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Title: Pioneer Colored Christians
Author: Miller, Harriet Parks
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  Pioneer Colored Christians



“The primitive order with its picturesque types, has passed with the
days that are dust. The mirthful banjo is mute, and the laughter,
songs, and shouts of the old plantation quarters no longer float out on
the evening air.”




In the busy rush of life, the virtues of single individuals too often
escape notice, or make but slight impression on the minds of their
contemporaries. It is in after years, when the actors are dead and
gone, that their virtues shine forth, and speak from the silence,
through the pen of some one who catches them before it is too late.

No history is richer, or more beautiful, than that written of lives led
by wisdom, and goodness.

The writing of this little book is inspired by a desire to perpetuate,
as examples, the lives of such people. While the trend of my thoughts
will center around one special family,--the Carrs--I shall not omit
honorable mention of other colored citizens, who walked upright among
their fellow men.

I shall also make mention of leading white people who befriended the
colored race in its early struggles for religious liberty.

I write with the hope, that what I say, will have a tendency to deepen
the sympathy, and kind feeling which should ever exist between the two
races living together in the South.

                                                             THE AUTHOR.

Port Royal, Tenn., July, 1911.



Interview with Aunt Kitty Carr, September, 1901, in which she tells of
her birth in Virginia, 1815.

At six years of age, she was given by her mother to Mrs. Edmond
Winston, who one year later, brought her to Tennessee. Marriage in
early life to Rev. Horace Carr.

She was free born; effort to deprive her of her birth right.

By the assistance of kind white friends, she is enabled to legally
establish her freedom.

Reading of Prayer Book.


Rev. Horace Carr.

His birth in Spring Creek neighborhood, in 1812.

Belonged to Aquilla Johnson, and was sold for a division of the estate.
Bought by Mr. James Carr, of Port Royal, Montgomery county, Tenn.

After master’s death, he hires himself from his mistress, and locates
on a retired spot near “Horse Shoe Bend” of Red River, by permission
of Mr. William Weatherford, its owner. Mode of making a living. Joins
Red River Church, and is ordained to preach. Invitation by Mr. E. L.
Fort, to preach on his premises.


Worship of the two races together, in antebellum times.

Department in white churches for colored worshippers.

Civil war brings changes, and they have churches and schools of their

Sketch of Dr. P. F. Norfleet, of Port Royal, Tenn., who gave land on
which to build Mount Zion, one of the first colored churches in Middle

Amusing story of Mr. and Mrs. Ed. Hawkins, of Turnersville, Robertson
county, Tenn.


Aunt Kitty describes her vision, or dream, in which the future Mount
Zion appeared to her. It takes tangible form, and Rev. Horace Carr
assembles his people under a large white oak tree on the lot donated
by Dr. Norfleet, and assisted by Revs. Chess Ware, and Ben Thomas, of
Guthrie, Ky., organizes the church.

First house of worship soon erected. Too small, and later torn away to
give place to larger building.

Two buildings burned, but the faithful Christians did not lose hope.

List of charter members.

Younger generation following the religious footsteps of their ancestors.

Mr. William Bourne gives lot for burying ground.


Rev. Althens Carr.

Birth and early life. Obtains education under great difficulties.

An eloquent pulpit orator.

Two funeral sermons heard by the writer.

William, and Jack Northington, two worthy brothers.

Why Uncle Arter Northington was called “Paul.”


Rev. Horace Carr tells of an antebellum corn shucking on Mr. Waters’

Describes great excitement in Port Royal neighborhood, the night the
stars fell, November, 1833.


Rev. J. W. Carr.

First work from home, and beginning of his education.

Letter of appreciation to Port Royal friend, a short time before his
death at Savannah, Georgia, August, 1907.

Statistics showing great progress of the colored Baptists of United
States, Georgia leading the Southern States along this line.


Interview with Rev. Luke Fort (col.,) of Guthrie, Ky., in which he
tells of first sermon he ever heard Rev. Horace Carr preach.

Was the latter’s son-in-law nineteen years. Describes a patroler raid
on a quiet meeting being held one Saturday night on the E. L. Fort

Joe Gaines’ o’possum, cooked for the Port Royal merchants, turns to a
house-cat, and he is made to eat same.

History of Benevolent Treasure Society, No. 7.


Visit to Aunt Eliza Gaines Williams. She talks pleasantly of her white
people, the Norfleets, and Gaines.

Describes last visit to Rev. Horace Carr. Second visit, for the purpose
of taking her picture. She was eighty-two, and this was her first

Dan, and Jerry Fort, aid materially in securing Mount Zion Church

Uncle John McGowan.

His early life.

Tells of a chicken fry, and what it cost him.

Describes how he was sold.

Passing events of his life.


Tribute to the late E. L. Fort.

History of Port Royal, Tennessee.


Passing of four of the most prominent members of the Carr family.

Sketch of Captain C. N. Carney, one of the early settlers of Montgomery

Loyalty of his colored people, beginning first, with Uncle Isaac, the
faithful blacksmith on the Carney plantation.

Rev. Peter Carney (col.), Presbyterian minister, and remarkable

Aleck Carney, a useful citizen, and church worker.

Betsy Neblett, his late sister, the “Good Samaritan” of her

Closing remarks.



The people whom you will meet in this little book did not live in fancy.

They were humble instruments through whom God sent a message clear, and
strong, that will go on, and on, through the coming years.

Realizing the rapidity with which the good old colored types were
passing away, I went one September afternoon, 1901, to see Aunt Kitty
Carr, for the purpose of obtaining some interesting facts concerning
herself, and her remarkable family.

Her husband, Uncle Horace Carr, had been dead twenty-four years, and
she was then living with her son Horace, at his farm on Red River, a
mile or two from Port Royal, Tennessee.

I found her on the back porch peeling peaches to dry, and when I made
known to her the intent of my visit, she was amused, and said, “Lor
Miss Harriet, what am _I_ say, that will be worth reading in a book?”

[Illustration: Aunt Kitty Carr.]

On assuring her of the esteem in which she and her family were held,
and the importance of such lives being left on tangible record, she
seemed willing to tell me, in her quaint way, what I wished to know.

Aunt Kitty was a small yellow woman, of refined features, and dignified

She spoke as follows:

“Of course you have heard that I was free born?”

“Yes,” I replied, “you were the first free born person of your race,
that I ever saw.”

“I was born near Spotsylvania, Virginia, in 1815. That’s been a
_long_ time ago. I’ll soon be eighty-six years old. My children, and
grand-children are kind to me, and don’t want me to work, but I am not
satisfied to sit idle.

“My father was a Frenchman of some importance, by the name of Truell;
my only recollection of him was his long curly hair that came down to
his shoulders. My mother was free born, and gave me away.

“One bright spring day she was sweeping her front yard, and I, a little
girl of six years, was taking up the trash, that she swept together,
when a pretty white girl sixteen, or seventeen, rode past the gate,
and called for a drink of water. As she handed the drinking gourd back,
she said, ‘That’s a handy little girl you have there, I wish you’d give
her to me.’ ‘All right,’ mother replied, and the lady passed on, and
nothing more was thought of it, till nearly a year afterward, a nice
covered wagon drove up to our gate, and the same lady called for me.

“A few days before, she had married a Mr. Edmond Winston, and they were
going to housekeeping.

“My mother gathered together my little budget of clothes, and handed
little Kitty, and the clothes over to the colored driver, saying, ‘Here
take her.’

“And they took me; I have never thought mother acted right.

“The new married couple lived in Virginia about a year after that, when
they decided to come to Tennessee, and brought me with them. We came a
long journey, in that same covered wagon, and settled in District No.
1, Montgomery county, near where Fortson’s Spring now is.

“They were as kind to me, as they could be, and I was content to stay
with them.

“After coming to Tennessee, Mr. Winston did not live very long, and his
widow, after a respectable time, married a Mr. Coleman, grandfather of
the first Mrs. Polk Prince, and great grandfather of Mrs. Lewis Downer,
of Guthrie, Ky.

“But I was always called Kitty Winston. The Colemans and Johnsons were
related, and through their visiting from Fortson Spring neighborhood
to Spring Creek, farther down toward Clarksville, I met my lifetime

“He was the property of Mr. Aquilla Johnson, of Spring Creek, and was
first known as Horace Johnson.

“We were married when we were both quite young. Soon after our
marriage, it was necessary to make a division of the property, and Mr.
Johnson sold my husband to Mr. James Carr, of Port Royal, grandfather
of Mr. Ed, and Ross Bourne.

“We had not been long settled down to quiet, peaceable living in our
little cabin home, when it began to be whispered around among a cruel
class of white people called overseers, that I could be deprived of my
free birth right, and made a slave. Of course it made me very unhappy,
and I prayed earnestly over the matter.

“I went to sertain good white friends who had known me longest, and
laid the case before them, and they advised me to go to Esq. Dick
Blount, of Fortson’s Spring, and he would fix up some papers that
would establish my freedom for all time to come.

“I put out for the Blount home in haste, my husband going with me.
When we reached there, a member of the Esquire’s family told me he was
drunk, but if I could wait an hour or two, he might be sober enough to
talk to me. Of course I waited. We were seated in the back yard, and a
quiet couple we were, for it was a solemn time in our lives.

“By, and by, we saw the Esquire came out on the back porch, and washed
his face. I whispered and asked Horace, if he reckoned he was washing
the drunk off.

“We walked up to the door, and told our mission; Esq. Blount advised us
to go on to Clarksville, and said he would follow on shortly.

“We waited, and waited, on the Court House steps, and I had about
decided he was not coming, when we looked up the street, and saw him.

“He took an iron square, and measured my height, wrote a description of
my features, and asked me if there were any scars on my body. I knew of
none, except a small one the size of a silver dime, on the back of my
neck, caused from the deep burning of a fly blister. I showed him that.

“He kindly fixed up the papers, and handed them to me. I kept them
closely guarded, till my oldest daughter, Mary Waters, was going to
move to the State of Ohio to live, and not knowing what might happen
to her there, she asked me for them, and I willingly gave them to
her. I always regretted that I did not keep a copy, for it would be a
curiosity to the present generation.”

As she quietly sat, and told me all this, her grand daughter, Eleanora
Carr Johnson, was an attentive listener, never having before heard
such details of antebellum history. The afternoon seemed too short; so
pleasant was the interview that I regretted not having gone oftener, to
see her. She referred incidentally to a little prayer book, “Morning
and Night Watches,” by Rev. J. R. McDuff, D. D., from which I had often
read to her, in days gone by, and expressed a desire to hear a certain
chapter once more.

Feeling that she would enjoy hearing it, I had carried the little
book along with me, and read to her as follows: “May it be mine to
cheerfully follow the footsteps of the guiding Shepherd through the
darkest, loneliest road, and amidst thickest sorrows may I have grace
to say, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.’”

“Lord, increase my faith, let it rise above all trials, and
difficulties. And if they arise, may they only drive me closer to
Him who has promised to make me more than conqueror. I am a pilgrim,
pitching my tent day, by day, nearer heaven, imbibing every day more of
the pilgrim character, and longing more for the pilgrim’s rest.

“May I be enabled to say, with the chastened spirit of a passing world,
‘Here I have no continuing city.’

“May this assurance reconcile me to all things.

“Lord, hasten Thy coming, and Thy kingdom.

“Scatter the darkness that is hovering over heathen nations.

“Stand by Thy Missionary servants. Enable us all, to be living more
from day to day, on Thy grace, to rely on Thy guiding arm with more
childlike confidence, looking with a more simple faith to Thy finished

“Be the God of all near, and dear to me.

“May all my ties of blood, scattered far and wide over the earth, be
able to claim a spiritual relationship with Thee, so that those earthly
bonds of attachment, which sooner or later, must snap asunder here, be
renewed, and perpetuated before the great white throne.”

As I read, she clasped her hands and looked reverently upward, as if
her soul were drinking in the spirit of the great writer.

She followed me to the front gate, and thanked me for my visit.

It was the last time I ever saw her.



Having given my opening chapter to an interview with Aunt Kitty, I will
now tell of her husband, Rev. Horace Carr, who was born on the Aquilla
Johnson farm, on Spring Creek, in District No. 1, Montgomery county,
Tenn., 1812. By way of explanation, I will state that white children,
in antebellum times, were taught by their parents, to call middle aged
colored people Aunt, and Uncle; hence “Aunt Kitty,” and “Uncle Horace,”
by the writer.

