Friday, July 1, 2016

Celebrating The Fourth of July in Knoxville

The Fourth of July!
The only preparation made to celebrate the 4th of July in this vicinity, is the picnic of the
railroad employees and games and amusements at the Fair Grounds by the Irish Benevolent Society.

The train leaves East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad Depot at 7 o'clock promptly
for the railroad picnic to take place on the 4th of July at Maryville. (1871)

From 1872



The day promises to be more generally celebrated than any Anniversary day since 1861.
Every effort has been made to have it pass off to the satisfaction of all concerned. The 4th of July belongs to American citizens,without reference to party or creed, and we hope to see today an old fashioned celebration in which all will participate. There will probably be a large number of people here to welcome Gen Burnside, of whom so far as East Tenn is concerned, it can safely be said he is " first in the hearts of his countrymen."
No name is more generally respected or will provoke more universal than that of Gen. Burnside. Friend as well as foe respected him for s integrity and kindness of heart, and no cornmander ever won from his troops a more theerful or willing service. He stunds as a commander without
dishonor, who exercised his authority humanely,with due regard to the rights of all who were under his command, whether soldier or citizen. To such a man, we can bid welcome to East Tennessee and extend the homage due to a brave sodier and an honest citizen. (Source: Knoxville weekly chronicle. (Knoxville, Tenn.), 08 July 1874. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. Link)

General Santa Anna's Fourth of July "visit" and more stories from Jack Neely. Link

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Incredible Story of Thomas G Boyd Part 6

Life after Prison

Thomas G. Boyd, late of the Nashville penitentiary, for offenses committed, against the United States " revenue department, has started out on a lecturing tour. Subject, " The Tennessee penitentiary and its mode of government. He lectured at Madisonville last Monday night. (Source:Public ledger. (Memphis, Tenn.), 26 March 1877. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. Link

Thomas G. Boyd Killed
by His Nephew.

The Tr(a)gic Death of One of the Most Noted Characters in the State- A Lawsuit the Cause of the Murder
Special to the Chattanooga Times
Sweetwater, January 7, 1882.
A foul murder was committed in this town last night by Joe Boyd, of Atlanta, on his uncle, the notorious Thomas G. Boyd. Boyd made himself notorious a few years since by his swindling operations on the government he was an United States Claim Agent, and filed a large number of bogus claims, using the names ot alleged soldiers, who he said lived in North Carolina. When the swindle was discovered, he fled the country. In order to cover his escape, he had the bones of a negro exhumed and burned in a brush pile, and his friends spread the report that the charred remains were his. The story was discredited, and his chief bondsman, Louis Lenoir, put a detective on his track, and finally captured him in Canada. he was tried and sentenced to the penitentiary for ten years and to pay a heavy fine. He had considerable property, and in order to protect himself transferred it to Jesse Williams, a kinsman. He was pardoned before he served his time and returned to Sweetwater, and was recently elected to a position ot trust in the county, being a man of remarkable popularity, not withstanding the cloud on his name.

 Some time since he attempted to regain his property from Williams, but the latter refused to surrender it, and it is believed that it was on account of this lawsuit that Joe Boyd, of Atlanta, a brother-in-law of William, killed him. Boyd came to Sweetwater Friday afternoon, and had several conferences with his uncle, which seemed to be satisfactory. Last night he went to his house and deliberately shot him with a pistol, the bullet penetrating his heart and killing hm instantly.
JosephnBoyd was arrested and committed. He is a young man, aged about 23, a son of Andy Boyd, of Atlanta. Thomas G. Boyd leaves a large family.

