Saturday, June 1, 2013

Oh Shame! O Disgrace! McGavock Letter January 17 1871

This is a letter written to James Gunn, the brother of Sophia Riley Gunn who married John Williamson Moran, from Mrs. J. McGavock dated January 17 1871.

The McGavock's are an old and wealthy family that settled in the Nashville area.   This letter is specifically about Dr. Felix Grundy McGavock, Jacob McGavock and his wife Louisa Grundy McGavock and a lot of land at Shawnee Village Arkansas.  

There was apparently a dispute regarding the McGavock holdings at Shawnee Village and the writer of this letter, a Mrs. J. McGavock is relaying her dismay to our relative James Gunn of Edgefield, Tennessee but who was living in Arkansas for a time.  I believe Mrs. J McGavock is Sally D. Martin, daughter of Rev. James Martin and Nancy R. Gillespie. Sally married John Jacob McGavock in 1865 in Lowndes County Mississippi.  Many family trees list 1870 as the death of John J. McGavock, but I believe otherwise.

Mrs. J. McGavock's perception of the character of the other McGavock's is different from what has been passed down in history books.  According to Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Eastern Arkansas by Goodspeed Dr. F.G. McGavock "is one of those rare characters now so seldom met.  A real Southern gentleman, in his veins flows the best blood of American."   Yet period newspapers indicate that he wasn't above fighting with his neighbors about hogs.  A Dr. Green Bennett, who owned land adjacent to McGavock's, was rounding up his hogs and inadvertantly some of McGavock's hogs were in the group.  Words were exchanged and the result was McGavock receiving a head wound, the loss of a finger and gun shot wound through the mouth.  Amazingly he survived but would endure several years of medical attention to the wounds.

Jany 17, 71

To James Gunn-

I was always your Family Friend.  I show'd it on your mother's (Caroline Matilda Morehead Gunn) death bed & since to you, (Caroline Gunn died in 1855.  It would be wonderful if we could know more about the "friend" connection between the McGavocks and the Gunns!)

Now you are returning my friendship by writing such as this up here.

The Sheriff has just taken an inventory of all the property at Shawnee Village.  The Supreme Court of the State of Arkansas has decided that F.G. McGavock, Jacob McGavock, Louisa McGavock did fraudulently, Oh shame! O disgrace! Take advantage of the Bankrupt Law.

Pickett has knocked Dr. McGavock's plan in the head, when it bursts up.  Warren may get some of the money. (Who is Warren?)

What must I think of this return for my kind feelings?  (If only we knew what James Gunn had written to Sallie!)

Mrs. J. McGavock

Brief history of John J. McGavock:
John J. McGavock had an estimated birth year of 1835 in the 1860 Census for Pecan Point, Mississippi County Arkansas. His headstone says he was born in 1837.  He was a son of Jacob McGavock, a wealthy and influential citizen of Nashville, and Louisa Caroline Grundy, a daughter of US Congressman, US Senator and US Attorney General Felix Grundy and his wife Ann Phillips Rogers.
Believed to be the calling card of John J. McGavock, printed from an old engraving plate.
Courtesy of Emily and Carter Baker

McGavock was a private in Forrest's 3rd Tennessee Cavalry, Co. B.  He enlisted March 10, 186? at Memphis but was transferred to the 10th Reg't. Infantry Oct 15 1862. On April 16 1862 he requested a 10 day leave of absence "in consideration of his Negroes, Cotton, & Stock and being fifteen miles below Fort Pillow on the Arkansas side, Mississippi River,(which placed him close to his home at Pecan Point Arkansas) and being in danger of the Federal Army."  He was hoping to have the opportunity to remove "the property mentioned" and save it from being confiscated by the US Army. He appears on a muster role dated Sept 1 to Dec 31 1862, Private, Co. D. McDonald Dragoons, Balch's Batt'n, Tennessee Cavalry, Forrest's 3rd Cav. He was "absent" commissioned by General Armstrong on October 14 1862. He appears on a Roll of Prisoners of War date May 11 1865, Gainesville, Ala, and listed Nashville Tennessee as his residence.
Sallie Martin McGavock
Photo Courtesy of Emily & Carter Baker

He married Sallie/Sally D. Martin on May 25, 1865 in Lowndes County Mississippi

In the 1870 census John and Sallie are living in Pecan Point Arkansas with their daughters Mary T., age 4, and Nannie, age 1.

