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John J McAfee.

Kentucky politicians. Sketches of representative Corncrackers and other miscellany online

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OTHER MISCELLANY.



BY



JOHN j. MCAFEE.



"0 wad sonqe power tr\e giftie 'gie us
To see oursel's as ith^ers see us."



PRESS OF
THE COURIER-JOURNAL JOB PRINTING COMPANY, LOUISVILLE, K.Y,

1886.






UH/V



ENTERED ACCOKDIM, n> An <>i- COM.KF.SS, IN THE YEAR 1886, BY

JOHN J. McAFEEX

IN THE OKFILt ')! I UK I .1 1) \< A K I \ N AT \V.\NHINGTON.



DEDICATION.



This Book is dedicated to the Honorable gentlemen
whose names grace its pages,

as a

token of my honest admiration and esteem.
Its merit lies in the fact of its sincerity and fidelity to truth.

As such a memento it is
offered to them by the hand of Friendship.

JOHN J. McAFEE.

Louisville, Ky.



PREFACE.



THIS work consists of biographical notes of Kentucky politicians,
skt 3 of representative Corn-Crackers, and miscellany; reminis-
cences of the past forty years, army experiences, glimpses of South-
ern life : a reliable account of how the great Cavalryman, General
John II. Morgan, was killed; a eulogy on General U. S. Grant; bits
of philosophy, and distinctively a compilation of historical facts in the
lives of the leading young men of our State who have reflected credit
on Kentucky by their independence, their courage, and their genius.
It also contains the history of their ancestry tells who they were, their
places of nativity, their Alma Mater, and a list of the public offices
thev have held.

j

Asa book of accurate reference, and the means by which one can
easily acquaint himself with the experiences of those lofty spirits who
opened up Kentucky while yet a wilderness, the home of the savage
and the wolf, I bespeak an indulgent recognition of whatever merit
it may possess.

THE AUTHOR.



GQNTENTS.



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.



Hon. Robert T. Albritton 7

General David Rice Atchison 10

Hon. J. C. S. Blackburn 17

Hon, W. O. Bradley 20

Hon. \V.C. P. Breckinridge 25

Judge Eli H. Brown 29

Colonel John Mason Brown 32

Hon. Joshua F. Bullitt, Jr 36

Hon. Robert A. Burton 41

Hon. John G. Carlisle .... 44

Hon. Asher Graham Caruth 48

George M. Davie, Esq 52

Hon. Henry C. Dixon 57

General Basil W. Duke . 61

Judge Fontaine T. Fox 65

General Parker W. Hardin 68

Hon. Thomas F. Hargis 73

Hon. Thomas H. Hays 77

Hon. John K. Hendrick 81

General Fayette Hewitt 85

Hon. James R. Hindman 89

Judge Wm. B. Hoke 92

Hon. William L. Jackson, Jr 95

Hon. Richard A. Jones 98

Hon. Lafayette Joseph 101

Hon. J. D. Kehoe 105

Judge William Lindsay 109

Hon. Emmet G. Logan 113

Hon. James B. McCreary 118

Hon. Thomas E. Moss 121

Hon. W. C. Osvens 124

Judge M. H. Owsley 128

Hon. P. Booker Reed 131

Hon. John S. Rhea 135

Hon. Henry Hamilton Skiles I3&

Hon. James W. Tate 146

Hon. William Preston Taulbee 149

Judge Reginald Heber Thompson 153

The Thompson Brothers 1 5&

Colonel Sterling B. Toney 160

Hon. Henry Watterson J ^4

Hon. Albert S. Willis 168

Hon. Leander Cobb Woolfolk i?2

Colonel Bennett H. Young !7



CONTENTS.



M itsCKl.l.AN KOi :s SKETCHES.



A View nf Louisville as a City and a Home 183

A Kulogium mi (irneial John Adair 185

A Humorous Proposition to ait as Umpire . . . . 188

A I.OIIL; Time in Saddle 191

Christinas Tunes of L-m^ Ago 197

February 22<\ . .... 2O2

(ieneral U. S. (irant 2c6

C.fiioral John II. Morgan 210

H<.\\ to In'ttcr One's Self . 218

Kindness .... 221

\ ialile Characters . . 224

Out head Preserve their Memories 230

Our Happiest Days 232

Our Sacred Pa-t 234

Remarks on the Death of Hon. James A. McCampbell ..... ... 241

The Blue and the (iray 243

The Future 246

The Ingratitude of the Masses 249

The Thirst for Oftice '. 251

Thought.-* about I Joys 254

Truth a Lost Art 257




S^tfr-*




HON. ROBERT T. ALBRITTON.

