Friday, January 6, 2017

Reading about my Snow family on a snowy night

Snow is falling and I am reading the inventory of my ancestor Nicholas Snow's estate and it reminded me of another estate inventory.  The estate inventory of Henry Byrom.

Henry Byrom came to Virginia in 1703 as an indentured servant .  He was a gunsmith and he was allowed to bring a servant with him (his brother Peter Byrom).  I am not all sure about the status of an indentured servant's servant because this is the only time I have seen this.

Henry did pretty well.  He married Frances Mills on December 10, 1702.  She was the daughter of Robert Mills and Jane Brown.  Henry died in 1717 and his inventory is the subject of this post.  One of the things listed is a brass divider.  I shared the inventory with another researcher and she asked me how Henry Bryom would have used a brass room divider in his small house.

Since my father was an engineer, I knew this was a tool that Henry would have used to measure the distance between two points. This would have been necessary for a gunsmith during this time because this was long before standardized sizes for for gun parts would be used.  Each gun was a single piece of art. 

An antique brass divider is both a beautiful piece of art and a useful too.  I could not find a photo of an antique brass divider, but trust me, they are beautiful.

By Glenn McKechnie - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Tragic End of the Hugh Martin

View of Washington Landing in Rhea County (+35.53624, -84.87965) from the bridge on William Jennings Bryan Highway.  

Photo from Google maps

 It was not unusual for steamboats to have accidents.  Navigating the river was a dangerous occupation, during dry seasons boats could run around, they could sink when rain caused the creeks   to swell as the water rushed down the mountains to the river.  Also floods would push debris into the water and river men needed to be on the look out for partially sunken logs.
When boats sunk or wrecked, they were pulled up from the river and often left on the bank where it would be either sold or repaired when possible.

The steamer Hugh Martin exploded her boiler at Washington Landing, on the Tennessee River, on Saturday, causing a complete wreck of the boat. Four persons were killed. (The Times, Philadelphia, PA, 17 Aug 1875, Tue, p. 1)

Details of the Hugh Martin Disaster
A gentleman who left this city Saturday night on the Lucy Coker for Washington,and returned yesterday morning, on the same boat, furnishes the following correct list of killed and wounded by the explosion of the boiler of the Hugh Martin.
Jacob Fritz, Captain;
Ely, L , a passenger. The officers of the Hugh Martin did not remember his name, except that it was Ely and his last name began with L. He got on at Knoxville and was going to Igos landing. Oliver Henry, son of Wm. R.Henry, of Washington, owner of the landing. Oliver was standing on the landing when the explosion occurred and a piece of lumber struck him and broke his neck.
Wm. Hood, Mate, of Kingston. He had a leg broken and was burned and bruised on face and body. Injuries very serious. John Henson, Pilot, was bruised but not seriously. He went home on the M. Bishop Sunday morning. -Edward Mead, passenger, Civil Engineer on the Cincinnati Southern .Railroad, formerly on the Cumberland, now on the survey at Nashville, was bruised on face and muscles of neck, and had a shoulder strained. His injuries are not regarded as dangerous, and Mr. Wherry informs us that when he left, Mr. Mead was sitting up in bed smoking a cigar. Mr. Mead said that be heard the explosion and found himself turning somersaults in the air, and finally brought up on shore. L. D. Polston, passenger, a carpenter of Rutherford county, lately employed on the Cincinnati Southern Railroad, was burned and bruised slightly.
He came down on the Coker and left for home on the Nashville train. Jesse Benson, colored, deck hand from Montgomery,Ala., got a compound fracture of the leg below the knee. His is a bad case. Ben. Hightower, colored, deck band from Dalton, Georgia, was injured internally, probably fatally. John Black, colored, deck hand from Kingston, Tennessee, had his leg burned, not seriously. Ben. Saddoth, col. deck hand, from Roane county, got a broken thigh; Thomas Weaver, colored, deck hand, from Knoxville, Tenn., broken leg; Dan Devans, colored, deck hand, severely bruised.
All the above wounded, are at Washington, except Benson and Polston.
The following
Medical Men
have been in attendance upon the wounded; Dr Jones and others of Washington, Drs Mynatt and J T Abernathy of Rhea Springs, Dr Bevin of Decatur. These people have done everything in their power for the comfort of the sufferers by the catastrophe.

Capt. Frits's Body
was found late Monday evening at Tucker's Landing, some 17 miles below Washington, by some residents of the community, who carried the news to the news to the city of Knoxville. The City of Knoxville at once steamed down the river, took the body on board. brought it to
Chattanooga last night and placed it in a burial case and departed at once for Kingston, where the funeral must have taken place today.
The body was greatly disgured, but still easily recognized.

The Cause of the Explosion
The best authorities think that the explosion was caused by the boiler becoming red hot while the nose was resting on the bank, and the water, being too low, fell to the rear of the boiler, leaving the front bare. When the boat drew away from the bank and resumed an even keel, the water came rushing over the heated boiler and was flashed at once into steam, producing tremendous pressure. The pieces of the boiler were examined with much care. None of them would weigh over 200 pounds and they were torn across the seams (?). There were no signs of corresion.
The force executed seemed more like that of nitro glycerine than the ordinary power of steam. The engineer had started the boat and called a negro who understood engines and told him to
watch the throttle valve, while be went upon the upper deck; and the explosion occurred was on his way up. The negro said the guage showed 165 pound of steam.

