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Weekly 150

The Washburns (Part I): From Connecticut to McKenzie

Posted 1/14/20

The next chapter in The McKenzie Banner history brings us to the Washburn family. James L. Washburn began working for J. Frank Barlow in 1948. From that point onward, the Washburns evolved into the heart and soul of the Banner and became civic leaders in the community. For over half a century a Washburn has owned The McKenzie Banner with three generations working for the company in some capacity.

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Weekly 150

The Washburns (Part I): From Connecticut to McKenzie

Posted

The next chapter in The McKenzie Banner history brings us to the Washburn family. James L. Washburn began working for J. Frank Barlow in 1948. From that point onward, the Washburns evolved into the heart and soul of the Banner and became civic leaders in the community. For over half a century a Washburn has owned The McKenzie Banner with three generations working for the company in some capacity.

The story of the Washburn family dates centuries back to England when the name was spelled Washbourne. To save eight-plus centuries of history for another time, let’s pick up with Eli Washburn.

Eli was born on December 8, 1796, in Canterbury, Connecticut. He was the first Washburn to migrate to West Tennessee. At a young age, Eli moved from Connecticut to Virginia, where he married Jane Mackey.

Around 1840, Eli and his wife moved to Perry County, Tennessee. While in Perry County, Eli was ordained as a Baptist preacher. Sometime between 1840 and 1850, the Washburns settled in the area of Jack’s Creek near the Reagan community.

Eli and Jane Washburn had six children, one daughter and five sons; Mary Ellen, Robert, Augustus and Edgar, all born in Virginia; and John and Reuben Hale were born in Tennessee. They also raised their grandson, William (Billy) Daniel, the son of Augustus. His wife, Mary Daniels, died shortly after giving birth to Billy in 1859.

Four sons fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Reuben was the only son of Eli and Jane to come back from the Civil War. Robert, a member of the 10th Regiment, Tennessee Cavalry (DeMoss’), was reported killed at Knoxville. Augustus died as a prisoner at Camp Douglas, a Union civil war prison in Chicago, Illinois. John, a member of the 27th Regiment, Tennessee Infantry, was killed at Meridian, Mississippi. Reuben was a private in “I” Company of the 1st Confederate Infantry. Edgar Washburn, died of typhoid fever on July 24, 1857, before the start of the Civil War.

Eli died on October 13, 1875, at his residence near Jack’s Creek at 78 years of age. He and his wife, Jane, are buried at Union Hill Missionary Baptist Church located in proximity to the intersection of Highways 22 and 100 in Henderson County.

Our portion of the Washburn story picks up with Augustus who enlisted as a member of Cox’s Tennessee Cavalry Battalion. He was 30 years old at the time of his enlistment. When General Nathan Bedford Forrest organized his first raid into West Tennessee in December 1862, Cox’s Battalion was mustered into his service and ordered to cross the Tennessee River. On December 20, General Forrest, with his escort and Cox’s Battalion, charged into Trenton, Tennessee, and captured the town and some 800 Federal prisoners.

After the raid on Trenton, Forrest accompanied by Cox’s Cavalry moved on toward Union City and were involved in a skirmish there on December 21, where the Union Captain surrendered his garrison.

The battalion found themselves near Dresden and Gleason where they destroyed a railroad trestle on Christmas Day 1862. The troops used axes scavenged from local farms to cut the timbers of the trestle. Forrest’s cavalry soldiers camped in Dresden near the trestle on Christmas Day night and moved out toward McKenzie on December 26, 1862. From there to the Battle of Parker’s on December 31, 1862. It was at the New Year’s Eve battle Augustus was captured with 300 other Confederate soldiers.

With the death of both parents, William “Billy” Washburn was raised by his grandparents. He married twice and fathered 16 children. His first marriage was to Nancy Cornelia Bailey, with whom he had six children. His second marriage was to Mary Helen Linton and they had ten children together, eight daughters and two sons.

Children with Nancy: Mary Lee 1879; Hubert Adkins 1880; Elector Ardel 1883; Arby Cleveland 1886; Lucy Tennessee 1888; James Edward 1893.

Children with Mary: Maggie Correlia 1895, Hattie Ethel 1897, Nancy Lillian 1898, Willie Lerah 1900, Vester Arden 1/13/1902, Edner Mae 1903, Otis A. 1905, Hessie Edith 1909, Dessie Eathel 1909, Ruby Mackey Jane 1911.

William’s 11th child, Vester, brings us one generation closer to James. Vester was born and raised in Jack’s Creek community. At 20 years of age, Vester married Dovie Ardell Ross, who in 1922 was only 15 years of age. They had seven children; Fred Arden 1923, Wayford Otis Washburn 1925, James Loyd 1927, Leo Franklin 1930, Arlene 1933, Billy Junior 1935, and Helen Louise 1938.

No longer interested in farming the “Hill Country” of Henderson County, Vester and Ardell moved to Carroll County. In October 1938, the family loaded up in an old truck and settled near the south side of Carroll Lake, near present-day Lakeside Senior Living Community.

Vester worked as a sharecropper, and the entire family was required to be involved in the farming operations. He later moved the family to a house and farm known as the Bateman farm located near the present-day McKenzie Elementary School. In January 1947, the family moved to a farm near the McKenzie-Como Road known as the Eulas Pickler place. Vester and Ardell purchased the farm where they were residing, which was approximately 145 acres.

Ardell died of cancer at the hospital in McKenzie on July 24, 1982. Vester died at the family home on December 17, 1984. Both are buried in the Caledonia Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery on the McKenzie-Como Road near McKenzie and their farm.

James Loyd Washburn was born on September 5, 1927, in Henderson County, the third son of Vester and Ardell Ross Washburn. He assisted in the family’s farming operations until joining the military in 1945. James attended the McKenzie school and graduated from the eighth grade. He dropped out of school after the ninth grade to help the family farm, a common practice in those days.

On November 29, 1945, he was inducted into military service at Fort McPherson, Georgia. Following basic training, he served with the 40th TC Squadron, 317th Transportation Corp. Group. After being stationed in Yamato, Japan with the American Occupational Forces after the end of World War II, he was transferred to E Squadron of the 1377th Army Air Force Base Unit and was stationed at Westover Field in Massachusetts.

He was honorably discharged from the Army at Camp Stoneman, California, on June 29, 1947. During his enlistment in the U.S. Army, he was awarded the World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation, Japan. After being discharged from the Army, he returned to McKenzie, where he joined Company G, 117th Infantry Regiment of the Tennessee National Guard. James was discharged from the National Guard on January 19, 1951.

Next week’s article will pick with James joining the staff at The McKenzie Banner.

Jason R. Martin

B.S. • M.A.Ed • MLS

Councilman, Ward II

Rotary Dist. 6760, Asst. Governor

WestStar Class of 2019

P: 731.352.3323

E: jmartin@mckenziebanner.com

Jason Martin is a life-long resident of McKenzie. He graduated from McKenzie High School in 2000; earned a Bachelor of Science in History from Bethel College in 2004; a Masters in Education from Bethel University in 2009 and a Masters in History and Humanities from Fort Hays State University in 2011.

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