Testimony of Frank Lee
November 12, 1904

In his pension testimony, Frank Lee explained why there is no record of his birth.

No. 77.


State of Ohio
County of Cuyahoga }SS.

In the matter of the claim for pension of Frank Lee — late Co “K 5” Regt. Mass. Vol. Calvy. 

            Personally came before me a NOTARY PUBLIC. in and for the County and State aforesaid Frank Lee — the claimant — whose post-office address is #70 Webster St. Cleveland O. person of lawful age, who, being sworn, declares in relation to the aforesaid claim, as follows: 

            In answer to the Bureau letter addressed to my attorney under date of October 31’ 1904, I will state that there is no evidence of my birth available and I will proceed to explain why this is so:—

            I was born in slavery in Eastern Virginia, My masters name was Marshall— In 1862, I escaped from my master and followed the union Army— In the spring of 1864 I got an opportunity to enlist— Was taken to Boston by a Recruiting Officer and duly enlisted on March 16’ 1864 — 

I have no recollection what questions were asked me concerning my age, more than whether I was 21 years of age, which question I answered in the affirmative. There is no public or baptismal record of my birth and I do not know whether Mr Marshall, who was my Master kept a record of the birth of his slaves; if he did, I have no means of finding out what became of such records— both Marshall & his wife are dead—

I fix the time of my birth as March 1842, from what I learned while I was still in slavery — hearing it talked about and the time was indellibly fixed in my memory- There are no witnesses that I can furnish at this late day who knew me in my childhood days— When I made my escape in 1862, I became seperated from my people. I have seen my mother since, but she is dead— buried in this City — My folks were illiterate and kept no family record 

I honestly believe that I was born in March 1842, but owing to circumstances over which I had no control am placed at a disadvantage in not being able to furnish proof of my age— I believe that I am entitled to the benefit of the doubt, if doubt there be—

                                                                                    Frank. Lee

            Sworn to and subscribed before me, this 12 day of November 1904 at Cleveland in the County of CuyahogaState of Ohio, and I hereby certify that the contents of the foregoing affidavit were fully made known and explained to the affiant before swearing thereto, including the words erased and the words added, that the affiant is to me well known and is respectable & credible; and I fully certify that I have no interest, direct or indirect, in the prosecution of this claim

John A. Bommhardt


Pension Records for Frank Lee, RG15, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.