104. Thomas Young Lytle
was born on May 24 1843. He appeared on the census in 1870 in McDowell County,
NC. Lytle, Thomas 26; Eliza Ann 22; Alvis W. 1; Leander 55 (father); Elmira
60 (servant) and Thomas Hatcherson 23 (servant). He appeared on the census
in 1880 in McDowell County, NC. Crooked Creek Township, House # 51: Lytle, Thomas
Y. 37; Eliza Ann 35; Alvis W. 11; Columbus 8; Sallie 4; Annie B. 3; and Leander
P. 65 (father). He appeared on the census in 1900 in McDowell County, NC. Lytle,
Thomas Y. 57; Eliza A. 55; Sally 25; Annie B. 21; George 19; and Leander 87 (father);
and Fulbright, Cassie and Alice; Burgress, ????? (boarders). He appeared on
the census in 1920 in McDowell (Burke) County. Lytle, 76, living with his daughter
and son-in-law, Ben and Sally Stepp. They were living in the Carson House during
this time. He died on Feb 28 1931 in Raleigh, NC. Obituaries for Thomas Young
"Marion Progress" March 5, 1931: PICTURESQUE VETERAN OF WAR ANSWERS LAST CALL
At Old Fort on March 1 news of the death of Tom Young Lytle, picturesque 90 year old Confederate veteran who is unofficially credited with firing the first shot of the Civil War at Bethel in 1861, reached here today. Captain Lytle entered the Old Soldiers Home at Raleigh shortly after Christmas. Captain Lytle was a native of McDowell County and spent most of his life in the county. He has been the subject of a number of interesting newspaper articles and was widely known for exploits during the War. He entered the Army as a Private in one of the earliest organized Confederate companies and emerged from the service at Appomattox
with the rank of Captain. He served throughout the War and fought in almost every important battle and campaign but was never seriously wounded.
He is survived by two sons, George Lytle of Chattanooga, Tennessee and Columbus Lytle of Old Fort. The funeral services were held at Old Fort Tuesday morning at 11 O' Clock.
FUNERAL SERVICES FOR MR. THOMAS Y. LYTLE
The funeral services for Mr. Thomas Young Lytle were held in the Presbyterian Church Tuesday Morning at 11 O' Clock. The services were conducted by Rev. J.C. Story, of Marion, who was assisted by Rev. M.E. Hansel of the Old Fort Presbyterian Church, an Rev. J.L. Rayle, of the Old Fort Methodist Church, South. Mr. Lytle was a member of one of the early pioneer families of McDowell County. He served in the Confederate Army during the War Between the States. The Masonic Lodge had charge of the services at the Old Fort Cemetery. The Old Fort Daughters of the Confederacy attended in body. He was a member of Old Fort Presbyterian Church in Old Fort, NC. He was buried in Old Fort Cemetery.
The following article was copied from "The McDowell News", Progress Edition, November 14, 1973:
HISTORICAL OLD FORT WAS PIONEER OUTPOST
by Mildred Beedle Fossett
The town of Old Fort has been known by four different names: 1. Davidson's Fort, named for Samuel Davidson who owned land, operated a mill and built a fort; 2. Upper Fort, evidently to distinguish it from Cathey's Fort which was erected near the present American Thread plant at Woodlawn; 3. Catawba Fort, evidently named for the Indian tribe or the river; 4. Old Fort, its present name.
Samuel Davidson later moved from Old Fort and was recognized as the first man from this area who went west of Old Fort to settle. He built a cabin on Christian Creek near Swannanoa. He was ambushed and killed by the Indians.
In his lonely outpost he kept a bell on his horse to enable him to locate the animal when it strayed from his sparsely cleared acreages. Unfriendly Indians seized the horse and removed the bell, then stealthily made their way to a point near the cabin and sounded the bell. Davidson heard the bell and thought the horse was nearby. He approached the wooded area from where the sound came and was attacked and killed by the red men. His wife, with their infant daughter and colored servant, fled to safety and hid in a rhododendron thicket until the Indians went away. They returned through the uncharted wilderness to Old Fort where a searching party under the leadership of Colonel Daniel Smith went out to hunt the intruders. Records relate that several of the Cherokees, who had ambushed Davidson, were found and killed. The searchers found the scalped body of Samuel Davidson and buried him where he fell.
