Friday, April 11, 2014

Willis McMinimy Kills James Johns, Indiana.

From the history of Owen county, Indiana.

In 1866, James Johns, railroad agent at Gosport, was killed one dark night by Willis McMinimy. This was a cold-blooded, premeditated murder for the purpose of robbery. McMinimy was a drayman, and was trusted implicitly by the agent, Johns, who had no suspicion of him, and was thus easily killed by being beaten to death with a short bar of iron in the hands of McMinimy while they were alone at the office of the Louisville, New Albany & Chicago Railroad at Gosport, late one very dark night.

McMinimy was arrested, tried, and convicted on purely circumstantial evidence, of a very strong character, however, and sentenced to the State Prison for life. The jury was unanimous on first ballot. On the question of guilt, every vote read "guilty." On the question of punishment, six were for hanging, six for imprisonment for life. All night the question was argued. One by one they changed until at daylight the jury stood eleven for death, and only one, Eli Schoppell, still stood firm for imprisonment.

He was a German, a man of sound sense, honest and conscientious. He is yet living in Jackson Township. In his broken American he argued as best he could, beset on all sides by the other eleven. He listened to first one and then another ; argument after argument poured in upon . him, until at last he grew desperate. He stood erect upon his feet; his countenance expressed the most intense feeling possible to the human face; great drops of sweat broke out and stood on his face and forehead. " Shentlemens," he broke out;

" Shentlemens, I can not talk, but I can feel. We all believes this man guilty, in mine heart I feels he is guilty, but nopody sees him kill the man; may be somepody else do it. If we sends dis man to State Prison for life and some time it is found out that somepody else kill the man, den dis man come out, he be not dead. But if we hangs this man and it some time be found out he did not kill the man, den this man be dead, and," putting his hand solemnly upon his own head, " den de blood of this man be on our hets. I, I can not do it."

The effect of that speech was electrical. The intense earnestness of the German, with his imperfect speech, his strong convictions of right, and the terrible consequences of a possible mistake in their verdict was such that at once a verdict of guilty was written and the punishment fixed at imprisonment for life in the State Prison.

Colonel Michael "Mike" K. Lawler.

Colonel Michael K. Lawler.
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While I was doing some researching I ran across the mane of Colonel Lawler, and found him interesting and thought I would do a post on him.  However after doing a little more research  I found that the internet was full of information on him.  I didn't want to repeat the same information over again.  I did a little more research and found a little incident that happened in Mound City, Illinois, in 1863, while the Eighteenth was camping there and was under the command of Colonel Lawler, I found it interesting reading and I think you will too
From the history of Pulask county, Illinois.

In 1863 at Mound City there was camping of the Eighteenth Illinois Regiment, commanded by that veteran, Col. Mike Lawler, later a General. With very slight provocation, or none at all, one soldier, early in the evening, shot and killed a brother soldier.  The murderer was arrested at once, and Col. Lawler made an effort to deliver the man over to the civil authorities.

The civil authorities, knowing that the regiment would soon be ordered away, and with it would go the only witnesses against the murderer, refused to have anything to do with him, and suggested that the regiment dispose of its own murderers. Upon this suggestion. Col. Lawler organized a court, consisting of a judge, prosecuting attorney and jury, and appointed an attorney to defend the man.

The court convene in a few hours after the murder had been committed. The best legal talent in the regiment had been selected. The prisoner was brought before the court, and the trial proceeded. In a short time the evidence was all in; the attorneys had made their speeches; the Judge had delivered his instructions to the jury, and the jury had rendered a verdict of guilty. The court immediately pronounced the sentence, and it was that the murderer be taken, at sunrise the next morning, to the most convenient tree, and there hung by the neck until dead.

The word dead was not repeated by the judge, so, at sunrise or a little before, the next morning, twelve hours after the murder, the condemned man, sitting on his coffin, in a cart drawn by a yoke of oxen, passed out of town and along the Mound City Railroad, until they reached the " convenient tree" that stood not far from where the negro man Cotton afterward built a house. One end of a rope was fastened around his neck and the other over the limb of the tree, and the order " Drive off the cart " given, which left the victim dangling in the air.

