‘In 1814 We Took a Little Trip’: Joseph Street

Joseph Street was born probably in Henry County, Virginia in about 1775. He was the son of Samuel and Lurana Street. He moved with his parents to Oglethorpe County, Georgia where he married Nancy Lucinda Key about 1798.

In 1800, Joseph was living in Captain Stewart’s District in Oglethorpe County with his wife, Lucinda, and son, John Waller Street.

On 5 December 1809, Joseph bought 133 acres on the water of Sandy Creek from his father-in-law John Waller Key for $66.50.

The next year Joseph and his growing family moved to Lincoln County, Tennessee.

On 7 April 1814, he was granted 100 acres on the headwaters of Coldwater Creek in Lincoln County, Tennessee. The next month he bought 100 more on the west fork of the same creek.

Coldwater Creek on the Elk River.
Coldwater Creek on the Elk River.

On 10 November 1814, he was drafted into the First Tennessee Militia Regiment, serving under Captain Obadiah Waller. He was in Louisiana at the time of the battle of New Orleans in December, but seemed to be ill and in hospital, and was placed aboard the steamboat Vesuvius along with other sick and wounded to be transported to Natchez in the then Mississippi Territory. He died on board at Natchez before he could be taken off to hospital on 22 March 1815. Joseph was probably buried in an unmarked grave in Washington, Mississippi, outside Natchez.

New Orleans was probably the most needlessly fought battle in history. There was no CNN and 24 hour media coverage. There were no telephones, no Facebook or Twitter (#treatyofghent?). There weren’t even telegraphs or airplanes. They had ships. They had to wait for the peace envoys to return. So men still died and one of those was my fifth great-grandfather. So unnecessary.

"Battle of New Orleans. January 8th 1815." From John Abbott's Lives of the Presidents of the United States. Boston: B.B. Russell & Co., 1866.
“Battle of New Orleans. January 8th 1815.” From John Abbott’s Lives of the Presidents of the United States. Boston: B.B. Russell & Co., 1866.

I wonder what went through his brain, if he even had a coherent thought from the fever ravaging his body while he laid on board the Vesuvius. I wonder if he thought about leaving his eight children behind. The oldest, John Waller, was 15 and the youngest, Joseph Boston, was 3. He wasn’t that old, only about 40. Joseph had so much more living he could do but no life was left in him.

I wonder what Lucinda thought back home and when she finally realized the man she loved wasn’t coming back. She was left with those children all alone while she was only in her early thirties.

His father had died a year or so before and his estate was still being settled when Joseph died. His part of his father’s estate was handled by his brother-in-law Pierce Key.

An inventory was made in Lincoln County of Joseph’s estate on 11 December 1818 by administrators John Carithers and Lucinda Street.  The principal buyer was Lucinda Street (for reasons I fail to grasp, she had to buy her own stuff back). She purchased: one lot of odd books for two dollars; one pewter dish and six plates for three dollars; three chairs for $2.50; one flax wheel also for $2.50; one reel for $1.50; one chest and one churn for two dollars; one mattock, two axes, one hacksaw, two hoes, one iron wedge and one pair of drawing chairs for five dollars; one side saddle for a dollar; one bedstead and furniture for $11.25; one smoothing iron for fifty cents; and one shovel which she apparently got for free. She also bought four head of hogs for $8.56.

She spent a grand total of $39.81 buying her own things back. That much money in 1818 would be worth $737.22 today. Where on earth did she get that kind of money? She probably already had it, if you think about how much land they owned.But I cringe at the thought of her having to buy her own possessions back.

However, she didn’t live much longer. She died in 1821.