Cornelius Ridgeway      Death certificate   Wife's death certificate
Company C,
8th Pennsylvania Infantry, also known as
8th U.S. Colored Infantry
Pension #150-870

See newspaper article

The story behind this tombstone

Tombstone, Immanuel Union United Methodist Church,
Bishop's Corner near Cheswold, Kent, Delaware

Plaque A-20, illustrating Cornelius Ridgeway's name.
to taken at the African American Civil War Memorial, Washinton, DC Aug 2002



Drafted 13 Aug 1863, Smyrna, Kent Co, DE.
Enlisted 23 Sep 1863
Mustered-in 08 Oct 1863, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Co, PA.
Mustered out/honorably discharged 10 Nov 1865, Brownsville, Cameron Co, TX.

Cornelius' residence during pension record period: Kent Co, DE. However, as of 15 Sep 1908, he was temporarily residing at: 532 Liberty Street, Camden, Camden Co, NJ, (his sister's home) until at least 20 Nov 1908. Another record states he lived in NJ from Jun 1909 to Jun 1911. But he was living in Cheswold, Kent Co, DE again at the time of his death in 1918.

Cornelius Ridgeway:
Date of birth: 28 Mar 1842
at: near Milton, Sussex Co, DE (another record states: Milford, DE).

Date of death: 31 Mar 1918
at: [not given]

Married first to:
Rebecca Cott
on 11 Jan 1866
at (one record states: Farmington, Kent Co, DE;
another states: Seatown, DE. Yet another states: Cheswold, DE).

Her date of birth: ca. 1843
at [not given]
Her date of death: 15 May 1913
at Cheswold, Kent Co, DE

Their children:

  • Laura Ridgeway, b. 30 Oct 1866 (or: 01 Oct 1866)
  • David J. Ridgeway, b. 09 Jul 1868
  • Florence Anne Ridgeway, b. 08 Apr 1870
  • Sarah "Sallie" C. Ridgeway, b. 17 Jul 1872
  • Mary E. Ridgeway, b. 08 Apr 1874
  • William Edgar Ridgeway, b. 20 Oct 1875
  • John Caleb Ridgeway, b. 16 Jan 1878 (or: 16 Jan 1877)
  • Harvey Ridgeway, b. 29 Dec 1879
  • Lulu May Ridgeway, b. 03 Apr 1882
  • Rebecca Ridgeway, b. 28 Dec 1884
  • James G. Blaine Ridgeway, b. 11 Dec 1885

    Married second to:
    Rebecca Purloin Collins (widow of George Fisher, who died in 1905, in Philadelphia)
    (daughter of Catherine [Carney] Collins)
    on 17 Aug 1914
    at Lockwood, DE
  • Her date of birth: [not given]
    at [not given]
    Her date of death: [not given]
    at [not given]


    Cornelius is described as having been 5 feet, 5 & 3/4 inches tall, having brown skin, and a wound scar on his left breast. In another record he is described as 5 feet, 4 & 1/2 inches tall, with "Mulatto complexion," black and curly hair, and grey eyes.

    In one affidavit, Cornelius gives his birth as 28 Mar 1842 in Sussex County, DE, and states that he moved to Kent County at 12 years of age.

    Cornelius' initial qualification for pension was based largely on his being wounded in action at the Battle of Chapin's Farm, Virginia (aka the Battle of Chaffin's Farm), one of the peripheral battles of the Battle of New Market Heights, on 29 Sep 1864. He was shot in the left breast "near his heart" and was hospitalized for nearly eleven months afterward. As of 05 Oct 1864 he was "in hospital at Portsmouth, VA." His "Casualty Sheet" was included among the pension records. Further claim for pension stemmed from his having suffered from sunstroke while on guard duty at St. John's Bluff (aka Yellow Bluff) along the St. John's River near Jacksonville, Florida, the effects of which remained with him for life.

    It was interesting to note that Cornelius and his first wife Rebecca went through a rather acrimonious separation or divorce, which is detailed to great extent in the pension records. (Scroll to the very bottom of this email to see some excerpts from the pension records). The separation clearly must have divided the family, as sons Harvey and James Blaine gave statements on their mother's behalf while daughter Sarah/Sallie gave statements on her father's behalf. Following their separation/divorce, Rebecca did receive a 1/2 -share of Cornelius' pension as a "deserted wife" (until her death in 1913), although a statement from an examiner of the case indicated he felt she was not necessarily entitled to it. Among the affiants/witnesses for Cornelius and/or Rebecca:

  • Elisha Durham, age 48 as of 18 Jul 1889 (also a Civil War veteran, Company C, 8th PA Infantry, aka 8th U.S. Colored Infantry) (same unit as Cornelius)

  • John Hughes, age 58 as of 18 Jul 1889 (also a Civil War veteran, Company K, 1st DC Infantry, aka 1st U.S. Colored Infantry)

  • Isaac Mosely, age 49 as of 19 Jul 1889

  • William S. Hardcastle, (who, on 17 May 1901, stated that he had been living in Cheswold for 10 years, but had known Cornelius and Rebecca for 25 years). [See note below regarding William S. Hardcastle].

