Confederate Pensioners monument dedicated

Dec. 08, 2012 @ 06:33 PM

Ten names were memorialized in stone in front of the Union County Courthouse Saturday afternoon.

The names were Union County's Confederate Pensioners of Color, nine slaves and one free person of color. 

"This is a monument that honors all confederate veterans equally," Earl Ijames, a curator with the North Carolina Museum of History, said in his key-note speech. 

Ijames noted that the monument was the first known confederate monument that honored colored pensioners equally. He also noted that the ratio of slaves to free men on the monument represented the ratio of slaves to free men that fought in the Civil War. 

During the ceremony, Michael Givens, the Commander-in-Chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, inducted Aaron Perry, the great grandson of the Aaron Perry seen on the monument, into the Sons of Confederate Veterans. 

Many descendents of Aaron Perry were at the memorial, along with Mattie Clyburn Rice, the daughter of Weary Clyburn, also on the monument. 

"It feels marvelous," Pauline Perry, the great great granddaughter of Aaron Perry, said. "It is a very historical thing to see." 

"I'm glad that (Aaron Perry) did his duty for his country," Perry, a Monroe resident, said. "I hope (people) learn the history of the confederacy and what it stood for" for both black and white people, she said. 

Aaron Perry, another descendant of the civil war soldier Aaron Perry said he was very proud of his heritage and was glad to be a part of the memorial. 

Tony Way, the president of Union County's Pensioners of Color Monument Committee, was pleased with the ceremony. 

"These men were omitted from the official record," Way said. He added that the only way to remember them was to put their names into stone. 

"I hope this will encourage the rest of the state or other states" to delve into their history, Way said. 

When asked how he felt seeing the dedications, he replied saying, "I don't think Webster's has a word." 

The men on the monument are Wilson C. Ashcraft, born in Union County around 1850, who was wounded in the second battle of Fort Fisher. His master during the war was Thomas Ellison Ashcraft. He is the only pensioner on the monument to appear in the state archives because of his pension record. 

Ned Byrd was born around 1855. He went to war with his master's son. He was a laborer in Monroe who once ran the printing press of the Monroe Register, now the Enquirer-Journal. His master during the war was Charles Byrd. 

Weary Clyburn was born in Lancaster County, S.C. around 1841. He was raised on the Clyburn plantation and went to war with his master, Thomas F. Clyburn. 

Wyatt Cunningham was born between 1835 and 1840 in South Carolina. He had moved to Union County by 1920. His master during the war was Thomas McDowell of Liberty, S.C. He served as a wagoner during the war.

George Cureton was born in Liberty Hill, S.C. between 1830 and 1835. He accompanied his master into the fourth S.C. Cavalry and later transferred to the seventh. He moved to Union County around 1900. His master during the war was Captain James Dobie. 

Hamp Cuthbertson was born in Union County around 1840. He spent years during the war as a "colored servant," serving time in Fort Fisher. His master during the war was Moses Cuthbertson. 

Mose Fraser was born in Lancaster County, S.C. in 1842. He moved to Monroe around 1931. He served during the war as a cook and a body servant. He also helped build fortifications. His master during the war was Elias Fraser, possibly Ellis Frazier. 

Lewis McGill was born in Lancaster County, S.C. around 1850. He served as a cook and body servant. He was living in Monroe Township by 1920. His master during the war was Ellis Frazier. 

Aaron Perry was born in Union County around 1840. He accompanied his master into service as a body servant. He also helped build fortifications. He was a community leader in the Lanes Creek area. His master during the war was John B. Ashcraft. 

Jeff Sanders was born in South Carolina around 1845. He was born the son of a free person. He served as a laborer, servant and cook and was listed as a free man. He moved to the Union County area by 1900. 

Information about the pensioners was collected by the Dickerson Genealogy and Local History Room in the Union County Public Library in Monroe.