I grew up surrounded by my large, extended family: cousins (close and not-so-close), aunts, uncles, all four of my grandparents, great aunts and uncles, and even three of my great grandparents. Family was the main part of my universe. But it was also kind of confusing for a kid to understand who was who and how we were all related. A few years ago when I was going through my childhood stuff at my parents’ estate, I found a family tree chart that I made by hand in 1965 when I was eleven years old. That was about the time I got the genealogy bug that I have had ever since. That was also the year my mother came into possession of a copy of the book Phillips Family History.
Phillips Family Historywas written by Harry Phillips who happens to be my double third cousin, twice removed. It…
Kelley’s Point (Brookmeade Park) Under Siege – Again
December 12, 2021
In the late 1990s I began research on a little known American Civil War battle site near where I grew up in West Nashville. Having served in the Navy, I was captivated by the fact that, not only was it the location of a Civil War battle, it was the location of a Civil War Naval battle. There was little more than a footnote in the accounts of The Battle of Nashville that I could find.
The 1864 saga fell together at my fingertips with the recently released computerized naval official war records (N-OR). About the same time, an opportunity presented itself to publicize this story when the historic site was set for a massive commercial real estate development.
The real estate project was opposed by much of the community. Among many concerns, it was also…
The tall, square, two-story dwelling at the end of Waters Street in Watertown, sits like an ancient matriarch, fanned and sheltered by the waving branches of majestic trees. It watches with calm eyes as you approach as though it were wondering which of its children were returning for a visit. It is a house which has been filling up with memories for the pioneer Waters family since it was built in 1844 by Wilson Lawrence Waters.
One of the more beautiful memories was the 50th Wedding Anniversary of its builder and his wife on Dec. 17, 1894, when the mansion was ablaze with light and old-fashioned bouquets from Mrs. Waters’ garden supplied every room with wild and beautiful color.
A faded little booklet, a cherished possession of great-granddaughter, Christine Teasley, includes a nostalgic poem written for the occasion by Mr. Waters’ brother, the Reverend James Waters, which gives an intimate and endearing word picture of the family and festivities in connection with that memorable wedding day. James was only 8 years old when his brother married but he recalls in fine detail the meat and dessert portions of that wedding feast, which consisted of turkeys, chicken pies, cherry cobblers, custard pies, and cakes with icing!
Little wonder that the neighbors turned out to honor Mr. Wilson Lawrence Waters on this important occasion; he was virtually and admittedly “Mr. Watertown.” In its earliest days the whole town was on his 400 acre farm. His store supplied the needs of the community and from it he sold the first turning plow in Wilson County. In 1845 the Post Office was moved to his store and the Three Forks designation was dropped in favor of Waters’ Town, later combined into one word, Watertown, in honor of Mr. Waters.
He also built and operated a water-powered grist mill and saw mill. He was the leading spirit in getting the old stagecoach road (Walden Ridge Road) replaced by the Lebanon-Sparta turnpike, and acted as President. But perhaps his greatest accomplishment for Watertown was his securing a route through the town for the Nashville and Knoxville Railroad (later, a part of the Tennessee Central system). This proved a heady tonic for the community and occasioned a spurt of economic and population growth. He lifted the first shovel of dirt before a large gathering of citizens in 1887. He was also the man who drove the last spike at Smithville.
This listing of accomplishments, however, gives only one view of the man. A yellowed and age-mutilated clipping describes Mr. Waters as “up to his eyes in business.” And that was true; but Mr. Waters was also the possessor of psychic powers. He was aware of his gift of prophesying the future of his dreams, so he kept a Dream Book wherein happenings and events were recounted which eventually took place in the manner he had foreseen in his dreams. A Peabody student used the book as a basis for what must have been a most interesting thesis.
The Wilson County History reports that while Mr. Waters was in the legislature in 1865, he made a stirring appeal requesting that colored persons be tried in the same way that whites were. His ability to project into the future was not limited to dreams; his appeal was rejected but his idea was sound and prophetic, and even though its time had not yet arrived-arrive it most assuredly would, as Waters full well knew.
