CHARLES ALFRED ABERNATHY, M. D., was born April 1, 1853, son of Alfred H. and Elizabeth T. (Butler) Abernathy, who were born in Giles County. The father for many years was one of the successful teachers of the county. Dr. Abernathy was educated in the common schools and Giles College, Pulaski. At the age of seventeen he quit farm work and began teaching, continuing for three years. During this time he was a disciple of Esculapius, and subsequently attended lectures at the University of Louisville, graduating from the institution as an M. D. in 1865. He practiced one year in Pulaski, and then went to Prospect, Tenn., and formed a partnership with Dr. Theo. Westmoreland, but a year later moved to Lewisburg, Marshall County. In 1880 he returned to Pulaski, where he has since practiced his profession. In May 1885, he formed a partnership with Dr. C. C. Abernathy, one of the oldest physicians of the county. The firm is styled Drs. C. C. & C. A. Abernathy. In February 1884, Dr. Abernathy married Mrs. Ella (Ezell) Flournoy. The Doctor is a Democrat, a Knight of Pythias, and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Mrs. Abernathy is a Presbyterian. (Goodspeed’s History of Giles County, 1886)

CHARLES ALFRED ABERNATHY, M. D. A scion of old and honored families is Dr. Charles Alfred Abernathy, who has practiced in Pulaski since 1876. He was born near Pulaski, on the 1st of April, 1853, a son of Colonel Alfred Harris and Elizabeth Todd (Butler) Abernathy. The Abernathys were originally from Scotland, the progenitor of the family in this country having come here in the early colonial days, locating in Virginia. The paternal grandfather, Charles Clayton Abernathy, was born in Brunswick county, Virginia, and came to Tennessee, settling in Giles county about 1800, when a young man. He entered and bought land here, which he cleared and put under cultivation, with the assistance of the few slaves he brought with him. He assisted in clearing the cane and undergrowth for the location of the county seat of Pulaski and he also assisted in clearing the land where the courthouse now stands. He was a dominant factor in the erection of the first log courthouse and was elected county court clerk, which office he held for thirty-six years, being succeeded by his son, Colonel Alfred Abernathy. He was one of the most successful public officials in Giles county and won universal confidence and esteem. He was active in the establishment of schools and churches throughout this county and was one of the directors and organizers of the Wurtemburg Academy, then called Giles College and now the Pulaski high school. He was an extensive landowner and engaged in farming for the greater part of his life and as in every other undertaking, he achieved well-merited success. Grandfather Abernathy was married twice. His first wife was Elizabeth Harris, a daughter of Judge Alfred Harris, a native of Virginia. His second wife was Elizabeth Dickson, a native of Giles county. He was the father of seventeen children, all of whom were well educated. The demise of Mr. Abernathy occurred in 1871, at the age of eighty-four years. He was a stanch democrat and a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal church. The maternal ancestors of Dr. Abernathy came from England, the great-grandfather being a native of that country. Captain Henry Todd Butler, the maternal grandfather, was born in North Carolina and emigrated to Giles county about 1800. He brought a number of slaves with him and buying unimproved land, soon had it under cultivation. He devoted his life to agricultural pursuits and was one of the foremost planters of his day. His wife was Musidora McNairy, a native of Tennessee, and a daughter of Robert McNairy, a native of North Carolina. She was related to Judge McNairy, a prominent jurist of Nashville. Both Mr. and Mrs. Butler died on the home plantation in Giles county. Colonel Alfred Harris Abernathy was born in Giles county and died in 1881, at the age of sixty-eight years. His wife was likewise born in this county and died in 1878, when fifty-seven years of age. He was educated in the University of Nashville, from which institution he was graduated in 1839. The signatures of Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk appear on his diploma, which is now in possession of his son, Dr. Abernathy. Although he had studied law and was licensed to practice, he turned his attention to educational work, the demand for educators at that time being great. He established a private school at Pulaski and also taught in Giles College for some time. In the midst of his work came the Civil war and, being a man of great patriotism, he was quick to put all personal interests aside and enter the service of the Confederacy. He enlisted in 1861 and was instrumental in the organization of the Fifty-third Tennessee Infantry Regiment, of which he became colonel. He was captured at the battle of Fort Donelson and help captive at Fort Warren, in Boston harbor, until he was exchanged a short time before the close of the war. He served until surrender, however, and then returned to Pulaski, reopening his private school. He was active in its conduct for a number of years and then with Colonel C. C. Rogers and Captain W. R. Garrett, the latter a graduate of West Point, conducted Giles College. In his declining years, however, Colonel Abernathy was a private tutor for boys. Although the greater part of his life was spent in educational work he succeeded his father in the office of county clerk, in which capacity he was active for some twelve years. Both Colonel and Mrs. Abernathy were consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal church and he gave his political allegiance to the democratic party. Fraternally he was identified with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, having passed through all the chairs of that lodge. For several years he was a representative to the Grand Lodge. To the union of Colonel and Mrs. Abernathy eight children were born: Henry Gilbert, a teacher, editor and county judge at Garrison, Texas, whose demise occurred in 1922, at the age of seventy-two years; Butler, who was a teacher and farmer and died near Pulaski in 1910, at the age of fifty-six years; Mary C., who was the wife of Clayton Eason and whose demise occurred in 1919, when seventy-three years of age; Musidora, who married William Roden, a successful farmer of Giles county, and died in 1921, at the age of sixty-three years; Elizabeth, who is the wife of J. M. Aymette, a farmer near Pulaski; Jerome C., who is a teacher and farmer of Pulaski; Dr. Charles Alfred, whose name introduces this review; and Letitia, whose demise occurred at the age of three years.

In the acquirement of his early educational training Charles Alfred Abernathy attended his father’s private school and subsequently enrolled in Giles College. Prior to taking up the study of medicine he taught school in Giles county for two years and then enrolled in the University of Medicine at Louisville, Kentucky, from which institution he was graduated with the M. D. degree in 1875. Later he received a diploma from the New York Polyclinic School and has since taken postgraduate work in the New York Postgraduate School of Medicine. The year following his graduation he began practice in Pulaski and has since resided here, having built up an extensive practice. For over forty years he has been one of the foremost practitioners in the state and his practice carries him over several counties. For forty years he has been local surgeon for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad and was county health officer for ten years, and for a like period was physician for the county asylum. For some thirteen years he was a member of the state board of medical examiners and was executive officer of this body for nine years. Twice he was appointed and commissioned by Governor Ham Patterson, was deposed by Hooper, a republican governor, and after four years was reappointed by Governor Rye to that office. Along strictly professional lines he is actively identified with the American Medical Association, Southern Medical Association, Giles County Medical Association, and served as president of the Middle Tennessee Medical Association.

On the 28th of February, 1884, was celebrated the marriage of Dr. Abernathy to Miss Ella Ezell Flournoy, a native of Giles county, and to their union two children have been born: Shields and Fred, the latter’s demise having occurred at the age of four years. Shields is now a noted surgeon of Memphis. He received his medical training at Vanderbilt University and in the New York hospitals and was appointed surgeon on a British ship, sailing from New York to South America. He was commissioned a captain in the World war and was with the Twenty-seventh Hospital Unit in Paris.

Doctor Abernathy gives his political allegiance to the democratic party and is well informed on all the important questions and issues of the day. Fraternally he is identified with the Knights of Pythias and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and has passed through all chairs in both lodges. He is a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal church, while his wife is a Presbyterian. Dr. and Mrs. Abernathy enjoy a large circle of friends and are readily conceded a place among Pulaski’s most substantial and leading citizens. (ibid., pp. 206-8)

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