Freedmen’s Bureau Reports of Washington H. R. Hangen, St. Tammany and Washington Parishes, Louisiana (November 1866-May 1867)

Freedmen's Bureau Issuing Rations to the Old and Sick, New Orleans, Louisiana (1867, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, public domain).

Freedmen’s Bureau: Issuing Rations to the Old and Sick, New Orleans, Louisiana (1867, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, public domain).

The U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (known more commonly as the “Freedmen’s Bureau”) was a new branch of the U.S. War Department which was created by an act of the U.S. Congress on 3 March 1865. According to finding aid created by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration as part of its maintenance of branch-related records, Freedmen’s Bureau employees were “responsible for the supervision and management of all matters relating to refugees and freedmen, and of lands abandoned or seized during the Civil War…. While a major part of the Bureau’s early activities involved the supervision of abandoned and confiscated property, its mission was to provide relief and help freedmen become self-sufficient. Bureau officials issued rations and clothing, operated hospitals and refugee camps, and supervised labor contracts. In addition, the Bureau managed apprenticeship disputes and complaints, assisted benevolent societies in the establishment of schools, helped freedmen in legalizing marriages entered into during slavery, and provided transportation to refugees and freedmen who were attempting to reunite with their family or relocate to other parts of the country. The Bureau also helped black soldiers, sailors, and their heirs collect bounty claims, pensions, and back pay.”

Adjutant and 1st Lieutenant Washington H. R. Hangen (c. 1862-1864, public domain).

Adjutant and 1st Lieutenant Washington H. R. Hangen, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteeers (c. 1862-1864, public domain).

Agents, subassistant commissioners and assistant commissioners like Washington H. R. Hangen, a former officer with the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers who permanently relocated to Louisiana following his discharge from the military in the Summer of 1864, helped to supervise “the work of the Bureau in the former Confederate states, the border states, and the District of Columbia.” While “the organizational structure of staff officers varied from state to state,” the work performed was often similar. “At various times, the staff could consist of a superintendent of education, an assistant adjutant general, an assistant inspector general, a disbursing officer, a chief medical officer, a chief quartermaster, and a commissary of subsistence. Subordinate to these officers were the assistant superintendents, or subassistant commissioners as they later became known, who commanded the subdistricts.”

The following reports written by Washington H. R. Hangen during his tenure as a Freedmen’s Bureau Agent for the Louisiana parishes of St. Tammany and Washington provide important insights into the daily and monthly operations of the bureau, as well as an insider’s view of federal Reconstruction efforts immediately after the end of America’s Civil War.

* Note: Based on paperwork created for the Freedmen’s Bureau prior to W. H. R. Hangen’s appointment, it appears that Hangen’s predecessors (James A. Hudson and A. J. Rose) did not fully perform their duties to the satisfaction of their superiors. When Rose assumed responsibility for the office in October 1866, he informed his superiors that he had, per their request, searched for Hudson’s reports, but had found none for the prior two months. Furthermore, from a review of Hudon’s own writings, it is evident that, when he did complete reports, he was more sympathetic to local White residents than he was to Freedmen and women. While minimizing the hardships faced by Freedmen, Hudson subtly or openly labeled the men and women he was observing in disparaging terms – as “indolent” because they had “talked of leaving” the employ of local White residents, or as insubordinate individuals who “demoralized” others or “enticed away” children who had been indentured to local White residents (often those who had previously enslaved black families). Still others he cast as childlike (“apparently contented and jolly” individuals who made “no complaints of ill treatment”).

In contrast, A. J. Rose seems to have been diligent in reporting complaints by Freedmen and women regarding crimes and other abuses committed against them, noting “The General behavior of the Whites toward the Freedmen was and would still be tyrannical in the extreme if they were not restrained by the presence of an Agt. of the Bureau.” He lasted barely a month in his job before being replaced by Hangen.

Noting the lack of furniture upon taking control of the bureau’s Madisonville office, Hangen’s first act as Agent was to requisition a desk “which is highly necessary for the preservation of papers &c, and is consistent with the Regulations of the Dept.”

6 November 1866

Washington H. R. Hangen's 6 November 1866 letter documenting his appointment as Agent for the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, St. Tammany and Washington Parishes, Louisiana (public domain).

Washington H. R. Hangen’s 6 November 1866 report documenting his appointment as Agent for the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, St. Tammany and Washington Parishes, Louisiana. (Double click on image for enlarged view.)