Feeling Is Very Strong
against the engineer, but the fact seems to be that there was carelessness all around and the accident will be a warning to our river men for some time to come.

Nashville union and American. (Nashville, Tenn.), 18 Aug. 1875. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. Link )

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Constitution of Tennessee

Tennessee Constitution of 1796

Tennessee constitutional convention delegates met in Knoxville in January 1796 to write a constitution for a new state. This was a requirement for requesting Congress to grant statehood. Constitutional Convention 1796: Link

Free males over 21, who owned at least 200 acres and had lived in the territory for three years could vote. 
Read it here: Link
More here: Link

Tennessee Constitution of 1834

Read it here: Link

When the Tennessee Constitutional Convention of 1834 came together, it was flooded with petitions from all parts of the State, and especially from East Tennessee, praying for immediate emancipation. Nearly one third of the members of that body voted in favor of the action requested. But the majority turned a deaf ear to all entreaties and spread upon the journal an elaborate paper written by that astute lawyer John A McKinney, who sat for the County of Hawkins, in defense of their action. The remarkable thing about the paper, which I have published in full in the Quarterly Review of the Methodist Episcopal Church South for April 1892, is that it fully and frankly concedes slavery to be a great evil, and predicts that in some way or other its abolition is sure to come. The protest of the minority which was also made a matter of record was as strong a document as Wendell Phillips or William Lloyd Garrison ever wrote. It reads as if it might have come from one or the other of those radical reformers.
But after the year 1840- perhaps a little later- slavery came to be considered a fixed thing in Tennessee. Free debate concerning it was not longer tolerated, though many persons continued to cherish in silence the conviction that it was a great evil. Perhaps the last open utterance on the subject was in an address delivered by the Hon John M Lea before the Apprentice's Union at Nashville in 1841. Judge Lea is still living as fine a specimen of a cultivated and high minded gentleman as can be found in these United States. He is a son of the Hon Luke Lea, who as Congressman from the Knoxville District, secured David Farragut his position as midshipman in the United States Navy. I may also add that he was himself a large slaveholder and treated his slaves with such humanity and consideration that when emancipation came they were all capable of making a comfortable support for themselves. By his own testimony they are now- such of them as are still living- doing better for themselves than they did when they belonged to him.
The reasons for the sudden arrest of the reform that seemed to be imminent may be set down under four heads:
1. There was a natural resentment of the interference of the North which whether justly or unjustly was looked upon as an impertinence.
2. There was a growing fear fed by such incidents as the Nat Turner insurrection in Virginia that the further agitation of the question would lead to tumult and insurrection. Men who knew something from history as to what a servile war meant, might be excused if they shuddered at the mere prospect of such a thing.
3. There was a perplexing doubt as to what woud or could be done with the slaves if they were set free. Did not this doubt have some rational foundations? Do we yet know what the final results of emancipation are to be? As late as 1866, the Hon Horace Menard predicted that it would prove the euthanasia of the negro race. Is the man alive who would now venture to give any definite opinion on the subject? One thing is certain the stroke of Mr Lincoln's pen that set these ebon millions free raised almost as many questions as it settled.
4. In consequence of the invention of the cotton gin, slavery became what it had never before been, a very profitable institution. Human greed and avarice were thereby enlisted in favor of its perpetuation. No wonder that it got a new lease of life. Let not our Northern friends be too critical of us on this score. They had no vested interests to interfere with the operation of their benevolent sentiments. The notion that if conditions had been reversed they would have exhibited a loftier and more unselfish morality than the Southerners did is one of those pleasant delusions which the attentive student of human nature does not think it worth while to consider with anything like a careful scrutiny. It were easy to be virtuous, did virtue consist in denying to another man his cakes and ale. All this is now past. Let us be thankful that it is so. Who does not rejoice in his inmost heart that no man woman or child can now be held in bondage where the flag of the Republic floats? Who does not wish that the emancipated slaves should enjoy to the full the fruits of their freedom in increasing wealth, growing intelligence, and an improved morality. To assess the responsibility of the different sections of the country for the introduction and perpetuation of the evil system from which we are now happily released, would be an impossible task. That is a matter that must be settled at a more august and impartial tribunal than has ever yet been set up on this earth. But we can nevertheless, without thinking of the errors and mistakes of the past, address ourselves to the glorious work of lifting up all the citizens of our land to the highest level on which it is possible for them to stand. The past is history. But the present is in our hands. (Source: Elihu Embree, Abolitionist, Elijah Embree Hoss, University Press Co., 1897, pp. 26-28)

Suggested Reading:AFRICAN SLAVERY AND THE TENNESSEE CONVENTION OF 1834, (Quarterly Review of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Volume 12, Issue 1,Bigham & Smith, 1892, p 118) Article Starts on page 118 Link

Tennessee Constitution: Link

The Progress of Emancipation in Tennessee, 1796-1860 James W. Patton Justor: Link

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.