Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Who Were Champ Ferguson's Victims?

Following the Civil War, a military commission met in Nashville on July 11, 1865 for the trial of Champ Ferguson, the most notorious of the many guerilla fighters who fought to control the Upper Cumberland Plateau region during the war.

Two charges were placed against him. The first charge was being a guerilla and organizing and associating with a band of lawless men, and being their leader, without any lawful authority or commission from any military power, and that he continuously carried on a predatory and barbarous guerilla warfare, committing many acts of cruelty and inhumanity, becoming a notorious murderer, robber and freebooter in Clinton County, Kentucky and Fentress County, Tennessee, and in the neighboring counties of these states from the year 1861 to May of 1865.

The second charge was murder. Fifty-three murdered victims were named in the indictment. Who were they and what were the dates and occasions surrounding their murders?

1. Nov. 1, 1861 - William Frogg, age 22, Clinton County, 12th Kentucky Regiment, Co. D (my third great uncle). He was home sick in bed with the measles when Ferguson confronted him about being at the Union Army's training camp, Camp Dick Robinson, near Standford. In Champ's world, many of his once long time friends and neighbors had become his enemies. He despised what the training camp stood for. Regardless of who or what they were, he was compelled to target and eliminate those who had been there. ‘I reckon you caught the measles at Camp Dick Robinson,’ Ferguson said just before he shot him dead. Findagrave 217632875

2. Dec. 4, 1861 - Reuben Wood, age 56, Clinton County. Ferguson shot him twice at his home near Albany on Dec. 1st. He died three days later. Findagrave 69578994

3-5. April 1862 - Joseph Stover, William Johnson and Lewis Pierce, near Henry Johnson's house on Wolf River in Clinton County. Ferguson shot and stabbed Pvt. Stover of 1st Ky Cavalry. He chased Johnson and shot at him, causing him to fall over a steep cliff resulting in his death. He shot Pierce.

6. April 1, 1862 - Fount Zachary, age 18, Fentress County. Fount surrendered the shotgun he was carrying, but Ferguson shot him anyway. Almost as soon as he hit the ground, Ferguson was on him with his Bowie knife, and Fount became the first of four Zachary males to fall to Ferguson. Findagrave 149433579

7. May 2, 1862 - Alexander Huff, Sr., age 51, at Pall Mall. He shot him in the head at the old Conrad Pile home. Findagrave 30015273

8. June 1, 1862 - Elisha Koger, age 32, at Oak Grove (my 3rd great-grandfather). He was shot over 30 times outside his home, not far from the Oak Grove Church Cemetery. Findagrave 59105584

9. June 1, 1862 - James Zachary, age 48, Fentress County. Fount Zachary's uncle. He was a magistrate. Findagrave 110262343

10. Aug. 27, 1862 - Joseph Beck, age 45, Poplar Mountain at Duvall Valley Findagrave 31965322

11-14. Oct. 5, 1862 - John Williams, William David Delk, John Crabtree, unknown African-American girl, near the home of Mrs Piles in Fentress County. They were taken from John Huff's mother's home in Fentress County, tied up, removed about a hundred yards away and found dead in a horse lot at Mrs. Piles' home. Williams was shot in the head. Delk was shot once through his chest, and a bayonet ran through it. Crabtree was cut up all over. The unknown negro girl was cut up into pieces in a barbarous manner.

15. Oct. 28, 1862 - Washington Tabor, age 55, Clinton County. He was taken outside his home near Snow and shot. Findagrave 43940663

16. Nov. 1862 - Dr. William McGlasson, Cumberland Co. He was told to run or be killed. He did but was killed anyway, plus robbed and stripped of his clothes. Ferguson denied this.

17-19. Jan. 1, 1863 - Peter and Allan Zachary of Pickett County and Pvt. Elam Huddleston. It happened at the home of Capt. Rufus Dowdy in Russell County. The home was under construction. The upstairs had but a few planks on the joists. Huddleston was shot from an upstairs window and was believed to be dead when he fell to the ground floor. Ferguson killed Peter Zachary and Allan Zachary was killed by the others under Ferguson's command. Elam Huddleston Findagrave 810673. Huddleston was at the Battle of Mill Springs and is buried at the national cemetery. The Zachary's were from Pickett County.

20-39. Feb. 22 1864 - Nineteen unknown soldiers, TN 5th Cavalry. Operations against guerrillas at Johnson’s Mills and Calfkiller River in White County, TN. During this time frame, Ferguson was accused of murdering (unknown) 19 men of the U.S. 5th TN Cavaly.

