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Biology of Elliot H.

Fletcher
Fletcher Township
Mississippi County Arkansas

From
Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northeast Arkansas
Chicago, Nashville, and St Louis
The Goodspeed Publishing Co.
1889
Page 494

Elliot H. Fletcher (deceased) was a native of Charlottesville, Va., born in the year 1805, and
was the fifth child born to the second marriage of Thomas Clark and Susan (Jonette) Fletchei'.
These families trace their genealogy back to colonial times, and took an active and important part
in the early history of Virginia. One of the ancestors on the mothers side, John Jonette, is
remem-
bered for his timely warning to the Virginia legislature and to Gov. Jefferson, of Gen. Tarleton's
purpose to surprise and capture them. They made their escape, and Mr. Jonette was presented
with a handsome sword. At the present time there are a number of prominent artists descended
from this family.

Until fourteen years of age Elliot H. Fletcher spent his time in his native State, attended a private
school, and clerked in his brother's store. At that age he went to Tennessee to live with an elder
brother, Thomas H. Fletcher, one of the most celebrated lawyers in the annals of that State, and
whose literary and legal attainments and achievements have often been mentioned in the
literature of the Southwest. There he began a thorough course of study under his brother' s
advice, and his intimate association with this most eminent man of Tennessee, who then resided
in Nashville, gave him means of improvement which supplied the lack of a regular collegiate
education.

When he arrived at man's estate, he was appointed aid-de-camp to Gen. William H. Carroll. At
about the age of twenty he engaged in mercantile pursuits in Fayetteville, under the firm title of
Fletcher & Carr. This firm did an extensive business, and bought and sold cotton in large
quantities.

At the age of twenty-six he was united in marriage with Miss Frances Hickman, of Fayetteville.
This lady was a great-granddaughter of Gen. Thomas Eaton, of North Carolina, a distinguished
officer of the Revolutionary War, who married Miss Anna Bland, the sister of Frances Bland,
who was the mother of the celebrated John Randolph, of Roanoke. Miss Hickman's grandfather
was Col. Guilford Dudley, who commanded a regiment of Continental troops under Washington,
and who distinguished himself as a brave and gallant officer.

About 188f) Mr. and Mrs. Fletcher came to Crittenden County, Arkansas, and he held some
office in the Real Estate Bank of Arkansas. In 1840 he moved to Mississippi County, Ark.,
where he bought a small farm on Mill Bayou, afterward known as Fletcher's Landing. At that
time the immense tract of country embraced within the limits of Mississippi County extended as
far west as the St. Francis River, and had a population of about 900 souls. All were living in
plain huts, very little superior to those of the Indians among whom these white people resided.

Such were the surroundings of Col. Elliot H. Fletcher and his fine and accomplished wife. They
took up their residence in their log cabin on the banks of the Mississippi River, and there began a
hand-to-hand struggle for existence, against obstacles before which a less brave and determined
man would have failed. For many years the encroachments of the "Father of Waters," by
overflows and caving banks, brought him to the verge of ruin. But as time passed he gradually
leveed-in his own river front, and thus having overcome his greatest enemy, the high water, he
extended and developed his farm until he found himself in easy and independent circumstances.

Col. Fletcher's noble bearing and pleasing manners, together with his evident talent for business,
soon attracted the attention of the people of the county, and in 1846 he was induced to become
a candidate to represent the county in the legislature. He was elected, and served his county and
State with distinguished ability, taking rank at once with the foremost men of the State. He was
re-elected in 1848, and again in 1850, at which session he was the chief member in organizing
the public levee system of the State. In the meantime his judicious management of his private af-
fairs, and his investment in lands, had made him independent, financially, and although his
talents for political employment were known and recognized throughout the State, the fact of his
being a devoted Whig amounted to political disfranchisement, for the Democratic party then, as
now, reigned supreme in the State.

Being a lawyer, though never having engaged in the practice, he was urged to accept the office
of circuit judge, but declined, although he would have been promptly elected had he been willing
to serve. His three terms in the legislature ended his political career, though to this day, among
those who still survive and who knew him, the mention of his name will start many an old man
to speaking of his grandeur of manner and appearance, his nobility of soul, and the marvelous
magnetism about him.

Col. Fletcher was an ardent sympathizer with the South, and when the war began he equipped a
company known as " The Fletcher Rifles," at his own expense. This company was commanded
by his eldest son, Elliot H. Fletcher, a youth scarcely twenty one years of age, and his only other
son, Thomas, a mere boy of fifteen, became sergeant in the company. This company was
attached to the Third Confederate regiment, commanded by Col. Marmaduke, in Hiudman's
legion, and after the hardships of a campaign, it was present at the battle of Shiloh, in which
great battle Capt. Fletcher and his brother Thomas were killed. Capt. Fletcher was in the act of
waving his sword and leading his men, when he was informed that his brother had just been
killed. In another moment he fell dead, pierced with a bullet, and both were buried in the
trenches opened for the reception of the dead heroes who wore the blue and the gray.

Under the sod and the dew.
Waiting the judgment day.
Tears and prayers for the Blue,
Prayers and tears for the Gray.

After learning of the death of his boys, Col. Fletcher was seized with a settled melancholy, and
was rarely known to smile or take interest in passing events. He was afterward visited by both
Federal and Confederate officers, and it is but simple justice to say that the Federal officers,
even in the midst of the war, treated him with the greatest respect and kindness, especially those
on the gun- boats. On one occasion a Federal cavalry command passed by his house, and a young
officer, the surgeon of the regiment, stopped and asked if he was Col. Fletcher; on being
answered in the affirmative, the officer replied that his name was Fletcher also. A little
investigation proved that he was a nephew, a son of his brother. After a touching interview they
bade each other adieu, never to meet again.

Such was the respect inspired by Col. Fletcher that it often happened that, while Confederate
officers would be in the house, Federal gunboats would land, officers come ashore and be
entertained under the Colonel's roof, with the full knowledge that there were Confederate officers
in another room. The close of the war found him prostrated in mind and body, and his fortune
swept away, but retaining the devoted friendship of every one who knew him.

His last days were passed in comparative peace and comfort. It quite often happened that boats
would land and passengers come ashore to visit him. He died July 2, 1867. A very beautiful and
touching sketch of his life and character was written and published by Albert Pike.

His estimable wife survived him many years and died February 29, 1884. They left three
daughters: Anna, wife of John W. Williams, now residing near Elmot: Frances (or Fannie),
unmarried, and Susan, wife of H. M. McVeigh, a lawyer of Osceola (whose sketch may be seen
in another part of this volume). Col. Fletcher possessed talents and accomplishments that would
have given him a national and enduring reputation, had he lived in, or near, any of the great
centers of population. But his isolated situation and the fact of his being a Whig in politics,
precluded him from high official positions or achieving a reputation much extended beyond the
limits of his own State.

He was in person tall and commanding, very dark hair, dark complexion and his eyes, deep set
behind heavy eyebrows, were keen and piercing. His manners were gracious, deferential and
easy, and he had the happy facility of making the poorest and humblest feel the dignity of being
men, and they consequently revered and respected him. He was the counselor and legal adviser
of all in trouble in regard to the title of their lands, and in early times his house would be
thronged with pioneers and backwoodsmen, seeking legal advice in this matter, and not a cent of
compensation would he receive.

Fletcher township, in Mississippi County, is the only public memorial now remaining of this
truly great and good man.

Addition information on Elliott H. Fletcher

Akridge, Scott. "Elliott H. Fletcher: Demise of a Southern Planter." Master's Thesis,
Arkansas State University, 1995.