ARCHIBALD YELL SMITH MEMORIES CONTINUED

Just about the beginning of this war, a Mr. Crabtree had begun the erection of a large frame hotel on the opposite east side of the railroad afferwards known as the "Park Hotel", in front of the old Lincoln House. This, together with all other large frame buiildings that could hold his sick and wounded soldiers, was commandeered by General Bragg and used for hospital purposes, as they were afterwards done the same by the Union Army. It was told that an old well on these premises was used for a dump for maimed and mangled arms and legs, and was filled to the top. It anyway, ever afterwards prevented the water being used for domestic purposes. The old Gunn Springs, known as "Big Spring", Is in the ,western part of the town, together with the Rock Creek that ran by it, and the other large spring south of the town, known as the Matt Martin Springs, afforded water for this Army.

Near the Big Spring west of the town, was a place known as the Blackwell place, situated on a hill commanding the town. On this hill was erected a gallows where deserters and spies were meted out what was considered Justice.

Just before the breaking out of the war, there lived near Pulaski, in Giles County, a northern man, a Union sympatnizer, calied Abolitionist. After the beginning of hostilities, it seems that this man with his family went back north and joined the Union forces at Louisville, then held by General Buel. He volunteered as a spy, coming among the Confederates here at Tullahoma. He had,the misfortune to be recognized by some of the soldiers from Giles County, was forthwith convicted and hung on this hill, buried near the foot of the gallows. He had a blue uniform concealed under gray. Our family afterwards acquired possession of this place of some 20 or 30 acres, and lived on it for several years. My father had built around this grave a rail pen, and in plowing around it, we were never allowed to disturb it. One year during an unusually heavy rain, the bones of the "Yankee Spy," (as it was known) were washed up. My brother, after examining. them together with several brass buttons, re-interred the bones.

Several years after the war, while I myself was. the local agent of the N.C. & St.L. Railroad in Tullahoma, two strange men came to see me to inquire after my father and mother, who at that particular .time were living at Old Pylant Springs. They told uie their mission to Tullahoma..was to find out and get some information about their father, who was. hanged by the Confederates near here, and they were told that perhaps my father could give them some information, as they had found an old lady, a Mrs. Rutherford, who remembered his name and the circumstances of the hanging, but. could not say where. I told the men, "While I don't remember the name, yet I can go and in ten minutes point his grave." They had me get in their coveyance. We drove out to the old place, and in a few minutes they dug up the bones together with the U. S. brass buttons. They gathered them all up carefully and departed for their home at Dwight, Illinois.

A few weeks afterwards, I received a marked copy of a newspaper published at Dwight giving a long account of the circumstances surrounding the life and death of tbe father, and the strange manner of the finding of his grave, in which my own name appeared in box-car letters as the hero. Many of the facts were erroronious such as, the said Arch Smith was present and saw the man hung and ever afterwards cared for and. respected the grave. When.the facts were, our family was at the time living in the country and I was not present at all, or if so, was too young to remember it. Anyway, they accomplished the purpose for which they came to Tennessee. That was to.secure a pension for their old mother, the widow of this Union spy. It seems' there was a hitch in the application for a pension. They had succeeded in establishing the facts as to his enlistment in the .Army, but all after that was blank, but on these meager facts, with several affidavits of myself and others, they finally succeeded in getting a pension for the old lady, together with a large back pay, and notwithstanding the fact of the many inaccuracies I was only too glad to be of service to the family.

While living on this old Blackwell place, about the year 1870, my father being unable to get employment, the family was reduced to the lowest ebb to secure a living, the family consisting of Father, Mother and 8 children, the two youngest, girls. My e1dest brother managed to get a job at the depot at a salary of $10 per month. I myself was so fortunate as to get a job in Mr. Riley Wilson's store at a salary of $5.00 per month and board, each of us contributing our salaries to the support of this large family. But in those days $5 and $10 was worth as much as $25 now., At the close of the war in 1865, everything in the way of business was demoralized, and the only business by which ready money could be obtained was whiskey distilleries and saloons.

The business section of the town consisting of one story frame shacks, no sidewalks or streets, and the most miserable country roads. When the money panic of 1873 came on, the railroad itself almost suspended operations, reducing its forces and expenses cut to the lowest minimum. My brother, in the mean time, had learned to telegraph, under the old operator George Pitts. After which he was sent by the railroad company to Huntingdon, West Tennessee, then called the Northwestern Road, at what we all thought an enormous salary of $45 per month. He was careful to send home his spare earnings which helped us to bridge over till I myself, by working' after business hours at the store, also learned to telegraph, learning on the old, style paper register instrument, there being very few operators that could read by sound.. I soon learned to dispense with the old paper instrument and copy by sound. I too secured a job in the home office where, with a few exceptions, I was sent to "Old Tantallon," just south of the Tunnell at Cowan to relieve the old operator there.

This old station, (now abandoned and otfice removed to Sherwood), consisted of a one story log cabin, in which the old Agent, (Mr. Horne) lived with his family consisting of himself, wife and one daughter, the latter married to a man by the name of Barns. I was sent there to relieve Mr. Horne who was attending court at Winchester, (the County-seat). His daughter was sueing Barns for divorce and the possession of their only child, (a son). At the time I was some 15 or 16 years of age. The telegraph office in one corner of this cabin was kept open in order to get orders for the Pusher, a large engine which operated through the Tunnell' from Cowan to TantaIlon. It was located in a wild and picturesque mountain gorge, far from any other settlement. It was told to me that a former telegraph operator, a Mr. Ed Teachout, who worked there before Mr. Horne, while at his telegraph instrument, one cold wintry day, was attacked by a mountain lion or wild cat and had a desperate.battle before he succeeded in killing it. He was badly scared, over the head, face and'body. This was not calculated to allay my fears of a like occurance to myself, and I was careful to bo1t and secure all doors and windows and cracks, especially at nights, notwithstanding the time 1 was there in mid~summer, July or August. I was only too glad when Mr. Horne and family returned.