Knoxville Chronicle, S.l
The general impression seems to be that the difficulty originated in hard feelings which have existed between the deceased and other relatives, among whom was Joseph Boyd, in regard to a lawsuit which has been pending in the courts tor some years, and through which, by means of a decision of the Supreme Court, at its last session in Knoxville, Thomas G. Boyd came into possession of a large amount of valuable property in and around Sweetwater. Thomas G. Boyd gained much notoriety a few years since in the fact that he was detected in a stupendous scheme ot defrauding the government
in the matter of claims, he being a claim agent. He disappeared, and the report was given out that ha was murdered and his body burned, and the charred remains were taken up and buried. The remains turned out however, to be those of a dead negro, which had been exhumed and prepared for the occasion, and the real Thomas G. Boyd was afterward arrested in Canada, brought back to Knoxville,
where, after a lengthy trial, he was convicted and served a term in the penitentiary. He returned from prison and to his old home at Sweetwater and set to work at once to re establish himself. He was first elected Justice of the Peace and afterward Mayor of Sweetwater. He was a man of great vigor and enterprise, and was driving a good business in Sweetwater in two or three different lines. He had been
a large purchaser of hogs and stock during the present season, and operated on quite an extensive scale
He leaves a wife and family of three children and a large circle of relatives throughout East Tennessee.

He is buried in West View Cemetery in Monroe County, Tennessee. Find a Grave link.

The Incredible Story of Thomas G Boyd Part 5

The Verdict

Thomas G Boyd, of Sweetwater, Tenn., the hero of the Laurel mountain mystery, has been convicted of defrauding the Government out of large sums of money and sent to the Penitentiary at
Nashville for a five years term, and fined $5,000.
The Verdict: (Source: The Bolivar bulletin. (Bolivar, Hardeman County, Tenn.), 07 Feb. 1873. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. Link


Thos. G Boyd had his wish gratified so far as a quick transit to the goal was concerned, and, as is known, left Knoxville last Friday night for Nashville, where he was met nt the depot in that city by Deputy Warden Jo. J. Ivins and conveyed in a close carriage to the penitentiary. He was cheerful enough and shook hands cordially with several acquaintances whom he met.

On arriving at the penitentiary Boyd was much chagrined to learn, after "registering" his name was gone through with, that it would be necessary for him to assume the picturesque costume worn by the
prisoners. ( Prison Source Link)

While he was in prison, his wife wrote to political figures asking for leniency or a pardon for her husband.

Letter to Ulysses S Grant Link

Letter to Andrew Johnson by Louisa R Boyd Link

The Incredible Story of Thomas G Boyd Part 4

The trial

The prosecution expected to show that the said Martha J. Upton, widow of Frank Upton, a deceased. Federal soldier, lad only four children, Boyd having fraudulently filled up the original application
for six. The said Martha J. Upton, being unable to read or write had made the afadavit, being ignorant of its real contents, On this application a pension was allowed. The prosecution charges that Boyd paid over less than the amount to which four children were entitled, while he had fraudulently procured an allowance for six. Judge Nelson, counsel for Boyd, said that, in the defense it would be insisted that n large portion of the evidence received on a former trial was not admissible. That Boyd was wholly guiltless in this transaction, Martha J. Upton having repeatedly sworn that she had six children. That Boyd had paid her a small sum more than she was entitled to. That the material witnesses for the prosecution were ignorant negroes, wholly incredible, some of whom they expected to impeach.

Samuel Elliot was then called and examined for the Government. He lives in Monroe, county and had resided there for 22 years. He was very positive that he did not die in the Fall of l863, as had been alleged bv Boyd in his application for pension for his minor children. On being asked if he had any children, he said his wife had some. He had no child named Sarah, nor none named Barton. He lived 12 miles from Madisonville and had known Boyd for many years. Boyd also knew him. He lived seven years on Kelso's farm. He was certain that he had never died and came back to the world to persecute Boyd. (Laughter) He knew of no other Samuel Elliot except his little boy, who had been born since this trouble commenced. Being cross-examined by Mr. Cocke, he said he knew no other Samuel Elliott. He was called upon to five the names of his children, which he did, showing they were identical with the names in the alleged fraudulent claim except two, which were different. He knew no Samuel Elliott in Georgia who had died in the Federal army. His first wife's maiden name was Nancy Stilwell. His present wife's maiden name was Mary Cline.

