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Thomas Washington Walthal (1841-1925)

"Montgomery County lost one of its finest citizens as Thomas Washington Walthal answered his last roll call, dying at his home in St. Bethlehem October 5, 1925. Walthal lacked only seven days reaching his eighty-fourth birthday. For nearly a week his condition had been regarded as critical, but his dominant will power was manifest through all his illness. During rational moments, he discussed his business and instructed his family in the most minute detail as to winding up his affairs. He keenly realized the end was near, and on more than one occasion called his wife and children to give them

Mr. Walthal was born in this county, one mile north of Clarksville on the Furnace Road on what is now known as the Walthal and Gowan farm. He was the eldest son of Thomas Braxton and Elizabeth Pollard Walthal, who moved from Petersburg, Virginia to Montgomery county nearly ninety years ago. His boyhood was spent on the farm. His soldier record was enviable. When nineteen years old, in the spring of 1861, Mr. Walthal gave up his third year of work at Stewart College which later became Southwestern Presbyterian University, and enlisted in Co. A Forty-ninth Tennessee Infantry of Wall's Brigade. While at Fort Donelson, Mr. Walthal contracted measles. He returned to Clarksville on a river flatboat, and was taken to the family home where he remained for several months. During this time, he became a victim of complications, and was a patient sufferer. When he was finally able to rejoin his regiment, he rode a horse to Corinth, Mississippi, where he found his outfit. He saw service at Vicksburg, Mobile, Kennesaw Mountain, and was under Gen. Braxton Bragg and Gen. Joseph E. Johnston during the famous opposition to Sherman's march to the sea. Under Gen. Braxton Bragg and Gen. John B. Hood, Mr. Walthal participated in the battles of Nashville and Missionary Ridge. He was a participant in the last battles of the war, Goldsborough and Bentonville, North Carolina. He frequently related the Bentonville battle, recalling how the Confederates launched an early morning attack on the Federals' breastworks. Federal artillery was trained on the attackers, who were ordered to lie down. The Federal artillery literally shot the shrubs to pieces during the day, and shortly before sunset, the Confederates were ordered to storm the breastworks. The enemy was so surprised that it surrendered three pieces of artillery and left behind a wealth of foraged household goods and wearing apparel which had been seized for the purpose of being sent to relatives. Letters captured by the Confederates, revealed requests from kin for many of the articles found in the breastworks. At one time, during the conflict, Mr. Walthal was captured and confined to prison. He was paroled to die from a malady which he partially overcame, but which continued its hold upon his vitality throughout the remainder of his life, and ultimately resulted in his death.

Walking the greater portion of the distance, Mr. Walthal returned to his home from the conflict on May 31, 1865, emaciated, worn and diseased, a mere skeleton in comparison to the splendid, hardy physique that went forth to battle four years prior. He immediately set about rebuilding and rehabilitating the family home against the destruction and waste caused by the Federal troops depredation.

On Jan. 14, 1874, Mr. Walthal was married to Miss Sallie Whitfield, daughter of Robert and Susan Whitfield, who were among the most prominent citizens. This union was blessed by seven children, four sons, and three daughters, all of whom, along with his wife, survive, and were at Mr. Walthal's bedside several days prior to his death. The children are Edward B. Walthal, Thomas B. Walthal, B. Ernest Walthal, prominent real estate men, B. Frank Walthal, prominent Canton, Ky. business man, and former member of the Kentucky legislature, Mrs. E. Ross Bellamy, St. Bethlehem, Mrs. P.M. Perkins, Clarksville and Mrs. George Holloway, Guthrie, one sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Gowan of St. Bethlehem, and eleven grandchildren.

With the exception of his four years of service with the army, Mr. Walthal was a lifelong resident of Montgomery county. He had lived at the Walthal homestead until 1870, when he purchased and occupied the farm at St. Bethlehem. A short while thereafter, he was connected with his brother, the late Theodore B. Walthal in the mercantile business at St. Bethlehem, but the greater part of his efforts had been devoted to farming, in which he was successful.

For a period of 38 years, Mr. Walthal was a member of the Montgomery county court from District 6, and was possibly the only the only member, past or present, who had a record of one hundred percent attendance during his tenure of office. He never missed a first roll call during the entire time. He served upon many important committees of the court and one of his attributes possibly found its greatest expression, his unwavering __? to his convictions. Mr. Walthal always stood for what he believed to be right, regardless of adverse opinions, but at the same time, he was charitable in his views and allowed his opponents full credit for their right to free thought, and expression, respecting always their views and wishes. His opponents, regardless of the strength of their convictions, were compelled to respect and admire Mr. Walthal for his frankness and determination. He was, at all times, interested in his county, possessing a loyalty second to none. For more than twenty-five years, he was a school commissioner for District 6.

Mr. Walthal was a member of the Spring Creek Baptist Church for more than 50 years. Fifteen or more years of that time he was superintendent of Sunday School and had served the church in other capacities. His clean, charitable nature merited nothing but the highest esteem from his neighbors and friends. He was the perfect head of a devoted family and his many splendid characteristics are reflected in the sturdy sons and daughters, who at all times bestowed upon him unstinted devotion and affection. His devoted helpmeet of more than fifty-one years, although crushed by his passing, philosophically accepts his death as the will of the Almighty, whom both have unfalteringly served.

Funeral services were conducted at the home this afternoon by the Rev. T.H. Roak, pastor of Spring Creek Church and interment was in Greenwood Cemetery here. Forbes Bivouac, United Confederate Veterans, Commander Joe H Williams, W.H. Bringhurst, John Hurst, J.H. Balthrop, J.H. Herman, John B. Williams, James Crotzer, Capt. F.O. Anderson, E.N. Cooksey, Calvin Patrick, W.M. Collier, and
J.W. Pollard. Active pallbearers were Judge John T. Cunningham, C.W. Bailey, I.R. Peterson, John A. Pollard, Lewis N. Whitfield, and H.H. Childs."

Clarksville (Tennessee) Leaf-Chronicle October 6, 1925 pp 1 & 8

Submitted by A C Doggett

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