After strangulation was complete, he was cut down, placed in his coffin, and during the hanging a few soldiers had made a hole in the ground, into which was placed the dead man, and covered over with dirt. " And the man that kills his fellow-man shall by man be killed " had been followed out to the letter.

Authors note.  I looked over the rosters twice and was unable to learn the name of the soldier that was killed or hung. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Nathan Harmon Killed In Van Burensburg, Illinois.

From the history of Montgomery County, Illinois.

Van Burensburg is a small village, situated near the southwest corner of the township, about fifteen miles from the city of Hillsboro. It was founded by Joshua White, in the year 1842, who kept a store there for several years. There are now one store, post office, blacksmith shop and two churches. The post office was established about the year 1837, with Benjamin Roberts as Postmaster. The second Postmaster was Robert White. It is kept at present by a man by the name of Bookstrock. One of the first stores in the place was kept by a Mr. Eddy, whose stock of merchandise consisted of groceries, a few dry goods and a plentiful supply of whisky.

A man by the name of Nathan Harmon was killed at this place shortly after Eddy started his saloon, under the following circumstances:

It appears that Harmon was a dissipated, worthless character, and, when under the influence of whisky, very quarrelsome and abusive. Upon the occasion referred to, he had been drinking rather freely, and, seeing a stranger pass the door of the saloon, made some insulting remark to him. To this speech the stranger paid no attention, but kept on his way, whereupon Harmon became very furious, and started in pursuit, for the purpose, he said, of killing the "damned scoundrel.''

The stranger tried hard to avoid having any difficulty with the drunken man, but Harmon, with many fearful oaths, sprang upon him. Calmly the stranger met him, turned aside his high, wild thrusts, and, in return, struck him several well-directed and crushing blows on the chest and head. Harmon fell, and in a short time expired. The citizens regarded it as a just punishment, and no arrest was made.

Colonel Samuel J. Williams.

From the history of Delaware County, Indiana.

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Col. Samuel J. Williams, who was killed in the late war while leading his regiment, the Nineteenth Indiana, in the battle of the Wilderness. Col. Williams was born in Montgomery county, Va., and while quite young, was brought by his parents to Delaware county, Ind., where he grew to manhood. Reared on a farm, his early educational training embraced the studies usually taught in the common schools of that period, but he obtained his principal knowledge of books by private study and wide reading after attaining his majority. At the early age of eighteen, he was united in marriage with Lorena Davis, who at that time was but seventeen years old, to which union one child, Lorena, wife of Luther Harris, of Muncie, was born. Mrs. Williams dying.

Col. Williams afterward, when twenty-two years of age, was united in marriage to Miss Rebecca Shroyer of Delaware county, who bore him five children, the subject of this mention being the oldest in point of birth. The next oldest child, Parthena, was born in 1854 and married W. P. Dunkle, a carpenter and builder of Selma; Mary E., was born in 1856, married A. C. Martin, and is the mother of six children, five of whom are living; her husband died in January, 1891; Samuel J., the next in order of birth, is general freight agent of the M. , K. & T. R. R. , with headquarters at Parsons, Kansas. The youngest member of the family, Cassius, was born in i860, and departed this life in the year 1874.

In 1855 Col. Williams located in the town of Selma after the completion of the railroad, and engaged in the warehouse and stock shipping business, continuing the same until the breaking out of the great rebellion, when he recruited company K, Nineteenth Indiana volunteers, and entered the service of the country as captain of the same. For gallant and meritorious conduct en a number of different battle fields, he passed through different grades of  promotion, including that of major and lieutenant colonel, and finally became colonel of the Nineteenth, and as such fell, as already noted, at the head of his men in the battle of the Wilderness.

Col. Williams was a brave and gallant soldier, and m the civil walks of life was lujnorrd and espected by all who knew him. Williams post. No. 78, G. A. R. , of Muncie, Ind., was named in his honor, also
Col. S. J. Williams post. No. 267,0. A. K., of  Selma, Ind. He was an active member of the Masonic and Odd Fellows fraternities, and originally supported the democratic party, casting his first presidential ballot for Franklin Pierce. He was always opposed to the institution of slavery, however, in consequence of which he changed his political views and became a republican on the organization of that party, and supported its principles until his death.

