Archive for the ‘Historical Issues’ Category

The 2017 FlowerFest, Part Two

January 15, 2018

We finished up Part One at Bonaventure and Laurel Grove and ran out of time.

So, two days before Christmas, we head to Robertville for Part Two.

This was at the Robertville Baptist Church, which was formerly known as Blackswamp Baptist Church.


The above photo is of the marker for George and Phoebe Mosse that Sugar had installed earlier in 2017.


I noticed several markers that were in the next plot on the west side of the Lawton plot.




First son of

Dr. J.S. & Mrs S.C



May 16th 1844

Aged 3 months

& 28 days.




Second son of

Dr. J.S. & Mrs S.C.



June 10th 1847

Aged 1 month

& 10 days.




Memory of


who died

25th Sept. 1837

Aged 65 yrs. 6 mos. 7ds.

For many years she lived

a useful member of the

Baptist Church,

And died in strong hope

of a blessed immortality.

“Blessed are the dead who

die in the Lord, they rest

from their labors, and

their works do follow



We think the last name is ROBERT.


Finished here, and we headed to the Robert Cemetery.


The poinsettia is placed across the cemetery between John Robert and his wife Elizabeth Dixon Robert.


Chipmunks? Squirrels? leave signs that they were here.


This panorama shot is another skill that I am working on. This is the entire Robert Cemetery.

Annnd we’re done. See you next year!


The Chancery Court Record of Thomas G. Carlton

December 9, 2017

I know very little about my 2xgreat-grandparents, Isaac and Mary Harriett Margaret Foster Rawls. I’ve found the census records, and one court reference that someone else put online. The court reference image was blurry, and when I asked the person that posted it where I could find it in real life, she wasn’t sure. She got it from someone else.


It is such a frustrating search. My header photo is of a family reunion of Isaac’s brother, Washington Lafayette Rawls and his wife Martha Trent Rawls, circa 1895ish. That’s as close as I can get to knowing what these people look like.

We know that Isaac was born in Virginia, except where the record states that he was born in North Carolina. Virginia seems to be the common state of birth for these Rawls people, but that’s a big state. Which county could it be? I know very little about Virginia.

Yesterday, I finally clicked on a link on ancestryDOTcom for Thomas G. Carlton’s chancery court records even though I know it’s not about my people. And I was right. It’s not. But then I read the name Washington L. Rawles and his wife Martha Trent. Martha’s mother was Susan Trent, which I didn’t know, and her maiden name was Carlton. She was the half-sister of Thomas G. Carlton, the subject of the court record. It seems that he died intestate without issue. He had lots of brothers and sisters, both half- and whole-siblings. This was the first time I had ever seen siblings referred to as “half-blood” and “whole-blood”. Apparently Thomas G.’s sibs populated the earth in his stead.

So that was good, to find this reference to someone I knew, plus it gave me a county that I can use for a base search. I read a little further, and there’s someone else I know, and she is mine.

It’s Elizabeth Rowe Owens and her husband Henry Lycurtas Wilkins. She is the daughter of Nancy Owens, formerly Nancy Carlton, a sister of the “half blood”. I didn’t know that Elizabeth’s mother was Nancy, only that Elizabeth’s father was Josiah Owens.

Here’s where it gets even more complicated, as if that were possible. Martha Trent Rawls’s mother was Susan, and Elizabeth Rowe Owens Rawls’s mother was Nancy, so Susan and Nancy were sisters. Martha’s brother-in-law Isaac Rawls’s son John Theophilus Rawls married Eulalia Spence Wilkins, the daughter of Henry Lycurtas Wilkins and Elizabeth Rowe Owens. So I’m in on the Carlton action, too, not just on the fringes.

My transcription of the 3 most pertinent pages of the record are as follows:

To the Worshipful Justices of the County Court of King and Queen County in Chancery sitting

