Monday, December 23, 2019

Civil War Christmas [1863]

Many hospital wards were overcrowded and ill equipped.
During the Civil War, Lindsley Hall, part of the 
University of Nashville was used as a hospital.

Let’s follow the diary of a young nurse, Elvira J. Powers, who served as a nurse in military hospitals in the Louisville area and Nashville. Here are her thoughts just prior to Christmas in 1863.
Friday, Dec. 9.
The first snow of the season. Winter has really come to the Ohio valley.
Much public excitement in Louisville. Men are being conscripted, and horses impressed. Several thousand soldiers have just been sent there, as they anticipate a cavalry raid from the rebels. Hood is threatening Nashville. He says he "… is ordered either to go into Nashville, or to " a certain very warm place. Our boys [Union soldiers] think he will get into the latter place first.

Yesterday was at work most of the day and evening on evergreen wreaths to trim the ward. Christmas is coming I have plenty of help from the ward-master, chief nurse and convalescents. How kind they all are. I receive nothing in my ward from the surgeon down, but the greatest respect and consideration.
Friday, Dec.16.

The first death in my ward, since my coming, occurred last night. It was that of Robert Burnett, of Kentucky. On Sunday morning, over a week since, I found him lying in bed and that he had not been out to breakfast, as he had done the two days previous, since entering the ward.

Upon conversing with him he told me he was going to die. I saw that he was excited and thought he was nervous and tried to quiet him. But he was sure, he said, that he should die, " he understood why I did not think so, and appreciated what I said, but he knew he was going to die, " and asked if I would stay by him whenever I could, and he begged for a promise that I would be by him and " watch his face when he died." These were his exact words, and though I did not think he was dangerous and told him so, yet he would not be pacified till I promised if he died at any hour when we were allowed in the ward, or if at any other, and he was conscious and would send for me, I would be with him. He was also concerned for the future, for he was not a Christian, he said. I read for him from the Bible, sang for him, and the chaplain's orderly came and prayed with him. He professed afterward to think himself prepared to die, and he gradually grew worse each day until he died. I remained with him until late last evening, but he was unconscious else I should have remained until his death. He died about twelve. I had written to his wife the first day, but the mails are interrupted by guerillas. He has two brother-in-laws here, who have started home with his body. At the funeral service we sang the appropriate hymn,

" Oh! watch my dying face,
When I am called to die."

Wednesday, Dec. 21.
Transfers and furloughs are the order of the day. Some twenty-five hundred have been transferred from Nashville to this hospital, this month. From fifty to two, three or four hundred are transferred from here at one time, to hospitals farther north. As we hear that those are pretty well filled, it seems just the time to give as many sick furloughs as possible, thus clearing the hospitals for those unable to go home.

Saturday, Dec. 24.
The second death in the ward. It was that of a young, noble-looking man—Prevo, of the 40th Indiana. He died of a gunshot wound, the ball entering the lungs. He was battling with the grim monster all day yesterday, and thought himself at one time on a forced march through the country of an enemy, and at another in the heat of battle, when he would cheer on the soldiers. A lock of hair and a few words of condolence will go to one more mourning family in place of the dear, noble boy.

Great preparations are being made for Christmas tomorrow ; thus death and feasting go hand in hand in this strange world of ours.

Another died last Sunday in Ward 23, who had been for a long time in this ward. He shed tears when he was transferred, and I interceded to have him remain, but there are wards to which an order obliges patients to be removed when suffering from chronic diarrhea or lung diseases, and he was one of the former. But at his request I visited him, and after his death, which came suddenly, procured a lock of his hair from the dead-house and sent it to his father.

Christmas Evening.
Our dinner was truly a success. It was given by the Sanitary Commission principally, and a portion from the hospital fund. Much less stir was made about it, and one soldier expressed the general feeling, who said he " enjoyed the. Christmas dinner the most, for there wasn't so much style about it." Very excellent oyster soup for the light diet was given each time. Twenty-one hundred pies were issued for dinner, seventy-one cans of oysters, with eighteen hundred pounds of beef a la mode, also four barrels of pickles.

