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Strong Feelings

June 2024
1min read

As I read your March article “The South’s Inner Civil War,” I felt as if I were still hearing stories told to me by my family. When one is reared with living history stories, it is surprising to discover that they are now well known.

My family is from Carter County in the upper east corner of Tennessee. My great-grandmother Evie Custer Perry told about the bitter division in her family during the Civil War. Her mother’s family was very strongly pro-Union, but her father, Calvin Custer, was a doctor in the Confederate army. When he returned to Carter County after the war, his wife’s family refused to allow him to remain. My great-grandmother said that the last thing that she could remember about her father was seeing him as he rode over a hill on his horse, leaving for St. Louis.

Even when I was a child in the 1940s, we still had two Methodist churches in our small town of Elizabethton—one Northern and one Southern. Or as my eighty-five-year-old great-aunt tells me, “Don’t call it the Northern Methodist! There was only one real Methodist Church. Those Southern Methodists left it.” Strong feelings still exist among families of East Tennessee.

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