Humbly complaining show unto Your worships Your Orators and Oratrices Nathaniel M. Lovelace and Ann Eliza his wife who was Ann E. Carlton, Washington L. Rawles and Martha E. his wife who was Martha E. Trent and William G Trent children of Susan Trent decd formerly Carlton, James W. Cruise and Mary I his wife who was Mary I. McKenzie, John McKenzie, William McKenzie, Charles McKenzie, Elizabeth McKenzie and Virginia McKenzie, children of Catharine McKenzie decd formerly Carlton, Robert D. Bowden and Mary Ann his wife who was Mary Ann Owens, D. J. Bowden and Eliza F his wife who was Eliza F. Owens, Henry L. Wilkins and Elizabeth his wife who was Elizabeth  Owens, Philip W. Frazier and Sarah Ann his wife who was Sarah Ann Owens, Sen. P. Owens, Thomas C. Owens, Edward D. Owens, George R. Owens, and Charles H Owens children of Nancy Owens decd formerly Carlton, and Robert R. Hart the only child of Polly Hart decd formerly Carlton, that Thomas G. Carlton late of the County of King and Queen departed this life sometime in the latter part of the year 1865 intestate and without issue leaving Your Oratrix the said Ann Eliza Lovelace his only surviving sister of the half blood, the said Martha E. Rawles and William G Trent the only children of Susan Trent decd formerly Carlton who was another sister of the half blood; Mary I. Cruise, John McKenzie, William McKenzie, Charles McKenzie, Elizabeth McKenzie and Virginia McKenzie children of Catharine McKenzie decd formerly Carlton who was another sister of the half blood, the said Mary Ann Bowden, Eliza F. Bowden, Elizabeth Wilkins, Sarah Ann Frazier, Sim P Owens, Thomas C Owens, Edward D. Owens, George R. Owens, and Charles H. Owens, children of Nancy Owens decd formerly Carlton who was another sister of the half blood, the said Robert R. Hart the only child of Polly Hart decd

(Page 2)

formerly Carlton, who was another sister of the half blood; and Garrett Carlton and Levi Carlton only children of John Carlton decd a brother of the whole blood, James Gibson the only surviving child of Nancy Gibson decd who was Nancy Carlton the only child of Garrett Carlton decd another brother of the whole blood and Mary W. Estes now the wife of James Estes who before her intermarriage was Mary W. Yarrington, Richard H. T. Yarrington, James P. Yarrington and Lucy L Yarrington the surviving children of Agnes Yarrington decd and John S. Yarrington the only child of Edgar Yarrington decd who was another child of the said Agnes Yarrington decd which said Agnes was the only child of Richard Carlton decd another brother of the whole blood, his only heirs at law. Your Complainants further shew that the said Thomas G. Carlton decd at the time of his death was seized of a small tract of Land lying in the County of King and Queen containing about 145 acres worth about $400 per acre and a small perishable Estate which sold for less than $500.00 and bonds amounting to about $100 that shortly after the death of the said Thomas G. Carlton the said Garrett Carlton qualified as his admr in the County Court of King and Queen and by virtue of the authority vested in him by law reduced into his possession all the perishable estate and choses in action belonging to the said decd and shortly thereafter sold off the perishable estate as required by law and rented out the land for the year 1866 and has again rented out the land for the present year 1867. Your complainants further show that the said Thomas G. Carlton owed little or nothing at the time of his death and that there is no necessity for the admr longer to hold in his hands the assets belonging to his intestate estate, the amount for which the perishable estate sold has been decd now nearly 12 months and all the expenses of the admin has long since been paid

(Page 3)

off. Your Complainants further show that there is no necessity that the Land should be rented out for another year and if continued to be rented out then interest now worth but little in a few years would be worth less – Your Complainants further show that it is evident from the number of parties entitled and the size of the tract, to make partition of it would be ruinous and it also being apparent that the share of each one interested would be less than $300. they have requested the said Garrett Carlton and Leve Carlton and James Gibson and James Estes and Mary W. his wife who was Mary W. Yarrington, Richard H I Yarrington, James P. Yarrington, Lucy L. Yarrington and John L Yarrington that they give their consent that the Land should be sold and partition made of the proceeds among the parties according to their respective rights, but they have refused saying that no consent that they could give would be of any avail because the rights of infants are involved. Your Complainants further state that they have applied to Garrett Carlton the admer to settle his account and make distribution of the balance in his hands and this too he refuses to do; stating that the rights of the parties have not been so defined as to enable him to make the proper distribution all of which actings and doings are contrary to equity and good conscience. Intended consideration whereof and in as much as your Complainants are without remedy save in a Court of Equity where such matters are properly regnizable and relievable. In the end therefore that right and justice may take place your Complainants pray that the said Garrett Carlton and Levi Carlton the only children of John Carlton decd, James Gibson the only surviving child of Nancy Gibson decd who was Nancy Carlton decd the only child of Garrett Carlton decd, James Estes and Mary  W. his wife who was Mary W. Yarrington, Richard H. I. Yarrington, James P. Yarrington and Lucy L Yarrington, surviving children of.

Here’s the link to the complete file at the Library of Virginia.