40-52. Oct. 4, 1864 - Twelve Federal Army soldiers, plus two colored soldiers, all unknown. The First Battle of Saltville (October 2, 1864) was fought over an important saltworks near that town in Virginia. The participants included one of the few black cavalry units. The murder of captured and wounded black soldiers after the battle has been called the Saltville Massacre.” Champ Ferguson fought in this battle. Two of the charges accused him of murdering surrendered United States Colored Troops after the battle had ended. Thomas Mays’ 1995 book, "The Saltville Massacre," recalls the testimony of Pvt. Harry Shocker, a wounded prisoner who watched Ferguson calmly walk about the battlefield killing both white and black prisoners. Champ denied killing any black troops at Saltville.

53. Oct. 7th, 1864 - Lt. Eliza Smith, a Clinton County resident, lay wounded at Emory and Henry College Hospital at Emory, Virginia, when Ferguson burst into the room, approached his bed and placed his gun a foot from the helpless Smith’s forehead. After three misfires, the gun discharged and Smith lay dead with a bullet through his head. Lt. Smith is buried at Knoxville National Cemetery. His wife, Lucy Staton Smith, is buried at Dr. Smith Cemetery in Clinton County. Findagrave 2972

Even though he was charged with killing fifty-three people, Ferguson boasted of killing over a hundred. He said those he had killed were seeking his life and that he was justified by killing in self defense.

He said, "I am yet and will die a Rebel … I killed a good many men, of course, but I never killed a man who I did not know was seeking my life. … I had always heard that the Federals would not take me prisoner, but would shoot me down wherever they found me. That is what made me kill more than I otherwise would have done. I repeat that I die a Rebel out and out, and my last request is that my body be removed to White County, Tennessee, and be buried in good Rebel soil."

The trial ended with Ferguson's conviction on Sept. 26, 1865. He was hanged on Oct. 20, 1865. Per his request, he was buried at France Cemetery, north of Sparta, TN, off Highway 84.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Odd goings on at Lake Cumberland

Did the odd goings on at Lake Cumberland on Good Friday, March 27, 1964 have a connection to an earthquake that had occurred three minutes earier at Anchorage Alaska 3,000 milesl away?

While University of Kentucky scientists said there was little possibility of a connection, the superintendent of Lake Cumberland State Park confirmed reports by fishermen of a series of mysterious waves that swept across the lake at about the time as the earthquake.

John Flanagan said the waves were a foot to 18 inches high, and snapped two cables on the Jamestown Boat Dock. Other reports told of the lake falling and rising from three to four feet several times. The boat dock operator said the lake was acting funny - calm in the middle but whirling in circles near the shore.

Ten to twelve people who were at the boat dock witnessed the phenomenon. Two fishermen, William Kaiser, Jr., and James Young, both of Fern Creek, said they saw a weird shift in the waters of the lake eight or nine times, with the water several times dipping as much as four feet.

There were no reports of earth tremors or other natural phenomena in the area. Flanagan said it was like a big boat going by and throwing its wake at the shore, except none of the small power craft boats that were on the lake at the time were large enough to create waves of the size indicated.

Lake Cumberland wasn't the place reporting strange occurrences. A U. S. Army engineer at Wolf Creek Dam reported that someone called up from the park and asked what they were doing with the water at the dam. The engineer said he knew of nothing that would cause such an occurrence.

Lake Cumberland and Wolf Creek Dam weren't the only places to report strange activity that night. Witnesses said the water near Dix Dam at Lake Herrington, some 50 miles north­east of Lake Cumberland between Mercer and Garrard Counties, slopped around like it does in a dishpan. One man said pieces of a dock, each weigh­ing several tons, were tossed against each other like matchboxes. Another person said waves reached five to six feet.

The Great Alaskan earthquake occurred at 9:36 p.m. Albany time, triggering massive landslides near downtown Anchorage and several residential areas, damaging or destroying thirty blocks of dwellings, commercial buildings, water mains and gas, sewer, telephone and electrical systems.

Ground fissures, collapsing structures and tsunamis resulting from the earthquake caused 131 deaths. Lasting four minutes and thirty-eight seconds, the magnitude 9.2 earthquake remains the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in North America, and the second most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the world since modern seismography began in 1900.

A magnitude 5.5 eastern U.S. earthquake usually can be felt as far as 300 miles from where it occurred, and sometimes causes damage out to 25 miles. In the early afternoon of August 23, 2011, millions of people throughout the eastern U.S. felt shaking from a magnitude 5.8 earthquake near Mineral, Virginia. Although not the strongest earthquake to have occurred in the eastern U.S., let alone the western U.S., the Virginia earthquake was likely felt by more people than any earthquake in North America’s history. This is due to the large distances at which people felt ground shaking and because of the density of the population in the eastern U.S.

The magnitude of an earthquake is related to the length of the fault on which it occurs. That is, the longer the fault, the larger the earthquake. A fault is a break in the rocks that make up the Earth's crust, along which rocks on either side have moved past each other. No fault long enough to generate a magnitude 10 earthquake is known to exist, and if it did, it would extend around most of the planet.