The noblest aspiration of the human heart is, or ought to be, the
desire to be and to do right, and to deserve the encomiums of our fel-
lowmen. Every one who lives up to this high ideal, according to his
best ability, has triumphed over the lesser ills of life, which great
minds ignore. If from such a man the careless world should with-
hold the praise he seeks, and to which per se he is entitled, it is a wrong,
whose perpetration may never be offset by any amount of good in
another direction. If, on the contrary, he should receive the meed of
praise which his upright and manly course merits, his happiness, his
pride, and his ambition being assured, his emulation to rise to a still
nobler plane of well-doing is forever awake. Such a man, born to the
luck of appreciation among his fellowmen, is the gentleman whose biog-
raphy engrosses my mind and pen to-day- -Robert T. Albritton. His
father, John Albritton, Esq., was a gentlemen of great probity and
excellence, whose ancestors were among the first settlers of North
Carolina, but uniting his life with that of Miss Con way, of Virginia,
one of the brightest and prettiest belles of her day and time, the two

(7)



Rl I'RK-l- N I A I IVK (i (RN-CRACKERS.

\oimg people, at an early period in the history <>t Kentucky, came to
this State and settled down with the full intention of "growing up
with the < ounti \ . " Among the lady's male ancestors on the Con way side
if the house are several who have distinguished themselves for bravery
and intelligence, and whose names stand high in the communities in
which they lived. Among them \\as Miles \V. Conwav. who was a
member of the convention of 1792. which met in I)an\illeto form the
first constitution of Kentucky. Another, Preacher Con way, is men-
tioned in the State' Annals as having said in Boston that " President
Lincoln would like to have Cod on his side, but he must have Ken-
tucky" Still another belonged to Captain James Harrod's company,
which, in 17X0. kept watch over the Falls, in what is now Jefferson and
Shelb\- counties.

Hon. Robert Albritton was born in the county of Craves on the
i itli day of April, 1844. He was educated in the schools of the
county of his nativity, where his scholastic course was as thorough, if
not more so, than those attained by other young men whose parents
could not consider them "finished'' and ready for the battle of life
unless they matriculated at " Princeton "or " William and Mary," or
some other equally well-known college or university.

Now, it is a fact that Craves county was formed in 1823 out of a
part of Hickman county. It was named in honor of Major Benjamin
( i raves, who was an amiable, shrewd, and intelligent man. He resided
in Fay cite county, following the peaceful pursuit of agriculture, find-
ing his purest enjoyment in studying nature in her varying moods, and
learning from her how to fill his barns and glean rich harvests of
golden grain : but, for all that, he several times represented Fayette
count\- in the Legislature of his State. When the United States declared
war against Great Britain, in the year 1812, Benjamin Graves was
among the first to volunteer his services in defense of his country's
rights. lie received the appointment of major in Colonel Lewis' reg-
iment, and a more gallant officer, a more active and vigilant soldier
never led a charge or fought for freedom. He was killed in the memo-
rable battle of R.iisin. and his life-blood ebbed away and mingled in its
flow with the bluest blood in the States.

When the tocsin of war was sounded twenty-five years ago, the
record stands that A. R. Bonne (being a member of the General Assem-
bly) was expelled from the House of Representatives on I >e< ember 21,
1X61. "because directly or indirectly connected with giving aid and
comfort to the Confederate army and repudiating and acting against
the Government of the I'nited States and the Commonwealth of Ken-
tucky."



HON. ROBERT T. ALBRITTON. 9

From which facts it will be seen that Graves county has her heroes,
whose chivalry stands second best to none in the world ; and every Ken-
tuckian who fought for the " Lost Cause," in memory of the gallant
daring and hard fighting, the endurance and the privations involved in
that struggle, should "take off his hat" to the historic name of
*' Boone,'' made doubly dear to him by this incident.

He was not alone in his sympathy with the Southern movement.

Robert T. Albritton was certainly in harmony with him, for he was
among the first of the young and impulsive patriots who espoused the
" cause " and rallied to the battle-cry of "Dixie." He was made
captain of Company " H," of the Eighth regiment of Kentucky
infantry, serving through the entire war with that courage and efficiency
common to the soldiers of Kentucky, it matters not in what armies
they fight. The people of the South keep sacred the remembrance of
the service of Kentucky soldiers in the days of old, and this young
and chivalrous officer "acted well his part." No matter how fierce
and desperate the battles in which his regiment was engaged, young
Albritton came out of them with " flying colors." One day, however,
a cloud drifted across his "lucky star," and he was taken prisoner.
For seven months he languished at Camp Morton. It is only among
those who endured the martyrdom of prison life for the cause of lib-
erty, national independence, and States' rights that a comprehensive
view of such suffering can be obtained.

