State Library and Archives Receives Papers Detailing Civil War Love Story

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

He lovingly called her "Toad." She affectionately referred to him as "Oll." And although they shared political views that were out of step with many of their East Tennessee neighbors, Oliver Caswell King and his sweetheart Catherine Rebecca Rutledge managed to keep their romance alive through the hardships imposed by the Civil War.

Thanks to a generous donation by the Sullivan County couple’s descendants, Olivia King Inman and Judge Dennis H. Inman of Morristown, love letters between King and Rutledge will soon be available for public viewing at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. The Inmans are donating the papers during a brief ceremony at the State Library and Archives building Wednesday.

The letters between King and Rutledge, who eventually married, provide interesting insights into the social and military history of the time in which they lived. The letters were initially brought to one of the State Library and Archives' "Looking Back at the Civil War" events in Morristown so they could be digitally recorded. Archivist Susan Gordon worked closely with the Inmans, who decided to donate the letters to the State Library and Archives so they would be preserved and available for researchers.

"I am grateful to Ms. Inman and Judge Inman for providing these valuable papers to the State Library and Archives," Secretary Hargett said. "These documents will help amateur and professional Civil War historians better understand the way people lived - their thoughts, hopes and dreams - during a pivotal time in our country's history."

Oliver King, a student at Tusculum College, stood with the Union early in the secession crisis, but joined a Confederate infantry regiment in the summer of 1861. "We'll just have to fight it out if it takes us a whole generation," Oliver wrote in one of his letters after joining the Confederate cause.

Rutledge was a student at the Masonic Female Institute in Blountville and a staunch supporter of the Confederacy.She wrote to King after his army enlistment: "If my sweet heart hadn't to have went [to war] I don't believe I would claim him any longer." She praised him for volunteering to defend their homes.

East Tennessee was a Union stronghold before and during the Civil War, so the King-Rutledge correspondence is unusual because it describes their Confederate sympathies.

The tone of their letters ranges from sober to passionate, depending on the topic.

King was gravely injured in the June 1864 Battle of Piedmont, Virginia. He was taken prisoner and spent a long painful recuperation with a local family. King's leg wound never fully healed, and he walked with a limp until his death in 1893.

Tennessee began issuing pensions to Confederate veterans in 1891 and to their widows in 1905. Catherine R. King submitted a claim in April 1915 and fought for three years to have it approved. Her application is filed along with thousands of other widows' and soldiers' pension records at the State Library and Archives.

The State Library and Archives is located at 403 Seventh Avenue North, directly west of the State Capitol building in downtown Nashville. The building is open to the public from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays, except for state holidays.


Copies Of Chattanooga Photo Book Collection Still Available At Zarzour's, By Mail

Copies of books in the Historic Chattanooga Photos series by Chattanoogan.com are still available at Zarzour's Restaurant and by mail. A fourth, and perhaps final, volume, Old Chattanooga Photos, is planned to be issued later this year. Railroads In And Around Chattanooga , featuring Chattanooga's intriguing railroad history, has 69 chapters and covers rail history here and ... (click for more)

Andersons Were Pioneer East Tennessee Settlers

The Andersons were pioneer settlers of Western Virginia and East Tennessee, and they helped secure the Revolutionary War victory over the British. Col. John Anderson was marching with the forces of Andrew Jackson when he died in Alabama in 1814. His sons, Josiah McNair Anderson and John Anderson, sent sons to different armies during the Civil War. Of Scotch-Irish ... (click for more)

2 Shot On W. 37th Street Early Monday Morning

Theresa Farris  Greene , 35, and  Corey Thompson, 31, were shot early Monday morning. Chattanooga Police were called at 1:15 a.m. to a person shot on the 1000 block of West 37th St. Upon arrival, police located two victims who were suffering from gunshot wounds. Both victims were transported by Hamilton County EMS to a local hospital with non-life threatening ... (click for more)

Angela Faye Shepherd, 50, Arrested In Stabbing On Glass Street

Angela Faye Shepherd (formerly Parker), 50, was arrested early Sunday morning after stabbing another female. Chattanooga Police responded to 2302 Glass Street at 12:15 a.m. to an assault. The victim, Dionne Parker, and Ms. Shepherd were both patrons of the Pay-Pay Lounge. Ms. Shepherd was formerly married to the current husband of Ms. Parker.   The victim advised that ... (click for more)

No Tax-Supported Entity Should Get Secrecy In Spending

A shadowy situation has emerged in Chattanooga with an organization that manages millions of taxpayer dollars with no transparency and such a surprising disregard for accountability that one wonders what it would take to wake up elected officials who are supposedly in charge. Welcome to the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, whose lawyer threatened to sue the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Genius Comes This Way

They claim that about 50 years ago there was this special night at the Tivoli Theater. The “Jewel of the South” had been sold out for weeks and about 45 minutes before Louis Armstrong, or whoever, was to appear, incomparable John Robere had pulled out all the stops on “The Mighty Wurlitzer” and the excitement was keen. This tuxedoed dandy – he was even wearing spats – escorted his ... (click for more)