From early childhood, Uncle Horace was noted for his truth, and honesty.

In maturer years, strangers who met him on the highway, were impressed
by his polite manners, and upright countenance.

The late Col. Jno. F. House, of Clarksville, once said of him, that he
had the dignified bearing of African royalty.

He was married during the early 30’s, and was often heard to say, that
God never sent him a greater blessing than Kitty Winston.

It will be remembered that the offspring of a free born parent,
either mother, or father, was also free, and after several sons, and
daughters were given to Aunt Kitty, and Uncle Horace, they desired to
be in a home of their own; Mrs. Carr having become a widow, she was
administratrix of a very nice little estate, and Uncle Horace was one
of her most valuable slaves, and when it was talked around that he
wished to hire himself from his mistress, very few believed that she
would consent for him to leave the premises.

He first talked to influential citizens of his neighborhood, as to the
possibility of securing a suitable location for his humble home, and
Dr. P. F. Norfleet, of Port Royal, promised to use his influence in
that direction.

So he sent to Mr. William Weatherford, owner of a fine farm on Red
River, in sight of Port Royal, and laid the case before him.

In the meantime, Uncle Horace summoned up courage enough to propose
hiring himself from Miss Nancy, as he called Mrs. Carr, for the sum of
$200.00, to which she consented.

Mr. Weatherford kindly granted the homestead site, near a secluded
place on his plantation, known as “Horse Shoe Bend.”

[Illustration: Cabin (Aunt Judy’s House) on the old Fort Plantation, in
which Rev. Horace Carr preached his first sermon.]

A small log house was soon erected, and the Carr family, with their
scant belongings went to dwell therein.

And now the problem of making a living confronted them.

How was it to be done?

“We will work, and save, and trust in the Lord,” Uncle Horace would say.

And they did.

He made boards, bottomed chairs, did crude carpentering, and kept
the ferry on Red River, at Port Royal, during the high water season,
while his industrious little wife spun, wove, sold ginger cakes to
the village groceries; now, and then, accompanying the stork on its
grand mission of leaving rosebud baby girls, and boys in the homes of
families, where she remained a week or two, with their mothers, in the
capacity of a tender and experienced nurse.

There are many mature men and women in our midst today, who first
opened their baby eyes under Aunt Kitty’s watch-care.

She and Uncle Horace were economical, and usually saved fifty, or
seventy-five dollars, above his promised wages to Mrs. Carr.

On Christmas eve morning, of each year, after moving to their home
near Horse Shoe Bend, he would wend his way quietly back to the old
Carr homestead, with his well earned $200.00 for Miss Nancy, who always
felt safe in making her Christmas purchases a week or two ahead of the
holiday season, knowing he would be true to his promise. And she always
had a present for his family, often a pig, with some corn to feed it.

People of that date, were practical, in their present making, at
Christmas time. Uncle Horace professed religion when quite young,
during a revival at Red River Church, under the ministry of Elder
Reuben Ross, a distinguished pioneer Baptist who came from North
Carolina, to Tennessee, over a century ago.

After his profession, he felt a great desire to preach, and as the
years passed, the desire grew stronger, till he felt convinced that he
was Divinely called. So about ten years before the Civil War, he was
ordained to preach.

His ordination took place in Red River Church, the primitive building
on the hillside, a mile or two north west of Adams, Revs. F. C.
Plaster, and W. G. Adams, officiating.

There was a large congregation present, and the ceremony was said to
have been a very impressive one.

Mr. Lawson Fort was present and took great interest in the
proceedings, and followed Uncle Horace out on the church grounds and
said to him:

“Horace, I am a Baptist preacher’s son, but I do not belong to any
church, though I have great respect for religious people.

“I want to say to you, whenever you feel like preaching, or holding a
prayer meeting, come to my house, and feel welcome, and I will see to
it that you are not disturbed by patrolers.

“You will understand, Horace, that my negroes are first-class, and I
don’t care to have a mixed crowd on my premises at night. I guess your
little family, and my thirty or forty, will give you a pretty fair
congregation. It will be best to hold your meetings in Judy’s house, as
she has no small children.

“She has her Indigo dye-pots setting around in every corner, but I
guess she can move them out.

“Judy prays, Margaret shouts, and John exhorts, so it seems, that among
them all, you might get up some pretty good meetings.”

“May the Lord abundantly bless you, Mars Lawson, for such kindness to a
race striving under difficulties, to serve God,” Uncle Horace replied.

Prior to this, he had only held religious services in his own home, but
the invitation from Mr. Fort gave him fresh courage, and he retired
that night with thankfulness in his heart, and a firm resolve to live
up to the Divine light that had been given him.

Of the two ministers who assisted in Uncle Horace’s ordination, I will
speak briefly.

Rev. W. S. Adams was the eldest son of Reuben Adams; the latter came to
Tennessee from North Carolina in 1812, and settled on the bank of Red
River in Robertson county, near where the first old Red River Church
building stood.

He was a penniless orphan boy, but by industry, and economy, was soon
able to buy a small farm. Land at that date, was very cheap.

He was married early in life, to Miss Priscilla Robinson, who made him
a pleasant companion.

In the early 50’s, the Edgefield and Kentucky Railroad Co. had civil
engineers to blaze the path for the first railroad that ran through
this section.

A depot was built, and the little station called Adams, in honor of Mr.
Reuben Adams. On account of this railroad passing through his premises,
the value of his land was greatly increased, and from that time on, he
was able to assist his children financially.

Growing up while his father was poor, Rev. William Adams had but few
educational advantages. He professed religion in his youth, and was
often heard to remark, that most he knew of the Bible, was learned in
Sunday school.

He was twice married, the first time to Miss Batts, of Robertson
county, and second, to Miss Kosure, of Madisonville, Ky. Eight or nine
children by his first marriage are all dead, while two by his second,
also an aged wife, survive him, and live in Texas.

Rev. Adams spent thirty odd years in the ministry. In the early 80’s he
moved from Robertson county to Nashville.

One morning he rose early, and remarked to his wife, that he felt
unusually well, and wished to put in a good day’s work among the
afflicted of the neighborhood, and spoke of first visiting Mrs. Jones
across the street from his home (nee Miss Lizzie Frey), who had been
one of his favorite members of Little Hope Church, in Montgomery county.

Soon after breakfast, he stood before a mirror in the family room
shaving, when his wife sitting near, noticed him turn suddenly pale,
and stagger. She assisted him to a chair, and he died almost instantly,
from heart failure.

Rev. F. C. Plaster, was born in Logan county, Ky., 1805. He was of
humble parentage, and like Rev. Adams, had no educational advantages.

At sixteen years of age, he joined Red River Church, and at twenty, he
felt the Divine call to preach, and so zealous was he, that it was said
of him, that while planing lumber at the carpenter’s bench, he kept his
open Bible before him, studying the Scriptures while he worked.

He was a man of commanding appearance, and a fine pulpit orator. He
was twice married, and was the father of several sons, and daughters,
by his first marriage. Both of his wives were Kentuckians, and most
estimable women. In 1879, he moved with his family to Fort Deposit,
Ala., and from there, a few years later, he passed from earth.



In that period of our country’s history known as “slave time,” the
white people encouraged the colored race to serve God, and received its
converts into their own churches, and worshipped with them.

In most of the meeting houses, there were galleries, or separate
apartments, in which the colored members sat, and listened to the
Gospel preached by white ministers.

Their membership was received into the Baptist Associations, on equal
terms, and the colored ministers often preached during the several
days sessions of these assemblies. Elder Horace Carr did, when the
Association was held at Red River Church.

Speaking of the separate apartments in the churches, the writer has a
vivid recollection of the orderly colored congregation that occupied
the upper gallery of old Harmony Church, three miles south of Port
Royal, in Robertson county.

Near the front, could be seen such devout Christians as old Uncle
Allen Northington, Aunt Sydney Norfleet, Aunt Sylvia Carney, Aunt
Lucy Parks, Aunt Becky Northington, Aunt Cely Northington, etc. It
was a rare occurrence that a colored child was seen at church, but
you would notice numerous white children sitting in the laps of their
good old “Black Mammys” as they called them. But while this Christian
brotherhood was being enjoyed, another day was dawning, in which a
new order of things was to take place. The primitive order, with its
picturesque types, was doomed to pass away. The broad plantation of
the old Southern planter was to undergo material changes, and every
influence for good was becoming more and more in unison with the great
master chord of Christianity.

Surely the hand of Divinity was in it all, or it would not have been so.

The Civil War came on, and the Institution of Slavery was abolished.

It was not only Aunt Kitty Carr, Uncle Granville Wimberly, and a few
others, that were referred to as “free born,” but _all_ were free!

[Illustration: “Riverside;” home of the late E. L. Fort.]

The desire for schools and churches of their own was awakened, and
the right kind of white people were ready, and willing, to lend them a
helping hand. Among the first to lead substantially in this direction,
in Montgomery county, was Dr. P. F. Norfleet, of Port Royal.

Brief sketch of this fine old gentleman: Dr. Philip Ford Norfleet was
born in the early part of the past century, at his father’s homestead
on the Nashville road, one and a half miles south of Port Royal. In
later years the place was known as the Dr. J. T. Darden farm.

In his early twenties he was sent to a medical college, and was later
on considered one of the best physicians of his day.

He was a charter member of Harmony Missionary Baptist Church, organized
in 1835, and while it was said of him, that he sowed his share of wild
oats in early life, after joining the church he doubled his diligence
in good works.

He was married during his twenties, to Miss Elvira Hopson, and several
children blessed their union.

He was a man of wealth, owning a large cotton plantation near Friar’s
Point, Mississippi, to which he made annual trips on horseback, usually
at crop selling time, and returning with vast sums of money.

Not caring to risk the health of his large and happy family, in the
malarial districts of the Mississippi swamps, he made his home at Port

The original Norfleet residence, with few exceptions, remains intact,
and is at present owned and occupied by Mr. W. E. Alley, a prosperous
farmer, and substantial citizen of Montgomery county.

For the benefit of his family, Dr. Norfleet kept a number of efficient

Among them two very refined house maids, Kitty Hopson and Adeline
Norfleet; Frank, the carriage driver; Mary, the cook, and Louis, a

Of these, only one survive, Adeline, who in her old age, finds no
greater pleasure than in talking of her white people.

Although the Norfleets were the acknowledged aristocrats of the
country, they were also benevolent to a marked degree.

Apropos of their liberality, I deem it not amiss to mention the case
of Ed and Fronie Hawkins, a very unique, feeble minded couple of white
people, who lived in a small one-room log cabin, near Turnersville, in
Robertson county, and subsisted mainly on charity.

Mr. Hawkins, familiarly known as “Old Ed,” was a tall, lank figure,
with a shock of long sandy hair, that hung in strings around his neck,
while his sallow complexion and deep set small blue eyes, completed
the make-up of an unattractive personality.

Fronie, his dumpy dame, in point of height, measured very little above
her husband’s slender waist. She had small brown eyes, fair complexion,
and an abundant suit of coarse red hair, which she wore in a massive
club, or coil, at the nape of her neck, held in place by a rusty horn
tuck comb.

About three times a year, they made begging trips to Port Royal, Dr.
Norfleet’s home being their objective point.

Fronie would generally start a few days in advance of her husband, in
order to get her charity donations together.

He would follow later, and help carry them home.

Dr. Norfleet wore white linen suits in summer, and on one occasion,
gave Fronie a second hand suit for Ed.

Dr. Norfleet was tall, and his pants legs were long, so she conceived
the idea of packing her donations in the legs of those he had given
her. She sewed up the legs at the bottom, put a stout loop on the back
of the binding at the top, and hung her improvised receptacle on a hook
behind the office door; everything that was given to her, she dropped
it down the pants legs--sugar, coffee, second-hand clothes, chunks of
meet, etc., all in a jumble.

When they were well nigh full, she began to wish for Mr. Hawkins. He
came at last, and she led him to look behind the door.

He was delighted, and scarcely taking time to rest from his journey of
six miles on a warm day, he placed the well stuffed pants astride his
neck, and struck out up the Nashville road, without even bidding Dr.
Norfleet’s family good bye.

