History and Good Guessing: A Revisit of Harry Flowers’ Early Life in St. Augustine, Florida

Graduate school is coming along well. Today marks the end to my fourth week of classes. I amenrolled in three courses (one being online) this semester while working and hopefully securing an internship [crossing fingers] in the coming month. Sadly, I have placed research on the back burner at times in order to complete my weekly readings, essays, and discussion forums. My golden rule: Complete a reading reward myself with personal research. 

This week’s reading for my historical methods course involved  History: A Very Short Introduction. It was indeed short and presented the terminology and methodology of this discipline. One chapter I truly enjoyed was “Questions about Murder and History” where the author states:

Guessing suggests a degree of uncertainty about the historiographical process. It might even suggest that at times historians get things wrong. They do, of course: historians, like everyone else, can misread, misremember, misinterpret, or misunderstand things…(12)

The past itself is not a narrative. In its entirety, it is as chaotic, uncoordinated, and complex as life. History is about making sense of that mess…(13)

Reflecting on Roots of a Hidden Legacy, I was surprised at the amount of my work based on guessing and  making sense of not a chaotic, but a vast and unknown past.  The good part about guessing is that one may find multiple links and new information, yet one’s “good” guesses may lead to false information or research trials that have nothing to do with what you are studying. BUT, I also learn that history is the process of rewriting and rediscovering. There were points in my own research were I was wrong and it is okay. So in the hands of good guesses, I have decided to follow a small lead which may or may not allow us to catch a greater glimpse of the early life of Rachel’s father, Harry Flowers.

The University of Northern Florida’s history on the 21st USCI features the pension cases of soldiers in this unit following the war. Here, we find the only known record where Harry “speaks”. He served as a witness in a hearing concerning the pension of William Pappy to his widowed wife in 1891. William’s wife was battling for a pension to support herself and their children following her late husband’s death. She, as well as many others, felt that his death was a result of an injury he received from war involving nervous problems and a rupture of his sack(scrotum?) after being thrown off his horse. On January 27, 1891 in Ormand, Florida, Harry gave the following statement:

I am a 43 years old, a carpenter, residence and P.O Address is at Mandarin, Duval County, Fla. I was 5th duty Sergt. of Co. A 21 Regt U.S.C.T. and served from the fall of 1865 to until the M.O. of our Co. April 25/66.

I first knew the dec’d, husband of cl’t in the service, when we got to Hilton Head S.C. I enlisted at Jacksonville, Fla. I had known his brother Antony E. Pappy before the war, was very intimate with said brother. And that was the way I came to know Wm. Pappy as well while in the service.

All I know about his being disabled is that I heard he had been sent to the Hospl. and when I asked about him I was told that he had been thrown from a horse and injured. I did not get to see him at all then.

The dec’d was one of the drummers of Regt but I am pretty sure he had been detailed as orderly from the Col. or the Genl. at that time. I never [saw] his naked person, but after he got about while we were there on Morris Island before Charleston surrendered after he got to be about could see through his clothing that his bag was very large as large as your fist, I should say.

From that time on until our discharge I do not remember that he ever did regular duty of any kind. I cannot remember that he was ever on duty after that. After his discharge, I met him but a few times. Saw him once or twice in Pilatka Fla. after the war, but would hear of him, thru his other brothers at times.

They told me he drank pretty hard toward the last of his life.

Sadly it would take several petitions and court cases until Rosalie received a pension of $10 a month. The case focused on allegations that alcohol consumption led to William’s death and charges that his wife lived an “immoral life”.

What I want you to focus on is how Harry knew William, I had known his brother Antony E. Pappy before the war, was very intimate with said brother. And that was the way I came to know Wm. Pappy as well while in the service. Antony (Antonio) and Harry were close. Childhood friends? Perhaps. It is time to start guessing. If the two men knew each other prior to the war when they were both enslave, Antonio’s early life might help us determine Harry’s. Now, Antonio, quite similar to his brother, had to also fight for pension after the war. Before we dive into his life, let us first compare the three men.

William Pappy- Company A, b. 1845, enlisted June 13, 1863-April 25, 1866, enlisted at Fernandina, FA, enslaved before war in St. Augustine, post-war career: barber

Antonio Pappy- Company A, b. ?, enlisted April 5, 1864-April 26, 1866, enlisted at Beaufort, SC, enslaved before war in St. Augustine, post-war career: barber

Harry Flowers-Company A & F, b. 1845,  enlisted July 17, 1864-April 1866, enlisted in Jacksonville, FA, enslaved before war, post-war career: carpenter.

Antonio joined the war a year after his brother, but not in Florida. He could have followed his brother to Beaufort, the city where the 21st trained, and then join the regiment. In the pension case for Antonio, more information was given about his early life than his brother’s.

 Antonio Pappy was a slave before the war, the property of the Llambias family of four bachelor brothers. Antonio Pappy, his father, mother, and four brothers, were apparently all servants to the four Llambias brothers. Althouhg it is not stated in the record, Pappy must have remained in St. Augustine after the town was occupied by Union forces in March 1862. His enlistment in the USCI did not happen until April 1864.

Thomas Williams, Deposition E, March 29, 1897

…I have known Antonio Pappy ever since he was a boy. I knew him well before the war, there were not many people then. I do not know of anything, but he was a sound boy, before the war. I recruited him under Capt. Davis and he was nothing but a young boy then.

William Nateell, Deposition C, March 29, 1897

I have known the claimant…from boyhood. He lived on our side of the street and I lived on the other since the war. Before the war we were play boys together, I was the oldest. Before the war as far as I could know he was well and hearty.

John T. Pappy, Deposition D, March 29, 1897

I am brother to the claimant Antonio. Before the war we belonged to the [Clamtine? (did they mean claimant’s) family and were brought up together.

Antonio Pappy, Deposition B, March 29, 1897

When I enlisted and before that I lived here in St. Augustine. I was born and brought up here…I was a slave and belonged to Llambias There were four brothers and they all lived together and we all lived right in the yard with them and I did not belong to any particular one. They were named, Tony, Jerome, Jonny, and Dale. They are all dead. They were all bachelors and they did not have families. My father and mother are dead. There were no fellow servants only our own family. I have three brothers living, one older and two younger. They are named John, Dowings, and Alfonse…My father died with consumption. My mother died of old age.

What we have are four names, Tony, Jerome, and Johnny, and Dale Llambias, and four new leads. The history of the Llambias is a vast and rich history in St. Augustine, Florida including historic homes and a history of Minorcans in Florida. In the next posts, I will explore the Llambias’ home and slaves as well as neighboring slave owners who may or may not have owned a young black male named Harry Florence Flowers.

Until the next post,

It is great to be back!


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