A Chapter of Biography - John Crosby - James M. Boiling - Rev. Hanson Lee, etc.
Among the best and noblest of the citizens of Conecuh, during his career, was John Crosby. He came to the county from Chester District, South Carolina, in 1832, and settled, first, at the home owned at present by Dr. John D. Reilly. In personal appearance, Mr. Crosby was rather tall, of dignified mien, with ruddy complexion, and hair of raven blackness. In character, he was exceedingly firm and positive. Possessed of a vigorous energy and an unconquerable will, he bore down before him all difficulties, and rarely failed of success in any pursuit. If he was fond of accumulating wealth, he was equally fond of bestowing it upon any object that commended itself to his heart and judgment. While he was proverbially liberal, he grew wealthy within a few years ; thereby exemplifying the sacred expression, "The liberal soul shall be made fat." Commencing with resources quite meagre, he had amassed a respectable fortune in twenty -five years. During this period he had become the owner of two extensive plantations, well manned with negro slaves. To the comfort of these slaves he was devoted with a tenderness quite unusual. He was universally esteemed for his piety and manifested his devotion to the cause of Sacred Truth by being one of the most consistent of the members of the Baptist Church, at Bellville, for quite a number of years. A characteristic anecdote is related of him, as illustrative of his thorough honesty, and abiding conviction of right. During a given session of the Circuit Court, held at Sparta, Mr. Crosby was one of the petit jurors. In that capacity he would serve during the day, and after adjournment, ride to his home in the neighborhood of Bellville. Rising with the earliest tinge of dawn, he would start each morning toward Sparta, going via one of his plantations to give directions to his laborers for the day. One morning he was unduly detained at his farm, and did not appear at the court house until after his name had been called, his absence announced, and a forfeiture entered against him by the presiding Judge. Coming into the court room, he was apprised of the imposition of the fine. He was summoned into the presence of the court to give the reason of his absence. He replied that his absence was due to the protracted attention which he had to bestow that morning upon his affairs at his plantation. Whereupon the court asked him if any reason could be assigned by himself why the forfeiture should not be entered against him. He very frankly replied : " Oh, no! I have no excuse whatever. The whole matter is just as it should be. The fine is justly imposed." An example of his liberality is found in the fact that he donated to Howard College one thousand dollars, and defrayed the expenses of a theological student throughout his entire course. After a useful and exemplary career, he died at his beautiful home near Bellville, in the early part of 1849.
JAMES M. BOLLING.
This gentleman made his debut into public life in 1838, when he represented Conecuh in the Legislature. Though young, he soon became one of the most active members of the General Assembly. Such was the pleasantness of his demeanor, that he became a favorite among the members. He was returned to the Legislature for two successive terms. From the beginning, he gave promise of distinction at the bar. He married a daughter of the Hon. Reuben Saffold, Judge of the Supreme Court ; after which he removed to Hayneville, Lowndes county, where he continued to practice to the close of his life.
REV. HANSON LEE
removed, with the remainder of his father's family, to Conecuh, in the earliest settlement of the county. He was the sixth son of Joel Lee. The subject of the present memoir was born in Johnston county, North Carolina, on December 27th, 1816. He was a young man of brilliant parts, and at an early age resolved to fit himself, through self-training, for future usefulness. By dint of close and laborious study, he succeeded in acquiring a classical education of a high order of merit. Recognizing his ability, the college at Marysville, Tennessee, conferred upon him the degree of A. M. When he was a lad of sixteen he was baptized by Rev. Alexander Travis, and became a member of the famous Old Bethany Church. He was ordained to preach the gospel about 1844. In connection with preaching, he adopted the .profession of teacher. His services were secured at different points as teacher. His first school was at Brooklyn. Thence he was invited to take a school in Lee county, Georgia, whence he removed to Louisiana. Here he became the President of Mount Lebanon College. In connection with his duties here, as Professor, he became the editor of the Louisiana Baptist - the organ of the Baptist denomination in Louisiana for a number of years. He died at his home in 1862. In writing his obituary, Rev. William Carey Crane, D. D., LL. D., President of Baylor University, Texas, said : "A great man in Israel has fallen."
THOMAS W. SIMPSON
was a native of South Carolina. He was born March 23rd, 1806. Coming to Conecuh, together with his father, as early as 1818, he enjoyed but few educational advantages. He commenced life in circumstances quite humble, with no other reliance than a strong determination and a heroic energy. With the growing development of the county he continued to increase his acquisitions until he had surrounded himself with a property quite respectable. Mr. Simpson was one of the most useful, and yet one of the most modest, of Conecuh's citizens. He delighted in dispensing hospitality. His roof was the refuge of many a way-worn traveler. To a praise-worthy degree he exemplified the principles which he professed as Mason, Son of Temperance, and Christian. Among his children who survive him is Ransom Simpson, of Snow Hill, Wilcox county - a citizen whose worth is greatly prized in his adopted county. Mr. Simpson died at his home, near Bellville, June 1st, 1861.
NICHOLAS STALLWORTH, JR.
Prominent among the first generation of young men, reared in Conecuh, was he whose name is recorded at the head of this sketch. He was born in Edgefield District, South Carolina, on February 21st, 1810. When he was only eight years of age he was brought, with the remainder of his father's family, to Alabama. He was married to Miss Martha Travis - eldest daughter of Rev. Alexander Travis. The result of this union was seven children, among whom were Robert P. Stallworth and Frank M. Stallworth, of Falls county, Texas ; Major Nick Stallworth, late of Hilliard's Legion ; and Mrs. Barnett * wife of Hon. Samuel A. Barnett, now of Mobile. Reared in the midst of circumstances unfavorable to his mental development, at a time when few or no schools existed, Mr. Stallworth had to depend almost altogether upon self-training. He was lacking in none of the virtues that make a sterling citizen. Hospitable, liberal and possessed of public spiritedness, he was quite popular with the masses. Without himself seeking the position, he was at one time made Circuit Clerk of Conecuh county. When, in 1850, the office of Judge of Probate was made elective, he warmly espoused the candidacy of A. D. Cary. As early as 1838, Mr. Stallworth foresaw the struggle which reached its bloody culmination in 1861. The tendency of existing political issues caused him to predict the dismemberment of the Union, and the probable abolition of American slavery. Mr. Stallworth died in 1853, in the prime of manhood.
*(Who died several years ago.)
A. D. CARY.
Armstead Dudley Cary was born in Gloucester county, Virginia, October 23rd, 1791. Eight years later his father removed to Clarke county, Georgia, and settled near the famous educational seat of Athens. When he had attained his eleventh year, young Armstead was sent from the paternal roof to receive his elementary training in the famous Waddell High School, in Abbeville District, South Carolina. Here he was the school-fellow of such men as James L. Pettigrew, of South Carolina, and of Governor Lumpkin and Judge A. B. Longstreet, of Georgia. Having been thoroughly fitted here for his future course in college, he returned to his home at Athens, entered the State University, and was graduated in 1813. He at once chose the profession of teacher, and became the principal of a school in Sumter District, South Carolina. Among his pupils in this school was the Hon. James E. Belser, who, in after years, was a resident of Montgomery, Alabama. Lured by the fascinating descriptions given of the lovely region of the Southwest, Mr. Cary, in 1820, removed to Claiborne, in Monroe county. Here he remained only one year. In 1821 he removed to Bellville, and two years later still, to Sparta. During this time, and for several years subsequent to 1823, he was engaged in teaching. In 1826 he was chosen Clerk of the Circuit Court for Conecuh, which office he held, uninterruptedly, for almost a quarter of a century. In 1833 President Jackson appointed him Receiver of the Land Office for the Sparta District. From this position he was removed in 1850, by President Taylor, because of the fact that he was a Democrat.
Such was the solidity of his character, that Mr. Cary passed through all these eventful scenes with unsullied record. He spurned with derision any proposition othat did not fully comport with the principles of rectitude, and strove to shun even "the appearance of evil." The following anecdote is related of him :
As Receiver, he was legally required to make quarterly returns. At the conclusion of one quarter he deposited the enormous sum of $140,000. Just prior to rendering in his returns, he was confidentially advised by a prominent and professional citizen of the county to pay his bondsmen the full amount of the bond of $40,000, and to put the balance in his pocket. Mr. Cary very frankly said : "But that would be dishonest." He was assured that this was the course adopted by nearly all the officers of the department. But Mr. Cary, with characteristic gravity, said: "My code of ethics will not permit me to do so dishonorable an act." And the amount was forthwith deposited.
