Saturday, August 24, 2013

Col. C.D. McLean: Pioneer Journalist of West Tennessee, 1881

Charles D. McLean was a pioneer of West Tennessee as well as a pioneer of journalism.  Born in Virginia in 1795 he moved to the Jackson Tennessee area where he published the first newspaper in the Western Division of the State, the Jackson Gazette.  He fought with Jackson in the War of 1812 and was a supporter of Jackson during his presidential campaign.  He won a term in the State Legislature after which he removed to Memphis bringing his printing materials with him where he began the second newspaper in Memphis, the Memphis Gazette.  Like so many others, he was left poor after the Civil War but was by no means diminished in his social and official positions.  After the War the Old Folks of Memphis organization started back up and McLean served as the president of the organization for several years.  He lived a life so meaningful he was known as "the best in the world".  His first wife was Marsha Searcy, daughter of Judge Bennett Searcy, she died in 1818.  He next married Jane Elizabeth Smith in 1831, she died in 1880. Col. Charles D. McLean and many of his family are interred in Elmwood and Forest Hill Midtown cemeteries in Memphis.

The following articles originally appeared in the Memphis Daily Appeal, February 16, 1881.  

We regret to announce this morning the death of Colonel D.C.(sic) McLean.  He passed away yesterday about 1 o'clock, surrounded by his children, grandchildren and other relatives and friends.  He was in his eighty-sixth year, but to the last retained much of the vigor that had characterized him through a long and eventful life--a life that covered the whole period comprised in the existence of the state.  Colonel McLean was one of the revered pioneers of West Tennessee, an honored soldier who fought with Jackson, and a journalist whose rare distinction it was to have printed the first newspaper published in this division of the State.  He was one of the old patriots, of whom but few remain, who bound the present with the past, and linked these modern times with the era of settlement, to which no American can revert without a feeling of pride.  He was ushered into life shortly before the admission of Tennessee to the Union, grew to early manhood amid the stirring recollections of the revolutionary war, and was an eager participant in the War of 1812-14, the final victory of which made for Jackson and Tennessee an imperishable renown.  Thus launched into life in a country, much of which was still a terra incognita, his indomitable will and native resolution and abilities soon made for the young printer a place as a leader among the hardy, plucky and adventurous spirits who had carved the new State out of the wilderness.  He followed Jackson in the political as in the tented field, and by the administration of the State and National governments through Democratic principles, hoped for the greatest good for the greatest number.  He loved Tennessee as he loved his life, and he loved the whole south with the ardor which in his young manhood induced him to fight for the enlargement of its limits and to defend its territory and people.  In the late civil war he was too old to take part, but he sent his sons to represent him, and had reason to be proud that they sustained a reputation as soldiers quite up to the mark which his soldiery pride had set for them.  Like other planters he lost heavily by the failure of the Confederate cause, but the pride which had carried him through so many extraordinary vicissitudes enabled him to bear this cross uncomplainingly, and old as he was he became conspicuous in the county as an example of industry, energy and thrift.  Full of years and followed by the respect of the entire community where his life was so firmly rooted, Colonel Charles McLean's remains will be laid away in the soil which he defended, to rest amid the ashes of those who in life revered him as "the best in the world," leaving behind him the memory of a kindly nature, a large and neighborly spirit, a firm, energetic and sturdy patriotism, a sterling manhood, an uncompromising lover of principle, and a devoted husband, father and friend.
  Page 1, column 1

Death of Colonel C.D. McLean, the Pioneer Journalist of West Tennessee, and an Old Soldier

Colonel Charles D. McLean, known as "the best in the world," and a veteran pioneer of West Tennessee, died at 1 o'clock yesterday afternoon at his residence a few miles from the city on the Poplar street boulevard.  He had been sick but a few days, but had been in failing health for several years.  His life had been an eventful one.  He was born in Albermarle county, Virginia, on the 10th of August, 1795, and was, therefore, nearly eighty-six years of age at the time of his death.  He settled at Jackson, Tennessee, in the year 1823, and there published the Jackson Gazette.  His history as a journalist has been depicted in an address delivered before the Old Folks of Shelby county in July, 1867, by the lamented Colonel J.H. McMahon, and from which address the following has been taken:

To Colonel Charles D. McLean belongs the honor of being the pioneer editor west of the Tennessee river. From May 29, 1824, the date of its first issue, to 1831, he printed and published in Jackson, Tennessee, the Jackson Gazette (weekly).  In the first year he was sustained by government patronage in the publication of the list of letters, of which there were the mystical number of just three, for which he received out of the coffers of Uncle Sam the munificent endowment of six and quarter cents.  The first newspaper published in Memphis was by Thomas Phoebus in 1826, and was called the Memphis Advocate.  It was followed by the Memphis Gazette, printed on material purchased of Colonel C.D. McLean in 1831.  Hence it appears that the type and material used by Colonel McLean in printing his Gazette in Jackson from 1824 to 1831 was brought to Memphis and used to print the second paper published here.

