Thursday, November 21, 2019

How To Live Long


Between the mid 1800's and early 1900's, sheriffing was a way of life for some in the Boles side of my family. My 3rd great grandfather, John, was sheriff of Overton County, Tn right after the Civil War. His grandson, Hige, who was my great grandfather, was sheriff of Clinton County, Ky from the mid to late 1920's and a deputy sheriff for over 15 years.

In the early 1930's, another of John's grandsons, Savage Garfield Boles, my first cousin three times removed, worked as a deputy sheriff in the Fentress County, Tn coal company town of Wilder, which has long been abandoned. Wilder was the site of a violent coal-miners strike in 1932 that lasted nine months and ended with the killing of United Mine Workers union leader Barney Graham.

Born on Big Piney Creek in 1883, Savage was nicknamed, "Republican," an appropriate title, given the fact that several of the Boles men back in those days were named for Republican presidents, like Garfield, Abraham, Lincoln and Ulysses Grant, and even though he wasn't a Republican, a few were even named after George Washington, like my great, great-grandfather.

Except for Hige, who wasn't born yet, these men all had strong allegiances to the North during the Civil War. After all, John's brother-in-law was Union guerilla Tinker Dave Beaty, and John and his son George, (my great, great-grandfather) and Savage's father, Robert, were all members of Beaty's independent scouts, and so all were very pro-Union and very strong Republicans.

George was 95 years old when he died and his son, Hige, was 93. Savage lived to be 85 and, when asked to account for his long life, he would always say "I never smoked, I walked a lot and I never shook hands with a Democrat, if I could help it."

Savage married the daughter of a preacher man. He is buried at Boles Cemetery on Savage Boles Road at Wilder.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Day the Civil War Came to Albany, Kentucky


During the Civil War, John W. Tuttle of Wayne County kept a diary while he served in the 3rd Kentucky Volunteer Infantry. This story begins with his trip to Albany, three months after the war had officially begun.

"We arrived at Albany about 10am," he wrote on July 27, 1861. "The first thing we saw upon arriving at the top of the hill overlooking the town were the Stars and Stripes gaily fluttering to the breeze above the tops of the houses. On entering town, we met a procession with 34 ladies in front on horseback, one of whom carried a National Banner followed by about 60 cavalry and 500 infantry. They presented quite an imposing appearance. About two thousand persons were in town. After dinner a procession was formed which marched out about a half a mile from town where they were addressed by the Hon. Thos. E. Bramlette in a speech of something more than three hours duration. He made a most thrilling appeal in behalf of the Union and called upon the loyal citizens of Clinton County to join a regiment he is raising for the purpose of aiding the Union men of East Tennessee."

Bramlette, who was a Clinton County native and future Governor of Kentucky, had put his promising political career on hold to form and then command this regiment as its Colonel. The regiment became known as the Wild Riders.

Several men enlisted as soldiers that day in Albany. Nearly all of the Commissioned Officers were from Albany. John A. Brents served as Major, John Morrison, captain, Jonathan Miller, 1st Lieutenant, Lt. James E. Chilton, Capt. William Perkins and Capt. Delaney R. Carr. Another local resident, Dr. Benjamin Owens, served as hospital steward and physician before being promoted to First Lieutenant. Non-Commissioned Officers from Albany included Company Quartermaster Sergeant William Thrasher, 1st Sgt George D. Thrasher, Sgt. Cornelius Huff, Sgt. Jonathan E. Southerland, Sgt. Jesse F. Thrasher and Farrier Francis M. Cole. There were forty-eight privates. Among the locals were John Burchett, James H. Cumming, William C. Cole, Thomas A. Carr and Josiah Kennedy.

These new recruits formed Company C. Volunteers were not just from Clinton County, but also from across the state line in Fentress and Overton counties. Those who did not wish to enter the Infantry enrolled as Cavalry.

In his book, "The Wild Riders of the First Kentucky Calvary," Eastham Tarrant of Liberty wrote, "The companies that made up the 3rd Kentucky Volunteer Infantry were composed of the best men of their respective sections. There were some lawyers and other professionals and tradesmen among them, but the farmers predominated and some rough or lawless men. While some of the troops who volunteered may not have been the right material to make first-class heroes or soldiers, they were as good as any other soldier who ever fought under the Stars and Stripes. There were many beardless youths, and a large majority were young men. Some were middle-aged, while there were a few whose "sands of life" had nearly run out. There were fathers and sons in the same company.

After organization on July 27, 1861, the men were given time to arrange their business affairs at home and then reassemble in one week to go to a training camp in Garrard County. They were required to furnish their own horse and horse equipment. If they could not, their captains endorsed their obligations, retaining a certain portion of their pay until their obligations were met.