While at this station, there was a long side-track, long enough to hold a train of cars. It was a passing track for freight trains going north, meeting freight trains going south. One or two freight trains going north rolled in and occupied the main track and waited for the Pusher to push over a south bound freight, which could plainly be heard coming down the track sleek with dew. The engineer was blowing his whistle with wild shrieks continuously, which indicated he had lost control of his train and was running away. The conductor of the north bound train, realizing this fact, ran to the switch and turned the south bound wild train into the siding, which on account of its speed never stopped until the entire train had ran out of the south end of the siding into the ditch. Porter Byers the Engineer having jumped from his engine, together with his fireman, before they met, was badly crippled and the train consisting of wooden box cars together with the engine was wrecked. It is useless to state this side track was torn out and never used as a meeting place for north and south bound trains.

I worked extra telegraph officer at other places, including the train dispatcher's office at Nashville at nights. The regular dispatcher, Mr. Charlie Stewart, either from sickness or some other cause, had asked for relief, and an old passenger conductor (Francis) together with myself, was sent to relieve him. Francis did the headwork and gave me the telegraphing to do. Old man Hugh Francis was a fine old man, but after midnight, when everything was quiet, he had a habit of stepping over to Bob Eve's Saloon and tanking up on beer. When he would come back to the office, lie down on the floor and snoozing away till day. Our North-Western passenger train was in the habit of meeting the Memphis trains at McKenzie. If this train was late and had no passengers for us, they would telegraph this fact ahead, and our train would come on in. One morning about 3 A.M. they wired us, they had no passengers, only a private car. Our conductor wired and asked if he should wait for this car. Francis as usual was sprawled out on the floor dead asleep. I shook him, kicked him and tried in every way to rouse him up. But he was dead to the world. Not knowing what to do, I took a chance and wired him, "Yes, wait." I afterwards learned, the private car was occupied
by President E. W. Cole, V. K. Stevenson and other officials. I thought, My God, what if I had told the conductor to come on in. The whole bunch of us would have been fired and this car left standing on the sidetrack at McKenzie till the next day. We would never have heard the last of it. We must remember that railroading in those days was far different than the present day.

On July 15, 1873, I was appointed regular Operator at my home town, Tullahoma, being at the time near 17 years of age, where I remained for 40 years, or until July 15, 1913, never during the interval having lost as many as 40 days consecutively away from my post. It is useless to state, I saw many changes in the little town. of about 300 inhabitants and about a dozen small wooden business shacks, most of these drinking saloons. I was most fortunate in having over me Mr. George Norton as Agent. This man, together with his good wife, were most kind to me and took great interest in me. He himself had a most checkered career, both he and his wife, born in England. He had been sent out to Jamaica when quite a young man, was foreman of a sugar plantation. His wife, a young girl, the daughter of the owner of the plantation, they had eloped and came to America. They came to Nashville and was foreman on Mr. Mark Cockrell"s fine farm. Afterwards owned a line of drays, delivering freight from the old steamboat landing on Broad Street to the railroad depot on Church Street.

He was offered and accepted a place as Conductor on the road, the equipment consisting of small wooden box cars with hand brakes, where 3 brakemen under the Conductor rode with hickory sticks in their hands with which when they desired to stop a train, they would wind up a brake and hang on like grim death. One day, coming up the mountain at this same place, Old Tantallon, coming north, just as they reached the mouth of the tunnel, his train broke in two and the rear part started back down the mountain increasing in speed every minute, he himself on top of a box car trying to hold it with his hickory stick. When it reached the bottom, he was flying and the car was not touching the track anywhere, turned over and over down the embankment, caught his right foot and crushed it to a pulp. It was badly set by the surgeon and left him crippled for life.

He was sent to Tullahoma as Agent. He soon learned the telegraph alphabet, so he, could read the old paper tape as well as he could read a newspaper, but never became expert at sending messages. He disliked to do so and when I came with him he gladly turned over the whole business to me. He remained with the company all during the Civil War. After the fall of Fort Donaldson and the Battle of.Murfreesboro, they removed all the rolling stock south, Col. Cole being in charge as Superintendent. He remained with him in Augusta, Georgia, returning with him and after they again acquired control of the road, he was again appointed Agent at Tullahoma, where he remained until he died. He would never surrender his Citizenship as a subject of Great Britain, which stood him well in hand during the conscription times of the civil War. He and his wife were loyal members of the Church of England, afterwards the Episcopal Church, was Senior Warden of the vestry of Saint Barnabas' parish. (The history of this little parish is but the biography of this splendid old couple.)

This old Agent is the man who accompanied Col. Lawson Moore's widow to the battlefield at Murfreesboro, carried it on his shoulder and loaded it into the stock car and accompanied the widow with her dead back to Tullahoma. They had an only child, Charles Norton, who was deaf and dumb. They sent him off to Knoxville to a Deaf and Dumb school where he was educated, lived to bury both his parents then moved to Birmingham, Alabama, where he too died.


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