Saturday, October 15, 2016

Archibald Buster

*The history of Archibald Buster (1802-1894) was compiled many years ago by Lottie Buster, a daughter of Claudius Green Buster, and grand-daughter of Archibald.  Many, many thanks must go to her for writing down these facts about Archibald’s life, with which we would otherwise be without and they would be lost in the pages of past history. (originally shared on Feb. 13, 2008)

Nolichucky River Valley
Archibald, one of nine children born to Claudius & Isabella (Woods) Buster, was born on March 22, 1802 in Greene Co. Tennessee.  He was born along Nolichucky River, near Greeneville, where his parents had settled in 1789. Archibald grew up on the new frontier of eastern Tennessee and on August 18, 1829 was united in marriage to Elizabeth Black Henderson, daughter of David & Isabel (Libby) Black Henderson.  Elizabeth wad born in Kentucky on January 30, 1809.  Archibald and Elizabeth lived in Tenn. About 5 or 6 years after their marriage, three children were born to them in Tenn. Before they migrated west to Missouri and were pioneer settlers in this vast new land.  Eight more children were born in Missouri. Three of their children died in infancy.   Martha Ann, their first child, was born in Greene Co. Tenn., on June 13, 1830.  Samuel on Feb. 29, 1832.  On March 8, 1832 they were deeply sorrowed by the death of Martha Ann. She was buried in Tennessee.  On March 10, 1834, their third child, Mary Jane was born. 

In or about 1835, Archibald moved his family west by covered wagon to Missouri.   Their next child, Sarah Elizabeth, was born in Johnson Co. Missouri on Feb. 20, 1836.  On Oct. 11, 1838, William Marion was born.  On March 20, 1841 Paulina was born.  On Sept. 4, 1843 they became the proud parents of twins when James and Margaret E. were born.  But their joy was not to last, for on June 25, 1844 James passed away aged 9 months and twenty-one days.  On Nov. 30, 1846 their home was again brightened by the birth of Claudius Green.  Then on June 26, 1847 sorrow again struck their home with the death of the remaining twin, Margaret E. age 3 years nine months and twenty-one days.  This the third child they had laid to rest.  On April 24, 1849 David Elzy was born and five years later, on March 26, 1854, Eliza was born. 

The Platte Purchase region (highlighted in red)
When Archibald and Elizabeth first reached Missouri they seemed to have lived in several different places, always searching for better land and a better place to raise their family. They lived at various times in Saline, Petis, Platte, Johnson and Atchison counties. Sometime during these years in Missouri, we know not the date, they moved south into Texas, but their stay was of short duration.  They lost all their cattle with Texas Fever. Grand-mother, Elizabeth, traded a feather bed for a yoke of oxen and they moved back to Missouri.  They seemed to have settled, first in Platte County, later moving to Atchison County where they entered on 180 acres of Government land at $1.25 per acre.  This was before the Homestead Act was passed.  They came into what was then called, “The Platte Purchase” seeking cheap land, but land also rich in natural resources.  

Missouri was considered way out west in those days and life was rough.  They suffered many hardships in those pioneer days.  All water had to be carried from a spring or creek. They had to cut and split rails with which to fence their land and protect it from marauding animals. They lived in log or dirt houses which they most often had to build for themselves.  They built fireplaces along one inside wall of these houses where their winter cooking was done.  These fireplaces were also used for heating their homes, and often for light to do their evenings work.  In the summertime they would build what was called Dutch-ovens out in the yard and under the trees, here their summer cooking was done.  Their cooking utensils consisted of various pots and pans and a big deep skillet which had a lid two inches wider than the skillet and a long handle.  This they used for making corn-bread, etc.  They would place the batter in the skillet, bury it in the live coals, and let it bake.  It was said that daughters Sarah Elizabeth and Mary Jane both owned cook stoves long before their mother did.  People, at that time thought they were living too fast and extravagant  to last long with such modern conveniences. 

Stephan Douglas
In 1861 when the Civil War erupted, the fact that the Busters were former southerners made life quite difficult for them.  They did sympathize with the southern cause, but opposed slavery and had not supported Bell, the southern candidate, but had supported Stephen Douglas who also opposed slavery.  The State of Missouri was divided along the imaginary Mason-Dixon line and the Buster home was near this line.  Many of them felt safer in the Army than they would have felt at home.  Neighbor was pitted against neighbor over the question of slavery.  Their homes were under constant attack from marauding bands of raiders, cattle and horses were stolen and many times, their homes were burned. Many raiders, often raiders from Kansas, made life pretty unpleasant for them all over the northern part of Missouri.  These marauding bands of thieves under the guise of soldiers, pilfered, robbed and intimidated the defenseless women and children of the men who were fighting for the southern cause.  Some times houses were burned over the women’s heads, with little ones in their arms.  These bands were of the lowest type, not brave enough to face real battles but did their warring on women and children.  

The following story is told about grand-mother, Elizabeth Buster.  “Quote” from Lottie Buster’s files.

Once when grandma was weaving homespun for her children’s winter clothing, one of these bands came, prowled around the barn and then came to the house.  Not finding any “Rebels” around they took what they found loose.  One man took out his knife and started to cut the wool from her loom.  Grandma told him to stop because that wool was to be her children’s winter clothing, but he kept right on and paid no attention to her.  Grandma reached for her dogwood stick, a heavy stick with which she poked up the fire with, and brought it down across his arm with all her strength.  It broke his arm in two places.  One of his comrades cocked his gun and shoved it against her breast and threatened to kill her, but the Captain, who knew grandma, ordered him to put down his gun.  Then he said, “Aunt Betty, if you tell me what we want to know, where the things we are looking for can be found, I will protect you and your children.”  Grandma had little choice in the matter, but her quick wit came to her side.  “All right”, she said, “What do you want to know?”  He replied, “We know that you have some valuable horses and saddles.  If you will tell me where they are I will protect you, even with my life if need be.”  “We know too that you know where they are.”  “Yes” said  grandma, “I know where they are and I will tell you if first you rid this house of your men and send them on about their business.”  The Captain ordered his men to leave the house.  Grandma looked him straight in the eye and said, “Those horses and saddles are in Price’s Regiment, in the Rebel Army, and my two sons are riding them. If you want them, go get them.”  She had outwitted him but he kept his promise and departed with his men, without molesting her further.  Some one later wrote a poem of the incident, one verse going like this:

     The little old lady with the poking stick 
     Broke his arm in two places with one mighty lick
     The brave soldier swore, and all was a fluster     
     This little old lady was “Aunt Betty Buster”.

