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Moses Harshaw–Died and Gone to Hell

Moses Harshaw
1794-1858
Died and Gone to Hell

Moses Harshaw–The Meanest Man Alive
Died and Gone to Hell

The stories and legends surrounding Moses Harshaw are plentiful. One thing we know is that if you visit Old Clarkesville Cemetery in Clarkesville, Georgia, you can see a headstone the likes of which you have probably not seen before. It is both funny and sad at the same time. Funny in that somebody appears to have had the last laugh on Harshaw. Sad in the fact that this person was so evil that family chose to remember him in this way.

Moses Harshaw was born in 1794 in North Carolina. He wed Nancy England on June 9, 1814 in Burke County, North Carolina. By 1820, it appears that the Harshaw family was gaining wealth, as they owned seven male slaves, all under the age of 44.

At some point in the early to mid-1820s, Moses led the Harshaw family from their home in North Carolina to new lands in the Nacoochee Valley of Georgia. In 1825, Moses purchased 250 acres from W. B. Wofford for the sum of $1,500. It was on this property that around 1837 Moses would build what is now known as the Harshaw-Stovall House, a property that in 1984 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Harshaw was successful in a financial manner. In addition to his farming and gold mining
operation, he supported his family by working as an attorney in Clarkesville. By 1840, the US
Census shows him owning 18 slaves, 11 females and 7 males. The 1850 US Census lists
Harshaw as owning real estate with a value of $20,000. The Slave Census for the same year
show him having increased his human ownership to 20.

Despite his apparent business acumen, Moses was person few people liked. His antics had earned
him the moniker, “the meanest man alive.” The period of 1829-1844 saw him charged with
assault on seven occasions, being found guilty six times. His cruelty to slaves became legendary.
When he would hitch his wagon to go to town, he would require the services of a slave on the
trip. He would not allow the slave to ride in the wagon however but would instead tie him to the
back of the wagon and make him run to keep up.

Perhaps cementing his legacy as vile person is the story of when a young slave girl passed away,
Moses wife Nancy purchased a dress for the child to be buried in. When Moses discovered the
expense he demanded the child be dug up, the dress be removed and returned to the store.

Unable to live with Moses and his erratic behavior, Nancy filed for legal separation, which the
courts granted in 1857 (some date this separation as being in 1850). She received several slaves,
farm equipment, and lands in Clarkesville. A portion of the separation agreement reads

from an incompatibility of taste and uncongeniality of temper and disagreement of
pursuits, bickering, heartburnings and strife have discovered that it is impossible they
should longer live together in peace and harmony and have therefore agreed to separate
from bed and board and absolve, release and forever discharge each other from all
conjugal rights, privileges, duties and liabilities, further agreeing to live separate and
apart and abstain in all and every way from interfering with or molesting each other in all
and every way their pursuit of present and eternal happiness.

Moses was to live only a short while longer, passing away in 1859. Despite being a successful
attorney, Moses passed without a will. The courts appointed Moses son Alonzo and E.P.
Williams as estate administrators. His holdings included 11 slaves, farming equipment, produce,
livestock and feed, household furnishings, a lot and house in the town of Clarkesville, and
considerable acreage and a home in Clarkesville and White Counties.

It is possible that Nancy had the last word on their marriage and the life of Moses Harshaw. The
long rotted original wooden marker was carved with the words “Died and Gone to Hell.” A
replica of the marker stands today, reminding us that our worldly actions may not be forgiven
even in death.

Harshay-Stovall House
Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Today, visitors to Sautee Nacoochee, GA can stay in the beautifully restored Stovall House. Owners Jeff Sidwell and Erin Fight opened the bed & breakfast in 2019. They offer six rooms (the Terra Cotta Room is pet friendly room) including king-sized beds, private bathrooms, Wi-Fi throughout the house, and more. Water comes from the 350 foot deep well on property. Environmental concerns are taken seriously with kitchen leftovers being composted; leftover soaps, etc. are recycled through Clean the World, the 27-acre property is pesticide free, and cleaning products are eco-friendly. If you are looking for a wedding or event venue, Jeff and Erin are eager to accommodate your needs.

 

References:
Old Clarkesville Cemetery website

United States Census Reports
1820
1840
1850
1850 Slave Schedule

United States Department of the Interior National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form.
Harshaw-Stovall House. June 28, 1984.

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Book Review–Hidden History of Civil War Savannah

Hidden History of Civil War Savannah

Jordan, Michael L. Hidden History of Civil War Savannah. Charleston: Arcadia
Publishing, 2017. ISBN 9781626196438, 159 pages, 131 pages text, b/w photos,
notes, bibliography, index, $21.99.