The newly formed troops left for training on Aug. 3rd. Major Brents, in his book, 'Patriots and Guerillas of East Tennessee and Kentucky,' wrote "This was a great day in Albany. The entire population of the county had assembled to bid farewell to eighty-five citizens who had enlisted in the Union army for three years. It was the first company to depart from that section. Some had assembled through curiosity, but many had come to bid farewell to husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, and relatives."

According to Major Brents, the company left for camp amidst the tears and shouts of the citizens. "They traveled a distance of about one hundred miles, through Monticello, Somerset, Crab Orchard and onto Camp Dick Robinson near Lancaster, where they arrived on the 6th of August. The march was one continual ovation as they were welcomed all along the route. The citizens of Monticello and Somerset, where they stayed during the nights of Aug. 3rd and 4th, received and feasted them like lords. Men and horses fared bounteously."

The Wild Riders participated in many battles and skirmishes during the Civil War, including the Siege of Corinth and the Battles of Shiloh, Perryville, and Stones River. Twenty-five of them died during the war, including 1st Lt. Jonathan Peery Miller and Pvt. Isaac Denton Cole, both of Albany, who was killed at the Battle of Mill Springs while fighting with the 12th Ky Infantry. After being wounded in his thigh, Sgt. Chilton and another soldier carried 1st Lt. Miller to a ravine to shield him, but with the enemy drawing near, they were forced to abandon him there. After the battle, his remains were placed inside a coffin and buried near the battle ground. Later, his father removed the body and re-buried his son at Five Springs Cemetery in Clinton County. Pvt. Cole was severely wounded at the Battle of Mill Springs and died the following day. He is buried at Shipley Cemetery in Clinton County.

Sgt. Jonathan Southerland of Clinton County was 19 years old when he enlisted in Company C on July 27th in Albany. Just over two years later, on Oct 20, 1863, he was captured at Philadelphia, TN and imprisoned at the Confederate prison at Andersonville, where he died of dysentery eight months later. An estimated fourteen soldiers from the 3rd KY Infantry died in prison.

By the way, Confederate guerilla Champ Ferguson's brother, James, chose to fight in the Union army. He was a Corporal in Company C, but was killed by a citizen near Stanford, KY on Dec. 18, 1861. He is buried at Camp Nelson National Cemetery.

147 volunteer soldiers belonged to the Company during its service. Fifty-three were present when the troops mustered out.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Sgt. York was a Symbol of American Courage and Sacrifice

On this day in 1918, then Cpl. Alvin C. York and sixteen other soldiers under the command of Sergeant Bernard Early were dispatched before sunrise to take command of the Decauville railroad behind Hill 223 in the Chatel-Chehery area of the Meuse-Argonne sector in Northeast France.

The seventeen men, due to a misreading of their map (which was in French not English) mistakenly wound up behind enemy lines. A brief fire fight ensued which resulted in the confusion and the unexpected surrender of a superior German force to the seventeen soldiers. Once the Germans realized that the American contingent was limited, machine gunners on the hill overlooking the scene turned the gun away from the front and toward their own troops.

After ordering the German soldiers to lie down, the machine gun opened fire resulting in the deaths of nine Americans, including York's best friend in the outfit, Murray Savage. Sergeant Early received seventeen bullet wounds and turned the command over to corporals Harry Parsons and William Cutting, who ordered York to silence the machine gun.

Fearlessly leading the seven remaining soldiers, York charged with great daring a machine gun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon. When the smoke cleared, he had taken the machine gun nest, killing twenty and singlehandedly capturing 132 German soldiers, including four officers, and several guns.

Alvin York's actions that day are recognized as one of the most significant combat feats by a single Soldier during WWI. For his exceptional heroism in the face of danger, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Lauded by The New York Times as “the war’s biggest hero," upon his death in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson called him alvin“a symbol of American courage and sacrifice” who epitomized the gallantry of American fighting men and their sacrifices on behalf of freedom.”

For an in-depth look into the heroics of Sgt. Alvin C. York visit:

Alvin C. York and the Meuse Argonne Offensive

To read about Sgt. York's struggle with being a soldier and having to fight in a war and how he finally found peace in it, go to:

How To Wrestle with a Difficult D,ecision - Advice From Sergeant Alvin C. York


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Clear Fork: The Civil War Years


"There being a war broke out in our government and dissention amongst the people, the Association never met and the church is doing no business and seldom met." - James Harvey Wood, Clear Fork Baptist Church Clerk, August 24, 1861.

