“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Germantown in Shelby County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)

Fortunate Survivor

Germantown Presbyterian Church

— American Presbyterian and Reformed Historical Site —

Fortunate Survivor Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Steve Masler, September 4, 2017
1. Fortunate Survivor Marker
Inscription.  This is the only Germantown church to survive the war, while the town suffered because of its strategic location on the Memphis & Charlestown Railroad. Many male members of the congregation joined the 4th Tennessee Infantry (CSA), while others resisted the occupying Federal troops as civilians.

Federal forces occupying Memphis used the railroad to move troops and supplies. Concerned that Confederate raiders would cut the rail line, Gen. William T. Sherman wrote commander-in-chief Gen. Henry W. Halleck on June 28, 1862, "Had we not better clean [out] Germantown, a dirty hole?... They openly boast the Yankees shall never run a train over the road." Memphis newspapers carried rumors of looting and building-burning by regular troops, stragglers, or camp followers. Some accounts alleged that entire towns were burned, including Germantown, while others asserted that only one house was burned, or none. The Germantown Presbyterian Church minister, the Rev. Richard R. Evans, persuaded a Federal officer to spare the church because both were Masons. Together with the Masonic Hall, the church was saved and used as a hospital, commissary, and
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stable. The Baptist and Methodist churches were burned. Pvt. Henry C. Bear, 116th Illinois Infantry, wrote on December 16, 1862, that "a house in Germantown" had been burned. By 1863, a diarist wrote that "houses have been burned, and others are deserted and are used as soldiers' barracks."

Confederate supporters fought on until the end. The last engagement in Tennessee occurred about six miles outside Germantown on April 18, 1865, nine days after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered in Virginia.

Germantown Presbyterian Church is the town's oldest public building. The Rev. A.G. McNutt and seven charter members organized the congregation on March 24, 1838; the Greek Revival-style frame church dates to 1851. The bell tower was added in 1867. The Rev. Evans (1820-1903) guided the congregation through the Yellow Fever epidemic of the 1870's, economic downturns, and the rebuilding of lives. He ministered here for 53 years. In 1950, the congregation rotated the church to face east, and it continues to serve as a chapel.
Erected 2017 by Tennessee Civil War Trails. (Marker Number 386.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & ReligionWar, US Civil
Fortunate Survivor Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Steve Masler, September 4, 2017
2. Fortunate Survivor Marker
. In addition, it is included in the American Presbyterian and Reformed Historic Sites, and the Tennessee Civil War Trails series lists. A significant historical date for this entry is June 28, 1862.
Location. 35° 5.059′ N, 89° 48.617′ W. Marker is in Germantown, Tennessee, in Shelby County. Marker is on Arthur Road south of Poplar Pike, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2363 South Germantown Road, Germantown TN 38138, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Germantown Road (approx. 0.2 miles away); Glenn's Grocery and Dr. Seay's Office (1940s) (approx. 0.2 miles away); Germantown, Tennessee (approx. 0.2 miles away); Southern Railway (approx. 0.2 miles away); War Comes to Germantown (approx. 0.2 miles away); Confederate Germantown (approx. 0.2 miles away); Germantown Depot (approx. 0.2 miles away); Germantown Cemetery (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Germantown.
Regarding Fortunate Survivor. Germantown Presbyterian Church is one of 445 American Presbyterian and Reformed Historical Sites registered between 1973 and 2003 by the Presbyterian Historical Society (PHS), headquartered in Philadelphia. Approved sites received a metal plaque featuring
Fortunate Survivor Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Steve Masler, September 4, 2017
3. Fortunate Survivor Marker
John Calvin’s seal and the site’s registry number (PHS marker location unknown).

The following text is taken from the Presbyterian Historical Society website:

The First Presbyterian Church, built in 1850, was the only building in Germantown not destroyed in the Civil War. When Union troops occupied Germantown and Memphis in 1862, the church’s pastor, Rev. Richard Evans, appealed to the Union commander not to burn down his church. Federal troops ended up using the church as a storeroom and hospital for the remainder of the war. There is now a memorial window commemorating Rev. Evans’ long service to the church. In the 1950s and 1960s, the congregation expanded and improved the church campus. In 1987, the congregation built a new sanctuary to accommodate a growing membership, but the original 1850 church still stands.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 15, 2018. It was originally submitted on September 4, 2017, by Steve Masler of Memphis, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 843 times since then and 14 times this year. Last updated on August 15, 2018, by Douglass Halvorsen of Klamath Falls, Oregon. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on September 4, 2017, by Steve Masler of Memphis, Tennessee. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.

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Feb. 22, 2024