20 Aug 1842: Joshua Lawrence Horne Born in Sumter County, Alabama

Joshua Lawrence Horne (standing) with brother William Lemuel Horn (seated), circa 1902

My 2x great-grandfather Joshua Lawrence Horne was born on this day — 174 years ago — in Sumter County, Alabama near the community of Uniontown.  He was the seventh of nine children born to Elisha Thomas Horn and Marilda Richardson.

His father Elisha was a minister of the Primitive Baptist faith and likely named Joshua in honor of Joshua Lawrence, a well-known Primitive Baptist minister, orator, and pamphleteer of the time.

Joshua was a toddler when his family continued their move westward into Mississippi.  By 1845, his family moved to Neshoba County, Mississippi, as his father Elisha appears on the 1845 county tax rolls.  Joshua also appears with his parents and four siblings on the 1850 census for Neshoba County.  The family moved again to the community of Coosa in Leake County in the early 1850s.  Shortly before or after this move, his mother Marilda died.  Joshua was approximately 10 years old.

Although named for an esteemed man of God, Joshua did not always live up to his namesake’s moral character.  He and his brothers had a reputation as rough boys.  Walter Thornton, Joshua’s grand-nephew, recounts a story he was told about his Horn uncles in the 1984 book, Family History of Horn Ancestors & Descendants of Elisha Thomas Horn of Zion Hill, Mississippi:

A preacher came to the Horn house one Sunday, to preach at their pappy’s church. This preacher rode a nice little bay mare, which the boys unsaddled and turned into a pasture at the back of the house; then they walked to the church for the morning service…

Ready to go home, the visiting preacher went out for his mount, found her saddle-marked, flecked with dry sweat, and somewhat jaded. The answer had to come out.
The Horn boys knew their horseflesh. Here was a trim little bay, entirely new to the neighborhood. She looked good to them. They simply sneaked her out through a back gate and back into the pasture the same way, after taking her to a race track a few miles out into the country and winning $50 with her in a couple of quarter-mile races!

In his young adulthood, Joshua felt the same pull as others from cotton-farming areas of the Southern states and soon he was GTT — “Gone to Texas”.  It is unclear if Joshua went westward alone or with other members of his family.  By 1854, three of Joshua’s family members had settled their families in Texas: (1) maternal uncle Gilbert Cobb Richardson in Owensville, Robertson County, Texas, (2) maternal uncle Nathan Richardson in adjoining Freestone County, near Fairfield, and (3) Joshua’s older brother William Lemuel Horn married Minerva Ann Malone on April 6, 1854, in Freestone County.  A second wave of family migration occurred sometime between 1857 and 1860 when Joshua’s brother Samuel Garthon Horn moved his family near Uncle Gilbert in Robertson County.

Philpott Log Cabin, residence of Joshua Lawrence Horne in 1860.  Restored and on display at the B-RI Railroad Museum in Teague, Texas

However he made the journey — alone or with family — Joshua arrived in Texas and quickly made an independent life for himself.  At age 18, he appears on the 1860 census in Fairfield, Freestone County, Texas, employed as an overseer by Benjamin Allen Philpott and residing in the same dwelling as his employer and his wife.  The modest two-room, dog-trot log cabin where Joshua lived with the Philpotts can be visited at the B-RI Railroad Museum in Teague, Texas.  The log cabin has been part of their collection since 1976.