The Jackson Gazette, under Colonel McLean, was an ardent and zealous advocate of General Jackson for the Presidency in the campaign of 1824, when the contest was a quadrangular one between General Jackson, John Q. Adams, William H. Crawford and Henry Clay.  General Jackson received the plurality electoral vote, but the house of representatives elected Mr. Adams.  The result aroused the friends of General Jackson to the highest pitch in the canvas of 1828, when the Gazette was a still stronger advocate of his claims, and we can readily imagine the excited feelings of our old deceased friend McLean when he received the intelligence of the overwhelming success of his idolized candidate.

From another work we find that Colonel McLean was at one time a leading politician, having beaten C.H. Williams for a seat in the legislature.  At the close of his term, which was in 1830 (or 1831) he removed to the neighborhood of Memphis.

As is well known Colonel McLean had been all his life an ardent and consistent Democrat.

Colonel McLean was connected with the Old Folks at Home society when it first met and informally organized, in may, 1857, and it so continued until 1861, when it was dissolved by the war.  At its reorganization, in 1866, he was elected its president, with John Mosely as secretary.  On the 24th of November, 1870, the society was again reorganized under a charter as the Old Folks Society of Shelby county, and Colonel McLean was re-elected president, in which high office he was continued by unanimous vote until 1873, when, owing to his age and infirmities, he declined further to serve as presiding officer, but he ever and always afterward took the most active interest in its meetings, celebrations and barbecues.  He will long be remembered by the younger people who attended these affairs, as the venerable patriarch and central figure of the occasions.  And now has passed away one of the old regime, a pioneer of the Western district of the State.  He was on of the great connecting links between the past and present generations, and few there are among those left who were his contemporaries, residents of Shelby county prior to the year 1835.  He has gone to rest, and with him went "the best in the world."
 Page 4, column 3

The following address was published in 1882 in the Old Folks of Shelby County.






Monday, August 19, 2013

Unfortunate Cannon Accident, 1861

Yesterday the ladies of Crittenden County, Arkansas, presented a flag to the Crittenden Rangers.  At the conclusion of the proceedings, several cannon shots were fired.  Mr. Angus Greenlaw, who resided in Hopefield, and is brother to the Messrs. Greenlaw of this city, was in the act of ramming a charge down, when the gun went off prematurely.  Mr. Greenlaw was greatly injured.  The flesh was almost cleared from the right hand, the left was terribly burned, the left thigh is also much burned.  We learn that the injuries, although very serious, are not considered dangerous in their character.
Mr. Greenlaw was interred at Elmwood Cemetery the same day this article appeared in the Memphis Daily Appeal, April 14, 1861.  Apparently his injuries were greater than first believed!

Angus Greenlaw married Ellenorah E. Bayless on July 14 1844 in Fayette County Tennessee.  His brothers, mentioned in the article, were William Bowden Greenlaw and John Oliver Greenlaw.  For a list of Greenlaw interments that appear on Findagrave in Shelby County Tennessee click here.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Two Doctors Erskine

Dr. Alexander O. Erskine and his younger brother Dr. John Henry Erskine arrived in Memphis about 1858. The two brothers were born in Alabama to Dr. Alexander Erskine and his wife Susan Catherine Russel Erskine. Both brothers served in the Confederacy as surgeons.  After the war they continued their practice in Memphis. Alexander married twice, his first wife was Augusta Law White.  After her death he married Margaret Louisa Gordon, sister of George W. Gordon a general in the Confederate States of America. Alexander had children with both women.  Henry never married.  Many of the Erskine family are buried at Elmwood Cemetery.