James T. King, 115th., Illinois Infantry..

From the history of Jefferson County, Colorado.

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Among the enterprising business men who have contributed much to the advancement of the commercial affairs of Golden, is James T. King, the subject of this brief sketch, the recognized head of the hook and stationery business of the city. He is a native of Illinois, born in 1844. At the age of sixteen, he left the farm to enter a mercantile career at Decatur, Ill, and continued in that pursuit until the call for three hundred thousand troops in 1862, when he entered the army for three years' service in the 115th Ill. V. I., and followed the various fortunes of that regiment through the campaigns in Kentucky and Tennessee, passing through many battles, sieges and hardships of prison life until
the close of the war.

He was with his regiment in the memorable battle of Chickamauga on the 18th, L9th and 20th of September, 1863, where, during live hours in the height of the battle, one-third of his regiment were killed and wounded. On the succeeding Sabbath, while on a scouting expedition, with fifteen comrades, on the enemy's side of the Tennessee River, under the shadow of Lookout Mountain, the whole party were captured by a detachment of Longstreet's sharpshooters. After remaining thirty-five days in Libby Prison, he was placed on a cattle-train for Danville Prison, but, having purloined the caps from the rifles of the two guards, he jumped from the train only to be recaptured after five days.

After fifteen months in the prisons of Danville. Andersonville and Florence, reduced to a skeleton and broken in health, but not in spirit, he was sent through the lines to occupy a hospital cot until the close of tlie war. Upon recovering his strength sufficiently, he again engaged in business until 1873, when he came to Colorado, since which time, with renewed health and vigor, he has continued to reside in Golden, in the pursuit of a prosperous business, in which he is at present actively engaged.

Illinois Civil War Detail Report.

Name: KING, JAMES T. Rank: PVT. Company: F. Unit: 115 IL US INF.

Personal Characteristics. Residence: MADISON CO, IL. Age: 18. Height: 5' 7. Hair: LIGHT. Eyes: BLUE. Complexion: LIGHT. Marital Status: SINGLE. Occupation: CLERK. Nativity: MADISON CO, IL.

Service Record. Joined When: AUG 6, 1862. Joined Where: MACON CO, IL. Joined By Whom: FRANK HAYS. Period: 3 YRS. Muster In: SEP 13, 1862. Muster In Where: CAMP BUTLER, IL. Muster Out: MAY 22, 1865. Muster Out Where: CAMP CHASE, OH. Remarks: None.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Archibald Gillan Kills Phineas B. Snyder, 1880.

Taken from the history of Polk County, Dakota.

Archibald Gillan, in June, 1880, charged with the murder of Phineas B. Snyder at East Grand Forks, by striking him upon the head with a beer faucet. Judge Davis Brower, one of our early legal lights, assisted the county attorney in the prosecution, while Judge Reynolds and W. W. Erwin, of St. Paul, were attorneys for the defendant. The "tall pine," as "Bill" Erwin was called, was the most brilliant criminal lawyer the Northwest has ever had, and he well maintained his great reputation on this occasion, thrilling the large attendance with his impassioned eloquence. That Gillan killed Snyder was admitted. The grounds of defense were self-defense and insanity. The jury acquitted the defendant on the ground of temporary insanity. The verdict was not generally well received. It was quite plain Gillan did not intend to kill, but the opinion was he should have been convicted of manslaughter.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

George W. Bean, Vermont.

Taken from the history of Caledonia County, Vermont.

Picture publish date 1904.
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George W. Bean, a native of Glover, born in 1840, was a son of Wells and Sarah (Scott) Bean. The family moved to Canada, where they remained until George enlisted in October, 1862, in Company E, Fourth New Hampshire regiment, at West Lebanon. He joined the regiment at Morris Island, South Carolina, at Fort Wagner, was in the siege at Beaufort, did picket duty on boat at Fort Sumter, then went to Norfolk, then on boat campaign up the James river in the Eighteenth corps under General Butler, on to Petersburg, up the Weldon railroad towards Richmond; was wounded in 1863 at Drury's Bluff and sent to the hospital at Point Lookout: was furloughed from there, came home, had fever, then returned to hospital, then transferred to New Hampshire and received his discharge in 1864.