As overseer, Joshua was responsible for daily operations of Philpott’s estate, which — according to 1860 tax rolls — included 480+ acres of land, 300 head of cattle, 13 horses, and 20 slaves.  Such responsibility may sound like an attractive job from our modern perspective, but it likely was not.  The Dictionary of American History explains the reality of an overseer’s job:

[Overseers] occupied an impossible position. The masters expected them to produce profitable crops while maintaining a contented workforce of slaves — slaves who had little reason to work hard to improve […] efficiency. […] These men were a varied lot. Some were the sons of planters who served their fathers as overseers, learning the art of plantation management before striking out on their own. Others, perhaps the largest number, were semiprofessional managers hoping one day to set up their own agricultural operations. And still others lived up to the worst reputation of their class: violent men, often drunkards, unable to hold steady jobs, who moved repeatedly from plantation to plantation. But the average overseer rarely lasted in any master’s service for more than a few years. The best moved on to other things. The worst were fired. And even the merely competent rarely satisfied an employer for long. A bad crop year, sickly slaves, or the untenable contradictions of the job itself ensured that few overseers lasted long on any one plantation.

Joshua would not remain in Philpott’s employ long after the census, as tensions erupted across the South and the Civil War began in earnest on April 12, 1861, with the Confederates’ bombardment of Fort Sumter in South Carolina.   On April 28, Joshua enlisted as a private in L.D. Bradley’s Company, Waul’s Texas Legion, in Fairfield, Freestone County, Texas.  Joshua’s unit trained near Brenham in Washington County, participated in skirmishes in eastern Louisiana and Mississippi during 1862 and 1863, and saw action at the Battle of Vicksburg on May 22, 1863, during their defense of Railroad Redoubt.  Joshua was captured on July 4, 1863, at the conclusion of the siege of Vicksburg and was paroled on July 9 after signing the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America.  Notes on Joshua’s muster roll state he was left on the east side of the Mississippi River after Vicksburg, and he remained absent without leave for all remaining muster rolls in his military service record.

Joshua likely returned to his father’s home in Leake County, Mississippi, after Vicksburg, as he married Harriet Johnston in that county on January 21, 1864.  Harriet gave birth to John Thomas Horne — Joshua’s firstborn child and my great-grandfather — in 1865.

The remainder of Joshua’s war years are not well-documented.  Horne family researcher Gwen Battle Horne believes he became an irregular, picking and choosing his battles, and that he was attached to a unit commanded by Nathan Bedford Forrest at the surrender.  I have not found primary source documents to support this theory.  The only information I have about Joshua’s later war involvement comes from the Civil War widow’s pension application filed by his second wife in 1917.  She states Joshua was in a hospital at the time of surrender, but she does not specify a location.

Gwen Battle Horne provides more insight into Joshua’s life after the Civil War in her correspondence with Dr. Robert G. Horn.  These emails appear in several of Dr. Horn’s family history books.  Horne states Joshua, like many of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s former cavalrymen, rode with the Klu Klux Klan in the post-war years.  Joshua was imprisoned in 1868 for stealing horses from carpetbaggers, and Harriet divorced him while he was in jail.  Horne states Joshua was released from prison around 1870-71.

If becoming a horse thief weren’t enough justification for divorce, Harriet had at least one other reason: Joshua’s illegitimate son William Lewis Horn was born in 1866.  Joshua never revealed the identity of William’s mother, although some family researchers believe she may have been Martha Ann McCauley, Joshua’s step-sister.

Joshua married his second wife, Rachel Harriet Yates, on April 4, 1873, in Leake County.  They appear near Centre, Attala County, in the 1880 census, with Joshua working as a farmer.  By the 1900, Joshua and his family had moved to Hinze in Winston County, where they appear on the 1900 and 1910 censuses with their numerous children.  Joshua remains a farmer, working a farm he owned in 1900, but he and the family moved to rented property by 1910.

My last record of Joshua is his death certificate, dated February 28, 1916.  He died in Vera, Knox County, Texas, at the age of 73.  His occupation is listed as wagon maker.  Joshua’s cause of death was Spanish Flu, which he likely contracted while visiting his sons who had moved to the Texas frontier.  Alonzo Jesse Horn, his oldest son with Rachel Harriet, served as informant on the death certificate.  He lists his father’s birth date as August 20, 1842, although Joshua’s tombstone is inscribed with August 13.



