Was My Ancestor the Only Civilian Killed at Appomattox?

Tracing Your Roots: Family tree research pulls up records of a slave named Hannah Reynolds.

Federal soldiers at the Appomattox courthouse in April 1865 Wikimedia Commons

We see from this 1850 census record that Samuel H. Coleman was the son of Schuyler P. Coleman, a farmer in Appomattox. A quick search of the 1860 Slave Schedules shows that Schuyler owned several slaves; however, none was close in age to Hannah Reynolds.

Next you’ll want to try to determine when Hannah came to live with the household. Usually this requires combing through some land and probate records, but almost all of the Appomattox County Court records were destroyed in a fire in 1892. Because these records are lost, you’ll need to find other sources of information to learn about the sale of slaves in Appomattox.

A good place to start is to look at advertisements published in the newspapers for the sale and auction of slaves. Typically, these announcements gave mostly a physical description and only occasionally gave out a name. However, they can give you some insight about how slaves were sold around Appomattox and where they came from.

For example, you’ll want to see if any slaves from South Carolina were being sold near Appomattox. The Virginia Chronicle project has many digital copies of Virginia newspapers from before and after the Civil War, including papers from Lynchburg, which is a large city near Appomattox. These are at the Library of Virginia.

Since the story of Hannah Reynolds is tied to a major event in U.S. history, there may be some primary sources available that can give you more information about Hannah’s life and death. The National Park Service operates the Appomattox Court House National Historic Park. The site contains many of the historic buildings, which feature artifacts related to the battle. You may want to consider contacting the museum on-site to see if it has any additional information or primary sources concerning the life of Hannah Reynolds.

Once you find out a little bit more about Hannah Reynolds, you will want to do some more research on the family of Leah Ballard in Kershaw County, S.C., to see if there is any connection to the Hannah Reynolds who was killed at Appomattox.

Hannah Reynolds in Kershaw County

First you’ll want to see if you can find any records of Hannah Reynolds living in Kershaw County, where many of her descendants lived. Start by searching the 1870 census. From our initial search, we were unable to find any records of a woman named Hannah Reynolds; however, it is possible that she died before this year or she had married and was using a different surname.

In your own research, you found an 1850 Census Slave Schedule record for L.W. Ballard that you believe lists your ancestor Leah Ballard. To confirm this and to see if her mother was living with her, you’ll want to find out when L.W. Ballard died and see if you can find will and probate documents for his estate if he died before the end of the Civil War.

We did find a record of L.W. Ballard in the 1850 census, which shows that he was born in South Carolina circa 1810. Interestingly, there was also an 8-year-old African-American boy named Joseph Thickle enumerated in the same household, but no other African Americans were listed by name. We were unable to find a record of L.W. Ballard in the 1860 census, which suggests that he died or moved away in the 10 years between.