Dove, Lewis Oliver

Ca. 1830 - April 17, 1865

Lewis Oliver Dove was about thirty-four years old when he joined Company C of the 14th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery. Born around 1830 in Onslow County, North Carolina, Dove stood six feet tall and was described by his enrolling (mustering) officer as having black hair, black eyes, and a black complexion. Records, including Census schedules, indicate that Dove was a free man before the war. At the time of his enlistment at New Bern in May 1864, he was a laborer by trade.

He was present and accounted for up through February 1865 and enjoyed relatively strong health until April of that year. Fellow soldiers Bryant Cummings and Edward White attested that in his waning days, Lewis complained of “a pain in his breast” and became jaundiced, “his skin & the white of his eyes” turning “very yellow.” Lewis struggled with his ailments, which were variously identified as inflammation of the lungs, jaundice, and hepatitis, for two to three weeks before succumbing to his illness in a general hospital at Morehead City on April 17, 1865.

Private Dove left behind him his wife of nearly twelve years, Susan Ann. Susan was born circa 1831 to Lana Cummings in Onslow County. Her father, she reported on an 1871 Freedmen’s Bank application, was “said to be Williams Jones.” She had at least two siblings, half-brothers named Amos and James, and grew up in Onslow, Duplin, and Jones Counties. Unlike other pension files reviewed on this site, Susan’s materials unfortunately do not shed any light on her early life or the circumstances under which she and Lewis met. We do know that like Lewis, Susan was a free resident in the state of North Carolina prior to the start of the war.

We also know that the two were married at the residence of Joseph Williams in Lime Stone Swamp, located in Duplin County, on March 23, 1853. William Sutherlin, a justice of the peace, officiated. Williams, a white farmer with only $100 in real estate wealth, may have been Lewis’s employer at the time. The 1850 census indicates that besides his wife Ann, Joseph’s household also included two other people, both males regarded as “mulatto” in race: Lewis O. Deaver, a sixteen-year-old laborer, and Bryan Cummings, a child of about seven years of age. The spelling of Lewis’s last name varied wildly in the military records, so it is not too much of a stretch to think that Deaver and Dove are one in the same. [Bryan also may be the Bryant Cummings who served alongside Dove in the 14th USCHA.]

Susan brought with her into the marriage a child named Lewis Cummings, who was born circa 1849. It is unclear if this child is Susan’s from a previous relationship or marriage or some other relative for whom she is caring. In 1850, she and the younger Lewis were both living with her mother, Lana (or Laney) and Lana’s presumed husband Frederick Potter in the Tuckahoe District of Jones County. By 1860, the child had adopted Lewis’s last name, and the three lived together as a family near Hallsville in Duplin County. Lewis supported them by working as a laborer but had no real or personal wealth of note.

Thanks to the pension system, Lewis could continue his support of Susan even after he had sacrificed his life for his country. Susan filed her pension application, with the help of attorney Samuel V. Niles, in July 1867 and was finally admitted to the rolls in February 1871. Her monthly rate initially began at $8.00 but was increased to $12.00 as the years went on.

Tracking Susan in the historic record beyond this proves difficult. We know she lived near New Bern in September 1869 and that in March 1871 she was residing “on Neuse Road on Ballenger’s place,” according to her Freedmen’s Bank application. She shows up next on the 1880 Census and the 1890 veteran’s census, and in each she is still living in Craven county, but by February 1899, she had moved to Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida. Her death is presumed to have preceded her removal from the pension rolls, which took place in January 1901.

Muster Rolls

May 16, 1864: Enlisted at New Bern, North Carolina
May 20 to August 31, 1864: Present; first installment bounty due Twenty five (25) Dollars.
September & October, 1864: Present; first installment Bounty due Twenty five (25) Dollars.
November & December, 1864: Present; first installment Bounty due Twenty five (25) Dollars.
January & February, 1865: Present; first installment Bounty due Twenty five (25) Dollars.
March & April, 1865: Died in Regt Hospital of disease Apr 18/65
December 11, 1865: Died at Morehead City, N.C., April 18, 65

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