Like grandmother, like granddaughter! An equally festive and beautiful occasion was the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Wilson Lawrence Waters’ granddaughter, the charming Christine Phillips Forrester and her husband, Robert L. Forrester, which was celebrated at a brilliant reception given by the Forrester children. In a newspaper interview Christine said that her life had been “so full and wonderful” that it was hard to believe that so many years had rolled by; and when she read the invitations being sent out, she said, “a little pepper got in my eyes.”
This time the reception rooms of the ancestral home were decorated with arrangements of gold flowers and the banquet table in the dining room was centered with jonquils and forsythia in an antique cut-glass punch bowl, a wedding gift of 50 years ago. Christine’s lovely bridal gown was worn by her eldest grandson’s wife. All the family—tall, handsome people beautifully gowned and groomed-were assisting in greeting and serving guests. All of them happy to be together.
But all the memories were not so joyous; the old home and its occupants were not strangers to sorrow. Only a handful of months after their Golden Anniversary festivities in 1964, Robert L. Forrester lay dying. For over a half century he had practiced law at the Tennessee bar; he had been honored with the State Presidency of the Exchange Club; had served 18 years on the State Board of Education; and was a faithful member of the Masonic Lodge. He was an old-school gallant, a lover-husband who was a shield and protector for his bride for all the brief 50 years, supporting and encouraging her activities whether it was directing the First Baptist Church choir, becoming Department President of the American Legion Auxiliary, or Board Member of the National Federation of Music Clubs. And all the family felt a deep pride when Christine was elected Tennessee Mother of the Year in I 962.
Christine and Bob had given four sons to serve in World War II. That fateful day when the heart-reaking news that one of these, Robert L. Forrester, Jr., a Captain in the, Air Force, had ben killed in a plane crash in the Galapagos Islands (1942), the old house started filling up with neighbors and friends and loved ones and the branches of the tall trees swept the ground as though they, too, were bowed in grief.
Recent happy news (July, 1975) concerns another son of the house, Eugene, a West Point graduate, who is now Major General Forrester, Commander of Army Recruiting Command at Ft. Sheridan, Illinois.
With Bob’s passing, Christine set about dividing her things, moving to Nashville to be nearer to all of her children, and of necessity selling the old home. As the key was turned in the lock for the last time by the hand of a Waters’ descendant, the house stood square and silent with its windows looking wistfully down Waters Street – it had caught the character of its occupants-like them, it, too, would endure with quiet dignity whatever came its way.
“We all feel our fathers could not have chosen better women for our mothers than they did, could they have had all the advantages of our modern household arrangements.”…
“I have seen much of the world since I left you seventeen years ago [1862*]. I have lived in five different states of the Union, and visited many more, and know the average standard of morals and of the public conscience in a great many large communities, but I have never yet found the community so nearly free from moral defilement, and with so high an average of moral worth and so high a standard of duty, where manhood and womanhood have fewer stains upon them, than right here in Wilson County, within a circle of five miles from this point as a center.”
Friday, November 24, 2017 • The day after Thanksgiving
• Billy Pittard: (310) 880-7276
• Bob Henderson: (615) 477-0737
9:00 AM – Meet at Walterhill Church of Christ 7277 Lebanon Rd, Murfreesboro, TN 37129 The church is about a mile north of the intersection of Lebanon Road (US 231) and Jefferson Pike. 9:15 – Caravan hits the road!
This is the story of my GGGGG grandparents, Shelah and Nancy Turner Waters.
Seventh among nine siblings, Shelah Waters was born July 8, 1768 in Charles County, Maryland – an area where his ancestors had lived for at least four generations.
Christened with the unusual biblical name, Shelah (usually pronounced “Shee-lee”), he would eventually become the namesake of numerous male descendants and their neighbors. There is no record as to the reason for his name, except that it was chosen from the Bible, as were the names of three of his brothers, Rezin, Asenath, and Enos.
