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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."

Another document 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."

Worsham's file contains many interesting records, not the least of which are Special Requisitions, which list clothing and other supplies which his company received during its service in Eastern Kentucky and Southwestern Virginia. On March 27th, 1862, for example, at Camp Moccasin, Virginia, Worsham's men were issued 70 pairs of socks, 24 pairs of shoes, 29 dress coats, 34 shirts, 16 pairs of drawers, 33 pairs of pants, and 38 caps by W. W. Cox, Assistant Quartermaster of the regiment. Free of grammar errors and written in a fine, flowing hand, Worsham's reports provide ample evidence that he was a well-educated man.

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.

My friend Delmas Saunders has discovered that Worsham owned a farm on Abbott Creek. In his unpublished History of Abbott Creek Saunders lists the family farms that bordered the creek during the 19th Century, beginning with the Herefords, Greenwades, Spurlocks, Osbornes, Millers, and Shorts. "Farther up the creek was the Tom Worsham Farm. Thomas R. Worsham, a native of Virginia and a Floyd County school teacher, married Elizabeth Jane Hatcher, a native of Pike County. They lived in a large, two-story log house, at that time the creek's most pretentious building. During the War Between the States Worsham served as Captain of the Floyd County company of Jack May's 5th Kentucky Infantry."

"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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