Volume 32, Number 4 - Summer 1993

Brays’ Settlement and Civil War (Part I)
by Robert Bray

The North Carolina Heritage

In the first United States census (1790) for Chatham County, North Carolina there was a William Bray family consisting of one free white male over 16, and one free white female; presumably he and his wife. There was also a Henry Bray, head of another family consisting of one free white male and two free white females. That Henry may have been William’s father.

There was a son named William in nearly all generations of Brays that have been traced. The earliest was one of the eleven children of Henry B. Bray and was the father of Mark and his twelve siblings.

The Bray Family and Bray Settlement

The first William Bray, son of Henry Bray, Junior, was a second generation American. He lived near Siler City, North Carolina. One of his sons, Mark, was my great grandfather. The will of William was dated 1843 and showed that he was a resident of Chatham County. That area was called, in earlier days, "the back settlement," as opposed to the Tidewater or Piedmont. In the will, William disposed of five slaves; Richmond, Diley, Lish, Minerva and Jack. Richmond went to his daughter Peggy York who already had possession of him. Jack was to be hired out during the lifetime of his wife, Peggy, for benefit of the estate. The remaining three were willed directly to his wife Peggy. Mark, along with twelve brothers and sisters, were considered already to have had their respective shares of their father’s estate, and received nothing in the will.

One of William’s sons, Mark (1796-1868), married Margaret Patterson in their home state. In 1841, Mark, his wife and six children, together with a company of their friends, including the McDaniel and Marley families, emigrated to Greene (later, to become Christian) County, Missouri. The McDaniels and Marleys settled near the Village of Ozark where there was a grist mill on Finley Creek.

Mark entered land about half way between Ozark and Sparta and built a log house near a spring.

My grandfather, my father and I were all born on that farm within 175 yards of the same spot. The place was 2 miles due south of Linden, a tiny settlement on Finley Creek several miles above Ozark. Mark became owner and operator of a grist mill at Linden before 1860, but his principle occupation was farming and stock raising. In 1844, Mark and Margaret’s seventh child was born. He was Taylor, my grandfather. An eighth child, Isaac, was born in 1846.

Mark, like his father William, became a slave holder. Whether he acquired all his slaves in Missouri or whether he brought some of them from North


Carolina was not learned because I did not have access to the 1840 slave census for Chatham County, North Carolina, before Mark came to Missouri.

According to the United states slave census of 1850, he was one of several dozen slave holders in Greene County. Mark’s slaves included four females aged 38 (blind), 17, 12, 8 and three males aged 27, 16 and 10. In the slave census of 1860, Mark was one of 16 slave holders in Christian County (formed in 1859 from parts of Greene, Webster and Taney counties). His 1860 slaves included six females aged 49, 26, 22, 18, 4 and 9/12 (9 months) and four males aged 37, 24, 20 and 3. All were listed as black except the 4 year old girl who was a mulatto. Thus, Mark owned three more slaves in 1860 than in 1850. By correlating the ages between 1850 and 1860, it seems that the 38, 17, and 12 year old females and the 27, 16 and 10 year old males of 1850 were still with him in 1860, including the 49 year old blind female.

The listing of Mark’s personal property in 1850 was $500. In 1860, it was $10,000. Presumably, the great increase could be attributed to the fact he had acquired three more slaves but, more particularly, to the great increase in value of individual slaves, because more of them had reached the prime of life and to the fact that general values of slaves increased rapidly between 1850 and 1860.

The 1850 federal census listed Mark’s children as Louisa 19, Patterson 18, Orin (Aaron) 16, Cadmas 13, Linn (Lynn) 10, William 8, Taylor 6, and Isaac 4.

The family patriarch, Mark, died in 1868 and all the children except Isaac, had married and all had children of their own. However, Isaac was listed by the census taker as a member of the household headed by Margarett, his mother, who was 67 in 1870. That much is clear, but another question remains. The only other name appearing as present was Tillman Emit (Emmit?) age 12. Was Emit a grandchild visiting his grandmother?

My dad told me more than once that grandfather Taylor attended grammar school with neighbor children and his father’s slaves in the one room, log, Bray Community School located about 175 yards northwest of the present-day Bray dwelling. However, I doubt that was accurate in Taylor’s early school years, at least, because, in 1847, teaching slaves to read and write was made illegal in Missouri. If Taylor began school at age 6, the year would have been 1850.1 doubt his father would have gone against the law.

Dad also related that Mark freed his slaves but never said when that occurred, whether in 1862, following President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, after January, 1865 when slavery was made illegal in Missouri, or after adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. In any case, the prohibition against teaching slaves to read and write in Missouri would have held until after 1862 at which time Taylor would have been 18 years old. Perhaps his older brothers, Lynn and Cadmas, were the ones who attended school with the slave children prior to 1847.

