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February 12, 2017

“About 1 or 2 p. M., leaving scouts to observe them, I marched rapidly to Williamstown. This place is just upon the northern edge of the rugged Eagle hills. Thence I moved eastwardly to Falmouth, a small town on the Central Kentucky Railroad, about forty miles from Covington, and twenty miles from Williamstown indeed nearly equi-distant from the Dry-ridge road, or Cincinnati and Lexington Pike (upon which the enemy were moving), and the Maysville and Lexington Pike, which also needed some watching. I was then in a position to observe every movement upon the entire front, and was, so to speak, in the center of the web commanding all the avenues which should be guarded. If the enemy continued upon the road upon which he was then advancing, he would have to force his way through General Heath’s forces, advantageously posted amid the hills of the Eagle Creek. If he turned to the left to seek a road not so well defended, he would have to come by Falmouth, and therefore Falmouth was the point where the cavalry watching him should be.


On the road, however, and before I reached Falmouth, scouts brought the information that the enemy had fallen back to Walton, and also informed me of what his strength apparently was. It was plain that no force of that size would attempt to march on Lexington. Shortly afterward, other scouts, which had been sent to watch the Ohio river, came from Warsaw, a little town on its banks, and reported that a number of boats laden with troops had gone down the river toward Louisville. This information explained everything. Finding that Heath had withdrawn, and Cincinnati was no longer threatened, this force, which had driven us away from Walton, had been sent to clear the country of troublesome detachments, and also to attract attention in that direction, and conceal the concentration of troops at Louisville. Walton is twenty-five miles from Falmouth. On the day after reaching the latter, I sent a flag of truce to Walton, with dispatches, which General Smith had instructed me to forward to Cincinnati.’ - From The History of Morgan's Cavalry by Basil Duke



Can you feel the tension that was in the air in September of 1862 as General Edmond Kirby Smith was threatening Cincinnati? It’s almost palpable. I can see the boys and young men riding out to watch the troops moving on the Cincinnati and Lexington Pike and on the Maysville and Lexington Pike. I can see the youngest boys playing “war”. I can hear the women whispering in hushed tones, full of worry, concerned for their safety and that of their husbands and sons.  I can see the older men watching the troops closely and hear them quietly speculating with each other. I can hear the bravado in the voices of the young men and older boys as they tried to impress the girls with their desire to ‘go and fight the enemy’.


Callensville was not immune to these goings on. The Cincinnati and Lexington Pike wasn’t far away. Thomas E. Moore and his men, some from Callensville, were in the area recruiting for the Confederate Cavalry. Moore was gathering a company of men to join Henry Giltner’s 4th Kentucky Cavalry of the Confederate Army. The Battle of Augusta took place later in the month and news of it surely made its way to Callensville, adding to the tension.


Second Lieutenant James F. Jenkins, recruiting for Moore, was in the area during this time. By profession, he was a farmer and a preacher.  The Jenkins’s lived on present-day Gumlick Road near the Gumlick Baptist Church on a farm owned by James Wells. The family legend is that he was a “forceful speaker” and a “staunch Democrat”. It continues that when he came to town to recruit, he gave a “rousing” speech in Callensville causing many boys and men from the area to join Moore’s company. Court documents housed at the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives validate that at least some of the new recruits were sworn in by Lt. Jenkins at Highfill’s/ Highfield’s Tavern in Callensville.


David K. Fogle, in a deposition, stated that he was recruited by Jenkins and, along with Samuel C. Lowe, John Asberry*, and John’s brother, Robert Asberry, was ordered to the home of Henry Austin to take a horse and a good gun that Austin was reported to have had.  What happened when they went to Austin’s resulted in a court case that played out over the next three years in Pendleton County, before making its way to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, where it was dropped by the appellants.