Fronie followed close at his heels, holding by the legs, in her right
hand, a fine fat pair of Muscovy ducks, Mrs. Norfleet had given her. On
passing Mr. William Brown’s residence, just up the road, Mr. Brown’s
son, Robert, happened to be at the front gate; young Robert Bourne had
a keen sense of humor, and their ludicrous appearance threw him into
such a fit of laughter that he rolled over and over on the ground.

But the Hawkins’s kept straight ahead, bound for Turnersville before
sunset, but they were doomed to an unexpected delay.

The ducks grew heavy, and Fronie set them down by the roadside to rest
her tired arm.

It happened that she stopped at the head of the ten-foot deep gully,
just beyond the old Mallory homestead, where the old Harmony Church
road branched off to the right from the main Nashville route. The ducks
set to fluttering, and tumbled down the embankment and into the gully,
breaking the string that held them together. Ed flew into a rage,
because she let them get away, and swore he’d whip her on the spot,
if she did not catch them. She chased them up and down the gully till
she was almost exhausted, when a passing fishing party came to her

The late George Washington’s family contributed liberally to the
support of this couple, and in speaking of the Washington home, Fronie
always referred to it as “the fat house,” meaning rich people.

The young people of Port Royal neighborhood, spent many pleasant times
in years gone by, masquerading in comic costumes, as Ed and Fronie

They were known far and wide, as a very amusing couple, but when old
age came to them, and the liberal friends who had kept “the wolf from
their cabin door” had passed away, it became necessary for them to
be carried to the county poor house, and from there, I’m sure, their
innocent souls went straight to heaven.



In the holy hush of that September afternoon, Aunt Kitty told me of a
vision that she had, during the middle 60’s.

It was my last talk with her, and she seemed so impressed with the
memory of it, that she laid aside her peach peeling, and gave her mind,
and soul, to the subject so dear to her heart.

She said: “Some people call them dreams, but I call them visions. Ever
since God spoke peace to my soul, I had prayed for religious liberty
for my people; so great was my desire in this particular direction,
that it seemed as a heavy weight that was bowing me down.

“But one night, about midnight, the burden seemed to be lifted from
me. The deep darkness drifted away, and it seemed that the sun shone
everywhere, and in a certain direction, I saw a long grassy slope
stretch far away before me.

“I could not tell at first, what it meant, for I saw nothing but space.
By and by, a small table appeared, and seemed to come nearer and nearer.

“I looked away, and wondered, and then I looked again, and a _Bible_
was on the table.

“The third time I cast my eyes, lo and behold! there stood my old man
behind the table, the Bible was open, and he was slowly reading from
its sacred pages!

“Miss Harriet, this may all sound very strange to you, but that vision
was as plain to me, as the sight of you, sitting here before me.

“The old man had been working away from home all the week, so I got up
next morning and went about my daily duties without telling my children
what I had seen.

“Saturday night he came home, and after holding family prayers, and
everything was quiet about the house, I told him of my vision--and
listen, oh, it was joy to my soul! He told me that Dr. Norfleet wanted
us to have a place of worship, and that he was willing to give us land
on which to build a church, about an acre, on the hillside, between Mr.
Bourne’s spring and Sulphur Fork Creek. And he said that many other
white friends would give lumber, and small sums of money.

“Miss Harriet, we rejoiced together that Saturday night, as we never
had before. We had been reaching our feeble arms toward Heaven a long
time, pleading for the blessing that was now in sight.”

Thirty odd years had passed, and a new generation had come, but the
flight of time only served to sweeten the sound of her story. As I bade
her good bye, I was deeply conscious that I would never see her again,
for she was growing too feeble to leave home, and I drove off, feeling
spiritually benefitted from contact with such a Christian character as
Aunt Kitty Carr.

       *       *       *       *       *

One Autumn afternoon in 1867, a large crowd of the best colored people
of Port Royal and surrounding neighborhoods, assembled on the hillside
where Mount Zion now stands, and organized the church.

Elder Horace Carr was assisted in the organization by Revs. Chess Ware
and Ben Thomas, of Guthrie, Ky. Elder Carr stood under a large white
oak tree, and led in the movement, while his hearers sat around on
rails, logs, stumps, etc.

[Illustration: Mount Zion, Colored Baptist Church, near Port Royal,

It was a movement destined to mean much to the colored people of
Robertson and Montgomery counties. Located as it was, near the
county line, its membership was composed largely of both counties, but
since then, other churches have sprung up, and many of the Mount Zion
members joined those nearer their homes.

Alfred Pitt (col.) took the contract for building the first house of
worship. It was 30×30 feet, and erected in a very short time.

Most of the white citizens of the neighborhood contributed either
lumber or small amounts of money, and when the crude little building
appeared on the hillside, all eyes turned to Uncle Horace, as the good
shepherd to lead the little flock of seventy odd members.

This first church building was also used for a school-room, in which
was taught one of the first colored schools in Middle Tennessee, during
what was termed the “Reconstruction Period;” in other words, the years
immediately following the Civil War, when both races were adjusting
themselves to the changed conditions brought about by the emancipation
of the slaves.

This school was taught by Miss Denie Sims, a nice, refined young woman
from Clarksville, Tenn., who conducted not only herself, but her
school, so well, that she was highly esteemed by both white and colored
people of Port Royal neighborhood.

The first building being too small to accommodate the congregations
that rapidly increased in numbers, it was torn away after standing two
or three years, and replaced by one of 36×40 feet.

This stood five years, and was burned at night by unknown parties.
Circumstantial evidence pointed strongly to certain people, but there
was no positive proof.

After the excitement, incident to such an occurrence, had subsided,
Uncle Horace gathered together a portion of his little flock, and
cautioned them to say no harsh words, that all would be well, for he
felt that the good people who had assisted them before, would do so
again, and they would rebuild. They rebuilt on the same foundation, and
all went right for a few years, or, until a band of colored gamblers
became a menace to law, and order. So bold did they grow in their
wickedness, that one night they actually gambled in front of the church
door, from the same light that guided the good minister in reading the
Gospel from the sacred desk!

It was more than the Christian congregation could stand, and strenuous
measures were taken against the offenders.

That same week Mount Zion again went up in flames, but faith, and
persistency, are Life’s architects, and the fourth building was
erected, and there it stands today, a monument to the courage of a
faithful few.

For the benefit of those who would like to know the charter members of
Mount Zion Church, I give below a list of their names; true it is, a
few may have been overlooked, but in the main, they are as follows:

  Sydney Allen.
  Rev. Horace Carr.
  Kitty Carr.
  Horace Carr, Jr.
  Rev. Althens Carr.
  Lucinda Carney.
  Sylvia Carney.
  Easter Carney.
  Isaac Carney.
  Aleck Carney.
  Ann Dunn.
  Judy Fort.
  Margaret Fort.
  Charlotte Fort.
  Katie Fort.
  George Francis Fort.
  Jim Fort.
  Peggy Fort.
  Rev. John Fort.
  Daniel Fort.
  Sampson Fort.
  Henry Fort.
  Frank Fort.
  Sarah Grant.
  John Grant.
  Bear John Grant.
  Nelson Grant.
  Vinie Grant.
  Wallace Gaines.
  Maria Gaines.
  Phil Gaines.
  Dennis Gaines.
  Martha Gaines.
  Clarissa Gaines.
  Malachi Gaines.
  Eliza Gaines.
  Eliza Holmes.
  Waddy Herring.
  Sallie Ann. Herring.
  Rachel Izor.
  Sam Izor.
  Mark Mitchell.
  Patsy McGowan.
  John McGowan.
  Martha Newton.
  Sookey Northington.
  Vinie Northington.
  Caroline Northington.
  William Northington.
  Jack Northington.
  Angeline Northington.
  Seely Northington.
  Chaney Northington.
  Elijah Northington.
  Louisanna Northington.
  Bettie Northington.
  Dennis Northington.
  Rebekah Northington.
  Allen Northington.
  Neptune Northington.
  George Northington.
  Sam Northington.
  Almira Northington.
  Betsy Neblett.
  Kitty Norfleet.
  Adeline Norfleet.
  Rildy Polk.
  Lucy Parks.
  Demps Wimberly.
  Delphi Waters.

With few exceptions, nearly all of the above charter members had
been members of Red River and Harmony churches before the Civil War.
Scarcely a dozen of them remain with us in the flesh.

During its forty-four years’ existence, Mount Zion has had the
following pastors:

  Rev. Horace Carr.
  Rev. Altheus Carr.
  Rev. Edmond Northington.
  Rev. Paul Dennis.
  Rev. George Mimms.
  Rev. Turner Parish.
  Rev. M. Fox.
  Rev. L. Jones.
  Rev. A. J. Moore, D. D.

Of the original Deacons, only one is alive, Aleck Carney, the other six
in active service are:

  Dan Fort.
  George Fort.
  Demps Fort.
  Albert Steward.
  Wright Watkins.
  Will Randolph.

It is a noticeable fact, that the second and third generations of some
of Mount Zion’s charter members, are at present among its best workers;
as for example, Rev. John Fort’s son Dan, and grandson George, upon
whose shoulders a father’s religious mantle has fallen.

Soon after the donation of land by Dr. Norfleet for Mount Zion Church;
Mr. William Bourne, on an adjoining farm, gave land for a colored

Mr. Bourne was a citizen of fine standing. He was the son of Ambrose
Bourne, a prominent pioneer Baptist minister.

By strange coincidence, Rev. Ambrose Bourne helped organize Red River
Church, 1791, within a few hundred yards of where Mount Zion now stands.

Red River is one of the oldest Baptist churches in Tennessee, and the
Bourne Spring at that date, was called Prince’s Spring, and the little
log church building was known as Prince’s meeting house. After its
removal to Robertson county it took its name from its nearness to Red
River. In the early days most of the churches took their names from the
streams nearest which they were located, as Spring Creek, West Fork,
Red River, etc. Rev. Horace Carr named the church he loved so well,
from the New Testament. Hebrews 12: 22, in which Moses said, “But ye
are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the
heavenly Jerusalem,” etc.



It seems that a love for the ministry, was inherent in the Carr
family, and it is also a noticeable fact, that few, if any of them,
have departed from the Baptist faith; beginning with Uncle Horace,
and descending to his two sons, Altheus and William, on down to his
grandson, Rev. Thomas Carr, of Kansas, son of the late Calvin Carr, of
Cheatham county.

Altheus, the fourth son of Uncle Horace, and Aunt Kitty, was born near
Port Royal, Tenn., in the early 50’s. He was obedient to his parents
from his early childhood.

While a day laborer on the farms around Port Royal, he manifested a
thirst for knowledge, and while his plow team rested their noon hours
rest, he was not idle. He could be seen lying around under the shade
trees, either with a book in his hand or a pencil and paper.

By saving his wages, and receiving financial aid from friends, he was
enabled to take a theological course at Fisk’s University, Nashville,

He was a negro of commanding appearance, and polite address, and after
the death of his father, September, 1877, he was pastor of Mount Zion
Church continuously for nine years. In his early twenties he was
married to Miss Lou Gaines, daughter of Aunt Eliza Gaines, of whom I
shall speak later.

After his marriage, he purchased five acres of land adjoining the Mount
Zion lot, on which he built a comfortable three room cottage. It was
here that he and his thrifty wife raised a large and interesting family
of seven daughters, all of whom died young.

In his cottage he had his private study, in which he prepared some
very able sermons, and after he thought he had his subjects well in
hand, he often went to a valley near his home, on Sulphur Fork Creek,
and delivered them, with the fine old elms and sycamores his silent

His funeral orations were hard to beat, several of which I had the
pleasure of hearing. The first being that of William Northington, the
trusted foreman for years on Miss Ellen Yates’ farm. William was
highly esteemed as a colored citizen of the community, and Miss Ellen
sent out for her white friends to attend his funeral. They occupied
seats on the back porch, while the colored congregation sat under the
shade of the tall locust trees, and listened with rapt attention. After
taking his text, and making a few appropriate introductory remarks, he
quoted effectively from Longfellow’s Psalm of Life:

  “Art is long, and time is fleeting,
    And our hearts, though stout and brave,
  Still, like muffled drums are beating
    Funeral marches to the grave.”

William and Jack Northington were brothers, owned by Mr. Henry
Northington, one of the pioneer settlers of Middle Tennessee.

Mr. Northington was a large slave owner, and not needing William and
Jack on his farm, he kept them hired out.

