Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Death of Tandy F. Jones

Tandy F. Jones was born in 1840 or 1841 in Floyd County, Kentucky, the son of John Ray Jones and his first wife Satira Stanley. The Jones family migrated from Virginia, possibly Scott County, by the 1830’s and settled on Mud Creek in Floyd County, Kentucky. After the death of Satira, John Ray Jones married Phoebe Sturgill and moved to Johnson County, Kentucky around 1857 and settled in the Flat Gap area.

Flat Gap, Johnson County, Kentucky
On May 22, 1860, Tandy F. Jones married Susannah Sagraves, daughter of Joseph Sagraves, Jr. and Nancy McDowell. When the Federal Census was taken on July 12, 1860, the couple was still living in the household of Tandy’s father and step-mother, along with several siblings and his grandmother.

By the time the Civil War had begun in 1861, the newlyweds had set up housekeeping, possibly on Susannah’s father’s place. Sagraves operated a mill on Lower Laurel Fork of Big Blaine Creek and was a near neighbor of John R. and John B. Wheeler. All the couple had to their name was one milk cow. In October 1861, Tandy’s older brother Lemuel G. Jones enlisted as a private in Co. D, 14th KY Infantry (US), along with a number of other men from Jones’ neighborhood which was predominantly Union. Tandy on the other hand remained quiet on the subject. Even though his principles seemed to be leaning towards the Secessionists, he never said or did much in support of either side. This all changed in December of 1861, when Tandy, along with his brother-in-law William Sagraves, joined Co. K, 5th KY Infantry, Mtd. (CS) It is questionable whether their enlistment was entirely voluntary. William R. and John B. Wheeler testified that Jones and Sagraves, “would not Have Went if they had not been scared into it by their party we believe them to be Common moral Citizens.”

William R. and James B. Wheeler Affidavit
Events that followed seem to support testimony of the Wheelers. On January 9, 1862, one day before the Battle of Middle Creek, Tandy F. Jones and William Sagraves deserted the Confederates and were making their way toward the Union lines to give themselves up. Sagraves was still armed but Jones was not when they reached the outer picket line of the 14th KY Infantry. They were promptly arrested and taken under guard to the Union camp in Paintsville and placed into the guard house. Commander Col. James A. Garfield stated, “On Examination the(y) confessed that they were from the rebel army and from ignorance or fear did not call any witnesses to show that they had deserted & come in voluntarily.” Unaware that both men had surrendered on their own free will, Garfield sent Tandy F. Jones and William Sagraves as prisoners of war in company with fifteen others from Paintsville to Newport Barracks. After a brief stay, both men were forwarded on February 10, 1862, to Camp Chase in Ohio.

It is not entirely clear how Garfield became aware of the true nature of Jones’ and Sagraves’ arrest, perhaps through the interference by family and friends, but on February 15, 1862, he addressed a letter to Judge Advocate General Colonel Luther Day, with a recommendation that Jones and Sagraves be released on taking the oath of allegiance to the U. S. Government. Garfield enclosed an affidavit by William R. and John B. Wheeler, taken on February 14, 1862, who testified on behalf of both men before Johnson County Justice of the Peace E. Lemaster.

Garfield’s letter was received on March 5, 1862 and forwarded to Adjutant General Lester Thomas. In turn, Garfield’s recommendations were sent to Ohio Governor David Tod who respectfully returned the letter to the Secretary of War, with the recommendation, “that favorable action be had.”

Meanwhile, on March 7, 1862, Jones and Sagraves, along with 42 other Kentuckians who were prisoners at Camp Chase, addressed a letter to, “His Excellency the Governor, the Chairman and Members of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky ... That all constitutional measures may be resorted to by your honorable body for our restoration of our homes, families and loyalty, and for full and complete relief, we would ever pray."

Letter to the Governor of Kentucky
March 7, 1862
 On April 8, 1862, by order from General James A. Garfield, Jones and Sagraves were discharged from Camp Chase, after taking the oath of allegiance on April 7, 1862. Tandy F. Jones’ physical description was as follows – he was 21 years old, stood 5’7” tall, had a light complexion, blue eyes, dark hair and brown whiskers. William Sagraves was 27 years old, stood 5’9” tall, had a dark complexion, dark eyes, dark hair and dark whiskers.

Tandy F. Jones Oath of Allegiance
After their release from Camp Chase, both men returned to their homes in Kentucky. By all appearances, Tandy F. Jones kept the terms of his oath, which in part stated, “I fully understand if I violate this oath and am again found in arms against the Government of the United States or aiding or abetting its enemies the penalty is death.” There is no evidence to suggest that he ever served in another Confederate unit. Tandy took up farming, raised some corn and wheat and tended to one horse, two cattle and five hogs. Nevertheless, military and prison life had left him a sick man. He suffered from dysentery, also known as flux or bloody flux, an intestinal inflammation which leads to severe diarrhea with blood in the stool. This disease was one of the great killers during the Civil War. Jones thought drinking water from a sulphur spring would cure his disease.

