A Mother Takes a Stand against Col. George Washington Kirk
In the 1920s, Annie Zachary Gazaway spoke at a United Daughters of the Confederacy meeting in South Carolina. Gazaway described an event that took place involving her mother, Anne Eliza Jones Zachary, who was the wife of Jonathan Zachary, the first Postmaster of Cashiers Valley. When this incident occurred, Anne Zachary was about thirty-one years old, weighed less than one hundred pounds, and was already the mother of five children. After the war, Mrs. Zachary gave birth to ten more children. Anne Zachary Gazaway stated:
“I would like to tell you a little story, a true incident in the life of my Mother. Like North Georgia, Western North Carolina had its worst time at the close of the Civil War. The mountains made a safe hiding place for renegades and deserters from both sides. After the surrender in April 1865, Federal officers recruited these men and forthwith these men went on a rampage of pillage and destruction. A company of these were encamped at Cashiers Valley, three miles from our home at that time.
Late one afternoon a number of men from this camp drove their wagon up into our yard and pitched a tent for the night. Without ceremony they took over the kitchen and all the food at hand. Without hesitation, Mother said ‘You have taken over my kitchen and all my food and I can’t do anything about that, but I’ll die before I’ll help you cook.’ Then…a neighbor in the adjoining county [replied], ‘Mrs. Zachary, I don’t think you should feel that way. You’ll find Col. [George Washington] Kirk a mighty fine man.’
The next morning they were loading their wagon with corn from our crib when Mother put this question to the officer in charge: ‘How do you think I’ll be able to feed my children?’ He answered, ‘Madam, I don’t know.’ Then he added, ‘I’m leaving a load of this corn, and I’m giving you my word that it will not be moved.’
After they drove off, Mother thought just to be on the safe side, she would try to hide the corn, so she had her little boys tear off a patch of the roof and poured the corn down the ceiling. While they were engaged in this, they looked down the road and saw three Union soldiers driving up in a six-horse wagon. When they stopped, Mother told them the promise given her and said, ‘I mean to walk to Cashiers Valley and report this.’ They let her go aways [sic] down the road, and then two of them went after her, arrested her, and brought her back.
Mother said she was secretly glad to see them as she had about reached the limit of her strength. The [Union soldiers] drove off without the corn. Mother said she could never tell how she managed it, but her children never went really hungry during the war.”