Nashville, TN January 1907
ELLEN GRAHAM PATTON
aristocracy of Eastern Tennessee is gradually fading from memory or notice.
The decision of many people in that section to side with the Union in the
sixties caused a breach that is not yet fully healed, and the most advanced and
forceful men of that section moved to other parts of the country.
Atlanta secured the best share of those who could not live there in peace
and safety after the war. Superb
stone residences erected a century or more ago are of the faithful landmarks.
An interesting story of family histories might be given which would
illuminate the claim of the highest aristocracy of the best type, but in
connection with the purpose of this article reference is made to the family of
Graham. Annie Kendrick Walker, in
the Birmingham Age-Herald, February 21, 1904, gave an interesting story of
Hayslope, a noted home near Russellville, some twenty miles from Tazewell C. H.,
the home of Hugh Graham. Hayslope was presented by Mr. Graham to his daughter, Louise,
who became the wife of Theophilus Rogan. This
place was founded by Col. Thomas Roddy, commissioned colonel through his gallant
service the battle of King’s Mountain. Colonel
Roddy had an esteemed servant, “Harry”, whom he bought from General Marion
and whom the General had captured from a British officer.
Colonel Roddy was a devout Baptist; and when he said “grace” at
meals, the dining room doors were thrown open, so that the blessing sought was
to benefit the servants in the kitchen as well as the family.
The old home is still standing and occupied by the widow of Mr. Rogan,
whose death occurred not long after the celebration of their golden wedding,
early in 1904. Another daughter,
Cornelia Graham, married Mr. W. H. Patterson of Philadelphia.
During the War
between the States, Hayslope became quite noted by the presence of distinguished
Southerners. Father Ryan celebrated
mass there. It was occupied by
General Longstreet when his corps was camped in that vicinity.
Generals Breckinridge’s and Duke’s commands fought in that vicinity.
After the battle near Bull’s Gap, this house was occupied as a
hospital. It is said that a Major Fairfax, Federal, granted protection for the cows at
Hayslope on condition that he be furnished a gallon of milk a day for his
eggnogs. The Federal General Bryan
made his headquarters at Hayslope. A
pathetic story is told of a young Confederate being executed there for
desertion, because he went to see his fatherless sisters without permission.
A pardon reached there the day after the young man’s death.
Hugh Graham came
to this country from Ireland during its early days at the age of fourteen.
He was successful in business, and married the daughter of Patrick Nenny,
a man of a noted patriotic family. While
both were quite young, Hugh Graham and his future brother-in-law were sent to
Richmond to buy slaves for the large estates of William Graham and Patrick Nenny.
The negroes “enlivened the march from Richmond by their musical
Hugh Graham was an intimate friend of Andrew Jackson and of Sam Houston. He was ardent in literature while maintaining his large business interests, and it was said of him that he subscribed for more magazines and papers than any other man in the United States; and, while a Presbyterian, there was a room in his house known as the “Preacher’s Room” for any gospel minister who could accept his hospitality. His draughts from the Pierian Spring made him a secessionist, and he was independent. Once the Federals took away all of his provender, and, calling their attention to it, he said, “Why don’t you take all of my stock?” and they did, driving away forty mules and other stock.
The Grahams were ever splendid soldiers through many generations. Castle Rock, Mr. Graham’s home, was a noted place. The engraving presented herewith will give an idea of its extent, as well as show the dilapidation that has come to it in recent years. A battle was fought at Tazewell, witnessed by Mr. Graham from the upper windows of Castle Rock, and that night he gave his barn for shelter to Ashby’s Cavalry. The next morning he called early to greet his friends, but was met with the remark, “We are not your boys, but Uncle Sam’s”, and soon the house and grounds were occupied by bluecoats, who ransacked and plundered to their content. The splendid old residence was erected about 1837 by Maj. Hugh Graham, brother of Wm. Graham mentioned below. Dilapidation may be seen in the picture. A large porch is entirely gone, and yet for its time it may well have been called the “great house” in darky terms. During the disasters of a battle at Tazewell and subsequent marauding parties through that section it is quite remarkable that the residence was not burned. It was in that house that Ellen Graham was reared, and in it she hid after the Federals learned of her scheme to liberate the prisoners – by putting a file in a peach cobbler – until she made her escape in the garb of a servant. Other splendid houses were built in that vicinity, notably a fine stone residence which is yet in good condition.
Ellen Graham had recently come into possession of an estate of about $50,000,
her father having died, and confiscation would have been swift and complete if
the “Home Guards” (?) could have gotten it in possession.
After reaching the house of her sister in Philadelphia, she was quite
safe. She was wooed and won by Mr.
Thomas R. Patton, who had acquired a fortune by that time.
She lived only a few years after, her death occurring in 1868.
Since that sad event, Mr. Patton has never opened his house for any
public entertainment, but has lived much in retirement.
The venerable gentleman maintains a zealous interest, however, in public
It is a
coincidence worthy of note here that he and his friend, Mr. William Woodside,
also a successful merchant of Philadelphia, made the perilous journey to
Richmond in the midst of the war period, and so deported themselves as to carry
back to their Northern homes the God’s blessing of President Jefferson Davis.
