Rev. Nicholas A. Anthony (14 August 1844 – 7 July 1893)

A contemporary obituary gives his birth date as 14 August 1844.1 His gravestone bears the same date.2   However, a descendant reported that a family Bible gives his date of birth as 11 May 1843.   Censuses are not much help in resolving this mystery:  he is enumerated in the Franklin County, Tennessee household of his father William Horace Anthony in 1850 (age 7) and in 1860 (age 16).   He is missing from the census of 1870, apparently missed whilst traveling, and was enumerated as age 34 in 1880.

His middle name may have been “Albert”.   The marriage record of his youngest child gives his parents names as “Albert” Anthony and Mattie Robinson.

Civil War Service

A statement by his brother James Anthony mentions that his brother Nicholas A. Anthony volunteered in the CSA in 1861 but was discharged after a few months with a disability.3  In fact, he seems to have deserted the cause.  He enlisted in Company D of the 23rd Battalion (Newman’s) of Tennessee Infantry for the term of three years as a private on 7 November 1862 (his age recorded as 19) in Ridgeville, Franklin County.  Just five months later he was listed as “deserted” on a muster roll dated March 1863.

He also appears on a federal list of CSA deserters and prisoners received at Nashville in March 1865 from Tullahoma, Tennessee with the remark: “Deserter”.  He signed the Oath of Allegiance as a “rebel deserter” on 28 March 1865.  That document describes him as 5’ 8” tall with a dark complexion, brown hair, and hazel eyes.  His residence was listed as Bedford County, the date of his desertion was March 1863, and included the remark: “no family”.  A month later his name appears on a list of “rebel deserters who have failed to report at Shelbyville, Tenn. as directed.”

He Marries Emma Hooper

According to an obituary (see below) he had been licensed to preach in 1866 and he may have been riding a circuit in northern Alabama when he was missed by the census of 1870.  Somehow the preacher from Tennessee managed to make the acquaintance of a young woman living in Tuscumbia, Alabama named Emma Hooper.

According to the death certificate of a son4 as well as the family record of a descendant5, his first wife was Emma L. Hooper, who was born on 3 February 1849 and died 3 February 1886.  Nicholas Anthony evidently married her sometime in the late 1860s, probably in Tuscumbia, Alabama, which was then in Franklin County, where her father was living at the time.  Emma is in the household of her father Burrell Young Hooper in Franklin County, Alabama in both 1850 and 1860.  In 1870, she is enumerated in Tuscumbia (by then in newly-formed Colbert County) in the household of her widowed mother or stepmother as “Emma Anthony”.   Although Emma was surely pregnant with Edward Young Anthony when the 1870 census was taken, her husband Nicholas Anthony is nowhere to be found in Alabama, Tennessee, or any other state.  [He may have been circuit riding without a permanent home in which to be enumerated, but he was clearly missed for some reason.]  They must have remained in Tuscumbia for a few years, as the 1880 census shows the birthplace of the second child (in late 1872) as Alabama.

Nicholas Anthony was back in Tennessee by 1875 for the birth of their third child, and in 1880 was enumerated with Emma and four children in the village of Normandy, in Bedford County.6  His occupation  was listed as a “Wool Carder & M.G.”   This generally matches a statement made in 1913 by the eldest child Edward Young Anthony.7

He Loses His Wife

Edward Young Anthony told his wife that he ran away from home after his mother died.    The 10 April 1886 issue of the Nashville Christian Advocate notes the death of “Emma L. Anthony wife of Rev. N. A. Anthony, Tenn. Methodist Conference, born Feb. 3 1849; died Liberty, Tenn. Feb. 3, 1886.8  If Edward Young Anthony left home soon after his mother’s death he would have been 15 years old; indeed, his wife recalled him saying he was “14 or 15” when he left home.    His wife also recalls him saying that his family had moved out of Bedford County to someplace on or near the Cumberland River, and were living there at the time he ran away.  Indeed, Nicholas Anthony paid property taxes in Bedford County through 1881, then disappeared from the Bedford tax rolls.

