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Reconstruction Period Research Forum

Re: Lucinda White and her Children, Sally and Jane

Here is an update five years after I posted the query:

Last night I took advantage of's digitized online images of the Bureau headquarters records. First I revisited the South Carolina headquarters of General Rufus Saxton, and in the Assistant Commissioner, SC, Register of Letters Received, 1865-1867, page 394, found this entry, the summary of letter from Sinclair White, dated from Charleston, Dec 24, 1866: "Requests transportation from Thomaston Ga to this City for two children Sally and Jane McDonald." The register included an annotation that the letter was forwarded to General Howard (the Bureau Commissioner in DC) on Dec 27, 1866.

The new revelation was the name of the letter writer as Sinclair White -- registers of letters at other places give the writer's name as Lucinda White, mother of the two girls. Did Saxton's clerk misread her name, or did someone named Sinclair White draft the letter on behalf of Lucinda White?

Also, unlike other similar requests in the same register that were annotated to show receipt of the transportation voucher, this letter gives no indication that travel documents were transmitted or that the letter ever came back after it was forwarded.

Next I checked General Howard's headquarters file of letters received to see if by chance Lucinda/Sinclair White's letter had found its final resting place there, but no.

I mentioned in my original post that I was frustrated that correspondence archives for Lieutenant John Leonard, the Atlanta sub-assistant commissioner, were missing for the summer of 1867 -- the very time Lucinda White's letter should have been received and attended by Lt. Leomard. I naturally wondered whether they have been accidentally lost or destroyed in the shuffle of Bureau records from place to place.

I had overlooked another possibility. We sometimes assume everyone kept good records -- but I last night encountered evidence that Lt Leonard was not as conscientious as I would have wished him to be.

Searching a manuscript name index from General Howard's headquarters, I found LT Leonard named in an inspection report dated April 15, 1867, to Gen. Howard from Brigadier General F. D. Sewall (the Bureau's Inspector General), who had made an inspection tour of north Georgia.

General Sewall reported his inspection of Lt. Leonard's office in Atlanta: "Found matters in rather a loose condition. This officer had a very imperfect knowledge of the condition of his District, the wants of the freedmen in the interior, the amount of destitution &c. His records were imperfect and indicated a want of proper attention to his duties. . . . [the inspection party determined the Bureau should] send a more efficient officer to this District, and to send Lt. Leonard to some subdivision as agent, and try to interest him in his duties. . . [at] a less important position."

So perhaps the inattentive and inefficient Lt Leonard lost Lucinda/Sinclair White's letter. Certainly his office is the place where the documentary trail ends. Now I have an idea why.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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