The people who initiated the case are Nathaniel M. Lovelace and his wife Ann Eliza Carlton Lovelace, yet another sister of Thomas G. Carlton. Nathaniel and Ann are living in Weakley County, Tennessee, in 1850, and in addition to their children are Martha Trent and William Trent. And their neighbors?

Washington Lafayette Rawls and his parents and siblings.

This doesn’t mean that the Rawls people came from King and Queen County, Virginia, but right this minute, that looks like a good starting place.



Back to the Newspapers: Runaway Slave Ads

November 7, 2017

While looking for references to George Mosse in the early Savannah newspapers, many advertisements for runaway slaves can be found. The ironic part of these ads is that they are helpful in identifying people who wouldn’t have been identified. These ads list the slave name, physical description, and contact person, in addition to the amount of the reward. The higher the reward, the more valuable the person.

From the Savannah Republican, December 24, 1808:

75 Dollars Reward.

Absented themselvessome months ago, the following NEGROES—

Sampson, 5 feet 9 or 10 inches high; well made, though rather slender; has an impediment in his speech; about 28 years of age.

Caesar, about 5 feet 6 inches high; between 35 and 40 years old.

Tom, about 5 feet 6 or 7 inches high; about 30years of age.

Adam, about 5 feet 4 or 5 inches high; extremely slender; 17 years of age.

Beaufort, 5 feet 3 or 4 inches high; muscular form; face very ugly , and countenance surly; about 18 years of age.

The above reward will be paid to any person who will seize said negroes and lodge them in any gaol in the state of Georgia, or deliver them to Mr. Kesterson, on Kilkenny-Neck, adjoining Mr. John Morel’s, or to the subscriber, on Skidaway island.

R.B. Wylly

N. B. If taken separately, the reward will be given in the following proportions–For Sampson, 25 dollars; for Tom, 2 dollars; for Beaufort, 10 dollars; for Adam, 10 dollars; and for Caesar, 5 dollars.

October 18—124

Then this one…

125 Dollars Reward.

Seventy-five Dollars will be paid to any person delivering to the subscriber, or lodging in Savannah gaol, a NEGRO WOMAN, named BELLA, who has been absent near three years, during which time she has been lurking about the plantations on Ogechee, and in the neighborhood of Thunderbolt; but latterly, it is said she has been harbored about or near Mr. Polock’s brick-yard, and that she has a ticket. —

She is about five feet four inches high; full face; strait and well made; has lost one or two of her fore teeth; hollow foot, high instep; her complexion rather yellow. She formerly belonged to Mr. Charles Harden, deceased, and may probably say she belongs to col. Edward Harden, who has a woman of the same name. A reward of Fifty Dollars will be paid for convicting a white person of harboring her.

Philip Ihly.

If Bella returns of her own accord, she will be forgiven.

October 18.–24.


Twenty Dollars Reward.

Ranaway from the subscriber, on Saturday evening last, his mulatto girl, POLLY, late the property of Mr. John Waters, of this city. As she is well known in Savannah, a particular description of her person is unnecessary. All persons are forbid harboring her, as they may depend on being dealt with according to law.–

A reward of Twenty Dollars will be paid to any person that will give information of her being harbored by a white person, and Ten Dollars if by a negro.

Levi Sheftall.

October 23 –127.

And at the end of the column (keep in mind that this is just ONE column in ONE newspaper in ONE day in ONE city)…

10 Dollars Reward

Will be paid to any person who will apprehend and secure in Savannah goal, my fellow BEN. He has been runaway since April last, and is supposed to be with Mr. Richard B. Wylly’s negroes, which are advertised in this paper.

G. W. Allen.

December 1–143


10 Dollars Reward.

Ran away this morning, my Negro Fellow ISAAC, who is well known in this city. If brought home to me, I will give the above reward; and if he should be apprehended in S. Carolina, and lodged in any gaol of that state, or brought to me, I will pay a reward of 30 dollars and all expences.

Thomas U. P. Charlton.

December 3 –144

What is most astounding to me is that, even as dangerous as running away must have been, there were so many people who risked the dangers for freedom, men and women alike.

Rest well, travelers. We can learn from your bravery.

The Minor Children of Deaderick Collins 

October 31, 2017

I’ve been reading old newspapers online:, Chronicling America at the Library of Congress website, and most recently GenealogyBank.

Of course, there are still lots of newspapers that aren’t available online, and you have to go Old School with reels of microfilm and a microfilm reader.

This latest obsession started when my new DNA cousin Nick found that my 2x great-grandfather Deaderick Collins was killed when the train, on which he was a fireman, derailed. I found a newspaper account on microfilm.