One time during the Civil War, Grandpa Archibald was taken prisoner by a band of these marauding soldiers.  He managed to escape from them and started to walk back home.  In some way he had gotten hold of a Union coat.  He was stopped once.  “Who Goes there?” demanded the sentinel.  Grandpa replied, “Captain Drydon”.  “Pass on” said the sentinel and grandpa was safe because he was quick witted enough to give them their own Captains name.    
Civil War Guerilla Raider
After a disastrous raid by Guerilla raiders, William Marion & Sam, the two older Buster boys, rode south to the Confederacy.  It has been told that an aunt of theirs was killed by these raiders.  She had a beautiful new rag rug on her floor, a very prized possession in those days.  When the raiders began to tear up the rug, in search for a trap door which might lead to guns or other valuable possessions, the aunt protested and asked for time to pull out the tacks and take the rug up without ruining it.  She was refused time, hit over the head with a gun butt and killed.  A nephew, herding cattle near by was also killed.  Rocks were tied around his neck and he was thrown into a pond to drown.  All the cattle were stolen. (NOTE: My father, Albert M. Buster, son of William Marion Buster told this story many times, but we were not able later to verify who this aunt and nephew were.  It is believed that they were relatives on Grandma Buster’s side of the family, Hendersons.) The Dave Henderson Jr. and George McDowell families had come to Missouri and Archibald from Tennessee, settling in Missouri, just cross the river from Fort Leavenworth the main trading post in that part of the country at that time.  The Henderson and McDowell families later moving into Fort Leavenworth where many of them worked for the railroad later. 

It is said that it was because of these dastardly acts by Guerilla raiders, that the Buster boys rode south to the Confederacy.  We do not have any record of Sam’s service in the Confederacy but on the following pages, there is an account of William Marion’s service. In 1864, Archibald sold the farm and moved north to Nebraska City, Nebraska.  Shortly after this move, Grandmother Elizabeth’s health began to fail.  Also at this same time, the big muddy Missouri River began to flood an daughter Mary Jane and her baby were in danger of the flood waters.  Archibald went to their aid, (Mary Jane’s husband, James Goodman, being away in the Army at that time.)  Because of the rising flood waters, Archibald was not able to return home immediately.  Grandmother Elizabeth became worse and died on March 1, 1865.  It was thought that she had contracted Yellow Fever, so was buried at once, before Archibald could return home.  She was buried at Wyuka Cemetery in Nebraska City.  Some of Aunt Paulina Latham’s children are also buried near by.  

Archibald was a school teacher, he taught a subscription school.  Most of his wages were in corn, meat, potatoes, or whatever people could spare.  School teachers were scarce and terms were short.  School was only carried out in the winter time when there was little else to do.  Archibald stayed on in Nebraska City after Elizabeth’s death where he made ox yokes and saddle trees.  These his partner covered with rawhide and then sold them to freighters of the plains.  Freighting from Nebraska City to Denver was a very thriving business before the coming of the railroads.  Some of the Buster boys made good money driving ox teams and freighting long before they came of age.  Thomas J. Hamilton, who married Sarah Elizabeth Buster, daughter of Archibald, was one of those freighters.  He had three rigs, or wagons, pulled by oxen and hauled about five ton per rig.  He made two trips to Denver in 1865 and one trip in 1866.  They were getting ready to make another trip in 1866 when William Henry Hamilton, oldest son of Thomas and Elizabeth, was killed while herding cattle.  All the cattle were stolen except one yoke of oxen belonging to James Goodman.  As the story was told by Lottie:  It seems the cattle were stolen by two men and two women and driven to Nebraska City for sale.  
Among the cattle was  a big white bull, easily recognizable.  A friend or neighbor recognized these cattle and reported it to Thomas.  This lead led to their capture and the two men were caught an executed.  No report on what happened to the women.

After Archibald’s children were all married, he spent a great deal of his time traveling around and visiting amongst them.  He used to travel from place to place driving a yoke of oxen hitched to a light wagon.  His oxen were Duke and Dan and most always carried a homemade chair with a rawhide seat in his wagon.  During the last years of his life, he quit traveling around so much and spent much of his time with his daughter Lizzie (Hamilton) north of Rockport on the farm.  This time, when he did visit, he drove a little dark gray mare, Old Kitty, hitched to a single buggy.  His visits were always short as he was anxious to return to the Hamilton farm.  During the last years of his life, at abut age 89, he regained his eyesight and could read newspaper print without the aid of glasses.  In the summertime you could often find him out north of the house, under the lilac trees, sitting in his little old fashioned rocker, reading his papers or his bible.  He was deeply religious and well prepared for the day that was to come.  In the wintertime, his favorite spot was near the west window of the house, reading and waiting for the call, which he knew would not be far off.  A short description of Archibald, written by one who knew him goes like this:  He had snowy white hair, dark blue eyes & heavy shaggy white eyebrows.   He was a short stocky man.  The Busters were a thrifty hard working clan with enough Irish in their blood to give them a keen sense of humor, quick wit, and a lovable disposition.  

The call came for Archibald on April 22, 1894.  He had taken a walk out to the barn to see his faithful old friend, “Old Kitty”.  On his return he fell as he crossed the door sill coming into the house.  A heart attack had put an end to his long and useful career.  He was the oldest living man in Atchison County and one of it’s first settlers.  He had served six weeks as a Justice of the Peace in Benton Township and after his first case, a particularly trying time, he filed his report and handed in his resignation, he had had enough of that.  During this tenure he had performed several marriages and at least one inquest.  He was laid to rest in the Hunter Cemetery, south of Rockport, Missouri. 

