Confederate Veteran

Nashville, TN  January 1907

Vol. XV, No. 1

ELLEN GRAHAM PATTON

The olden-time 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 singing.”

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.

Miss 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 matters.

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.

William Graham, 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.

Story 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 soldiers.

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:

“As we came riding down the street
In Tazewell Town,

A lovely band we chanced to meet
In Tazewell Town;

But they had thrown across the street

A blockade so very neat

That we remained until quit elate
In Tazewell Town.

 

Miss Ellen Graham, who lives here
In Tazewell Town,

Was on this occasion there
In Tazewell town –

She who wish such a bounteous hand

Sends luncheon to our picket band

Who 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.

Mr. 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.”

Philadelphia is 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.

An 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:

Dear 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 own lips.

“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.

“We started 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 Philadelphia.

“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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