Then I found online several more accounts of the same event, and then I found other accounts where 2 of Deaderick’s brothers, Hiram and Landon, were also killed in train accidents, and his cousin Richard, who was an engineer, was killed when the train’s boiler exploded. The more sensational the story, the more likely to be published. I had only heard of Deaderick and Landon Collins before I learned about the others by reading the newspapers.

It has been quite amazing to find these forgotten people.


There’s a good bit of unexplainable detail surrounding Deaderick’s wife, the former Ruth Gamble. I can’t explain why she had 4 children after Deaderick died in 1871, for a total of 7 children: Henrietta, Maude, Charles, William, Birdie, Ivy, and Joe. She sued the railroad and had been awarded $6000 in a court case that went all the way to the Tennessee Supreme Court. A little bit of money can certainly make one more attractive.

Just how attractive? I asked the Internet to convert $6000 in 1874 to modern dollars. Here’s a screenshot.

That’s pretty darn attractive.

I wondered, though, what was Ruth’s mental state after her husband was crushed to death by a train car? She had 3 little children, the youngest under a year. How was she supposed to support a family? I would be numb. I was numb when my then-husband left in 2002. There was a new house payment, a car payment, a child in private college, and a child in high school. And attorney’s fees. I remember thinking, “What will become of us?” And I thought if he hadn’t left, if he had died, at least I could hide the truth of what a scoundrel he was.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the facts of the two cases are the same, but the despair had to be similar.

Ruth was ill in 1913. I knew this from some old letters. I asked Chronicling America who supported this family story.

She died not long after the last newspaper account, but I can’t find an obituary.


I suddenly realized that I hadn’t checked GenealogyBank for news about Ruth and Deaderick. I had been using the free 7 day trial subscription for about 24 hours when this revelation hit me. Surely there would be confirmation of the train wreck or Ruth’s death.
There was nothing on Ruth, but Deaderick?

From the Knoxville Press and Messenger, February 3, 1875:


Qurum Court proceedings — Justice Jno. L Moses in the Chair:

M. D. Swan was appointed guardian of Henrietta, Isabella, Maud, Mag and Charles Deaderick Collins, minor children of Deaderick A. Collins. 

Y’all? Who are Isabella and Mag?

More Newspapers: GenealogyBank

October 28, 2017

I’m reading and Chronicling America, if by “reading” you understand that I am lying down poking at the iPhone.

I realize that there are still a lot of papers and time frames that aren’t online. But I’m confused. I’ve seen other folks post things from the Charleston newspaper on a Charleston history FB group. Why can’t I find the same things! It hit me. There must be another online database where I can throw some money.

Let’s ask our friend, Ms. Google. She knows everything.


Friendly reader and historian Lynda  provided the first search terms for John Stoney who died on Hilton Head Island in 1821. His obit is on genealogybank in the Charleston Courier. Plus 5k more search returns.

Let’s try Agnes Mann. I have an obit for her already from the Beaufort paper from 1906.

From the State newspaper in Columbia, SC, July 17, 1906:



Native of Germany Dies at Her Beaufort Home.

Special to The State.

Beaufort, July 16 — Mrs. Agnes Mann died on Saturday in her 78th year after an illness of three months.

The funeral services were held at St. Helena church on Sunday afternoon and were conducted by Rev. J. W. Campbell. The pallbearers were Messrs W. F. Mancher, W. R. Bristol, H. M. Stuart, Jr., W. J. Thomas, R. R. Legare and J. M. Lengnick.

Mrs. Mann, whose maiden name was Agnes Reese, was born in 1828 at Meintz, a German town situated on the banks of the Rhine. There she married Daniel Mann and with him came to Beaufort in 1848. Here she has lived ever since, taking an active part in charitable and church work. For 56 years she has been a member of St. Helena church. Until recently she took part in the beneficent work of the Ladies’ Charitable Aid society. Her cheerful, sweet, benignant personality and influence will be missed by a wide circle of friends.

Mrs. Mann is survived by two daughters, Mrs. L. C. Scheper and Miss Emily Mann, and by one son, Mr. Daniel Mann, and by 23 grandchildren and six great grandchildren. Mr. Daniel Mann, her husband, was a Confederate soldier and fought through the war in the B. V. A. He died March 17, 1872.

I knew that she was from Eltville, Germany, from the records at the Laurel Grove Cemetery. Now I have another place to search in Meintz where she married her husband Daniel.

I might have to call out of work.

An 1886 Map of Knoxville

October 19, 2017

Yesterday I shared a map of 1871 Knoxville from the Library of Congress website. It’s a beauty. 