  • Caleb Boggs, (who, on 17 May 1901, stated that he had been living in Cheswold for 30 years, and had known Cornelius and Rebecca for the entire 30 years). [See note below regarding Caleb Boggs].

  • Calvin Clark, who, in a letter dated 01 Jun 1913, stated that he had acted as the undertaker for Cornelius' first wife Rebecca upon her death on 15 May 1913.

  • Harvey Ridgway (son of Cornelius & Rebecca), age 23 as of 26 Jan 1909. Ruth J. Durham, age 43 as of 19 Oct 1908.

  • James G. B. (Blaine) Ridgway (son of Cornelius & Rebecca), age 29 as of 26 Jan 1909.

  • Sallie Carter (Sarah Catherine Ridgeway Carter, daughter of Cornelius & Rebecca).

  • Eugene Carter, age 43 as of 20 Nov 1908. (Apparently, this is William Eugene "Gene" Carter, son of William Washington Carter and Sarah A. Morgan).

  • John Carter, age 43 as of 20 Nov 1908. (Apparently, this is John N. Carter, son of William Washington Carter and Sarah A. Morgan).

  • Zadoc/Zedick Munce, age 65 as of 28 Mar 1900. (Isaiah "Zaddock"/"Zedick" Munce/Muntz, son of Robert Munce, Jr. and Jemina A. Handsor). (Also a Civil War veteran, Company E, 30th MD Infantry, aka 30thU.S. Colored Infantry). (husband of Elmira Carter Munce/Muntz).

  • Elmira Munce, age 58 as of 28 Mar 1900. (Elmira Carter Munce/Muntz, illegitimate daughter of Rebecca Carty/Carter and James Mason). (Wife of Isaiah "Zaddock"/"Zedick" Munce/Muntz).

  • Rebecca Durham, who witnessed a document signed by Rebecca on 23 Oct 1901, and also a document signed by Zadoc & Elmira Munce on the same date.

  • Tilghman Ridgway [See Query item #1, below].
  • Louise Ridgway
  • Maggie Sammons
  • Allen Reed (also a Civil War veteran, Company F, 19th MD Infantry, aka 19th U.S. Colored Infantry)
  • Enoch Ridgeway [See Query item #5, below].
  • John D. Seeney (who, on 21 Jul 1906, stated that he had known Cornelius for 20 years).
  • Elwood Dean (who, on 21 Jul 1906, stated that he had known Cornelius for 15 years).
  • Frederick A. Seeney (who, on 26 Feb 1906, stated that he had known Cornelius for [either 5 or 30 years, depending on order of respective affiants' names in the document]).


    It was very interesting to see both William S. Hardcastle and Caleb Boggs listed in the pension records. The Hardcastles were a very prosperous and predominant family of Caroline County, Maryland, and it has been purported (by family story) that one of the Maryland Hardcastles was the illegitimate father of Hopewell Carter, Sr., son of Elizabeth Carty/Carter.

    The Cartys/Carters were also from the same vicinity of Caroline County, MD, and Elizabeth (who never married) and her son came to Kent County, DE in the period following his birth in 1857. In 1888, Hopewell Carter, Sr. married Sarah C. Ridgeway, daughter of Cornelius and Rebecca.

    The William S. Hardcastle listed in the records is undoubtedly William Scott Hardcastle (24 Oct 1859 - 12 Aug 1940), who was born in Philadelphia but whose father was of the Hardcastles of Caroline Co, MD. William married Mary or Mollie Jones in Dover, Kent Co, DE on 16 Apr 1887, and later died in Dover. William's father was Peter Hardcastle (04 May 1814 - 21 Mar 1889), who fathered William by his 3rd wife.

    Caleb Boggs, in addition to being the grandfather of James Caleb Boggs (15 May 1909 - 26 Mar 1993) (U.S. Senator and Governor of Delaware), was the husband of Mary Elizabeth Hardcastle (16 Mar 1846 - 30 Dec 1921), daughter of Peter Hardcastle by the 2nd of his 3 wives.

    So, Caleb Boggs was a brother-in-law (by being married to the half-sister) of William S. Hardcastle.

    Their reason for providing affidavits on behalf of Rebecca Cott Ridgeway may have been based solely on their knowing her as a fellow member of the community. However, it would be interesting to know if their involvement was based on a familial connection as well.

    If the family stories of the identity of Hopewell Carter's illegitimate father are true, he has been presumed to have been the son of Dr. Alexander Hardcastle, Sr., who was a first cousin of Peter Hardcastle. One might be tempted to guess that William and Caleb were assisting Rebecca due to her being the mother of their cousin's son's wife (Sarah Ridgeway Carter). However, this goes against the fact that Sarah's loyalties apparently lay on her FATHER'S (Cornelius') side in the dispute, not on her mother's (Rebecca's). If William & Caleb had wanted to act on Sarah's behalf, their statements benefiting Rebecca could seem to be contrary to this.