He apparently moved several miles northeast to the town of Liberty in DeKalb County, Tennessee where he was living when his first wife died.  She is buried as “Emma Anthony” in the Salem Baptist Church Cemetery in Liberty, where her gravestone carries both her birth and death dates.

Nicholas Marries Again

Three years later, on 12 May 1889 N. A. Anthony and Mattie Robinson married in DeKalb County.  According to a book on the Robinson family Mattie Robinson (1870-1899) was the daughter of John Elbert Robinson and Margaret B. Smith.9  A 1915 history of DeKalb County states: “Among the Southern Methodist circuit riders since the war who served at this place and other churches in the county, the following are recalled by H. L. Hale… N. A. Anthony…” 10  The same source reports that N. A. Anthony was also the pastor of the first Methodist church at Smithville, DeKalb County.11  No date was given, but it must have been in the mid or late 1880s.  The DeKalb County website contains several abstracts of the period 1886-1900 from issues of a local newspaper, the Liberty Herald, which mention Reverend N. A. Anthony.12 Several issues from 1886 through 1889 make it clear that he was living in the village of Liberty during that period. These references are summarized in a footnote below.13

The issue of 16 October 1889 notes that Rev. Anthony was appointed to the Chestnut Mound circuit.  This apparently resulted in move out of DeKalb County, for there is no further mention of him in the Liberty Herald.  [Chestnut Mound itself is in Smith County, and it’s possible they lived there briefly.]  Sometime in 1890 he became the minister of a church in western Trousdale County, about thirty miles northwest of Liberty.  An article on the history of the Willow Grove Methodist Church of Trousdale County states that “Bro. N.A. Anthony, who served the church from 1890 to July 1893, died during his pastorate at Willow Grove.” 14 In 1891 he appears on a voter’s list in Trousdale County.15  Ruth Thomas tells me that Nicholas Anthony died in Hartsville, Trousdale County a few miles east of Willow Grove.  Melissa Watson confirms that, adding that he was buried in the Hartsville Cemetery.

An Obituary

The published minutes of the Methodist Church, South, for 1890 contain an obituary:16

N. A. Anthony was born August 14, 1844; was converted and joined the M. E. Church, South, in his seventeenth year; was licensed to preach in his twenty-second year; was several years a local preacher. He had been a member of the Tennessee Conference twenty-four years. He had served the Sparta, Mt. Olivet, Liberty, Chestnut Mound, Hartsville, and other important charges. He was on the Hartsville Circuit when the Master called him to his reward on high, which occurred at the parsonage in Hartsville July 7, 1893. He was at the zenith of his usefulness. On the work in which he died he had marvelous success. More than two hundred souls were converted under his ministry during the year 1892. Similar results and success had attended his ministry on other charges. His last charge, Hartsville Circuit, is ablaze with religious fervor and spiritual power, and the salary and general collections are all up in full us the result of his faithful, earnest labors on that charge up to the time of his death. Brother Anthony was a man of strong convictions. Thoroughly converted, fully consecrated, vivid in his imaginations, clear in his expositions of the word of God, fearless in his denunciations of sin, he was a strong preacher of the gospel of Christ. He loved our doctrines and polity, and was ever ready to defend them or give a reason for the hope that was in him. Much might be said to the praise of this worthy man of God, but his record is on high and his reward is sure. After a brief sickness of about ten days, be calmly and sweetly passed away. His funeral services were held by Rev. J. T. Curry, his presiding elder, assisted by the writer. Nearly the entire membership of his charge, and many friends of other denominations, attended his burial, and the many tear-bedimmed eyes showed the place he held in so many hearts. He was twice married. His first wife died in 1886. By this union there were born six children, one of whom is dead. His second marriage was to Miss Mattie Robinson, in 1880[sic]. Two children were born of this union. This young woman, who a few years ago was a blushing bride, is now a weeping widow with two fatherless children. We commend them and the other orphan children to the fostering care of the Tennessee Conference. Our brother’s body rests in the beautiful cemetery at Hartsville, Tenn., to wait the resurrection of the just at the last great day.

