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Captain Thomas R. Worsham Honored
by Dr. Robert Perry
On Saturday, December 9th, 2000, members of the Colonel Jack May Camp #1897 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans gathered at the May Cemetery overlooking the Samuel May House to honor Captain Thomas R. Worsham, Captain of Company E, 5th Kentucky Volunteers, C.S.A. Worsham is buried in the old section of the cemetery, next to Prestonsburg merchant James M. Lackey and U. S. Congressman John Preston Martin. A brief ceremony was held at Worsham's gravesite, where a new government tombstone has been erected.
Captain Worsham served with the 5th Kentucky from October 24th, 1861 to November 14th, 1862, when he resigned from the service. His company, Company E, was the first company of Confederate soldiers raised in Floyd County, and he was one of the men who signed the letter sent from the Confederate camp at Prestonsburg to President Jefferson Davis on October 2nd, 1861, announcing the formation of the regiment and requesting that it be supplied with arms, ammunition, and other equipment.
Worsham's military records file, which is kept on microfilm at the Johnson County Public Library in Paintsville, shows that he was one of Colonel May's most trusted officers. Jack May was commander of the regiment during the Spring, Summer, and Fall of 1862. On November 11th, 1861, for example, following the Battle of Ivy Mountain, Worsham's company was given the job of driving 377 hogs from Pikeville to Abingdon, Virginia. "I was detailed with my company," reported Worsham, "to guard and drive said hogs so as to escape capture from the enemy."
in his file shows that during General Humphrey Marshall's Fall
1862 invasion of Eastern Kentucky, Worsham's company was given
the mission of establishing a recruiting post at a steam mill
in Pike County. While they were camped at that location, Worsham
purchased 1621 pounds of beef from local farmers, which he subsequently
issued to the recruits who had gathered at the mill. "The
issues were made," said Worsham in his report, "according
to the regular allowance of rations per day."
For some unknown
reason-perhaps poor health-Worsham resigned from the service
following the Confederate defeat at Perryville. Very little is
known about his personal life, but the 1850 Floyd County Census
shows Thomas R. Worsham, age 24, schoolteacher, born in Virginia,
living in the household of John W. Powell, who owned a farm near
Mare Creek. Listed along with Worsham is his wife Elizabeth Jane
Worsham, age 17, born in Kentucky. The dates on his original
tombstone show that he was 37 years old-still relatively young-when
he died on August 27th, 1865.
"Unfortunately, Worsham died young. His widow married Will T. Elliott, who modernized the farm . . . the Elliott Farm was a Floyd County landmark . . . Thomas R. and Elizabeth Jane Worsham's great-grandson Billy Richmond Pruitt and his wife Thelma have repaired and restored the old house. Today the furnishings are in place just as they were when his parents expired. Yes, the old logs and the poplar weatherboarding are still in place, underneath the vinyl siding installed to protect them for years to come."
Elizabeth Worsham Elliott died on July 20th, 1927. Her obituary, which Billy Pruitt was kind enough to give me, reads as follows: "Elizabeth Jane Hatcher Worsham Elliott, eldest daughter of John Greer Hatcher and Thursa Stratton Hatcher, was born January 25th, 1833 on the old Powell farm near Mare Creek of this county. Mrs. Elliott was a member of one of the most prominent and highly respected families in the Big Sandy Valley, where she was familiarly known as "Aunt Jane." She was one of the most lovable, charitable women who have every lived in this county, and has probably fed more people at her table without charge than any woman of her generation. No stranger ever went away hungry from her door. She was first married when but sixteen years old to Thomas R. Worsham, a brilliant man from the State of North Carolina. He served in the Confederate Army and only lived a short time after the close of the Civil War. To this union were born five children, Angie, Gustavus, Mell, Lou and Tommie, only two of her children surviving her, Gustavus Worsham of Helen, West Virginia, and Mrs. Lou Johnson of Cliff, Kentucky."
"Mrs. Elliott also leaves fifteen grandchildren and several great grandchildren. On February 10th, 1871, she was married to Mr. T. W. Elliott, who is left to mourn her loss. She was a faithful, devoted wife and mother, and her home was in deed and truth a virtual orphans' home, for she raised her own five children by her first husband, then two of her second husband's daughters, two of her own daughter's sons, Harry Hatcher of Ashland, Ky., and Walter Hatcher of Pikeville, [and] also the orphaned children of her daughter, Mrs. Lou Johnson . . The deceased was a sister of the late Mrs. Joseph M. Davidson of Prestonsburg [and] Mrs. Roland T. Burns of Louisa."
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