Both Alexander and John remained in Memphis throughout the Yellow Fever Epidemics that occurred during the 1870's.  John Erskine was the City's Health Officer and contracted Yellow Fever during the epidemic of 1873.  At that time, it wasn't known how Yellow Fever was transmitted and it was believed that once you had it, you could not contract it again.  Sadly, that was not the case.  John Erskine succumbed to Yellow Fever in September, 1878, dying at his brother's home. As the head of the Board of Health, the death of John Erskine was a terrible loss and it took the Board at least a month to recover from his death. His brother Alexander remained in Memphis until his death in 1913.

Letterhead from the office Dr. Alexander Erskine

The following obituary comes from the Southern Practitioner, v. 36, 1914.  
Dr. Alexander O. Erskine, pioneer physician and Confederate soldier, died Saturday afternoon, December 13, 1913, at 4 o'clock, at his residence, 1466 Monroe Avenue, in Memphis, Tenn.  Dr. Erskine was 81 years of age.  His death was due to general debility and to a stroke of paralysis he suffered late in life.  his wife and six children were at his bedside when death came.  Dr. Erskine is survived by his wife, four sons, John, Gordon, William, and Albert R., of East Aurora N.Y., and three daughters, Misses Loulie and Laura, and Mrs. S.F. Gill.

Dr. Erskine for more than 50 years has been one of the best known physicians in Memphis and in Western Tennessee.

He came to Memphis in the year 1858, and began the practice of medicine, which he continued until the breaking out of the war, when he enlisted in the armies of the Confederacy as a surgeon.  He served with the Fifteenth Tennessee Infantry, under Col. Tyler.  Later he served with the Second Tennessee, under Col. Robertson in Lucius E. Polk's Brigade of Gen. Pat Cleburne's division in Hardee's famous corps.  He was in the battles of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Perryville, Ky.

He had charge of an army hospital at LeGrange, Ga., during the latter part of the war and was paroled at Covington, Ga., in 1865.  He returned to Memphis, where he resumed the practice of his profession.

He remained in the city throughout every epidemic of yellow fever, including the dreadful scourge of 1878, when the city was almost depopulated by death and the desertion of the residents.

Dr. Erskine was born in Huntsville, Ala., on September 26, 1832.  He was of Sctoch-Irish descent, a son of Alexander and Susan Russell Erskine.

He attended the schools in his native state and was afterward graduated from the University of Virginia in the classical course and then went to New York, where he was graduate from the medical department of Columbia University.  He afterward had several years' experience in hospital work in that city.  

He was considered almost the dean of the medical profession in Memphis, being one of the oldest practitioners.  He was professor of obstetrics and diseases of children in the Memphis Hospital Medical College from 1885 to 1906; was dean of that college from 1868 to 1873, and was on the staff of the Memphis City Hospital from 1902 to 1910.

He contributed many valuable articles to the leading medical journals.

Dr. Erskine was a member of the Presbyterian Church and was an elder in the Second Presbyterian Church of Memphis for forty-eight years.  he was married twice.  His first wife was Miss Augusta Law White, whom he married in December 1861.  His second marriage was to Margaret Louisa Gordon, in 1872.

Dr. Erskine's death leaves Dr. g.B. Thornton as the only antebellum doctor in Memphis, and Dr. Thornton was greatly affected when informed of the death of his old friend.

"He and I were most intimate," Dr. Thornton said, "for much more than a generation, and it was our custom for years to pay occasional social visits. each to the other.  I never knew a better, a more consecrated or a gentler man than Dr. Alex. Erskine.  If the doctors of today would follow his ethical path the profession would be much better off."

A fond and loving father and husband, an humble and upright citizen, devoted to his profession, a true Christian gentleman, his loss will be greatly deplored.

The following obituaries come from the Memphis Daily Appeal, 1878.  Dr. Henry Erskine was a hero of the Yellow Fever Epidemics.  Had he lived as long as his brother Alexander there is no doubt that he would have had a lengthy and successful career and a longer accounting of his life's work as did his brother.

Dr. John Henry Erskine
DIED--At the residence of Dr. Alex Erskine, 238 Beale Street, September 17 1878, of yellow fever, Dr. John H. Erskine, in the forty-fourth year of his age.