Several other members of Archibald’s family have passed away in a similar manner, quite suddenly.  His daughter, Mary Jane, on the evening of July 18, 1908 apparently in good health, ate her supper and suddenly became quite ill and passed away before a Doctor could be summoned   Sarah Elizabeth passed away quite suddenly at the breakfast table on January 14, 1912.  Claudius Green Buster ate his supper and then left the table to sit in his favorite rocking chair when he was stricken with a heart attack and died on the evening of May 12, 1918.  On the morning of August 13, 1913, grand-daughter Martha Blevins arose to get breakfast, again in apparently good health. When her husband came in from doing chores he found her, partially dressed, but sitting in her chair dead. 

Keith Davidson Buster

During the latter years of his life, Archibald lived with his daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Hailtonon the farm north of Rockport, Missouri.These times, when he did visit, he drove a little dark gray mare, named Old Kitty, hitched to a single buggy.His visits were always short now, and he was anxious to return to the farm. It is said that, at the age of 89, he regained his eyesight and could read the newspaper print without the aid of glasses. In his early nineties, he always boasted, and proved, that he could jump up in the air and crack his heels together three times before coming down. In the summertime, you could almost always find him out north of the house, under a lilac tree, sitting in his little old-fashioned rocking chair, reading his papers and Bible. He was a deeply religious man, having claimed to have read the Bible through nineteen times, and well-prepared for the day he knew was to come. In the wintertime, his favorite spot was near the west window of the house, reading and awaiting the call, which he knew could not be far off.

A short description of him, by one who knew him well, went like this: Archibald had snowy white hair, dark blue eyes, and very heavy white shaggy eyebrows; a short stocky man. He came from a hard-working clan; thrifty, but with enough Irish in his blood to give him a keen sense of humor, quick wit, and a lovable disposition. The call, for which he waited, came on April 22, 1894. He had taken a walk out to the barn to see his faithful "Old Kitty". On his return to the house he fell as he crossed the doorsill. A heart attack had put an end to his long and useful career. He had been the oldest living man in Atchison County, and one of its first settlers. He was laid to rest in the Hunter Cemetery at Rockport, Missouri.

Archibald had served six weeks as Justice of the Peace of Benton Township in Missouri. After his first case, a particularly trying one, he filed his reports and handed in his resignation. He said he had had enough of that. During his tenure, he had performed several marriages and at least one inquest.

One time during the Civil War, Archibald was taken prisoner by a band of the guerrillas, dressed as Uniion soldiers. Archibald managed to escape from them and started to walk back home. In some way, he had managed to secure a Union coat. He was stopped once; "Who goes there?" demanded the sentinel. Archibald replied "Captain Dryden". "Pass on" said the sentinel, and Archibald was safe because he was quick-witted enough to give them their own Captain's name, which he had remembered.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

A House Divided: Kentucky during the Civil War

Milton P. Buster
Senator Judge Milton Pope Buster (1824-1864)
When the next senator did not want to replace the void in the Kentucky senate house, Milton, who was already a judge, stepped-up and was sworn in by autumn of 1861, just six months after his father's death. (His father was Joshua Buster, who also was a senator of Kentucky during the 1830's-1850's, and according to the 1860 census, he had 7 people still enslaved.)  Although having Union loyalties during this period, Milton had 3 children enslaved—ages of 4-11 and he served the senate until his death in 1864.  He was not quite 40 years old at the time of his death.  In the Journal of the Senate, he was mentioned as such: "we are called to mourn the loss of another friend and companion—Judge Milton P. Buster, Senator from Wayne county, departed this life yesterday morning.  In respect for his memory—therefore... the death of Judge Buster the legislator has lost one of its most valuable members and the State a patriotic and enlightened citizen."  The legislature in June 3, 1865, appropriated money to erect a headstone at the grave of Milton Buster.

Private John David Buster (1826-1909) 6th Company Calvary, 3rd Regiment
John was shot in his left foot and received a pension of $12 per month beginning in 1889. The 3rd Regiment Kentucky Volunteer Infantry was an infantry regiment that served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. It was organized at Camp Dick Robinson and mustered in for a three-year enlistment on October 8, 1861 under the command of Colonel Thomas Elliott Bramlette. The regiment lost a total of 301 men during service; 6 officers and 103 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded, 192 enlisted men died of disease. It mustered out of service at Louisville, Kentucky by company beginning October 13, 1864 and ending January 10, 1865.  After the war, John did not return to Kentucky, moving to Illinois, Missouri, and finally to Kansas where he was finally laid to rest.


Situated between three slave states and three free; connected by railroad arteries into Tennessee and Ohio; and bounded by rivers accessing the Deep South and the East Coast, Kentucky was where North and South converged — where, as historian Bruce Catton said, they “touched one another most intimately.” But when those two philosophies collided over slavery in 1860, the impact shook Kentucky to its core.

The presidential election of 1860 deepened a growing chasm between divided Kentuckians. Southern Democrat and Kentucky son John C. Breckinridge won 36 percent of the state’s vote with a pro-slavery platform and Northern Democrat Stephen Douglas, champion of popular sovereignty, received 18 percent, while Constitutional Unionist John Bell, who stood simply for preserving the Union, carried the state with 45 percent. Abraham Lincoln, promoting Republican opposition to slavery’s expansion swayed less than one percent of Kentucky voters. But when Lincoln’s victory brought secession and war, the state was too divided to rally behind either side. Torn geographically, ideologically, economically, politically and militarily between North and South, Kentucky was the physical embodiment of the Civil War era’s “brother against brother” strife.

Slave or Free

Slavery was first introduced to Kentucky during its territorial days, and for nearly the first 40 years of its statehood, Kentucky’s population of slaves grew faster than that of whites. By 1830, slaves constituted 24 percent of all Kentuckians, although this ratio dropped to 19.5 percent by 1860. Slave owners in Kentucky numbered more than 38,000 in 1860, the third highest total behind Virginia and Georgia. Like most slave states, Kentucky was not a land of large plantations: 22,000 of its slave holders — or 57 percent — owned four or fewer slaves.

Kentucky’s most ardent proponents of slavery came from the state’s south and west sections, where the lifestyle most resembled that of the Deep South. The primary differentiation came in terms of crop distribution. In the Deep South, slavery-based cash crops such as cotton, rice and sugar were the norm; in southern and western Kentucky, tobacco was the cash crop, accounting for one quarter of the nation’s tobacco output and requiring nearly year-round labor to produce. Another prominent crop was hemp, the growing of which involved the hardest, dirtiest and most laborious agricultural work in the state, making it desirable for slave labor. Together, tobacco and hemp firmly bound southern and western Kentuckians to the preservation of slavery.

