Saturday, July 2, 2011

Two Sons of the Confederacy: James Henderson and John Williamson Moran

James Henderson Moran Jr was the youngest brother of John Williamson Moran.  The brothers served in the War of the Rebellion on the side of the Confederacy.  James (Jimmie) served with Morton's Battery and died near Nashville during The Guntown Fight on Dec. 2, 1864.  John W. Moran was part of Company I, 31st Tennessee Regiment.  He surrendered in North Carolina with the Army of Tennessee at the end of the War, 1865.

This is Jimmie's story.

A Bit of History.
A few days ago we ran across a copy of the Enterprise published in May, 1884--twenty-three years ago--containing the following bit of interesting history and we publish same, feeling it will be read with interest by many surviving friends and acquaintances of the young her:

Originally published in
The Nashville American 1864,
republished in The Dresden Enterprise 1884,
then again in the
Dresden Enterprise in 1907.
 We believe the story of
Jimmie Moran's death with
Morton's Battery is worth
another publication in 2011.

"Our fellow-townsman, Mr. J.W. Moran, returned from Nashville last Saturday, bringing with him the remains of his brother James, one of the heroes of Capt. John Morton's famous battery.  The remains were deposited in the Moran burying ground one mile north of Dresden. Sunday's Nashville American contains these allusions to Jimmie's brave record. "The remains of James H. Moran, a member of Morton's battery who was killed in the attack on block house No. 1 on the Chattanooga railroad about five or six miles from this city, on Gen Hood's campaign into Tennessee, was removed to the family burying ground in Dresden.  Jimmie Moran joined Morton's battery on Gen. Forrest's raid into West Tennessee, and made as brave and as true a soldier as the confederacy had.  He was a gun-driver, and was wounded in the left arm at Tishomingo creek, but refused to leave his team until the fight was ended.  At Harrisburg he jumped from his horse, when he saw one of the gunners fall at his piece, and supplied his place.  He was fighting as a gunner when he was killed.  He was lame and walked with difficulty and was rather weakly of constitution, but he had in him the heart of a true man and a brave soldier.  He was one of those men who would always respond to the occasion.  No man in the battery was more beloved by his comrades than this boy.  He was a model soldier in camp; always kind and sweet tempered and active in the discharge of his duties."
"The above reference to his heroic conduct at the battle of Tishomingo creek, also known as the guntown or Bryce's cross roads fight in Mississippi, in June 1864, is also found in a work entitled the "Campaigns of Gen. Forrest," page 476.  We quote literally:
"the spirit that animated the men may be illustrated by the behavior of one--Jimmy Moran of Morton's battery--who, when shot through the arm, on being told by his officers to go to the rear, invariably replied: "No, sir, I'll stay with you as long as I can stand up," and continued to drive his gun team with his arm in a sling, through the entire fight."
"The Guntown fight terminated in a complete Confederate victory, and when we read of the brave spirit and cool determination there manifested by the rebel soldiers, of which Jimmie Moran's action was a fair sample, we need not wonder that they were conquerers against great odds.  We are informed that a large number of Weakley county men were engaged in that memorable battle, and perhaps they will readily call to mind the incidents contained in this article."

Trousseau Pieces, ca. 1911, Dresden TN

Like many well-to-do young ladies Virginia Shumate assembled a trousseau as part of the preparations for her November 22, 1911, wedding to James Henderson Moran III.  Trousseau's could be exceedingly extravagant and contain custom made day and evening dresses for the newly married woman as well as new accessories including shoes, hats, gloves and the myriad of undergarments that a lady would wear.  Or, for those less well off stores offered  inexpensive ready to wear trousseau sets. These pieces are all that remain of Virginia Shumate Moran's  trousseau: a basque, one cap, and a blue sash.  

Basque, frontview

Basque, closeup of neckline

Basque, sideview

Basque, backview

Basque, backview open


Friday, July 1, 2011

History of the Shumate Family by Robert S. Riley - A Brief Review

Imagine my surprise and excitement at having found a copy of Robert S. Riley's History of the Shumate Family inside the Moran family home.  I've been researching the Moran-Shumate connection and had heard about and seen the book referenced many times.  I had even searched for it online only to find one copy selling for $100 which was out of my reach but here it was now in my hot little hands and was I ever ready to see what Mr Riley had to say about ~our~ Shumates in Kentucky.

