The sound of cannon fire boomed across Health Sciences Park in Memphis on Sunday as more than 200 people came out to celebrate the 192nd birthday of Nathan Bedford Forrest, reports The Commercial Appeal
This year’s event marked the first at the Medical Center site since the Memphis City Council changed the name of that park and two others with Confederate themes, but speakers throughout the day proudly maintained that they were celebrating in Forrest Park.
Forrest, described as “a military genius,” enlisted as a private in the Confederate army in 1861 and became a lieutenant general by the end of the Civil War. He also continues to be a figure despised by many because of his early leadership role in the Ku Klux Klan.
The celebration was sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the General Nathan Bedford Forrest Historical Society.
In February, the City Council changed the names of Confederate Park, Jefferson Davis Park and Forrest Park to Memphis Park, Mississippi River Park and Health Sciences Park, respectively.
A peace treaty formally ending the infamous Coal Creek War of 1892, whick left 27 coal miners killed and more than 500 under arrest, was signed Friday in a ceremony on Vowell Mountain overlooking Lake City.
From the News Sentinel report: The ceremony also recognized the site as the location of Fort Anderson, where Tennessee National Guardsmen fought a pitched battle with striking coal miners upset that the state had brought in convicts to work in their mines.
Trenches dug by guardsmen as battlements and protections from attacking coal miners are the only visible remnants of the fort.
The location, featuring nine markers describing that bloody chapter of Anderson County’s past, has been named to the National Register of Historic Places, said Barry Thacker, president of Coal Creek Watershed Foundation.
The nonprofit organization for 13 years has been working to improve the environment, living conditions and the education of residents of the isolated mountainous area, pockmarked by abandoned coal mines.
And Friday’s ceremony was another bid to acquaint students of tiny Briceville School with their area’s colorful past.
Thacker said the Coal Creek War was never officially ended, prompting Friday’s event.
“This is a really great way to involve young people in history,” said state Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge. “We don’t spend enough time learning it and teaching it to young people.”
McNally, like other participants, wore a green bandana knotted around his neck in recognition of the occasion.
Striking miners wore such bandannas as a way to identify fellow members of their ragtag insurrection.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal to bar local governments from renaming parks or monuments honoring Tennessee’s military figures is headed to the governor for his consideration.
The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro was approved 26-3 by the Senate on Thursday. The companion bill passed the house 69-22 last month.
Sponsors say the legislation is aimed at preventing shifting views and changing “demographics” from erasing memorials to historical figures from the Civil War and other conflicts.
The bill would allow local governments seeking to change the names of parks to seek permission from the Tennessee Historical Commission.
Critics say it should be left to local governments to decide the naming of parks.
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam is expected to review the legislation once it reaches his desk.
By simply relocating his office space at the Tennessee State Capitol, state Rep. Mike Sparks, R-Smyrna, learned a whole new side to local history regarding Civil War spy DeWitt Smith Jobe, reports the Daily News Journal. “I asked (Speaker Beth Hartwell) for a new office overlooking the Capitol and the Sam Davis Monument because Sam Davis kind of represents Smyrna,” Sparks said. “I thought, ‘I’m going to do a little research on the Coleman Scouts and I came across (an article) about DeWitt Smith Jobe.”
Sparks, along with several local Civil War aficionados, convened Saturday at Giles Baptist Church on Rocky Fork Road for a program honoring the heroic life of Jobe, who was a member of the infamous Confederate spies known as the Coleman Scouts. About 50 people attended the presentation. Guest speakers included James Patterson, adjutant of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Greg Tucker, Rutherford County historian, and John Moore, a descendant of Jobe.
“Here I was, born and raised in Smyrna and I didn’t really know what all (Jobe) went through,” Sparks said, adding that he also discovered John Bridges’ book, “Three Cousins from Mechanicsville,” chronicling the heroic life of Jobe and his two relatives.
Jobe worked alongside fellow Coleman Scout Sam Davis, who is well-known for having hanged after refusing to betray his source. Sparks compared the scouts’ tenacity to that of the modern-day “A-Team.”
….”He was as much a hero as Sam Davis. He just didn’t have the publicity Sam Davis had,” Bridges said.
Jobe met a much more gruesome fate. Right before being captured by Union troops in August 1864, Jobe destroyed information he was carrying — he swallowed it — and refused to divulge the message. He was brutalized for days. Eventually, his tongue was severed and he died after being dragged by a galloping horse.
