Court Document for James Ainsworth vs. William Ainsworth

I recently discovered a court document for a case of James Ainsworth vs. William Ainsworth. Excited about this find, I purchased the document last night, and was thrilled when it was sent to me this morning in a .PDF file. However, documents like this aren’t exactly easy to read (or for me at least). Some of the words are faded or it’s just hard to decipher the person’s handwriting. Then there’s the fact that what I can read, I can’t exactly understand what in the world is going on here.

So, I decided to take to the internet in hopes that someone might be able to help me decipher what this document (a rather large document at that…112 pages!!) has to say. If anyone reading this happens to be able to help, it would be greatly appreciated!!

For the record…this document also includes the names of John McGhee and, I believe, James Erwin. I have yet to be able to definitively prove the connection, but I believe these Ainsworth’s might be of some relation to the Levin Ainsworth family; whether it be cousins or uncles.

Here is the link for the document…I hope it works!! Ainsworth v. Ainsworth [ET 680]

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Charles B. Wood

For years, I have been researching my family history. In those many years, I have had my share of elusive ancestors. I have been fortunate enough to break through many of those brick walls, however, there is one ancestor that is still giving me grief. His name is Charles B. Wood.

Charles B. Wood, sometimes known as Charley Wood and most commonly known as C.B. Wood, was born 28 December 1856 in Illinois.1 It is not known when exactly he came to Texas, but I do know that he was here by 24 August 1882.2  This was the date of his marriage. He married Laura Alice Proctor, daughter of James Alexander Proctor and Mary Polly Hunt. Laura was born 18 February 1859 in Decatur, Wise County, Texas and died 01 November 1946 in Bridgeport, Wise County, Texas. The Proctor’s were a very prominent family in the Decatur/Bridgeport areas. In fact, Laura’s father donated a large portion of his land to create what is now Decatur, Wise County, Texas. Laura’s parents were also the first couple to be married in Wise County, Texas.

james-alexander-proctor-family

James Alexander Proctor and family. James and his wife are seated in front, and their children, including Laura, are standing behind them. The photograph is from “Pioneer History of Wise County” by Cliff D. Cates, page 277.

 

Probably due to the fact that he married into a prominent family, he found himself mentioned quite often in the local papers. I have many articles that mention him on newspapers.com. One that was of particular interest to me was the following: https://www.newspapers.com/image/44440335/?xid=637

In this article, it mentions that Charles was on the committee for a basket picnic that they were having in Wise County. What made this article interesting to me was the fact that a Dr. Yeakley was also on the committee. This Dr. Yeakley will come into play later in Charles life, which I will divulge later in this post. For now, just remember that name: Dr. Yeakley.

Charles and Laura had the following children to their union:

  1. Mary Edna Wood, born 1886 in Wise County, Texas; died 07 August 1970 in Bridgeport, Wise County, Texas; married Albert Leon Pope (for family members reading this post, Mary and Albert are the maternal grandparents of Granny).
  2. Charley Proctor Wood, born 09 January 1888 in Texas; died 12 July 1951 in Texas; married Maud E. (maiden name unknown)
  3. Willie Gayle Wood, born February 1890 in Texas; died 1967 in Bridgeport, Wise County, Texas

Sometime between the years 1890 and 1900, Charles created, what I’m sure was, quite the scandal. At some point within those 10 years, Charles left his wife and children, and ran away with a Margaret “Maggie” YEAKLEY. Remember earlier in my post where I mentioned a newspaper article that tells of Charles and a Dr. Yeakley  being on the committee for a basket picnic? Well, this Margaret Yeakley is the wife of Dr. Yeakley. Maggie took her children with her.

Charles and Maggie went to Oklahoma, where they spent the rest of their days. In 1910, Charles was apparently the constable in Clinton, Custer County, Oklahoma. Charles died 27 November 1940 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma.

What I am wanting to know is who were the parents of Charles B. Wood, and if he had any siblings. It is my hope that someone reading this post will have some more information regarding Charles and his parentage!