Later other pioneers made their way across the Blue Ridge and established a settlement at the present site of Swannanoa, about a mile and a half from where Davidson was killed.
Among those first settlers were relatives of Samuel Davidson. His grave became a shrine for the community. A pine tree was planted the the head of his grave and the initials S. D. were carved on it. The slain man's brother and nephew cared for the grave many years. The site of the grave is now marked by a monument which was unveiled September 25, 1913. The little knoll on which the monument stands is knows as Davidson's Peak, about 1 1/2 miles from Swannanoa. The marker is between the Swannanoa River and Highway 70.
Other records indicate that a fort was built about 1756 under Captain Hugh Waddell's direction as a place of refuge for the Catawba Indian women and children in the event that the Catawba warriors should have to march against the French. It is believed that Davidson's fort was built on the same site of the Indian fort, which according to records was never completed. These uncertain records have been difficult the prove or reject.
Old Fort was the scene of many battles and skirmishes fought between the pioneer settlers and the Indians. General Griffith Rutherford, who was in command of the guard which protected the Western Frontier, camped at Old Fort while patrolling this section of the border.
Stories have been handed down from one generation to the next which related the scalping of Mrs. Burgin who lived just west of the present town. She was in her orchard gathering fruit when Indians approached. She climbed a tree but was pulled down and scalped. This took place near the home of the late Colonel D. W. Adams.
A McDowell county man, who lived near Old Fort, claimed to have fired the first shot in combat in the Civil War. Thomas Young Lytle, born May 25, 1843, was scarcely 18 years old when volunteers were called to defend the Confederacy. He was a member of Captain William McDowell's company stationed in Virginia.
On the morning of June 8, 1861 the pickets brought in word that a company of Yankees from Newport News, Virginia were pilfering the countryside between Bethel and Newport News. Colonel D. H. Hill of the First North Carolina Volunteers ordered Captain McDowell to take his company and "give them fight". Major Lane of North Carolina arrived on the scene and took command. There were about 125 men in the company and one piece of artillery. Major Lane ordered Captain McDowell to send ten of his men in advance of the company. Lytle was one of the ten selected for advance duty.
In 1926 Lytle related the story to a reporter from a North Carolina newspaper. "After awhile we came to a lane, which we went down. On the left was a clearing and on the right was heavy timber. At a curve in the road we saw the bayonets of the Federal Troops through cracks in the fence. They were standing by the side of the road, about 125 in number. Lieutenant Gregory who was in command of the advance guard said, "Boys, we're going to get into a fight. We are going to open the ball. I want every man to do his duty." That was all he said.
"We went right on up to within thirty yards of them. They ordered us to halt, and the ten of us formed in line right square across the road. The Yankees then said, 'Come on down here, boys. We're all fighting for the same cause They then cavilled back and forth among themselves.
"Lieutenant Gregory said, 'You come to us. You halted us Then one of the Yankees, the one we captured later, cursed his comrades and said, 'I know you'd act like a passel of damn cowards the first time you saw anybody.'
"They thought we were all right but he alone came up to us to within five or six steps.
"Lieutenant Gregory halted him and threw his pistol on him saying, 'What regiment do you belong to?' The Yankee answered, 'I belong to the First New York Volunteers.' Gregory said, 'You're my prisoner. Fire on these men, boys.'
Lytle continued his story. "How did I come to have the advantage over the other men and secure the first shot? The balance of the boys with the exception of a fellow named Adams and myself had their guns on their shoulders. Adams and I had our guns in our hands with our fingers on the triggers. When we got the command to fire all we had to do was shoot. I fired a little before Adams, being a little quicker on the trigger.
"When Gregory threw his pistol on the advancing Yankee, the others ran. They went down the road and didn't fire a gun until out of site. No Confederates were killed or hurt. That was on Saturday afternoon, June 8, 1861.
"After Adams and I fired we grabbed the Yankee and took him prisoner. I took his gun strap off and held his hands behind and Adams tied him."
In his early days Lytle was accounted an expert shot and maintained his record for accuracy many years.
The record of Lytle's part in the initial skirmish is related in Clark's "History of the Bethel Church Fight."
Lytle had enlisted for only six months. When this time expired, the regiment disbanded. The McDowell Countian returned home and volunteered again in March 1862, in Company A of the 49th North Carolina Regiment. His Captain was John A. Flemming; other officers were G. W. (George Walton) Lytle, his uncle, who was First Lieutenant, J. Martin Higgins, Second Lieutenant, and Joe Camp Neal, Third Lieutenant, all of McDowell County.
Thomas Young Lytle was the son of L. P. (Leander Perkins) Lytle and Louisa Lytle. He was born on Crooked Creek about three miles south of Old Fort. His father was a planter and slave owner. His great grandfather, Thomas Lytle, came from Ireland and was a prominent Indian fighter during the Indian raids in the vicinity of Old Fort, and also served as a soldier in the Revolutionary War.
In reminiscing, Lytle said, "My father was calculating on giving me a complete education but during the war I became in love with a mighty pretty girl and I told my father my school days were over." The girl was Eliza Ann Burgin, daughter of B. L. (Benjamin Logan) Burgin, one of the earliest settlers in Western North Carolina.
He added, "I was in Buncombe County near Black Mountain working on a farm when the call was made for volunteers at Asheville. My father told me, 'Thomas, hitch up the horses. I want to go to Asheville.' When my father came out to get in the buggy I was already in and I said, 'I want to go to Asheville too.' We then drove on in silence about three miles. My father asked me if I was going to volunteer, and he said if he thought I was he would turn right around and go straight back home. I was the only child, my mother died when I was two year old, but I said, 'Pa, I am going to volunteer. I am going to Asheville.'
"Captain Jim Young, later sheriff, was the first man to volunteer in Captain McDowell's Company of Asheville, which was part of the First Bethel Regiment. Captain McDowell was the head of Company E known as "The Buncombe Riflemen." Of the 125 men not over a dozen of them were over 21 years old.
"George Gregory was First Lieutenant; Wash Hardy, Second Lieutenant; and James A. Patton, Third Lieutenant. All were of Asheville. I was a private.
"The Company was made up in March. In April we marched out of Asheville and camped on the banks of the Swannanoa River during the first night. The second night we camped within 250 yards of my present home on Buck Creek in McDowell County, and the third night we camped this side of Morganton. The next morning we took a train to Raleigh and remained there until the State seceded and we became part of a regiment. Col. D. H. Hill was made colonel of the First North Carolina Volunteers. We went from Raleigh to Richmond and from there to Yorktown. We threw up breastworks and drilled. From Yorktown we went to Bethel Church and stayed there two or three days. Bethel i 12 to 14 miles below Yorktown, toward the coast.
"After I volunteered, the second time, in Company A of the 49th North Carolina Regiment, we went to Raleigh and became part of what was known as General Bob Ransom's Brigade. The next battle I was in was the seven days fight around Richmond in the summer of 1862. We fought at Malvern Hill. I was in the charge but did not get hurt. Our next battle was Sharpsburg. We next fought at Harper's Ferry, where we captured several hundred Yankees. We then went into quarters at Petersburg.
"The next hard fight was at or near Druey's Bluff between Richmond and Petersburg."
Several minor engagements were also participated in by Lytle between Petersburg, Virginia and Weldon, N. C. He also fought in eastern North Carolina.
He was justly proud of the original copy of his commission as Second Lieutenant which was signed by Governor Zebulon B. Vance.