T. K. Cole was called. He was a member of Capt Bryson's company. Couldn't tell where the company was in November,1863. He was raised in North Carolina. He knew no one in the company named Samuel Elliott. He had a brother who afterwards enlisted in the l0th Tennessee regiment and died of small pox.
Cross-examination- he was a private in the company and could not tell the number of persons in it. Neither could he remember all the names but repeated some of them. Bryson's company noted as scouts and were often on duty in squads. Col. Johnson was re-called and proved the handwriting of Boyd in an original application for pension, made by Boyd as the guardian of six minor children of George Rose, who was alleged to have died of gun-shot wounds received at Cokee Creek in Monroe county in November, 1863. Other collateral papers were presented in this case, embracing paid cheeks, with Boyd's endorsement, showing that as guardian of the six minor children of George Rose, he had received from the Government at one time, $1,218 and at two other times $54 each. George Rose was called and testified he had married in Cherokee county. North Carolina, where he still resides. He had two living children and one dead. He knew of no other man of his name in that county where he had a general acquaintance. He bad never been a member of Capt. Bryson's Company. He still lives in Cherokee county and had never been dead. His wife had never married anybody else, unless she had done it since he left home. Cross-examined, he said he had a prettv general acquaintance in a portion of the county. He did not propose to know every man.
Col. Johnson was again called and testified to Boyd's handwriting in two applications for pension one for Susannah Davis, widow of Jas. K. Davis, Co. I or L. 9th Pennsylvania veteran volunteers, and another as widow of Jas. Davis, late of Co. B. 8th regiment Indiana volunteers. In each of these applications, the midden name of Susannah Davis was stated to have been Susannah Raper. The date of marriage were identical and the minister solemizing the rites of matrimony was the same in each case,
Susannah Davis (colored) was called. She said her maiden name was Raper. Her first husband's name was Fletcher and her second was named James Davis. She was married to Davis two or three years before the war. Her last husband died in the Federal army. She had made application to Mr. Petitt to prosecute her claim for a pension. Then she went to see Boyd, who told her he could get her a pension. She had received $328 from Boyd. Upon cross examination she said that she had no other agent except Boyd. Mr. Campbell paid her ten dollars of the amount received. She had received an order to Boyd's store for $15. Jeff, Carson paid her $240 in cash. Alvin Boyd paid her $48. She was sworn once before Mr Petitt and another before Mr Montgomery. Alvin Boyd went with her to Mr. Montgomery's. Thomas G. Boyd was not there. She did not know where he was.

The Incredible Story of Thomas G Boyd Part 3

Morning Session

At the hour of 10 o'clock, yesterday morning a large crowd of spectators were at the Federal Court room, to witness the presentation of an affidavit for the continuance of cases there pending against Thomas. G. Boyd, whose name has figured in such an unenviable manner in the public mind for some time past. After the record of the previous day's proceedings was read by the clerk, Mr. Aiken Boyd made his appearance. He seemed to be in good spirits, and cordially shook hands with a number of
acquaintances whom he met as he made his way through the audience to the clerk's desk, where he made affidavit for continuance of the case. Judge Nelson then proceeded to read the affidavit, which is very lengthy and alleges, among other things, the absence of material witnesses and what he expects to prove by them.
He was being pursued by government officials who were eagerly prosecuting him, and that in an evil hour, in a moment of depression, without consulting his counsel, he determined to make his escape, he details the circumstances or his arrest and "voluntary" return to Tennessee, with which facts our readers are familiar. He makes complaint of certain newspaper articles in the Knoxville press by which public opinion was prejudiced against him, and speaks of the loathsome cells of the Knoxville jail. He alleges a dangerous combination to effect his conviction, by intimidation of witnesses, & c.

Afternoon Session

Boyd was offered bond again!

The hearing of the Boyd trial was resumed on a motion of the defendant's counsel to give bail for his appearance. John S. Thomas, of Bristol, proffered to go on the prisoner's bond, slating that he
was worth the requisite amount of money. His credibility was assailed by the counsel for the Government, which involved considerable discussion, when the witness was withdrawn.
Thomas Boyd, uncle of the prisoner, was the next surety offered, who made oath that he was worth
more than $5,000, clear of all debts. J. Galbraith, of Concord, was next offered, who testified that he owned property in excels of his debts to the value of $3,500. Jesse E. Williams, of Concord, did not
make it appear clearly that he was worth the necessary amount and stood aside. A. W. Boyd testified that he was already surety in other cases for about $8,000, and that was the full value of unembarrassed property.
Thomas Boyd was accepted as surety for the first case and the same and Mr. Galbraith for the case following. The rest were refused.
(Source: Knoxville weekly chronicle. (Knoxville, Tenn.), 29 Jan. 1873. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.Link)