Friday, Dec. 30.
Most of the wards are now radiant with evergreen, tissue paper and pictures. I am content that mine should rank third or fourth in its adornings, rather than neglect the weightier matter of attending to the sick men—of whom I had quite a number last week requiring much care. The last death, mentioned under date of the 24th, was the second only in the ward since my entrance—a period of over two months, and the fifth since being in the charge of the present Burgeon, which is eight months. But the mortality in the hospital is increasing very much in consequence of war's grim visage .approaching nearer to us. A week ago last Sunday there were eleven dead bodies in the dead-house, and fourteen deaths occurred in three days.

Source: Hospital Pencillings, Powers, 1866.
The full diary is available at HathiTrust:

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Summer School for Robertson County Tennessee in 1888

J. Mark Lowe 

Since we are in the midst of winter, it might be interesting to look back at a Summer Teacher Institute held in July of 1888. The students compiled the letter to report on their activities. The Robertson County Teachers Normal School was held on the grounds of the Cedar Hill Methodist Episcopal Church, South, under the oversight of the County Superintendent, J.E. Ruffin.

Report from Cedar Hill Normal School – Springfield Record, July 5, 1888

Knowing the great interest you feel in the young teachers of Robertson county, we offer you a few items from our Normal school now in session at Cedar Hill. And as all young folks like to see their name in the paper we will, in our jottings, insert the name of every member of the class.
The first two weeks of our term Prof. Hooker gave us a thorough drill in practical Arithmetic, introducing some work entirely new to some of us.
Prof. Willett gave us an exhaustive review of practical and analytical Grammar on a new method, which we like very much, and Prof. Clinard wrestled with our dull comprehension in the intricate analysis of intellectual Arithmetic.
This week Prof. Watson has critically ventilated all our pet authors and theories upon Phonic Elements, Reading and Elocution. His work has been intensely interesting both for its merit and novelty.
Prof. Empson has been laboring hard to impress upon our imaginations the graceful forms of his elegant penmanship. Miss Callie Johnson has been striving, with equal emphasis, to resurrect the little knowledge of Geography, which we obtained in our childhood days; and out Superintendent has set us to writing a History of the United States. We think of having it copyrighted and published under the firm name of Robertson County Teachers Normal School.
Our class is composed of twenty girls and five boys. A citizen of Cedar Hill said he thought the women would capture the school of Robertson County before many years, and Supt. Ruffin flattered us by rejoining, “they ought to.”
[1904 Elocution Class; Cedar Hill Institute]

Bud Moore, Nat Kernan, Charlie Payne and John Cook are domiciled at Rev. F.G. Cobb’s. When Bro. Cobb was asked if the boys had run him from home yet, he remarked, with a wise look, “I think I will hold the fort.”
Misses Lula and Lee Atkins are boarding at Mrs. Melvin’s; Attie Rosson and Maggie Morrow at J.F. Ruffin’s; Sudie and Mattie Chambers at J.C. Ruffin’s; Lattie Holland at Mrs. Wynn’s; Lula Jones and Ida Fry at Dr. Hawkins’; Prof. and Mrs. Walton and John T. White at W.R. Featherston’s and Prof. Empson and Clarance Nave at T.J. Ayers.
Our school is opened every morning with religious service. Misses Jessie Ruffin and Mattie Ayers are our organists. Misses Minnie Henry, Kittie Connell, Walton Ryan and Mollie Clinard, come regularly from Springfield. Bud Moore is the champion athlete of the class.
Nat Kernan is the bashful boy in school. He was seen one evening throwing stones (very softly, of course) at some girls who were leisurely taking a walk down the railroad. Misses Kittie Connell and Mollie Clinard could not be convinced that they are not the tallest in the school until Prof. Willett backed up the standard. Sudie Chambers and Carrie Ruffin are the baby girls of the class.
The girls have christened Prof. Hooker “Lightening Calculator.” Prof. Walton is known as “Old Chris,” and Prof. White “Little Chris.” We are hunting a nick name for Supt. Ruffin but we shan’t talk very loud till after examination.
Mr. and Mrs. T.J. Ayers entertained Prof. and Mrs. Walton and a number of students, Thursday night. The most delightful feature of the evening was Mrs. Walton’s rendition of some find music on the piano. Bro. Reams and Mr. Ben Mallory of Adams Station, spent one day with us.
We have had quite a number of visitors. The people of Cedar Hill have manifested some interest in our work and have treated us with marked courtesy and hospitality. The most delightful entertainment of the season, was given at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Bascom Batts, in honor of Misses Clardy and Carlyle, who are visiting there. We, poor, tired Normal students, were out en masse and all went away thinking our kind entertainers for turning our thoughts away from formulas and rlues event for an evening. We miss, this year, some familiar faces of last year’s class.” Virginia Cobb, Nora Richards, Gussie Owen, Addie Smith, Georgie Atkins and Nannie Atkins, Lucy Felts, Louis P. Pearson, C.P. Kernan, J.E. Empson, and others. Most of all we miss Prof. Borthick, one of our best teacher. One of them, Prof. Pearson, has died. A man whom we all admired – Miss Nannie Atkins has abandoned her profession to became a farmer.
This 1888 report mentioned Professor Louis P. Pearson.  His obituary appeared in the Springfield Record just two months before the school report was shared.
“On  Sunday night, April 29th, gloom was cast over the entire community by the death of Professor Louis P. Pearson. No grander, nobler man ever lived. Notwithstanding he had been sorely afflicted for years, he ever maintained a cheerful and amiable disposition. He was  a candidate for  County Court Clerk in the race of 1886. He leaves a devoted mother and twin sister, and other loving sisters and brothers.”
Sources: Springfield Record, 5 July & 10 May 1888. (JML published in Robertson County Times Mar 15, 2006)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Attention to the Feud: Hatfields & McCoys

by J. Mark Lowe

The History Channel's presentation of Hatfields and McCoys has certainly attracted our attention. Hearing these stories all of my life and realizing that the tales that have been told are often expanded beyond the actual events, I sought to understand the reality of these stories. Although I want to share more about what has been learned, lets begin with this 1900 Kentucky Court of Appeals Case regarding the murder of Alifair McCoy (daughter of Randolph McCoy)by Johnson 'Johnsy' McCoy, Cap. Hatfield, Robert Hatfield. Ellison Mounts, French Ellis, Elliot Hatfield, Charles Gillespie and Thomas Mitchell: "The facts attending the commission of this homicide were peculiarly cruel and revolting. After Randolph McCoy and his family had gone to bed, his little log house was surrounded, and he was summoned to come out and surrender, and, upon his failure to do so, his house was repeatedly fired into from both sides, and finally set on fire. When his family were finally driven out by the flames, one son, in an attempt to escape, was shot and killed, and his daughter, while begging for mercy and perfectly defenseless, was shot down. His wife was most cruelly beaten, and the escape of the father from death seems almost miraculous. He testifies that by the light of the moon and the flames of his burning dwelling he distinctly recognized appellant as one of the party which surrounded his house, and that as he came out he was shot in the shoulder with a shotgun, and that this diversion enabled him to escape. 1n addition to this positive identification of appellant, numerous witnesses have been introduced who testified to admissions made by him which unerringly point to his guilt. One of his accomplices before the fact has testified to the details of the conspiracy entered into by appellant and the other defendants in West Virginia to come to Kentucky and kill Randolph McCoy and his son George. After the burning of the house and the killing of the children of Randolph McCoy, appellant [Johnson 'Johnsy' Hatfield] admits that he fled from his home to the far-off state of Washington, and that for a number of years he made his home in that state, and in British Columbia and Canada, and that he procured information of his death to be sent back to Kentucky, with a view of allaying pursuit." [The original case information:] "The appellant,[Johnson 'Johnsy' Hatfield] in connection with other defendants, was indicted by the grand jury of Pike county on the 24th day of August, 1888, for the murder of Alifair McCoy. He was also charged in the same indictment with being present, and having aided, abetted, and encouraged his co-defendants to kill and murder her, and that they had previously conspired with each other to do so. He was arraigned for trial for the first time at the September term, 1898, more than 10 years after the finding of the indictment, and at the same term, upon his motion, a change of venue was granted from the Pike circuit court to the Floyd circuit court, and all of the witnesses were recognized to appear. In the Floyd circuit court on the first day of its next January term. During the interval between the adjournment of the Pike circuit court and the convening of the Floyd circuit court an order was entered, pursuant to section 153 of the Criminal Code, authorizing the defendant to take the depositions of a number of witnesses who resided in Mingo county. W. Va., to be read as testimony in his behalf. Pursuant to this order, on the 19th day of September, 1898, the depositions of Anderson Hatfield, the father of appellant, Bob Hatfield, Elias Hatfield, and Troy Hatfield, were taken, and each was read to the jury by the defendant, but defendant failed to procure the depositions of a number of other persons who were named in the order. When the case was called for trial, appellant asked a continuance on account of his failure to procure the depositions of the remaining Virginia witnesses, and also on account of the absence of his sisters Mrs. Nancy Bell Vance and Mary Simkins, by whom he expected to prove that he was more than nine miles away from the place where the killing occurred, suffering from a gunshot wound in his shoulder, which had been inflicted by his brother by the accidental discharge of a gun while rabbit hunting, 10 or 12 days before, and Samuel L. King, by whom he expected to prove that, after McCoy's house was burned and his daughter killed, he (McCoy) told him that he had shot Hence Chambers at his house on the night of the killing, and not the defendant. The motion for continuance was overruled, but the defendant was permitted to read his affidavit setting forth the facts as to the testimony of Mrs. Vance, Simkins, and King as their depositions, and this is the first error complained of. The only defense relied upon in this case is an alibi, and the only facts which the absent witnesses would have proved were cumulative of those testified to by the witnesses whose depositions were procured, and we think that appellant received the full benefit of all that could have been testified to by his absent witnesses who resided in this state by being permitted to read, as their depositions, his very elaborate affidavit filed upon his motion for a continuance, and it was properly overruled. After a number of the witnesses for the Commonwealth had been examined, appellant made another motion to set aside the swearings of the jury, and continue the case, upon the ground that two attorneys, whom he alleged he had employed to defend him, withdrew from the case, and refused to comply with their agreement to represent him, leaving him but one attorney to conduct his defense. The court had the withdrawing attorneys brought into court, and interrogated them as to their refusal to comply with their professional engagement made with defendant, and, in explanation of their conduct, they stated to the court that their employment was conditioned upon the payment to them of their fees in advance, which undertaking appellant had failed to comply with, and that they were therefore under no obligation to render the services contracted for. These statements of the attorneys were not denied, and appellant, therefore, had no right to rely upon their professional services in the trial. Besides, after their withdrawal, he had the benefit of the services of a thoroughly competent and experienced lawyer, who seems to have conducted the case and presented the defense as well as the law and facts permitted. And we are of the opinion that the court did not err in refusing to set aside the swearing of the jury, and continue the case on that ground." The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the Circuit Court [Hatfield vs Commonwealth, Court of Appeals of Kentucky, 10 March 1900] Southwestern Report Vol 55, 679.