The company to which Mr. Bean belonged went into the battle of Drury's Bluff with forty-two men and came out with twenty-eight of them killed, wounded, and missing. After discharged from the army he was one year in a hotel at Chester, then one year in a factory at Lowell, then came to Vermont and married Caroline M., daughter of Samuel and Fannie (Ufford) Bean of Glover on November 18, 1873. The father of Mrs. Bean was born at Glover in 1802, and died in that town in 1884. In the year of 1812 he, a lad of few years, was employed in carrying provisions, on horseback, to the American troops stationed at Derby After farming a few years they moved to the Hollow about 1880.

Mr. Bean never recovered use of his arm, which was shot through at the wrist. He receives a liberal pension and owns a comfortable home in the village.


Taken from Shelby County, Missouri, History.

On Christmas Day, 1842, Philip Upton killed one, Daniel Thomas, and this was the second homicide in the county. The killing took place in Upton's field, in Taylor township, about five miles north-west of Hagar's grove, where Upton lived at the time. The circumstances were these : 

Upton was an old man, at least 55, and had a considerable family, three or four members of which were adult daughters. Of one of these daughters Thomas had spoken words seriously affecting her character, alleging that she had admitted to him that she was unchaste and had at least three paramours. This he stated to Peter Greer, who informed Upton of what Thomas had told him.

A bitter quarrel resulted between Upton and Thomas, but was finally, as alleged, made up, and the parties agreed to be friendly. It was in evidence, however, that Thomas had threatened Upton with personal violence  ” to " mash his d d old head," to " beat him half to death," etc.

Thomas was a young man, unmarried. On Christmas Day he had a pistol and half a pint of whisky. He loaded his pistol with paper wads and fired it off occasionally that morning, seemingly in honor of the day. About nine o'clock he came to the residence of Jonathan Michael, where another young man, named Jeff. Shelton, was employed. Michaels directed Shelton to go to Upton's residence after a gun which Upton had obtained to repair and put in order. Shelton asked Thomas to accompany him, and the two set off together.

Reaching Upton's house, they found that the old man was out in a corn field, engaged in husking corn from the shock. They set out for him, and on the way met two of Upton's daughters, who had been out to where their father was. A dog with them barked furiously, and Shelton took Thomas' pistol and fired at the animal to frighten him.

Upton saw the two young men approaching him, and started to meet them. He habitually carried his rifle with him he never left home without it. Picking up this rifle from a pile of fodder, he leveled it at Daniel Thomas and called out, "Now, dam you, Where's your pistol? " and fired. Thomas fell, shot through the body, and died in less than two hours, where he had fallen, half covered with snow.

Upton was arrested without difficulty, and on examination before a magistrate was released, as his daughters swore that when their father fired, Thomas was in the act of drawing a pistol. In a few months Upton removed to Adair county. At the September term of the Shelby circuit court, 1843, he was indicted and soon after arrested. His trial did not come off until July 12, 1844, when a special term was held at Shelbyville by Judge McBride to try him. The jury in the case was composed of Anthony Gooch, John Gullett, Albert G. Smith, James A. Sherry, Jonathan Rogers, Charles Duncan, Samuel Blackburn, James E. Utz, John C. Utz, Robert K. Mayes, Thomas B. Mayes and James Davis.

The prisoner was ably defended by Hon. Samuel T. Glover, and Hon. J. R. Abernathy, the circuit attorney, was the prosecutor. The trial lasted about two days, and on the second day the jury returned a verdict of " guilty of manslaughter in the second degree." As they could not agree upon his punishment the judge fixed it at three years imprisonment in the penitentiary. Steps were taken to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, but they were never perfected. Upton served out about two-thirds of his term, when he was pardoned by Gov. Edwards.

In the meantime his family had removed to Putnam county. Hither the old man repaired. Not long afterward he became involved in a difficulty with a son-in-law, named Cain. One day when Upton was at work in the woods, digging out a trough from a huge log, and while his wife and a daughter were washing on the banks of the Chariton river, not far away, he was bushwhacked by Cain, who came stealthily upon him and shot him fatally with a rifle. Upton lived about as long after he was shot as Thomas did after he was shot, and both were struck in the same part of the body. Cain fled for California, but at St. Joseph a desperado quarreled with him and killed him. Then a mob rose and killed the desperado.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Miss Jennie Searcy.

