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Contributed June 2004
by Lee Freeman

From the Florence Times, Saturday, July 25, 1890, p. 3.

An Old Citizen Gone.

Major Charles B. McKiernan, an old and well-known citizen of Colbert, died at his home, Spring Hill, in that county, on the 18th instant1, at the advanced age of 75 years. Maj. McKiernan was one of the most brilliant men intellectually in Alabama and possessed a versatility of talent that made him a most pleasant companion. He was a lawyer by profession, but for many years he had lived upon his plantation, where he greatly enjoyed the company of his friends and the association of his books. He was a brother of Mrs. Wm. M. Jackson of Florence, and had many friends here, who will regret to hear of his death.

THE TIMES in its next issue will give a more extended sketch of his life.

1 Instant - Of the current month.

From the Florence Times, Saturday, August 1, 1890, p. 1.



Charles B. McKiernan was born at Nashville, Tenn., March, 15th, 1813. While he was still an infant his father, Bernard McKiernan, moved from Nashville to reside on his Spring Hill plantation in Colbert County, Ala., where the subject of this sketch was reared to manhood. He was educated at Georgetown, D. C. Returning from college, he was sent by his father to Madison Parish, La. to read law with his brother-in-law, Gen. Hugh Dunlap. After a thorough course of reading with that able lawyer, he entered upon the practice, which he pursued with marked success for several years, when the Mexican War was declared in 1846. He immediately raised a company of which he was elected captain, and which was assigned to duty in the Fifth Regiment of Louisiana volunteers commanded by the notable Bailie Peyton. After that brief campaign, which was so glorious to American Arms, he resumed his law practice at Richmond, La..[sic] but continued in it only a few years when large business interests called him into another field of endeavors. In 1850, he moved to Montgomery county, near Clarkesville, Tenn., and entered the firm off Jackson, McKiernan & Co. in the manufacture of iron. This firm did a large and very lucrative business, but it collapsed as a result of the outburst of the civil war [sic]. For the past twenty-five years he has resided at the old family homestead in Colbert county, Ala., where by strict attention to farming he has maintained his family in comfort and dispensed a generous hospitality.

In 1848 he married Miss Rebecca Baxter, of Clarkesville, Tenn., whom he leaves surviving him, also a son, Charles B. McKiernan, Jr., of Colbert county, Ala., a daughter, Mrs. Geo. Donnegan of Nashville, Tenn., and a sister, Mrs. Wm. M. Jackson of Florence, Ala.

When he went to the bar, S. S. Prentiss, Sharkey, Joe Holt, Chilton, Bailie Payton [sic] and a host of other legal celebrities were in the heyday of their success and fame. He was thrown into intimate association with them all. The old regime was at the height of its pride and power. Had he written his reminiscences of life in the Southwest fifty years ago, it would be a rarely interesting volume. As it was, in telling of those days and scenes he could hold the unflagging attention of his hearers for hours, so perfect was his command of language, so winning even to fascination were his manner and method of narration. Of ready and acute perceptions, a forcible writer, a most impressive public speaker, he must inevitably have risen to high distinction, had he remained for any length of time at the bar. But perhaps he has raised for himself a more valuable, a more enduring monument. He has enshrined himself in the hearts and memories not only of those with whom he was bound by the sacred bonds of kinship, but also of those with whom he was connected by the less intimate ties of friendship. And very many were his friends; few if any, were his enemies.

When a young man he was quick and violent in resenting what he fancied to be an insult or a wrong, yet so kind and forgiving was he that the son never went down leaving him in wrath and enmity against any of God's creatures. Generous to his own hurt, impulsive at times to imprudence, gifted as he was intellectually, he was as free from guile as a little child. Himself untainted by selfishness, deceit, chicanery or falsehood, he could not easily believe them to exist in others. To the writer, it was frequently a beautiful manifestation of this trait---this simple faith in his kind, born of his own purity---to see him cajoled and imposed upon, in minor concerns, himself wholly unconscious of the fraud.

A good man, a brave man has fallen---one who was faithful and true in every relation of life---one who leaves behind him in all the wide range of his acquaintance, no one who does not feel that the world is better for his having lived in it.

He sleeps tenderly guarded by the watchful love of those who were so near and dear to him---those to whom he was so near and dear, he will awake in the Resurrection Morn.


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