For many years he combined the offices of Receiver and Circuit Clerk. He was enabled to do this in the face of a prohibitory statute, by some friend securing the office for him, by securing his own election and appointing Mr. Cary as his deputy. Valuable service was rendered him in this way by Churchill Jones, Wilson Ashley, and Nicholas Stallworth, Jr. Such was the personal and professional popularity of Mr. Cary, that all efforts to defeat him before the people were totally unavailing. After the establishment of the Probate Court in the county, in 1850, Mr. Cary became the first Judge of Probate. In September of that year he became a member of the Baptist denomination, and was baptized by Elder Alexander Travis
During the closing years of his life, Mr. Cary was tenderly cared for in the homes of his children. His earthly career terminated on December 7th, 1879. No man who has ever lived in Conecuh has left a fairer record than Judge Cary. He was universally recognized as a man who was swayed in life by the purest motives. So circumspect was his deportment in all relations that no one has ever ventured to cast any asperities upon his fair name.
WILLIAM BARRETT TRAVIS, THE HERO OF THE "ALAMO."
Near the ancient Spanish town of San Antonio, and on the left bank of the stream of the same name, in the southern border of Texas, is to be seen, to-day, a cluster of block-houses. This is the famous site of Fort Alamo, the calm bravery of whose ill-starred defenders entitles them to a place in the world's history along-side that of the heroes of Marathon and Thermopylae. At this sacred spot, baptized in fire and blood, was displayed a heroism unsurpassed in the annals of conflict. Around this little spot centres the thrill of the War for Texan Independence.
William Barrett Travis was born in Edgefield District, South Carolina, (near Old Fort Ninety-Six,) on August 9th, 1809. He was the son of Mark Travis, Sr., and nephew to Elder Alexander Travis. The family removed to the county of Conecuh in 1818, and founded a home that is near the location of the present home of Rev. Andrew Jay. Young Travis was as thoroughly educated as the educational facilities of a frontier region would allow. When he reached maturity, he studied for the bar, at Claiborne, under Hon. James Dellett. Whether induced by the rapid developments made in the far West, to remove to Texas, or whether led by love of adventure, is not known. But, quite early in 1835, we find him bidding farewell to his quiet home in South Alabama and removing to Texas. When he reached the province, he found it in a state of seething excitement. The rapid strides which were being made by Santa Anna toward centralization met with a warm protest from the Texans. Young, ardent and chivalrous, Mr. Travis was soon in profound sympathy with the Texan patriots. In the very beginning of hostilities, we find him conspicuous as a chosen leader. When, at length, a declaration of hostilities was made by Santa Anna against the Anglo-American Rebels of Texas, and when, at the head of an army of 4,000, he marched upon San Antonio, near the beginning of 1836, we find Col. W. B. Travis in command at this point. The advance of Santa Anna's army reached the heights of the Alazan, overlooking the city of San Antonio, on the morning of the 22nd of February. Before so formidable a force as that led by the Mexican President, Colonel Travis retired with 144 men to the Alamo. Upon the occupation of the city, Santa Anna sent a summons to the garrison to surrender. The response of the heroic Travis was a cannon shot from the battery, - for he too well knew the treachery and blood-thirstiness of his foe. Travis had within the fort fourteen cannon, but only a limited supply of ammunition. Having received so defiant a reply from the American commander, Santa Anna caused to be run up above the church of the city a blood-red flag, proclaiming, "No Quarter!"
On the 24th, Travis dispatched couriers to San Felipe and Goliad for assistance. Meanwhile the Mexicans steadily bombarded the fort without effect. At quite an early hour on the morning of the 25th, the Mexicans evinced a more determined spirit than ever. They brought into active play all their available guns. Toward noon Santa Anna left his headquarters in the city, crossed the river, and gave his personal supervision to the well directed aim of the gunners. Wherever he could screen himself from view, he would advance and plant his guns nearer the walls of the fort. To prevent surprise, the Texans sallied forth on the night of the 25th, and burnt some houses standing near the fort. The following morning a brisk skirmish took place, but without decisive results. The overwhelming numbers of the Mexicans were now greatly increased, and Santa Anna proceeded to draw the toils of his strength more closely around the walls of the besieged fort, in order to cut off the garrison from water. But in this he signally failed. When night had again settled upon the assailants and the assailed, Travis's men made another sortie, and again destroyed some houses, behind which the besieging forces might take refuge. For several days together the Mexicans continued the bombardment without the accomplishment of any serious results.
On March 2nd, the garrison in the Alamo was reinforced by thirty-two citizen soldiers, who had cut their way through the ranks of the enemy. These were under the command of the gallant Capt. John W. Smith, of Gonzales. On the day following Colonel Travis sent a courier to Washington, where the State Convention was assembled, and with the following message:
"I am still here, in fine spirits, and well-to-do. With 145 men, I have held this place ten days against a force variously estimated at from 1,500 to 6,000; and I shall continue to hold it until I get relief from my countrymen, or I will perish in its defence. We have had a shower of cannon balls continually falling among us the whole time, yet none of us have fallen. We have been miraculously preserved."
During the day Colonel Bonham, who had been sent to Goliad to secure reinforcements, returned to the fort and united again with his comrades in its defence. After nightfall, the Texans again issued forth upon a sally, but without the achievement of any success. The morning of the 4th of March dawned upon the besiegers and the besieged. Sharp cannonade was renewed by the assailants. The ammunition being scarce within the fort, the garrison but seldom fired. The day wore heavily away, and no change still was produced in the situation.
At night, Santa Anna called a council of war, and urged upon his officers the necessity of a speedy assault upon the fort. Against this suggestion, however, all his officers remonstrated, and counseled tardiness until the siege guns should arrive. But the impetuous President had grown impatient of delay already. Given to celerity of movement, he chafed under the worrying delay incident to a siege. His wish finally prevailed. He had resolved upon storming the fort. It was to be attacked simultaneously from different directions by four columns under the leadership of his most experienced officers. The orders of the commander-in-chief were given with the utmost minuteness. Each column was to be provided with scaling ladders, pick-axes and crowbars. The signal of attack was to be given precisely at midnight. The cavalry was to be marshalled in the rear to prevent the desertion of the unwilling troops, and to intercept the escape of the Americans. For some reason the time of attack was delayed several hours. At precisely 4 o'clock on the morning of March 6th - the thirteenth day of the siege - the bugle sounded the attack along the whole Mexican line, and a firm, onward movement was made. The garrison soon became aware of the situation, and leaped to their guns, and poured upon their assailants a storm of lead and iron. Before the well directed fire of the Texans the three columns on the north, west and east staggered and swung back. Some confusion was produced by several columns becoming commingled ; but the solid mass rallied again under efficient officers, and renewed with vigor the assault. This time they succeeded in effecting an entrance into the wall of the yard running around the fort. About the same time the column advancing from the south made a breach in the wall, and captured one of the guns. This cannon was commanded by Colonel Travis himself, and it is supposed that he fell early in the action, as he was found dead very near the gun. The Mexicans turned this favorite gun upon the last remaining stronghold, and dislodged the Texans, who took refuge in the different buildings of the enclosure.
The conflict now began in good earnest. Each building was a separate battle scene. Resolved to die with as much profit as possible to the struggling province, every man fought like a bayed tiger. When the enemy would press so closely upon one that he could not load his piece, he would reverse his gun and club every advancing assailant until he fell pierced with a bullet, or driven through with a bayonet. The heroic Crockett, knowing that death was inevitable, struck down his enemies until, when his corpse was found, it was in the centre of a circling heap of dead Mexicans. Colonel Bowie was confined to his bed in the last stage of consumption. As the enemy rushed into his room, he sat upright in his bed, and killed several of the foe before he himself was killed. The details of the horrible massacre have oftentimes been given, and need not be repeated here. It may be proper to state, however, that the bodies of the Texans were collected into heaps and burned. A year later. Col. John N. Seguin superintended the collection and proper interment of the bones of these heroes.
As you enter the capitol, at Austin, you are confronted by a monument bearing this inscription: "Thermopylae had its messenger of defeat ; the Alamo had none." Thus went out into the darkness of a horrible death the star of the brilliant and brave Col. William Barrett Travis. With the change of adaptation, we adopt here the language of Albert Pike, in his "Grave of Washington:"
"Disturb not his slumber ! Let Travis here sleep,
'Neath the boughs of the willow that over him weep!
His arm is unnerved, but his deeds remain bright
As the stars in the dark- vaulted heaven at night.
O, wake not the hero! His battles are o'er!
