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AUTHOR:  Cynthia McCurry Putman

Oliver and Mary Polly Tucker McCourry (click to enlarge)

My second great grandfather was named Oliver McCourry. He was the grandson of Malcolm McCourry, who was in the American Revolution. Oliver was born around 1843 to Malcolm McCourry Jr. and his wife Martha “Patty” Deaton McCurry in the area of Jacks Creek near Burnsville, North Carolina. He is listed as sixteen years old and still living at home in the 1850 and 1860 censuses in Yancey County. He had at least ten brothers and sisters. The house he lived in as a child, although remodeled, was still standing in Yancey County as of 2018. He worked as a farmer as did his father.

About twenty years of age, Oliver decided to support the Confederate cause and joined that army. He was listed as a private in Confederate Army records and as having been a member of the 16th NC Regiment, Company C. Oliver was counted as present on the company roster on 25 March 1962, but was missing in action as of 23 May 1864. He was possibly wounded and/or captured at the Battle of Seven Pines or one of the skirmishes around the North Anna River in Virginia. (See footnote.com image #35984529, #35984553, #35984605.)

Oliver was imprisoned in Point Lookout, Maryland. He was released on 14 June of 1864. Whether he willingly changed his mind about supporting the Union or just wanted out of the prison camp and its horrible conditions is unknown, but Oliver McCourry decided to join the U.S. Army and served as a private in Captain William Upton’s U.S. Infantry Volunteers. He was discharged after three years of service on 27 November 1865 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Former Confederates who took the oath of allegiance to the Union were often assigned to regiments that were posted to areas far from their homes to lessen the likelihood that they might encounter their former Confederate units, change sides again or be expected to fight relatives on the battlefield. A family legend says that Oliver had a concave area or scar on his chest where he claimed he was hit by a small piece of shrapnel at some point.  This is undocumented, however.

Oliver married Mary “Polly” Mariah Tucker after the Civil War on 10 September 1868. Their union resulted in ten children added to the population of Yancey County. They lived in eastern Tennessee near the North Carolina border

Oliver was listed on the 1890 Veterans Schedules record for the Civil War (ancestry.com) as having served in B Company in the First US Infantry and having no war-related disabilities.  There is family speculation that he and his family moved to the rural area outside of Unicoi, Tennessee from rural North Carolina as he may have been persona non grata with some of his neighbors since he changed sides from the Confederacy to serving under the Union army.

Oliver and Polly McCourry are listed as selling land in the Yancey County Book of Deeds, Book 26, p. 480, dated 17 March 1902. He is in some other records of that time. They are both buried on a slight hill off the road leading to the old Strawberry Farm with a few other small graves outside of Unicoi, Tennessee. It is listed as Baker Cemetery No. 2. He outlived her as she died on 31 March 1906. He died on 11 July 1918.

My great-grandfather was Levi McCourry, who married Mary Butner, who was from North Carolina. Their son Lester McCurry Sr. served in the U.S. Army. He was married to Lurla Brummett. My father, Lester McCurry, Jr. served in the U.S. Air Force and married Ida Hilton of South Carolina. My generation is the first one in that line that did not have a person in active duty. I am in the National Society Daughters of the Revolution and honor my military ancestors through service in that organization.


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