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Three Union Soldiers Buried in the Weems Cemetery at Van Hill

Each year on Decoration Day someone brings three flags to decorate the three unmarked graves in Weems Cemetery at Van Hill near the Hawkins/Greene County line in Tennessee. Over the years the first names of the men have been lost - known only as SMITH, JEFFERS, and JONES.

Another Union man, Abram Weems, lived on the farm where the cemetery is located. Abram was in the 8th TN Infantry, B Company, USA. Several men from the same area also joined the Union - all the McLain boys did. These men - SMITH, JEFFERS, and JONES, were either from that area of Van Hill, or nearby Greene County, and some say they are still trying to find the first names, or the story as to how they were killed. It is said they are facing to the west rather than the east, which is the usual way of burials in cemeteries here.

These men were the first to be buried in Weems Cemetery, with the exception of one other man who died in 1860. These men lived on the bordering area where several Confederate men lived, and also near the local Confederate Home Guards. There may have been a skirmish and they were killed near there. Perhaps the full story will surface someday and the first names of these men will be known.

Buried in the Old Presbyterian Church, Washington St., Rogersville, TN - unmarked grave.

B. F. Tilson, 3rd MI - B Co USA - also called the "90 day men" - they really only signed up for 100 days. I have Ben. J. listed in my Union book - he "refused to be arrested by Union soldiers and was shot dead by order of General A. C. Gillum at Greeneville, TN, Oct 1864." On the official records most of the men were listed as deserting at Bulls Gap, Hawkins Co., in October 1864 but most of these charges were dropped at a later date when it was realized the men had only signed for 100 days and their time of service had expired in October.

Other Confederate Tilsons were Henry C.(Clay?), J. C., Jacob called "Jackrick" and William.

Jacob Tilson was in the 29th TN Inf from Hawkins Co.

There are diaries (copyrighted by Dr. John Fain) of Eliza Fain which she kept during the war. She tells of "Jake" as she called him being at her home and of him being bushwhacked by the local Union bushwhackers.

Jake was a friend of Mrs. Fain's Confederate sons. She writes about three pages of his killing and said in her diary she had taken a lock of his hair. He was taken back to her home and laid out and she washed the blood off him, one ball went in his head and another in his heart. She said she felt so sorry for his father - "his heart seemed almost crushed beneath the terrible stroke. They sat with the body as custom that night. Next day his sister Cynthia and two little brothers (Charles and Rufus) came over. He was killed on Sunday January 22, 1865.

Mrs Fain wrote:"Jake rode a very nice little bay mare which he called "Queen of the West". The bushmen got all he had that was any account. I sat up until 2 last night."

Jacob was buried in the Old Presbyterian Church in Rogersville on Washington Street in an unmarked grave (probably) near Adaline Tilson d. 24 Sept 1844, wife of H. J. Tilson and Benj. F. Tilson b. 16 May 1852; d. 14 Jan 1856.

Buried in the Old Presbyterian Church, Washington St., Rogersville, TN - unmarked grave.

Dr. Frederick Shotwell (CSA-NC) as per the Confederate list in the ROGERSVILLE REVIEW NEWSPAPER in 1913, is buried in an unmarked grave in the Old Presbyterian Church Cem., Washington St., Rogersville, TN.

Buried in the New Presbyterian Church, Kyle Street, Rogersville, TN

James Smith of Lebanon and Frank M. Baker, of Morgan's Command, are buried side by side, in unmarked graves, in the New Presbyterian Cemetery on Kyle Street in Rogersville.

Morgan's command had posted pickets at Marble Hall, located in Rice's Gap, about four miles west of Rogersville. They were dismounted and were lying around when the 13th Cavalry, which had been sent to Rogersville to attack the Confederates, surprised the men.Frank M. Baker of Morgan's command received a wound through the lung in the act of mounting his saddle, but was able to get on and dashed away toward Rogersville; the enemy firing as they pursued. Just below the home of the Mitchell McClure home, Baker's horse struck a mud hole, lunged and threw his rider. The pursing enemy dashed by, thinking he was dead. A Federal officer dismounted, and stood guard over Baker until everyone passed, then helped carry Baker into the McClure house. Baker was calling for water when Mrs. McClure heard him. She sent her cook and a weaving woman down with a pitcher of water. The woman and the Federal officer carried him into the house where he died September 2nd.

James Smith, of Lebanon, killed the soldier who shot Frank Baker and was himself killed.

Smith and Baker were buried side by side, in unmarked graves, in the New Presbyterian Cemetery.

(As described by B. F. Allison, 63rd TN CSA, in the CONFEDERATE VETERAN, April 1897.)


Copyright © 2000-2001 by Sheila Weems Johnston