    By the way, the paternal parentage of Hopewell Carter, Sr. has not been proven. The strongest evidence linking him to Alexander Hardcastle, Sr. is the notation in the "Father" box of Hopewell's death certificate stating, "Alexander Carter." However, there was no Alexander Carter, and it was well-known among all of Hopewell's children and descendants that he was an illegitimate child, and had taken the Carter name from his mother, Elizabeth Carty/Carter. (Many, if not all, of Elizabeth's siblings changed their name from Carty to Carter around the same period. The name had originally been McCarty during Elizabeth's grandfather's time, and had been shortened to Carty by the time of Elizabeth's father's generation).

    The explanation for the notation of "Alexander Carter" in the Father box of Hopewell's death certificate might be one of two possible reasons:

    1. The informant (of the death certificate) may have given the name of Alexander Carter to avoid the stigma of Hopewell's having been an illegitimate or "bastard" child.

    2. The informant, upon being asked the name of Hopewell's father, may have simply answered, "Alexander," and the note-taker wrote it down as "Alexander Carter," assuming the surname would be the same as the deceased's.

    In late 2001 & early 2002, I participated in a y-chromosome DNA test, comparing my DNA (as being a direct male descendant of Hopewell Carter, Sr.) against that of two male Hardcastle descendants from co-lateral branches, in an effort to determine if Hopewell's father had indeed been Alexander Hardcastle, Sr. The test indicated there was not a connection between myself and the two Hardcastle descendants, but since the two Hardcastle descendants ALSO showed as not being connected to EACH OTHER, it could be argued that the test was inconclusive, since the possibility existed that there could be a flaw or break (i.e., an illegitimate parentage) in one or both of the Hardcastle descendants' ancestries. (The chance for a flaw in at least one of their ancestries increases with each successive generation going back to our purported CMA--common male ancestor. The purported CMA between myself and one of the fellow test subjects was 6 generations back, and 8 generations back for the other. In order to gain results that are more conclusive, additional male Hardcastle descendants are needed (hopefully through more closely-related co-lateral branches). I may possibly pursue this at some point in the future. Further basic information about this DNA test and the results can be found HERE.

    [Note: there is an error in the first sentence of the article. Where it says, "great-grandfather, Alexander Carter," it should read, "great-grandfather, Hopewell Carter"].

    As a part of the investigation into Cornelius & Rebecca Ridgeway on behalf of their pension claims, it was requested from court officials that any Kent County court records be supplied that included the names of either Cornelius or Rebecca. Several abstracts were supplied, two of which were very interesting by way of the names included:

    1. On 12 May 1896 a debt of $300.00 was entered by the Farmers and Merchants National Building and Loan Association of Delaware vs. Absalom Saunders, James K. Seeney, Charles H. Saunders, James K. Morgan, Cornelius Ridgway, Moses Coker, John Durham, Purnel Mosley, Samuel C. Johns, George W. Moseley, Elisha Mosley, David M. Moseley, William M. Carney, Burton Johnson, John H. Johnson, Edward Reed, Hopewell Carter and N.B. Morgan.

    2. On 10 Jul 1897 a debt of $400.00 was entered by the Farmers and Merchants National Building and Loan Association vs. Enoch D. Durham, Daniel Johnson, David J. Ridgeway, Robert H. Johnson, Cornelius Ridgeway, William E. Carter, John Loatman, Robert J. Coker, John Johnson and Rebecca Ridgeway, along with the notation of: "This bond is given as additional security for a loan of four hundred dollars from the Farmers and Merchants National Building and Loan Association of Delaware to the trustees of Cheswold Star Lodge No. 4041 United Order of Odd Fellows of Cheswold, Kent County, Delaware."

    Cornelius' place of death is given on his death certificate as East Dover Hundred, near Dinah's Corner, Kent Co, DE. (Place of death was not given in the pension records).

    According to the pension records, Cornelius and his first wife Rebecca were married either in Farmington, Kent Co, DE, Seatown, DE, or Cheswold, DE. However, according to at least one other source, they were married in Felton, Kent Co, DE.

    Cornelius was in the same unit as his older brother, Alfred Wilbank Ridgeway, who died on 25 Aug 1883..
    Cornelius is mentioned in an article which appeared in the "Philadelphia Press" on 01 Dec 1895, entitled "The True Story of the Delaware Moors." In the article, Cornelius is described as "the patriarch of the colony" (although a subsequent paragraph mentions "Cornelius and the other patriarchs"). The text of the article, which was reprinted in the "Smyrna Press" on 01 Jan 1896, can be found HERE.

