OF A SOUTHERN WOMAN
"WITHIN THE LINES"
A GENEALOGICAL RECORD By Mary Polk Branch
THE JOSEPH G. BRANCH
JOSEPH G. BRANCH.
THIS little book is
written for my children and the
descendants of those whose lives are herein
From its perusal may they learn still more to
reverence the memory of their forefathers, and to prize
the heritage left by them of noble and honorable lives.
To this record I have added my memories of the
home of my youth, under Southern skies. Then later
the experiences of a Southern woman during the Civil
"within the lines."
This long retrospect of mine, a retrospect of eighty
years, portrays faithfully life in the South as it was in
ante-bellum times, and afterward in her mourning
vestments, the beautiful, heroic South.
I write with a loving hand as I pay this tribute to the
MARY POLK BRANCH.
OF A SOUTHERN WOMAN
IN ANTE-BELLUM DAYS.
My father, Dr. Wm.
Julius Polk, was married to my
mother, Mary Rebecca Long, at Mt. Gallant, Halifax
County, North Carolina, in 1814.
Mt. Gallant was an estate, inherited by my mother,
from her grandfather, Gen. Allen Jones. In 1828 they
moved from North Carolina to Columbia, Tennessee,
where five brothers had already preceded my father -
making their homes on plantations near the town. My
father was a devoted member of the Episcopal church,
and noted for the purity and integrity of his character -
his word being considered "as good as
He was elected again and again president of the
First Bank, in Columbia, and for years trustee of the
old St. Peter's church.
My mother was an able assistant in all good works,
and the blameless lives of this old couple were
marked by deeds of neighborly kindness, charity and
hospitality, for which the South was so noted in ante-bellum days.
Their nearest neighbor was Bishop Otey, who lived
on an adjoining place, called Ravencroft, and as both
he and my father had a keen sense of humor, many a
good joke had they at the expense of the other.
My mother and the bishop, both fine chess players,
usually ended the evening with a hotly contested
game of chess - the victor triumphant and the
vanquished insisting that the battle should be
renewed at a later day.
My mother was a woman of beauty and unusual
courage. She needed it as she said farewell to her three
soldier sons, and bade them do their duty. But she had
higher attributes than courage - the charity which
thinketh no evil, the love which includes the sinning
and the sinless, recognizing the stumbling blocks that
beset our path. All beautiful things appealed to her,
flowers and poetry. She often recited verses that she
had learned in her youth. She seemed to me to be a link
connecting us to a far-off period, binding the present
to the past. The rare courtesy of her manner, which
told of her gentle breeding, combined with a slight
formality, which, while very kindly, precluded any
familiarity. As I have looked at her lovely old face I
have thought her the embodiment of all the virtues of
her race. In her ninetieth year she joined the great
caravan, and now, with the husband of her youth, as
much of her as
could die awaits the resurrection, at St.
My father first rented the house owned by his
cousin, then Governor of Tennessee, James K. Polk,
afterwards President of the United States. Then he
bought a home, which I owned later, at present the
property of Mrs. Towler. At this house, at the dinner
table, was first proposed the building of the Columbia
Female Institute. Present upon this occasion was
Bishop Otey and my
uncle, Leonidas Polk, who was afterwards bishop of
Louisiana. The building was partly finished in 1836,
and I was carried there by my nurse to be entered as a
Preparatory to the coming of the Rev. F. G. Smith,
who was first principal, his assistant teacher taught
the school in a room back of the old St. Peter's church.
The church was the second house at the corner of
Garden street next to the old Masonic hall. The lady
whose portrait is at the Institute was Mrs. Shaw, of
Philadelphia; her daughter, a beautiful young woman,
taught music. She was engaged to be married to the
Rev. Mr. Odenheimer, then pastor of St. Peter's church
on Second street, in Philadelphia; afterwards he
became Bishop Odenheimer, of New Jersey.
An event of those early days was a reception on the
Institute grounds to President Andrew Jackson. He
was on his way to visit his niece, Mrs. Lucias Polk, at
"Hamilton Place," accompanied by Paulding, the
novelist. I do not know why he should have selected
Paulding as a companion, as Paulding was not a
politician. On the important occasion two little girls
were chosen to present bouquets to the distinguished
visitors. Accordingly, little Kittie Puryear, and I, in our
best white frocks, and with our hair curled, presented
them. One bouquet was given to General Jackson,
mine to Paulding, who sent me a little poem in
response. This was, I think, in 1840.
Two years later my cousin, Sarah Jackson Polk, and
I were sent to a French school in New
York - Madame Canda's - and afterwards to a
school in Philadelphia. This cousin, who married my
mother's nephew, Robin ap C. Jones, was one of the
loveliest characters I have ever known, and the dearest
friend of my life. We went to Nashville on our way to
Philadelphia, in our carriages, dining at Cartright's,
near Springhill; stayed all night at a place a mile from
Franklin, and next morning proceeded to Nashville, a
distance of forty miles which now takes three hours to
travel. There we took passage on a small stern-wheel
boat - there was no stateroom, and we slept in a large
ladies' cabin with berths piled one above another. Our
party was composed of my uncle, Lucias Polk, his
daughter (my cousin Sarah), Miss Dorothy Dix and
Miss Dix, the noted philanthropist, had known my
uncle in Nashville, where he occupied some public
position, in the legislature, I think. Her visit to
Nashville was to petition the legislature to build an
asylum for the insane. She had visited every State for
that purpose, traveling alone, yet, she said, had never
met with the slightest discourtesy. She was from
Boston, and had been engaged to be married, and her
lover became insane. She visited him, found him in a
cell with a rock floor; not a comfort; treated as though
he were a criminal. She then began the crusade to
which she devoted her life, and through her
instrumentality asylums were built in many cities where
before the insane had been confined in jails. I think
through her efforts the asylum in Nashville was
founded. This was about 1847.
She was charming in appearance, and her
sweet voice had a soothing effect upon maniacs. She
often sang to them.
In Philadelphia we were invited to the homes of
many of her friends, and introduced to some
celebrities through her kindness, among others,
Doctor Hare, and I had the pleasure of dancing with
Weir Mitchell at his father's house.
After the return of my cousin and myself to
Tennessee our lives were like most Southern girls of
that period. Wealthy Southerners usually resided on
their plantations, and visited friends in their carriages,
many miles apart, staying two or three days. Some of
these carriages were very handsome, and drawn by
four horses, as were those of my uncles, George and
The Old Southern Mammy.
"quarters," as the negro cabins were called,
there was usually a band, which played at night for the
"white folks" to dance. "Old Master" always led off in
the "Virginia Reel." Negroes are always fond of music,
and as they would play "Jim Crack Corn, I Don't Care,"
or "Run, Nigger Run," or "The Patrolers Will Catch
You," or some other especial favorite, they would
become wildly excited and beat the tambourines over
Our nurses we always
called "Mammy," and it was
not considered good manners to address any old
negro man or woman otherwise than as "uncle" or
"aunt," adding the name whatever that might be - the
surname was always the master's. We were taught to
treat them with respect.
There was such a kindly feeling on both sides
between the owners and their slaves - inherited
kindly feelings. How could it be otherwise? Many
were descendants of those who had served
in the same family for generations - for instance, the
nurse who nursed my children was the daughter of my
nurse, and her grandmother had nursed my mother.
My maid, Virginia (I can not recall the time when she
was not my maid) was a very handsome young mulatto
to whom I was especially attached. When she was
married in her white dress and long veil flowing to her
feet, the ceremony was performed in our back parlor,
and Bishop Otey, the first bishop of Tennessee,
How great the pride the negroes felt in the wealth
and importance of their owners, and interest indeed in
all of their affairs, amusingly so, sometimes! I recall an
old woman, coal black, a red bandanna handkerchief
tied over her kinky locks, and great dignity of manner,
she said to me: "Young missis should marry her
cousin, Marse Tom, and keep our family likeness in
Our Social Life.
Indeed, ours was a gay
and free-from-care life. I can
recall delightful summers at Old Point Comfort, and the
Greenbrier White, in Virginia - winters in which I
journeyed from my father's plantation, near Helena,
Arkansas, to New Orleans.
There were palatial boats on the Mississippi river
then, for there was no other way to reach
New Orleans. At each landing, often at night, lighted
by the pine torches on the bank, the roustabouts
would roll aboard the heavy bales of cotton, singing
as they crossed the gangway their gay negro songs,
often throwing piles of wood into the roaring furnace
as they raced with some other boat, which they were
trying to pass, amid shouts of triumph, or cries of
defiance for the rival firemen.
At their nearest landing, planters would come
aboard with their wives and daughters to do their
annual shopping in the "city," and the big boat
would plow its way down the broad river with gay
passengers laughing, dancing, singing, and many a
love tale, told upon the guards until it rounded at the
dock of delightful New Orleans - the city of camelias,
cape jasmines and violets.
But sailing down the broad Mississippi was not
always an unalloyed pleasure, sometimes there were
I recall how my bright and beautiful cousin, Mary
Brown Polk, and I started from Nashville on "The
America," for New Orleans.
After an evening of dancing and cards, we retired to
our staterooms. It was quite late, and most of the
passengers, including our chaperones, had already
sought their berths.
All at once there was a cry of "Fire!" and looking
out we saw a man dashing down the cabin, while the
carpet rose beneath his feet from the gusts of March
wind, while he cried to the sleeping passengers:
Hand in hand, my cousin and I ran to the
deck. Around us women were shrieking wildly, in every
stage of undress. Men were getting from their trunks
money and valuables, for the boat seemed doomed.
The angry river, lashed by the wind, bore upon its
troubled surface bales of burning cotton, which burst
as they were thrown into the water, and floated off
like little boats afire, lighting the dark and threatening
river. The pilot was ordered to land, threatened and
implored, but he was obdurate. He kept the boat to the
middle of the stream. He said: "The river has
overflowed its banks from the heavy rains, and the boat
would be burned before we could reach the landing."
He turned the boat so the wind swept through the deck,
carrying the flames far from the guards, which were covered
with wet blankets, so to the strong winds we owed
When the morning came, lovely and calm, as it if to
compensate for the terrors of the night, we floated on
our way to New Orleans, the beautiful metropolis of
At Greenville, Mississippi, a large party came on
board, of young planters paying their annual visit to
their commission merchants, or with their sisters and
sweethearts, going to enjoy the gaieties of the city.
Formerly all families of any prominence in the South
knew of each other, so we soon formed one party, and
they added much to our enjoyment.
Some Famous Beauties.
Patti was then on her
first visit to New Or-
leans. She was very young, and accompanied by her
sister, Amalia Patti, whose husband, Strakosch,
played their accompaniments for them. I remember
how she pouted at some little thing that did not please
The most beautiful assemblage of women I
have ever seen I then saw. There was Madame
Yznaga; I had known her as a schoolmate as Ellen
Clement. Her husband was a Cuban planter, and she
owned plantations on the Yazoo River, which had
taken her South. Her sympathies were strongly
Southern, and I heard of her playing the banjo and
singing Dixie songs when abroad during the war. She
was the mother of the Duchess of Manchester, and
grandmother of the young Duke, who married Miss
Zimmerman, of Cincinnati.
Among the beauties was Miss Sallie Ward, of
Louisville, with the soft warm coloring and blue eyes
which Kentuckians often inherit from their Virginia
Then the Tennesseans, a very different type,
with clearly cut, regular features, brunettes, and slight,
graceful forms, brilliant eyes, but not with the languor
which characterized the creoles.
While admiring them, a gentleman said: "No one
here compares with Madame Bienvenu," and looking
where I was directed I certainly saw a beautiful
woman. I was told she was sixty, but it was beyond
belief, although upon her shapely head were piled puffs
of snowy hair.
Her large, velvety eyes had a lovely expression, her
creamy-white skin with but little color, but her lips
were crimson. Her neck and arms showed to
advantage in the black velvet gown by contrast, and a
single white camelia she wore as a bouquet de
corsage. I admired her enthusiastically.
The next summer I went to the "Greenbrier White,"
in Virginia, with my uncle, Andrew Polk, his wife and
daughter, then a child, Antoinette Polk, afterward the
Baronne de Charette. There could not have been a
more delightful place. Brilliant belles from all over the
South - gay cavaliers, chivalric and courteous. I recall
my saying: "There is nothing more I wish for on earth;
I am perfectly happy."
It was on the morning
of November 29, 1859, that
Col. Joseph Branch and I were married at "Buena
Vista," my father's, afterwards my, home, at Columbia,
Tennessee. Colonel Branch was finely educated,
benevolent and honorable, and I may be excused for
saying, handsome, though I have now no photograph
Every advantage had been given him by his uncle,
Governor Branch, of Florida, his guardian, who was
Secretary of the Navy under Jackson. First he was
sent to Chapel Hill, North Carolina; afterwards to
Princeton, where he graduated as valedictorian, about
1835, in a warm contest between a Northern and
Southern champion. His
brother Laurence was salutatorian, afterwards
Congressman for many years from North Carolina, and
in the war brigadier-general. He was killed at
Sharpsburg. The two brothers, after their
matriculation, went to their uncle's home, "Live Oak,"
in Tallahassee, and practiced law together.
Colonel Branch was very successful; a member of
the legislature at twenty-one, and president of a bank,
when he married his first wife, Annie Pillow Martin,
amiable and vivacious. She died five years after her
marriage, leaving two sons, George Martin and Henry.
