Letter from Sophia

“… Join us in August 31, 1861 when about 31 men left Madison under the command of J. R. Chowning and J. W. Atterbury marched to Middle Grove where they joined forces of the Confederacy under Captain Frank Davis. Their first actual encounter was at Boonville, where they had a skirmish with the union forces. They were unsuccessful in capturing the position, but they settled for the release of about ten prisoners. J. W. Atterbury Sr., received a wound in his ankle, having to return home. The other men proceeded to Lexington, where they fought their second battle. Some of the men from this section who served were, J.S. Dunaway, Jack Overfelt, J.R. Chowning, Bill Edwards, Nick Farrell, Lee Farrell, Joseph Hersman, Henry Wade, C.A. Overfelt, D.T.C. Mitchell, J.W. Atterbury, Wes McKinney, Jim Elsberry, Ed Lynch, Sam Houchins, C.L. Enochs, and G.E. Green. As the following men: Joe Boulware, Will Klugh, Simp Dry, Neut Turner, Curt Mitchell, Charles McKinney, Elsea Dry, Bos Bodkins, Adolphus Elsberry and Henry Clay Bryant were returning home, four of their comrades were drowned when “Old Kentucky”, their boat sank on the Red River, Louisiana, September 8th, 1865…” 


“… This is from a clipping from the Madison Times – I don’t remember the date… There are some men from your list in the last Appeal that I knew personally or knew of. Elsea Dry was married to my mother’s aunt, Virginia Wright, and we visited them on their farm near Tulip. J.R. Chowning lived across the street from us until his death. “Uncle” Johnny Dunnaway lived next door to my grandmother. There was a Ben Houchins in Madison of the right age. There was a Baker of the right age who was a cabinet maker… I would guess he was J.W. He was an ancestor of Thurber Gray’s first wife, Betty Hodgeman who was the daughter of a later J.W. Baker lived in Paris. Ed Lynch was married to a relative of mine but so far I can’t remember which one. 

… My great grandfather, Capt. Wm. Waller, fought in the Confederate army four years or so. (Records show he was not a captain). Grandma told lots of stories about the war but I was too young to pay much attention & no one recorded them. But Willie was with her often I did remember a lot. She told me that grandma sat up all night sewing a tent for her husband before he left the next day in the army. Her youngest child was born the next day and named Jefferson Davis. She was left on a farm North of Madison with several children in a log house with a woman slave and one man slave… Grandpa was wounded twice. They said he had a big “dent” in the back of his head from a minie ball. One wound resulted in a broken leg – I think that was at (Kennesaw) Mt. An old Negro woman took him off the battlefield and took care of him. Grandma didn’t know if he was alive as she never heard from him. I don’t think he was in the famous prison camp (I can’t remember the name now) but she did tell about his saying they washed corn out of mule dung and roasted & ate it. I guess that stayed with me because I thought it so horrible. He was not on the Kentucky because he refused to swear allegiance to the Union. He was in prison in Ill. (Alton I think.) Grandma took little Jeffie (whom he had never seen) to Ill. and persuaded him to sign so he could come home.  

… If you read the Paris Appeal you may have seen the letter from John C. Atterbury in Arkansas. He evidently has done a lot of research on his family. His letter was regarding his grandfather who lost a leg during the Civil War. I don’t know how much research on the Civil War he’s done maybe just on his family. I remember “Uncle” Joe Atterbury in the Memorial day parades. Of course the peg leg was quite a curiosity to us children.  

… Unfortunately children and even grandchildren of many Civil War veterans are dead too. Dr. Bob Swartz, a dentist in Paris, is a great grandson of John Dunaway but so many young people have never been interested in family history. So far as I know all the Chowning grandchildren are dead. Both of Elsea Dry’s daughters are dead. They had children but I don’t know about them…  



More extracts from the Sophia letter…”this is a clipping form the Madison Times… I don’t remember the date…” Article indicates that the original History of Monroe County information came from a clipping provided by Mrs. Ernest Ragsdale of Madison. 



…The Atterbury brothers and H.C. Baker owed some of the finest horse in this country. Probably no other men of the county have contributed more to livestock industry than these men. 

In 1884 Charles Atterbury was engaged in the furniture and undertaking business. He was one of the town’s most influential and progressive business men. In previous years Henry Wade was the town’s furniture dealer and undertaker. The art of embalming was then unknown.  

Madison had an Opera House which was over the Times and K and W Store; this was the social center for many grand occasions for many years. There was always a community Christmas tree at the Opera House. 

The first Christian minister was Elder Donan, who traveled over this section on horseback, preaching for the free will offering of his members.  

The Christian Church was organized in 1838 at a log school (unknown) on the farm of Martin Grove, west of Madison with five charter members. 

In 1841 another church was reorganized and these charter members were men and women who came from Kentucky and Virginia. At that time dancing was a rock over which many of the new converts stumbled and there are found these words after their names; “Excluded for dancing.” And after the names of slave who became members of their master’s church are the following words: “black woman or black man.” 

In 1873, a primitive frame building was built on East Broadway, the only ornamentation was (a) glass and light over the door, (the) lettering: “Madison Christian Church”. Cicero Eubank organized the first Sunday School. 

In 1896 the next church was built at a cost of $5,000…the first funeral held in it was Mrs. Milton Forsyth and the last was her husbands 14 years later (in the year 1910). Handwritten note: Elder Wm. Featherston was ordained in this church.