Dr. John Erskine, Health Officer, after a week's illness, died at an early hour yesterday.  When taken with the fever he had been so completely worked down that there was little of strength for him to fall back upon or with which to rally from the attack of the scourge.  He had literally given his life in the service of the people who had trusted him as Health Officer, and thereby increased his burdens more than a hundred fold.  No nobler man or more gallant ever lived, or one more worthy of this people. Proud of his profession and devoted to it, he responded to every call, giving his advice and services freely, never grudging a moment when good was to be done.  During the epidemic he proved this a thousand times, and so built for himself an enduring place in many hearts.  His death is a great loss to the city and to the faculty of which he was one of the chief ornaments.
  Originally published in the Memphis Daily Appeal, September 18, 1878

The Tuscumbia Democrat: "Dr. John H. Erskine was a native Alabamian, having been raised in Huntsville.  He belonged to one of the oldest and most highly respected families of that city.  He located in Memphis a short time before the war, to practice his profession, but was among the first to respond to his country's call, and enlisted as surgeon in the Confederate Army.  Here his courage, gentlemanly deportment and superior skill soon won for him distinction, and he was placed in one of the most important positions in the medical department of General Johnston's army.  he returned to Memphis after the war and soon built up a lucrative practice which he enjoyed until his death.  Dr. Erskine was a man of fine personal appearance, warm in his attachments, outspoken in his opinions, liberal in his views and benevolent in his nature.  No man had a warmer or more sympathetic heart. An ornament to society and an honor to his profession, his death is a calamity, and his loss irreparable.  Peace to his noble spirit.
  Reprinted in the Memphis Daily Appeal, September 27, 1878 from the Tuscumbia Democrat

A more extensive account of Alexander and John Erskine can be found here in the Sketches of Prominent Tennesseans.

Friday, August 9, 2013

August 9 1873, On this date in Memphis

The following snippets come from the Memphis Daily Appeal, August 9 1873 under the heading of "Local Paragraphs".

-Robert H. Ubbard last night whipped his wife and was arrested by Officer Cogbill, who conducted him to the stationhouse.

-Sally Jones, colored, was arrested yesterday upon the alleged charge of larceny.  She will be released, as the stolen articles have been found.

-Dr. G.B. Peters, of Lee county Arkansas, sends us the first open cotton-boll of the season.  The boll is fully developed, and quite large.

-Yesterday two juveniles had a fight about candy, goober-peas, and the third reader.  One of them being whipped, procured a knife, and returning, stabbed his adversary three times in the head and once in the back.



-Officer Scott yesterday arrested Henry Ayres, a white man, for indecently exposing his person in an alley between Court and Jefferson streets.  He was arrested some time ago for the same offense, at the instance of Mr. Dill.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Yellow Fever Three Miles Out on the New Raleigh Road, 1879

Yellow Fever was no stranger to Memphis and her people.  The last great epidemic occurred in 1879 with 2000 cases and 600 deaths.  The Rhodes family lost three of their family within days of each other in August 1879. 

New Cases, Unofficial
The Howards reported the following cases last evening, having supplied them with nurses:
  Lizzie Rhodes, 20 years, Sam Rhodes, 11 years, and ---Rhodes, five years, were also supplied with nurses.  This family left their residence on Main Street at the outbreak of the fever, and removed to a house on the Raleigh road, near Camp Father Mathew.
   Originally reported in the Memphis Daily Appeal, August 21, 1879

--Dr. Tyner writes the following about the Rhodes family:  "They have not been in Memphis for four weeks. The brother at whose house they are now at is a dairyman, and is in the city every day.  The bedstead and mattress used by one of them is one upon which a woman died last fall on Beale street with yellow-fever. They are all extremely sick.  One of them (Sam) has black vomit, and is probably now dead."  They are three miles out on the New Raleigh Road.
   Originally reported in the Memphis Daily Appeal, August 22, 1879

Elmwood Burial Records lists the following Rhodes family interments for August 1879 in the Chapel Hill Section of the cemetery:
  Sam Rhodes - age 10, interred August 21, 1879
  A.L. Rhodes - age 8, interred August 22, 1879
  Lizzie Rhodes - age 20, interred August 24, 1879

On February 9, 1889, almost twenty years after their deaths Sam, S.L., and Lizzie were moved from Chapel Hill and re-interred in lot 171 1/2, Evergreen.

A search of the City Directories reveals that Taylor Rhodes was a dairyman and lived on the east end of New Raleigh Road.  Taylor was the older brother of Sam, A.L. and Lizzie.  With that information I was able to discover that the Rhodes family had been living in Tipton County in 1860.  Merdica (might possibly be Mordecai) Rhodes was 36 years old, a farmer, from North Carolina.  His wife was Mary J. Rhodes, age 30 born in Tennessee.  At that time they had the following children:  Martha age 12, Maria age 10, Taylor age 8, Elizabeth (Lizzie) age 6 and Frances age 1. 

