Depositions Taken in 1875 Regarding Claimant’s (Cate) Loyalty
A.E. Blount Deposition.
During three years of the war while I was in the Union army I saw nothing of the claimant. I returned to Cleveland in 1864. I do not personally know of his doing a disloyal act but from his associations and department. I do not consider him to have been loyal. So far as I know he has not been generally regarded by loyal men as a Union man. I once heard the claimant say that he had lost nothing by either the Union or Rebel armies. He said this after the war was closed. I have heard several respectable citizens say that they had heard claimant say he had never lost anything by either army. This after the war ended and my understanding is he continued to make this declaration until about the time Congress passed the law to re-imburse Union men for their losses. I do not remember the names of all the men who told me they heard claimant make the declaration that he had lost nothing by either army but among those who told me this I remember were Leon and Carruth late of this county and now of Riceville in the adjoining county of McMinn. Cyrus Norman, now of Arkansas and a resident here and neighbor of claimant during the war, and Campbell and John Steed, neighbors of claimant during the war and both citizens of this county at this time and I think Sam Hunt, a citizen of this town, told me he had heard claimant make the same declaration. My feelings toward the claimant are and have always been friendly.
signed: A.E. Blount
Subscribed and sworn to before me at Cleveland, Tenn, this 11th day of May, 1875.
John B. Brownlow
U.S. Special Commission
Justus Campbell Steed Deposition.
J.C. Steed, being by me duly sworn, deposes and says, my age is 54 years; my residence one half mile from Cleveland in the county of Bradley and State of Tennessee for the past five years and prior to that time and since 1858 I lived on an adjoining farm to the claimant and my occupation a farmer. I am not related to the claimant and have no interest in the claim. I considered the claimant a loyal man until near the close of the war and then I doubted whether he had even been loyal. I had this doubt because I heard so much of his talking on both sides that I did not know what side he was on and another reason of doubt is that he had protection papers from both sides and I thought it as likely that he was a Rebel as a Union man. He had a son in each army. One entered the Southern army at or near the beginning of the war; the other went into the Union army after the Federal army came into East Tennessee.
Question: While the war lasted, how did the loyal neighbors of the claimant generally regard him as to his position on the war?
Answer: So far as I know toward the close of the war all the loyal neighbors of the claimant doubted his loyalty.
Question: What do you know with reference to the claimant’s losses by the Union army?
Answer: I lived within sight of the claimant. I was his nearest neighbor during all the war. I never saw anything taken from him that I can recollect of, though I doubt not the army took supplies from him because thousands of the troops went over the public road on which we both lived. About the close of the war, while the Federal troops were here, I told the claimant of my losses by the Union army. In reply he said to me in substance that he had lost nothing, and he described to me how he secreted his meat and grain and I think he spoke of sending off and hiding his stock. I remember he once told me that he had saved his wheat when the Union troops came after it by telling them that it was sick wheat or damaged wheat; when in fact it was as he said, good wheat. When he told me this he said if I had managed as he did I would have saved my property.
Question: Did you ever hear of the claimant helping Union men across the mountains or of his concealing Union soldiers pursued by Rebels?
Answer: I did not, and I don’t think that any Union man who knew him would have trusted himself to his keeping.
Question: The claimant allege that he contributed on several occasions to aid the Union men in getting across the mountains from the Confederate into the Federal lines, and says he contributed money for this purpose and he mentions a Captain Norman to whom he says he several times contributed for this purpose. Now do you know Captain Norman and have any knowledge of his having received such contributions?
Answer: I knew Captain Norman to whom claimant refers, he was my uncle and died about the close of the war. From my knowledge of Captain Norman I have no idea he even received a dollar from the claimant or asked him for one. Captain Norman had a good farm, six or seven negroes and had fine stock worth as much as any man in the county. He was known throughout the County as one of the best livers and best farmers in the County. Besides he always had money and I don’t think he had been without it since he was a young man and he was about sixty when he died. He died in the latter part of the year 1864 or early 1865 and just before the close of the war and I borrowed money of his widow in a month or two after he died. I have no idea, from my knowledge of the claimant’s character, that he would let the late Captain Norman or any other man have one dollar as a gratuity for the Union cause or for any purpose. Whatever more do I believe he would let Captain Norman or any other person have a dollar as a loan except he felt he had ample security for its payment. The claimant is a careful, methodical man in business, is universally known among his neighbors as a very close, economical man and would not be likely to let anybody have money even as a loan without taking a note or due bill for the same. If he has any evidence of letting Norman have money, Norman’s estate is good for it.
Question: Did the rebels butcher on claimant’s place?
Answer: They were butchering there two months on longer.
Question: Did you ever hear or hear of the claimant objecting to or making complaint of this? During the two months or more that the rebels were butchering hundreds of beeves on his place and after they left it did you meet the claimant and talk with him frequently and did he speak of being injured in property by their occupation of his farm?
Answer: I was claimant’s nearest neighbor and met him almost every day while the rebel soldiers were there butchering and after they left. When we met we talked usually and I never heard him complain of being damaged or losing anything by this butchering on his place.
Question: Do you think the claimant ever lost as much as $2800 by the Union army?
Answer: From the beginning to the end of the war I don’t think he even lost half of it. I think the claimant made money by the war and was better off when it ended than when it commenced.
My feeling toward the claimant are friendly and have always been.
Subscribed and sworn to before me at Cleveland Tennessee this 12th day of May, 1875
John B. Brownlow
U.S. Special Commission
Deposition of John F. Larrison.