While it is believed that they contributed liberally of their own funds
to needy persons in the South, there will hardly ever be any positive knowledge.
the founder of a large estate about Tazewell, procured special legislation
during 1840 whereby he could liberate some three hundred slaves.
He bought a township in Ohio and gave it to them, providing temporary
subsistence as well, and gave his bond that they would not be a burden to that
State for three years.
of Miss Graham’s Experience.
(From a most
interesting paper read by J.W. Yoe, now dead, before the Fred Ault Bivouac at
Knoxville, Tenn., upon “Reminiscences of the War.”)
I recall a
pleasant little episode that occurred near Tazewell, and I will relate it to
illustrate the times and the sympathy that the true Southern women had for our
The Federals were
in possession of Cumberland Gap, and had their pickets and scouting parties out
as far as Tazewell, in Claiborne County. Our
company was placed in the gap of Waldron’s Ridge, on my father’s farm, south
of Tazewell, on the main road leading from Cumberland Gap to Morristown, where
it was supposed the Federals might wish to reach so as to stop supplies, etc.,
from passing over the East Tennessee and Virginia road.
The Federal videttes were then in Tazewell.
The fences around the farms between our picket post and Tazewell had
either been burned or torn down in many places, and roads or paths had been made
through and around the fields. On
looking out one day we saw someone approaching our videttes through the bushes
along one of these paths. It turned
out to be a negro boy riding a donkey and carrying a huge hamper – all the
horses were in the army – and as he came into the road, the vidette brought
his gun to bear on the boy and called: “Halt!”
The little negro’s teeth glistened and his eyes sparkled as he yelled:
“Missus Ellen sent me here wid dese things fur de picket.”
He was told to advance, as we knew that nothing ever went from Miss Ellen
Graham to a soldier but something for their good or comfort.
The contents of the hamper consisted of a big pot pie, three bottles of
pure, homemade wine, a razor, strap, shaving brush, and soap, two cakes of
toilet soap, a comb and brush, and a clothing brush.
Learning from the
boy the position of the Union pickets and guard, and knowing the country
thoroughly, we concluded to go and return thanks in person; so we ate the pie,
drank the wine, shaved, washed our hands and faces and brushed our clothes, and
started for Tazewell. We filed down
the ridge through the paths and bushes a few at a time until we reached a swale
at the foot from which we could approach the Union videttes a good part of the
way under cover. This we did
cautiously until we exposed ourselves, when we raided a yell, put spurs to our
horses, and charged upon the Union guard. The surprise was complete; they fled and stood not on the
order of their going. We chased
them some distance beyond the town, and then returned.
Passing along the main street, we saw a bevy of as beautiful ladies –
Miss Graham among them – standing on my father’s porch as could be found
anywhere, who seemed to be not only pleased and happy but amused; and on looking
just in front of us, we found our way blocked by yarn strings tied across the
street. Recognizing this as a
friendly banter and invitation to stop, John Brooks called a halt, and we gave a
rousing cheer and broke ranks, greeting all we knew and scattering around and
abandoning ourselves to the enjoyment of the hour; and so keen was the enjoyment
that we lost sight of the fact that we were practically within the enemies’
lines and had out no pickets; but Miss Graham was more thoughtful of a
soldier’s duty than we, for it was she who have us notice that the enemy were
returning in force, and we rode out of town as the enemy rode in.
Whether she had stationed the colored boy on his donkey to keep watch, I
never knew, but she gave us notice in some way.
After we returned to the picket post and under the influence of the
occasion, the pause struck John Brown, and he got off what he called a little
piece of jingle which we sang around the camp fire that night to the tune of
“Maryland, My Maryland”, by the aid of E. W. Crozier.
I have been able to recall a part of the words as follows:
we came riding down the street
In Tazewell Town,
lovely band we chanced to meet
In Tazewell Town;
they had thrown across the street
blockade so very neat
we remained until quit elate
In Tazewell Town.
Ellen Graham, who lives here
In Tazewell Town,
on this occasion there
In Tazewell town –
who wish such a bounteous hand
luncheon to our picket band
on post are called to stand. Hear,
Hear, Tazewell Town.
Miss Graham was a
bright example of the typical Southern lady of that time.
She was strong in her convictions, true to her views of right,
sympathetic, faithful, and determined in doing that which she felt right and
just, yet womanly in the best and truest sense.
No soldier ever met her but felt that he was in the presence of a noble
and pure woman, who dared to follow her convictions.
Her acts of kindness and charity were abundant, and the lives of many
were brighter and happier because of her sympathy and help.
At another period
there were some thirteen prisoners (what might be called political prisoners) in
jail at Tazewell with a guard around the jail, among them a nephew and friends
of hers. She believed they were
wrongfully imprisoned, and continuously supplied them with food and other
comforts until they finally escaped during a heavy storm which drove the guards
under shelter. She was accused of
baking a loaf and putting in it tools which enabled the prisoners to escape, and
she was forced to leave her home in those troublesome times.
