"Tennessee Trails" through Bedford County

Bedford County TN Biographies

Thomas Alex/Alexander Woosley

A highly respected and prosperous resident of Shelbyville, Thomas A. Woosley is actively associated with the advancement of its mercantile interests, an employee of the Dixie Grain Company, carrying on an extensive remunerative business. He was born March 10, 1842, in Bedford county, Tennessee, which was also the birthplace of his father, William E. Woosley. He is of Virginia ances­try, and the descendant of a family noted for its patriotism, five of his father’s uncles having served as soldiers in the Revolutionary War.

His paternal grandfather, Elijah Woosley, was born in Halifax county, Virginia, where his parents were life-long residents, being the youngest son in a family consisting of one daughter and seven sons, five of the sons having served in the Continental Army. He was brought up and educated in Virginia, but soon after his marriage came with his bride to Tennessee, bringing with him all of his worldly possessions, which were few, indeed, his young wife riding the only horse he owned. After a tiresome journey of several weeks, he located in Bedford county, near Flat Creek, where he purchased wild land, and at once began the arduous task of clearing and improving it, his first work having been the erection of a log cabin. After putting the greater part of his pur­chase under cultivation, he was there engaged in farming until his death, in 1859, at a good old age, having survived his faithful wife and helpmeet a number of years. They reared four sons and two daughters, as follows: Joshua, William, David, John, Nancy, and Mahala.

William E. Woosley spent his earlier years beneath the parental roof-tree, growing to manhood amid pioneer scenes. In that day there were neither railways nor convenient markets in the state, the people -subsisting principally on the products of their land, or on wild game, which was plentiful everywhere. At the time of his marriage he set­tled one and one-half miles east of the village of Flat Creek, on land which his wife had inherited, and was there a resident during the remainder of his life, passing away at the age of forty-five years. He married Joe Harriet Hastings, who was born in Bedford county, a daughter of Joe H. Hastings, who carried on farming on an extensive scale, owning many slaves. Mr. Hastings, who lived to be eighty years old, was exceedingly prosperous, and gave to each of his children a tract of land. He served for many years as magistrate, and as an elder in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Left a widow with a large farm, which she man­aged successfully, educating them, and training them to habits of hon­esty and industry, the boys being trained to agricultural pursuits, while her daughters assisted her in carding, spinning and weaving the home­spun which they afterwards fashioned into garments for the household. She died on the old homestead at the advanced age of seventy-eight years. Her family consisted of ten children, as follows: Joseph M., John H., Thomas A., Carroll C., Nathan, Erastus, Virgil Cicero, Nancy, Arey A., and Marian. The five oldest sons served as soldiers in the Confederate Army.

Attending the district schools and helping on the farm, Thomas A. Woosley remained at home with his widowed mother until April, 1861, when he enlisted in Company A, Seventeenth Tennessee Volunteer Infan­try, and went with comrades to Camp Trousdale, where he spent a few weeks. Going thence to Bristol, Virginia, news of the Battle of Bull Run was there heard. Three weeks later he was sent with his regiment to Cumberland Gap, and after camping there a while was sent to the front, and took an active part in the battles of Wild Cat and Fisher’s Creek. With his command, he then returned to Shelbyville, Tennessee, from there going to Shioh, where he was again in action. He subse­quently went to Mobile, Alabama, thence to Chattanooga, from there going with General Bragg on the Kentucky raid, later participating in the Battle of Perryville. Continuing with his regiment, Mr. Woosley marched to Knoxville, then to Murfreesboro, where he met the enemy in battle. His next fight was in the engagement at Chattanooga, and after that he took part in the siege of Knoxville. Returning then with his regiment to Virginia, he was an active participant in the different engagements around Richmond and Petersburg. On February 5, 1865, Mr. Woosley was captured by the Federals, and sent to Camp Morton, Indianapolis, where he remained as a prisoner until the close of the war, when he was furnished transportation to Nashville.

Upon returning home, Mr. Woosley commenced work at the car­penter’s trade, and follOwed that and bridge building for forty years, keeping busily employed. In the meantime he invested his earnings in land, buying a farm on the Tu1lahoma pike, two miles from Shelbyville, and there resided until 1905. He then removed with his family to Shel­byville, where he has since been engaged as an employee of the Dixie Grain Company, of which his son Harry is president.

Mr. Woosley has been twice married. He married first, November 27, 1867, Nannie M. Johnson, who was born in Bedford county, daughter of John B. and Saffie (Maguire) Johnson. She died in 1884, leaving five children, namely: John M., now living in Mississippi; Harry Lee, engaged in the hardware business in Shelbyville, and also president of the Dixie Grain Company and of the Cumberland Pencil Company, married Mattie Bryant and they have one child Bryant Woolsey; Kelly H. employed in the railway service; Samuel G. a prosperous lumber dealter at Tullahoma married Pearl Sherrin; and Clemmie Mae deceased. Mr. Woosley married second in 1885, Arabelle J. Edwards, who was born in Rutherford County TN a daughter of Thomas O. and Martha J. (Vaughn) Edwards and of their union one child has been born, Winnie Davis Woolsey. Mr. and Mrs. Woosley are members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Mr. Woosley belongs to the William Frierson Bivouac, Confederate Veterans.

Transcribed and contributed by Christine Walters July 13, 2006
Source: "TENNESSEE AND TENNESSEANS" by Will Hale - 1913

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