 

12, 17 and 20 November 1866

W. H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Report re: Freedmen's Church Shooting 6 November 1866 (12 November 1866, public domain).

Orders by Capt. W. H. Sterling, Provost Marshal General, U.S. Freedmen's Bureau, Louisiana to Agent W. H. R. Hangen to Investigate Freedmen's Church Shooting by Myrod, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana (17 November 1866, public domain).

Washington H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Update Re: St. Tammany Parish, LA Church Shooting, p. 1 (20 November 1866, public domain)

Washington Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Update re: St. Tammany Parish, LA Church Shooting, p. 2 (20 November 1866, public domain).

Washington H. R. Hangen’s 12 and 20 November 1866 report and update to the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands regarding the alleged firing of a weapon by a German man named Myrod into the “Colored Methodist Church, Manderville [sic],” St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana on 4 November 1866, and Myrod’s prior threats of violence against Freedmen as reported by Freedmen Flanders Curry and Edward Blann. Also included are Hangen’s entry in his complaint ledger and the 17 November directive from Capt. W. H. Sterling, Provost Marshal General of the U.S. Freedmen’s Bureau in Louisiana ordering Hangen to investigate the shooting. (Double click on images for enlarged view. Also see 30 November 1866 reports below for more on this shooting, as well as regarding complaints against Myrod’s wife for “disturbing the services of said church.”)

* Note: The Rev. Flanders Curry was a Freedman and Methodist Church minister. Tragically, he was stabbed and killed during an unrelated incident in 1877 by George Richardson “without any provocation whatsoever,” according to news reports which also indicated that Richardson, “crazed with liquor,” had been “seeking to kill one of the Messrs. Acy, his neighbors.”

“Myrod” was Myrod/Minerod Glockner, a St. Tammany Parish resident who was alleged in news reports in later years to have been a member of the Ku Klux Klan. In 1872, Glockner was charged with conspiracy “to deprive the deponent [Justice of the Peace Douglas E. Jerrold] of his constitutional right to reside in said parish, and by threats and violence, and intimidation, compel him to abandon his residence, contrary to the laws of the United States,” and placed on trial.

 

14, 23 and 30 November 1866

W. H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Report regarding Freedmen's Schools Operated by Mary and Cornelia Hutchinson, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana (14 November 1866).

W. H. R> Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Complaint Ledger Entry re Battery by John Schatelier of Freedman Martin Owens (23 November 1866, public domain).

Washington H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Report No. 28 re Freedemen's School Failures, Assault on Martin Owens and Myrod Disturbance at Freedmen's Church (30 November 1866, public domain).

W. H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Report No. 30 re Assault on Freedman Martin Owens and Myrod Family Involvement in Freedmen's Church Shooting (30 November 1866, public domain).

Washington H. R. Hangen’s report and updates to the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands regarding the “thriving” schools operated, respectively, on a private subscription basis at Coventry by Miss Mary Hutchinson and at “Lablanc Plantation” by Miss Cornelia Hutchinson and the subsequent problems at those schools, as well as Hangen’s recommendation to secure funding for the establishment of an additional Freedmen’s school at Madisonville, Louisiana. In addition, Hangen also commented in the earlier report on his lack of headway in improving employment and contracting prospects for Freedmen and women in his jurisdiction, and in the latter the report and subsequent complaint ledger entry by Hangen regarding the alleged assault and battery committed by John Schletier/Shatelier, a local White resident, “on board of the Schooner Elizabeth Ann, of New Orleans” against Freedman Martin Owens, as well as the confession by “Mrs. Myrod, of Manderville” to “disturbing the services” of “the Colored Methodist” church in that community, and regarding the shooting allegedly committed by her husband at that same church earlier in November. (Double click on images for enlarged view. Also see Hangen’s reports of 12 and November 20 1866 above for details regarding the church shooting.)

 

1, 2, 10, 20 and 21 December 1866

W. H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Complaint Journal Updates re Batteries of Freedwoman Lucy Dixon by Myrod and of Freedman Daniel Prophet by Barley, Core an Harrison, St. Tammany Parish, LA (December 1867, public domain).

W. H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Report re Battery of Freedman Daniel Prophet and Assault by M. Glockner of Freedwoman Lucy Dixon (10 December 1866, public domain).