During the Civil War years, 1861 to 1865, the members of my church, Clear Fork, rarely met. Business meetings were held only three times in 1861. On July 27th, clerk James Harvey Wood wrote: "At the time of the July meeting there was no business done because of a 'publick' speaking at town."

That event was a Union-sponsored rally led by 6th Judicial District Judge Thomas Bramlette, a Clinton County native who, during the Civil War, served as colonel of the 3rd Kentucky Regiment Infantry, leading his regiment in the Siege of Corinth and the Battles of Shiloh, Perryville, and Stones River, then resigning his military commission in 1862 to serve as U.S. district attorney before being elected governor on August 3, 1863 and guiding the state through the latter part of the Civil War and the onset of Reconstruction.

Literally hundreds of people showed up for the rally on the 27th, as testified to in Captain John W. Tuttle's Civil War diary. "We arrived at Albany about 10. The first thing we saw upon arriving at the top of the hill overlooking the town were the Stars and Stripes gaily fluttering to the breeze above the tops of the houses. On entering town we met a procession with 34 ladies in front on horseback, one of whom carried a National Banner followed by about 60 cavalry and 500 infantry. They presented quite an imposing appearance. About two thousand persons were in town. After dinner a procession was formed which marched out about a half a mile from town where they were addressed by the Hon. Thos. E. Bramlette in a speech of something more than three hours duration. He made a most thrilling appeal in behalf of the Union and called upon the loyal citizens of Clinton County to join a regiment he is raising for the purpose of aiding the Union men of East Tennessee."

Tuttle, who was from Wayne County, served in Company H of Col. Bramlette's division. In his diary he goes on to write: "About 30 enlisted in the service under him and 87 cavalry, to compose a part of a regiment destined for the same service, now being raised by Frank Woolford of Casey County. The feeling for the Union here is very strong and the most intense enthusiasm prevails. A Secessionist is not allowed to open his mouth. The people of this county are apprehensive of an invasion by Tennesseans. They have picket guards stationed out at every pass. The alarm was spread about an hour by sun yesterday evening, and from three to five hundred armed men gathered from various parts of the county and stayed in town last night."

And so the war began. Back at Clear Fork, a month later, in August, clerk Wood made this entry in the church minutes: "There being a war broke out in our government and dissention amongst the people, the Association never met and the church is doing no business and seldom met." The church did meet once in 1862, but ten months later Wood noted: "Up to March of 1863 the Church is doing nothing." No minutes were recorded during the remainder of 1863 or in all of 1864.

The next entry in the church minutes came on June 24, 1865, two months after the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse and the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, which set the stage for the end of the war. "The Church having for a long time been deprived of meeting together on account of the war," Wood wrote, "met at the schoolhouse on Clearfork.

The reason for meeting at the school is because sometime during the year 1864 Clear Fork Baptist Church became a direct victim of the Civil War when Confederate guerillas burned the meeting house to the ground. Luckily, the church's business meeting records from it's organization up to the Civil War had been kept in the clerk's homes. Clinton County's courthouse also burned, it is thought, on the same day as the church. "Guerillas believed that destroying places like churches and courthouses, where records were kept, helped add to the disorder of the war," writes historian Tim Talbott at explorekyhistory.ky.gov. Although he wasn't a member of Clear Fork, Confederate guerilla Champ Ferguson, who was born and raised in Clinton County, did attend services there with members of his family.

In his book, "A Lighthouse in the Wilderness," former Clear Fork pastor Morris Gaskins wrote that after the war church members not only met at Clear Fork School, but in other school houses and even other church houses in communities across the county for the convenience of it's members who lived in the different communities, and the good news is there was a season of revival. In 1866, for example, ninety-seven new additions were added to the church, most on professions of faith. The greatest of the meetings that were held while Clear Fork was without a meeting house took place at Beech Bottom, before that church was constituted, and at Locust Grove. Revival was spontaneous, usually starting with the regular monthly meeting when several people would respond, and continuing for eight to ten days.

Clear Fork church was no stranger to religious upheaval. First pastor Isaac Denton arrived at Spring Creek between 1798 and 1799 just as the Second Great Awakening was getting underway. Soon, he brought the early settlers together and began preaching to them. The meetings were directly responsible for the organizing the church on April 2, 1802. The Denton family was also no stranger to religious upheaval as they had experienced the First Great Awakening in the mid 1700's at Sandy Creek, North Carolina with the great preacher Shubal Stearns.

