Arkansas: First courthouse still standing

From Baxter County Historical & Genealogical Society

This old building, with its original “dog-trot” still intact, sits in the center of a tract of land that is steeped in early Baxter County history. Even though it appears to be giving way to the ravages of time, it is exciting when its interesting history is revealed. This old and priceless piece of Baxter County’s early history was built in 1858 by Randolph Casey after he and brother John Casey moved to the area in 1855 from Tennessee.

When the Civil War broke out, both Randolph Casey and his brother joined the Confederate Army as members of the 14th Arkansas Infantry. One of the most exciting Civil War happenings occurred in the front yard of the old house. Col. Casey had been in the famous Battle of Pea Ridge but was home on furlough when he was captured by Union soldiers.

He was asked about the encampments of the Confederate soldiers but refused to reveal their locations. He was threatened with his life but said he would rather die than reveal information. He was about to be hanged when he gave a Masonic sign or signal. The Union Captain yelled, “cut that man down, he’s my brother!” His life was saved by a fellow Mason.

Just after the war, Col. Casey ordered some “Buck-eye” trees from New York. Two of them were still standing in the yard in 1971 as mute evidence of Ozark superstition in days gone by. Carrying nuts from the buckeye tree in the pockets were believed to bring good luck and cure all manner of diseases, especially “rheumatism.” The nuts were in such abundance that Casey thought they were a real “drawing card” for people coming to his store. He also ordered many apple trees at the same time from New York. He planted a large orchard east of the house, about where Pinkston Middle School is located today.

Col. Casey operated a general store at this site when Baxter County was formed in 1873. It was the logical place to hold court. One of the first acts of the new county commissioners was to allow Randolph Casey the sum of $7 per month for the use of his store for a clerk’s office and court.They also voted to allow Sheriff Byler the sum of $16.13 to get chairs, other furnishings and supplies for the “courtroom.”
The first Baxter County Court was held in this building on July 7, 1873. The following year, 1874, Col. Casey was the first man elected from Baxter County to the Arkansas State Legislature.

With a store and court already there, it was decided to locate the U.S. Post Office there, too. It was in the southeast corner of the yard, about 25 or 30 feet from the porch of the main building.

Time erases many of our points and places of historic interest, memory fades and gems of antiquity are many times lost forever, but not the Casey House. It was rescued and saved from the bulldozer by some interested individuals, who recognized its historical significance.

After many fundraising activities, it was restored in the 1970s in all its glory.

Then disaster struck.

A tornado severely damaged the old courthouse in the 1980s, and the Baxter County Historical Society, with help from the community, restored it again. Today it rests on its original foundation at the corner of East Wade Street and Fairgrounds Road, where Col. Casey built it more than 150 years ago.

It is open to the public during the Baxter County Fair each September.

“Take your children, your grandchildren, your friends, or anyone interested, and share some of the earliest Baxter County history,” said Joan Reeves. “This is the oldest standing house in Mountain Home. Tours can be arranged for school classes or other groups by appointment. Let’s be proud of our heritage.”

This story was researched and written by the late Lloyed Fisk and edited by Joan Reeves.
Photographs and information provided in this series are provided by the Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society. Additional information may be found at A Look Back can be found online at


Georgia: Bullet hole-riddled 1864 Civil War battle flag lives to tell

By Howard Pousner

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History in Kennesaw will unveil an important addition to its permanent collection Monday, a rare 65th Georgia Infantry flag carried during the Atlanta campaign, complete with 41 bullet holes and blood stains. The 1864 banner had been held by the Davis family of Alabama for nearly a century and a half after Private John Davis of the 65th Georgia Regiment rolled it up, tucked it in his boot and brought it home at the end of the Civil War.

The flag was taken into battle at Resaca, Kennesaw Mountain, Peachtree Creek, Atlanta and, after the city’s fall, at Franklin, Tenn. Davis picked it up during the bloody Battle of Franklin, after the first two color bearers were wounded.

Textile Preservation Associates Inc. of West Virginia spent 13 months restoring the flag. It is the only known surviving example of an Army of Tennessee banner — the 65th Georgia was attached to the Army of Tennessee — that boasts unit and state designations sewn onto both sides, according to the Southern Museum.

