First African American Revolutionary War Patriot in Alabama Honored

Memorial Marker Jim Capers

First African American, Revolutionary War Patriot Honored in the State of Alabama,Photo credit: Michael Foster Webmaster Alabama Society SAR

On Sunday, February 1, 2015 at 2:30 p.m at the Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church in Orion, Pike County, Alabama, the Alabama Society, Sons of the American Revolution in conjunction with the Wiregrass Chapter SAR honored with a Memorial Marker Dedication Ceremony, Patriot Jim Capers, 1742 – 1753, Revolutionary War Soldier, A FREE MAN OF COLOR, Drumer, 4th South Carolina Regiment.

History of Jim Capers bio Presented by Compatriot John Wallace:

“The small amount of information we have concerning the life of Jim Capers comes from his Revolutionary War pension application and widow’s pension application files following Jim’s death.

The story starts in 1849, when Jim Capers appears in the Pike County Court to file his Revolutionary War pension application in order to received the benefits of a persnion law by Congress in 1832.  At the time, the court noted that his age was 107 and he was a man of Color. He stated that he was born on the 23rd day of September 1742.  When asked if he had any documentation of this fact, Jim responded that this was the date my old master Capers told him. When questioned as to why he had waited so long to apply, he responded that he did not know a free man of color was entitled to receive a pension.

According to the pension application, Jim served better that seven years in the army as a drum major and was engaged with the enemy at Savannah, St Helena, Port Royal, Camden, Biggins Church, and was garrisoned at Charleston for some time. He was in the Battle of Eutaw Springs, often described as the bloodiest of the battles of the Revolutionary War. Capers reported he received four wounds at Eutaw Springs, including two saber cuts to his head and one to his face, and that a shot passed through his side killing the drummer behind him. At the end of his service he was at Yorktown and witnessed the surrender of British Forces to the patriots.

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Michael Nolden Henderson,LCDR USN Ret. Past President Button Gwinnett Chapter Georgia Society SAR and Hon. Rick Hollis, Vice-President General Southern District.Photo taken by: Anita Paul, The Write Image

At the time of his pension application, Capers was living on the Norman McLeod plantation and was married to Milley, one of McLeod’s slaves. According to two pension applications, totaling more than 90 pages, McLeod did a great deal to assist both Jim and his wife in obtaining a pension. Neither application, however, was approved, but by a special act of Congress passed on 3 Feb 1853; the Secretary of the Interior was required to place the name of Jim Capers upon the list of revolutionary pension, and to pay him a pension at the rate of eight dollars per month; said pension to commence on the first day August, 1850 at $8.00 per month. Although there is nothing in the pension file to show how this occured, it is suspected that McLeod, who was a former state legistor, may have been involved through his political connections. There is a receipt where Jim’s wife Milley received $256.00 under this act. Jim died 1 April 1853.”*

*As published in the Memorial Marker dedication program Alabama Society SAR- Wiregrass Chapter.

The Alabama State Society Color Guard presented colors at the opening of the ceremony, and several chapters from the SAR and DAR within the state of Alabama and Southern District were present to present wreaths on behalf of their chapters.

I was extremely honored to present a wreath as Past President on behalf of the Button Gwinnett Chapter, Georgia Society Sons of the American Revolution, South Atlantic District. Many from the church and surrounding community were also in attendance.  After the ceremony, a reception was held in the church fellowship hall.

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Compatriot Ike Edwards President, Gulf Coast Chapter, Mississippi Society SAR, Mrs. Nikki Williams Sebastian (Atlanta Chapter, DAR), and Compatriot Michael Nolden Henderson, LCDR USN Ret., Past President Button Gwinnett Chapter Georgia Society SAR, Photo taken by: Anita Paul, The Write Image

 

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Compatriot Michael Nolden Henderson, LCDR USN Ret. Past President Button Gwinnett Chapter Georgia Society SAR, with four members of the United States Army, GO NAVY. Photo taken by: Anita Paul, The Write Image

 

 

Several current and retired members of the United States Armed forces were present during the Ceremony.  I was honored to have  a photo taken with fellow veterans.

 

 

 

 

 

and

Nikki Willams

Compatriot Col. Larry P. Cornwell, USAF-Ret. Genealogist General 2011-2014 National Society, SAR and Mrs. Nikki Williams Sebastian (Atlanta Chapter, DAR) with United States Army Veterans. Photo Credit :Nikki William Sebastian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and

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Judge Wes Allen Photo taken by: Anita Paul, The Write Image

 

 

Pike Country Probate Judge presented a proclamation honoring Jim Capers, the first African American patriot of the American Revolution in the state of Alabama.

 

 

 

 

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Back row: Alabama State Color Guard members from (L-R) are: Tom Smith, Perry Vickers, Larry Cornwell, Jim Maples, Price Legg, Dick Wells, Jack Caraway, Glenn Nivens, and John Kelsoe. Front (l-r) Eufaula Delegation! Edgar S. Hicks, Mary Williams (Registrar of the Lewis Chapter DAR), DJ Smith, KiKi Smith, Deborah W. Hicks (Vice-Regent of the Lewis Chapter DAR), Janie Smith, and Daryl Smith. Photo taken by: Anita Paul, The Write Image

 

 

Several church and community members pose for a photo with Alabama State color guard and militia members. The young man and lady in the middle (DJ Smith and Kiki Smith) will remember this moment forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Compatriot Henderson speaking with members of the Wiregrass Chapter, Alabama Society, SAR

 

 

Compatriot Henderson is congratulating Compatriot John Wallace and members of the Wiregrass Chapter, Alabama Society SAR on a wonderful tribute and memorial marker dedication for Patriot Jim Capers.

 

 

 

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Alabama Society

Compatriot William Oliver “Bill” Stone, General Richard Montgomery Chapter, Alabama Society SAR, and Compatriot Michael Nolden Henderson, Past President Button Gwinnett Chapter Georgia Society SAR. Photo credit: Michael Foster Webmaster Alabama Society SAR

 

The Sons of the American Revolution is a lineage organization composed of gentlemen who can document a direct bloodline to one of the patriots of the American Revolution.

The grave dedication ceremony is part of the society’s ongoing program to honor American heroes who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of a new nation.

Jim Capers is one of many veterans who moved West following the American Revolution and is among the approximate 1,000 Revolution War soldiers known to have settle in present-day Alabama.

For additional information on Jim Capers, visit Southern Campaign American Revolution Pension Statements & Rosters

 

 

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We, the members of the Button Gwinnett Chapter, Georgia Society Sons of the American Revolution, South Atlantic District, honor and celebrate , Patriot Jim Capers. Photo by Anita Paul, The Write Image

 

See more about Henderson’s personal journey and discovery of a Louisiana Patriot Ancestor in the American Revolution   Also recipient of the 2014 National Society Sons of the American Revolution Minnesota Society Stephen Taylor Award.