    On the African American Civil War Memorial in Washington DC, Cornelius' name is displayed on Plaque A-20.

    Links to some additional sites with info on the 8th U.S.C.T.-- 1 2 3


    1. The statement that Cornelius moved from Sussex County to Kent County at age 12 (having been born on 28 Mar 1842) is very interesting/ in that it provides a date of ca. 1854 of when his father William Ridgway & family relocated from Sussex County to Kent County. Given the presumed connection between the family of William Ridgway and Tilghman Ridgway [see Query item #4 in the posting for Alfred W. Ridgeway], it would be interesting to know whether a similar migration can be tracked for Tilghman Ridgway's family (aka Tilghman Jack).

    Does anyone have any evidence showing that Tilghman Ridgway's/Jack's family were ever in Sussex County?

    2. On 10 Dec 1908, Cornelius stated that he was then living at 532 Liberty Street in Camden, NJ, described as "his sister's."

    Which sister of Cornelius was living at that address in Camden at that time?

    Does anyone have a City Directory for Camden for that period?

    Cornelius' sisters were:

  • Zipporah Ridgeway, b. ca. 1834. (Possibly died as a child?)
  • Mahala Ridgeway Johnson, b. 08 Sep 1835. Wife of Thomas Johnson, Sr.
  • Anna Ridg(e)way/Jack Durham, b. ca. 1840. Wife of Charles Henry "Harry" Durham. (Moved to Wayne Co, Michigan)
  • Elizabeth "Sini" Ridgeway Harmon, b. ca. 1843. Wife of Bowen/Boin Harmon.
  • Salathie Ridgeway, b. ca. 1845. (Possibly died as a child?)
  • Ellen Ridgeway, b. ca. 1849. (Possibly died as a child?)
  • Rashael Ridgeway, b. ca. 1855. (Possibly died as a child?)

  • 3. Does anyone know of a photograph of Cornelius? (I have two purported photographs of Rebecca Cott Ridgeway, but none of Cornelius).

    4. Affiants Eugene Carter and John Carter both gave their age as 43 (as of 20 Nov 1908). According to my notes, William Eugene Carter was born ca. Dec 1862 and John N. Carter was born ca. Oct 1864. But these are estimates, probably based on census records. Could these dates be incorrect? Were they twins?

    5. Who was Enoch Ridg(e)way? I do not have his name in my database. He appears as a witness, individually, in at least one record, and at least one other statement mentions "Enoch and Emma Ridgeway," but gives no indication who they are.... Also, in Rebecca's statement of 13 Feb 1901, she states, "Enoch Ridgeway and his wife--and my children would know more about the matter than anyone else." [It was also stated that Enoch's home was one of the places that Cornelius briefly lived at, following his separation from Rebecca].

    6. Does anyone know where Lockwood, DE is? (Location of Cornelius' 2nd marriage). Is it in Kent County? [Note: on the death certificate of Cornelius' 2nd wife, the place of her burial is difficult to read, but it appears to say "Lockwood ________" (illegible second word)].

    7. Cornelius' 2nd marriage was to Rebecca Purloin Collins Fisher, the widow of a George Fisher who died in 1905 in Philadelphia. Is this the same the George P. Fisher whose name is often seen in Kent County records? (His name appears as an attorney in Cornelius' records). (He is also mentioned as Judge George P. Fisher in the article noted in the link above, "The True Story of the Delaware Moors" and was the author of an article in the "Milford Herald" on 15 Jun 1895 entitled "The So-Called Moors of Delaware," which can be read

    Does anyone know when or where Judge George P. Fisher died, and whether it was in 1905 in Philadelphia (leaving a widow named Rebecca)?

    8. If indeed the two George Fishers are one-and-the-same, does anyone have information on the descendants of George Fisher by his first wife?

    9. Cornelius' death certificate gives his place of burial as "Manship" (Immanuel Union) Cemetery. However, his grave is not marked, and any plot-map or diagram of the older graves in the cemetery has long since been lost. His brother Alfred's grave is also there, and is marked by a military headstone. This is a long-shot, but does anyone know of the location of either: 1. where Cornelius' grave is located in the cemetery, or 2. the original plot-diagram of the cemetery?

    10. The informant for Cornelius' death certificate was "Becky Green, Dover." Does anyone know who this is? She was knowledgeable enough about Cornelius to give both of his parents' names, including his mother's maiden name.

    11. Speaking of Cornelius' mother's maiden name (Deborah "Deby" Handsor or Hanzer), does anyone know who Deborah's parents were? Deborah migrated from Sussex County to Kent County with her husband William and children ca. 1854.

    12. Rebecca Cott Ridgeway's (Cornelius' first wife's) death certificate lists her place of burial as "Coker's Cemetery." According to an article in the "Delaware News Journal," dated 26 Jul 2001, "Coker Cemetery" was the original name of Whatcoat Cemetery. But there are no stones marking Rebecca's grave there. Does anyone know if a plot-diagram exits for this cemetery?

