On October 28, 1862 Confederate guerilla Champ Ferguson and 22 soldiers in his group captured unionist brothers, George and William Thrasher. As they were taking them to a place of holding, they happened across the farm of Washington Tabor. George said, “I looked up and saw Tabor coming up a lane on a horse. When he saw Tabor, Ferguson dismounted and went toward him, accusing him of ambushing and killing three of his men. Tabor got off his horse as Ferguson drew near. Ferguson soon brought Tabor up to where we were and he was pleading for his life. “Oh yes, said Ferguson, you oughtn’t to die. You have done nothing to die for!” - all the while getting his pistol out of his belt. While the old man continued to beg for his life, Ferguson shot him thru the heart. After a second shot was fired, Tabor fell to the ground."
According to George, after Ferguson had shot Tabor, one of Ferguson's men, Frank Burchett, said, “D--n him, shoot him in the head!” And with that, Ferguson put the pistol close to Tabor’s head and pulled the trigger. Ferguson then told George, “I’m not in favor of killing you, Thrasher, you have never been bushwhacking or stealing horses.” He said, “I have killed Wash Tabor, a D--n good Christian, and I don’t reckon he minds dying.”
Tabor’s body was left lying in the lane, as Ferguson and his men continued on their journey with the Thrasher brothers in tow. They had not gone more than a mile when they were attacked by Unionist Elam Huddleston and about 80 of his men. Ferguson had previously told his men that if any skirmish came up to be sure and kill the Thrasher brothers first. Luckily for them, during the excitement of the attack, George and William were able to slip off their horses and escape on foot.
At the conclusion of the war, Champ Ferguson was arrested at his home near Sparta, Tennessee and charged with the murders of 53 people. At his trial in Nashville, he admitted to killing Tabor, saying, “It was a good deed well done, and that Tabor’s death had been delayed too long as it was. I killed [Tabor] as a bushwhacker. He had killed three of my men three days previous. He was in front of his house when I shot him. He ought to have been killed sooner.” On September 26, 1865, the jury found Ferguson guilty. He was hung on October 20, 1865.
Thomas Washington Tabor was born around 1807 in Rutherford, North Carolina. He moved to Stockton’s Valley in the late 1820’s and married Julia Kelly, who lived in present-day Wayne Co. After his death, Julia and her children moved to Kansas.
Wash Tabor page at genealogy.com
Wash Tabor page at ancestry.com
On the morning when Tabor was killed, William, said, “...while we were eating breakfast, Ferguson sat down by me and asked me if I didn’t think he ought to kill me. I told him it would be hard to kill an unarmed man. Ferguson said, “No, it wouldn’t, and asked me if I didn’t think it would bring the War to a close much sooner if he killed all he took. I told him I didn’t know.”
Wash Tabor’s grave was recently discovered by Gary and Nancy Norris, some four miles north of Albany.
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