The Civil War Reunion At Beaverdam Creek

Nell Morisette
NewsTribune Special Columnist
April 14, 1999

Hello, readers. You have heard the old saying, "The best-made plant of mice and men often go astray." That's me this week, had another school wrote up for the Tribune. Lost it and had thrown my notes away. Here I sit writing up something else.

I want to make a correction in last week's paper. I did not make myself plain enough, and the typist did not understand.

In the Chestnut School, the children attending were not Hillards. They were Herbert Pafford, Hillard Pafford, Ruel Pafford, Lottie Pafford, Henry Pafford, Cloy Pafford, Virgil Pafford, Tippit Pafford, and Clifford Pafford.

The Ancient Campground Meeting and Burial Place an Reunion at the Beaverdam Creek Valley

In 1818, some of the first settlers settled in the Beaverdam Creek Valley in Benton County. Various Christian churches began to appear in the valley.

A Methodist congregation was organized toward the head of Beaverdam Valley, with its trustees being Robert Holems, John Brandon, and John B. Carson, who surveyed four acres of land in 12 Surveyor's District Range 8-Section 4, including the old campground meeting place and ancient graveyard. Year-in and year-out, camp meetings were held in this place.

This burial site has at least 50 graves. It served as a community-wide graveyard in the early days of the settlement, 1819 - 1835. It was told by old-timers that two Revolutionary War veterans were buried there.

The following article comes from the November 1, 1889, edition of the Benton County Enterprise.

"The reunion of the Confederate soldiers of Benton County at Beaverdam Campground on October 24 of last week was a decided success and will long be remembered by the veterans of the lost cause. Ere the first gray streaks of dawn were visible in the east, men and women were plodding their way toward the appointed place of meeting, and with the first rays of the rising sun gilded the hilltops of Benton, it kissed the cheeks of many already assembled upon the grounds, awaiting with anxious expectation the events of the coming day.

"The place selected for the meeting of the old comrades was five miles east of Camden at the Old Campgrounds on Beaverdam Creek, a place where in other days, the "Soldiers of the Cross" met annually to wage battle for the Lord, though how changed! Time, with its destroying hand, has been busy, and upon every hand are evidences of its presence. The arbor under which the men of God stood as he forced conviction to the hearts of his hearers is tumbled down.

"The camps have all gone, and nothing but a solitary dilapidated building nestling at the foot of the hill tells that is was once a place of worship, and yet it is a beautiful place, made so by God himself, and consecrated with prayers and tears of good men an women, just such ground as the ex-Confederate soldier deserves to tread upon, with its giant oaks standing like silent sentinels guarding some holy place, spreading their broad arms to afford protection and shelter to those who may gather there, while but a few steps away to the north is a beautiful spring gushing from the hillside, from which a tiny brooklet steals noiselessly on to the great Tennessee River, affording delightful water for man and beast - where thousands have quenched their thirst, and thousands more may drink thereof.

"Upon this consecrated spot, between four and five thousand people assembled when the old ex-Confederate veterans, after almost a quarter-century, were for the first time in the history of Benton County to enjoy a reunion.

"Promptly at 9:00, the command was given by J.M. Lashlee, marshal of the day, a gallant soldier of Company B., Seventh Kentucky Cavalry, those blood ran like water in the charge at the battle of Louisiana, for every ex-Confederate soldier present to fall inline, and true to their training, every man fell into line and were soon marshaling under the stars and stripes, the flag of their country.

"The men in line largely composed the commands of the Fifth, Forty-Ninth, and Fifty-Fifth Regiments of Tennessee Infantry, and one had to but glance along the lines of the few hundred survivors of the Confederacy who stood in line, some lame, some armless, and many carrying scars of that memorial conflict, and be carried back in memory's pinions to the hundreds of battlefields that had been enriched with their blood and that of thousands of comrades who never returned, and of weary marches through rain, cold, mud, hungry, shoeless, and in tattered clothes.

"It is good for us that we should thus have recalled the debt we owe these brave survivors of all cause we once loved and (which) still has a sacred niche in the recesses of our memory. Even those who did not believe in the cause for which they fought, we owe a debt of gratitude for the noble examples of heroism and the unimpeachable courage that they leave as the common heritage of Americans.

"Many a tear coursed down the furrowed cheeks of the old soldiers as they recounted to each other the experiences of those dark days of alternate victory and defeat, hope and despair.

"There were several honored speakers on this occasion, among (them) being H.C. Townes of Huntingdon, John M. Taylor of Lexington, and R.P. Cole of Paris.

"After the speakers had concluded, A.C. McRae, Master of Ceremonies, arose and, in one of the most feeling speeches we have ever heard, dismissed the crowd and directed them toward the tables, where a feast was spread that surprised the multitude. Supplies were so plentiful that fully enough was left over to feed 500 people.

"Benton County did herself proud, and the grand old Tenth District has first credit for likability and hospitality. Everyone was in good humor, and nothing occurred to mar the pleasures of the day, and those present will never forget it.

"In the afternoon, the Ex-Confederate Soldiers Association of Benton County was organized, and the following officers elected: President, Capt. R.W. Ayers; First Vice-President, Lieu. J. M. Holladay; Second Vice-President, Lieut. G.B. Greer; Secretary and Treasurer A.C. McRae; Sergeant at Arms J.H. Combs; and Chaplain A.E. Swindle. Quite a list of names were enrolled, and more will be added when the association gets in good working order."

Thought For the Week:

A word of encouragement can make the difference between giving up and going on.


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