Asking me what ancestor I’d like to meet is like asking me what my favorite dessert is (and if you know me at all, you know I love all things sweet!). As you can tell, it’s taken me a bit to make this decision. I thought about narrowing it down to two, flipping a coin, and then just going with whoever fate told me to, but then I stopped and really thought about it.
I’ve decided that I’d really like to meet my 3x Great Grandfather, Elias Sheridan Carroll. While I know quite a bit about Elias, I feel like there are so many questions I would have if I ever got to meet him. So many questions that documents just can’t answer. Also, since I’ve never seen a picture of him, I’d love to know what he really looks like!
Elias Sheridan Carroll was born on February 8, 1838 in Anderson County (what would become Union County) Tennessee. His parents were Jesse Carroll and Catherine Wilson. There is some debate on if Catherine is actually his mother, but all research that I have points to this being the case. Elias had one brother, James, and three sisters; Elizabeth, Sarah, and Emiline.
On November 13, 1865 in Union County, Tennessee, Elias married Rachel Irene Sharp. Rachel was the daughter of Alfred Sharp and Elizabeth Loy. The Sharp family name held a lot of weight in Union County. Rachel’s father Alfred was considered a prominent member of the community. Not only did Alfred own several hundred acres of land in the county, but he also served as Judge. According to Alfred’s probate records, it appears that he was the one in the community that people came to when needing to borrow money. There are approximately five pages listing people who owed him money. This list included his son-in-law, Elias Carroll.
Elias’ family was not as well off as Rachel’s. That’s not to say that Rachel married down, necessarily, but I think it does help to paint a picture of what their life was like. When the Civil War started, Elias, like many other men in East Tennessee, joined the Union Army. What was different in Elias’ case, was that when he enlisted, he entered the Army as a 1st Lieutenant. This was unusual for someone without a high economic standing. My guess is that Elias wanted to join the cause, and to keep him safe, Alfred pulled some strings to get him enlisted as an officer. Even though Elias and Rachel were not married at the time of his enlistment, Union County was a small enough community to say that Elias and Rachel were more than likely involved at the time.
If keeping Elias safe was Alfred’s goal, he didn’t succeed. In February 1864, Elias was stationed at Cumberland Gap, Tennessee and doing communication work for the Union Army. While no major skirmish took place at Cumberland Gap, it was a very popular thoroughfare for both sides during the war. While the details are not known, somehow Elias found himself captured by Confederate soldiers. He was taken to Bristol, Tennessee and then on to Richmond, Virginia where he was confined. A few months later in May, the Confederate army decided to move their Richmond prisoners to Macon, Georgia. While making the long trip, Elias escaped custody of the Confederate army near Columbia, South Carolina. By March 1865, a little over a year later, Elias was back with his Company in Tennessee.
Elias submitted his resignation in December 1864, but stayed with the Army until June 1865. To me, this shows that loyalty was an important virtue to Elias. After everything he had been through, it would have been easy for him to just walk away. It is also safe to say that Elias was eager to get back home and marry Rachel. He had more than proved himself worthy of her hand.
Together, Elias and Rachel had 10 children; Perilana, Alfred B, Florence, Sarah Elizabeth, Susan Jane, Cansadia, William West, Lafayette Hauk, Harriett, and Jesse Leroy. After the war, Elias went back to Union County and began farming. Life was not easy for Elias and his family. In 1880, two of his children, Perliana and Alfred, had typhus fever. Fortunately, it appears that both children survived. By 1890, Elias had developed lung disease. This was just the first of Elias’ illnesses. In 1902, Elias applied for an Invalid Pension. According to his application, he was “totally unable to earn a support by manual labor by reason of disease of lungs, disease of heart, general debility and scurvy.”
Elias was already receiving his pension for serving with the Union Army and had already borrowed multiple times from his father-in-law. It seems that the Invalid Pension may have given him more money, therefore he was now doing whatever he had to do to provide for his family. His application stated that he still had four children living at home that he needed to be able to take care of. It’s unknown if Elias received an Invalid Pension as there is no record that I have found that shows he received this money.
Elias Sheridan Carroll died on July 8, 1911 in LaFollette, Campbell County, Tennessee. To provide for herself, Rachel applied for a Widow’s Pension. The 1910 census shows that Elias was no longer working and that his sons, William and Lafayette (who were both working at the iron furnace) were still single and living at home. One can assume they were living there to help to provide for their parents. I would love to meet Elias and talk to him about everything that he experienced in his lifetime. From his relationship with his father-in-law, to being a prisoner of war, to his struggles to make ends meet after the war, I feel that his life is full of important lessons.