The largest earthquake ever recorded was a magnitude 9.5 on May 22, 1960 in Chile on a fault that is almost 1,000 miles long…a “megaquake” in its own right.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Kenny Bilbrey and The Monkees

Everyone knows how much Kenny Bilbrey loved The Monkees (as does his brother). Kenny had told me recently that "Pleasant Valley Sunday" was his favorite Monkees song. "Pleasant Valley Sunday" was recorded on June 10, 1967, with Michael Nesmith on electric guitar, Peter Tork on piano, Micky Dolenz sang the lead part and played acoustic guitar, and Nesmith and Kenny's most favorite Monkee, Davy Jones, sang the harmony parts. The song, written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, is about dissatisfaction with living in the suburbs.

"Another Pleasant Valley Sunday
Charcoal burnin' everywhere
Rows of houses that are all the same
And no one seems to care"

Davy Jones, they say, was a very warm and caring person, just like his character on the show. Kenny and Kelly met him after a show in Indiana. Standing at the edge of the stage, the brothers yelled out "I love you!" and Davy replied that he loved them. It was a great moment in their lives. I know, because when they returned home, one of their first stops was at the radio station. Both of them had tears in their eyes as they described what they had experienced at the front of the stage. I interviewed them on the air and they kept the recording of it in Kelly's vehicle. More than once I could hear it blasting from the car if they saw me pass by or pull in to a restaurant or gas station where they were. Surely, their passion for The Monkees was unequaled.

Twenty-five years after the TV series finished its first run, Davy Jones recorded “Free (The Greatest Story Ever Told).” Kelly called me this morning (Thursday) and said this was Kenny's favorite Davy Jones song as a solo artist.

"All my life is just a stage i’m going through
The director has written lines for me and you
And we must act accordingly
All I know is this is the greatest story ever told
And we’ll never grow old
We just pan away, fade to light"

Kelly said Kenny would always say when he had seen or spoken to Randy "Specktacular," with strong emphasis on that last part. When I was running for city council, I gave him a campaign card. I reckon, from all accounts, he showed it all over town. It was one of the favorite things I did as a candidate.

Kenny left out Wednesday aboard that last train to Clarksville. Until we see you again, we will always remember you, singing...
"Hey, hey, we're The Monkees!" 💕

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

"Samuel Fulton Stephenson"

"Dr. Samuel Fulton Stephenson is one of Clinton County's most dependable and well loved physicians and one of our most loyal and respected members of the medical profession," wrote the New Era in 1950. He was born in Clinton County on March 16, 1876. During his early childhood, the family moved into town, where Samuel acquired his early education before attending the Kentucky School of Medicine, now a part of the University of Louisville, from which he graduated in 1898 at the age of 22. He took a post graduate course in ophthalmology and while he enjoyed a large general practice through his professional career. At the same time, he devoted special attention to testing eyes and fitting glasses.

At the time of his death, Dr. Stephenson was Clinton County's oldest practicing physician. He started out practicing at Byrdstown and Albany his first five years. In 1903, he moved his office and residence to Albany. During the first 15 years he did most of his traveling by horseback. By 1914 he had become one of the few people in Clinton County to own an automobile. Very few people in Clinton County owned an automobile until the late 1920's.

Dr. Stephenson practiced medicine for 52 years. He was known by every­one throughout Clinton County and was well known in adjoining counties. In 1948, the university he had attended presented him with the Golden Anniversary Certificate, issued-to graduates who have practiced their profession for 50 years. It was written that he was a 'clean christian doctor' devoted to his profession and to the people whom he served. In addition, he was always interested in the welfare of his people, his town and always took an active part in Church work.

Samuel Stephenson was 74 when he died of a heart attack at his home just south of the square on Nov. 22, 1950. His funeral service was held three days later before a large and sorrowing congregation at Albany First Baptist Church, where he had been a devoted member most of his life. Burial was at Albany Cemetery under the direction of Sewell Funeral Home. Albany's four remaining physicians: Drs. Samuel Bristow, Ernest Barnes, Floyd Hay and Raymond Faulkner, along with Byrdstown physician Malcolm Clark, were honorary pallbearers.

Dr. Stephenson was a member of the large Stephenson family of Russell, Clinton and Cumberland Counties, which consisted of such notables as Dr. Tom Stephenson, who was a prominent dentist in Columbia, and Dr. J. M. Stephenson, the well-known dentist in Burkesville. He was the 10th of thirteen children of Thomas Stephenson, the once prominent Albany merchant, and Esther Dalton Stephenson. His wife was Burcie Mulllinix Stephenson. While they didn't have any children there were 24 nephews and nieces and numerous descendants.

Clinton County took pride in our Dr. Stephenson, not only as a successful professional man, but also as one of her finest and most useful public-spirited citizens.

My 78 RPM Disks (1905-1924)

1. Albert Campbell - Dreaming (3701). Steve Porter - Flanagan At The Vocal Teacher's (3705). Standard Talking Machine Company 1907. 2. ...