William Garvin was a black Civil War veteran who came to work as a guide at Mammoth Cave after the end of the war. My information indicated that he enrolled in the Union army at Bowling Green. The problem occurred when I looked for information about his military career. he park service page says he joined the US Colored 12th Heavy Artillery in Bowling green. There were indeed two colored men listed as William Garvin in the unit: Garvin Wm. Private 1865-2-7 Bowling Green, KY and Garvin Wm. Private 1865-1-23 Bowling Green, KY Died.
These are possibly the same man given military records were scattered at the time. However if they are different people then the William Garvin who worked at Mammoth Cave certainly wasn’t the one who died. Joy Lyons says he joined the 108th Colored Infantry in Bowling Green.on February 7, 1865 which is the date listed above for one of the William Garvins who joined the 12th Heavy artillery. However I also have records for a William Garvin who Joined the 108th Colored Infantry on July 3, 1864, including pay stubs, enlistment papers, muster out papers, and applications for reparations on the part of his former owner for his service.
I also have papers from the military that shows the William Garvin from the 12th getting disability, and his widow Hannah being paid widows benefits upon his death in 1906. I know he married Nick Bransford’s daughter Hannah, so the Hannah part is correct. The only answer to the puzzle is that the William Garvin who was a member of the 12th Heavy Artillery is the William Garvin who worked as a guide at the cave. This conclusion was confirmed by Joy Lyons when posted to a Facebook Group.