Let him rest, undisturbed, on Antonio's fair shore!
On the river's green border as flowery dressed,
With the hearts he loved fondly, let Travis here rest."
Conecuh from 1855 to 1860 - A Period of Stirring Activity - More Progress - Academy at Bellville- Know-Nothingism in Conecuh - A County Organ Established - Railroad Excitement - Telegraphic Line - Murder of Allen Page - Ominous Signs on the Political Horizon.
The period into which we are now introduced far exceeded in importance and excitement any which had preceded it. Rapid and marked changes were being created in the politics of the country by the addition of new elements to the sectional controversies which were agitating the country in all directions. The respective parties in Conecuh, of course, echoed the sentiments of their leaders. It was during this period that the Whig Party ceased to have a national existence. The formation of an Anti-Foreign and No-Popery Party, called the "Know-Nothing Party," blotted from existence the party which had been controlled by the Whigs for a long time. The political contest was no longer between the Whigs and Democrats, as before, but it was now waged beneath the banners of the Democratic and Know-Nothing Parties. In 1855 Maj. Andrew Jay, who had been conspicuous for a number of years before the people of the county, as an ardent worker and wise counselor in political affairs, and who had previously been the Representative of the Whig Party in the Legislature, was chosen as the standard bearer of the new party, and sent again to the General Assembly. But these political contests, so far from retarding the intellectual or material development of the county, were, beyond question, one of the cardinal factors that contributed to the advancement of her people. Eagerness for information relative to the great questions that were now swaying the people of the Union, prompted the increase of political literature in the homes of Conecuh. This, acting in concert with the frequent discussion of these principles on the stump, in the social circle, and in the homes, awakened inquiry and stimulated the mental energy of the youth of the county. And the combination of these concurrent causes, too, led to increased facilities in the county for the transmission of intelligence, and finally, to the encouragement of the establishment of the great thoroughfare which now penetrates the county from north to south.
In 1854 the citizens of Bellville, and the surrounding communities, established an academy in the village, and the following year its doors were thrown open for the reception of pupils. Prof C. D. Cole was secured as the Principal of the institution, and from the beginning its career has been one of marked prosperity.
The year 1856 witnessed the inauguration of a new enterprise at Sparta - that of the publication of a county organ, under the editorial management of Messrs. Witter and McGinnis. This year, too, gave birth to the agitation of the railroad question. Considerable enthusiasm was awakened by the prospect of having the county favored with the presence of a railroad. Under the impulse of this excitement public meetings were held in different parts of the county. By common consent a sumptuous barbecue was usually had in connection with these occasions. Earnest advocates of the enterprise would unfold the incalculable advantages that would arise from such a thoroughfare ; roasted meats and delicate viands would be enjoyed, and then an opportunity would be afforded for subscribing to the establishment of the railroad. An active canvass of the question secured from the county the handsome subscription of $85,000. This liberal subscription secured the location and completion of the road through Conecuh. It may not be amiss, in this connection, to mention the liberal subscribers to whom the county is chiefly indebted for this important line of transportation. The list was headed by the names of Andrew Jay and J. Y. Ferryman, each of whom subscribed $5,000. Asa Johnson, Elijah McCreary, W. A. Ashley, James A. Stallworth, Caleb Johnson, Y. M. Rabb, M. L. Mosely, Y. S. Hirshfelder, and others, whose names could not be secured, followed with sums ranging from $1,500 to $2,500. Work was commenced soon after from the opposite directions of Montgomery and Pensacola.
In the political contests in the county in 1857 and 1859, the Democrats again attained the supremacy, under the lead of John D. Cary. Elected in 1857 to the General Assembly, he was re-elected to the same position during the following campaign.
In 1858 a telegraphic line of communication was established from Greenville to Mobile. Passing through Conecuh, the enterprising company established an office at Evergreen.
During the following year a brutal tragedy was enacted in Fort Sepulga. Mr. Allen Page, a prominent and highly respected citizen, had started a number of wagons, loaded with cotton, from his gin house, on Tuesday morning, toward Claiborne. In company with Mr. John Wright, Sr., he followed the wagons the next day, in a buggy, and reached Claiborne at night. Having cautiously concealed a gun beneath the cotton in one of the wagons, Irvin Ward accompanied the party until within a short distance of Claiborne, when he separated himself from them, and turned into a road leading to a landing above Claiborne, announcing his purpose to visit some relations living in Clarke county. Before sundering himself from the wagons, however, he informed himself, with the utmost minuteness, with respect to the intention of Messrs. Page and Wright to sell their cotton on Thursday, and to return home on Friday. Having passed beyond the view of the wagons, Ward retraced his steps, hurried back toward his home, and engaged with his brother, Stephen, in the formation of a plot to murder and rob Messrs. Page and Wright upon their return. Accordingly, they placed a small log across the road, on the east side of Little Brewer creek, and within six miles of the home of Mr. Page, in order to check them when they should reach the spot. One of the brothers screened himself behind a pine log, which ran parallel with the road, and in order the more effectually to conceal himself, had stuck here and there, about him, quite a number of gall bushes. The other was secreted about twenty yards to the rear. Both were armed with double-barrel guns. Ere long, the rumbling of the wheels of the buggy was heard, and the murderers lay silently awaiting the favorable moment to fire. The horse reached the log; a short colloquy ensued as to the strange appearance of the log across the road; some doubt was expressed with regard to the inability of the buggy to roll over it, when Mr. Wright proposed to alight and remove it. Just as he had thrown it aside, a load of buckshot was discharged into the bosom of Allen Page, who was seated in the buggy. He instantly threw up his hands and exclaimed, "I am killed," and was' in the act of falling from the buggy, when Mr. Wright bounded forward and caught him. Just at this moment another barrel was discharged at Wright, the contents of which did but little execution, as but few shot penetrated his skin. His clothes, however, were sadly perforated by the bullets. It was afterwards ascertained that the most of the load of the second barrel took effect in a root of the log behind which Ward was concealed. Snatching up the lifeless body of Mr. Page, Mr. Wright applied the whip to the excited horse, and dashed up the road at full speed. He left the corpse at the home of Mrs. Bidgood, two miles from the scene of the horrible transaction. In a few hours the community was thoroughly aroused, and excited crowds gathered about the scene of the murder. A pack of negro dogs, belonging to Mr. Jones, was brought into requisition, but were unable to indicate the direction taken by the fugitive murderers. The most intense excitement, mingled with honest indignation, prevailed on all hands. The general reputation of Irvin Ward, coupled with his suspicious conduct on the day preceding the tragedy, led to his arrest. His younger brother, Stephen, was not suspected as being an accomplice, at the time. Irvin Ward was subjected to a rigid examination before Justice K. R. Page. Upon his statement that he had been on a visit to relatives in Clarke county, a runner was sent thither, and it was ascertained that he had not at all visited Clarke. A committee of gentlemen was formed, whose duty it was to ascertain the whereabouts of every man in the community, for several days previous to the murder. The statements of the two brothers Ward, were found to be false in many essential particulars, and they were seized and held in close custody, until further developments could be made. Finally, after the accumulation of considerable circumstantial evidence against them, they openly confessed themselves to have been the perpetrators of the bloody deed. This confession was made at the home of the deceased, and in the presence of about one hundred auditors. Public notice was now given that they would be hanged the following day at 1 P. M. at the spot where the deed was perpetrated, and just one week subsequent to the bloody transaction. Messengers were dispatched in all directions giving due notice of the proposed execution. Strong guards were placed around the house, and on every approach thereto. A brother of the murderers hastened to Sparta that night, and endeavored to secure the interposition of the sheriff on behalf of the murderers. But he would not interfere. An excited and determined populace had resolved upon the speedy execution of the murderers, and had determined to shoot down any parties who should undertake their rescue. A rude gallows was erected over the spot where the deed was perpetrated, the murderers were marched out in front of about forty citizens and to the place of execution, six miles distant. When they had come near the homes -of the Wards, they were met by their relatives - the old parents, brothers and sisters, and the wife of Stephen Ward, bearing in her arms an infant of six weeks. The place of execution was reached, and a statement was made by the murderers. They said that no malice had prompted the bloody deed, for Mr. Page was among their best friends. He had relieved their wants, and those of their families, when their father could not. They had murdered him for the purpose. of robbing him of the proceeds of the cotton. After this, the ropes were adjusted by P. D. Page, Esq., and William Wright, and they swung just at 1 o'clock, on Friday, the 18th of November, 1859. When they had ceased to breathe, their bodies were taken in charge by the father and brothers. The sons of Mr. Page, deceased, sent a number of negro men to dig their graves and to assist in a decent interment. At the approaching session of the Circuit Court, bills of indictment were found against about forty of those who were most active in the prosecution and execution of the Wards, and bonds were fixed at $1,000. Judge J. K. Henry, at the next term of the Circuit Court, caused a nol. pros, of all the cases, and thus the public mind became quiet upon a subject which had engrossed it for so long a period.