On February 9, 1863, Henry Austin filed a suit against John Asberry stating “that on October 3, 1862, John Asberry forcibly entered the premises took, carried away, and appropriated to his own use” a four-year old bay horse. He claimed the horse’s value at $125 and asked for judgement and attachment. When the court tried to serve a summons on John, he couldn't be found. Because of this, his share of his father's estate was attached by the court. The case was amended three times between the initial filing date and October 21, 1864 to reflect the deaths of John Asberry and three of his siblings, Sam Asberry (James Samuel), Mary Ann Antrobus, and Elizabeth Hutchinson and to add the infant children of the deceased, James Kelvin Asberry and William Antrobus, to the suit. William Hutchinson was not found and so not included. A Guardian ad Litem was appointed for these children and the minor siblings of John Asberry; Eliza (Louisa) Micha and Joseph Taylor Asberry. Depositions were taken in Falmouth, Williamstown, Covington and Callensville (at the home of J.W. Hume) during the years 1863-1865.


 Court Summons for John Asberry to appear in court.




John’s father, Jacob Asbury, died in 1856. His will provided, among other things, that his widow, Delilah, purchase each of his minor sons, John, Robert, and Joseph Taylor, a horse upon their reaching a majority age. When John enlisted in Captain Moore’s company, he apparently needed a horse.




Here’s how the story unfolds:


Delilah Asberry told John to look around, find a horse, and if he could, buy one.  She was willing to pay for it. 

On October 3, 1862, William Hedges was at the Gum Lick when he overheard a conversation between John and Henry Austin. John offered to buy Austin’s horse but he wouldn’t sell, saying he bought it for his son. John told Austin that he might as well sell it because he intended to have it anyway.


Later that day, Jenkins was at Highfield’s Tavern, talking to his new recruits and was overheard by the establishment’s owner, Henry Highfield. The plan was to take the horse that night. The next morning, Highfield learned that the horse had been taken. He claimed that John Asberry spent the night at his house.


Seventeen-year-old James Austin, the son of Henry Austin, and his sister, Mary, were at home the night the horse was taken. Their father was spending the night in Grant County. James had gone to bed but hadn’t fallen asleep when he heard the fence rails fall. He got up, looked out the window, and saw John Asberry leading the horse around the corner of the house. The stable where the horse was kept was about eight to ten steps from the house. John advanced three to four steps of this distance before turning.  In the bright moon, James said he could clearly see that it was John Asberry leading the horse. The boys had been schoolmates so he knew him. Jenkins was on the porch watching John and guarding the house with a gun. James thought Sam Coleman Lowe and David Fogle were in the house, looking for saddles. As soon as Asberry got the horse away from the house, the rest of the men left.  The very next day, James told his neighbor, James McCandless, that he wasn’t home that night and that he didn’t know who took the horse. McCandless said that Henry Austin suspected Jenkins. James later testified that his father was a "Union man" with no use for the Confederates.


David Fogle saw Lt. J.F. Jenkins in possession of the horse no more than fifteen minutes after he had taken it. According to his deposition, Fogle was in the field when the horse was taken. He further stated that John Asberry was not present. 


James Thompson, a neighbor that had known John since they were children, talked with him about the horse before he left with the “Rebel Army”. John said that if Austin wanted to know who took his horse, he was the one that did it. He put the bridle on the horse and led him from the stable. James claimed, in his deposition, that he never saw the horse in question and that he didn’t know what John had done with it or who was with him when he took it. John didn’t say. However, Thompson didn’t recognize the horse Asberry was riding. He later stated in another deposition that John was riding his mother’s mare when they met. This conversation between the boys was held in the road in front of the Thompson home with Joseph Porter, Ben Porter, and Mack Lowe also present. None of these men were deposed. Ben Porter would later write a letter home to John’s mother, reporting his death, on 21 Feb 1863, and stating that he was with him, in McMinnville, Tennessee, when he died.


In another twist, Mary Harrison, a neighbor, reported seeing John Asberry’s brother, Robert, riding the horse about daylight on the morning after the horse was taken. Her character was questioned by many of the neighbors.


By 1865, Sam Coleman Lowe, like David Fogle, had returned home to Callensville.  He enlisted with Tom Moore’s company two days before the horse was stolen. He said he saw J.F. Jenkins take Austin’s horse. Sam Coleman claimed to have not known if John was a Confederate at the time but did tell that he saw him in nearby Cynthiana “acting like a mounted soldier”. This was a few days after the horse was stolen. Sam Coleman said John was riding his mother’s mare at that time.


