This index lists Tennesseans who filed claims with the Southern Claims Commission from 1871 to 1873 which were subsequently investigated, deliberated over, and either allowed or disallowed. These 3,929 Tennesseans claimed their property had been taken by United States military personnel for use in the Civil War. Barred claims were those where sufficient evidence was not submitted by the deadline on 3 March 1873 so were not considered.
The claim files include interesting detail about people and about the Civil War period in Tennessee. Claims were to be accepted only from those who:
- held American citizenship
- resided in a state that seceded
- could document loyalty to the federal government throughout the conflict
- had suffered official confiscation of goods
All of the Southern Claims Commission files are located at the National Archives, but the disallowed and barred claim files have been microfilmed and are also available at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Allowed claim files are available only by consulting the National Archives.
This index is based on volume 55 of Record Group No. 56, General Records of the Department of the Treasury, at the National Archives. It is duplicated on National Archives microcopy M-87, reel 13. The indication as to whether the claim was allowed, disallowed, or barred is based on the book Southern Loyalists in the Civil War : the Southern Claims Commission by Gary B. Mills (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1994).
Classes of Claims and Their General Treatment
|Nature of Claim||Official Action||Comments|
|Goods destroyed out of military necessity||Disallowed||Such losses were “fortunes of war”|
|Goods officially contracted for by U.S.||Allowed||Claims to be paid by the contracting department|
|Supplies officially seized by the U.S.||Mixed action||Claims often based on verbal agreements between civilians and U.S. officers. Legality extensively challenged. Further congressional action often needed to resolve dispute.|
|Losses caused by unofficial U.S. activity||Mixed action||Largely claims for destruction of buildings and theft of personal property. Frequently rejected as “pillage by unauthorized soldiers.” Some claims reviewed further under provisions of later laws (i.e., Bowman and Tucker Acts).|
Index to Tennessee Southern Claims Commission by County
Complete database hosted and provided for free at Access Genealogy.
The listings below are broken down by county from the data found at AccessGenealogy, so you must know the county your ancestor was living in when they filed the claim. Otherwise use their index to find your ancestor’s record. We have added to the AccessGenealogy index the case file numbers and year for each claimant as taken from the Geographical List of claims, NARA Series M87, Roll 13, referenced as volume 55 earlier.
- Blount County Residents in the Tennessee Southern Claims Commission Index
- Moore County Residents in the Tennessee Southern Claims Commission Index
- Wilson County Residents in the Tennessee Southern Claims Commission Index
Both Ancestry and Fold3 have digital images of these claims in their online records.
FamilySearch has microfilm of these records but they are not yet all available online for perusal from home. Those that are freely available are the 14 rolls of NARA M87 microfilm which contained some of the correspondence
- Southern Loyalists in the Civil War
Some of the descriptive text here and tables comes from this wonderful work that Gary B. Mills first published in 1994.
- U.S., Southern Claims Commission Master Index, 1871-1880
- U.S., Southern Claims Commission Allowed Claims, 1871-1880
Fold 3 has them listed under two separate headings, based on whether the status of the claim was allowed, disallowed, or barred.