Saturday, August 2, 2014

William Riley Ramsey and the Trail to Burke County

William Riley Ramsey was the oldest son of Samuel Ramsey and Rebecca Helms Ramsey. He was born in Anson County, North Carolina around 1824, and grew up in Stanly County, along the Rocky River in the Southern part of the county and died about 1865, or definitely between 1864 and 1870, in probably Caldwell or Burke counties of North Carolina. His story is a solemn one.
1868 Map of Caldwell County

Name:William Ramsey
Birth Year:abt 1827
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1850:Smiths, Stanly, North Carolina
Family Number:640
Household Members:
Samuel Ramsey53
Rebecca Ramsey53
William Ramsey23
Jane Ramsey17
Thomas Ramsey16
Franklin Ramsey14
Gilliam Ramsey13

The 1850 census finds his as a young man of 23 still living in the home of his parents, in the Smiths township of Stanly County, along with young siblings Jane Louisa, James Thomas, John Franklin and Gilliam O. Ramsey. 

Shortly afterwards, he must have taken a wife, Elizabeth, as his oldest child, Solomon, is born May 15, 1860. The 1860 census shows William, Elizabeth and most of their children. 
Name:William R Ramsey
Age in 1860:35
Birth Year:abt 1825
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1860:Stanly, North Carolina
Post Office:Albemarle
Value of real estate:View image
Household Members:
William R Ramsey35
Elizabeth Ramsey31
Solomon R Ramsey9
George S Ramsey7
Becky E Ramsey4
Allen Ramsey2
John C Ramsey1/12
Ailsey Gilbert23
Mary Gilbert8/12
These were Solomon, George Samuel, Rebecca Elizabeth, James Allen, and John Calvin. Mr. Gilbert and his infant daughter were boarders only, as far as I know. 

And then came the War. 

Name:William Riley Ramsey
Residence:Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, North Carolina
Age at Enlistment:36
Enlistment Date:29 May 1861
Rank at enlistment:Private
Enlistment Place:Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
State Served:North Carolina
Service Record:Enlisted in Company A, North Carolina 7th Infantry Regiment on 29 May 1861.
Birth Date:abt 1825
Sources:North Carolina Troops 1861-65, A Roster
Keeping William Riley Ramsey, who married Elizabeth and was the son of Samuel Ramsey and William Riley Ramsey, who married Lavina Barbara Springer and was the brother of Samuel Ramsey was very difficult, especially considering they were only a few years in age difference. 

William the brother, however, remained in Stanly County and then by 1880 had moved to the Deweese community in neighboring Cabarrus County. 

In following the military career of William Riley Ramsey, son of Samuel, we could determine which records were his by his occupation, as a mechanic, and also by the course of actions he took, and the ailments he sufferered. 
Wife Elizabeth likely waited patiently for his return in Stanly County. He enlisted on May 29, 1861. Son William Owen Ramsey was born on July 12, 1862 in Stanly County. 

The Muster Rolls for 1862 state that William R. Ramsey was at Camp Alamance on June 20, 1861. He was in Captain Junius Hill's no 6 Regiment. 

He was 36 years old and born in Anson County, North Carolina, Occupation: Mechanic. Description as 5 feet, 10 inches tall. 

Enrolled for active service in Charlotte on May 29 by J. L. Hill. Mustered in at Camp Alamance on June 20 "for the War" by J. G. Martin. 

By the Sept. and Oct. 1861 muster, he was listed as "present" but "sick in hospital". 

By the Nov and Dec. 1861 muster, a Major Cameron counted him as "Present". 

In Jan. and Feb. of 1862, a Major Boon counted him as "Present".

In March and April of 1862, a Major Rodman recorded his as 'sick in camp'.

In May and June of 1862, Major Rodman recorded "Present. Half months pay forfeited by sentence of court martial."

Did he sneak home during this time?

In July to October 1862, a Captain Hughes recorded him as "Absent. In hospital sick".

In Jan and February of 1863, Captain Hughes was still recording him as "Absent...Hospital...Sick."

In March and April of 1863, Captain Hughes recorded, "Deserted from Hospital".

In May and June of 1863, Captain Hughes recorded, "Absent. Insane Asylum".

