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Richard A. Pittman-Son, Soldier, Husband, Railroad Man

Richard A. Pittman
Dec. 4, 1841~Dec. 20, 1882
Son~Soldier~Husband~Railroad Man
 
Nancy E. Boyd Pittman
1845 ~May 11, 1910
Daughter~Wife~Widow
 
Marriage~ 1870
Richard 30 yrs.~Nancy 23 yrs.
Residence
Ward 4, Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia

 
Richard A. Pittman was the second son and fourth child of  Daniel N. and Asenath Baber Pittman.  He was born and raised near and around Atlanta, Georgia, with his siblings Eunice, Abigail, Daniel, Lucy and Henrietta where his father was a prominent and respected Judge...story...Daniel~Trusted Son, Brother and Father.

As a Confederate Soldier, Richard was a Sergeant in Captain Witt's Company of the Georgia Infantry at the time of his mustering out.  Georgia Civil War Records place him in Rigdon Guards and Capt. Russell's Company at Newton Factory Employees.  Other assignments include Whiteside's Naval Battalion, a Local Defense station.  At the end of the war in 1864, Richard was 23 years old, single, and from all indications remained in Atlanta where in 1867 his residence was confirmed. 

The confirmation is documented in his Returns of Qualified Voters and Reconstruction Oath Books.  Richards name is listed at #32, one of seven Whites to register on page 49 in Precinct 4.  The other 33 names were listed as Colored, who were registering for the first time since the passing of the new Reconstruction Law on March 23, 1867.  Among the changes called for in the law was state-wide elections in each of the former rebel states, except Tennessee, among registered males, black and white, over the age of twenty-one.  Almost all adult males were allowed to vote in these elections after taking the oath of allegiance to the United States.

 Three years later in the 1870 Atlanta City Directory, Richard is listed immediately below Judge Daniel Pittman, Ordinary, whose residence was on Collins Street.  Apparently, at printing time of the directory,  Richard was living at the same address with his parents, was single and working as a conductor for the Western Atlantic Railroad of Georgia.  Sometime before August of that year, Richard married Nancy E. Boyd and established a new residence in 4th Ward of Atlanta as enumerated on August 11th by the Census Taker, J.S. Smith.  On that same day in August, Richard's brother, Daniel J. Pittman, wife Louisa and their two children were enumerated just four doors down from Richard and Nancy.  Daniel had followed in their father's footsteps as an Ordinary Court Judge and was a lawyer. 
Richards employment with The Western & Atlantic Railroad would become the focus of his work history in more ways than is officially documented.   The W&A RR became a key link to the chain of Southern railroads connecting the Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi River.  It was the foundation for Atlanta's emergence as a rail center. 

By the time of the Civil War, the W&A had 46 locomotives, two of which were to become participants in the 'Great Locomotive Chase' of April 1862.  It played a major role in the Atlanta Campaign. It's loss to the South in 1864 was devastating to the Confederacy's hopes of victory, but at the same time played a major role in the rest of Richard Pittmans's life.  It is likely he was there as a part of his military assignments when Sherman marched through Atlanta.   It is possible that he began his railroad career with the W&A and was instrumental in getting it back on the tracks during the Reconstruction Era.  We know from the 1870 US Census that he was a Conductor when the W&A's stock was leased for 20 years to a corporation made up of officers of the W&A's connecting roads headed by former Governor J.E. Brown.

By 1880, Richard had been in W&A employment for more than ten years and had changed positions a number of times, most likely due to opportunities for better wages.  The fact that he was the son of a well known city official did not seem to have an impact on his railroad career of moving up the ranks in an administrative capacity.  On the contrary, he remained a part of the day to day work force which is indicated in the 1880 Census where he declares his occupation as 'Watchman'. 

Richards relationship with his Pittman Family appears to have had a separation of ways, perhaps personally, but certainly in residence during the 1870's.  In the 1880 US Census Richard and Nancy are residing at 76 North Calhoun at the residence of Nancy's widowed sister Martha Cordelia Boyd Smith (age 35).  Also, living there are Nancy's mother, Martha A. Boyd (58) and another sister Mary K. Boyd Adams (39), both marked as being widows.  Two other males are enumerated there as well.  One is Hugh Adams (17), the son of Mary and nephew of Nancy and Richard.  The other is a 9 year old boy named Willie who is declared a 'servant' and errand boy.  Hugh Adams was fortunate to have Richard as a relative working for the W&A and most likely a strong reference for his position with the RR as a 'Clerk'.
Richards railroad career and life ended tragically two years later on December 4, 1882.
As reported in the Augusta Chronicle almost three weeks after the accident, the first article reveals the 'horrible manner' in which Richard was called an unfortunate man.  This newspaper circulated widely to the smaller farming communities outside of Atlanta where many of Richards friends and relatives lived.  Had they not already known about the accident, the Chronicles report no doubt was read as insensitive and gory in the details and greatly lacking in relating Richards many years as an employee of the railroad.  The second article printed on page 1, four weeks after the accident, certainly showed a lack of information and disregard for all involved in what was certainly a tragic event for the Pittman Family and the Western & Atlantic Railroad. 