He is buried in the Hartsville Cemetery in Trousdale County as “Rev. N. A. Anthony” where the stone bears his birth and death dates.

His widow and children evidently returned to DeKalb County following his death, for they begin to be mentioned again by the Liberty Herald beginning in late 1894 as residents of Temperance Hall. The issue of 27 January 1897 notes that “Mrs. N. A. Anthony is recovering from a spell of pneumonia” and the issue of 31 March 1897 mentions that “Mrs. N. A. Anthony is very feeble.”   Although she recovered, she was again “very ill” in the issue of 19 April 1899 and the issue of 3 May 1899 notes “The writer was grieved to hear of the death of Mrs. Mattie Anthony of Temperance Hall.”  The book mentioned above gives her date of death as 19 August 1899, but the newspaper makes it clear she died several months earlier, sometime in late April or very early May.  The children, except for the two youngest, had apparently left the area by the time of her death.

The Children:

    1. Edward Young Anthony (14 Nov 1870 ‑ 23 Jan 1946)  See separate page.
    2. Lellie May Anthony (9 Oct 1872 – 20 September 1911)  The 1880 census gives her birthplace as Alabama and her name as Lellie M.  According to Ruth Thomas (Ruth is a granddaughter of Lellie May Anthony.)) she was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, married William Rufus Nicholas (1867-1928) and died in Conasauga, Polk County, Tennessee.  Ruth reports the seven children shown below.  The 1910 census states that Lellie was the mother of five children, four of whom were living when the census was taken in April 1910.  The 1910 census of Polk County, which lists the family as “Nichols”, shows four sons in the household: Harry (16), Dewey (12), Thomas (8), and Chauncey B. (2).  The census indicates they had been married for twenty years.  The children were:  Florrie Etta Nichols (21 August 1891 – 8 April 1892),  Ruth Lee Nichols (21 March 1893 – 16 February 1975),  Harrison Anthony Nichols (23 March 1895 – October 1967),  William Dewey Nichols (June 1897 – ?), Thomas Ford Nichols (c1901 – c1957),  Chauncey Trueman Nichols (c1907 – ?), and  Lacy Bryns Nichols (17 December 1910 – 29 May 1911)
    3. Charles W. Anthony (c1875‑?)  He was born in Tennessee according to the 1880 census.  The Liberty Herald issue of 31 July 1895 reported that Charlie Anthony had “skipped” and the issue of 19 April 1899 reported that Charles Anthony “of Texas” was visiting his mother Mrs. Mattie Anthony.  I did not find him in the 1900 census of Texas. E. Y. Anthony obviously thought he was alive in 1913, but I couldn’t find him in the 1900, 1910, or 1920 censuses.   It is possible he is the “Charlie Anthony”, born February 1875 in Tennessee, who is a farm laborer in the household of Percy Waite of Sugar Grove Township, Kane County, Illinois in the 1900 census.  That person gives his father’s and mother’s birthplaces as Tennessee and Alabama.
    4. Nicholas W. Anthony (21 January 1876 – 7 April 1945)  He was born in Tennessee according to the 1880 census, which lists him as “Nicholas W.”  The Liberty Herald newspaper abstracts mention him once, noting in the 24 June 1896 issue that “Nick Anthony of Temperance Hall has been visiting friends [in Liberty] for a few days.”  He must have moved to Illinois shortly thereafter, as a marriage record in Champaign County, Illinois shows that he married a 48-year old widow named Ella Phillippe (ne Herrott) in 1898; the marriage register gives his parents as G. (sic) A. Anthony and Emma L. Hooper.  The 1900 census of Mahomet, Champaign County shows him (born January 1877 in Tennessee), with his wife Ellen E. (still aged 48, more than twice his own age) and three stepchildren named Phillippa.  The census indicates the couple had been married a year earlier, and lists his occupation as “farm hand.”  In 1910, his age now given as 35, he is listed with the same wife and two of the stepchildren, with his occupation now a “horse dealer.”  In 1920 he is listed in the adjoining community of Bloomington, McLean County, as a divorced lodger in a boarding house, his occupation now “house carpenter.”  By the 1930 census of McLean, he acquired a wife named Evelyn C. with two more stepchildren.  He is listed in that census as a “contracting carpenter.”  According to his death certificate, which gives his birthdate as 21 January 1876, he died in Bloomington, McLean County on 7 April 1945.  The death certificate gives his parents as Nicholas Anthony and Emma Hooper and his occupation as “carpenter”.   He was buried in the Mechanicsburg Cemetery in Mechanicsburg, Sangamon  County.  He appears to have had no children of his own.
    5. Vesta Anthony ? (c1880 – ?)  E. Y. Anthony also thought this sister was alive and aged about 35 in 1913.  Since she’s not in the 1880 household, she must have been born later that year not long thereafter, making her no older than 33 in 1913.  She may have been the Vesta Anthony mentioned twice in the Liberty Herald (in 1894 and 1895) as a resident of Temperance Hall.