SOURCES:

  1. United States Federal Census Records, ancestry.com, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940
  2. Texas, Marriage Index, 1840-1909 and 1966-2011
  3. The photograph is from “Pioneer History of Wise County” by Cliff D. Cates, page 277.

William Ainsworth–Horse Racer

Many (and I mean many) of my ancestors have had the occupation of farmer. To be honest, it gets quite old to see that listed as their occupation. So, imagine my great surprise when I finally uncovered some information on my 4x-great-grandfather, William Ainsworth…and his occupation was NOT listed as farmer, but as HORSE RACER!! EEEKKK!!! This definitely got my attention!

So, in true genealogist fashion, I began digging into this world of horse racing. First, I needed to know more about what horse racing in the 1800’s entailed…and what exactly a horse racer did. I went to the ancestry.com message boards to see if anyone could shed some light on this for me. A fellow ancestry.com member informed me that the occupation of horse racer did not mean jockey, however, it meant that this person would have been the horse breeder. Here is what they had to say:

 The breeder would have winners pooled into a breed stock and have new horses from them. Then, the various results would determine if you got potential racers or just workers. The horse racer would train them to be racers for speed and/or endurance and if they work out well, they get profit and prestige and reputations for being great trainers and racers. A few would actually be the owners as well.

From <http://boards.ancestry.com/topics.occupations.occupations/2013.1/mb.ashx>

So, my 4x-great-grandfather, William Ainsworth, was, in essence, a horse trainer.

With this information, I went to see if there happened to be any information about the horse (or horses) he might have trained. I knew that William lived in Madisonville, Tennessee, so I started my search there. To my luck, and great surprise, I found a William Ainsworth (the only William Ainsworth in all of Tennessee at the time) listed in a book called, Making the American Thoroughbred: especially in Tennessee, 1800-1845. In the book, it talked about how horse trainers would make good natured jabs at others when wanting to request a race. It even gave an example of a letter of one of these requests. To my delight…the example they used was from none other than my ancestor, William Ainsworth!! The following is his letter:

To Col. Ramsey, Editor of the Knoxville Register:

In my absence some banters have been made through the columns of your paper by Molo (a race horse) against Traveller (William’s horse), representing that if Cashier or Traveller wanted a race with Molo they could get it for one thousand dollars, over the Red Bridge track with their appropriate weights. Now, I have no thought that Molo wants a race with Traveller; if he does and will back his statement, Traveller can beat him for any sum from $500 to $2000 over any track in East Tennessee, or if Molo will come to the Madisonville track Traveller will bear his expenses three weeks. As to Molo’s insinuations in regard to his training or riding, Cashier does not understand him; but there is one thing he does understand, that is, that he offered Molo a distance in four mile heats last Fall at the Red Bridge races, when he (Molo) was in training and Molo would not take him up. Traveller can beat Molo or any other covering horse in East Tennessee that has made two seasons, and served thirty mares each season (as he has done), –three or four mile heats for any of the above mentioned sums; the race to be closed by 1st of November next.

 

–William Ainsworth, Madisonville, 05 October 1836

This book gave me valuable information. It gave me the name of William’s horse…Traveller. So now, I was able to look more into William’s career with Traveller, and more about the horse itself.

Horse Racing

Horse Racing 1841. Painting by W.S. Hedges  A Race Meeting at Jacksonville, Alabama

I found that Traveller was the colt of Arab (the sire) and Conqueror (the dam). It also appears that Traveller was a great racer.

I was able to find, in an American Turf magazine, some information about a particular race that Traveller, and William, were involved in. Here is the article:

Stallion Race.

On Thursday, February 25, 1836, a matcli race came off at Madisonville,
Tenn, between Thomas J. Lea’s b. ii. Cashier, seven years old, by Stock-
holder, dam by old Pacolet; and Williamm Ainsworth’s ch. h. Traveller, five
years old, by Arab, dam by old Conqueror; two mile heats. Both heats
won by Traveller.

Time, 4m. 25s. — 4m. 20s. Track deep and heavy, from recent rains.