During the same year (1859), successful operations were commenced upon the Montgomery and Pensacola Railroad. From both directions the work began, but the road was not completed until about April, 1861. This is, today, one of the most important thorough-fares in all the South. It now constitutes a part of the great line operated under the auspices of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company. Entering Conecuh on its northern boundary, it penetrates it southward twenty-four and a half miles.
The year 1860 marks an emphatic era in the political history of the country. Some of the questions which had their birth in the political struggles of former periods, now assumed serious proportions. Grave issues were involved in the coming struggle between the different political organizations of the Union. The acrimony of feeling between the Northern and Southern States, was aggravated by every recurring event. The long agitation had shattered in pieces the old political parties of the country. Split asunder in their Convention at Charleston, the Democrats proposed two candidates to the people - Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois, and John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky. Disintegration had also invaded the old Whig Party. The Union wing of the Whig Party named John Bell, of Tennessee, for President. The Republican Party was increased by accessions from both the Whig and Democratic Parties, and announced the name of Abraham Lincoln as their chosen candidate. The county of Conecuh shared in the intense excitement that prevailed throughout the whole country. It was convulsed by the canvass. Little else was done this year, than discuss politics. Vast crowds would daily assemble at the places of popular resort, to canvass the questions at issue. Stump speaking was a daily occurrence. Men were swayed more by passion than by calm judgment. The storms of war were gathering thick and fast. The period of conflict had been reached.
The following is a list of county officers who served during the period embraced in the foregoing chapter :
JUDGES OF PROBATE.
1856- A. D. Cary.
1857- A. B. Kennedy.
1860 - Isaac D. Johnson.
1856- Mark B. Travis.
1857- Daniel H. Horn.
1857- John D. Cary.
1859- John D. Cary.
Chapter of Biography- E. W. Martin - Rev. George Lee- Hezekiah Donald - Churchill Jones, etc.
EDMUND W. MARTIN.
This distinguished son of Conecuh was born near the city of Montgomery, on December 15th, 1821. He received his mental training at West Point. Through the influence of Senator Dixon H. Lewis, an ardent friend and relative of Mr. Martin, a cadetship was secured for him at the National Military Academy. Returning to his home from West Point, Mr. Martin's gifts led him into the forum, rather than the field. Having taken a course in law, he was admitted to practice, and commenced his career, as a lawyer, at Hayneville, about the year 1843. When the conflict with Mexico began, in 1846, Mr. Martin raised a gallant company in the county of his adoption, known as the "Lowndes County Volunteers," was made their captain, and went immediately to Mobile to offer their services to the government. Here they were received and mustered into the service of the government, but lack of transportation prevented their being transferred to the scene of action, and the war closed without their being able to participate. In 1849 Mr. Martin removed to Sparta, where he began a career which enabled him to make quite a reputation for himself as a practitioner of law. He was regarded by his brethren at the bar, as a close, calm reasoner, dignified, and keenly conscientious with regard to all questions of ethics. He was one of the readiest of speakers. A subject was quickly grasped by him, and even while the thought was warm, fresh from its new creation, he was giving it expression in elegant diction. During the war Mr. Martin raised a company of volunteers, of which he was made captain. Subsequently he became the major of the regiment to which his company was attached. During the battle at Dalton, Georgia, on the 24th and 25th of February, 1864, Major Martin was wounded by the fragment of a shell. In his command he was admired for the wonderful combination of kindness with firmness, in the exercise of discipline. At one time one of the men under his command became somewhat refractory, and it became necessary for him to give him some peremptory orders, which, with relutance, the soldier proceeded to obey, but with a protest in a low, under tone of voice, but sufficiently loud for every one to hear him say, " Well, never mind, every dog has his day." To which Major Martin replied, "That may be, if there are not more dogs than days." In politics, Major Martin was a life-long Democrat. In 1872 he was elected to the State Senate, from the district composed of Butler and Conecuh counties, but upon a contest, his opponent. Miller, was seated, not because he had received a majority of the popular vote, but because the Republican Party was dominant in the Senate. In 1874, however, when the Democrats again attained the ascendency. Miller was legally ejected, and Senator Martin re-seated. The Montgomery Advertiser in referring to his restoration to his seat in the Senate Chamber, said of him : " He is an able and watchful Senator, and possesses to the fullest extent, the confidence and esteem of his associates." He was the leading candidate for Lieutenant Governor in the Convention of 1874, and came within a fraction of a two-thirds vote upon the nomination. Also, in 1878, he was conspicuous as a candidate for Congress, and came within one vote of the nomination. On the 22nd of October, 1878, he died at his home, at Evergreen.
REV. GEORGE LEE
was a Baptist minister of some local distinction, and a member of one of the best families that ever resided in Conecuh. He was the seventh son of Justice Joel Lee, and brother to Revs. Hanson Lee, whose sketch has already been given, and David Lee, now of Lowndes county. George Lassiter Lee was born near Burnt Corn, on November 9th, 1819. When he was a lad of fifteen or sixteen, he became a Christian, and was baptized by Elder Alexander Travis. From the date of his conversion he had a disposition to attempt to preach, but great constitutional diffidence restrained him from the assumption of the sacred office for ten or twelve years. Yielding at length to those inward impressions, he became quite an effective minister of the gospel. During his early years he had received a thorough English training. Besides being a preacher of marked ability, he was a terse, vigorous writer. During his ministerial career, he served the Bethlehem Association, on different occasions, in the capacity of Clerk and Moderator. He was the Moderator of the body the year before his death. About 1871 or 1872, he died in the same section in which he had been reared. Mr. Lee was honored for his piety by all who knew him.
was a native of Conecuh. He was a man totally unpretentious, and yet one of the most useful of men during his career. Such was his extreme modesty, that no emphasis was ever given by himself to the liberal benefactions which came from his hand. He found special delight in contributing to a cause, the object of which was the increased happiness or usefulness of his fellows. Diligent in the administration of his private affairs, he was prosperous. During the last few years of his life he was prominent as a successful planter. Mr. Donald died at his home, near Bellville, in 1861, much lamented by all who knew him.
The birth-place of Mr. Jones was Virginia. But little is known of his early career. He emigrated to Conecuh when a young man, and began teaching at Gravella. He soon found a charm in the agitated politics of the county, and ardently espoused the cause of the Whig Party. As the standard-bearer of that party he was sent to the Legislature for several consecutive sessions. He was regarded as possessing uncommon shrewdness in business, and within a few years after he came to the county he was the possessor of no mean wealth. His name is inseparable from the litigations which characterized the history of the county during his residence within it. He is remembered, to-day, as a most uncompromising litigator. In manners, Mr. Jones was affable and communicative. Several years before his death he removed to Texas.
JOHN W. ETHRIDGE.
The subject of this sketch came to Conecuh with his father's family when he was quite a small boy. He was born in North Carolina in 1810, and eight years later was residing near Brooklyn. Mr. Ethridge has led a quiet, unostentatious life. At different times he has been summoned from the solitude of home life, and by the popular vote elevated to positions of trust.
In 1870, he was regarded the most available man in Conecuh to defeat the notorious William P. Miller for the Legislature. In this his supporters were not disappointed. His unquestioned integrity, and sober, conservative spirit, secured to the party of the Democracy a majority, and he became the Representative of the county in the lower house during the sessions of 1870 and 1872.
Other positions have been held by him with credit to himself and honor to his county. Though the frosts of three-score-and-ten winters have gathered upon his locks, he is, to-day, as elastic in his tread as a youth. Of him it may be almost as truly said as of the olden lawgiver: "His eye is not dim, nor is his natural force abated."
SHERMAN G. FORBES.
Many years ago there came to New England from Scotland two brothers whose names were Abisha and Squire Forbes. One of these settled in Salisbury, and the other in Canton, Connecticut. The latter of these, according to the history of that section, was the first smelter of iron in the United States. Abisha was the grandfather of Sherman G. and Dr. Solomon S. Forbes.
