The past is the present for future generations who do not know their history

Posts tagged “Tuscumbia

Felix Grundy was a very popular given name for many…

here is a short biography of Felix Grundy Norman, Sr., 1808-1885

F & AM Square and CompassFELIX GRUNDY NORMAN, lawyer, was born January 4, 1808, near Smyrna, Rutherford County, Tenn. and died August 5, 1885 at Tuscumbia [Alabama]; son of John and Margaret [Stockird] Norman who lived at Smyrna. He was denied early educational advantages, but was taught in the rudiments by an older brother. He began life as a merchant but later taught school for several years. He studied under William Casper, was admitted to the bar in Tuscumbia in the early thirties, and practiced at that point and the surrounding country until his death. He was mayor of Tuscumbia for many years, and represented his county in the legislature for sessions of 1841, 1842, 1844, 1845 and 1847-8, inclusive. Although he supported the Confederacy with his means and influence, he was debarred from active participation on account of his age. He was a Democrat; a Presbyterian; and a Mason. Married: August 17, 1848 at Dickson, to Jane Lavina, daughter of Henry and Jane [Shelton] Cook of Spotsylvania County, Va., residents for some years of Huntsville, later locating in Tuscumbia where they spent the remaining years of their lives, the former for some time government agent for the disposition of Indian lands. Children: 1. John Henry; 2. Felix Grundy, m. Della Phares, Salinas, Calif.; 3. Mary Barton, m. John R. Charlton, La Verge, Tenn.; 4. Kate Cook, m. Hall S. Kirkpatrick; 5. Thomas Edgar, m. Lee Ellis, Memphis; 6. James Beverly, last residence: Tuscumbia.

Bibliography
Source: History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, Vol. IV. by Thomas McAdory Owen, Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1921.

 

Felix Grundy Norman, Sr.

Biography of Felix Grundy Norman, Sr., 1808-1885

FELIX G. NORMAN, of Franklin [County Alabama], was born and educated in Tennessee. He represented Franklin for the first time at the session of 1841, and by continuous elections, he served in the House until the close of the session of 1847-8, since which time he has been in private life, engaged in the practice of law. While in the Legislature, Col. Norman was a very efficient member, both in debate and in Committees. He was a Democrat from honest conviction, and never departed from that faith, but always kept himself in the path of duty according to the best of his judgment. Acting on principle, he opposed at every step the resolutions of the General Assembly accepting Alabama’s portion of the proceeds of the public lands. In the same manner, he opposed what he considered the improper identity in the same resolution, on the Constitutional amendment providing for biennial sessions of the Legislature, and for the removal of the Seat of Government at the session of 1845. In all this, he only yielded to a sense of duty, to prevent injustice, or an unsafe precedent. However laudable his purpose, he course on the question of removal resulted to his injury, through influences subsequently brought to bear against him, in a political sense.
For many years, Col. Norman was Grand High Priest and Grand Master of the Masonic fraternity of Alabama, who presented him, on his retirement, appropriate medals, commemorating his services to the craft.
From his bearing in the Legislature, the courtesy he always exhibited in debate, the intelligence with which he handled questions, and the ease and graceful elocution which seemed natural to him, Col. Norman was unquestionably cast in a large intellectual mould, capable of expansion beyond the limits within which it was his fortune to be confined as a political aspirant. Although rigid in the tenets of his party, and at times somewhat acrimonious under provocation, he was not blind to the merits of a measure because it may have originated with his opponents. He was bold and fearless, often displaying the gallantry of ancient knighthood in the legislative arena, shivering a lance with friend or foe without personal malice. His face was luminous with good feeling, and his whole deportment was that of a gentleman sensible of the rights of others, and careful of his own, in all that relates to the substantial etiquette of life. Had his lot permitted a more congenial opening for the development of his character after the inward model, there is no doubt that Col. Norman would have filled a large space before the public, and achieved a reputation as proudly National as that which he now enjoys is, in local view, distinguished for ability and honor. Perhaps the greatest obstacle to his advancement to higher places has been a certain measure of self-respect and honorable sensibility, which made intrigue and management the usual medium of success repugnant to his nature. He has abundant reason, however to be satisfied with the result, in his own high and unimpeachable character. He is still in the meridian of life, and he resides in Tuscumbia.

Bibliography
Source: Reminiscences of Public Men in Alabama, by William Garrett, Atlanta, GA: Plantation Publishing Press, 1872.

Feather Pen

Masonic Plaque. Washington Lodge No. 36. Tuscumbia, Alabama. Felix G. Norman, Worshipful Master. William Harvey, Senior Warden. Lewis G. Garrett, Junior Warden. July 3 1847. A. L. 5847. American Independence 71. Felix Grundy Norman. Most Worshipful Grand Master

 

Bibliography Source: Two Hundred Years at Muscle Shoals, by Nina Leftwich, Tuscumbia, Alabama, 1935: When the cornerstone of the new 1847 Tuscumbia Masonic building was put down, a engraved cooper plaque was placed inside the stone. Text of plaque in graphic above.

The Norman home in Tuscumbia, Colbert County, Alabama:

Norman home in Tuscumbia, Alabama

The Norman house is an historic residence in Tuscumbia, Alabbama. The house was built in 1851 by Felix Grundy Norman, a lawyer who also served as mayor of Tuscumbia and in the Alabama Legislature from 1841to 1845 and again in 1847–48. Norman’s father-in-law was the land agent for the sale of the Chickasaw and his brother-in-law, Armistead Barton, built Barton Hall in nearby Cherokee, Alabama.

The house sits on the corner of Main and Second Street, and has two identical facades facing each street. Each face has a central pedimented portico supported by four tuscan columns. Each portico is flanked by three part windows consisting a nine-over-nine sash window which is bordered by narrow three-over-three sashes. The interior retains its Greek Revival woodwork and mantels.

Feather Pen

JOHN NORMAN, brother of Felix Grundy Norman,  was born in Rutherford County December 5, 1804, son of John and Mary Margaret (Stockard) Norman. Extent of schooling not determined. Married in Rutherford County Tennessee September 13, 1867, to Nancy Neal; children-Cynthia Jane, Margaret Rebecca, Mary A., Harriett E., Martha E., John B., Josephine B., and Sarah F. Norman. Removed to Carroll County Tennessee, c.1828, to engage in farming and clearing landholdings in 8th civil district. Appointed a trustee of Huntingdon Academy, Carroll County, in 1845 but resigned in 1848. Elected constable, 1832; sheriff, 1838-44; clerk of circuit court, 1854-56; county judge, 1856; one of committee to plan for repair of courthouse and building jail. Served in the Tennessee House, 33rd and 34th (Reconstruction) General Assemblies, 1859-61; 1865-67; representing Carroll County; served in the Tennessee Senate, 35th General Assembly, 1867-69; representing Carroll, Dyer, and Gibson counties; member Opposition Party in 33rd Assembly; Unionist in 34th and 35th. Mason; member of Zion Presbyterian Church. Died in Madison County October 5, 1874.