Much interest was manifested, as it was the second match race between
these two horses. Cashier’s rider weighed off 128 lbs., from the mud thrown
on him. Traveller won in handsome style.

I was requested to time, and give the above as the result of the race.

  1. A. Maury, Timer.

From <https://archive.org/stream/americanturfregi07skin/americanturfregi07skin_djvu.txt>

Unfortunately, at this time, this is all of the information that I have been able to find about William and his horse, Traveller. I am hoping to find more soon.

 

**Some information about William Ainsworth**

  1. He was born between 1795 and 1800 in North Carolina.
  2. He married Mary Roper on 06 July 1842 in Tennessee, however, he filed for divorce in 1844 due to the fact that Mary had left him.
  3. He had a son named, James R. Ainsworth with his wife, Mary.
  4. He lived in Tennessee for a good 30 years or so, enjoying an illustrious life as a horse racer. By 1850, he moved to Cass County (now Bartow County) Georgia, where he remained a horse racer.
  5. It is said, however not known, that William was the son of a James Patterson Ainsworth. If anyone has any information on his parentage, I would love to know!

Andrew Bluford Thompson

Andrew Bluford (sometimes he went by Bluford, other times he went by his inititals, A.B.) is my 3x great-grandfather, and my Pepaw’s great-grandfather. He was born 30 September 1853 in Conecuh County, Alabama to William Thompson and Mary Ann Gary. His mother had a younger brother named Andrew, which could very well be where they got his name from. He was the eldest of six children. His siblings were as follows:

 

  • Archie Gary Thompson--born 12 June 1855 in Alabama; died 06 April 1936 in Tioga, Grayson County, Texas

 

  • Leanna Rebecca Thompson–born 27 March 1857 in Alabama; died 27 January 1934 in Tyler, Smith County, Texas. She married Andrew’s uncle-in-law (his wife, Katie’s, uncle), Drury Thomas Simmons.
  • William Theodore Thompson–born 01 May 1858 in Alabama; died 03 April 1937 in Dallas, Dallas County, Texas
  • Frances Irene Thompson–born 19 January 1861 in Cass County, Texas; died 27 January 1939 in Harrison County, Texas
  • Oscar Thompson–born about 1870 in Cass County, Texas; died unknown

 

He spent the first seven years of his life in Alabama, and by the time the 1860 Census was taken, the family had moved to Cass County, Texas. This is where he would live out the rest of his life.

Unfortunately, he lost his father before he reached the age of 20…his dad had passed away by 1873. With this loss, he became the man of the house–that is until he married Matilda Catherine Marett on 05 November 1874 in Cass County, Texas. She was the daughter of William Martin Marett and Mary Jane Simmons.

Even though he was no longer living at home, he was still dedicated to taking care of his mother. This is evident in the Cass County, Texas Tax Rolls, where he was acting as a
n agent for his mother. In the first tax rolls that he appears, he is listed simply as an agent for his mother, Mrs. M. Thompson. However, as the years go by, he is not only listed as an agent for his mother, but he is listed on the tax rolls in his own right, indicating that he finally had property of his own.

record-image_939F-4V94-LD (1)

1871 Cass County, Texas Tax Roll via http://www.familysearch.org

It is known from the tax rolls, that Andrew’s parents received their land from a man named C. Cunningham, and another by the name of Thomas Dowdy. They had a total of 460 acres with a value of $720. Andrew’s mother apparently gave him part of the land, because in the 1881 Cass County, Texas Tax Rolls, her acreage has been cut in about half, and Andrew appears to have the other

record-image_939F-4V94-LD

1881 Cass County, Texas Tax Roll via http://www.familysearch.org

half of the property.

 

These tax rolls also show Andrew’s brother, Archie Gary (he’s listed as “A.G. Thompson.”). All three of these Thompson’s are listed on the tax rolls together, which indicates that they went in to pay their taxes at the same time.