Colonel Branch then left Florida and formed a
partnership with his father-in-law, and their plantations
were in the name of Martin and Branch. There were two
plantations, seven miles long, in Desha and Arkansas
Counties, Arkansas - the Davis and Dayton
plantations. The Davis half-way encircled the lake,
reflecting the white cabins and green trees of the
"quarters" in the water. It was laid out in regular rows of
houses with streets between, two hospitals - one for
the men, one for the women - a nursery for the
children, and two old women to take charge of them.
In approaching the place there was first a cotton
field of one thousand acres, level as the floor, and at
regular intervals sheds with lightning-rods attached in
case of storms, and at each shed a cistern. A field of
cotton would be one day white, the next day the
blooms changing to pink, and presenting a beautiful
Upon these plantations were four hundred
slaves before mine came, given me by my father from
his plantation near Helena, Arkansas.
Upon my arrival as a bride at the plantation I found
the house servants drawn up in a line on the front
porch to greet me, and the house brilliantly
illuminated. Among them was "Aunt Beck," a
dignitary of great importance, my husband's nurse and
then his cook. She was a privileged character. Colonel
Branch's mother had left the children to the care of this
devoted nurse on her deathbed, and her affection for
them was boundless. As Governor Branch's cook in
Washington, where he was Secretary of the Navy, she
had also been their consoler in many an escapade.
She had no children of her own, and my husband
and his brothers, orphans, she considered her own.
They gave her her freedom when they were grown, but
she scorned it and said she would never leave "Marse
Joe," my husband. Good and faithful woman! The
bullet which killed her favorite broke her heart, and she
lived but a short time afterwards.
After arriving at the
plantation, I was startled late
one night by the great bell of the "quarter" tolling. I
ran to the front porch, and could see big fires lighted
on the streets in the "quarter," and could hear the
women crying, "Two children were lost in the cane
back of the plantation."
The wild hogs in the canebrake were dangerous,
and might attack and even devour the children. So a
great fire, fed by pine knots, was
kept blazing all the night, as a guide. The bells on all
the plantations around took up the alarm, and men on
horseback came dashing up to know what was the
trouble on the Branch plantation.
My husband and men with lighted torches went in
search, but the children were not found until next
morning, asleep under a cottonwood tree.
Every day we went out on our horses, riding
through the canebrakes, bayous, down the turn rows
of immense fields of cotton, to the ditches where Irish
laborers were digging to drain the marshes - to the
nurseries, to the hospital with fruit, or some delicacy
for the sick.
In the evening we entertained ourselves with the
piano and the library; among the books were many
religious ones, for Colonel Branch was pious, and a
member of the Episcopal church.
An innocent and ideal life!
We varied it in a few months by going to New
Orleans and from thence to Cuba. At Matanzas we had
quite an experience. We got on a car where the men
were evidently going to a cock fight, each with a cock
under his arm. They had seen our names upon the
passport, which had excited their suspicion. Laurence
Branch, Colonel Branch's brother, had introduced a bill
in Congress very obnoxious to the Cubans - for the
United States to buy Cuba for some millions, and,
suspecting this to be the Branch, our interpreter, who,
of course, spoke Spanish, had great trouble in keeping
us from being mobbed by the angry crowd.
The summer after my marriage, 1860, I spent
in the East, and until then I had no idea of the feeling in
the North against the South. My maid was soon
enticed away at Niagara. From thence we went to the
Continental Hotel, in Philadelphia. The hotel was filled
with Southerners. A few evenings after our arrival a
procession of a thousand men, bearing torches,
stopped in front of the Continental, and were
addressed from a platform in front of the hotel by
Charles Frances Adams. I remember a part of his
speech in which he said: "The North should be made a
haven to the oppressed negro of the South," and his
other remarks were to the same purport.
We felt wantonly insulted, and for the first time I
had a foreboding for the future, which grew stronger
during our visit to the Greenbrier White Sulphur
Springs, of Virginia, soon after. The "White" was
different from what I had ever known it before. There
was the "German" in the morning and the ball at night,
but there was a tone of seriousness underneath it all.
The young men, and the old, could be seen in groups
discussing some point that was evidently exciting
We felt the gathering clouds that foreboded the
coming storm. From White Sulphur we returned to our
home in Tennessee. Everything there seemed
beautifully peaceful and calm. Tennessee's first vote
against secession was sixty thousand, as the old
Whig party, which had great strength in Tennessee,
was opposed to it, but when her sister States seceded,
Tennessee went with them, and her best blood flowed
freely in the cause.
Tennessee was a border State and she and Virginia
bore the brunt of the war. It is stated that one-fifth of
the dead of both armies was on Tennessee soil.
Oh, the horrors of
civil war! My mother was a
Spartan mother, and she said to her four boys, "Go
and do your duty."
There was my gay and handsome brother, Tom,
who left his wife and children; Lucius, whose name I
can not write without a pang; Cadwalader, and Rufus.
Colonel Branch was in jail for a few days in
Columbia, Tennessee, then exiled by General Negley
with the penalty, if ever caught in federal lines, to be
hung as a spy, and property confiscated.
In the meantime my mother and I were alone at
Buena Vista. There were five hundred soldiers - a
cavalry command - encamped about the place, but
the officers were kind and placed pickets at the doors
for our safety. Yet, notwithstanding, we had nightly
alarms and the house often searched. I recall one
occasion, as my mother and I were driving from
Columbia, with many contraband articles, we were
stopped by two pickets, who proceeded to search the
As one soldier picked up some trifling article of my
mother's, she exclaimed, "Would you deprive me of
that small pleasure?" The other soldier, at the same
time, saw a pair of soldier's gauntlets, I intended for
General Cleburne. He
looked at me, saw the terror in my face, a vision before
me of Irving Block, in Nashville, where rebel women
were confined, and then turning to the other soldier he
winked at me and said, "Come away, there is nothing
there, let these ladies go on."
Many letters and supplies and these same gauntlets
we carried to Florence, Alabama, to soldiers there. Of
course, we ran a great risk, but we relied upon our
coachman, who was very loyal to us, and secreted
some of the letters upon his person.
A federal raid had just taken place in the country
through which we passed, and houses, farms and
fences burned, the fire still smouldering where food
had been cooked. It became dark and our coachman
was blind at night, and the road so covered with
autumn leaves we lost our way. I walked in front,
putting aside the leaves, to find traces of the road, and
calling out, "Drive to the right, drive to the left." At
last I saw a fence and, following it up, we came to a
substantial log house, and were barely in it before a
cavalry company came dashing up, demanding if some
of "Wheeler's soldiers were not there." Fortunately for
us, our host was a well-known Union man, and the
house was not searched.
The few Union men were
occasionally of great
service to their friends and relations. My brother-in-
law, Judge Russel Houston, for instance, whose
brother, Governor Houston, of
Alabama, and all of his own and his wife's family were
"secessionists," stood very high among the federals
(as Union men of his ability and social prestige in the
South were very rare), and, in consequence, there was
a great deal in his power.
My sister was very loyal to her husband, but
natural feeling would assert itself. I recollect standing
with her at a window, when a cavalry company of
General Wheeler's, who had been burning bridges
between Columbia and Nashville to prevent the
approach of the enemy, came dashing through the
town, closely pursued by a federal company. My
sister, in her excitement, clasped her hands and
exclaimed, "Oh, if they had but wings to fly!"
But amidst this gloom there were occasional flashes
of sunlight. When the Confederates were in
possession how gay it was, and the soldiers such
I recall General Armstrong's wedding - the officers
in full uniform, and wearing the yellow scarf of the
cavalry. The beautiful bride, a great-niece of President
Polk's, a brunette, in contrast with the blonde
appearance of her handsome husband.
Then the brilliant ball at Ashwood Hall, the
gracious host and hostess, and Antoinette, their
daughter, a young heroine of the Confederacy, who
afterwards became the Baronne de Charette.
She was visiting me when I saw in front of my
house, on the Hampshire pike, Maj. Hunter Nicholson
dashing down the pike, pursued by cavalry in blue
coats. I knew at once that
Columbia had been taken possession of by the
Federals and I called to Antoinette Polk. She came
down the steps, the gauntlets in her hand, and her hat
with its long ostrich plume in the other, ran for her
horse in the stable, dashed through the woods, to
reach the Mount Pleasant pike, where Ashwood Hall,
and the homes of her two uncles, each a mile apart,
were situated. They were filled with soldiers who
would be taken by surprise and captured, unless she
reached them in time.
She gained the gate, which opened upon the pike,
and as she did so, she saw approaching her three
Federal soldiers, fast riders thrown out to capture
prisoners, and then commenced a wonderful race. The
horse was a young thoroughbred, and seemed to
realize her peril. The last she saw of the cavalrymen
they were digging their spurs into their horses' sides
with their heads almost on a level with those of their
horses. She gained the woods and was lost to their
sight. On reaching Ashwood she roused the
Confederate soldiers, and was taken almost fainting
from her horse; the horse's mouth covered with blood
and foam from its bit. The soldiers picked up a trophy,
her long ostrich plume, which dropped from her hat,
and returning showed it to the colonel, who said,
"Why did you not shoot her in the back"?
Her father was Capt. Andrew Polk, a cavalry officer,
who returned from the Kentucky campaign a helpless
invalid, went abroad with his family, and died at
This oldest daughter, of whom I have just
written, Antoinette, married the Baron de Charette,
nephew of the Comte de Chambord, and colonel of the
Pontifical Zouaves in the Garibaldi war.
The marriage was celebrated in Paris, with great
éclat. Among the splendid gifts was an aigrette of
diamonds from the Pope, a diamond laurel wreath from
the Zouaves, coronet from the Princess de Berri. The
mother of General Charette's first wife, Duchess
de Fitz-James, sent a magnificent present, and others,
equally handsome, were given.
In 1884 they visited Canada, where they were
received with great enthusiasm by the Catholics. The
public receptions in Quebec and Montreal were grand
They had but one son, Antoine, who was recently
married to Suzanne Hennin, of Kentucky. His title
(having been given an estate, which carried the title
with it), is Marquis de Charette.
It was just before this sortie of the Federals into
Columbia, that I met General Van Dorn, the gallant
cavalry commander, so handsome and gay. It was at a
ball at Ashwood Hall given to the officers that I first
met him. A few weeks later I attended his funeral. He
was assassinated, and the procession passed to Rose
Hill cemetery, from Columbia, where he was buried. Of
course, the funeral was a military one, and I never shall
forget the solemnity, the music, the blare of the
trumpets, the powerful black horse that was led
riderless, and on each side the inverted boots of the
late gallant officer.
We had about this time an unexpected pleasure.
Adelina Patti came to our little town, Columbia, to visit
her brother Carlo, who was quite sick, and on a sick
leave from the regiment in which he had enlisted, the
I had heard Patti some years before, when she was
very young - I think about twelve. She sang then at a
concert in New Orleans. Strakosch, who had married
her older sister, accompanied them on the piano.
On this occasion, in Columbia, a long narrow room
called "Hamner's Hall" was prepared for her, as she
had consented to sing. During the war we had no oil
for our lamps, and considered ourselves very
fortunate to have home-made candles. Accordingly,
the footlights were an array of tallow candles, with tin
reflectors. When Patti entered, and saw the primitive
arrangements, the lights, the hats of an antiquated
style, which confronted her, it was beyond her to
control her amusement; she hid her face behind a huge
bouquet, and shook with laughter, while we, the
audience, sat in indignant silence.
Soon after this, "Blind Tom" was in Nashville, and
I, as secretary of the Hospital Association, wrote to
his manager, requesting that he should give a concert
in Columbia. We were trying in every way to get funds
for the hospital and this proved very successful. Two
gentlemen gave us a hundred dollars apiece.
How busy that hospital
kept us! Knitting, making
underwear, collecting supplies, sending boxes to the
army. My mother was instrumental in organizing it, and
was president until the close of the war. We not only
ministered to our own wounded soldiers, but to many
of the Federals, who were taken prisoners, had been
wounded, or were sick, and brought to the hospital.
This reminds me of an incident that occurred. My
two beautiful gray carriage horses had been seized
soon after we were in Federal lines, and I wished to
regain possession of them, so I asked the services of
the provost marshal, a Union man, and near neighbor
of ours, to accompany me to headquarters, which he
The officer in command asked me several questions,
and among others about the hospital. I replied, "My
mother is president, and we give every care and
attention not only to our own soldiers, but also to the
sick and wounded 'Yankees.' "
At this he sprang up
indignantly from his chair, and said, "Madam, I have
seen you but ten minutes, and during that time you
have twice insulted me. I wish you to understand I am
from Ohio, and the soldiers also who are under my
command. We are not "Yankees." With this the
interview was at an end, and there were no horses for
On April 6, 1862, the
battle of Shiloh was fought,
gained the first day, and lost the next day.
A Union man from Columbia was said to have
brought the order from Grant to Buell to reinforce him.
So at night sixty thousand men waded Duck river in
their forced march, and changed the defeat of the first
day into a victory the second day. That terrible day!
As I lay upon my sick bed I could hear the tramp of
the mighty host, as they passed upon the turnpike.
They swarmed over our house, and only the pleading
of my mother kept them out of my sick room. In my
delirium I would sing "He has fought his last fight. He
has won his last battle"; words from an old song, I
think called "Sir John Moore's Farewell."
