November 7th , 2011 11:40 am Leave a comment

Wealth of Civil War history buried at Green Hill Cemetery

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Poll: Most favor flying American flag along with Union and Confederate flags

Less than 50 people responded to the question about flying the Confederate flag at the historic Green Hill Cemetery, where Confederate soldier Robert Tipton is buried. Most of those who did respond were in favor of flying both the Confederate and Union flag along with the American flag. Six persons were for flying no flag at all, and eight persons thought only the American flag should be flown. Twenty-six persons said they felt all three flags should be flown at the cemetery,

“If there’s only one (Confederate soldier) they need to be recognized,” one person responded. Another suggested that the Civil War is part of America’s history and cannot and should not be erased.

Another wrote, “The people that are buried in this cemetery, be they Union or Confederate soldiers were U.S. citizens. They were all God’s children. May God bless these soldiers.

A Korean veteran said he felt all three flags should be displayed at the cemetery.

Regardless, there is a wealth of Civil War history buried in the Green Hill cemetery, along with the old soldiers, both Confederate and Union, who are buried there.

Many of the graves predate the Civil War. Among the graves marked by stones, which have weathered both the ravages of time and nature, are those of Jacob Cameron and his wife, Jane; a son, Marquis Lafayette, a Union soldier, who died during the Civil War from expose; a daughter, Elizabeth Cameron Carter; and a four-year-old granddaughter, Mary Jane Cameron.

Jacob Cameron, who died a few years before the Civil War began, was a prominent Elizabethton citizen. He was also a slave owner.

Cameron, both in 1802, operated a store in Elizabethton, which was later owned by his son, Lafayette. Items stocked in the store included buttons, needles, thread, spools, and ribbons; paper, pencils and slates; coffee, sugar, tea, and wine; candles, beeswax, and soap; spectacles, razor straps, and combs; snuff boxes and cigar, in addition to household items and farm tools.

When the war began, Lafayette was operating the store, which was a popular hangout for local Union leaders. It was there was Col. Daniel Stover and others plotted to burn the Zollicoffer Bridge at Bluff City. Cameron took an active part, being one of the men to put the torch to the bridge.

Also buried in the cemetery are Mary Singletary, wife of Rev. John Singletary, and their daughter, Elizabeth Singletary Ryan, wife of George Ryan, a Civil War soldier. Also, the Singletarys had a son, Lt. F.S. Singletary, who served in the Union Army. While Ryan was at war, Elizabeth Singletary and her children lived with her mother.

Once a Rebel soldier and some of his Confederate friends came to the Singletary house in search of the Union son. They were also looking for coffee, sugar or any other valuables they might confiscate. On this occasion, Mrs. Singletary had a quantity of coffee stored in a closet under the stairway. The Rebel soldier demanded that a family member take them through the house to open the closet. The family member did so with the remark, “You are welcome to all that you find in there.” This threw the Rebel soldiers off guard, and they did not find the coffee.

On another occasion a Rebel officer who wished to punish Mrs. Ryan because her husband was serving in the Union Army threatened to burn the Singletary house if Mrs. Singletary “did not throw her daughter’s plunder into the street.” Her reply, “I cannot turn my daughter and her little children out of my house. If we have to suffer, we suffer together.” These were brave words from a widow, and the office must have been touched by them as the house was not burned.

A government headstone marks the grave of John M. Wilcox, a Union solider, who served with Company G of the 13th Tennessee Calvary. Wilcox took an active part in the Carter County Rebellion and was arrested and imprisoned for his activity in the Union Army. It is said he “acted a conspicuous part” in the killing of Gen. Morgan at Greeneville.

After the war he returned to Elizabethton and married Margaret Barker, and for many years they owned and operated the Wilcox House in town, located where the Covered Bridge Mini Park is.

Also buried in the cemetery are Col. William Shell and son, John G. Shell. A government marker denotes the gave of John, who served with the Tennessee Calvary. His father, Col. Shell, served with the Confederate Army, which shows how divisive the war was. It not only divided churches and communities, but families. Col. Shell gave the land for Elizabethton’s Southern Methodist Church, which was built soon after the Civil War.

For many years, Col. Shell was connected with the lumber and furniture business as well as being a prominent farmer. At the time of his death, he was the oldest active member of the Democratic party. He was active in state and civic affairs, and served at one time as an alderman for the City of Elizabethton. He lived on Academy Street.

Among the other Civil War soldiers buried in the cemetery are Benjamin F. Folsom, a confederate veteran; MDL Cameron, a Union soldier, who died in the Civil War; Calloway Roberts, a Union soldier’ James A. LeSeur, a Confederate soldier; John Holly, a Union soldier, and Robert J. Tipton, a Confederate soldier, who was ambushed and killed at his father’s house during the war. He was the son of Isaac P. Tipton.

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