26, Life in a Cumberland Plateau spa
Letter from Beersheba Springs.
Beersheba Springs, July 26, 1861.
Editors Appeal: As there may be many readers of your paper who would be glad to know something of this charming spot, I have concluded to turn reporter and give them such information as I have been able to gather.
I have been at many summer retreats both North and South, but none have pleased me more than Beersheba.
It is situated on the Cumberland mountain, Grundy county, Tenn., seventy miles from Nashville. It derives its name from Mrs. Beersheba P. Cain, who built a cabin here in 1832. Mr. Dugan, who moved to this country in 1805, and who is still alive, first entered the land. From him the property passed through several hands, until it finally became the property of Mr. Armfield, to whose energy and industry many of the present improvements are due. It now belongs to a company of southern gentlemen, who purchased it for fifty or sixty thousand dollars.
If visitors are not satisfied with the arrangements made for their comfort at Beersheba, then they must carry their fastidiousness to a marvelous extent. A purer atmosphere never blessed this earth. You must remember that Beersheba is situated two thousand feet above the level of the sea. That dreadful annoyance, the mosquito, cannot be found here. The thermometer hardly ever exceeds seventy-five degrees. Fires and blankets have been comfortable for the two past nights. The main hotel is situated on the brow of the mountain, commanding an enchanting view of the valley of Collins river, which is from three to six miles wide and eighteen miles long. Its soil is fertile, producing in great abundance wheat, corn, rye, potatoes and vegetables of every kind. I am told that the valley contains numerous sulphur springs.
But let me come back to the springs. Arrangements are made for the accommodation of eight hundred people. The rooms are very nicely fixed, amply provided with pleasant beds, and everything necessary to secure comfort. Unlike many watering places, great attention is paid to cleanliness. There is nothing to be seen offensive to the eye. For the amusement of visitors there are provided billiard rooms, ten pin alleys and riding horses. At night the ball room is open. Everything about the establishment is conducted well.
It is under the particular charge of Mr. Hukil, favorably known on the Mississippi river as one of the most accomplished caterers in America. If any of your readers ever took a trip to New Orleans in the Ingomar or John Simonds, they will agree with me in the opinion that Mr. Hukil in his line is without a superior. As far as eating is concerned, your readers may rest assured that there is no hotel in New Orleans or Memphis possessing greater attractions. There is nothing rough about the establishment. The servants, numbering more than seventy, have been well drilled and are remarkably attentive. I have examined the whole establishment. Every thing is in order. The promenade around the buildings under cover is more than a quarter of a mile in extent. The walks are beautifully laid out. The bathing houses, the washing apparatus, the cooking facilities are as good as one could wish. Mr. Hukil is a gentleman of fine appearance, courteous in his manners, obliging in every respect. He is assisted by Mr. Hurd, a young gentleman formerly of the Memphis packet office company. If a handsome appearance, bland manners and attention to his duties be qualifications for the proper discharge of the duties devolving upon one filling a situation like that of Mr. Hurd, he possesses them in an eminent degree. He anticipates all your wants and studies to make your time pass pleasantly.
The terms of board are $50 per month, children and servants half price. Around the hotel are a number of elegant cottages, owned by persons in Nashville and I was pleased to meet the worthy bishop of Tennessee here. His health is good, and I am told he preaches twice every Sunday at the hotel.
In regard to the springs; the main one is chalybeate, running out of a rock, said to be an excellent tonic. This fountain, together with the freestone spring is about two hundred yards from the hotel accessible by a pleasant road.
In the vicinity of the springs are several objects of curiosity; among them is the stone door, water-falls, caves, etc. I have not as yet paid them a visit. I will try and describe them in my next. Upon the whole I can without any reservation whatever recommend this retreat to the people of Memphis. Gentlemen who are now at Beersheba, and who are familiar with all the hotels in America, pronounce this equal to any. It is a southern enterprise, and this alone ought to induce them to patronize it. The company here is not large, but of the most select character. I have not been introduced to any of the ladies, and therefore can say nothing in regard to them.
Memphis Daily Appeal, July 31, 1861
26, Particulars of Cotton Speculation and Specie Payment in West Tennessee
Cotton and Gold in the South.
Traveling in West Tennessee-Cotton Speculators-Danger of Cotton Being Burned, Etc.
Correspondence Cincinnati Commercial.
