Sunday’s Salute #44 ~ John “Long John” Strother ~ Civil War & Murder

John R. Strother my 4th cousin 6 times removed, was born May 18, 1834, near Sparta, Hancock County, Georgia, into a wealthy family. He was the son of Richard Strother (1768-1838) and Mary Black (1801-1874). When John was only four years old, his father died. His mother raised John and his four siblings on the family plantation in Hancock County. After the sale of the plantation in the 1850s, the family members moved to Baldwin County. With the outbreak of the Civil War, John mustered in the Confederate forces on June 12, 1861, serving as a private in Company F, 9th Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry.

He served under Captain George Hillyer and stayed in this regiment for the entirety of the war. This group of men participated in many battles including Price’s Farm, Virginia on June 27, 1861; Leesburg, Virginia on October 21, 1861; Rappahannock Bridge, Virginia on March 29, 1862; Yorktown, Virginia on April 19-25, 1862; and last but not least at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 2-6 1863.

After the war, John returned to Baldwin County and married Mary Price (1841-1871) on March 14, 1865. In January 1866 he was elected sheriff of Baldwin County. On March 24, 1866, following an unknown misunderstanding, John shot Mr. W. A. Robertson in the right thigh, who died a few days later. John resigned as sheriff and fled. On June 2, 1866, Georgia Governor Charles J. Jenkins issued a proclamation offering a $200 reward for John’s capture. While no details are available, John was later exonerated. He returned to Baldwin County, and in 1871 he married Sarah Kenan (1833-1872). However, on July 3, 1871, John shot and killed Lewis Holmes Kenan, a member of a prominent Baldwin County family and former state senator, on a main street in Milledgeville, Georgia. Again, John had to flee. Friends put him in a crate and loaded him on a train bound for Louisiana, where his first cousin, Berry Strother, could provide refuge.

John lived alone in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, near Kimmelton. He taught penmanship and dancing. Being a fugitive from the law, he carried a rifle everywhere he went. He had been raised as a southern gentleman, so felt superior to most people in the community. He was a ladies man, hated and feared by many. With Naluse Americe “Nettie” Johnson (1854-1889), he had a son, John William Strother, born February 5, 1887, at Hico, Lincoln Parish. He and Naluse never married.

In November 1888, John taunted his neighbor, Turner Bentley, saying Turner’s wife Mary was carrying his child. On a fall morning, 20 November 1888, John R “Long John” Strother left his home in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, on horseback. He had not gone far when three men, Turner Bentley, Anders Lloyd and Will King attacked him. John was shot from his horse, and, after he fell, was shot in the top of the head with buckshot. Neighbors said it was a most brutal murder. “Long John” was 54 years old. He is buried in Buckner Cemetery in Claiborne Parish.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time” and “Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip”, both available on Amazon. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter @VHughesAuthor.

Hometown Tuesday ~ Charlestown, West Virginia

In 1780 Charles Washington, George Washington’s youngest brother, left his home in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and moved to the Lower Shenandoah Valley. Charles had inherited land in what was then Berkeley County, Virginia, from his older half-brother Lawrence. Upon arrival he began construction of his home, Happy Retreat, located on a rise overlooking Evitts Marsh. This area is surrounded by the rolling hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
In 1786 Charles petitioned the Virginia General Assembly for permission to incorporate a town. The petition was granted and Charlestown, Virginia was founded. In addition to naming the corporation for himself, Charles memorialized the Washington family by the naming of the town’s streets. The main street, running east to west is named Washington Street. Cross streets are named for family members with the Town Square named in honor of his brother George, the streets to the east named for his brother Samuel and wife Mildred, and the streets to the west named for himself and his brother Lawrence. In a show of patriotism the streets parallel to Washington are named Congress and Liberty.
At the time of Charles’ death in September 1799, Charlestown was still located in Berkeley County. In his will, Charles indicated that Berkeley County should be divided and Charlestown named the county seat of a new county. He desired that the town lots on the Town Square, formed by George and Washington Streets, be used for public buildings.
Jefferson County was formed from Berkeley in 1801 and Charlestown became the new county seat. As the executor of his father’s estate, Samuel Washington acceded to his father’s wishes and deeded the Town Square to be used for public buildings.

In 1803 the Jefferson County Courthouse became the first public building to occupy the Town Square. This smaller brick structure was replaced by a larger courthouse in 1836. The 1836 courthouse was the setting for the trials of abolitionist John Brown and six of his followers. In October 1863, during the Civil War, the courthouse was heavily damaged by artillery fire rendering it unusable.
The Jefferson County jail was the second public building to occupy the Town Square. Completed in 1806, perhaps its most famous occupants were abolitionist John Brown and six of his raiders. The seven men were housed in the Jefferson County jail from the time of their capture in October 1859 until they were executed.

My 6th Great Grandfather John Strother, was born on November 18, 1782, in Charlestown, Virginia. He fought in the War of 1812 as a private in Captain Jesse Naples regiment of the Virginia Militia. On November 1, 1814, he married Elizabeth Hunter Pendleton. They had 8 children with 5 dying in childhood. John was a farmer. He died in Charlestown on January 16, 1852, at the age of 79.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.