After they were freed, they said, “We will go back to the old home,
and help take care of Mars Henry the remainder of his days,” and they
did. Mr. Northington died June, 1877, but they still stayed on the old
plantation, working as long as they lived for Miss Ellen Yates, Mr.
Northington’s adopted niece.

Two summers later, August, 1883, I heard him preach the funeral of Aunt
Lucy Parks Northington. For several years before her death, Aunt Lucy
had cooked for Mrs. Lawson Fort. She had been a faithful servant in the
Dancy, Parks, and Fort families all her life, originally belonging to
William E. Dancy, of Florence, Ala.

She was beloved by her white people, who tenderly cared for her during
the last two years of her life, in which she was unable to work. And
when the last sad rites were to be paid her remains, her casket was
placed on the front gallery of the pretty Fort home; white friends sat
in the parlor and sitting room; the colored congregation occupied seats
leading from the steps to the front gate. As Rev. Altheus Carr stood at
the head of the casket, and ’neath the shadows of the imposing columns
of that old colonial home, it was a scene to touch the tenderest chord
of a Southern heart. On the casket was a wreath of spider lillies, that
grew in a valley near the cabin home of the deceased, when she lived at
the old Parks homestead near Port Royal. Every summer, for years, she
had admired that lily bed at blooming time, and the writer remembered

He took for his text, “Well done good and faithful servant,” etc., and
started out by saying: “The nearness of this casket to the mansion
door, and the pure white lillies that shed their fragrance over the
heart that is forever still, attest the truth of my text. Yes my
hearers, this means something. It speaks appreciation of a life, whose
ending deserves more than a passing notice.

“Sister Lucy Parks Northington was sixty-one years of age, and
forty-one years of this long span of life were spent in the Master’s

“She was a quiet worker, caring not for the praise of the world, but
striving always to perform duties pleasing to the eye of Him who seeth
in secret places.

“Too well I know, that my feeble words can do but scant justice to the
life of such a departed sister, but I feel like we should hold high the
light of such lives, that others may follow their brightness.

“My mother was often with Sister Lucy during her last days; they sang
and prayed together, and she left every evidence that she was ready for
the kingdom.

“Her last night on earth, she said to the friends keeping watch, ‘Sing
to me, sing the good old songs of Zion.’ No doubt, but she, like the
saints of old, wanted music to charm her last on earth, and greet her
first in heaven.

“We shall miss her at the church she loved so well, but she has left
her light on its altars, and if we would see her again, let us find
her footprints, and follow them. They have not been blotted out. We
will find them leading from her doorway to those of affliction, to the
church door, or wherever her gentle spirit was needed.

“This quiet Summer’s evening we will lay her tired body to rest on the
hillside overlooking Red River; time for her is no more, but a home not
made with hands, is hers to enjoy, though an endless Eternity.”

The service was concluded with a song and prayer, after which the
orderly funeral procession passed up the lane, and on down to the
colored graveyard, where so many of the Fort colored people have been
laid to rest.

There was a certain dignity and refinement about Rev. Altheus Carr that
was noticeable, and which he manifested on occasions when white people
attended his services.

As for instance, at the large baptizings which followed his successful
revivals, when the good singing was especially inspiring, several
emotional members of his church were in the habit of shouting, and at
times, they were noisy in their demonstrations. When he realized that
they had reached a limit, he usually in an undertone, spoke some kind
word of admonition.

Often they understood a gesture from him, and all would be quiet. He
wielded a subtle influence over his people that was remarkable.

It is a fact worthy of mention, that only one member was publicly known
to rebel at the new rules set up in Mount Zion church after he became
its pastor.

His father, during his nine years charge of the church, had accepted
for his services only what the members saw fit to pay him. His idea
being that God did not intend for a price to be set on the preaching of
the Gospel.

Neither did he advocate, or allow, church suppers as a means of raising
funds for religious purposes.

But the world moves, and church conditions forced his successors to
adopt new methods.

Altheus being the first to follow his father, was forced to
have systematic means of raising church money, by assessing the
members according to their supposed financial ability. Uncle Arter
Northington, a reasonably prosperous colored tenant living on Mr. Felix
Northington’s premises, was assessed $2.00.

He thought it was too much, and appealed to his employer, in whose
sense of right and justice he had great confidence. The latter told him
he thought fifty cents would be enough.

When the contribution box was handed round on the next collection
day, Uncle Arter dropped in his fifty cents. After preaching was over,
Rev. Carr approached him privately, and quoted appropriately from Paul
regarding certain religious obligations.

Uncle Arter was very black, very positive, and talked through his nose.
Straightening himself up, he spoke defiantly, and said: “Brer Carr, I
keers nothin’ ’tall ’bout what PAUL said. Mars Felix is smart enough
for ME ter go by, an he says fifty cents is plenty fer me ter pay, an
that’s all I’m gwine ter pay.”

The incident was related at the village store, and in a spirit of
amusement some one exclaimed, “Hurrah for Paul!” and from that time on,
till his death, twenty-five or thirty years afterwards, Uncle Arter was
known far and wide as “Paul.”



Uncle Horace was spending several days in our neighborhood, filling a
whitewashing contract. Red River was past fording; he worked till late,
and did not wish to risk the ferry after dark, so he “took time about,”
as he called it, staying among the neighbors at night.

The night he spent on my father’s premises, I went after supper to
Aunt Lucy’s house in the back yard, and asked him to tell me of a corn
shucking before the war. He drew his chair up near the door, and began
as follows:

“I think about the biggest corn shucking I ever went to was on Mr.
Waters’ farm, between Mr. Billie Weatherford’s and Mr. John Powers’.
Mr. Waters was a prosperous farmer, and a mighty fine man with it.

“It was about the last of November, and the corn was piled high in a
lot back of the house. I would suppose there were about fifty hands
invited, white and colored. They went to work, and they worked, too, I
tell you.

“Old gray headed men were invited, not to work, mind you, but to sit
off to themselves and talk over good old times.

“The night was cool, and frosty, and a log fire was built for their
benefit. What we called the best men of the county were there. Mr.
Hatcher, Mr. Hiter, Mr. Wilcox, Mr. Thomas Shaw, Mr. John Powers, and
Mr. Patrick McGowan. I remember Mr. McGowan and Mr. Shaw seemed to be
particular friends. They came together and went away together.

“Mr. McGowan owned a yellow man named John, and he could beat anybody
there shucking corn; he could also find more red ears than anybody
else, and would laugh the merriest laughs when he found them, for a red
ear meant an extra dram, you know. Some of the hands accused him of
bringing along a few from Mr. McGowan’s corn crib, but I hardly think
that was true, for when it came to honesty, John was as straight as a

“Charles, Mr. Waters’ wagoner, was the heap walker that night. Always
at corn shuckings they picked out somebody with a clear, good voice to
sing, and made them the heap walker. He walked over and around the
corn heap, and sang the corn song. Somehow, the hands seemed to forget
they worked, when they sang, the time passed so pleasantly.

“Charles was what they called a quick witted smart fellow, and he could
fit into his songs some of the funny sayings of the neighborhood, and
make the people laugh amazingly. He would sing the verses alone, and
the crowd would join in the chorus. The corn song went like this:

  ‘Ginn erway de corn boys, ginn erway de corn,
  Done come here ternight, fer ter ginn erway de corn.
  Corn, _cor_-n, _cor_-n, _cor_-n, corn fer de
  Bell cow, corn fer de mule,
  Ash cake fer de yaller gal,
  Dat make you all er fool,
  Corn, corn, corn, dear old Marser’s corn.’

“Then the chorus went:

  ‘Cor-n, cor-n, ginn erway de corn,
  Gwine ter shuck it all dis night,
  As sho’s yer bor-n, bor-n.’

“And bless your life, they were happy times, those good old corn
shucking days before the war! Along about midnight, they changed up
from the corn song to the dram song, and when that started up, the boys
worked like steam engines. As well as I can remember, here’s the way
the dram song went:

  ‘Dram, dram, little drop er dram sir,
  Dram, dram, fetch erlong de dram.
  Come, come, little Mister Whiskey,
  Nigger mighty thirsty, wants er little dram.’

         *       *       *       *       *

“When the corn pile was finished up, Mr. Waters took off his hat, made
a polite bow, and thanked the hands for their good work.

“Then he said: ‘I’ll give you something to warm up your throats,’ and
hands the big jug around; but he had good judgment, and would not give
them enough to make them drunk. When the last one had taken his dram,
John McGowan, that same active yellow man, and one of the Sale colored
boys, caught Mr. Waters up on their shoulders, and away they went to
the house with him, the hands following behind, singing the corn song.
They set him down on the front door steps.

“Mrs. Waters was out in the hall, and said she had not laughed as
much since Christmas. We were invited out to the big log kitchen, and
there on a long table was spread the feast of all feasts. Boiled ham,
barbecued shoat, sweet potatoes, coffee, pumpkin pies, ginger cakes,
and cider; and when the supper was over, the young folks lit in to
dancing. I didn’t care for dancing myself, so I sat around and talked
to the sober-minded folks.

“It was an old saying, that day must never break on a corn shucking
feast, or bad luck would fall on the next one. So before we broke
up, the boys took Mr. Waters on their shoulders three times around
the house, to the music of a good bye song. Just now I can’t exactly
remember how that went, but it was a pretty tune.

“When we scattered out, each one going to his home, some up the road,
down the road, and across the fields, the frosty night air rang with
‘Run, nigger run, patroler’l ketch you,’ etc.

“Of course I went to many other corn shucking frolics, but this one was
the biggest I ever attended, not only this, but they had the best order
I ever noticed.

“Well I’ve told you about a corn shucking before the war, and the next
time I come back I’ll tell you of when the stars fell.”

“Tell me now,” I said, “something may happen that you will not come
again soon; its not late, and you will have time to tell part of it any

He looked serious and said, “Well I was not to say _skeered_, but
it was certainly a solemn time! I was twenty-one years old when it
happened, and was sleeping up stairs in a cabin on Miss Nancy Carr’s
farm. A pitiful noise waked me, and I bounced up and run down, and the
wood-pile in front of the cabin door was full of stars!

“I said, ‘_signs and wonders in the heavens_’

“Mr. Bob Bellamy, from Kentucky, was working at Miss Nancy’s, and he
seemed to think it was funny, the way the colored people prayed and
shouted, thinking judgment day was at hand. We could hear them praying
at Mr. Riah Grant’s home, as plain as if they were in our yard.

“Brother Martin Grant was a colored preacher, and a mighty good man; he
tried to reason with them, and told them they were in the hands of the
Lord, and He would deal right with them.

“The white folks did not seem to be much excited. The very religious
ones prayed in secret, but they made no great noise; the excitement was
mostly among the colored people, and the ignorant white folks.

“After daybreak, and it began to get light, the stars on the ground
grew dim, and got dimmer, and dimmer, till the sun came up and they
could not be seen at all. An old colored man living down on the
Clarksville road rejoiced when he saw the sun rise, and said, ‘Thank
God, I know the world is all right now, for the sun is rising in the
same place!’

“I think Brother Robin Northington (at that time a young man belonging
to Mr. David Northington) made more noise than any colored person in
the neighborhood. In his young days he was inclined to be wild, and
when he thought judgment day had found him unprepared, it was time to
make a noise.

“It always seemed strange to me that Brother Robin was so late coming
into the church. He was eighty odd, when he joined Mount Zion last

       *       *       *       *       *

The writer witnessed Uncle Robin’s baptism in Sulphur Fork Creek, near
Mount Zion Church; there were eighty candidates for baptism, and Uncle
Horace had his son Altheus to perform the sacred rite.

On account of Uncle Robin’s advanced age, and a very remarkable
experience he had related the day he joined the church, he seemed to be
a central figure of the occasion, and all eyes were turned on him, as
he stood trembling at the water’s edge, pleading, “Now Brer Carr, be
perticular, and _don’t_ you _drown_ me!”

“Be quiet Brother Northington,” he said in his characteristic
dignified tone, “by the help of the Lord I will take you safely
through; Brother Edwards and Brother Baldry are here to assist me and
you need not fear.”

It was soon over, and his nervousness gave place to rejoicing. I don’t
think I ever heard sweeter singing than went up from hundreds of
colored worshippers on the hillsides surrounding Mount Zion Church,
that lovely Sabbath morning, October, 1875.



