Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dresden Enterprise Apr 24 1896 - The Illustrated Edition Part 9 "George Thomas Mayo"

This is the ninth in a multi-part series featuring the April 24 1896 edition of the Dresden Enterprise.  If you missed the previous posts you can find them here: part onepart two, part threepart fourpart fivepart sixpart seven, part eight.

George Thomas Mayo, born in 1860 near Palmersville TN, was the son of William Mayo, who died during the Civil War, and Mary Ann Hart.  Over the course of his lifetime he worked in the dry goods business, clerked, was the County Court Clerk and had a lengthy career as a Baptist Minister.  He was married twice. First to Ella Savannah McWherter and late in life to Annie Mai Pentecost.  He and Ella had a large family together.  Rev Mayo and many of his family are interred in Sunset Cemetery, Dresden TN.

The following brief article and the picture above appeared in the Dresden Enterprise April 24, 1896.

Mr. Mayo, who is our present county court clerk, was born near Palmersville, remaining on the farm until grown.  He entered the dry goods business at Woodland Mills, Obion county, and was married while living there to Miss Ella McWherter, of Palmersville five children having been born to them.  

Mr Mayo was at one time in the dry goods business in Paducah and Fulton, Ky, and also clerked here a while for C.W. Cottrell. Later he went into the dry goods business for himself at Palmersville.  He was elected to fill the unexpired term of T.M. Biggs as a member of our county court, and later was re-elected. Two years ago Mr. Mayo was nominated on the Democratic ticket as a candidate for county court clerk, defeating Mr. T.L. Little, one of the very best officers this county ever had.  Mr. Mayo, was triumphantly elected, and his coduct (sic) of the county's business proves that he was a wise selection.  

He has bought a home here which he has greatly improved, and has thoroughly identified himself with the town's interests, something we Dresden people like very much to see done when practicable.  Mr. Mayo is a thoroughly honest man in his conceptions of his duty, and this caused him to withdraw from the Primitive Babtist (sic) organization because he found he had been mistaken in believing that church meant to do anything for the cause of foreign missions.  He is now a Missionary Baptist and will make them a good member.

The complete list of links in this multi-part series:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dresden Enterprise Apr 24 1896 - The Illustrated Edition Part 8 "William A. Thompson"

This is the eighth in a multi-part series featuring the April 24 1896 edition of the Dresden Enterprise.  If you missed the previous posts you can find them here: part onepart two, part threepart fourpart fivepart six, part seven.

William A Thompson was the son of R. and Adeline Thompson born on July 4 1837 in Tennessee.  He married Sarah Jane Grubbs about 1860.  He served in the Confederacy during the Civil War.  He went in a private and came out a corporal of the 5th Tennessee.  During his time in the war he was wounded several times.  The "severe wound" he received at Murfreesboro resulted in the loss of his right eye.  He was captured. He was captured at Stone's River and spent time in jail at Louisville and then Baltimore.  In October 1863 he received the Medal of Honor from the Confederate States of America.  Thompson was discharged on August 24, 1863.  

William and Sarah Thompson were blessed with four children: Albert, Benjamin, William and Nancy Adeline.  In 1880 the family is living in Palmersville at the home of his father-in-law, William Debarron Grubb.  William's occupation was "constable".  This began his career as an elected official in Weakley County.  He went on to hold positions such as Trustee and Sheriff and in 1897 he was a candidate for Register but I'm not sure he won that election.  William died September 4, 1910, in Palmersville.  He and many of his family are interred at Thompson Cemetery near Palmersville, Tennessee.

The following article was published in the Dresden Enterprise April 24, 1896 and shows the evolution of "Uncle Billy" from a man living in poverty and dissipation to a pillar of the community.  William Thompson overcame adversity in life to receive the accolades of the Confederacy, his family and his peers.

The Dresden Enterprise April 24, 1896

 The above named might well be called William the Conqueror, for he has been the most successful man at the polls that Weakley county ever had.  Years ago "Uncle Billy," as the boys called him, was perhaps the most dissipated, poverty stricken man in the county, and those who knew him did not think he would ever redeem himself.  He came out of the army where he served with loyal devotion four years, a wreck physically and in general ill luck.

He had been wounded as often as twice, perhaps oftener, having lost one eye by a shot from the federal enemy, as will be seen from his striking likeness in this paper, and also part of one hand. While down in the world he still had friends who stood by him, for they knew down beneath the rugged exterior beat a heart as warm, noble and true as ever was in the breast of man.  His friends finally elected him constable of the Palmersville district, and from then on until the present time he has been invincible before the people, ran one time when Lafon beat him for sheriff in the democratic primary.  

He is a Democrat, tried and true, and submitted to defeat this time by the party that had so often honored him, although we believe with his great personal popularity he could have bolted the primary and been elected anyhow, but he was too loyal to do aught but support the regular nominee.