John F. Larrison, being by me first duly sworn, deposes and says, my age is 66 years; my residence nearly four miles north of Cleveland in the county of Bradley and state of Tennessee for the past 27 years, and my occupation a farmer. I am not related to the claimant and have no interest in the claim. When the claimant was with the rebels he was a Rebel. When the Union army came hear he pretended to be a Union man but the Union people did not so regard him. By the rebels he was considered a rebel. At the commencement of the war the claimant was in debt and after the war he had plenty of money and bought a farm for which he paid between three and four thousand dollars and it is understood he is not now in debt and that he has money at interest.
In conversation with me the claimant said after the war was over that he had not lost a cent by the war. I am of the opinion that he made thousands of dollars by the war.
Question: How close a neighbor are you of claimant and were your opportunities good for meeting him and knowing his course of conduct during war?
Answer: The claimant’s farm and my own corner together, and our residences are one mile apart, during the war we met every few days,
Question: Did you ever hear of claimant helping Union men across the mountains, of his concealing Union soldiers pursued by rebels or of his giving information to Union officers.
Answer: I never heard of his doing either of the things just named and my opinion is he did not do it. It was generally known to our rebel neighbors who concealed Union men and aided the Union cause and if the claimant had done these things I do not believe the rebels would have furnished protection papers and rebel soldiers to him to guard his property. I have 320 acres of land about 170 in cultivation and when the Rebels took my grain and cut my timber and took nearly all my stock as they did that of my loyal neighbors they did not interrupt the claimant or take anything from him that I ever heard of.
Question: do you believe the claimant even lost $2800 by the Union army?
Answer: After the war ended the claimant told me he had lost nothing by the Union army and I believe what he told me. From the very commencement till the end of the war he had a son in the rebel army who protected him from the rebels and after the Federal army came into East Tennessee another son joined it and this protected him from the Union army.
Question: Did you know Captain Norman, deceased, to whom claimant alleges he gave money to aid Union men in getting to Kentucky and do you believe he ever gave money to Norman.
Answer: I knew Norman well. He died about the close of the war. His widow and son went to Texas about two years ago and the widow has since died That is the son had been living in Texas many years longer and two years ago took his mother out. I do not believe the claimant even gave a cent to Norman or anybody else for the purpose mentioned or that he ever gave money to anybody for any purpose. He is not the kind of man to give money away or to lend it without ample security.
Norman and myself were first cousins and as intimate as brothers and Norman has often told me he did not regard the claimant as a Union man. Besides Norman was an industrious, money making man having a good farm and plenty of fine stock and I never knew him to without money. I have frequently borrowed money of him and know of others doing the same. Norman was not in the habit of borrowing money by he kept it to lend.
My feelings toward the claimant are friendly.
John F. Larrison
subscribed and sworn to before me near Cleveland, Tennessee, this 12th day of May, 1875
John B. Brownlow
U.S. Special Commission
Deposition of Leonard Carruth
Leonard Carruth, being by me first duly sworn, deposes and says, my age is 53 years; my residence Riceville in the county of McMinn and state of Tennessee for the past three months and my occupation a farmer. I came here for the purpose of mining and am now working in iron ore. My farm corners or adjoins that of the claimant William Cate, in Bradley county. I am not related to the claimant and have no interest in his claim or claims. I have owned a farm adjoining claimants since August 1863 and lived within a mile of him since the February previous. I had lived in Murry county, Georgia previously to coming to Tennessee and had to leave Georgia because of my Union sentiments.
Question: What do you know about the loyalty and disloyalty of the claimant and the justice or validity of his claim?
Answer: I did not know claimant until 1863 when I moved into Bradley county in the state. I had frequent conversations with him after 1863 and during that year after I moved into the county. In these conversations he declared that his sympathies were with the South. I know that Campbell Steed, whose land adjoins claimant’s and other Union men in the neighborhood regarded him as a rebel, and spoke of him to me as such. I personally know nothing of the Union army taking claimant’s property. After the war was over I heard the claimant boast that he had held his own with the yankees, that he had out-smarted them and had lost nothing by them. He described to me how he had his wheat in the loft between the ceiling and weather boarding. At one time the army in Cleveland, three miles from claimants farm or two miles and a half, got some “sick” wheat or damaged wheat and had it ground or got flour made of this kind of wheat. This was not from claimant but from some other sources. This made some of the Union soldiers sick and the claimant knew it. After that a Union officer with a number of wagons and a squad of soldiers came to the claimant’s farm, as the claimant told me, and demanded his wheat. He told the soldiers that they were welcome to it, that it was “sick” wheat and his hogs would not eat it. Thereupon the soldiers left without taking it saying they had had enough of that sort of wheat. All this the claimant told me at my own house in the presence of my family. In telling it the claimant laughed heartily and told it as evidence of his out-smarting or fooling the Yankee troops, and he said the wheat was good and he had afterwards sold it from two to three dollars a bushel.
My feeling toward the claimant are not unkind or unfriendly and there has been no difficulty between us.
Subscribed and sworn to before me at Reiceville, Tennessee, this 10th day of May 1875
John B. Brownlow
U.S. Special Commission
Deposition of Ainsworth E. Blunt
Ainsworth E. Blunt being by me first duly sworn, deposes and says, my age is 41 years; my residence Cleveland in the County of Bradley and state of Tennessee for the past sixteen years save three years during which I was in the United States army and my occupation a farmer and am now and have been since April 1869 Postmaster of Cleveland. I am not related to the claimant and have no interest in the claim.
Part IV - Opinion submitted by John B. Brownlow, U.S. Special Commission