SUBMITTED BY: JD Mayo (edited and vetted by Cheri Todd Molter)
I’ve done some digging for information about my North Carolinian ancestors on my father’s side. This story is about my 4th-great-grandfather, John William Mayo, and his father, John Mayo, and several African American soldiers. John W. Mayo was married to Jenny Pentz, and his father was a farmer, who in 1850, had real estate valued at 500 dollars. The 1850 Slave Schedule for Hyde County indicates that John Mayo (5th-great-grandfather) owned two enslaved individuals: a woman, aged 55 (b. abt. 1795), and a man aged 22 (b. abt. 1828). A John Mayo, believed to be one of my two ancestors who went by that name, vouched for three African American soldiers who fought during the Civil War—Lafayette Spencer, David Spencer, and Lewis Atkinson—so that they would be paid for their service. (Photographs of John William and Jenny Pentz Mayo are at above. Click on images to enlarge.)
According to the records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands from New Bern, N.C., in October and December of 1869, a John Mayo identified and vouched for the service of Lafayette Spencer, David Spencer, and Lewis Atkinson. All three men served in the 35th U.S. Colored Troops (USCT). They were attempting to collect their unpaid bounties due from their service in the USCT and apparently had to have people who would serve as character witnesses and vouch for their service.
Lafayette Spencer was thirty-one years old (b. abt. 1832) when he enlisted in the Union Army on June 27, 1863, at New Bern, North Carolina. Lafayette served as a Private in Company H of the 1st N.C. Colored Infantry, which was organized into the 35th Infantry, USCT on February 8, 1864.
David Spencer was born in 1845 in Hyde County, North Carolina. On June 30, 1863, eighteen-year-old David enlisted in the Union Army at New Bern. He served as a Private in Company G of the 1st N.C. Colored Infantry, later organized into the 35th Infantry, USCT.
Lewis Atkinson was about twenty-seven years old when he enlisted in the Union Army at New Bern, North Carolina, on June 30, 1863. Lewis served as a Private in Company C, 1st N.C. Colored Infantry, which as noted above became part of the 35th Infantry, USCT.
The 35th USCT fought mostly in Florida and South Carolina during the war. After the war ended, they were ordered to Charleston, S.C. and other “points in the Dept. of the South” and served until they mustered out on June 1, 1866 (Dyer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion Vol. 3). Apparently, L. Spencer, D. Spencer, and Atkinson were not paid what was due them for their service, and Isaac A. Rosekrans, an agent of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, wrote to Washington several times in September 1868 to determine the status of their claims (scans of documents are below). Their claims were eventually recognized, and years later, David Spencer’s wife, Sallie Ann, applied for a widow’s pension (picture of card is below). Click on images to enlarge.