Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thomas Lee Woolwine

  It never ceases to amaze me how many famous people are buried here locally in Nashville and Middle Tennessee. Most of these people I recognize when I come across their name as being buried in a certain cemetery or graveyard but Thomas Lee Woolwine is a fascinating figure that I never knew about until now. For that reason I will not attempt to describe him in detail but use the words of others. Woolwine is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery because he was born near Nashville. The following is from the Find A Grave website.

Birth: Oct. 31, 1874
Davidson County
Tennessee, USA

Death: Jul. 8, 1925
Los Angeles
Los Angeles County
California, USA

Los Angeles District Attorney, figure in the William Desmond Taylo murder case. Woolwine was a district attorney in L.A. His investigations ended the careers of two L.A. Mayors. He also attempted to jail Valentino for bigamy. However, he made his way into Hollywood legend during the 1922 murder of movie director William Desmond Taylor. Many historians believe that Woolwine destroyed crucial evidence in the case after being bribed by themother of one of the prime suspects. The case was never solved. He also fought the Ku Klux Klan in Los Angeles during the early 1920's when the Klan enjoyed nationwide popularity and huge membership. The following is from the Los Angeles Country District Attorney website.

District Attorney


Thomas Lee Woolwine

Public corruption and vice are high on the list of targets of this reform-minded prosecutor.

He even raided the prestigious California Club once in his zeal to control illegal liquor, gambling, prostitution and, most importantly, public corruption. Thomas Lee Woolwine, who began as a deputy district attorney in 1908, would go on as District Attorney to contribute to the downfall of two mayors, Charles Sabastian and Frederick Woodman, as well as leading and investigation of a particularly violent nest of Ku Klux Klansmen in Los Angeles. Woolwine obtained thirty-five grand jury indictments of Klansmen for assault with deadly weapons with the intent to commit murder after a Klan home-invasion slaying in Inglewood in 1922. None of the defendants were convicted, but Klan members heckled him from the audiences of his political campaign meetings from then on. Woolwine ran twice unsuccessfully for governor during his years as District Attorney.

Reprinted from FOR THE PEOPLE -- Inside the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office 1850-2000 by Michael Parrish. ISBN 1-883318-15-7

Monday, November 25, 2013

Carnton Confederate Cemetery

Carnton Confederate Cemetery / 1866

  In 1860 the town of Franklin had a population of 900 people. On the morning of December 1, 1864 Franklin faced a gigantic problem of what to do with the bodies of 1,750 Confederate soldiers, and hundreds of dead Union soldiers. Burial squads placed Union soldiers by two's in unmarked graves that were later dug up by black soldiers of the 111th Colored Infantry of the Union Army and re interred at Stones River National Cemetery in Murfreesboro. Since the Confederates held the battlefield they buried their men in individual graves on the Fountain Carter and James McNutt land along the length of the Union trenches. Each grave was marked with a wooden headboard which listed the names, regiments, and pertinent information about each soldier. In time the headboards and graves began to deteriorate. Because of the number of poor people and shortage of firewood the headboards began disappearing at an alarming rate. In the spring of 1866 John McGavock of Carnton began raising money to create a Confederate Cemetery. He donated two acres adjacent to his family graveyard. Whenever soldiers could be identified they were buried together by states. Seven hundred and eighty are positively identified. Five hundred and fifty eight are unknown. There is one Chinese and one Jewish soldier buried there.
The Aftermath

  McGavock paid George Cuppett five dollars per body to re inter them. His brother Marcellus and two other workers completed the work in ten weeks. Marcellus took sick and died on April 26, 1866 and is also buried in the cemetery. When archaeological research was being done on the property during the 1990's I ran into one of them working in the cemetery. We struck up a fascinating conversation and he told me that Marcellus contracted an illness while digging up the bodies. He said that as an archaeologist he refused to work around graves because you can contract whatever illness that person died of if it was contagious. Each soldier was given a wooden head board and foot board. These were replaced by granite markers in 1896. George Cuppett wrote the names of every soldier in a cemetery book that was given to the McGavock's for safekeeping. Soldiers from every Southern state except Virginia are buried there. In 1905 the Franklin chapter of the United Daughter's of the Confederacy took over the financial care of the cemetery. Until her death Carrie McGavock took care of and maintained the cemetery. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Six Confederate Generals Killed At Franklin