So tonight I pulled the book out and did a quick search for Virginia Shumate Moran's father, Nathan M. Shumate, and her uncle, Quincy Shumate.  Both gentlemen were sons of Champ Shumate and his first wife Martha J. McClary.   They were nowhere to be found in this 798 page tome which had been written to correct "errors" that the author says he found in a book by Theodor-Friedrich von Stauffenberg entitled The Shumate Family.  What gives?

Nathan M. Shumate (youngest son of Champ Shumate)
 with his mother Martha J. McClary Shumate, taken about 1867.
I readily admit that I have only spent about 15 minutes with this book but right off the bat I can see the following errors:

  1. Riley says that Champ Shumate's first wife was named Martha Jane Oliver. Actually, her name was Martha Jane McClary and her first husband was P.D. Oliver.  She and Oliver had one child, Newton Jasper Oliver (1840-1852), and he was living with Champ and Martha at the time the 1850 Census was taken.  At this time I don't know anything about her first husband and since he isn't a direct relative  to us any research on him is secondary.  
  2. Riley mentions the Census Records as if he had used them as sources.  The only children that are listed in the census records from 1850 - 1900 are Jason (1849-1924), Quincy (1851-1941), Belle (1853-1940), Harriet N. (1857-1863), and Nathan (1858-1899).  Riley lists an Emma J, two Eula's, Lou B., Laura and Myrtle as children of Champ Shumate.  I have found no evidence to support that.
  3. Riley says that Champ had a daughter named Lou B.Shumate.  He says that information comes from "incomplete family notes".  It's conjecture on my part but I would like to point out that Champ's son, Quincy, married a Louise Elizabeth McLean (1855-1930) and she was known as Lou Shumate and they went on to have several children of their own.  Perhaps Riley's Lou B is Quincy Shumate's wife.
  4. Riley also says that Champ had a daughter named Myrtle Shumate and as with Lou B, he says the family notes are incomplete and so he has no other information about Myrtle.  I would like to mention that Champ's youngest son, Nathan M. Shumate, was married twice. First to Margaret (Maggie) Jane Adams (1866-1896) with whom he had three daughters, May Belle (1885-1960), Virginia (1888-1970) and Louise (1891-unknown).  His second wife was Annie E. Purcell and he and Annie had one child together named Myrtle S. Shumate. (1897-unknown).  Perhaps Riley's Myrtle is the daughter of Nathan Shumate.
I don't know what sources Robert Riley used for his book and I'm sure a lot of what he reported is true but as to the information regarding Champ Shumate and his descendants Riley left out two entire branches of the Shumate tree while adding several that the evidence doesn't seem to support.

I hope the research and documentation that we present and continue to research in regards to Champ Shumate and his children will fill the huge gap that has been missing in the Shumate history of Kentucky.

The Dresden Bank, pt. 2

Three gentleman outside the Dresden Bank on the town square.

Original bank advertisement in the December 13, 1895 edition of the Dresden Enterprise.  Notice the competing ad by the Weakley Co. Bank just above the Dresden Bank advert.

Banks used to give away all sorts of things as incentives for you to bank with them.  Here is probably the only surviving potholder that The Dresden Bank gave to it's customers complete with asbestos backing!  Since the potholder declare's that the bank is safe, solvent and sound it probably dates from 1926-27 because the Dresden Bank failed in 1927.

A Victorian Wedding Portrait, Fannie Moran and James Ezzell 1897

Updated September 27, 2013 - If you look at enough photographs eventually it becomes clear.  This is the wedding portrait of Fannie Lemira Moran and James B. Ezzell.  They were married in Dresden TN on October 19, 1897.

Original post:
I cannot be certain that this is a wedding portrait but the elegance of the dress certainly has many of the elements of a Victorian wedding dress.  It is modest with a very high neckline and long sleeves. There is a lot of ruffling at the neck and across the bust and on the skirt for extra detailing.  The waist is cinched tightly and the dress has a long train.  If you're interested in learning more about the different parts of Late 19th Century dresses and terminology a trip to the 19th century dress glossary would be in order!  For more detailed information about Victorian weddings no trip is complete without visiting Literary Liaisons Victorian Wedding Preparation and the Ceremony and Reception.