Living next door was Soloman A Rhodes age 35, from North Carolina and his family. Elizabeth age 33 from Virginia, Mary E age 12, Ann R age 9, Sarah A age 4, Martha age 5 months.  There was an adult male age 49 named Blackburn Rhodes in the household as well.

The following comes from the First Report of the State Board of Health, Nashville TN, 1880.

Raleigh Road
Three cases occurred three miles out from Memphis on the Raleigh road, in a family named Rhodes. The family consisted of father, mother and seven children, all of whom were refugees from Memphis except the oldest son, Taylor Rhodes, at whose house they were staying.  When the first case occurred, August 17th, they had been out of Memphis four weeks.  The father had been in once or twice for a short time.  Taylor Rhodes being a dairyman, was in the city every day.  The premises were about two hundred yards from Camp Father Matthew, but there seemed to have been no communication with that place.

A bedstead and mattress used by the family belonged to a man named Stevit, the partner of Taylor Rhodes, and whose wife had died on this bed in 1878, of yellow fever.  The mattress had stains upon it resembling black vomit.  This was brought from Memphis in March, 1879, and was used by Mr. Rhodes and his wife; but Sam, the first of the family attacked in 1879, slept on a pallet nearly under this bed; the stains of the black vomit being on the part of the mattress nearest where Sam slept.  The premises were also tenanted in 1878 by a family in which one of the children had a typical case of fever.

Thus there were three ways in which the infection could have been conveyed.  Sam Rhodes, aged 11, was attacked August 17th, at 4 p.m., had black vomit on the 19th, and was totally unconscious until his death on the 21st.  he also had suppression of the urine.  Miss Lizzie Rhodes, aged 19, was attacked August 18, and her condition continued favorable until the death of her brother, when her nervous system became so pronounced as to render her recovery hopeless.  She died on the 23d with black vomit.  

Arnold Rhodes, aged 5, was taken on August 20th, and died in forty-eight hours from the time of his attack.  All these cases were very malignant.

The family were isolated as well as possible, disinfectants were freely used, and the bedding and clothes used were burned.  No further infection ensued.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Death of the Hon. Robert Garnett Payne, 1861

It is with sincere regret we announce the death of our late State Senator, Hon. Robt. Garnett Payne, who expired in this city at six o'clock last evening.  It was our privilege to know the deceased well, not only in public life--in which his unusual oratorical talents and his aptitude for business made him both popular and useful--but in his domestic sphere.  As a husband and a parent he manifested a devotion to the welfare and happiness of those dependent upon him rarely equaled.  His disposition was warmly affectionate, he was prodigal in his generosity and penurious only to himself.  In March last he lost his amiable partner, a woman of large heart and amiable qualities, to whom he was married at nineteen.  He mourned her loss with deep sorrow, and soon he has been called to rejoin her.  He leaves behind him two sons, both of which are in the army, and two daughters, unmarried, who reside in Pocahontas, Ark.  He returned from a visit to them on Tuesday last, and complained of sickness, which resolved itself into a malignant form of bilious fever, from which he could not recover.  He was a native of Culpepper county, Va.  From that place, while Mr. Payne was very young, his father removed into Middle Tennessee.

Five years ago Mr. Payne removed to this city from Columbia.  He soon took his place with the lawyers of the first rank at our bar.  He was afterward appointed railroad commissioner for the State, the duties of which office he discharged with great industry.  He was two years ago elected Senator for this district, and was the most active man in our State Senate.  He was forty-nine years of age, and was buried last evening.
Originally posted in the Memphis Daily Appeal, September 17, 1861

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Private Hollenberg of the McClellan Guards

We regret to say that the M'Clellan Guards, colored, have, in Private Hollenberg, lost one of their most dutiful and attentive members.  He breathed his last on Tuesday, the tenth, at Hollenberg's dyeing store.  He nursed that family through the yellow-fever, and at last was taken down himself.  The company mourn his loss.  He will be long remembered by those who knew him.  He was the man that won the prize at the drill a few weeks ago at the Exposition building.
Originally posted in the Memphis Daily Appeal, Sept. 13 1878

We don't know what Private Hollenberg's first name was much less the relationship between him and the Hollenberg family that he nursed through the yellow fever epidemic. 

The McClellan Guards was an African-American Militia troop. During the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1878 the McClellan Guards were sent to the first refugee camp to help maintain order.