The centerpiece of a new display on the history and meaning of battle flags, it is being added to the permanent exhibit “Railroads: Lifelines of the Civil War.”

“To fully understand the impact of the Civil War,” museum executive director Richard Banz said, “it’s important to discuss all aspects of this battle flag and others like it.”


65th Georgia Infantry Flag

On view starting today at the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays. $7.50, $6.50 ages 60 and over, $5.50 ages 4-12. 2829 Cherokee St., Kennesaw. 770-427-2117,


Historian seeks to secure Augusta native Longstreet rightful place in Confederate history

By Kyle Martin

Staff Writer

It’s said that winners write the history books.

But in the opinion of historian Nick Hollis, the losers of the Civil War most shaped the reputation of Lt. Gen. James “Pete” Longstreet.

For decades after the war, it was held that Longstreet, who grew up in Augusta and attended the Academy of Richmond County, was responsible for the Confederates’ loss in the battle of Gettysburg in 1863. He was subjected to death threats, spurned by old friends and publicly called a “scalawag” and “traitor.”

The 100th anniversary of the Civil War passed before Longstreet’s record was revisited by historians. But now, in the second year of the sesquicentennial anniversary, Hollis and other historians are pushing to restore Long­street’s reputation and place him in the pantheon of Confederate heroes.

“I’d like to see a little honesty in history,” said Hollis, who has traveled to Augusta and around the South on behalf of the Gen. Longstreet Recognition Project.

Longstreet was born in South Carolina’s Edgefield District, not far from North Augusta, on Jan. 8, 1821. When he was 9, he moved to Westover Plantation to stay with his uncle, Augustus Baldwin Longstreet. The plantation included portions of modern-day Westover Cemetery and the 11th green of Augusta National’s Amen Corner.

Augusta in the 1830s was still a rural town, but it was rapidly growing, thanks to bustling commerce from the Savannah River. Longstreet soaked up Southern culture and wisdom from his uncle, who would later become president of Emory College, South Carolina College (later the University of South Carolina) and the University of Mississippi.

Fiery politicians such as John C. Calhoun passed through his uncle’s parlor, and Longstreet no doubt listened in on these conversations, Hollis said.

“I think that’s central to the theme” of Longstreet’s Augusta life, Hollis said.

Studies at Richmond Academy led him to West Point, where he made several lasting friendships, including that of future president and Union Gen. Ulyssess S. Grant.

Longstreet got his first taste of combat in the Mexican-American War and was wounded at the Battle of Chapultepec.

Like many generals in the Civil War, he never commanded groups much larger than 200 men.

“Longstreet began the Civil War on par with everyone else,” William Garret Piston wrote in Lee’s Tarnished Lieutenant.

Longstreet was 40 when he resigned his commission in the U.S. Army in 1861 and accepted a position as brigadier general in the Confederate Army. One of his aide de camps, Thomas Jewett Goree, said many thought of Longstreet “short and crabbed,” which he was except in three places: in the presence of ladies, at the table and on the field of battle.

“At any one of these places he has a complacent smile on his countenance and seems to be one of the happiest men in the world,” Goree wrote.

From his first battle at Blackburn’s Ford, Longstreet took his men of the First Corps to the battles of Williamsburg, the Seven Days battles, Second Manassas and Antietam, largely meeting with success.

It was Gettysburg that sealed Longstreet’s place in history. The controversy rests in Gen. Robert E. Lee’s orders, which led to a full frontal assault by 12,000 Confederate soldiers across an open field nearly a mile long. The soldiers were decimated by artillery fire, and the defeat set the tone for the remainder of the war.

Longstreet gave the order to Gen. George Pickett to make the charge under orders from Lee. In his official report, Longstreet wrote: “The order for this attack, which I could not favor under better auspices, would have been revoked had I felt that I had that privilege.”

After Gettysburg, Longstreet was wounded by friendly fire at the battle of the Wilderness. He came to Augusta to recover and stayed at the home of Josiah Sibley, for whom Sibley Mill was named in 1880. The home stood at Bay and Elbert streets, now Fourth Street, until it was destroyed by fire in 1916.