The Bray Community School was in operation prior to establishment of Nubbin Hill School, 1 mile south of Linden, and to Tillman School, 1/4 mile south of McCracken, which later generations of Brays attended. The Bray Community School was, in later years, converted to a dwelling with the addition of siding and two more rooms. It was occupied first by the Caudle family, then by the Davis family in later years. The old schoolhouse stood until 1960, when the siding was removed and the log construction revealed. It was dismantled that year and a new dwelling built adjacent to the site.

Nubbin Hill was also a dwelling, following closing of the school. Later, it was dismantled and a new dwelling built on the same site. My mother and her siblings went to school at Nubbin Hill. Till man was extensively remodeled but the original core of the schoolhouse stands today.

Toward War

The Bray family, as one of the few slave holders in the county, was not very popular in 1860. In the general election of that year, voters were requested to indicate their sentiments regarding Missouri’s status in the disintegrating federal union. One of Mark’s brothers, Aaron, voted to secede and, soon afterwards, moved with his family to Illinois, not to return until after the war. But Mark, being, perhaps, devoted to higher principle, voted against secession. That, becoming generally known, was certain to make him less unpopular in the county. Mark stayed in Missouri, on his own farm but he and his family did not avoid the coming war.

The Bray Brothers in the Civil War

Following the sanguine Battle of Wilson’s Creek near Springfield, on August 10, 1861, General Sterling Price and his victorious Missouri State Guard retired to northern Missouri where they overwhelmed the Union defenders of Lexington at the Battle of the Hemp Bales in late September. At that time, Missouri had neither seceded nor had been admitted to the Confederacy. Following Lexington, General Price sent Colonel Thomas J. Snead, his acting adjutant general,


to Richmond to discuss a formal alliance with Confederate officials. The treaty was concluded and Missouri was admitted to the Confederacy in November.

Meanwhile, General Price left Lexington and moved to Osceola, on the Sac River, where he began to build winter quarters. Before that effort was finished, the army was on the move again, this time toward Springfield. Recruiting for the regular Confederate Army began at Osceola.

In mid-December, the main body of Price’s army arrived in Springfield, and that part of it that, later, became the First Missouri Confederate Brigade, commanded by Colonel Little, went out about a mile to Fullbright spring near which they began to build winter quarters. The troops built up relatively snug and comfortable living accommodations while Price’s recruiters busied themselves in the towns and countryside. With the previous summer’s victory (albeit a narrow one) at Wilson’s Creek and the recent, clear cut one at Lexington, the future looked good for the South. em cause.

Recruiters set up shop in Ozark, County Seat of the recently organized Christian County, and it was there that Lynn Bray, on December 14, enlisted in the Fourth Infantry Regiment of the Missouri Volunteers Confederate States of America. His older brother Cadmas, enlisted in the same unit at Ozark on December 16. They were both assigned to Company F, commanded by Captain Greene.

They rode the 15 miles or so to Fullbright spring where the troops were drilling and preparing for winter. The officers and cadre were busy processing the volunteers, of which there were many, and in organizing formal units. It was there on January 23, 1862, that the recruits for the regular Confederate Army, plus those of Price’s Missouri State Guard, were formally organized into the First and Second Brigades. However, the Fourth Regiment of CSA infantry volun-


teers remained unattached or were included in the Third Regiment of the First Brigade.

In February 1862, Price and his army were forced to move again, this time toward a juncture with General Ben McCuilloch in northwest Arkansas. They were pursued all the way by a Federal army under S. R. Curtis, to the vicinity of Pea Ridge, where the forces of Price and McCulloch engaged those of Curtis on March 7 and 8, 1862. It was the first battle of the war in which significant numbers of an organized force of American Indians (Stand Watie’s Confederate Indians, mostly Cherokee), took part.

The First Missouri Confederate Brigade underwent its baptism of fire at Elkhorn Tavern. They, and other Confederate units, suffered heavily. It was a Union victory; the one which decided Missouri, irrevocably, for the Union.

Cadmus’ service record shows he was elected by his fellow soldiers to lead them in the rank of second lieutenant. That occurred on February 7, 1862, five days before the army moved from Springfield toward its fateful encounter with the Federals at Pea Ridge (Elk horn Tavern). The Confederates retreated from Pea Ridge to Van Buren, Arkansas. There, on March 25, Cadmus was commissioned a first lieutenant, shortly before the army moved again, this time to Des Arc, where there was a steamboat landing. They were ordered from Des Arc to Memphis on March 23.

