Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Confederte Monument in Wadesboro

I got home from out rambling in the Sunshine State late Saturday night. There has been plenty of catch-up work on Sunday and Monday. Last night found me in meeting with the SCV Camp in Wadesboro, North Carolina - a fine group of folks.

I took these two photographs of the Confederate monuments in Wadesboro. The first is the monument to Women of the Confederacy, dedicated on September 22, 1934. It is on the courthouse grounds.

To its right, is the second, older monument, dedicated on January 19, 1906. The bronze soldier on the top is made in the likeness of John Richardson of Ansonville.

I was informed last night of a third monument, this one inside the courthouse. We’ll see if we can’t get more information on this marker.

I had a very good question last night that I could not answer - what percentage of the Confederate markers in North Carolina have soldiers crowning them? A little research should provide an answer.

I had another good question a couple of weeks ago, a question that I’ve not yet been able to answer - when was the first Iron Cross placed on a Confederate grave? (North Carolina or otherwise). I know that Iron Crosses were prevalent prior to the US Government-issued tombstones. If you have an answer for me, drop me a line at

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Rambling in the Sunshine State

I’ve been on vacation for the past week – we started out by spending a weekend in Savannah, then came on down to Florida to visit with my folks. I am once again reminded of all of the people who made Florida what is, after they were soldiers in the War. Many of them were North Carolinians.

Here in Greater Orlando, we have Capt. Bluford M. Sims. He was in Thomas’s Legion and came to the area west of town, and basically created the town of Ocoee and is buried there.

Col. John B. Palmer of the 58th NCT came to what is now Winter Park and bought a number of acres of old orange groves on Lake Maitland. Palmer Ave, the main thoroughfare through old Winter Park, is named for him, and the canal where the boat tours are run was once called Palmer Creek.

The founder of the newspaper in Apopka (whose name escapes me right now – hey, I’m on vacation) was a former soldier from Haywood County.

And, there are many others. Zellwood was named in honor of Lt. Col. Thomas Ellwood Zell of the 121st Pennsylvania Infantry (Not sure where the Lt. Col. rank came from as he is only listed as a captain in NPS).

St. Cloud, south of Orlando, was founded as a home for Union Veterans.

Yesterday, while out rambling, I came upon the grave of “Col. John L. Moore 3rd Ga. Regt.” in the Umatilla Cemetery I wonder what his story is?

To go a little further afield, if I remember correctly, both Maj. Ellis of the 20th Maine and Maj. Gen. John B. Gordon died in Miami.

There are hundreds of these little stories all across the state.

So many stories, so little time….

I should be back home in a day or so.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Captain Pearson

I had a great time speaking to the groups in Bessemer City and Greensboro. However, all of this zipping around the state has me tired.

I’ve spent the morning researching the Captain Pearson I alluded to a couple of days ago. I believe that this is Isaac A. Pearson, born ca. 1815 on Silver Creek, Burke County. He appears in the 1850 and 1860 Yancey County census. In the latter, he is a 43 year old merchant residing in Bakersville. John W. McElroy mentions him in a letter to Vance on February 5, 1861. McElroy writes: "I do not know who will Run as a candidate in this County but I suppose Pearson, Broyles or old Sam Byrd, as I understand that they all want to be elected to that Body. I Suppose a disunion man will be elected." I would take this to mean that Pearson was a Union man.

It appears that Pearson moved to Catawba County after the war, and is listed in the 1870 census as a revenue officer, and in 1880 as a farmer. He was remarried to a widow from Virginia. He is not in the 1900 census, so we can assume that he passed on between 1880 and 1900.

Can I say that the Pearson living in Bakersville is the Pearson who was trying to recruit a local company in January 1861? No, not yet. If it is not, then I’ll have a lot of research on Isaac A. Pearson from Bakersville. Maybe this afternoon I should ride over to the Mitchell County historical society and see if I can find anything else.

All of this work for something that will probably just appear as a footnote in the 58th NCT book.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

NC Ordinance of Secession back in Capitol

Sure wish I could go and see this, but alas, I already have plans. If anyone makes it, please drop me a line.