John J. McGavock appears on US IRS Tax Assessment lists for Arkansas in 1871 and 1872.

July 2, 1872, the Little Rock Daily Republican reported that Capt. John McGavock sold his Pecan Point plantation "with all stock, implements and the growing crops now on the plantation, for the magnificent sum of $47,500" to Mr. James H. Edrington.

He beings appearing in Nashville City Directories in 1873, living at 25 S. Spruce, the same residence as his father Jacob McGavock.  After the death of Jacob McGavock, John continues living at the Spruce address.

A brief note about John McGavock appeared in the Memphis Daily Appeal on July 5 1872 which said "John McGavock of Pecan Point Arkansas is summering in the "native heath" with old Nashville acquaintances."

The following death notice appeared in The Herald and Mail (Columbia Tenn) January 25 1878:  "Mrs. Louisa C. McGavock, daughter of the great Felix Grundy, died in Nashville a few days since.  She was born Feb. 10, 1798.  She was mother of Col. Randall McGavock, Colonel of the 10th Tennessee, or Irish regiment, who was killed at Raymond, Miss., and of John J. McGavock, a prominent merchant of Nashville."

When John J. McGavock's brother, Edward J. McGavock, died in 1880 the funeral was held at the residence of John.  From the Memphis Public Ledger April 13 1880, reprinted from Nashville American: 'The Late Edward J. McGavock.  The remains of the late Edward J. McGavock, brother of John McGavock, arrived here last evening from new Orleans.  The deceased was a son of the late Jacob McGavock, and was born in Nashville, but lived for the greater part of his life in Arkansas.  he had gone from that state to New Orleans in the hope of recruiting his failing health.  He was fifty years old, and served during the war in the Tenth Tennessee (Confederate) regiment.  The funeral will occur from the residence of John J. McGavock, at 10 a.m. today."

On January 17 1882 the Public Ledger republished an article from the Nashville American with the Headline "The Raging Cumberland, It's Still Climbing Toward the Point of the Rise of 1847."  One of the stores in danger of being flooded was that of John J. McGavock.  "He has stored in the basement seven hundred tons of agricultural and other implements."

An article in the McMinnville Southern Standard appeared on September 15 1883 entitled
Fayetteville Observer
Sept 14 1876
"Grass Seeds."  The article gives credit to John J. McGavock of Nashville, for introducing the clover huller into Tennessee.  Prior to that article advertisements had been appearing in Tennessee newspapers as early as 1876 for the Nichols, Shepard & Co. grain "The Vibrator" sold by John J. McGavock, General agent, Nashville Tennessee.

John J. McGavock last appears in the Nashville City Directory for 1884.

In 1890, Goodspeed published the Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Eastern Arkansas. Dr. Felix Grundy McGavock, a brother of John J. McGavock has a lengthy biography in that publication but other family members are mentioned as well, including John.  "John J., of Fayetteville, Ark., who recently disposed of a large estate in the county."

Sallie M. McGavock begins appearing in St. Louis Missouri city directories in 1895 as the widow of John J. and living at 2804 Russell Ave. with her daughter Mary Todd McGavock Baker. She appears in the 1900 Census for St Louis in the household of her daughter Mary.
James E. Baker, age 53, head
Mary Meg Baker (McGavock) age 33
Maud Baker, age 22
Harry E. Baker, age 21
George S. Baker, age 20
James E. Baker, age 1
Sally M. McGavock, age 55, mother-in-law
That is the last census Sallie appears in and the last city directory entry is for 1903, St. Louis.  Her date of death and interment remain unknown at this time.

John Jacob McGavock died in 1892 and is interred in the McGavock family lot at Mt. Olivet in Nashville.  Where he died and exactly when is still a mystery.  It's also a mystery what happened to the J. J. McGavock family after 1884 when he disappears from records till his death in 1892.

Children of John Jacob and Sallie Martin McGavock:
-Mary Todd, b. June 21 1866 - d. March 4 1941. Married James E. Baker in 1894, she was his second wife.  Their child was James E. Baker.
-Nannie Martin, b. March 11 1869
-Louise, b. November 8 1870
-Randal William, b. December 12, 1872 - d. June 21, 1950 Los Angeles CA.  Married Louisa Hulke April 21 1901 in Chicago Illinois.  According to the 1930 Census for Chicago, Randal and Louise had two children: Randal McGavock age 23 and Grundy F. McGavock age 13. Randal senior is a supervisor at the National Tea Company.

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