Fifth among eleven children, Nancy Turner was born Oct. 12, 1770, also in Charles County, Maryland. Her ancestors had lived in the area for even longer than the Waters family, for Nancy’s GGG grandfather Arthur Turner had been among the earliest English settlers in Maryland.
Birth: January 10, 1843 in Lincoln County Tennessee
Death: Dec. 15, 1919 Shelbyville, Bedford County, Tennessee
Before the dawn of the American Civil War, Tennessee was deeply divided. Tennessee voted down secession at the outbreak of the movement. Shelbyville, Tennessee, in particular, was referred to as “Little Boston” for it’s anti secession sentiment. Like many, once a state resolved it’s direction, the oath of many civilians followed the allegiance to their state.
Walter was the son of Benjamin Franklin and Susan Blake Bearden, wed in 1841. He was descended from Thomas Bearden and his wife Abigale Hammock in Spartanburg, S.C. He was married to Marguerette C. Whiteside in 1874. They were sometimes referred to as W.S. and Maggie. He was Chancery Judge. He was said to have kept a Bible with records of the Bearden family history.
CAPTAIN WALTER SCOTT BEARDEN
This ripe scholar, successful lawyer, ex-soldier, and popular gentleman, was born in Petersburg, Lincoln county, Tennessee, January 10, 1844. As a child he was fond of study, was an apt scholar, and by the time he was twelve or thirteen years of age was in the leading classes in mathematics and the classics in the academy he attended. At fifteen he began to assist in teaching, always choosing the advanced classes, and began to support himself before there was a hair upon his face. Since fifteen years of age he has cost no man a cent. At sixteen, he carried a class through Davies’ Bourdon (algebra), having himself solved every problem in it. He had mastered the curriculum in the schools near his home before he was old enough to go to college, and continued to assist in giving instruction till the fall of 1860, when he entered Emory and Henry College, Virginia, and remained till the following spring, when the college closed on account of the war. He returned after the war (1865-66).
From his earliest years he has been a great reader and studied with keen interest a great variety of misccllancous works. Often he and his brother would lie in bed at night and read until 2 o’clock. In this way he acquired a valuable stock of information on many subjects, besides cultivating facility of expression and becoming familiar with the language of standard writers. Returning to Tennessee in the spring of 1861, he taught a country school near Petersburg a few months.
He next assisted in raising a company for the Confederate service – Company E, Forty-first Tennessee regiment – and was made second lieutenant, although not quite eighteen years old. At the battle of Fort Donelson he was captured with his regiment and imprisoned several months at Camp Chase and Johnson’s Island. After the exchange and reorganization of his regiment he was elected first-lieutenant, and during the last two years of the war was captain of his company. He saw war in all its vicissitudes – cavalry fights, infantry fights and fights with gunboats – the field, the march, the camp and the prison. He was in the campaign around Vicksburg, during which his regiment formed a part of Gregg’s famous brigade, and went through one of the toughest campaigns endured by any body of troops during the struggle. He was in the Dalton and Atlanta campaign from New Hope church to Jonesborough, during which time his company suffered severely, and Captain Bearden was three times wounded. He was at Peachtree Creek, Georgia, on July 20, 1864; on the right of Atlanta in the same month, and at Jonesborough, Georgia, August 31,1864, where he received a severe wound in the thigh, which disabled him and put him on crutches for the rest of the war (family legend has it that he was shot in the upper thigh, he was presumed beyond survival. A young nurse from Shelbyville, Tennessee attended to his wounds, saving his life. They married in 1874). After the Jonesborough battle he went to Aberdeen, Mississippi, and there remained till the surrender.
