A three-page typed manuscript relating the story of the 1863 arrest of the unknown author’s elderly Kentucky grandfather, William Hurst, by Union soldiers during the American Civil War. The story also recalls the heroic efforts of the jailed man’s 16-year-old granddaughter who secured his release.
At the time of his arrest, Hurst (1798-1893) was a pattern maker living in Louisville with his wife, Anna, his daughter, son-in-law, and their eight children, including granddaughter Annie. After Hurst failed to return one evening from a trip downtown, the family grew concerned: “The city was full of Union soldiers and was under martial law, Kentucky having taken neutral ground on the question of secession and his sympathies being with the South and he being a man of sound judgement and honest convictions, his family feared that he had expressed his opinion in regard to the depredations which was being committed in our city and state and had been put under arrest.”
As they feared, a messenger reported Hurst had been assaulted, arrested, and jailed in the military prison, which had formerly been the tobacco warehouse on Main Street near 8th. The story writer went to check on him and found him still in handcuffs. After a few days, he was released but then re-arrested again on charges of disloyalty: “Prominent citizens and members of the Mason order, of which he was an enthusiastic member, interceded, but to all entreaties the officers turned a deaf ear, remarking that it was just such men of prominence and influence that they wished to hold.”
It was then that Hurst’s granddaughter, Annie Downing, went to the jail and confronted Captain Jack Sherley, whom she convinced to parole her grandfather to his front yard. But some weeks later, Hurst was ordered to Dry Tortugas, a fort on an island at the end of the Florida Keys that was used as a military prison during the war.
Once again, Annie sprang into action and pled her grandfather’s case directly to General John Palmer, who served as Kentucky’s military governor. “She noticed a Masonic emblem on his watch guard and told him how prominent her grandfather was in the order and how dear and sacred everything connected with it was to him.” He agreed to meet her grandfather and asked what had caused his trouble. Hurst replied: “Fatalilty.”
“Then the General went to the corner of the white marble mantle, which many will remember in the Ben Adams’ mansion on Walnut Street near 3rd, and where were the headquarters, and took from over his ear and wrote with a quill pen his entire release and the revocation of his order and on the document is written, ‘For the honor he had for his granddaughter, Annie S. Downing.’”
The Louisville Courier-Journal contains a brief mention on March 10, 1865: “Wm Hurst was presented to the Provost Marshal for disloyalty. He was also paroled.”
The manuscript appears to be a mimeograph copy on 8 ½” x 14” white paper, which is toned with light creasing from prior folds; otherwise very good. Item #72618