As author Michael L. Jordan describes Savannah, Georgia, “…Savannah is a Civil
War city, an epicenter of activity in the conflict that southerners like to call “the
War Between the States.” While I might take umbrage with this stereotyped
portrayal of southerners, there is considerable truth to this statement.

In his book, Hidden History of Civil War Savannah, Jordan tells nine stories
allowing readers an introductory, yet thorough enough for many readers, glimpse
of the role Savannah played during the Civil War. Savannah was more than just a
Christmas gift from General Sherman to President Lincoln.

The first chapter starts out with controversial Confederate Alexander Stephens and
his infamous “Corner-stone Speech” given in Savannah in March 1861. In this
speech Stevens leaves little doubt that slavery and white supremacy were the
drivers of the new Confederate government. He went further calling abolitionists
“fanatics” stating they “were attempting to make things equal which the Creator
had made unequal.” It appears that Stephens’s views were in the mainstream of
Georgia voters. Just twenty years later he served as Governor of the state.

In the following chapter Jordan treats us to the life of Francis Barton, a signer of
the Georgia Ordinance of Secession, who as a brigade commander in the
Oglethorpe Light Infantry was killed during the July 1861 Battle of Bull Run.
Bartow’s remains are interred in Laurel Grove Cemetery.

The life of Robert E. Lee and his strong associations with Savannah, especially his
time as a young engineer helping to construct Fort Pulaski are quickly covered.
The following chapter contains a thorough discussion of the CSS Atlanta and the
problems the ship’s crew faced before the vessel was eventually surrendered to
Union forces. The newly named USS Atlanta served in the Union navy during the
blockade of the James River.

The fate of Union prisoners of war in 1864 is a chapter that I enjoyed considerably.
It left me wanting more however. The next chapters cover the Confederate
evacuation of the city, including the arrival of General Sherman and concerns of
the local residents. The story of the capture of Savannah is followed by a
discussion of Savannah rejoining the Union. Again, the concerns of local residents
and businesses are discussed in detail.

While General Sherman didn’t put the torch to Savannah as he did to others, there
was a major fire in the city during January 1865. The fire is traced to a stable in the
northwestern part of the city. As the fire spread, it reached the naval arsenal
causing major explosions that rocked the city. Union forces helped in removing
shells when possible and in protecting citizens and property. The cause of the
blaze, and other small ones in the city, was not determined. Jordan does not put
forth an opinion or provide any evidence as to who may have been the cause.

The book concludes with a chapter on Savannah’s Confederate Memory. The
importance of the Ladies Memorial Association and their role in raising money for
a Confederate monument is detailed. The story of men taking over the lead on the
creation of the monument and the story of the monument itself are quite intriguing
and well worth the read. The 20th century myths about no “Yankee” products being
used in the creation of the monument is amusing.

This book is a quick and enjoyable read with each chapter standing on its own
merit. These brief vignettes provide an interesting background and introduction
into the role of Savannah before, during, and after the Civil War. The notes and
bibliography are appreciated and allow readers the ability to follow up and learn
more on subjects of interest to them.

This is not a travel guide. No maps, directions, or addresses are included. Rather, a
reader can use this as an introduction to places they may wish to seek out during a
visit to the “Hostess City of the South.”

A wonderful single day tour of the highlights of Civil War Savannah can be found
on the American Battlefield Trust webpage.

There are several guided walking tours of Civil War sites available. Savannah Walks
offers what looks to be an interesting tour readers might enjoy.

Some incredible Civil War era maps are available for viewing and download
through the Library of Congress.

You may read other reviews of Arcadia Publishing titles by clicking here.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may
receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views
and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors
providing products.

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Pinson Cemetery in Rabun County Georgia: Home to a Revolutionary War Soldier

Joseph Pinson headstone

Part of the joys of road trips are the unexpected finds a traveler can make. This is the story of just
such a find. We have vacationed in Rabun County, Georgia on several occasions and have found
a wonderful short-term rental property we stay at whenever possible. It is not large but has a
larger fenced yard that our dogs love. The views are tremendous and the house has everything
we need for a few days away from home.

Pinson Cemetery sign
Pinson Cemetery Sign

PINSON CEMETERY

On the drive to the house, we have noticed a road sign for Pinson Cemetery. The area is always overgrown and it looks difficult to find. There is no road or easy access point. With this in mind, we have never tried to stop. This past year I decided I had to investigate. My wife dropped me off and parked up the road at a community church while I headed into the brush.

I am glad I made that short hike. Here I found the headstone for Joseph Pinson. According to the headstone, Pinson was born January 30, 1754 and passed away on May 26, 1838. The stone states he was a sergeant in the North Carolina Militia during the Revolutionary War.