Columbus, Ky., July 26, 1862.-Cotton, cotton, is all one now beholds upon the banks of the Ohio and Mississippi. Cotton speculators are plenty, and gold in lieu of Treasury notes, is all that pay for it, and as certain as the party receive gold (which he invariably does for his cotton) it is sunk, and out of sight forever and a long time after. So thought we, when pursing our travels through Jackson, Humboldt, Bolivar and Grand Junction. Nothing was seen but cotton. Thousand of bales at each station, and hundreds of speculators, with thousands of gold, manifested themselves, as the weight-born-down trafficer [sic] wended his way along.
Cotton is cheap-is worth eighteen to twenty cents per pound at these stations-but invariably paying in gold, so that no once can buy a vale for anything less than gold; not even Tennessee money will buy it. We opine these people who buy have placed our coining a high, and unattainable place, while Government funds are at a discount. Speculators in cotton have become alarmed; they feel queer. At Grand Junction we conversed with some. They were afraid less the Rebels will seize upon it, and on the strength of their fears, they called on General Grant and requested him to send two regiments to protect their cotton, which he promised to do. Fire appears to alarm all buyers, because Fayette and other counties had their cotton burned. They are under the impression their's will suffer likewise.
We never saw so much gold; at every station we met six or seven men counting it out, and at every station were asked, "do you think our cotton is safe?" so much so that had we had intention a buy a bale we have gently seceded. But the great feature among cotton brokers here is he who pays the highest gets my cotton, no matter who they buy for. A employs B to buy cotton, and pays him ten dollars per bale for his trouble. B buys and has at the station one hundred vales. C inquires whose cotton it is. B says I bought it for A; says C I will give your fifteen dollars per bale. Well take it along; no consideration for A, but the five dollars is the margin. Principle is nowhere, and many parties who have advanced money to such agents get their money back, but no cotton. Three hundred thousand dollars or more changed hand here and around every day. The feeling among the people, since we don't take Richmond, is adverse to the Union, and it is almost an impossibility to find a Union man in this region. Those that are are gun-boat Union men. We give facts; we were there, and we know. Great fears are entertained at Grand Junction of an attack by the Rebels. They have burned the railroad bridge, and cut the wires so that communication by telegraph from Grand Junction to Memphis is impossible, and we thing that, owing to the few in number left to guard these places, ad their total want of military discipline, the Rebels will take place.
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Philadelphia Inquirer, July 31, 1862.
ca. 25-26, Guerrilla activity in DeKalb County
"Brutal Murder by Guerrillas in DeKalb. Gallant Conduct of Lieut. . Blackburn. Death of two Notorious Cut-throats, Kearsey and Neely."
A most shocking and wanton murder was committed a few days ago, by a party of "Southern Chivalry" under the lead of two great scoundrels, Pomp Kearsey [sic] and Neely, on the waters of Clear Fork, a few miles above Liberty, in DeKalb county. The guerrillas went to a house where a young Mr. Clark, son of one of our well-known citizens, was staying, dragged him out, and shot him to pieces. Young Clark's sole offence was that he was a strong Union man, and that was enough to arouse the malice of the hell-hounds.
On the following day (ca. 26) Lieutenant Blackburn, a well-known and brave young officer, formerly of Stokes' Tennessee cavalry, but now commanding an independent company, started in pursuit of the guerrillas, overtook them, and killed seven of the twelve who composed the party, among whom were the two head men, Pomp Kearsey, and Neely, whose depredations and villainies of all sorts have long made them the terror of the county. Lieut. Blackburn piled the seven bodies in a wagon and hauled them off towards Liberty. The sister of Kearsey sent to him and asked for the body to bury it, but Lieut. Blackburn sent her worked that he intended to show the bodies to the rebels in Liberty, to warn them of the fate which awaited all friends and protectors of guerrillas.
Nashville Daily Times and True Union, July 28, 1864.
 Regardless of political leanings bushwhackers in Cannon County were known to attend dances, in or out of uniform, dancing together till morning. "Beardless Pomp Kersey is said to have attended one of these dances dressed as a girl and to have danced with his arch enemy, Will Hathaway, who was much taken with the supposed maiden's charms." It may not be going too far to speculate that one or both of the men were gay. See: Robert L. Mason, ed. Joy Bailey Dunn ed., Charles W. Crawford, assoc. ed., Cannon County (Memphis State University Press; Memphis, 1982), pp. 56-58. Mason puts Kearsey's death at July 23, 1864, but provides no source to back his claim. Pomp was buried in the Melton Cemetery at Mechanicsville, Tennessee.
James B. Jones, Jr.
Tennessee Historical Commission
2941 Lebanon Road
Nashville, TN 37214