In that battle it was said "every man who could
bear arms, of the name of Polk, fought."
My brother Lucius went
into the battle as a first
lieutenant. His regiment, the first Arkansas, was cut to
pieces, the captain of the company made a prisoner,
and left with but one officer. Lieutenant Polk took
command and led the regiment for two days. The next
day after the battle he was elected colonel by the men
unanimously and appointed afterwards.
Of that heroic brother what could I not tell?
There was never a nobler and more magnanimous
spirit, united to a tenderer and more merciful one - to
write of him even in the "so long ago" sends a pang to
Lucius Polk was born in Salsburg, North Carolina,
July 10, 1833, the family soon after moving to
Tennessee. He enlisted at the commencement of the
Civil War in Arkansas, where he owned a plantation,
and was elected first lieutenant in Gen. Pat. Cleburne's
company, in the regiment known afterwards as the
Lieutenant Polk's first service was with the
Arkansas troops at the capture of the arsenal at Little
Rock, Arkansas. His first fight was at Shiloh, after
which battle he was promoted colonel of the regiment.
When the Confederate army fell back from Corinth,
he was ordered to cover the retreat, "if not a man be
left." He defended the bridge so gallantly, that he was
complimented in General Cleburne's report
He was in the campaign in Kentucky, under Gen.
Kirby Smith, and was wounded in the battle of
Richmond, and six weeks later that of Perryville.
Colonel Polk was then appointed brigadier-general, in
command of Cleburne's old brigade.
He was in the two days' fight at Murfreesboro,
Tennessee, where his uncle, General Leonidas Polk,
was in command of one division of the army; at
Chattanooga, where his brigade did valiant service, and
in all the battles in the retreat from Tennessee.
His brigade brought up the rear in falling back from
Missionary Ridge, General Cleburne
in command of the division, entrusting him with the
charge of the rear guard.
In the ambuscade which he formed, by concealing
his troops on each side at Ringgold's Gap, and then
ordering a sortie, his brigade fought most gallantly,
capturing two of the enemy's flags, and he was most
highly complimented in the official reports of Generals
Johnston and Hardee.
In the fight near Hope Church, in Georgia, he was
desperately wounded and crippled for life.
In his official report of the battle of Chickamaugua,
Gen. Joseph Johnston said, "But for the valor of Gen.
Lucius Polk's brigade we could not have carried the
General Polk did not long survive the war, and died
at his residence in Maury County.
Of him could be said not only "the bravest of men,
but the truest and most loyal."
His two oldest sons, Rufus and Lucius, were in the
Cuban and Philippine wars, and showed themselves
worthy of their parentage.
The first, Rufus, was twice a Congressman from
Pennsylvania (where he had married), and he was
prominently mentioned for lieutenant-governor of
Pennsylvania at the time of his death, at the early age
My brother had but one
furlough - he was sent
home after the campaign in Kentucky. We did not
even know he was wounded (so difficult was it to get
any intelligence from the army), when one morning he
came limping into our sitting-room, the shadow of his
former self, his head bound with bandages, and also
shot in the foot. You can imagine how we felt!
After this came the battle of Murfreesboro, the two
days' fight on the thirtieth of December and first of
January, 1863. During the progress of the great battle
which was fought there, my mother and I, and many
others, went to the "Knob," which overlooks
Columbia, and with straining ears listened to the thud
of the cannon forty miles distant.
My mother dispatched in haste, Oscar, a faithful
servant, to ride across the country to Murfreesboro
with bandages, liniments and supplies, for her sons
who were in the battle.
The Confederate Army were encamped on Stone
river - General Hardee commanding one corps, and
Gen. Leonidas Polk, "The Fighting Bishop," the other.
I have a plan of the Battle of Murfreesboro which I
prize highly. It is a topographic view of the ground
upon which the two armies were posted, drawn by
Captain Morris, chief engineer of Polk's Corps, for
Lieutenant-General Polk. The original was destroyed
and I have the duplicate, sent by Captain Morris to
The position of the Federal troops under Roseerans
is given with division commanders and brigades,
as well as that of the Confederates.
Bragg commanding, and the two corps
commanders, Lieutenants-General Polk and Hardee, in
command of the right and left wings, encamped on
Stone River, whose waters were tinged with blood
after the battle.
The cemetery near Murfreesboro is filled with
monuments to the dead of both armies.
Gen. Leonidas Polk's unique career came to a close
at a later period at Pine Mountain, near the Kenesaw.
He was born at Raleigh, North Carolina, April, 1806.
He commenced his education at Chapel Hill, North
Carolina. He received his appointment as cadet to
West Point in 1823 - his father having been an officer
in the Revolutionary War, was very desirous that his
son should also add to the military traditions of the
family - but, influenced by the eloquence and
devotion of the chaplain at West Point, he became a
member of the Episcopal Church and studied for the
In Richmond, Virginia, he first entered upon his
church duties, and after a year's travel abroad,
returned and made his home in Middle Tennessee
upon a tract given him by his father. In 1838 the
general convention made him missionary bishop of the
Southwest, which embraced Arkansas, Indian
Territory, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas.
Many amusing anecdotes
are told of him at this
period. He had a great amount of humor, and must
have enjoyed them immensely.
Once, while on Red river, a planter wished his son
baptized by an Episcopal minister, but the boy fought
valiantly against it, unless his black chum, Jim, was
also baptized. "Well," said the bishop,
"Bring Jim in,
and we will make a Christian of him, too." It seemed
many smallpox cases were reported on the plantations,
and a dignified circle, invited to meet the bishop, were
discussing vaccination when in burst Jim, wildly
excited, "Master, master, you have Marse Tom
baptized over again - it never tuk that ar time; he's out
yonder cussin' the steers worse than ever, an he says
he ain't gwine to stop fur nobody." The ice melted,
and the bishop turned and said, "Commentary on the
doctrine of baptismal regeneration."
The following anecdote I have never seen in print:
In going down the Mississippi river at Natchez, where
the boats would stop for a short time, there was a
lunch-room near the wharf, the proprietor of which
was a noted character. He prided himself upon
knowing the occupation or profession of any man by
his appearance, and would greet his guests
accordingly, announcing them as they came into the
dining-room: "Walk in, doctor,"
"Walk in, lawyer."
On this occasion, as the bishop entered, he called
out "Walk in, judge." Excuse me,
said the host, "I
should have said general." "No,
not general? Now I
know I must be right, walk in, bishop."
"Why do you give me these titles?" said the
"Because," replied mine host, "I know whatever
profession you follow you are bound to be at the head
of it "
Indeed the bishop did look the born leader. Of
majestic and very handsome appearance, a face full of
determination, yet softened by great kindliness and
At one of the conferences, after the battle of
Belmont, and the business of the flag of truce had
been dispatched, the party adjourned to a simple
lunch, provided by the Confederates. One of the
officers, the gallant Buford (of the Twenty-seventh
Illinois), raising his glass, proposed a toast to General
Washington, the "Father of his country."
with a merry twinkle of his eye, quickly added, "And
the first Rebel." The Federal officers joined with
excellent humor in the laughter which followed the
sally, and drank the amended toast.
Never did the bishop neglect his religious services
and the morning prayers. In a meeting in New Orleans,
on his birthday anniversary, I read records of his
death prepared by Colonel Hopkins, a member of his
"On the morning of June 14, 1864, General Polk
received an early message from General Johnston,
with request to meet at Pine Mountain to make a
reconnoissance of the position of the enemy.
prayers having been said by the general, as usual, and
the frugal meal of those forced days of abstinence
been disposed of, the general mounted his well-known
'Jerry,' and rode alone, followed by
two of his staff and
two men of the escort. During that lonely ride,
contrary to his usual mien, the general seemed
dispirited - possibly his thoughts were drifting to the
loved flock of his far-away church, possibly to his
plantation home, on the bayou, and possibly again to
the fast-declining fortunes of the Confederacy, whose
doom was already foreshadowed. To all appearances
lost in thoughts of sadness, he led the way to the
meeting place, where fate awaited him.
"Arriving at Pine Mountain, General Polk found
Generals Hardee, Johnston and Jackson (of the
cavalry) on the ground.
"The day was ideal, and the stillness of death was
abroad, for both armies rested on their arms, facing
each other, but ready at a moment's notice to rend the
air with shot and shell.
"On this exposed position the group of generals
had assembled - it was evidently a council of war;
when suddenly a puff of smoke arose from the distant
lines, and ere it had melted in the air a murmuring shot
passed overhead. Warned by the artillerymen of the
danger of their position, the group of generals sought
shelter. Then came the second shot, lower, and better
aimed, when, looking back from my place of safety, I
saw General Polk alone, on the very crest of the hill,
with arms crossed, and looking intently at his front.
"In an instant I was at his side, but, alas! too late,
for at that very instant a solid shot was tearing its
murderous way, with a hissing sound, through his
chest, carrying his heart, and shattering
both his arms. Without a groan his great manly
form, so full of honor and of love, tottered and fell,
with his feet to the foe, and his face upturned to the
The general's remains were taken to Marietta,
Georgia, from thence to Augusta, where they now
repose in St. Paul's Church, in the crypt beneath the
Shortly after this the army fell back, pursued by
Sherman on his march to the sea.
On December 15, 1864, I
started for the plantation in
Arkansas with my nurse and small family to see my
Nashville was in Federal lines, but I had a permit to
go to Memphis, via Louisville. There, through the
influence of my brother-in-law, Judge Russel Houston,
then of Louisville, whose handsome home in Nashville
had just been burned to the ground to build Fort
Houston, I was permitted to take with me many
I had a shoe trunk filled with sugar and medicines,
and an overcoat for my husband, with tobacco in the
pockets to give the provost marshal the impression
that I was carrying an old, worn coat. These articles
were sealed by the provost marshal to prevent
We embarked upon the Golden Eagle, a boat which
on the trip before had carried negro soldiers. In
consequence, we were fired upon all the way down
the river, a flash from the bushes on the banks and a
volley of shot. I was in the
pilot house, and it was the object to disable the pilot
of our boat - the shot flew thick and fast around us.
We all fell upon the floor, and lay trembling until the
guerillas were out of sight.
At last we arrived at Memphis and changed our
boat for the Commonwealth. The captain refused to
take pay from a Southern woman, until I assured him I
was well supplied with money.
Next we stopped at Helena, where General Buford,
of Kentucky, who was in command and noted for his
petty tyranny, refused to let me proceed farther. I
pleaded, and then wept, but soon restrained my tears
when I noticed the expression of his face.
I said, "I see, General, that this gives you pleasure,
but as I hear that you are a dear lover of the negro
race, let me go to the plantation and take medicine for
your friends there."
He was indignant, and replied, "Madam, my refusal
was in kindness, as I was a West Pointer with your
Uncle Leonidas, but now you return to Memphis on
the first boat that lands here."
The boat came in an hour. It had lashed to it, in tow,
another steamboat filled with smallpox patients,
soldiers whom they were sending to some hospital in
the North. The odor was insufferable, although there
were heavy tarpaulins on that side to exclude the air. I
was terrified (as Laurence was sick, and soon broke
out with an eruption which proved to be measles), but
there was no appeal.
For seven weeks we were compelled to remain in
Memphis at the Gayosa Hotel.
No one was allowed to pass the lines, to go out or
to come in Memphis. I did not know the reason then,
but knew afterward - Hood's army was advancing
At last, on Christmas day, we were permitted to
leave. I went with my aunt, Mrs. Andrew Polk, to
headquarters to ask a pass to proceed down the river,
my second attempt.
The general was absent, but the officer in command
very sternly refused to give it to me, saying the
general had left such orders in regard to all
applications. I thought it hopeless, and was preparing
sadly to leave, when, all at once, there was such a
transformation, such a desire to assist, such kindness!
My astonishment was great. My aunt was a
beautiful and charming woman, but that had no
influence upon the officer at first. What was the
magic? All at once a light broke upon me. I exclaimed:
"I understand, you are a Mason, you have taken three
degrees, and your father, Mr. Van Leer, was past
grand master of the State!"
She laughed, but she neither affirmed nor
We arrived at Napoleon,
Arkansas, which since has
been swept away by the ever-encroaching river, on
January 1, 1865. We were met there by Colonel
Branch, with the carriage. Our meeting was joyful, yet
tinged with a deep undercurrent of sadness, as you can
realize everything was at that time. The battle of
Franklin had been fought and we felt that the
Confederacy was doomed.
Colonel Branch had been ordered to make a cotton
crop - to be gotten out as it best could be, to buy
ammunition for the army. He was also ordered to
supply the families of fifteen soldiers with meal. The
plantation was uninjured, and looked strangely
peaceful, but the serenity was soon disturbed.
On the third day after my arrival I was having a
pleasant talk in my sitting-room, with an old
gentleman, a neighbor, when the doors opening upon
the front gallery were thrown simultaneously open,
and blue-coated soldiers swarmed into the room.
One rushed to the old man, with a canteen of
whisky. "Drink, I say!" and the old man drank,
although he did not know but that it might have been
poison, while the others commenced ransacking.
Realizing the absolute necessity of coolness, I
arose, and said to the leader, apparently: "If you will
control your men, I will supply what they demand,
water, towels and food."