In July and August of  1863, Captain Hughes recorded, "Absent, Insane Asylum at Raleigh".

In Sept. and October of 1863, Captain Hughes gave a little more information. "Absent. Sent to Richmond in August of 1862. Now at Insane Asylum in Raleigh, NC. "

Nov and October of 1863 held the same information.

January and February of 1864 gave new information from Capt. Hughes, "Sent to hospital at Richmond."

By May and June of 1864, he had been transferred back from Richmond, Virginia to the Insane Asylum in Raleigh again, and was still there in July and August of 1864.

On the September and October 1864 muster it was recorded, "Deserted from Insane Asylum in Raleigh".

So what happened to William Riley Ramsey when he escaped from the asylum in Raleigh on his second trip?

Where did he go?

The one thing that is known is that he found his family. Did he meet with them in the dead of the night in Stanly County and whisk them away to the mountains, or did he hide in the foothills near Lenoir or Morganton and have his family travel into western North Carolina to meet him?

Map of Caldwell County 1878

The youngest two children of William Riley Ramsey and wife Elizabeth were William Owen Ramsey, who was born July 12, 1862, which means he was concieved in the early fall of 1861, after his father had mustered in to the service. So it appears, Mr. Ramsey had a habit of slipping home, perhaps. William is said in family records to have been born in Stanly County. It is the birth of the youngest daughter, Maggie, that proves he made it back to Elizabeth after his escape from the Raleigh asylum in 1864.

Maggie Ramsey Clark's records have her being born in November of 1864 in Caldwell County.
Name:Maggie Clork
[Maggie Ramsay] 
Birth Date:10 Nov 1864
Birth Place:Caldwell, North Carolina, United States
Death Date:11 Jun 1921
Death Location:Highland, Catawba
Spouse's Name:J S Clork
Father's Name:Ramsay
Mother's name:Elizabeth Helins

View original 
Oral family history states that William Riley Ramsey died in the year 1865 of measles. He might have contracted these during his stay at the hospital. It is unknown where he is buried. 

It certainly appears that W. R. Ramsey was not cut out for war. He had a history of illness and a bitter love for family that had him risk all to get back to them before he perished. What brought him to the insane asylum? Was the tragedy and gore he saw around him too much to handle? Or was it an invented illness in order to get off the battlefield long enough to lie in wait until he saw his chance to escape. 

What is known is that he did not appear with his wife and children in the 1870 census of Burke County. 

Name:Elizabeth Ramsey
Age in 1870:41
Birth Year:abt 1829
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1870:Lovelady, Burke, North Carolina
Post Office:Morganton
Value of real estate:View image
Household Members:
Elizabeth Ramsey41
Soloman A Ramsey20
George S Ramsey18
Rebecca E Ramsey13
James A Ramsey12
John C Ramsey9
William O Ramsey7
Margaret Ramsey5
And from here, the story continues with the family. 

There seems to be two trains of thought on the maiden name of Elizabeth Ramsey. Somehow, some descendants have came up with the name of Elizabeth Arrowood. Others contend that her maiden name was Helms. I am sticking with the camp that her maiden name was Helms, even thought that was also the maiden name of William's mother, Rebecca Helms Ramsey. The preponderance of evidence points to her maiden name being Helms. Perhaps William and Elizabeth were cousins. That was not unheard of. 

Birth: May 10, 1830
Stanly County
North Carolina, USA
Death: Jun. 17, 1906
Burke County
North Carolina, USA

Elizabeth Arrowood Ramsey was the wife of William Riley Ramsey. At the age of 36 William joined the Confederate Army in NC. He served until he had a nervous breakdown & was sent to a mental hospital he left/escaped from this faculity & must have returned home because Elizabeth gave birth to another child & later following the end of the war William is said to have died of Measles. Elizabeth went to the US Pension Office to make a claim on William's service in the CSA. We have no record where William is buried, however most of his family is buried in Stanley County, NC & Elizabeth is buried in Burke County, NC> 
Enon Baptist Church Cemetery
Burke County
North Carolina, USA

Created by: Mac Ramsey
Record added: Dec 28, 2009 

The above is the Find-a-grave entry for Ellizabeth Ramsey. This person has her listed as an Arrowood. Looking at the records of the children of William Riley Ramsey and Ellizabeth tell another story.

