Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Mystery of Mrs. Bivier and Her Divorce, 1866

Today I started sorting through some of the paperwork belonging to James T. Gunn that we saved from Moran Place.   First of all, I find it fascinating that the documents ended up with the Moran family since some of James and Margaret Gunn's children lived well into adulthood and had families of their own.  But somehow, the files ended up with James' sister, Sophia Gunn Moran in Dresden TN.  The two families were very close and Willie, James' son, was staying at Moran Place in 1880 when his father was very ill and dying in the Nashville area.

James T. Gunn Documentation

James was a contractor/builder and we have some of his business ephemera dating from 1870-1880.  He was also a member of the Knights of Honor and we have quite a few death notices of various members of that society.  We have a few letters from his wife Maggie and other friends and associates.

But so far, I am intrigued by the oldest piece of paper that is dated September 10, 1866, and, well, it just doesn't seem to belong.  It's a receipt for $25, payment in full for a divorce for a Mrs. Bivier or possibly Bevier from Gantt & Waddell.    I've not been able to find any information regarding this woman.

$25.00 Recd of Mrs. Bivier Twenty five
dollars being full payment
for getting divorce.
Gantt & Waddell
Sept 10th, 1866

Poor Virgil, they spelled his name Virgin.
However, unlike the anonymity of Mrs. Bivier her attorneys Gantt and Waddell left a trail.  The firm of Gantt and Waddell was made up of George Gantt, Burin B. Waddell and Virgil B. Waddell.  In addition all three served in the Confederacy.

George Gantt
The Proceedings of the Annual Session of the Bar Association of Tennessee v. 1917 has a wonderful address by the Hon. James H. Malone in regards to Colonel George Gantt.  Briefly it says that on Dec 26 1909 a resolution was passed stating that a portrait of Colonel Gantt was to be painted and hung in the Memphis Mayor's office at the city's expense.  I wonder if his portrait is still there? Before the Civil War he was elected to the state legislature and was a contemporary of Emerson Etheridge.  "He was the Aristophanes of the Memphis Bar."  He served in the Civil War, first as a  Confederate Captain and later promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the 9th Battalion Cavalry TN, a title which he maintained after the War.  He was captured at Fort Donelson and imprisoned at Fort Warren. He is buried in Elmwood Cemetery.

Burin B. Waddell
In addition to being an attorney in Memphis, Burin Waddell was co-proprietor with Coleman Boyd of the Overton Hotel in Memphis. Source: The Huntsville Advocate, May 30 1866.   During the war, he was a Volunteer Aide de Camp with the rank of Captain on the staff of General P.G.T. Beauregard, Army of the Mississippi. Source: Fold3, CSA Military Records  Burin Blackburn Waddell died in New Orleans and is buried Denmark Methodist Cemetery in Madison County TN.

Virgil B. Waddell
Virgil B. Waddell served as Acting Assistant Adjutant General., First Brigade, First Division, Tenn. Source: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records.  V.B. Waddell appears in the 1883 Record of Permits issued for Disinterring, Shipping and Receiving Dead Bodies to and From Memphis.  Date of death is approximate, January 1, 1883.  He was 45 and cause of death was pneumonia.  He died in Birmingham, Alabama and his final destination was OK Landing, Mississippi.  Place of burial: unknown.

The connection of Mrs. Bivier to James Gunn will most likely remain a mystery.

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