GILMORE, KELSEY - Newton County, Arkansas | KELSEY GILMORE - Arkansas Gravestone Photos


Smith (at Vendor) Cemetery
Newton County,

Kelsey Gilmore
Birth: 29 Aug 1834
Big Creek, Newton, Arkansas, USA
Death: 10 Jan 1895
Newton, Arkansas, USA

Kelsey Gilmore`s parents were among the first settlers in Newton County which was a part of the Arkansas territory and long before it became a state. Military Service record says he was 5'8" tall, light complexion and hair, with blue eyes, born in McNairy, C. TN. Occupation, Farmer. Age 28.

Kelsey pursued a farm life on Big Creek in Newton County Arkansas. He had purchased and cleared extensive acreage which included a great number of acres of river bottom farmland. Later, he owned two general stores in Big Creek and Limestone Valley he also had a mill, a steam grist mill, and a saw mill and gin. He was one of the wealthiest, and most industrious and honorable citizens of Newton County. 'Kelsey Gillmore has identified himself with the interests of his section, has won numerous friends, and has built up a reputation for honesty and fair dealing that is in every way merited.' He was a member of the Masonic Lodge at Red Rock. He was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and the Christian Church. Prior to his death in 1895 he gave each of his living children a farm in Newton County. For six years after the war he sold goods on Big Piney, but aside from that he was engaged in farming almost exclusively. He belonged to one of the oldest families of Newton County, and he well remembered pioneer days, and the privations endured by the early settlers. 'His lifestyle spoke rather clearly for itself. He was industrious, modestly successful, pro union, Concerned and caring father, farmer, cavalry soldier, businessman and citizen.' He is buried in Log Hall Cemetery near his birthplace. 'That he was a man of his time there is no doubt. We revere and respect his accomplishments and his generous sacrifices made for his and now our republic.' Kelsey Gillmore was postmaster of Red Rock Post Office from August 18, 1879 until June 14, 1881. Kelsey listed his net worth at $2,040.00, with $1,000 in real estate and $1,040 in personal property.

The onset of the American Civil War in 1861 posed a dilemma for Kelsey and his family common to many Americans of the time. Kelsey strongly supported the Union, but his father-in-law, David Mayberry was a slave owner and supported the Confederacy. Nevertheless, Kelsey voted for a Union delegate to hold the State of Arkansas in the Union. When Arkansas seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy, Kelsey remained loyal to the U.S. Government. In 1862, the Conscript Law was enacted in Arkansas requiring that all able bodied men between the ages of 18 and 43 enlist in the Confederate Army. Kelsey refused to enlist and with about 30 other Newton County men set out to join the Union Army. On foot and without arms in rebel controlled territory, the company could not make it to the Federal garrisons in Missouri and soon disbanded and made their way home.

Upon their return to Newton County, Kelsey and many others were involuntarily conscripted into the Confederate Army under the command of Captain H. C. Dickey. After spending about six weeks in a rebel holding camp, Kelsey Gillmore, along with about 60 other Union men, escaped and made their way back to Newton County. Fearful of being picked up again by rebel patrols or being shot by bushwhackers, Kelsey and the others hid out in the mountains during the winter of 1862-1863. In February of 1863 Union forces occupied northern Arkansas. Captain John McCoy, the political leader and school teacher on Big Creek, organized a company of Newton County men. On the 1st of March, 1863, Kelsey Gillmore enlisted as a Private in Company F, 1st Regiment, Arkansas Union Infantry under the command of Colonel James M. Johnson. The company marched more than fifty miles over the mountains to Union headquarters at Fayetteville and was mustered into service there on March 10th.

On March 24, 1863, the 131 men of Company F, under the command of Captain John McCoy, were ordered from Fayetteville to go to Newton County for scouting and to destroy Confederate gun powder factories. They encountered numerous Confederate forces and were engaged in several skirmishes suffering many causalities. The company eventually retreated to the post at Fayetteville, leaving several Union men behind.

Those known to have been left behind were Gilbert Smith, David Flood, James Smith, John Standridge, Kelsey Gillmore, O.C. Bright, and possibly others. When these men returned to Fayetteville, they found the post had been evacuated on April 16, 1863. They were at high risk of being captured by Confederates and went into hiding. Since they were from Arkansas serving in the Union Army, they would be hanged as traitors to the Confederacy if captured. The men were eventually taken prisoner but Kelsey and several others managed to escape one night during a forced road march. Three of the men who didn't escape were later hanged from a tree in Limestone Valley by the Confederates.

From April until July 1863, Kelsey was listed as cut off by the enemy and presumed taken prisoner. He returned to Fayetteville in August and served there until October 1863. By August many of the Big Creek volunteers decided that they had to return home to harvest their crops or their families would starve over the winter. On August 22, 1863, 27 Big Creek men deserted at Fayetteville and returned to Newton County, but Kelsey remained at his post. After these desertions, the remaining men of Company F were ordered to march south to the small town of Jenny Lind, near Fort Smith. Union forces were now advancing up the Arkansas River from the east. The strategy was to move troops down the river valley from the west, link up around Little Rock and encircle the enemy in the north-central part of the state. By November 1863, with winter setting in, reports had started reaching the company that many of their families were starving back on the creek. The Newton County men requested that Col. Johnson give them a furlough to return home to care for their families but their request was denied. On November 7, eight more Big Creek men, including Kelsey Gillmore, pulled out of the company at Jenny Lind and crossed the Arkansas River, headed for home. These men "deserted" to come home and feed their starving families and protect them from outlaws and rebel guerillas roaming the valley. A year before, Kelsey's brother-in-law, John Tennison, the husband of his sister Rebecca Jane, had been murdered by bushwhacker's in front of his house.

On their way back the men traveled by night avoiding Confederate patrols. Kelsey carried with him a bag of salt for his family which was worth its weight in gold by this time in the war. It was after one o'clock in the morning when Kelsey arrived home to his wife Emily After a joyous reunion Kelsey left the house and bedded down in the woods before daybreak. It was much too dangerous for the men to stay home during the daytime so they hid out in the woods by day and then visited their families in the evening before heading to the fields to work in the moonlight. This is the pattern that Kelsey and other men on Big Creek would follow during their unauthorized furloughs home. After looking out for his family and putting in enough stores to last them for the winter, Kelsey knew that it was his duty to return to service, but returning to his former unit was unfeasible. Like most of the other Newton County men who had returned home that summer and fall, Kelsey reported to his brother-in-law, 2nd Lieutenant Lemuel R. Jones, husband of his sister Savina, and joined up with Company D, 2nd Arkansas Infantry.

Contributed on 5/13/09 by cwatts1
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Record #: 193068


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Submitted: 5/13/09 • Approved: 5/26/09 • Last Updated: 6/11/17 • R193068-G0-S3

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