Memorial wreath laid at the grave of Rev.Thomas Jefferson Priddy, Sr.
KAUFMAN COUNTY–Members of the Society of the War of 1812 in the State of Texas Craig Austin Rowley Chapter and the National Society United States Daughters of 1812 Texas State Society Captain James Burleson Chapter gathered with over 30 known descendants of Rev. Thomas Jefferson Priddy, Sr. at his gravesite Nov. 16 to honor the veteran with a grave dedication ceremony, placing a commemorative wreath on his grave at Fox Cemetery in Kaufman County.
Priddy, who was known to his friends as “Old Tom” was born May 23, 1796 in Cocke County, Tenn. and died Dec. 28, 1876, having served in the War of 1812 from May 13, 1814 to May 13, 1815 as a Private in Captain Miles Vernon’s Company of the Tennessee Militia.
The War of 1812 is often called the “second war for independence,” as a young United States took on Great Britain once again. History.com says, “In the War of 1812, the United States took on the greatest naval power in the world, Great Britain, in a conflict that would have an immense impact on the young country’s future. Causes of the war included British attempts to restrict U.S. trade, the Royal Navy’s impressment of American seamen and America’s desire to expand its territory. The United States suffered many costly defeats at the hands of British, Canadian and Native American troops over the course of the War of 1812, including the capture and burning of the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., in August 1814. Nonetheless, American troops were able to repulse British invasions in New York, Baltimore and New Orleans, boosting national confidence and fostering a new spirit of patriotism. The ratification of the Treaty of Ghent February 17, 1815 ended the war but left many of the most contentious questions unresolved. Nonetheless, many in the United States celebrated the War of 1812 as a ‘second war of independence,’ beginning an era of partisan agreement and national pride.”
Captain James Burleson Chapter Daughters of 1812 President Carrie Anne Wilson-Woolverton said the dedication was planned and worked on for an entire year before the event. Woolverton told The Monitor, “Locating Veterans of the War of 1812 is not an easy task and we were very excited to learn of Rev. Priddy.”
Woolverton shared Priddy’s biography with details such as:
Old Tom Priddy married Margaret Peggy Terry March 22,1821 and they had 12 children together. She was born Aug. 6, 1803 in Granville County, N.C.
Sometime after 1833, the Priddys move from Alabama to Aberden, Miss. then to Itawamba County, Miss. Tom is listed as one of the first settlers in Itawamba County, where he built a house in 1836, seven miles northwest of Fulton. The house was still in livable condition in 1970. Margaret died there Jan. 8, 1862.
Before he moved to Texas, Old Tom Priddy deeded four acres, reserved for the Priddy graveyard and meeting house, now known as Mt. Pleasant Cemetery. Buried there are Margaret Terry Priddy, John Thomas Priddy, CSA, Richard H. Priddy, CSA, Lutticia Priddy, Mary Reeves Priddy, Margaret Luticia Priddy and Maria Priddy. In 1995, members of the Priddy family placed a plaque honoring members of the family buried there, whose graves lack markers.
Old Tom Priddy married Elizabeth Powers Brown Oct. 29, 1866 in Itawamba County. She was born in 1799 in Jefferson County, Tenn. When he was in Alabama, Priddy became friends with Dr. Joseph Fox, Sr. who also moved to Mississippi, then to Kaufman County, Texas in 1851.
In the fall of 1869, Old Tom Priddy, his wife Elizabeth and around 30 families started for Texas in 37 ox wagons. They totaled around 100 people.
The trip took nine weeks and the hardships were many for they had to cross streams and rivers, crossing the Mississippi at Memphis where the bottoms were 60 miles wide. Cattle and oxen died along the way, being drowned at crossings. During the Mississippi crossing, it was late in the day and raining hard. There were two ferries and one of them rammed into the tongue of one of the wagons, causing a delay as they had to go back and get it fixed.
During the journey, they experienced everything from death to marriages and several cases of pneumonia. Old Tom Priddy, who was a Baptist minister, married a couple. That night, they celebrated by singing songs and playing fiddles, ending the evening with a sweet potato roasting.
Upon reaching Texas, some of the families settled in Kaufman County, the majority going to Johnson County and others to Hill, Bosque and Hood Counties. Old Tom Priddy traveled to Johnson County and moved back to Kaufman County.
Old Tom Priddy and Dr. Joseph Fox remained friends all their lives with many of the Priddy descendants marrying the Fox descendants. Old Tom Priddy died on Dec. 28, 1876 in Egypt, Texas at 80-years-old. He is buried in Fox Cemetery with his second wife Elizabeth in proximity to Dr. Joseph Fox.
Those who gathered at the grave dedication received a U.S. Flag which was a replica of the War of 1812 flag, which was the only flag to have 15 stars and 15 stripes. From July 4, 1795 to July 4, 1818, this was our country’s flag, even though five more states joined the Union during that time. It was also the flag that flew over Fort McHenry, inspiring Francis Scott Key to write “The Star Spangled Banner,” our national anthem. In 1818, Congress proclaimed that one star for each state would be added July 4 following the state’s admission to the union and that there would be 13 stripes to represent the original 13 colonies.
Priddy donated his mineral interest in the Walter Fair Field, oil and gas to the Fox Cemetery Association for the upkeep of the cemetery. The association still receives royalty checks to this day.
To learn more about the National Society United States Daughters of 1812, visit usdaughters1812.org.