From Monroe County, Missouri.

On Monday, December 6, 1875, Miss Jennie Searcy was run over and killed by the cars. We copy from the Appeal: 

Stoutsville was the scene of a most distressing and heart-rending accident on last Monday morning. Miss Jennie Searcy, a young lady of 16, and a boy by the name of Elliott were going from Elliottsville to Stoutsville, and were walking upon the railroad track about a mile and a half from Stoutsville, when engine No. 35 came along and over took them ; the engineer, Mr. Donald, invited them to get on and ride to the station, which they did.  He stopped for them to get off and they alighted and started to cross the railroad track immediately behind the engine, thinking it was going to move on.

At the same instant, the engineer reversed the engine and started back, knocking down the young lady, who uttered one scream, and the wheels of the engine passed over her body leaving it a mangled, mutilated, lifeless corpse. The engine also struck the boy but he managed to escape unhurt. The girl was a daughter of Mrs. Searcy, a widow who resides in Elliottsville, and was much esteemed by all who knew her. No blame was attached to the engineer, as they (the girl and boy) were so near the engine when attempting to cross that he could not see them.

I Need Help From My Readers.

When I started this site over 10 years ago I was so excited.  I touch on every subject one could think of , but now I'm looking for new subjects..

My main field is military and surnames with a little history thrown in.  What I'm looking for is new ideas.  I know I have a lot of readers that come to my site over and over again, and these are the ones I'm reaching out to.

I know some of you have heard family stories and wondered if they were true or not.  Some of you may have heard of an unusual surname.  Then there are some of your ancestors that was in the Civil War and or some other war, that you would like to know more about, ( I don't cover the modern wars like W. W. I. ect.)  I'm looking for any subject that maybe of interest to you and to my readers.

Now I can go to any book or government document and find something to write about, but what I get the most excited about is those who run across my site accidently or one of my fateful readers who is asking for help.  This is why I built this site to help people.

If you have something you would like to see me write about, then drop me a line, I'll glad to hear from you.   My address can be found in my profile.

More Bridge Burning in Tennessee.

I received a letter from a gentleman by the name of Frank, ( no last name given ), asking for a picture of a ancestor by the name of Captain Gilson O. Collins.  Well we got to talking and he told me a story on how it was a small world.

It's a small world.

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.

Frank's information.

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!

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Author.  This was taken from the Tennessee History.
Col. Leadbetter evidently did not understand the steadfast loyalty of the Unionists of East Tennessee, or he would have saved himself the trouble of issuing this proclamation. Very few took advantage of the proffered clemency. Meanwhile Brig. -Gen. W. H. Carroll had been placed in command at Knoxville, and on December 11, he issued a proclamation declaring martial law, and suspending the writ of habeas corpus. On the same day C. A. Haun, who had been confined in the jail at that place, was hanged on the charge of bridge burning. About a week later Jacob Harmon and his son, Henry Harmon, were hanged on a similar charge. These vigorous measures had the effect of driving many of the Unionists to Kentucky, and of silencing the most of the remainder for the time being.
Watson Collins. 

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.
Final Resting Places of the Five "Bridge-burners"
Of the five Greene County men who were executed as "bridge-burners" by the confederate authorities, in the autumn of 1861, the burial place of four of them is known.

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
between them.
The burial place of Henry Fry is unknown at this time. Fry family records indicate that his widow Barbary (Wampler) Fry, is buried in the old Lutheran Cemetery at Blue Springs (Mosheim), in an unmarked grave. She is believed to be buried beside the marked grave of her father. It is very probable that Henry Fry may also be buried there, as that cemetery was not far from the place of his execution at Greeneville. One 1890s newspaper account mentions that Fry and Hinshaw were first buried in Greeneville, and later moved to the confederate cemetery in Knoxville. It seems unlikely that the confederate officials would have put themselves to that much trouble for the families of the two men who they considered to be traitors. Since Hinshaw is buried in Hawkins County, in a marked grave, which appears to be original to the period of his death, it is not likely that he was ever buried at another location.

