After the war: Sowder family put down roots iin Garrard County

January 12, 2009|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

Corporal William Harrison Sowder left his home in Valley Creek, Tenn., in July 1863 and headed north to join the Union Army in Whitley County, Ky. He enrolled July 24, 1863, in Whitley County for 12 months. The Sowder name also was spelled Sowders on some of his Army records; however, cemetery records show him listed as Sowder.

The 22-year-old farmer signed up with Capt. John Goodin's K Co. of the 49th Infantry Regiment of Kentucky at Camp Nelson, according to Union Army records. The company muster roll indicates Sowder mustered in at Camp Nelson on Sept. 19, 1863.

Sowder, who was described as 5 feet 10 inches tall, with a dark complexion, dark eyes and dark hair, quickly went from private to a corporal in the unit. By January 1864, he was listed as a corporal, according to the muster rolls.

However, he spent only 13 months with the Union troops before he apparently became disabled and was discharged Aug. 22, 1864, in Lexington.


After his military service ended in Kentucky, Sowder went back to Claiborne County, Tenn., apparently to be near his parents, Daniel and Nellie Sowder. However, some of his descendants migrated in the early 1900s to Garrard County, Ky.

William Harrison Sowder was married in 1868 to Adeline Buchanan. Their daughter, Sarah E. Sowder, married a distant cousin, Reece Sowder, and they moved from Tennessee to Garrard County in 1906.

Eugene E. Carman of Garrard County, a descendant, said the couple moved because of a feud between the Sowder family and the Turner family. "Sarah threatened to leave Reece if he didn't move so they moved here," said Carman, who doesn't know what the feud was about.

Sarah and Reece's daughter, Willie M., married Jessie Clay Grider. The Griders' daughter, Nola C., married Eugene E. Carman.

Veteran gets pension

At age 65, William Harrison Sowder made application June 10, 1918, with the Bureau of Pensions in Washington, D.C., and began drawing $35 per month. The pension was increased Dec. 20, 1920, to $72 per month.

He lived to be 84 years old. He was born Feb. 28, 1841, died May 9, 1925, and is buried in the Sowder Cemetery in Claiborne County, Tenn., according to records that can be found on the Web site

Sowder gave his wife, Adeline, all his property for her use during her life, but not the right to sell or dispose of any real estate he owned. Instead, he gave his son, Jim, a portion of the home farm a mile north of Arthur, Tenn., in Claiborne County. The farm was near the Southern Railway Co. and included the family house and also was to be Jim's during his life and afterward was to be divided among the other heirs.

Jim's brother, D.R. Sowder, and sister, Caroline Sowder, along with Harrison's grandson, Gilbert Marsee, also had the right to live with Jim as long as he remained single. The will stipulated that Caroline Sowder stay with Jim and care for him after their parents' deaths and as long as she was single.

After Adeline's death or remarriage, the property was to be divided equally among the Sowder children, John, Polly Ann, Ollie Davis, Matilda Bostic, Caroline, G.W., D.R., Jim, Birdie, Sarah Sowder, and Malessay Collingsworth.

The will was dated Sept. 9, 1912.

Adeline Sowder was born Feb. 28, 1845, and died in Nov. 6, 1929, four years after her husband. She was a daughter of R. Buchanan. She was buried beside her husband in the Sowder Cemetery.

Six of their children also are buried in the family cemetery:

John Sowder was born Nov. 13, 1868, and died Jan. 15, 1934.

Caroline Sowder Marsee was born June 28, 1875, and died Jan. 1, 1949.

George W. Sowder was born Aug. 1, 1879, and died March 21, 1940.

Ren Daniel Sowder was born Jan. 9, 1886, and died Nov. 14, 1954.

Malissa Sowder was born in 1887, and died in May 1948. She was the widow of John Collingsworth and Bill Whitaker.

James Sowder was born Oct. 14, 1888, and died Dec. 12, 1938.

The Sowder surname is sometimes spelled Sowders. The name was Sowder on the will and cemetery records, but was Sowders in the military records. Malissay is also called Malissa and Liz.

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