It is sometimes a small world. I had heard about "Ollie" and had some of the stories by the late 90's. I used to work for the government and after 9/11 was running a counterterrorism group with a lot of activated military reservists that had been uprooted. I was sensitive to their plight and took time on mids to chat from time to time about family and things. When I mentioned I was originally from TN (moved back now) this guy from California said "My family has roots from back there and my grandmother still lives there, but they were Unionists."
I said I had some on both sides and he said "But mine were hung for it." It struck a familiar cord with me but he didn't know any background and I said on a hunch, "can you get the family name from back in TN because I think I may know what happened." So sure enough, a couple of days later he had the names, and they were a father and son that were part of the bridge burners that were captured and hung.
There is a roadside marker to them near their home. So I told him the story and that my ancestor (Ollie Collins) was one of the group too. Small world! There weren't that many people involved in that action.
Author. Well I got interested and asked for more information. While I waited I looked into what I know already and found that there had been 30 to 40 men. There were many bridges burn that night and some of the group went to one bridge and the others to another bridge.
Come to find out his ancestors Gilson O. Collins and brother Watson Collins was at the burning of the Zollicoffer bridge while the other group of men went the other bridge.
There were several that were captured and hung. The two related to the person I met were: Jacob Harmon, Jr. and Henry Harmon, father and son. I included a description below that I had found of the hangings and related information. The marker included is on former Harmon land. Needless to say the guy I met was impressed with what I had on his family!
Watson Collins , a brother of Capt. G. O. Collins, married a daughter of Mordecai Williams and settled in Siam, TN in 1844. He was one of the "bridge burners" and was captured and died in a Confederate prison during the Civil War. Watson Collins was a Union supporter during the Civil War, and was a member of the 'Bridge Burners'. He served with the Second East Tennessee Volunteer Infantry. Source: Title: Watson Collins Family Bible
Frank's note. Gilson and Watson's father was also a Gilson O Collins.
Author. Watson Collins, private, 2nd., Tennessee Mounted infantry, age 40, July 22, 1862, June 3, 1863. Captured at Rogersville, November 6, 1863.
Jacob Harmon and his son Henry Harmon, both hanged at Knoxville, are buried in the Harmon Family Cemetery at "Pottertown." A story has been passed down through the Harmon family, that they were first buried outside the cemetery fence, because the confederates considered them to be "traitors", and would not allow the family to bury them inside. The story continued that the fence was later moved to enclose the two graves. It is not known if that is a true story, but it certainly could be, as confederate Colonel Leadbetter went to extreme limits at that time, to intimidate the pro-union population of East Tennessee, in the wake of the bridge-burning.
Christopher Alexander Haun is buried in the cemetery at Concord Baptist Church, near Mohawk. The Haun family were early settlers there. His widow, Elizabeth is buried at Mt. Hope Church cemetery, also near Mohawk. No marked grave for her was found, but official government pension records state that she was buried there. Their son Jacob Daniel Haun, who later became a union army soldier, is
also buried at Mt. Hope.
James Madison Hinshaw is buried in the Long Family Cemetery, just off highway 66, between Bulls Gap, and Rogersville, Tennessee. His wife was Lorinda Walker, the daughter of Gabriel Walker, who lived in that part of Hawkins County. The widow of Jacob M. Hinshaw married again, but is buried beside him, under the name of Rinda Jenkins. Their son William, who died at age seven, is buried
When those facts are considered, I believe that it is very likely that Henry Fry is buried in the Old Blue Springs Lutheran Cemetery, where his widow Barbary (Wampler) Fry, was buried in 1899. The Wamplers were of german descent, and members of the Lutheran faith.
About 150 persons gathered on the cold October morning, to take part in the service. Approximately half that number were descendants of the men being honored. A sizeable group of soldiers from the Eighth Tennessee Volunteer Infantry Regiment (Union) reenactment group, held the impressive military service. It was a moving ceremony, especially for the descendants of the "bridge-burners."
Bronze grave markers from the Office of Memorial Programs, of the Department of Veterans Affairs, were recently placed on the graves of the five honored soldiers. In 1862 all of the men were posthumously made members of Company F Second Tennessee Volunteer Infantry Regiment, by a Special Act of the Congress of the United States. That was the company and regiment of their leader, Captain David Fry.
Historical Marker for the "Bridge-Burners"
One hundred and thirty-five years after the five "Pottertown" "Bridge-Burners" were hanged, the Tennessee Historical Commission voted to erect a historic marker near the old "Pottertown" settlement, in honor of the five men, who gave their lives for the Union cause, in the first months of the Civil War.
The marker is located beside the eastbound lanes of U.S. Highway 11E, about one mile east of Mohawk Crossroads. The marker stands on land once owned by the Harmon family, who lost two members in the 1861 executions. The location of the marker is about one-half mile northwest of the Harmon family cemetery at "Pottertown". The United States flag which now flies over the cemetery, can be seen from the marker.
Authors last note. To read my post on the Captain Gilson O. Collins and Zollicoffer bridge take these links.
Captain Gilson O. Collins.