Bibliography
Sources: Prepared Roster, House, 33rd General Assembly; Goodspeed, History of Carroll County, 802, 803; Rutherford County records: “Marriage Records, Vol. 1, 1804-37,” p. 155; “Wills, Settlements and Inventories, Vol. 6, 1824-27,” pp. 194-95; Carroll County records: “Minutes, County Court, 1826-33, Pt. 2,” p. 532; “1838-42, Book 3, Pt. 2,” p. 223, 390; “1843-50, Pt. I,” p. 144, “Pt. 2,” p. 390; “1850-55,” pp. 25, 30; “1855-59,” pp. 59, 213-214; ‘Marriages, 1838-60,’ pp. 235, 274, 412; Jackson Whig and Tribune, October 31, 1874; infomation supplied by greatgrandaughters, Mrs. Julian Devault and Mrs. Allen Holliday, McKenzie.


What I know about Tuscumbia Landing…

or more accurately what I have learned about Tuscumbia Landing will follow. Tuscumbia was a thriving little town back in its day. It was a very wealthy town which afforded the rich to send their children away to boarding schools while the not rich’s children attended the public schools. I guess it could be said that there were the 1% and the 99%, then as now.

The Shoals area has most every natural resource to be productive including recreational pursuits. A huge boon to the economy that caused the town to explode with wealth and all that comes with it was the Landing at Tuscumbia.

Steamboats were introduced and helped make Tuscumbia a valuable port for the delivery of goods and products. It also

Historic Tuscumbia Depot

Historic Tuscumbia Depot (Photo credit: jimmywayne)

made the export of products and goods, such as cotton very efficient for the time. What is left of Tuscumbia Landing will have to be searched for by all but those intimately familiar with the area; and who know what to look for. The original Landing at Tuscumbia aided in the removal of the Creek native americans during the 1838 removal of them all to reservations in Oklahoma if they survived the trip. This was the Trail of Tears. The government mandated that all native americans be rounded up and they were marched  forcibly away from their home, culture and way of life. The original landing dated back to the 1820s and as a dock for the steamboats brought great wealth to a number of Tuscumbia and Shoals area citizens.

Tuscumbia Landing, Sheffield is at the confluence of the Tennessee River (Pickwick Lake) and Spring Creek, near the foot of Blackwell Road, west of downtown Sheffield, There is much historical significance attached to the two Landings. Tuscumbia Landing was at the western terminus of the Tuscumbia, Courtland, and Decatur Railway. During the summer of 1838, Cherokee detachments headed by Lt. Edward Deas and Lt. R.H.K. Whiteley attempted to travel from Ross Landing, Tennessee to Fort Gibson, Indian Territory via the “water route.” These detachments floated down the Tennessee River to Decatur. Due to low water and potential difficulties navigating through Muscle Shoals, they rode on the railway west to Tuscumbia Landing and then boarded boats headed downriver. Prior to that summer, numerous other “water route” detachments brought Creeks, Choctaws, and other groups past this spot on their way to Indian Territory. Tuscumbia Landing was also the site of considerable Civil War activity.

One reminder of the second landing  is a historical marker describing Tuscumbia Landing’s role as home to the first railroad, named the Old Tuscumbia, Courtland, and Decatur (TC&D), west of the Appalachian Mountains. The second landing was built to be accessed by the railway system. The marker may be at the corner of Fifth and Water.

Tuscumbia Landing played many roles in the surface transportation system throughout its history. In addition to its role in the removal of the Creeks on the Trail of Tears, Tuscumbia Landing served as a steamboat landing beginning in the 1820s. The original landing was located two miles from the town. Initially connected to the town of Tuscumbia via a wagon road, the Landing became an even more important transportation node when the Tuscumbia Rail Road Company built a railroad and depot that connected the Landing to the town of Tuscumbia in 1932. Perhaps it was then that a

Pier remains of what was once Tuscumbia Landing

All that remains of what was once Tuscumbia Landing are some limestone pilings that once held up the pier.

second landing was constructed up river from the original one.  That same year, the Tuscumbia, Courtland, and Decatur Railroad united with the Tuscumbia Rail Road Company, and the railroad spur to Decatur was completed in 1834. The site’s significance proved to be its downfall when the railroad depot was destroyed during the Civil War.

Remnants of the limestone blocks used for a pier for steamboat arrival and departure are all that remain of the original landing dock. If you did not know what to look for, you may not recognize the landing’s importance in Shoals area history.

Northwest-Shoals Community College’s Tuscumbia Landing archaeological research and planning projects with government funding and with myriad connections to surface transportation, project coordinators were able to assemble TE funds to identify remaining historically significant archaeological features. Perhaps future research might include NWSCC findings. Tuscumbia Landing was named a Certified Historic Site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail in 2007.

Historic marker commemorating the first railroad. The Landing of Tuscumbia first serviced steamboats and later a second landing serviced the railway system.

Historic marker commemorating the first railroad. The Landing of Tuscumbia first serviced steamboats and later a second landing serviced the railway system.


The Shoals area is rich…

in history. Quite a few influential people were born, or lived in the Shoals area. Among them were the Rand family. They lived in Tuscumbia. Carl Rand lived at 501 East Third Street. His homeplace housed some tools used in antebellum times. Below is a photo from the Library of Congress that shows some of the classic tools used in the early days of the Shoals.

Carl Rand home in Tuscumbia houses old timey tools

Photos of Carl Rand home in Tuscumbia, Alabama

Photos taken as part of a survey in 1937


Colbert County history as reported by Captain Arthur Keller…

as it pertains to Tuscumbia, Alabama in the year 1888.

BY CAPT. A. H. KELLER

This is one of the oldest towns in Alabama, with a history full of interest to those who are the descendants of the pioneers of the Tennessee Valley, as well as to the student, who can find in its pages the record of adventures as thrilling, and achievements as heroic, as any that have been depicted by either historian or novelist.

Memphis & Charleston Caboose - Tuscumbia, AL

Memphis & Charleston Caboose – Tuscumbia, AL (Photo credit: SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent))

This sketch, however, will be confined mainly to chronological events and statistical matters connected with the settlement and development of Tuscumbia and the country immediately surrounding it.

As far back as 1780, the French Colony on the Wabash River established a trading post at the mouth of the Occocoposo, or Cold Water, Creek on the Tennessee River, about one mile from the northern limit of the present site of Tuscumbia. This creek runs through the town, and is the outlet for the immense spring which rises from the earth near the center of the town and flows in a circuitous route to the Tennessee River two miles away. It affords a fine power for mills and factories, and has been utilized as such for many years.

