In researching my family’s histories, it seems most paths of study have led me to the dry fundamentals of land, marriage, and maybe a few telling court battles. From census records I also learned that most were farmers though I seldom get to learn what my folks really felt about the times and ways they lived. It is rare that we are privy to the soulful ways and beliefs of our family past.
A recent post on the Burris, Burress, Burrows, Burroughs Facebook Group by distant cousin John Stevens opened my eyes to things I had not realized existed. John’s discovery allowed me to see deeper into events of 1863, learning of actual beliefs of opposition held by my family. Ideas opposing the war were more plentiful back then than I had realized. And yet, I think often about the families of those days who gave all for the cause. Today, we are quick to aggrandize the war in terms of glorious battles and of the struggles faced by kith and kin.
I always assumed my folks were “good soldiers,” following the lead of fellow countrymen into battle ..a war I still don’t fully understand. But beyond the stereotypes often heard, many of us rooted in the south find that our personal histories are born in a different telling of this most divisive time in our country’s past.
Maybe driven by excitement, some of my kin likely enlisted into the Confederacy willingly at war’s first start. However, as suffering increased and age limits for conscription widened, many had second thoughts. It was during this time that the Republican Party found footing through sympathy and the support of the Union League, being an organization with members, both black and white, who held meetings in support of the Union cause. Many did not believe secession was good, meeting defiantly to discuss their collective support of the old ways.
Dated August 28, 1863, six or seven hundred citizens in Stanly County gathered for a “peace meeting.” Can you imagine what such an event looked like? Were your folks there in attendance? Leading the event were people near and dear to my family. Merely seeing their names mentioned in relation to the meeting, I am suddenly made aware of a belief system I never knew was held by my family. From a report in the Raleigh Standard, read carefully the following and imagine what such a gathering would look like as they met to craft a statement outlining their political beliefs.
For the Standard
PUBLIC MEETING IN STANLY COUNTY.
At a public meeting held at Big Lick, Stanly County, on Friday the 28th August, 1863, some six or seven hundred persons were present, including gentlemen and ladies, supposed to be some two or three hundred ladies, and a large number of gray-headed men.
The object of the meeting being understood to be a peace meeting, on motion, J. C. Tucker was called to the Chair, and Henry Reed appointed Secretary. Messrs J. C. Burroughs, Lloyd Hathcock, L. C. Morton, J. C. Gilbert. E. H. Hinson, John Huneycutt, were appointed a committee to draft resolutions expressive of the same, who having reported the following preamble and resolutions which were unanimously adopted.
WHEREAS, We have every reason to feel devoutly thankful to Almighty God for the privileges, advantages, and blessings, we, as free men, enjoyed a republican form of government, therefore, be it:
Resolved, Whereas, the time has arrived that every true friend of liberty should exercise the right which is guaranteed under the Constitution of North-Carolina to express his opinion with regard to the public good, and whereas, we are fully of the opinion that the condition of our people is such as to demand every lover of life and liberty to be willing to adopt some method, and to put fourth some effort to stop this wicked and bloody war.
Resolved, That in defense of our rights and liberties we take a position upholding and defending the liberties of the people of this state, pledging our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor in her defense, whether against kings abroad of tyrants at home.
Resolved, That the course of the Confederate government towards North-Carolina from the beginning of the war has been anything but fair and honorable, and that let her blood flow ever so freely, not a word is said or an act done to honor the valor or patriotism of her sons.
Resolved, That we approve the removal of the Virginian as chief tithing man.
Resolved, That we are willing to pay any reasonable tax in Confederacy currency, but we are opposed to paying any part of our produce as a tax, and that we hope the administration at Richmond will repeal that act.
Resolved, Whereas, this State has been raked for conscripts very closely, while we believe in the law in other states has been only partially executed, we are opposed to sending any more men, at least until all other States have furnished their equal quota according to population.
Resolved, That we are for a speedy and permanent peace that will guarantee to our rights and liberties.
Resolved, That we agree to abide by a majority of the voters of North-Carolina in any plan that may be devised in convention assembled or otherwise.
Resolved, That we, as enlightened and intelligent people, will never submit to be enslaved or annexed to any foreign of kingly government.
Resolved, That we hate tyranny and oppression, for we had as soon be slaves in New York as in North-Carolina, in the United States as in the Confederacy.
Resolved, That in our opinion, under the present crisis, the best thing the people of North-Carolina could do would be to go in for the Constitution as it is and the Union as it was.
Resolved, That W. W. Holden is the ablest and boldest defender of our rights and liberties, and that we pledge ourselves to stand firm to him in the course he has taken in defense of our rights and liberties. Therefore, we say to him to stand firm to his post and to cry aloud and spare not.
Resolved, That other districts and counties hold similar meetings.
Resolved, That we are apposed to any more men going, only such as cry out the last man and last dollar. We think if that be the case there will go but few men.
Resolved, That the proceedings of this meeting be sent to the Editor of the Raleigh Standard, with a request that he publish the same.