History Channel Information on the Families

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

One Jubilee Singer - Georgia Gordon Taylor & her husband

J. Mark Lowe

It is certainly appropriate to recognize what the Fisk Jubilee Singers did for Fisk University and the City of Nashville. Today, I want to introduce one member of that famous group (briefly) and introduce her husband.
These sketches & photographs are taken from the Afro-American Encyclopaedia, or, The Thoughts, Doings, and Sayings of the Race compiled by James T. Haley in 1895. So let's meet the Taylors.

Mrs. Georgia Gordon Taylor was born in Nashville, Tenn. At an early age she left home with the "Original Fisk Jubilee Singers," traveling extensively in this country and abroad in the interest of Fisk University. Mrs. Taylor possesses a soprano voice of rare quality that is always pleasing and in demand. After retiring from public life she became the wife of Elder Preston Taylor, minister of the Lee Avenue Christian Church at Nashville, Tenn. In this capacity she has proven herself an efficient helpmete in church work, entering into it with all the zeal of an ardent Christian.

Elder Preston Taylor
Pastor of the Church of Disciples, Nashville, Tenn. - General Financial Agent of a College - Big Contractor and the Leading Undertaker.

Our subject is the leading minister of the Church of the Disciples. He was born in Shreveport, La., Nov. 7, 1819. He was born in slavery. His parents were Zed and Betty Taylor. He was carried to Kentucky when a year old; he was a promising boy and shed sunshine wherever he was. At the age of four years he heard his first sermon on the spot where the First Baptist Church now stands in the city of Lexington, Ky., and afterwards told his mother that he would be a preacher some day; so deep was the impression made on his young mind that years have not been able to eradicate it. He was affectionately cared for, and grew up as Samuel of old, ripe for the duties of his life. When the [Civil] war broke out he saw the soldiers marching and determined to join them at the first opportunity, and so he enlisted in Company G., One Hundred and Sixteenth United States Infantry, in 1864, as a drummer, and was at the Siege of Richmond, Petersburg and the surrender of Lee. His regiment also did garrison duty in Texas, then returned to New Orleans where they did garrison duty until mustered out of the service. He then learned the stone cutter's trade and became skillful in monument work, and also in engraving on marble. He went to Louisville, Ky., and in the leading marble yards found plenty of work, but the white men refused to work with him because of his color. He was offered a situation as train porter on the L. & C. Railroad, and for four years he was classed as one of the best railroad men in the service, and when he resigned he was requested to remain with a promotion to assistant baggage master; but as he could be no longer retained, the officers gave him a strong recommendation and a pass over all the roads for an extensive trip, which he took through the North. He accepted on his return a call to the pastorate of the Christian Church at Mt. Sterling, Ky. He remained there fifteen years, and the Lord prospered him in building up the largest congregation in the State among those of his faith, besides building them the finest brick edifice as a place for the worship of God in that section of the State. During these fifteen years he became known as the leading minister of his church in the United States. Not only in Kentucky has he been instrumental in organizing and building both congregations and meeting houses, but he was unanimously chosen the general evangelist of the United States, which position he held for a number of years besides assisting in the educational work of his race.
He very recently purchased the large spacious college property at New Castle, Ky., which originally cost $18,000, exclusive of the grounds, and at once began the task of paying for it. The school is in operation with a corps of teachers, and has a bright future before it. He is still one of the trustees, and the financial agent of what is now known as the "Christian Bible College," at New Castle. Some idea can be given of this man of push and iron nerve and bold undertakings by giving a passage in his life: When the Big Sandy Rail road was under contract to be completed from Mt. Sterling to Richmond, Va., the contractors refused to hire colored men to work on it, preferring Irish labor. He at once made a bid for sections 3 and 4 and was successful in his bid; he then erected a large commissary and quarters for his men, bought seventy-five head of mules and horses, carts, wagons, cans and all the necessary implements and tools, and with one hundred and fifty colored men he led the way. Jxl fourteen months he completed the two miles of the most difficult part of this great trunk line at a cost of about $75,000.