Longstreet remained an esteemed soldier and general for years after the war, eventually settling in New Orleans. During his stay, he wrote several letters to the New Orleans Times, urging peaceful reconstruction.

When he showed one of the letters to his uncle Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, who was living in Oxford, Miss., his uncle predicted, “It will ruin you, son, if you publish it.”

Longstreet’s Republican sympathies, and a federal pardon, coincided with a rise in what some historians call the “Lost Cause,” essentially elevating Lee to near-sainthood. One of the leading “Lost Causers” was Longstreet’s old nemesis, Gen. Jubal Early, who had aligned himself with several organizations, including the Lee Monument Association and the Confederate Burial and Memorial Association.

“(Early’s) version of Gettysburg, which blamed Longstreet, provided an explanation for the Confederacy’s defeat, which neither entailed the loss of God’s grace nor questioned the superiority of Southern civilization,” Piston wrote.

It wasn’t until Piston’s book was published in 1987 that Longstreet’s place in history was re-evaluated. Longstreet was portrayed in a more favorable light in the 1993 film Gettysburg and received a statue at Gettysburg in 1998.

Hollis recognizes that 150 years have passed since the Civil War, but he fully believes that restoring honor and correcting history is still relevant. He makes that point on his Web site:

“Moreover, we as a nation are nullifying, even negating the enormous sacrifices made by our ancestors, particularly the noble soldiers like Longstreet, if we permit the erasure from history of their lives and achievements – the actions which have created our current bounty.”


North Carolina: Old letters preserve daily life during the Civil War

By CAROLINE HOOD, The Times-News

GRAHAM, N.C.  Mimi Saunders is surrounded by a rich tapestry of family history woven by letters dating from the 1850s. She learned the stories they contain growing up surrounded by aunts and uncles who talked of her relatives as if they had just walked out of the room.

“These men were as real to me as if they had just stepped off the porch,” Saunders said.

She has boxes and boxes of letters and documents that piece together the complicated history of her relatives in Stokes County. Many of the letters are well-preserved and easily readable despite their 150-year age.

Saunders’ great-great aunt would often talk about her two brothers who never returned from battle after the Civil War was over. One was wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg and never recovered.

“When I was a girl, we would take a picnic lunch to my Aunt Caroline’s house, and she would tell us all kinds of stories about the Amos family,” Saunders said.

Most of the letters Saunders has were found at her aunt’s house after her aunt died. Saunders said she found love letters tied with a blue ribbon written between her grandmother and grandfather in the early 20th century.

She still has some original letters dated from 1863 written by one of her ancestors, James Amos, to his wife who had recently given birth to their daughter. According to the letter, Amos snuck away from the army for one night to see his newborn child.

Saunders said people often wrote on the backs of letters they received, because stamps and paper were expensive.

Another of Saunders’ ancestors, Jim Amos, hid in the attic of his Roaring Rivers home during all four years of the Civil War. According to Saunders, Amos’ wife kept up the charade by going to the post office to see if she had any mail from him and asking other soldiers if they had heard from him or seen him.

Later, carvings on the attic wall and baskets of chewed tobacco were discovered, indicating that Jim Amos had spent much of his time hiding in their attic.

Saunders also has letters predating the Civil War written by her relatives who were moving to Indiana by wagon from North Carolina in 1858. They mention passing through Company Shops, now Burlington, using the railway to join the rest of their family in the west.

At 92, Saunders has heard these family stories all of her life. The letters she holds dear are rare accounts of the daily lives of her Civil War ancestors and the families they left behind. More than 100 of her family’s letters are preserved at the Perkins Library at Duke University.


South Carolina: State Sen. says he’s tired of state’s racism

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By Sen. Robert Ford

Let me preface my remarks by letting everyone who is guilty of the following know, I love you as a human being and individually you are decent but after 45 years of fighting racism, bigotry, and sexism, I am tired.

It is sad but very true that racism and a considerable degree of bigotry and sexism are prevalent and control many factors in South Carolina as it relates to political, economic and social actions.

I would like to cite the following examples based on my personal experience. One of the boldest decisions that I ever made in my life was my decision to continue with the legislation I introduced to take down the Confederate Flag from the top of the State Capitol and from within the House and Senate Chambers.

