George Gilmer Poindexter

November 30, 1829 - November 19, 1859

Lineage: Nicholas Johnson, "Elder" John , Thomas , John , Thomas , George , George


On the morning of November 19, 1859, the Nashville Union and American appeared with "column rules turned upside down" making heavy black lines between the columns. It was, in those days, a newspaper's way of announcing an important death. A brief notice inside the paper read:

"The sad duty devolves upon us of announcing the death of our associate and friend G. G. Poindexter. He was killed yesterday morning by Allen A. Hall, the editor of the Daily News."

George Gilmer Poindexter, a native of Virginia, was a graduate of Bowdoin College, Maine, and Cumberland University Law School, Lebanon, Tennessee. He came to Nashville as an unknown young man and within a year was he principal editor" of the Union and American and a partner in the paper.

Allen A. Hall was a veteran editor of the Nashville Daily News, a newspaper of Whig leanings established in 1857. Hall was fifty-seven when he killed Poindexter.

Poindexter and his newspaper defended slavery. John Bell had attacked the "peculiar institution," and Hall defended Bell. In 1834-in a more liberal and less heated atmosphere-Hall had said slavery must end. Poindexter now upbraided him for such sentiments, and Hall said his remarks were taken out of context-they represented the sentiment of the people "at the time."

One thing led to another until Poindexter charged that Hall's editorials were "utterly destitute of truth" and that the older man was "an editor who utters calumnies against a contemporary trusting to the supposed privileges of age to shield him from responsibility."

Hall replied in kind, and the affair was well in its way. The first clash came between Poindexter and Hall's son. but no shots were fired and no harm done.

Poindexter, armed and accompanied by an armed friend, called at Hall's office. Hall wasn't in, and Poindexter left. A short time later, as Poindexter walked alone on Cherry Street near the News office, Hall stepped in the street carrying a double-barreled shotgun loaded with buckshot. Poindexter, walking up hill in a light rain, was carrying an umbrella. He did not know Hall by sight.

"Stop, Sir!" cried Hall. He repeated it twice, at the same time raising his weapon to his shoulder. Poindexter did not stop, and the roar of the shotgun filled the street. The young man, riddled by shot, fell to the pavement. Beside him lay his broken umbrella, and a loaded pistol he had tried to draw too late.

A vast array of citizens turned out for Poindexter's funeral at the First Baptist Church, though the young man was still a stranger in Nashville. Horn's brass band led the procession, and editors and reporters of the Union and American wore black crepe on their hats. Poindexter was buried at Clarksville, where he had lived briefly before coming to Nashville.

Attorney General William B. Bate, who was to become a Confederate general in the Civil War, pleaded powerfully that Hall be brought to trial, but the record does not show that Hall was ever tried. He apparently supported the Union when war came, and in 1863 he got his reward. Abraham Lincoln made him minister to Bolivia, where he remained until his death in 1868.

From the Nashville Union and American, November 19, 1859


George attended college at Bowdoin college, Maine. In the fall of 1850 he returned to TN and resided with his sister until the next summer when he moved to Lebanon, Wilson Co, TN, where he taught school. Graduated from Law School in Lebanon, TN in 1853. Moved to Clarkesville until appointed as Chief Clerk of the Post Office Department.

Events leading up to his death Statement by Mr. Poindexter of the "Union and American" newspaper. The charges and insinuations against the paper contained in the leading editorial article in the "Nashville News" yesterday are utterly destitute of truth. We cannot consent to carry on a newspaper controversy with an editor who utters calumnies against a contemporary, trusting to the supposed privileges of age to shield him from responsibility.Mr. Allen replied in his editorial "The charges ans insinuations against this paper, contained in the article of news above referred to, I established bu undenuable facts then and there adduced. I made no insinutions".

"The assertion that I trust to the privileges of age to shield myself from responsibility for ay statements I make is false and calmnious. He who made the assertion trusts to te pistol to shield from exposure misrepresentations and falsehoods of the journal with which he is connected. that is the plain English of the matter. The shield he has selected will prove insuffcient for his purpose. I shall go on, as I began, with a thorough exposure of all misstatements, misrepresetations and flasehoods which may appear in the Union and American, and which I may deem worthy of notice --- fully able and prepared to protect my person against assult and to punish the assailant" From the Memphis Appeal.

The Obituary stated mother's maiden name Gilmer. "To the memory of George Gilmer Poindexter" Mr. Poindexter was born in Louisa County, Virginia in 1829. His mother whose maiden name is Gilmer, died when her youngest son, was an infant. His father continued to reside in Louisa county, giving his children the advantages of the excellent schools of that county, until about the year 1828, when he removed to Christian County, Kentucky, whither many of his relatives had gone before him. Remaining there but a sort time, he again removed with his family to the almost unsettled Western District, taking up his abode in Obion County, TN. Here Captain Poindexter died, leaving his young son to the care of his daughter, Mrs. John H. Winston, of Weakley county, TN, in whose family he lived and grew up to young manhood.

From his earliest boyhood he displayed a rare apitude for learning and so well did he apply himself, that in August 1847, he was admitted a member of the Sophomore class of Bowdoin College, Maine - an institution second to none in the land for the exactions it requires from its applicants for admisssion, or for the scholarly attainments of its graduates. Here our young friend entered into competition with young men, many of them much older than himself, wo had been trained to the severest study from boyhood but he was never behind in the race, making up by the brilliancy of his intellect for the lack of that drudgery to which he could not confine his noble soul. He at once took front rank in his class, excelling in every branch of knowledge, mastering the dead and living languages with a facility which only appeared wonderful, until it was seen with what ease his mind investigated the profound problem od pure mathematics, or the nice distinctions of the metaphysicians. He graduated with honor in September 1850.

In college he was a favorite with all, and during the vacations, his classmates all considered themselves honored by his acceptance of their offers of hospitality, and even now, the mournful intelligence of his sad fate, is casting a gloom over many a family hearth in that distant land, where the gifted Southern lad is remembered as the most thoughtful, genial, tender and brilliant of guests. He returned to Tennessee in the fall of 1850, and resided with his sister until the following summer, when he removed to Lebanon, Wilson county, TN, and devoted himself to teaching school, at the same time turning his attention to the study of law.

He remianed in Lebanon for sometime, graduating at the law school there in 1853. After being admitted to the bar, he located at Clarksville, and remained there until invited by Gov. Brown (who had long known and admired him) to the responsible position of Chief Clerk of the Post Office Department, which post he filled to the entire satisfaction of the government, until the summer of 1858, when he purchased an interst in the Union and American, and became its principal working editor, which position he held with great credit to himself, and to the entire satisfaction of the Democratic party, until the day of his death. the 18th of November 1859.

This goes on for several more paragraphs before it ends. " so young, so gifted, and so early dead: a purer heart was never stilled--- a truer man never filled a bloody grave. But why do we weep? Such a man never dies. He still lives in the sorrow-stricken hearts of those who srvive him; and he will always live in the influence which his pure life must exert on all who were around him. - T.R.S, Bolivar (TN) Nov. 20, 1859


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