Thomas Fishback, of Boyd Station, sold the horse, as a colt, to Henry Austin. The last time he saw the horse was in Hawkins County in East Tennessee while he was serving in the Confederate Army. He stated, in his deposition, the horse was in the possession of a man named Asberry and that Asberry had told him that he got the horse in Kentucky.


Jane, sister to John Asberry, and her husband Thomas Lowe said that John rode his own horse when he left for the Army.

Regardless of what really happened, in the end, Henry Austin got his wish. John Asberry’s 1/11th share of his father’s farm was sold at the courthouse door to settle the amount awarded. Austin bought the share for $100 on June 4, 1866, more than three years after the original filing. The family appealed the case to the Court of Appeals and subpoenas were issued on June 2, 1866 for all parties to appear.  It is believed the family dropped the case sometime after 1866.  By the time the case got this far, Henry Austin and Delilah Asbury, combined, had paid the courts and, in Austin’s case, for the share in the estate over $300. The lawyers for the case were additional costs. The most anyone had valued the horse was Austin’s claim of $125.


In 1872, J.R. Hand sued Henry Austin and Delilah Asberry, jointly. In a deposition given by Jesse Bryant, Bryant stated he had pastured the horse for Thomas Fishback on his farm that joined Henry Austin. Fishback owed Bryant eleven dollars for pasturage and Bryant refused to let him have the horse until the money was paid. James Austin paid the eleven dollars and Fishback let him have the horse. Robert Asbury was also called to give a deposition in the Hand vs. Austin and Asberry case and stated that James Austin had refused to speak to him that morning. James Austin said they hadn’t been speaking since “they stole” his horse.  Nine years had passed between the beginning of Austin’s suit against the Asburys and the next door neighbors still weren’t speaking even though Henry Austin owned a 1/11th interest in the Asbury farm.   


According to family legend, James Jenkins was in Tennessee when the 4th Kentucky Cavalry CSA was surrendered at Mount Sterling. He never returned to Pendleton County to live and only returned to visit twice – once in 1881 and again around 1892. He made his home in Claiborne County Tennessee and oral tradition indicates he was buried there. Tradition also offers the reason he didn’t come home after the war: “He feared retaliation for the deeds he’d done”. His wife refused to join him and continued to live in the Gumlick community with one of her sons until her death circa 1890. Two of his sons served in the Union Army, Mathew and Wesley. Mathew signed an Oath of Allegiance to the United States at Camp Chase, Ohio on November 25, 1862.  Papers explaining this situation have not been located, but it can be inferred he had been arrested. Mathew was arrested, again, on June 7, 1863 and sent to the McLean Barracks in Cincinnati, having been accused of being “of the Rebel Army”. It was never proven. He was released on July 26, 1863. On March 20, 1864, he was drafted into the Union Army.





Mathew Jenkins's Oath of Allegiance to the United States, signed November 22, 1862.







































Mathew Jenkins POW card; released on July 26, 1863.






























































During this war, not all battles were fought on the battlefield.  Not all were fought by soldiers. Some were fought by neighbors. Not all wounds occurred on the battlefield. Some occurred in courthouses and in homes,.  Even a small, close knit community, like Callensville, could be affected for many years and several generations. This is but one story.

* Note: The Asbury family's name appears as 'Asberry' in this case, however, it appears in other documents as Asbery, Asbury, Asby, and Ashberry.  Coleman Asberry, the grandfather of John Asberry signed his name, in lieu of an 'x', as "Asby".  I have tried to keep the spelling as it appears in the documents.   


1) The Asbury and Austin family files of the E.E. Barton Family Papers;

2) Henry Austin vs. John Asberry Pendleton County Circuit Court; case package #192;

3) Military and Union Civilian records obtained from the National Archives for John Asberry, James Jenkins, and Mathew Jenkins. 

4) Jenkins Family oral tradition as passed down to M.M. Jenkins, son of Mathew Jenkins, who passed it to his daughter, the author's grandmother, Monta Lee Kells who wrote it down.