In the north and east, Kentuckians were ideologically and economically moving away from slavery. Economically, the area was diversifying. More and more of these Kentuckians broadened their traditional tobacco-and-hemp livelihoods by cultivating grains and cereals, breeding horses and livestock and manufacturing goods. By 1850, they had given Kentucky the South’s second broadest economic base. Generally, a more diversified economy meant less reliance on slavery, which helps to explain Kentucky’s rising emancipation ideology. Already, diversified Kentucky had a profitable market in the excess slaves sold to the Deep South. It was only a step further, then, to support emancipation, which called for a gradual and compensated end to slavery.

A third faction of Kentuckians was ambivalent about slavery. Although not economically bound to the institution themselves, they justified it for several reasons. Some called it a “necessary evil” for life in an agricultural state. Others, prejudiced against or wary of a large free-black population, regarded slavery as a means of control.

Kentucky v. Kentucky

As one southern state after another seceded between December 1860 and May 1861, Kentucky was torn between loyalty to her sister slave states and its national Union. One month after the opening shots at Fort Sumter in April 1861, Gov. Beriah Magoffin issued a formal proclamation of neutrality and advised Kentuckians to remain at home and away from the fight. Although Magoffin did not believe slavery was a “moral, social, or political evil,” he opposed immediate secession on two fronts. First, he believed the sectional differences could be worked out through mediation. Second, he feared an invasion of Kentucky if the state seceded.

 At the individual level, Kentucky Unionists, largely those who supported Bell and Douglas in the 1860 election, favored neutrality because they disapproved of both southern secession and northern coercion of southern states. Confederate sympathizers backed neutrality because they feared that if Kentucky chose a side, she would choose the Union.

But neutrality in principle was much less complicated than neutrality in practice. Army recruiters from both sides entered Kentucky to enlist volunteers, and each army amassed troops along the state’s borders. Within Kentucky, the rival factions organized militias — Confederate sympathizers called themselves the State Guards, while Unionists became the Home Guards.

Lincoln, meanwhile, governed Kentucky with a light hand during her neutrality. He worried that any demonstration of force would prompt her secession. For a time, Lincoln even turned a blind eye as Kentucky allowed horses, food and other military supplies and munitions to enter the Confederacy. But just a month after Magoffin proclaimed neutrality, Kentuckians delivered important political victories to the Unionists, when those candidates won nine out 10 of the state’s congressional seats. Later, on August 5, Unionists also won control of the state legislature. Their success was partially due to outspoken claims that the South only wanted Kentucky to stand between it and danger. However, the success was also bolstered by a boycott by pro-Confederates, who refused to participate in elections for a government they did not recognize.

In response to the Unionists’ growing political power, the state’s Southern sympathizers formed a rival Confederate government. On November 18, 200 delegates passed an Ordinance of Secession and established Confederate Kentucky; the following December it was admitted to the Confederacy as a 13th state. The state capital was at Bowling Green, and George W. Johnson — who only supported Kentucky’s secession because he hoped the new balance of power would end the war — became governor. Governor Magoffin eventually resigned and cast his lot with Confederate Kentucky, as did John C. Breckinridge.

Kentucky’s dual governments and military forces caused many divisions between Kentucky families. Kentucky-born statesman John J. Crittenden’s son George was a general in the Confederate Army; his son Thomas was a general for the Union. Robert Breckinridge, John C. Breckinridge’s uncle, had two sons fighting for the North and two for the South. Three grandsons of the late Kentucky statesman Henry Clay fought in Union blue while four fought in Confederate gray.

In total, about 100,000 Kentuckians served in the Union Army. After April 1864, when the Union Army began recruiting African American soldiers in Kentucky, almost 24,000 joined to fight for their freedom. For the Confederacy, between 25,000 and 40,000 Kentuckians answered the call of duty. Their most celebrated unit was the First Kentucky “Orphan” Brigade. The Orphans fought hard on many western battlefields, and their heavy losses — especially in commanders — may have led to their nickname. In mid-1862, Benjamin H. Helm took command of the brigade and led it until his death the following year at the Battle of Chickamauga. Helm was President Lincoln’s brother-in-law.

Partitioning the State

For the first few months of war, the Union and Confederate armies stayed out of Kentucky. That changed when Maj. Gen. Leonidas Polk ordered a Confederate invasion of Columbus for September 4, 1861. Columbus was a port town on the Mississippi. Its high bluffs and railroad terminal made it valuable militarily — so valuable that Polk seized it to preempt a Union occupation. Two days later, Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant responded by occupying Paducah and then Smithland. Because the Confederates invaded first, they were branded the aggressor. Although Governor Magoffin called for both sides to leave Kentucky, the Unionist legislature only asked the Southerners to withdraw. All pretenses of neutrality were gone.

After staking their initial claim, Union soldiers came down from Cincinnati to take control of northern Kentucky, while Confederates moved in through Tennessee to claim southern Kentucky, including the Cumberland Gap situated near the convergence of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. With nearby railroads and access to ardently Unionist East Tennessee, the Gap was a strategically important site, but the ambitious Brig. Gen. Felix Zollicoffer, who seized the Gap, was discontent to remain there. Accordingly, he planned to extend his line further north and west into central Kentucky. As Zollicoffer and his men moved north along the Wilderness Road, they encountered a Union force sent to halt their progress. On October 21, the two sides clashed at Camp Wild Cat, and the Union troops sent Zollicoffer backtracking in defeat.

After another retreat, Kentucky was in Union hands for the remainder of the war, but Confederate raiders continued to wreak havoc and foster division behind enemy lines. One of the most famous raiders operating in Kentucky was Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan. Though born in Alabama, Morgan spent most of his life in Kentucky. He had no formal military education but was immensely successful with hit-and-run strikes to disrupt the Union supply line, occupy Union troops away from the front and secure supplies for the Confederacy.