This picture was taken by Giers Art Gallery in Nashville, TN.  We haven't been able to ascertain if the couple were simply friends of the Moran's or if they are part of the Moran extended family.  The search continues.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Today's Tiny Treasure - A Children's Tea Service, ca. 1920-30's

This children's tea set probably belonged to Louise Moran, daughter of J.H. Moran III and Virginia Shumate Moran.  She was born in 1924 so this set is probably late 1920's or early 1930's  It's complete and in pristine condition.  The hallmark simply says "Made in Japan".  The colors are vibrant and with the exception of the windmill the theme seems to be Asian in motif. The box is original and in poor condition but the service itself is exquisite.  It's an excellent example of what well-to-do young girls were playing with during that time period.

I wish I had taken a before picture so you could see how 80+ years of grime had taken it's toll.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The House Where Time Stood Still

We spent the better part of today in Moran Place rescuing items from the past to be preserved for the future.  I realize even more the daunting task before us of trying to preserve what we have, catalogue it, and share it with those who have an interest in West Tennessee history.

Stained Glass in the formal dining room.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

School Teacher poem and illustration ca. 1894

This poem was sent to Fannie Moran in February 1894, she was 22 at the time.  
There was no other note enclosed and no return address so we'll never know who sent the poem.  I do like the way they did squiggly lettering on the envelope, it shows a sense of playfulness as does the poem! 

You scrawny old tyrant of small boys,
What is that prompts you to be
So savage and fierce with the urchins
That are sent to be taught at your knee.
Perhaps the motive that moves you
Is revenge on the whole of the sex--
Because none of them ever did take you
You wish you had all by the necks.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mrs. Evans School, Class of 1887/88

Mrs. Evans School
Weakley County, Dresden, Tennessee
Class of 1887/88

I've transcribed the names that were written in pencil on the backside of the picture.  Even though the writing has faded it was possible to get a list of most of the students names.

Front Row, seated, left to right
Carl Finch, James Moran III, Eugene Boyd, Lee(?) Gardner, Percy Scott, C. Harrell Moran, Gerald Scott

Second Row, Right to left
Ben Edwards, Metta(?) M. Gardner, Bessie Ross(?), unknown Lockridge, Mary G. Little, Stella Reavis,
Mollie Lockridge, Lillian Gardner, unknown Evans/Evers, Ida Moran, Annie Crane(?)

I wasn't able to determine at this time which direction the names went for the other two rows.  Also, one corner is missing which makes those names lost to us forever.  Here are the rest of the names listed in the order they appear on the back of the picture:
Lulu Eskridge, unknown Evans/Evers, Maud Little, Mildred Larkins, Wiley Blakemore, unknown Irvine, Charlie Ewing, B. King, L. Evans, R. Harris, Lulu Jenkins

Champ Shumate's Cow and the Hanging of William Austin 1884 - Garrard County KY

The Semi-Weekly Interior Journal reported on Tuesday, June 24, 1884, that Champ Shumate's two year old heifer was giving three gallons of milk a day and yet she had never had a calf.  Most people probably assumed she started giving milk because a calf started suckling from her but others believed there was a different reason and they attribute it to the fact the cow had been born on the same day that Austin had been hanged.

Who was Austin and why was he hanged?  The following is the story of William Austin, the last man who was hanged in Garrard County, Kentucky, on October 13, 1882.

On January 20, 1882, in Garrard County, Kentucky people were shocked by the murder of Betsy Bland, an old maid of 85.  Her grand nephew, William Austin had been drinking a lot and told some passersby that she had been murdered.  What they found when they entered the home was Betsy Bland "lying on the floor in a pool of her own blood, with several deep gashes from an ax on her head and face and another on the neck which severed the vertebra, any one of which would have been fatal."  After noticing there were blood stains on Austin's pants and boots Sheriff J.M. Higginbotham and Marshal Singleton arrested him.  Using their powers of observation, which were about the only crime scene investigation tools they had, they noticed that Austin's boot heel had blood but also gray hairs which were consistent with the hair of the dead woman.  The circumstantial evidence was such that they took him back to the jail and refused Austin bail.

Austin's trial took place on February 13, 1882 (less than a month since the crime!) and 150 men were examined before seating the jury.  Testimony was given and the jury came back with a verdict of guilty and a punishment of hanging.  "With the indifference that had characterized him since the murder, he said with a smile:  "well, it's no use to cry over it".  The execution was fixed for April 18, 1882 but through numerous filings by Austin's attorneys the case was sent to the Court of Appeals and Austin was sent to Richmond for safekeeping.  Austin was able to get his hands on a razor and attempted to kill himself but it hurt so much he stopped after severing the outer jugular vein.  I bet Austin never gave any thought to the amount of pain that his victim, Betsy Bland felt!

