Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sophia Dobson's Mission...Which we chose to accept.

Sophia E. Ezzell and her grandfather,
John Williamson Moran
This post is dedicated to the memory of Sophia Eleanor Ezzell Dobson or as I know her, Aunt Sophie. A few years before I married Kent, he and I took a trip to visit his Aunt Sophie. He had visited her several times, this would be my one and only chance to meet her as she passed away just a few years later. I had heard many things about her such as her ability to make one heckuva Mint Julep.  I had also heard of her love for history.  In particular, her family history was very dear to her heart.  Aunt Sophie loved to tell about the times she would spend with her grandfather, John Williamson Moran.  She would sit on his lap and listen to his stories about the "old days" and his adventures as a Confederate soldier.  She said he once commented upon how she was always so finely dressed that she seemed "to the manor born", as indeed she was.

I wish I had paid more attention back then to what she said but honestly, the names would've meant very little to me at that time.  I remember meeting her son, Matt Dobson and I also remember how he asked Kent if I was the girl he was going to marry.  :)  I remember the beautiful family portraits lining the walls and also the feeling of smallness in a place that seemed dedicated to a different time period.  What I remember most is Aunt Sophie blessing Kent with the mission to research, preserve and report the family history.  We didn't have much to go on back then and life got in the way but this past year we've begun the work in earnest and we hope that Aunt Sophie is proud of what we've accomplished to date.


Lyman Taft Gunn
1810-1890
In my research journeys I have seen many webpages.  On Ken Gunn's website I found portraits that were purported to be of Lyman Taft Gunn (1810 - 1890) and his first wife Caroline M. Morehead (1817 - 1855).  I say purported because like any good researcher I like to have proof of something and as we all know anyone can be a dog on the internet. :)  No offense intended toward Ken, I'm sure his research is superb, I just wanted confirmation.  And I got it.  Last night.

On a side note, Ken's site says that it's okay to "view, borrow, and use any information" on his website that may be helpful in other research so I took him at his word and have copied the images here but I am also giving him credit for his hard work and diligence cause that's the right thing to do!

Caroline M. Morehead
1817-1855
A brief background:  My husband, Kent Moran, is the great great grandson of Dr. Lyman Taft Gunn and Caroline M. Morehead through their daughter Sophia Riley Gunn who married John Williamson Moran.  As a matter of fact at the end of his life Dr. Gunn was living with his daughter and her family in Dresden, Tennessee and it was in their home that he passed away.  He was buried in Nashville's City Cemetery.  Most of the Gunn family headstones are missing.  We have some personal effects of Dr. Gunn's such as his Bible which dates from 1808 and possibly belonged to his mother, Mary Taft Gunn (1793-1810). We found a slip of paper in the Bible with her name written on it.. At some point I will be posting pictures of these items.


Sophia Riley Gunn
1853-1895

Fannie L. Moran
1872-1955

Sophia Gunn Moran's daughter, Fannie Lemira Moran, married James Benjamin Ezzell.  Their daughter, Sophia Eleanor Ezzell (Aunt Sophie) spent a lot of time with her Moran relatives and was enamored of her grandfather, John Williamson Moran who had been in the Civil War.   Sophia grew up and married Matthew H. Dobson and they lived at Harpeth Westover Farm near Nashville.  Kent used to visit his Aunt Sophie at Harpeth and he and I visited her before we were married back in the early 90's.  She was a wonderful woman, southern to the core and very proper.  She made us mint juleps.  It was a great visit.  I wish I had taken the time to look closer at the history of the home and its contents because the Dobson branch of the family is where the portraits of Lyman Taft Gunn and Caroline M. Morehead ended up.  And how do I know this?

Sophia and Matt Dobson's daughter Lillian Ezzell Dobson married William Dunavant Jr of Memphis.  This was the wedding of two powerful families and their socialite children. Articles about their engagement and parties had been appearing in the newspapers for months.  However this article appeared in the Nashville Tennessean June 27, 1952 detailing the wedding of Lillian and William which took place at Harpeth Westover Farm. This article is where I had the "aha" moment last night. Take a close look at the portrait above the mantle. That is the portrait painted sometime in the 1840's of Caroline M Morehead.  It's good to know the portraits are in the family and are well cared for.  It would be really exciting to see them in person.
Wedding Photo, Lillian Ezzell Dobson and William Dunavant Jr
The Nashville Tennessean 1952
The portrait hanging above the mantle is
Caroline M. Morehead

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