1850 U.S. Census, Neshoba County, Mississippi, population schedule, ; p.121 (stamped), dwelling 101, family 109, E. T. Horn household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/8054/4200049_00247/3497598 : accessed 18 Aug 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 378.

1860 U.S. Census, Freestone County, Texas, population schedule, Fairfield, p. 415 (stamped), dwelling 448, family 455, Joshua L Horn in B. A. Philpott household; digital image Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7667/4297436_00323/35003273 : accessed 18 Aug 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication M623, Roll 1294.

1880 U.S. Census, Attala County, Mississippi, population schedule, Centre, p. 207 (stamped), dwelling 121, family 121, J. N. Horn household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/6742/4241982-00420/8364572 : accessed 18 Aug 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, Roll 0641.

1900 U.S. Census, Winston County, Mississippi, population schedule, Beat 5, p. 12 (penned), dwelling 189, family 193, Joshua L Horn household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7602/4120357_00738/28592728 : accessed 18 Aug 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 31077_4120357.

1910 U.S. Census, Winston County, Mississippi, population schedule, Beat 4, p. 19 (penned) B, dwelling 274, family 276; Joshaway L Horn household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7884/31111_4330347-00155/14070333 : accessed 18 Aug 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 764.

Compiled Service Record, J. L. Horn, Private, L.D. Bradley’s Company, Waul’s Texas Legion; “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Texas”; digital images. Fold3.com. (http://www.fold3.com : accessed 16 Jul 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication M323.

Texas State Board of Health, Standard Certificate of Death, no. 83, Joshua L. Horn; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/2272/40394_b061812-00316/23667080 : accessed 17 Aug 2016).

E. T. Horn on Neshoba County Tax Rolls, 1845, Box 3711.  “Mississippi, State Archives, Various Records, 1820-1951,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-21381-47592-60?cc=1919687 : 21 May 2014), Neshoba > County tax rolls 1845, Box 3711 > image 8 of 19; Mississippi Department of Archvies and History, Jackson.

Harriett Horne, widow’s pension application (unnumbered); service of Joshua L. Horne (Private, L.D. Bradley’s Company, Waul’s Texas Legion, Civil War) “Mississippi, Confederate Veterans and Widows Pension Applications, 1900-1974.” Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson.

Horn History Book Committee. Family History of Horn Ancestors and Descendants of Elisha Thomas Horn of Zion Hill, Mississippi, Volume 1. Carnegie, Oklahoma: Self-Published, 1984.

Horn, Robert G., Henry Horn of Contentnea Creek.  Self-Published, 2006.

“Mississippi Marriages, 1800-1911,” database, FamilySearch  (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V2ZR-R61 : 6 December 2014), J. L. Horne and Harriet H. Johnson, 21 Jan 1864; citing Leake, Mississippi; FHL microfilm 891,454.

“Mississippi Marriages, 1800-1911,” database, FamilySearch  (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V2ZR-RX3 : 6 December 2014), J. L. Horn and R. H. Yates, 04 Apr 1873; citing Leake, Mississippi; FHL microfilm 891,454.

Oakes, James. “Overseer and Driver.” Dictionary of American History. Encyclopdia.com. The Gale Group, Inc. 2003. Web. 8 Aug 2016.

Photograph of Joshua Lawrence Horn and William Lemuel Horn. Copy held by Laura M. Cooper, Arlington, Texas. Brazoria Roots.  http://brazoriaroots.com.  Web. 18 Aug 2016.

Photograph of Philpott Log Cabin, 2015, B-RI Railroad Museum, Teague, Texas.  Taken by Jessica Horne Collins, 2 July 2015.  Copy in possession of Jessica Horne Collins, Houston, Texas.

Property Tax Assessment for B. A. Philpott in Leake County.  “Assessment of Property Situated in the County, for 1860.” Mississippi, State Archives, Various Records, 1820-1951. Database with images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson.

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