On October 13, 1882, at the jail in Lancaster, Ky a crowd of 3000 people gathered to get a glimpse of "the legal neck breaking of William Austin".  It would be relatively easy to see since the gallows were in the rear of the jail and the platform stood higher than the plank fence which surrounded it.  William Austin made a confession about an hour before the execution:

I did murder my aunt Betsy Bland, on the 20th of last January,  Whiskey was the sole cause of it.  I had nothing in the world against her; I had no motive in the world to kill her.  I loved her like a mother.  She has always been as a mother to me.  I am 25 years old.  I did not rob her or take any money or other things from her.  When I got home from the still house I saw the as at the wood pile and then the awful thought came over me to take it and kill my great aunt.  I did take it and when I got into her room, she was sitting at the fire knitting.  I first sat down near the fire and several minutes thereafter I arose with the ax and struck her with the sharp edge of it.  This is all I recollect about the killing.  I have no excuse on earth to offer for this fearful deed.  I want my fate to be a warning to all; old, young, white and black. I offer myself a willing sacrifice on the gallows for the deed.  I die happy, believing that the vilest sinner can be forgiven if he truly repents.  I believe God has given me full pardon.  I believe my aunt was a christian and that I will meet her in Heaven.  I have been accused of killing Sid Vaughn, but I am not guilty of that crime.  I am also accused of trying to rob Randall Bettis, but I am not guilty of that either.  I always tried to live honestly and the murder of aunt Betsy is the only crime I ever committed.  I say this in view of immediate death and it is all true.
W.M. Austin

Austin had been denying his guilt almost till the time of his execution even assuring his counsel, Mr. B.M. Burdett, he wasn't guilty.  When he was asked why he changed his mind and confessed he said "I was hoping for a reprieve from the Governor, but I have made peace with my Savior and do not wish one now."  Austin's brother Robert visited him the day before the execution to bid him good bye and it was the only time that William showed any emotion.  He burst into tears and asked the mercy from the Lord.  His parents sent him "affectionate remembrances" but did not visit him because it was too upsetting.  Friends and acquaintances stopped in to say good bye and shake his hand.

He wrote a final letter to his brother George exhorting him to shun bad company and never drink liquor.  He told George that whisky was the cause of his troubles and that he had been wild and desperate but that he now believed he was going home to rest in the arms of his Savior.

The hanging was scheduled for 1:45 pm.  At 12:45 he asked the ministers to pray and sing the Coronation song with him.  At 1:05 Sheriff Higginbotham read the death warrant and at one point could not make out a certain word and Austin leaned over to assist him. As he was going to the gallows he ran up the steps and "turning to smile at a man, who had unintentionally knocked his hat partly off."    At the gallows the 51st Psalm was read and a prayer was said by Rev. Peeples.  Sheriff Higginbotham was trying to shelter Austin as best he could because it was raining so hard.  At the end of the service, Austin was calm and addressed the crowd giving his confession and telling everyone to shun whisky and evil companions.  At the closing of his speech he bowed to the crowd, gave a last farewell and then shook hands with those on the scaffold.  According to the report it was a touching scene and even strong men were weeping.

William Austin walked to the trap and was pinioned without struggle.  The Sheriff adjusted the noose and placed the black hood over Austin's head.  At 1:22 the body of William Austin fell through the trap making one or two convulsive twitches at the shoulders.  "The wages of sin had been paid."  The surgeons kept check of Austin's pulse.  They pronounced him dead at 1:42 pm.  It took 20 minutes for Austin to die.  His body was cut down and given to his friends.  He was taken straightaway to Fork Church for burial, where he had been baptized when he was sixteen.

The newspaper reported that the rope was hand made by Vonderheide of Covington, KY, costing $10 but that it could've been sold for three times that amount.  The reporter went on to congratulate Sheriff Higginbotham on the excellence of his work even though some said Austin's neck was not broken it was "still the easiest death we ever witnessed."

Apparently owners of lots and houses near the gallows had charged people 50 cents to $1.50 to stand and watch the execution.  It was also reported there was a lot of drunkeness but no disturbances until just before the noose was adjusted on Austin someone yelled at the people on the scaffold to move because they were blocking his view and he had paid as much as the next person to see the show.  In conclusion it was noted that the crowd totally lacked any appreciation of the solemnity of the occasion and were treating it more like a circus and that even women held up their children so that they could see the execution as well.