"They are helping themselves," he said, as a
chicken flew past, followed by half a dozen soldiers in
pursuit. He looked at me, and said: "I see that you are
a woman of sense, so I will give you a little advice.
Behave as you are doing now, and you will have no
trouble. Here comes the captain now!"
Looking out I saw advancing down the road an
officer at the head of a hundred cavalry. He behaved
with great politeness, and remarked that
at the plantation above us (the Douglas), "the house
had been set on fire three times, as the ladies had
been so insulting to the soldiers that he had found
difficulty in controlling them."
They stayed two days, the men encamped upon
the place, the officers in the house.
One of them picked up an album, and looking at a
photograph, said: "Who is this?" I said: "General
Pillow, an uncle of Colonel Branch's first wife."
"That," I said, "is General Leonidas Polk, the
uncle of Colonel Branch's second wife. This," I went
on to say, as he turned another leaf, "is General
Lucius Polk, my brother, and this, General Laurence
Branch, killed at Sharpsburg."
"What a nest of rebels!" he exclaimed, and closed
the book in disgust.
I left soon after to weep and wring my hands in the
retirement of my room, and then to appear composed
and calm before the soldiers.
The place was left uninjured, and the captain
allowed me to supply with money a wounded
Confederate soldier, whom they had taken prisoner on
an adjoining plantation, and send him off in my
carriage. They also left a Choctaw pony for my boy,
which no doubt they had stolen from some place
lower down on the river. The squad first thrown out
were the fast-riders, to take prisoners, before the main
body, moving more slowly, could come.
But the Federal
soldiers I did not fear at all, as I did
the "Jayhawkers." They were composed of roving
bands from both armies, united for the purpose of
plunder - calling themselves Confederates usually,
but feared by friend and foe alike.
Our plantation, having a great deal of cotton hidden
under the cabins, was a special object of attraction,
and, when frustrated, of revenge. One night an attack
was expected from one of these bands. My room had
mattresses placed around the walls, to protect us from
the shot, while my husband, the provost marshal, and
several of our neighbors, who had come in for the
purpose of self-protection, stood behind the trees,
ready to fire, as the Jayhawkers approached. However,
they heard in some way of the preparations, and made
On another occasion, three men took Colonel
Branch out in the cane to kill him, and only the
interference of one, a Kentuckian, saved him.
Once they came when I was alone, the only white
woman in miles around, and demanded Colonel
Branch. They asked the "time," to see, I think, if I had
a gold watch, and while, on pretense of ordering them
a lunch, I contrived to send a message to Colonel
Branch not to return to the house.
On such occasions "Aunt Beck," who was a
famous cook, and believed in the efficacy of a good
lunch, would have one prepared in almost incredible
time, ably assisted by the other servants. One would
prepare the fried chicken, or cold ham, another the
crisp lettuce salad, and these material comforts
doubtless served me many a good turn.
In time of danger, how faithful these slaves were!
What would have become of the women and children
of the South if they had not been? No wonder the
men of the South wished to raise a monument to
immortalize the fidelity of the old "Southern Mammy!"
So late as last winter, nearly a half century since the
slaves were freed, I received a letter, written in
Chicago, from one of them.
It was from the daughter of Grandison, our dining-
room servant, who wrote at the request of her father,
who was on his deathbed. He said that he must "say
farewell to my old mistress before he went." He
recalled to me the question of the Federal general to
him: "How does the ex-slave feel toward his former
owner?" and his reply, "Nothing but death can sever
the tie between the old master and his ex-slave." How
many instances could I enumerate of their fidelity. To
them I owe the preservation of my silver during the
war. "Aunt Beck" and Colonel Branch's body-servant,
Braxton, dug a hole at midnight on the banks
of the lake. There was a massive breakfast service, and
all the flat silver, spoons, forks, and the silver pitcher
and waiter. These they enclosed in a trunk and buried
in the sand.
There it remained for some years, until "peace" at
last reigned. Then George, my husband's eldest son,
was sent to Arkansas, to bring it up to our home in
Tennessee, from which State it had been sent to
Arkansas for preservation.
He stopped at the Gayosa, in Memphis, for two
days, and with a boy's carelessness left the door of
his room open, yet no one ever thought of disturbing
the disreputable-looking old trunk, tied with ropes, in
which the silver had been packed.
The war had ended -
the long agony was over, and
again we met in our mother's home, in Columbia,
First came Lucius, bravest of the brave, on crutches.
Next, Cadwalader, whose horse was shot from under
him, and he left for dead on the battle-field at Prairie
Grove. Next, Rufus, who spent his seventeenth
birthday in a prison on Johnson's Island.
We met again, in the parlor, where, after the battle
of Franklin, Generals Cleburne, Granberry and
Stahl had been laid, before they were interred at St.
A bloody handkerchief was over General Cleburne's
face, but one of his staff took from his pocket
an embroidered one, and said: "Cover his face with
this; it was sent him from Mobile, and I think that he
was engaged to the young lady."
No wonder that it is said that the jingle of
spurs and the measured tread of a Confederate soldier
is often heard in the hall of the old house at night!
We separated, for another battle - the battle for our
daily bread, and with no resources, and the debt of
five years, growing in interest, before us!
The men who were in that war have not been long-
lived, as a rule. Sickness, hardship and wounds
impaired their vitality. They worked with the same
doggedness of purpose, uncomplaining and in
silence, as did Lee, their great leader. But hope was
gone - no longer there to vivify their souls.
Then came Reconstruction days. It would have
been very different if the negroes had been left to
themselves, and not listened to the
who swarmed over the South, but by them they were
incited to lawlessness and insult.
What could be done?
There was no law! The
Kuklux filled the needed want, and by thorough
superstition awed the negroes into better behavior.
I have looked out in the moonlight, and seen a long
procession wending their way slowly on the turnpike,
in front of my house. Not a sound could be heard from
the muffled feet of their horses, as in single file they
moved in speechless silence - a spectral array
clothed in white. No one knew who they were, whence
they came, and what their object, but the negroes
and if there were excesses in their new-found liberty,
crimes committed by them, they knew there would be
a speedy retribution by these spectral visitants.
They effected a great good, but as good is often
attended with evil, lawless men, who did not belong
to the regular organization, disguised themselves as
For instance, on my brother Lucius' plantation, one
night he was aroused by negroes from the quarter,
calling at his window, begging him to get up; that
there was "A company of Kuklux at the quarter." He
went at once, and demanded what they wanted. They
said: "One of the negroes on the place has done a
great deal of mischief, and we have come to whip
him." My brother said: "I know him to be a good negro,
and you can not whip him." "But
we must!" "You can
not," said my brother; "if you do it will be
dead body, for I am his natural protector." "Well,
General, your life is too valuable to be given for this
negro's, so, as we do not wish to kill you, we will go."
Turgeneff, in his book, "The Fool's Errand,"
in writing of the Kuklux, of whom he had heard and
seen a great deal, when stationed for some time in
the South immediately after the war, writes: "When
complaints were first sent to the Government it
ignored them, and in good humor from having
subdued the Rebellion, treated the matter simply as
pranks of school-boys playing ghosts to frighten the
negroes, but when the representations became more
it was forced to act, and orders were given to the
governors of the different States to imprison and try
any one who was accused of being a Kuklux."
The governors complied willingly - all the good
had been effected. The governors themselves had
been Kuklux, and knew that they had been disbanded,
but bound by such solemn oaths that to this day I can
not find who were Kuklux.
My husband and I went
to our beautiful home,
"Buena Vista," which had been my father's.
It was endeared to me by a thousand memories of
childhood and girlhood. There had I been married, and
there had my children been born. It was a large, old-
fashioned brick house, on an elevation. On one side, a
garden bordered with hedges of the microfilla rose,
and its summer house and arbor festooned with
wreaths of yellow jasmine - its garden beds in the
old style, with borders of box, trimmed square.
In front of the house a climbing rose, twenty feet
high, still hung from an oak, in which were embedded
the bullets of the enemy. Upon the gallery had stood a
Confederate soldier, a mere youth, who had fired from
behind the pillars, until the boy fell dead, riddled with
In the joy of meeting, we tried to forget the past -
and we were happy. My husband, big in heart as well
as stature, and the four children, mere babies, and the
father's delight in them. He was of so bright and
sanguine a nature, it
was an inspiration to be with him. I leaning on him for
love and protection! In my checkered life was it not a
dream of heaven!
I carry it with me when days are dark, and turn to
that picture of the past.
Two years of this ideal life passed, and a summons
came from the plantation in Arkansas, and he must
Colonel Branch left our home on November 11, 1867.
I wished to go with him, but the care of the little
children and the place prevented, and crippled by the
war, our means were not what they had been.
I had a premonition of ill, as I gave him the farewell
Two days after he arrived at the plantation, he
walked the main road to examine a bridge over the
bayou, which needed repairs. As he stood there, a
buggy with the physician on the place, Doctor
Pendleton, in it, came up. Doctor Pendleton had
charge of the hospitals of the two plantations.
He had been drinking heavily and was seeking a
quarrel, so he called to Colonel Branch, making an
insulting remark, and drew his pistol.
The Death of Colonel Branch.
My husband raised his
hand and cried out: "I am
unarmed"; but the fatal shot was fired, passing
completely through his body. He fell upon the bank,
partially paralyzed, and the negroes, rushing from the
cotton-field, bore him to the house.
They filled his room, weeping, and crying
aloud, while his old nurse knelt beside him. He said:
"Will no one write to my wife, and tell her
The crying of the negroes distressed him, so he
said: "Let only a few come in at a time to bid me
farewell." This they did, and so he passed away.
The negroes were wild, they declared he should be
avenged. Many of them had been in his family for
generations, and some in mine. None had left during
the war; this was two years afterward, and still all were
there, faithful to the close.
They armed themselves with guns, anything with
which they could kill, and started to Judge Fletcher's
plantation, where Doctor Pendleton had just arrived.
The old judge had turned to him, and said: "If you
killed Colonel Branch, get out of my house this
moment," when an overseer from our place, who was a
Mason, and bound to give aid to another Mason (and
Doctor Pendleton was one), came dashing through a
short cut to the house, and cried out: "Go, for your
life; the Branch negroes are on your track, and they
will kill you, as sure as there is a God in heaven!"
Communication was very slow in those days, and a
week had passed before I arrived at the plantation. I
wished my husband to be interred in St. John's
Cemetery, at Columbia, Tennessee.
I traveled on the Henry Ames, the boat on which I
had gone down the river on my bridal trip eight years
before, and on the anniversary. I had only heard that
he was wounded, but as
we met each Arkansas River packet, the captain
would call out through his speaking-trumpet: "How is
Colonel Branch?" At last the answer came, "He is
Many years have passed since then, and my days
glide serenely by, only speed more swiftly, as rivers
hurry when they near their destination, the ocean's
Only one great sorrow I have had, the loss of my
beloved grandson, Laurence Winn, a boy of rare
promise, a gifted and charming young boy who died
just before his eighteenth birthday.
Nature never stands still, and we may think of him
as still fairer grown, and brighter in his celestial home
- and with this belief we should still our hearts, and
say: "God knoweth best."
I can not tear my thoughts from that past life and
those I loved so much, and I sometimes feel that they
are very near me, and I recall the words of Isaiah:
"Seeing what a cloud of witnesses encompass us
"Seeing What a Cloud of Witnesses
Encompass Us About."
mother, may she be near me; may her sweet eyes
gaze in mine.
she watch and pray beside me, with a mother's love divine?
He be near, my dearest? The world seemed a dream of bliss,
alas! so soon he left me to the bitterness of this.
witness, may be, my brother, with his wounds a tale to tell
battle-fields where heroes fought and the conquered banner fell.
and grand, like sculptured knight, he waits in his lowly bed,
sound of the reveillé to call soldier from the dead.
may be the gifted boy with the blue, prophetic eyes,
saw, beyond his blighted life, a rainbow in the skies -
angels are around us, what may their mission be? -
souls escaped from bondage, from earthly shackles free?
come on silent wing through the blue realms of space,
a glory caught from Heaven, upon each radiant face.
feel their presence near us, and a rapture, as of yore,
o'er us, as they whisper "Love is love forever more."
messengers, sent to us in the silent hour of prayer,
whispers and in dreams - it may be in visions rare -
soothe us with the thought of that blessed land of Peace,
tears shall never flow and all life's troubles cease.
The spirits are about us, but, alas, we cannot see,
our vision's dim and blinded to Heaven's great mystery.
with dying eyes we'll see them, as we leave this world of sin.
ope' the gates of Paradise that we may enter in.
A Genealogical Record.
1. General Thomas Polk
married Susan Spratt. Said
Thomas Polk was the son of William Polk, and his
wife Priscilla Roberts, who was the son of John Polk,
and his wife Joanna Knox, who was the son of Robert
Polk, the emigrant, and his wife Magdalena Tasker,
of Moening Hill, Ireland.
1732. Born in Carlisle, Pa.
1735-1793. Resided in Colony of North Carolina.
1769-1771. Member of Provincial Assembly of
1775. Colonel of Militia.
1775. Colonel of Second Battalion of Minute Men.
1775, May 20. Called the meeting in Mechlenberg
County, and was a signer of the Mechlenberg Declaration of Independence.
