Chapter One

Jean Poingdestre - 1609 - 1691

Jean was the eldest son of Edward, his father's second marriage, which meant, by the laws of English heredity, that he would actually be viewed as a younger son, and thus not to receive much in the way of inheritance. Therefore, if he were to better himself, it must be by other means. Younger sons of gentry often chose soldiering or religious orders to that end, but young Jean Poingdestre led a scholar's life.

No doubt encouraged by his family, as well as his elder brother's in-laws, one of whom was parish rector, Jean early received instructions in classical reading and writing. When he reached maturity, we find Jean Poingdestre attending Cambridge, and then Exeter College at Oxford, where records show his name anglicized to John Poindexter. In 1635 he was elected fellow at Exeter, and held that fellowship for twelve years. It was there that his name became known.

John Poindexter was viewed as one of the most learned men at the University. His written Greek was regarded as being as beautiful as any set type, and his excellence in Latin remarkable. The libraries at Oxford held Poindexter to eager studies, and his interests were very wide. He wrote on medicine in Latin with his notes in Greek, and was known widely as a legal expert and historian. Leading public figures often sought his expertise in such matters.

In 1648, John's Oxford days came to an abrupt end, when the Cromwellian upheavals caused the expulsion of Royalist sympathizers from that exalted institution. Even higher learning fell under the heavy thumb of Parliamentary rule under Oliver Cromwell, and Poindexter returned, probably not without regret, to his native isle. Jersey by then was known as a haven of Royalist sympathies, and indeed, after the execution of King Charles I, the exiled Prince of Wales, Charles II, was crowned at St. Helier. The newly crowned King then sought refuge in Scotland, but Parliamentary forces landed on Jersey the following year, and laid siege to Jersey's Elizabeth Castle. John Poindexter was among those chosen just before the siege to carry word of the impending crisis to King Charles II. Charles tried to enlist French aid, but when that effort faded, Jean promptly returned home, and rejoined his Royalist comrades in the castle.

When the castle fell to the Parliamentarians in December of 1651, Poindexter wrote the treaty of capitulation. It appears he was further involved in reconciliations with Parliamentary leaders on Jersey. In return, the Parliantarians recognized Royalist sympathizer Jean Poingdestre as among the foremost authorities of Jersey law and customs. Yet he retained the favors of the Royal court, as well. In 1652, the Secretary of State requested that Poindexter be made Latin secretary for him and King Charles II. For reasons unknown, Poindexter declined the office, which then went to the noted English writer, John Milton.

It is possible that Jean Poindexter did not remain on the Island, but accompanied his nephew, George, to the American colony of Virginia between 1657 and 1659. By that time Oliver Cromwell was dead, and King Charles II had regained the throne, albeit with the Parliament still firmly intact. In that, more amicable political climate, Jean reappears in Jersey records in 1659, and eventually moved with his new wife and subsequent family to Oxford. He continued to enjoy a reputation as a man of rare talents and expertise, and to frequent the highest circles. King Charles II himself recommended that Jean Poindexter be appointed a Jurat and Lieutenant Bailiff of Jersey, which office Jean held honorably for eight years. Upon his resignation from the latter post, he retained the office of Jurat until his death.

His latter years he devoted to study and writing, living sometimes at Oxford, sometimes at home, and no doubt visited Normandy's libraries, as well. His fluency in French, English, Latin, and Greek allowed him rare latitude in his studies, some examples of which still survive today.

Yet perhaps his most noted and beloved piece is called, Caesarea or A Discourse of the Island of Jersey. Although written in antiquated and, to modem eyes, dazzling Middle English, affection for his native shore shines in every word. Rather than a dry chronological history of the Isle, it is precisely what the title claims, a treatise on the multi-hued fabric that makes up the Isle of Jersey. From its laws and customs, to the voluminous success of its weavers of stockings and sweaters, his loving pen sketches a rich portrait of his homeland. His only apparent purpose is to reveal his affection for it to his British neighbors, and to no doubt foster their interest in its people and commerce.

Jean Poindexter prefaces his words with two lines from Homer's Odyssey; "A rugged isle, but a good nurse of young men, and for myself no other thing can I see sweeter than one's own land." Contemporaries and later biographers mourned that Poindexter did not extend himself to greater lengths upon the world stage, but in those fines, perhaps we see the true heart of the man. He would lend of himself and his learning to posterity, but only Jersey could hold his deepest affection. Jean Poingdestre, John Poindexter died on his beloved island in 1691. A marble plaque laid to his memory in the St. Savior Church remains to this day.

Chapter Two
George Poingdestre/Poindexter - 1609 - 1691

George was the youngest son born to the elder brother of Jean Poingdestre. But as his esteemed uncle had done, George had to look beyond his limitations for a brighter future. The upheavals of the English Civil War, together with the family's Royalist sympathies, may have been the root of George's decision to immigrate Io the New World. He was no boy when he made that first Atlantic crossing, being a man of thirty years with a wife and young children. One must suppose that pressing considerations led to such a hazardous endeavor and of note is fact that he did not choose Parliamentary ruled England as his place of betterment.

George Poindexter first appears in the Colony of Virginia in 1657, when he and another man purchased 350 acres in Gloucester County. It is possible that George made one or more trips back to Jersey, particularly after the return of Crown rule in 1659, and especially as George may not have brought his family with him. Ten years later in 1667, George and another partner, Otto Thorpe, bought 850 acres of land at Middle Plantation, what is now Williamsburg, in early 1673, apparently George's wife made the crossing and joined him in Virginia. With her probably came the last of their children, now grown or nearly so.

Although one assumes his beginnings may have been rather humble, one must keep in mind that the Poindexters were a family of some standing. Perhaps letters of introduction or other favorable words ensured that he met the "right" people, but certainly his own industry and enterprise made his place, in the new land. Within the first ten or fifteen years, George established himself as a merchant and planter, and is said to have been a joint owner of several ships with Nathaniel Bacon.

It was upon the land Poindexter and Thorpe held that Bacon led his 1676 uprising of Virginia farmers against colonial authorities. Bacon and his followers accused Virginia governor Sir William Berkele, of failure to protect them from Indian raids, on what was then truly wild frontier. They formed their own army and dealt their own justice to raiding tribes. Nathaniel Bacon and his motley army next occupied Virginia’s capital city, Jamestown where they demanded governmental reforms. Indian fighting drew them away again for a time, but then Bacon captured Jamestown once more. Apparently failing to get the desired government response to the farmers' demands, he and his army then burned the city. They retreated to Gloucester, but once there, illness suddenly claimed Bacon’s life. With his death the rebellion collapsed. George Poindexter's own part in all this, beyond the use of his land, remains unknown.

Upon the founding of Bruton Parish at Williamsburg, George Poindexter was elected to the first vestry in 1679. A memorial plaque to his contributions remains upon the wall of the present-day Bruton Parish Church. His name appears frequently in the records of Bruton Parish, proving he was quite active in his church. In those days, church work included such varied things as distributions to the poor, care of orphans or unwed mothers, and the construction of houses, roads, or hospitals. True to his family heritage, George Poindexter was an active and integral member of his community.

About 1685, he moved with his family to an area between the Pamunky and Chickahominy rivers, in present New Kent County. There he built a handsome home in which his children and grandchildren, and their children in turn would grow to adulthood. Later additions to the home lent it the shape of a cross, giving it the name "Christ’s Cross," or "Criss Cross." Built entirely of Flemish brick on a timber frame, the, elegant and sturdy structure today stands as an encapsulation of Virginia architecture over at least a century’s time, although the grand old home itself has advanced well beyond its second century of existence. Criss Cross passed from Poindexter hands about 1870, and today is a private residence, but the aura of quiet timelessness still clings, and one can imagine the footsteps of history echoing softly amongst the shadowed halls.

In New Kent County, George again appears among the founders of another parish, that of St. Peters. He was a member of the first vestry, which met at his home until the completion of St. Peter's Church in 1701. George continues to appear as churchwarden, vestryman, and processional, until he declined the vestry in 1690. He died shortly thereafter, but left a legacy which would help shape the progress of a new nation. The footsteps of his sons and daughters would be found upon the scene, of America’s every endeavor and conflict and their names would grace places of high achievement, even to the present. From a single man sprang what could be called a remarkable dynasty.

Chapter Three

George Poindexter, Governor and Senator of Mississippi - 1780 – 1853

As a young boy, George was remarkably smart, but restless. He couldn't sit still. Known to be "fond of frolic," George also grew to despise authority. Baptist brethren once shook their fingers at him for wearing a queue (long ponytail), fashionable for men in the late 1700s but contrary to Paul's teachings that long hair on men is shameful. To this, George expressed himself plainly. He quit the church.

Says John F.H. Claiborne in his 19th Century book on Mississippi, George was "a stickler in small as well as in great things, fond of squabbling, would never give way a hair's breadth, and was, consequently, perpetually embroiled."

After the death of his parents, George lived with his brother, John, whom George found "too tight and too exacting." So he moved in with another brother, James, in Kentucky, who got George a job with an attorney where the young man studied law and was looking to the future.

The attorney put George in charge of collections in which the young man received a small commission. But George was later fired for "gambling and frolicking."

George returned to Virginia, set up his own law practice in the small town of Milton (which no longer exits), bought some real estate and was doing okay, earning about $5 per client for basic legal transactions. Despite making a decent living, his fondness for living above his means and his reckless pursuits resulted in great debt. In Milton, says the historian Claiborne, George became "fond of cards, wine, horse-racing and society."

George decided it was time for a change, but before leaving town, he acknowledged his debts and promised to pay. He didn't sneak out of town, but he didn't advertise his departure.

With empty pockets, George asked his brother, John, to sell the property George owned in Milton and pay his bills with the proceeds. To get out of town, George borrowed money from a man named William Ragland. John stood good for his brother's debt to Ragland, which was to be repaid from the sale of the George's lot.

Claiborne says what happened next was an example of a lifelong problem for George Poindexter, typically "slow in paying his debts, and always cramped for funds. His lot, which he valued at $1000 cash, was finally sold for $500...and in 1810 he had not paid his brother, and was squabbling over the claim."

John wrote to George: "At a time when you could not remain here, and could not go for the want of means, I borrowed that money for you, which no other man on earth would have done, and the payment of it, as you must know, has cramped me, and compelled me to stint my large family. Since I got the money for you, more than seven years have elapsed, of prosperity with you and adversity with me."

John also said that George had to leave Milton because he "could not stay without liability to arrest; could not go for the want of means" until John "borrowed the money for him," which George refused to repay. George claimed his brother should have made enough from the sale of the lot to pay the debts and realize a profit.


Money borrowed from William Ragland enabled George to travel to the Mississippi Territory in December 1802, a place everybody in Virginia had heard about. Natchez was growing, property was available and lawyers were in demand. George immediately drew business, but his mood was low.

On Jan. 18, 1803, 23-year-old George wrote one of his sisters to update her on his life. In the depths of depression, a state in which he often dipped, things seemed bleak.

"Here I am, without society, and without the hope of forming any," he said. But his sister didn't feel sorry for him. She figured he was broke again, and knew about his erratic mood swings. He apparently said some bad things about the prospects for a wife in Natchez country.

His sister wrote him back: "Your impressions of the ladies of your new country seem unfavorable. You, however, have this consolation, that you are not dependent on their beauty and graces for advancement in your profession. A man of business is not obliged to attend fashionable assemblies."

Noted Claiborne: "Mr. Poindexter was not at any time a ladies' man, nor had the traits of character, nor the refined and deferential manners to make him a favorite with them. He was coarse and boisterous, with a loud, preemptory voice, and a decided inclination for courthouse and tavern circles."

But soon came an opportunity that transformed his professional life. Just a few months after his arrival in Natchez, Gov. William Charles Cole Claiborne named Poindexter Attorney General for the district of the Mississippi Territory between the Mississippi and the Pearl Rivers. Gov. Claiborne, also a Virginian, knew that the young man had a good knowledge of the law and might be capable of serving well, which Poindexter did.

In fact, George Poindexter served in almost every major office in Mississippi for the next few decades. He became a leading citizen, was a friend and foe of Andrew Jackson, was known as a good legislator in the halls of Congress, considered an authority on national issues, and helped lead Mississippi from a territorial government to one of a state. But his accomplishments were always overshadowed by his debilitating bouts of depression.

Poindexter suffered from a mental condition that was in his day called "folic circulaire" by two French physicians. This was a disease in which the patient, explained Dr. T.S. Clouston, suffers "regularly remitting and recurring periods of mental exaltation, depression, and sanity. The patient, in fact, may be said to live three lives, during each of which he is in a different condition emotionally, intellectually, and in conduct." Some people may have simply thought Poindexter a man who fell into bouts of craziness. In today's world, his condition might be called "bipolar," a term familiar to most every family and a medical condition much better understood today than 200 years ago.

Poindexter seemed to manage this condition in his highly-successful professional life, but his personal life seemed always in shambles.


In late spring 1804 he took another step forward when he married Lydia, the daughter of Capt. and Mrs. Jesse Carter, who were wealthy folks by the day's standards. This wedding was big news in Natchez country -- the daughter of a wealthy planter with a healthy dowry marrying an up and coming Virginian. But almost immediately there were problems and young Lydia would regret this marriage.

In just four years, George and Lydia were separated. By then in Congress, Poindexter publicly accused Col. Thomas Percy of sleeping with Lydia. When Lydia bore the couple's second son, Albert, Poindexter believed the child to be Percy's, and he threatened to shoot Percy on sight.

"By every law human and divine I should be justified in taking your life," he wrote Percy, "without affording you an opportunity or means of resistance." Poindexter said that through friendship he had welcomed Percy into his home, but accused him of having the morals of a "midnight assassin" and a robber.

In a day when the newspapers carried letters from men making accusations against others of every kind -- often followed by duels -- Poindexter indicated that because of Lydia's pleas he would never discuss publicly what he believed happened.

The historian Claiborne says he reviewed documents concerning this alleged affair and thought Lydia "may have been indiscreet, and the more so from resentment of her husband's suspicions," but Claiborne felt she was a "pure and true wife." The marriage failed.

While still in Natchez but divorced from Poindexter, Lydia, said to be a generous and kind person, was heartsick after hearing the story by a missionary concerning an orphaned Osage Indian girl. The child was being held by the Cherokee following a battle between the two tribes. The Cherokee wanted a ransom for the child's release.

Lydia immediately gave $150 -- a mighty sum in the early 1800s -- and after her release the little girl was christened "Lydia Carter," but died a short time later. Lydia later remarried -- not to Charles Percy but to a minister named Williams -- and the couple left Natchez country.

While still a young teenager, Albert was in school in Philadelphia. George Poindexter paid for his education, but paid no attention to him otherwise. Happily remarried, Lydia continued to provide Albert as much emotional support as a mother can, but Albert was ashamed of the suspicions over his birth and longed for the love of his father. He consequently became a young man who was good at nothing and he knew it.

A poor student, Poindexter ordered Albert's teacher to take whatever measures necessary to force Albert to learn. When the teacher told Albert of the methods his father suggested, the young man wrote to Poindexter.

"Dear Father," his letter began, "I am very sorry I cannot please you in any way. I try my best. I have just left a school where I was not made to study, and I hope you will not expect so much from me here the first quarter."

Albert told his father that he was more than a year or two away from being prepared for college "no matter how I try." He promised that "if you keep me at school I will try my best."

Fearing that Poindexter was preparing to throw him "upon the world" without emotional or financial support, Albert was desperate. To his father's warning in a "hard letter" that only one more year of school would be financed, Albert wrote, "Please tell me what I am to expect?"

Albert's teacher told him of Poindexter's proposal "about locking me in a room to compel me to learn," but Albert wondered why his father didn't communicate directly to him. "Dear father, won't you write to me? I have written to you many times, but have never received a letter from you. I still remain your affectionate son."

But Poindexter wouldn't speak to Albert directly by word or pen and he wasn't at all moved by this letter from a son crying out for love. Claiborne suggested that Poindexter had "lived to see the boy, the very image of himself, a pauper, vagabond and criminal."

Never a loving word did Poindexter utter to this son, who tumbled into a world of alcoholism and aimlessness. Jobless and penniless, he crashed wherever he could rest his head at night. In 1832 in his 20s, he took his last breath in a ram shackled house in Louisville, Kentucky.


Albert's final hours were described by a Dr. G.E. Pendergrast in a letter to Poindexter, then a U.S. Senator, on Feb. 19, 1832. Pendergrast didn't hide his disgust over Poindexter's treatment of the young man.

"Early this morning," the doctor wrote, "Albert sent for me in great haste that he was suffocating. I set out immediately with the messenger, but he was dead before I saw him. The disease was inflammation of the throat and tonsils.

