William B. Liverman, born in Tyrrell County (likely in Gum Neck), North Carolina is one of my Civil War ancestors.[*] He died of disease on March 26, 1864 while incarcerated as a prisoner of war in a Confederate States military prison hospital in Richmond, Virginia. Liverman was a North Carolina Union Volunteer and a member of Co. F, 2nd North Carolina Union Volunteers. His company was taken into custody in February 1864 by Confederate forces at Beech Grove, North Carolina during the failed attempt by General George Pickett to re-capture New Bern, North Carolina. The North Carolina Union soldiers are often remembered by the sobriquet “Buffaloes.”
I was unaware that my great-great-great grandfather William B. Liverman was a soldier when I started looking for him. I had previously researched my family tree back to my 3rd great grandparents for all of my family lines except for William B. Liverman and his wife Jeannetta (Gennetta) Jones. My great grandmother Elizabeth Dorcas Cooper Meekins died in the 20th Century after the North Carolina Vital Records act and therefore had a death certificate. On that death certificate it listed her parents. Her mother, my great-great grandmother, was Mary “Polly” Liverman (whom I was to soon learn was the daughter of William and Jeannetta).
Using other primary source records, such as marriage records and the decennial US census, I confirmed the information on Elizabeth Dorcas Cooper Meekins’ death certificate. But I had hit the proverbial “brick-wall” with Mary Liverman. She died prior to the 20th Century and did not have a death certificate. Nor did she have a will or an estate file. Providence (and thorough research habits) led me to check the Guardian records for Tyrrell County. In Guardian records I found a file not only for Mary “Polly” Liverman but also for her sister Sarah Ann “Sallie” Liverman.
Sometimes it is important to have historical knowledge or context to assist you in your research. My experience as a history student and my service as a reference archivist gave me a background in North Carolina and Civil War history as well as an understanding of records at the North Carolina State Archives.[†]
The Liverman sister’s Guardian files both contained a single page describing the distribution of their mother’s estate to them in 1876. The description not only named the mother, Gennetta Liverman, but also revealed that the children were due “to amount of distributive share in Gennetta Liverman pension from 27th day of March 1864 to Feb. 10th 1870.” This gave me three pieces of information: Jeannetta “Gennetta” Liverman was their parent, she died February 10th, 1870, and she was receiving a Civil War pension.
Recognizing that North Carolina did not begin pensioning soldiers by legislative act until 1885, I knew that the pension could not be for Confederate Service. I suspected it was a United States pension which meant service as a Union soldier. Using databases available in the State Library, I was able to confirm that Jeannetta “Gennetta” Liverman did receive a widow’s pension for her husband William B. Liverman. I was then able to locate Corporal William B. Liverman’s service record.
On one record in his service material was a reference to his occupation: shoemaker. Jeannetta’s father was a shoemaker – perhaps William was his apprentice and while learning a trade he met his wife!
[*] I have a total of three; two Confederate soldiers (Joseph Berry, John Adam Sawyer), and one Union soldier (Liverman).
[†] If you do not have this background as a researcher you can resource the Reference Staff at the Archives. We are here to serve.