1776. Colonel of the Fourth regiment of North Carolina
troops; was at the battle of Brandywine, but not at battle of
Germantown, being at that time in command of the escort of
North Carolina troops (200) detailed to convey the Liberty
Bell and guard to a place of safety at Bethlehem, Pa., the
heavy baggage of the army, among which was the Liberty
Bell. There were several hundred wagons. (From the official
diaries of the Moravian church, Bethlehem, Pa., September 24, 1777.)
Charles S. Keyser in his pamphlet, "Liberty Bell."
Wheeler's History of North Carolina.
Life of Bishop Polk, pp. 65 and 68.
Jones' "Defense of North Carolina."
Huttman's "Register of Officers in Colonial Army,"
Trustee of Liberty Hall College. (History of North
Carolina, Continental Line, H. H. Bellas.)
Wheeler's "Reminiscences of Eminent Carolinians,"
History of North Hampton County, Pennsylvania,
1752-1877, Captain F. Ellis, historian.
Commissary General under Gates. ("Life of
2. William Polk, son of
Thomas Polk, and
Susan Spratt. First wife Grizelda Gilchrist.
Second wife Sarah Hawkins.
1758, July 9. Born in Mechlenberg County, North
1834, January 14. Died in Raleigh, North Carolina.
1775, April 17. Second Lieutenant in a company
commanded by Colonel Ezekiel Polk.
1775, December 22. Severely wounded at Canebrake, when
only 16 years old. This was his only Colonial service.
1776, November 26. Appointed major of the Ninth
continental battalion. From absence of the lieutenant-
colonel of this regiment, the command of it devolved upon
the major, and he marched with it to Georgetown, and
thence to Trenton, where he joined the Grand Army under
Washington, and was in the battles of Germantown (where
he was wounded), Brandywine and Valley Forge, where he
was shot in the shoulder, and at Germantown in the mouth.
Here he became known as the young officer "who caught
British bullets in his teeth."
1812. He was appointed General in the United States
Army in 1812, but declined on account of infirmities. Was
nominated by Washington, and confirmed by United States
Senate, as Supervisor of Internal Revenue for North
Carolina, which office he held for seventeen years.
1824. He was one of the Commissioners to receive
Lafayette. Member of the Order of Cincinnati. Genealogy of the Jones Family.
Robin Jones married
Sarah Cobb. Grandson of
Robin Jones the emigrant. (From the Bible of
Isaac Cobb. "His Book.") Robin Jones was born
prior to 1700 in Sussex County, Va.
1750-1756. Lived in Northampton County, North
1754-1755. Member of Colonial Assembly.
1761, March 20. Appointed Attorney General by order
King and Council, an office he held until his death. Agent of
Lord Granville, who was one of the Lord Proprietors.
General Allen Jones, his wife, Rebecca
Edwards. Son of Robin Jones and Sarah Cobb. Appleton's Encyclopedia.
Governor Debb's Dispatches.
Wheeler's Reminiscences, pp. 195-197.
Rolls Office of Colonial Records. London.
Register of Albemarle and Sussex Counties, p. 1.
1739. Born in Halifax County, North Carolina.
Died on his estate, Mt. Gallant, Roanoke River, North
1774-1768. Member of Provincial Congress.
1775. Delegate to Newbern Convention.
1775. Member of Committee of Safety for Halifax
1776, April 23. Appointed one of the five Brigadier-
Generals from North Carolina.
1779-1780. Member of Continental Congress that met in
1776, April 4. Represented Northampton County in the
1779. Member of Congress.
1784-1787. State Senator.
Wheeler's Reminiscences, pp. 196-204.
Appleton's Biographical Encyclopedia. p. 482.
Jones' Defense of North Carolina, pp. 203-256-257.
Wheeler's History, Vol. I, pp. 65-68; Vol. 2, p. 206.
Genealogy of the Long Family.
Rebecca Jones, only
daughter of General Allen Jones,
married Lunsford Long, son of Colonel Nicholas Long.
1761. Colonel Nicholas Long married Mary
1798. Died. Both buried at his estate, "Quanky," North
1774-1775. Member of Committee of Safety, and in
1776. Appointed by Provincial Congress Colonel of
Minute Men. Afterwards Commissary General for the
province of North Carolina.
1776. Deputy Quartermaster General, with rank of
Colonel in the Continental Army.
Jones' Defense of North Carolina.
Huttman's Register of Officers of Colonial Army.
Appleton's Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp.
Register of Officers of Continental Army. H. H. Bellas.
father of Mrs. Nicholas Long,
nee Mary McKinnie, a noted woman of her day.
("Women of the Revolution," Mrs. Ellet.)
1734-1735 Member of the Colonial Assembly of
1746-1758. Justice of County Court. Appointed by
Fourth sheriff of Warren County.
Patience McKinnie, daughter of Barnaby McKinnie,
married Joseph Lane, son of governor of the first colony
of North Carolina. Their daughter married Allen
Gilchrist, descended from Martha Jones, who was a
daughter of Robin Jones.
Edwards married Jane Eaton.
1713. John Edwards, father of Nathaniel, died in
1709. Colonel Nathaniel Edwards, born in Brunswick County.
1770-1771. Member of Virginia House of Burgesses until
his death in 1771.
1771. He vacated his seat by accepting the office of
Secretary of State (deputy) for State of Virginia. Records of Brunswick County. W. G. Stanard, of
William Eaton (father
of Jane Eaton Edwards)
married Mary Rives, of Albemarle County, Virginia.
Born in Essex County, England, and emigrated to
Virginia. His estate in England was "Eaton Green."
Owned an immense property.
1754. Colonel Granville County Militia.
1757. Member of North Carolina Colonial Assembly.
1757. Died. See Colonial Records, p. 162.
Record Through Which I Became a
1. General Thomas Polk, my great grandfather through
2. Colonel William Polk, my grandfather.
3. Robin Jones, my great-great-grandfather. Founder of
the family in America. Descent on both sides from him,
making my father and mother cousins.
4. General Allen Jones, son of Robin Jones, my great-grandfather
on my mother's side.
5. Colonel Nicholas Long, my great-grandfather through
my mother's father, who was Lunsford Long.
6. Sir Barnaby McKinnie, father of Mrs. Nicholas Long.
7. Colonel Nathaniel Edwards, father of Mrs. Allen Jones.
8. William Eaton, father of Mrs. Nathaniel Edwards.
The first Branch of
whom we know was Peter
Branch, of Kent, England, who came over in the
Castle, 1638, but died on the voyage. His will, made in
favor of his ten-year-old son, John, is the first one
recorded in Boston.
John married Mary Speed, and they became the
proprietors of "Branch Island," ten miles north of
Peter, son of John and
Mary Branch, married
Hannah, daughter of Thomas Lincoln, "the Miller,"
who was an ancestor of Abraham Lincoln.
Colonel John Branch, a
soldier of the Revolution.
He married Rebecca Bradford, a daughter of John and
1775. He was a "Terror to Tories"and a
1775. Sheriff of Halifax County, North Carolina.
1781-1782 and 1787-1788. In the Senate.
1806, March 14. Died at Elkmark, N. C.
The Branch family
responded to every call to arms
and the defense of liberty. Among those who served
from Connecticut for the relief of Boston in the
"Lexington Alarm" was Sergeant Thomas Branch and
Rufus Branch. When the signal came, announcing the
approach of the British on Bennington, he dropped his
the field, mounted his horse and rode away to join
Stark's forces. Many are the stories told of the bravery
and wit of Rufus' wife. At the time of the battle of
Bennington, several women gathered at her home,
intending if the British were victorious to flee to the
hills. Fear and consternation reigned. However, Mrs.
Branch sat carding flax, declaring that she would not
stir until she could see the color of the British eyes.
During her husband's absence, with her daughters'
help, she gathered wood for winter use, she harvested
the wheat and butchered the pigs.
The descendants of John Branch, the
Revolutionary soldier, were as follows:
John, Governor of North Carolina and Secretary of the
Navy under President Jackson.
Patsy married Whittier.
Patience married Southall.
Joseph married Susan O'Bryan.
Issue of Joseph Branch and Susan O'Bryan were Joseph,
Henry, Susan, Lawrence, and James.
Joseph married, first, Annie Martin; second, Mary Jones
Polk, of Tennessee.
Descendants, George, Martin, and Henry.
Second marriage to Mary Jones Polk. Issue, Mary Polk,
married Dr. Winn.
Their descendants were Laurence Branch Winn and
Lucia married J. W. Howards. Their descendants are
Gerald and Laurence Branch.
Joseph Branch was a member of the Legislature of
Florida at twenty-one, a successful lawyer and planter in
Desha County, Arkansas, where he amassed a very large
fortune. He was assassinated on his plantation, November
1. Joseph Branch, the second. Son of Joseph
Branch and Susan O'Bryan. 1737. Laurence Toole married Sabre Irvine.
1750. Sabre Toole, his wife, died.
Their descendants were Mary, Elizabeth, Nancy,
Laurence, Henry Irvine, Sabre, Jean, and Geraldus.
1757. Elizabeth married Geraldus O'Bryan.
1764. Geraldus O'Bryan died.
Sabre married Body.
Descendants of Geraldus and Elizabeth O'Bryan: Dennis
1761. Laurence was born.
1786. Married Elizabeth Simpson.
1812. Laurence O'Bryan died.
Descendants of Laurence and Elizabeth Simpson were:
Laurence Dennis, who married Barsha Gordon.
Susan married Joseph Branch.
1825. Susan Simpson O'Bryan died.
Descendants of Joseph Branch and Susan O'Bryan:
Henry, Joseph, Susan, Laurence, and James.
Married, first, Annie Pillow Martin.
George Martin and Henry Lewis Branch.
Married, second, Mary Jones Polk.
1. Mary Polk married Dr. Chas. Ware Winn.
Issue: Laurence Branch Winn, Mary Polk Winn.
2. Laurence O'Bryan Branch.
3. Lucia Eugenia, married John William Howard.
Their issue: Gerald Branch Howard, Laurence Branch
4. Joseph Gerald Branch the third, Joseph Branch
second, was a member of Legislature of Florida at
twenty-one, a successful lawyer and planter in Desha
County, Arkansas, where he amassed a very large fortune.
He was assassinated on his plantation November 22, 1867.
2. Laurence O'Bryan Branch, first. Son of Joseph
Branch and Susan O'Bryan. Member of Congress from
North Carolina, Speaker of the House for many years.
Brigadier-General in Confederate Army. Killed at battle
3. Susan, daughter of Joseph first and Susan
O'Bryan. Married Nannie Blount.
Issue: Susan, Nannie, Laurence and Josephine.
Susan married Robert Jones.
Issue: Laurence Branch.
Nannie married ---- Jones.
Laurence married Miss Washerton.
Nannie married Burton Craig.
4. James, youngest son of Joseph and Susan
O'Bryan Branch. Married General Robert Williams, of Florida.
Issue: Robert, married Jennie Sutton, of Louisiana.
Married Mary Watkins.
Issue: James, Joseph, Susan and Robert.
In the reign of King
David, of Scotland, the vast
feudal Barony of Pollock, in Renfrewshire, was held by
the noble territorial King Fulbert, the Saxon. Upon the
death of this monarch in 1153 Petreus succeeded, who
assumed the surname of his vast hereditary estate of
Pollock. According to the best authorities, the Lord
Baron of this feudal kingdom was a man of eminent
ability. He was the benefactor of the monastery
Paisley. His donation was received by the Bishop of
Glasgow prior to A. D. 1190.
This Petreus de Pollok was a law unto himself, and
equal to the sovereign of the realm in wealth and
power. He was the ancestor of a long line of warriors,
and the forbear of knights who fought in the crusades.
He was himself distinguished for deeds of prowess,
and the subject of many a minstrel lay.
In addition to the vast Renfrewshire estates,
Petreus de Pollok held the Barony of Rostis, in
Aberdeenshire, during the reign of Malcolm IV., of
Scotland. The latter lands he gave to his daughter,
Maurick, who married Sir Norman de Leslie, and
became ancestress of the Lords Rostis and Leslie.
On the death of Petreus de Pollok the ancient
patrimonial estate of Pollok passed to his brother,
Robert de Pollok, who was succeeded by his son of
the same name.
Finally we come to a later Petreus, one of the
persons of rank, who in the year of our Lord 1206 gave
a forced submission to Edward I., of England, in the
bond known as the "Ragsman" bond. He was
succeeded by his son Robert de Pollok, who married
Agnes, daughter of Sir John Maxwell, Lord of
Brecius de Pollok, who left a son, John de Pollok,
designated in a charter by King James II., of Scotland
(December 12, 1439), as
From this famous
noble sprang the illustrious line of that ilk. His
successor was Charles de Pollok. "Nobiles vir Johannes de
Pollok plies at heros Brecius."
John de Pollok had a second son, Robert de Pollok,
who received from King James II. the
great land grant in Veoius Scotia, in New Scotland, as
Ireland was then called. He became Sir Robert de
Pollok, of Ireland, whose eldest son, Robert de Pollok,
inherited the estates in old Scotland, while the
younger son, Robert, received the newly acquired
lands in Ireland, with the title of Sir Robert de Pollok.
In the year 1640 Sir Robert, of Ireland, joined the
Scotch Covenanters, whose commander-in-chief and
Governor of Dunbarton castle was a relative of Sir
Alexander Leslie, of the famous soldiers of that day.