She went to Philadelphia, and there met and married Mr. Thomas R. Patton
and died there.
Patton is the Grand Treasurer of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of
Pennsylvania. In December, 1889, he
presented the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania with a check for twenty-five thousand
dollars, a little later two other payments, in the aggregate $100,000, stating
in his address: “I am conscious
of a natural desire to benefit my race and contribute to the necessities of the
unfortunate, and especially of my brethren in the Freemasonry, their widows and
orphans. In this connection I have
a controlling solicitude to leave a worthy memorial of sacred affection to the
memory of my lamented wife, Ellen H. Graham Patton.” This noble charity was accepted by the Grand Lodge of
Pennsylvania as a sacred trust, and it declared that the style of the fund shall
be the “Thomas R. Patton Memorial Charity Fund,” and that it shall be used
as provided by its founder: “for
the relief of the poor but respectable widows of forty-five years of age and
over, and whose husbands were Master Masons in good standing in this Masonic
jurisdiction within three years of death.”
I take pleasure in presenting to the Bivouac the deed of gift and by-laws
governing this noble charity in memory of a pure and noble woman.
It has been said that Southern women were fanatics – a mistaken
conception of their character. They would not have been human if they had not sympathized
with their fathers, husbands, and brothers; but they were true, noble,
sympathetic, and dared to do what they deemed right, and every true soldier,
every brave and true man will join in saying:
“God bless them!”
Ellen H. Graham
Patton’s memory has been honored by her husband because of his affection for
her, and yet there is something beautiful and poetic in the thought that, after
the mantle of peace covers a united country and the passions and hates of the
war have largely passed away, the widows of some of those who wore the blue are
now being aided and helped through a fund dedicated and founded in memory of one
who respected and honored those who wore the gray.
Truly “God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform.”
Ellen H. Graham, “though dead, yet speaketh.”
said to have one of the finest Masonic temples in the world, and “Egyptian
Hall” has been dedicated to Thomas R. Patton’s memory, an honor that has
perhaps never been conferred on a living Mason before; and thus the soldiers’
friends of long ago are indissolubly connected with Masonry, the good and
beautiful for all time. You will
pardon this digression, and my only apology is that I never know when to quit
when I begin to talk of the women who sympathized with and aided a soldier boy.
Escort of Miss Ellen Graham in Her Escape
Capt. Thomas S.
Gibson, Dr., wrote from Gibson Station, Va., July 2, 1898, to Mr. Joshua A.
Graham, a nephew of Mrs. Patton as follows:
Friend: In answer to your inquiries, I give you a statement of what
your Aunt Ellen Graham did just after the surrender of the Southern troops in
1865. My information was from her
“Some of the
Rebel boys after the surrender who were citizens of Claiborne County and living
near Tazewell, Tenn., were caught up by the Federal authorities and placed in
jail. Of these parties were Tom and
Fish Miller, Daniel Jones, and others. In
the latter part of November, 1865, I left the house of H. C. T. Richmond on my
way to Wythe County, Va., after some stock I had sent there for safe-keeping.
I told Mr. Richmond of my purpose to reach John McElroy’s eight miles
above Jonesville, that day, which I did. That
night about eleven or twelve o’clock, I heard a ‘hello’.
I recognized the voice as that of H. C. T. Richmond, who wished to stay
the remainder of the night. He was
accompanied by Miss Ellen Graham, who desired to go east with me.
I soon dressed myself, went out, and assisted Miss Graham in alighting
from her horse and in escorting her to the house.
quite early next morning, and on our way she told me she was accused of
furnishing tools to some of her friends in jail with which they made their
escape. The court convened that
week, and while in session a friend of hers came down to where she and her
mother were living and informed her that she had been indicted and that the
sheriff would be down in a few minutes to arrest her.
She told me that she went into the cook room, where a colored woman was
cooking, exchanged dresses with the negress, taking the colored woman’s old
black bonnet, which she put on and stepped out, and, crossing the town creek,
went to Mr. Frank Cloud’s, and from there to Joseph Buis’s, who furnished
her a horse and escort to H. C. T. Richmond’s, and from Mr. Richmond’s to
Mr. McElroy’s that night, as stated. She
told me that she furnished the tools with which the boys made their escape.
“We went out of
Lee County, up through Scott County, and through Russell County into Washington
County, stopping at or near what was called the Seven Mile Ford Depot.
A long train came up shortly with many Confederate soldiers on board.
At the sight of these she became anxious lest someone from Tazewell might
be on the train hunting for her. I
told her there was no danger, and assisted her on the train.
There was but one lady on the train, who divided seats with her.
She was a Virginia lady who lived near to Bedford C. H., Va., with whom,
she wrote me, she stayed two weeks, and from there she went to her sister’s in
“I found Miss
Ellen Graham to be one of the strongest of Rebels, true and unspotted to the
cause of rebellion, and a perfect lady. She
told me of many things she did for the poor Rebel soldiers, particulars of which
I did not remember.”
See also the Thomas Graham Genealogy Report
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