Professor Toumey, in his “Geological History of Alabama,” gives the measurement of this spring at 17,724 cubit feet of water flowing from it per minute, or enough to furnish every person in the United States about four gallons each per day. The temperature is 58 degrees, and although strongly limestone it is pleasant to drink.

At the time of the establishment of the colony alluded to at the mouth of Spring Creek, Nashville was the most important trading station in the Southwest, and was not exempt from hostile incursions by the Indians, who held the country from the Alabama River to the Cumberland. For a number of years depredations by them upon the Cumberland settlements were frequent and destructive. In the early part of 1787, Col. James Robertson organized an expedition, which descended the Cumberland and ascended the Tennessee, as far as the mouth of Duck River, but at this point he was defeated and forced to return. In June, 1787, he started on a second and more successful trip, marching south from Nashville with 130 men to Bainbridge, a small village on the Tennessee, about ten miles from Tuscumbia. Moving from this point westward, along the south bank of the river, he found the Indian village, at or near the mouth of Spring Creek, or Occocoposo, as it was then called. The Indians, and their French allies, retreated to a strong position, a short distance up the creek, where Robertson attacked, and defeated them with heavy loss, and destroyed their village and captured the trading post and a large quantity of supplies.

The French prisoners were taken to Colbert’s Ferry, ten miles below, and allowed to return to the Wabash Colony, Colony Robertson returning to Nashville by land. [See Pickett’s History of Alabama.]

In 1802 General Wilkerson made a treaty with the Chickasaw Indians, whereby he secured from them permission to cut out a wagon road from Natchez, Miss., to Nashville, Tenn., crossing the Tennessee River at Georgetown, twenty miles below Tuscumbia. In 1814 Gen. Andrew Jackson and Col. Benjamin Hawkins were empowered to make treaties with the Indians, with a view to securing some of the vast and fertile territory then held by them. In the fall of 1816 they granted to the United States all the territory from the headwaters of the Coosa westward to Cotton Gin Port, Miss., and thence north to the mouth of Caney (now Cane) Creek on Tennessee River, ten miles below Tuscumbia.

The first white family to settle in Tuscumbia was that of Michael Dickson in 1815. Soon afterward, four of his brothers-in-law, from Smith County, Tenn., Isian McDill, James McMann, ____ Matthews and Hugh Finley, arrived. The following year, 1816, was remarkable for an unprecedented drought, which prevailed all over this territory. Capt. Jno. T. Rather, who died in Tuscumbia a few years ago, when nearly ninety years old, often spoke of the distress of the people on account of the scarcity of breadstuffs at that time. Corn sold at five dollars per bushel. The nearest mills were at Huntsville, Ala., and Mt. Pleasant, Tenn., about seventy miles distant, from whence all of their meal and flour was hauled in wagons.

The first white child born in Tuscumbia was Miss Anna Dickson, who married Dr. W. H. Wheaton, who died in Nashville since the late war. She was living but a short time ago.

Hugh Finley was a blacksmith, and owned the first shop opened in the place. In 1816-17 quite a number of families arrived and settled in the present limits of Tuscumbia, which was then known as Big Spring. Col. James McDonald was afterwards appointed Postmaster for the Big Spring office. He was a distinguished officer of the United States Army, having won distinction in the battles of Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane, and came to Tuscumbia from Knoxville, Tenn. He was joined here by his brother-in-law, David Keller, from the same place, and both moved to Russell’s Valley, remaining two years, when they returned and purchased farms near Tuscumbia. Colonel McDonald died on his farm, “Glencoe,” in 1827, and Mr. Keller, having sold his farm and accepted the office of Superintendent of the Tuscumbia & Decatur Railroad, died ten years later. Mr. Keller and a man named George Miller, from Fayetteville, Tenn., owned the first stocks of goods ever sold in Franklin County, or rather in the territory afterwards embraced in the county. Col. Thomas Hindman, father of Gen. Thos. Hindman, of Confederate fame, brought Mr. Keller’s stocks from Knoxville, and sold it out at York Bluff, on the present site of Sheffield.

In 1817 a battalion of United States soldiers arrived at Tuscumbia, and began the work of cutting out a new wagon road from Nashville, Tenn., to Columbus, Miss., called the Military Road. This was done under General Jackson’s supervision, and the point at which he crossed the Tennessee is now known as Jackson’s Landing, in the limits of Sheffield. About this time General Jackson purchased the large tract of land lying between the river and Tuscumbia and upon which the larger part of Sheffield is now located. In 1816-17, a number of families located at York Bluff, which was laid off by General Coffey in 1820 as a city, with broad and regular streets running north and south and east and west. This town was soon abandoned, its citizens moving to the more prosperous town of Tuscumbia, and had not a house left when Sheffield was formed, to tell where a town had been.

Mr. Miller, who first sold goods at York Bluff moved to Tuscumbia and built the first brick house, now known as the Glendall House on Sixth street, in 1819. He afterwards moved to West Tennessee and died there.

Tuscumbia was surveyed and laid off as a city by General Coffey in 1817. Its limits were a mile and a half east and west and a mile north and south. None of the streets are less than ninety-nine feet wide, and the commons on the margin are much wider, that on the north being 334 feet. These streets and commons were dedicated by the Government for the use of the citizens of Tuscumbia, and the Supreme Court of Alabama has decided that the fee to them is still in the Government and they can not be disposed of by the city authorities.

In March, 1817, Congress passed an act establishing the Territory of Alabama. At that time only seven counties had been organized in the Territory. These were Mobile, Balonni, Washington, Clark, Madison, Limestone and Lauderdale, and they had been organized under the territorial government of Mississippi. Upon the assembling of the Territorial Legislature at the town of St. Stephens, Franklin County was organized, but the act provided that the jurisdiction should not extend beyond Cane Creek, ten miles west of Tuscumbia, that being the boundary line between the lands granted by the Indians and those reserved by them under the treaty of 1816. The lands west of Cane Creek were held by the Indians until they were removed beyond the Mississippi in 1836.

The first superior or circuit court ever held in Franklin County was at the house of William Neeley, on Spring Creek, a few miles southeast of Tuscumbia, September 7, 1818. Obadiah Jones was judge, Henry Miner, district attorney, and Richard Ellis, clerk. The grand jury was composed of William Neeley (foreman), Jacob Humble, William Welch, Andrew Blackmoor, Strange Caltharp, John Bell, Goldman Kimbro, Isaac Pickens, Argyle Taylor, James Wilex, Pryor Landsford, Matthew Maree, Matthew Gwynn, and William Scott. For lack of a room large enough, the court adjourned to the house of Michael Dickson, at Cold Water (Tuscumbia).