The Incredible Story of Thomas G Boyd Part 2

The escape route of Thomas G Boyd from Google maps


Nothing definite was known by the public of his whereabouts, until the l5th instant, when a dispatch was received from L. W. Lenoir, from Detroit, Michigan, bearing date the day previous, and addressed to his uncle, I. T. Lenoir, announcing the arrest of Boyd in Ontario, and that they might be expected in a few days, together with one from the fugitive himself requesting hut a cell in the Knoxville jail be made comfortable for his occupation.
His whereabouts in Canada was first discovered by some letters addressed to friends in Sweetwater asking for papers with an account of Boyd's assination. These letters came in the name of a man in the far West who wrote by solicitation of a man in Canada, whom the western man at once suspected as Boyd. With this trail his final hiding place was discovered and his arrest secured. He arrived on the 18th inst., an account of which, together with the adventures of Mr. Lenoir as s detective, was published the day following in the Chronicle, which, together with his presentment before the court and failing to give bail, are fuels as to an occurrence to need recapitulation, as they were published in full at the time.

This condensed statement brings the read step by step, without a link broken, up to the proceedings of the Court on Wednesday, the 22d Inst., when the last expedient of eminent counsel having failed to delay the cause, the defendant was placed on trial, from which time to date, the proceedings are in full.
(Source: Knoxville weekly chronicle. (Knoxville, Tenn.), 29 Jan. 1873. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. Link

The incredible story of Thomas G. Boyd Part 1

Thomas G Boyd was born on April 4, 1840. He married Louisa Thomas and lived in Monroe County. He was a Civil War veteran, serving in the 3rd Regiment, Tennessee Mounted Infantry (Lillard's).

After the war, he placed ads to help people obtain government pensions.

Photo Credit: The Sweetwater forerunner. (Sweetwater, Tenn.), 20 Aug. 1868. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. Link

Readers unfamiliar with the Boyd case will need some explanation of his attempted escape and rumored assassination. Indicted in some eighteen cases for frauds on the United States in making out and collecting fraudulent pension claims he was bailed by friends in the sum of $36,000.
Finding the evidence against him accumulating and the charges weighing upon him, he grew desperate, as his counsel explained it, and determined to escape. It is charged that his frauds amount to some $50,000. In order to protect his bondsmen from paying his bail money, he desired it to appear that he was "assassinated."

On Sunday, the fifth of last September, information was telegraphed from Sweetwater to Knoxville that Thomas G. Boyd had been murdered the Friday previous on Laurel Branch, near the North Carolina
State line, by masked kuklux, who after threatening his companions with instant death, shot Lloyd in their presence and mysteriously disappeared, when after the lapse of several hours the men with him, Reagar and Hensley, were released from their bonds and told to leave.
They told this tale, but people were slow to believe it and rigid investigations were made, which resulted in the finding of a body horribly burned, which some few accepted as the remains of Boyd, who, us they professed to believe, had been murdered, and all traces of the crime attempted to be obliterated by an approved modern suttee.

The case was industriously worked up by Col. Whitney, a Government detective, and the charred remains identified as those of Samuel Bowles, a colored man who had died a short time previous ut Sweetwater, and whose corpse had been packed in charcoal, us is alleged by Boyd's direction, and taken to Eleazar church for burial, which is a comparatively short distance from where it was found.
Then followed its burial and the opening of the grave of the colored man which was found empty, succeeded by the examination of Reagan and Hensley before the officials of the government, together with other circumstances, all of which taken together placed the mysterious disappeared in a very unenviable light. It was supposed that Boyd had gone South and conjecture was right, for he went direct to New Orleans without halting, intending to go to Mexico, but the unsettled condition of affairs in that country induced him to change his mind and he concluded to brave the rigors of a Canadian winter in preference.