James William Carr, the twelfth, and next to the youngest child of
Uncle Horace, and Aunt Kitty, attained distinction both as a lecturer
and a minister.

A Tennessean by birth, and a Georgian by Providence, he died in the
midst of his usefulness at Savannah, Ga., August 25, 1907.

In his youth, he professed religion and joined Mount Zion during his
father’s pastorate of the church. His early educational advantages
were poor, but he was ambitious, and lost no opportunity for mental

Rev. William Carr was tall, and bright colored, having his mother’s
refined features, and his father’s good physique.

A blend of both parents in looks, and Christian principles.

That he was appreciative, the following letter received by the writer,
a short time before his death, will show:

                                            SAVANNAH, GA., May 13, 1907.

  “_Mrs. J. F. Miller_--Kind Friend: Today my thoughts go back to the
  scenes of my boyhood, away back in the 70’s, when I worked for your
  father. How well do I remember the day he hired me, and carried me
  home behind him, on a big sorrel horse he called Charlie.

  “I had never lived with white people, and Mother Kitty did not think
  I would be satisfied, but I was, and stayed several months, going
  home every Saturday evening.

  “I date my start in life to the study table in your father’s family
  room at night, around which I was not only permitted the use of
  books, but was also instructed in them.

  “One day I ventured to ask you to set me some copies, in a rude
  copy book I had pinned together of foolscap paper. You asked if I
  wanted words, or sentences. I was embarrassed, for I did not know the
  difference, and you set both.

  “I feel profoundly grateful to you, and your family, for the interest
  manifested in the little yellow boy from near Horse Shoe Bend.

  “I have traveled from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from Lake
  Michigan to the Gulf of Mexico, and I have been treated with
  respect wherever I have gone.

  [Illustration: Rev. John William Carr, Savannah, Ga.]

  “I am at present pastor of the First African Baptist Church of
  Savannah. It was organized in 1788. The membership is 5,000, and the
  value of the church property, $100,000.00. This church has had only
  six pastors during its existence of 119 years; I am its sixth.

  “The race riot in Atlanta a few months ago, has in no way changed my
  opinion of the South, as being the proper home of the negro.

  “I am glad you visited my mother, and took down in writing some
  interesting incidents of her life.

  “My parents were unlettered it is true, for their sphere was limited,
  but our Heavenly Father can be glorified in little things as well as
  great things.

  “It matters not how small the deed of kindness done, it is the motive
  that dignifies the action.

  “Providence permitting, I hope to visit Port Royal next fall, and
  meet once more in the flesh my friends and kindred there. If I come I
  will preach a sermon or two at Mount Zion. It is a dear old church to
  me, and the quiet spot near by, in which sleeps the dust of my father
  and two brothers, is dearer still.

  “May God’s richest blessings rest on your household, is the prayer of,

                               Your obedient servant,

                                                            J. W. CARR.”

       *       *       *       *       *

In three months after the above letter was written, Rev. William Carr
was stricken with fever and died. The news of his death was telegraphed
to his only surviving brother, Horace Carr, of District No. 1,
Montgomery county, Tenn.

Immediately following this, memorial services were held in several
Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky churches in which he had
preached before making Savannah his home.

Deceased was twice married. His second wife and several children
survive him.

Apropos of Rev. William Carr’s reference to the First African Baptist
Church at Savannah, I quote the following from an article in the
_Informer_, written by Wm. L. Craft (col.), Field Secretary of the
National B. Y. P. U. Board, Nashville, Tennessee:

“The colored Baptists of the United States have cause to feel proud of
the results of their distinctive organic church work within the past
120 years.

“And to the State of Georgia we owe it, to call her the Mother State
of negro organic church life.

“It was in Savannah, January 20, 1788, that the first negro Baptist
church was organized by Rev. Andrew Bryan, and numerous other slaves
converted under his earnest preaching.

“Rev. Bryan was converted under the preaching of Rev. George Leile, and
baptized, 1783, in the Savannah River. At the close of the Civil War,
1865, there were 400,000 negro Baptists in the United States.

“Today they are estimated at 3,000,000, and well organized. The
National Colored Baptist Convention was organized at Montgomery, Ala.,
in 1880, and shows 89 State Conventions; 559 Associations; 18,214
churches; 17,217 ordained ministers; 15,625 Sunday Schools; 73,172
officers and teachers; 788,016 pupils.

“The officers of this National Convention are as follows: Rev. E. C.
Morris, D. D., Helena, Ark., President; Prof. R. B. Hudson, A. M.,
Selma, Ala., Recording Secretary; Rev. A. J. Stokes, D. D., Montgomery,
Ala., Treasurer; Rev. Robert Mitchell, A. M., D. D., Bowling Green,
Ky., Auditor; Rev. S. W. Bacote, D. D., Statistician.

“The work of this great body is conducted by National Boards, under the
management of Corresponding Secretaries.

“The denominational organ speaking for this Convention, is _The
National Baptist Union_, published weekly at Nashville, Tenn. E. W. D.
Isaac, D. D., is editor, and said to be one of the ablest in the United

It was in a speech made on Georgia soil, that first gave Booker T.
Washington the eye and ear of the Nation, when he said, “It is worth
far more to the negro to have the privilege of making an honest dollar
side by side with the white man, than it is to have the privilege of
spending that dollar sitting by him in a theatre.” It is this wholesome
doctrine that has given him the right influence among right thinking
people of both races.

When Booker Washington left Hampton Institute, Virginia, that great
school for the practical training of the negro, he began his life
work at a country cross roads, near Tuskegee, Alabama. It proved a
good stopping place for that young and penniless, but cultured son of
Hampton Institute.

As an educator and civic builder, he is known and honored wherever the
forces of Christian civilization recount their worthies, and crown
their heroes. It is a remarkable record, that in all his utterances, on
both sides of the sea, Booker Washington has never been known to say a
foolish or intemperate thing.

Speaking further of Georgia, it is asserted on good authority that the
negroes of this State pay taxes on something over $18,000,000 worth
of property. It is property at last, that is the test of civilized
citizenship, especially in a land where good men may readily attain it.

With whiskey out of the reach of a race having a lamentable weakness
for it, it is highly probable that these figures will be greatly
increased within the next decade. The truth is gradually becoming known
to the world, that the South is giving to the negro the only square
deal a white race ever gave to one of another color, living among them
under the same laws.

Through the refining influence of the holy teachings of the Man of
Galilee, the Southern white man is harmonizing with his “Brothers in
Black,” to a degree that he is spending three hundred million dollars
in their education; not only this, but he is supplying them with wealth
accumulating work, and allowing them to enjoy the rights of peaceable
citizenship. That they duly appreciate all this, is daily expressed in
the right living of the best element of our colored population.



In the preparation of this little book, it has been my earnest desire
to secure my information from reliable sources, and so far, I think I
have succeeded in doing so.

After writing the preceding chapters, it occurred to me that I would
like to read them to some member of the Carr family, before giving them
to the public. So Rev. Luke Fort, of Guthrie, Ky., came to my home, May
13, 1911, and spent a good portion of the day.

Rev. Fort, in antebellum times, belonged to Mr. Lawson Fort. He is
sixty-four years of age, and the most of his useful life was spent on
the Fort plantation. He was married during the 70’s to Annie, youngest
daughter of Uncle Horace and Aunt Kitty Carr.

Rev. Fort not only endorsed as correct what had already been written,
but he gave me additional information that I consider both valuable
and interesting. He spoke in part as follows:

“When I first heard that you wished to talk to me of a family I loved
so well, I was afraid I could be of but little assistance to you,
but after hearing you read what had already been written my mind was
awakened, and the old scenes came back to me.

“I was the son-in-law of these dear old people nineteen years, and
twelve years of that time, (after Father Horace’s death) Mother Kitty
lived with me.

“It was while I was a tenant on Mr. W. D. Fort’s farm. After the day’s
work was done, we used to gather around the fireside in winter, or on
the front porch in Summer, and listen to her talk. Everybody liked to
hear her talk. But after she broke up housekeeping and had no cares, if
possible, she seemed more interesting than at any period of her life.
My regret is, that I did not take more note of what she said.

“Her theme was religion, for she was an every day Christian. During her
widowhood, she went to live awhile with her son, William, who was at
that time living at Indianapolis Indiana, but she was not satisfied,
and soon returned to Tennessee. At her advanced age, she could not get
used to the great difference between town and country life.”

From Aunt Kitty we turned to Uncle Horace, and Rev. Fort continued:

“Father Horace had his own peculiar style of preaching, and often his
sermons would be made up entirely of some good religious experience he
had especially enjoyed.

“He was partial to the Gospel of John, and the best sermon I ever heard
him preach was from the 15th chapter and 1st verse, ‘I am the true
vine, and my Father is the husbandman.’ Feeling the infirmities of old
age coming on, and knowing that Altheus had chosen the ministry, he
often put him to the front in the pulpit, while he sat back, in his
humble way, and directed the service. While sitting beneath the sound
of his voice, in Scriptural language he doubtless thought to himself,
‘This is my son, in whom I am well pleased.’ He seemed to be getting
ready for Altheus to step into his shoes, and carry on the good work he
had begun. The foundation had been laid.”

Rev. Fort then paid fine tribute to the memories of his white people,
Mr. Lawson Fort, and his pious wife. To the latter he said he owed his
first religious impressions. When a mere boy waiting about the house,
she talked to him of salvation in a way that he understood, and he
was led to trust his Savior at an early age. And after he was a middle
aged man, she often invited him to attend devotional exercises in the
seclusion of her family room; on one occasion she requested him to lead
in prayer, which he did.

[Illustration: Rev. Luke Fort, Guthrie, Ky.]

Never having heard of the colored meetings held on the Fort plantation
before the war, only in a general way, I asked Rev. Luke Fort if he
remembered one, and he said he did, very distinctly. It was during the
middle 50’s when he was about seven years old. It was Saturday night,
and the first time he ever heard Uncle Horace preach.

The service was held in what they called Aunt Margaret’s house, a
large, comfortable log room, with a shed at one end, and an upstairs.
There were two doors in the main room, opposite each other, and facing
east and west. Along between ten and eleven o’clock the meeting reached
its most enjoyable stage. The good old time songs were making their
souls happy. Uncle Horace led the songs, and his face wore that placid
look that seemed to speak that no wave of trouble would ever roll
across his peaceful breast, when a rap was heard at the front door, and
before they had time to think, in rushed a band of patrolers!

As they came in at the east door, the confused congregation made hasty
exit from the west door.

The news was quickly conveyed to the kind old master, who sent his
son, the late Sugg Fort, to the scene of excitement. Young Mr. Fort
approached the patrolers in a very dignified manner, and informed them
that his father had sent him to tell them that their services were
not needed on his premises. It was before the county line had been
changed, Mr. Fort’s residence was then in Montgomery county, instead of
Robertson, its present location, and the patrolers were from Port Royal.

(For the benefit of a younger generation of readers, I will state
that patrolers were organized bands of white men, appointed in each
neighborhood, for the purpose of going about at night and keeping
order among a doubtful element of colored people who left home without
passes, or written permission from their owners. The unfortunate
condition of affairs demanded it, and still more unfortunate was it,
that the appointment, or office, too often fell into cruel and inhuman

There lived at Port Royal, a fine looking colored man by the name of
Dean Dancy, the property of the late John A. Dancy. It so happened that
Dean was masquerading this particular Saturday night without a pass,
and unluckily fell into the hands of the patrolers. Knowing they would
deal roughly with him under such circumstances, he compromised the
matter by telling them, if they’d let him off just this one time, he’d
pilot them to a negro meeting, where they could find a housefull of
people without passes, and this was why Uncle Horace’s meeting was so

Monday morning Mr. Fort ordered his saddle horse brought out unusually
early; he rode over to Port Royal and informed Mr. Dancy of what his
boy Dean had done, and the trickster had to make some pretty fair
promises to escape punishment.

On the same night that Dean Dancy led the patrolers to molest the quiet
worshipers on Mr. Fort’s plantation, an amusing scene was enacted in a
dry goods store at Port Royal. It was during the late fall, and several
of the village clerks had put up a notice that they would pay liberally
for a fat, well cooked o’possum, delivered at Dancy and Kirby’s store.
Joe Gaines, a tall brown skinned man belonging to W. N. Gaines, gleaned
the persimmon trees round about the Gaines premises, and failing to
find an o’possum, conceived the idea of substituting a fat house-cat.
After it was nicely cooked, he stepped out by the light of the moon,
with his pass in his pocket, and hope in his heart of bringing back a
silver dollar.

