN at Powell's River Ridges, and is buried in Braden Cemetery in Speedwell, Tennessee with 39th KY Mtd. Infantry, Company F information on the gravestone.  Mary Margaret dies in 1934 and is buried in the same place.

June? 11, 1902? - Mary Margaret applies for a widow's pension based on 39th KY Mtd. Infantry Union services - filed in Tennessee - date illegible.  There is more information on both AJM's and Mary Margaret's pension applications on the Facebook page for Our McCurry Family.

The photo above shows AJM's gravestone.  A Civil War amateur historian who specializes in the 37th Virginia Infantry thinks this is an official veteran's gravestone put up on veterans' graves by the U.S. Government after the Civil War.  He has seen many of them, so I expect he's right.  The stone is granite.  I know because when the above photo was taken, Dad chipped the corner of the stone very near the ground trying to chop weeds away.  I picked up the chip and have it still.  I remember Mom remarking his grandmother would have a fit if she knew he'd damaged the stone, but it was not very noticeable.

Mary Margaret Adams McCurry's gravestone

The boy in the background of the photo of AJ McCurry's grave is my dead brother Marty Boone McCurry.  He appears to be around 8-9 years old, which would date the photograph to around 1963-64.

It amazes me how accurate the story Dad got from his grandmother was and how much more I discovered when I started digging.  I am becoming skeptical as to his being a schoolteacher after the Civil War, though.  I think any schoolteacher, even of a one room school, would be able to sign unless he was disabled.

Anyone else have family stories about AJM to tell?
signed, Jane McCurry Wood


  1. Nancy Loftis BlackburnJuly 28, 2011 at 9:10 PM

    Thank you for posting all this information. I had seen some of the referenced documents but could not put them together. This is excellent, Jane!

  2. Glad you are pleased, Nancy. It's one thing to find out all the information, it's another to make it sort of coherent. Dad could dig things out but organizing it so that it made sense on paper wasn't one of his skills. I'll see what I can do to make it all organized. After I post a few things, we'll see if other folks want to give it a try.