Lytle was wounded in the head at the "Blow Up." After two weeks he returned to his regiment and fought at Fredricksburg, Pennsylvania, the Battle of the Wilderness, and several other places.
At the time of General Lee's surrender he was home on furlough. He told his wife that he was "up against it, and had to go to work, and he did."
The Lytles had six children. Four were living when he granted the interview in 1926; C. L. (Columbus Lee) Lytle, George Ransom Lytle, Mrs. B. M. (Sarah 'Sally' Young) Steppe and Mrs. Annie B. Trexler.
Lytle farmed McDowell County from 1865. He served as Deputy Sheriff under J. J. Neal from 1872 and 1874. He stated that the first vote he ever cast was for Zeb Vance as Governor. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church and said that he was reared by a Presbyterian grandmother who taught him the catechism and was very strict.
News of Lytle's death reached Old Fort, March 1, 1934. He had entered the Old Soldiers Home at Raleigh shortly before the previous Christmas. He death occurred there.
A newspaper account of the funeral reports, "While five veterans, the last of McDowell County's Confederate ranks, gathered around a grave in the Old Fort cemetery this morning, their comrade, Captain Thomas Young Lytle, 90 year old hero of many battles, was laid to his final rest.
"Following the services conducted at the Old Fort Presbyterian Church by the Rev. J. C. Story of Marion, The Masonic Lodges of Old Fort and Marion united at the grave to conduct the committal services as the flower draped casket was lowered into the earth."
The next meeting of the United Daughters of the Confederacy honored "The Memory of Captain Lytle and Comrades" and a paper was read by Miss Gertrude Dula.
The May 29, 1930 issue of a local newspaper carried the account of the death of W. P. Terrell, "the man who drove the first locomotive across the Blue Ridge Mountains and into Asheville."
The report continues, "When the railroad was under construction by the state, the line was built up to the long Swannanoa tunnel, and while the tunnel was under construction, the Asheville end from near the top of the mountain to Biltmore, was built.
To facilitate work on the Asheville end of the line, a small locomotive was hauled by oxen over a "corduroy road", a road floored with logs across the mountain to the west end of what is now the Swannanoa tunnel and was used on the west side in construction work.
"But it was Mr. Terrell who drove the first locomotive through the tunnel and on to Asheville.
"Mr. Terrell was also the first Master of Masons at the Old Fort Lodge and was one of the first deacons of the Old Fort Baptist Church."
One of the highlights of Old Fort's history occurred July 27, 1930 when the Arrowhead Monument on Highway 70 near the Southern Railway Depot was unveiled with appropriate ceremonies.
The arrowhead, which was chiseled out a a slab of pink granite at the Salisbury Quarries stands 14 1/2 feet in height on a river rock and cement base of slightly more than fifteen feet.
A brass tablet attached to the arrowhead bears the inscription: "This marks the site of the Old Indian Fort built A. D. 1756, the western outpost of the United States and North Carolina until 1776."
Actually the arrowhead is not on the site of the original fort which was located approximately where the Mountain Gateway Museum stands today.
D. T. Roughton, president of the Old Fort Memorial Association, was Master of Ceremonies for the event which was attended by an estimated 6000 persons who gathered from all sections of Western North Carolina.
The Rev. E. J. Ingle of Old Fort Baptist Church gave the invocation and a welcome was given by Dr. D. M. McIntosh, Old Fort Chairman of the Committee on Design and Location.
The Rev. Clarence Stewart McClellan, Jr., rector of Calvary Episcopal Church at Fletcher, gave an address, "Pioneers". On the program he was also listed as "Radio Artist and Founder of the Open Air Westminster Abbey of the South".
J. Hampton Rich of Winston-Salem, Chairman of the Boone Trail Memorial Association, gave an address, "Pioneers of the Appalachian Mountains". The Honorable Zebulon Weaver of Asheville gave an address: "Pioneers and Their Descendants". "The Red Man" was the subject of an address by the Honorable R. R. Reynolds of Asheville.
