BESS, William M. – (d. 1935)

Too ‘Frail’ for Confederate Ranks, Non-Combatant, Nearly 101, Dies

William M. Bess, rejected as too frail to serve in the Confederate Army in 1861, died Saturday morning just twenty days short of his 101st birthday. He remained in vigor and health until the last and was ill but six days. He had lived for the last thirty-five years at the home of his daughter, Mrs. C.M. Lorhum, near Joelton. Funeral services were conducted for him this afternoon at the Oakland Freewill Baptist Church by the Rev. J.L. Welch. Burial was in the Oakland Cemetery.

Mr. Bess’s vigor was as remarkable as his very great age and until his final illness, he was able to walk about – enjoying a daily three-quarter mile constitutional – and could read without glasses. Until three years ago, he “walked down to Nashville” – some twelve miles distant- whenever he “took a notion. Mr. Bess never claimed to have a formula for his health and longevity, but pointed out that he never used tobacco, drank little liquor and had eaten no meat during the latter years of his life.

When the Civil War broke out, Mr. Bess volunteered, seeking enlistment in the Confederate Army, but he was turned down because whooping cough and measles had settled in his lungs and he was deemed too frail. He was born in Warren County near the McMinnville and Smithville highways. He lived on a farm in that community during his youth and spent most of his life engaged in farming in Warren County. Surviving him are: his daughter, Mrs. Lohrum; a son, Luster Bess; and a half brother, Henry Bess of Nashville. His grandsons, William, Henry, Edgar, Almar and Edward Bess, and Polk Merryman, served as pallbearers.

Unknown newspaper dated Monday, 27 May 1935
(Found in Genealogy Dept. Family files, Magness Memorial Library, McMinnville, TN
by Sarah Bess Walker, 266 Perry Rd, Vincent AL 35178, 205-525-4225)

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