Family Histories

Family Histories for the Rose and Kirkpatrick Families

Sunday, May 31, 2015

52 Ancestors #13: Mary Elizabeth "Bettie" Shoemake Evans 1787 - 1872

Bettie Shoemake was born in PeeDee, South Carolina about 1787.  The Shoemakes were "free people of color" in South Carolina at the time; possibly mixed European, Native American and African.  Bettie was the daughter of Solomon Shoemake and his wife, Mary Elizabeth.  Many of the free people of color living in South Carolina, including Bettie, appear to have moved into the Cumberland Mountains in East Tennessee in the early 1800's.  There, in Campbell County, Bettie married Andrew Evans about 1810.  Andrew was also of mixed race (they are alternately listed as "colored' and "mulatto" on census records).  They had four children over the next four years:  Elizabeth, Hettie, Samuel and William.

In May of 1853, Bettie was living in Jackson, Alabama, along with her children; from the census records, it appears they moved from Campbell to Jackson between 1840 - 1850.  Jackson County had a large population of settlers of mixed white and native blood, possibly hoping to avoid removal to Oklahoma.  Bettie made an application for a widow's bounty land claim based on Andrew's service in the War of 1812.

According to her application, Andrew was drafted into the 1st Regiment Tennessee Militia in September of 1814.  He was mustered in at Knoxville for a period of six months.  She says that he died of disease at camp in Mobile, Alabama on March 1, 1815.  Unfortunately, there were no discharge papers made before his death and she has a difficult time proving his service.  While she had a number of people testify on her behalf that they knew her to be Andrew Evans widow, there were no men who had served with her husband and no papers to prove her claim.  Ultimately, her application was denied.

The pension file answers a number of questions I had about Andrew.  While I had seen stories that he served in the War of 1812, there was nothing that gave any concrete information.  His death date was given as "about 1818" and he supposedly died in Campbell County.  I now know he died in 1815 in Mobile.

The Battle of New Orleans in January 1815 is usually thought of as the last battle of the War of 1812, but in fact, the second Battle of Fort Bowyer in Mobile took place a month later.  While the Americans had repulsed the British in September 1814 at Fort Bowyer, in February 1815, they were defeated.   The 1st Regiment Tennessee Militia was in the second battle, and based on the date of the battle and the date of Andrew's death, I think it's likely he was in this last battle before his death.

I have found pension records to be such a great source of information - I hope everyone takes the time to read them through when they are found.  Fold3 is a great source; check with your local library to see if you can access the records at no charge through your library membership. 

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