The President of the road, Mr. C. P. Huntington, said he had built thousands of miles of road, but he never saw a contractor who finished his contract in advance, and so he then was requested by the chief engineer of the works to move his force to another county and help out some of the white contractors. This he did not do. Afterwards he was offered other important contracts, but declined. A syndicate in Nebraska offered him the position of superintendent of their coal mines, but knowing it would take him away from his chosen calling, he declined the offer. For a number of years he was editor of "Our Colored Brethren," a department in the Christian Standard, a newspaper published as the organ of his denomination at Cincinnati, Ohio, with a circulation of 50,000 copies a week. He has written for many books and periodicals. He is a member of both Masonic and Oddfellow Lodges and was State Grand Chaplain of the former and State Grand Master of the latter and held these positions for three years and traveled all over the State, speaking and lecturing. Especially do the Oddfellows owe much to him for their rise and progress in the State of Kentucky, and the order conferred upon him as a mark of honor all the degrees of the ancient institution. He has represented his Lodge in many of the National Conventions of the B.M.C, preaching the annual sermons for a number of years.
I will give another incident that will show the character of this man, how he loves his race, and with what respect he treats them: While serving the church in Nashville in 1886, the choir of the church gained great reputation by taking a prize over every other church choir in the city in a musical contest. The Nashville American gave a very flattering account of the results which caused forty-two of the leading citizens of the white race to petition, through the pastor of the church, for a concert to be given in the Opera House for the special benefit of their friends.
When Mr. Taylor met this Committee they informed him that on the night of the concert the colored people would be expected to take gallery as usual. Mr. Taylor refused deliberately to have anything further to do with the matter, and publicly denounced the whole crowd in his church, which was very satisfactory to the colored citizens who urged him to give a concert nevertheless, and he consented. On the night of the concert there was scarcely standing room for the people, who said they desired to show their appreciation of this manly stand in resenting such overtures, and the result was an increase to the treasury of over two hundred dollars. He is one of the leading men in the community where he lives, commanding the respect of all who know him. A slight idea may be given of his popularity by stating that once when a gold cane was voted for in some entertainment in the city of Nashville his name was submitted by his friends to be voted for, he opposed the suggestion, but nevertheless, when the votes were counted out of the three thousand votes in that large city, he got over two thirds of the number. A quotation from the Christian Standard, Cincinnati, Ohio, March 3, 1886, will give some estimate of how he is held by the editor of that paper. A grand party was given for his benefit, and the editor used these words in reference to his absence:
"We have just received an invitation to a tea party at Nashville, Tennessee to be given in honor of Elder Preston Taylor. We would go all that distance, were it possible, our respect for the zeal, ability and untiring energy of Preston Taylor. As we cannot go, we take this method of atoning for our absence."
Mr. Taylor is a man who will impress you when you meet him as thoroughly in earnest. He is never idle, always with new plans, warm hearted, generous, sympathetic and a true brother to all men who deserve the cognizance of earnest, faithful workers for Christ.

