Sunday, February 5, 2017

My current project and a little dilemma

I am a member of Mt. Tabor Baptist Church in Harlem, Georgia.  The church has been here since the Civil War. We have a cemetery and my project is to put together a reference book for the church with all of the burials with some basic genealogy information about each person, especially how everyone is related to each other. We have quite a few unmarked graves but I have been able to identify several of them through obituaries.  The Augusta Chronicle has been in publication since before the Revolutionary War and it is online making it pretty simple for anyone buried after about 1920ish.  Anything before that is iffy because obituaries weren’t that common. So far this has been a really fun project.

Now my dilemma.  There is a CSA marker in our cemetery:

John A. Cappell
Co. A
63 GA INF.
C. S. A.

I can’t find a compiled service record for John but that isn’t all that unusual. Not all of the compiled service records survived.  I can’t find a pension record for him either. The state of Georgia started granting pensions in 1870 to CSA veterans who had lost a limb in the war.  In 1879 they expanded it to all disabled veterans and their widows. In 1894 they started including veterans in their old age and those in poverty. John might not have qualified for the early pensions and/or died before the later ones.  I do have a compiled service records for a John A. Chappell (with an H).  More on him in a bit.

While researching John I found another burial of interest in the Hendricks Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery in Upson County, Georgia.

John A. Cappell
Sept. 5, 1843 - Feb. 18, 1912

The dates are consistent with someone that served in the CSA but he should have had a pension by 1912. It is not all that uncommon to have markers in more than one cemetery.  Someone could have erected a memorial marker in one or the other cemetery not knowing exactly where he was buried. John is the only Cappell buried in either cemetery.

I found John’s burial in an old cemetery survey. The cemetery itself is on Find a Grave but this burial is not. I added John to Find a Grave with a note explaining where I found the information and why I am requesting confirmation/photograph. I want to see if this marker happens to be a CSA marker.

Now about John A. Chappell (with an H). This man served in Company G of the 55th Georgia Infantry Regiment. I also have a John Chappell (spelled Chappell and Chappel) that received a pension in Rabun County, Georgia which shows that he served in a South Carolina unit first, was discharged in North Carolina and then later joined Company K of the 3rd Georgia Infantry Regiment. He was born in Abbeville District, South Carolina in 1820. Neither of these men seem to match.

Georgia didn’t start issuing death certificates until 1914 so that won’t help me. I wasn’t able to find a marriage record for John in Georgia. Almost all of Georgia marriage books are online with images. I can’t find John in the 1860 census even using fairly loose search parameters. There is a John Cappell of the right age in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana but a migration from Louisiana to Georgia would have been unusual during this time period; however, I can’t find this John in Louisiana in 1870 so I can’t totally rule him out. I can’t find John in Upson County in 1910 which would have only been 2 years before his death. I then did a search of Ancestry trees for the John Cappell that was born in 1843 and died in 1912.  Not one hit. I tried the search again at FamilySearch and found nothing there either.

So John A. Cappell is my mystery man of the day. I don’t have time to work on him any further right now. I need to get the rest of the cemetery inputted.  I will revisit John later.

What am I using to keep track of everything? Legacy of course! (shameless plug). I created a new database file for just this project. There are two other genealogists working on this project and they both use Legacy making it very easy to share data.

Copyright © 2017 Michèle Simmons Lewis



  1. Was he living in Georgia up until the time he died? If he was living in another state he may have filed there since Confederate Applications are filed in the State of Residence(providing they are one of the states that paid pensions for Confederate Vets) even if you served in another state. Also if he wasn't disabled or destitute he may not have filed at all.

    1. At this point no clue. For now I have to leave John behind so that I can input the rest of the cemetery. Once I have everyone inputted, I can go back and do some additional research to solve the problems I find along the way.

  2. Michele. Not to sound stupid, but what is C.S.A.? I've never seen those initials before and I'm not familiar.

    1. Confederate States of America. He served in the Confederate Army.

  3. Michelle, What a terrific project! I hope you are able to figure out who John is and learn more about him.