Twice he was made trustee, and again sheriff.  He is now the nominee of the party for sheriff again, and although he had three good men to defeat he did it with neatness and dispatch, his vote being nearly equal to the combined vote of the other candidates.  He is a man of positive convictions for the right and against the wrong, and has, therefore, some few enemies, but he turns them all down, easily.   A determined fight was made to defeate him by some prominent men in the county, but "Uncle Billy" just laughed and ordered more primary election tickets.  He will be the foremost man in the August election, and will, as usual, lead the party ticket by a handsome majority.  To this office he has long been a true friend and ardent supporter, and we are more than please to tell the Weakley county public that he has made us a better sheriff each time he has been elected.  

He has not saved much money out of his earnings, for he has paid off all his old debts, got even with the world, but the world is not even with him, for he has lost many a dollar by security debts, because he was too kindhearted to say "No" many times when he should have done so.  "Uncle Bill" is all right.

The complete list of links in this multi-part series:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

"Butten shoos" and the Death Penalty

We have a post card, dated 1908, from a young Hope Hart to "Miz Virginia Moran".  When Hope grew up she left Dresden and moved to Washington DC where she worked in the offices of elected Tennessee officials on the Federal level.  It was always nice to have a local girl in DC when someone from Dresden needed a political connection!  However, on September 1, 1908 she was just a 10 year old girl writing a postcard about her visit with Brud Moran and sealing it with a kiss (S.W.A.K.)

Sept 1 1908
dere Miz Virgina
i shure am having a big time while i am hear.  Mister brud is shure nise i like his butten shoos and his rubber tar bugy.
forever yure frend
hope hart

On the front side of the post card is the Dresden home of Duke Cayce Bowers.   I didn't know anything about Duke Bowers but I do now.  Duke was born in Mobile Alabama in 1874, the son of Calvin Thomas Bowers and Ida C. Cayce.  His mother died when he was still a young boy in 1879.  His father Calvin died in 1895. 

In 1893, at the young age of 15, Memphis City Directories show Duke living in Memphis and working at Bowers & Co with Walter E. Cayce in business together as cider and vinegar manufacturers. John E. Bowers was listed as a Travel Agent with the same company. 

In the 1900 Census Duke is living with his aunt and uncle, Enis and Lydia Bowers, in Hickman Kentucky. His occupation is Merchant Grocer.  On October 24 1900 Duke married Ethel Gibbs in Weakley County.   

The 1903 the Memphis City Directory shows that Duke is back in Memphis with his family living at 237 Vance and working, most likely owning, the Little New Grocery.

Their daughter Ida is born in 1905.  By 1910 the Bowers family is living on Pauline Street in Memphis where Duke is still in the grocery business.  

Duke Bowers appears continuously in Memphis City Directories through 1917.  In the 1915 Directory he has a total of 43 grocery stores in Memphis!!!  It appears that he and his wife moved back to Dresden in 1916 because the city directories indicate Dresden as his residence.   

In 1917 Duke died of "cerebral apoplexy" and was interred in Sunset Cemetery.

But what did Duke Bowers believe in besides building a successful grocery business?  It's not often we know
anything except facts gleaned from government records about those that came before us.  But with Duke Bowers we know he believed in God and was against the death penalty so much so he took his fight to the Tennessee Legislature.  

In 1913 he was the author of  a brief entitled Life Imprisonment vs. The Death Penalty which was submitted to the 58th General Assembly and to the Judiciary Committee for the State of Tennessee.  

From page 31:
Duke C. Bowers, retired grocery merchant of Memphis, has returned to Nashville to resume his fight for the passage of a bill in the Legislature abolishing capital punishment in Tennessee.  Mr. Bowers is entering into the fight with great enthusiasm, and is making a telling campaign among the legislators and with the public. Largely through his efforts the issue of capital punishment has been brought before the people of Tennessee, and will be kept before them until after the bill in the Legislature is passed or defeated...

Page 61:
Duke C. Bowers' Argument Against Capital Punishment.  The first case of murder of which we have any record was that of Cain killing Abel.  In this instance God himself was the judge, the jury, and the whole court.  He did not put Cain to death, neither would he allow the people to do it....

Christ came and changed the old law, "an eye for an eye," declaring that vengeance belonged to God....  The difference in the teaching of Moses and Christ was that Moses shed his enemies' blood, while Christ shed His own blood for his enemies.

Page 62:
Because we are Southerners is no reason why we should favor lynching or hanging.  Christianity should be the same all over the country.

Page 64:
There are people in the North who think that we of the South are a lot of hot-heads, blood-thirsty murderers.  Let us abolish capital punishment and show these people that they are mistaken.

Page 95:
After an arduous and expensive campaign...Mr. Duke C. Bowers. of Memphis and Dresden, saw his bill to abolish capital punishment in Tennessee defeated by much larger odds than he was prepared to expect.

Page 95 and 97:
My fight to abolish the death penalty is not ended, and the abusive language heaped upon me by some of the opponents to the measure is not going to stop me.  "I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true.  I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have."
Duke C. Bowers,
Dresden Tenn., February 28