John M. COUNTESS, a well known resident of the Third District, was born August 11, 1841, in Warren County, Tenn. His father, Asa COUNTESS, was a native of Tennessee, .a brick mason by trade. He married about 1833 a daughter of John MARTIN, of North Carolina, who came to Tennessee. To that union seven children were born, J. M. being the fourth and only surviving one. Asa COUNTESS enlisted in the Fifth Confederate Regiment, under command of B. J. HILL. He died in Mississippi after twelve months of gallant and faithful service.
Our subject received a fair education in the common schools of Warren County. He enlisted in the Sixteenth Tennessee, Confederate Army, under command of John H. SAVAGE. He remained in the service about one year: took part in the battles of Huttonville and Chute Mountains, Va. He became dissatisfied with the cause he was aiding, and on the morning of May 15, 1862, received a pass at Corinth, Miss., to be good until 10 o’clock. When about eleven 2 miles south of Corinth he met a detachment who claimed his time had expired. He said that his brother was sick in a house at a short distance, and by this means succeeded in passing. Shortly afterward he entered a swamp, and remained there through the day, traveling by night until ha reached a point about one hundred miles south. The man whom he hired for a guide had a horse upon which they took turns in riding, in that way resting themselves. While attempting to cross a river with several other fugitives from Tennessee companies, he was arrested by the town authorities, tried, condemned and sent back. Two officers started back to the army with the prisoners, four in number. While at supper, where they were camped for the night, Mr. Countess and his mate finished eating before the others. They stepped back, and covered by the darkness, slipped away unnoticed. They waded a small stream and spent the night about half a mile from the camp, continuing their journey the next morning. When they reached the river they secured a broad plank, and with one on each end crossed in safety and got home without being again molested. About four months later he enlisted in the Fifth Tennessee Cavalry of the Union Army, under command of Col. W. B. STOKES, taking part in the terrific battle of Stone’s River.
At the close of the war Mr. COUNTESS returned home and resumed his farming. In 1868 he went to Illinois; spent three years there, going to Missouri, and later to Middle Tennessee, finally settling in Decatur County, where he has since resided. April 20, 1866, he was married to Minnie BLACKWELL, whose parents were natives of Warren County. To their union six children were born. Those living are Mary, wife of Dr. E. G. HOWELL, a practicing physician of Decatur County; Margaret, John, George W., William B’s death occurred September 8, 1879, when two years of age. Mr. COUNTESS is an earnest and active Republican, a member of the Masonic fraternity and K. of H. – Transcribed by David Donahue
History of Tennessee from the Earliest Time to the Present; Together with an Historical and a Biographical Sketch of Henderson, Chester, Mcnairy, Decatur, and Hardin Counties, Besides a Valuable Fund of Notes, Original Observations, Reminiscences, Etc., Etc. Easley, S.C: Southern Historical Press, 1978.