Let’s say that you clicked on the link, then poked around the website, and saw that there is also an 1886 Map of Knoxville from a similar bird’s eye view. The growth in Knoxville exploded in 15 years. 

The 1886 Map is on the wall over a doorway at the East Tennessee Historical Society. I was especially interested in that one because it showed the Knoxville Woolen Mills on the map legend, and some of my people worked at that mill. I could never find the actual location because it’s an enormous map mounted high on the wall, and my neck was hurting from looking up, basically in the classic looking-at-the-eclipse posture. 

Let’s suppose you haven’t seen the 1886 and really, REALLY want to, and you don’t want your neck to hurt. Through the magic of time, space, and the internet, here it is. 

Chicago citation style: Wellge, H, Beck & Pauli, and Wellge & Co Norris. Knoxville, Tenn. county seat of Knox County 1886. [Milwaukee, Norris, Wellge & Co, 1886] Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed October 18, 2017.)

And now I know where the woolen mills are in relation to Depot Street. 

For fun, here’s the 1871 Map of Knoxville that I posted yesterday with the general location of my great-great-grandparents house on Depot Street. 

Thanks, Internet!

An 1871 Map of Knoxville 

October 18, 2017

Recently I learned that my 2xgreat-grandfather, Deaderick A. Collins, was living on Depot Street in Knoxville, Tennessee, when he was killed in a train wreck near Sweetwater. 

And I thought, now wouldn’t that just be the best thing ever if I could find a map of 1871 Knoxville?

So I asked the big internet, and she delivered. 

From the Library of Congress, a map of 1871 Knoxville, looking northwest…

Chicago citation style: Ruger, A, and Merchant’S Lithographing Company. Bird’s eye view of the city of Knoxville, Knox County, Tennessee 1871. [Chicago, Merchants Lith Co, 1871] Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed October 18, 2017.)

I added the magnifier tool to highlight where Depot Street was. It must have been hot and noisy and dirty living on Depot Street where the trains came and went. 

If you would like to look at this excellent map on the Library of Congress site, just ask the internet. 

Reading the Newspaper: Another Distraction

October 15, 2017

I’ve been reading the newspaper lately.

Mostly I get my news from social media. Sugar used to make fun of that, for how could social media accurately reflect the news? This was, of course, before he joined FaceBook and learned to hone his friendships. If I see that your news is mostly recipes and happy families stories about how wonderful your life is, I’m probably going to hide your stories on the newsfeed. We can still be friends, but I don’t want to see your domestic tranquility when basically there is very little cooking, baking, or DIY hacks going on in your life that I can apply to mine.

So my newsfeed reflects stories from people that seem to think like I do.

Recently when I was at the East Tennessee Historical Society, I found my 2xgreat grandfather’s death, one Deaderick or D.A. Collins, confirmed by newspaper microfilm. I had a date to look for, and I used the microfilm reel that the librarian sorted out for me from the large drawer of many reels. I couldn’t find the account I wanted, which didn’t make sense, because I would think that someone getting crushed to death in a train wreck would be news-worthy. I went back to the microfilm drawer, and I saw that there was another newspaper from the same time period and location, except that it was a daily paper, and the librarian had given me the weekly paper. How could anyone know that the Knoxville Daily Chronicle and the Knoxville Weekly Chronicle wouldn’t have the same stories? At any rate, I found my story.

Later that night in my motel room, I was able to photograph the copy of the article using my iphone and an app called CamScanner. I didn’t have to wait until I got home to scan it on my home scanner, which was lucky because home was having a hurricane.


All this dancing around brings me to the newspapers. Wouldn’t it be easier than traveling 400+ miles to look at microfilm if I just looked at the newspapers online?

I think you know the answer.

I bit the bullet and purchased a subscription for, and I found that their records are not complete. I did find some more articles about the train wreck, and the fact that Deaderick’s body was taken to the cemetery to be interred, although the article didn’t say which cemetery.

My cousin Nick, who found the initial death date for Deaderick by using Google book searches, also found other newspaper articles on chroniclingamerica on the Library of Congress site. Now I have a problem, or perhaps a partial solution.

Two sources of old newspapers that I can look at online? And saves your clippings that can be attached to an ancestry tree, or emailed, or facebooked, or tweeted, or embedded? And chroniclingamerica’s clippings can be saved to your computer, and you can photoshop them?

