Disenfranchised Men of Lewis County

Communities, particularly in Collins Settlement, where southern sentiment ran high were still
divided for several years after the Civil War ended. In Lewis County, there was some bitterness 
between the factions. Although the general population seemed to believe that it was best to 
forget the war & get down to the business at hand, there were some who would not. 

On October 4, 1869, the Lewis County Registration Board gave notice that open sessions would be
 held concerning charges that certain residents were or had been symapthetic to the Confederate 
States. All that was 
required for an individual to be charged was for someone to "think" that the person was a southern
symapthesizer. It was up to the person charged with the crime to prove his innocence, but the 
Registration Board could disallow any or all testimony that it wanted. An individual found guilty
lost all civil rights & was not considered a citizen of the state. There was no appeal to any 
court over the decision of the appointed board. 

Three members of this board were James McCorley, his son-in-law James Coonrod, & Dr. W. H. Hall. 
Shortly after the hearings started, Dr. Hall resigned. He declared that his conscience & the oath
he had taken would not allow him to be a part of this travesty of justice. 

When the notices were sent to the individual charged, they were told that they would need two 
witnesses to testify on their behalf. Once the hearings began, however, they were informed that
they had to have four witnesses and no time would be allowed to obtain additional witnesses. 

The persons charged by this board were: 

 John G Arnold           Z Curtis                Benoni Mitchell
 Philip E Barb *         Minter B Dennison       Joseph Mitchell *
 Joseph Bennet *         Martin Fox              Samuel Posey
 Joseph D Bennet         Walter Fox              T S Posey *
 Marcelles Bennet        Nimrod B Foster         E Riffle
 Anthony R Blake         Joseph Hall             J S Riffle *
 B S Blake *             William F Heetor *      H H Rittenhouse *
 Stewart Blake *         James M Heflin *        Thomas Scott *
 W A Blake               George A Hoover         John Sims *
 Evan Cooper *           Jonathan Lewis *        Alexander Skinner *
 J A Craig *             P A Larentz             D J Skinner
 Salathiel Craig *       J C Jenkins             G B Skinner *
 W W Craig *             Henry McCally           Joseph B Wallace *
 Robert Crawford *       R B McCutchin *
 C D Curtis               J W D McCutchin

* indicates those found guilty 

Twenty nine were found guilty and were disenfranchised; all were from Collins Settlement 
District. Each case and individual is a story of its own. One such story appeared in the 
Weston Democrat on Nov 1, 1869. 

"The hardest case of disenfranchisment, under Corley's administration, we believe, is that
of Henry McCally, Esq. Long before the formation of Lewis County, this gentleman moved to 
what is now Battelle Township, where he has resided for 68 years. He is now 80 years of age 
and is of course very feeble and is in bad health. His character is unblemished,and in the
community he stands as high as a man can, yet the infamous rascals knowing that it was 
physically impossible for him to travel notified him with the rest of his neighbors and 
by not appearing his name was sticken off. 

"In a recent conversation, the old man said that he now intends to go to Kentucky, where
two of my sons reside and seek a grave among strangers. And so the poor old decrecit man 
whose once sprightly form is bound beneath the weight of years -- whose hair has been 
whitened by the frost of 80 winters, is driven by the devilish malignity of one man to 
leave the cherished scenes of his childhood -- the well loved home of his manhood and 
the old heartstone around which cling the memories of a long and well spent life, the 
graves of his kindred, and the land of his nativity and seek among strangers that freedom
which is here denied. This is but one case of how the hands of Stevenson make emigrants." 

Courtesy of Richard E McCauley: Joseph Bennett (1805-1880) son of William and Rebecca 
(McCally) Bennet, was tried for treason and disenfranchised in 1869. He left the state and 
moved to Illinois where he died.

If anyone has pictures of any of these men or information about what happened to the others 
in the list above, please contact the webmaster. Information received will be placed on 
this page.