Washington H. R. Hangen’s 1-2 December 1866 Freedmen’s Bureau complaint journal entries and 10 December 1866 report to the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands regarding the assault and battery of Daniel Prophet, a Freedman, by three White men, Frank Barley/Bailey, Jacob Core and Norman Harrison on 24 November 1866 at James York’s Plantation in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, as well as his report of the assault by the local German resident “Myrod” (Myrod/Minerod Glockner) of Freedwoman Lucy Dixon, wife of Freedman Joseph Dixon, in Manderville [sic], St. Tammany Parish. Also included on the complaint journal entries are Hangen’s notations regarding the respective outcomes on 20-21 December 1866 of both cases. (Double click on images for enlarged view. Also see follow up report below regarding both assaults, dated 31 December 1866, and November 1866 reports above regarding additional  incidents committed by the “Myrod” family.)

 

10 December 1866

W. H. R. Hangen's Complaint to the Freedmen's Bureau re Its Failure to Provide His Full Forage Allowance for His Horse (10 December 1866, public domain).

Washington H. R. Hangen’s complaint 10 December 1866 to the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands regarding the bureau’s failure to provide him with the full amount of his approved allowance for forage for his horse – his mode of transportation which enabled him to perform inspections and respond to the requests for help from Freedmen and women throughout his jurisdiction. (Double click on image for enlarged view.)

 

20 December 1866

Washington H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Report of Crimes by Whites against Freedmen (20 December 1866)

Washington H. R. Hangen’s report of 20 December 1866 to the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands regarding crimes committed by White men against Freedmen in St. Tammany and Washington Parishes, Louisiana, including one made by “Brister Butler” [sp?] and his wife, Harriet, against Mrs. Nancy Wilson and her children, Mrs. Rebecca Bennett Butler and John Hayden. Brister Butler, a”Freedman, formerly a slave, of Mrs. Nancy Wilson, both of Washington Parish”, stated that he had agreed in December 1864 to care for Howard (a boy, aged 6) and Selah (a girl, aged 4), who were the children of “Asa, a servant of Volcon Bayhem,” while Asa was “on her deathbed,” adding that he had agreed to “raise and provide for them as his own … with the consent of the former owners of the children.” However, while Butler was working Wilson family’s “plantation on shares” in return for food for the orphaned children, Hayden attempted to wrest control of the children from Butler and, essentially, re-enslave them by applying to the Freedmen’s Bureau office in St. Helena Parish to have them “apprenticed to him.” (Double click on image for enlarged view.)

 

31 December 1866

Washington H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Report re: Batteries by White Men of Freedmen and Freedwomen, St. Tammany and Washington Parishes, Louisiana (31 December 1866)

Washington H. R. Hangen’s reports of 31 December 1866 to the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands regarding the assault and battery of Daniel Prophet, a Freedman, by three White men, Frank Barkley, Jacob Core and Norman Harrison, and of an assault by a German named “Myrod” (Myrod/Minerod Glockner) against against Freedwoman Lucy Dixon, wife of Freedman Joseph Dixon, St. Tammany and Washington Parishes, Louisiana. (Double click on images for enlarged view. Also see accounts of both incidents above in November 1866 and 10 December 1866 reports, as well as reports of other incidents allegedly committed by the “Myrod” family against Freedmen and Freedwomen.)

 

31 December 1866

W. H. R. Hangen's End-of-Year Assessment of Relations Between Local Whites and Freedmen and Woman and the Economic Climate, St. Tammany and Washington Parishes, Louisiana (31 Decembeer 1866, public domain).

Washington H. R. Hangen’s end-of-year report to the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, assessing the challenges of improving relations between local White residents and Freedmen and women and the related difficulties inherent in establishing contractual relationships between those residents. This report also provides a brief, but excellent overview of the economic climate of St. Tammany and Washington Parishes, Louisiana during this period of Reconstruction. (Double click image for enlarged view.)

 

5 and 10 January 1867

W. H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Complaint Ledger Entry re Bastardy Charges Alleged by Freedwoman Ophelia Smith Against Clay Bayhem (5 January 1867, public domain).

W. H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Report re: Freedmen Depredations, Ophelia Smith's Comp;laint of Bastardy Against Clay Bayhem, and Amy Parks' Assault Complaint Against Mary Williams (10 January 1867, public domain).