The state legislator sponsoring the bill that would ban renaming of historical parks and monuments across Tennessee tells the Commercial Appeal that he’s disappointed that the Memphis City Council hurriedly renamed three Confederate-themed parks, but he won’t try to force a reversal. But another lawmaker said word of the council’s action in heading off McDaniel’s bill spread rapidly through the state legislature and could help the Shelby County suburbs’ efforts to establish their own school systems.
Rep. Steve McDaniel, R-Parkers Crossroads, said his bill isn’t aimed specifically at Memphis’ off-and-on disputes over Forrest Park and its statue of Confederate war hero Nathan Bedford Forrest, but was something he’s been thinking about for several years without pursuing. And because the City Council has already re-named the parks, he said he won’t try to make the state bill — which he said will probably take five to six weeks to pass — apply retroactively.
“I’m absolutely disappointed (in the council’s action). I don’t think that just because you disagree or don’t approve of the historical past that we should be changing the names of these parks or think about removing monuments. We’ve got monuments on the Capitol grounds that I wouldn’t have approved of putting there, but they are there and they are part of our history.
His “Tennessee Heritage Preservation Act” (House Bill 553) provides in part that “No statue, monument, memorial, nameplate, plaque, historic flag display, school, street, bridge, building, park, preserve, or reserve which has been erected for … any historical military figure, historical military event, military organization, or military unit, and is located on public property, may be renamed or rededicated.”
If the bill were already law, it would have blocked the City Council’s action Tuesday renaming Forrest Park as Health Sciences Park, Confederate Park as Memphis Park and Jefferson Davis Park as Mississippi River Park. Council members cited the pending state bill as their reason for moving swiftly to change the parks’ names.
…One suburban Shelby County state representative, who would not speak about the subject on the record, said the Council’s move may have unintended consequences, including helping suburban lawmakers win approval of another bill now in the works to allow new municipal school districts.
Suburban leaders have decided that court-ordered negotiations over new school systems in Shelby County have all but ground to a halt, and their best bet is state legislation that lifts a 15-year-old ban on new municipal school districts statewide. Such a bill is likely to have better chances of passing now than in the last two years, when legislators from elsewhere wanted to limit new districts to Shelby County — which a federal judge ruled is unconstitutional.
By Adrian Sainz, Associated Press
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The statue of Confederate fighter Nathan Bedford Forrest astride a horse towers above the Memphis park bearing his name. It’s a larger-than-life tribute to the warrior still admired by many for fiercely defending the South in the Civil War — and scorned by others for a slave-trading past and ties to the Ku Klux Klan.
Though the bloodiest war on American soil was fought 150 years ago, racially tinged discord flared before its City Council voted this week to strip Forrest’s name from the downtown park and call it Health Sciences Park. It also voted to rename Confederate Park as Memphis Park and Jefferson Davis Park as Mississippi River Park.
A committee has been formed to help the council decide on permanent names for the parks.
The changes have drawn praise from those who said bygone reminders of the Confederacy had to be swept away in what today is a racially diverse city. Critics cried foul, saying moves to blot out such associations were tantamount to rewriting the history of a Mississippi River city steeped in Old South heritage.
The struggle over Forrest’s legacy and moves to rename other parks highlights a broader national debate over what Confederate figures represent in the 21st century as a far more diverse nation takes new stock of the war on its 150th anniversary with the hindsight of the civil rights era.
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder solemnly announce the body of Private First Class Glenn Schoenmann will finally be laid to rest after 62 years.
Schoenmann was assigned to Company M, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division in the United States Army when he was involved in the infamous Battle of Chosin Reservoir in North Korea on November 28, 1950. The Grundy County native reportedly died as a Prisoner of War on December 29, 1950. Family members say Schoenmann’s remains were recovered in 2004, but the identification process was finalized in December, 2012.
Schoenmann was born in Palmer, Tennessee, but grew up in Tracy City where he attended James Shook School and worked on the Werner Farm with his family. Schoenmann was 20-years old when he was killed.
“The Schoenmann family has waited 62 years to give Glenn a proper burial, and we join them in remembering his service and sacrifice,” Haslam said. “As a state we mourn the loss of PFC Schoenmann, but we are grateful for his return to his home and family.”
“PFC Schoenmann’s courage and bravery to serve his country will be recognized and remembered by his fellow Tennesseans,” Grinder said. “The closure for the Schoenmann family is continued proof we should never give up until all of our missing in action and prisoner of war service members have been brought home.”