Anthony Winston was the first representative from Franklin County, in the Legislature. He was the grandfather of Col. John Anthony Winston, who was Governor of the State afterward. He was raised in Tuscumbia. Robert B. Lindsay, Esq., of this place, a native of Scotland, and a brother-in-law of Governor Winston, was elected Governor of the State in 1870. Tuscumbia was also the former home, if not the birthplace, of two United States senators. Robert Ransom, the father of Senator Matt Ransom, of North Carolina, was one of the early settlers of Tuscumbia, and opened the hotel called the Franklin House.

Thomas Hereford, father of the West Virginia ex-Senator Hereford, was also a hotel keeper here, and was proprietor of the Mansion House, near the Big Spring.

Ex-Senator Henry S. Foote also commenced his career here as a lawyer and editor, and fought a duel with Edmund Winston, an uncle of Governor Winston. Tuscumbia has also had a representative in the lower house of Congress, in the person of Major Joseph H. Sloss, now of Huntsville.

Upon the assembling of the first Legislature of the State, at Huntsville, on the first Monday in October, 1819, a bill was passed, incorporating the town of Occocoposo (now Tuscumbia). Thomas Limerick was appointed mayor, with Philip G. Godley, Micajah Tarrer, Abram W. Bell, and Littleton Johnson, aldermen. At the next session of the Legislature, the name of the town was changed to Big Spring, and, the following year, to Tuscumbia, after a celebrated chief of the Chickasaws.

The first railroad that was built west of the Alleghanies was that from Tuscumbia to the Tennessee River. It was commenced in 1831 and finished in 1832, and was two and one-eighth miles in length. In 1834 it was merged into the Tuscumbia & Decatur Railroad. For twenty-five years after this road was built there was an immense trade done with New Orleans by the river. Magnificent steamers ran to that place, some of the carrying 6,000 bales of cotton. They were palatial in their appointments and accommodations for passengers. Parties in search of pleasure could find no pleasanter nor more enjoyable pastime than an excursion on one of these elegant boats to the Crescent City. Other steamers ran regularly, as they now do, to the cities on the Ohio and to St. Louis; but the New Orleans trade was broken up soon after the completion of the Memphis & Charleston Road in 1857, which road bought the Tuscumbia & Decatur Road, and abandoned the branch to the Tuscumbia Landing.

For a number of years previous to the great financial crisis in 1837, Tuscumbia did a large wholesale business. Most of this was done in two rows of brick storehouses known as “Commercial” and “Planters’ Row.” The latter was destroyed by fire about the year 1837. The former is still standing, all of the stores being occupied and in a good state of preservation. A street railway from the depot to Main and Sixth streets, for the delivery of freights, was built in 1834.

Until the completion of the Memphis & Charleston Railroad the Tuscumbia postoffice was a distributing office, and probably the largest and most important from Nashville to New Orleans. A number of state lines converged here, which were owned by such veteran stagers as Patrick, Ficklin, Chichester, and others. The immense warehouses at the Tuscumbia Landing, which were constructed of stone and brick, were burned in 1862 by Turchin’s Brigade of Mitchell’s Division of Federal Troops.

In its former and better days, probably no town of its population in the South had more wealth in its immediate vicinity; but that did but little towards building up the town. The planters bought their supplies in New Orleans and Louisville, and sent their children abroad to be educated, leaving only the poorer classes to do their trading at home.

In the fearful struggle between the North and the South—1861-5—there was no part of the South more completely devastated than was the beautiful Tennessee Valley. Tuscumbia was in the center of the fiery, desolating track of the armies of both sides. Large blocks of brick stores and many private houses were destroyed and condemned. Cavalry horses roamed at will through grounds that were formerly the pride of their owners. Upward of thirty of Tuscumbia’s young men were killed, and for years after the sound of battle had died away she sat on the ashes of desolation, waiting for the dawn of a better day, which, although long delayed, has come. The giant young city of Sheffield has stretched her limits to within half a mile of her gates, and she has caught the contagion of progress and enterprise, and within the last two years has doubled her population. She is experiencing some of the doubtful effects of a hot-house boom, but observant and far-seeing men recognize the fact that she has every natural advantage that any other place in Northern Alabama has, and that which money can never secure. Her society is as good as can be found anywhere. She has churches of all denominations and first rate schools. The Deshler Female Institute stands in the front rank of Southern schools. It stands as a monument to the memory of Brig. Gen. James Deshler, of Tuscumbia, who was killed at the battle of Chickamauga. The sum of six thousand dollars has been voted by the City Council to enlarge the free school for white males, and the rapidly increasing revenue from taxes will amply justify the expenditure, and support the school.

Tuscumbia challenges comparison with any town in the South as to its healthfulness and exemption from epidemics.

An examination of the tables of mortality for the last twenty years will not show an excess of one per cent, per annum, as the death rate, including both black and white.

Where parties desire to engage in business at Sheffield, they can reside at Tuscumbia and avail themselves of the convenience of two “dummy” lines to reach their business in a few minutes. Real estate, although greatly enhanced recently, is still comparatively cheap. A water works company has been organized to supply East Sheffield and Tuscumbia from the spring, and gas or electricity will speedily be introduced to light up the streets.

CHURCHES.

The Presbyterian Church.—This church was organized in 1824, by Rev. Dr. Blackburn, of Frankfort, Ky., and the church building now standing was commenced and completed in 1826-7. For several years the large frame building near the spring was used for church services.

Rev. Dr. Campbell was the first pastor of the church, and Messrs. Arthur Beatty and James Elliott were the original elders, with Susan Winston, Elizabeth Johnson, Ann Beatty, A. W. Mitchell, Eliza Mitchell, and Sarah Mitchell as members. Soon after this Rev. G. W. Ashbridge, of Philadelphia, Pa., took charge of the church, which received many additions from this time own.

Mr. Ashbridge was pastor from 1827 to 1830; Mr. Arnold was pastor from January 1, 1831, to June, 1831; james Weatherby was pastor from 1831 to 1837; J. O. Steadman was pastor from 1837 to 1845; N. A. Penland was pastor from 1845 to 1852; C. Foster Williams was pastor from 1853 to 1855; Abram Kline was pastor from 1856 to 1860; B. N. Sawtelle was pastor from 1861 to 1872; Mr. Brown was pastor from January, 1873 to June, 1873; Jorace P. Smith was pastor from 1873 to 1877; James G. Lane was pastor from 1878 to the present time. Messrs. Sawtelle and Smith died during their pastorate.

In 1828 a Presbyterian Camp-meeting was held near LaGrange, Ala., and was largely attended, and a great revival took place.