The clerks from the other business houses assembled at Dancy and
Kirby’s, where a spread was set for eight o’possum eaters. Dr. J. T.
Darden a young physician from Turnersville, had a short time before
located at Port Royal, and was invited to the feast. When the dish
containing the supposed delectable marsupial was uncovered, it was
observed that the young physician began to view it with a suspicious
eye. He called Mr. T. M. Kirby to one side and told him the carcass
was not that of an o’possum and they must not eat it. Upon closer
examination it was very plain that it was a cat.

Without a word, Mr. Dancy walked to the front door and turned the key,
locking them in; a pistol was placed on the table, and Joe was informed
that he must devour that cat, or suffer the consequences.

It required the effort of his life, but he choked it down. If Dean and
Joe ever had good intentions, Satan certainly run rough shod over them
all that Saturday night.

       *       *       *       *       *

Along with the progress of colored churches within the past four
decades, that of orders, and societies is worthy of mention.

Within a short distance of each other, they have, near Port Royal, both
Odd Fellows and Benevolent Society halls. Of the latter society I
shall speak more in detail, from the fact that it is much older as an
organization, in this community, and has done so much for its members.
It was organized, October, 1872, in a little log school room, on what
was called Sugar Camp Branch, on Miss Ellen Yates’ farm.

Dennis Neblett, a good colored man of that vicinity, was the prime
mover in the enterprise, and called to his assistance in its
organization Granville Wilcox and Henry Roberts (col.), of Clarksville,

They organized with thirty charter members, and Dennis Neblett was
elected President, which office he faithfully filled for thirty-seven

This feeble but faithful little band met three years in Sugar Camp
Branch school room, after which the house was moved farther down the
creek, on Mr. Henry Rosson’s farm. Being too remote from the majority
of its members, they lost interest and failed to attend the meetings as
they had formerly done, so the officers adopted the plan of meeting in
the homes of the members, and occasionally at the churches.

The change awakened renewed interest, and from that time on, it
gradually increased from thirty members to something near one hundred
and fifty. Its noble mission is to assist the disabled, nurse the
sick, and bury the dead.

In the early 90’s they bought a lot on the principal street of Port
Royal, on which they erected a very modest little hall. They were
fortunate in making this investment at that date, as the remainder
of their treasury, $200.00 (two hundred) deposited in a Clarksville
bank, was lost during the failure of several banks at that time in
Clarksville. After meeting at Port Royal lodge a number of years, they
decided to purchase a more suitable location. The old Carr home near
Port Royal had been dismantled, and the land was bought by Mr. Joshua
Ford, a prosperous farmer of District No. 5, Montgomery county. Mr.
Ford disposed of his purchase in lots, Jerry Fort (col.) being the
first purchaser of five acres, on which he built a comfortable little

Jerry and Harry Grant, as Trustees for the Benevolent Society, were
appointed to purchase three acres of the same tract, adjoining his,
for a burying ground, and also a parade ground for the society. The
purchase was made, but afterward sold for residence lots, now owned and
occupied by Jane Davis, Lecie Hollins and George Watson.

A large tobacco barn on the opposite side of the road, fronting the
Fort home, had been used for several years as a shelter for the society
when the members gave barbecues and other out-door festivities. This
barn, including one-quarter of an acre, was bought by the Trustees,
the building sold to Sim Polk (col.) and moved to his farm on Parson’s
Creek, and a nice Hall, Benevolent Treasure No. 7, erected on the site,
at a cost of something less than a thousand dollars. This building
speaks well for its enterprising members, and is an ornament to the

Added to the membership, is a juvenile branch of the order, consisting
of about fifty polite boys and girls, ranging from four to sixteen
years of age.

In its first organization, 1872, this society was known as Benevolent
Society No. 3, but a few years ago changed conditions made it necessary
to reorganize, after which it was called Benevolent Treasure No. 7. Its
present officers are as follows:

  Sim Polk, President.
  John Person, Vice-President.
  George Watson, Recording Secretary.
  Waymond Polk, Assistant Secretary.
  Harry Grant, Treasurer.
  Willis Northington, Chaplain.
  Wright Watkins, Lizzie Dortch, Chairmen of Sick Committee.
  Demps Trabue, Chairman Executive Committee.

The meetings are held semi-monthly.



To the aged, it is a delightful refuge. I found this especially true in
the case of Aunt Gaines Williams, whom I visited May 16, 1911.

She was living with her youngest daughter, Mrs. Sarah Northington, on
Esq. James H. Achey’s farm. Not until I began, several years ago, to
interview these faithful old colored representatives of antebellum
times, did I know how their minds were stored with rich recollections.

I was anxious to talk with Aunt Eliza, because she had been in touch
with the Carr family all her life, and her daughter had been the wife
of the late Rev. Altheus Carr.

[Illustration: Aunt Eliza Gaines Williams. Mother of five generations
of her family.]

Aunt Eliza was born in 1828, as the property of Major James Norfleet,
a prominent citizen of Robertson county, who owned large possessions
on Sulphur Fork Creek; his homestead site being now owned by Greer
Brothers, a mile or two southeast of Port Royal. At her birth, Major
Norfleet gave her to his daughter Louisa, who named her for a favorite
schoolmate, Mary Eliza Wheatley, but for short they always called her
Eliza. Her mind seemed to dwell first, on her white people, of whom she
spoke as follows:

“My young Mistress, Miss Louisa Norfleet, married Mr. Abraham Gaines,
Mr. Billie Gaines’ father, and lived where Mr. Ed. Bourne now lives,
in the village of Port Royal. When Mr. Billie Gaines was a few months
old his mother went to Mr. Sam Northington’s to spend a few days, and
while she was there she ate something that disagreed with her, and died
suddenly from congestion of the stomach.

“I had a baby child nearly the same age of hers, and I nursed them both
at my own breast. That has been sixty odd years ago, but I grieve for
her till yet, for she was good to me. I’m trying to be ready to meet
her. Mr. Billie Gaines does not forget me; he comes to see me, and
sends me a present now and then, and so does Mr. Frazier Northington.

“I was the mother of fourteen children by my first husband, Wiley
Gaines, and there is something in my family that very few people live
to see, the fifth generation. My oldest daughter, Annie, married
Henry Fort, Sister Margaret Fort’s son; their oldest daughter,
Margaret, married Gabe Washington, and their daughter, Amanda, has
grand-children. While I was talking about my white folks, I forgot to
tell you they were kin to the ‘big folks,’ the Bakers, the Dortch’s,
and Governor Blount. These three families lived out on Parson’s Creek,
and Major Baker gave the land on his place for that great camp ground,
called Baker’s Camp Ground. Lor, the good old times the people used to
have at the Baker’s camp meetings. You could hear them shouting for
miles! The little church wasn’t much larger than a family room, but
they had tents all along the creek bottom near the big Baker spring,
and held the meetings two or three weeks at a time. Brother Horace Carr
enjoyed these camp meetings; I’ve heard him tell of some of the big
sermons old Dr. Hanner, Dr. West, and others used to preach there, but
somehow he was partial to Red River Church, above all the rest. It was
through his influence that I, and a host of others joined Red River,
and then when we were freed, and the Lord blessed us with a church of
our own, we followed him to Mount Zion.

“If everybody that Brother Horace influenced to be Christians here on
earth are with him in heaven today, he has a glorious throng around
him. I will never forget the last time I saw him. I heard he was
sick, and I went over and carried him a lunch basket of nice things to
eat. The weather was warm, and he was able to bring his chair out and
sit in his yard. He had dropsy and did not live very long after that.
He talked of heaven most of the time; he would clap his hands and say:

  ‘I’m nearing my Father’s house,
    Where many mansions be,
  Nearer the great white throne,
    My people are waiting for me.’

“I used to go to Brother Horace’s prayer meetings that he held around
at night in homes that permitted him, and one night he called on me to
pray in public. I was confused, and did not say but a few words, but
he told me that a few from the heart were worth ten thousand from the
tongue. When I told him good bye, the last visit I made him, he held my
hand a long time, and pointed toward heaven and said, ‘In the name of
our Lord, we must set up our banner. Set it high, and never look down.’”

       *       *       *       *       *

After the first talk with Aunt Eliza, I made a second visit, the same
week, for the purpose of taking her picture, but after reaching her
home a rain storm came on suddenly, and we could not get the sunlight
necessary to picture making. She had been advised by telephone that we
would be there, and was nicely dressed for the occasion. Strange to
say, she was eighty-two years old, and had never had a picture taken.

We succeeded next day however, in securing a very good one.

On my second visit to her she met me at the door in her characteristic
pleasant manner and said:

“I’ve been studying a heap about what you said and read to me the other
evening when you were here, and I told my daughter that I believed the
Lord had directed you to write this history of my people, and their
early struggles. If somebody does not take it up, the old heads will
all soon be gone, and there will be nobody left to tell the story.”

Among the older members of Mount Zion Church who have aided me
materially in securing facts concerning its early history, I would
mention Dan and Jerry Fort. While neither of them were charter members,
they have been prominently identified with the church for many years.
They have seen it rise from the little box house, with its seventy
unlettered members of forty-three years ago, to a reasonably well
educated membership of something over three hundred.

Crude and humble as that first church building was, I have heard it
said that Uncle Horace on preaching days would pause on the hillside
before entering, and praise God for the privileges he enjoyed. It
seemed that a new heart was in his bosom and a new song was on his
lips. He loved the little house of worship as though it had been handed
down to him as a present, direct from heaven.

Uncle Horace was instrumental in organizing two other churches besides
Mount Zion, Antioch, near Turnersville, in Robertson county, and
Nevil’s Chapel, near Rudolphtown, in Montgomery. Along with prominent
mention of the great Christian leader of his people, I must not omit
due tribute to some of his followers; principal among whom was Uncle
John McGowan, a member of Mount Zion Church forty-two years, and all
the time leading a life worthy of emulation.

Uncle John was born on what was known as the George Wimberly place
near Rossview, in Montgomery county, in 1822. He was the property of
Miss Katherine Wimberly, who married Mr. Milton Bourne, brother of the
late Mr. William Bourne, of Port Royal, Tenn. Mr. Milton Bourne owned
and settled the present homestead site of Mr. John Gower, of Port
Royal. After living happily there for a number of years, he became
financially embarrassed, and was forced to sell some of his most
valuable slaves. Among them, in young manhood’s prime, was Uncle John,
who, in no spirit of bitterness, often referred to his sale as follows:
“A large block, or box, was placed in the front yard for us to stand
on, that the bidders might get a good look at us. The bid opened lively
when I was put up, for I was considered a pretty likely man, as the
saying went. When the bidding went way up into several hundred dollars,
I was knocked off to Mr. Lawson Fort. I was glad of that, for I had
lived near him and knew him to be a good man. I hadn’t long settled
my mind down on having a good home the balance of my life, when up
comes somebody and told me Mr. Fort didn’t buy me, he was just bidding
for Mr. Patrick McGowan. ‘My feathers fell,’ as the saying is, for I
didn’t know how me and an Irishman I didn’t know anything about were
going to get along together. But it so happened that we got along fine;
while his ways were a little different from what I had been used to
with Mr. Bourne and the Wimberleys, I soon found him to be a man that
would treat you right if you deserved it. He had his own curious way of
farming, and no matter what price was paid for tobacco, he would not
let a plant grow on his place. He had a very good little farm joining
the Royster place, and raised more potatoes than anybody in that whole

“I have heard him tell often of letting Elder Reuben Ross, the great
Baptist preacher that came to this country from North Carolina over a
hundred years ago, live in a cabin in his yard till he could arrange
to get a better home. Elder Ross had a large family, and Mr. McGowan
took some of them in his own house. He was kind to strangers, and never
turned the needy from his door.