The body of PFC Schoenmann will arrive at the Nashville International Airport at 12:45 p.m. (CST) on Thursday, January 10, 2013. Visitation will be Friday, January 11 from 5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. (CST) at Layne Funeral Home in Palmer. Visitation will resume at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday January 12 at Grundy County High School in Coalmont. Funeral services will be at 1:00 p.m. at Grundy County High School with the burial to follow at the Brown’s Chapel Cemetery in Palmer. In case of inclement weather, all services will be held at Layne Funeral Home in Palmer.
Schoenmann is survived by his sister Edna Kilgore of Monteagle, Tennessee, brothers Ernest Schoenmann of Creave Coure, Illinois, Raymond Schoenmann of Tracy City, Tennessee and Carl Schoenmann of Winchester, Tennessee.
“It just means a lot that he will be buried in the same cemetery with our mother, father and grandparents,” Raymond Schoenmann said. “It’s finally uniting the family back together.”
Excerpt from an Andrea Zelinski story on Gov. Bill Haslam mulling whether a Tennessee Health Care Exchange is to be or not to be: Thousands of Tennesseans are weighing in on the issue. Gov. Bill Haslam’s staff said they have received some 4,000 emails and 2,000 phone calls about insurance exchanges.
While the staff didn’t break down the email messages to pros and cons, almost all of the phone calls were urging the governor to say “no Obamacare in Tennessee” — a decision that is out of the state’s hands — or ditch the exchange and let the federal government handle it.
Of the rest, about 75 said they were in favor of a state exchange. Another 32 spoke out against the state running it, but changed their stance after the choices were explained, according to the governor’s constituent services staff.
Almost 30 called wanting the state to secede, and eight urged nullification of Obamacare. Six called for a civil war.
….Haslam has until Dec. 14 to decide who will run the exchange. For months he has repeatedly said the state can run the program better than the federal government could, but he has shied away from committing to that route. He blamed the holdup on a lack of information from Washington, D.C., on details of how exactly the state-run exchanges and federal exchanges would work.
For example, the state would have at least some power to choose which health insurance carriers could sell on the exchange, but it’s unclear which details will be up to state officials to determine and which will be prescribed by the feds.
The same goes if the state opts to let the federal government run the exchange for Tennessee. State officials say they have no clue whether that means the state would be totally hands-off or would still have a role to play. In addition, the state could decide to partner with the federal government to run the program.
The feds handed the state $9.1 million in grants to help it do the homework to figure out whether to pursue an insurance exchange. So far, state officials say they’ve spent less than $1.5 million of it, mostly on salaries and benefits for staff researching insurance exchanges, although they say they still don’t have enough details to put forth solid recommendations.
Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood, often blamed for the Confederacy’s staggering loss during the battles of Franklin and Nashville, might finally get his due 148 years later, reports The Tennessean.
A never-seen-before cache of Hood’s personal papers — including handwritten notes, letters and field orders written by Hood and other Civil War luminaries — is now being pored over by historians who say they paint a fuller, more sympathetic picture of Hood.
Sam Hood, a retired West Virginia businessman and “collateral descendant” of the general, and Eric Jacobson, Battle of Franklin Trust chief operating officer, discussed the papers on Friday. They are in the midst of transcribing the letters and documents.
….Union Gen. John Schofield’s troops crept by Hood’s men camped in Spring Hill on Nov. 29, 1864, giving them time to erect fortifications in Franklin that proved devastating to attacking Confederates the next day. Sam Hood said eyewitness accounts in the papers, including Hood’s medical records, dispute the popular story that the general was under the influence of painkillers when the Union troops slipped by and put the blame on other officers.
“There’s more than one letter from eyewitnesses (identifying) who it was on the Confederate side who was responsible for Schofield’s escape at Spring Hill,” Sam Hood said.
(The article does not suggest who was responsible.)
Memphis lawmakers aired their differences with Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris over suburban school districts Wednesday, at one point comparing the dispute to the Civil War, reports Richard Locker. The Shelby legislative delegation heard Norris outline his efforts on the issue for the first time this year at its weekly meeting, and he defended his work as helping the school unification process. Norris, R-Collierville, described the bill allowing the suburbs to conduct referendums and school board elections this year, in advance of next year’s lifting of the state’s 14-year-old ban on new municipal school districts.
Memphis lawmakers critiqued the effort as further balkanization of schools countywide.
“We could go from two to one … to perhaps seven” school districts, said Rep. Johnnie Turner, D-Memphis.
But Norris said allowing the suburbs to decide this year what they’re going to do next year will aid planning for merging Memphis and Shelby County schools, which becomes final in August 2013.