North Carolina Secession Observance Date: Friday, 18 May 2007, through Sunday, 20 May 2007 T

he original North Carolina Ordinance of Secession will be on display for three days only in the House Chamber of the North Carolina State Capitol in Raleigh NC. A special legislative session convened on 1 May 1861 and called for the election of delegates to a convention. The convention met at the Capitol on 20 May 1861, and voted to secede from the Union, launching North Carolina into the War for Southern Independence. The Capitol building will be open to visitors on Friday from 8AM to 5PM, on Saturday from 10AM to 4PM, and on Sunday from 1PM to 3PM. The Capitol is located at 1 E. Edenton Street in Raleigh. For further details or directions, please call (919) 733-4994 or send e-mail

Monday, May 14, 2007

To Gaston and beyond

Off yet again. This evening, I’ll be speaking to the SCV Camp in Bessemer City, and tomorrow, to the SCV Camp in Greensboro. Hoping to get by the Hollybrook Cemetery in Lincolnton, NC, this afternoon to photograph the grave of Capt. Frederick A. Tobey, Co. A, 58th NCT.

On a side note, anyone know anything about a Captain Pearson who was recruiting a company for local defense in Mitchell County in January 1861? If so, please drop me a line at

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Confederate Memorial Day

Greetings folks! - Here is a copy of the talk I will be giving this evening at the Old Bakersville Cemetery in Mitchell County, North Carolina. The known Confederates buried there are:

Private James W. Bailey,
Co. C 58th North Carolina

Private Theodore P. Baker,
Co. I 29th North Carolina

Private Albert N Blaylock,
Co. G 58th North Carolina

Captain Jacob Bowman,
Co. B 58th North Carolina

Private William G. Bowman,
Co I 29th North Carolina

Lieutenant John H. Flemming,
Co. A 49th North Carolina

Captain John Wilson Gudger,
Co. C 29th North Carolina

Sergeant Berry Stewart
Co. B 58th North Carolina

Today is Confederate Decoration Day, or Confederate Memorial Day in North Carolina. This special day was first observed in North Carolina in Raleigh 140 years ago today. A group of ladies, many of them widows of Confederate soldiers, met at the capital, walked over to Oakwood Cemetery, and decorated the graves of the Confederate dead that had been recently moved from the old burial ground at the Rock Quarry Cemetery.

For the past week, all across the state, people have gathered to commemorate the Old North State’s Confederate soldiers. From a large observance last Saturday in the state capital to wreath laying ceremonies like the one in Salisbury, from the countless flags placed on graves in large and small cemeteries to the flying of the Confederate and state colors on the grounds of the courthouse in Yancey County, we have met to honor the state’s Confederate soldiers.

The greatest fear of the old soldiers, especially as they grew aged and gray, as other conflicts and current events bypassed their moment on the pages of history, was that they and their deeds might be forgotten. Sadly, that terrible fear has become reality for most of these men as they have slipped beneath the surface of our nation’s memory.

We should all be sad, we should all shed a tear, that so many of the South’s valiant sons lie in forgotten graves, with only the green sod as their marble monument.

We should all be sad that the deeds of the old soldiers are no longer passed down from father to son, that the heartache that once was born in a woman’s bosom for a lost husband or son or father, has been forgotten.

Ms. Anna Smith, grand daughter of Pvt. Abner Smith of the 37th North Carolina, once spoke these words during a reunion of old soldiers not too far from where we are.

The world will always wonder at and admire the valiant deeds of the men who followed Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and those other matchless leaders of the Southern cause. No army ever fought as they did; they battled against overwhelming odds and their many victories were only achieved by death-defying courage and devotion to duty equal to that of the soldiers of ancient Rome.

Well Ms. Smith, I am sorry to say, almost one hundred years after you spoke, the world no longer wonders and admires the valiant deeds of the men who followed Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and those other matchless leaders of the Southern cause.

We few are here this beautiful spring evening to remember a handful of old soldiers. None of these perished in strife, none paid the ultimate sacrifice, but they served; they answered the call when the Tar Heel state bade them come.

