Sunday, May 23, 2010

Evening at Elmwood Celebrates Residents of Local Cemetery

J. Mark Lowe
Robertson County Historical Society
The summer evening was still. The shadows grew long as the sun began to slide below the horizon. It was a typical early summer evening. “Halt! Who goes there !!!,” shouted the sentry at his post. As the soldier drew near, his uniform marked him as a Confederate soldier. He looked tired and worn. He questioned the visitors about loyalty, and after determining that no “Yankee spies” were in the group, he began to tell his story.
Evening at Elmwood is the annual fundraiser by the Robertson County Historical Society that brings the stories of our past citizens to the attention of eager audience members.
This year [2010], participants will have the chance to meet Mrs. R. K. (Ann) Hicks, W.E. Ryan, Thomas W. Mason, Richard Cheatham, and T. Marion Henry. The evening will begin with a box supper on the grounds of historic Elmwood Cemetery.
After the meal, costumed guides will lead small groups of dinner guests throughout the cemetery where they will meet the special resident hosts and hear their story. These guides will also provide general information about the cemetery, point out interesting gravestones or share additional stories about other residents.
Here are just a few tidbits about the resident hosts for the evening:
Miss Ann K. Greer was born in Gallatin, Tennessee in 1815. She was married to young Physician, Robert K. Hicks in October 1842 by Thomas Farmer, a Justice of the Peace. The Methodist Church in Springfield was organized in the 1830’s. Mrs. Hicks was one of the early members. By 1850, the Hicks family had grown to include Robert Jr., Edwin and Ida. Mr. Hicks was also involved in politics. He attended an 1854 political Convention held in Charleston, representing nearly all of the Southern and Western States. The session lasted for six days, business of the greatest importance was discussed (including slavery, railroads, taxation, territorial expansion.) Hicks attended the convention at personal expense. Ann Hicks was connected to the famous Abingdon/Holston Salt works and wealthy land owner, William King. She filed a power of attorney to place her claim towards the estate. The exact relationship has not been determined.
William Eugene Ryan was born in Logan county, Ky in 1858, the son of James and Sarah Mason Ryan. The family moved to Springfield about 1880, where James Ryan operated a grocery. W.E. Ryan became Vice-President of the Springfield National Bank in place of the deceased John Y. Hutchinson. Ryan later became President of that bank. He was also one of the major founding stockholders of the Springfield Woolen Mill. W.E. Ryan & Co was the distributor of Horseshoe Brand Tobacco Grower fertilizer from 1900-1905.
Thomas W. Mason is buried beneath a gravestone indicating he was a Confederate soldier in the Civil War. The stone lacks a date of birth or date of death. Thomas W. Mason was born about 1843 in Logan county, Kentucky. He was the son of D.D. and Francis J. French Mason. After the death of his parents, Thomas lived with his half-sister, Sarah Mason, and her husband James Ryan. Young Thomas Mason enlisted in the 1st Kentucky Regiment on 23 April 1861, but the unit was disbanded in May of 1862. Mason then enlisted the 25th of August, 1862 at Keysburg, Kentucky in (Gano’s) 2nd Kentucky Cavalry. He was captured in Greensburg, Kentucky on 20 May 1863 and was taken to the Military Prison in Louisville, where he was sent to Baltimore on the 29th of May. He was paroled from Fort McHenry in Baltimore in June, and exchanged in Virginia. He was recaptured in Salineville, Ohio in July of the same year and taken to Camp Chase, Ohio. He was transferred to Camp Douglas, Illinois in August of 1863, where he remained until 21 January 1865 when he was released. He is surrounded my the Ryan family in Elmwood Cemetery.
Richard Cheatham, born in Springfield, Tennessee, in the year 1799 was a merchant, farmer, breeder of fine horses and cotton ginner. He was appointed a Brigadier General of the State Militia in 1829. Cheatham served as a Representative to the State legislature from 1825 until 1836. He battled Cave Johnson unsuccessfully for the U.S. Congressional Seat through the campaigns of 1830, 1832, and 1834 before defeating Johnson in 1836. Gen. Richard Cheatham served in Congress from the Whig party from 1837 to 1839. He was defeated by Cave Johnson, who returned to the House of Representatives.
Thomas Marion Henry was born in 1826. T. Marion married Miss Harriet Gunn in 1851. She was the daughter of the Rev Thomas Gunn and his wife, Frances. In the 1860 census, Mr. Henry’s occupation is a cabinet maker by 1880 he is listed as a furniture dealer. Previously Henry was in partnership of a grocery in Springfield with James T. Henry for only a year (1876-1877).
To learn more about this event or the wonderful history of Robertson County, call the Robertson County History Museum at 382-7173.

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