Marion Thurman Pension Letter, contributed by Janet K. Hawkins,

[Comment by Janet K. Hawkins: The following letter appeared in the
Civil War pension file of Marion Thurman, Crittenden County, Kentucky.
(claim no. 450609). Thurman was a private in Co. A, 8th Reg. U.S.
Colored Volunteer Artillery (Heavy). The letter is interesting because
it sheds light on the state of race relations in western Kentucky in
1908, a year filled with violence.]

[Comment by Janet K. Hawkins: Note that the letter was written by
Thurman, himself, a former slave who became a school teacher. I have
retained the original punctuation and spelling.  Such a degree of
literacy was uncommon in rural western Kentucky in the late 1800s-early
1900s, except among upper-class whites, who often attended college in
Lexington, Louisville, or in the large northern cities such as
Philadelphia.  It would be interesting to learn where and when Thurman
received his education, especially since he seems to have begun teaching
shortly after his return from the war.]
Source: National Archives and Records Administration pension file.
Copied from primary materials in public domain. Transcription (c) 2001.
Janet K. Hawkins.

Marion Ky, Oct 9, 1908

To: Commissioner of Pensions, Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir, I return herewith my order for medical examination. I cannot
go to Kuttawa. It is impossible for me to make the trip without staying
all night there and in the condition of affairs I am afraid to do that.
The whole surrounding country has been terrorized by night riders and
they seem to have a particular aversion to colored people. Several
colored people here have been killed by them in that immediate vicinity
in the last few months. Please send me before some other board. I will
go before any other board that I have the ability or means to reach,
just so you don't send me into the night rider section. Very
respectfully Marion Thurman Claim No. 450609, Co. A-8 USCH. Art

[Comment by Janet K. Hawkins: Kuttawa was located in neighboring Lyon
County, Kentucky, approximately 20 miles from Marion].