Knoxville Sentinel, Saturday, January 14, 1905
Mrs. Jeanetta Mountcastle Carden May Be the Oldest “Confederate Mother.”
Special to the Sentinel written by A.H. Webster
Jefferson City, Jan.14–Three miles east of this city lives Mrs. Jeanetta Mountcastle Carden, than whom probably no more intelligent and interesting lady of her age now lives in this southland. Born at Edgefield South Carolina January 10, 1813, she has seen ninety-three winters, and enjoys the distinction, as far as can be learned, of being the oldest “Confederate Mother.”
She is also entitled to membership as a Daughter of the American Revolution. Though her father did not fight in that great war, he volunteered and stood in readiness with his regiment to march to the defense of his country, the war closing before he was needed.
Mrs. Carden was the fifth child of William and *Susan Mountcastle, who reared a family of ten, five sons and five daughters. The late Major Andrew Mountcastle, who lived for many years in this city, being one of the sons, and she is the aunt of Tennessee’s distinguished member of the democratic national committee, Hon. R.E.L. Mountcastle of Knoxville and of the late Ralph Mountcastle.
Her father was one of two English brothers who came to America when he was a lad of 14 years of age. He settled in Virginia and his brother in Pennsylvania. William married Miss Moore of Prince George Co., VA., a daughter of a prominent planter of that state. When quite young her parents moved to Tennessee and settled in Jonesboro, where they lived several years, then moved to Rogersville where they lived for many years and where the family mostly grew up, and where she met and was wooed by a gallant young Tennessean, Robert Carden, to whom she was married March 18, 1835. As the fruits of this marriage she raised two sons and one daughter viz; Samuel R. Carden who served through the Civil War in Colonel Ashbys dashing regiment of cavalry and with General Joe Wheeler from 1861 to April 1865, and went through many a hard fought battle without a scratch, and lived to get home and is the stay and support in the closing of her long and eventful life. He is 64 years of age, hale and hearty, and never fails to attend every Confederate reunion, no matter where.
The other son, Joseph, who served in a Texas regiment, never lived to get home, but gave up his life for the defense of his beloved southland at Shreveport, LA. in 1865. The daughter, Mrs. Devina, died some two years ago.
Mrs. Mountcastle belonged to one of the old and cultured southern families and was given a liberal education, attending the best schools of the state, being at Rogersville and Athens, Tennessee. After completing her education, having a large acquaintance, being highly cultured and popular, she was sought after as a teacher, and although being a daughter of wealthy and prominent parents and not compelled to earn a livelihood, she taught school for quite a number of years in East Tennessee and quite awhile at Athens Tennessee and became one of the most prominent teachers in East Tennessee at that day and time, until her marriage.
When a young lady, she moved in the best circles of society and has met and known many of the prominent public men of that day, among whom were General Andrew Jackson, when he came to Rogersville as a young practicing attorney attending court; Landon C. Haynes, John Calhoun and Andrew Johnson.
While a girl of sixteen or eighteen she saw Jackson many times when with Judge Peck and many other lawyers they boarded at the old Rogers Tavern in Rogersville, which was situated near her fathers home. She and her schoolmates would pass by the large porch in front of the tavern where Jackson and all the court people stopped. This tavern was a one story log affair with a large room at each end and one in the center. The family occupied one of the end rooms and the boarders attending court the other, and the one in the center was the dining room, the kitchen being several feet in the rear and opposite the dining room. This was the only tavern in the town and received all of the patronage of the day and was frequently the temporary home of the prominent men in the country.
She remembers that the fireplace and hearth to the large room where the lawyers stayed was very broad and wide, and at one time when Jackson was there the tavern people were placing new rock in and repairing the hearth; that he went and dressed out a handsome, smooth rock, carried it in and placed it in the hearth and sat upon it, and ever after it was called Jacksons rock, and time and again the old tavern was repaired and the hearth relaid, but care was always taken to preserve and put back in its place this same rock; and it was in the hearth when last she saw it. The country at that time around about town was mostly a canebrake wilderness.
Her husband died at Rogersville (where they had lived since their marriage), in 1841, leaving her the three children to raise and educate, which she succeeded in well doing.
When the great civil war came she was for the union if it could stand and be in peace, but said she told a neighbor when talking about secession that if the north and the south could not live in peace they had better separate, and when the state of Tennessee went out of the union she gave her all for the land she loved so well, and bid a fond farewell and her blessing to her two sons as they left her to take up arms in defense of their homeland — one whose bright young face she was never to look into again. Being alone, her married daughter living in Texas at the beginning of the war, she went to live with the daughter and remained until its close. She then returned to Tennessee and settled on the farm where she now lives. Here, surrounded with every comfort and where every want and attention is supplied by the loving hands of her devoted son Samuel and her niece, Mrs. Susan (Mills) Hendrix. Her eyesight being dim and not being able to read the old family Bible- which looks like it might be a hundred years old — these friends are a source of great pleasure. She joined the Presbyterian Church at Rogersville when 16 years of age and has been a devoted Christian ever since and is at this time a member of the Presbyterian church of this city and has been a continuous subscriber to that great religion journal “The Christian Observer” for the past 88 years, which paper is only one year younger that she, having been established in the year 1813.
It is a pleasure to meet and converse with this refined and cultured witness of Gods handiwork and mercy in enabling her to live so long and useful life, which life has been full of Christian work and beautiful example to so many generations of her kith and kin and friends who have passed over the great river years and years ago. This saintly lady whose mind is as clear as though only fifty years of age, delights to converse on the things of the long ago. Her memory being good, she can recall many interesting happenings of her girlhood days. It is the wish of her many and devoted friends that as the close of the sunset of her long and beautiful life shall appear, she will celebrate her one hundredth birthday.
Footnote: *Susan Moore Mountcastle, mother of the above, was a cousin to General Robert Edward Lee’s grandmother, Ann Hill Carter Lee.
Submitted by Wendy Pickering Jacobs, Mountcastle descendent.