    13. Rebecca P. Collins Ridgeway's (Cornelius' second wife's) death certificate gives her parents' names as Benjamin Collins and Catherine Carney, and gives Catherine's birthplace as Maryland. Does anyone know how this Catherine Carney might connect with the other Cheswold-area Carneys?


    Excerpt from an affidavit by Cornelius, dated Mar 1900:

    …If you grant her half of the pension as a commissioner then I would be compelled to go to the Soldiers' Home as I am not able to work in the field. That what I am now getting I can no more than live with it as it cost me now from eight to nine dollars per month washing and mending. Therefore you can see it leaves me with but a little for dressing, etc. One of her houses rents now for three dollars and a half per month. This trouble has been brought on by two citizens of Cheswold. The persuasion of it done is to devoid me of my pension also influence by the voice of one of [her/my?] boys. I would like to know Mr. Wilson as the Commissioner of Pensions if there is any way to devoid those people from influencing her and to keep confusion about the pension, if there is please let me know. I also passed you a letter through the hands of our Senator R. Kenney of Delaware concerning of the same case. I would ask you as the Commissioner of Pensions Mr. Wilson to act with your best feeling for an old soldier of serving from 1863 to the tenth of November 1865. Please let me know at once if there is anything to be done or what you require.

    Excerpt from an affidavit by Cornelius, no date:

    ...This trouble has been brought on since I left her by the advice of her friends and my enemies, John W. Dyer, a pensioner and Jos. H. Thompson, a Justice of the Peace and Notary Public. If you wish to have any reference to ascertain my character or reputation, I refer you to such men as Mr. John H. Bishop, Mr. Jefferson Cooper, Mr. J. Hermon Anderson, Mr. P. L. Barons and numbers of others, all prominent citizens of Cheswold. Is there any way to stop those people, the said Dyer and Thompson, from influencing my wife and hauling her to Dover to make such false statements, also one of her sons David J. Ridgeway is using his influence with her. If there is a way please let me know as this has been going on ever since I left home. And further she made a statement in Dover before Judge Lore, Judge Pennewill, and Judge Grubb that, (in answer to the question, "Does he not support you?") I did support her as well as I was able. And there they the said Judges gave to her, with my consent, all the property and all the children for her support. This was a good support as there was two houses to draw rent from and the wages of three boys. If she going to put families in the houses and not charge any rent, I cannot help it. Her sister now lives in part of the house and pays no rent. Are these facts that I have stated satisfactory to you that I am not in fault, and therefore should not be deprived of any part of my pension. If not satisfactory please advise me what you require and what I must do and I will try to furnish you with what evidence you desire.

    Excerpt from the notes of an unknown official (initials "D. K.") reviewing the case, stamped with a date received of 09 Jan 1901:

    It is my judgment that hasty action was taken by the Pension Bureau in the claim of this soldier's wife for half of his pension. As I read it the testimony does not amount to proof that soldier deserted his wife; it seems more like a family jar, or probably incompatibility of temper. The wife declared that soldier by cruel and inhuman treatment, violent assaults, and frequent beatings compelled her to leave his abode. The testimony consists of a type-written affidavit of two witnesses who recite that the wife was industrious and faithful to her husband, and that her said husband treated her cruelly and so abused her that he drove her from his home; that he then refused to live with her or to provide for her. This testimony does not in my judgment establish desertion under the law even though the fullest value be given it. But against it should be considered the denial of the soldier who declares "that he has not deserted his said wife, but has been by her driven from his home and deprived of his property. That at the October term of the Court in and for Kent County and State of Delaware the said Rebecca Ridgway his wife had him, the said Cornelius Ridgway, tried for desertion and that after a full and fair hearing of the case he was by the said court discharged." This I think should have suggested such inquiry as would determine the facts. Furthermore, the soldier stated that he wanted to divide their property but his wife would not consent to it and she has it all and it does appear from her own affidavit that she has in her possession real estate to the value of $600 though she also says she has liens and debts against her to the amount of $1500. It seems to me this is a case of separation and the remarks of Assistant Secretary Campbell in the Rothery case (P. D. Current Series #20) are particularly apropos. In my judgment this claim should be specially examined to determine the facts which may be readily ascertained as both soldier and his wife live in the same town.

