Nancy Lindsley’s Saga on the Pass

Nancy was the daughter of Samuel and Susanna Brown.  She was born in Kentucky around 1815.  Her parents were married on September 14, 1807 in Garrard County, Kentucky.  Samuel was an ordained minister.  She had a large family and one of her brothers was Issac N. Brown, who would become famous as Captain of the CSS Arkansas in the Civil War.  By the early 1840s, the family had moved to Coahoma County, Mississippi.  They established a plantation near Moon Lake in Northern Coahoma County.

Although there are some records which state Nancy married another man about that time, I believe her husband was David D. Thompson.  On the 1850 U.S. Census for Coahoma County, David and Nancy are listed as living there with the following children: David, aged 5 born in Mississippi; Susan, aged 3 born in Mississippi; and Sarah, aged 0 born in Mississippi. David is aged 42 born in Tennessee and Nancy aged 36 born in Kentucky.  Her mother Susan was living on another plantation in Coahoma County near the Barbee family. William Brown and his family is also listed there.  David Thompson was appointed post master at Moon Lake on March 20, 1850.  That office was discontinued on May 8, 1851 though.

mound place map

Tragedy hit the Thompson family sometime in the mid 1850s.  Her husband and all three of her children died.  The Mississippi Delta was a hard place to live and many people died at an early age.  Nancy would find love again though.  She married a middle aged man who had migrated to Coahoma County from New York.  His name was William Alexander Lindsley.  He had been born on November 3, 1814 in Steuben, New York.  Lindsley moved in with Nancy on her planation at Moon Lake.  By June 10, 1856, he was listed as post master at Mound Place joining his neighbors the Barbees and Hunts. On the the 1860 U.S. Census, William aged 45, born in New York and Nancy, aged 45, born in Kentucky are listed in Coahoma County.  Their real estate is valued a $50,000 and personal estate is valued at $40,000.  There were 56 slaves living on the W.A. Lindsley plantation. William A. Lindsley also appears on the 1860 U.S. Census in Prairie County, Arkansas where his plantation was.  John Ivans was the overseer and it was valued at $5,600.

In 1861, the American Civil War begins and by the next year the conflict has gotten very close to Nancy and William Lindsley on Moon Lake.  By the middle of 1862, a Union army under General Samuel Curtis has occupied Helena, Arkansas.  Soon Federal troops are making an appearance around Moon Lake.  Southern Partisan and Confederate cavalry are also prowling around northern Coahoma County. Both sides need supplies and food.  The noncombatants are caught in between. On top of everything else, William Alexander Lindsley dies on February 13, 1863 leaving Nancy alone to deal with the war.

Nancy survived the war and petitioned the U.S.Southern Claims Commission to recover damages done to her property during the Civil War. Her petition is located under Disallowed and Barred Claims 1871 – 1880.  It gives an amazing look into the Civil War in northern Coahoma County. In addition to her testimony, she produced the following witnesses: A.S. Dowd, a local farmer and a number of former servants: Green Lindsley, Samuel Brown, H. P. Coolidge, Dolly Lindsley, and Sallie Lindsley.  It was sent from the post office in Helena, Phillips County Arkansas.   Dated March 3, 1871

There was taken from the petitioner for the use of the army of the United States for which no payment was made:

August, 1862

  • 1 mule valued at $200.00
  • 2 horses valued at $150.00 each equalling a total of $300.00

December, 1862

  • 600 pounds of bacon valued at $150.00
  • 1000 bushels of corn valued at $1500.00
  • 25 head of beef cattle valued at $750.00
  • 30 head of hogs valued at $450.00

February, 1863

  • 100 head of cattle valued at $1000.00
  • 75 head of hogs valued at $750.00
  • 2 barrels of molasses valued at $80.00
  • 1500 bushels of corn valued at $2250.00
  • 2 mules valued at $400.00
  • 1 box of shoes and clothing that had been bought for the hands valued at $400.00
  • 1 dwelling house and all the other houses on the place torn down and used to build quarters for soldiers of Colonel Rainery’s Regiment that camped on the plantation of said petitioner for about a month.  Valued at $2000.00
  • Fencing torn down and used for firewood by the soldiers and for the boats running the Yazoo Pass, a navigable stream, which had been obstructed by the Confederate troops, but was cleared by the U.S. forces.  Valued at $1000.00

These were taken from her plantation on which she resided in Coahoma County about 8 miles from Helena, Arkansas, the headquarters of the U.S. Army under command of Major General Curtis and those who succeeded him.  That the property taken in August, 1862 was by officers and soldiers from Helena, Arkansas and was taken to Helena.  That in December 1862, some four thousand cavalry under the immediate command of General Washburn from Helena camped on the plantation of the petitioner both going and returning from an expedition to Grenade at which times he consumed and carried off the property so charged in the bill of articles of that date. In February 1863, a large force under the immediate command. of Colonel Rainey of the Illinois Regiment and a large number of transports and boats were engaged in cleaning out the Yazoo Pass, on which her plantation was.  That said troops occupied on her plantation about four weeks during most of which time boats were passing up and down the pass known as the Yazoo Pass in clearing out said stream and while there all of the property set forth in the bill of articles under the date of February was taken and used by said soldiers and officers in command of both land forces and of the boats employed in said expedition.  That your petitioner has never been furnished with any voucher, receipts, or any other papers from any officers or soldiers of the U.S. Army authorized to issue the same or from any other source whatsoever nor has she received any pay for said property.  She stated she never served in the Confederacy and never supported them.