The Indian Tribes were represented by Chief Tahquittee and others from the Cherokees; Chief Sam T. Blue and the Catawbas, and Chief Carl Standing Deer, Instructor of Archery at Wild acres, near Little Switzerland.
The program also lists "Informal Talks by Distinguished Visitors".
The marker was unveiled by Margaret Marie Nesbitt, nine year old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. N. Nesbitt of Old Fort, and direct descendant of one of the first settlers of the valley.
The Rev. J. C. Umberger of Old Fort Methodist Church pronounced the Benediction. Music was furnished by the Bugle and Drum Corps of Gastonia; and the Marion and Old Fort Bands. Mrs. George Sandlin was General Chairman of the Program Committee.
Another newspaper article furnished additional information. Miss Margaret Nesbitt, who unveiled the marker, was the great-great granddaughter of Mrs. Martha Burgin, the only white child born in the fort.
Twenty Indians, representing the Cherokee and Catawba tribes, were seated on the speakers platform. The two tribes, at one time bitter enemies, formally smoked the pipe of peace while 6,000 persons looked on. Legend has it that the chiefs of the two tribes had never before formally smoked the peace pipe.
One face of the arrow is adorned by crossed tomahawks, crossed muzzle-loading rifles, and a powder horn. The other side carries a profile of Chief Sequoia.
Another once-popular landmark in Old Fort is Andrews Geyser which was built in 1910 and dedicated to Colonel A. B. Andrews of Raleigh for his work in constructing the old Western North Carolina Railroad. An original geyser was built in 1890 by the old Western North Carolina Railroad and a hotel was erected nearby to accommodate railroad employees. Several years later the hotel burned and the operation of the geyser was discontinued.
In 1910, George F. Baker of the First National Bank of New York made a trip to Asheville. Seeing the site of the original geyser from the train windows, he asked Southern Railway for permission to restore it. Permission was granted and the work completed in 1911.
Since 1911 the geyser was in constant operation under the supervision of the Southern Railway until recent years when the operation was again discontinued.
Many residents recall the geyser and the well-kept picnic grounds which surrounded it, and area which was enjoyed by local families, church groups and clubs for recreational purposes.
It is hoped that in the near future the geyser can be reactivated, the property restored to its former appearance, and Andrews Geyser can again serve McDowell County as a recreational area.
Old Fort, once a pioneer outpost, carries on that heritage in the Mountain Gateway Museum and its residents contribute substantially to the economic, cultural, and religious structure of McDowell County.
He was married to Eliza Ann Burgin (daughter of Benjamin
"Logan" Burgin and Jane Caroline Dysart) on Sep
16 1865 in McDowell County, NC. They were married in a double wedding ceremony
with her aunt Margaret Hemphill and James M. Young at the home of Thomas and
Margaret Hemphill. Eliza Ann Burgin was born on May
8 1845 in McDowell County, NC. She appeared on the census in 1860 in McDowell
County, NC. Burgin, B.L. 40; Jane 37; Jane 18; Eliza 15; Caledonia 10. Columbus
8; Mary 4. Another daughter Margaret E. b 5-12-1841 d 9-28-1901 was married
9-21-1859 and therefore did not show on the 1860 census living with her father
Ben. Margaret's third child, Anna Burgin b 2-15-1873 d 11-6-1955 married Locke
Craig 11-13-1891. Locke Craig served as Governor of North Carolina from January
1913 to January 1917. She died on Aug 24 1908. She was buried in Old Fort
Cemetery. Thomas Young Lytle and Eliza Ann Burgin had the following children:
383 i. Unknown Lytle.
384 ii. Alvis Woodrow Lytle was born on May 25 1869. He died on Oct 24 1894 in Buncombe County, NC. He was buried in Old Fort Cemetery. He never married.
+385 iii. Columbus Lee Lytle.
+386 iv. Sarah "Sallie" Young Lytle.
+387 v. Annie B. Lytle.
+388 vi. George Ransom Lytle.
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