In December 1862, Morgan undertook his famous Christmas Raid. During this two-week period, he rode 400 miles in central Kentucky, tore up 20 miles of railroad, destroyed an estimated $2 million worth of supplies and took nearly 1,900 prisoners. Another of Morgan’s exploits was less successful — his Kentucky- Indiana-Ohio Raid of July 1863. Granted permission to raid Louisville but not to cross the Ohio River, Morgan disregarded orders at great cost to his men. Morgan was captured in Ohio (though he later escaped), and only a few hundred of his more than 2,400 men made it home.

Invasions, raids and guerilla warfare worsened toward the war’s end as defiant Confederates rebelled against the Union presence in their state. When Confederate armies finally surrendered in April 1865, one Kentuckian recalled that “pandemonium broke loose and everyone acted as if the world was coming to an end.” But the South’s surrender did not unite a divided Kentucky. Many Kentuckians balked at freedom for blacks, and hatred often prevailed. For the first five months after the Confederate surrender, U.S. troops imposed martial law in Kentucky. Even after the military left, the state was a violent place through the 1860s and beyond. The war’s political aftermath also left the state deeply divided as former Unionists, former Confederates and former Whigs fought bitterly for power.

Post-war Kentucky needed healing. Families, communities and entire regions of the state had been ripped apart by the war, and more than simple animosity was prevalent throughout. Yet as the North and South healed their wounds and settled their differences, surely Kentucky would, as well. For in Kentucky, where such division had resulted from North and South’s convergence, there was also great promise, because, as historian Bruce Catton wrote, “where North and South touched one another most intimately” was also where they “came closest to a mutual understanding.”

Garry Adelman is the author, co-author or editor of numerous Civil War books and articles. He is a senior historian at History Associates in Rockville, Maryland, vice president of the Center for Civil War Photography, and a longtime Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg. Mary Bays Woodside serves as a consultant to History Associates.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

John Erastus Buster: Loyalty Ranger

Birth: Dec. 30, 1851
Death: Jun. 11, 1937


John Erastus Buster was born December 30, 1851, in Albany, Clinton County, Kentucky, to John Prather Buster and Martha Jane Lair. John stood 5ft 11in tall, had blue eyes, dark hair and a light complexion. He was married to his first wife, (name unknown) and had a son, Lair. He married a second wife , Emma Sanola Mayfield, in December 1894. They had four children. John was a farmer in Lewisville, Denton County, Texas. In the 1900 census, he was listed as a "ginner" in Denton County, Texas so he must have lived in "cotton farming" country. John enlisted in the Texas Rangers as a LOYALTY RANGER on May 5, 1918 through February, 1919. Loyalty Rangers worked under cover and most people never knew what they did. They were a secret service, working under the Hobby Loyalty Act of 1918. The 1920 census has him listed as a real estate insurance agent. John Erastus Buster died June 11, 1937, in Lewisville, Denton County, Texas.

In 1900, the Frontier Battalion faded along with the frontier; but by July of 1901, the Legislature passed a new law concerning the Ranger service. The force, to be organized by the governor, was created "for the purpose of protecting the frontier against marauding or thieving parties, and for the suppression of lawlessness and crime throughout the state." Ranger captains picked their own men, who had to furnish their own horses and could dress as they choose. They did not even have a standard badge.


The decade of unrest saw massive enlistments in what was then called the Texas State Ranger Force. Three groups served side-by-side and often were intertwined: Regular Rangers, Special Rangers, and Loyalty Rangers. The Regulars were on the state payroll and assigned to companies. Special Rangers included those hired by private groups for various duties (livestock inspectors, railroad police, oil field security, etc.). Some in this group were "honoraries." The difference between Regular and Special Rangers was often blurred. Loyalty Rangers, authorized by the Hobby Loyalty Act (1918), enjoyed the status of Regular and Special Rangers, but focused their attention on local subversion and acts of disloyalty. Many Rangers had relatives in the organization during these years. One small town in Wilson County, Texas, boasted twenty-two residents who became Rangers. A majority of the force were native Texans, but others came from the South and Midwest. Two had been Arizona Rangers. In 1935 the Rangers became part of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Panic spread in 1915 when authorities in McAllen, Texas, arrest Basilio Ramos, Jr. Ramos was carrying a copy of the Plan of San Diego, a revolutionary manifesto supposedly written and signed at the South Texas town of San Diego. It called for the formation of a "Liberating Army of Races and Peoples," of Mexican Americans, African Americans, and Japanese, to "free" the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Colorado from United States. Versions of the plan call for the murder of all white citizens over 16 years of age. The goal was an independent republic, which might later seek annexation to Mexico.

Mexican raids into Texas in 1915-16 caused an estimated 21 American deaths; an estimated 300 Mexicans or Tejanos may have been killed in South Texas by the actions of Rangers, vigilantes and citizens. Some sources place the death toll as high as 300 and 3,000.

In January of 1919 Representative José T. Canales of Brownsville demanded a legislative investigation of the conduct of the various Ranger forces during the period 1915-1917 and the reorganization of the force. The Texas Legislature investigated nineteen charges made against the Texas Ranger forces in the aftermath of the Plan of San Diego and the War.

The investigation resulted in the reduction of the Ranger force to four companies of 17 men each. A tightening of qualifications for the Texas Ranger service led to its initial professionalization.


South Texas border, amor car 1918
In 1918, the national prohibition law was passed. It gave the Rangers, along with federal officers, another problem to cope with on the border. Many a burro train of bootleg liquor from Mexico was intercepted, and shoot-outs between Rangers and smugglers were not infrequent.

During the first World War, the already large regular Ranger force was supplemented with another 400 Special Rangers appointed by the governor. After the war, on the heels of a Legislative inquiry into the Rangers' operation on the border, the Legislature in 1919 reduced the size of the force to four companies of 15 men, a sergeant and a captain. Additionally, the lawmakers authorized a headquarters company of six men in Austin under a senior Ranger captain.

Texas was in a state of transition, and so were the Rangers. Rangers still rode the river on horseback, but they also used cars. The automobile was taking over as the principal mode of transportation in Texas and the rest of the country. And horseless carriages needed oil, not oats. The increased national demand for petroleum fueled a new law enforcement problem for the Rangers.

In addition to their traditional duties, along with assisting in tick eradication efforts, handling labor difficulties and the enforcement of prohibition, the Rangers had to deal with lawlessness that came with the oil boom in Texas.  