Andrew and his wife, Catherine “Katie”, went on to have several children…7 to be exact. Their children were:

 

  • Mary Louella Thompson–born 1875; died 1910
  • Virgie Lee Thompson–born 1877; died 1878 (she is buried at Old Bear Creek Cemetery in Linden, Cass County, Texas)
  • Ila Bessie Thompson–born 14 March 1878; died 22 December 1941 (she is buried at Bear Creek Cemetery in Linden, Cass County, Texas)
  • Eva Pearl Thompson–born 1880; died 1895
  • Crayton Theodore Thompson–born 28 June 1883; died 17 July 1939 in Hughes Springs, Texas (buried at Mims Chapel Cemetery—Pepaw’s Grandfather)
  • Ernest Bluford Thompson–born 1885; died 05 May 1942 in Marshall, Harrison County, Texas
  • Horace Marett Thompson–born 15 November 1892; died 12 April 1961 in Atlanta, Cass County, Texas

 

Five years after their last child was born, Andrew lost his beloved wife, Katie. She is buried at the same cemetery as their daughter, Virgie Lee–at Old Bear Creek Cemetery in Linden, Cass County, Texas. A year after her death, Andrew found love again, and married Martha Jane Reeder in 1898. This marriage, however, did not last long, as Andrew died two years later on 26 March 1900. He too, is buried at Old Bear Creek Cemetery in Linden.

 

The following are a few pictures of Andrew and his family:

Andrew Bluford Thompson

Andrew Bluford Thompson and wife, Matilda Catherine “Katie” Marett.

Drury Thomas Simmons and Leanna Rebecca Thompson

Andrew’s sister, Leanna Rebecca Thompson, and his uncle-in-law/brother-in-law, Drury Thomas Simmons. Photo credit: Thomas Davis, ancestry.com user

Crayton T Thompson, RC-Laverne_Mary Ottis

Andrew and Katie’s son, Crayton Theodore Thompson, holding his grandchildren.

Ila Bessie Thompson

Andrew and Katie’s daughter, Ila Bessie Thompson (second from right). Photo credit: Terisa_mott, ancestry.com user

 

Nellie Temple Williams–Nanny Ford

I’ve only ever known her as Nanny Ford, but wanted to know more about her. However, I was not expecting that searching her family would lead to more questions than answers. So, this post will mainly be a “here’s what I’ve found and how I found it” post. If any family members are reading this and know more information, PLEASE, PLEASE let me know!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

I started my search by digging through some things that my grandmother has (family Bible, pictures, etc.). The family Bible gave me Nanny Ford’s given name, birthdate, and birthplace. She was born Nellie Temple Williams on 11 August 1889 in Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas. She married Walter Ford in 1905. Honestly, I wasn’t too excited to learn that her maiden name was Williams, just because it is one of the most popular surnames in the world, which makes searching for those ancestors a bit more painstaking. But, I digress…

With this information, I hit the ground running.

I entered the information on http://www.ancestry.com, and found an Arkansas Births and Christenings database. This confirmed her birthdate and place, but it also gave me the names of her parents. Her father was listed as D. Williams and her mother was listed as Mattie Matlou. This record led me to a marriage record between an I.D. Williams and Mattie M. Matlock. These two were married 16 December 1886 (they applied for a marriage license 14 December 1886) in Logan County, Arkansas, which is not too far from Sebastian County (where Nellie was born). So, not sure if these were the parents of Nellie or not, I decided to follow their trail…just in case. With genealogy, you really can’t leave any stone unturned…

After searching for what seemed forever on these two (and by search, I mean, I searched not only their lives, but their parents and siblings), I finally had enough proof that these two were in fact, the parents of Nellie (but I’ll save that info for another post).

So, Nellie’s father was Isaac Demetrius Williams, and her mother was Mary M. Matlock (nicknamed Mattie). Once I determined this, I found Nellie in the 1900 Census for Rosalie, Red River County, Texas living with her grandfather, James Riley Williams, and step-grandmother, Margret. Finding this, I thought that maybe her parents had died, however, she reappears in the 1910 Census for Sebastian County, Arkansas with her dad, D. Williams, and her daughter, Willie Ford (which, by the way, Nellie was listed as widowed in this record, however, she most certainly was not…her husband was back in Marshall living with his parents, but was listed as married, however, no wife was with him. So…something happened there too…but what???).