There were two known children by Nicholas Anthony’s second wife, Mattie Robinson:

    1. Elbert Alexander Anthony (9 June 1891 – 7 September 1957)  In 1900 he and his brother are in the DeKalb County, Tennessee household of his aunt Sallie Robinson and her husband George W. Martin, his birth date given as May 1892.  I did not find him in 1910, but in 1917 when he signed his full name to his World War I draft registration card he was living in Mansfield, Illinois with a wife and child (unnamed).   He listed his birth date as above and birth place as Hartsville, Tennessee, and gave his occupation as a railway trail clerk for the federal government.    A 1916 Chicago death record lists the death of a two-day old baby named Paul Anthony and a 1918 Chicago death record lists the death of 6-year old Lois L. Anthony — both records identify the parents as Elbert A. Anthony and his wife Alice S. Hendricks.   In the 1920 census for Chicago “Albert” Anthony and Alice were enumerated with no children.  In 1930 the same couple, this time listed as “Elbert A.” and “Sarah A.” are in Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana.  Two children were in the household:  James Allen Anthony (10, born in Illinois) and Elaine Mae Anthony (6, born in Indiana).  His occupation in 1920 was some sort of clerk17 and in 1930 is a mail clerk for a railroad.  A descendant found his birth date confirmed as 9 June 1891 in papers relating to his retirement.18  She reports that his wife was Sarah Alice Hendricks, whom he married on 16 October 1916 in Platt County, Illinois, and that both are buried in the Washington Park Cemetery in Indianapolis.  The couple had three children who died young (Lois, and twins Paul and Pauline) and two others (James Allen and Elaine Mae).
    2. Clarence G. Anthony (22 July 1894 – 31 July 1895)  In 1900 he and his brother are in the DeKalb County household of his aunt Sallie Robinson and her husband George W. Martin, his birth date given as January 1894.   I did not find him in 1910, but by 1917 he was living in Detroit where his World War I draft registration card lists his birth date as 22 July 1894 and his birth place as Temperance Hall, Tennessee.    He was married, his wife’s name not noted, and he was employed as a hammer man at the Timken Detroit Axle Company.   The 1920 census of Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan listed him as Clarence G. Anthony with a wife named Olive but no children, and lists his occupation as a hammer-man in an axle manufacturing company.   His wife Olive apparently died, as he married Alma M. Jones on 28 December 1922 by license dated 17 June 1922 in Detroit.19  By 1930 they were enumerated in the census in Tyler, Smith County, Texas.   There were no children in the household, but a 61-year old Mattie Harrison was listed as a mother-in-law.  His occupation was listed as drop forger in a factory.  He died in Tyler, where the death certificate lists his birth as 22 July 1893 (sic).  The informant, his wife, wrote “Don’t Know” for his parents names.
  1. Minutes of the Annual Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church South for the Year 1893, (Barbee & Smith, Agents, Nashville, Tennessee, 1893), p26.  For more of this obituary, see later. []
  2. He is buried in the Hartsville Cemetery in Trousdale County, Tennessee. []
  3. The Tennessee Civil War Veterans Questionnaires, Gustavus W. Dyer and John Trotwood Moore (1922). []
