Friday, May 3, 2013

The Asa Lomax Gailey Story - Part One

Part One - From Georgia To Camp Douglas Chicago

I must begin this documentation journey with the central focus for many of my Gailey relatives, a man named Asa Lomax Gailey. Asa Lomax, as he is reffered to by several of us these days, was the father of John William "J.W." Gailey, making him my Third Great Grandfather. Asa's story became somewhat legendary among his Texas descendants, often times just a bit of known information here and there and pure speculation to fill in the blanks. I covered his story in some detail in my book "The J.W. Gailey Story: A Historical Perspective", but later found out several missing links in his story. I will try to paint a more complete account of his life here.
Asa Lomax Gailey was born on March 8, 1837 in Habersham County, Georgia to Ebenezer and Jane Dillard (Lomax) Gailey. A book on the Lomax family listed Asa's name as Asahel, however no other record of that spelling has been found. Asa's father Ebenezer worked as a blacksmith for a majority of the time after Asa's birth. There are believed to have been ten total children in the family, Asa being the second son and fourth born child.  
Around the year 1855 Ebenezer's brother Amzi and his large family moved to Big Creek in what would become Craighead County, Arkansas. The exact reason for the move is undetermined but it followed the popular westward progression that many families were making at that time. Amzi's move triggered Ebenezer to move his family to a neighboring farm within a year or so. In Arkansas the brothers and their oldest boys farmed the land that was previously uninhabited by white settlers.
It was not long after relocating to Arkansas when Asa met and fell in love with Permelia Jane Tuder. Permelia and her family were on a westward migration from Kentucky. Records indicate that the Tuder family lived a couple of years in the Craighead County area. William Tuder, Permelia's father, was primarily a carpenter but also had a good sense about obtaining land. He knew of the plentiful land grants being offered in newly formed Texas and had his sights set on migrating there. William had been widowed and remarried fathering five children along the way. Permelia was the oldest followed by Nicholas, William Henry, James, and Rosannah, who was a baby at the time.
By late 1857 the Tuder's drove their wagons to Texas. It is believed, although no records have been found, that Asa and Permelia were married prior to or on their journey to Texas. By February of 1858 the couple produced their first child together, a girl named Jane Jemima Gailey. She was the first Gailey born in Texas.
The Tuder and newly formed Gailey families settled in Bell County, Texas along the banks of the Leon River near the town of Aiken in 1860. This was after a brief stay in Cass County near the Arkansas border. Asa bought a house in town and William Tuder established a cabinet and furniture shop. All seemed to be going well for the settlers, that is until the Civil War broke out.
Asa and Permelia welcomed their second child John William into the world in January of 1861 just on the brink of the Civil War. Months later Permelia was pregnant again but Asa would not get to meet his thrid born as he was forced into enlistment. He, along with his brother-in-law Nicholas and other friends and neighbors enlisted in what would become Company K of the Texas 10th Infantry Regiment. It was known as Nelson's Regiment.

Asa was quickly detailed as a musician for the army which was at least a small distraction from the task at hand. Musicians also held a slightly higher rank than Privates. Confederate companies generally had two to four musicians which were typically drummers, fifers, or bugle players. Some also played banjos, fiddles, and guitars. Some of the music played was specific to the south while other music was nationally loved. 
Asa's stint in the Confederate army was fairly brief  as he was captured at Fort Hindman Post in Arkansas on January 11, 1863. He and many of his fellow men were shipped to the Fort Douglas prisoner of war camp in Chicago. His days at Camp Douglas were brutal. The soldiers were treated very unfavorably and were kept essentially like livestock in the extreme Chicago weather. Prisoners were eventually given the option to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States for freedom and Asa did just that.
Check out Part Two of the Asa Lomax Gailey Story for the second half of Asa's life.