To date, no information has been found or researched from the Atlanta Constitution which would have, in all likelihood, reported a more accurate account of the accident and possibly an Obituary for Richard A. Pittman, for the owner of the Atlanta Constitution was a relative of the Pittman Family.  Then there was Richard being the son and brother of Judges Daniel N. and Daniel J. Pittman.  His death would have been front page news and probably the beginning of an investigation into the circumstances of a trained watchman with years of experience in and around the workings of the railroad.  Hardly one to disregard safety rules or be less than cautious of passing trains, as is insinuated in the Augusta Chronicles report of December 24, 1882.

Nancy E. Boyd Pittman, as the wife and widow of Richard, no doubt was devastated and overwhelmed with the arrangements and subsequent events that one would expect after such a tragic death.  Fortunately, Nancy had the support and help of her widowed sisters Martha and Mary as well as her mother Martha and nephew Hugh.  Richards father Judge Daniel N. Pittman died some nine years earlier and left Richard's mother Asenath a widow living on a pension while turning her home into a boarding house.  This left Richard's brother Judge Daniel J. Pittman and sisters Abigail, Lucy and Henrietta as his closest next of kin, and Nancy to make the decisions about his final resting place in the Boyd Family Plot at Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia.

In the next several years, Nancy E. Pittman's name appears in the Macon Telegraph newspaper.  The Pittman-Elder Case presented in City Court in October of 1885 was reported to have ended in a mistrial.  The case was settled the next year in November 1886 with Mrs. Dick Pittman receiving a settlement of $700 on a note of $4,000.  No details to the nature of the suit were reported, but it was stated that Nancy was the widow of Mr. Richard Pittman.  Another report from Ordinary Court was published May 8, 1888 granting letters of dismission to Nancy E. Pittman.  Six years after her husbands death, it seems Nancy was relieved of her duty as the executor of his estate with the settlements in all cases.

In 1889, Nancy is listed in the Atlanta City Directory as (wid Richard A), bds 74 N. Calhoun.  She was in the boarding house business.  This same listing continued through 1891.  After 1892, Nancy resumed her residence with her sisters Martha and Mary.  Mary died in 1909 leaving Martha as the Head of House in the 1910 Census and owner of their home on Courtland Street.  The Census taken on April 25th listed Martha Cordelia Smith (66), Nancy E. Pittman (64), both having (0) children, and Hugh Adams (45) Single, occupation Office Clerk for a Chemical Company.  Hugh was their nephew, son of Mary.

On May 11th, just seventeen days after the 1910 Census taker visited and enumerated Nancy E. Boyd Pittman, she died.  Her Obituary was in the Atlanta Georgian and News on May 13, 1910.
PITTMAN-The friends of Mrs. N.E. Pittman, Mrs. Cordelia Smith, Mr. Hugh B. Adams, Miss Mattie E. Boyd, Mr. Roger Boyd, and Dr. E.W. Boyd are invited to attend the funeral of Mrs. N.E. Pittman from the residence, 204 Courtland St., Saturday afternoon at 3 o'clock.  The following gentlemen are requested to act as pall-bearers and meet at Barclay & Brandon Co's parlors at 2:30:  Mr. John Gatins, Mr. R.M. Hayne, Dr. Amos Fox, Mr. O. Wingate, Mr. Frank Ridge, Professor J.H. Smith, Mary Harry Green.  Interment at Oakland.

She was laid to rest in the Boyd Family Plot beside her husband Richard and near her mother Martha, and sister Mary.  Sister Martha Cordelia would live another eight years until May 17, 1918.  Her nephew Hugh B. Adams died two years before his aunt Martha on December 9, 1916.  Both Hugh and Martha are buried in the Boyd Family Plot.  The other Boyd family names listed in Nancy's Obituary were probably cousins, the children of Thomas J. Boyd. They too are buried in a nearby Boyd Family Plot in Oakland Cemetery.

For Richard and Nancy, the most painful goodbye was the one
 they never got to say and was never explained.
They left no heirs to tell their story, but it has been told none the less,
by one who believes that every person in a family tree is significant in time.
Rest in Heavenly Peace Richard and Nancy.
You are remembered in The Pittman Family Tree, and
your story told by your First Cousin 4xRemoved.

4 comments:

Wendy said...

Dang - what an insensitive news report to paint poor Richard as a negligent fool. As if to say, "That's what you get!" Your story, however, shows him to be a patriot and hard worker.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue - I'm glad you've set the record straight for Richard and Nancy .. I guess life in those days was different - but an unnecessary reporting I'd have said.

Are you doing the A-Z on this one too .. it comes up under my 5 next numbers?! Glad it's you!

Cheers Hilary

S. L. Hennessy said...

Hi, I'm checking in from the A to Z Challenge and wanted to see if you were still planning on participating. If not, no problem, just let me know at hennesss @ gmail . com and I'll remove you from the list. Thanks!

A to Z Co-Host S. L. Hennessy
http://pensuasion.blogspot.com

Suzanne McClendon said...

Do you know who got the house (the boarding house)?

What an awful way to die. :( We've had a few gruesome deaths in our family history, too.

I agree that the one article was very insensitive. I can only imagine how his family felt reading such things.

Have a blessed day!