Sherman G. Forbes, familiarly known in all sections of the county as "Squire Forbes," was born in Canton, Connecticut, in the year 1818. His father was a native of the same section. Mr. Forbes removed to Alabama when he was quite a young man, and located at Sparta. Here he found employment as a clerk in the mercantile establishment of Robinson & Cary. He afterwards served Mr. Cary as clerk in the Land Office. Subsequent to this he was postmaster at Sparta, by appointment ; and was also elected justice of the peace, which office he continued to hold for more than thirty years. He was, at length, elected to the position of tax assessor of the county, where he displayed such rare efficiency that he was re-elected for several successive terms. About the year 1845-46, he was elected Clerk of the Circuit Court. In 1849, he engaged in a political contest with A. D. Cary for the Probate Judgeship. He was defeated by only thirty votes, and by a man of the most decided strength in the county. The close approximation to success in this election manifested the estimate which was placed upon his worth by the good people of Conecuh. Upon the resignation of Stephen C. Richardson as sheriff of Conecuh county, the office was tendered Mr. Forbes by the Governor of Alabama, but this offer he declined. At the close of the late war, he was appointed Revenue Assessor for the United States District, and none could have performed the duties pertaining to this office with greater efficiency. Mr. Forbes was a gentleman of even temperament, of much native dignity, and of superior qualifications for business. His memory was proverbially exact. The different stations held by himself during his life, had led him largely into the investigation of the legal science, and within a given compass of law no opinion could exceed his in exactness. He was freely resorted to for legal advice, which was gratuitously given. Politically, Mr. Forbes was a Democrat. He was emphatically a Union Democrat, both before and after the war. In March, 1876, he suffered from a paralytic stroke, from which he never recovered. After a sickness of seventeen days his spirit passed from earth into the boundless Beyond. The verdict of Judge Cary upon the reception of the news of his death, was that of every one who knew him with any degree of intimacy: "Conecuh county has lost one of its best citizens. He was the most correct business man I ever knew "
DR. SOLOMON S. FORBES,
brother to Sherman G. Forbes, beheld the light, first, in 1827, in the town of Canton, Connecticut. He emigrated southward and reached Sparta in 1852, where he engaged in teaching a school. This he discontinued, however, after six months, and addressed himself to the study of medicine, under the tutorship of Dr. John Anderson. In 1854 he attended medical lectures in Albany, New York, at the Union Medical College. Here he graduated three months before the expiration of his term of study, received his diploma, and started westward. He opened an office at Sauk Rapids, in the Minnesota Territory, eighty miles above St. Paul. He continued his practice in this region for eight months, until the arctic breath of winter brought with it a vivid reminder of the bland climate and fervid skies of the far South, and without delay he left the hyperborean region of Northern Minnesota and returned to Alabama. Coming again to Conecuh, he located at Bellville, in 1856, and continued the practice of his chosen profession until 1872, During this interval he was President of the Board of Examination for the county, Vice-President of the County Medical Association, and 2nd Recording Secretary of the Medical Association of Alabama. During the year 1872 he removed to Milton, Florida, where he continues the practice of medicine. The citizens of Milton have honored him for three successive terms with the mayoralty, and upon his election the third time, it was his humorous boast that he had beaten General Grant for "the third term." Dr. Forbes is a gentleman of cultivated taste and of polished manners. A vein of genuine humor pervades his nature, which, coupled with his accomplishments, makes him quite companionable in the social circle.
MARK BUTLER TRAVIS.
Few men have left a more illustrious record to the future generations of Conecuh, than Mark Butler Travis. His life was one of chivalrous heroism and of devotion to his country. He was born in the neighborhood of Old Town, on May 18th, 1827. At quite an early age he evinced remarkable aptness in the acquisition of knowledge, while attending the schools of the neighborhood. Having pursued a course of medical study under the supervision of Dr. John Watkins, he left his home, when a stripling of only seventeen, to attend medical lectures in a distant State. But Mark was a more attractive personage to his chivalrous mind than Aesculapius, and while en route to college, he met the famous Palmetto Regiment, of South Carolina, on their way to join General Scott, in Mexico, and the blood of our young hero grew so warm within him, that he determined to enlist in the regiment and to go with them to Mexico. This he did, and shared with them the glories of Contreras and Cherubusco. In the latter named battle, he received a wound in the head, and was thereby prevented from being with his regiment when they entered the Mexican Capital. Recovering from his wound, he rejoined his comrades and served with patriotic efficiency throughout the remainder of the struggle. Returning to his home, he was honored by his fellow citizens with the office of Colonel of Militia, and was afterwards made General of Militia, over Col. Brock Henderson, of Butler. The people of Conecuh showed him deserved consideration by elevating him to the office of Clerk of the Circuit Court, which he held for four consecutive terms. He was universally known as an ardent Democrat, and yet such was his personal popularity, that serious inroads were invariably made by him into the ranks of the opposite party, and hence his unbroken political success. When again the clash of conflict summoned the men of the South to arms. General Travis was among the first to respond. He enlisted in the Conecuh Guards - the first company that left the county. He was made the 2nd lieutenant of this company, and went with it to Virginia. The following anecdote is related of him, as connected with the battle of Bull Ran. At the time of the fall of the gallant Colonel Jones, the Fourth Alabama Regiment, to which the Conecuh Guards belonged, seemed threatened with utter extermination by the peculiarity of its surroundings. Becoming cognizant of this fearful fact, a panic seemed inevitable, and brave men began to turn their feet and faces toward the rear. Seeing the perilous situation, Lieutenant Travis endeavored to stay the flight of the regiment, and stood before the retreating columns with brandished sword, begging them not to fly. He was suddenly confronted by a burly Teuton, whose glaring eyes, open mouth and thin nostrils showed that he was the victim of a stupendous fright, and as he witnessed the efforts of Travis to check the flying columns, he blurted out: "0, mine friendt, my life is too schweet!" Lieutenant Travis, seeing that all efforts to arrest the flight were useless, himself joined in and sought a more secure position. He was sadly encumbered by a pair of heavy horse-skin boots, which provoked Dr. Taliaferro to say to him as he ran past: "Lieutenant, you had better look out, or Barnum will have those boots in his Museum before night ! " The subject of this sketch died of pneumonia, at his home, in 1864. There were combined in his character many elements of true nobility.
JOHN DUDLEY CARY.
Conspicuous among the worthies of Conecuh county is he whose name is placed at the head of this sketch. He was brought to Conecuh, by his parents, when quite an infant, having been born in Sumter District, South Carolina, on the 20th of January, 1820. Having been reared by a father whose uprightness was proverbial in the county, Mr. Cary became an elegant gentleman, and one eminently fitted to the positions which he was summoned to occupy during his life. His first attainment to distinction was in 1841, when he had barely reached maturity. During this year he was elected county clerk, and in 1845 was reelected to the same position. But for his personal popularity, he would have sustained defeat in the second contest, as he had to encounter the serious difficulties of leading a party whose voting power was in the minority, and of confronting a candidate who himself enjoyed the confidence of the people - William M. Bradley. The second victory of Mr. Cary was exceedingly creditable to him, as he led his opponent, in the face of the barriers already alluded to, with a majority of sixty-eight. In 1857 he was sent by the popular voice of the county to the Legislature. Having been renominated two years later, for the same office, he was again elected, defeating Hon. F. M. Walker. Like his father, he enjoyed the confidence of the masses, which was manifest whenever he presented himself before them for their suffrage. He removed to Florida in January, 1872, and died just a month later, leaving a wife and five children.
The War Record of Conecuh - Intense Excitement - Conecuh Patriotism - Conecuh Guards, &c.
The election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency of the United States in 1860, was the signal for the clash of conflict. For successive decades the storm had been gathering, and the delay only rendered more terrific its fury when at length it did burst upon the country. Petty sectional issues had grown into giant proportions, and by their strength had drawn the North and South face to face, with demonstrations the most hostile. A review of these issues need not here be attempted, as they are familiar to all. We have only to do with the part borne in that period of carnage by the brave sons of Conecuh. Her people felt as deeply as did any, the force of the great questions which were moving the masses throughout the broad land of States. The withdrawal of Alabama from the Union, sent a tremor of patriotic thrill throughout the hosts of her brave men, and under the impulse of this power, they formed themselves into military organizations, and repaired at once to the scene of conflict.