Sir Robert was succeeded by his son Thomas. Sir
Robert's second son, Robert Bruce Pollok, married the
widow of Major Porter, of the English army. According
to well-authenticated records, this lady's maiden name
was Magdalen Tasker, of noble French descent, and
heiress of "Moerning Hall," in Ireland. She survived
her husband, and died about 1724. Certain it is that in
the year 1687 Robert Pollok had patented to him certain
estates in "Dames quarter," Somerset County,
Maryland, which have descended in the family to the
present generation, and a fact of more than passing
interest is the will of Magdalen Tasker Pollok, made
when ninety years old, in 1776, recorded in Somerset
County, in which she devises to her son, Joseph, "My
estate 'Moerning Hall,'" in the kingdom of Ireland, and
Barony of Ross, County of Donegal, and in the parish
Of the eight children who emigrated to Somerset
County, with Robert Bruce Pollok (Polk) and his wife
Magdalen, the majority married;
and their descendants have included distinguished
men, not only of Maryland, but all through the South
and West. When, as in the case of Robert Pollok, we
find a man of high position, with wife and children,
and the records later disclose the fact that valuable
estates were left behind in the mother country,
imagination becomes active, and it is natural enough
to picture the hasty flight of Protestants who would
be condemned to death for loyalty to a principle.
With the change from Catholicism, in the year 1689,
we find the names of Robert Polk and that of his son
appear among the list of loyal subjects of King William
and Queen Mary.
Robert Polk was said to be an elder in old Rehobeth
church, claimed to be the oldest Presbyterian church
in America. He brought with him from Ireland the
family Bible, containing records of births and deaths.
It was stained by the weather from being hidden in a
tree. When it was read one of the family would stand
on guard to watch for the Papists. This was after the
"Reformation." Robert Pollok's old home, "White
Hall," was standing until about sixty years ago, when
it was burned. In it still, when it was burned, there was
a clock brought from Londonderry, Ireland; also an old
mahogany case that contained fifteen square bottles.
The First Deeds to Land.
The first deeds of land
we find recorded on the
eastern shore of Maryland were from Lord Baltimore,
date 1685: "To Robert Polk, Sr., 'Polk's
Folly'; to John,
'Locust Hammock'; to
William, 'Polk's Defense'; to Robert, Jr.,
'Bally Hook'; to
Ephraim, 'Clemmel'; to James,
'James Meadow.' "
Change of Name.
Why this change of name
Tradition says that, being Presbyterians, and
having been engaged in one of the many plots of that
sect against Charles II., they fled to escape
persecution, leaving off the last syllable of the name
and changing it from Pollok to Polk. The name of
Robert's estate, "Polk's Folly," suggests
regretted leaving the old country; "Polk's
that William was still rebellious. "White Hall"
descended to William Polk, the second son of Robert
and Magdalen, and from him to his descendant, Col.
James Polk, naval officer of the port of Baltimore,
under his kinsman, President Polk.
From this elder branch descend the children of
Governor Lowe, who married Esther Polk, daughter of
Col. James Polk. His daughter, Mary Polk, married Mr.
Gorter, Belgiac Consul at Baltimore for many years.
Robert Polk, a grandson, took up lands in Dorchester
County about 1778. His son, Col. William
Polk, was a member of the Delaware Council, and
possessor of large estates known as "Polk's Defense,"
which he inherited. In this home was born Truston
Polk, Governor of Missouri, and representative of
Missouri twice in the Senate.
Robert Polk, fifth son of the emigrant, married Miss
Gillette. Their son, Capt. Robert Polk,
married Elizabeth, sister of the great artist, Peale
(William Wilson). Their son, Charles Peale Polk,
inherited the talent of his mother's family, and became
a distinguished artist also.
"The Polk family, a family of heroes for four
generations, are of Scotch-Irish descent. They are of
very ancient lineage, tracing their descent back to
Fulbert A. D. 1075." -
Genealogical History. Col.
Jones, 1899. Baltimore Sun, of September 4, 1904.
American Magazine, April, 1896, and October,
From John Polk, the
oldest son of Robert and
Magdalen Tasker Polk, are descended the Polk family
of North Carolina, who afterwards emigrated to
John married Johanna Knox (second wife). She
died in 1777. William, only son of this marriage, moved
to Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He married Priscilla Roberts.
They had eight children (and with these he emigrated
to Mecklenburg, North Carolina, in 1750), namely:
Thomas, Charles, Ezekiel, Susa (married Alex. Brevard,
Governor North Carolina), Margaret (married A.
Charles, the second son, was a soldier of the
Revolution, member of the Assembly 1793 (Wheeler).
He was noted for his daring and his love of a practical
joke and gained the soubriquet of "Devil Charley."
One of the anecdotes told of him was that while
Colonel Thompson's regiment encamped in a church in
North Carolina, Captain Charlie played "Ghost."
Attired in white and rattling chains,
he sprang up through a trap door in the pulpit and put
the regiment to flight.
Ezekiel, the youngest
son, was a signer of the
Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, and
commanded a company in the Revolution. His son,
Samuel, emigrated from North Carolina to Columbia,
Tennessee, in 1796, the year before Maury was made
into a county. He married Jane Knox, whose family
also had been Covenanters. He was agent for his
cousin, William Polk, for his lands in Tennessee, which
were one hundred thousand acres. His oldest son was
President James K. Polk, whose life is too well known
for me to give a sketch of it here; his successful
administration, his war with Mexico, the annexation of
Texas, the acquisition of California, making territory as
large as the thirteen colonial States, make his
administration one of the most glorious recorded in
The Old Home of President Polk.
The old home in which
President Polk lived is still
to be seen in Columbia, Tennessee.
Samuel Polk left other descendants who have
distinguished themselves. Col. William Polk, a man of
great wit and humor, Consul to Italy. He left an only
son, Tasker Polk, of North Carolina, a lawyer and
journalist of decided ability.
Other descendants of Ezekiel Polk were General
Neely, of Bolaivar, Tennessee; Col. Albert McNeil,
and Edmund Polk, no one more prominent in
Tennessee politics than he at the time of his early
Colonel Thomas Polk.
Colonel Thomas Polk,
oldest son of John, married
He was colonel of the Mecklenburg district at the
time of the "Mecklenburg Declaration of
Independence," of May 20, 1775, and "called the
meeting." The resolutions, read by him on the
courthouse steps to an assembly of people, were
drawn up by his son-in-law, Ephraim Brevard. I shall
not enter into a discussion of this much-mooted
Mecklenburg Declaration. I can not doubt the
testimony, however, of these old God-fearing and
truth-telling Presbyterians before the Legislature of
North Carolina in 1800 to the effect that "they were
present, and that the Declaration of 1775, May 20, was
similar to that later one of 1776." 1724. Born in Maryland.
1735-1793. Resided in colony of North Carolina.
1769-1771. Member of Provincial Assembly.
1775. Colonel of militia.
1775. Colonel of the 2d Battalion of Minute Men.
1776. April 15, commissioned to buy powder. Trustee of
"Liberty Hall," North Carolina.
John Simmonson, in giving his testimony before the
legislature, relates this anecdote:
One aged man was asked - an old Scotchman - if he knew
anything of the Mecklenburg Declaration. He replied, "Och,
aye; Tam Polk declared independence lang syne, lang before
At a few days later date, namely, May 31, 1775, several of
these same patriots, among whom was Thomas Polk, signed
the historical and undisputed "Resolves," which
are on file in
the Rolls Office, London. These "Resolves"
separated Mecklenburg from
the English empire thirteen months before the Declaration
"This is glory enough for the Mecklenburg
Fathers and is a
glory that can not be plucked from their brow." -
Colonel Polk, April 15, 1776, was in command of the
escort of North Carolina troops (200), detailed to
convoy and guard to a place of safety the heavy
baggage of the army. Among the bells of Philadelphia
which he had in charge was the "Liberty Bell." There
were several hundred wagons. We give extracts:
History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884:
"August, 1777. Colonel Flower, aided by carpenters; James
Morrell, Francis Allison and Evans, took down the bells of the
churches and public buildings. They were carried to Trenton,
and thence to Bethlehem."
History of North Hampton County, Pennsylvania, 1752-
1757. - Capt. F. Ellis, historian:
1777. Seven hundred waggons, escorted by
Colonel Polk, arrived at Bethlehem.
"The next day the train crossed the river and passed
through the town to the place where the stores were to be
"While passing through the streets, one of the waggons
which carried the Statehouse bell broke down and its load
obliged to be transferred to another. Seven hundred waggons
deposited their stores, proceeded to Trenton to remove a
farther quantity of public property, which was stored there.
"The Statehouse bell, which was in the waggon which broke
down in Bethlehem, had been taken down and carried away
for safety when the British army approached the
From official diaries of the Moravian Church.
"September 24, 1777. In the afternoon Colonels Polk and
Thornburg arrived with seven hundred waggons containing the
heavy baggage. They came directly from the camp and
everything was unloaded to a place of safety and left in
"A guard of two hundred men, who were encamped on the
banks of the Lehigh, were left behind."
Extract from another diary: "The heavy baggage of the
entire army arrived directly from camp, guarded by two
hundred men under Colonel Polk, of North Carolina. There
were seven hundred waggons in train, everything was unloaded
and brought to a place of safety. The waggons were ordered to
Trenton in order to fetch the stores from that place also to
Bethlehem. Among these stores were the bells of
Philadelphia. The waggon containing the Statehouse bell
broke down in the streets of Bethlehem so that the bell had to
be unloaded; the other bells were taken away."
History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884, by J.
and Thompson Wescott.
Wheeler's "History of North Carolina."
Thomas S. Keyser, in his pamphlet, "Liberty
"Life of Bishop Polk," pp. 65-68.
"History of North Carolina Continental Line." H.
Wheeler's "Reminiscences of Eminent North
"History of North Hampton County,
1757, Capt. E. Ellis, historian.
Colonel William Polk.
1759. Oldest son of General Thomas Polk and Susan
1824. Born January 18; died in Raleigh, North Carolina.
His first wife was Grizelda Gilchrist; second wife, Sarah
Issue of first marriage:
Thomas Gilchrist, who married Mary Trotter.
William Julias Polk, married Mary Long. Issue of second marriage:
Lucias Junias, married Mary Easton;
second wife, Anne
Leonidas Polk, married Frances Devereux.
Mary, married George Badger, Senator
from North Carolina.
Rufus King, married Sarah Jackson.
Susan Spratt, married Kenneth Raynor.
George, married Sallie Hilliard.
Andrew Jackson, married Rebecca Van Leer.
Colonel William Polk.
Owning immense tracts
of land in Tennessee - one
hundred thousand acres - he states in his will, which
was probated in Columbia, Tennessee, in 18--. This
he divided among his eight children, the tracts being
usually five thousand acres in extent. Upon these
lands were located the homes of his children, when
they left North Carolina and made their new homes in
Maury County, Tennessee.
Their residences were a few miles apart, upon the
Mount Pleasant road. This was afterwards made a
turnpike, the work done by the slaves of the
stockholders. These were Dr. William Polk (my father),
his brother Lucias, General and Jerome Pillow, Evan
Young and Peter Booker. This pike extended from
Springhill to Clifton, on the Tennessee river.
"Hamilton Place," the residence of
Polk, was built by my grandfather, who sent workmen
from North Carolina in wagons, to prepare a home for
his son and his bride, who was to be, Mary Eastin, the
niece of Mrs. Andrew Jackson, the wife of the
The marriage took place at the "White
was very pleasing both to General Jackson and my
grandfather, who had been life-long friends.
"Ashwood Hall" was built by Bishop Polk, and later
sold to his youngest brother, Andrew, who married
Rebecca Van Leer. They were the handsomest couple I
have ever seen. He was the captain of a cavalry
company during the Civil War, but, disabled and a
wreck, he went abroad, and both he and his wife are
buried in a foreign country. "Ashwood Hall " was,
indeed, a stately home, situated in a grove of one
hundred acres, dotted with sturdy oaks. Two large
halls opened into each other, hung with beautiful
paintings, and family portraits.
"Rattle and Snap" was the home of George Polk.
The grounds were won under peculiar circumstances.
My grandfather was playing a game of "beans" with
the Governor of North Carolina and some others. They
played for "scrip," issued to them as Revolutionary
soldiers. My grandfather won the game, located the
land, and named it for the game "Rattle and Snap." It
was in middle Tennessee, then called the Territory of
"West Brook" belonged to Rufus Polk, and was
afterwards the home of my brother, General Lucius
Polk, who married his cousin Sallie Moore, the only
child of Rufus Polk.
Some of these homes were very handsome, built in
colonial style, pillars on front porticoes, large halls,
with rooms on each side, wings for billiard-rooms and
There were beautiful gardens and greenhouses, the
lawns in front were extensive, and dotted with oaks for
which Tennessee was so famed.
"Buena Vista," my father's home, afterwards mine,
no longer stands. Recognizing the beauty of its location
and surroundings it was bought by the Government
for an arsenal and barracks, afterwards converted into
the "Columbia Military Academy." Of course, the old
gray brick house was replaced by a very handsome
commandant's home. I was glad when it was torn
down, such a reminder of the happy past, of the
hospitality and the kindness which had characterized
it. They who had made it were gone, and I could not
bear to look at it.
Colonel William J. Polk.
Left Queens College,
North Carolina, when he was
sixteen years old, and entered the army as lieutenant in
Colonel Thompson's (called old "Dangerfield")
regiment. He was detailed by Colonel Thompson with
thirty men to watch some Tories in North Carolina.