“I must tell you of a whipping I got while I belonged to Mr. Milton
Bourne, that I did not deserve, and if I had the time to go over again,
I would whip the negro who caused me to get it. There was a still house
on Red River, not far from Mr. Sugg Fort’s mill, it was long before
Mr. Fort owned the mill; Mr. Joe Wimberly owned and operated the still
house. In that day and time, the best people of the land made whiskey;
it was pure, honest whiskey, and did not make those who drank it do
mean things, like the whiskey of today. Mr. Bourne had hired me to Mr.
Wimberly to work in the still house, with a lot of other boys, about my
age--along about nineteen and twenty years old. We were a lively set of
youngsters, and laid a plan to steal a widow woman’s chickens one night
and have a chicken fry. We took a solemn pledge just before we started,
that we would never tell on each other, if the old lady suspicioned
us. Well we stole them, and one of the boys, Bob Herndon, who had been
raised to help his mammy about the kitchen, was a pretty good cook, and
he fried them. I think it was the best fried chicken I ever put in my
mouth. A day or two went by, the still house shut down, and they put
me to work in the field. Corn was knee high, I was chopping out bushes
in a field near the river, when I saw Mr. Wimberly’s overseer come
stepping down the turn row like he was mad as a hornet. I knew him so
well, I could tell when he was mad, as far as I could see him. My heart
began to beat pretty fast, as he asked about the chickens. I told him I
did not know a thing about them, but when he began to tell things that
really took place, I knew some one had given us away. He got out his
rope and tied me to a hickory sapling, and said: ‘Now John, I’m going
to give you a little dressing off for this, Bob Herndon has let the cat
out of the wallet; of course he is the biggest rascal of the gang.’
Every now and then he’d stop, and ask me if I was ready to own up, but
he soon found I was not, and turned me loose to chopping bushes out of
the corn again. About twenty years after that, I met that same overseer
at the mill one rainy day; he was older, and I reckon his heart had
softened, and we laughed and talked over that chicken fry, and what it
cost me. It was the first and last dishonorable scrape I ever got into.”

[Illustration: Uncle John McGowan, the great Broom Maker.]

Uncle John was twice married, and the father of several highly
respected sons, and daughters, several of whom still survive him. His
second son by his first marriage, Rev. Burnett McGowan, is a Baptist
minister of some prominence, and owns a nice little home near Adams,
Tennessee. Uncle John was an expert broom maker, and during the last
twenty years of his life he made a circuit of certain sections of
Robertson and Montgomery counties about three times a year, delivering
his brooms to his old customers, who would use no other make but “The
John McGowan brand.” They were honest brooms, and lasted twice as long
as the factory made ones. He had a business way of distributing broom
corn seed among his customers at planting time, and after the corn was
harvested, he would follow the crops, and make up the brooms on the

He was so polite and pleasant that his friends, both white and colored,
made him welcome in their homes free of charge, a week or ten days
at a time during the broom making season. He was a fine judge of
human nature, and often discussed in a very original manner the
characteristics of the families with whom he stayed. After a short
illness from the infirmities of old age, he died at the home of his
son, Rev. Burnett McGowan, August, 1910. He was laid to rest at the old
E. L. Fort homestead, with impressive ceremonies by Benevolent Treasure
Lodge No. 7, of which he had long been an honored member.



Before pronouncing the benediction in this pleasant meeting with old
familiar faces, I must not fail to say more of the kind old master who
was as respectful to his dusky body servant as to his proudest peer,
and who could penetrate color, poverty, and untutored speech, and find
where a true heart lodged. Eppa Lawson Fort was born at “Riverside,”
a picturesque homestead on Red River, three miles southeast of Port
Royal, Tennessee, August, 1802. He was the son of a prominent Baptist
minister, and a church goer, but strange to say, during a pilgrimage
of nearly ninety years, never joined a church. He believed implicitly
in God’s mercy, and when approached by friends, on the subject of
religion, he would assure them that the Lord would manifest Himself to
him in a way that he would understand, when He was ready for him to
enter the Christian fold.

Mr. Fort was twice married, the first time to Miss Virginia Metcalfe,
of Robertson county, and the second to Miss Elizabeth Dancy, of
Florence, Alabama. Three sons blessed his first marriage, and a son and
daughter his last, all of whom are dead. For the benefit of those of
my readers who knew Mr. Fort and his last wife, I give below a brief
sketch of family history:

The Forts, Dancys and Wimberlys were related, and came from North
Carolina to Tennessee at an early date. The first Fort family settled
on Sulphur Fork Creek, near Beech Valley Mill, at a place now owned
by Mr. Plummer Poole. The Wimberlys went nearer Clarksville, on Red
River, and their first homestead is now occupied by their descendants,
Messrs. Joe and Alf Killebrew, of Rossview neighborhood. Esq. William
E. Dancy located near Dunbar’s Cave, but later moved to Florence,
Alabama, carrying with him a number of valuable slaves, and a family
consisting of his wife and three small children, Caroline, Elizabeth
and John. It was before the day of railroads, and all the visiting
between the Tennessee and Alabama relatives was done on horseback,
covering a period of several days’ journey. During the 30’s little
Caroline and Elizabeth had grown to young ladyhood and accompanied by
a younger brother, they came to visit the Wimberlys. They found Mr.
Fort a gay young widower, and he found Miss Elizabeth Dancy a charming
young lady. A few months prior to this, he had paid his addresses to a
popular young lady of Port Royal, and they were engaged, but by dint of
accident he learned from a reliable source that she had said publicly
that she did not intend to be bothered with his three little boys, so
he frankly informed her that his children were first, and released her.

After spending several weeks in Tennessee, as the time had come for
the Dancy girls to return to Alabama, Mr. Fort asked the privilege
of escorting them, by saying he had not seen “Cousin Nancy,” their
mother, in a long time, and that she was his favorite relative. The old
folks saw clearly through it all, and were pleased, and after a two
weeks’ visit Mr. Fort returned home, with the prospect of being their
son-in-law some time during the coming year.

The three sweet little motherless boys, Jack, Ilai and Sugg, in the
meantime were being tenderly cared for by their mother’s relatives. A
year sped quickly by; a black broadcloth wedding suit was packed in a
pair of leather saddle bags, and mounted on a handsome dappled gray
horse, Mr. Fort set his face southward, with bright anticipations. A
letter had preceded him, telling them what day to expect him; it was
before the time of sewing machines, and the bridesmaids, Hannah and
Lute Barton, had been in the Dancy home several days making the wedding
dresses; they and the bride were to be dressed alike, in white muslin,
flounced to the waist, and flounces bound with white satin ribbon. Esq.
Dancy lived on what was known as “The Military Road,” cut out by Andrew
Jackson during the Creek War, and horsemen could be seen a long way off.

Toward sunset a member of the family looked up the road and exclaimed,
“Yonder comes the Tennessee widower!” and they all ran out to meet
him. He set his saddle bags in the hall, and incidentally mentioned
their contents, whereupon the bride elect took out the broadcloth
suit and neatly folded it away in a bureau drawer in her room. In
those days there were no trunks, but few spare rooms, and no foolish
conventionalities. Along with the clothes was a fine pair of No. 5 pump
sole shoes, to be worn on the wedding occasion. Mr. Fort had a small,
shapely foot, and it was said the young ladies in the Dancy home,
assisting the bride in her preparation for the wedding, would go every
now and then and peep admiringly at those dainty pumps in the bureau

Mr. Dancy made his daughter a bridal present of a nice black saddle
horse, called “Indian,” and when they turned their faces toward
Tennessee, mounted on this black and white steed, it must have been an
interesting picture. Seventy odd years ago, think of the changes!

For her traveling suit, the bride wore a purple marino riding habit,
made with long pointed tight waist, with hooks and eyes beneath the
waist line underneath, by which it could be temporarily shortened
and converted into a walking suit, thereby saving her the trouble of
dressing when they took lodging at the wayside inns or taverns, as they
were called. (It will be remembered that a bridal wardrobe folded in
saddle pockets afforded but few dresses for change.) A shaker straw
bonnet, with a green berege frill, or skirt, completed her outfit.

The headpiece of these Shaker bonnets, or “scoops,” as they were
called, were shaped something like the cover of an emigrant’s wagon,
and were anything but pleasant to wear in warm weather.

On reaching the Tennessee River, Mr. Fort’s fine gray horse grew
stubborn, and refused to step into the large ferry boat, and had to
be blindfolded. The trip was a long and tiresome one, and the bride
was laid up for repairs over a week; the scorching July sun had dealt
roughly with her delicate complexion, and before she was aware of it,
the back of her neck was deeply blistered from the sun shining through
the thin berege skirt of her Shaker bonnet.

The faithful servants did all in their power to make her feel at home;
then and there an ideal home life began, and Mr. Fort was a prime
factor in making it so.

The following amusing story was often told of him: He had a nice herd
of dairy cows, and among them was one they called “Stately,” the bell
cow. Aunt Margaret was the milk maid, and she always carried along
with her to the cow pen her ten-year-old son, Nelson, “to keep the
calves off,” as they termed it. One summer evening about sunset, the
family were seated on the front gallery, Mr. Fort, his wife, and their
youngest son, the late W. D. Fort. They were quietly discussing the
expected arrival next day of some favorite relatives from Paris, Texas,
Dr. Joe Fort’s family.

Suddenly Nelson appeared on the scene, and in breathless excitement
exclaimed, “Mars Lawson, old Stately poked her head in a wagon wheel up
at the lot, and she can’t get it out, and mammy says what must she do
about it?”

[Illustration: Revs. F. C. Plaster, and W. S. Adams, who assisted in
Rev. Horace Carr’s ordination at Old Red River Church, before the Civil

Mr. Fort sprang to his feet, and on the impulse of the moment said,
“Tell one of the men up at the lot feeding, to get an axe and cut her
fool head off, QUICK!” It was too good to keep, and his son treasured
it as a household joke, which he enjoyed telling on his kind old
father, along with many others equally as amusing.

But the happy old Riverside home was to undergo changes. After a few
days illness, from the infirmities of old age, Mr. Fort quietly fell
asleep, July 12, 1891. His remains were laid to rest with Masonic
honors at the old Metcalfe burying ground on Elk Fork Creek, near
Sadlersville, Tenn.

His family feasted on his affections, and his friends enjoyed the
wealth of his noble nature.

       *       *       *       *       *

Since the lives of most of the good people mentioned in this little
story centered around Port Royal, I deem it not amiss to tell something
of this historic spot.

Nearly four generations have passed since this village, which tradition
tells us, lacked only one vote of being the Capitol of the State, was
settled. In 1789, Samuel Wilcox, of Port Royal, South Carolina, came
with his small family and settled near a large spring, on the left bank
of Red River, at the foot of a ridge called “The Devil’s Backbone.” The
exact location may be better known today by pointing the reader to a
slight elevation on the far side of W. N. Gaines’ bottom field, lying
between his “Hill Top” home and Sulphur Fork Creek, nearly opposite the
old Weatherford mill site.

Located as he was, between Red River on the one side and Sulphur Fork
Creek on the other, he soon realized his mistake, for during the high
water season a vast area of this level tract, including his home, was
subject to overflow.

So he crossed over Sulphur Fork Creek a few hundred yards northwest, to
a picturesque point where the creek empties into Red River, and built a
primitive residence, and a blacksmith shop, and called the place Port
Royal, in honor of his native town in South Carolina. Mr. Wilcox later
on entered about one thousand acres of land three or four miles from
Port Royal, on the Graysville road leading to Kentucky. A portion of
his original purchase is now owned by Mr. Polk Prince, of District No.
1, Montgomery county.

This was the first permanent settlement made at Port Royal. But
fourteen years earlier, 1775, the historian tells us of tragic scenes
enacted thereabouts, as follows:

“A famous hunter by the name of Manscoe, and three companions, camped
a few weeks near where Sulphur Fork Creek empties into Red River, and
here Manscoe had an adventure with some Indians. Having discovered from
their trail, that a hunting party of some sort was in the vicinity, he
went alone to ascertain if possible who they were.

“On the bank of the river, he saw a camp fire, and creeping as close
as he dared, he saw two Indians, whom he recognized as belonging to
the Black Feet tribe. Manscoe was about to retire to carry the news to
his companions, when one of the Indians arose and came directly toward
him. Manscoe fired, and the Indian wheeled and ran about fifty yards
past his own camp fire and fell dead over the bluff into the river. The
other Indian made quick time away from the fatal spot, not knowing,
it was supposed, how many whites were in the attacking party. Manscoe
not knowing the number of savages, beat a hasty retreat also. Joining
his comrades, he returned in a few hours, accompanied by them, to find
the fugitive Indian had, in the meantime, been to his camp, packed his
scant belongings on his pony, and left for parts unknown. They followed
close on his trail, the remainder of the day, but never found him.

