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From Our Past XXVII

Two most curious letters were found in the Walker papers that addresses a request for the Revolutionary war records of several members of the Gurley Family. A letter was sent in 1928 by Matilda Walker and another by her daughter Clara Walker to Alabama Congressman Ed B. Almon. It appears that the women were seeking information from the Department of the Interior Bureau of Pensions in regards to possible pensions from Matilda’s ancestors. Her request apparently received high level attention because she received responses from the Department of the Interior in the form of copies of letters (dated 1928) to Senator Hugo Black, later renowned Justice of the Supreme Court, and Alabama Representative Ed Almon. Both letters were written by the Bureau of Pensions and oddly, both signed by Winfield Scott, Commissioner of the bureau. The famous General Winfield Scott, of The War of 1812, Mexican War and Civil War fame, died in 1866 so it is possible the signatures could have been that of his grandson.

1928 Letter by Winfield Scott
1928 Letter by Winfield Scott

Winfield Scott informs Senator Black the Bureau of Pensions could not find any records of soldiers in the Revolutionary War with the names Ephraim or William Gurley nor War of 1812 records for Ephraim, Joseph or William. They did find a Revolutionary War pension claim #4973 for Joseph Gurley however. The record indicated Joseph Gurley enlisted in September 1781 and served two years and two months in Captain Raiford’s North Carolina Company. Joseph married Mary Carter of Johnson County, NC January 10, 1780 and he died March 10, 1828. Joseph’s widow was granted his pension in 1845 at 91 years old.  
   
The second letter to Congressman Ed Almon is a bit more interesting. Windfield Scott informs Almon that records indicate a pension claim S.13231 was issued for the Revolutionary War service for Jeremiah Gurley, born September 29, 1759 in Johnson County, North Carolina. He was the son of John and Elizabeth Gurley  

1928 Letter by Winfield Scott
1928 Letter by Winfield Scott

 
Jeremiah Gurley enlisted in February 1781 and served as a private in Captain’s Hardy Brian and Asa Brian’s Company in Colonel Eaton’s North Carolina Regiment. The unit fought at the battle of Guilford (NC) and Camden (SC). He was discharged May 13, 1781. Jeremiah also served for about two months in (his brother) Captain Lewis Gurley’s Company of Light Horse and discharged August 7, 1781. He again served from September 1781 to the close of the war; his last service was a year under Colonel Robert Rayford.  
   
It is stated that Jeremiah Gurley moved his family in 1817 from Maury County, Tennessee to Madison County, Alabama. His Revolutionary War pension application was executed October 30, 1832 at which time he was living near Brownsboro, Alabama, Madison County. A handwritten letter found in the Walker papers indicates Jeremiah had five children, John, Elizabeth, Mary, Anne and James. It is possible that Jeremiah was the first Gurley to settle in Madison County and most likely that his son John was the one to settle in what is now the town of Gurley. John’s son William Rutledge Gurley was the father of Matilda. Another letter found indicates Jeremiah Gurley was the great, great grandfather to Matilda Walker which makes the succession of grandfathers fit perfectly.  
   
Matilda was married to Elijah Froman Walker of Gurley, AL, both being this writer’s paternal great grand parents. Of interest is the fact that Jeremiah Gurley would be this writer’s gggg grandfather. It’s amazing what old letters will turn up.  
   

Thank you William for sharing this information left in your care by your ancestors.