Knowing that her dad had not died, I wondered if maybe her mother had been sick at the time the 1900 Census was taken, and that was why she was living with her grandfather–to prevent her from getting sick. However, I later learned that her mother had not died, but rather, had remarried. So, something must have happened between her parents. Due to the fact that her dad never remarried, I believe that her mother must have left them, but this is purely a speculation.

What threw me for a loop, was when I found an obituary for an Ethel Grace Williams Barnett. Her obituary said she was survived by a sister, “Mrs. Walter Ford of Marshall, Harrison County, Texas.” This means that Nellie had a sister, which meant I had another search on my hands. What I found from  searching for Ethel, was that their mother, Mary Matlock, had remarried to an F A Graham. I found them in census records, and sure enough, I found Ethel with her mom and step-father.

***As an interesting little side note, Nellie’s sister, Ethel, first married a William Robert FENNELL. Nellie and Ethel’s uncle, Riley Constantine Williams, married an Alice FENNELL. Both Fennell’s were from Logan County, Arkansas. This made the connection to Nellie and Ethel, and the connection to the Williams’ and Fennell’s more impressive.*** 

So, it would seem that their dad got to take one daughter (Nellie, and maybe they left the choice up to her), and mom got to take the other daughter (Ethel, she would have still been a baby at the time of their separation…which makes sense why she went with mom).

 

Now, the questions I have for any family members who happen to be reading this are:

 

 

  • What happened between Nanny and Pawpaw Ford that caused them to separate when Nanny Ainsworth was only 2-years-old?
  • What happened between Nanny Ford’s parents? Does anyone know….or have any hint as to what might have happened???
  • Did anyone know about Nanny Ford’s sister, Ethel? If so, do y’all know more about her?
  • Does anyone have any more information about Isaac Demetrius Williams (he might have even gone by “Dixie Williams”) or Mary “Mattie
    Walter and Nellie Ford

    Walter Ford and Nellie Temple Williams. Married 1905. Photo from their granddaughter.

    ” Matlock–Nanny Ford’s parents?

  • Does anyone have any information period that they would be willing to share?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

 

“Arkansas Births and Christenings, 1812-1965,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FQKR-7JV : accessed 23 November 2015), Nellie Williams, 11 Aug 1889; citing reference p-17; FHL microfilm 1,034,198.

In Search of Freedom

We all know the story of the first American settlers, and how they came to America in search of religious freedom. However, I think that it would be safe to say that we don’t know very much, if anything at all, about the same troubles that others were facing throughout the rest of Europe.

Through my family history research, I have learned of one remarkable story. This is the story of my 10th great-grandfather, Melchior Bröennimann (the Americanized version of this name is “Brenneman”).

Melchior was born about 1631 in Canton Bern, Switzerland. According to tradition, his family had been in the area for quite some time, so, everything he knew was here

Painting of Canton Bern, Switzerland by Joseph Anton Koch

Painting of Canton Bern, Switzerland by Joseph Anton Koch

in this town.

Melchior was part of a group referred to as Anabaptists. They believed that infant baptism was wrong, and that baptism should only occur when a person is old enough to understand the importance of it…the washing away of sin. To them, it was not a decision that should be made for anyone by another person. They were also opposed to the idea of a state church.

Due to these beliefs, Melchior, along with his family and friends, were being greatly persecuted. According to A History of the Descendants of Abraham Brenneman,

many of the Anabaptists were

executed by drowning, burning, or beheading…the mildest sentence was exile and confiscation of property.

In the year 1659, Melchior was imprisoned in the castle of Thun for his adherence to his faith.

Thun Castle Picture: By Andrew Bossi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Thun Castle
Picture: By Andrew Bossi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Now, not much else is known about Melchior between his imprisonment and the year 1671. We do know that his land was confiscated and that he was apparently released from prison, because by 1665, he has another son whom he names, Melchior. By 1671, however, when his young son was just six-years-old, the elder Melchior was put into exile. He was told that he and his family were to leave Switzerland, and should they ever return, they would be met with death.