"The individual in whose house he died had applied to the Mayor to have him buried, as he had left nothing but the clothes he had on. This I would not permit, and have taken the necessary steps to have him decently and respectfully interred tomorrow.

"Not withstanding the coldness you exhibited to me when you were here, I cannot permit the son of an old friend to fill a pauper's grave. No matter what your feelings may have been towards the poor boy, or may be towards me, I am simply doing what I would wish done for me, or mine, under similar circumstances."

This letter was found tucked away in Poindexter's papers after his death. Claiborne suspected that Albert's death haunted Poindexter for the rest of his life. Certainly it should have.

Chapter Four

Reverend James Preston Poindexter - 1819 -1907

When you think of the early to mid-1800s, most people believe that all African-Americans in the United States were slaves. Actually, there were thousands who lived freely in the North. Before the Civil War, African-Americans in Ohio had an important role in the Underground Railroad, helping slaves escape to freedom. During the Civil War, their search for freedom did not end. Free black men from the North, including Ohio, enlisted to fight in the Union Army. The United States could not have won the war without their valiant efforts. Although there were African-American teachers and, two-thirds of free African-Americans struggled to survive with jobs as hotel workers, servants, shopkeepers, and laborers.

James came to Ohio when he was 18 years old and moved a year later, in 1838, to Columbus (at that time, Columbus had the largest African-American population in Ohio.) He opened a barbershop on High Street across from the Statehouse. He soon became an operator on the Underground Railroad, helping runaway slaves move from downtown Columbus to Clintonville, 5-6 miles away. He was a preacher with the Second Baptist Church, and became its pastor in 1858. He stayed with the church for 40 years. Reverend Poindexter was known for being very honest and for helping everyone, no matter what race they were. Because he had white and American Indian ancestry, as well as African-American, he was allowed to vote and be active in politics. People of African-American heritage only were not allowed the right to vote until the passing of the 15th Amendment.

He was a big influence with the Columbus School Board and helped to improve African-American and Catholic schools. With his help, African-American teachers were able to teach side by side with whites in nine different schools in the city. In the 1880-90s, he was a trustee at the School for the Blind, Ohio University and Wilberforce University. He was also on the Ohio State Forestry Bureau for 18 years.

If that weren't enough to keep him busy, after the signing of the 15th Amendment, he got very involved with politics. He ran (but lost) elections for the Ohio Senate twice. He was a very good friend with abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Rutherford Hayes.

1 [S. A. Vesey], comp., Franklin County (Ohio) at the beginning of the Twentieth Century (Columbus, 1901), 364.
2 A letter dated July 30, 1943, to the writer from Emeritus Professor Wilbur H. Siebert who interviewed Poindexter in the summer of 1897.
See also Siebert's book, The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom (New York, 1898), 253.

Page Two

In 1847 a Negro family of Poindexter's acquaintance which had previously owned slaves in Virginia joined the Second Baptist Church. The family had sold their slaves before coming to Ohio, but many of the congregation felt that they had grievous one in having sold them. It was, therefore, demanded that the money received from the sale be applied in redeeming them. This demand not being complied with, "forty dissenting brethren" with Poindexter as leader organized the Anti-Slavery services in a brick edifice at the corner of Town and Sixth streets. The Ohio State Journal reports that fifty members were added to the church by a revival in January 1858, conducted by the Reverend Mr. Shelton from Cincinnati, 3 but the church seems to have passed out of existence that same year. Poindexter returned to the Second Baptist Church, this time as pastor. He remained in this capacity for forty years, and is until July 1898, when his resignation took place. During much of his pastorate, Poindexter also worked in his barbershop, not wishing, he said, to burden his church financially.

The second Baptist Church was the oldest of that denomination among Negroes in Columbus and for many years the largest and most influential. This was due in high degree to the character, influence, and leadership of Poindexter. In the pulpit he was a convincing speaker, but he also took a prominent part if secular affairs and was quite at home in debate. He held a respected place among he prominent ministers of the city and was the only Negro member of the Pastors' Union, made up of the more able ministers of the city. He served as president of this organization for a time. His colleague, the eminent Congregational clergyman and author, Dr Washington Gladden, remembered Poindexter thus:

It was in 1858 that I first came to Columbus. During a religious meeting I had occasion to drop into a service in a building located at that time about Lazelle and Gay Streets. A black haired man, with well defined features, dark in color, was telling the Story of the Gospel. I was impressed. When I was located in Columbus some twenty-five years after, I received a visit one day from a colored preacher. "I am a neighbor of yours, "he said," and I want to bid you welcome to our work." Then I recognized the same Negro preacher that I heard a quarter of a century before. His hair was gray now, but the kindly countenance was unchanged. He always has worked for the uplift of the Negro race.4

It may be noted that Poindexter was moderator over the thirtieth anniversary meeting of the Anti-Slavery Baptist Association of Ohio held at Springfield early in September 1871, at the Second Baptist Church.5 The names of the secretary and moderator authenticate an address to the Christian church, which was then adopted, and it publication desired "in all newspapers friendly to the cause of Christ." One of the things strongly deprecated in the address was race prejudice within the church. "The prejudice which prevents God's people from meeting on terms of equality in God's house, which restrains Christians from embracing each other in affections and brotherly love without regard to color," read the address, "is the disgrace and weakness of the Church in America and we beseech you in the name of Christ to purge it out."6 Poindexter saw clearly that freedom from slavery was but a start in the right direction. Complete participation of Negroes in the religious life of America as well as in civic, religious, and political affairs was the goal to striven for.

Poindexter's ministry gave him an opportunity to express his liberalism; it also provided others with the opportunity to show their implicit faith in his thoughts and actions. His influence and friendliness extended to whites as well as Negroes. The following incident is a splendid example, for despite his adherence to the Republican Party, Poindexter had good friends among prominent Democrats. One of those was O. P. Chaney of Canal Winchester, a small town just south of Columbus. Chaney was a well known state official whose father was a Congressman. Early in November 1906, O. P. Chaney died. In accordance with a previous arrangement, Poindexter was called upon to conduct the funeral service. The Ohio State Journal reported that "Reverend James Poindexter officiated at the funeral of the late O. P. Chaney at Canal Winchester, Tuesday.

Poindexter and Mr. Chaney had been lifelong friends and many years ago the deceased exacted a promise from the veteran colored minister that when he (Chaney) died, Poindexter was to officiate at the funeral ceremony. Mr. Chaney at the time said 'Jim, you know me and what you say about me; people will believe.'7 Poindexter officiated at the funeral ceremonies of other prominent men of both races.

3 Ohio State Journals, January 29, 1858
4 Ibid., February 18, 1907
5 In an unfinished and unpublished history of the Negro Baptists in Ohio, by the late Reverend George Washington,
pastor of the Bethany Baptist Church of Columbus, the statement is made that the Anti-Slavery, title was retained until 1895.
6 Ohio State Journal, September 6, 1895
7 Ibid. November 08, 1906

Page Three

His long ministry was characterized by deep earnestness, steadfastness of purpose, fidelity to the cause of Christianity, an uncompromising attitude towards wrong, and a breadth of vision that extended beyond denomiminational lines. He insisted that the preacher must be a thoroughly upright man. In eulogizing him, Bishop B. F. Lee of the Africa Methodist Episcopal Church said, "The deceased refused to allow anyone to preach from his pulpit that had any stain on his character." During his pastorate the church moved from its location at the southwest corner of Gay and Lazelle streets to large quarters at the northwest corner of Rich and Third streets, the former location of the First Baptist Church. This was in the year 1896.


The Anti-Slavery Baptist Association was founded in 1841 and was instrumental in promoting antagonism to slavery among Baptist congregations in Ohio communities. Such antagonism had existed, however, in the Second Baptist Church of Columbus since the time when Poindexter became attached to it. He readily recalled in his old age certain of it men who were evidently the most daring and energetic in local Underground Railroad operations. There members of the flock were John Booker, N. B. Ferguson, David Jenkins, and John Ward. It may be that Louis Washington, his son Robert, and James Hawkins also belonged to the congregation. At any rate, they could be counted on for midnight labors on the Underground Railroad. Louis Washington was described by Poindexter as a man possessed of great physical strength and able "to get away half a dozen ordinary men."

"Washington came to Columbus from Richmond, Virginia, and seems to have been a teamster. He owned teams and wagons with which he or his drivers often conveyed fugitive slaves from their hiding places in Columbus to the Methodist Chapel in Clintonville, a settlement five or six miles from the State Capitol. The chapel was on the west side of the Worthington Plank Road (now High Street) near the house of the local Methodist preacher, Jason Bull. The rear basement of the chapel was piled high with hickory wood for the winter's use. That wood was so arranged that it walled in a number of small rooms for concealing the fugitives. Food and water were carried to the hiding slaves in the night by Bull's family. Poindexter spoke of Bull as the supervisor of Underground Railroad operations northward out of Columbus. He seems to have had the native force and judgment of a capable manager. In Columbus there were several white men of high standing in business and professional circles who provided hiding places and whatever other aid was needed to carry on the secret work. Fugitive slaves were often hidden in the attic of the house of Dr. James H. Coulter on Third Street between Gay and Long streets and in the barn at the rear. Another place of concealment was the attic of L. G. Van Slyke's home, 188 East Town Street.8 The location of these homes was in what is now the downtown section of Columbus. Dr. Samuel M. Smith and James M. Westwater, both prominent citizens of Columbus, were active in the Underground. All were warm friends of Poindexter.

Apparently some friend presented Poindexter with a copy of the book entitled Reminiscences of Levi Coffin. Coffin, a Quaker who had worked in the Underground from the age of fifteen through a long life, aided about 3,000 fugitive slaves to escape. He did much to help spread the antislavery movement. In his humanitarian work he was associated with a great number of Quakers, some of whom lived in Columbus. Poindexter said, in expressing great admiration for them, "Truly the Quaker Friend is a noble specimen of humanity; equally true it is, thank God, as impartial history avouched, that the Negro, after two hundred and fifty years of the cruelest bondage, stood well in comparison with the best type of his white brethren."9

8 Siebert, letter to the author, July 30, 1943
9 Ohio State Journal, October 16, 1877.

Page Four


In 1836, two years before Poindexter and his wife became residents of Columbus, the colored people of the town made some provision for educating their children by procuring a teacher and providing a school building. Not until after the Civil War was any action taken to provide tax-supported facilities for Negro children in Columbus, and those facilities were poor. One of the two schools provided for colored youth was located on South Seventh Street (Grant Avenue) between Mound and Fulton streets. The other, called the "Alley School," was located at the intersection of two alleys, Lafayette and Lazelle, just a short distance northeast of the center of the city. It was also called the "Pig Pen." The latter school was an old double house from which the partition had been removed.

It was then the custom for each school to have a "visiting committee," made up of citizens appointed to make recommendations. The visiting committee, of which Poindexter was a member, complained that the school was "unsightly, both in character and situation." Shortly afterward the schools were abandoned and Negro children were sent to the Third Street School at the southeast corner of Third and Long streets. The date of this change was 1872. Poindexter and other members of the committee were not yet satisfied with the provisions made for Negro education. The annual reports of the Columbus Public Schools record complaints against the location of the Third Street School, which had been renamed the Loving School, in honor of Dr. Starling Loving, who on many occasions had championed the rights of Negroes. The last complaint voiced in the Annual Report for 1881 is typical:

Respecting the building, we do not see that any very important repairs are required. But we recommend a change of location. It is certain that no school in the city is surrounded by such an unhealthy moral atmosphere as the Loving School. Saloons and street corners lie on every hand and make it at once one of the worst places for a public school in the city. All these things suggest the necessity of change.10 This section of the city was rapidly acquiring an evil reputation and came to be known as "Bad Lands." Shortly afterward Loving School was razed, and Negro students were distributed in the other public schools according to the school districts in which they lived. This change came in September 1882.

Membership on visiting school committees gave Poindexter practical training for membership on the Columbus School Board. This position came to him on December 30, 1884, by unanimous vote of the school board after the elected incumbent, Dr. Starling Loving, had rendered himself ineligible by moving out of the ward from which he had been elected. For ten years Poindexter served as member of the board, being elected four times from the Ninth Ward. During his term of service on the city school board, he was chairman of the following committees: schoolhouse sites, rules and regulations, textbooks and course of study (six years), discipline, and visiting committees for Spring Street School (three years) and Central High School (two years). He also served as member of the following committees: supplies, hygiene, public library, manual training, printing, salaries, and teachers and examinations.11

During Poindexter's tenure of office some controversy arose when Catholic school authorities sought to obtain the temporary use of an unoccupied schoolroom in the Twenty-third Street School, while awaiting the completion of a new parochial school in the vicinity. Poindexter championed the right of Catholics to use the quarters until their own building was ready for occupancy.

Poindexter is said to have had no formal schooling, although he was tutored by an English-born citizen of Columbus. The fact that he was chairman of the important textbooks and course of study committee for six years would indicate he did his work acceptably. Unquestionably, too, membership on such a variety of committees in itself was an education of great value to him, though it came to him relatively late in his life.

Six years before assuming his place on the board he had voiced his objection to separate schools for Negro children as follows:

Colored people don't desire to abuse the educational privilege of the white children but simply to put their children on equality with the white children. Abolish our beneficent system of free schools and the distance between the white and colored people will widen to all eternity. We are poor and ignorant as a class, they are intelligent and rich. They have had the benefit of their own and the colored man's toil for two hundred and fifty years; we have not only been worked without pay, but shut up in cells of ignorance. Oh, No! For heaven's sake don't shut up the free schools until we get some of the benefits of them. Another objection [to integrated schools] is that the colored child can learn four times as much under colored as under white teachers; and another is that the colored teachers draw $320,000 per annum out of the treasury for their services, which . . . would be lost to the colored people if the change be made. . . . More and more as they rise to comprehension of the vast good to our people of mixed schools, will our colored teachers assent to the sacrifice here proposed, as one righteous to be made. Holding aloft this standard, we vindicate the sacrifice suffered for us by the Martyred Lovejoy, Wendell Phillips, William Garrison, O. P. Morton and the great statesman and philanthropist, Charles Sumner.12

10 Annual Report of the Board of Education of the Columbus Public Schools 1881-82.
11 Ibid. 1882-83 to 1893-94, passim.
12 Ohio State Journals, February 14, 1878.

Page Five

Largely through Poindexter's efforts colored teachers taught side by side with white teachers in nine different schools in the city of Columbus. The kind of teachers desired by colored people was set forth in the following comprehensive statement: "Parents of colored youth, like parents of white youth, demand that those appointed to teach their children shall have the requisite educational qualifications; be pure in their lives; orderly in deportment; devoted to their work, and successful, because capable and devoted. And they demand further, that the schools for their children, in their whole make-up, be the freest possible from sectarian taint."13

Poindexter was a faithful worker while on the school board and is said to have rarely missed a meeting. He had been advocating consistently the merger of schools for white and colored students before becoming a member, and his unanimous choice for membership on the board, made up as it was of prominent men of the city, was a deserved recognition of his influence.

A further contact in an official way with the educational system of Ohio came with his appointment as a trustee of the State School for the Blind by Governor Charles Foster in 1880. He served through the year 1883, during the superintendence of George S. Snead. Later, Governor Joseph B. Foraker named consecutively the two granddaughters of Poindexter to be teachers at that institution.

His nomination in 1885 as a trustee of Ohio University at Athens by Governor George Hoadley was not ratified by the State Senate on the ground that he was too partisan. The vote was thirteen nose to eleven ayes. Replying to the charge of partisanship, Poindexter wrote:

It is not best for colored men of the country that they be compelled to vote for the candidate of any one party. This the masses of them will feel it is a religious duty to do until the Democratic party accept in good faith the constitution as it is, and illustrate that acceptance of it by fitting recognition of capable colored men in official positions.14

In April 1896 Poindexter was appointed by Governor Bushnell as a trustee of the combined Normal and Industrial Departments of Wilberforce University. The Ohio State Journal complimented the Governor on his wise choice and congratulated the appointee on the recognition accorded him. It spoke of his being well known everywhere for his honorable achievements and his Christian virtue. The Journal stated that all conceded it to be the best selection which could have been made and hoped that his wise counsel would serve to guide Wilberforce through any struggle that might occur.15


Negro suffrage in Columbus followed, of course, the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment. One newspaper in taking note of the circumstance offered some advice to the new voters, saying: "Every free man above the age of twenty-one years without regard to color or complexion is entitled to vote on Monday at the City and Township Election. Every colored citizen must, therefore, be at the polls early and vote as the best interests of the city require. Modesty, calmness and so briary should mark the behavior of these newly enfranchised voters."16

After the election both the Ohio State Journal and the Ohio Statesman commented favorably on the deportment of these citizens who were voting for the first time, one saying "their record on the day made memorable by their first vote is a very good one. The further comment was that nearly all voted the Republican ticket. While the name of Poindexter is not mentioned in this connection, one may well be sure that he, by both precept and example, set the tone for the Negro vote at that first election.