During the latter part of the war Captain Bearden organized a body of men and protected the cotton in a large section of the country from persons who were trying to get it away before the arrival of the Federal troops, who expecting to find it would probably have laid waste the country if disappointed in what they regarded as war booty. Hearing that the planters would be held accountable for all of the cotton that ought to be in that region, Capt. Bearden and the men whom he drew around him, protected it until the arrival of the Federals and thus saved many plantations from pillage and destruction. At the close of the war he went to Meridian, Mississippi, to get his parole, and was pressed into service by the Federal commander to assist in preparing paroles, and made them out for nearly five thousand Confederate soldiers. His twin brother, Edwin R. Bearden, who was a lieutenant in his company, and had commanded it at Chickamauga (Brotherton Farm), where he was severely wounded, was with him on this occasion, and was also pressed into the same service of paroling Confederates.
Captain Bearden returned to Petersburg, Tennessee, after the war was over, and being in very poor health took to doing all sorts of hard work, such as cutting and hauling wood, in hope of restoring his health. In the later part of 1866, he moved to Shelbyville and assisted Maj. Randolph in Dixon Academy several months, teaching a part of each day and spending the rest of his time reading law in the office of Samuel Whitthorne, Esq. Early in 1867 he was admitted to the bar by Judge Henry Cooper and Chancellor Steele, and at once began practice in partnership with Mr. Whitthorne, continuing with him a little more than a year, since which time he has practiced alone, always doing a large business and leading a very active life.
Previous to the war all of Captain Bearden’s political predilections were in favor of the Whig party; in later years he has been a Democrat, but never an “offensive partisan.” He has been chairman of the Bedford county Democratic executive committee, has presided at numerous political meetings and attended various conventions, but while taking a lively interest in politics, and freely expressing his opinions on whatever questions came up, he has steadily refused to become a candidate for any office whatever, though often solicited to do so.
Captain Bearden became a Mason in Mississippi during the war, and was made a Royal Arch Mason, under a special dispensation from the grand Masonic bodies of Mississippi, about one month after he was twenty-one years old. He became High Priest of Tannehill Chapter, No. 40, R. A. M., at Shelbyville, about 1870, and: held the position for ten years. He became a Knight Templar in Murfreesborough Commandery, No. 10, in 1877, and attended the Triennial Conclave of the order at Chicago in 1880. He has taken a great interest in Masonry, and has collected many rare and valuable books on that subject.
Captain Bearden has at different times taken a considerable part in newspaper work, and during 1870 and 1871, wrote for the Nashville Banner over the nom de plume (pen name) of “To Date,” and contributed a column or more each week, which formed a complete history of Bedford county during those years. He also took a warm interest in newspaper work in his own town, and though not officially connected with any of the papers, assisted greatly in establishing the Shelbyville Commercial, and wrote for it about one year during its infancy. He has always been esteemed a ready, pointed and effective writer.
He has been interested actively in fire insurance (his son Walter, Jr. would found National Life & Accident Insurance, founder of WSM Radio and the Grand Ole Opry) for a number of years, representing the Liverpool, London and Globe, the Home, of New York, the Phoenix, of Hartford, and for a while the old Franklin, of Philadelphia, as well as numerous other companies, and has done a large business for them in his part of the State. He has been attorney for the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis railroad for several years. He was one of the promoters of the Sylvan mills, near Shelbyville, and has been a director in the company since its organzation; is also a director of the Charter mills at Wartrace.
Capt. Bearden’s father, Dr. B. F. Bearden, a native of South Carolina, came to Tennessee in his youth. He was a man of great breadth of mind, a leader in his profession, a thinker, and a man of learning, but withal very modest. He died in 1870. All of the Beardens in this country are related, and are supposed to be descended from the early French settlers of South Carolina. As a family they have been remarkable for their sound, practical, common sense. Capt. Bearden’s mother was Miss S. M. Blake, of Lincoln county, a lady of Scotch blood, and a sister of Rev. Dr. T. C. Blake, of Nashville.
Capt. Bearden married in February, 1874, Miss Maggie C. Whiteside, daughter of Thomas C. Whiteside, a well-known lawyer of Shelbyville. Her mother was Miss Robinson, of Winchester, Tennessee. To this union have been born two sons and three daughters.