For instance, Agnes Mann in which she advertises in the Beaufort Tribune on October 27, 1875, for the Beaufort House in Beaufort, SC, as the proprietress:

MannAgnes 10-27-1875 advert in Beaufort Tribune

In the most delightful part of the city

She advertised several times in the Port Royal Standard and Commercial, this next example being from February 3, 1876…

MannAgnes 2-3-1876 advert in Port Royal Standard & Commercial

Having opened and refurbished this old and established house

This is really a time-saver and a time-sucker. and chroniclingamerica? Absolutely.

Tracking Deaderick A. Collins

September 24, 2017

Recently I learned that my 2xgreat-grandfather Deaderick A. Collins was killed in a train accident.


DNA cousin Nick found this on google books.

Then I found a newspaper account of the accident at the East Tennessee Historical Society in Knoxville. The following clipping is from the Knoxville Chronicle.


Yesterday afternoon the down passenger train ran over a cow, a mile east of Sweetwater, which threw the engine and express car from the track, badly wrecking both and causing the death of the fireman, D. A. Collins. The express messenger, J. J. Tibbs, was injured slightly, but beyond these no one else was hurt.

Mr. Collins’ death is universally regretted by his friends. He leaves a wife and three children. His remains were expected to arrive this morning, and will probably be interred this afternoon.


Then when I searched the internet again, I found that the Knoxville Chronicle was online at newspapersDOTcom. Of course. Why wouldn’t a historical newspaper be there. I had used a free trial last year, but found nothing that helped my searches. This was surely the year to find *something*. Anything.

So I signed up for 6 months, thinking that this is surely a big enough window.

I found the initial story that I first published, the one from the Knoxville Chronicle. And then found another from The Sweetwater Enterprise, October 5, 1871, Thursday, Page 3.

I also learned that you can “clip” an article from any paper and save it to your computer in the form of a PDF, which you will find below. I’ll transcribe it for your viewing pleasure.




Train Thrown from the Track.


The Fireman Instantly Killed.


Express Messenger Injured.


A terrible accident occurred to the

westward bound train on the E. T. Va.,

& Ga., Railroad on Monday evening last,

while rounding a curve about a half a

mile East of Sweetwater. The accident

took place about 3:25, and at a point

of the road where the best cattle belong-

ing to Mr. Wm. Cleveland, cross it every

morning and evening.

The train ran over two of the cattle

which upset the engine, tender, baggage

and express car, tearing up the track for

some distance, and wrecking the engine

and cars in a manner beyond description.

Mr. D. A. Collins, the fireman, jumped

from the engine, and before he could get

out of the way, the tender upset, fell up-

on him, mangling him in a most horrible

manner, killing him instantly. The en-

gineer, Mr. Wiley Wright, miraculously

escaped injury. The Express Messenger,

Mr. Tibbs, was slightly injured.

The scene of the disaster was terrible.

The right side of Mr. Collins, from his

hip down, crushed to pieces, his jaw bone

broken and his body bruised almost all

over. His body was taken from under

the debris in about two hours from the

time the accident occurred, was washed,

dressed, placed in a box and brought here

to the depot.

The track was cleared at about 11

o’clock, allowing all the night trains to

pass on time.

The body of the deceased was conveyed

to Knoxville, on the night train where

lives his family, consisting of a wife, three

small children and a sister who were sole-

ly dependent upon him for support.

Now, I’m not a doctor or a coroner, but I *have* watched a few crime shows. (Don’t laugh – y’all have, too.) If he was killed instantly, how did bruises have time to form over his whole body? Doesn’t the bruising mean that he was still alive while trapped under the wreckage?

Then Nick found another account in another paper in Chronicling America. I found this on NewspapersDOTcom and clipped it and downloaded it. This is from a Jonesborough, Tennessee, newspaper called the Herald and Tribune, and the article is from October 5, 1871, Thursday, page 2.


Railroad Accident.

We take the following from the Knox-

ville Press and Herald, of Tuesday last:

Quite a serious accident occured to the

westward bound train on the E. T.,Va.&

Ga. Railroad, which left this city at 1:17

p. m., yesterday, while rounding a curve

about a quarter of a mile east of Sweet-

water, and forty-two miles west of Knox-

ville. The accident took place at 3:25

p. m., and at a point of the Road where

the cows of the village cross it every morn-

ing and evening in going to and returning

from pasturage.

The train ran over a cow and the mis-

hap upset the engine, tender and express

car, instantly killing the fireman, Mr. D.

A. Collins, who was caught under the

tender and crushed to death. His body

was still under the debris at eight o’clock

last night. The engineer, Mr. Wiley

Wright, escaped injury. The Express

Messenger, Mr Tibbs, was slightly hurt.