He was led into an ambush by his guide, one
Solomon Deason; was badly wounded in the shoulder,
from which he did not recover in a year. "This was the
first blood shed south of Lexington," said Gen.
Andrew Jackson, in a letter published in 1844, when
James K. Polk was a candidate for the Presidency; also
in an autobiography written by Colonel Polk for Judge
Murphy, of North Carolina.
General Jackson was a small boy at school with
Colonel Polk, at Charlotte, North Carolina. They were
life-long friends in North Carolina and in Tennessee.
The marriage of Colonel Polk's son, Lucias, to Mary
Eastin, the beautiful niece of Mrs. Jackson, which took
place at the "White House," was pleasing to them
Col. William Polk's record is certainly a brilliant one.
He entered the service at the age of sixteen, was
appointed major of the Ninth North Carolina
Continental Battalion when eighteen.
At one time he followed the fortunes of Marion and
Sumpter, and was aide to Carrol at Camden. At Eutaw
his horse was killed under him; at the same time his
brother fell. At Brandywine he was shot through the
shoulder, and at Germantown through the mouth.
It was referring to this that at a ball, given in
Philadelphia to the officers, a young belle inquired,
when he was introduced to her: "Are you the young
officer who, it is said, catches British bullets in his
He was appointed in the United States army in the
war of 1812, nominated by Madison and confirmed by
the United States Senate, but on account of age and
infirmities, declined. This honor was afterwards
conferred on Gen. Andrew Jackson.
He was Supervisor of the Internal Revenue of North
Carolina, a position which he held for seventeen years;
one of the commissioners to receive General
Lafayette in Raleigh in 1824; was a member of the
Order of Cincinnati. Will Polk, of Louisiana, had the
diploma, which was burned in a fire which destroyed
Mr. Polk's residence, but Col. Cadwalader Polk has the
certificate of membership.
There is a tradition, I do not know if true, but it
seems highly probable, that Colonel Polk suggested
the name of Nashville, and Davidson
County, having been by the side of Nash when he
was killed, and also with Davidson, when he fell; and
he was the first representative of Davidson County to
the North Carolina Legislature.
There are many relics of interest left by Colonel
Polk; among them the silver spoons, used at a
breakfast which he gave to General Washington.
There is also a mahogany table, with brass claws,
which can seat fifty, used at a banquet, given in
Raleigh to Lafayette. These are in the family of William
Polk, of Louisiana, at his plantation, "Ashton."
A miniature of Colonel Polk, beautifully painted, and
set with brilliants, is owned by William Polk, of
Tennessee. He was said to have been very striking in
his appearance, six feet four inches in height, with a
face full of dignity and command.
The Jones Family.
1680. Robin Jones, "The
Robin Jones the second.
Robin Jones the third.
- From Isaac Cobb's Bible, "His
Issue: Sarah Cobb.
1737. Robin Jones the third married
1. Allen, who married three times.
2. Wyley, married Mary Mumford.
3. Martha Cobb, married Dr. Thomas Gilchrist.
Robin married second wife, Mary Eaton, with whom he lived
unhappily. He said in his will, "What he gave
her in lieu of dower was more than she deserved."
child, Elizabeth, married Benjamin Williams, Governor of
North Carolina, August, 1781.
1762. Allen married first wife, Mary Haynes.
Sarah, married Hon. William Davie,
United States Minister
Martha Cobb, married Judge John Sitgreaves.
Mary, married General Thomas Eaton. September, 1768. Allen Jones married
second wife, Rebecca
Rebecca Jones, married Lunsford Long.
Issue of Rebecca Jones and Lunsford Long:
Rebecca, who married Col. Cadwalader Jones.
Mary, married Dr. William Polk.
Mrs. Allen Jones, nee Rebecca Edwards, was remarkable for
her great beauty, and also noted for the beauty of her feet and
high instep. 1776. Wyley Jones, married Mary Mumford.
Ann Maria, married Joseph Littlejohn.
Sallie, married Governor Burton, of North
Patsey, married Hon. John W. Eppes, of
Issue of Ann Maria and Joseph Littlejohn:
Mary, who married Lewis Williamson, of
Sallie, married C. C. Cherry.
Issue, Lewis Cherry, a banker in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Third. Martha Cobb Jones, daughter of Robin,
Grizelda Gilchrist, married Col. William Polk.
Allen, married Dolly Lane, granddaughter of
Sir Ralph Lane,
Colonial Governor of North Carolina. From this marriage the Baxters, of Nashville, are
My father, through his mother, Grizelda Gilchrist,
in descent from Robin Jones.
My mother, through her mother, Rebecca Jones Long, was
fourth in descent from Robin Jones.
My father, Dr. William Polk, and my mother, Mary
Rebecca Long, were married in 1818, at "Mount
Gallant," Roanoke County, North Carolina.
This estate, "Mount Gallant," was left by my
mother's grandfather, Allen Jones, to my mother, his
favorite grandchild. It was a grand old home for that
period, situated on the Roanoke river, with two
fisheries for herring, which came up the river from the
sea. An orangery adjoined the house, and a long
avenue bordered with trees led down to the public
A secret chamber, which had never been suspected,
was found under the dining-room floor, on the day of
my mother's marriage - the day when she took
possession of the house, which had been closed for
many years. A servant, in scrubbing the floor, found
that it sank beneath her, and on investigation, a trap
door was found and a room completely furnished with
bed, chairs and table, with candle on it. It was
supposed to have been constructed as a hiding place
during the Revolution, General Allen Jones being a
very prominent person at that time, having been
appointed by the Provincial Congress one of the five
brigadier-generals from North Carolina. He was a man
of great ability, and large wealth. His daughter,
Rebecca Edwards Long, having died at the birth of my
mother, she and her sister, Rebecca, were taken to
"Mount Gallant," and lived with him until his death.
He told her much of the early history of the Jones
family, and a legend of the first Jones
who came to America. He was a boatswain on a British
vessel that came to the Colonies. On the return trip,
when far out at sea, he leaped from the vessel, swam
to shore, and married his sweetheart there, making his
home afterwards in Suffolk County, Virginia.
The third in descent from him was Robin ap Robin
Jones, my great-great-grandfather.
Robin ap Robin Jones.
He showed in his youth
remarkable talent, was a
pupil of the Reverend Wyley, rector of the church in
Albemarle, Sussex County, Virginia, from 1736-39.
Reverend Wyley wished him to have educational
advantages that he could not give him, and advanced
the money for him to go to England to be educated at
At that university he met and acquired the
friendship of Lord Granville, one of the Lord
proprietors, whose rule in the Colonies were
overthrown later. He appointed him his agent, and
afterwards, in 1761, Robin was appointed "Attorney
for the Crown," as appears in a dispatch from
Governor Dobbs, in Rolls Office, London:
April 20, 1761. "The Tuscaroras will move this week from
Bertie to New York. Mr. Jones, the Attorney-General,
advanced $200 to account in bringing waggons and provisions,
on the credit of their land."
The colonial records of North Carolina show that he
was a member of the Assembly 1754-55. Author of the
bill to establish a Supreme Court, and appointed to
prepare an address to the Governor on grievances.
He was a remarkable man in many ways. There was
a lawsuit to be tried in which he was deeply interested.
The trial was to take place on the same day surgeons
had decided that an amputation of his leg was necessary.
He was suffering from gout and his life hung in the
balance, but he went to the courthouse, made a great
speech, which gained his case, the amputation of the
limb was performed two hours afterwards, and he died
under the operation.
The heroism of my mother, his great-granddaughter,
was quite equal to this. She was nearly ninety years
old and blind; was suffering with such pain in her eyes
that it was decided one must be taken out. She refused
to take any anesthetic, as she wished to retain
consciousness in case of death. One of the surgeons
showed great feeling, and she said to him, "Do not be
afraid, I do not dread the pain, I am ready," and not a
murmur or moan was heard.
One of the interesting stories my mother told me
was of an early experience of my grandfather, Allen
Jones. The schools were very inferior in the Colonies,
and his father, Robin Jones, wished to give him the
same advantages that had been bestowed on him, so
Allen and his brother, Wyley, were fitted out with the
best the Colony could afford, and sent to England.
They were placed at the Alma Mater of their father,
Eton, called the "nursery of the gentlemen of England."
Accordingly, the little boys were sent to Liverpool,
where they were to be met and placed at school, under
the charge of Lord Granville.
When the vessel landed, and they went on shore,
there was no one to meet them, and their singular
appearance soon drew a crowd. They were attired in
blue broadcloth suits, trimmed with brass buttons, the
long trousers, coats and long vests almost to their
knees, like very diminutive men, amused the crowd
very much, and the frightened children were much
relieved when Lord Granville's housekeeper arrived
and put them in his carriage.
I was also much interested in my mother's recital of
the visit of John Paul Jones to her grandfather, which
was not many years before her birth.
John Paul Jones.
He went to Virginia to
administer upon the estate of
his brother, who had died the previous year, 1774.
Halifax was then a notable and very gay place.
It so happened that the first congress of the then
independent State of North Carolina met there. Paul
was there and met the most prominent men among
them, the Jones brothers, Allen and Wyley.
They were very much pleased with his bold, frank,
sailorlike manner, and invited him to visit them, Allen
at his home, "Mount Gallant," and Wyley at the
"Grove." These homes were noted for their hospitality,
and John Paul not only entered with zest into the
sports of the day, but was much impressed with the
political discussions between the two brothers, their
views differing entirely.
He there met not only the great leaders of the day,
but also their wives, some of them brilliant and
cultured, their conversation elevating and instructive.
He had access at their homes to the finest libraries,
and to their halls, where hung pictures from England.
He remained at the homes of these two brothers for
two years, and had the good fortune to meet there
Joseph Hewes, of Edenton, who was a power in the
politics of the time. He was a delegate to the First
Provincial Congress, a signer of the Declaration of
Independence. and was Chairman of the Committee on
The Jones brothers appealed to Hewes, and
through his instrumentality, Congress gave to John
Paul the position of lieutenant in the navy. It was said
that the brothers also assisted him with funds. Before
this John Paul had changed his name to Jones, saying
to the brothers, "He would make them proud of it."
This compliment was intended for the brothers, but
also for Mrs. Wyley Jones, of whom he was a special
Why John Paul added
to his name has been
much discussed of late.
Mrs. A. L. Robinson, a great-granddaughter of Gen.
Allen Jones, published not long since an account of
Paul's friendship with Allen and Wyley Jones. The
outline of his life is briefly told. John Paul, the son of a
gardener, was born July 6, 1747, at Ardingland,
Scotland. At the age of twelve he went to sea. The
death of his brother in Virginia, whose heir he was, induced
him to settle in America. This was in 1773. It
was then he added to his name, and was thenceforth
known as Paul Jones. This was done in compliment to
one of the noted statesmen of that day. It appears
before permanently settling in Virginia, moved by the
restlessness of his old seafaring life, he wandered
about the country, finally settling in North Carolina.
There he became acquainted with two brothers,
Wyley and Allen Jones. They were both leaders in
their day and were much honored in their generation.
Allen Jones was orator, and silver-tongued. Wyley
was the foremost man of his State. The home of the
latter, "Grove," near Halifax, was not only the resort of
the cultured, but the home of the homeless, Mrs.
Wyley Jones having sometimes twenty orphan girls
under her charge. It was here that the young
adventurer, John Paul, was first touched by those
gentler influences, which changed not only his name
but himself, from the rough and reckless mariner into
the polished man of society, who was the companion
of kings, and the lion and pet of Parisian salons. The
kindness of the brothers found expression in the
adoption of their name. The truth of this statement is
not only attested by the descendants of Allen and
Wyley Jones, but by the nephew and representative
of Paul Jones, Mr. Lowden, of Charleston, South
Carolina. In 1846 this gentleman was in Washington
awaiting the passage of a bill by Congress awarding
him the land claim of his uncle, Paul Jones, which had
been allowed by the executive of Virginia, Hon.
E. W. Hubard, then a member of Congress from
Virginia, and who had in 1844 prepared a report on
Virginia land claims, in which the committee endorsed
that of Paul Jones. This naturally attracted Mr.
Lowden to him, and learning that Mrs. Hubard was a
descendant of Wyley Jones, he repeated to both Mr.
Hubard and Mrs. Hubard the cause of his uncle's
change in name, and added that among his pictures
hung a portrait of Allen Jones.
Mrs. Ellet, in her "Women of the Revolution,"
says, "The tone of public opinion in Halifax was very
much influenced by three women, who were rendered
prominent by the position of their husbands, and by
their own talents, and example. They were Mrs. Wylie
Jones, Mrs. Allen Jones and Mrs. Nicholas Long.
Their husbands were men of cultivated minds, wealth
and high consideration, having great influence in
The importance of the principles for which they
contended was vindicated by the conversation and
patriotic zeal of their wives rather than by their own
efforts in striking appeals.
Col. Nicholas Long.
Col. Nicholas Long was
commissary-general of all
the forces raised in North Carolina, and superintended
the preparation (in his own workshop, on his own
premises) of implements of war and clothing for the
soldiers. His wife was a most efficient coöperator; she
possessed great energy and firmness, with mental
power of no common order. Her praises were the theme
of conversation among the old officers of the army.