In August of 1862, the Confederate invasion of Kentucky began and on September 13, 1862, CS General Humphrey Marshall’s troops, including the 5th KY Infantry, Mtd., arrived at Salyersville in Magoffin County, KY. At this point many who had previously deserted rejoined the 5th KY Infantry, including William Sagraves. Tandy Jones, on the other hand, remained at home.

Between September 14 and October 5, 1862, a scouting party of ten men, under the command of Lieutenant John W. Ferguson, Co. F, 5th KY Infantry, left Salyersville, with orders by their Captain Henry G. Colvin, to shoot any man who wouldn't halt. The scout proceeded to Johnson County, possibly to hunt up deserters and appeared at Tandy F. Jones’ house as he was returning from one of his trips to the sulphur spring. Upon seeing the soldiers, Jones made an attempt to escape. William Tackett, one of Ferguson’s men, testified on May 26, 1863, that “Jones was halted several times, before he was shot. I did not see him shot, he had turned round the house, and when I saw him again he was coming back. My belief is that he was running at the time he was shot. He was running very swiftly when I saw him and had only about 10 steps to go to get into the woods.” A witness by the name of Rice, possibly Sam Rice, who happened to be present when the killing took place, later reported a slightly different story to Tandy’s brother Lemuel “Lem” Jones. According to Rice, when Ferguson’s party came across Tandy Jones, he ran about 15 feet, was halted by Ferguson, and on his coming back, having surrendered, Ferguson gave the order to fire on him, which was done and Jones was killed. Local lore that has been passed down through the years tells of Jones making an effort to escape and crossing a rail fence. When he reached the top, he was shot in the back where his gallowses crossed and died instantly.

Ironically, Ferguson was not aware that Tandy Jones was a deserter when he gave orders to shoot him. Yet Tandy Jones was aware of the danger of being shot as a deserter and attempted to escape. William Tackett confirmed that Jones’ fears were not unfounded. He stated, “I believe they would have shot Jones had they known it was him.” Known members of the scouting party were 1st Lt. John W. Ferguson, 1st Corporal William “Will” Jayne, private William Tackett, and possibly 2nd Lt. Hayden Ferguson. The names of the others have not been discovered. Ferguson’s party was accompanied by former 5th KY soldiers James Patterson, Andrew J. Osborne and possibly by Patterson’s brother-in-law William W. Estep, although his name was never mentioned in any of the existing records.

Tandy Jones’ death created a disturbance among his family, friends and neighbors, the effects of which were felt for years after. This may have been in part due to the fact that Tandy’s wife Susannah was either pregnant with their daughter Alana or the child was just an infant. According to one local historian, the emotional temperature arose to such a great magnitude that a group was organized “for the purpose of safety and to execute the executor.”

Tandy Jones’ killing may have haunted 18 year old William Tackett. He deserted the 5th KY Infantry shortly thereafter and enlisted in the 14th KY Infantry (US), on October 5, 1862, at Paintsville, Johnson County, KY. Tackett was soon gone from the area.

James Patterson and his family disappeared entirely from the Johnson County tax lists in 1863 and thereafter. It appears that Patterson and his family went back to Virginia, quite possibly Rye Cove, sometime after the 1862 harvesting season was over. He may have been accompanied by his nephew William W. Estep, who, according to family stories, left Johnson County with his family about the same time. Patterson and Estep were back in Johnson County by summer of 1864. An assassination attempt nearly cost Patterson his life, which he survived by a stroke of luck. Patterson, a native Tennessean, later returned to his home state.

The fate of Andrew J. Osborne at this point is uncertain. According to local history, a few days after the assault on Patterson, three strange men passed by the house of Andrew J. Osborne and shot him while he was working in his garden. It is believed by some that his death was directly related to his involvement in the killing of Tandy Jones and was an act of revenge. Other accounts claim that Osborne died in the Battle of Paintsville on April 13, 1864. The true circumstances of his death may warrant closer examination in the future.

William W. Estep was killed by a sniper near Flemingsburg, Fleming County, KY, towards the end of the war. His body was disposed of in such a manner that subsequent attempts by the family to locate him were fruitless, despite the fact that he may have been accompanied by one of his brothers when he died.

William Jayne served in the 5th KY Infantry, which was part of the famous Orphan Brigade, until 1865. He voluntarily surrendered on May 5, 1865, at Macon, Georgia. Jayne returned to Johnson County where he lived peacefully and raised a family. About 1906 or 1907, he moved to Boyd County, KY, and lived on a small farm. William Jayne’s final move was to Lake City, Florida, in the spring of 1917, where he died the same year.

