Wednesday, May 21, 2014

52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Week 20 Julius Copeland

52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Week 20 – Julius Copeland

Julius Copeland was born in Hanover, Virginia which is about five miles from Richmond in December 1844. Hanover’s population was about 15,000 at the time of his birth.  Somehow Julius ended up in northwest Alabama from Virginia. There were a few Copeland families living in the Alabama area that migrated from various areas. In 1850, one Copeland farmer in Franklin County own $4,000 worth of real estate and $800 personal estate.  In researching the surname in the area, some were born in Tennessee and Alabama.  No family stood out that connected my Julius who is my second great grandfather.  He is the father of my great grandmother Sallie Copeland that married my great grandfather, John Carroll/Cal.

Julius at the young age of seventeen was caught up in the Civil War and joined the United States Colored Troops, Company E, 42nd Unit in Chattanooga, Tennessee on 11 September 1864 for three years.  His military service came after the Battle of Chattanooga on the 24th November 1863 and not long after the company was organized 20 April 1964.  His military records show he was five foot three inches tall, yellow complexion with brown eyes and black hair.  Before the war his occupation was a waiter.  By today’s standards, he doesn’t seem to have been very tall and add to it his complexion was yellow.  Can’t help but wonder if he worked as a waiter, was he free or a slave?  Was his ancestry mixed and if so, with what type of people?    Julius name was spelled various ways as Julian Copelin, Julas Coupland.

He joined the United States Colored Troops in 1864 and was promoted twice during his service in the Civil War from a private to corporal.   The 42nd Unit was mustered out 31 January 1866 and if Julius had previous been a slave, he was now free.  He became a farmer in Lawrence County, Alabama and married Pearlina Burt on 5th of September 1871.   They had two children, Richard and Sallie.  His wife, Pearlina died about 1919 after many years of marriage.  Julius was the father figure to his daughter’s children, Minnie Pearl, Richard, Howard and Alvin Cal for Sallie separated and divorced her husband, John Cal in 1922.  Julius did not remarry and lived with his daughter the remainder of his life.  He filed and began receiving a pension from the US Military in 1896.  Julius collected that pension until he died in 1934.

It is an honor that Julius is part of the Civil War Memorial in Washington, DC.  This family historian had not thought much about African-Americans being such a significant part of the Civil War.  As we are coming up on the Memorial Day celebration, it does my heart good to know our family is represented by my second great grandfather Julius Copeland.