Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Will the real Robert Milton Pittman please stand up

I started writing this blog yesterday, but I hit a road block. I’ll explain shortly – here is what I wrote:

I like lists. And I look to know who is first, and last, on my list. But sometimes those names and numbers are hard to come by.

Recently, I’ve been editing a book for our local historical society. It is a collection of obits for people who died in Avery County prior to 1950. After going through this book, and through my own records, I believe that the last Confederate soldier to die in Avery County was Robert Milton Pittman.

Here is what I have been able to piece together. Robert Milton Pittman was born “at the head of Mine Creek,” in what was then Yancey County (now Mitchell) on June 10, 1845. He enlisted in Company I, 29th North Carolina Troops, on July 11, 1861. He was discharged for an unknown reason in October 1861 – a fairly short time to be in service. According to his obituary, “He was the son of Wilson Pittman and Bettie Stewart Pittman. He was a Confederate soldier during the Civil War and served under Capt. John W. Blalock, Co. I, 29th N.C. S.T. His wife was the former Miss Mary Burleson of Toecane who died seven years ago at the age of 75. He is survived by one son, W. C. Pittman of Spear and one daughter, Mrs. Hettie Ingram of Ingalls. 17 grand children and 11 great grandchildren Three grandchildren are now serving in this war. Funeral services were conducted by Revs. T. W. Clapp and J. P. Hall at the cemetery. Burial rites were under the direction of the Hughes funeral home.” Pittman died on August 31, 1943, and is buried in a little cemetery on Henson’s Creek. Not only is there a VA tombstone to mark his grave, but also a privately purchased historical marker.

But now for the sticking point: the Robert Pittman that served in Company I, 29th North Carolina Troops, claimed to be 39 years old – a birth date of ca. 1822. I dug hard yesterday into the 1860 census – the area would have been Yancey County. I found two Robert Pittmans, aged 39 and 42, respectively. There was a Wilson Pitman, but he does not seem to have a son named Robert. He does have a son named Milton. However, Milton was born ca. 1855, not 1845. This is confirmed by looking up Milton Pitman in the 1880 Mitchell County census. He is listed as being 25 years old, with his wife, Mary.

So, I’m stumped. Pitman even received a pension for his service in the Confederate army (I do not have the pension, but I will look it up next time I am in Raleigh – I sure wish they would get the rest of those placed online). I could easily say that the compiled service records are wrong in regards to age, or maybe there are two Pitmans in the 29th NCT and that this Robert Milton Pitman joined late in the war and there is no record, save pension, of him being in the 29th NCT. I have been told that the records of the 29th NCT are the poorest of all North Carolina regiments.

1 comment:

papermacheat said...

I have a bit of news for you, I have a dear friend who is the grand son of Milton Pitmon who says he is the one who drew a penion from the civil war also clamied to be aka Robert Pitman who lived to be that old who was born in Avery county who later worked in the cranberry mines. his name is Arvil Pitman. If you would like I can have you contact him. Milton George Pitman was the name of his grand email is if you need contact in formation.