John Prather Buster (b.1814) KY, Father
Claudius Buster (b.1788) VA, Grandfather
William Woods Buster (b.1757) NC, Great-grandfather
William Buster, Jr (b.1729,) VA, 2nd Great-grandfather
William Bustard/Buster (b. 1696) VA, 3rd 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Indentured Servants in Colonial Virginia

"Men, women, and sometimes children signed a contract with a master to serve a term of 4 to 7 years. In exchange for their service, the indentured servants received their passage paid from England, as well as food, clothing, and shelter once they arrived in the colonies."

*Side note: It is likely that William Bustard/Buster was an indentured servant as the first evidence which appears in Virginia about a William Buster who was recorded as being "transported" by a Susanna Page in 1701. It is also likely that William was a child or a young teen, at least 10 years of age as required by the English law, when he arrived, possibly working for the Pages until he was the legal age of 21, before he was set free to establish a life for himself. His 3rd-great grandchildren were also "bound out" in 1844. The practice of "involuntary servitude" did not end until the passing of the 13th Amendment, right alongside of American slavery. To read more about "binding out" children, read here.

Contributed by Brendan Wolfe and Martha McCartney 

Indentured servants were men and women who signed a contract (also known as an indenture or a covenant) by which they agreed to work for a certain number of years in exchange for transportation to Virginia and, once they arrived, food, clothing, and shelter. Adults usually served for four to seven years and children sometimes for much longer, with most working in the colony's tobacco fields. With a long history in England, indentured servitude became, during most of the seventeenth century, the primary means by which Virginia planters filled their nearly inexhaustible need for labor. At first, the Virginia Company of London paid to transport servants across the Atlantic, but with the institution of the headright system in 1618, the company enticed planters and merchants to incur the cost with the promise of land. As a result, servants flooded into the colony, where they were greeted by deadly diseases and often-harsh conditions that killed a majority of newcomers and left the rest to the mercy of sometimes-cruel masters. The General Assembly passed laws regulating contract terms, as well as the behavior and treatment of servants. Besides benefiting masters with long indentures, these laws limited servant rights while still allowing servants to present any complaints in court. By the end of the seventeenth century, the number of new servants in Virginia had dwindled, and the colony's labor needs were largely met by enslaved Africans.


Servitude had a long history in England, dating back to medieval serfdom. The Ordinance of Labourers, passed in June 1349, declared that all men and women under the age of sixty who did not practice a craft must serve anyone requiring their labor. Parliament updated the law in 1495 and 1563, with the latter version, the Statute of Artificers, still being in effect when the English founded Jamestown. Between 1520 and 1630, England's population more than doubled, from 2.3 million to 4.8 million, and Parliament hoped its 1563 statute might "banishe Idleness[,] advance Husbandrye," and so deal with the near-overwhelming number of poor and unemployed citizens. In fact, the founding of Virginia itself was partially in response to this problem. In his Discourse on Western Planting (1584), Richard Hakluyt (the younger) argued to Queen Elizabeth that new American colonies would energize England's "decayed trades" and provide work for the country's "multitudes of loyterers and idle vagabondes."

In England, an indenture, or contract for labor, was known as a "covenant merely personal," and could apply either to farm laborers or apprentices learning a trade. Contracts generally lasted a year, after which terms were renegotiated. As the merchant and adventurer Sir George Peckham noted in 1583, many English men and women willingly became servants "in hope thereby to amend theyr estates," and young children were sometimes bound to service by parents who might not otherwise be able to afford their upbringing. While there was not necessarily a strong stigma attached to indentured servitude, the institution—first in England and then in Virginia—temporarily transformed free men and women into chattel, or property to be bought and sold.

Land and Labor

The Virginia Company of London always had more land than labor to work it. At first, the company attempted to entice investors by offering them shares in the company that were redeemable for land. But when profits failed to materialize and the colony became infamous for its high mortality rate, the company began shipping servants to Virginia at its own expense and placing them on company-owned land. (An Englishman willing to risk his life in order to work someone else's acreage was not usually someone who could afford transatlantic passage.) Once the servants arrived, the company could rent them out to planters for a year at a time, requiring the planters to take responsibility for the workers' food, shelter, and health.

With the introduction of marketable tobacco, however, demand for labor skyrocketed. Private investors who, alongside the company, had shipped servants at their own expense continued to do so while the company rid itself of its role as rental agent. Instead, it sold servants directly to planters at a price based on the cost of passage. Planters, mariners, and merchants then fixed the servants' years of service based on the labor required to recoup their purchase price and subsequent care.

Servants, who ranged from convicted criminals to skilled workers, in time came to occupy the lowest rung on the social ladder in Virginia. While tenants kept half of what they earned, servants kept nothing and were almost entirely at the mercy of their masters for the terms of their indentures. Movement up the ladder was limited, even once a term of service had been completed, although servants with marketable skills had a greater chance of success. Few servants were like Robert Townshend, who arrived as an apprentice in 1620 and eventually served in the House of Burgesses.

In the summer of 1620, the Virginia Company of London announced that it would send to Virginia, at "publike charge," "eight hundred choise persons," half of whom were assigned to be tenants of company land. One hundred "yong Maides" were sent to "make wives for these Tenants," and one hundred boys to serve as apprentices. Finally, "one hundred servants [were] to be disposed amongst the old Planters, which they greatly desire, and have offered to defray their charges with very great thankes."

Soon, however, the company found it unnecessary to continue incurring the "publike charge" of transporting servants. Instead, it implemented a system by which it used the prospect of land to entice new colonists, and with them laborers. Headrights, first described in the so-called Great Charter of 1618, awarded 100 acres of land each to planters who had been in the colony since May 1616, and 50 acres each to anyone who covered the cost of transporting a new immigrant to Virginia. These newcomers, more often than not, were indentured servants, allowing successful planters simultaneous access to land and labor, with no upfront cost to the company. Merchants and mariners reaped a benefit, too, for they recruited prospective servants, bargained their indenture terms with them, and then sold the contracts to planters in Virginia. Merchants also accumulated headrights that could be used to acquire land. In time, these headrights, or land certificates, were bought and sold much like modern-day stock certificates.