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.
Memorial Service for the "Bridge-Burners"
On Saturday morning, October 19,1996, a military memorial service, with a 21 gun salute, was held at the Harmon Cemetery at "Pottertown", for the five men who were hanged by the Confederate authorities in 1861, for burning the Lick Creek railroad bridge, of the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad. That is believed to be the first memorial service ever held for the five executed "bridge-burners". Only two of the men are buried at "Pottertown". The other three are buried in cemeteries within a few miles of the Harmon Cemetery. The "Pottertown" location was selected for the service, as it was the assembly point for the ill-fated expedition, in 1861, and is a central location in relation to the other graves.

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.

Zollicoffer bridge.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

The Burning of Zollicoffer Bridge, Tennessee.

On the night of November 8, 1861, the bridge at Zollicoffer, between Bristol and Carter's Depot, Tennessee, was burned by the men from Carter county, Tennessee.

The man chosen to lead them was Daniel "Dan" Stover, he was without any knowledge of military matters but was made their Colonel.

The men of the burning.
Col. Stover said to them : "All who are willing to go with me to the bridge and assist in burning it, fall in line."  The following men fell into line.

John F. Burrow, John G. Burchfield, Gilson O. Collins, Watson Collins, Landon Carter, M. L. Cameron, Jackson Carriger, James T. Davenport, Samuel Davenport, Daniel Ellis, John Fondrin, William M. Gourley. Henderson Garland, Wm. F. M. Hyder. J. K. Haun, Jacob Hendrixson, Mark Hendrixson, Jonas H. Keen, George Maston, B. M. G. O'Brien, Berry Pritchard, Henry Slagle, James P. Scott, Daniel Stover, the leader, and James Williams, C.C. Wilcox, J. P. Wilson, John K. Miller and Morgan Treadway..

It is alleged that only twenty-three men went to the bridge, while three others, Simerly, Treadway and Williams did the part assigned them guarding the horses. The list who fell into line is as nearly correct as we have been able to get it. It is said that two or three names that appear above did not go all the way to the bridge while it is said by others they did.

The burning of the bridge.
Col. Stover and G. O. Collins had masks over their faces which had been prepared by Mrs. Lizzie Carter. The other men were not disguised in any way. When the men signified their willingness to go G. O. Collins gave the command in an undertone to move towards the bridge which they did, moving quickly and in good order. Arriving at the south end of the bridge they did not find any guard at first. They formed the men, part of them being up the river, and others down the river, while six or eight of them went hastily through the bridge nearly to the north end of it.

The two guards, Stanford Jenkins and William Jones, rebel soldiers, were under the bridge, the former at the south end and the latter at the north end. Hearing the men, Jones ran and John F. Burrow raised his gun to shoot him, but was ordered not to fire. As the party returned from the north end of the bridge Jenkins came up from under the bridge and recognizing G. O. Collins, spoke to him and said : "Ollie, here's my gun, don't kill me." G. O. Collins, M. L. Cameron and J. M. Emmert then hastily placing the pine and pouring the turpentine on the bridge applied matches to it and it was soon in flames. They hastened back to their horses, taking Jenkins with them. Unfortunately he had recognized Collins, Keen, Carter, and others.

The company mounted their horses and proceeded some distance on their return when they halted to consult as to what disposition they would make of their prisoner. Feeling sure that Jenkins had recognized Keen (who had once employed him), Collins, and perhaps others, and that if released he would probably report their names to the Confederate authorities, the situation became very serious. In discussing what should be done with Jenkins, Watson Collins and others advocated shooting him.

They said that if he reported them their lives would pay the penalty, and that in time of war no man could be trusted, that "only dead men tell no tales," and that their only safety was in silencing him forever; but through the intercession of Mr. Keen, who was very kind hearted, and shrank from blood shed, and the appeals of Jenkins himself, who made the most solemn promises that he would not betray them, they swore him to secrecy and turned him loose. The party then made a hasty retreat, separating and returning to their homes as if nothing unusual had happened.

Authors note.  Immediately after being let go Jenkins went to the Confederate authorities, and under oath reported the names of Keen and others.