Look for more about the Taylors in the next blog.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sam Houston’s Political Turmoil in 1834 Pt 2

After the divorce from Houston, Eliza Allen married Dr. Elmore Douglas of Gallatin. Here is a copy of the original marriage bond.

J. Mark Lowe
We are beginning the election cycle for the 2012 Presidential Race. Looking back at history makes us realize that life in the political fishbowl has been tough at best. We join this series of article discussing the separation of former Governor Sam Houston and his wife, Eliza Allen.
Committee members: General William Hall; William L. Alexander, Esq; General Eastin Morris; Colonel Joseph C. Guild; Elijah Boddie, Esq.; Colonel Daniel Montgomery; Thomas Anderson, Esq.; Captain Alfred H. Douglass; Isaac Baker, Esq.; Mr. Robert M. Boyers; Major Charles Watkins; Joseph W. Baldridge, Esq.; George Crockett, Chairman.; Thos. Anderson, Secretary.
The committee have had placed in their hands, a letter from Governor Houston to Mr. Allen, written shortly after the separation, a copy of which they subjoin without comment
Mr. Allen, The most unpleasant and unhappy circumstance has just taken place in the family, and one that was entirely unnecessary at this time. Whatever had been my feelings or opinions in relation to Eliza at one time, I have been satisfied, and it is now ‘unfit’ that any thing should be adverted to.
Eliza will do me the justice to say that she believes I was really unhappy. That I was satisfied and believed her virtuous, I had assured her on last night and this morning. This however should have prevented the facts ever coming to your knowledge and that of Mrs. Allen. I would not for millions that it had ever been known to you. But one human being knew any thing of it from me, and that was by Eliza’s consent and wish. I would have perished first; and if mortal man had dared to charge my wife or say aught against her virtue, I would have slain him. That I have and do love Eliza none can doubt, that I have ever treated her with affection, she will admit – that she is the only early object dear to me, God will bear witness.
The only way this matter can now be overcome will be for us all to meet as though it had never occured, and this will keep the world, as it should ever be, ignorant that such thoughts ever were.
Eliza stands acquitted by me – I have received her as a virtuous and chaste wife, and as such I pray God I may ever regard her, and trust I ever shall.
She was cold to me; and I thought did not love me; she owns that such was one cause of my unhappiness. You can judge how unhappy I was to think that I was united to a woman who did not love me. That time is now past, and my future happiness can only exist in the assurance that Eliza and myself can be happy, and that Mrs. Allen and you will forget the past, forgive all, and find your lost peace – and you may rest assured that nothing on my past shall be wanting to restore it. Let me know what is to be done,
Your most obedient (9th April, 1829) Sam. Houston.
The report was unanimously accepted, and it was...
Resolved, That the editors of the Gallatin Journal, Nashville Republican, National Banner, and all other editors who feel any interest for the character of an injured female, be requested to give the foregoing report and proceedings an insertion in their respective papers.
And the meeting adjourned. Geo. Crockett, Chairman; Thos. Anderson, Secretary.
Let’s look at some other related correspondence.
Letter from Willoughby Williams titled - Refutation of wanton slander.
Nashville, April 22, 1878. To Col. Samuel D. Morgan, Hon. J. C. Guild, Gen. Samuel R. Anderson and Maj. John L. Brown—Dear Sirs: Referring to the recent communication in the American, over my signature, addressed to Hon. Jo. C. Guild, touching certain events in the life of Gen. Sam. Houston, I related, among other incidents, his marriage to Miss Allen, of Sumner county, and his separation from that lady. I was handed to-day a copy of the Cincinnati Enquirer, of a recent date, containing a biographical sketch of Gen. Sam. Houston, extracted from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, and written by a Mr. Asa Jarman, of Houston, Texas. Mr. Jarman makes mention of having seen Houston, when a youth, at Nashville, in the company of Indians; that he was very expert in the use of the bow and arrow, and afforded amusement to the citizens here by shooting six pences from the end of a pole placed there to test his skill. In all this Mr. Jarman is wholly mistaken, for Houston never visited Nashville until after the close of the war with Great Britain, a fact well known by all of his friends in this country familiar with his early career. Mr. Jarman further says that Gen. Houston married "Miss Lucy Dickerson, the belle of Nashville;" that Gen. Houston, enraged with jealousy of a Mr. Nickerson, caused an abrupt separation, charging his wife with infidelity to him. I have addressed my letter to you for the reason that you have known Gen. Houston personally well from his youth to the time he became a voluntary exile from Tennessee, Col. Morgan's friendship with him dating back to 1810. You are all familiar with this remarkable man's career from youth to the grave. Above all, you are familiar with the sad story of this separation from his wife. You all know that he married Miss Allen, of Sumner, a most estimable lady, whose name has ever been without reproach in the land that gave her birth. You know that after her separation from Gen. Houston, she married a gentleman of the highest repute, Dr. Douglas, of Sumner county. I call upon you, then, to remove any false impressions this letter of Mr. Jarman may have made upon the public mind. I hand you herewith enclosed the article alluded to in the Cincinnati Enquirer and copied from the Globe-Democrat, of St. Louis. Respectfully yours, Willoughby Williams.
Sources: Nashville National Banner, 7 June 1834; Old Times in Tennessee (Guild)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sam Houston’s Political Turmoil in 1834