During Dr. Steadman’s pastorate there was a series of meetings held in the church by Rev. Daniel Baker, of Texas, resulting in a great religious awakening; also another in 1848 by Rev. Dr. Hall, and still another several years ago, when Mr. Lane was aided by Rev. J. W. Hoyte, and many additions were made to the membership.

The Baptist Church.—This church was established in 1823, Elders J. Davis and Jeremiah Burns composing the Presbytery. J. Burns was pastor until 1832. John L. Townes was the next pastor, and filled the pulpit ten or twelve years. He was succeeded by R. B. Burleson, and he by Jackson Gunn. Rev. james Shackleford and his son-in-law, C. W. Hare, have filled the place since Mr. Gunn’s pastorate.

The church building was erected by the Campbellites, or Christians, mainly through the personal efforts of Dr. W. H. Wharton, but it was not paid for, and the contractor. W. H. Patterson, sold his claim to George W. Carroll, who sold it to Edmund Elliott, a member of the Baptist Church. Through him the title passed to his church.

The Methodist Church was organized in 1822 by Thomas Strongfield, then stationed at Huntsville.

The first Quarterly Conference was held March 13, 1824. Alexander Sale was presiding elder, and David Owen and James Smith were local preachers; W. S. Jones was steward, and Richard Thompson class leader. In this year Rufus Ledbetter was assigned to the Franklin Circuit.

In 1826 Finch P. Scruggs had charge of the Circuit. He died in Holly Springs, Miss., in 1881. At that time J. B. McFerrin, who died in Nashville a year or two ago, and who was editor of the Christian Advocate, and author of a work called “Methodism in Tennessee,” was a young preacher at this place. Mayor James Lockhart was an earnest and influential member of the church at that day, and it is said that he paid one-half of the expenses of it. Mr. McFerrin, aided by John Sutherland and Mr. Haynie, raised the money to erect the present building, which was commenced in 1826. Edward Stegar did the brick and Nelson Anderson the wood work. The first sermon was preached in the church by John Haynie in May, 1827.

Rev. Mr. Shoemaker is the present incumbent, and the membership is about 250, being the largest in town, except that of the colored Baptists, which is over 500. During the pastorate of Rev. F. A. Owen, in 1828, the largest revival ever known in the church took place.

St. John’s (Episcopal) Church. This church was built in 1852, mainly by Dr. William H. Newsum, who died in February, 1862. He donated the lot upon which it stands, and contributed more to build the house than any one else.

The Rt. Rev. N. H. Cobbs was then bishop of the diocese, and his son, Rev. R. A. Cobbs, was the first rector, and remained in charge six years. The rite of confirmation in this church was administered for the first time on November 14, 1852, when six persons were presented by the rector.

Upon the occupation of Tuscumbia by the Federal Army in 1862, they camped in this church and destroyed the large part of the register, in consequence of which a complete and accurate history of it can not be given to include the period between 1858 and 1866. Rev. George White, the venerable rector of Calvary Church, Memphis, Tenn., lately deceased, Rev. W. H. Thomas, of Maryland, and Rev. Mr. Whiteside were rectors during that period. On April 1, 1886, Rev. J. B. Gray, now of Washington City, took charge of the parish. At that time there were only fourteen communicants, some having moved away and others having died. Rev. T. J. Beard, now of Birmingham, was next in charge and he was succeeded by Rev. Peter Wager, who remained six years.

Rev. B. F. Mower came to the south pastorate of the Tuscumbia and Florence churches in June 1878, and resigned in October 1887. The church building was much injured by the cyclone of November 22, 1874, and Mr. F. D. Hodgkins, his wife and four children were killed at the same time. Mr. Hodgkins was superintendent of the Sunday school of this church. Two handsome memorial windows in the church attest the loving remembrance in which they were held. The three chancel windows are memorials to Dr. W. H. Newsum, the founder of the church, and to his two sons, William O. and Alexander M. The former was killed at the battle of the Wilderness, May 6, 1864, and the latter died of yellow fever contracted in Memphis in 1878. There are also memorial windows for Mr. John Curry, and Mrs. Lou McFarland, Mrs. Emma Eggleston and Mrs. Maria Hicks. These windows are of stained glass, and the interior of the church presents quite a handsome appearance. This church is in the diocese of Bishop R. H. Wilmer, whose first official act in the church was the confirmation of a class of 12, presented by Rev. J. B. Gray, March 24, 1867.

Rev. Mr. Phillips, of Baltimore, has recently taken charge as rector.

The Catholic Church.—The commencement of Catholicity in Tuscumbia is associated with two families of the great Celtic branch of the commonwealth of nations. One was an Irish family, the other French. The name of the former is no longer anything more than a local reminiscence; the latter is still identified with all the active enterprises—religious, educational and social—of the growing town and its vicinity. Far from the influences attaching to the environment of the house of worship, and the accustomed and established services of religion, the heads of those two families, Mr. John Baxter and Dr. William Desprez, exhibited in their lives the teachings of their faith and how deep were the roots of their early religious training. Mr. John Baxter was born in Ireland and came early to this country. He died of apoplexy in 1874. A son of his, John B. Baxter, lives in New York. Dr. Desprez was born in Paris in 1806. He lived some years in Ireland and came subsequently to this country. He died in Tuscumbia of yellow fever during an epidemic of that disease, in October, 1878. He was a man of most upright character and sincere piety. He accomplished what is found by experience to be the most difficult, albeit the most important of all the duties of a parent; he educated his children so thoroughly in the knowledge and obligations of religion that they and their children are to-day [sic] the most prominent and edifying in its observance. Dr. Desprez married an Irish Presbyterian lady, sincerely and earnestly attached to her own faith, but who, seeing what a potent factor Catholic doctrine was in moulding her husband’s character and inspiring his conduct, could with difficulty believe that faith to be wrong, and consequently seconded his efforts in the training of their children in the religion which gave lustre to his own life. Shortly after the death of her husband, Mrs. Desprez embraced the Catholic faith. She still lives, surrounded by her children and grandchildren, honored and respected by her neighbors.