Shortly after the election, the Negroes of Columbus undertook the celebration of the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment. This was an all-day celebration which got under way with the firing of cannon early in the morning. A parade was next in order with the line of March covering the central portion of the city, and ending at the State Capitol where the speaking took place. Five hundred and sixty-five people took part in the parade and there were 47 carriages in line. The Douglass and Potomac Guards (presumably militia) led the procession. At the head of the Sons of Protection (an organization of some importance paying sick and burial benefits) marched Poindexter, the president of the organization. There was much oratory by prominent men of both races at the afternoon ceremony. In the evening the celebration was continued at the Opera House. There were more speeches by Governor Rutherford B. Hayes, the Honorable Sam Galloway, the Honorable E. E. White, the Reverend J. P. Underwood, and the Reverend G. H. Graham. But the orator of the evening was Poindexter who made a long speech in which he urged: "Fellow citizens, rejoicing in the liberty which the elective franchise brings, let us look squarely in the face its accompanying duties and earnestly and energetically make the needful preparation to rightly discharge them." In this speech Poindexter showed an extensive knowledge of English and American history.17 The Columbus newspapers gave considerable space to recording the proceedings of the day which gave due emphasis, they felt, to the newly acquired privilege.

13 Ibid. June 10, 1878
14 Ibid. April 17, 1885
15 Ibid. April 19, 1896
16 Ibid. April 2, 1870
17 Ohio Statesman, April 14, 1870.

Page Six

This period marks the emergence of Poindexter as an influential political figure, and it is not surprising that his name was prominent among the signers of a "call of the colored men of Ohio to a mass convention to be held in this city on the 18th inst. (January 18, 1871)." The object of this convention, the notice stated, "is to so organize the colored people that their votes shall be made available for securing and maintaining for ourselves and our children the legitimate benefits resulting from our newly acquired rights under the constitution."18 This convention reaffirmed allegiance to the Republican Party and endorsed the nomination of Ulysses S. Grant for President. Later in the same year an article appeared in a Columbus newspaper entitled, "Rev. James Poindexter for Senator." It was stated, in what was a careful estimate, that:

As Senator he would rank with the ablest debaters in that body. If he can be induced to become a candidate, he is entirely competent to discuss the questions at issue between the political parties with any gentleman the opposition may bring against him. Mr. Poindexter is scholarly, of polished address, and will make a good impression wherever he goes.19

On August 1, 1873, Poindexter delivered an address at Chillicothe, Ohio, on "The Duty of the Citizen of the United States as a Voter." An excerpt from this address will suffice to show the speaker's opinion of the moral and political responsibility attached to American citizenship.

First, he [the citizen] must acquaint himself with the object of government or he can not intelligently labor for its success. Secondly, he must attend all elections because those of opposing principles will be there; to stay away himself is to suffer his cause to go by default. Thirdly, he must not support his party when it becomes the advocate of bad measures, because he is individually responsible to his country for his political action. Fourthly, he must not vote for unworthy candidates, because weak or corrupt men can not be depended upon to carry out sound measures. Colored persons should demand nothing because they are colored; [and] should consent to have nothing withheld from them on that account.20

Late in August 1873 Poindexter was approved by the Republican State Central Committee as a candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives. Although it was said of him in the press that he was a gentleman who would not suffer in any aspect by comparison with any member of the body for which he was named, he was defeated in the election. Poindexter's barbershop was not only the means of support for him and his family; it was also the place where he became well acquainted with many state and national politicians and gained considerable enlightenment about public affairs. His shop, at 61 South High Street, was across from the State House, and close to the Neil House, the headquarters of numerous public men of prominence. Among his customers, also, were well-known professional and business men. They liked to patronize so convenient a place whose proprietor was a decided character, always courteous and attentive. He never refused to serve colored patrons.

In 1876 Poindexter served as delegate to the Republican National Convention,21 and during the subsequent presidential campaign he actively supported the Republican candidate, Rutherford B. Hayes. In consequence of this there was talk among friends and admirers in favor of his appointment as minister to Haiti. A basic quality of his character may be easily seen from his reaction:

Two years more and I shall have earned my bread for fifty years at the barber's chair and will have been a preacher of the gospel for forty years; and to lift me out of these pursuits into the dazzling one of a foreign mission may be highly injurious to myself and by no means advantageous to the public service. Hence, I am not worried about the Haytian Mission.22

In the centennial year Poindexter was again nominated for the state legislature, only to be defeated again. Success in the campaign would have pleased him, provided he could have won in a manner consistent with his way of life. He had already made it clear that he asked no favors of voters. In an Emancipation Day address in 1873 he said:

Let no gentleman vote for me simply that [sic] he has known me a long time and thinks me a clever fellow. Let none vote for me that I am a colored man; he that would vote for me because I am a colored man would vote against me if I were a white man. . . . In clothing one with public trust the question should be, does the candidate possess the ability and the integrity to discharge the duties of the office with credit to himself and advantage to the State? If he does, is he, too, gentlemanly in his bearing as to make it a pleasure to his associates to cooperate with him in measures promoting the interests of his country?23

18 Ohio State Journal, January 7, 1871
19 Columbus Dispatch, September 6, 1871
20 Ohio State Journal, August 5, 1876
21 Ibid. May 15, 1876.
22 Ibid. June 21, 1877.
23 Ibid. September 23, 1873

Page Seven

Poindexter did much to promote the interests of the Republican Party among Negroes in Ohio. While he reserved the right to withdraw his support from his party when it advocated "bad measures" or "nominated unworthy candidates," he lacked confidence in the Democratic Party. Franklin County, of which Columbus is the county seat, gave a majority vote for Vallandigham, the Copperhead candidate for Governor of the State, while the Civil War was in progress. A petition to the legislature after the war from the same county prayed that "the immigration of the Negro into Ohio be stopped." The petitioners lamented the economic situation brought about by the resulting competition in labor.24 In addition this county cast a two-to-one vote against giving the colored people in Ohio the right of suffrage. Later on, of course, that right was granted by the State. While the seating of the President was still in question early in 1877, Frederick Douglass and Poindexter conferred with Rutherford B. Hayes in Columbus. Hayes wrote in his diary for February 18, 1877:

The indications still are that I am to go to Washington. I talked yesterday with Fred[erick] Douglass and Mr. Poindexter, both colored, on the Southern question. I told them my views. They approved Mr. Douglass gave me many useful hints about the whole subject. My course is a firm assertion and maintenance of the rights of the colored people of the South according to the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, coupled with a readiness to recognize all Southern people without regard to past political conduct, who will now go on with me heartily and in good faith in support of these principles.25

It may be mentioned parenthetically that it was the general opinion at the time that Poindexter recommended Douglass for the federal office he received from President Hayes. Like Douglass, Poindexter believed that the Negro's destiny was interwoven with that of the Republican Party. Four years before, in 1873, a group of colored citizens met at the Shiloh Baptist Church to take action on the "Chillicothe resolutions," which urged bolting the Republican Party. The resolution in answer to the Chillicothe resolutions was written by Poindexter and said in part:

"Although we have our grievances, growing out of our party affiliations, it is not in our heart to denounce the Administration and the Republican Party."26

Poindexter served on a committee of resolutions to negate the resolutions of a national meeting of Negroes at Nashville, Tennessee, in I876. The Nashville convention likewise was considering bolting the Republican Party. Again it was declared that the time for such action was not yet ripe. . Poindexter expressed himself freely and boldly in the press, many of his letters commending the acts and words of some of his contemporaries and condemning those of others.

This parceling out of praise and blame irritated a local white politician by the name of Furay, who considered the tone of Poindexter's letters presumptuous. He therefore wrote of him in sarcastic vein as follows:

"Brother Poindexter talks and writes as if he carries the fifteen thousand colored votes of Ohio in his breeches pocket. He will wake up some day to a discovery of the fact that his assumption and arrogance are very offensive, and especially so to those voters whom he imagines he owns." The elderly clergyman answered this caustic paragraph in mild but effective language: "I claim no authority over the votes of the colored man, and if I have any influence with my own people it is the fruit of a long life of devotion to our cause as an oppressed race and this, I think, no generous white man will grudge."27

That Poindexter's influence with the Negroes of Columbus was in no way affected by the remarks of Furay was attested by the fact that he was elected to membership on the city council in the year 1880, being the first of five Negroes up to 1902 who served in that capacity. He was re-elected in 1882 and became the vice president of that body by vote of his fellow members. Poindexter was well informed of the uncompromising attitude of the Democratic Party in the southern states toward political rights for colored men there. He wrote:

"When it was proposed to make colored men in the South voters, the cry was raised: This is a white man's government and white men should run it. Democrats opposed making colored men voters because they believed they [Negroes] would vote solid for the Republicans and take from the Democracy the Southern states . . . and . . . put it in a hopeless minority in national affairs. Now many of the colored man's best friends deplore the fact that he was made a voter; the measure [the Fifteenth Amendment] they thought would protect him and preserve the South in the hands of those who had kept it in the Union has been made the pretext for inflicting untold suffering upon the colored man and despite of it, the southern states, with largely increased electoral votes, have been captured by the Democracy.28

24 Sara G. Rider, The Negro in Ohio with Especial Reference to the Influence of the Civil War
(unpublished master's thesis, Ohio State University, 1931), 30
25 Rutherford B. Hayes, Diary and Letters of Rutherford B. Hayes,
edited by Charles Richard Williams (5 vols., Columbus, 1922-26), III, 417
26 Ohio State Journal, August 28, 1873
27 Ibid., August 12, 1877
28 Ibid., April 30, 1877

Page Eight

Dr. Carter G. Woodson in his History of the Negro Church has remarked "how difficult it was for the Negro minister to avoid politics," quoting from Poindexter in support of that statement as follows: Nor can a preacher more than any other citizen plead his religious work or the sacredness of that work as an exemption from duty. Going to the Bible to learn the relation of the pulpit to politics, and accepting the prophets, Christ and the Apostles, and the pulpit of their times and their precepts as the guide of the pulpit today, I think that their conclusion will be that wherever sin is to be rebuked no matter by whom committed, an ill to be averted or good to be achieved by our country or mankind, there is a place for the pulpit to make itself felt and heard. The truth is all the help the preachers and all other good and worthy citizens can give by taking hold of politics is needed in order to keep the government out of bad hands and secure the ends for which governments are formed.29

After Poindexter's political activities lessened because of his age, he often attended Republican meetings and was invariably given a seat of honor on the rostrum.


For eighteen years Poindexter was a member of the Ohio State Forestry Bureau. His first appointment to this office was made by Governor Bushnell in the year 1887. The tenure of office was six years. He was appointed by three successive governors. This gives an index to the deep respect which he enjoyed. During his first term in this bureau he served as its treasurer. In the Third Annual Report of the Ohio State Forestry Bureau, the director, Adolph Leue, wrote of Poindexter:

Mr. Poindexter, who is pastor of a church in Columbus, is a man of medium size, sixty seven years of age, wears long silver-white hair, and is, in spite of his advanced years, strong and very active, which latter qualities he attributes to his temperate habits; for he does not drink anything stronger than tea and coffee, and does not care for that when he can have plenty of good water. He used to take great delight in smoking a good cigar, but cares for it no more. Mr. Poindexter is thoroughly convinced of the great importance of the Forestry Bureau, and will do anything that may tend to advance the good cause for which we are assembled.30

In the latter years of his life Poindexter received many honors. He was invited to preach the baccalaureate sermon at State University, Louisville, Kentucky, May 15, 1887, and on the following Tuesday he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity at that school. 31

In I881 during the 41-day Ohio Centennial Celebration held immediately after the Grand Army of the Republic's sojourn in Columbus, Poindexter was appointed President of the Day at the ceremonies on September 22, and with Bishop Benjamin Arnett, spoke to a crowd of 4,000 on that occasion which was called the "Jubilee of Freedom." In the next year he was appointed by Governor Foraker one of the four delegates to attend the National Forestry Congress held at Philadelphia October 15. The Franklinton Centennial Celebration was held in the year 1897 marking the anniversary of the founding of the town on the west bank of the Scioto River. Franklinton was the forerunner of Columbus. Poindexter served on two committees, the reception committee and the committee on historic relics. This celebration drew many noted visitors from all over the State.32 In 1898 Poindexter resigned the pastorate of the Second Baptist Church. He did not give up his interest in the religious affairs of his church and the community however. He spent considerable time visiting and assisting in the work of the younger, weaker churches, saying he did not wish to rust out and knew of no other way in which he could spend his time more profitably.

His death came on February 7, 1907, in his eighty-eighth year, from an attack of pneumonia. His old friend and neighbor, Dr. Starling Loving, was in attendance. With him were also his two granddaughters, Nettie and Della, and the three children of the former, Albert, James, and Ruth Scott. Mrs. Poindexter had died in 1876 and his only child, Joseph, died shortly before him. He was conscious to almost the end, and his last words were said to have been, "I have served God, my Country and mankind to the best of my ability."

His funeral was held in the church of which he had long been pastor. The Governor of the State, the Honorable Andrew Harris, and a host of other prominent Ohio men attended it. Bishop B. F. Lee of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Reverend Washington Gladden of the First Congregational Church of Columbus were among his eulogists. The Columbus Press Post reported the following men served as honorary pallbearers: Henry Churchill, Henry Cooper, Scott Viers, James Hill, and Benjamin Lofrau. The active pallbearers were James L. Gray, W. H. Lynch, James Tyler, Daniel Lincoln, Robert Moorman, George Bowman, and Robert Payne.

Among the many floral offerings, of especial note was the one sent by the Knights of Columbus of the city, said to have been given in remembrance of his good offices in behalf of Catholic school children. Thousands of people of all walks of life viewed his body as it lay in state at the home.

In eulogizing him, Dr. Gladden very fittingly said: "With the blood of three races in his veins, the white, the Indian and the Negro, to him more than any other belongs in this country."33

Obsequies were not at an end with the funeral. A memorial service was held on Sunday, February 16, at the Second Baptist Church. Governor Harris, E. A. Jones, State Commissioner of Public Schools, C. B. Galbreath, State Librarian, W. L. Curry, State Commissioner for Soldiers' Claims, and Dr. Joshua Jones, President of Wilberforce University, were speakers, as were also various members of the church.34

Honors came to Poindexter after his death. The brotherhood of the Second Baptist Church to which he had ministered so long adopted his name in loving memory. A building on the campus of Wilberforce University bears his name. A government housing project of 426 units in Ohio's capital city, completed in the summer of 1939, was named Poindexter Village. It was said in the press at the time: "The selection of Poindexter Village for the name of Columbus' first low-rent housing project is a happy one when the significance of the name of Poindexter to colored Columbus is considered. . . The name Poindexter should serve as an inspiration for those who are to live in this modern housing unit."35

29 Carter G. Woodson, History of the Negro Church (Washington, 1921), 325
30 Ohio State Forestry Bureau, Third Annual Report, 1887 (Columbus, 1888), 14
31 W. J. Simmons, Men of Mark (Cleveland, 1887), 404
32 Stephen A. Fitzpatrick and U. S. Morris, History of Columbus Celebration:
Franklinton Centennial (Columbus, 1897), 11, 12.
33 Ohio State Journal, February 11, 1907; Columbus Dispatch, February 11, 1907.
34 Ohio Stare Journals, February 19, 1907.
35 Columbus Dispatch, July 16, 1939.

Page Nine

Poindexter made a very striking picture as he walked the streets of Columbus. He wore the long minister's coat and a high beaver hat. Most arresting was his white, silk-like hair, which he wore almost to his shoulders. As he walked the streets he was greeted on all sides by friends and well-wishers. For a span of nearly seven decades he touched intimately the lives of the people. Always it was to do good as he saw it. The following editorial of a local paper said at his death:

The death of Rev. James Poindexter removes from Columbus one of its ancient landmarks. He was one of its best known citizens and his fame extended throughout the state. There were few men who have met with more kindly salutations than he. It was because he was respected. He made friends by his intelligent genial manner. He was a man of principle, and that principle seemed to be the outgrowth of his Christian faith, which shone wherever he went. We feel like offering this tribute to the memory of this gentle old man not only because he was a noble example to his own people but because in keeping on the better and truer side of life he taught a lesson to us all.36

The Council of the City of Columbus added its testimony in the following resolutions of February 25, 1907:

That this is an occasion when eloquent words and finely drawn phrases cannot express the depth and extent of the grief and sorrow which overcomes this community in its loss to the public service of one whose earnestness and untiring devotion to duty made him a power for good, and that loss almost irreparable.