Hayden Ferguson continued to serve in the 5th KY until the end of the war. He left Kentucky and settled in Georgia by 1870.

His brother Lt. James W. Ferguson resigned his commission in the 5th KY Infantry in October of 1862. The reason were, he claimed, that, “he had become convinced that he was fighting on the wrong side and that the South was wrong.” Ferguson returned to Johnson County, settled his personal business and disposed of all his properties. He was captured by the 14th KY Infantry (US) on May 12, 1863 and charged with treason and being a rebel officer. After he was tried by a military commission, Ferguson was sent to Camp Chase and later Johnson’s Island. Two months later Ferguson applied to take the oath of allegiance in order to return to Kentucky and remain a "peaceful citizen", but refused to be sent South upon exchange. While at Johnson's Island, the doctors diagnosed him with an incurable disease for which he received treatments. Ferguson was finally released on taking the Amnesty oath on April 27, 1865 at Johnson's Island. He never returned to Johnson County, fearing, perhaps, repercussions in regard to his involvement in Tandy Jones’ death. Ferguson settled in on Briar Fork in Elliott County, KY, where he died from kidney disease on May 8, 1875, at the age of 44.

Nothing is known about the fate of Tandy F. Jones' wife Susannah who disappeared from the records after 1862. Daughter Alana was taken in and raised by her grandparents Joseph and Nancy Segraves. She married James Abraham Garfield Spradlin on Dec. 2, 1880 and moved to Lower Twin Branch, Johnson County, KY. Their marriage was short lived as James died in 1884 at the age of 23, followed by Alana in February 1887, at the age of 26. Thus closed a tragic chapter in the history of Johnson County, KY.

Provost Marshal Records
Letters to the Adjutant General
Compiled Service Records, Confederate / Union
VF Family History Folder, Johnson Co. KY library: Estep/Cantrell/Salyer Family; account by Elmond Davis.
Hanging files, Johnson Co. KY library, anonymous account.
Johnson County, Ky Tax Lists
Johnson County, KY Federal Census records

Researched and compiled by Marlitta H. Perkins, November 2012. The author would like to thank Mark Bryant for his valuable insights. Unauthorized use and/or duplication without express written notice by the author is strictly prohibited. © 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"Known but to God" Historical Marker Destroyed

Photograph by Forest McDermott, for
On KY Rt. 80, near Elkhorn City, in the Breaks Interstate Park, a historical highway sign marks the gravesite of an unknown Confederate soldier who is "Known But To God." In May of 1865, the soldier, who was on his way home after the close of the Civil War, was struck down by unknown assailants and killed. Four men of the community, namely Henry and George Potter, Zeke Counts and Lazarus Hunt, fashioned a coffin for the soldier, made of boards rived from a great oak in which he was buried at the spot where he had died. The Potter family kept the soldier's cap and watch in hopes to be able to give them to family members in search of their loved one. Sadly, nobody ever came to look for him. Years after, the keepsakes were lost in a fire. In 1900, a rose bush was planted at the gravesite by Harve Potter and in more recent years a historical highway marker was placed in order to keep the memory of this unknown soldier alive.

Photograph by Forest McDermott, for
Sadly,147 years later, another senseless act of violence was committed at this very site. On Saturday, November 3, 2012, unknown persons destroyed the historical marker. Park rangers had passed the site at 8 a.m. in the morning, with the marker in place. Upon their return at 9 a.m., the damaged site was discovered. Not only was the marker missing, but the four posts surrounding it had been struck down with force. A search by law enforcement later turned up the marker which is damaged beyond repair and can not be reused.

Damaged site, Nov. 3, 2012
Photograph by Nina Aragon
The incident is being investigated by Kentucky State Police. At this point, the persons responsible are still at large. Anyone with information, please contact Pikeville Post 9, Kentucky State Police.

Fund raising efforts are on the way to help pay for a replacement marker. An account with the Community Trust Bank in Elkhorn City, called the Unkown Soldiers Highway Fund, has been set up. Please consider contributing for this worthy cause.

Make checks or money orders payable to
Unkown Soldiers Highway Fund

Mail to
Community Trust Bank
P. O. Box 740, Elkhorn City, KY, 41522

Flag placed on the site by members of the Potter family.
Photograph by Bill Williams
In closing, I'd like to say that this whole situation is more than heart-wrenching. Why such an act would be committed at the grave site of a soldier, or anyone, for that matter, is beyond comprehension. The utter disrespect for a man's final resting place is shocking, especially in this day and age when we consider ourselves more "enlightened" and "educated" than those who walked before us. Seems that some of us still have a great deal to learn.

Links of Interest
Unknown Soldier's Marker Found, but Damaged
Published on Nov 5, 2012 by EastKYBroadcasting

Unknown Confederate Soldier
By David Chaltas and Richard G. Brown

Historical Marker data base (HMdb) listing of the site

Find A Grave listing