Among the companies earliest enlisted for this approaching struggle, was that of the Conecuh Guards. They were organized at Sparta, April 1st, 1861, and on the 24th of the same month they left their homes for the seat of war in Virginia. Through the zealous efforts of some noble women, among whom were the Misses Stearns and Mathews, Mrs. Jay and Mrs. Dubose, a magnificent banner had been ordered for the gallant company, and reached Sparta just the day before their departure for Virginia. A large concourse had gathered at the Sparta depot to witness the formal presentation of the flag and to take affectionate leave of friends and loved ones. Master Henry Stearns held the banner during its presentation, and on either side of him stood three young ladies, dressed so as to represent the States that had withdrawn from the Union. Miss Irene Stearns represented South Carolina; Miss Kate Autrey, Georgia; Miss L. Henderson, Florida; Miss Mathews, Alabama ; Miss C. Cary, Mississippi ; Miss S. Crosby, Louisiana. This group, having been confronted by the company, drawn up in order, Miss Mathews proceeded to deliver the following
Gentlemen of the Guards: - The clouds which have so long impended over us, have burst at last in the fury of war, the tocsin has sounded, your country has summoned you to arms, and nobly answering to her call, you have assembled here to bid adieu to old familiar scenes and faces, and to receive in return our parting words of encouragement and cheer. We admire your valor, we love your patriotism, we partake of your enthusiasm, and as a token of these feelings we have assembled to-day, to present to you this banner, consecrated by a thousand loving wishes - a thousand earnest prayers. The light of spring is on the Southern hills, a thousand flowers lend fragrance to the breeze, a thousand birds are warbling songs of love - the friends of your youth, the companions of your boyhood, are around you - all is peace, and beauty, and tranquility. But the gleam of sunlight upon gay uniforms and flashing steel, reminds me (of what I would fain forget) that from all these you must turn away - that you must exchange the quiet of these green old woods, in all their spring-tide beauty, for the turmoil of the camp; sweet bird songs and loving tones, for the musket's rattle and the cannon's roar; kindly smiles and familiar faces, for the whizzing ball and deadly bayonet. In these perils we may not participate - we may not share with you the battle's rage, nor partake of the hardships and privations of a military career - but we, too, have our mission. It is ours to give you words of sympathy and cheer, to animate you by our enthusiasm, to encourage you to deeds of noble daring. Our prayers shall attend you our smiles shall welcome your return, and should it be the fate of any here to fill a warrior's grave, his name shall be embalmed with our heartfelt tears and cherished forever in our inmost memories. As the Spartan women in the olden times sent forth their loved ones to the battle, bidding them never to return unless graced with the laurel wreaths of victory, so do we now bid you go forth, to return to us only when our native land is free. I profess to be endowed with no gift of prophecy, but I feel I know, that the South will be victorious in the approaching conflict. Already has the telegraph brought to us "great news from the Carolinas," and our ears welcomed the salutes which ushered in the victory. Already has one important stronghold yielded to our arms, and the Black Republican flag gone down dishonored, before the proud banner of the Confederate States. Naturally gallant and chivalrous, the sons of the South have plucked Fame's proudest laurels
"On many a field of strife made red By bloody victory."
In the thickest of the fight has ever rang the Southern war-cry; going as gayly to the battle as to fete champetre. No foe has ever yet withstood the rush of Southern steel, and in such a cause as we are now engaged, our armies must prove invincible. Battling on their own soil, in the holy cause of Freedom, in defence of their homes and loved ones, and in short, of all that is nearest and dearest to the hearts of men, they will know no such word as "fail," and Victory must be their handmaid. The war may be long, it may be bloody, but there can be but one result - the eagle of victory will finally perch upon the banner of our young Republic. Go, then, "where glory awaits you," and may this flag, which, in the name of the ladies of Conecuh county, I present to you to-day, float ever like the white plume of King Henry of Navarre, in the very front of battle. Then
"Take thy banner, may it wave
Ever o'er the free and brave ;
Guard it 'till our homes are free,
Guard it - God will prosper, thee."
At the conclusion it was presented to Captain Bowles, and, in behalf of his company, he expressed his thanks for this expression of encouragement.
The company embarked on the following morning for Montgomery, receiving a number of accessions to its ranks at Evergreen. (*A complete list, together with a succinct history of the company, will be found in the Appendix. ) The organization and departure of the Conecuh Guards, were speedily followed by the organization of other companies in the county, counties. Quite a number of the gallant boys of Conecuh entered the ranks of the Monroe Guards. The patriotism of no county was more profoundly stirred than was that of Conecuh. Not only did brave young men leave the comforts and clustering associations of palatial homes, and set their faces toward the uninviting camp and the perilous field; but brave mothers, wives and sisters, sought to inspire them with timely words and deeds of sacrifice. And great was the patriotic generosity manifested by very many of the oldest citizens, in supplying the families of absent soldiers with food. Draught after draught, was made upon the barns and smokehouses of men too old for service, by the families of those upon whose labors they had been dependent for the necessary purpose of reconnoitering. When they had come within three or four miles of Evergreen, they suddenly encountered a small squad of Spurlin's command, that had been sent forward upon the Bellville road to guard against any sudden demonstration on the part of the citizens, while the chief command was moving along the dirt road toward Sparta. This squad had dismounted near the Bradley Plantation, in a sudden curve of the road, to burn a wagon, which had just been captured, when the Bellville deputation rode suddenly upon them. The surprise was equally shared in by both parties, but evidences of precipitate flight having been first given by the reconnoitering Bellvillians, nothing was left the invaders but a hot pursuit. With a clattering pell-mell, the citizen soldiery, still clinging to their shot-guns, fled back toward home. All would have reached their homes in safety, but for a diseased horse, which was ridden by Willie McCreary. Unable to keep abreast of the others in the stampede, his animal continued to slacken in speed until he was finally overtaken at Hunter's creek. Here, Willie, then a lad of sixteen, fell into the hands of the enemy, and was sent at once to Ship Island, as a prisoner of war. The extreme northern portion of Conecuh suffered somewhat from the depredations of Wilson's raid during the following month.
The events just recorded, were but the prelude of a scene of chaotic confusion throughout the county. Unfortunately for its inhabitants, this disaster was introduced just at a season when every thing turned upon activity on the farm, and when entire cessation of labor would have been well nigh calamitous. Following in the wake of these local troubles, was the surrender of the armies of the Confederacy, and the sudden close of the war. With the crops just springing into luxuriant promise, the slaves were liberated, and in their exhilaration, they left their old homes in vast crowds, and thronged the Federal camps. Utter lawlessness everywhere prevailed. Demoralization was wide-spread and rampant. Gloom was depicted in every countenance as men gazed upon a scene of universal disaster. The Southern soldier, returning to his home, after years of privation, either maimed or poverty-stricken, if not both, was confronted by the wreck and ruin of war. But with a heroism, just as marked as that which they had evinced on the weary march, or upon the field of carnage, they addressed themselves to the work of repairing their shattered fortunes, and of providing for loved ones. Their heroism was not more conspicuous under the leadership of Lee, Jackson and Johnston, than it was in peacefully following their vocations after the tattered banner had been folded, and the cannon hushed in silence.
The following is a list of the county officers who served during this period :
JUDGES OF PROBATE.
1862- A. D. Cary. - (Disqualified by age in 1863.)
1864 - John M. Henderson - (Appointed by Governor Watts to fill the unexpired term.)
1863- William M. Strange.
1864- William A. Duke.
1861- D. C. Davis.
1865- William A. Ashley.
1861- William A. Ashley.
1863- William Greene.
1865- F. M. Walker.
A Chapter of Biography- James A. Stall worth - William A. Ashley - Rev. W. C. Morrow - J. M. Henderson, etc.
JAMES A. STALLWORTH
was the most distinguished of the sons of Conecuh. Highly gifted with brilliant parts, of pleasing address and commanding person, combined all the elements requisite to success in the realm of politics. He was born near the village of Evergreen, on April 7th, 1822. He became an orphan quite early, his mother having died when he was but three years of age. When he was but fourteen, he was left entirely parentless by the death of his father. His scholastic training was merely academical. His career as a student was spent in the academy at Evergreen. But such was the readiness with which he could always command his resources, that every one was impressed with the idea that his mental training was of the highest order. So deeply impressed was the Hon. Frank Beck, of Wilcox, with his social ease and graceful mien, and his ability as an orator, that he asked him, while both were representatives together in the Legislature, "Stallworth, from what college did you graduate ? " He expressed great surprise when he was told, "I never attended college." At quite an early age Mr. Stallworth gave promise of future ability.
