Editor’s Note: The following article was written by Judy Hill Monroe, great-great-granddaughter to John Scott Askins, with the assistance of Evelyn Askins Brown, Mr. Askins’ great-granddaughter.
Descendants of John Scott Askins (Sept. 3, 1839 – July 22, 1873) traveled to Union City in Obion County, Tenn., on May 25 to a dedication of a monument at the gravesite in the Old City View Cemetery. The cemetery is no longer used, but standing under the old majestic trees you get a very peaceful feeling. This cemetery was severely vandalized in the 1980’s, but thanks to one man, John Abernathy, who has dedicated a lot of time and research to putting back as many monuments as possible, the Askins family now knows where their ancestor was laid to rest.
As I have gotten older, I find myself reflecting on where I came from, and I am not alone it seems, considering the number of people who traveled to Union City that Memorial Day weekend to witness the dedication of a monument to an ancestor long been lost.
There were great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren and some great-great-great-grandchildren, more than 20 people, who attended the ceremony, coming from Fayetteville, Tullahoma, Murfreesboro, and Taft, here in Tennessee, as well as Madison County, Ala., Fulton, Ky., and Vero Beach, Fla. I was amazed at the group of people, some of whom had never meet each other, that came together for this event to honor this beloved ancestor.
Each of John Scott Askins’ three children were represented at this dedication: William Manley Askins’ granddaughter Sarah Askins Barnes, John Calvin Askins’ granddaughter Evelyn Askins Brown, Robert Edward Lee Askins’ grandson Bryson F. Hill, Jr., all three great-grandchildren of John Scott Askins.
John Scott Askins was born in Lincoln County on Sept. 3, 1839, the third son of Joseph Lewis and Susan Hannah Askins. Joseph and Susan lived near Harms, where they they collected over 1,000 acres and raised nine children – some of their descendants still live in Lincoln County.
He was educated at the Viney Grove Academy at the home of Henry Bryson near Molino. While there, he won an award for a paper he had written about the West. A teacher, he enlisted as a private in Co. E, 28th (consolidated) TN Infantry on March 21, 1863. On Oct. 15, 1863, he was transferred to Co. C, 41st TN Infantry as a corporal.
Military records indicate he was promoted to 4 corporal on Oct. 31, 1863, and was due $50. On the muster roll for January and February 1864, he still was due $50, but his name was not present on the July and August muster roll. He had been captured, carried to Tullahoma, and next appears on the Oath of Allegiance at Chattanooga roll Aug. 10, 1864, and later received at a military prison in Louisville, Ky., on Aug. 16, 1864.
Interestingly, John’s signature is not shown on these records, agreeing probably kept him alive and away from Camps Morton & Chase and Rock Island, his ability as a teacher to think logically probably influenced his decision. However, he was to be released North of the Ohio River with orders to remain there during the war. We, his descendants do not know if he followed those orders; he would have been without clothing, money, shelter and an enemy combatant.
On Aug. 2, 1865, he married Margaret Ann Hairston, daughter of Manley Madison Hairston and Martha “Patsy” Koonce Hairston. They had sons: William Manley, John Calvin, and Robert E. Lee Askins. John’s elder brother William and his wife Elizabeth Whitaker Askins lived in Union City, and records show he visited his brother many times. Also, in 1869, records in Union City indicate he attended the funeral there of a military friend.
Moving his family to Union City, he joined William, and, together, they owned a large lumber and furniture business. This was a wise venture considering all the reconstruction necessary across the country. On page 26, Volume XI, No. 1, of the “Lincoln County TN Pioneers”: “Jan. 16, 1873: We are sorry to learn that Mr. John S. Askins, who removed about a year ago from this county to Union City, has been unfortunate. A short time since a child about five months old died, and on the night of Dec. 12, his new store and dwelling house with contents were destroyed by fire.” Another record found indicated the loss was $4,000 – insured $2,900.
John died from cholera during the epidemic July 22, 1873, one month and 12 days before his 34th birthday. His wife and three sons came back to Lincoln County where she raised the boys. She lived to see many grandchildren and great-grandchildren born to this family. She died March 27, 1931 at the age 87.
Records of his burial were lost over the years, and, after decades of research, a query posted last year on the Obion County website was answered by “Gravefinder2”. A phone call by Evelyn Askins Brown to the genealogy department at the Union City Library revealed the name and phone number for the only person known to be researching information about the old City View Cemetery, no longer in use.
That amazing man, John Abernathy, had decided to personally start its restoration. A phone call to him resulted in a Confederate Monument being ordered, received by him and set. Then on May 25, 2013, Lt. Commander John Abernathy of the Gen. Otho French Strahl, Camp 176, Sons of Confederate Veterans, conducted a monument dedication attended by several from Union City. A tent was set up by Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Gray with a display of an iron pot of freshly cooked greens topped with chopped boiled eggs, a rack of iron utensils, a skillet of cornbread and one of corn sticks, as well as a Civil War era cannon.
The ceremony began with a prayer by John Blankenship. Then, all recited the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag, salute to the Tennessee Flag, salute to the Confederate Flag, message by Lt. Com. Abernathy honoring John’s life and service, “Amazing Grace” by trumpeter Will Thralls, as well as “Taps”, all singing five lines of “Dixie”, concluding with a prayer by John Blankenship.
The descendants from all three sons, which included the three great-grandchildren, and many others from several states were at this splendid long overdue event, honoring their ancestor John Scott Askins. We were all humbled by the dedication of Mr. Abernathy to this wonderful project of researching, locating matching headstones to bases, and a few others who joined him in making this ceremony come together.
Monday, July 22, 2013, marked the 140th anniversary of John Scott Askins’ death.
“I like to think that every time a flag is placed on a Confederate soldier’s grave, his spirit is standing there with a smile on his face knowing someone remembered him,” said John Abernathy in Union City on May 25.