Mr. W. A. Lindsley possessed in his own sole use and right on the 28th day of January 156 the following real and personal property and the same is duly recorded: 1082 acres of valuable land, 25 slaves, plantation tools, cart, 16 head of horses and mules, 1 barouche horse hold, kitchen furniture, 60 head of cattle, 100 head of hogs.  Ms. Lindsley has no children living nor had she any at the beginning of the war nor had her husband Mr. W.A. Lindsley at the time of his death.

Nancy Lindsley, the claimant, is the widow of the late William A. Lindsley, who died February 1863.  She resides 7 miles form Helena, Arkansas and on the opposite side of the river at the head of the Yazoo Pass on her farm of 1000 acres, 400 under cultivation.  The plantation was claimant’s individual property standing in her own name.  This was her second husband.  She purchased it with her own money in 1847 and has held it ever since.  Her husband owned other property.  Claimant says her husband was bitterly opposed to the rebellion and all his talk, influence, and sympathy was for the Union cause and claimants sentiments were in accord with his.

The rebels took 30 mules and a great deal of provisions form them.  They burned over 200 bales of cotton, the gin and machinery, and all the farming implements and machines.  The Federals only took what they needed for fuel and when they were gone, the rebels came in and burnt the residence and all the buildings.  Claimant says she can furnish copies of the deeds.

Deposition taken Liberty Bartlett, Special Commissioner and Judge John S. Horner, Helena, Arkansas attorney:

The plantation was my own.  My husband never did own any part of it.  He was my second husband.  I came here from Tennessee in 1847 and purchased the land with my own money and have occupied it ever since.  My husband owned a plantation on the White River and city lots in Helena, all in Arkansas.  His brother administered his estate. All my interest in it I turned over to his brothers and sisters in New York.  My husband was a true and devoted Union man from the beginning of secession to his death and bitterly opposed to the rebellion.  I never had but 3 children and they died in infancy.  My husband had no sons or other relatives in the Confederacy.  His brothers were all on the other side in New York.  My husband died the day after the two regiments clearing the pass camped there February 20, 1863 at home.  The whole number of slaves I had was some over 50, big and little.  Some few went into the Federal army.  The most of them still remain about the farm in January 1874.

The Commissioner agreed she was a loyal citizen, but her claims were denied.

Nancy’s brother, Captain Issac Brown, moved back to Coahoma County after the war. He is listed on the 1870 U.S. Census with his wife and family.  His property was valued $30,000.  Captain Brown would live on his farm until a short time before his death.  He is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Navarro County, Texas.

Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, being for the most part contributions by Union and Confederate officers, based upon “the Century War Series.” Edited by R. U. J. and C. C. B., etc. [Illustrated.]

Map of Coahoma County in the 1870s showing land ownership:

Lula area map 1870s

On the 1880 U.S. Census, Nancy Lindsley is listed as living in Beat 1, Coahoma County, aged 76 and being widowed. She passed away on December 3, 1883.  At present, it is not known where she is buried.

After the war, Eugene Lindsley, the brother of  William Lindsley, moved to Coahoma County.  On the 1870 U.S. Census, he is listed as a dry goods merchant, aged 31 and born in New York.  On May 3, 1871 he was appointed postmaster at Dowd’s Landing near Moon Lake.  Lindsley married Lucy W. Brown on February 22, 1872 in Coahoma County.  She was the daughter of Issac Brown, who was the brother of Nancy Lindsley.  They had one daughter named Lucy, who was nicknamed Lula. She was born May 29, 1874. Unfortunately, his wife passes away in 1874 a few months after the birth of her daughter.   Eugene remarries in 1877 to Blandina Dinkins. It was on Eugene Lindsley’s plantation that the town of Lula was built.  He named it after his daughter Lula.  Lindsley became the first postmaster of the new town on September 16,1882.  On March 29, 1905 Eugene Lindsley passes away and is buried at the Colonel Lindsley Burying Ground in Steuben County, New York.  His daughter would marry twice.  Her first husband was William Huntzinger Ryon, who she divorced.  Frederick Winston Canfield was Lucy’s second husband. She passed away on July 16,1909 of pneumonia and is buried in Syracuse, New York.


Southern Claims Commission Records- Barred and Disallowed- Coahoma County, MS

1850 United States Census Records

1860 United States Census Records

1870 United States Census Records




2 responses to “Nancy Lindsley’s Saga on the Pass”

  1. Phil Cirulli Avatar
    Phil Cirulli

    Great Article! From my research on the Lindsley’s you are on point! My mother was a Lindsley in NY, near Lindley, NY and Lawrenceville, SC. William A and Eugene A Lindsley were my 2nd great grand uncles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cliff Dean Avatar

      Thanks. Fascinating family.


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