Wade Nanney has decided one of his “most treasured possessions is a muzzle-loading 58 caliber military rifle that was made at the Windsor, Vermont, arsenal in 1849. It has a powder horn and a large leather pouch with it. The rifle was brought home by my great-grandfather, Amous Nanney, when he returned home from more than three years service in the Army of the Confederate States of America.”
Wade said, “One thing about the Nanneys and the Blankenships. Even though they got along so well together and everything, Nanneys were traditionally Democrats. That means we were Confederates. But the Blankenships were Republicans. They were Union sympathizers during the war.”
Likewise, “during the Reconstruction Era, Rutherford County was an upheaved, chaotic mass of radicalism of all stripes,” wrote Wade in a 2013 memoir. “The Ku Klux Klan might have marched through town on occasion. Other times, blacks and whites would march through arm in arm. The Adair clan near Union Mills went on a rampage and tried to “tree” the community. They burned down my ancestral church buildings at both Round Hill and Liberty Hill. However, they made their fatal mistake when they massacred the Westons, a mixed-blood family who lived near Thermal City. (There is now a special monument for the Weston family at the edge of the Round Hill Cemetery. It labels them as ‘victims of Southern reconstruction’.)”
In this scenario, Amous Nanney was made Colonel in command of the Rutherford County Militia. This militia would meet and drill on Saturdays. When the Adairs murdered that peaceful family, the better elements of the community had enough! They mobilized. Amous led the posse that rounded up these villains in the fall of 1870, consequently to be tried and hanged.”
Amous Nanney’s thirteenth child was born in 1871. Sometime before then the original log house he built became uncomfortable, and “he acquired a choice section of farmland down near Painter’s Gap where he erected a sturdy two story farmhouse. (Sold in the 1970’s and remodeled to include a greenhouse on the side.)”
Wade continues, “For the remainder of his days, Amous performed a great service–without pay–to the people of the area. When anyone came to him for medical or surgical help, he would do for them whatever he was able. John Flack, another of his grandsons, (local family well established) told me that Amous knew how to make a drawing poultice from the inner bark of red oak. John said that it would ‘draw any sort of abscess out, or else shrivel the afflicted member up to nigh nuthin’!”
Wade’s maternal grandmother, Zilpah Koon Blankenship, “was fond to tell about an episode in her youth. She had some tremendously painful type of pea-sized growth in one of her fingers. She called it a ‘gryphon’ or something like that. For five days and nights she hadn’t been able to sleep for the pain. Finally, one of her sisters took her across the ridge to see ‘the Colonel.’ He had an ingenuous device called a ‘trigger lance.’ It could be cocked against a spring, and when the trigger was pulled, a little scapel blade would flick, cutting a set depth. Amous had to set the lance the second time before it cut deeply enough to remove the affliction in Zilpah’s finger. But then, her sister had a most difficult time walking her home. She kept going to sleep standing in the middle of the road.”
Amous Nanney died on May 24, 1906 at the age of 78. He survived Tempie by almost two years. They are buried side by side on a knoll in the Round Hill Cemetery at Union Mills, surrounded by many children, close relatives and descendants, including Wade’s first wife, Virginia “Judy” Graham Nanney.
Wade finished this memoir: “When I look at the quaint portrait of Amous and Tempie in their later years, I cannot help but feel a sense of pride in being of their blood. They set a tremendous example of service and devotion–and of outright toughness! It was just such people who established this nation to attain its greatness–a greatness that sadly we now see eroded more and more each day.”
And I cannot add to that.
Copyright@2014 Georgia Ruth Wilson