    Excerpt from an affidavit by Cornelius, dated 13 Feb 1901:

    Q: What was the cause of the separation?
    A: She was jealous. I was doing a shoe making business in a shop adjoining my house. My wife would come to the shop and eavesdrop as soon as a female customer came around. Of course my women customers noticed this--and my trade began to leave me. I remonstrated with her, but to no effect, and she would quarrel with me morning, noon, and night about some women--all without any real cause. At last one day I drove up the road to see about some money which was due me--and my wife thought I had gone after a woman and sent two of the boys after me. A rain storm threatened and I turned about unexpectedly and found the boys following me. After I went home I became vexed at one of my boys because of his having told an untruth and one word brought on another until I told her that her accusations were wrong and a quarrel followed and she called me a liar. I then told her if she called me a liar again I would wash her face. She picked up a skillet to strike me. I grabbed the skillet and gave her a shove and she fell. Prior to this, about a week before I had found a butcher knife under my pillow twice. I remained in the house about a week after the row and then I began to study about that butcher knife being under my pillow, and I concluded I had better leave the house or there might be murder. So I took a part of the furniture and moved it to the adjoining but connected house--where I remained about two weeks. Then I moved my furniture here and have been here ever since. We had the row on Sunday and Tuesday she went before Squire John Thompson [illeg.] of Camden, N.J. and sued me for support. I paid the costs there and [illeg.] bond for appearance at court, and the trial came off in Oct 1898. I told Squire Thompson that my wife could not only have all the property I had but could have the wages of the three boys under 21--one of the boys was then hired at $13, the other at $12 per month--and the youngest boy was working then by the day picking berries, earning $6 or $7 per mo. After I paid the costs of the suit I collected the back wages due my sons and I told the men to whom they were hired to pay $5 apiece to each son and give the balance to my wife. After I had moved my furniture in the old part of the house, I was told my wife said I had to move, and as the property was hers I did move and have not lived with her since. At the trial in Oct 1898 U.S. Senator R. R. Kinney was my attorney. My wife on the stand acknowledged the cause of the row which ended in separation was due to her having sent the boys to follow me. Then the court heard my testimony which is about as I have told you. Then the court asked me if I would return to live with her and I replied I would not--because we could not live in peace. I then told the court I would give my wife full and peaceable possession of all my property--and would let her have the earnings of the boys for her support. The court then called Wm. Harrington and Samuel Taylor the men to whom the boys were hired--and questioned them--and they said I had collected no money from them since July 13, 1898. After hearing this evidence the court dismissed the case--telling me I was not to trespass on her property and was not to molest her in any way. At the this [sic] settlement was made the property I gave her possession of was the two houses and shoe shop all under one roof--cost me $1100--and the back pay due the boys was over $40.00. I took the deed of the property in my wife's name--when I purchased it about 1880--to avoid expenses of settlement in orphans court if I should die. At the time of the settlement between my wife and I--there was a judgment note against this property of $300.00 and also a judgment note against my wife and me for lightning rods on the house and got judgment against me for over $40.00. This was all the debts against me individually or against the property. This debt of $300 was originally given to Chas. Brown to [sic] father of Francis [S.?] Brown and that passed to Francis [S.?] Brown. Francis Brown owed me over $700.00. The $500 judgment has been settled. The judgments of the Farmers & Merchants B & L Assn for $300 and $400 is against the trustees of a church and Odd Fellows Hall--and I am one of the trustees. John Bishop purchased the mortgages against my wife's property of Francis Brown--and also purchased my debt against Brown--and gave me $100 to give a quit claim against the estate. While Brown really owed me $700.00 I could not collect it because it was a book account and was not [lawed?]. I have not contributed anything of my wages--in of my part of the pension--except the $6.00 given by the government since she and I parted. Since she and I parted I have had no regular occupation--for I have had no money to start in the shoe making business and have not been able to do work because of a rupture, the results of sunstroke, and general debility. My wife has received the earnings of the boys--the pension--and the rest of the property for her support. The stable and house and shop should rent for from $7 to 8 per month--and leave her one end of the house to live in. The shop is used by my wife as a wood house--was rented for a short time for 50¢ a week. The old house has been rented steadily for $3.50 per month--her sister lives there now. Mr. Bishop has informed me that he will foreclose the mortgage next April. In fact I do not feel in view of the property being hers and in view of my instructions from the court that I can go and live with her where she now lives. She has said she did not want to live with me. If I could live in peace with her I would much prefer to do so--rather than to have no home--but I know we cannot live peacefully together. I have heard the testimony of my wife and of my two sons--and I say they are mistaken when they claim that I ran after other women. I did remain out late at night at times but always talking with men--because I hated to go home to be quarreled with, and I had outside business to attend to. I never struck my wife at any time until the row I have referred to--then I did not actually strike her, I only shoved her down. I do not know that I have any particular witnesses I want seen. John Bishop or any of the business men of the town can testify I am honest, and have worked hard and am "peaceful."