There were three of four Destructives in the meeting, and they behaved themselves very respectfully, and spoke very favorably of all the resolutions passed with the exception of one or two small points.
We have neglected to state that the meeting was opened with prayer by the Rev. Henry Garmon.
J. C. Tucker, Ch’n
Henry Read, Sec’y
Son of George Reed and grandson of gold mine owner John Reed, the above-mentioned Henry Reed married Dovey Hinson in 1852. Note that Rev. Henry Garmon, also mentioned, served as bondsman. The Reed family lived north of present-day Love’s Grove United Methodist Church which may have grown from Love’s Chapel which began as an offshoot of an earlier church known as Love’s Methodist. Of importance, Love’s Grove began as a Methodist Protestant Church which may have first been called Garmon Methodist which was located at the present-day site of Brown’s Hill African Methodist Episcopal Church, located on Hwy. 24/27 in Locust.
I believe Henry Garmon first founded a Methodist Protestant Church at Brown’s Hill which later closed as Love’s Grove Protestant Methodist opened its doors. The vacant church building, along with a small piece of land, was given to the black congregation of present-day Brown’s Hill A.M.E. Church. Henry Garmon was well thought of in his faith as beautiful stained-glass windows at the First Methodist Protestant Church on Hawthorne and Central Avenue in Charlotte (no longer standing) were placed in his memory. More can be found on Henry Reed and the unfolding of his faith in an earlier post.
Looking back to 1863, being no more than a month after Henry Reed served as recording secretary for the peace meeting, he wrote a telling letter to Governor Zebulon B. Vance:
Garmon’s Mills P. O., Cabarrus County
Sept. 26, 1863
To his excellency Gov. Vance,
By my father’s family record, I shall be forty-six years of age on the 20th of March next. I have a wife and four little children, the oldest only ten years of age, and an aged aunt dependent upon me for a support; and have been forced under fear of death to enter the army, as unlawfully I now think, as I did it involuntarily; as many of the parties to this violence acted or claimed to act under commissions as militia officers, I beg most respectfully to call your attention to the manner of depriving me of my liberty and family of their support and protection.
On the 28th of August last a meeting of citizens of Stanly county was held, at which I was chosen secretary and offered certain resolutions which were adopted, and published in the semi-weekly Standard of September 8th. They were in accordance with my private sentiments, and I did not know that there was anything illegal or improper in giving them public expression, or I should not have offered them.
On the 19th Inst. I was arrested at the house of Israel Furr in the county by Messrs. John Long, George Phifer, Henry Plott, [citizens of Ca. County] and Mr. Mooney, citizen of Cabarrus Stanly County. About a mile from Furr’s house they procured a guard and put me in their custody, took me to Morgan’s in this county, where some militia and a few Confederate troops were in camp; shut me up with ten [or] twelve other prisoners they had there, in a barn under guard.
After a while I was called out with another prisoner, and a Dr. Ramsey [Anderson] of our county informed us there was a man to be shot, and militia officers had it to do. We were both marched to camp under guard, where Ramsey [Anderson] announced the fact that a trial for treason was to take place, the militia officers would be the jury. These officers, about twenty in number, were arranged to the right and left of me, the other prisoner removed. Dr. Ramsey [Anderson] acted as judge and appointed Ellic Underwood prosecutor and Mr. Moody, prisoner’s counsel without consulting me in the matter. A rope was then called for by Ramsey [Anderson] or Underwood and produced. Underwood took it, doubled it up, and hung it in a tree near by. Ramsey [Anderson] then instructed the jury that I was to be tried by them for treason, that the punishment would be death if I was convicted. He then called and swore some witnesses about the resolutions above spoken of. Before the witnesses got through, I asked to have the resolutions themselves introduced; a paper with them in was handed to Underwood who refused to give them in evidence, or allow them to be read in my behalf, but put them in his pocket, when the testimony closed for the prosecution. Mr. Moody replied to a suggestion, that I should like some witnesses sworn in my favor, that it was unnecessary, that the prosecution must prove my guilt first. Underwood addressed the jury of officers, to the affect that I was guilty of treason, that the punishment was death, that I deserved it and ought to be hung as high as Haman. Moody had but little to say in my defense, when Anderson as judge, [told] to the jury that if they believed the evidence about the resolution opposing the tax in kind; and my offering the resolutions at the meeting spoken of, it was treason, and so was that about the constitution as it is and the Union as it was, and it would be their duty to bring in a verdict of guilty. The jury went down the road, and returned in a few minutes with a verdict of guilty. Ramsey [Anderson] then told me, that I was tried and convicted of one of the highest crimes in the known world; that the punishment was death, but as enough had been killed he would withold sentence until morning, to allow me to choose between entering the army and [or] being executed. A Mr. Cagle & a Mr. Heathcock were then allowed to hold up to me the terrors of the punishment that hung over me; and to urge me to enlist to avoid them. I was then remanded to the barn prison and a strong guard ordered over me to prevent my escape. In the morning I was taken out again under guard and Ramsey [Anderson] asked for my decision. I told him I wanted the advice of counsel before giving it, as I was ignorant of the law and had not intentionally done anything contrary to it. He replied ignorance is no excuse in times like these.