Sometimes groups of investors collectively absorbed the cost of outfitting and transporting workers to the colony. Virginia Company of London stockholders were entitled to 100 acres per share, and high-ranking officials were furnished with indentured servants as part of their stipend. In some instances groups of investors promised to give land to their indentured servants after they fulfilled their contracts. The Society of Berkeley Hundred's investors offered their skilled servants parcels that ranged from 25 to 50 acres, to be claimed once they had fulfilled their contracts.

Various factors fueled the need for new servants. One was demographics. Approximately 50,000 servants—or three-quarters of all new arrivals—immigrated to the Chesapeake Bay colonies between 1630 and 1680. The ratio of men to women among servants in the 1630s was six-to-one. Between 1640 and 1680, the ratio dropped to four-to-one, but even then, many men could not find wives to marry and therefore could not establish families. As a result of this and the high mortality rate among new servants, company officials and English merchants were forced to constantly replenish the Virginia colony's servant population.

Another factor creating a need for new servants was the rapidly expanding tobacco market. It created substantial opportunities for would-be planters, but because tobacco was a demanding, labor-intensive crop, it also required a large number of laborers. At the same time, tobacco's acceptance as a medium of exchange prompted planters to enhance their productivity. Between the 1620s and the 1670s, the annual output of tobacco per hand rose from approximately 710 pounds to around 1,600 pounds; during the same period, shipping costs decreased. Although tobacco prices had begun to decline sharply by late in the 1620s and continued to fall, production remained profitable because planters were able to produce larger crops with fewer hands. Yet even as they technically required fewer servants, planters demanded more. That's because tobacco consumption rose in response to lower prices, and planters, eager to meet that demand, increased their production.

Contract Terms

As indentured servants poured into Virginia, they came to account for fully half of Virginia's population. Such rapid change caused problems, however, and the General Assembly passed numerous statutes designed to address them. These laws served several broad purposes, including regulation of servants' contract terms, behavior, and treatment.

Contract terms were important for several reasons. The assembly wished to protect masters from terms that did not fully recoup their cost of transporting servants from England to Virginia, in addition to their subsequent care. The assembly also faced the problem of servants who arrived without any contracts; the English custom of requiring a single year's service absent any other arrangement would not suffice in America, where the labor market was less stable than in England. Finally, the masters—who included most men who sat in the assembly—had an interest in prolonging terms of indenture because briefer service led to disruptive turnover, labor shortages, and an unstable workforce.

For these reasons, terms of service did not shorten even as tobacco production became more efficient and profitable. Instead, lengthy terms of service became customary and dictated by law. As early as 1619, the General Assembly required all servants to register with the secretary of state upon arrival and "Certifie him upon what termes or conditions they be come hither." In its 1642–1643 session, the assembly passed a law mandating that any servant arriving without an indenture and who was younger than twelve years old should serve for seven years, servants aged twelve to nineteen should serve for five years, and servants aged twenty and older should serve for four years. Legislation passed in the 1657–1658 session adjusted these ages: anyone under the age of fifteen should serve until he or she turned twenty-one, while anyone sixteen or older should serve for four years. By 1705, the law had been simplified, so that all non-indentured Christian servants older than nineteen should serve until they turned twenty-four. ("Christian servants" generally referred to non-blacks and non-Indians.) Lawmakers entrusted the county courts with judging the age of each servant. In the meantime, they required slightly different terms for Irish servants.

The assembly declined to dictate standard terms for privately negotiated indentures; as a result, contracts varied in length and specificity. On September 7, 1619, Robert Coopy, whose age went unnoted, signed an indenture for three years' service to the proprietors of Berkeley's Hundred requiring that he be "obedient" to his betters and that they "transport him (with gods assistance)" to Virginia and there "maintayne him with convenient diet and apparel." In a much shorter document, dated March 14, 1664, Lott Richards, a merchant from Bristol, England, sold "one Sarvant boy by name William [F]reeman being about eleven years old and haveing noe indenture" to John Barnes for a term of eight years. By 1755, Thomson Mason could simply fill out a form, which he did in order to indenture for four years William Buckland, a twenty-one-year-old carpenter and joiner, to his brother George Mason, who was overseeing the construction of Gunston Hall. Buckland's agreement was somewhat unusual in that, as a skilled worker, he was paid wages of £20 per year in addition to receiving "all necessary Meat, Drink, Washing, [and] Lodging."

Servants whose contracts had expired typically received "freedom dues," loosely described as a quantity of corn and clothing. The 1705 statute was the first to explicitly mention this "good and laudable custom," and required that male servants, "upon their freedom," be supplied with ten bushels of corn, thirty shillings (or the like value in goods), and a musket worth at least twenty shillings. Women were entitled to fifteen bushels of corn and the equivalent of forty shillings.

During the seventeenth century, freedom dues were negotiated as part of the indenture. Robert Coopy's contract, for instance, guaranteed him thirty acres of land at Berkeley's Hundred. John Barnes, who purchased William Freeman, was obliged only to pay the boy "his full due According to the Custom of this Country." Depending on the time and place, this might have included corn, clothing, and tools. In 1675, an indentured servant who charged his master with cheating him asked the General Court to free him "and pay him corne & clothes." The judges ruled in his favor, granting him "three Barrels of Corne att the Cropp." Occasionally the owners of indentured servants refused to release them or give them their freedom dues. At Jamestown, when a male indentured servant who had fulfilled his contract insisted on receiving his "corn and clothes," his master exploded in rage and struck him on the head with his truncheon.

Servants' Behavior

In addition to contract terms, the General Assembly concerned itself with servant behavior. In The Whole Duty of Man, a Protestant devotional work published anonymously in 1658, the English author reminds readers that all servants owe their masters, as a matter of conscience, "obedience," "Faithfulness," "Patience and Meekness," and "Diligence." In Virginia, at least, such ideals were not always met. For instance, burgesses were forced to pass laws in response to servants who ran away and to those who, while still under contract, hired themselves out to new masters under better terms. The 1642–1643 assembly passed a law—subsequently revised in 1657–1658—requiring that servants carry certificates and punishing any master who hired a servant without proper papers.