Of this one whose death we all mourn, it can truthfully be said that his influence was great in the religious and moral uplift of this city. He was obliging and courteous at all times; he rose above personal, partisan and political friendship, and expounded the law of righteousness as he knew it and as he understood it, in his profession and in his transaction of public affairs.

36 Ohio State Journals, February 10, 1907.

Chapter Five
William Gentry Poindexter

William Gentry was born at Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, December 27, 1824, son of George and Mary Poindexter, married Rosa Aros Morales (1848-1925), daughter of Casimiro and Tomasa Morales, at Roods Ranch, Yuma County, A.T., June 28, 1868, by Marcus D. Dobbins, Justice of the Peace; remarried at Tucson, Pima County, A.T., March 24, 1870; Children, William, Martha and Joanna or Jennie. Came to Arizona from California, 1862; served as Sergeant at Arms, House of Representatives, 2nd Arizona Territorial Legislature, at Prescott, December 9 to 30, 1865; engaged in freighting and carrying the United States Mails between Prescott and Hardyville on the Colorado River; had a ranch and stage station at Fort Rock, Yavapai County, on that route, which was attached by the Wallapai Indians in the Spring of 1866.

The caretaker at the ranch was killed and horses and mules valued at $1,450 were driven off by the Indians; in the fall of that same year he joined with J. J. Buckman, his young son, Thad Buckman, Patrick McAteer, Charles May and a soldier from the 14th U.S. Infantry in defending that station from a day long attack by about 100 Wallapais.

Listed, U.S. Census, 1870, at Arizona City, Yuma County, A.T., occupation, Mail Carrier, property valued at $5,000; appointed by the Governor of Arizona Territory as Supervisor of Yuma County and served from June 5th to December 31, 1870; moved to Pima County in 1874 where he engaged in mining and later established a cattle ranch between Sopori and Arivaca; his house was built upon a hill and the place was used as a Stage Station; on September 2, 1874, at coroner’s inquest held at Cababi, in the Papago Country, to investigate the murder of two men he gave the following testimony:

I am a resident of Cababi district, county of Pima, and Territory of Arizona. I knew Michael Layden and George Hughes in their life time. I knew George Hughes perfectly well. I have known Layden about one month. I arrived in the Cababi district on the 20th day of August, 1874, with a Mexican by the name of Juan Morales and our families, together with a boy. I came directly from Sonora to the district. We all went immediately to Layden’s cabin for the purpose of spending the day there. It was about 7 o’clock in the morning when we arrived.

We found no one at the cabin but a large pool of blood in front of the door. We then supposed that a murder had been committed. We then followed a trail, over which we supposed something had been dragged to an old shaft about forty yards in the rear of the house. Upon arriving at the shaft we discovered the body of Michael Layden lying at the bottom of the shaft.

In a letter written at Cababi on October 3, 1874, he stated:

Since I have been here I have sunk a well through solid rock a distance of thirty feet, thus demonstrating the fact that water can be had in the Cababi district without taking that of the Indians. I have a fine well of water, in fact the finest in the district, and right in the midst of all the mines.

He was Justice of the Peace at Arivaca in 1880; a letter that he wrote to Charles D. Poston from “Rancho de Poindexter” on February 8, 1884 reads:

I am glad to see the long delayed step taken by you to Organize the Pioneers of Arizona. This should have been done long ago. I was away from home when the first call was announced or I should have been on hand.

I came to Arizona in 1862 and have permanently resided here ever since, sometimes in one place and sometimes in another, and at a time too when in many places, as you well know, that one could not safely call his scalp his own. I desire to be numbered as one among the many old Pioneers of Arizona. Hoping the Organization a long existence and lots of good success. I remain yours most respectfully.

He joined the Society of Arizona Pioneers at Tucson on April 30, 1884, and was a member of Tucson Lodge No. 4, F. & A.M. by demit from Visalia Lodge No. 128, Tulare County, California in 1881; died at the County Hospital, Tucson, Pima County, Arizona Territory, September 23, 1887, aged 62; buried in the Cemetery at Tucson.

The following obituary appeared in the Tucson Arizona Star of October 19, 1887:

W. G. Poindexter was a native of Tennessee; was a veteran of the Mexican war; was Sheriff of San Joaquin County, California, and member of the California Legislature in the early history of that State.

He came to Arizona and in 1868 had the contract for carrying the United States mail between Mohave and Yuma and was a Supervisor of Yuma County, during the same period. He came to Pima County about 15 years ago, and lived nearly all these years at Arivaca, where he was engaged in mining and ranching until a short time previous to his death.

His demise will be learned with regret by many old time Arizonans, who knew Mr. Poindexter as a quiet, honest, conscientious old gentleman, and we believe he was without a single exception respected by all who knew him.

In reporting his death the Tucson Arizona Citizen stated:

He was one of Pima County’s land marks and was engaged in many a bloody Apache strife in her defense. At the famous Picashe Massacre he was one of the very few left to tell the tale of Indian savagery. He was a Mexican War Veteran and a man of many friends. Although well advanced in years and suffering from an injury received some months since by the overturning of a wagon, his death was wholly unexpected.

Sources of Information
Parish, T. M. – History of Arizona, 1916, Vol. 4, pp. 133-134
Barney, J. M. – “The Fight at Fort Rock” – Dunbar’s Weekly, March 27, 1942.
Arizona Pioneers Historical Society – Membership book, Old Vol. P. 75.
2nd Territorial Legislature, 1865 – Home Journal, p. 27.
Probate Court of Pima County, A.T., - Docket No. 465.
U.S. Court of Claims – Indian Depredation Docket No. 2271.
The Adjutant General of the Army – Military service records.
U.S. Veterans Administration – Pension records W. O. 7238.
Board of Supervisors of Yuma County – Minute Book, Vol. 1, p. 189.
The Arizona Citizen, Tucson, November 19, 1870, 2:2, May 8, 1875, 3:4; October 22, 1887, 3:1 (obituary).
The Arizona Star, Tucson, January 29, 1880; October 19, 1887 (obituary).
The Arizona Sentinel, Yuma, October 22, 1887, #”2 (death notice).
The Arizona Miner, Prescott, July 11, 1868, 3:3 (marriage).

Additional Sources of Information
The Arizona Miner, Prescott, December 12, 1868, 2:4’ May 28, 1870,
2:1; April 27, 2:3 and August 17, 1872, 2:3.
The Arizona Sentinel, Yuma, June 1, 3:2 and November 16, 1872, 3:2.
The Arizona Citizen, Tucson, October 10, 1874, 2:1; February 27, 1:3
and June 19, 1875.

Chapter Six

John A. Poindexter, Colonel, CSA - 1825/26 – 1869

John was born 12 October 1825 or 26 in Montgomery County, Kentucky, the fifth child of David and Elizabeth (Watts) Poindexter. His was an old, genteel Virginia family, who followed the westward surge of migration to Kentucky, settling there around the turn of the century. It would seem expected, then, that in 1861 he should follow his Southern countrymen into the grim storm-clouds of war. How or when he left Kentucky is unknown, but when former Missouri governor Sterling Price called troops to the Confederate cause, John answered the summons readily.

His date of enlistment is presently unknown, but on 16 Jun 1861 he was elected Captain of an independent company that would later become Co. A, 1st Cavalry Regiment of the 3rd Division Missouri State Guard. The State Guards were commanded by General Sterling Price, who ultimately answered to the Arkansas-based Trans-Mississippi Department, Major General Thomas Carmichael Hindman commanding.

Captain Poindexter's first action of note was on the sultry afternoon of 28 August 1861, when he led a small detachment of Confederate troops to hold up the North Missouri Railroad at Allen. They reportedly came away with three trunks of money, totaling $100,000 in coin, which belonged to the Missouri State Bank in Fayette. A subsequent newspaper article revealed that the money shipment was due to a Unionist "committee's" attempt to spirit it out of Missouri, and away from the potential hands of secessionists. An odd twist to an odd story was when Poindexter is reported as having returned the money to the Fayette bank. Peculiarities aside, this may well be the first train robbery in American history.

Official records next find him in September of 1861, leading "several independent companies" in the siege on Lexington, Missouri. Shortly after that Confederate victory, John Poindexter left cavalry service to accept a post as Colonel of the 5th Regiment, 3rd Division. In January of 1862, he suffered a defeat at the hands of Union forces at Silver Creek, or Roan's Tan Yard. Apparently his new command was rather ingloriously surprised in their camp during a heavy fog, but they put up a stiff fight for half an hour. Despite being a Union victory, however, this action may have drawn enough Federal troops from their posts to allow several hundred newly- recruited Confederate troops safe passage through Union lines.

Colonel J. A. Poindexter next appears in March 1862 at the battle of Pea Ridge, or Elkhorn Tavern, Arkansas. Here he led the consolidated 4th and 5th Regiments of the Third Division Missouri State Guard, Colonel John B. Clark, Jr. commanding. Brigadier General Sterling Price then had leadership of the overall contingent of Missouri State Guardsmen, with Major General Earl Van Dorn as commander of the army. Official reports say little of the abysmal circumstances of that fight; an exhausted army led at breakneck pace through blizzard conditions and icy roads, finally reaching the fight already depleted by one-quarter of their strength.

According to those reports, John Poindexter's part of the battle went as follows. With the light compliment of just 500 men, the Third Division began a sweep at Bentonville, Arkansas on March 3rd of 1862, where Union troops were found in retreat. They followed with no contact until reaching a place near Elkhorn Tavern, on March 6th. There they met the enemy in force, and deployed accordingly. After a brisk artillery duel and a hot exploratory skirmish, the Confederate troops then advanced with little or no resistance. By evening the enemy was once more discovered lying some four hundred yards to their front. Thereupon the soldiers of the Third Division advanced at the double-quick across an open field, against an enemy entrenched behind a fence line and brush. They were met with a withering fire that nearly buckled their line, yet they held their own. Shortly they advanced again with redoubled fury, in thirty bloody minutes driving the Union forces from the field. Of officers and men in Poindexter's own consolidated regiments, they suffered 2 killed, 21 wounded, and 1 missing, with Poindexter himself named in the official report as slightly wounded. Total losses of the 500-man Third Division at Pea Ridge amounted to casualties of nearly one-third.

Yet despite their sacrifice, Pea Ridge would be a Union victory. Inept leadership led to fatal confusion and, ultimately, rout. The resultant retreat could only have been as ghastly as the advance, with near-starvation and bitter cold a much greater enemy than Union bullets. The incompetence of General Van Dorn likely cost the Confederates the fight and, ultimately, the State of Missouri. Was Pea Ridge perhaps the crucible that changed John Poindexter's idea of war?

Now the Confederacy turned her attention to the pool of potential soldiers that lay snarled within the Union lines. Willing men of stout Southern loyalties were there, but how could they be reached and put to use? Soon, Colonel Poindexter accepted new and perilous orders. With the ratification of 1862 Confederate Partisan Ranger Act, the complexion of the war in Missouri would change dramatically.

Evidence of this came in March of 1862, when Union Major-General H. W. Halleck issued General Order Number 2. This order charged General Price with having issued military commissions to "certain bandits" who were being sent to form guerilla organizations in the state of Missouri. It further declared all members of such organizations as outside the rules of warfare. These men would not be treated as prisoners of war, but rather would be summarily hung - or shot, as the case often proved. Commanders of neighboring districts swiftly issued comparably ruthless orders.

Confederate Major General Hindman moved quickly to implement his own resources. On June 17, 1862, he issued General Orders No. 17, calling for the organization of "independent companies," with directives to carry on the fight without waiting on orders from higher command.

Upon his return to Missouri, Poindexter would retain his commission from the MSG, but his mission would be to recruit and organize a regiment for Confederate service, north of the Missouri River. These units would fall under the immediate command of General Sterling Price. Given the same mission were men including Joseph C. Porter, Upton Hays, and Joseph "Jo" Shelby. While a key battle had been lost, the fight for Missouri was far from over.

Colonel Poindexter readily embraced the challenge, and moved with sure swiftness through the back-roads and hidden lanes of northeast Missouri. In short order, he raised his own Confederate cavalry troop, known simply and collectively as Poindexter's Regiment. Union estimates placed his command at numbers anywhere between 400 and 1200 men, recruited in counties including Green, Howard, and Randolph. The Poindexter Cavalry's main theater of operation lay in the north-central part of Missouri, ranging east from Carroll to Monroe County and even Lincoln, south from Schuyler to Boone County. This area included the soon-to-be consolidated St. Louis and Northeastern Divisions, which came under the command of a Federal colonel named Lewis Merrill. Merrill's resentment of Poindexter's activities in his sector would, in time, take on personal meaning.

The letters of Union high-command reveal their alarm at the mushroom-rate of Southern guerilla organization. A missive by Brigadier General J. M. Schofield reads in part, "I am satisfied that we can restore quiet to North Missouri only by occupying a large number of points, at least one in every county, by cavalry as well as infantry."

Many of the men who now joined irregular service under Poindexter and his fellows were said to be returned Southern soldiers, released from regular duty. They found no peace awaiting them at home, and the guerilla units offered them a ready means to strike back at Federal forces, which they saw as invading their neighborhoods. In another account, General Schofield plaintively admits, ". . . They have been repeatedly beaten, [but] their numbers seem to increase faster than we can kill them." Official reports soon speak of Poindexter in the same breath as that nefarious guerilla, William Quantrill, although no evidence has yet surfaced to suggest that he was of Quantrill's ruthless bent. That he led his men in unconventional warfare was black enough. Poindexter's and Porter's men now fought with the desperate certainty that capture meant death.

The guerillas' successes quickly roused the Union forces of Missouri to even more desperate measures. General Order 19, posted in July of 1862, demanded that "every able-bodied man capable of bearing arms and subject to military duty" must enlist in the Union army. The order drove numerous previously-neutral men into the brush to join the guerillas, rather than face impressments into service which would bring them into conflict with family and neighbors. However, by year's end the order also raised over fifty thousand men to help regain Union control of Missouri.

In late July of 1862, Federal forces under Union Colonel Oden Guitar turned the tables on Joe Porter as he tried to reach Arkansas, at a place called Moore's Mill, on Auxvasse Creek in Calloway County. A man whose reports suggest a plain-spoken, no-nonsense kind of soldier, Guitar proved to be the right man for the job. Pounded by cannon and superior numbers, Porter's hard-fighting command was finally smashed. Having violated, however boldly, the guerilla precept of never engaging in open battle, Colonel Porter and his survivors were forced to abandon the fight, divide their forces, and flee northward.

Despite this setback, the flame of Southern resistance still burned hot. On August 1st, Colonel Poindexter was reported as having taken the town of Carrollton with a force of 1200 to 1500 men. This act, however beneficial to Confederate morale, served also to help turn the fury of Union wrath upon him.

By August 5th he was reported in Chariton County and near Huntsville. Just three days later, Colonel Guitar and his victorious 9th Missouri Union Cavalry picked up Poindexter's trail in Randolph County. If Poindexter hoped to join Porter in his northerly flight, he was bitterly disappointed. Guitar chased Poindexter's command 250 miles in seven days, pushing them into Chariton County, then Linn, and finally into Chariton once more. Union reports record the capture of one-third of Poindexter's horses and arms, plus all his munitions and supplies, during an engagement at Little Compton Ferry on the Grand River. Caught like foxes between hounds, with Union forces under General Ben Loan closing on one hand and Colonel Guitar on the other, time was running out for the Poindexter Regiment of Confederate cavalry.

After a forty-eight hour running fight, Guitar's men struck them again. At 9 mp on August 11, Guitar's men caught the battered remainder of Poindexter's troops at Yellow Creek, on the Muscle Fork of the Chariton, while attempting a river crossing under the cover of darkness. Many of Poindexter's men drowned, were killed, or were wounded in the attack, which reportedly included several Federal cannons. The desperate Confederates halted Guitar by burning the bridge at Muscle Fork, but Poindexter's command was effectively destroyed. Poindexter crossed into Carroll County, yet out of a command that once embraced up to 1500 men, only a remnant managed to escape, scattering into the woods and fields. This writer counted in excess of 400 names on the Union roll of Confederate prisoners, while the numbers of those killed or wounded remain unknown at present. According to official records, his Regiment had inflicted some 680 Union casualties.

Union militia captured the Colonel himself on September 1, in hiding and utterly alone. General Order Number 2 no doubt rang as a death knell in Poindexter's mind. Thus, when a moment of chance appeared, the wily guerilla chief made a desperate break for freedom. He escaped, but his ill-luck held true, and he was wounded in the attempt. Although the nature of his wound is not recorded, it was severe enough that he shortly thereafter turned himself back in to Federal authorities. U.S. marshals would see that he made it safely to St. Louis.