The first Catholic Church was built in 1869, through the exertions of Dr. Desprez and Mr. Baxter, assisted very liberally by the non-Catholic portion of the community. The site upon which it was erected was donated by Mr. Baxter. It was solemnly dedicated, under the title of “Our Lady of the Sacred Heart,” on the 30th day of September, 1869, by the Rt. Rev. John Quinlan, Bishop of Mobile, assisted by several priests, and attended by a large concourse of people. Rev. Father John B. bassen, who is at present pastor of Pensacola, Fla., was the first pastor of the young community. This church was never fully completed, and it was destroyed by the tornado which did so much damage to the town in November, 1874. Father Baasen again built a small temporary chapel, still standing, and now used as a store-room by the Benedictine Sisters, where the people worshiped until 1878. In that year, the Rt. Rev. Boniface Wimmer, Abbot of the Benedictine Order in Pennsylvania, purchased from Father Baasen the house and property situated at the eastern extremity of the town. Rev. Matthew Sturenberg, O. S. B., was sent by the Abbot to take charge of the congregation. By his exertions a new church was erected, and, on the 8th of August, 1880, was solemnly consecrated, under the same title as the old one, by Bishop Quinlan, assisted by Rev. Benedict Menges, O. S. B., and Rev. Joseph Keeler, O. S. B. In the evening of the same day, the bell of the church was blessed by the Bishop.

On February 24th, of the following year, four Benedictine Sisters arrived, and have since conducted the parochial school. They have also kept a few children as boarders. Their accommodation for this class of scholars has been and is still very limited, but the increasing demand will necessitate the erection of more extensive buildings. The Catholic congregation of Tuscumbia is increasing. There are two masses every Sunday, at 8 and 10 o’clock, and vespers and benediction in the afternoon at three o’clock. Every morning there is mass at 7:30 o’clock, at which the children of the parochial school attend. The Benedictines are established in perpetuum in the two counties of Colbert and Lauderdale, and, besides Tuscumbia, have churches and stations in St. Florian, Florence, Sheffield, Decatur, Huntsville, Cullman, Hanceville, Dickson, Courtland, Moulton and some minor places. They are hard workers, and self-denying men. The character of the men sent on these southern and arduous missions may be inferred from the fact that, when the Right Rev. Abbott Wimmer, a most ardent friend of the South and of Southern missions, died, the Pastor of Tuscumbia, Rev. Andrew Hinterach, Order of Saint Benedictine, was chosen as his successor to govern one of the most extensive religious Orders in America. Reverend Oswald Moosmuller, Order of Saint Benedictine, pastor of Cullman has been appointed Prior of the head house of the Order in Pennsylvania. He is the founder of the Industrial School for Colored Boys in Skidaway Island, near Savannah, Ga. By the product of his own literary labors and without collecting a cent, except two or three times having an innocent “strawberry festival,” which brought not much, he has accomplished what perhaps no other priest in America has ever done. He has built three churches; one at Skidaway for the colored boys and people of the island, and two at Savannah, one for white and the other for colored Catholics. Rev. Benedict Menges, Order of Saint Benedictine, for ten years identified with the missions of Alabama, has recently been appointed Superior of those missions, and will shortly reside in Tuscumbia.

The development of the mineral resources and the growing industries of North Alabama will necessarily induce immigration and create a commensurate demand for educational facilities, and it is the intention of the Benedictines, as soon as circumstances will permit, to select a suitable site for a college, in which the youth of our own and neighboring States may, at little cost, receive an education to fit them for the positions and callings which may offer, and enable them to contribute to the future material and moral well-being of our city and State.

SCHOOLS.

The Deshler Female Institute is a handsome two story brick building on Main street, located in the center of the block or square which includes the residence of the late David Deshler, who bequeathed the entire property as a site for a female school. The building, which cost about $12,000, was destroyed by a cyclone in 1875, was rebuilt, and has been well patronized and is now in a flourishing condition under the management of Mr. Dell. It is called “The Deshler Institute,” in honor of General James Deshler, who was a native of  Tuscumbia and a graduate of West Point, and was killed in the late war at the battle of Chickamauga.

The city council have recently appropriated $6,000 for the benefit of the public male school for the whites, which will put it on a good footing.

In addition to the above there are several smaller private schools.

Source: This is a reprint from Northern Alabama Historical and Biographical Illustrated 1888 Smith & DeLand, Birmingham, Ala.,VII.  Sheffield, by William Garrett Brown.


Photos from the past…

especially from the far distant past are always welcome. This photo is of four Confederate Veterans at a reunion in Macon, Georgia in 1912. These handsome men include T. R. Thompson from Tuscumbia, Alabama.

Photo of Commanders of Confederate Veterans 1912


A Posey girl from Sheffield…

and her two children. I am not able to name the children.

Ora Lee Posey was  a sister to Orval Posey. Jessie A “Jay” and Alice Posey were the parents of Jessie Dee Posey, Orvel H Posey, and Ora Lee Posey; there may be more children that are not known currently. Jay and Alice Posey lived in Sheffield as long as I remember. Dee Posey was on the police force, in Tuscumbia, if I recall correctly. Orvel H Posey married Willie Preston Peebles and lived for many years in Steenson Hollow in Muscle Shoals.

Ora Lee Posey Peebles and her children

circa 1950


Popcorn, Peanuts, cigars, cigarettes…

cigarillos? Somebody must have wanted cigarettes or cigarillos, but somebody got them some Peanut instead the other night, and not in a good way. 

PeanutWe call him Peanut. And we love him. Everybody loves Peanut. And everybody wants to know the answer to our burning question. WHO did this to Peanut? WHAT did this to Peanut as to do something as heinous as this had to be a what and not a who. Pray for Peanut and his speedy recovery.

The other night Peanut was assaulted, rather badly, and then he was dumped out to live or die in the Spring Valley community of Colbert County, Alabama. How many of you have given Peanut a ride somewhere? Stand up. Right now. Testify. With little doubt you likely gave him a little something something to put in his pocket as well.

We call him Peanut, but we could just as well call him Mr. Light and Sunshine. For helping him along his way always provides the grantor a little light and sunshine in their day. The Shoals area has always been one big neighborhood when it comes to protecting and providing for the defenseless. Do you remember Marvin from downtown Sheffield? Do you remember Barney who walked everywhere and rather rapidly if I recall correctly? And there have been others.

Can you recall Barney and that he seemed to lean forward and his speed when walking was a clip? I had always thought his fast walking was for exercise benefits. After Barney died a nurse told me that it was miraculous that Barney could even walk. She did not see how he could walk. At the time of his death she saw his feet. From her facial contortions as she described his club feet, it was evident that they were gnarled knobs, not feet. They were not feet that would be comfortable to walk on, yet he did walk. He walked everywhere. From Tuscumbia to Sheffield, then from Sheffield to Tuscumbia.

In Cherokee, they adopted Donald Thompson. Donald was a huge Alabama Crimson Tide fan, likely the biggest fan of Alabama ever born. He loved sports, but was not healthy enough to play. So, he did the next best thing. He helped the coaches. At his funeral not so very long ago, someone remarked they had never seen so many big hulking athletic types, many coaches, seated all together on pews and everyone of them either sobbing or trying to hold back the sobs. He was beloved. They were beloved by him.

Now the hearts of the Shoals, the one great big neighborhood, belongs to Peanut. Peanut is beloved by almost everybody who meets him. And he loves them right back.