W. H. R. Hangen’s 5 January 1867 Freedmen’s Bureau complaint ledger entry and 10 January report to the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands regarding “a case of Seduction, and Fornication & Bastardy” filed by “Ophelia Smith, ‘Col’d’, aged 14 years, of Madisonville … against Clay Bayhem, a free Negro of same place” and the “amicable” settlement of a case brought by a White woman, Amy Parks, against “Mary Williams ‘Col’d’,” as well as reports made to Hangen by  St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Carradine, et. al. of “continual depredations being committed” by Freedmen”who have no visible means of support and refuse to contract or otherwise labor.” (Double click on images for enlarged view. Also see Hangen’s 31 January 1867 report below for status updates regarding each case.)

 

20 January 1867

W. H. R. Hange's Freedmen's Bureau Report re Batteries Committeed by William Cooper Against Freedwoman Louisa Chapel and by Mary Jane Davis Against Freedman James Williams' Wife (20 January 1867, public domain).

W. H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Complaint Journal Status Updates re Batteries by William Cooper of Freedwoman Louisa Chapel and by Mary Jane Davis of Freedman James Williams (January-May 1867, public domain).

Washington H. R. Hangen’s report of 20 January 1867 to the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands detailing the complaints made by Freedman James Williams at Hand’s Foundry in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana alleging an assault and battery committed against his wife the day before by Mary Jane Davis of New Orleans, and by Freedwoman Louisa Chapel of Flatwood in that same parish of an assault and battery committed on 9 January against her by “William Cooper, Planter” also of St. Tammany. Hangen also reported on the opening of another private subscription school by a “Miss Hutchinson,” this time at Covington in St. Tammany Parish. Also included are the related entries made by Hangen in his Freedmen’s Bureau complaint journal detailing the facts of each case and their outcomes, respectively dated 29 May 1867 and 22 January 1867. (Double click on images for enlarged view. Also see Hangen’s 31 January 1867 report below for status updates regarding each case.)

 

28 and 31 January 1867

Washington H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Report Re: Alleged Freedman's Assault of White Woman in Covington, LA (28 January 1867, public domain).

W. H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Report re Alleged Assault by Freedman Tilberry Gray on White Covington, Louisiana Woman (31 January 1867, public domain).

Washington H. R. Hangen’s report and update of 28 and 31 January 1867 to the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands detailing the complaint by a “‘Widow’ of Covington” in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana regarding the alleged assault on her by Freedman and Covington resident Tillberry Grey [sp?] on 27 January 1867. Hangen then updated this entry on 11 February 1867, noting “Compromised by the Parties.” (Double click image for enlarged view.)

 

31 January 1867

W. H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Report re Multiple Criminal Cases Related to Freedmen and Woman in St. Tammany and Washington Parishes, Louisiana (31 January 1867, public domain).

Washington H. R. Hangen’s 31 January 1867 status updates to the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands regarding the Bastardy case of Freedwoman Ophelia Smith against Freedman Clay Bayhem, the battery case of Freedwoman Mary Williams against local White resident Amy Parks, the case brought by Freedman James Williams against Mary Jane Davis for battery against his wife, the battery case of Freedwoman Louisa Chapel against White Planter William Cooper, and the abuse and intimidation case brought by a White Covington woman against Tilberry Grey [sp?]. (Double click on image for enlarged view. Also see Hangen’s related case reports above from various dates.)

 

10 and 20 February 1867

W. H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Report No. 42 re Bradley Complaint by Kirk, Morrison and Thornton (10 February 1867, public domain).

W. H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Update re Bradley Complaint by Kirk, Morrison and Thornton (20 February 1867, public domain).

Washington H. R. Hangen’s report and update of 10 and 20 February 1867 to the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands regarding the complaints of Robert S. Kirk, Eliza Morrison and Richard Thornton against Charles Bradley, as well as a brief mention of “flourishing” Freedmen’s Bureau schools. (Double click on images for enlarged view.)

 

28 February 1867

W. H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Report re: Indenturing of Freedmen's Orphans to St. Tammany White Residents (28 February 1867, public domain).

Washington H. R. Hangen’s report of 28 February 1867 to the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands regarding the bureau’s schools at Covington and Mandeville, Louisiana, and his “binding” (indenturing) of six Freedmen’s orphans from St. Tammany Parish to local White residents (Robert Brown and Thomas Jennens to James Duncan; Mary Burns to James R. Hasmer [sp?]; Corinne Jane Johnson to Louis Cogreillon, Jr. [sp?]; Moses Perry to George R. Carradine; and Julia Warren to Alice V. Jerrold). (Double click on image for enlarged view.)