His powers of oratory were quite marked when he was but a boy. At the early age of eighteen he was married to Miss Harriet E. Crosby, eldest daughter of John Crosby. His marriage was quite fortunate for his future success in life. Inheriting, to a large degree, the energy and executive ability of her father, Mrs. Stallworth contributed largely to the growing success of her husband. Soon after his marriage he began planting, which he pursued for several years, when he was called into public life by having been nominated upon the Democratic ticket for Representative to the Legislature. In Mr. Mortimer Boulware, young Stallworth found a strong opponent. He was a gentleman of great personal popularity and wealth, and was connected with one of the wealthiest families in the county. Mr. Stallworth, who had scarcely passed his twenty-second year, awoke a sensation wherever he went in the county, so brilliant was his oratory, and so cordial was his address. Large accessions were drawn from the ranks of the Whig Party, and he was elected, first, to the Legislature in 1845. He was renominated by the Democrats in 1847, and was again elected by a largely increased majority over his Whig competitor. Judge H. F. Stearns. During his last term of service in the Legislature he entered upon the study of law, and after adequate preparation, was admitted to practice. By force of talent he rose rapidly as a lawyer, having entered at once upon a most lucrative practice. So distinguished had his ability at the bar become, that in 1850 he was elected to the solicitorship of the Second Judicial Circuit. In this new position he had to encounter the ripe experience of one of the ablest bars in the State; and yet so nobly did he acquit himself that he came to be recognized as one of the best prosecuting attorneys the State ever had. In 1855 he resigned his position as solicitor and accepted the nomination for Congress of the Democratic Party, against Col. Percy Walker, of Mobile - the candidate of the Know-Nothing Party. Though defeated in this contest, Colonel Stallworth added new lustre to his rapidly-rising star, as an able debater and eloquent exponent of the political issues of the period. In 1857 he was again honored with the nomination of his party, for Congress. The result of this contest was the election of Colonel Stallworth, by quite a handsome majority, over Col. John McKaskill, of Wilcox. Two years later still, he was renominated for Congress, and this time defeated Col. Fred Sheppard, of Mobile. Colonel Stallworth remained in Congress until the passage of the ordinance of secession by the Alabama Convention, when he, together with the remainder of the Alabama delegation, withdrew. Returning to his home, he contributed largely of his means to the cause of the young Confederacy. His declining health forbade his entrance into the army, but his sons were among the first to enlist, though quite young. Colonel Stallworth died at his home, in Evergreen, on the 31st of August, 1861. Daring the brief period of sixteen years, he had occupied several of the most prominent positions in life.
Harper's Weekly of February 9th, 1861, has this to say with regard to the subject of our sketch : " James A. Stallworth, who represents the First, or Mobile District, in the House of Representatives, was born in Conecuh county, Alabama, on the 7th of April, 1822. After having received an academical education, he studied law, passed a high examination, and has since enjoyed a lucrative practice. He was twice elected District Attorney for the circuit in which he practices, and was a member of the Legislature from 1845 to 1848. After having been defeated by the Know-Nothings, he was in 1857 elected to Congress, where he is a universal favorite, ever ready with an anecdote or repartee, yet none the less determined in maintaining the rights of his native State." Colonel Stallworth was a man of the noblest natural impulses. Most princely in hospitality, he frequently drew around his family board many of his truest friends. It is a matter of deep regret that one of such vast usefulness, and possessed with so many elements of greatness, should have been swept into a premature grave. He passed away at the early age of thirty-nine years.
WILLIAM A. ASHLEY.
The reputation enjoyed by this prominent Conecuhian was far from being local. His sterling ability was recognized throughout the Commonwealth of Alabama. William Adam Ashley was a native of Conecuh county, having been born in 1822. After an academical training in the schools near his father's home, he entered the East Tennessee University, at Knoxville, from which institution he was graduated. After his return to his home he married Miss Amanda Thomas, a daughter of Major Thomas. His attention was first devoted to planting, - but one with such distinguished qualifications for public service could not be suffered to address himself solely to his private interests. He was summoned into public life first in 1849, when the Whig Party of Conecuh named him as the champion of its principles, and nominated him for the Legislature. His success was easily attained. So conspicuous was his usefulness in his new role that he was returned during the following canvass in 1851. Two years later he was elected to the State Senate, in which capacity he served for four years. In 1861 he was again elected to the lower house from Conecuh. During this year, too, he was Presidential elector for Messrs. Davis and Stephens. In 1865 he was returned to the Senate for four years - which terminated his public career.
Mr. Ashley was a man of solid, rather than shining qualities. Cool, deliberate, of unerring judgment, and withal, highly scrupulous, no one was better fitted than himself to serve his people during the trying ordeals through which they were called to pass during much of his public career. He was emphatically a patriot. Although he supported the Bell and Everett ticket in the memorable canvass of 1860, and though he opposed secession in 1861, Mr. Ashley did not falter a moment in sustaining the cause of the South throughout the hard struggle. "His wealth and his personal services" - says Mr. Garrett, in his "Public Men of Alabama" - "were devoted to the public defence." During the war many a Confederate soldier, weary and footsore oftentimes, found a cordial welcome beneath the hospitable roof of Mr. Ashley. After the close of the war, and when the work of the infamous Reconstruction measures was commenced in the South, Mr. Ashley denounced it in unmeasured terms as being the essence of tyranny.
He died at his home on Hampden Ridge, February 12th, 1870, and was buried in the Thomas burial ground. Thus there passed away that honored son of Conecuh before he had reached the meridian of life. Simple justice demands that appropriate reference be made in this connection to his most estimable wife, who honored her distinguished husband, and aided greatly in his elevation in life. The liberal and refined hospitality for which he was so noted, was enhanced by the conspicuous part borne by herself in its dispensation.
REV. WILLIAM C. MORROW
was a native of Pulaski county, Tennessee, where he was born on June 6th, 1815. At an early age he removed to Alabama, where he spent the major part of his life. When he was quite young, he was received as a member into the Presbyterian Church, and under its auspices fitted for the ministry. He continued his connection with this denomination until 1841 or 1842, when his views upon certain cardinal principles underwent a complete change, and he at once joined a Baptist church. His first charge was the Old Flat Creek Church, at Turnbull, in Monroe county. Remarkably gifted as a speaker, and unusually skillful in debate, he at once took high rank in the Baptist ministry. On different occasions he became the champion of his cherished principles in the field of polemics, and was justly esteemed an ardent advocate of the peculiar tenets held by his denomination. Such was the ability displayed by himself on several occasions, in the delivery of sermons, that their publication was earnestly sought, and they found enduring form in pamphlet shape. Mr. Morrow's secular interests, together with his declining health in later years, withdrew him gradually from the pulpit ; so that, for more than an entire decade, toward the close of his life, he had no pastoral charge. He died at his home in Evergreen, on October 16th, 1879, in the sixty-fifth year of his age.
JOHN M. HENDERSON.
Among the men of worth produced by Conecuh is John M. Henderson. His place of birth was Brooklyn, and the time October 14th, 1824. He was educated in the schools of his native county, and never enjoyed the advantages of a course of training in college. Notwithstanding this, his mental attainments were by no means of a limited character. His mind was well stored with useful information gleaned from different fields of thought. His debut into public life was when his father, David F. Henderson, became sheriff of Conecuh. The son - then just budding into manhood - served the father as an efficient deputy. Subsequent to this he entered the mercantile business at Sparta, in which he remained until 1860. During this period he was treasurer of the county for one or two terms. In 1860 he removed to Pensacola, Florida, where, with marked success, he was engaged for some time as a commission merchant. Pensacola having become a scene of exciting hostility after the commencement of the war in 1861, Mr. Henderson returned to Conecuh and built a handsome home near Castleberry, and was instrumental in the establishment of a depot at that point. The advancing demands of the armies of the Confederacy for increased strength, made an appeal to the patriotism of Mr. Henderson, and such that he could not resist. Together with General Martin, he raised a company of volunteers, of which Martin became captain, and himself 1st lieutenant. The company was connected with the Thirty-eighth Alabama Regiment. Mr. Henderson remained in active service about two years, when he was appointed by Governor Watts, Judge of Probate of Conecuh county, to succeed Judge Cary, who had resigned because of a constitutional provision forbidding the occupancy of the office beyond a specified age. The ability which he brought to this new station enabled him to meet its demands in such way as to win distinction to himself and to impart unusual satisfaction to his constituency. This position he continued to hold until the dawn of the Reconstruction period, when he was ejected against the popular vote of the county, and A. W. Jones was elevated to the office.
Retiring to his home at Castleberry, he remained here but a short while, when he removed to Brewton, and thence to Mill View, Florida - at both of which places he was engaged in the milling and timber business, with varied success and misfortune. He died at Mill View, of typhoid dysentery, on September 9th, 1872. His remains were transferred to Sparta, where they were interred in the old family burial ground.