Part One
[Photo: Sam Houston]

J. Mark Lowe

We are beginning the election cycle for the 2012 Presidential Race. Looking back at history makes us realize that life in the political fishbowl has been tough at best. We join this series of article [Nashville Banner, 7 June 1834] discussing the separation of former Governor Sam Houston and his wife, Eliza Allen.
On 22 January 1829 Houston (age 35) married Eliza Allen (age 19). It is believed he was deeply in love with the girl, but Eliza left him shortly after the marriage for unknown reasons. She returned to her father’s home and the couple never reconciled. In April of 1829, Houston resigned as governor of Tennessee and went west with the Cherokee nation to Arkansas Territory.
The article as printed in the Nashville paper in June of 1834.
The Wife of Governor Houston. The Nashville Banner of the 7th instant, contains the annexed articles, introduced with these remarks:
“We regret the necessity of giv8ing publicity to the following documents. We fear that on the whole, no benefit will accrue to any party from the measure. But, the number and high respectability of those who have promoted, aided and sanctioned it, the prominent standing of the individual principally referred to, and the anxious expectations of the public, who are already aware that some movements have been lately made on the subject, leave us no alternative but to comply with the request of those who have transmitted us the article for publication. Where the lady spoken of is personally known, we believe her reputation remains fair, and unsullied even by suspicion.
At a meeting of sundry respectable citizens of Sumner county, in the State of Tennessee, assembled at the Court-House in the town of Gallatin, on the 26th day of April 1830, George Crocket of said town was called to the Chair, and Thomas Anderson was appointed Secretary.
The design of said meeting having been explained by appropriate remarks from Colonel Joseph G. Guild, on motion of Mr. William Howard Douglass it was
Resolved, that the following gentlemen be appointed a committee to consider and draw up a report expressive of the opinions entertained of the private virtues of Mrs. Eliza H. Houston, and whether her amiable character has received an injury among those acquainted with her in consequence of the late unfortunate occurrence between her and her husband, General Samuel Houston, late Governor of the State of Tennessee, to wit:
General William Hall; William L. Alexander, Esq; General Eastin Morris; Colonel Joseph C. Guild; Elijah Boddie, Esq.; Colonel Daniel Montgomery; Thomas Anderson, Esq.; Captain Alfred H. Douglass; Isaac Baker, Esq.; Mr. Robert M. Boyers; Major Charles Watkins and Joseph W. Baldridge, Esq.
And that said Committee meet at the Court-House in Gallatin on Wednesday next, and report.
The meeting was then adjourned until Wednesday next, at 10 o’clock. George Crockett, Chairman.; Thos. Anderson, Secretary.

Gallatin, Wednesday, April 28
The citizens met according to adjournment, (all the members of the committee wre present, except Colonel Montgomery,) and presented the following report:
The committee deem it unnecessary at this time to annoadvert on the character and conduct of Governor Houston, except so far as they may be inseparably connected with the investigation and development of the character of his unfortunate wife.
It appears that very shortly after the marriage, Governor Houston became jealous of his wife, and mentioned the subject to one or two persons, apparently in confidence; yet the committee are not informed that he made any specific charges, only that he believed she was incontinent and devoid of the affections which a wife ought to have towards her husband. The committee cannot doubt but that he rendered his wife unhappy by his unfounded jealousies, and his repeated suspicions of her coldness and want of attachment, and that she was constrained, by a sense of duty to herself and her family, to separate from her infatuated husband, and return to her parents, which she did early in the month of April last, since which time she has remained in a state of dejection and despondency.
The committee will close this report by observing that they are informed that Governor Houston had lately made a tour through the Middle States, and had returned to Nashville on his way to Arkansas, where they understand he has located himself in the Cherokee nation; and it has been suggested that public sympathy has been much excited in his favor, and that a belief has obtained in many placed abroad that he was married to an unworthy woman, and that she has been the cause of all his misfortunes, and his downfall as a man and a politician whereas, nothing is farther from the fact; and without charging him with malignity of heart, or baseness of purpose, the committee have no hestitation in saying that he is a deluded man; that his suspicious were groundless, that his unfortunate wife is now and ever has been in the possession of a character unimpeachable; and that she is an innocent and injured woman there is not the semblance of doubt.
The committee appointed to express the sentiments of this meeting in relation to the character of Mrs. Eliza H. Houston, and the causes which led to a separation from her husband, beg leave to present, that on the 22nd day of January, 1829, Gen. Samuel Houston, the then Governor of Tennessee, was married to Miss Eliza H. Allen, the daughter of Mr. John Allen, a highly respectable citizen of Sumner county. Miss Allen was born in the town of Gallatin and has been raised in the county of Sumner, and is personally known to the whole of the committee, a majority of whom have known her from her infancy. Up to the time of her marriage with Governor Houston, no lady sustained (and the committee think justly sustained) a fairer and more unsullied reputation for all those virtues which embellish and adorn the female character.
The committee have had placed in their hands, a letter from Governor Houston to Mr. Allen, written shortly after the separation, a copy of which they subjoin without comment.
Stay tuned for more of this story.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Kentucky's Revolutionary Land Grants - Part I

Part I - J. Mark Lowe

All land in Kentucky should follow a pedigree back to a governmental grant, generally Kentucky or Virginia. This process is called land patenting. Once a part of the commonwealth of Virginia, the land of Kentucky began to be granted after the King’s Proclamation of 1763 stating that land would be granted in lieu of cash to the veterans of the French & Indian War. The Land Law of 1779 expanded the granting of land to the state’s Revolutionary War veterans. John Filson discussed the land grant process in his 1784 publication.

“The proprietors of the Kentucke lands obtain their patents from Virginia, and their rights are of three kinds, viz. Those which arise from military service, from settlement and pre-emption, or from warrants from the treasury. The military rights are held by officers, or their representatives, as a reward for services done in one of the two last wars. The Settlement and pre-emption rights arise from occupation. Every man who, before March, 1780, had remained in the country one year, or raised a crop of corn, was allowed to have a settlement of four hundred acres, and a pre-emption adjoining it of one thousand acres. Every man who had only built a cabbin, or made any improvement by himself or others, was entitled to a pre-emption of one thousand acres where such improvement was made.
In March, 1780, the settlement and pre-emption rights ceased, and treasury warrants were afterwards issued, authorizing their possessor to locate the quantity of land mentioned in them, wherever it could be found vacant in Virginia.
The mode of procedure in these affairs may be instructive to the reader. After the entry is made in the land-office, there being one in each county, the person making the entry takes out a copy of the location, and proceeds to survey when he pleases. The plot and certificate of such survey must be returned to the office within three months after the survey is made, there to be recorded; and a copy of the record must be taken out in twelve months, after the return of the survey, and produced to the assistant register of the land-office in Kentucke, where it must lie six months, that prior locators may have time and opportunity to enter a caveat, and prove their better right. If no caveat is entered in that time, the plot and certificate are sent to the land-office at Richmond, in Virginia, and three months more are allowed to have the patent returned to the owner.”

John Filson, The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucky: And an Essay Towards the Topography and Natural History of that Important Country....(Wilmington, 1784)p 36-38.

Kentucky's Military District over current county map