  4. Death certificate of their son Nicholas W. Anthony. []
  5. Ruth Thomas, a granddaughter of Lellie May Anthony and great-granddaughter of Nicholas A. Anthony. []
  6. Bedford County, p404B:  Nicholas A. Anthony 34 TN TN TN, Emma L. 30 TN TN TN, Edward Y. 9 TN, Lellie M. 7 AL, Charles W. 5 TN, Nicholas W. 2 TN. []
  7. He stated in two 1913 life insurance applications that his father died at age 53 and his mother at age 30.  This would suggest deaths about 1897 and 1880, respectively, several years different in both cases than the dates provided by reliable sources. [Note, though, that the nature of the record, combined with his estrangement from his family, gives us plenty of reason to doubt his information.]  He also stated he had two brothers, aged 39 and 37 in 1913, and two sisters aged 41 and 35.   Only the younger sister is missing from the 1880 census record, which was taken on 14 June 1880. []
  8. 10 April 1886 issue of the Nashville Christian Advocate, abstracted online. []
  9. An extract from Temperance Hall Remembers, Volume II, by Marjorie Hayes, containing this information is on a Robinson family website. []
  10. History of DeKalb County, Tennessee, Will T. Hale (Paul Hunter Publisher, Nashville, 1915), p78. []
  11. Ibid, p79. []
  12. []
  13. These abstracts include the following:  Rev. N. A.  Anthony returned from a trip to Chestnut Mound (17 Nov 1886), Rev. N. A. Anthony preached at the ME church in Statesville and was next to be at the church in Liberty (4 May 1887),  Rev. N. A. Anthony’s children are going to Bedford County for the rest of the summer (18 Jul 1888),  Rev. N. A. Anthony’s children returned Monday after spending several weeks among relatives in Bedford County (19 Sep 1888),  Rev. N. A. Anthony and wife went to Temperance Hall yesterday (26 Jun 1889), Miss Lellie Anthony mentioned among attendees at a 4th of July supper in Liberty (10 Jul 1889), Mrs. N. A. Anthony of Liberty is quite sick now with fever (24 Jul 1889), Mrs. Elbert Anderson of Temperance Hall has been her [in Liberty] attending her sick daughter Mrs. Anthony (31 Jul 1889), Mrs. John Robinson of Temperance Hall was up to see her sister Mrs. N. A. Anthony of Liberty (14 Aug 1889), Mrs. N. A. Anthony of Liberty has recovered enough to visit her parents at Temperance Hall (28 Aug 1889), N. A. Anthony assigned by Methodist Conference to Chestnut Mound circuit (16 Oct 1889), Miss Lellie Anthony of Liberty is visiting this place [Forks of Pike] (23 Oct 1899). []
  14. []
  15. On the same voters list are several unrelated Anthonys:  Joe Anthony, Bill Anthony, J. W. Anthony, John Anthony, and J. M. Anthony.  Who these people are, I don’t know.  In the Trousdale 1920 census are James W. Anthony (age 55) and family, and Joe E. Anthony (age 69) both born in Tennessee.  Elma Anthony (age 68) is enumerated as the sister of James W. Anthony. []
  16. Minutes of the Annual Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church South for the Year 1893, (Barbee & Smith, Agents, Nashville, Tennessee, 1893), pp26-7. []
  17. The handwriting is somewhat difficult to read, but appears to read “Filing for clerk” with the employer simply “Government.” []
  18. This information courtesy of Melissa Watson. []
  19. The marriage license gives his parents as “Albert” and Mattie Robinson, and his occupation as “drop forger”.  He was 28 and residing in Detroit, she 23 and a resident of Tyler, Texas.  The marriage record repeats the same information but calls her Alma Myers. []