Confederate vet John Wesley Colquett honored Saturday

Published 12:42am Saturday, December 6, 2008

A memorial service was held in honor of Confederate Veteran John Wesley Colquett on Saturday, November 15, at his grave site in the historic Bullock Community Cemetery, located adjacent to the Friendship Baptist Church in the Southern area of Crenshaw County. The Colquett family requested that the Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans assist them in paying tribute to their ancestor and unveiling a grave marker designating his service.

In addition to the grave of John Wesley Colquett, there are 18 others in this cemetery for Confederate Veterans. A local citizen of the area, Louise Marler, placed Confederate Battle Flags at the graves of each of these prior to the dedication ceremony.

More than 100 descendants of John Wesley Colquett along with friends and members of Sons of Confederate Veterans, United Daughters of the Confederacy and Confederate Reenactors gathered for the historical occasion. Following a military call for attention, Curtis Thomasson, commander of the Covington Rifles who served as emcee for the program, recognized Jeanine Bozeman, great granddaughter of the veteran, to welcome those in attendance. Lex Colquett, a great great grandson voiced the invocation.

Curtis Thomasson presented opening comments expressing the pleasure of the Covington Rifles to be assisting in the program and the significance of honoring one’s Confederate ancestor and heritage through this project. He briefly described the five flags of the Confederacy, which formed the background for the ceremony and then led the group in saluting the Confederate Flag. This was followed by Rex Harrison, great great grandson, leading the group in singing “Dixie.”

William Harrison, another great great grandson, presented a brief sketch of the veteran’s life and service in the Confederate Army. Most appropriately, a great great great grandson, Jon Wesley Colquett, who was named for the ancestor, unveiled the new Confederate marker. Then two great great great great grandsons, Trey and Walt Spurlin, posted two small Confederate Battle Flags at the headstone. Angela Colquett Nelson, great great granddaughter, who coordinated the occasion, placed a memorial wreath next to the grave marker.

Bob McLendon, Commander of the SCV Camp in Troy, gave a brief report from the book which he has written on the history of the 53rd Alabama Partisan Rangers. He was wearing a uniform typical of those worn by men in the unit such as the Colquett brothers. Bob made his books available for sale during the fellowship following the ceremony.

Next, three Confederate reenactors, Bob McLendon, Dallas Hudson, and Joe Rich, fired a traditional three-gun military salute. They then furled the Confederate Battle Flag, and the program was concluded with the playing of “Taps” by Straughn High School Bandsman Erica Zigler.

Following the taking of pictures, those in attendance were invited to fellowship and refreshments in the church’s fellowship room. There were displays of family history and photos along with a guest registry book.

The honored veteran, John Wesley Colquett was born April 22, 1846, in Monticello, Pike County, Alabama. His parents were William Bethea and Mary (Miles) Colquett, natives of South Carolina who moved to Alabama during the 1830s. William Bethea Colquett was a prominent physician and citizen in the Bullock community. He had a large house on the Old Three Notch Road next door to his son, John Wesley. He was responsible for founding the Bullock School, an academy located adjacent to the Friendship Church.

As the War Between the States advanced, the rural community of Bullock became more and more affected. John Wesley Colquett along with many men responded to the call for volunteers. In November 1862, John Wesley enlisted at the age of 16 years. He was assigned to Company H, 53rd Regiment of the Alabama Partisan Rangers. He served with this unit until the end of the war in 1865.

The 53rd Alabama Regiment was organized at Montgomery in November 1862, and it proceeded a few weeks later to Mississippi. The Rangers were in battles at Thompson’s Station and at Brentwood as well as many others. They were in the famous Chickamauga Battle and also in the Battles of Dalton and Atlanta. When General Sherman reached Atlanta, the 53rd was the principle force engaged in the daring raid. This regiment was still fighting against Sherman’s Army as he devastated Georgia and the Carolinas. It surrendered a small number with General Joseph E. Johnston at Durham Station, Orange County, North Carolina, on April 26, 1865.

John’s brother, Calvin Charles Colquett, was 16 years older than John, but he served in the same unit with his brother. In July 1863, he was appointed to the rank of lieutenant, but he was badly wounded in July 1864. Another brother, Albert Bethea, also served in the same unit. He was only 15 years old when he enlisted in 1863. At his death, he was buried in Montgomery County. A third brother, David Franklin, served in a different unit, Company K, 25th Alabama Infantry. David died of disease on May 18, 1862, at the age of 27 years and was buried in a Confederate Cemetery in Aberdeen, Mississippi. Calvin Charles is buried in a grave near John Wesley in the Bullock Community Cemetery along with their parents and other relatives.

John Wesley along with his brothers, Calvin Charles and Albert Bethea, returned to Bullock after the war ended. They operated a store on the Old Three Notch Road, the very road the Colquett descendants traveled to attend the memorial service on November 15, 2008. Everyone worked hard and together to survive during the “Reconstruction Days” and eventually reestablished themselves.

John Wesley was married on April 21, 1867, in Brundidge, Alabama, to Harriet Frances “Fannie” Barnes. They reared their 12 children in the bullock community where they were active members. John also became a member of the Masonic Order.

They reared the following children: William Barnes, b. 1867, d. 1936; David Franklin, b. 1869, d. 1948, m. Minnie Redella Morgan; Linda, b. 1871, d. 1956, m. William Charlie Mills; Maud Estelle, b. 1874, d. 1961, m. John Rowell; James M. “Jim,” b. 1875, d. 1954; Clyde Beatrice, b. 1881, d. 1928, m. H.T. Smith; Mary Amie, b. 1882, m. Barbe Rowell; Clara Melissa, b. 1882, d. 1968, m. Henry Rowell; Fleeta, b. 1884, d. 1980, m. Malachi Wiggins; Lillian, b. 1886, m. Henry Morgan; Ella Irene, b. 1887, d. 1978, m. Edgar Rowell; and Bernard, b.1892, d. 1974, m. Lillie ?.

On Nov. 9, 1900, John Wesley was returning from a trip to Brantley on his horse and buggy. As he was crossing the Conecuh River Bridge, his horse became frightened and ran away with him in the buggy. Someone came along after the accident and took him to the nearest house where he died a short time later. His obituary stated that he was about 55 years old, was of a good family, generous, noble-hearted and had many friends.

After John Wesley’s death, Fannie lived with their children. She applied for and was granted a Confederate pension in 1901. She lived until 1936 and was buried at the Pilgrim’s Rest Cemetery in Dozier.

Their 12 children rewarded them with 76 grandchildren. It is no wonder that this large heritage of children and later generations saw fit to honor this ancestor, John Wesley Colquett, by placing a marker at his gravesite depicting his four years of service in the Confederate Army when he was but a teenager.

Appreciation is expressed to Angela (Colquett) Nelson and her generous relatives who helped to plan and stage the memorial service for their Confederate ancestor.

Anyone interested in Confederate history is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; call 334-222-6467; or e-mail: cthomasson@centurytel.net.

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