Their arrival, on April 11, was four days too late for the horrendous Battle of Shilow near Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee on April 6 and 7. Instead, beginning on April 12, they departed on a train for Corinth, Mississippi. Price’s May 5 report from Corinth listed the Fourth Missouri Infantry Regiment with 547 soldiers. A reorganization had resulted in the Fourth Regiment being included in the Third Brigade commanded by Colonel Archibald MacFarlane. On May 29, the Confederates evacuated Corinth at a time when 18,000 of 70,000 soldiers were too sick for duty.

The Missouri regiments reached Tupelo, Mississippi on June 9 where they were relatively inactive until September 12 when they left for Iuka. There, on September 19-20, they fought a hard battle with the Federals. On October 3 and 4, two divisions of Confederates attacked Corinth which, by then, was heavily fortified and defended. Cadmus, and Lynn’s Fourth Regiment were in the thick of it but they both survived. It was a serious defeat for the Confederates who, later, retreated to the south where, south of Corinth, there was another pitched battle with the Federals who pursued them to the Hatchie River.

It is puzzling that Cadmus’ service record does not show he participated in the Siege of Vicksburg, yet the organization charts of the Confederate forces engaged at Vicksburg, show the Fourth Regiment of the First Missouri Brigade among them. It is apparent why Lynn’s record does not show it either because he "furnished a substitute" in April 1863 after participating in the battles of Iuka, Corinth, and Hatchie Bridge, Mississippi; preludes to Vickburg.

A family story has it that Lynn was killed by bushwhackers as he journeyed homeward "near the end of the war." If that be true, what was Lynn doing between April, 1863 and "near the end of the war?" Another story suggests that Lynn may have returned home after he furnished a substitute and, later, perhaps in the spring of 1865, went to Franklin, Tennessee to locate his brother Cadmus’ grave with the intention of exhuming the body to bring home for burial. Thus, his death at the hands of bushwhackers may have occurred near the end of the war.

Assuming Cadmus remained in the Fourth Regiment of Missouri Infantry in the Missouri Brigade, he may have participated in the battles of New Hope Church, Lattimer House, Kennesaw Mountain, Smyrna, Chattahoochee, Atlanta, Lovejoy, Allatoona and, on November 30, 1864, his last, the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee. Yet, only Franklin appears on his service record.

Franklin could have been bypassed, but, instead, a frontal attack was ordered on the dug-in defenders. A participant described the fate of the First Missouri Brigade,". . . here the slaughter of the remainder of that gallant band of Missourians was almost consummated, in less than half a minute most of them went down." The carnage resulted because of the deliberate frontal attack on well dug-in defenders armed with new seven-shot Henry repeating rifles. My great uncle Cadmus was among those mortally wounded. He died the next day.

A public administrator’s notice, published in the Missouri Weekly Patriot of Springfield in the issues of March 1,8 and 15, 1865, named Cadmas’ father, Mark, as administrator of his estate. An affidavit signed by A. F. Ingram, one of the publishers of the paper, certifying that the notice did, in fact, appear, was notarized on March 15 by Wm. J. (illegible). An inventory of Cadmas’ personal property shows 29 items with a total worth of$345.68. More revealing is the fact that seven of them are personal promissory notes payable either to Cadmas or to Mark or to both together. Interest rates ranged from 6 to 12 percent. Twenty two items are accounts payable for corn meal, corn shorts, flour, wheat and seed corn. An affidavit dated August 24, 1867, and attested by Mark and Taylor, was filed with the inventory that day in the probate court of Chris-


tian County.

It appears certain that Cadmus and his father were in the milling business together. Taylor’s biographical sketch published in A Reminiscent History of the Ozarks Region says that Mark was a miller but that he devoted most of his time to stock raising. The mill was located at Linden.

During my teen age years, I was at Linden often because there was a pavilion there in which there was a juke box, soda machine and plenty of room to loaf, dance or socialize. I did not know at the time that my great grandfather and great uncle had operated a grist mill at that site 100 years before. Across the breadth of Finley River adjacent to the pavilion, there was a stone dam behind which the head of water to operate the water wheel or turbine was confined. Sometimes, during summer, my friends and I swam in the millpond, behind the 8 foot tall dam. We learned that the water depth was only 2 feet directly behind the dam, the remaining 6 feet having been filled up by 100 years of sedimentation.

My dad once told me that the entire Bray family were Confederate sympathizers and that that was the reason the older brothers joined the Confederate army. Their history certainly substantiates what dad said. But, by the time the younger two sons reached maturity, it had become too dangerous for a 19 year old male to remain at home uncommitted but whose family was known to have sons in the Confederate army. Since it had become clear who was going to win the war, Taylor and William, the two younger brothers, joined the Union army. Their destiny seems to have been a foregone conclusion, however, and it may not have been simply a matter of personal allegiance to the Union. It had become too dangerous to remain at home.

To be continued.


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