Tennessee Civil War Veterans Questionnaires

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Few records so rich with biographical and genealogical information have gone unnoticed more than the Tennessee Civil War Veterans Questionnaires. The first questionnaire was sent to all known Tennessee Civil War veterans by the Archivist of Tennessee in 1914 and 1915. A second revised questionnaire was sent by the Director of the Tennessee Historical Commission in 1920. The total number of forms distributed is unknown, but 1,650 veterans responded by 1922. Their biographies now comprise one of the major genealogical record sources of that era. Although the soldiers in this collection served in Tennessee, many of them, as well as their parents and grandparents who appear in the biographies, were born elsewhere in the United States or abroad.

Tennessee, like Pennsylvania, was a “keystone” state during the period of westward expansion. Millions of Americans living today have more than one ancestor who was born or lived in Tennessee before 1900. Although an ancestor may not have served in the Civil War, one of his brothers, cousins, or uncles may have been a soldier in the Union or the Confederacy. One of them may have returned a questionnaire that will help trace a family during a period when people were on the move and record of their central life events is scant.

Most of the original questionnaires are handwritten, but a few are typescripts. Two new questions were added to the revised form and the others are asked in a different order than in the first form. These records are filled with valuable genealogical information, including at a minimum the following about each veteran:

  • Name
  • Residence
  • Age
  • Place of birth
  • Occupation
  • Military Unit(s)
  • Parents’ names and birthplaces
  • Names of maternal and paternal grandparents and their residences
  • Names of great-grandparents and their residences

Many veterans provided more than four generations of their ancestry on addendum sheets. They give details about their family’s arrival in America, property owned by the veteran and his parents, education and the general quality of the their lives. The sample below has been altered from the original for clarification and to fit this presentation format.

Edward Bourne’s Questionnaire

Edward Bourne, a member of Company K, 3rd Confederate Infantry, submitted one of the most detailed Confederate questionnaires which he called Life of Edward Bourne, Brig. General NGST, Retired, of Memphis, Tenn. and Ramifications Pertaining Thereto. by Him. The following abstract of genealogically significant information recorded on that questionnaire illustrates what the questionnaires were designed to document.

    Edward Bourne
    706 Tate Ave. Office 408 American Railway Express Bldg., Memphis, Tenn.
    Age on Last Birthday
    June 23, 1922 I was seventy-six years old.
    Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee
    Occupation Before the War
    School student and office boy in father’s office.
    Father’s Occupation
    Partner in mercantile businesses, but operating the Steam Boat Agency when the war began.
    Father’s Land Holdings
    Did not own [real] property, but had cash and negotiable assets. After arriving at Montgomery, Alabama he invested in sugar and cotton which was destroyed near the end of the war.
    Six months of public city high school, then in private schools and the Germantown [Tenn.] Military Institute. A total of eight years of schooling.
    James Treadwell Bourne was born in Arrondale, Massachusetts, now Kennebunk[port], Maine, Sep. 24, 1812. He lived at Kennebunkport and Bangor, Maine, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Boston, Massachusetts, Cincinnati, Ohio, and moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1840 where he lived except during the war, until he died September 3, 1883. He was the collector of Customs at port of W______ [illegible] during President Filmore’s administration and during the war, commissioner for the Confederate government to appraise steam vessels.
    Martha Tucker Freeland, daughter of John Freeland and Hepzibah Adams of Salem and other places in Massachusetts and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Mother died Mar 23 or 28, 1899, in her 86th year, being born June 2nd, 1813.

Edward Bourne’s Remarks about His Ancestry

    Six Generations of the Bourne Family’s Ancestry
    1. John Bourne, I
    2. John Bourne, II
    3. John Bourne, III
    4. Benjamin Bourne
    5. James Treadwell Bourne
    6. Edward Bourne
    Children of John Bourne III
    1. Benjamin Bourne
    2. Thomas Bourne
    3. Israel Bourne
    4. Charles Bourne
    5. Edward E. Bourne, judge, member of Maine legislature, president of Maine Historical Society
    6. Olive Bourne
    7. Julia Bourne
    8. James Treadwell Bourne married Martha Tucker Freeland, b. 9/24/1812 moved to Cincinnati Ohio and then to Memphis, Tennessee in 1840. d. 9/3/1883 in Memphis, Tennessee m. 11/24/1833 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

James Treadwell Bourne, the Veteran’s Father

My father, James Treadwell Bourne was the only child of Benjamin Bourne and his first wife, Mary Treadwell Bourne (grandfather Bourne married three times, his second wife being Clarrisa Warren, daughter of Dr. Warren, a surgeon in the American Revolutionary Army and niece of Gen. Warren who fell at the battle of Bunkerhill, near Boston, Massachusetts. By her he had two sons, Jason Langdon and George Franklin. His third wife was Narcissa Sewall, by whom he had no children. The latter was a member of the prominent Sewall family of Maine.

My father was born at Arondale, Mass., now Kennebunk, Maine, September 24, 1812. Moved his family from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Memphis, Tenn. in 1840 and died at the latter place Sept. 3, 1893. He took quite an active part in business and in everything that was for the best interest of our city; a prominent Mason and Odd Fellow and numerous [other] fraternal organizations; Whig before the war and democrat after and until his death; never became a member of any church but for some years was a regular attendant at the Lauderdale St. Presbyterian Church; my father married my mother, Martha Tucker Freeland, at Portsmouth, NH, Nov. 24, 1833.