In weeks to follow, some of Poindexter's men were listed captured as far south as Camden, Laclede, Douglas and even Ripley counties. These last were no doubt the survivors of the command who were trying to escape to Arkansas. Dates of capture go as late as December 1862 and even January 1863, but by that time, Poindexter himself was long since a Union prisoner, facing the near-certainty of execution by hanging or firing squad.

Reported as captured not only in civilian clothes, but in a house behind Union lines, Colonel Poindexter himself was pinned with the rather unusual indictment of espionage. He would be the first Confederate Officer to be so charged. Federal commander Brigadier General J. M. Schofield wrote that he wanted to select a captured guerilla as a "prominent case," to be shot as an example to others. The St. Louis District commander, choleric Brigadier General Lewis Merrill immediately volunteered his captive, John Poindexter. A brief exchange of letters indicates that Merrill already had chosen an execution date. Yet Schofield warily cautioned that Poindexter ought to be formally tried by a military commission, rather than drum-head court martial.

Poindexter's capture and death-sentence was big enough news to make the newspapers, and thereby gain the attention of his old commander-in-chief, General Thomas Hindman. The general personally wrote a letter to the Federal commander of Missouri's Southwestern Division, protesting Colonel Poindexter's treatment as a spy, rather than an officer of the Confederate Army. The Union reply was brusque and unequivocal, that such guerilla leaders would get no better treatment than what their men had meted out upon loyal Union citizens. However, Merrill and Schofield were unable to get an order of execution, and so John A. Poindexter remained alive in the Myrtle Street Prison in St. Louis. In view of General Order Number Two, it would seem remarkable that any of Colonel Poindexter's men were accorded the dubious mercy of a prisoner of war camp. However, perhaps Union authority was not quite ready to execute wholesale the hundreds of guerillas who fell into their hands. Even in war, there is a line of decency to be drawn. The escaped survivors of Poindexter's Regiment returned to Confederate strongholds in Arkansas, and were soon dismounted by order of General Hindman. In November of 1862 this remnant was assigned to a Clark's Regiment of Missouri Infantry. By that time, Confederate government officials had decided that the guerilla business was not very ethical or effective warfare. Many of them felt the guerillas were loose cannons, ill-disciplined and improperly supervised. Certainly Missouri's notorious Quantrill did nothing to dispel this notion. This ended the official sanctioning of irregular combat, but not so its unofficial practice. Missouri would continue to bleed for a long, sad time to come.

As to Poindexter's counterparts, Col. Joseph C. Porter was wounded in Wright County in January of 1863 and escaped to Arkansas, where he died of his wounds in February. Upton Hays and Jo Shelby also withdrew into Arkansas, and Shelby made the rank of general, later winning some fame as one of the unrepentant Rebels who retreated to Mexico rather than surrender. Quantrill survived until war's end, only to die of wounds two months later in a Louisville, Kentucky hospital. Sterling Price and his Army were ultimately driven out of Missouri and Hindman was transferred east. After the summer of 1862, the Confederate hold on Missouri was lost, but the fight was far from over. As history shows, guerilla tactics remained the brutal standard for fighting of the Civil War in that unfortunate state. The war in Missouri would drag on for three more bloody years, and the brutal echoes of that struggle would resound in the adventures of the James Gang and Cole Younger.

Poindexter's part in the conflict devolved to a far more personal struggle for freedom. His case wandered through the civil courts at a snail's pace, and would take over a year. The charge; treason. Yet the outcome would be not a thunderclap, but the weary rumble of a storm passing. In September of 1863, the Columbia, Missouri Statesman carried a very long, personal address by Colonel Poindexter to "his Fellow-Citizens of Northwest Missouri." In it, he speaks with some eloquence of the waste and misery brought by guerilla warfare, and the dangerous fruitlessness of pursuing it. The Union now held the upper hand, in Missouri, he pointed out, and Southerners wishing to continue the fight within those borders lacked any base of supply, any lines of support. To continue such an uneven contest could only bring grief upon both the guerilla fighters and all who succor them. Writing at some length, he pleaded with his fellow Southern sympathizers to abandon this form of struggle. He said; "Guerilla warfare can have no impression on the final result of the struggle now going on between the two contending powers. Its only fruits will be desolation, devastation, and death." If one must fight, he advised, in the one flicker of his old Rebel fire, one would do best to leave Missouri, and join Confederate forces in Southern-held territories such as Arkansas.

Although he spoke with logic and surprising sincerity, such conciliatory words ring oddly, from the pen of a man Union commanders once paired with William Quantrill. Some speculation exists that this denunciation of guerilla warfare was undertaken as a condition of his liberation. Whatever the case, in early October of 1863, newspapers reported that Colonel John A. Poindexter was released on "heavy bond" from the St. Louis county jail. Subsequently he was admitted to parole by the Provost Marshal General, with permission to remain in his home area, Randolph County.

The last we see of him in the Official Records is a brief letter by Maj. General W. S. Rosecrans dated June 15, 1864 at St. Louis, to General Fisk at St. Joseph. Rosecrans states that he has seen Poindexter, and that the ex-guerilla leader has been asked to "use his influence in favor of law and order among the rebel sympathizers." The general further asks that orders be given to protect Poindexter "from molestation or outrage." The closing comment on a war-weary man is the simple statement, "He will do well."

One wonders how the weary soldier fared, as the slow, bloody months of struggle crept past, without him. A sadly ironic postscript is a single sentence in the Liberty, MO Tribune, in August of 1864. It seems the former guerilla chieftain had himself been driven from his home by bushwhackers.

News came of Lee's surrender in Virginia in April of 1865, followed by Joe Johnston's in North Carolina. Yet the Civil War in Missouri did not end, so much as it fizzled out like a dying forest fire. As late as May 7 a guerilla band composed of former members of Bloody Bill Anderson's company attacked the villages of Holden and Kingsville, in Johnson County. General Kirby Smith officially surrendered Missouri and the Trans-Mississippi Department on May 25. Uneasy weeks passed as the tattered fragments of guerilla bands tiptoed in to negotiate their own capitulation. But for the sake of argument, one could say that the war in Missouri ended with the surrender of Frank James, brother to Jesse, in July of 1865.

Now-civilian John A. Poindexter sought his own closure, as well. In July of 1865, newspapers note that he has applied for a pardon to President Johnson. However, it would seem that such a magnanimous act was not forthcoming, under the iron hand of Reconstruction. Two years later, a Grand Jury indicted him for "conspiracy against the United States, and for recruiting soldiers for the purpose of armed hostility against the same." Details of this matter are still unknown to this writer, yet it would seem a final indignity, that he would be so singled out from amongst all his fellow former Confederate officers.

At least one source claims that the colonel later became active in Missouri politics, and was a prospective candidate for Democratic nomination for governor of Missouri. If true, however, his aspirations were to never bear fruit. Hardships he suffered in the field and in prison may have left him broken in health, from which he never recovered. Colonel John A. Poindexter died at his residence in Randolph County, Missouri on 14 April 1869, and is buried at the Antioch Cemetery at Milton, east of Moberly. He was not yet forty-four years old.

Chapter Seven
James Edward Poindexter, Captain, CSA - 1825 – 1911

James is perhaps one of the more outstanding examples of the Poindexters who served in the Civil War. The total count of the clan who fought may never be known. The great majority still lived in or retained their loyalties to the South and particularly Virginia and North Carolina, yet there were Poindexters of Indiana and other Northern states who also served nobly. For the purposes of this sketch, however, we will look at James Edward.

Born in 1839 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, he was perhaps the epitome, of the Southern gentleman Eldest son of good family, well educated, and highly articulate, he likes many of his forebears chose a scholarly and religious vocation. He attended the University of Virginia, where he matriculated in Ancient Languages, Modern Languages, and Mathematics. Subsequently he attended the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Alexandria, with a view of becoming a minister. Later writings would appear to reveal a man of great moral conviction, which would contribute to his future renown as a man of the cloth. In that light, it should not appear too contradictory that he also answered a less secular calling, when the first guns were fired at Fort Sumter. As a true son of Virginia he laid aside his religious studies to answer the Confederate call to arms.

In June of 1861, twenty-two year old 2nd Lieutenant James Edward Poindexter was commissioned into H. Company of the newly formed 38th Virginia infantry. By December he was promoted to First Lieutenant, and one may assume that he bore the increased responsibility with wisdom and fortitude. In March of 1862 he was joined by his younger brother, Private William R. Poindexter.

The 38th VA spilled their fist blood at Williamsburg, where they suffered eight wounded and two taken prisoner. Perhaps the mental images of that battle sent James Edward to the pages of a pocket Bible, such as many soldiers carried. Yet three weeks later at the battle of Seven Pines, the war would begin for them in earnest.

At Seven Pines, the 38th suffered fearful casualties, fifteen killed, eighty-six wounded, and two taken prisoner. First Lieutenant James Edward Poindexter was promptly promoted to Captain on 31 May 1862, via the wounding of his own company commander. Yet in that same days fighting, he also became a casualty, suffering a broken thigh. In battle, there would be no ready help, no gentle hand to offer comfort, no soft voice to speak of solace. James Edward would lie amongst the other shattered, bloody rubble of combat until the fight was over, and stretcher-bearers could find him.

An agonizing and potentially dangerous wound like that could have cashiered him permanently from service, but within two weeks, by mid-June, he is listed back with H. Company. One can only imagine the sheer, bone-grinding torment that the least motion caused, let alone the wonderful torture of being moved over rutted dirt roads in a hard-wheeled Army ambulance. To willingly bear such suffering, the newly-minted Captain must have found himself unable and unwilling to bear being parted from his duties, his patriotic obligations, and his boys. Concerns for self retreated before the greater needs he saw before him. The 38th next fought at Malvern Hill, on July I suffering ten killed, seventy-four wounded, and six men listed as missing. What part H. Company's painfully injured captain could have played is unknown. But his conduct would suggest that he remained as close to the fighting as possible, and did all he, could to see that his men received proper leadership.

Regrettably but logically, James Edward broken body proved unable to match the valiant spirit it housed, and on July 15, two weeks after Malvern Hill, he was again listed Absent With Wounds. The brave captain went home to mend, and could there have honorably ended his military service. His younger brother William also suffered though it was bugs, not bullets, which laid the youngster low in the fall of that year. Will finally went home on a twenty-day furlough.

Perhaps there the two brothers spoke of the comrades they left behind. Young Will could have filled James in on how "the boys" fared, in the months since James was wounded, and the talk would have been warm and wistful. Although surrounded by the comforts of home, they could not forget their comrades who continued to fight. Will would be first to return, but just over a year after his wound; young Captain James Edward Poindexter was back with H. Company. The 38th Virginia now came under the command of General George Pickett.

In late June of 1863, the Confederates launched a massive push into the Northern states. General Robert E. Lee's strategy was to make the war so unpopular on the Northern home fronts that those people would clamor to Washington for a speedy end to the fighting. A chance of fate, and a few hundred sets of bare feet, turned the Army of Northern Virginia towards a store of shoes said to be housed in a Pennsylvania crossroads town called Gettysburg. Coming up the other side of the mountains to intercept them marched General Meade and the Army of the Potomac.

Pickett's Division came last in the line of March in those sultry final days of June. Therefore the 38th Virginia and the young captain of H. Company missed the bloodletting of the 1st and 2nd days of July, missed the gallant defense of Buford and the desperate struggle for Little Round Top. When at last Pickett's men took the field, the battered but not beaten Confederate army had wind for one last assault. General Pickett's division, with the support of others, would lead. On that day, no less than eight Poindexter kinsmen faced the field, and probably more, yet we will stay with the 38th Virginia.

History gives us the tale of that immortal charge, of the majestic sweep of ordered ranks and forward-tilting flags, which continued ahead despite brutal cannonade, then small-arms fire and then canister hurled at near point-blank range. Flags fell and were picked up, stained again and again with the blood of their bearers, and a battered old hat on General Lewis Armistead's high-held sword beckoned them ever on. The bloody tides crested at an angled stonewall, where the battle's fury reached immortal crescendo. And then finally, the grey tide receded leaving the tom and battered detritus of war upon the trampled grass in its wake. Among the wounded painfully struggled James Edward's little brother Will. He would make the long, rain-soaked retreat to Virginia, and there recover to rejoin the 38th Will would survive the war, but would watch the crumbling of the Confederacy without his brother's companionship. Among the missing on that bloody July 3 was Captain James Edward Poindexter, a wounded prisoner in Union hands at the stone wall at Gettysburg.

Three days after Gettysburg, he is listed as confined at Fort McHenry, Maryland. The next day his captors sent him to Fort Delaware and from there to Johnson Island at Sandusky, Ohio. James remained imprisoned there for two long years until being transferred in February of 1865 to Point Lookout, Maryland in a prisoner exchange. The war ended two months later.

James Edward Poindexter gracefully returned to his old life, resuming his religious studies. For a time he was a teacher and then became an Episcopal deacon. In June of 1871 he at last was ordained an Episcopal minister, serving churches in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. He married Katherine Gordon Wallace in 1883, and was blessed with a son and daughter, and grandchildren to follow. The old soldier proved to be as able and dedicated in peace as he had been in battle.

Yet the ideals which once led him to war remained evident forty-five years after the hopes of the Confederacy were dashed upon Gettysburg's stone wall. In 1909, the Reverend James Edward Poindexter delivered an address to the Lee Camp, Confederate Veterans at Richmond, Virginia. The occasion was a dedication ceremony, which marked the unveiling of a portrait of General Lewis Armistead, fallen hero of Gettysburg. Reverend Poindexter said of Armistead, ". . . He waited only for a fit opportunity to prove himself the hero he was, to write his name high on the roll of fame and win the plaudits of the world". Perhaps not the world would appreciate James Edward Poindexter, but surely Virginia must recognize the mettle of the man, and the nobility of spirit which led him to faithful service, both martial and pastoral, beyond care for his mortal self Reverend James Edward Poindexter died in 1911 in Richmond, Virginia.

Captain Abram W. Poindexter, CSA 'A Confederate Officer'

Abram Wimbish Poindexter, Captain, CSA - 1843 – 1864

"Captain Abram Poindexter, son of Rev. Dr. A. M. Poindexter, of Virginia, was one of the noblest Christian characters, and one of the most active workers for Christ in the army". Rev. Dr. J. A. Broadus, in a memorial address on Dr. Poindexter, thus described the heroic death of this young soldier, and the influence he excerted on his men".

Born on May 4, 1805 at Talladega, Alabama and died on July 30, 1864

The older son, Abram Wimbish Poindexter, at the age of twenty-one years, enlisted as a volunteer before his brother's death in an infantry company which he materially assisted in raising, and was elected first lieutenant. Afterward, by the death of Captain Easley, he became captain; it was Company K, Forty-sixth Virginia. The young man had made a public profession of religion the previous year, was a graduate of Wake Forest college, and principal of Talladega academy, in Alabama. As teacher and as officer he showed superior talents and great force and charm of chatacter. Before Petersburg, July 30, 1864, the enemy exploded their now famous mine, and poured through the great gap in the works, enfilading with deadly fire the thin Confederate lines on either side. Captain Poindexter's company was especially exposed, and stood its ground amid heavy loss. Every officer but himself was borne away severly wounded. Addressing the little remnant of his company, the young captain said: "Boys, we must hold this position, or die in our places, for the salvation of the town depends upon the enemy's not carrying these works." Presently an officer rode by, and seeing the little handful of a company standing firm, he asked who was their company commander. They replied, pointing to a dead body. There's our captain: he told us we must hold these works, or die in the defense, and we mean to do it." And they did. Without an officer, the little fragment of a company obeyed their dead captain's commands, and stood firm before the enfilading fire and the rush of the foe. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Confederate Military History

Chapter Eight

Meredith Poindexter Gentry, Congressman - 1779 – 1853

Meredith carried the blood, if not the surname, and found his place in law and politics. He was born in Rockingham County, North Carolina to Theodocea Poindexter and Watson Gentry. When he was four years old, the family removed to Tennessee. Meredith's formal education ended when he was fourteen, as he joined his father in operation of the family plantation. However, he continued to read at home in history and literature, and the study of law.

Despite the lack of a college education, he gained a place in the Tennessee state legislature, where he made his reputation as a remarkable orator, and a progressive in politics. In 1839, at the age, of thirty he was elected as a Whig to Congress, where he remained for twelve years. Interestingly, he attracted considerable attention with a speech on the abolishment of slavery, although by its content more than the remarkable timbre of his voice. Later he again spoke eloquently upon his moral principles, declaring the U.S. prosecution of the Mexican War to be nothing more than a bid for conquest.

In those early days, a fine speaker was given the same regards as popular singers of later days. People, might travel for miles, even days, to listen to a famed orator. None other than John Quincy Adams declared Gentry to be the finest orator of the lower house, and others compared him to Henry Clay. Certainly he had a rare gift for both words and tonality which stood him far above most of his peers. His reputation was sterling, and his place among great men assured.