 

10 March 1867

W. H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Report (10 March 1867, public domain).

Washington H. R. Hangen’s 10 March 1867 report to the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands regarding the “inclement weather” of the parish at that time and the current state of “harmony” between White residents and Freedmen and women in his region. (Double click image for enlarged view.)

 

20 and 31 March 1867

W. H. R.Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Report re Richard Hughes' Arrest for Whiskey Poisoning of Margaret Daniels (20 March 1867, public domain).

W. H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Update re Status of Freedmen's Schools and Whiskey Poisoning Case Against Richard Hughes (30 March 1867, public domain).

Washington H. R. Hangen’s 20 and 31 March 1867 report and update to the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands regarding the arrest of Freedman Richard Hughes for his whiskey poisoning of Freedwoman Hannah Daniels’ children, resulting in the death of Hannah’s daughter, Margaret Daniels, on 15 March 1867, as well as his update regarding the operation of Freedmen’s Bureau schools in his jurisdiction. (Double click on images for enlarged view.)

 

9 April 1867

Washington H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Recommendations of St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana Men for U.S. Military Service (9 April 1867, public domain).

Washington H. R. Hangen’s 9 April 1867 recommendations of St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana men (residents of Covington and Madisonville) for U.S. military service, including his Freedmen’s Bureau predecessor, A. J. Rose. (Double click on image for enlarged view.)

 

10 April 1867

Washington H. R. Hangen's Report on Two Freedmen's Bureau Schools in St. Tammany and Washington Parishes, Louisiana (10 April 1867, public domain).

Washington H. R. Hangen’s 10 April 1867 report to the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands regarding two bureau schools in his jurisdiction of St. Tammany and Washington Parishes, Louisiana. (Double click on image for enlarged view.)

 

20 April 1867

Washington H. R. Hangen's Recommendation of 3 Freedmen's Orphans for Indenture (20 April 1867, public domain).

Washington H. R. Hangen’s 20 April 1867 recommendation to the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands that Lucy Jane Gordon, James Smith and John Spriggins (three orphans of Freedmen) be approved for indentures to E. M. Bagley, John Edwards and F. B. Martindale. (Double click on image for enlarged view.)

 

30 April 1867

Washington H. R. Hangen's Freedmen's Bureau Report on Poverty and Lack of Schools, Washington Parish, Louisiana (30 April 1867, public domain).

Washington H. R. Hangen’s 30 April 1867 report to the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, documenting the high level of poverty in Washington Parish, Louisiana and the difficulty, as a result, of establishing new schools there for Freedmen and their children. (Double click on image for enlarged view.)

 

10 May 1867

W. H. R. Hangen's Recommendation to Indenture Freedwoman Emily Gordon to Henriette A. Porter (10 May 1867, public domain).

Washington H. R. Hangen’s 10 May 1867 report to the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands recommending the indenture of “Emily Gordon, ‘Col’d'” to Henriette A. Porter. (Double click image for enlarged view.)

 

 

Sources:

1. Another Ku-Klux Case. New Orleans: New Orleans Republican, 19 March 1872.

2. Flanders Curry (death notice). Donaldsonville: The Donaldsonville Chief, 7 July 1877.

3. Tilberry Gray (death notice). Covington: The St. Tammany Farmer, 5 July 1884.

4. W. H. R. Hangen and W. H. H. Hangen, in Official Register of the United States, Containing a List of the Officers and Employees in the Civil, Military, and Naval Service, vol. 1, in Records of the U.S. Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census. Salem: Oregon State Library, 1875, 1877.

5. W. H. R. Hangen (or W. N. R. Hangen), in Report of Indigent and Destitute Whites and Freed People in the Parish of Washington, State of Louisiana applying for relief from the 1st day of May 1868 to the 31st day of May 1868, in Reports Relating to the Condition of Freedmen, in Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Louisiana, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1869 (M1027, Roll 33). Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, May 1868.

6. W. H. R. Hangen, in Records of the Field Offices for the State of Louisiana, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1863-1872 (M1905). Washington, D.C.: United States Congress and National Archives and Records Administration, 2004.

 

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