African American Lives 2 -- Hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
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My great great grand father James G. Horton Chatatanooga, TN; Huntsville, Alabama, South St. Louis MO 1863 Franklin County near Salem Tennessee The story was documented in a letter to President William H. Taft

While researching my great-great grand fathers pension records at the Nation Archives in Washington, DC, in the late 1980's, my mother was given a folder of materials. The folder included a letter my great great grand father wrote to the President of the United States of America, William H. Taft. The 13 page letter written in 1911, made my mother weep for the great grandfather she never knew, yet had been seeking, as she researched our family history. In his own words and handwriting, the letter details his life, in an attempt to have his pension raised from $12.00 per month to $14.00 per month.

James G. Horton states in his letter he joined the Union Army as a 14 year old boy in 1863 and served in the United States Colored Troops until 1868 when he was mustered out. He was injured in the service when a rack of rifles holding bayonets had fallen on his foot piercing his toe which later with a frostbit injury lead to amputation of his toe and latter his leg.

In 1892 he enlisted in the Seventh, Missouri Volunteers (Immunes) and was commissioned as 1st Lieutenant during which time he suffered frostbite to his hands and feet and face from being the officer of the guard during a 24 hour period when the Georgia camp was feeling the effects of a sudden freeze. After the military he lived for a time in Nashville and then St. Louis where he settled with his wife and two children. In St Louis he worked mainly for the city and had been urged by his "white friends "of the city of St Louis to write to the President for help.

We later learned that James was probably an escaped slave when he joined the Union Army. This would have been two years after he was sold away from the plantation of his mother, brothers and sisters. President Taft denied his request.

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