In 1855, Meredith was the Whig candidate for Tennessee governor, against Andrew Johnson. He retired to his farm for a few years until 1861, when the specter of war loomed on the national horizon. True to his stance against slavery, he again stood and spoke in favor of the Union. However, when Tennessee followed Virginia into secession from the Union, Meredith Poindexter Gentry felt honor-bound to go with it. He became a member of the First and Second Confederate Congresses in 1862-63, yet evidently differed with that government on the prosecution of the war, and other matters.

Meredith, like many Southerners, suffered greatly from the reversals of the war. During the way he sold his fine farm and by the time the surrender was final and the flags furled at last Meredith was said to have been virtually impoverished. Sadly, in the bitter days of postwar Reconstruction to come, Tennessee would not be able to reclaim her most ardent and eloquent spokesman. Meredith Poindexter Gentry died at his home in 1866. He was just fifty-seven years old.

Chapter Nine

Joseph Boyd Poindexter, Governor of Hawaii - 1869 – 1951

Though Joseph's parents were from Virginia, Joseph was born in 1869 in Grant County, Oregon. While not the first of the clan to come to that Territory, his family was among the most progressive. His uncle, Philip Poindexter, joined forces with one William Orr, to create a cattle empire known as the P&O Ranch of California and Montana, with private holdings also in Oregon. The P&O Ranch of Montana is today known as the Matador, one of the largest and most famous still-operating cattle ranches.

Meanwhile, Joseph's father Thomas Watson Poindexter pursued a more homely brand of public notice, working as a merchant and serving for a time as Grant County Clerk. Joseph, however, was bound for higher things. When the family moved to Montana, Joseph by one account sometimes rode for his Uncle Philip. Yet his studies led him to a law degree in 1893, and then to the bar, whence he became an accomplished lawyer. He was married in 1897, opened his own law practice, and later served as Montana State Attorney General, finding his political stance with the conservative Democrats.

In 1917, President Wilson appointed Joseph Poindexter U.S. District Judge for the Territory of Hawaii. From the cold cattle ranges of Montana to the Polynesian paradise, Poindexter doubtless had little trouble adapting to his new home. A brutal blow to his happiness must have been the death of his wife in 1918, yet he continued his work with steady purpose. President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized his administrative acumen, and Joseph B. Poindexter was appointed the first Governor of Hawaii for two full terms, March 1934 through August 1942. He was among the first to advocate Hawaii's statehood, yet that happy endeavor was interrupted by tragedy.

It was his grim fate to be in the Governor's seat one sleepy Sunday morning in December of 1941, when a distant foe visited those tropical shores with fire and death. The Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor.

Over the years, much has been written, investigations, hearings, accusations, denials, and in today's lexicon, "Who knew what and when did they know it" relative to the attack.

Governor Poindexter had concerns about the vulnerability of Hawaii to foreign aggression. He visited Secretary of Interior Ickes (Department of the Interior was the administrative arm of the U.S. government in Territorial matters) in the summer of 1941 to protest the transfer of some of the Pacific Fleet to the Atlantic. According to Governor Poindexter, Ickes idea was "that our concern out here was with sabotage that we should guard against the possibility of sabotage." Then and ever after Poindexter felt” very keenly that this attitude was very largely responsible for the conditions" in Hawaii. The governor also recalls that Ickes continued with, "Oh, you people need not be alarmed whatever. There is going to be no attack on Hawaii. It is too far away." Time blurred the governor's recollection of all of Ickes' exact words. But this sentence stuck sharply in his mind. "The battle is on the Atlantic."

The attack on Pearl Harbor is documented through words, pictures, and experiences related by those who bore the brunt of the attack. His voice trembling, the seventy-two year old Governor of Hawaii went on the air from his office via a KGU microphone to read a proclamation of emergency. It was less than necessary, since getting the chaos under control required martial law, which would make General Short military governor (General Short was the top Army commander in Hawaii).

As he was closing, a telephone message was handed to the governor. Short wanted him off the air; another attack was expected, and the Army wanted to shut down Honolulu's radio station to prevent the Japanese from homing in on the broadcast. Poindexter wept. "We are going off the air for the first time. We have been under attack and the sign of the Rising Sun has been plainly seen on the underside of the planes."

Blotting out Oahu's radio signal was a good idea, but eight hours too late. Still, the governor's aides, panicking that another raid was imminent, hustled him down the stairs as soon as he completed this peroration, pushed him into a car and drove him away.

Bewildered, Poindexter thought he had said something wrong on the air and was being rushed off to house arrest.

Hawaii survived the war with fine fortitude, as did Joseph Poindexter. From 1932 to 1943 he served as president of the American Bar Association, before settling into a quieter life in his island home. Joseph Boyd Poindexter died in Honolulu in 1951. His ashes were returned to the scenes of his youth, and interred at Dillon, Montana.

Chapter Ten

Miles Poindexter, Ambassador, Senator and Governor - 1868 - 1946

Miles, was from the state of Washington and one of the more outspoken, aggressive members of the progressive Republican Party. He was in Congress from the time of his first election to the House of Representatives in 1908 to the beginning of World War I in 1917. At the time, he received considerable attention in the press, and after his election to the Senate in 1910 he was probably as closely identified with the reform movement in Congress by the national press as any of the progressive Republicans except Robert M. La Follette of Wisconsin. Miles Poindexter served two terms in the Senate.

At any rate, Poindexter did not serve long enough to accumulate seniority and to acquire the power and visibility which usually accompany seniority, and his role in the Congress during the Progressive era passed by, relatively unnoticed.

Poindexter's reputation as a prominent Senate progressive also suffered because he abandoned a progressive stance after 1917 and shifted to the right during World War I and the Red Scare of 1919 and 1920. He became even more vitriolic and intolerant in his denunciation of labor unions, Socialists, pacifists, and "Bolsheviks" after 1917 than in his attacks upon the trusts, "special interests", and their alleged defenders in the Congress in the pre-war years.

Poindexter's abandonment of reform and his turn against many of his former progressive colleagues after the war, combined with his retirement from the Senate in 1923, probably served to obscure his earlier reputation as a leading Senate progressive.

The 1919 Red Scare and 1920 Presidential Hopefuls
By Steve Baxley

Mile's Presidential Campaign Speech Given In 1920

Many times in American history, military heroes have used their war experience for a run at the White House. In 1919, America had been in a domestic war of sorts as it sought to expel foreign radicals it felt endangered our system of government.

In 1917, the Bolsheviks seized power from the Tsar of Russia. In 1919, in the United States, citizens and newspapers were blaming radicals from the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) for labor strikes and bombings. Ole Hanson, Mayor of Seattle, believed that a massive general strike in Seattle was planned by the IWW and was a conspiracy to start a revolution in America. While Hanson later resigned as mayor and hit the lecture circuit speaking on Bolshevism versus Americanism, he had received national acclaim and was seen as courageous for standing up to the strikers. Bombs sent to the homes of leading politicians and industrialists convinced the public that the radicals were stirring up a revolution. As public fear of radicalism grew, there were several politicians who sought to boost their political prospects by becoming heroes of the Great Red Scare of 1919.

One of the first anti-radicals to receive attention was Senator Miles Poindexter of Washington. Poindexter had supported the open shop and had been quite critical of Wilson’s internationalism and the League of Nations. Believing that the Justice Department was weak in using existing laws to deport alien radicals, Poindexter became very critical of the Attorney General, A. Mitchell Palmer. Poindexter was successful in getting the Senate to pass a resolution asking the Attorney General to explain why foreign radicals were not being deported. Three weeks later, the first of the Palmer raids resulted in the arrest of several hundred members of the Union of Russian Workers. In further Palmer Raids, 249 aliens were deported by his direction, and over 4,000 suspected radicals were arrested in 33 cities.

In October, 1919 Poindexter announced that he was a candidate for President in 1920. In his first official campaign speech, he again stressed that strikes were part of a Bolshevik plot to incite revolution. Poindexter entered presidential primaries in South Dakota and Michigan. He lost to Leonard Wood in South Dakota and Hiram Johnson in Michigan. The only endorsement he received was from the Washington state Republican convention. Poindexter still believed he could secure the nomination in a deadlock, but he was from a small western state that offered the Republicans little hope of winning the White House.

Another Republican, however, did ride the Red Scare to national prominence. While Governor of Massachusetts, Calvin Coolidge’s strong stand in the Boston Police Strike made him a national hero. Coolidge was not seen as particularly anti-Red, but as a courageous leader who became a symbol of law and order. “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time,” Coolidge had declared. Coolidge’s friend, Frank Stearns, had published ‘Have Faith in Massachusetts’, a book of speeches Coolidge made while he was Governor of Massachusetts. Before the 1920 Republican National Convention, thousands of copies of this book were distributed, illustrating the straightforward Americanism of the Coolidge style.

After Harding had secured the Republican Presidential nomination, the name of Irvine Lenroot from Wisconsin was placed in nomination for Vice President. Surprisingly, when Coolidge’s name was placed in nomination, the convention erupted with demonstrations and applause. Coolidge’s stand during the Boston Police Strike gave him the Vice Presidency and eventually the Presidency, when Warren Harding died in office.

Leonard Wood, another participant in the Great Red Scare, was a front-running hopeful for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1920. General Wood had led Army troops into areas in the Midwest with problems with law and order. In Omaha, Nebraska, a howling mob had attacked the mayor and lynched a black man. Wood and his troops restored order in the city after the riot. When 35,000 steelworkers went on strike in Gary, Indiana, Wood and his troops also restored order in that city. Wood blamed both disorders on the conspiracy of foreign radicals. He stressed the 100 per cent Americanism that had become popular during WWI. Wood sought to acquire delegates through the primaries rather than soliciting support from the Old Guard of the Republican Party organization.

There were three tough opponents determined to deny him the nomination: Warren G. Harding, Frank Lowden, and Hiram Johnson. When the New York World revealed that contributors to Wood’s campaign included several millionaires, William Borah had all the ammo he needed to call for a resolution investigating campaign spending. Wood had spent over $1 million more than Frank Lowden. Wood still took the most delegates into the convention, but it wasn’t enough to give him the victory. The Great Red Scare had run out of steam for Leonard Wood.

The final 1920 candidate who hoped to ride the Great Red Scare into the White House was a Democrat, former Attorney General of the U.S., A. Mitchell Palmer. Palmer entered presidential primaries in Michigan and Georgia. Palmer was strongly opposed by labor, a difficult obstacle to overcome in Michigan. He placed fifth. Palmer, of course, blamed Detroit’s alien reds, radicals, and revolutionaries for his defeat. In Georgia, he finished a close second to Georgia firebrand, Tom Watson. At the Democratic Convention in San Francisco, Palmer led on the first ballot, followed by William Gibbs McAdoo and James Middleton Cox. Palmer’s support continued to erode and the convention nominated Cox. The most successful red-hunter of them all had failed to get the nomination.

Only Calvin Coolidge had succeeded in riding the Law and Order crusade to the White House, and though many thought radicals were also behind the police strike, Coolidge was never really perceived as a red-hunter. His stand for law and order in general had made him a national hero. The Red Scare was unable to carry other hopefuls to fulfill their dreams. The Red Scare of 1919 was soon forgotten, but would return stronger than ever in the 1950s as the Cold War heated up. New red-hunting heroes would arise during the third Great Red Scare and a young man named Richard Nixon would use red-baiting to win a Congressional seat. He would expose the world communist conspiracy with microfilm found in a pumpkin. He would become President of the United States and open the door to Red China. The twists and turns of history are truly remarkable.

Chapter Eleven

John Marlan Poindexter, Admiral and National Security Advisor

John was born in Washington, Ind. on August 12th, 1936 - a vice admiral in the U.S. Navy, succeeded Robert C. McFarlane as President Ronald Reagan's national security adviser in December 1985. He held that post until November 1986, when he resigned following disclosures of his role in the Iran-Contra Affair. In July 1987, testifying before U.S. House and Senate committees investigating the scandal, Admiral Poindexter declared that he had authorized the diversion of funds to the contras but that he had deliberately not informed President Reagan of his action.

Poindexter attended the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating first in his class of 1958; he had the further distinction of being the brigade commander of his class. In 1964 he earned a Ph.D. in nuclear physics from the California Institute of Technology, where he studied under Nobel laureate Rudolph Mossbauer. During his career in the Navy, he commanded the guided missile cruiser England and a squadron of destroyers. He saw duty in the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean, and South Pacific. From 1971 to 1978, Admiral Poindexter made his mark as an aide to the secretary of the Navy and the chief of naval operations. For the next three years he served as the deputy chief of naval education and training, moving on to the National Security Council (NSC) in 1981.

Prior to being named national security adviser, he served as the deputy to McFarlane, heading the NSC's "crisis pre-planning group." In that capacity, he played a central role in the administration's handling of the "Achille Lauro" hijacking in October 1985 and other terrorist incidents. Following the resignation of McFarlane, Poindexter became national security adviser on December 4, 1985. In this post he played a key role in the covert sale of U.S. armaments to the government of Iran, the negotiations for release of Americans held hostage by terrorists, and the diversion of funds from the arms sales to support the contra guerrillas in Nicaragua. Following public revelation of these events, President Reagan accepted Poindexter's resignation on November 25, 1986.

In later testimony before the joint Congressional committee investigating the situation, Poindexter declared in July of 1987 that he had never told Reagan about the diversion of funds to the contras, wishing to "provide some future deniability," presumably to protect the president from any possible negative consequences of the arms scandal. Poindexter officially resigned from the Navy on September 29th, 1987. On March 8th, 1990, Poindexter was brought to trial in Washington, D.C., on five criminal charges, including conspiracy, obstruction of Congress, and making false statements to Congress. On April 7th, Poindexter was found guilty on all five charges, and he was sentenced, on June 11th, to six months in prison. Poindexter appealed the conviction, and on November 15th, 1991, a federal appeals court panel reversed the conviction.

Chapter Twelve

Alan G. Poindexter, Captain, USN and NASA Astronaut

Alan was born on November 5, 1961 in Pasadena, California. He died on July 1, 2012 from a jet ski accident on Pensacola Beach, Florida. He considered Rockville, Maryland, to be his hometown. He was married to the former Lisa A. Pfeiffer of Gulf Breeze, Florida. They had two children. Recreational interests included motorcycling, running, weight lifting, water skiing, boating, hunting, and fishing.

EDUCATION: He graduated from Coronado High School, Coronado, California in 1979. He also graduated with highest honors from Georgia Institute of Technology with a bachelor of aerospace engineering degree in 1986 and a master of science in aeronautical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in 1995.

ORGANIZATIONS: Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

AWARDS: NASA Aviation Safety Award, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat V, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, various other service awards.

SPECIAL HONORS: Naval Air Warfare Center, Aircraft Division Test Pilot of the Year 1996; Top Ten Carrier Aviator, Carrier Air wing Nine.

EXPERIENCE: Poindexter was commissioned following graduation from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1986. After a short tour of duty at the Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel Facility, Naval Surface Weapons Center, White Oak, Maryland, Poindexter reported for flight training in Pensacola, Florida. He was designated a Naval Aviator in 1988 and reported to Fighter Squadron 124, Naval Air Station Miramar, California, for transition to the F-14 Tomcat. Following his initial training, Poindexter was assigned to Fighter Squadron 211, also at Miramar, and made two deployments to the Arabian Gulf during Operations Desert Storm and Southern Watch. During his second deployment in 1993, he was selected to attend the Naval Postgraduate School/U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Cooperative Program. Following graduation in December 1995, Poindexter was assigned as a Test Pilot and Project Officer at the Naval Strike Aircraft Test Squadron (NSATS), Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Maryland. While at NSATS, Poindexter was assigned as the lead test pilot for the F-14 Digital Flight Control System where he logged the first carrier landing and catapult launch of an F-14 with the upgraded flight controls. He also flew numerous high angle of attack/departure tests, weapons separation tests and carrier suitability trials. Following his tour at Patuxent River, Poindexter reported to Fighter Squadron 32, NAS Oceana, Virginia, where he was serving as a department head when he was selected for Astronaut training.

Poindexter has more than 3,500 hours in over 30 aircraft types and has logged over 450 carrier landings.

NASA EXPERIENCE: Selected by NASA in June 1998, he reported for training in August 1998. Initially Poindexter served in the Astronaut Office Shuttle Operations Branch performing duties as the lead support astronaut at Kennedy Space Center. In 2008 he completed his first space flight as pilot on the STS-122 and has logged over 306 hours in space.

SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE: STS-122 Atlantis (February 7-20, 2008) was the 24th Shuttle mission to visit the International Space Station. Mission highlight was the delivery and installation of the European Space Agency’s Columbus Laboratory. It took three spacewalks by crew members to prepare the Columbus Laboratory for its scientific work, and to replace an expended nitrogen tank on the Station’s P-1 Truss. STS-122 was also a crew replacement mission, delivering Expedition-16 Flight Engineer, ESA Astronaut Léopold Eyharts, and returning home with Expedition-16 Flight Engineer, NASA Astronaut Daniel Tani. The STS-122 mission was accomplished in 12 days, 18 hours, 21 minutes and 40 seconds, and traveled 5,296,832 statute miles in 203 Earth orbits.

Chapter Thirteen
Elizabeth Pledge Poindexter

"A Southern Patriot of the American Revolution" On Oct. 27, 1991 a new headstone was placed on the grave of Elizabeth Pledge Poindexter by the Jonathan Hunt Chapter of the DAR, Surry County, North Carolina to honor her as a Patriot of the American Revolution. Elizabeth was born in Goochland County, VA in 1740, the daughter of William and Betty Pledge. Elizabeth married Thomas Poindexter on February 12, 1760 in Goochland County, VA. Thomas Poindexter died on February 9, 1816. Elizabeth and Thomas are both buried on a bluff overlooking the Yadkin River in Surry County, NC.

Thomas and Elizabeth had 12 children. They were: Ann Radford, Frances A., William, Martha Milner, Thomas, Elizabeth P., Mary W., John G., Archibald Pledge, Sarah/Sallie, Robert A. and Dorothy or Dollie Poindexter. Thomas was a Capt. in a company of Revolutionary soldiers in the North Carolina Militia. Elizabeth Poindexter also gave Patriotic Service in the Revolutionary War. There were skirmishes along the Yadkin River that brought the enemy (Tories) close to the Poindexter home. Elizabeth sewed letters in her young daughter's petticoat and sent her through the enemy lines. On Oct. 14, 1780, a few miles down the rivers, the Whigs met the Tories in the "Battle of Shallow Ford".

The new stone was dedicated in the yard of the Kay Alley home on Adperson Road, East Bend, NC. The home is located on the original Thomas and Elizabeth Pledge Poindexter land and has been in the family for more than 200 years. After the dedication ceremony the new headstone was moved a mile back into the woods and placed on Elizabeth's grave.

"Poindexter Family History Book", 4th Edition, by Dorothy Knox Brown and Nealon Agee--1996. Other Revolutionary War Participants

Other Participants in The Revolutionary War

POINDEXTER, Bond V. Louisa Co.
POINDEXTER, George Beskin New Kent Co.
POINDEXTER, Henry New Kent Co.
POINDEXTER, John Louisa Co.
POINDEXTER, John (Commissioner of the Grain Tax) Louisa Co.
POINDEXTER, John Jr. Louisa Co.
POINDEXTER, Joseph (Poyndexter) Bedford Co.
POINDEXTER, Joseph Campbell Co.
POINDEXTER, Nimrod New Kent Co.
POINDEXTER, Philip Mecklenburg Co.
POINDEXTER, Philip Jr. Mecklenburg Co.
POINDEXTER, Thomas Louisa Co.
POINDEXTER, William Louisa Co.
POINDEXTER, William New Kent Co.
POINDEXTER, John, Captain (Military Officer) Louisa Co.
POINDEXTER, Richard, Soldier, Cav.
POINDEXTER, Lovel, Soldier, Inf.
POINDEXTER, Jonathan, Sergeant, Inf., New Kent Co.
POINDEXTER, Gabriel, Soldier, Inf.
POINDEXTER, Jacob, Sergeant, Art.
POINDEXTER, John, Soldier, Cav.
POINDEXTER, Joseph, Cpl.

Chapter Fourteen
George Gilmer Poindexter - November 30, 1829 - November 19, 1859

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

Chapter Fifteen
John S. Poindexter, First Sgt, CSA
Company C, 14th Missouri State Militia Cavalry, U.S.

John was born June 25, 1838 in Greene County, Illinois, the second son of Kentuckian Ambrose B. Poindexter and his wife, Virginia-born Polly (Clark). When he was a boy of about ten, the family moved to Missouri, first to Carroll Co. and soon thereafter to Lawrence Co. One assumes he grew into the vigorous life of all young men, learning to work hard, keep his word, and certainly to ride a horse amongst the green, wooded hills of southwest Missouri. And idealism, or at least an awareness of events beyond their local sphere, may have been instilled in him by his father, who served Lawrence County as a Justice of the Peace. John grew to a tall young man, two inches under six feet, with dark eyes that could reflect storms within. His youthful strength would soon meet its greatest test.

With the election of a lanky Illinois lawyer to the presidency in November of 1860, the die of change was cast. The country held its breath as a new word found prominence in the national lexicon; succession. First one, then half-dozen Southern states performed the pen-strokes severing the sacred ties of Union. Arsenals and other Federal property came under seizure by these states. On April 12, 1861, South Carolina troops fired upon and forced the surrender of a stubborn little garrison called Ft. Sumter. Meanwhile, Missouri endeavored to remain clear of these entanglements, a resolution of neutrality initially being passed by the 1861 State Convention. Yet within Missouri, the coals of war dully smoldered.

A fiery but hitherto obscure U.S. Infantry commander, named Captain Nathaniel Lyon, had been given orders which effectively gave him full military control of maintaining peace within the state. When Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson called out the State Militia for regular drill, Lyons perceived that it was a direct response to his buildup of Federal troops around St. Louis. The militia yet flew the United States Flag, but their talk, indeed the street names of their Camp Jackson, was decidedly Confederate. In addition, they had the support of an alarmingly vocal, pro-secessionist segment of the citizenry. Captain Lyon could not abide the insolence or the armed threat the militia presented, and chose action.

On May 10, Captain Lyon moved his men to encircle Camp Jackson, and demanded the surrender of all within. Lyon then marched his captives through the emotion-charged, crowded streets of St. Louis, towards the arsenal. Someone said something, someone said replied, and words led to bricks led to bullets. In moments, twenty-eight civilians, two of Lyon’s own men, and three militia prisoners were dead, more people were wounded, and Missouri would bleed for years to come. John’s thoughts on all this are mere food for speculation, but his cousin Peter F. Clark was also witness to Lawrence County’s troubles and in his later years sketched his memories of the war. Peter did not write of the Camp Jackson tragedy, but he did record how a citizens’ meeting at the local schoolhouse resulted in the formation of a company of home guards. Peter Clark was elected as its captain. Compiled Service Records for Captain Clark’s Independent Cavalry, MO Home Guard, include his younger cousin John S. Poindexter as a Private, enlisted May 25, 1861 at Mt. Vernon, MO.

Cousin Peter wrote that the little company immediately armed and mounted itself for duty, and found ready work scouting the area for guerillas, and seizing arms or ammunition from suspicious persons or parties. His account also indicates the arrest of “suspects,” until General Franz Sigel arrived at Mt. Vernon with three regiments of Missouri soldiers. Captain P. F. Clark and his company were promptly accepted as guides and pickets for Sigel’s command. Although documentation has not yet come to light, Clark indicates that unnamed members of his command were with Sigel at the battle of Carthage, MO on July 5th. However, the unhappy result of this scrap was that exhausted Union troops staggered back to Mt. Vernon on the evening of the 6th, wondering why those rascally Missouri State Guardsmen had not run away, as planned. Whether or not John was also present is unknown, but such a setback had to rankle loyal young Union men.

Upon Sigel’s return to Springfield two days later, Captain Clark’s home guard found itself the sole protectors of Union interests in Lawrence County. There could be no clear-cut lines in such duty, where neighbor faced neighbor across deadly differences and loaded guns. Where once men passed each other on the road with a cordial nod, now they kept shotgun in hand and a wary eye on roadside thickets. Where toothless arguments once battered across pickle barrels in the general store, now shots smashed from shadows and tree lines. By August 11, Clark wrote, word of the Union defeat at Wilson’s Creek reached them, along with the intelligence that the entire Rebel army lapped towards them like an evil wave. General Sigel was now in full retreat towards St. Louis. Furthermore, rumor reported a force of 800 Confederate troops, under a Colonel Payne, was heading straight for Mt. Vernon. Captain Clark’s 100 men ~ which included John Poindexter ~ had no hope of withstanding such odds. Nor could the Home Guard expect any mercy from their local Confederate neighbors, against whom they had been arrayed. The men left under cover of darkness, and rode three days to safety at Fort Scott, Kansas.

Army command there did not seem to know quite what to make of them, this little band of independent Missourians. Peter wrote that enlistment in a Kansas regiment was the only choice offered, which the Missouri boys indignantly refused. Evidently a convenient change of post commanders eased the Lawrence County fellows’ plight, and they again found work as scouts. Yet John Poindexter’s service terminated on September 1st, and one assumes he again found his way home.

How John and his family wintered is not known. General Fremont failed to hold southwest Missouri for the Union, and Cousin Peter’s memoirs describe an autumn skyline streaked with black pillars of smoke from burning homes and barns. Southern sympathizers took revenge on those who had dared support the Union cause, and John’s uncle Christopher Clark was bludgeoned over the head, for failing to reveal his son Peter’s whereabouts. Many Unionist families began to flee the state, and as October smoldered to a close, John bid Cousin Peter farewell for the winter. The entire Clark family had pulled up stakes for safety in Illinois. Perhaps John kept close company with a rifle and pistols, and spoke to no one who was not a proven friend.

Just weeks short of John's twenty-fourth birthday, the guns thundered at Pea Ridge, Arkansas, not forty miles south of his home near Mt. Vernon. A week later, he joined the Union Army, enlisting on 16 Mar 1862 at Springfield, MO. He mustered into the dashingly-named Richardson's Mountain Rangers, taking his place in Company C, with Captain Hargrove commanding. John seems have made a good trooper, as in early May he was appointed to the duties of Sergeant. The first few weeks were no doubt rather grand, the new Ranger battalion riding tall and jaunty under their equally jaunty Colonel John M. Richardson. The Rebels were scoundrels and seemed to scatter into the brush as proper scoundrels should. Of some discomfort was the mysterious military osmosis by which the Mountain Rangers lost their proud name, to become the 14th Regiment, Missouri State Militia Cavalry. Perhaps not the most fetching title, but that is the army way, and they soldiered on.

Possibly the picnic ended at Neosho on May 31, 1862. What transpired there was a hot, confused little affair, which no doubt shocked the young soldiers with the idea that war was perhaps not entirely glamorous. Among other things, they learned that the Rebels employed Indians, genuine, wild, screaming Indians, and they could fight. One supposes John was a sober young man, when July saw him receive the stripes of a 1st Sergeant. Later that fall, a skirmish near Mt. Vernon on September 19 must have been equally unsettling to him, personally, being entirely too close to his own home and family.

The 14th was at the Battle of Prairie Grove, Ark. on December 7, and by then the young cavalrymen were thoroughly awake to the grim, dark realities of war. They next took part in the defense of Springfield, MO on January 8, 1863, where the 14th Missouri State Militia Cavalry suffered 3 killed, 16 wounded, and 3 missing.

In March of 1863, the 14th MSM Cavalry was disbanded by order of the War Department. Reasons for this disbandment are not clear to this writer, but may have been a combination of a shrinking regiment, along with more total Militiamen than the State of Missouri could afford to pay for. The members of the 14th were shuffled to other units and John, with many of his comrades, found himself in the 4th MSM Cavalry. The 4th was originally organized at St. Joseph, MO in early 1862, and had been also present at Springfield. At the time of this transfer the 4th was in service in Central Missouri, duties including guarding the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Upon joining them, John appears as a Private in Co. M, then Co. L, so evidently his previous rank as 1st Sergeant died with the old 14th. His new commanding officer was a man of some prestige, and possibly a political appointee to the 4th MSM, in the form of former Missouri Governor-turned-Colonel George H. Hall.

Yet there possibly was controversy in this transfer, for as John would later write, the men of the disbanded 14th MSM thought they were thus released from service. He claimed that the men had even turned in their weapons, and that he felt this transfer might even be illegal. Evidence of this confusion may lie in the fact that some men were so late reporting to their new units; they required official amnesty from charges of desertion. Yet John had his orders and he was a soldier and so he reported for duty. He was not happy, but he was there.

In June of 1863, the brittle fields of winter had become softly green with the approach of summer, and John received a 20-day furlough for Illinois. It is the writer's belief that John at this time moved his teenaged sister and recently-widowed mother out of war-torn Missouri, and to safety amongst family in Illinois.

Yet those twenty days seemed to work a change in John, the soldier who had obeyed orders even when he might question them. He returned to the army as required, but on July 27 he simply walked away from the 4th Missouri State Militia Cavalry. It was a rather long walk, as the military did not catch up with him until February 22, 1864, and then it was in White Hall, Illinois. Oddly, it was an Enlistment Agent who arrested him. Possibly John felt so disaffected by his irregular transfer that he attempted to reenlist in an Illinois unit. However, official records do not give us such detail. All that is known for certain is that by March, Private John S. Poindexter was lodged in the military lockup at Jefferson City, awaiting court martial.

The military system marches to its own plodding drummer, as John found to be so. Finally, on March 15 he found the audacity to write to Major General Rosecrans himself, appealing for an investigation into his case and detailing what he felt was the injustice he had suffered. While his case abruptly resumed motion, the army did not agree. In April, John stood before a court martial and received his sentence. Six months in prison, forfeiture of all pays and allowances and he would be further docked ten dollars a month for the six months of his imprisonment. It could have been much worse, and much, much more permanent.

On May 2, John heard the doors of Myrtle Street Prison at St. Louis clang shut behind him. They would stay shut for even longer than he realized. As yet, he had not quite got the hang of the military prison machine, and fumed mightily that a loyal soldier such as himself could be so misused. Within the week, he wrote a scathing letter to a cousin back home in Mt. Vernon, venting his feelings on pretty well every aspect of the military justice system. The cousin never saw this letter, but the Office of the Provost Marshal General did. Thereupon it seems that John's paperwork sort of ... got misfiled.

October came and with it the grey chill of autumn. The young soldier-turned-prisoner counted the days until his six months would be up. Soon, very soon, and then he got the bad news. His sentence, he was told, had not been properly approved. He promptly wrote an anxious inquiry to a Col. John DuBois of the Assistant Adjutant General's Department. The reply came back quick and stern. In military-speak the General Order promulgating the sentence of Private John S. Poindexter was dated July 20, 1864. In other words, his six-month sentence began in July, not April, and would not expire until January of 1865 - three months later than anticipated. One should use prudence, it seems, if one chooses to exercise one's freedom of speech in the army. Also, it might be particularly well to reconsider thoughts of desertion, when one's regimental commander is an ex-governor.

Letters written in late November of 1864 reveal a very lonely, contrite young man, struggling to shake a prison illness, who wishes only for the welfare of the Union, and to see friends and family again. Mournfully he writes, "I have learned this much since my incarceration that the way of the transgressor is hard." On January 20, 1865, as belatedly scheduled, John walked free at last.

He returned to duty after his sentence was served, rejoining the 4th MSM in its current station at Sedalia, and remained with them in Co. B until the middle of March. John mustered out scant weeks before the war ended, when his 3-year term of service expired on 16 March 1865, at Warrensburg, MO.

Home again as a civilian in Lawrence Co., John married on 26 Nov 1867 to Miss Louisa Stroud. Despite the stain on his military record, John evidently retained pride in his service, and is recorded as Vice President of the Union Soldiers of Lawrence County, upon its organization in August 1879. This former soldier lived a peaceful life as a farmer until his death on 19 May 1922. He is buried beside his wife at Ash Grove, in Greene Co. Missouri. They had no children, yet he has kinsmen who remember him with pride.

Written by his 1st cousin 4x removed, Gloria M. Atwater

Chapter Sixteen

John Thomas Poingdestre

John Thomas "Jack" Poingdestre (aka Poindexter) was born at 27 Old St John Road, St Helier, Jersey on 6 November (? April) 1886, the son of Philippe George Poingdestre (carpenter) and his wife Eliza Jane Warr. He was one of twelve children and left Jersey at an early age in order to go to sea.

He was settled at 4 Elm Road, Shirley, Southampton with his wife Florence Maud Gallagher and five children of his own by the time he signed up for the Titanic's maiden voyage.

Jack's life has not been without drama - only a month before the sailing he had been serving aboard the Oceana when it sank off Newhaven on 16 March 1912. This experience may have helped to steady his hand when he was put in charge of lifeboat 12. Beforehand he had gone below to collect his rubber boots and was forced to wade back through waist high water as a bulkhead fractured.

After the sinking, as the boat was nowhere near to capacity, he collected other survivors and had almost 70 people aboard when picked up by the Carpathia.

Jack returned to his family in Southampton after 2½ weeks but went back to sea on the outbreak of WWI - where a third ship sank under him after being torpedoed!

