Appalachia Civil War Letters

W.C. Penland’s Fellow Soldiers

Civil war names mentioned in wc letters

The first time I ever read the Civil War letters written by W.C. Penland several things jumped out at me.

  • I was struck by the knowledge that he lived and walked in places I know intimately.
  • My heart was torn by the longing for home that weaved it’s way through every last letter he wrote.
  • I was beyond impressed by his skillful handwriting.
  • My eyes and mind were pricked by the abundance of surnames in the letters that are still common in this area 150 years later.

Don Casada took the time to write down all the names mentioned in W.C.’s letters. The list contained family members as well as members of W.C.’s company of soldiers. The image at the top of this post is a screen shot of the list. Don has noted if the individual was a fellow soldier of W.C’.s or a family member. He also listed the cemetery where the individual is buried.

In the Civil War most soldiers signed up and served with their neighbors and friends. This made it a certainty that W.C.’s family knew the men he wrote about in his letters.

W.C. mentions Big Jason Ledford in more than one of his letters. The first time I read the name I thought to myself “Hmmph I bet there’s a Big Jason Ledford living in Clay County right now.” The Ledford surname is beyond common in both Clay and Cherokee County North Carolina today.

While researching, Don discovered there were actually 2 Jason Ledfords serving with W.C. And a total of 10 Ledfords in the company.

Big Jason Ledford


Jason Ledford, 34 years old


Jason W Ledford, 27 years old


In Don’s own words:

“It turns out that there were two Jason Ledfords who served in William Patton Moore’s company. Both enlisted in Hayesville on the same day (July 5, 1862). Jason W. Ledford was 27 years old, while Jason Ledford was 34. There are a couple of records for 34-year old Jason which list him as Jason Big Ledford or Jason (Big) Ledford. The use of “Big” was apparently a standard convention to distinguish the two.”

Jason W. Ledford on left; Elisha Mac Ledford on right from Paul Sink


Paul Sink posted this photo on Find A Grave. It’s of Jason W. Ledford on left; Elisha Mac Ledford on right. Don’s research also showed Jason W. Ledford came back home, married Harriet Hogsed in 1881 and moved to Colorado.

More from Don:

“At least four of the Ledfords who were in the company are buried at Old Ledford Chapel Cemetery. Elisha Mac, mentioned above has Confederate States marker as does Daniel M. Ledford. At least two, David and Jason “Big” Ledford apparently switched sides. Their grave markers both have them in the 2 NC Mounted Infantry, which was a Union outfit. Several genealogies in have Jason “Big” as a brother to David. Center Ledford, definitely a brother of David (per census records), has a Confederate marker (Company F, 65th NC Regiment – which is the WP Moore company) on his grave, which is at Philadelphia Baptist Church Cemetery in Hayesville.”

Big Jason Ledford Civil War Soldier Clay County NC


A few months ago, the girls and I tagged along with Don and his wife as they tried to document a few of the graves from the list at the top of this post. We found Big Jason Ledford, right where he was supposed to be in the Old Ledford Chapel Cemetery.

David Ledford Civil War Soldier Clay County NC


David was there too-even if he’s not Jason’s brother he’s surely related in a close manner.

Jason David Ledford and Nancy Elizabeth original settlers of clay county nc


Also in the same cemetery is the beautiful rugged marker above. Jason David born 1798; died 1889 – Nancy Elizabeth born 1807; died 1890 – Original Settlers.

Jason Ledford, David Ledford. The names were in Clay County in the 1700s, and  the 1800s, and the 1900s. One of my closest friends is married to a David Ledford and they reside in Clay County today. And I’m positive if I searched all over Clay County surely I’d find at least one Jason Ledford. So I can add the 2000s to the list.

That’s a lot of years for a family to live in the same general location. The story of Big Jason Ledford no doubt has to include the horror of the Civil War, but for me the brightest part of his story is the longevity of his family line. I like to think about all those generations passing down the traditions and culture of Appalachia.



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  • Reply
    Gena Cassada Ellis
    October 26, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    My 3rd great grandfather was Jason David Ledford born 1798 on my grandmothers side Lois Ledford Cassada

  • Reply
    May 26, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Great job in locating all these forbears!

  • Reply
    Joe Penland
    June 11, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    Than you Don and Ed for the First Methodist Church infom

  • Reply
    Michael M. Cass
    June 11, 2015 at 10:20 am

    Noticing that the Ledfords were in the 2d NC Mounted Infantry (Union army), I remembered a photograph I took of a gravestone in Madison County, The soldier, Franklin Rector, was in the 3d NC Mounted, another Federal unit. He was my great-great-great -grandfather’s nephew.
    My other Madison County ancestors include the Cassadas; my grandfather shortened the name to Cass in 1910. So, I could be related to Don Casada, whose good work first drew me to “Blind Pig and the Acorn.”

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    June 9, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    Sorry, I’m just now taking a look and saw Joe Penland’s question.
    Joe, if you’re coming east on US 64 (from Murphy towards Hayesville), you pass Fort Hembree Road on the left and shortly thereafter come to a red light where NC 69 crosses US 64. Turn left on NC 69 – there’s a gas station and a McDonald’s on your right immediately after you’ve made that turn. Go about 250 or 300 yards, and the Methodist Cemetery will be on your right – just before the other end of the Fort Hembree Road connects to NC 69. The Methodist Cemetery is a fair-sized one, with over 900 graves.
    Almost immediately across NC 69 to the west – just off the Fort Hembree Road – is the Hayesville Baptist-Presbyterian Cemetery, where William Patton Moore, the Captain of the company in which W.C. Penland and the others mentioned here served, is buried.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 9, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    for Joe Penland. If I am not mistaken, The First United Methodist Church of Hayesville is on US-64 Bus but the cemetery is not at the church. It is south of town on NC-69 near the intersection with US-64.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    June 9, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading today’s post and learning about the Ledfords and the list of those who served in the Civil War from that NC region. I am always fascinated by information on the Civil War. Thank y

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 9, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    At ‘Bob’s Genealogy Files there is an article that says middle names were not in common use until the mid 1800’s or so and that Senior meaning simply ‘Elder’ and Junior (younger) were used to distinguish two men with the same name and might, or might not, have anything to do with relationship. I guess when the bible says ‘James the less’ it meant ‘little James’ so there was a big James around somewhere.
    So it looks like you’ve found another use for ‘big’ re your ‘big in appalachia’ post.

  • Reply
    Joe Penland
    June 9, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Four burials are listed at First United Methodist Church. Do you know the location of this Church?

  • Reply
    June 9, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    I love reading about our people,
    whether related or not, they’re
    still ours. All left us with a lot
    of gratitude for our nation.

  • Reply
    June 9, 2015 at 11:51 am

    I feel like I have lived through quite a historical lesson from all of the postings you have shared over the past year or more. This has been very interesting. Don, you are quite the history buff. Thanks!

  • Reply
    June 9, 2015 at 9:03 am

    Tipper, thank you
    for this exceptional post. Penland Papers is beyond fascinating. I can so appreciate Don’s time and effort putting together that list.
    As I scrolled down, I was taken aback by the name Joseph Green. This is a name shared by my 4th Grampa who migrated into this area from N.C. Summer never a good time, but I look forward to actually doing more research on that family line in the winter months. This has created renewed interest, as many of my ancestors were from N.C.
    You are so fortunate to have a dedicated researcher in Don. It takes many hours of diligence and work, and is certainly appreciated.
    An afterthought! The terms big and little were commonly used at one time in this area of WV. Instead of Junior, it was not uncommon for Father and son with common name to be called big and little. For instance Big Ed and Little Ed.

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