At the close of the war, Captain Albritton returned to his home,
rejoiced to find his old-time friends and associates had lost none of
their good feeling for him on account of the internecine struggle.
Since then he has taken an active part in politics. He has been
twice elected sheriff of his county. He was twice chosen chairman
of the congressional committee of his district, and in August, 1885, he
was elected State Senator from the district composed of the counties
of Graves, Fulton, and Hickman. He is considered one of the
strongest and soundest solons of the General Assembly. He is a
man of great dignity of character; he commands respect, and yet
there is nothing austere about him. He is genial, companionable,
and courageous as a lion.

In 1877, ne married the charming daughter of Irvin Anderson,
Esq. He was well known to the representative men of the State in
ante-bellum days as the highest and noblest type of a Kentucky gen-
tleman. Greater praise than this no man need aspire to gain.

Mr. and Mrs. Albritton have quite an interesting family of chil-
dren, who bid fair to do honor to their excellent parents in moral
worth and intellectual brilliance.




GENERAL DAVID RICE ATCHISON.

Full a century and a half ago there was born in the shadows of
the hills of Hanover county, Va., a child destined to sway his fellow-
beings with his convincing eloquence and the powerful influence of his
shining example, as it seldom falls to the lot of one mortal to assert
himself above others unless backed bv the marvelous strength of noble

j ft

birthright, of trained armies, or the significance afforded by countless
thousands of dollars. None of these aids were his. His parents were
poor, obscure, and unobtrusive, but in this little child of theirs glowed
the spark of genius. Nothing afforded him enjoyment equal to that
derived from the sweet stories of the Gospel. He would rise early on
Sunday morning, put a piece of (-lap-bread (a species of oatmeal-cake
rolled thin and baked hard) in the bosom of his hunting-shirt, and
travel thirteen miles on foot to hear President Davison preach. The
minister, noticing a little ragged boy sitting near the door so regular in
his attendance, detained him. On examination, he found that he was
a pious bov. with fine tastes. He put him under his supervision, and
gave him what in those days was esteemed a first-rate education. He

do)



GENERAL DAVID RICE ATCHISON. II

was converted under the preaching of President Edwards, and studied
theology under Rev. John Todd. He graduated at Princeton Col-
lege, New Jersey. His name was David Rice, but, in the familiar
parlance of those who loved and revered him, in later days he was
known only by the title of " Father Rice." In the struggle for National
Independence, he took a warm and zealous part, and esteemed it com-
mensurate with the dignity of his clerical profession to address the
people at county meetings and recite their grievances, while he urged
measures for their suppression. In the year 1783 he came to Ken-
tucky. He was then fifty years old, and was the third Presbyterian
minister who crossed the mountains. He identified his fortunes with
those of the brave spirits who had, in the face of long odds, established
an infant colony amid the trackless wilds of a new country, dark with
unguessed dangers. His influence was everywhere felt. He came
among the hardy pioneers like a sweet south wind, infusing peace into
their souls and good will toward their fellowmen. He gathered the
Presbyterians into regular congregations at Danville, at Shawnee Run
Church, near the spot where Shakertown now stands, and at McAfee
Station. Previous to his arrival in Kentucky, marriages were all sol-
emnized by magistrates, but subsequent to that event the people made
it a point to procure the services of clergymen. At McAfee's Station,
on the 3d of June, 1784, he united two glad hearts in the bonds of love
and unity, and on the next day, the 4th instant, preached the funeral ser-
mon of Mrs. James McCown, whose maiden name was McAfee, the
first sermon ever preached on the banks of Salt river.

David Rice was not ornate in his delivery. As a theologian, he
was plain, practical, and earnest. His judgment was sound, his dispo-
sition conservative, and his deportment exemplary. He spent much of
his time in prayer. When in the pulpit, his manner was most solemn
and impressive. His intercourse with society was dignified and grave,
but never austere. He was one of the patriarchs of Presbyterianism
in Kentucky. Besides his active duties as a minister, and the organi-
zation of many churches, he was always zealous in advancing the cause
of education. He was the first teacher in the Transylvania Seminarv,

j * >

and was also for several years the Chairman of its Board of Trustees.
The public esteemed him with immeasurable regard, and, as evidence
of the hold he had upon the affection of the people, of high and low
degree, he was elected a member of the convention which met in
Danville in 1792 to frame a State Constitution. He exerted his influence
on that memorable occasion, but without success, for the inserting of
an article providing for the gradual extinction of slavery in Kentucky.
He was a great man a good man. He tried to do right under all cir-



