Papa Report #13


Papa Was A Boy in Gray Book Tour

with Prize-Winning author Mary w. Schaller


Report #13 from Robert E.: July 31, 2001

Dispatches from Gallatin,TN

On to Gallatin, Tennessee!
Robert E.: The small picturesque town of Gallatin, Tennessee, is located 30 miles northeast of Nashville.

It was founded in 1802, and was named for Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury under Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Gallatin is the market center for Sumner County. Tobacco and soybeans are the two main crops that help support the town. At the center of Gallatin is the venerable Sumner County Courthouse where the county's legal business has been conducted for over a hundred years. There are nearly 30 restored buildings, many of them predating the Civil War, located in downtown Gallatin. Read the Gallatin -- On the Square about Mary and Robert E.'s visit.
MEET A PAPA DAUGHTER -- Mrs. Lillie Vertrees Odom:

On the afternoon of July 14, the Treasure Island Bookstore, owned and operated by Vicky and Sam Taylor and located in the historic Courthouse Square, hosted a book signing for Mary and her book, PAPA WAS A BOY IN GRAY. Among the very special visitors to the store was Mrs. Lillie Vertrees Odom, age 86, the youngest daughter of Peter Vertrees, hospital steward for the 6th Kentucky Mounted Infantry C.S.A.

Mrs. Odom, accompanied by her goddaughter Velma, delighted everyone with her infectious good humor that had us smiling and laughing. Mrs. Odom recounted the story of the time her father decided he wanted a fish dinner so he went fishing in the Mississippi River below Vicksburg, Mississippi. After a while he thought he heard a large bee whizz by his head, then another one came even closer. He looked up and saw a Federal gunboat in the middle of the river, and everyone on board looked like they were pointing a gun at him. Those "bees" were really bullets! Peter dropped his rod, jumped on his horse and rode back to camp as fast as he could. "He liked fish," Mrs. Odom said with a twinkle in her eye, "but he said he liked living better." Photo: Mary with Mrs. Lillie Vertrees Odom at the Treasure Island Bookstore.
A special historical marker in honor of Peter Vertrees, erected by the Tennessee Highway Department, stands a block from the home he built for his family over a hundred and twenty years ago. Mrs. Odom still lives in the house where she was born.

The front of the Historical Highway Marker states, "PETER VERTREES (1840-1926). A prominent African-American soldier, minister, and educator. Peter Vertrees was born December 16, 1840, in Edmondson County, Kentucky, as Peter Skaggs. At age five he was apprenticed to Jacob Vertrees whose name he assumed. From 1861-1865, he was a cook and bodyguard under Dr. John L. Vertrees in the Orphan Brigade, the Sixth Kentucky Infantry C.S.A., for which he received a pension from the State of Tennessee. After the war, Vertrees came to Gallatin where he began a sixty-one year Baptist ministry establishing churches area wide. Continued [on back of marker.]" Photo: Front of Peter Vertrees' Historical Highway Marker. Having your own highway marker is a very special honor.

The back of the Historical Highway Marker states, "PETER VERTREES (1840-1926). In each church he established a chapter of the Sons and Daughters of Charity to defray members' medical and burial expenses. In 1875 he organized the East Fork Missionary Baptist Association. Educated at Roger Williams University in Nashville, he opened a subscription school in the 1880s and with funding from the Rosenwald Foundation established several public schools. One block east of here, he built a Victorian Cottage in 1888. The Reverend Peter Vertrees died January 18, 1926, and was buried in the Gallatin Cemetery." Photo: Back of Peter Vertrees' Historical Highway Marker.
David Wright & His Paintings of American Historical Subjects:

Another one of Gallatin's famous citizens came by the bookstore to visit Mrs. Odom and to buy Mary's book. He was David Wright, one of America's leading painters of American historical subjects. Three of his original paintings, including "A Father's Prayer" -- a portrait of Robert E. Lee and Traveller -- were on display at Govan's Gathering Place, the restaurant next door to the Treasure Island Bookstore, in honor of Mary's signing. Photo: David Wright's A Father's Prayer.
Both Mary and I were very flattered by this extra attention that was arranged by our host and hostess, Donna and Randy Lucas. Two of my brothers went home with Mrs. Odom and Donna. It was hard to say good-bye to the wonderful people of Gallatin. Enjoy the following paintings by David Wright:
David Wright's Great Leaders of the Confederacy Collection: Longstreet, Lee, Cleburne, Forrest at Shiloh, and Stuart & Mosby. For more information, contact:
Gray Stone Press
205 Louise Avenue
Nashville, TN 37203
Tel: 615-327-9497
Toll Free: 1-800-251-2664
Next Stop -- Franklin, Tennessee!
Ulysses: Yes, but we had to be on the road again. Our next report will be from Franklin, Tennessee, where one of the bloodiest battles in the western theater of the Civil War took place.