May 13th in Tennessee History
1841, Jonesborough – After moviong from Elizabethton to Jonesborough, editor and Methodist preacher William G. Brownlow met Landon Carter Haynes, editor of the Tennessee Sentinel, in the street of Tennessee's oldest town. The two editors were bitter political and personal enemies. In an altercation that followed, Brownlow bludgeoned Haynes with a cane while Haynes retaliated and shot Brownlow in the thigh.
A year later, the animosity had not subsided, as Brownlow was severely beaten by Haynes at a religious camp meeting.
1858, Midway, West of Blue Springs – Amid band music and a jubilant crown that gathered via a special excursion train from Knoxville, Samuel B. Cunningham of Jonesborough, president of the East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad, drove the last (silver) spike on the company's 130-mile line. The track had been laid under extremely adverse physical and financial conditions. Much of the credit was due to the tireless efforts of Cunningham and the back-lashed labors of slave construction crews.
Thanks to its connections with the East Tennessee & Georgia Railroad, the line gave East Tennessee a link with Washington, D.D., as well as Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis, Pensacola, Augusta, Atlanta, Charleston and nearly every other commercial center of the antebellum South.
1896, Memphis – Cornelius O'Keefe, private secretary to Mrs. M. E. Conway had a bad night, losing $600 of Conway's money at Joe Wetter's gambling house.
Conway pleaded with Judge D. P. Hadden for redress. The judge ordered Wetter to either return the money or close his establishment. Wetter kept the money. Judge Hadden then arrested O'Keefe on charges of embezzlement of Conway's funds.
On May 26, he released O'Keefe to the custody of Conway. She claimed that O'Keefe was her "business partner" and that he was needed at home.
1887, Nashville – In a house just outside the city limits of Lebanon Pike near Mount Olivet cemetery, there women reportedly kept "an assignation house where gentlemen of wealth, birth, and high social standing were wont to resort." Though they kept their affairs discreet, they had managed to offend the Wilhelm family next door.
About 8 p.m., a gentleman drove up to the house, parked his horse and carriage and approached Mr. Wilhelm's water pump. Wilhelm objected and threatened to shoot if the man, Benjamin Hotchkiss, dared to hitch his horse to the well. The wealth Hotchkiss did not take the threat seriously, was shot, but managed to return fire. Wilhelm evidently vanished and was not heard from again. It is not known how long the house of assignation continued to operate.
1923, Memphis – The Memphis Commercial Appeal, owned by publishing baron and Republican political boss Luke Lea, announced that it had won a Pulitzer Prize for its editorials and its anti-Ku Klux Klan editorial cartoons by James Pinckney Alley, the paper's first editorial artist.
1940, Zenith, Fentress County – Called to arrest a drunken minor, veteran gray-haired sheriff H. E. Taylor was shot to death by C. E. Markel. Just before he fell, the sheriff managed to kill Markell with a shot from his own pistol. A wave of indignation about Taylor's murder swept over Fentress and neighboring counties.
James B. Jones, Jr.
Editor, The Courier
Tennessee Historical Commission
2941 Lebanon Road
Nashville, TN 37214