So, Melchior (now known as Melchior the Exile) took his young family, left Switzerland, and headed for Greisheim, which was in the German Palatinate. It is believed that Melchior the Exile lived out the rest of his days in Greisheim. However, his sons, Melchior (his descendants refer to him as Melchior the Pioneer), and Christian, remembered that a man by the name of William Penn had come to Greisheim when they were just young boys. They recalled him telling of a land in America where there was no religious persecution, and that they could live, and worship, in peace. Remembering his visit, the two boys left Greisheim and their family, and headed for a land called Pennsylvania. It was here that they settled in Lancaster County.

Melchior brought with him a Bible that is on display at the Allen County Museum in

Melchior the Pioneer's Bible

Melchior the Pioneer’s Bible

Lima, Ohio. The website, http://www.metroevents.com/famtree/brenneman, has this to say about the 455+ year-old Bible:

It was printed in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1553 in German for Andrew Gessner. The leather bound book has an oak back, brass corners and two closing straps. It is in good condition, although one page is missing. According to the inscription on the title page, he brought it with him to America. A translation of the German Script on the left side:

“This book belongs to Henrich Hanss. I bought it for 7R. in the year 1705. This book belongs to Melichior Brenneman and I bought it for 7 Gulden in the year 1715. My son, Melchior Brenneman was born in 1719, as man counts 3 weeks after Christmas, in the sign of the Ram.”

Melchior the Pioneer kept his old trade of weaver, but also took up farming and became a Mennonite minister.

Melchior has several children, one of whom was Melchior, Jr. This is the son that I descend from.

Had it not been for the courage of Melchior the Exile, to take a stand for his beliefs, and the adventurous spirit of Melchior the Pioneer, to leave everything and everyone he knew in search of a new, free land, we might not be enjoying the freedoms that we now have.

**As a side note to any family members reading this…***

The relation to Melchior Bröennimann is on my dad’s side. Granny’s great-grandmother (on her mom’s side) was a Proctor. Melchior the Pioneer’s great-granddaughter, Magdalena Brenneman, married into the Proctor family.

Sources:

  1. Picture of Canton Bern: “Joseph Anton Koch 003” by Joseph Anton Koch – 1. The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.2. Schweizerisches Institut für Kunstwissenschaft, SIK-ISEA inventory number 26875. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Joseph_Anton_Koch_003.jpg#/media/File:Joseph_Anton_Koch_003.jpg
  2. Swiss Reformation picture: http://metroevents.com/famtree/pictures/reformation_image.JPG
  3. Thun Castle Picture:https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3A4144_-_Thun_-_Schloss_Thun.JPG

    By Andrew Bossi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

  4. Melchior the Pioneer Bible Picture: http://www.metroevents.com/famtree/brenneman/D1.htm#i1254

A Story of Patriotism

In the many years of my researching family history, I have found that some people only partake in genealogy in the hopes of finding a link to famous historical figures or royalty. While some people are able to find those connections, the truth is, most of our ancestors were just ordinary people like you and me. They had a family that they had to take care of, they went to work every day, and they had their struggles.

However, in the midst of searching for these ordinary ancestors, sometimes you stumble upon one with an incredible story. A story filled with struggle, war, courage, and patriotism. I have been fortunate enough to find one such person. Let me introduce you to Benjamin Eddins…

Benjamin Eddins was born about 1733 in Virginia to a Theophilus Eddins (I have not been able to verify who his mother was, at this time). He married Judith Norris, and they had eleven children. **Benjamin was my 6x-great-grandfather. My Pepaw’s grandmother, Mattie Beulah Eddins Rowe, was Benjamin’s great-great-granddaughter.**

During the onset of the American Revolution, Benjamin and his family were living in Ninety-Six District, South Carolina. By 1780, Ninety-Six District came under the command of Great Britain. Several citizens stood against the British here, but at a cost. One of these citizens was Benjamin. Due to his patriotism, he was captured, and taken, as a prisoner of war, to the British station, which, at that time, was under the command of Loyalist Commander, Colonel John Harris Cruger.