The assembly was also perennially concerned with "ffornication," especially when it resulted in female servants becoming pregnant. This led to a loss of the servants' labor, for which the law attempted to provide compensation to the master. An act passed in the 1642–1643 session and revised in 1657–1658 added time, in the case of pregnancy and so-called secret marriages, to the indentures of male and female servants both; it called for fines on any freemen involved. Sometimes servants were singled out in the context of broader morals laws, such as in "Against ffornication," passed in 1661–1662, which responded to servant pregnancies by requiring large fines to be paid to the local parish. If the master refused to pay, then the servants were to be whipped.

Another law, passed in 1662, stipulated that the children of such pregnancies were to be handed over to the church, which would be reimbursed for its trouble by the "reputed father." If the father of an illegitimate child were a master, then, according to a 1662 law, the maidservant would, upon completion of her indenture, be sold to the local parish for two years. This was to prevent female servants from avoiding work through pregnancy and then attempting to leave their children in the care of their masters. A number of these laws were combined and revised into "An act for punishment of ffornication and seaverall other sins and offences," passed by the assembly in 1696.

Servants' Treatment

Servants ran away largely because their lives in Virginia tended to be nasty, brutish, and short. Although they often worked alongside their masters in tobacco fields, they usually lived apart and often under primitive conditions. They worked from dawn until dusk, six days a week through the growing season, which on tobacco and wheat farms could last from as early as February until as late as November. The mortality rate was very high, mostly due to what Virginians called the "summer seasoning," a time during which disease killed a majority of new arrivals. According to the Dutchman David Peterson DeVries, whovisited Virginia in March 1633, immigrants died "like cats and dogs," while the sick "want to sleep all the time, but they must be prevented from sleeping by force," lest they die.

In the meantime, servants—whether seasoned or unseasoned—were treated as property subject to overwork and beatings. For instance, in 1624 Alice Proctor, whom Captain John Smith termed a proper and civil gentlewoman, arranged for her runaway maidservant Elizabeth Abbott to be beaten, and the punishment was so severe that Abbott died. George Sandys, the colony's treasurer, allowed his servants to starve and languish for lack of medical treatment, while in 1649 a mistress was charged with thrashing her "mayd Servant … more Liken a dogge then a Christian," so that her head was "as soft as a sponge, in one place" and her back was possibly broken. Other female servants were victims of sexual assault. DeVries worried that servants were not treated with appropriate dignity. "I was astonished to observe of the English people, that they lose their servants in gambling with each other," he wrote. "I told them I had never seen such work in Turk or Barbarian, and that it was not becoming Christians."

Jane Dickenson was a servant living on the Martin's Hundred plantation with her husband, Ralph Dickenson, when Opechancanough's Indians attacked in 1622. After killing Ralph Dickenson, thePamunkey Indians held Jane Dickenson prisoner for ten months until Dr. John Pott, a Jamestown physician and future Virginia governor, ransomed her freedom for two pounds of beads. Pott claimed that Dickenson owed him both the remaining time on her late husband's contract and the time it would take her to reimburse him the ransom he paid for her release. In a petition dated March 30, 1624, Dickenson asked the General Court to free her, alleging that Pott's treatment of her "much differeth not from her slavery with the Indians."

On at least two occasions, servants banded together to protest the way they were treated. In 1661, forty servants in York County, angered by the lack of meat in their diets, conspired to rebel against their masters; in 1663, a group of nine indentured servants in Gloucester County plotted to arm themselves and march to Governor Sir William Berkeley's home, where they would demand their freedom. In both cases, the authorities were notififed before the plans could be carried out, and the conspirators were punished. According to Berkeley, four of the Gloucester County conspirators were hanged for their actions.

The General Assembly did pass legislation aimed at protecting servants from mistreatment. In a 1657 statute otherwise concerned with runaways, servants were granted the right to take to the courts complaints of "harsh and bad usage, or else for want of diett or convenient necessaries." In 1661, one act required "suffitient" diet and clothing to servants on their transatlantic voyage, while another prohibited "cruell" treatment once they arrived, with burgesses worrying that the "feare thereof" had discouraged some servants from coming to Virginia. In 1676, the assembly further directed masters not to make bargains with their servants in an attempt to trick or manipulate them into extended terms of service. Other acts aimed to protect the limited rights of Virginia Indian servants. Of course, these laws were neither preventative nor always enforced; rather, they reflected the harsh reality of servitude in Virginia, a reality that, as time passed, became less and less distinct from chattel slavery.

From Servitude to Slavery

"Servitude in Virginia's tobacco fields approached closer to slavery than anything known at the time in England," the historian Edmund S. Morgan wrote. "Men served longer, were subjected to more rigorous punishments, [and] were traded about as commodities" beginning in the 1620s. For much of the seventeenth century, those servants were white English men and women—with a smattering of Africans, Indians, and Irish—under indenture with the promise of freedom. By 1705, and the passage of "An act concerning Servants and Slaves," slavery had become ensconced at all levels of Virginia society and was well on its way to completely replacing indentured servitude as the primary source of bound labor in the colony.

Most historians have explained this shift by citing either social or economic shifts in Virginia beginning around the 1670s. Morgan and others, for instance, have argued that Bacon's Rebellion (1676–1677) was, in part, the result of discontent among former servants. By harnessing that discontent and, in the name of racial solidarity, pointing it in the direction of enslaved Africans, white elites could create a more stable workforce and one that was less likely to threaten their own interests. Other historians have observed that the flow of English servants began to dry up beginning in the 1660s and fell off dramatically around 1680, forcing planters to rely more heavily on slaves. Slavery did not end indentured servitude, in other words; the end of servitude gave rise to slavery.

The historian John C. Coombs has suggested a third possibility: "There was no 'trigger' cause for the conversion." Instead, slavery expanded gradually as the English empire grew, its role in the slave trade matured, and enslaved Africans became more available throughout Virginia. By the 1670s, slaves had begun to replace white indentured servants among the Virginia gentry—before both Bacon's Rebellion and the sharp decline in new servants. By 1690, slaves accounted for nearly all of the gentry's bound workforce but only 25 to 40 percent of the non-elite's. Over time, as the supply of enslaved Africans increased and their prices decreased, farmers and planters agreed that they preferred a slave for life to a servant who had the hope of freedom. Even so, indentured servants—particularly those with specialized skills—and convict servants continued to be imported to the colony throughout the eighteenth century.