Example 1

The reason this decision was bold, the NAACP did not like the fact that my legislation became law. After the bill was signed into the law, the NAACP crafted a National Boycott of South Carolina. Under normal circumstances when a boycott is called for a non-moral issue like the Confederate Flag, the sanctions are far less severe. In this case, the actions had the potential to destroy the State of South Carolina. What added more fuel to the fire was that not one of the other 45 South Carolina senators was willing to co-sponsor the legislation with me. Meaning, Robert Ford had to face the wrath of the NAACP, a mass of like thinking South Carolinians and their comrades across the United States.

This happened in 1999 and to this day, I still face the wrath from many on the issue of the Confederate Flag. Another point of contention was when I denounced the NAACP Boycott of South Carolina. My actions paved the way for bringing new business to South Carolina as well as other high profile events. The only major group that still refuses to come to South Carolina in spite of that effort is the NCAA. I have had several conversations with the group regarding coming to South Carolina, but to no avail.

You might ask what all of this has to do with racism, bigotry and sexism. Well, the answer is as simple as it relates to white men. Not one of my majority colleagues was politically or professionally in a position to do what I did regarding the NAACP Boycott.

Another shocking point that pertains to race, bigotry and sexism is the non-action of the Chamber of Commerce. In my estimation, they are still trying to prove their position as major players and who to this day has not shown any appreciation of my efforts on behalf of the boycott nor the Confederate Flag.

Also what needs to be pointed out, a large number of Northerner’s has relocated to South Carolina. What is ironic, they come with the attitude they can out-southern the Southern Whites by showing more disdain and lack of respect to native people of color in South Carolina. I equate this as misguided racism, bigotry and sexism.

My last point on this example, I am probably the only State Senator in the country who has business or industry in their district, that gave campaign contributions to other White senators and elected officials rather than to the person who represents that specific district.

Example 2

On Wednesday night, July 18, 2012, I switched a very crucial vote which appropriated $10 million dollars to the Department of Commerce to attract new business to South Carolina. If I had not switched, the Department of Commerce would not have not received the $10 million because Governor Haley vetoed the line item provision. Once again, not one thank-you from the Department of Commerce, Chamber of Commerce or the S.C. Business Alliance. Believe me brothers and sisters, if I was a white senator they would be singing his praises and probably make me the Senator of the decade.

On another issue, the all-male South Carolina Senate votes to sustain one veto by Governor Haley that veto was to take money from Women’s Crisis Centers. Now this is absolutely unbelievable, that a political body elected by the people would do such a thing.

Brothers and sisters, racism, bigotry and sexism should never be tolerated. My main reason for bringing these points to your attention today is to put you on notice. I will be fighting even harder to stamp out these three evil diseases.

Boards and Commissions

The State of South Carolina should set the tone in the appointments of boards and commissions. On a statewide level board and commissions are appointed by the Governor, the Senate Pro-Tempore, Senate Finance Committee Chairman, the Speaker of the House and the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman. On many of these boards and commissions that require Senate confirmation the Black members of the Senate have a major obligation to make sure that they are equitably represented with African Americans and women.

AA Lobbyists

The lack of African-American lobbyists in state government is a major embarrassment to South Carolina. There are 40 elected African Americans elected to the General Assembly. In the past two years there have been less than ten independent Black lobbyists representing South Carolina businesses. When you consider the fact that other Southern states have at least 20-25 Black lobbyist and look at South Carolina with less than 2%, that my friends is a sad state of affairs. The business community in South Carolina must change this racist policy.


Tennessee: Civil War reading and discussion program coming to Tennessee

NASHVILLE, TENN. — Beginning this fall, four Tennessee cities will serve as hosts to Making Sense of the American Civil War, a scholar-led reading and discussion program. This program is organized as a five-part series of conversations that aim to get below the surface of familiar stories about the Civil War battles to explore the complex challenges brought on by the war.

“We are partnering with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association to bring another great program to Tennessee communities,” said Melissa Davis, Humanities Tennessee’s director of the Tennessee Community History Program. “I’m pleased that this program delves deeply into experiences from multiple perspectives, and includes a wide variety of reading selections.”