Benjamin Bourne, the Veteran’s Grandfather

Grandfather Benjamin Bourne was the first son of his father, John Bourne III. Great-grandfather, John Bourne III, was the first son of his father, John Bourne, Jr. and the latter was the first son of his father, John Bourne. All of them lived in that part of Massachusetts which in 1820 was made into the State of Maine. Either John Bourne, Jr. or his father commanded a Colony company in the war against the French; they were all ship builders and owned shipyards at either Bangor or Kennebunk, Maine. The family came from England soon after the arrival of the Mayflower and located in Massachusetts. Grandfather Benjamin Bourne had several brothers and two sisters, their names, to the best of my recollection, were:

    Brothers and Sisters of Benjamin Bourne
    1. Thomas
    2. Israel
    3. Charles
    4. Edward E.
    5. Olive
    6. Julia

There may have been other brothers and they probably were not born in the order listed. Edward E. Bourne, listed fourth, was judge of one of the courts of his county, a member of the legislature of the state of Maine, and president of the Maine Historical Society. He wrote a book, a history of the Bourne Family, which he published for the family. I expected to get a copy, but was disappointed. I saw a copy of it, however, and made a cursory examination of it. He was married and had at lease one child, Edward E., Jr. and I think [he had] more [children]. I was named for uncle Edward, but my father did not favor middle names, so in naming me left the middle name out. His sisters Olive and Julia, were both married and I think each and a number of children, but I do not recall to whom they were married and have no information as to their children. It is more than probable grandfather’s other brothers married and had families, but information regarding them is sadly limited to the above record.

Jason Langdon Bourne, the Veteran’s Uncle

My uncle, Jason Langdon Bourne, was a soldier in the Aroostook (Aroostock?) War and died some years later with consumption brought on by exposure, etc. while serving in said war. He married Sarah Hukil, by whom he had one daughter, Clarrissa Warren, the latter never married and died some years ago. I think he also had a son, but may be mistaken as to that.

George Franklin Bourne

My uncle George Franklin Bourne, was 1st Lt. and then Capt. of Co. B, 4th Maine, USA, in the Civil War. He was wounded and captured by the Confederates in a battle before Richmond, Va. and died of his wounds in a Confederate hospital at that place. He was a devoted follower of Christ. Peace to his ashes, I believe and trust we will meet on the other shore, . . . .; we did not hear of grandfather’s family and my father’s being discontinued during and for some years after the close of the war.

Edward Bourne’s Remarks about His Mother’s Family

Martha Tucker Freeland, my mother and the fourth daughter and sixth child of John Freeland and his wife, Hepzibah Adams, was born June 2, 1813 in Salem, Massachusetts and died March 28, 1899 in Memphis, Tennessee. She had four brothers and sisters, all of whom were born in Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts. My mother’s father, John Freeland was born in Boston, Massachusetts, December 29, 1779. We have no record of his parents or their ancestors; he was a United States naval architect at Portsmouth, New Hampshire navy yard; died at West Newton, Massachusetts September 21, 1866, and probably married at Beverly, Massachusetts on November 14, 1802.

Hepzibah Adams Freeland, the Veteran’s Maternal Grandmother

Mother’s mother, Hepzibah Adams Freeland was born at Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts on November 11, 1780, the second daughter and fourth child of Daniel and Hepzibah Bachelder who married March 14, 1773. She [Hepzibah Bachelder] was a direct descendant of John Bachelder who as born in 1610. He married Elizabeth Herrick, both died in 1675. My grandmother, Hepzibah Adams died at West Newton, Massachusetts on April 20, 1866. Her mother, my great-grandmother, Depzibah Bachelder, was the daughter of Josiah and Mary Leach.

    Children of Daniel Adams and Hepzibah Bachelder
    1. Josiah B. Adams, b. 27 Oct 1774; died at sea.
    2. Daniel Adams, Jr., b. 5 Oct 1776; m. Hepzibah _____.
    3. Mary Leach Adams, b. 11 Oct 1778; md. Bery Blanchard.
    4. Hepzibah Adams, b. 11 Nov 1780; md. 14 Nov 1802, John Freeland.
    5. Samuel Adams, b. 10 Oct 1782; md. 2 Feb 1806, Sallie Sugden.
    6. John Adams, b. 11 Apr 1787; died at sea.
    7. Emily Adams, b. 3 Oct 1789; md. 27 Oct 1808, Eben Eveleth.
    8. Lucy Adams, b. 27 Feb 1792; md. 5 Dec 1825 Eben Berry.

At this point, Edward Bourne provided eight family groups covering three later generations of Adams-Bachelder descendants. See the original abstracts (cited below) for that information.


This detailed presentation certainly gives the reader a better understanding of how valuable these questionnaires are in providing information that doesn’t exist in other public records. Because memories often dim with age and the abstracts are secondary evidence, readers are encouraged to check original records to verify dates, places and relationships whenever possible.

The original questionnaires are available at the Tennessee State Archives, microfilm copies can be used at the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints in Salt Lake City and can be ordered for use at one of its branches. Abstracts are available in The Tennessee Civil War Veterans Questionnaires, 5 vols. (Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc., 1985), edited by Colleen Morse Elliott and Louise Armstrong Moxley.

Have a Lineages staff member conduct a record lookup of a Tennessee Veterans Biographical Questionnaire.


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