Joseph Pinson headstone
The front of the Joseph Pinson headstone

Revolutionary War headstones are not too common in Florida so this was an exciting discovery.

The reverse of the headstone provides some genealogical information. “Erected in memory of Joseph Pinson. Born at Pinson’s Mill on the Haw River in Old Orange County. N.C. Son of Rev. Aaron and Elizabeth Pinson who died in Laurens County, S.C. Husband of Margery Pinson who died in Walker County, GA.

The marker appears to have been installed by the Sons of the American Revolution, possibly in 2011.

SERVICE

According to a pension application filed on July 7, 1834 with the Judges of the Inferior or
County Court of Rabun, Pinson stated that he had served five tours of duty during the
Revolutionary War. Before getting too excited it should be noted that no reference is made to his having served as a sergeant and the total amount of his service time was only eight months and seven days.

Joseph Pinson volunteered for service July 15, 1776 and served under Colonel Isaac Shelby and

Joseph Pinson headstone reverse side
The reverse side of the Joseph Pinson headstone containing valuable genealogical information.

Captain Jacob Womack. During this tour, the only combat Pinson saw was with “a company of the Indians, who had been engaged in massacring the defenseless inhabitants of the Nolichucky River and the frontiers, this Battle was fought on the waters of the River they there killed one Indian the others fled.” Pinson was discharged at Womack’s Fort on the Holston River on October
12, 1776.

Pinson’s second tour began on March 19, 1777 under Captain Joseph Wilson and Colonel John Carter. His role was to help protect the “Frontiers of North Carolina against Indians and Tories. When he was discharged on July 23, 1777, he had seen no battle action.

His third tour was for only eight days but did produce some excitement. Serving under Colonel Benjamin Cleveland, he went on an expedition on the New River where they took one prisoner.
This prisoner was delivered to a Colonel Campbell who had the man executed by hanging.

During Pinson’s fourth tour of duty, he again served under Colonel Cleveland. This time he was
on guard duty, keeping watch over British and Tories captured during the Battle of Kings
Mountain.

Pinson’s fifth and final tour of duty was an uneventful four days served under Captain Benjamin
Herndon.

Joseph Pinson provided an impressive list of character references in his appeal. These included
Senator H. T. Moseley, Representative William Kelby, and Colonel Sam Beck.

FAMILY INFORMATION

Included in the pension application are later, additional family notices including notice that
Pinson’s widow, Margery, had filed for a widows pension on July 20, 1847. Here it was attested
that she and Joseph had married on September 15, 1775 and that Joseph had passed away on
May 26, 1838.

Further genealogical information included in the file is an 1853 affidavit from Jane Carter stating
she is the daughter of Joseph and Margery Pinson. She continues, stating her parents were
married in Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1773. Margery passed away on August 25, 1852
and that there are four living children from the Pinson marriage: Elizabeth, Mary, Milla, and
Jane.

Reference is made to the appearance in Cass County, Georgia of a Moses Pinson who claimed to
be the younger brother of Joseph.

Joseph Pinson was successful in his pension application. Beginning on March 4, 1831 Pinson
was awarded a yearly pension of $27.44, or roughly $2.30 per month. His widow Margery
received the same amount following her 1847 application.

DIRECTIONS

If you would like to visit the Pinson Cemetery, my first suggestion is to dress appropriately; long
pants and closed toed shoes are necessary. I visited during early winter but I would suggest
insect repellant if you are visiting during the warmer months. From Highway 441 heading north
in Clayton turn left on to John Beck Dockins Road. Travel about a mile and a half and turn left
on Wolffork Road. Follow Wollfolk for just over a mile and you will see the sign on the left
hand side.

You will need to find a place to safely park and the side of the road is not that place.
Return to the church you have just passed and walk back to the sign. Here you will have to make
your way into an overgrown area. Try to keep going straight as you enter the brush. When I
visited there was a bit of a clearing and the headstone was obvious.

Remember, take only photos and leave only footprints.

Sources

Revwarapps.org

 

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small
commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided
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The Ancient Track Rock Petroglyphs in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest

Track Rock Sign

Visitors to the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests have a unique opportunity to view a large collection of petroglyphs.

Track Rock Sign
The sign indicating the Track Rock Archaeological Area where you can visit the petroglyphs.

What is a petroglyph?

Track Rock Information Panel
Track Rock Information Panel

The first question a reader may have is, just what a petroglyph is. According to the National Park Service “Petroglyphs are rock carvings (rock paintings are called pictographs) made by pecking directly on the rock surface using a stone chisel and a hammerstone.”

How old are they?