Following the wars end, Clear Fork Baptist Church continued to meet in other church houses and school houses until July of 1869 when members voted to build a new church. As for the courthouse, it was rebuilt in the 1870's. Historical Marker #597 on the courthouse lawn in Albany notes the burning of the courthouse by guerrillas during the Civil War.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Tah Chee: Lone Warrior of the Tellico Bird Clan

My 4th great-grandmother on my mom's side, Elizabeth Franklin Boles, also known as "Be'toc'e," was the daughter of a full-blooded Cherokee Indian. Her grandfather, Da-Tsi (Tah Chee) "the Long Warrior of The Telico Bird Clan," was a child when his parents joined the first Cherokee party to move west of the Mississippi River, from an indian village on the Coosa River, in what is now Alabama, to the St. Francis River in Arkansas.

Throughout his life, Tah Chee, also known as William Dutch, was known as a fearless warrior, becoming a major political force in the old settler party, fighting many fights with the Osage Indians who lived near the Cherokees. The treaty the Cherokee made with the United States in 1828 so infuriated Tah Chee that he led several families to the Red River country. To keep the frontier peaceful, the Army ordered both nations to stop their raids, an order Tah Chee refused to recognize. Tah Chee fought a one-man war with the U.S. Army for years, but eventually became a scout for them, where he reached the rank of Captain.

Tah Chee (Captain William Dutch) and his wife, Aisley of The Paint Clan, were my sixth great-grandparents. Their daughter, Rose of the Tellico Bird Clan, was the mother of Elizabeth Franklin Boles.

Tah Chee died in Cherokee indian territory at Park Hill, Oklahoma on March 12, 1848.



Sheriff John Boles was a Radical

The Nashville Union
April 22, 1866

Dear Editors:

"State of Affairs in Overton County"

If you should find room and consider the following worth publishing, the writer hereof will be greatly obliged. The writer hereof desires to give to the public some facts transpiring in the notoriously represented county of Overton, that she has been frequently and generously represented for the last six months as being a den of returned Rebel guerrillas, and that only a small number of her citizens were loyal and worthy of any of the rights and immunities of citizens, I have no doubt but by whom these representations have been made.

Have, as a general thing, those who have served in the Federal army and returned home and living quietly within her limits, made these representations? Did Col. Garrett, the late representative from this county, so represent affairs? Did gentlemen who have been engaged in the oil business in this county represent that the county is infested with returned Rebel desperados? I would just say in answer to these questions, "not so far and heard from."

The question, then, very naturally comes up, who are making these representations? I would answer that they are men who, but few of them have ever been in the Federal army, and in all composing a small number known in this county as radicals, but as it happens holds some of the offices in the county, who obtained these offices, not from the choice of citizens but by appointment, and men who believe in furnishing our sheriff (Boles) with a guard of from five to fifteen men and paying them (cost of subsistence and all) $52.50 per month each out of the county treasury; and this too when our revenue collector last year, a discharged Federal soldier, rode through the county without a single man with him, and collected the taxes with better success than usual, and was never molested by these believed to be Rebel guerillas.

This same sheriff also refused to hold the election last March, as by law he should have done, and openly declared that he would arrest and carry to Nashville any magistrate or other person who should presume to open and hold the elections. But however, the election was open and held in all of the districts but one, by law, so far as I was informed, and he has not arrested any person yet; but he went right off to Nashville swearing he would break the elections all up, and accordingly, on last Monday, the first Monday of April, those who were elected made application to be installed into office by the County Court, when Sheriff Boles (Deputy Governor, as he styles himself) rose and produced and read to the Court, a paper writing, purportedly to be an order from Governor Brownlow, by Secretary Fletcher, to the honorable John Boles, sheriff, directing or commanding him to allow no Rebel officers to be sworn into office, or something to that amount, and concluded with a harangue to the court that if one of them voted to install a man who had been elected into office, he would most certainly arrest him and carry him to Nashville, whereupon the court unanimously (except two Magistrates who were, I suppose, afraid to vote against it, and did not vote at all) declared the March elections null and void, and authorized or empowered Sheriff Boles to appoint constables throughout the district; and this, too, when there were men demanding to be installed into office who were Union men.

The court then, upon motion, declared the certificates which had been given to authorized voters by the County Clerk, whom the governor through Sheriff Boles, had appointed some 12 months ago, all null and void; and that voters must get new ones before they could vote again. This same party, sometime since, there being a vacancy in the Legislature, occasioned by the resignation of A.E. Garrett as representative, in convention in the town of Livingston, nominated Sheriff Boles as the radical candidate for that position. John Q. A. Sproul, G.A. Overstreet and Dr. Meadows were also candidates. I suppose of their own will.

The election went off, and the result is that Sheriff Boles is badly beaten, and Mr. Overstreet, a straight out Union man, is elected, while Mr. Sproul, also a Union man, and Dr. Meadows, an ex-rebel, are also beaten far behind - Dr. Meadows being behind all. Now, it looks like this notorious Rebel gang in Overton are not so quite hostile to the government and Union men when they come up to the ballot box; those who are permitted to vote and elect a Union man and reject a Rebel, but yet they are not quite loyal enough to elect a radical. So, Sheriff Boles still presides as Sheriff, etc.

Now in conclusion, I desire to say that I have served in the Federal army; have been residing in this county for the past six months, yet I have not for once seen or heard of a rebel-returned soldier molesting any Union man. I have been through the county some and find the people all friendly and hospitable and engaged in useful pursuits of life. I have, more than once, seen on public days men, professing to be very loyal, some of them, I believe, composing the Sheriff's guard, armed and intoxicated, drive every man who had ever been considered a Rebel out of town, beating them up scandalously, and yet they did not resist this kind of abuse. I have not heard of an instance in which a man who had been a Rebel, attempted to resist the civil law.

As regards to the certificate matter, I have only to say that I suppose the county court clerk complied with the law to the best of his knowledge and ability, and if elections are to be set aside and broken up, and declared illegal, by anyone, I think that some legal cause should be shown for so doing and legal proceedings had; and further, if elections are not to be regarded, at once say there shall be none, and do away with the trouble of holding them, and say to the people that, though they have elected a Union man to the legislature and rejected an ex-rebel: "You are not radical yet enough to be allowed to vote."

But I am ever confident that the present state of affairs will not last long; that those who persist in the idea of further persecuting those lately in rebellion, will discover their error and desist, and that peace and good will yet reign.

Signed by: A Citizen

During the Civil War, John Boles served as Captain in his brother-in-law Tinker Dave Beaty's Independent Scouts. His sons Robert and George (my 3rd great-grandfather) were also members of that guerilla unit. Before the war, John was a politician, serving as state representative for Overton County from 1851 to 1853, and as state senator of Fentress, Morgan, Overton and Scott Counties from 1853 to 1857. He was the first post-Civil War Sherriff of Overton County, from 1865-1867. John was born in Blount County, TN on June 16, 1802 - the son of James Boles and Elizabeth, Jennie Franklin. Elizabeth, aka Be'toc'e," was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian, the granddaughter of Tah Chee "Dutch" - "the Long Warrior" - of The Telico Bird Clan, and  Aisley of The Paint Clan.

John's wife, Matilda, was the sister of Union guerilla Tinker Dave Beaty. John died on March 18, 1869, at the age of 66. He and his wife are buried at Bolestown Cemetery near East Port Marina. The American flag flies nearby.

John Boles


Hige Boles Proved To Be An Excellent and Efficient Official, who had the Respect of all Law-Abiding Citizens


From: The New Era newspaper, Albany KY
Date: March 3, 1926

"Our Sheriff"

Sheriff A.H. Boles is a native of Fentress County Tennessee, but at the age of ten years his parents moved to Clinton County, where he has resided since that time. For a number of years he lived at Hobart, but about 12 years ago he moved to Albany where he now lives. Most of his life has been spent on a farm and he now owns a fine farm in the Albany graded school district. He is now forty four years of age and is married and has an excellent family. He is a member of the Methodist Church here, a Mason, a progressive citizen and a staunch Republican. In the August 1925 primary election, Mr. Boles received a plurality of 407 votes and was elected in the final election by a majority of 735 votes. Although he has been in office only a short while, he has proven himself to be an excellent and efficient official, who has the respect of all law abiding citizens.

The above article was reprinted in the Clinton County News in 1965 under the headline "A.H. Boles Sheriff in 1926." By that time, Hige was 83-years old and was very active in the real estate business. During a twenty year period between 1914 and 1933, Hige was either sheriff or deputy sheriff for sixteen of those years. He was sheriff from 1926 to 1929, and he served as deputy sheriff during Sheriff Charles P. Huff's term from 1914 to 1917, during Sheriff Billy Felkins' term from 1922 to 1925, and during his cousin Sheriff Willie Winningham's term from 1930 to 1933.

Ahijah "Hige" Boles was born at Bolestown in Fentress County, TN on March 19, 1882, one of ten children born to George and Deborah Smith Boles. He died on March 22, 1975 at Sparta, TN. He is buried at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Clinton County. Hige followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, John Boles, who was the first post-Civil War Sheriff of Overton County, TN from 1865 to 1867.

How To Live Long

Between the mid 1800's and early 1900's, sheriffing was a way of life for some in the Boles side of my family. My 3rd great grandf...