The following article by Charles Hartley was originally published on 11 Jan 2015. It is archived here for your reading enjoyment.
Thomas Jefferson Daniel was born in Owsley County in 1836, and died in St. Cloud, Florida in 1922. In between, he led a varied and productive life, including over three decades here in Bullitt County.
The son of a doctor, Thomas began his adult life working in the coal mines. However, when the war started, he enlisted in the Seventh Kentucky Infantry (Union) and saw action at Cumberland Gap, Richmond, Perryville, and later was part of the army that captured Vicksburg, Mississippi. Along the way, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. We'll return to one of his adventures during the war in a bit, but first, following the war he married Anna Frances McGuire and they settled in Estill County where he was a hotel keeper.
He next took employment with the United States Treasury Department as a Storekeeper, or a person responsible for determining that distilleries paid the proper tax on their production. In this role, he moved his family to Louisville where they remained until about 1885 when they moved to the Bardstown Junction community and purchased a farm. Before long he was back working for the revenue service in the local distilleries.
They would live at Bardstown Junction until they retired to Florida just before 1920. At the time of his death in St. Cloud, the local newspaper published his obituary. He was described this way:
"For many years, Col. Daniel resided at Bardstown Junction in this county and was one of our most honorable and highly respected citizens. He was a member of the Christian Church, and the Masonic Order of this place. He was in the revenue service and was well known on the Springfield Branch Railroad. In his time, he was a fine performer on the violin and his home was the gathering place for the musically inclined. Col. Daniel and his wife were fine entertainers and nothing so delighted them as to entertain a crowd of young people."
Getting back to his Civil War adventure, in 1915 he wrote a letter to the Masonic Home Journal, and it was reprinted in The Stanford Interior Journal. In it, he described an incident that occurred shortly after the battle at Perryville.
Daniel was a first sergeant at the time, and following the battle, he and his captain obtained permission to leave their command for a few hours to visit an old friend who lived nearby. They traveled about a half-mile when they spotted a boy leading an ox team out of the woods. Always concerned for the possibility of Confederate stragglers, they questioned the boy and learned that two were visiting the nearby Livingston farm, having supper, with their horses and gear in the barn. Realizing that the Confederates were separated from their weapons, Daniel and his companion decided to try to capture them.
Let Daniel tell you what happened next in his own words.
"We dashed down in front of the house at near full speed of our horses, sprang from our saddles without checking up, letting them go at will, and, as agreed, I entered by the front door, while my captain was to go around to the rear and cut off retreat of the men. As I ran up the front door of the house a young lady sprang into the doorway, threw up her hands on either side, as though to prevent my entrance, and as I ducked and crowded through beside her, I saw two men making very quick time in their exit through the rear door."
Daniel followed them and, raising his rifle, commanded them to halt. When one of the men continued to flee, Daniel raised his rifle to take aim when the other Confederate "gave me the sign which every Master Mason understands, and he was at once under my protection."
So on that day, two Confederates, James S. Stratton and Felix Moses escaped capture. And years later, Thomas J. Daniel would write his letter in which he closed with the hope "that if Bro. Stratton is still living, I may, through your valued Journal, be enabled to hear from him, and, if possible, to meet with him, or at least to communicate my best wishes to him."
I'd like to think that these two Masons had at least one more opportunity together. Perhaps one of our readers knows.
Copyright 2015 by Charles Hartley, Shepherdsville KY. All rights are reserved. No part of the content of this page may be included in any format in any place without the written permission of the copyright holder.