The engine, tender and express car were

badly smashed up.

Mr. Collins, the fireman, leaves a wife

and three children, who reside in this city,

on Depot street, between Broad and

Crozier streets. He was about thirty-

eight years of age.


So where was the accident: 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile, or 1 mile east of Sweetwater?

Who is Deaderick’s sister who depends on him for sole support?

Was it one cow on the tracks? Or two?

If the accident occurred at 3:25PM, was the body removed about 2 hours later from under the wreckage, putting that about 5:25ish, or was the body still under the wreckage at 8PM like the last story states?

AND WHERE IS THIS MAN BURIED? Somewhere in Knoxville, we trust, but where? The oldest church in Knoxville reports that he is not buried there, but they are using the headstones, which have been surveyed and recorded, as reference, and apparently do not have paper records from 1871.

And was he really 38 years old? Because some records say he would be 30ish.

Really, I’m so glad to know that he is not a mystery person any more, and that he was a real flesh-and-blood man.

Most of all, I’d like to know why there wasn’t a cowcatcher?

The Curious Court Case of Ruth A. Collins vs. East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad Company: The Death of Deaderick Collins

September 16, 2017

I first learned about Ruth Collins in 1999. I had decided to learn more about my genealogy, but all I knew on my maternal side was that my great-grandmother was named Henrietta Collins Webb. I found her as a child on the 1880 Blount County, Tennessee, census. Her mother was Ruth Collins. I was sure I had the right family when I saw that the mother’s name was Ruth. You might think the same if you were named for your grandmother, and she was perhaps named for HER grandmother, so it stood to reason that this must be my family.

Ruth Collins was listed as a widow. My BigBroBob was also researching this family, and he had seen a message on the ancestry message boards from a man named Harry who was searching for his grandmother Ivy’s father Deaderick Collins. But Ivy was born in 1881, so this didn’t seem like the same family even though Ivy’s mother was named Ruth. I suppose that we could have stretched the imagination by reasoning that Ivy was born in early 1881, and that Deaderick had died right before the census was taken. That seemed possible, except that Ivy had a younger brother Joseph born about 1883. Surely this was not the same family.

There’s also an 1870 census for Knoxville Tennessee which showed Henrietta and her little sister Maude living with their parents Ruth and D. A. Collins, and D. A. is a railroad hand. So let’s guess that the 1870 family is definitely mine.

That was it. I never found anything more that D. A. was Deaderick.


Fast forward 18 years, and I’ve taken a DNA test. In April 2017 I matched a man named Nick. He was descended through my Henrietta’s sister Maude, but didn’t have any info on Ruth or Deaderick or their life together.


About 2 weeks ago, I received a message from Nick with a link to a google book search. It was about a case that was reported in a book “Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Tennessee, Volume 56”.  Nick used the search term “Deaderick A. Collins”.

The name of the case was Ruth A. Collins v. East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad Co.

Here’s a screenshot:

And then the suit names Deaderick AND WHERE AND HOW HE DIED.


The defendant appeals in error from a judgment of the Circuit Court of Knox county, upon a verdict of six thousand dollars ($6,000) damages assessed by the jury for killing Deaderick Collins, the husband of the plaintiff. The accident which occasioned the death of said Deaderick Collins, occurred on the 2nd of October, 1871. He was a fireman on the defendant’s train, which, on that day, ran over some cattle, whereby the engine and tender were thrown from the track, and the tender upsetting fell upon said Collins killing him instantly.

The action is brought by the widow, under the Act of 1871, ch. 78, which is in the words following: “Be it enacted, &c., that Section 2291 of the Code of Tennessee, be so amended as to provide that the right of action, which a person, who died from injuries received from another, or whose death is caused b the wrongful act, omission, or killing by another, would have had against the wrongdoer in case death had no ensued, shall not abate or be extinguished by the death; but shall pass to his widow; and, in case there is no widow, to his children or to his personal representative, for the benefit of his widow or next of kin, free from the claims of his creditors.”

This Act took effect and was approved by the Governor on the 14th of December, 1871, two months and twelve days after the death of the said Deaderick Collins.

Sugar weighed in on this topic. Wouldn’t there be, he reasoned, a family story of a train accident in which your ancestor DIED? Wouldn’t there be an oral tradition that there were some children whose father was reported to be Deaderick, but clearly couldn’t be since he was DECEASED? I vote no because I have met my family, and I know how we roll.

