Sunday, September 16, 2007

Itawamba Biographies: William Sheffield

PIctured to the left is a portrait of William Sheffield and his powder horn from his Civil War Service. William Sheffield was born on March 5, 1841 in Wilcox County, Alabama. He was the son of Adam and Elizabeth Hare Sheffield of that county. He married Mrs. Charity Truett Brown, widow of John Brown on October 16, 1865 in Clarke County, Alabama and died on September 20, 1916 in Itawamba County, Mississippi. During the Civil War, William served the Confederate States of America in Company B, 38th Alabama Infantry in Clayton's Brigade. He enlisted during 1861 in Clarke County, Alabama.

In July of 1864, William was wounded in a battle at Jonesboro, Georgia, where he was shot through the hip twice and shot through the arm and leg. A newspaper article from the March 20, 1913 edition of the Itawamba County News tells of William's war experiences. The article reads: Uncle William Sheffield was here this week visiting relatives and told about seeing seven men shot on their coffins for deserting. Also, his knowledge and skill as a blacksmith, enabled him to release 14 soldiers one night who were condemned to die next morning for having deserted the army. This occurred in Atlanta, Georgia.

After his regiment surrendered in Mobile, Alabama and the war was over, William returned home to Clarke County, Alabama. A neighbor, John Brown was killed in the war, and William married his widow, Charity D. Truett Brown. Charity had four children from her previous marriage -- William, Melissa, Peter B., and Mary. In 1869 William and Mary, along with William's family moved to Itawamba County, Mississippi, south of present-day Peppertown. Other members of the Sheffield family had been living in Itawamba County since 1839. Life was hard during the reconstruction years in Itawamba County. One day while William was away, Charity was plowing the fields with their mare. As she got near the split rail fence at the edge of the field, their colt became spooked. She looked into the woods and saw what was frightening the colt. There was a panther prowling in the undergrowth. She quickly unhitched the mare and ran to the safety of their house.

In spite of his war wounds, William enjoyed hunting with his hound dogs and "Old Betsy," his gun. He also helped operate the Fulton Ferry across the Tombigbee River. After the turn of the century, William and his spouse lived with their daughter's family, the Stovalls. During February of 1907 Charity died. William had a fatal stroke while holding his infant grandson, Cleveland Franks, and later died on September 20, 1916. William and Charity Sheffield are buried in the Walton Cemetery of Itawamba County.

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