“Knowing that the Indians would soon return in full force to avenge
the death of their comrade, Manscoe and his party left the country
within the next few hours, but terribly was the death of this Indian
afterwards avenged. In 1794, ten years after Clarksville, Tenn., had
been incorporated and named, Col. Isaac Titsworth, and his brother
John, with their families, moved from North Carolina to the Cumberland
country. They intended locating on Red River, and on the night of
October 24, 1794, camped at the mouth of Sulphur Fork Creek, near where
the Indian had been shot by Manscoe. That night a party of fifty Creek
Indians stole upon them, taking them completely by surprise. Seven of
the party, including Col. Titsworth and his brother, and their wives
were killed and scalped. A negro woman was badly wounded, but crawled
off in the woods and escaped. The Indians carried off six prisoners, a
negro man, a white man, a grown daughter of Col. Titsworth, and three
little children. Great excitement reigned, and in a few hours a party
of white men was organized and on their trail. The Indians discovering
their approach, tomahawked the children and scalped them, taking off
the whole skins of their heads. The white man and the negro, they
either killed or carried off with their daughter; none of the three
were ever heard from.”

As far back as 1807, the citizenship of Port Royal received favorable
comment, as the following from “The Life and Times of Elder Reuben
Ross,” will show:

“Although not a great deal could be said in praise of the small village
of Port Royal, in itself, near which we are now living, it would be
safe to say, no finer citizenship could have been found anywhere at
this time than in the country around it, extending into Robertson and
Montgomery counties. In evidence of this, one need only to mention
such names as Fort, Norfleet, Northington, Dortch, Baker, Cheatham,
Washington, Bryant, Turner, Blount (Gov. Willie Blount), Johnson,
and others. They were generally men of large stature, dignified and
patriarchal in their bearing, many of them wealthy, very hospitable,
and always ready to assist those who needed assistance, especially
strangers who came to settle among them.”

While the lordly old masters have drifted away with the “days that are
dust,” the posterity of a fine antebellum citizenship lingers yet with
us to bless and beautify the hills and vales of dear old Port Royal.



Of the four most prominent members of the Carr family, mentioned in
the foregoing chapters, it is a fact worthy of note that each passed
from earth from as many different States. Uncle Horace, the first to
go, died near Port Royal, at his humble home on the Weatherford farm,
September, 1877.

Rev. Altheus Carr died, after a short illness from fever, at Topeka,
Kansas, October, 1886. He had been called to Kansas to assist in a
revival, and fell, as it were, at the foot of an unfinished work. His
remains were brought back to Tennessee, and laid to rest at Mount Zion,
beside those of his father. The burial of no colored citizen in this
section was ever so largely attended or greater demonstration of deep
sorrow over the passing of a Christian leader, whose place in many
respects has never been filled. His funeral orations were delivered
by Revs. Houston Metcalfe, of Clarksville, Tenn., and P. Barker, of
Guthrie, Ky. The latter afterward went as a missionary to Africa.

Aunt Kitty, after a short illness from pneumonia, died October, 1904,
at the home of her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Margaret Manier, of Guthrie,

As before stated, Rev. William Carr died at Savannah, Georgia, August,

Geographically speaking, their bodies, at dissolution were widely
sundered, but their kindred spirits mingled in sweet communion around
the same Great White Throne.

Of a family of thirteen children, only two are living, Horace Carr, a
good citizen of District No. 1, Montgomery county, Tenn., and his older
sister, Mrs. Mary Waters, of Ohio.

The remainder of this chapter will be devoted to the Carneys, a family
of colored citizens whose deeds should not be forgotten by those who
properly appreciate the loyalty of high class antebellum negroes.

I will first speak briefly of the kind old master. Captain C. N. Carney
was born in Halifax county, North Carolina, August 15th, 1782, and came
to Tennessee in 1808. He was married March 11th, 1824, to Elizabeth
Johnson, of Fortson’s Spring neighborhood, District No. 1, Montgomery
county. There were no children by his first marriage. He was married
the second time, 1848, to Miss Margaret C. Lynn, of east Montgomery
county. Three sons blessed this union, viz: Richard Rodney, Thomas,
and Norfleet Lynn. The first and last named still survive, and like
their father, rank among the best citizens of the State. To them the
writer is indebted for valuable local history gleaned by them from the
early settlers of this country, with whom, by ties of blood, they were
intimately associated.

The Northingtons, Johnsons, Neblets, etc.

Captain Carney descended from the old Revolutionary stock, being the
grandson of General Richard Rodney. The latter’s sword is a cherished
heirloom in the family, being owned by his namesake, R. R. Carney, of
Port Royal, Tenn., who placed it for safe keeping with his brother, Dr.
N. L. Carney, of Clarksville, Tenn.

[Illustration: Hall of Benevolent Treasure No. 7, near Port Royal,

Captain Carney owned a large number of valuable slaves, and a nice
plantation on Parson’s Creek, in District No. 5, Montgomery county.
He was kind to his negroes, and they in turn were of a high order of
principle, that responded to kind treatment. After a short illness from
senile infirmities, Captain Carney died January, 1862, leaving his
widow and two little boys at the old homestead, unprotected, save by
these faithful family servants. Throughout the excitement incident to
the Civil War, they stood true to the post of duty, as the following
incident will show.

Uncle Isaac Carney, the colored blacksmith on the premises, worked for
the surrounding country and people of every type came to his shop. One
day a man rode up to the door on a fine young horse, that was tender
footed and jaded, almost to the point of falling in its tracks. The
rider dismounted and ordered it shod as quickly as possible. After it
was done he drew from his purse a $20.00 greenback bill to settle. Not
keeping that amount of money at the shop in war times, the bill could
not be changed, and the stranger persisted in going to the house for
it. Knowing a timid woman would be frightened by the appearance of such
a looking stranger, Uncle Isaac accompanied him, with his hammer in his
hand. They changed the money, and on their return to the shop they were
surprised to find Captain Zachary Grant, Mr. S. H. Northington, and Mr.
C. Daniel waiting to arrest the guerilla horse thief, who had stolen
the fine horse from a gentleman of Elkton, Ky. He was never again seen,
or heard from in this section, and it was supposed they made a proper
disposition of him.

Uncle Isaac was born in North Carolina, February 16, 1804, and had
a vivid recollection of things that took place soon after coming to
Tennessee in 1808. During the war, when Southern homes were looted of
valuables, Mrs. Carney entrusted her silverware and all moneys not
needed by her, often as much as a thousand dollars, to Uncle Isaac, who
dug a hole under his cabin floor and deposited same, which he guarded
with vigilant care.

When it seemed necessary for Confederate recruiting officers to remain
clandestinely in this section, for weeks at a time, Uncle Isaac often
shod their horses, but in no instance was he ever known to betray
one. He told of one occasion in which he felt some uneasiness. Late
one evening, he was going by way of Sugar Camp branch to Bennett’s
distillery for a jug of whiskey when he heard threatening voices from a
thick undergrowth near the roadside. A new set of recruiting officers
had recently come in, and it happened to be one of these, who first saw
him, and thinking he might give out information dangerous to them, they
were about to seize him, when one of the older ones, who knew him, came
to his rescue, and told them to let him pass on, that he was all right.

Another of Captain Carney’s valuable servants was Peter, whom he
brought from Mr. Richard Brown, of McAdoo. Peter was a Presbyterian
preacher, of stout build, and ginger cake color. He was a man of very
nice manners, and waited on Captain Carney, when he officiated at the
musters and military parades. Aunt Sylvia was his wife. They raised
a large family of children, only one of whom, Frank Carney, of Port
Royal, survives.

On account of certain good qualities, Peter was allowed extra
privileges over the average colored citizen of his day. He had what
was termed a “general pass,” permitting him to go where and when he
pleased, unmolested by patrolers. He owned his own horse, and kept a
shot gun. He did the neighborhood marketing, making frequent trips to
Clarksville, carrying the produce on his horse, there being but few
vehicles in existence. When in Clarksville, he often stopped at Hon.
Cave Johnsons, a warm personal friend of his master’s, or with Col.
George Smith, proprietor of the old National Hotel, below where the
Franklin House now stands. The last trip he ever made to Clarksville,
he drove the carriage for Mrs. Carney, and Mrs. Dr. N. L. Northington.

Apropos of colored ministers, Mrs. George F. Adams, one of the best
Christian women that ever blessed any community, once remarked to
the writer, that she had never witnessed a more impressive antebellum
picture, than that of three devout colored divines, all of different
denominations, seated side by side one night at old Baker’s camp
meeting, listening to a soul-stirring sermon from Dr. Jno. W. Hanner,
Sr. Rev. Horace Carr, Baptest; Rev. Martin Grant, Methodist, and Rev.
Peter Carney, Cumberland Presbyterian. They cared little for creeds,
and in their humble way preached Christ, and Him crucified.

The last record made by Captain C. N. Carney of the birth of his family
servants, was that of Aleck, a valuable, bright colored man, born March
30th, 1840. When the Civil War broke out, Aleck was just twenty-one,
and a man of fine appearance. In 1863, he and a fellow servant, Cæsar
Carney, were pressed into service to work on a Federal fort at New
Providence, Tenn. They were retained three months. While employed at
work raising a steamboat sunk by the Confederates in Harpeth River,
Cæsar ran away and came home, and through the influence of good friends
in Clarksville, who knew Col. Bruce, the Federal officer in command,
Mrs. Carney secured the release of Aleck, who gladly returned home and
took up his work with Uncle Isaac in the blacksmith shop. Aleck is
still in the land of the living; he owns a comfortable little home
on the Port Royal road leading to Clarksville, from which, by the
assistance of his son, he conducts a successful blacksmith trade, and
strange to say, in his shop may be seen many of the tools he bought at
the Carney sale, some of which have been in use over a century.

Among the Carney colored people, none ranked above Betsy, Aleck’s
sister, a fine looking yellow woman, who married Dennis Neblett,
previously mentioned. No kinder heart ever beat in human breast than
that of Betsy Carney-Neblett. She was a fine nurse, and would lay aside
her home work any day to minister to the afflicted of her neighborhood,
and when asked her charges for same, would say, “I make no charges for
Christian duty.”

There was an air of dignified independence in her make up, that
attracted even the casual observer. For instance, she would go to
church dressed in a neat plaid cotton dress, a large housekeeper’s
apron, and plain sailor hat, and feel as comfortable as if clad in the
finest fabrics. Assisted by her economy, and thrift, her worthy husband
was enabled to buy a small farm, a portion of the Carney estate, on
Parson’s Creek, known as the Carney Quarter.

When there was all-day meeting and dinner on the ground at Grant’s
Chapel, Betsy and Dennis often went along to take charge of the dinner
for some special friends, as Miss Ellen Yates, Mrs. Dr. Northington,
or some of the Grants. On communion days, when Rev. J. W. Cullom was
pastor in charge, he never failed to go to the church door and extend
an invitation to the colored people outside to go in and partake of the
Lord’s Supper, and it was not uncommon to see Betsy and Dennis walk
reverently down the aisle and kneel around the chancel. After a long
and useful life, she passed away, ten or fifteen years ago, and her
body was laid to rest on the hillside near the scene of her birth.

Henry W. Grady, the South’s greatest orator and statesman, in a speech
at Boston, Mass., a few years before his death, gave a battlefield
experience that was eloquently pathetic. He said:

“In sad memory I see a young Confederate soldier struck by a fatal
bullet, stagger and fall, and I see a black and shambling figure make
his way through a throng of soldiers, wind his loving arms about him,
and bear him from the field of carnage, and from the pale lips of that
dying friend, I hear a feeble voice bidding me to follow that black
hero and protect him, if he ever needed protection, and I was true to
my promise.”

We who love Southern soil, and cherish Southern tradition, should
pause now and then and pay due tribute not only to the worthy living,
but to the faithful colored dead “who sleep out under the stars!”


  Italicized text is surrounded by underscores: _italics_.

  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

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  of publication has been retained.

  Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been standardized.

  Pages 73 and 74 were switched in the original. This has been corrected
  in this eBook.

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