Not long after his capture, the Tories (Loyalists) went to his home. The following is an excerpt from the book, The Annals of Newberry: In Two Parts by John Belton O’Neall and John Abney Chapman, that mentions what occurred during this event:

“The Tories plundered his house, forced his wife to deliver up all his money and every valuable article, inflicted upon her person a serious wound, the mark of which she bore to her grave, and finally fired upon the dwelling and out-houses.1

News of this incident soon reached Benjamin in his prison cell. According to hunstvillehistorycollection.org, Benjamin “received the information with the philosophy and calm resignation of a Christian and a patriot. The fruits of his labor and industry, during a well spent life, were gone; but they had been sacrificed by his unflinching devotion to his country, and this was consolation enough for a spirit like his.2

A while after Benjamin’s imprisonment, the British wanted to employ him because he was well acquainted with the area, and they believed it would serve them well to have his knowledge of the District. So, the Commander of the station where he was imprisoned, Colonel Cruger, went to him and “offered him his liberty, liberal wages, a commission in the British army, and indemnity for his property which had been plundered and destroyed.1 It was Cruger’s hope that this offer would entice Benjamin to offer his services to them. However, Benjamin refused, and was threatened with punishment. Thankfully, a fellow prisoner, remembered exactly what happened, and what was said. His account was recorded in Revolutionary Incidents, No. 14, an article in The Greenville Mountaineer3. If it were not for this prisoner’s account, we would not know what Benjamin said in response to Cruger’s threats of punishment. It is in his response that we see just how patriotic Benjamin was. Here is how he responded to Cruger:

“I am, sir, your prisoner, and consequently completely in your power. You may, if you see proper, inflict any cruelty your imagination can invent. If it suits your love of torture, you may hitch a horse to each of my limbs, and tear my body into four pieces, or you can (bearing his naked bosom to the Colonel) cut out my heart and drain it of its last drop of blood; but sir, my services belong to my country, and you can never command them!3

Benjamin’s fellow prisoner recalled that after his speech, Colonel Cruger responded thusly:

“You infatuated rebel! You possess too bold a spirit and too honest a heart to linger out your days in prison. You are at liberty to go where you please, and dispose of your services as you may see proper.3

True to his word, Colonel Cruger released him, and soon after, Benjamin joined the American army under General Pickens3.

Sometime after the war, he moved to Alabama, where he lived to reach an old age, and it is there that he died. He is buried 25 miles north of Huntsville, Alabama4.

Benjamin may have just been an ordinary man with no familial connection to a famous historical figure or royalty, but he most certainly had one incredible story. I am forever grateful for the sacrifice he, and countless others, made for this country.

A record indicating Benjamin's place of burial.  "Alabama, Marriages, Deaths, Wills, Court, and Other Records, 1784-1920." http://www.ancestry.com. Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. Web. 6 Aug. 2015.

A record indicating Benjamin’s place of burial.
“Alabama, Marriages, Deaths, Wills, Court, and Other Records, 1784-1920.” http://www.ancestry.com. Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. Web. 6 Aug. 2015.

Sources:

  1. O’Neall, John Belton, and John Abney Chapman. The Annals of Newberry: In Two Parts. Newberry: Aull & Houseal, 1892. 247-251. Print. Found online at Google Books
  2. “Person:Benjamin Eddins (b1735).” – HHC. Huntsville History Collection, 2012. Web. 6 Aug. 2015. http://huntsvillehistorycollection.org/hh/index.php?title=Person:Benjamin_Eddins_(b1735)
  3.  Owen, Thomas McAdory. Revolutionary Soldiers in Alabama: Being a List of Names, Compiled from Authentic Sources, of Soldiers of the American Revolution, Who Resided in the State of Alabama. Montgomery,AL: Brown Printing, 1911. 31-33. Print.
  4.  “Alabama, Marriages, Deaths, Wills, Court, and Other Records, 1784-1920.” http://www.ancestry.com. Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. Web. 6 Aug. 2015.