General Otho Strahl

General John Adams

Hiram Granbury

General Patrick Cleburne

The Above Generals Were Placed On The Porch At Carnton
General John C. Carter

General States Rights Gist

Carnton Plantation

  My first association with the Carnton Plantation in Franklin was when I would see the old house while hunting for Civil War relics in the early 1970's. There is a subdivision near Carnton today in the area where I hunted when it was primarily farm land. I knew it was an antebellum home but I wasn't aware of how historic Carnton was. It was in a horrible state of disrepair and I have learned since then that a farmer was using the house as his hay barn. In 1977 the owner of the property donated the house and ten acres to the Carnton Association and they have done a fantastic job of restoring the plantation to it's former glory. Originally the McGavock's owned 1400 acres. It was built by Randall McGavock in the 1820's. He was mayor of Nashville and a close friend of Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk. Jackson on several occasions was an overnight guest in the home.

  His son John took over the plantation in 1843 upon the death of Randall. In 1848 John married his cousin Carrie Winder from Thibodaux Louisiana. They had five children of which only two survived, A son Windor, 1857 to 1907 and a daughter Hattie, 1855 to 1932. In 1860 the net worth of the McGavock's was 339,000 dollars, which is about six million in today's dollars. Their main crops were wheat, corn, oats, hay and potato's. They also were involved in raising and breeding livestock, and thoroughbred horses.

  On November 30, 1864 during the battle of Franklin it became the main field hospital. Homes and churches all over Franklin were used as hospitals but Carnton was the largest. A staff officer later wrote that "the wounded, in hundreds, were brought to [the house] during the battle, and all the night after. And when the noble old house could hold no more, the yard was appropriated until the wounded and dead filled that...."On the morning of December 1, 1864 the bodies of four Confederate generals killed during the fighting, Patrick R. Cleburne, Hiram B. Granbury, John Adams, and Otho F. Strahl, lay on Carnton’s back porch.

  The floors of the restored home are still stained with the blood of the men who were treated here. It was estimated that 300 men were placed in the house that first night and at least 150 of them died. I have toured the house several times and I am always fascinated by the amount of blood stains on the floors. In the children's room upstairs where it is believed that the main operating room was you can see blood stains in a semi-circle which indicates that this is where blood was dripping from a surgeons apron. Across from this is what looks like shoe prints in blood that may have been where a nurse or the surgeons assistant was standing. On one tour I took the guide said that after amputation the limbs of the soldiers were thrown out of the second floor window into a waiting wagon below. When the wagons were filled they would be replaced by an empty one. On another tour the guide said that they were pitched over into the corner of the room. Which goes to show that much of history is based on speculation. We do know one thing for sure, Many arms and legs were amputated in the hours, days and weeks after the battle of Franklin. Carrie assisted with treating the wounded. Witnesses said that the bottom of her dress was saturated with blood and she cooked breakfast the next morning. John died in 1883 and Carrie in 1905. The family sold the farm in 1911. Carrie became known as the "Widow of the South"..
John McGavock

Carrie McGavock

Windor and Hattie McGavock

Forrest at Carnton

The porch where legend has it the bodies of four Confederate generals were placed.  Cleburne, Adams, Strahl, and Granbury. One historian disputes this claim and says only Cleburne, Granbury, and Strahl were here, along with two other Confederate officers named Col. R.B. Young, Granbury's Chief of Staff, and Lt. John h. Marsh, aide to General Strahl.

Bloodstained Floors

Bloodstained Floors

Slave Quarters
Honoring The Dead In The Battle Of Franklin on the 150th Anniversary Of The Battle Of Franklin