WOODS & Civil War

Concord family’s roots, battles told

The doctor made his way to the Woods’ house. Baby Doris was coming into the world, into Concord, Tennessee, to be exact … into a house that would someday have a fine marble patio.

Doris Woods Owens, now 91, vividly remembers each room of the house where she grew up. But the marble patio out back where the family sat was really special. It was made of pink marble taken from Callaway’s Ridge above the village.

Owens proudly tells the story of her great-grandfather, smiling as she begins, talking quickly to squeeze in all the details. She’s s a history nut — one of the founders of the Farragut Museum and its director for 15 years.

“My great-grandfather, James Farmer Woods Sr., was born in Monroe County in 1833,” she said, “in a part that later

became Loudon County. He married a girl from Georgia, Martha Ann McQueen.”

She said the young couple probably began their lives in or near Loudon County, because there’s one unmistakable clue: the grave of their baby boy, William Patton Woods in the Steekee Cemetery in Loudon County.

Martha Ann gave birth to two more children, Mary Elizabeth and Albert Addison Woods, but by then the Civil War was in motion and her husband decided he wanted to fight.

For safekeeping, he deposited his wife and children with her large family in Clayton, Ga., and enlisted for three years with the 52nd Regiment, Georgia Infantry of the Confederate States.

In Vicksburg, Miss., Owens said, he was captured by the federal troops and imprisoned for a few days. Like the other captured Confederate soldiers, he had to take an oath that he would not fight against the Union.

“I will not take up arms again against the United States,” was part of what he swore. Furloughed, he returned to his wife and kids in Georgia, but didn’t stay. Instead, he rejoined his Confederate unit.

“At Resaca, Ga., in northern Georgia, he was captured again,” Owens said, producing another document. He was imprisoned by Union soldiers on May 15, 1864, and was sent to a POW camp at Alton, Ill. Five days later he was exchanged for a Union prisoner.

Owens said her great-grandfather said he saw his brother killed in the war, but that the family has never been able to document that.

When the war was over, he was transferred to a hospital in Virginia where he stayed a day or two, Owens said. Records show that he eventually made his way back to Geo-rgia to find that his namesake, James Farmer Woods Jr., had been born on Sept. 19, 1864.

Now he needed work to support his family, and Owens believes they came back this area so he could work in the marble business because there’s another unmistakable clue: a very worn gravestone at Steekee that marks the death of 8-year-old Walter Woods.

“Then following the marble,” Owens said, “they moved to the Hawkins County area.”

There Martha Ann gave birth to Nancy and John, but she got sick and a woman was called in to care for her and the kids. On July 24, 1874, at the age of 34, Martha Ann, died. Woods sent her body by train to be buried with her sons at Steekee. About six months later, he married Elizabeth Hamblen, the woman who had cared for his sick wife.

Lizzie gave birth to nine children in all and Owens believes the first few were born in or near Hawkins County.

Then apparently, the mining wind shifted, because the family moved to Concord. Mines were operating on Callaway’s Ridge and business was good. Her great-grandfather, grandfather, father and uncles made their living bringing out pink marble.

Owens reaches into her pocket and produces a commemorative medal presented to the Woods family by the Concord Masonic Lodge long after her great-grandfather’s death. On one side is his name. On the back is his unit and “C.S.A. ’61 to ’65” — the dates of the war.

James and Lizzie are buried together in the Masonic Lodge Cemetery in Concord. They lie up the hill from the house where Doris Woods Owens came into the world and where her father, noted marble miner Walter G. Woods, would add a fine marble patio in the back.