LEE, Edward Franklin “Ned” (1930)



Centenarian Served As Postmaster At Columbia Under President Franklin Pierce; Wounded In Battle Of Franklin; Married Niece of President James K. Polk; 102 Years Old

Born under the administration of the sixth president of the United States, Capt. Edward Franklin Lee who died last Thursday, lived through one year of the the administration of the thirtieth chief executive, a span of nearly 102 years. He voted for Franklin Pierce, who was inaugurated in 1853 and was appointed postmaster at Columbia under that administration. Few men have lived to see the amazing progress of a new nation as was the unique fortune of Capt. Lee, born October 7, 1828 and none took a more active interest in public events. His active mind served him until the tender thread was broken; his interest in current events never waned and he had few equals as a raconteur. He passed away at the home of his cousin Miss Laura Allmond in the Lasea community, where he had made his home for the past fifteen years, and in the same community, in which he was born over a century ago. Capt. Lee was twice married, his first wife, Jane Virginia Hayes having been a niece of President Jas. K. Polk, her father having married Pres. Polk’s sister. Dr. Hayes Lee of Kentucky was the only child of that marriage. One daughter, Mrs. E. R. McCord is the surviving child of the second marriage, which was to Miss Julia Crowdus of Franklin, Ky., who died in 1913. Capt. Lee was a frequent visitor in the Polk home.

Deceased was a son of “Uncle Billy” Lee, widely known minister of the Christian Church. He served a term as postmaster at Columbia under appointment of President Franklin Pierce, prior to which time he was engaged in the drug business here under the firm name of Lee & Bryant. Shortly after his term as postmaster he went to Arkansas and operated a large plantation, employing seventeen negroes and being “tormented by 1,000,000 mosquitoes” he said. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted under Capt. Robert L looney in the Thirteenth Tennessee Regiment. He was at bloody Shiloh as a member of Cheatham’s division and was commissioned captain of his company, fighting subsequently at Perryville, Chickamauga, Kennesaw Mountain, and Franklin. In commenting on the latter at one time he said “we killed more Yankees at the Dead Angie at Kennesaw Mountain than I saw in the whole war on the same sized piece of land.” He was severely wounded at Franklin, his clothes having been pierced with 15 bullets. He and his horse were under the care of a sympathizer for sixty days and he offered to pay $100 for this attention, but the friend would only accept $50.

            One of Capt. Lee’s most interesting experiences, as frequently related by himself to friends, was his trip to Mexico after the war with his friend Isham G. Harris. Harris had been deposed as governor by the military authorities and he and Capt. Lee conceived the idea of inducing the Mexican government to cede a state to them for the colonization of Confederate soldiers. Maximillian was then emperor of Mexico under authority of Napolean 3rd of France and favored the petition of the two Confederates, but his crown “lay uneasy on his head” and he felt constrained to deny the request.

            Capt. Lee was a close personal friend of Gov. Isham G. Harris. Asked one time about carpet bag rule he said, “Yes, I saw and knew a lot about that, more than you need to know.” He returned to Arkansas after the war to find that his land had been sold to a railroad for taxes. It was offered back to him for a dollar an acre, but he wanted to settle in a country free of mosquitoes. He located to an Arizona plantation where he remained several years before returning to Maury County fifteen years ago.

            Despite his advanced years, he enjoyed to converse with friends and his alert mind grasped and retained many interesting facts. He attributed his long life to temperate habits and much physical exercise, having frequently walked twelve miles to Columbia during his late years. Asked once if he was a weather prophet, he replied, “yes, but a false one.”

            Capt. Lee was most unassuming in manner and while he possessed strong convictions, was most tolerant of the views of others. He led a simple life, as unostentatious as possible. In accordance with his wish, flowers were omitted and there was no eulogy. A brief interment service was held at the grave, conducted by Eld Amos Derryberry. Simms Latta and W. H. Lipscomb of the local Confederate bivouac were honorary pall bearers. Oakes & Nichols in charge. 

Contributed by J. Patrick Curley

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