He always refused to talk about the disaster and was not close to his children, who at one stage were placed in a home as their mother could not manage them. Consequently his date and place of death have not yet been ascertained.

References Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259) Wreck Commissioners' Court, Proceedings before the Right Hon. Lord Mersey on a Formal Investigation Ordered by the Board of Trade into the Loss of the S.S. Titanic

Chapter Seventeen

Dr. Hildrus Augustus "Gus" Poindexter

Hildrus was born on May 10, 1901 in Memphis, Tennessee and died on April 21, 1987 in Clinton, Maryland.

Hildrus became the first African American to receive both an M.D., which he earned at Harvard University in 1929 and a Ph.D. which he earned in bacteriology at Columbia University in 1932. He had earned his bachelor's degree at historically Black Lincoln University in 1924 before moving on to pre-medical studies at Dartmouth College and then to Harvard. Dr. Poindexter became the head of the Medical College at Howard University in 1934. Even after completing his Ph.D., Poindexter earned a master's degree in public health from Columbia in 1937. He was also a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

During World War II, Major Hildrus Poindexter, USA, was awarded the Bronze Star for reducing the Malaria rate in the Solomon Islands by 86.4 per cent in three months. He had done important work in the diagnosis and treatment of schistosomiasis, a disease which had taken a heavy toll of American soldiers, caused by a tiny worm entering the bloodstream.

In 1948, Senior Surgeon Poindexter was appointed director of the Mission to Liberia, whose goal was to help the Liberian government in sanitation planning and the control of infectious diseases. In the 1940s and 1950s Poindexter’s name became virtually synonymous with study of malaria and other tropical diseases. This work made him one of the most influential (and most overlooked) scientists of all time. He became the first African-American member of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and subsequently served as Vice President of the Washington, D.C. chapter and as a Trustee of the national body. He traveled, worked, and conducted research in many countries including 30 African nations.

To commemorate the proud national and international public health legacy left behind by Dr. Hildrus Poindexter, The Hildrus A. Poindexter Award is given by the Black Caucus for Public Health to the highest honored public health professionals.

Hildrus Poindexter, sixth of eleven children, was 12 years old when he first discovered he had cancer even though he wasn't really sure what the disease was. His parents were very pour but Hildrus finally paid a physician to take tests on him to find out what the disease was. After many years, his disease which was bothering his right leg was cured.

Hildrus had many serious relationships during his life and it has been said that he fathered three children but never had anything to do with them. In his autobiography, "My World of Reality - in 1973" he writes of his struggles as the son of tenant farmers, how he worked in a coal mine to finance his education and of white female patients who refused to be examined by him during grand rounds.

Dr. Hildrus A. Poindexter was a bacteriologist who studied the epidemiology of tropical diseases and became an internationally known authority.

Chapter Eighteen

Clarence Albert Poindexter

'Hall of Famer' Birth Name: Clarence Albert Poindexter Stage Name: "Al Dexter" Date of Birth: May 4, 1905 Place of Birth: Jacksonville, TX Date of Death: January 28, 1984

Induction into: The Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame: 1971

Inspiration for "Pistol Packin' Mama" came from a waitress in a roadhouse Dexter owned in the East Texas oilfields (song was written partly on a paper napkin); she was chased through a barbed wire fence by the gun-toting wife of the man she was seeing.

(Speaking about the turning point in his career that came when he was in Dallas, starting to make the rounds trying to get recorded) "An old man peered over his glasses and asked me what kind of music I played. I told him Jimmie Rodgers and others. He looked at me and said, 'Son, Jimmie Rodgers is under contract. If you want to sing, sing your own songs.’ "

POINDEXTER, CLARENCE ALBERT (1902-1984). Clarence Albert Poindexter, country and western singer known as Al Dexter, was born in Jacksonville, Texas, in 1902. While working as a house painter, Dexter began performing in local bars and clubs. In the early 1930s he collected a band to perform in the outskirts of Longview, Texas. Dexter signed a recording contract with American Recording Corporation in 1936. Dexter's "Honky Tonk Blues," which he wrote with his writing partner James B. Paris, was the first country song to use the term. In the late 1930s Dexter owned a honky tonk himself, called the Roundup Club in Tumertown, Texas.

Through his experiences there and in other roadhouses, Dexter developed the idea for his future hit, "Pistol Packin' Mama." Art Satherley, Dexter's producer, helped him by arranging a recording session with Gene Autry's backup band, for which Dexter had expressed admiration. Dexter recorded "Pistol Packin' Mama" and "Rosalita" with them at Columbia's Hollywood studios. The record was released in 1943 and in its first six months sold one million copies. The song "Pistol Packin' Mama", a controversial number due to its lyrics, remained at Number One on Billboard Magazine's best sellers chart for eight weeks. In 1944, when Billboard started its "Most Played Juke Box Folk Records" chart for country music, "Pistol Packin' Mama" was still at the top. "Rosalita" also enjoyed a week at Number One, and Dexter received such widespread recognition that he launched national tours. From 1944 through 1948 Dexter recorded other country hits, including "Too Late to Worry," "Wine, Women and Song," and "Calico Rag." The popularity of his honky tonk sound decreased over time.

He recorded other songs with King, Decca, and Capitol but never had another hit. In 1971 Dexter was inducted into the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame. He had invested in savings and loan, motel, and real estate businesses in Texas and died a wealthy man. On January 28, 1984, Dexter died from a heart attack in his home on Lake Lewisville in Lewisville, Texas.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

Al’s recordings are readily available.


Chapter Nineteen

Lottie Deno and Mary Poindexter

Queen of the Paste Board Flippers by Maggie Van Ostrand

Cowboys and longhorns, soldiers and forts, Comanche, the buffalo trade, 18 saloons, and an abundance of "soiled doves" were the sights greeting beautiful Lottie Deno as she rode into Ft. Griffin Flat from Jacksboro, sitting next to the driver atop the stage coach. To the denizens of Ft. Griffin Flat, known as "The Toughest Town in Texas," and described as "one of the wildest... gambling hellholes ever spawned on the frontier," this was shocking behavior from an apparently well-bred lady of culture and refinement.

The wild and woolly town of Fort Griffin, also known as "The Flat," enjoyed a reputation in the 1870s as having "a man for breakfast every morning." The frontier community sprang up at the crossroads of two major cattle trails that converged below a bluff, atop which the U.S. military established a frontier fort in 1867 during the Indian Wars. Frontier legends Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, John Wesley Hardin, Billy the Kid, Sheriff Pat Garrett and Bat Masterson once sauntered down its streets.

Lottie took up residence in a Clear Fork shanty. An air of mystery developed about her. She was a vivacious redhead with sparkling brown eyes, who was seldom seen except when she visited the stores for supplies, or at night when she played cards at the Bee Hive Saloon or presided over its gambling room.

Lottie was known by many names, including Carlotta J. Thompkins (the name she was christened with), Laura Denbo, Faro Nell, and Charlotte Thurmond. She was dubbed Lottie Deno the night she won every hand of poker from every opponent foolish enough to think he could win. After the very last hand of the very last game had been played and won by her, a drunken cowboy yelled out from the saloon's rear corner, "Honey, with winnings like them, you oughter call yourself "Lotta Dinero."

Seeing the advantages of a nickname to protect her real identity from family and friends, she thereafter called herself "Lottie Deno." This new name protected Lottie's pious Episcopalian family back in Kentucky from knowing that she supported herself by gambling, and that the money she frequently sent them came from what they would have considered shocking and illicit means. Instead, she told her mother and sister that she had married a wealthy cattleman from Texas. She would never see her family again nor would they ever learn the truth about her.

She was born on April 21, 1844, to upper-class Warsaw Kentucky farm owners. Warsaw, in the area of Lexington and Louisville, traded with both northern and southern states (her father served in the Kentucky General Assembly), though the region was southern in flavor, and slavery was prevalent. As did many a young lady of the same exalted station in life, Lottie had her own nanny, Mary Poindexter, a seven-foot-tall slave who exhibited devotion and loyalty to Lottie as both protector and companion, even after the Civil War and for many years to come.

The main crops of the Warsaw region were tobacco and hemp, which were shipped north to Detroit and south to New Orleans. Other interests of the area, then as now, were horse breeding, horse racing and horse trading. Lottie's father engaged in these lucrative pursuits as well as selling crops.

After completing her education at an Episcopalian convent with her younger sister, Lottie usually accompanied her father on his many business trips to Detroit, New Orleans, and even Europe.

When racing his horses in New Orleans, Lottie's father also indulged in another favorite pastime, one in which he excelled: gambling. He taught his daughter all the tricks he knew about card playing in the belief that there was more to survival than simply being a southern belle. She had been well versed in the social graces at the convent, and since he had no son to carry on after him, he expected his eldest daughter to be strong, independent, and able to financially care for her younger sister when the time came. He showed her how to gamble on land and on riverboats, and he passed on to her his passionate skill at cards, known as "flipping the paste boards."

In the 1850s, New Orleans was known as the "Good time Town," a playground for grownups, and the racing mecca of the entire nation. Lottie's father conducted his business and found his pleasures at establishments like the St. Charles Hotel, Creole Orleans, Victor's, and the Cafe de Quatre Saisons. He visited the Gem on Royal Street, the most elegant drinking house in the city, and placed bets at the Common Street Gallery "where men tried to shoot the flame off burning candles at twelve paces twenty times in succession. Men could bet on bullfights, cockfights, dog races and even rat races," writes Cynthia Rose in "Lottie Deno: Gambling Queen of Hearts." Lottie's father was free to do as he wished at night since New Orleans had a strict curfew for both ladies and slaves, and young Lottie and Mary had to be inside by 8:00 p.m. or Mary would have been arrested and her owner fined.

The north and south were already politically polarized when John Brown and his men attacked Harpers Ferry in 1859. Kentucky tried to remain neutral but in September 1861, Confederate troops invaded western Kentucky and Ulysses S. Grant moved in and occupied Paducah, forcing Kentucky to join with him and drive out the Confederates.

This was the year 17-year-old Lottie's father, a southerner at heart, enlisted in the Confederate army. He was killed in battle, and the health of Lottie's mother began to fail. Relatives decided to send Lottie to friends in Detroit in hopes she would meet and marry a wealthy man who would take over the family business. They collected enough to pay the fare north for Lottie and Mary Poindexter.

Lottie easily took to the social life in Detroit and happily attended parties, dancing the nights away. But instead of concentrating on finding a suitable husband of means, Lottie fell for Johnny Golden, one of her father's former jockeys, now a gambler himself. It is speculated that Lottie and Johnny had an affair earlier in New Orleans and that was the real reason she was shipped off to Detroit by her family who wanted her to forget about Johnny, a nobody.

Instead, Lottie, Johnny, and the ever-present Mary Poindexter, took to the Mississippi River, becoming experts at working the riverboat gambling parlors and tidewater towns.

"Not much is known about Lottie's days on the river," says Rose, but in her later life, Lottie recounted a story that "the boat [she] and Mary were traveling on stopped along a sandbar in the river. Late in the evening, Lottie and Mary decided to take a walk. Lottie preceded Mary along the shoreline, carrying her parasol and enjoying the evening air. Suddenly Mary's sharp eye spotted a large rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike her mistress. The tall, strong woman lunged forward and threw herself on top of the reptile, saving Lottie from injury. Mary herself was bitten and became deathly ill, necessitating the amputation of a finger."

Near the end of the War, Lottie decided to head west for San Antonio where she continued practicing her profession. On one occasion, a young Union soldier accused Lottie of cheating and went for her. Mary Poindexter jumped between the two, grabbed the soldier and threw him overboard into the river.

On the frontier, every professional gambler cheated. As one biographer put it, "An expert card player, Lottie could win a good percentage of the time," but "that was not enough for a woman who depended on gambling for a living and expected to maintain the standard of elegance she had known from childhood."

San Antonio was a wide-open gambling town, and Lottie was soon hired as a dealer at Frank Thurmond's University Club, receiving a percentage of the winnings. Cowboys lined up, hats in hand, for the privilege of playing the pretty lady.

As a lady of social distinction, Lottie wore the latest fashions and never permitted smoking, drinking or cussing at her table. Mary Poindexter sat behind her on a stool and watched for cheaters or surly losers. Lottie's dress and manners dispelled suspicions of her cheating and she became the highly respected "Angel of San Antonio."

Lottie fell in love with part-Cherokee boss Frank Thurmond and remained loyal to him, dumping her other admirers. During a poker game, Frank and another player got into a fight. Frank killed the man with his Bowie knife which he kept on a string down his back and could easily access just by reaching down his shirt collar. The man's family put a bounty on Frank, who was forced to leave town. It is thought that Frank later taught the Bowie knife hiding place to his friend, Doc Holliday.

Soon Lottie followed looking for him, gambling her way around West Texas in Fort Concho (where she was called "Mystic Maude"), San Angelo, Denison, Fort Worth and Jacksboro, eventually finding Frank working at the Bee Hive in Fort Griffin. Lottie got a job there dealing cards and it was here that she was introduced to Frank's friend, Doc Holliday, who soon became an admiring customer at Lottie's faro table. On one well-recorded occasion, Doc lost $3,000 to the lady.

Over the front batwing doors of the Bee Hive hung this rhyme:

Within this Hive, we are alive;
Good whiskey makes us funny.
Get your horse tied, come inside;
And taste the flavor of our honey.

Legend has it that, during a faro game at the Bee Hive, Doc and Lottie were in the middle of a game when Big Nose Kate Elder, Doc's girlfriend, arrived in a jealous rage. An argument ensued in which both women drew their guns, ready to fire. Doc had to step in and stop the fight.

Cynthia Rose claims that, "according to several historians, Kate and Lottie had heated words one night over Doc. After Kate and Doc had made it known they were a team, Kate began to show her jealousy" and "one evening she accused Lottie of trying to steal his affections. The accusation brought Lottie to her feet:

"Why you low down slinkin' slut!" shouted Lottie. "If I should step in soft cow manure, I would not even clean my boot on that bastard! I'll show you a thing or two!" whereupon she pulled a gun, and Kate also drew a weapon. Doc Holliday placed himself between the two women."

Bearing in mind Lottie's reputation as an elegant lady, and the fact that stories tend to get ever juicier when told by many people over a long period of time, this may not be historically accurate, no matter what the historians say. But one thing is probable -- the two women had serious words over Doc.

At Fort Griffin, Johnny Golden, the jockey-gambler, came back into Lottie's life—but not for long. Although he found his former sweetheart dealing cards at the Bee Hive, next day, he was shot dead on the street behind the saloon. Lottie paid for his burial suit plus $65.00 for a coffin, but did not attend the funeral. Rather she sat in her house with the curtains drawn.

The most famous story about Lottie during her Ft. Griffin days is this one, taken from "Doc Holliday" by John Myers:

It was during the time [Lottie] was dealing Faro in the Flats that a couple of tinhorn gamblers, known respectfully as Monte Bill and Smokey Joe, quarreled over a short card game. Each accused the other of cheating, and each was probably right. Each thought he could beat the other to the draw and each was only half right. There were two corpses on the floor when Sheriff Bill Cruger rushed in to take charge. Everybody that could had made tracks, with the exception of the red-headed Lottie, who was coolly counting her chips as the sheriff arrived. When the sheriff said that he couldn't understand why she had remained on the scene, she merely murmured, "But then you have never been a desperate woman."
In several versions of the story, the money on the table that night disappeared and most witnesses believed it ended up in Lottie's purse.

It was said of Lottie that she had class and refinement. A lifelong friend told an interviewer many years later that she "was a fine looker... in manners a typical Southern Lady. She had nothing to do with the common prostitutes... she was not a 'gold digger'." Lottie, "stood apart from the rabble".

After five years, Lottie and Frank left Texas for New Mexico where they finally married. Not long after, Frank for the second time used his Bowie knife to terminate a man. It was self-defense, but it was the turning point for Frank and Lottie. They swore off gambling and settled down in Deming. Frank succeeded in mining and real estate, eventually becoming vice president of the Deming National Bank.

Lottie, under her married name Charlotte Thurmond, became a well respected member of the community. Although she quit dealing, according to legend, in 1892 the original structure of St. Luke's frontier church was financed by $40,000 of winnings from a poker game with Doc Holliday in attendance and hosted by Lottie Deno. And, for a fact, Lottie Deno made one of the altar cloths used by St. Luke's. Respectability was at last hers.

Frank and Lottie were together over 40 years when he passed away in 1908. Lottie lived another 26 years. When she died in 1934, she was buried beside Frank, her headstone set a few inches behind Frank's left shoulder "in the lookout seat."

Epilogue: The character immortalized as the beautiful, redheaded Miss Kitty who ran the Longbranch Saloon in the famous "Gunsmoke" radio and television series, was based on Lottie Deno.