Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

February 4, 2014

Old Uncle Gib: The War Between the States impacts local families

By Old Uncle Gibb
Chronicle correspondent

CROSSVILLE — For the next several weeks we will travel the difficult road of the period 1861-1865, the War Between the States (name approved by U.S. Congress, March 2, 1928), called the Civil War, also known as the War of the Rebellion, War for Southern Independence, Freedom War, War of Northern Aggression, That Late Unpleasantness, and usually known in foreign countries as the War of Secession. We will look at how various local families were impacted by the conflict.

Cumberland County had been formed in 1856, from portions of surrounding counties in order to comply with the Tennessee Legislature's call for counties to be laid out in such a way that citizens could travel to their county courthouse in a one-day journey. Five years later the call would come for each county to vote either to go with the Union or to secede. The first vote in our county was overwhelmingly to stay with the Union, as was true in the majority of Tennessee counties. When the second vote was taken the majority of Tennessee counties voted for secession.

Interestingly enough Cumberland County was the only county in the state that did not register a vote either to stay in or to go out. The State Library and Archives related that there is no record as to why our county did not send a vote. When you look at the monument on Main Street, listing the soldiers of our county who served in the war, an almost 50/50 split; it was possible that the vote may have been so controversial that they decided not to respond either way. This is a distinction peculiar to our county.

The Chronicle was established after the war and usually there is more coverage for those who served the Union. Information on those who served the Confederacy is gleaned mainly from other writings. With this background, we will begin our journey with Richard “Red Fox” Flynn and his wife, Ezylphia “Zilpha” Wyatt Flynn, whose stories are well documented in the Chronicle. 

The Chronicle of February 24, 1897, reports that Richard L. (Lafayette) Flynn was born October 29, 1825, within a few miles of Lantana, at that time in White County, and is of Scotch-Irish descent. His ancestors moved from Virginia to North Carolina in 1812, and then on to Tennessee. “Uncle Dick” became an expert rifleman hunting game for his family, and also helped to cultivate the small family farm. He is described as being six foot one inch tall, with an eye like an eagle that when looking through the sights of his rifle sent the ball unerringly to the mark.

On February 15, 1846, he married Zilpha Wyatt, the youngest daughter of John Wyatt, another North Carolina pioneer. For 40 years they made their home one and a half miles from where he was born. They had nine children, only four of whom were living at the time of the Chronicle article in 1897, William L., Elizabeth, Abraham L., and Thomas. Article continues next week.