Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Civil War Ended at Samuel's Depot, Nelson County, Kentucky

     On April 10, 1865 Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia.  But the war didn’t end on that day.   The last men to surrender did so not too far from where William R. Gates resided. William Gates is the second son of Elisha and Christina Gates and my GG-grandfather.   
     During the Civil War groups of men, not officially connected to the Confederate Army roamed the south and border states, raided flanks of the Union Army and stole provisions from wagons and trains.  Among the groups of Confederate Irregulars were Quantrill’s Raiders. Quantrill’’s Raiders started in Missouri where there were atrocities performed on and by both sides.  They were a quasi-guerilla type of unit that fought as far south as Texas and east into Kentucky and Tennessee.  After the official surrender by Robert E. Lee,  the Partisan Rangers (Quantrill’s Raiders) continued making raids throughout central Kentucky.
     On 10th May 1865 William C. Quantrill and some of his men were ambushed by Union soldiers in the vicinity of Bloomfield, Kentucky.  Bloomfield lay in Nelson County not too far from the Gates’ Cox’s Creek residence.  Quantrill was shot and paralyzed while trying to escape.  He died about a month later.  The remainder of his men continued raiding.  They were eventually surrounded and surrendered to Capt. Young, US Army, at Samuel's Depot, Nelson County, KY, on 26 July 1865.  Supposedly they surrendered on the front porch of the Samuel’s general store1.  Samuels [Samuel’s Depot] is the location of Saint Gregory’s Catholic Church.  Elisha Gates was one of the founders of the church and was buried in Saint Gregory’s Cemetery.  
    Among those who surrendered that day was Frank James, the older brother of Jesse James.  There was a good possibility that the James brothers knew the Samuel family well because their mother had married Dr. Reuben Samuel after her second husband had died.  
     Also surrendering that day was Alexander “Donnie” Pence.  Donnie remained in Nelson County, married Sarah Isabel Samuel,  and operated a 50-acre farm near Samuel’s Depot fairly close to Saint Gregory’s Church.  He became sheriff of Nelson County in 18712
     I would have to believe that William Gates and his daughter, Eliza Jane Gates (my great-grandmother) were very aware of the activities that took place in 1865.  At the very least they probably met Donnie Pence in the next few decades especially since Donnie Pence's wife was born about the same time as Eliza Jane Gates.

1. "1865 - Maker's Mark."

2. "QUANTRELL'S RAIDERS: story, pictures and information -" 2011. 22 Aug. 2013 <>

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