It just so happens that I was already planning a trip to East Tennessee to attend the 150th anniversary of the church that I grew up in. I had already requested time off, enough time off that I could view the Lawton collection in Columbia, SC, plus spend the night with a Collins cousin, attend the reunion, visit Mom and Dad at the cemtery, go to the Knox County Archives, and visit with friends. This was a golden opportunity.

Then a hurricane appeared. I was planning on the trip anyway, but the trip might be dicey with a possible evacuation. The hurricane cooperated by moving westward.

At the Knox County Archives, it just so happened that the court case was on microfilm. These are iPhone photos of the microfilm.


Ruth A Collins vs The ET Va & Ga RR Co

No 8929 February 14, 1874

Came the parties by their attornies and came also a Jury to wit, JH Mynatt, JA Ogg, Jefferson Jett, Wash Morrow, HC Ogg, JC Chiles, JC Johnson, JR Johnson, JP Ford, John Sayne, WL Kennedy and JW Ventis all good and lawful men citizens of Knox County, who having been tried elected and sworn well and truly to try the issues joined between the parties having heard all the testimony in the cause and a portion of the arguments of counsel from rendering a Verdict are respited until the meeting of court Monday morning next.


No 8929 February 16, 1874

Came the parties by their attornies and came also the jury heretofore Sworn in this cause to wit JH Mynatt, JA Ogg, Jefferson Jett, Wash Morrow, HC Ogg, JC Chiles, JC Johnson, JR Johnson, John Sayne, WL Kennedy, and JW Ventis, who having heard the remainder of the arguments of counsel, from rendering a verdict are again further respited until the meeting of court tomorrow morning.


No 8929 February 17, 1874

Came the parties by the attornies and came also the Jury heretofore sworn in this cause to wit JH Mynatt, JA Ogg, Jefferson Jett, Wash Morrow, HC Ogg, JC Chiles, JC Johnson, JR Johnson,  JA Finch, John Sayne, WL Kennedy, and JW Ventes who upon their oaths do say that they find the matter in favor of the plaintiff and assess the Plaintiff damages by reason of the premises in the Declaration mentioned at the Sum of Six thousand dollars. It is therefore considered by the court that the Plaintiff have and recover of the defendant the Said Sum of Six thousand dollars the damages assessed by the jury together with all the costs of this cause for which execution may issue.



No 8929 February 19, 1874

Came the defendant by attorney and entered a Motion for a new trial of this cause.


February 21, 1874

Came the parties by their attornies and came on for hearing the defendants motion for a new trial of this cause which motion having been argued by counsel and considered of and well understood by the Court it is considered by the court that the motion be overruled and a new trial refused.


Tuesday March 3rd 1874

Court met pursuant to adjournment

Present and Presiding

The Hon. E.T. Hall Judge &c.

Came the defendant by attorney and (illegible) an appeal in the nature of a writ of (illegible) to the next term of the Supreme Court of Tennessee to be holden at Knoxville on the Second Monday of September next from the actions of the court in refusing to grant a new trial of this cause. And tendered to the Court its bill of exceptions which is signed and sealed by the Court and ordered to be made a part of the record in this cause. And the Defendant having entered into bond with Security as required by law Said appeal is granted.

Here’s a fun fact: Ruth’s Supreme Court case was to be heard on the “Second Monday of September”. I viewed this court case on microfilm on the second Monday of September, after traveling about 500 miles to view it.

The upshot of all this? Ruth and her attorney sued the railroad. There was a jury of men. She won. The railroad wanted an appeal, which was first denied, then granted, and the case went on to the Tennessee State Supreme Court. She won again, although the physical record cannot be located.

If there was a railroad accident, wouldn’t that be in the newspaper? I asked this question at the East Tennessee Historical Society, and spent a good bit of time scrolling through the microfilm.

Microfilm of the Knoxville Chronicle, October 4, 1871

Yesterday afternoon the down passenger train ran over a cow, a mile east of Sweetwater, which threw the engine and express car from the track, badly wrecking both and causing the death of the fireman, D. A. Collins. The express messenger, J. J. Tibbs, was injured slightly, but beyond these no one else was hurt.

Mr. Collins’ death is universally regretted by his friends. He leaves a wife and three children. His remains were expected to arrive this morning, and will probably be interred this afternoon.

Now I need a map of the Sweetwater area of the ETVGRR in 1871, and I need to find where this man was buried, most probably in Knoxville.


I spent the next night with my long-time friend Susan who lives near Sweetwater. When I headed home the next day for cats and Carolina, I drove over a bridge that crossed the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad. I took a quick look east to the direction of the accident.

Ruth went on to have 4 children after Deaderick’s death.

Good night, Deaderick. I’m thinking about you.