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UDC Members Treated To A Tea

July 6th, 2012 by

The William F. Slemons Chapter 977 of the UDC met at the Drew County Museum on June 26, 2012.

President Beth Thurman opened the meeting by calling on Diane Mazanti, chaplain, to lead in prayer. Mazanti then introduced her guest, daughter Julie Myrick, a fifth-grade teacher from Huntsville, AR. Another special guest was the great-granddaughter of Annette Kellum of Rison. Minutes were then read by Bettye Kellum, secretary, and approved.

Nominated officers for the next year were presented and approved: Beth Thurman, president; Connie Mullis, vice-president; Martha Weatherford, secretary; Annette Rawls, treasurer; Sue Johnson, registrar; Diane Mazanti, chaplain; Ann Burgess, historian; Jo Ann Handley, parliamentarian; and Jan West, recorder of Military Crosses. Terri Wolfe was appointed Keeper of the Flags.

The group’s participation in the dedication of an Arkansas marker at Tullahoma, Tennessee, on July 7, 2012, was discussed. All of the other Confederate states are represented by a marker, but Arkansas had never had one, and the Slemons group raised money to have one placed there. Several members will be attending the event.

Thurman presented the program on Meriwether Jeff Thompson, Swamp Fox of the Confederacy, who was born in 1826 at Harper’s Ferry, VA, to Meriwether and Martha Slaughter Broadus Thompson. He moved to Liberty and then St. Joseph, MO, in the late 1840’s. He began his career as a store clerk before becoming a surveyor and then a city engineer. Thompson later served as mayor of St. Joseph from 1857-1860 and presided over a ceremony inaugurating the first ride of the Pony Express on April 3, 1860.

Thompson was made a colonel in the Missouri State Militia at the outbreak of the Civil War and commanded the First Military District of MO. He then served in the swampy southeastern quarter of the state from St. Louis down the Mississippi River to the state lines of Arkansas and Kentucky. His battalion became known as the “Swamp Rats” for their exploits, and he eventually was known as the “Swamp Fox of the Confederacy.” He was captured in Pocahontas, AR, and spent time in three Union prisoner of war camps: Gratiot Street prison in St. Louis, Fort Delaware off the coast of DE, and Johnson’s Island off the coast of Lake Erie in Ohio. He was eventually exchanged for a Union general and came back to fight under General Sterling Price and General Joe Shelby. He fought gallantly in several major battles before ending his military service by surrendering his troops on May 11, 1865 at Jacksonport, Arkansas, while others in the famous Iron Brigade went all the way to Mexico rather than surrender. During the war, a Confederate naval ship and a fort were named in honor of him. After the war, he became a member of the levee board in New Orleans, LA. The swampy area lead to the demise of his health, and he eventually returned to St. Joseph, MO, and died from tuberculosis.

The meeting adjourned to a surprise of a “tea,” prepared by Connie Mullis, who had adorned red and blue hats with special trimming, which she presented for each of the members to wear. In addition, Mullis had decorated tables and prepared finger sandwiches, cookies, tea, and lemonade for the members enjoyment. Mullis’ extra effort made the meeting a special occasion.


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