12 RKI'KKSKN TATIVK CoR N-CR ACK KKS.

cumstanco. t<> b<- tV.ink and fair with his fellmvmen, and he gathered
his reward in their universal homage. In personnel he was blender.
tall, and active, possessed of great vigor and alertness, and in his old

he looked like a picture of Time smiling serenely beneath the
snow-crown of many winters. He died in (ireen county on the iSth
of June. iSiO, in the eighty-third year of his age. His last words
were. "Oh! when shall I he free from sin and sorrow?"

I'M perpetuate his name, many of the old-time people of a century
ago adopted the name of " I\i< e" as a family Christian name. It was

with the McAfees, the Atchisons, the Welches, and many others.
Indeed, the name of David Rice will never die while the echoes live
among the Cumberland mountains that fortify the southern borders of
Kentucky. Among his near lineal descendants are the children of
John Welch, of Jessamine county, who married Miss Bettie Rice.
They have several distinguished children Rev. Thomas P.ice Welch,
now Consul-Oeneral to Canada; Judge William Rice Welch, of Illi-
nois, and Doctor John C. Welch, a distinguished surgeon, now resi-
dent in Xicholasville, Ky. Genius never dies; she but takes on new
colors and constantly renews her youth at the fountain of immortal
fame : but on none of those who have been honored by wearing the
title of this great man, David Rice, has the sign-manual descended as
visibly as it did upon the brow of David Rice Atchison, the subject of
this sketch, and the most prominent man among those who stood like
giants amid the political battles of the past, and who survived the
splendor of an eminently successful political life, as a superb oak might
daringly rear its emerald crest to the blue dome, though civilization
had felled a forest around it. He stood a link between the past and
present, until the other day he fell as the monarch of the wood might
fall conquered by age alone.

David Rice Atchison was born in Fayette county, Ky., south-east
of Lexington, August 11, 1807. His father. William Atchison, Esq.,
was a gentleman of great wealth, a profound thinker, and almost a

lot in his unbounded religious enthusiasm as a Presbyterian. His
mother was Miss Catherine Allen, whose ancestral line might be traced
bac k amid the pine forests of the grand old State of North Carolina.
From his early years it was impressed upon the mind of young Atchi-
snn that his parents desired that he should become a Presbyterian min-
ister. The fact of his bearing so great a name as "David Rice"
would, with many lads, have been the best stimulus to excite religious
enthusiasm, and so bias the bent of his inclination for a life-pursuit;
but it had no influence over this brilliant young scion of a splendid
race other than to erase from his character all inclinations toward



GENERAL DAVID RICE ATCHISON. 13

wildness, and to early impress him with the conviction that, if not a
minister of the Gospel, he must be something great to repay his
parents for the keen disappointment he inflicted by a choice of career
varvins; from their fervent individual desire.

O

He was educated at Transylvania University, Lexington, Ky.
While there he formed the acquaintance of another young Kentuck-
ian who became his classmate and his life-long friend, and whom he
met years afterward in the United States Senate the one represent-
ing the State of Mississippi, the other Missouri. This was Jefferson
Davis. Neither war nor its vicissitudes ever had the po\ver to sever
a friendship begun in the springtime of their lives.

At the age of twenty-two, David Rice Atchison removed to
Liberty. Clay county, Mo., and began the practice of law. Success
was not slow to welcome him. From 1831 to 1838 he served with
distinction in the State Legislature. After this, when but thirty-three
years old. he was appointed Judge of the Circuit Court. In the same
year he was appointed by Governor Reynolds a Senator of the United
States, to fill the unexpired term of Dr. L. F. Linn, made vacant
by the death of that worthy gentleman. For fourteen years from
1841 to 1855 he served in the Senate of the L'nited States.

Xo man, among all the luminaries gathered at the capital, could
outrival him, whether as prominent factor or conspicuous actor.
At the time of the Kansas and Nebraska troubles, David Rice Atch-
ison was the leader and chief adviser of the pro-slavery party. He
received the credit of framing the bill repealing the Missouri Compro-
mise. He was superbly educated, and allied to his natural genius,
his knowledge of law. and his fine analytical mind and parliamentary
finish, his magnificent stature and elegant manners rendered him a
central figure of attraction even among the Titans of those days
Clay. Webster and Calhoim, Seward, Sumner and Hale, Douglas,
Benton and Davis, and scores of others scarcelv less able or brilliant.