The local news reported on the incident. The report is hereStephen Michael, who is referred to as Peanut by those who love him,  is reported to be forty-six years old, is with his seventy-year-old mother in the photo that accompanied the report of the incident. There are unverified reports that the perpetrator was laughing about the incident in public.

Peanut was pistol whipped, robbed of his last five dollars, and dumped on the side of a county road

Peanut was pistol whipped, robbed of his last five dollars, and dumped on the side of a county road


1929 Sheffield and Tuscumbia’s Southern Rails…

baseball team. Pictured first row left to right: Lucian Hamlet, W C Olive, Clyde Lamb, Irl Arthur, W B Harris. Second row left to right: T C Blackwell, S M Chaffin Jr, Malcolm Smith, E M Williams, G W Williams, Luke Hendricks, Charles White, H K Allen, J N Winston and R R Martin.

Southern Rails 1929

Photo courtesy of Chuck Arthur


Brrr…

it’s cold outside! The photo is of Kris and Krista Burden of Tuscumbia, Alabama.

Kris and Krista Burden


Susan and Clay Howard…

are the people in this photo, but when I see this photo all I see is HER mother and HIS father.

Susan and Clay Howard


A tragedy, a tragedy…

I say. And so will you when you read about Lila Ann Glass Hurst who was born in Colbert County and died in Morgan County much too soon.

Lila Ann Hurst, must have delighted her parents at the birth of such an adorable child. And as she aged she gained in grace and beauty. That is self-evident in her portrait below.

Lila Ann was the daughter of John H Hurst and Lu Frances Williams Hurst. She was welcomed into this family in the month of December in 1882. She must have been the delight of the family as she was the first girl born to the parents and the first granddaughter for Matilda Clementine “Clemmie” Allen Hurst. Lila Ann Hurst’s grandfather is presumed to have died during or shortly after the War of Northern Aggression.  Her grandmother Clemmie later married Ryland O’Bannon Vandiver.

Lila Ann’s father worked for the railroad in Tuscumbia. There were two stations in Tuscumbia at the time he was known to work for the railroad. The first railway built in the nation was at Tuscumbia; and later he worked for the railroad in Decatur.

Lila Ann married Robert TYREE Glass. He worked for the railroad as well. They must have gotten married right after the 1900 census since she was in her father’s household then. He was referred to as Tye Glass and she as Mrs. Tye Glass.

The 1910 Census was enumerated on 10 May 1910, just one week before Lila was shot at her home. She and her family lived on Seventh Avenue South in Decatur. The census record read Seventh Avenue South, but the address undoubtedly was Sixth Avenue South as that address was noted as being the venue for the funeral. Their home address is given as Sixth, Seventh, and Tenth Avenue South on three difference occasions.  She and Robert TYREE Glass had been married ten years. It was the first marriage for both. They had four children, three of whom were living: Earl Petty Glass, Raymond Glass, and Dessie M. Glass. It is believed that Mattie O Glass was the fourth child; if so, she is buried at LaGrange Cemetery in Colbert County.

Shot?  In her home?  Yes and yes.

There was an article written in the New Decatur Daily in May of 1910 about the shooting death of Lila Hurst Glass. Tyree Glass came home from working at the Railyard where they lived in New Decatur, Alabama on 10th Avenue South, found his wife in an argument with a Mr. E. Jolly and Harry Ballinger. There were guns involved. The argument revolved around the ‘spreading of lies and rumors’ involving Harry Ballinger and/or his family. Shots were fired. Lila was killed. Tyree Glass apparently took the gun out of Lila’s hand at that point. Lila was dead; Tyree Glass and Ballinger were slightly injured. Mr. Jolly made his escape in a buggy.

The day of her funeral, there was a preliminary trial for the murder. The Decatur Daily printed that  “Glass attends funeral. Decatur May 19. Special. The funeral for Mrs. Tye Glass, who was killed here in a tragedy Tuesday night, took place this afternoon from the late residence at 1801 Sixth Avenue South, New Decatur. It was one of the saddest funerals ever witnessed in the Decaturs. Her husband, who had been in jail since the night of the tragedy, was allowed to attend the funeral this afternoon.”

An article published in the New Decatur Advertiser on 19 May 1910 reads as such: The preliminary trial of the alleged murderers of Mrs. Glass who was shot at her home on Tenth Avenue, South, last Tuesday night, was held at the Courthouse Friday morning and continued through the day. The evidence given this morning by Mr. Glass was to the effect that there had been some trouble in the nature of damaging reports issued about Harry Ballinger and to clear the matter, he had come to the house of Mr. Glass where he met Mrs. Glass and E. Jolly, who had also come there for the purpose of clearing up the rumors. During the discussion, which became very warm, Mr. Glass came home from work just in time to participate in a shooting affair which followed the discussion. During the shooting, Mrs. Glass was killed and Glass and Ballinger were both slightly injured, while Jolly made his escape in a buggy. The indications are that there were two pistols used; one was found with Ballinger and the other with Glass. Glass however says that he took his pistol from his wife who had it at the time she fell.  The jury returned a verdict of self-defense.

Another newspaper clipping reads: BALLINGER IS DISCHARGED Says he shot Mrs. Glass to protect himself.  Tye Glass husband of the Decatur woman shot to death was also released. DECATUR May 29. Special.  In a preliminary trial before Justice W. R. Simpson lasting the greater part of the day, Harry Ballinger, who was charged with the murder of Mrs. Tye Glass was discharged.

In the opinion of the Court Mr. Ballinger acted in self-defense, the evidence tended to show Mrs. Glass fired at Mr. Ballinger first, and it was then that Ballinger drew his revolver and fired at Mrs. Glass to protect his own life.

Ballinger did not deny that he killed Mrs. Glass, but set up the plea of self-defense and justifiable homicide. The evidence, in the opinion of the Court, tended to show that Mr. Ballinger received a pistol ball in his right side from Mrs. Glass’s revolver before he fired a shot. Tye Glass, the husband of the murdered woman, was also acquitted of the charges of murder against him.

Lila Ann Hurst Glass


I so wish I could fix this…

grave marker. I wish I could place markers on all the unmarked graves I have found of ancestors and even more recent family members. I wish…

This is the grave marker for my great-great grandparents on my father’s side. Riley and Clemmie Vandiver were loved by family throughout the generations.

Matilda Clementine Allen was born and raised in Franklin County. She was the daughter of John Wesley Allen and Mary Ann Yocum Allen of then Franklin County. Her first marriage was to a Hurst. She was enumerated on the 1860 census in her father’s household. She was next enumerated on the 1870 census as Matilda Hurst with two young sons, John H Hurst and Arthur P Hurst. So, it is presumed that her first husband was killed during the War of Northern Aggression or died shortly afterward. No documentation of the marriage has been found to date. She married a second time to Ryland B Vandiver. Clemmie must have been a very special person to the family because she was the namesake of many descendants.