In 1879, Elizabeth is granted a widow's pension for William's Civil War Service.

Elizabeth Ramsey- Civil War Persion

Name:Elizabeth Ramsey
Birth Year:abt 1830
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1880:Lovelady, Burke, North Carolina
Relation to Head of House:Self (Head)
Marital Status:Widowed
Father's Birthplace:North Carolina
Mother's Birthplace:North Carolina
Neighbors:View others on page
Cannot read/write:


Deaf and Dumb:

Otherwise disabled:

Idiotic or insane:
Household Members:
Elizabeth Ramsey50
Soloman A. Ramsey27
George S. Ramsey25
James A. Ramsey20
John C. Ramsey18
Margaret Ramsey15
1880 found Elizabeth maintaining a farm, easily, with the help of her 4 adult sons. Two of the children from the 1870 census are missing from the household. 

Name:Wm Poleet
Birth Date:1857
Spouse's Name:Rebeca Ramsey
Spouse's Birth Date:1856
Spouse's Age:23
Event Date:05 Oct 1879
Event Place:

The prior year, daughter Rebecca had married William Alberta Powe. After her death, Mr. Powe remarried, and that was not a wise choice. 

Name:Elizabeth Ramsey
Birth Date:May 1830
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1900:Lovelady, Burke, North Carolina
Relation to Head of House:Head
Marital Status:Widowed
Father's Birthplace:North Carolina
Mother's Birthplace:North Carolina
Mother: number of living children:5
Mother: How many children:8
Occupation:View on Image
Neighbors:View others on page
Household Members:
Elizabeth Ramsey70

In 1900, Elizabeth is shown as alone in her own household, but is living right next door to sons John Calvin and James.

She is shown as the mother of 8 children, 5 living. I only know the identity of 7. Two of the children who passed away before their mother was William Owen and Rebecca Ramsey Powe.
William Owen Ramsey

According to Owens tribute on Find-a-grave, he was originally buried in the North Catawba area of Burke, Caldwell counties. The family moved, and his mother had his grave relocated. He lived to be 13 years old.
William Owen Ramsey
Birth: Jul. 12, 1862
Death: Jul. 6, 1875

William Owen Ramsey

After settling in Burke County, the Ramsey's lived in the community of Drexel. Most of them are buried at Enon Baptist Church. Owen was the only son buried at the old homeplace.

Drexel was known for its furniture industry.

Elizabeth Ramsey died June 17, 1906. She is buried with her other sons and daughter Rebecca at Enon. The next posts will be concerning the children of William Riley Ramsey and the case for the maiden name of Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Ramsey

So, what brought the Ramsey's to Burke and Caldwell Counties, NC? It appears that the records of youngest daughter Maggie are the biggest giveaway to the the trail of the Ramsey's. Maggie was born in Caldwell County on November 10, 1864. William Riley Ramsey was reported as missing from the Insane Asylum in Raleigh by September of 1864. The information had to have been on a delay, as he would have had to had made it to his family far before then.

The known children of William Riley Ramsey and Elizabeth (possibly Helms or Arrowood) Ramsey were:

1850  Solomon A. Ramsey
1851  George Samuel Ramsey
1857  Rebecca Elizabeth Ramsey Powe
1858  James Allen Ramsey
1860  John Calvin Ramsey
1862  William Owen Ramsey
1864 Margaret Ramsey Clark

The missing child most likely died very young and did not make the census records. He or she may have been born during the 6 year gap between George and Becky and is probably buried in Stanly County, maybe in the old Saint Martin's Lutheran Church cemetery with grandfather Samuel Ramsey. 

1 comment:

  1. James Thomas Ramsey is the only male Ramsey buried at St. Martin's in Oakboro, NC (Stanly). There are only 2 Ramseys buried there.

    Ramsey, Elizabeth Reap
    d. 12/9/1841 d. 1/28/1892

    Ramsey, James Thomas
    b. 6/10/1833 d. 2/19/1907

    Find-a-grave is in error. St. Martin's Lutheran isn't in Albemarle. It's in Oakboro.
    Samuel Ramsey is still MIA. I'd like to find him.