He was frequently chairman of important committees, and wherever
he appeared commanded respect and won admiration.

When but thirty-eight years of age he was President pro 'tcmporc of
the Senate of the United States. At forty-six, by the death of Wm.
R. King. Vice-President of the United States, he became, being Pres-
ident cf the Uniied States Senate. Acting Vice-President of the
LTnited States. It was while holding the latter position, in 1849, that
the event occurred which made him President of the United States
for one day. The term of President Polk expired with the 3d day of
March, 1849, ano ^ tne 4 tn f ^larch in that year falling upon Sun-
day, Piesident-elect Taylor was not willing to take the oath of office



14 Rl I'RKSKNTATIVK C'< >R N CRACK KRS.

upon that d.iy. The latter's inauguration did not, therefore, take
place until noon on Monday, March 5, 1^49. David Rice Atchison,
being then the presiding officer of the Senate, and having the natural
succession to the presidency, if there was no president or vice-pres-
ident at the time, was practically the President during Sunday,
the 4th.

Many important measures came up in the fourteen years he was in
office-: Texas and California were admitted into the Union; the Wil-
mot Proviso; the compromise measures of 1850; the Kansas em-
broglio, and the permanent questions of finance, banks, currency, and
revenue, all of which are forever unsettled matters for national con-
troversy, whose adjustment involves all the wisdom and patriotism
that can be brought to bear upon them. No matter what the subject
for national consideration, while he had a voice in public affairs,
David Rice Atchison was true to his convictions and faithful to his
party, to his State, and to his friends. It is generally conceded that
he was the most popular senator of his day and time among his com-
peers, whether of his own or the opposing party. He was a man of
such magnificent culture, of such generous impulses, so brilliant, so
moral, so manly and upright, that men crowned him with not only
their admiration but their affections. Yet amid all the brilliance of
his prominent public life he found time to love God and worship Him.
He was a firm believer in the Bible, and often asserted that he found
it impossible to be otherwise, although at one time he had tried to
doubt it. And so it was that the seeds of "peace on earth, good
will to men," sown by David Rice, in the pioneer days, in the hearts
of his fellow-statesmen, brought in a golden harvest after many years.
The world had offered this young man. David Rice Atchison, the
allurements of earth ; it had endeavored to beguile his conscience with
sounding brass and tinkling cymbals, but all to no purpose; the holy
lesions learned at his mother's knee were more potent than the soph-
istries of the world, and his individual needs were best satisfied by
the adaptability of the Gospel to the requirements of his contemplative
mind requirements which led him along the same path that Shakes-
re. Milton, Bacon, Webster, Clay, and others had passed, through
the shadows of doubt to the effulgent goal of conviction.

When the late civil war began, David Rice Atchison, who was in
warm sympathy with the South, helped to organize the Confederate-
forces in his vicinity, and was in several engagements, in which he
bore himself with courtly courage. His rank was that of a general,
but at the time of his enlistment his health was frail, and to his deep
regret he was forced to send in his resignation.



GEXERAL DAVID RICE ATCHISON.



Hoping to be able, through perfect quiet and rest from his public
labors, to recuperate his health, General Atchison retired to his farm
near Gower, in Clinton county, Mo., living in private, calm and un-
disturbed, but his hope was vain. He never again entered the
arena of public life. He was seventy-nine when he died, beloved
and mourned by a large concourse of friends and relations. In pres-
ence he was over six feet high, splendidly built, a man every inch of
him. He has passed through the Valley of the Shadow, but the rep-
utation he has left with the nation is a priceless heritage which will
continue to halo the past with its golden splendor like the undying
glory of a never-setting sun.

Among his nearest relatives left in this State, after he moved to
Missouri, born in the same county, was the Hon. Samuel Ayers Atch-
ison, the eminent lawyer, who died in Louisville in 1869. This latter
gentleman was twice wedded. His first wife, an elegant -lady, was
the sister of Governor James T. Morehead. Among her children was
the brilliant young lawyer, Samuel Atchison, who died in this city in
1880, lamented by his friends, and mourned by those who knew him
best, as one whose like would not soon be looked upon again. He
had a magnificent mind, and stepped to the front rank at the chancery
bar as if he had an imperial title.

Mr. Atchison's second wile
was Miss Eliza Love, a lady


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Online LibraryJohn J McAfeeKentucky politicians. Sketches of representative Corncrackers and other miscellany → online text (page 1 of 22)