    Excerpt from an affidavit by Rebecca, dated 13 Feb 1901:

    Q: What was the cause of the desertion?
    A: The old boy and women. He was out night after night and if I said anything about it he would say I did not tell the truth--and once he tried to beat me. About the amount of it is he and I could not agree, and as the result he would go to his daughter's and have her wash for him, get food and have her cook it, and would not buy me anything for a week at the time. He threatened to beat and kill me, and at last pulled up and left, and took most of the furniture to his daughter's where he now lives. He owned no property in his own name. He purchased this property where I now live and the property was in my name and I pay the taxes in it. I do not know what the property is worth, but there are several judgments against the property or against Cornelius Ridgeway and me--just the shape of these debts or the total amount I do not know. I went to Dover and was told that there were judgments against Cornelius Ridgeway and me for over $1300, but I do not know anything about these debts--except a debt of $300 borrowed money and another debt for lightning rods--of something over $100. John Bishop, however, told me that he held judgments against this property of about $900 and he expects to get it next court--that is, he expects to get the property next court. If he does, I will have nothing, nor will the pensioner. It is not true that I threatened Ridgeway, and is not true that I had a butcher's knife in bed with me. I sued him for support and he agreed in court to leave me the house to live in and that I should receive the wages of our boys to support me--and that ended the matter--just what was the adjustment I do not know--for I heard nothing further of it. One of these boys was 23 Jany. 16 last, and the other was 21 Dec 29 last, and the other was 15 Dec 11th last. The suit was brought two years last October. He has contributed nothing what ever toward my support since June or July 1898. He has made his home at his daughter's, and at different places, has had no regular home. I have made my home here in the house where he and I lived together.

    Q: Did he refuse to support you?
    A: He just left the house, and refused to buy me anything to eat, and has not spoken to me since he left. I have not been after him to get him to return, and he has not so far as I know shown any disposition to return. I have supported myself and my sons since my husband deserted me and I received the wages of my two oldest boys until they were twenty-one. The other boy lives with me, and in summer he works and I then incur his wages. There are two parts to this house--my sister lives in it--and she pays me $1.00 per month rent. The shoe shop is vacant. I could not find anyone to rent it. I have heard my husband's statement--it is not true when he states that the threats came from me, not from him. Enoch Ridgeway and his wife--and my children would know more about the matter than anyone else. I never went to bed with a butcher knife under my pillow.

    Excerpt from the statement of the Special Examiner assigned to investigate Cornelius' case, dated 16 Feb 1901:

    …Thompson the former Notary is an old man, ignorant and careless…. I have taken John Dyer's testimony before in pension claims, and from inquiry then and now I learned he was unreliable. It's not probable Rebecca Ridgway would have filed a claim for half of the pension had she not been urged to do so by Dyer--who is also a pensioner. He and Cornelius had a "falling out" about political matters--and Dyer took this means of revenge, and Thompson (Notary) for the fees that he got out of it--helped the matter along.

    Excerpt from an affidavit by Cornelius, dated 09 Dec 1901:

    …Rebecca Ridgway's statement to you is a mistake. Instead of deserting her in June, it was in July the 11th day, 1898. And I here have all reason for deserting her on the account of her threats she made on me the said Cornealous Ridgaway. She also said that she intended to be the death of me in some way, shape or form. After that I found under our pillows of the sleeping bed, a large butcher's knife and a spoke of a carriage wheel they were found by me Cornealous Ridgaway; after finding these two weapons knowing not the cause they were placed there for, I then moved out and went into the house next door to me, of which I had rented to a family by the name of Enoch Ridgaway. Being that the property was deeded to her Rebecca Ridgaway then she ordered me to move out of her house, and ordered the family to move out, too; said she did not want me, Cornealous Ridgaway to live anywhere around here. I then went to the Justice of the Peace in Cheswold, which was Joseph Tomson; I explained to Mr. Tomson the trouble and he said to me go back and stay there for the property is yours. I told him I would not go back as I felt in danger of my life. Then Mr. Joseph Tomson ask me if I wanted him to talk to her. I said he could if he wanted to. I then said to him what I would do, that was this: give her, Rebecca Ridgaway the new house which has four rooms in it, and the three boys, and I would take the old and do for myself. And when the squire state to her what I said I would do, her Rebecca Ridgaway told the squire at once that she would not, that she would have all or none. She had a family that she wanted to take the house and said she wanted me Cornealous Ridgaway to get out of the house. I then said nothing but bundled up my things such as bedding, two or three chairs and so forth, and moved to my daughter's Mrs. Sallie Carter's about a half mile away from here and there have been ever since; only as I would go visiting among my friends and relatives up till this spring past. She then notified all the people around not to cook or do anything for me. She got the people so confused and worked up so they were afraid to do anything for me, so I could do no other way than but to rent a house for myself. I am in the same house in which I used to have my shoe business, shoe cobbling and harness mending, to try to help myself along. I then hired a woman to do for me my washing and mending, and I hired her as a housekeeper and not as a wife. Mr. Commissioner of Pensions, it was decided two years ago at Dover, Del. In the courtrooms by the judges that she was to have all three of the boys and all of the property for her support; by leaving me my pension and not to bother or to interfere with my pension after having all of the property and the three boys left to her for support. I, Cornealous Ridgaway, left to her $20 and some rent in money, left in the hands of Mr. Samuel Taylor of Kenton Hundred and about the same amount in William Harrington's hands to be paid over to her, Rebecca Ridgaway. Mr. W. Harrington of Little Creek Hundred. And besides she has told others that she did not want me, all she wanted was my pension. As you did advise me through R. Kinny [sic] the Senator to get a divorce I did so. I applied for it some where about the first of this May past 1901, but as they were so busy at [faml?] court it was not brought up but I am expecting it next spring's court. (Witnesses to this particular affidavit include: Sallie Carter, [Louise?] Ridgway, Maggie Sammons, Allen Reed, John W. Harris, J. H. Bishop, J. N. Carter, and Tilghman Ridgway).

