Saturday, October 5, 2013

Twins and a Job Reference 1893

I came across a cabinet portrait today taken by Clintock & Harper in Jackson Tennessee of two babies. It's annotated with the names William Freeman and James Rhodes Blackard. The name Blackard seemed familiar.  I do a lot of cemetery transcription and documenting graves on Findagrave and I recalled the Blackard family at Riverside Cemetery in Jackson. 

But even before that it seemed familiar and it was.  We have a letter from J.W. Blackard to Fannie Moran dated April 4 1893.  Fannie was looking for work and needed letters of recommendation.  James Washington Blackard of Jackson was writing back to say sure thing, be happy to give you a good recommendation.  

Dr. James Washington Blackard was a president emeritus of Lambuth College at Jackson Tennessee.  He was also a leader in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Memphis Conference.  Educated at Union University he received a BA in 1882 and in 1900 the doctor of divinity was conferred at Young Harris College in Georgia.  He was ordained in 1885 and held pastorates throughout West Tennessee including Dresden which is probably where the association with the Moran family began.  He retired in 1935 but by no means slowed down and continued to be active in the church til his death in 1938.

He married Louisa Francis White in 1883 and they had six boys and one girl.  He was the son of Sheriff Wiley Freeman Blackard and Teresa Matilda Wiley.  

The twins, William Freeman Blackard and James Rhodes Blackard, were born on June 29 1893 in Somerville Tennessee just a few months after he wrote the letter Fannie..  James died the following year on August 8 1894 in Jackson Tennessee.  His twin brother William went on to have a long life and followed in his father's footsteps by becoming a Methodist Minister.  He married Edith Crawley Warren and they lived in Johnston City Tennessee are interred at Monte Vista Memorial Park.  On a side note their daughter Edith married Aubrey U. Meadows of Bristol, Tennessee.  He was employed in the chemicals division at Eastman Kodak and ironically James Henderson Moran was also employed at Eastman after he moved his family to east Tennessee!  I wouldn't be surprised if Jim knew Aubrey.

Here's the letter from Dr. J.W. Blackard to Fannie:

Somerville Tenn
April 4, 1893

Miss Fannie Moran
    Nashville Tenn.

My Dear Friend:
  You must excuse my delay in answering your letter.  I have been busy in a revival meeting lasting two weeks.  My time has been completely occupied.  So you are destined to be a Pedigogue and "teach the young idea how to shoot."  I think if I were you I would about as soon marry a Methodist preacher as to become a school teacher.  

However I can recommend you for either position.  I do not think however that a testimonial from me will be of much value to you.  If you succeed in finding a desirable position open you can refer the trustees to me and if they see proper to write to me you can rest assured that I will give you a first-class recommendation.

How would you like to come to Somerville to teach.  We have two very fine schools here-a Female Institute and a Male College.  There are five teachers in the one and three in the other.  I am quite sure there will be no vacancy in the Male School.  It is not likely that there will be a vacancy in the Institute still there may be.  There would be no harm in your writing to Prof. N.A. Flournoy the president and  referring him to me.

I was somewhat disappointed when you closed your description of the Mills revival without adding that you had joined the Church.  We are all well.  The family sends regards.

      J.W. Blackard

In the letter Dr. Blackard mentions N.A. Flournoy.  He was Nathaniel Abraham Venable Flournoy, born 1839 in Virginia to Thomas and Frances M. Venable Flournoy.   Nathaniel was a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College in 1858 and attended the University of Virginia in 1859.  Before the war he taught school in Mississippi.  At the age of 21 he enlisted in the Confederate Army.  Rank at enlistment was 1st Lieutenant, he was promoted to full Captain on Mar. 29, 1863.  He served with his brother Jacob Morton Flournoy in Co. E, Virginia 56th Infantry Regiment.  

He married Laura E. Lewis in 1864 and had four children.  After the war he removed to Tennessee where he opened a school.  From the letter we know for sure he was the president of Female Institute and Male College at Somerville.   In 1892 he married Dora Alston, the daughter of a prominent Haywood county physician named Auguston Alston.

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