Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Henry T. Moxley, part one

Henry T. Moxley was born July 12, 1844, and died May 13, 1928.  According to his death certificate, there was no doctor attending Henry when he died although "it was said he had Rheumatism."  Interviews with several of Henry's grandchildren in 2009 provided additional information about his death.    It seems that Henry was an excellent squirrel and rabbit hunter.   Even in his later years, Henry was a good shot.  After the death of Henry's second wife and after he got on up in years (he was nearly 84 when he died), Henry took turns living with some of his children.  Lucky for us, because his grandchildren have wonderful memories from those days of their grandfather that they have passed along to us.  Because of his advanced age, Henry couldn't work in the fields with the rest of the family, but he could still hunt and put game on the table, particularly rabbit and squirrel.   Henry had been rabbit hunting during a cold spell, became ill, and died a few days later.   Place of death on his death certificate:  Bounds Crossroads in Itawamba County.

Henry's death certificate confirms that he was the son of Austin Moxley of Virginia, and that his mother's maiden name was Sims, of Alabama.     The certificate doesn't tell us what the middle initial "T" stands for, and I've not found any other supporting document, but it is generally believed that his full name was Henry Thomas Moxley. 

Austin Moxley was a schoolteacher by profession.    His great-grandchildren have recounted how Austin's son Henry gave the land for Moxley Schoolhouse in northeastern Itawamba County.    Henry's son, Luther, was a schoolteacher at various schools throughout the county before joining the ministry.  Henry's son-in-law, Professor John F. Williams (husband of Florence), was a well-respected educator.  Another son-in-law, Joseph "Joe" Holley (husband of Emily), came from the well-known Holley family of teachers in Itawamba County.  Whether Henry was a schoolteacher himself is not clear.   It is thought that Henry once taught at Moxley School; his death certificate lists "farmer" as occupation.  Henry was said by his grandchildren to have been "smart."

In addition to being smart, Henry apparently was a good story-teller and had a sense of humor as well.   Grandchildren would gather at his knee to listen to his stories.  Henry told them that they were part Indian and entertained them with tales of his adventures with boats and sails "when he was in Virginia."  

Henry also supposedly served during the Civil War.  Could he have been in the Navy?  Some independent records indicate that he was a Unionist, enlisting in the 1st Alabama Cavalry of the Union Army.  I've found no source documents to support this assertion.  There was a Henry Moxley who was an assistant engineer in Union Admiral Farragut's attack on Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island in Mobile Bay.  Could this be our Henry, serving in the Union Navy?  Seems a bit unlikely.

There also is a record of a Henry Moxley who enlisted at Memphis with the 2nd Tennessee Regiment CSA.  We know that Henry's mother remarried in Madison County, Tennessee (just east of Shelby County and Memphis) in 1866, and that Henry's brother Joseph was married there in 1868.    Henry was living in Madison County in 1866 when he served as a bondsman for his mother's remarriage.  Maybe the Moxleys left the volatile Northwest Alabama area where tensions ran high between Unionists and Confederate supporters. 

One other possible record for Civil War service has been found.  An "H" Moxley enlisted as a private in Moreland's Regiment Cavalry, Company F.  From what I've learned about Moreland's Regiment, it was led by Col. Micajah Moreland of Tishomingo County, and many Alabama men enlisted just over the state line in Mississippi.  The geographical location of this Moxley enlistee seems to be more appropriate for our Henry.

There is also the possibility that our Henry could have been "persuaded" to join the Confederate cause, then later changed over to the Union army or navy.  This happened quite often.  More research is needed to determine if Henry T. Moxley served in the Civil War, and in which company/regiment, and for which side.   Henry would have been 17 years old at the start of the war, and it certainly seems likely that he would have seen service, especially a bit later on in the war.   In the South, the conscriptive draft made it difficult, if not impossible, for young men to avoid service, and the local Home Guard units were often charged with making sure every able-bodied male enlisted.

Wouldn't it be fun though, to discover that Henry served in the Union Navy? What a story!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

The quality of this portrait of Mr. Moxley says this has been well preserved - not hanging on a wall where sunlight would surely have caused damge.

The families of Itawamba County owe you a debt of gratitude for caring enough about the County history and its' early residents to take the time you spend in your research before sharing your information. We feel we know these people of long ago by the time we complete your introduction of them. Thanks. bettye

Lori said...

What a beautiful portrait and informative and entertaining story. Thank you for sharing!

Marilyn Moxley Webster said...

I agree with above posters, thanks to my noshow dad, i kknow nothing of my moxley side and im ecstatic to have found this site and greatly appreciate this pic of my gggrandpa moxley :)