Friday, October 30, 2009

William Tillman Bishop, Citizen

Upon his return home to Bexar, Alabama, William Tillman Bishop found his county and state to have been ravaged by the effects of the war. Although no major battles took place in this part of the South, there were atrocities committed nonetheless. Both sides killed and robbed each other in service to their respective causes. Bitterness and hard feelings remained among friends, neighbors and families. Several men that had supported the Union were treated as traitors, especially those that had participated with General Sherman in his march through the South destroying and pillaging communities as they went. These families often moved away, usually west to Arkansas, Texas or Oklahoma.

While William was away at war, his son James Buchanan "Buck" Bishop, died. Upon Willilam's return, he and Sarah had seven more children: Paul, Timotheus Valentine, Jemima Francis, Theodoria Agnes Jane, Sarah Adeline "Sallie," Martha and Lucille. Paul became a physician, never married, and died at an early age of 34 in Arkansas. Timotheus, known as Timothy, served as a tax assessor for Marion County and also as a teacher before becoming a physician and moving to Texas. He died there during the influenza epidemic of 1918.

In 1867, Loyalty Oaths were required to be given before men were allowed to register to vote. The list for Marion County includes 903 names of men who signed such loyalty oaths to the Federal government. William T. Bishop's name was not among those men.

Despite his experience and the chronic ill health that resulted from malnutrition and poor diet during his imprisonment, William T. Bishop did not shrink from life. The Vernon Pioneer newspaper reported on May 26, 1876 that the Democratic party of Marion County elected delegates to the State Democratic Convention of 1876. William T. Bishop was one of the delegates elected and was instructed to vote for the nomination of George S. Houston for Governor of Alabama. When the Marion County courthouse was destroyed by fire on March 30, 1887, W. T. Bishop, as a County Commissioner, served on the committee that oversaw the building of a new courthouse for the county. Records indicate that on one occasion he was allowed $4.20 for one day's service and 24 miles travel for his commissioner duties.

William Tillman Bishop died October 1, 1891 when he was 68 years old. The newspaper reported his death: "The people of Marion County will regret to learn of the death of Mr. W. T. Bishop, which occurred at his home last Thursday night. We extend to the bereaved our sincere sympathy." William was buried in the Bishop-Gann Cemetery south of Bexar just off County Road 33. There are fairly recent stone markers placed in this cemetery for William and Sarah Bishop and for Dr. Paul Bishop. Ann McDonald Bishop, the first wife of W. T. Bishop, is also believed to be buried here but no marker exists for her grave.


Anonymous said...

Your last five blogs are OUTSTANDING!!! I could feel the misery and disappointment citizen Bishop must have had during his ordeal.......A great story of survival. Keep up the good work!

Bobby P.

Mona Robinson Mills said...

Thank you, Bobby. I appreciate your kind words.

Anonymous said...

Ron and I spent over a week in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee in Sept. 2000. In Atlanta, we revisited the Diorama, the history of the Civil War as fought by Georgians. What a difference it made to just sit and watch the painting slowly rotate in front of us. Our first visit in 1952 was "a walk around and view" and from this vantage point, viewing the whole painting was hard on the neck! Besides, as short as I am, I had to stand "w a a y" back to see the top part of the painting!

The diorama set the scene as we drove on to Savannah (I could just imagine "Miss Scarlett" walking down the streets along this beautiful area where so many homes have been kept as nearly as they were almost 150 years ago.) Do you remember the Forrest Gump movie where he sits on a park bench and remarks, "my mother always told me life is like a box of Chocolates." This bench is in one of the museums in Savannah and the tour guides will point out where in the centralized park that the bench sat for the filming!

We spent several days in Charleston, touring some of the old plantation homes and farms, but the most sobering memory is of our boat ride out to Ft. Sumter where the guide will tell you this is where the first volley was fired to start the Civil War. Those leg irons and chains with cannon balls attached suddenly suddenly came back to me when I read about our "local hero", William T. Bishop being detained in this area during the Civil War.

We visited Myrtle Beach to break up the "history vacation" part before heading west toward home, but not before we stopped in Spartanburg for a few days of genealogy research - the library there is a welcoming site in this old historical town. My GGGgrandfather, John Stone, grew up in this area before getting a bunch of farmers together to head for New Orleans to fight during the War of 1812 - by the time they reached this area, the war was over and the men were returning home, but he observed the lands of plenty that led to his pioneering spirit bringing the Stone clan thru NW Georgia into St. Clair County, AL, Bibb and Perry Counties before that final move that brought them to what is now the Shottsville area in Marion County. John's oldest son, Dilmus, made one more move that became Stone crossroads, and today you Itawamba natives call it Tremont. Mona writes so lovingly about our ancestors "come to life." Mona, I know you have a successful career, but our younger generations would love you as a history teacher! bettye