Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

February 25, 2014

Andrews’ Raiders escaped using the Underground Railroad

By Old Uncle Gib
Chronicle correspondent

CROSSVILLE — These articles from early days are being shared as they were written, so you will have noticed differences in various comments in earlier writings. Richard L. Flynn passed away 12 days short of his 80th birthday, though one article said he was 88 years of age, and another that he died at age 80. Whereas much is written of Richard “Red Fox” Flynn, his wife, Ezylphia Mary Wyatt Flynn, is not as well covered in news articles.

Women had to laugh last week when the Chronicle reported that if Richard were not at home when refugees arrived, then his son took care of them until his father returned. It would have been Zilpha who had to cook for all those who would have passed through their home during this time.

You didn't call KFC in those days and get buckets of chicken delivered; someone had to kill and pluck the chicken, keep the fire going in the stove, and get anything else ready for a meal. Washing and bathing was a whole 'nother thing. No running water and no flushing inside toilet. We are so spoiled today and we never think about our conveniences.

In the Disney movie, “The Great Locomotive Chase,” from years ago, the Union spies who captured the train engine the “General” were supposed to cut rail lines and disrupt service. They were not able to accomplish any of their goals and were captured. Because they conducted the raid in civilian clothing, some, including James Andrews, were tried as spies and hung in Atlanta. Eight escaped, some making their escape back to Union lines through the Underground Railroad on which Richard and Zilphia Flynn operated one of the stops. One man in this group, Daniel Dorsey, is specifically named as coming through and borrowing money from Aunt Zilpha.

October 24, 1906, Chronicle reports, “Daniel A. Dorsey, one of the famous Andrews raid men, is here from Enid, Oklahoma. He has been in the county for about a week visiting old scenes and shaking hands with numerous friends. It was through this county that he and his friends made their escape, thanks to the assistance of R. L. Flynn, who died at his home about a year ago. The escaping party passed about one mile west of town on their way to the Federal forces in Kentucky.” Dorsey was 23 years of age at the time of the raid. He died May 10, 1918 in the Veterans Hospital in Wadsworth, Kansas, and is buried in Ft. Leavenworth National Cemetery.  At some time he deserted his wife and six children and roamed the country living out of a suitcase.

The men of the Andrews’ Raiders group who were in the military were awarded the first U.S. Congressional Medals of Honor.  In later years many of the original awards were rescinded because they were not earned in combat situations. After much debate it was decided not to rescind the original awards given to the Andrews’ Raiders.  More on Aunt Zilpha next week.