I was then put to marching up and down the road under guard, while Ramsey [Anderson] and two other armed men, took a prisoner off to the woods, and after a while returned without him, giving me the impression that he had been executed. Ramsey [Anderson] again asked for my decision. I told him I was in their power, if they wished to put me to death they could do so, and that I could not yet give a decision. He said they were bound to execute the law upon me unless I enlisted, but allowed a little further time for consideration. Under these circumstances I was forced to enlist under Lieut. Carter (who was near with some Confederate soldiers) to save my life. I did not do so of my own free will and since I have been allowed a few days liberty by enlisting, and relieved from fears of violence of which I was threatened, I begin to think that a great wrong may have been done to myself and family, and an offense to the laws and customs of the state, by the militia officers allowing the exercise of false judicial and executive powers by themselves, and others that should have been under their orders, at the time I was arrested, imprisoned, tried for my life and condemned to death unless I volunteered, as I was forced to do very involuntarily. I have not and shall not knowingly disobey the laws, nor do I wish to lose my life or liberty through unlawful means. I shall be forced so quickly from my family, that little chance of redress presents itself to me, but I trust, if these officers have permitted or caused me to be forced unlawfully into the army, your excellency will withdraw their commissions, after due inquiry, and let them follow [me] lawfully. The commanding officer of the Stanly county militia, I presume can give the names of all the officers, that took part in the proceedings against me. I know but few myself.
I am very respectfully,
Stanly County. I Henry Reed of said county being duly sworn saith that the facts in the foregoing letter are true. Subscribed and sworn to before me.
This 29 day of sept. 1863
C. C. Love
(Notation on bottom of letter)
Gen. Gatlin will order the Col. of that County to explain this matter. Z. B. Vance
One thing leads to another and certainly the six or seven hundred people who attended the meeting were ridiculed for their political beliefs. Just as men stood defiantly on the battlefields, so were those who remained at home where they fought in hopes of peace.
Little did I know that family member Joshua Christian Burris was a leader in such service of his country. And as for J. C. Tucker, being the son of Leonard Tucker, he lived next door to J. C. Burris. At times our Burris Family celebrates old photos of a schoolhouse that stands along the top end of present-day Newsome Road. The photos are a reminder of beliefs passed down by kith and kin and I imagine many of the school children who once heard the war stories, including how the neighborhood men stood up to a cause they did not support.
In closing, I share the following plat of the lands once belonging to J. C. Burroughs (Burris) and his neighbor James C. Tucker.
[Note: all related deeds refer to the junction of Tracts A, B & C as the “Path” or “Tucker’s Path”]
A – Deed 2-270 Stanly, 182 acres, Joshua Burris to Allen Burris
Deed 14-580 Stanly, James Adderton to Allen Burris
B – Deed 26-77 Stanly, James T. Tucker to George E. Tucker, (Dower of Martha)
Deed 26-546 Stanly, J. A. Eury, Adm. of George E. Tucker to
C – Deed 17-139 Stanly, Daniel Freeman to James C. Tucker (refers to Tract B as belonging to
Lewis Tucker, refers to Tract A as belonging to Allen Burris, refers to land to the southeast as belonging to J. C. Burris.
D – Deed 16-95 Stanly, Levi Tucker to J. C. Tucker (mentions corner of old mill seat)
E – Deed 16-95 Stanly, Levi Tucker to J. C. Tucker (mentions old mill seat)
F – Deed 19-374 Stanly, J. C. Burroughs & Wife to Eliza J. Hathcock
Deed 29-404 Stanly, Andrew and Sarah Honeycutt to R. M Hathcock
G – Deed 20-163 Stanly, Andrew Honeycutt to C. Fred Beck, “known as the Beck Tract”
Deed 21-106 Stanly, J. C. Burris and wife to Fred Beck & wife
H – Deed 32-93 Stanly, S. H. Milton, Commissioner, Adm. of Joshua C. Burris to John Allen Burris
I – Deed 32-42 Stanly, S. H. Milton, Commissioner, Adm. of Joshua C. Burris to J. C. Murray.
I could delve further into the lands of others, but for now, the area of land above-mentioned happens to be in my immediate research. The two people mentioned also had adjoining lands further to the west, situated north of present-day Red Cross and east of Locust. Seeing the men living in close proximity, I imagine James C. Tucker and Joshua C. Burris in conversation. Maybe passing on the road and stopping for a minute to chat. I’d love to hear such conversations. The above stances taken tell volumes pertaining to beliefs, …not only during the times of war, but in more general terms pertaining to how they viewed their fellow man.
Were members of your family true Confederates or did they stand for the United States as it was v=before the Civil War? For me, my past is based on a house divided and in that realization I begin to understand things I have not yet considered.