    Excerpt from an affidavit by Rebecca, dated 12 Nov 1908:

    …That her husband Cornelius Ridgway left her on the fifth day of November 1907 without any cause that she knows of as there had been no disagreements between them, about two weeks before he left he was away a few days doing some work for another woman, and when he came back home he stayed until November 5th when he was leaving she asked him where he was going and he replied that he was going back to finish the job of work for Rebecca Collins, and he has never returned home but remained with Rebecca Collins; That she owns no property of any kind nor any income or investments of any character; That she is keeping house for her son for her board and takes in washing to get enough money to clothe herself; This all [sic] the means of support that she has and her health is failing on account of age.

    Excerpt from an affidavit by Cornelius, dated 20 Nov 1908:

    …That on or about the thirtieth day of May, A.D. one thousand nine hundred, he was compelled to separate himself from his said wife because of certain threats made against his person; That on one occasion he found concealed under her pillow on the bed in which they slept a large wooden club and a butcher knife; that on another occasion he was waylaid late at night on his way home by five men and that he has good reason to believe and does believe that the said men were employed by his wife to do him great bodily harm; that in many other ways she made life so miserable for him as to render co-habitation unbearable; that on many occasions she has stated to this deponent and sundry other persons that she did not want him or want to live with him, that all she wanted was what money she could get from him; That about eighteen years ago your deponent purchased a house and lot in the town of Cheswold, Kent County, Delaware, at a cost of eleven hundred and fifty dollars ($1150) and gave same to his wife, who continued to hold them until they were sold from her at Sheriff's Sale; That he acted towards her in every way as a dutiful husband should; That she is not now in necessitous circumstances nor has she been at any time since the separation; That she lives with the three boys, children of your deponent and his said wife, Rebecca Ridgway, by the name of John C. Ridgway, Harvey Ridgway, and J. G. Blaine Ridgway of the age of thirty, twenty-four, and twenty-two respectively; that the two first named boys are employed by the Delaware Railroad Company and are earning about forty dollars per month; that the last named child is a farm laborer and earns from eighteen to twenty dollars per month; that the said Rebecca Ridgway is well provided for and cared for in every way; That the wound, which your deponent received in the Civil War, together with disease of body, which have resulted from his service in the War, render him unfit for work and that he is able to earn little or nothing; that the money, which he receives as pension from the United States Government, is his chief means of support and that he would suffer if this amount or any part thereof were taken from him.

    Excerpt from an affidavit by Cornelius, dated 10 Dec 1908:

    In rebuttal to the claim of Rebecca Ridgeway for one half of pension allowed to Cornelius Ridgway…. Personally came … Cornelius Ridgway … who being duly sworn declares in rebuttal to aforesaid claim that he did not go back with the said Rebecca Ridgway to live with her but to do some carpenter work for his son Harvey Ridgway, who is now keeping her the said Rebecca Ridgway and before the job was completed she ordered him away and forbid him from ever entering on the premises again for if he did she should prosecute him for trespassing; That he was then compelled to hunt a home somewhere and he then went to the home of Catherine Collins and her daughter, and furnished his own meat, flour, and other food necessary for himself and paid them the said Catherine Collins and daughter to cook and prepare the same for his eating; That the said Catherine Collins died on the 4th day of last September and that he then moved to his sister's at 532 Liberty Street, Camden, N.J. where he is now making his home; That he is afraid to eat or drink anything that the said Rebecca Ridgway might cook or prepare for him as she has made so many threats that she was going to dispose of him in some manner and that he thinks it best for him not to live with her as it avoids all trouble; That during the time he was with her the boys were coming in at all hours of the night drunk and he did not know what they might do with him; And he further declares that he has applied for a divorce which will soon be granted him.

    To view some of the other
    Civil War pension extractions, as well as an explanatory note, please see the following page of the Mitsawokett site:

    (Once on the page, scroll down below the Index to see the Overview).

    Please let me know if anyone has any questions: 
    John C. Carter






    "The History and Genealogy of the
    Native American Isolate Communities
    of Kent County, Delaware, and
    Surrounding Areas on the Delmarva Peninsula
    and Southern New Jersey"



    Copyright 1997-

    All rights reserved.
    Not to be used for commercial purposes.