W. P. Walton, editor of the Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, in his editorial said "While we think he was responsible and ought to have atoned for his sin, he was not as fully accountable as the average man.  The fact that he (Austin) kept his secret so inviolable till two hours of his death shows he had considerable will power, however, and his case is therefore the harder to understand."

I'm not convinced that William Austin's hanging had anything to do with Champ Shumate's cow but it makes for interesting reading!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Memorial Concert, Richard Wagner's Death - Nashville College for Young Ladies 1893

A lot of things were happening in the world in 1893.
  • The Mormon temple in Salt Lake City was dedicated
  • The great northern railway connected Seattle with the eastern coast
  • Queen Liluokalani was deposed and the Kingdom of Hawaii became a republic
  • Grover Cleveland was inaugurated for his second term
  • Commodore Perry arrived in Japan
  • Beatrix Potter first tells the story of Peter Rabbit
  • Nabisco Foods invented Cream of Wheat
  • Henry Ford completed the first useful gas motor
But on February 13th, 1893, at the Nashville College for Young Ladies, attended by the Moran girls, is a Memorial Concert commemorating the Tenth anniversary of Richard Wagner's death!  You are cordially invited to attend....

And for your listening pleasure here is the Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing the "Tannhauser Overture" by Richard Wagner.

Miss Marie Rogers and J.A. Irvine Wedding Invitation

James A. Irvine was the son of Benjamin D. Irvine and Agnes Moran.  Agnes was one of John W. Moran's sisters so this invitation was for John W. and his wife, Sophia Gunn Moran to attend the wedding of his nephew James Irvine.

The Gunn Connection

Dr. Lyman Taft Gunn, a prominent Nashville Dentist, and Caroline M. Morehead were the parents of several children.  One of them was Sophia Riley Gunn who went on to marry John Williamson Moran.  Together they had five children and are responsible for building the lovely Victorian home in Dresden, TN for their family.  
When researching the family history I've noticed that a lot of people don't seem to know, or at least don't bother to mention, that he was staying at the home of his daughter Sophia at the time of his passing.  Dr. Lyman Taft Gunn's obituary can be found at The Nashville City Cemetery website.  The information was originally published in September 7, 1917 in Modern Methods, Article XI entitled "The City Cemetery" by Charles A. Marlin.

Dr. Lyman Taft Gunn - Born at Montague, Mass., April 1, 1810, died in Dresden, Tenn., December 1, 1890, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Sophia Gunn Moran.  He was a descendant of the Montague's of England, his mother being a Montague, and was also connected with the Taft family.  He spent the early years of his life with Mrs. Taft (grandmother of ex-President Taft) after the death of his mother.  Dr. Gunn was educated in Boston, Mass., and attended the Dental Department of the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated in dentistry.  He came to Nashville a few years before the war, and was one of the first dentists of Nashville, being associated with Dr. Morgan and practiced his profession over forty years, in this city.  His office was on what was then known as Spring street, and was one of the leading citizens of Nashville, and a member of the First Presbyterian Church.

For pictures and more detailed information about the Gunn Family and the Nashville City Cemetery check out my other blog post after we visited Nashville in July. 

Nathan M. Shumate, Uncovered

Nathan M. Shumate has been somewhat of a mystery to us and led to a lot of speculation about his family life and what he might look like.   As with all research projects speculation gives way to truth as more facts come to light. provided some Census information but that was about it.  Google searches provided hits to newspapers of the time which proved very useful and provided entertaining and enlightening tidbits of information to know about him. But I was not able to locate anything supporting his daughters handwritten note that gave his date of death as March 3, 1899, 8 a.m.  Till tonight.

And now we know because in the Semi-Weekly Interior Journal of Kentucky, dated March 7, 1899, his death is mentioned twice.  Nathan M. Shumate died of pneumonia, though we suspect it might've been tuberculosis, and he was buried near Brodhead, Kentucky.

Mr. J.C. McClary attended the burial of N.M. Shumate near Brodhead Sunday.  Pneumonia was the cause of his death.

Mrs. Belle Gentry, of Newburn, Tenn., who came to attend the burial of her brother, N.M. Shumate, of Rockcastle, is the guest of Mrs. Eliza Blain.