In Memory of

Private William Jason Ramsey


May 31, 2008, was warmer than usual, but a nice breeze was blowing during a ceremony held at the Corinth Cemetery in White County. If folks driving by there that day didn’t know what was going, the scene could easily have been mistaken as something from a “Gone With The Wind” movie. A group of men of various ages wearing Confederate uniforms and carrying muskets could be seen standing beneath the shade of the trees in the cemetery prior to the program commencing. A cannon stood nearby. Several ladies in not only long dresses with hooped skirts, but hats, gloves, and carrying small hand bags were in attendance also. Confederate flags placed in the cemetery blew in the breeze. A little five year old girl named Violet Cooper was in authentic dress right down to the little brown, high topped shoes she wore. She was with her grandmother and both looked as if they could easily have been plucked from a photograph taken in the 1800's. The ceremony, attended by approximately 80 people, was held that day was to dedicate a memorial marker honoring Private William Jason Ramsey, a native of Overton County who later moved to White County. Some of the descendants of Private Ramsey in attendance for the service included Ms. Lyda Speck, a great-granddaughter; William M. (Bill) Speck, a great-great grandson; and Anita Speck, a great-great-great granddaughter.

The story of William Jason Ramsey says he was born April 12, 1838 in Overton County and died July 21, 1903. He was buried at the Corinth Church cemetery in White County. William Jason Ramsey was married to Elizabeth C. French born on March 9, 1893 in Overton County and died April 1, 1932. She is buried at the Fallings Springs Cemetery. They were parents of ten children. Ramsey was a preacher and a day laborer.

Prior to his move to White County, Private Ramsey enlisted in the 25th Tennessee Infantry and was assigned to Company H in August of 1861. He fought in various skirmishes and raids in the Tennessee-Kentucky border area. His unit operated out of the Camp McGinnis area located in Pickett County. In the late fall of that year, while returning from a raid through the Burkesville and Tompkinsville, Kentucky area, his company was given two days off by their captain with instructions to report back to the old “Roberts Place” near Camp McGinnis. Private Ramsey went home, and the following day was cutting firewood for the family with his brother-in-law. In the midst of this chore, a terrible accident happened.

Private Ramsey accidently struck his leg and at the same time, cut off part of his foot. He was taken to the Regimental surgeon, a Dr. Fair, for treatment, and was placed of a leave of absence. He eventually reported back to the company, and in September of 1862, was discharged as permanently disabled.

Private Ramsey, like many men in this area at that time, was a man of little or no means. On his request for a pension, he stated: “I have no estate, real or personal, no property except a small mule and a small supply of seeds, furniture, etc.” But he was a proud and decent man who chose to fight for his country and the Southern cause.

A newspaper article printed in a Nashville newspaper in 1903 tells what was titled “A Sad Accident.” Written by S. Houston Proffitt of Cookeville, it reads as follows:

“One of the saddest accidents ever recorded in the history White County, Tennessee, occurred near Sparta on July 21. Brother W.J. Ramsey took three little girls, Letha Elizabeth Usrey, Olga Hill, and May Oakwood, for a boat ride on the Calfkiller River, and in some way, the boat was overturned and its occupants were drowned. As they did not return home at the proper time, fears were entertained that some calamity had befallen them. So a search was begun, and in a short time, the upturned boat was found; and this told the awful tale. In a few hours, the bodies of Brother Ramsey and the three little girls were found at the bottom of the river. How this accident occurred will, doubtless, ever remain unknown.

Brother Ramsey was born in 1838. In early life, he became a member of the Missionary Baptist church. He leaves a wife and six children. The three little girls were bright, sweet children, and gave much promise of making useful women. To all the bereaved ones I can only say, look away from the sorrow and sadness of this life to that home where changes never comes, where death is a stranger and parting is unknown.”


Members of the Captain Sally Tomkins #2123 United Daughters of the Confederacy particiated in the memorial service for Private William Jason Ramsey on May 31, 2008.



Participants in the ceremony honoring Private Ramsey included members of the Sons of the Confederate Soldiers, General George Gibbs Dibrell Camp #875 and members from the Myers-Zollicoffer Camp #1990. The Captain Sally Tomkins #2123 United Daughters of the Confederacy also took part in the service. Those in attendance were welcomed by Matilda Speck who worn a long, hooped dress she had made especially for the occasion. The eulogy was delivered by Bill Speck, and the placing of the wreath was done by Anita Speck and Ms. Lyda Speck. The service concluded with the very prestigious Cross of Military Service Award being presented to Ms. Lyda Speck. The award commemorates her years of service in the United States Women’s Army Corps and her outstanding service to her country through her participation in what is known as “The Manhattan Project,” that resulted in the development of the atomic bomb. The presentation, made by the Captain Sally Tomkins #2123 United Daughters of the Confederacy, came as complete surprise to Ms. Speck. In expressing her thanks for this award, Ms. Speck told those in attendance that while she did not remember her great-grandfather Ramsey, she did have memories of being with her great-grandmother, Elizabeth French Ramsey.

Additional memorial services will be held on July 19th at both the Bledsoe Cemetery and the Daugherty Cemetery here in Livingston to honor soldiers from the Civil War buried in each of these cemeteries. A tour of homes will also be included that day. Information can be obtained by contacting members of the Livingston Exchange Club.


Five year old Violet Cooper participated in the Ramsey ceremony.  The outfit she wore included little high-top brown shoes.


Matilda Speck welcomed those attending the ceremony for Private Ramsey.  She made the dress she wore especially for that special day.


Bill Speck, the great-great grandson of William Jason Ramsey, Ms. Lyda Speck, the great-granddaughter of William Jason Ramsey, and Anita Speck, the great-great-great granddaughter of William Jason Ramsey, pose for pictures after the ceremony.


Matilda Speck welcomes approximately 80 who attended the ceremony honoring Private William Jason Ramsey at the Corinth Cemetery near Sparta on May 31, 2008.


The memorial marker honoring Private William Jason Ramsey.