Well at least his tombstone is online.

Contactez.net/gurleyalabama: Pictures of the Gurley, Alabama cemetary — Pictures by David Young

Here’s what the tombstone (at the top of the page, on the right-hand side) says:

NOV 4 1832 NOV 13 1909

Pretty crazy to find his tombstone online (I have to confess that I was vanity surfing my last name when I found this), as I’ve done a fair bit of research on him. I guess he is my distant name-sake, as I’m James M., my dad is James R., my grandpa is James B., Jr., his dad was James B., Sr., his dad was Henry W., and then his dad was James C. whose tombstone is in Gurley. Here’s the short version of his story…

James C.’s dad came from Camden, South Carolina (where the Branum’s lived for a few generations in the colonial era and for bit of the post-Revolution times). I’m not sure if his dad married in S.C. or Alabama, but I do know James C. was born in Gurley.

In his early 30’s he fought as a Private in the Alabama infantry in the Civil war and suffered paralysis in his right arm for the rest of his life from a battlefield injury. Later he was a farmer and raised a family (most of his kids later went to Indian Territory, in what is now Oklahoma — I know this from his pension application), but from what I call he was pretty poor the rest of his life. The Yankee carpetbaggers cleaned out the family farm pretty good (even stealing the salt the family needed to preserve meat for the winter) and things were still bad late in life when he applied for a pension from the state of Alabama as a confederate veteran.

However initially he was denied his pension because his name wasn’t found on the CSA military rolls (due to the loss of many government records in the Civil war and reconstruction eras), however later his widow got a pension after going to court and proving he did serve (she made her case by calling witnesses who served with him andalso by producing a receipt he was given for his uniform when he enlisted).

Anyway it is rather interesting. Also another bit of trivia is that he (and a few other ancestors in this generation who fought in the civil war — a total of 3 CSA vets and 1 USA vet) was the last of my ancestors who served in the military. I sure hope that continues to be true for future generations.