She died about ninety years of age. Her maiden name
was McKinnie - Mary McKinnie.
Mrs. Allen Jones was Miss Edwards, sister of Isaac
Edwards, English secretary of Governor Tryon.
She had the reputation of being the most
accomplished woman of the day, and was remarkable
for the elegance and taste shown in all of her
arrangements. She left an only daughter, Rebecca,
who married Lunsford Long.
There is a punch-bowl in the museum at
Washington's headquarters at Morristown, New
Jersey, with this inscription on the card: "A punch-
howl owned by General Washington. It was given to
him by Mrs. Allen Jones, of North Carolina." It was
highly prized by him, and preserved in the family for
four generations - it was cracked when hiding it from
When the army of Cornwallis passed through
Halifax to Virginia, his officers were quartered in the
town. Colonel Tarleton was quartered at the "Grove."
He had been wounded at Cowpens, in the hand, a
sabre cut from Col. William Washington.
In speaking of Colonel Washington, Tarleton said:
"He was an ignorant, illiterate fellow, scarcely able to
write his name." "Ah, colonel," said Mrs. Jones,
"you should know better, for you bear upon your
person proof that he can make his mark."
These incidents in regard to John Paul Jones, which
I gathered from my mother's lips, are corroborated by
many authorities - one, Fred
A. Olds, of Raleigh, North Carolina; another, Cyrus
Townsend, author of a "Life of Paul Jones," in a very
conclusive article of July 24, in
Munsey's Magazine. In
a genealogical history, by Col. Cadawalader Jones, of
South Carolina, I see the same facts given by him as I
relate having heard from my mother. We are both
descendants of the two grandchildren, who lived with
Gen. Allen Jones.
Neither Allen Jones nor his brother Wylie left any
male descendant. Consequently, we have no relatives
who bear the name of Jones, through Robin, but
through the marriage of his great-granddaughter,
Rebecca Jones Long, to Maj. Cadwalader Jones, they
bear the name of Jones. Wylie had a son who died
very young from gout in his head, which it seems he
must have inherited from "old Robin."
General Allen also had a son, who died at the early
age of eight. Governor Iredell, of North Carolina,
in a letter published in a volume - I think it is
called "Recollections of Eminent North Carolinians" -
writes that while on a visit to Gen. Allen
Jones, at "Mount Gallant," he was seated on the porch
when General Jones' little son, who was playing on the
gallery, commenced screaming, with his hand upon his
head. He suffered very much, and died in two hours. I
have a miniature of this boy, a beautiful thing,
intended to be worn with a black velvet as a bracelet.
On the gold back of the locket is this inscription:
"Robin Jones, 1778. Died aged eight. Too soon did
heaven assert its claim, and called its own away."
This, and some other relics, which my mother gave me, I very
much prize. One is a gown, worn by an ancestress
during the Revolution. It is of heavy brocade, with
pink and white roses. The gored skirt is as narrow as
the hobble skirts of to-day. It is trimmed with exquisite
lace, "Point de Venise," which hangs in tatters.
I have also a chair cover, blue, and embroidered with
the first cotton brought to North Carolina, the work of
Mrs. Allen Jones.
The portrait of Robin Jones was given to Mrs.
Eppes, of Virginia, his granddaughter, and is now at
the residence of Colonel Hubard, M. C., who married
Mrs. Eppes' daughter.
The Long Family.
Col. Nicholas Long,
founder of the Long family in
Halifax, was in his day one of the most important men
on the Roanoke; he was a wealthy planter. His
residence "Quankey," near that old borough, had
more than a State reputation; it was the headquarters
of military affairs.
When General Washington visited the Carolinas, he
and his staff stopped with Colonel Long for several
days. Colonel Long came to North Carolina about 1750
from eastern Virginia. He had a daughter, Lucy, who
married William H. Battle, Assistant Justice of the
Supreme Court of North Carolina. Their son, Kemp
Plummer Battle, was formerly president of the
University of North Carolina.
Col. Nicholas Long married Mary McKinnie,
daughter of John McKinnie, in August, 1761. It
appears from a deed, dated 1751, that John McKinnie
had four children: Mary, Patience, Barnaby and
Nicholas Long, the oldest son of Nicholas Long and
Mary McKinnie, was a gallant soldier in the
Revolution. He and Major Hogg had the celebrated
race after Tarleton with Colonel Washington. It is
related of him that two British cavalrymen pursued
him. He wheeled and sought safety in flight; they
opened fire and in the hot pursuit were separated.
Observing this, he suddenly turned and dispatched
both with his sabre. He married Rebecca Hill in 1778
and moved to Georgia.
Mary Long married Bassett Stith, Virginia, 1790.
McKee, in his "Life of Judge Iredell," says, "Thomas
Iredell visited Halifax in July, 1790. A letter from him
gives a characteristic account of the gay and opulent
borough." "The divine Miss Polly Long" had just
been married to Basset Stith, a Virginia beau. The
nuptials were celebrated by twenty-two consecutive
dinner parties in as many different houses; the dinner
being regularly succeeded by dances, and all
terminated by a grand ball. Miss Wallace, an heiress,
Miss Lucas, and Miss Hooper were the belles of the
Lunsford Long, another son, married Rebecca,
daughter of Gen. Allen Jones, 1794. They had two
daughters: Rebecca, who married Col. Cadwalader
Jones (the same name, but different family), and my
mother, Mary, who married Dr. William Polk.
"Quankey" the home of the Longs, on Quankey
creek, was well known as a seat of great hospitality,
and as it was a large and delightful home, Mrs. Long
continued to reside in it after the death of her
husband. She was left there alone, her children having
all married and moved away with their families, so she
was pleased to take charge of a young lady,
presumably a relative, a sister of Sir Peyton Skipwith,
named Miss Richmond. This Miss Richmond
afterwards married Lemuel Long.
Mrs. Long was noted for her benevolence. She took
for charity several of the poor young girls of the
neighborhood to teach them to spin and embroider
and the accomplishments of the day.
The Haunted House.
The story that is told,
and which is well known by all
in that section, was this: "As the old lady sat one
night with her distaff before her, surrounded by her
girls, they were startled by the fall seemingly of an
immense wardrobe, which was in the apartment above.
Mrs. Long, carrying a candle in her hand, and each girl
bearing a light, proceeded up the long stairway to
investigate - but not an article out of its place, and
not a human being in the house but themselves. After
this each night the same unaccountable noises were
heard. Everything was done to put an end to these
sounds. At one time it was thought it might proceed
from the cellar, where empty wine casks had stood,
and their iron hoops hung upon the wall. Then a large
tree was cut down, that overhung the house, but all in
vain. When the old lady
breathed her last, it was said by those who
surrounded her, that a long wailing cry was heard.
After Mrs. Long's death some member of the family
continued to reside in the house, until at last worn out
with trying to ferret the mystery, it was sold and went
into other hands.
Fifty years after this occurrence I left my home in
Tennessee to visit relatives in North Carolina. As I
passed over the bridge at "Quankey creek," I asked
the conductor to point out to me the old home. "I can
show you the site," he said, "but the house was torn
down long ago. One person after another tried to live
in it, but left frightened, so after being left vacant for
some years, it was torn down."
And so ended the weird experiences of the haunted
Mrs. Long ended her long and eventful life in her
ninetieth year, and was buried in the family graveyard
Of the lovely old couple of whom I will now write I
feel it to be a pious duty, my father and my mother.
Dr. William Polk.
Dr. William Polk, my father, married my
Rebecca Long, at Mt. Gallant, North Carolina, about 1818.
Afterwards moved to Buena-Vista, Tennessee, in 1834.
1. Grizelda Gilchrist, married Russel
Attorney of the Louisville& Nashville Railroad for fifty
2. Allan Jones, married first, Mary Clendenin;
Anna Clark Fitzhugh.
3. Thomas Gilchrist, married Lavinia Wood.
Four of these sons were soldiers in the Civil War:
Thomas Gilchrist, an aide to General Tappan; Gen.
Lucius Eugene, of whom I shall write later; Colonel
Cadwalader, who was first with Jackson in Virginia,
afterwards in the western army under General Price;
promoted for gallantry from second lieutenant to
colonel. At the battle of Prairie Grove he was left for
dead on the field, taken to the Federal Hospital, and a
month afterwards liberated in an exchange of
prisoners. Capt. Rufus Julius, of whom Sam Watkins
speaks in his book "Company H," as
as a girl," was a prisoner on his eighteenth birthday at
Johnson's Island. He was in the last skirmish of the
war in Alabama.
4. Mary Jones, married Joseph Branch.
5. Lucius Eugene, married Sallie Polk (his cousin).
6. Cadwalader, married Carrie Lowry.
7. Rufus Julias, married Cynthia Martin.
1. Issue of Grizelda and Russel Houston:
Allen, married Mattie Belle Shreve, of Louisville.
Lucia, married George Hull, of New York (her daughter,
Grizelda, married Richard Pierson Hobson).
Elise, married Theodore Presser, of Philadelphia. 2. Issue of Allen and first wife, Mary Clendenin:
Mary Polk, married Frank Hemphill, of Alabama.
Issue of Allen and second wife, Anna Fitzhugh:
1. Susan, married Woodie Kessee, of Helena, Arkansas.
2. Anna Lee, married Sam Pepper, of Memphis.
3. Grizelda, married Thompson Hargreves, of Helena,
4. Robin Jones. 3. Thomas, married Lavinia Wood.
Mary, married Willie Littlejohn.
Caroline, married Ham Homer.
Zell, married Joe Sterling. 4. Mary Jones married Joseph Branch.
Mary Polk, married Dr. Chas. W. Winn.
Lawrence, St. Louis, Missouri.
Lucia, married Mr. John William Howard, of Tennessee.
Joseph Gerald Branch, of Chicago, Illinois. 5. Lucius, married Sallie Moore Polk.
Rufus, Member of Congress, from
Rebecca, married Scot Harlan.
William Julius, married Willie Glass.
6. Cadwalader, married Carrie Lowry.
William, married Lula Donnell.
Annie, married Chris Agee.
Cadwalader, married Lucile Greenfield.
Nina, married Will Coolidge.
Edmund, married Miss Wood. 7. Rufus, married Cynthia Martin.
Eugene, Little Rock, Arkansas.
William Julius, married Sarah Chambers.
Charles, married Nannie Lee.
St. John's Church.
Although most of these
homes of the Polks have
been burned, or passed into other hands, there still
stands sacred to memories of the past St. John's
Church. It was built in 1837 by the
Polk brothers, the site given by Andrew (the
youngest), the font by their sister, the handsome gate
at a later period by Van Leer Polk. It is called "the most
historic church in Tennessee." During the Civil War it
was used alternately as a hospital by the conflicting
armies, whichever was in control at the time.
The church was much mutilated by the troops under
Buell as they passed down the pike in front of it to
reinforce Grant at Shiloh. They broke the bell and the
window glasses, hacked the organ, blowing the pipes
as they marched, and taking the beautifully
embroidered altar cloths as saddle-blankets. The
portraits of Bishops Polk and Otey, which were in the
vestry room, had been moved, fortunately, to the
Columbia Institute for safe-keeping.
The church from time to time has been opened for
services since the War, but is usually closed. The Polk
family, most of whom live in different States, send
funds to keep it in repair. It is to Col. Harry Yeatman,
however, that they are chiefly indebted for its care. He
was an officer on Gen. Leonidas Polk's staff, and
married his niece, Mary, a daughter of Gen. Lucius
Polk, Sr., and lived at "Hamilton Place" for many years,
until his tragic death two weeks ago.
What different scenes have been enacted in this old
church! In earlier days brides in their white attire stood
before its altar, and infants were brought to be
christened at the font. There came a later day when
soldiers fought around its walls, and the dead and
dying were piled upon its floor.
Among the dead who were buried there were
Generals Cleburne, Stahl and Granberry, and at a later
day, Gen. Lucius Eugene Polk, who never recovered
from the wounds he received during the war.
Generations of those who died earlier are buried there -
representatives of the old-time South. The ideal
Southern gentleman, with his courtesy and chivalry,
the gracious gray-haired matron, their surroundings as
well as their heredity developed their characteristics of
loyalty, truthfulness, courtesy and courage.
Other graves are there which also tell a story of the
past. It is of another race who were born slaves.
Between them and their owners was an inherited bond
of affection - responsibility on the one hand, and on
the other of service and faithfulness.
I recall among these
graves a monument which
bears this inscription: "Sacred to the memory of
Mammy Sue, the faithful nurse of George and Sallie
Polk's eight children."
In the morning the services in the church were for
the masters, in the afternoon their daughters taught
the children of the other race, and all knelt together in
In the cemetery are two white monuments exactly
alike. My father, on his deathbed, believing the
separation from his beloved wife to be very brief,
ordered them, but my mother's was not put in place
until her death twenty years afterward.
This church of many memories stands in a
cemetery of seven or eight acres, surrounded by a
The large oak trees and the carpet of blue grass
make it a lovely spot, but the doors of the church are
closed, the windows unopened, the iron gate in front
locked. Sometimes a long procession winds through it,
as the body of one who has passed away in some far-off
State is borne, to be laid to rest beside his forefathers.
But in the distance is heard the sound of the
automobile and the roll of heavy wagons upon the
pike, and we realize the brightness of the world
without and the busy life which surrounds the old
church with its story of the past.