Capt. Bearden has been a member of the Presbyterian church about twelve years.
He began life with nothing in the way of capital, but with a good education, backed by industry and energy, punctual attention to business and an earnest desire to succeed. He always strikes while the iron is at welding heat. His methodical arrangement of his business, as well as his information on a great variety of subjects, has contributed largely to his success. Every paper is kept in its proper place, every stray bit of information is carefully noted down. He has ever striven to check litigation. Conservative in disposition, he aims to get the rights of his clients and then stop the case, and loves justice for its own sake. But whenever there are hard blows to be given, whenever wrong-doing is to be crushed, he goes in to deal sledge hammer blows. Striving to do justice to all men, he never changes his clients according to what they are worth, but for the value of his services and no more.
He is now said to be a candidate for the chancellorship of the Fourth chancery division of Tennessee, at the next judicial election.
From: Sketches of Prominent Tennesseans: Containing Biographies and Records of Many of the Families who Have Attained Prominence in Tennessee
“Judge Walter Scott Bearden, eminent jurist of Tennessee, died at his home in Shelbyville on December 15, after an illness of several months. at the time of his death Judge Bearden was Chancellor of the Fifth Division of the State, and previous to his election to this office he had been judge of the Chancery court of the Fourth Division since 1886, making a total service on the chancery bench of thirty-three years.”
Judge Bearden was a native of Petersburg, Lincoln County, Tenn., where he was born on January 10, 1843, the son of Benjamin Franklin and Susan Margaret Blake Bearden. He received his education at Emory and Henry College, which he left before graduation to enter the Confederate army, in which he served with distinction, becoming a captain in 1864.
In 1874 Judge Bearden was married to Miss Margaret Cooper Whiteside, who proceeded in him in death. He is survived by two sons and two daughters.
He was a prominent Mason, being a Knight Templar and a member of the Scottish Rite, holding membership in the Murfreesboro and Nashville Lodges. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church and a man held in the highest esteem throughout the scenes of his long and honorable judicial service.
SOURCE; Confederate Veteran Magazine, January,1920 Courtesy of David Lacy
In 1900, the household included: W.S. and Maggie, son: Ed W. age 25, his wife Juliet, age 20, their 4 month son, Edwin R., Daughters: Mary H. age 20, and Sue age 16 son: Walter S. age 18 and James F. Whiteside, age 46, druggist, most likely related to Maggie. The undertaker F. R. Bearden determined the cause of death to be abdominal aortic aneurism with myocardarditis.
Several years ago I started marking the precise locations of my ancestral homes and cemeteries on Google Maps. I maintain maps of several areas where my ancestors were concentrated. By far, the one with the most locations is my Middle Tennessee map. It’s pretty amazing to see most of my ancestry since 1800 so closely associated with one small area. This map includes both sides of my family. On this map, the latest of my ancestors arrived just after the War Between the States, and all else were here by the early 1800s.
On a cloudy autumn day in 2009, Ernie Johns and I set out to find the Charlton Ford Cemetery where we both have ancestors. Ernie had last visited the cemetery in 1971 when he tackled the herculean task of documenting old family cemeteries across Rutherford County. He didn’t remember exactly where it was,
Ed Miles interview in 1997 about a mass grave in West Nashville. Evidence strongly suggest they are Civil War soldiers. Ed was a very creditable source. Unfortunately he died in 2013. Read his obituary here:
Alfred Edgar (Ed) Miles
“Alfred Edgar (Ed) Miles, of Houston, Texas went to be with his Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, on Saturday, January 19, 2013. Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, January 22 at 11:00 am at Spring Baptist Church with Dr. Mark Estep and Rev. Lucian Stohler officiating. Graveside service will take place at Tyler Memorial Park Cemetery in Tyler, TX on Wed. Jan 23 at 2:00 pm with Rev. Donnie Baron officiating. Visitation will be held at Spring Baptist Church from 10:00 – 11:00 am…