Riley Vandiver’s name has been listed over the years as Riley, Riland B Vandiver, Ryland B Vandiver. Vandiver has been spelled and misspelled every which way throughout what documentation exists. His name was Ryland O’Bannon Vandiver/Vandever. It got shortened to Riley Bannon Vandiver somehow. He was born in Alabama and was living at Factory, Lauderdale County, Alabama on the 1860 Federal Census record. I have always wondered just where this Factory community was located because I had one other ancestor from another family line that lived there as well.

I learned about Clemmie and Riley Vandiver from my Daddy’s Aunt Gene before she died at age of about 97. She said that Granpa Riley was a very skilled woodworker or cabinet-maker. She stated that he made each child a whole bedroom suite of furniture. She emphasized, suite, not just a bed and chest but a whole suite of bedroom furniture. I asked what happened to the bedroom suites and she said she didn’t know. If only a photo of the furniture remained…sigh.

Riley and Clemmie moved to around Memphis, along with Tyree and Mary Vandiver Glass or vice versa, after the death of Clemmie’s granddaughter which is a tragic story to be told another day. Her granddaughter Lila Ann Hurst was married to Robert Tyree Glass. Tyree Glass worked for the railroad, first in Tuscumbia and then in Decatur. Lila and Tye had four children but only three were living at the time of the murder of Lila 17 May 1910. Their children were Earl Petty Glass, Raymond Glass and Bessie M Glass. I believe that their fourth child was Mattie O Glass who is buried at LaGrange Cemetery in Colbert County but that is not a certainty. Mary and Tye had Carter Woodrow Glass and possibly a daughter or two (I am working on that line right now). Tye died in Louisiana and evidently Mary Vandiver Glass died near Memphis. Riley and Clemmie are buried at Hood Cemetery (I won’t bother you with how many years, no decades, I searched everywhere on God’s green earth for that cemetery) which is in a community named Warren in Fayette County, Tennessee. Their daughter Walker Vandiver is buried at the head of their marker in an unmarked grave. She never married. All that exists of Walker Vandiver is a little piece of paper called an obituary somewhere in a library and her name on census records. I have never seen or heard of a photo of her.

After the death of Lila, Tyree married Clemmie’s daughter, Mary Vandiver. Mary must have been a very good mother to those children of Tye and Lila as one of them reported back to family that Mary was the only grandmother he had ever known.

Three of us visited Hood Cemetery some years ago. The tombstone was crumbling from the bottom at that time. There were bits and pieces of it on the ground. I brought a piece home as a keepsake of Riley and Clemmie. Then in a visit in October 2009 the condition of the tombstone is as you see in the photos below. And that makes me want to cry.


Brigadier General James Deshler…

was a hero in his father, David Deshler’s, eyes. David Deshler set out to protect his son’s memory and service as noted in the article that Remembering the Shoals posted on the Winston Home. Someone please explain to me why we never learned about local heroes in school?

James Deshler was born February 18, 1833, in Tuscumbia, Alabama, the middle child of David and Eleanor Taylor Deshler. James’s father was a member of a prominent Pennsylvania family and traveled with his English born wife to Alabama in 1825 to work on the construction of Alabama’s first railroad, the Tuscumbia Railway. David became a very wealthy merchant and was able to rear his children in comfort and ease, yet tragedy would seem to haunt them. In 1844, James’s sister, Charlotte Ann, died at the age of thirteen. The eldest son, David Jr., was appointed to attend West Point but sadly this honor ended in tragedy as well. David Jr. drowned swimming in the Hudson River in 1845, leaving James as the only child. James now became the focus of his father’s attention, and he soon had James following in his brother’s footsteps, entering West Point in 1850. James did very well in his studies, being described by fellow cadet Edward P. Alexander as “a first class man…fine looking fellow with very attractive manners & qualities.” James graduated seventh in the Class of 1854, which included ranking higher than future Confederate generals James Ewell Brown Stuart, George Washington Custis Lee, Archibald Gracie Jr., and Stephen D. Lee.

In September 1861 he was an assistant to Brig. Gen. Henry R. Jackson during the Battle of Cheat Mountain. Deshler was wounded at the Battle of Allegheny Mountain when he was shot through the thighs. After his recovery from his wounds he was promoted to colonel and assigned to the staff of Maj. Gen. Theophilus H. Holmes.In 1862 he was given his first command, which consisted of four regiments of Texas infantry and cavalry, the Tenth Texas Infantry regiment, Fifteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Texas Dismounted Cavalry regiments. On January 11, 1863, Deshler was captured when the Confederates surrendered at the Battle of Fort Hindman. After being exchanged he was promoted to brigadier general on July 28, 1863.

On the second day of the Battle of Chickamauga on September 20, 1863, while inspecting his brigade before an attack, Deshler was killed instantly by a Union artillery shell when it exploded in front of him, tearing his heart from his body.Command of his brigade was taken over by the future Senator Roger Mills, and the Confederacy won the battle. After the fighting ended, a family friend buried Deshler’s body on the battlefield. Later the friend brought Deshler’s father to the gravesite. They disinterred Deshler and subsequently reburied him in Oakwood Cemetery in his hometown of Tuscumbia, Alabama.

Mills remarked after Deshler’s death:

I may pause here and pay a passing tribute to the memory of our fallen chief. He was brave, generous and kind, even to a fault. Ever watchful and careful for the safety of any member of his command, he was ever ready to peril his own…He poured out his own blood upon the spot watered by the best blood of the brigade. Amongst the host of brave hearts that were offered the altar of sacrifice for their country on that beautiful Sabath, there perished not one, noble, braver, or better than his. He lived beloved, and fell lamented and mourned by every officer and man of his command.[4]

James Deshler
Brig Gen James Deshler

 

Sources:

 History of Alabama and dictionary of Alabama biography, Volume 3 By Thomas McAdory Owen, Marie Bankhead Owen, page 488

References

  • Smith, Derek The Gallant Dead: Union and Confederate Generals Killed in the Civil War (2005) pg. 193
  • Heart Of Dixie Publishing and William Lindsey McDonalds’ Civil War Tales of the Tennessee Valley (2003) pp. 169–170
  • United States War Dept, Robert Nicholson Scott, George Breckenridge Davis, Leslie J. Perry, United States War Records Office, Joseph William Kirkley, United States Record and Pension Office, and John Sheldon Moodeys’ The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (1890) pg. 188
  • Evans, Clement Anselm Confederate Military History: A Library of Confederate States History (1899) pp. 403–405

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