Judge Henderson was a typical Southern gentleman. Of commanding person and dignified mien, he excited the profoundest respect in every circle which he entered. His whole course of life bore the stamp of true manliness. He was exceedingly scrupulous with regard to the slightest promise. Toward the close of his life he evinced unusual solicitude in regard to his children, precipitated, as their lives had been, into the midst of the wide-spread demoralization which followed in the wake of the war. His family are still residents of the county.
DR. MILTON AMOS,
who was one of the earliest residents of the county, and for many years one of her most distinguished physicians, was born in the State of Maryland, about the year 1781. At an early age he turned his thoughts to the study of medicine, and afterwards finished his course in Philadelphia. Removing to Jones county, Georgia, he was married to Miss Reese. In the year 1818 or 1819 he came, with his young bride, to the wild scenes of South Alabama. His first point of location was at Cotten's Bluff, about twenty miles below Brooklyn. Here he resided for only a year, when he removed to Brooklyn, which gave early promise of vast importance in the future. When he came to this place, which afterwards became the most conspicuous point in the county, he found but two families residing here - those of Mr. Edwin Robinson, a merchant, and Mr. Thompson, the owner of the ferry on Conecuh river. During the period of his residence here, he had an extensive practice - reaching to all portions of the county, and even beyond. In 1835 he changed his location to Bellville. Again, he removed to Milton, Florida, in 1850. The town of Milton derived its name from that of his own. Dr. Amos died in Escambia county, in 1875, at the advanced age of ninety-four years. He has left a record of honored usefulness.
DR. WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM.
This distinguished physician was born in Mecklenburg county, Virginia, on April 21st, 1809. His medical training was secured in Philadelphia, where he was graduated when quite a young man. Returning to his Virginian home, he determined to seek a sphere for the exercise of his talents in the far South. Hence he removed to Alabama, and located first at Montevallo, in Shelby county. Thence he removed to Arkansas, and purchased lands upon Red river. A brief sojourn here was altogether sufficient to satisfy any longings which he might have had for the much-talked-of West, and he again turned his face toward Alabama. Removing farther south than before, he founded a home in Monroe county - the one now occupied by Hon. W. T. Nettles, and but a short distance from the present site of Kempville. In 1842, he served Monroe county in the lower branch of the Legislature. About this time he suffered the saddest of misfortunes - the loss of his wife - when he removed a few miles south of Burnt Corn, and built a handsome residence, just within the limits of Conecuh. Here he continued to reside until his death.
With remarkable success Dr. Cunningham combined planting with the practice of medicine. He shared in the general "wreck and ruin" incident to the war. By thrift and skillful management he had become the possessor of a vast estate before the war. Dr. Cunningham was a polished gentleman of the Old Virginia School. He was exceedingly polite, and his urbanity was extended to all alike.* Highly gifted as a conversationalist, and broadly informed upon all current topics, he was quite companionable. His scope of reading, however, was not restricted to the current literature of the period. His fondness for study led him into the investigation of all sciences, alike. He was one of those remarkable spirits, who was prepared to impart information in regard to almost every subject. By the sprightliness of his conversation he always shed a wholesome radiance into the chamber of sickness. To these superior qualities of personal character was added that of exceeding great fondness for the fine arts. No one had a keener appreciation for excellent music, or works of art, than himself. Naturally hospitable, his pleasant home was the frequent resort of congenial associates. He contributed with unstinted hand to the war waged for Southern Independence. Besides contributing three sons to the armies of the Confederacy, he sustained the families of other men, who were absent upon "the tented field." Dr. Cunningham died at his home, on August 26th, 1867.
* The author remembers the impression produced upon his childish mind by the gentle politeness of Dr. Cunningham
Dark Sway of Reconstructionism - Social Chaos - Demoralization - Local Troubles - Sovereignty of the Bayonet - The Negro as a Politician - How the New Order of Things Affected Southern Society - Heroism Displayed, &c.
Nothing equalled the wild chaos which prevailed in the South, just subsequent to the close of the war. The disorder introduced by invading armies, the derangement of the system of labor by the sudden emancipation of the slaves, the crash experienced by the heavy loss sustained by their former owners, the shock of disappointment at the failure of Southern arms - all these produced a universal gloom among the whites of the South. Exhilarated by the consciousness that he was no longer under the restraint of a master, the negro unceremoniously threw aside the implements of labor, and met his fellows where they were wont to gather, from day to day, in the rural village, at the depots, in the towns and crowded cities. All industry was suddenly paralyzed. There was a painful consciousness in the minds of the most reflective that no shield of legal defence existed, and that for once, society was launched upon a wild and stormy sea of disorder. Prompted by the innate principle of self-defence, every man resolved to protect, as far as possible, his own interests against the invasion of lawlessness. Hence it was to be expected that there would be occasional outbreaks of disorder. Robbery was by no means a rare occurrence, and here and there a murder was committed, while differences between the two races were frequently arising. Nothing of a serious nature arose in Conecuh. After the establishment, by the government, of military districts, troops were quartered at several points in the county, but here, as elsewhere, they were productive of more disorder than quiet. Every local camp became a kind of confessional, to which the negro would, for the most part, resort, not to confess his own sins, but to make confession of the sins of his white neighbor, and perhaps former owner, especially if these sins had the slightest relation to himself. Hence squads of cavalrymen were traversing the country-districts, hunting up the perpetrators of reported misdemeanors, and great was the annoyance to which the people were subjected by these petty commanders of local posts. The feeling of demoralization, which came immediately upon the heels of the war, was gradually displaced by that of desperation, as the people witnessed the removal, by military orders, of the entire official incumbency of the civil positions, and their places filled by military appointees. Legally enfranchised, the blacks swarmed around the ballot-boxes at the first opportunity, and seemed greatly to relish the privilege of citizenship, though they were totally ignorant of the consequence of voting. Conflicting elements would soon have been tranquilized, and serene peace would again have smiled upon the desolate fields of the South, and would have kindled new hopes in the bosoms of her impoverished people, had not a horde of unprincipled politicians swarmed into the States, and fanned into intense heat the hostility between the races. These, unfortunately, found fellow-helpers among the whites of the South, who, stimulated by no higher motive than self-aggrandizement, sought to widen the chasm between the races, in order to command the negro vote, and secure to themselves the spoils of office. Among those who contributed to this race agitation in Conecuh were William P. Miller and Rev. A. W. Jones.
In the midst of this wide- spread anarchy, created by the war and its disastrous results, it is wonderful that there was evinced such elasticity on the part of Southern society. A revolution could not have been more sudden or complete, than that into which the society of the South was precipitated ; and yet the ease with which it was speedily adjusted to the existing order of things, was indeed marvelous. Men had risen from the most straitened circumstances into easy competency, and with a contentment at once natural and legitimate, were quietly resting from their early toils ; and yet, when the crash of disaster came, they had to resume the hard labor of other days, in order to provide the actual necessities of life. Women, unused to domestic drudgery, and the thousand cares of which they had been relieved by competent servants, had to face the dire inevitable, and grapple with the duties to which a disastrous war had subjected them. But with the energy and elasticity for which the Anglo-Saxon race is so famous, these heroic men and women bravely met these trying odds, and distinguished themselves as signally as did their soldier boys upon the bloody field. Year by year, the South emerged from the wreck of the dark and bloody past, her people came more and more to take a calm and dispassionate view of "the situation," the lines of race prejudice were growing gradually dimmer, a spirit of industry began to awaken the sluggish energies of the people, and a wholesome change was being manifestly wrought in all directions.
The one event of marked interest in Conecuh, during the year 1866, was the removal of the seat of justice from Sparta to Evergreen. Two principal causes contributed to this removal. The first -was the total destruction of the court house at Sparta, with all the county records, and the second was the growing importance of Evergreen, and its easy accessibility from all portions of the county. Two years later, Conecuh lost a portion of her southern territory by the formation of Escambia county. This county was established by an act approved December 10th, 1868. It was carved from Conecuh and Baldwin counties. It has not been allowed separate representation in the General Assembly, until the last few years.
List of county officers from 1865 to 1870 :
JUDGES OF PROBATE.
1868- John M. Henderson - ( Removed by military force and succeeded by A. W. Jones. )
1868- A. W. Jones.
1867 - James Fortner.
1868 ---- Greenslate. (Of Illinois - appointed by the military authorities.)
1868- J. Yates.
1870- J. W. Ethridge.