The reading and discussion program is a five-part series focused on truly making sense of the breadth and depth of the American Civil War. The five conversations that make up the program are as follows:

Imaging War: This first part of the series compares fiction and firsthand testimony with the novel March by Geraldine Brooks that tells its story through the character of Reverend March from Louisa May Alcott’s beloved Little Women, and an excerpt from Alcott’s journal. The readings illuminate how the war challenges individuals’ beliefs and reveals personal experiences amongst the nation’s chaos.

Choosing Sides: The primary documents discussed in this conversation ask the reader to imagine confronting one’s notion of justice, honor, duty, loyalty—even hypocrisy—in making personal political decisions on the eve of the Civil War era.

Making Sense of Shiloh: There’s more than one side to every story, and the horrific Battle of Shiloh is no exception. This conversation dives deeper than the facts and figures of the battle itself to explore the shattering impact the battle had upon Americans by looking at a variety of battlefield perspectives.

The Shape of War: Three readings demonstrate the variety of interpretations of Antietam then challenges the reader to shift the focus from the course of the battle and its ramifications to the suffering of the individuals and the way death was confronted.

War and Freedom: This final set of readings focuses on the emancipation of four million slaves, and addresses both the politics of emancipation and the long, fitful course toward liberty and security by freed people.

The program will begin in Tennessee at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library on Sept. 18, 2012. The five-part series will continue over a ten-week period and will then begin in early 2013 in Memphis, Clarksville, and Morristown on the following schedule:

Sept. 18 – Nov. 13, 2012 Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library


Jan. 10 – March 28, 2013 Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library


Jan. 22 – March 19, 2013 Clarksville-Montgomery County Public Library


Feb. 7 – April 4, 2013 Morristown-Hamblen Public Library


Making Sense of the American Civil War is presented by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association.

The Tennessee program is presented by Humanities Tennessee, an organization created in 1973 that is dedicated to developing a sense of community through educational programs in the humanities across Tennessee. The series is part of Civil War, Civil Rights, Civil Discourse, a project of Humanities Tennessee that seeks to equip Tennesseans to think deeply about the context of social and political divisions from the Civil War to the present. For more information, visit


Virginia: Lynchburg Museum to host Civil War exhibit

By Alicia Petska, The News & Advance


From Harper’s Ferry to John Wilkes Booth, the story of the Civil War is laid out in a new traveling exhibit debuting at the Lynchburg Museum.

The exhibit, a project of the Virginia Historical Society, is the largest Lynchburg is likely to host for years to come, said museum director Doug Harvey.

“This is a rare opportunity for the people of Lynchburg to see some things that may never be on display again,” Harvey said.

The exhibit, “An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia,” came with two tractor-trailer loads of artifacts, displays and interactive activities.

Pieces on display include a set of Confederate playing cards owned by John Wilkes Booth; mourning pins smuggled through the Union blockade for Gen. Robert E. Lee’s wife; and one of the pikes John Brown’s men used in the raid on Harper’s Ferry.

When the raid failed and Brown was executed, a Virginia secessionist sent a pike to the governor of every slave state to remind them of the North’s “fanatical hatred” of the South, according to the presentation.

The bulk of the exhibit is dedicated to spotlighting less-famous figures to tell the story of how the war affected everyday people — from a Southerner who was disowned by his family for fighting for the Union to a Richmond woman who ran a Confederate hospital, a responsibility typically reserved for men.

This is the first of a two-part traveling exhibit organized by the Virginia Historical Society in partnership with the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The second part, which focuses on life at the battlefront, will come to Lynchburg in January.

The Lynchburg Museum is one of only seven Virginia museums on the exhibit’s schedule.

The exhibit’s first installation, which opens in Lynchburg on Saturday, contains dozens of rare objects and several interactive exhibits, including a simulation that puts you in the shoes of a runaway slave pursuing freedom.

The Lynchburg Museum had to use parts of all three of its floors to accommodate the exhibit’s size and scope.

The exhibit will remain on display through Nov. 18. Admission ranges from $6 for adults to free for children under age 6. For more info about the museum, call (434) 455-6226 or visit