We, the descendants of the old soldiers buried here, or in other cemeteries across the South, have a responsibility. That responsibility was laid before us by Lt. Gen. Stephen D. Lee in 1906, when he committed to us, the descendants of Confederate soldiers,

the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate soldier's good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved and which you love also, and those ideals which made him glorious and which you also cherish.

Tonight, as we close our service of remembrance, let me, a descendant of Confederate soldiers, challenge you, to go back to your homes, learn about the deeds of your Confederate ancestors, and then pass those stories down to sons and daughters, you grand children, and the members of your community. These men, former Confederate soldiers, earned the right to be remembered.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


I had a great time at my numerous events this past weekend. On Sunday afternoon, we were out putting up flags on the graves of Confederate soldiers who lie in cemeteries in Avery County. In the cemetery in Cranberry, we came across the grave of John J. Bateman, a member of the 51st Virginia. Why did he (and his wife), come to Cranberry? Did they work in some capacity for the mining company? Why put him on the blog? Maybe someone out there on the world wide web is looking for Bateman, and can fill in the details of his life or use this information on his final resting place.

I’m off this evening to speak at the Stonewall Brigade Camp 1296 Sons of Confederate Veterans in Lexington, Virginia. I am really looking forward to spending a couple of days in the Valley.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Two Programs this Weekend

Folks - I have two really exciting events coming up this weekend, and everyone is invited. On Saturday afternoon (1-4pm), we are having a Watauga County History Day at the Public library in Boone. Lots of good speakers, including yours truly, who will be speaking about the rise of the Confederate veteran movement in the area.

On Sunday evening, at the Aaron Baptist Church in historic downtown Montezuma (that’s in Avery County), I’ll be doing a program on gravestone art (or cemetery iconography). Program starts at 7:00 pm

Both of these events are free and open to the public.

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Tar Heel Warning for Stonewall

Working with the public, I often come across family stories that simply are not true - I could not count the times that the "my ancestor held General Lee’s horse at Appomattox" story has come up. And after a little research, we find out that this ancestor finished out the war at Elmira, or Point Lookout, or was in the Army of Tennessee, and was not in a position to have Traveller or anyone else’s horse at Appomattox. But sometimes, I get a story that does have interesting possibilities.

When working on the book about the Thirty-seventh North Carolina, I got an email from a descendant, stating that his ancestor, Thomas Lowery, had told Jackson on the night of May 2, "I wouldn’t go in there now. It’s too dark, and your men may take you for the enemy and shoot you." My first response was, Yeah right! How many men from Lane’s brigade would not have claimed they had uttered those words after the events that would soon transpire?

Wanting to use the story in the book, I did some research. James Thomas Lowery was born on May 10, 1843, in Union County, North Carolina. He was a farmer and enlisted in the North Carolina Defenders on September 16, 1861. He was mustered in as a private. The North Carolina Defenders became Company H, Thirty-seventh North Carolina Troops, on November 20, 1861. Lowery was captured at the battle of Hanover Court House, Virginia, on May 27, 1862. He was exchanged on August 5, 1862, and returned to duty by November 1, 1862.

On the night of May 2, 1863, Lowery’s Company D was in the position of the second company, or the company on the far left side of the regiment. (The first company is on the far right, and the third company is in the center. Confusing, huh?). They were in position on the Orange Plank Road. The rest of the regiment was to their right. Lowery was acting second sergeant that day. So, he was the last man in line, standing on the Orange Plank Road, or very near it. The rest of the regiment was to his right. So, as Stonewall Jackson rode down the Plank Road on his reconnaissance, then there was no better person to say to Jackson "I wouldn’t go in there now. It’s too dark, and your men may take you for the enemy and shoot you." So, while we can’t verify that the family story is absolutely true, it is a real possibility.

Lowery was wounded the next day and did not return to duty until September of that year; in November, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant. He was with his regiment for the rest of the war, surrendering at Appomattox on April 9, 1865. He died on February 18, 1901, and was buried in the Mt. Olive Church Cemetery, Anson County, North Carolina.

Something that I notice while typing this - Lowery celebrated his twentieth birthday on the day that Jackson died - May 10, an eerie coincidence.