Track Rock Gap is located between Thunderstruck Mountain and Buzzard Roost Ridge near the
town of Blairsville in Union County, Georgia. Here, more than 1,000 years ago, Creek and
Cherokee peoples created the soapstone carvings we now enjoy today.

Considered one of the most significant rock art sites in the Southeastern United States, Track
Rock features a diverse grouping of more than 100 figures.

What do they mean?

Track Rock Petroglyph
A legend to some of the markings found on the petroglyphs.

Archaeologists do not believe Track Rock to have had a singular purpose or to have been carved in a singular period; rather, the carvings were made over time and for differing reasons. Some of them may symbolize or commemorate a particular event that happened. Others may have to do with rituals and ceremonies. As the National Park Service states

Furthermore, the setting of Track Rock in a gap places it at a threshold. In numerous Cherokee stories, footprints and tracks signify an in-between or transitional state or condition. More specifically, rocks with footprints and tracks signified the area of transition, a doorway or threshold, into the domain of dangerous spirit beings.

Depictions of footprints and tracks are not only physical testimony that spirit beings were there some time in the past, but that they could still be lingering somewhere close-by in the present, and that they may return unexpectedly at any time in the future.

How do I visit?

You can easily visit this amazing archaeological site. There is no entry or parking fee charged.

You can reach Track Rock Gap by taking US 129 to Blairsville, then US 76 east about five
miles. At the signs for Track Rock Gap Road, turn right for about two miles to the gap. Their
location in the gap makes stopping beside the boulders very dangerous.

Drive on through the gap, noting the Track Rocks on the right, and look for the small parking lot
on your right. Park there and take the trail back to the gap, safely from traffic. The trail is not
long or strenuous but it is through a wooded area so proper footwear is suggested. The path can
be slippery depending upon weather conditions.

Carvings visible in the rock
While not photographed at the best lighting, carvings are still visible in this rock.

The NPS suggests visiting when sunlight is at a low angle. Consider visiting either early morning or late in the day. Brighter sunlight makes viewing the  petroglyphs more difficult. If you click the link below to learn more about the site there are convenient fact and description sheets available to help you navigate the site.

Remember, leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photos. Let’s make sure this sacred site is available for the next thousand years.

How can I learn more?

To learn more about the petroglyphs visit the forest service site here.

Learn more about the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) by visiting the National Park Service page here.

You can learn more on the subject by reading the account “An Archaeological and
Ethnohistorical Appraisal of a Piled Stone feature Complex in the Mountains of North Georgia”
published in the journal Early Georgia (Vol. 38, No. 1, p. 29-50) in 2010 by archaeologists
Johannes Loubser and Douglas Frink. Check with your local librarian to see if any of their
databases carry this journal.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may
receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views
and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors
providing products.

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Library Additions: March 2021 (1)

Cover for Civil War Battles of Macon

Thank you to Arcadia Publishing for providing complimentary review copies of a couple of their newest releases. Reviews will be posted in the future. All reviews will be based upon my own readings and are not influenced by the publisher providing review copies.

Eichhorn, Niels. The Civil War Battles of Macon. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2021. 124 pages, 105 pages of text, bibliography, notes, b/w photos, ISBN 9781467146944, $21.99.

Macon was a cornerstone of the Confederacy’s military-industrial complex. As a transportation hub, the city supplied weapons to the Confederacy, making it a target once the Union pushed into Georgia in 1864. In the course of the war’s last year, Macon faced three separate cavalry assaults. The battles were small in the grand scheme but salient for the combatants and townspeople. Once the war concluded, it was from Macon that cavalry struck out to capture the fugitive Jefferson Davis, allowing the city to witness one of the last chapters of the conflict. Author Niels Eichhorn brings together the first comprehensive analysis of the military engagements and battles in Middle Georgia.

 

 

Bunn, Mike. The Assault on Fort Blakeley: The Thunder and Lightning of Battle. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2021. 158 pages, 139 pages of text, bibliography, notes, order of battle, ISBN 9781467148634, $21.99

On the afternoon of April 9, 1865, some sixteen thousand Union troops launched a bold, coordinated assault on the three-mile-long line of earthworks known as Fort Blakeley. The charge was one of the grand spectacles of the Civil War, the climax of a weeks-long campaign that resulted in the capture of Mobile—the last major Southern city to remain in Confederate hands. Historian Mike Bunn takes readers into the chaos of those desperate moments along the waters of the storied Mobile-Tensaw Delta. With a crisp narrative that also serves as a guided tour of Alabama’s largest Civil War battlefield, the book pioneers a telling of Blakeley’s story through detailed accounts from those who participated in the harrowing siege and assault.

 

 

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small
commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are
my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs.