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Civil War History Road Trip, Part 2


By Trish Turner


 Gerry Fischer and I continued our road trip out of Shelbyville and into the country towards Taylorsville. We stopped just off Taylorsville Road at the Smiley Schoolhouse near the tiny town of Wakefield in Spencer County. In Gerry's book, Guerilla Warfare in Civil War Kentucky, he described the one room schoolhouse and its significance to the events that transpired in that area in 1865. This was the school that the Wakefield children attended. It was on a road near this school where William Clarke Quantrill and his raiders encountered an obstacle to their travels in May, 1865. "...Quantrill and his raiders, coming up from behind, and in a hurry, were held up by the mired log wagon. The wagon had seven horses. Quantrill could not pass, and frustrated, he drew his sword and killed all seven horses." (pg. 124). Joseph William Wakefield was walking home from the Smiley Schoolhouse on that day. When Quantrill saw Wakefield watching him he threw down his sword, stuck it into the wet ground, and told the boy that he could have it. Gerry told me, "Throughout the war Quantrill was a very capable and I believe a stable leader; however, during the month of April and up to his last fight, he snapped. Terrell, Cyrus Wilson and James Bridgewater were hounding him. He was always just miles ahead of them and he and the raiders were weary. The mired log wagon tipped him over the edge and he lost it."  The Smiley schoolhouse has been kept intact and from time to time is freshly painted. It was a gorgeous spring day when we were there and the schoolhouse was framed by redbud trees in full bloom and a display of daffodils graced the driveway beside it. As Gerry and I walked around the school building I could just imagine the bewilderment young Joseph Wakefield must have felt when he walked home from school and witnessed Quantrill's act. He did keep the sword and passed it on to his descendants. Unfortunately, in 1991 the sword was stolen from the home of Jo Morry Wakefield, who was Joseph's son.  It was a short drive down the road to the site of the Wakefield homestead where several years earlier Gerry had visited with James Wakefield, a descendant of James Heady Wakefield, who owned the farm in 1865. James had given Gerry a wealth of information about the battle that ended the career of William Clarke Quantrill and some of his raiders. Just across the street from the Wakefield farmhouse stands a historical marker that designates that area as the place where Quantrill was captured. While Gerry and I were parked in the yard of the farmhouse and I was busy taking pictures of the historical marker, a man came out of the house to speak to Gerry. He introduced himself as Eddie Richardson and said that he lived in that house. He wanted to be sure we were not having car trouble or needed something. Gerry explained to him that we were historians doing research for an article about Civil War history in that area. Mr. Richardson was very interested in Gerry's knowledge of the local history and was thrilled when Gerry gave him a copy of his book Guerilla Warfare in Civil War Kentucky and autographed it for him.  On May 10, 1865, William Clarke Quantrill and several of his men were taking shelter from a heavy rain in a barn belonging to James Heady Wakefield. Wakefield was a Southern sympathizer who had allowed Quantrill to take refuge on his farm before. The farm was located in Spencer County near the Taylorsville-Bloomfield Pike. Unbeknownst to them, 20 year old Edwin "Bad Ed" Terrell, a captain of the Shelby County Home Guards and an avowed Confederate guerrilla hunter, had been tracking Quantrill and his men. He and his men followed fresh muddy hoof prints to the Wakefield farm and a fight ensued. Some of Quantrill's men were able to mount their horses and get away, but Quantrill had a skittish horse that he could not mount. He was shot twice, once in the collarbone where the bullet traveled down his spine and paralyzed him, and another bullet that tore off one of the fingers on his left hand. He was taken into Mr. Wakefield's home and was cared for there for a few days, and later he was moved by wagon to the Louisville Military Prison. Quantrill died from his wounds in Louisville on June 6, 1865 at the age of 27. During the firefight that ensued at the Wakefield farmyard, two of Quantrill's most trusted men gave their lives trying to help him escape. They were Clark Hockensmith and Richard "Dick" Glasscock. These young men were willing to lay down their lives for their leader. Hockensmith was only 22 and had accompanied Quantrill from Missouri. Glasscock had also come from Missouri with Quantrill, but his birth date is unknown. From the Wakefield homestead we continued on about 4 miles down Taylorsville Road and stopped at Big Springs Cemetery. There Gerry showed me the grave of James Heady Wakefield, who owned the farm where Quantrill was captured. He was born in 1810 and died in 1909. He almost made it to his 100th birthday. We drove out of the cemetery and through the countryside on Taylorsville Road, which was studded with picturesque farmhouses. A few more miles further, just before you get to the town of Bloomfield in Nelson County, is the estate of Jerry and Linda Bruckheimer. Jerry is a well known Hollywood producer of such films as Beverly Hills Cop, Top Gun, and the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Linda Bruckheimer was originally from Kentucky and fell in love with the Bloomfield area on a visit to her home state several years ago. They restored a 1,600 acre farm that they named Walnut Groves and they live there when they are not in Hollywood. On their property, visible from the road, stands the Ham Brown Cabin. As the historical marker on the side of the road states: "Prior to the Civil War, Ham Brown was 'a free man of color.' On May 21, 1866, he purchased the cabin in Bloomfield and it remained in his family until 1980. Ham, a shoemaker, and Adeline Brown had seven children. Vacant and in disrepair, the cabin was moved to Walnut Groves Farm and restored in 1998. Cabin was built ca. 1850 as slave quarters." Linda Bruckheimer had the cabin restored and moved to their property and placed it in a beautiful setting by a pond where everyone could enjoy looking at it as they drive by.  Our next stop was the Maple Grove Cemetery, located off Taylorsville Road just before you get into downtown Bloomfield. Gerry drove to the section of the cemetery where two men were buried that had been members of Quantrill's Raiders. Hockensmith and Glasscock were killed at the Wakefield farm on May 10, 1865. The traditional headstone for C. L. (Clark) Hockensmith states that he was born Feb 21, 1843 and died May 10, 1865. There is a hand pointing upwards carved into the headstone. I learned from doing research on the Internet that a carving such as this on a headstone symbolizes the hope for heaven. The headstone for Richard Glasscock looks more like a tombstone you would find in a military cemetery. It is light colored with a pointed top and states that Richard Glasscock was part of Quantrill's Missouri Cavalry, CSA and he died May 10, 1865. The Southern Cross of Honor is engraved above Glasscock's name on the stone and in front of the gravestone is a cast iron marker that reads "CSA '61, '65." This marker was most likely placed there by a local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  The Maple Grove Cemetery contains the grave of a couple whose story resembles a Greek tragedy. At the entrance to the cemetery there is a two sided historical marker that tells the story of Jereboam and his wife Anna Beauchamp. The sign reads: "Romantic 1825 Tragedy. Jereboam Beauchamp and his wife Anna buried here in same coffin at own request. To avenge her alleged seduction by Col. Solomon Sharp, Beauchamp murdered him at Sharp's Frankfort home, 1825. Beauchamp and Anna were held in Frankfort jail. She was released but joined her husband in his cell, refusing to be separated, even by force. He was sentenced to hang. On execution day they attempted suicide by stabbing themselves. Her wound was fatal, but he lived to be hanged that day, the first legal hanging in Ky., 1826. Col. Sharp's political prominence caused case to have widespread newspaper publicity. Edgar Allen Poe and many other authors wrote of the tragedy, inspired by Beauchamps' deep devotion and love." The original gravestone on the ground, which includes a poem written by Anna, is cracked and barley readable. A newer stone was standing vertically behind it and it reads, "In memory of Jeroboam O. Beauchamp born Sept. 24th 1802 and Anna his wife, born Feb. 7th 1786 who both left this world July 7th 1826."  Anna's poem was copied onto this stone and it is easily readable, but it is very long. On the surface the story of Anna & Jeroboam Beauchamp seems like such a romantic tragedy, but after doing a little research I found that Anna, who was 17 years older than her husband Jereboam, may have had a sinister reason for having Col. Sharp killed to avenge her honor.  The town of Bloomfield, a couple more miles down the road, has been revitalized in recent years, thanks in part to the efforts of Linda and Jerry Bruckheimer. Linda owns an antique shop in downtown Bloomfield called Nettie Jarvis Antiques, named after her great-grandmother. I would love to take a trip back there to peruse the antique shop, and The Old Sugar Valley General Store next door. However, the day was waning and we had lots more to see on this road trip, so we whisked through the town on the way to our next destination.

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