I grew up less than a mile from Doe Creek and have heard many stories of the Civil War that happened in this area. I was asked to relate some of these stories today as we are dedicating a marker at this site as a part of the Civil War Trails. The Civil War Trails include several counties in Tennessee. We wanted to show how this War affected the people in our area.
Local law was nonexistent during the Civil War, and the longer the war went on the more desperate both sided became. Citizens within a community and even some members of the same family supported both the North and South. It started with recruiters riding through communities pressuring citizens to join sides. Shadrach Kennedy reluctantly joined the Confederate troops as told in "Memoirs from Scotts Hill" by Zelma O'Neal, Page 86:
"Shadrack's son, Jim Kennedy, told that his father tried to stay at home and make a living for his family. But he couldn't see any peace (because of Guerillas? or recruiting officers?) so he decided to go on, fight, and help get the war over with."
The following story was told by Paul Clenney, Hark Clenney's great grandson.
Hark Clenney was another local citizen who was captured and was going to be made to enlist. He was able to escape from them when they reached Saltillo. Some local men had to hide out in the woods with horses to keep from being captured and to keep their horses from being taken.
The North also sent recruiters around to "persuade" people to join the Union forces. The following story is related in Gordon H. Turner's book "History of Scotts Hill Tennessee", page 57:
"Our good friend Ebb Deere of Lexington, gave us the following story: A Union recruiter from Michigan, Harve Roach, became well known in Henderson and Carroll counties, then largely anti-South and heavily Republican in politics. Harve ventured too far out of his circuit. Near the old Hoad Lowery place (located on present day Liberty Road, just east of where the Kennedys lived) Harve was captured by some of the Kennedys. They started with him to Pulaski, a gathering point for prisoners to be sent to Andersonville, a prison located in Georgia. But night came and Harve elected to run for his freedom when the group split up to get around a very bad stretch of road. It seemed to be a better chance for him than possibly facing a firing squad.
By the time the prisoner had gone some distance a shot or two was fired at him but missed. However, the light of the rifle blaze showed up Harve so that another of his captors fired at him. The ball passed entirely through his body but missed vital organs. He stayed on his horse with difficulty but escaped the Rebels and rode back to Old Warren's Bluff where Dr. Warren treated him to complete recovery and for which he was paid $l000 in U. S. currency. Yankee friends then led Harve to safety and he returned to his home in Michigan.
Zelma O'Neal tells the story in her book "Memoirs from Scotts Hill", pages 86-87:
Uncle Shade (Shadrack) Kennedy and Bill Hughes were captured by the Yankees near Purdy. Uncle Shade believed they were planning to kill them and begged Bill to try to escape (with him) but Bill didn't think they would and would not. It was midwinter and there was a big snow on the ground. Before bedtime Uncle Shade told his guard he "had to be excused" and the guard followed him. Uncle Shade had already pulled off his shoes preparing for bed so when he stepped out in the deep snow the guard perhaps thought nothing suspicious. Uncle Shade watched for his chance and made a break for it. He dashed down a long sloping hill but soon the dogs were on his track and gaining. His son, Jim Kennedy told that he could have run twice as fast if his feet had only touched ground a little more often. Finally he reached a fence and perched on the top rail. He started to take hold of a limb of the tree beside it and the limb broke off. By that time the dogs were upon him. He took the dead limb and beat and thrashed at the dogs (standing on the top rail?) until they were halted.
He renewed his flight to freedom again. After he felt he might be safely out of reach of the dogs he started searching for a resting place. He found a forked tree lying half buried in the snow. His bed was made here by digging out the snow from between the forks, sticking his feet as far down as he could, and then covering them and himself with snow. It seem that he told someone if was about as warm as any bed he had slept in for quite a while. He slept until the moon was up and then knew where he was. He then made his way to a man's house who gave him shoes.
Guerilla warfare was practiced by both sides. One side would make a raid or kill someone and the other side would seek revenge. It seems that James David Kennedy and his brother-in-law, Bill Nails, got caught up in this activity. The previous story could explain why Bill Hughes was suspected of helping the Yankees. Zelma O'Neal tells in her book on page 105 that Jim Kennedy and Bill Nails were seen marching Bill Hughes and Monroe Hamm up what is now Liberty Road at gun point. Gun shots were heard. The story goes that Bill Hughes was accused of carrying messages to the North. Later, a Murphy woman's dog brought up a human arm. Locals organized a group and went searching for the body. They found the boy's cap at the old Center log schoolhouse. They found the body at a spring a short distance from the school on what later became the Parley Clenney's place.
Later Jim Austin came looking for Jim Kennedy who was hiding out in the woods. Jim Kennedy would blow his fox horn in the morning to let his mother know he was all right. Jim Austin realized what Jim Kennedy was doing, and he found Kennedy. Kennedy shot Jim Austin in the leg, not wanting to kill him. Austin was bleeding so badly that Kennedy thought he might bleed to death, so he carried Austin up to the Doe Creek Road and left him, thinking someone would find him and get help. This would give Kennedy time to find a new hiding place.
A Lassiter man found Mr. Austin and went to Susanne Austin Clenney's, Austin's half sister, for help. Susanne loaded her small baby on a mare and they rode to where Jim Austin had been found. Little else is recorded about this event.
Soon after the death of Bill Hughes, a posse was formed to find Jim Kennedy and Bill Nails. Some of the members were said to have seen Willis, Winchester, Dyers, Monroe Hamm. They found Kennedy and Nails hiding in a barn near Doe Creek owned by the family of William G. Kennedy, an uncle of Jim Kennedy. It is believed to be the farm now owned by Freddie Kennedy.
The captured men were taken to Wormley Branch to be hanged. This location is about four miles by present day roads southeast of Doe Creek Cemetery. It has been related that as Jim Kennedy was hanging from the rope, he managed to get hold of Monroe Hamm's throat and someone beat his head in order to loosen his fingers from Monroe's throat. Robert Kennedy, Jim's father and Nail's father-in-law came to get their remains and gathered up his son's brains in his hat. He carried Kennedy and Nails home and prepared them for burial. They were buried on a corner of Robert Kennedy's farm, which is now known as Doe Creek Cemetery. It has been told that Monroe Hamm carried the scars of Jim Kennedy's fingers on his throat the rest of his life. Later, Robert Kennedy donated the land for a community cemetery.
I have heard this story from both Guy T. and Evelyn Kennedy, grandchildren of Shadrack, that whoever crushed Jim Kennedy's head fled to Texas. Jim's brother, Shadrach Kennedy, went to Texas looking for him, but was unable to find him. Shadrach later named one of his sons James David Kennedy in honor of his slain brother.
I hope the stories I have told today will create an interest in our local history.