William Thomas Pressley Fairman, Co. H, 154th Tennessee Infantry

1840

  • William Thomas Pressley Fairman was born on March 5th in Allegheny City, Allegheny County, PA to parents Robert and Agnes Jack Fairman.
  • ***William was one of five surviving children. His siblings were Margaret (b.1835), Robert J. (1838-1907), John A. (1845-1924) and Thomas (1851-1895). William’s father, Robert, was a carpenter/cabinet maker in Pittsburgh. One of his jobs as a cabinet maker was to make coffins, which led him into the undertaking business when death became a commodity.***

1850

  • The United States Federal Census taken on 12th day of September in Allegheny County, PA shows Robert, a cabinet maker, and Agnes living with their children: Margaret, age 15, Robert J, 12, William T. P., 10, Charles A. (John), 5. Also living with the family is a young lady by the name of Mary A. Glass, 20 years old.

1860

  • The United States Federal Census taken on June 23rd in Ross, Allegheny County, PA shows Robert, a cabinet maker , and Agnes living with their children: Margaret, age24, Robert J., 22, William P., 20, John A., 15, Thomas, 9. Both William and his brother’s occupations are listed as “Boatman.”
  • ***As a boatman, William would have spent extensive time traveling up and down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers stopping in Rivertowns along the way. It is to be assumed that during this time he developed an affinity for the Southern towns and people he was coming into contact and creating relationships with.***

1861

  • April 12: Fort Sumter, Two weeks later on April 26th William enlisted in the Confederate Army in Memphis, Tennessee ***Brother John A. Fairman enlists in the Independent Battery E, Penn Light Artillery and Brother Robert Fairman also enlists in a Penn Regiment.
  • August 14-November 1: Company Muster Roll. Present

1862

  • June 1 – July 1 Muster Roll. Present
  • September & October: Company Muster Roll. Absent
  • November & December: Company Muster Roll. Deserted on his way from hospital.

1863

  • January & February: Company Muster Roll. Deserted on way from hospital. Has since returned. Drew his pay on description roll of hospital.
  • March and April: Company Muster Roll. Present
  • June and Aug: Company Muster Roll. Present
  • September & October: Company Muster Roll. Present
  • November & December: Company Muster Roll. Present
  • November 29: William shows up on a receipt roll for purchasing clothing
  • ***Between Dec of 63 and Feb 64 William is promoted to Corporal.***

1864

  • January and February: Company Muster Roll.  Present.
  • March 4: William shows up on a receipt roll for purchasing clothing
  • June 8: William shows up on receipt roll for purchasing clothing
     
  • July 15: Letter from William T. P. Fairman to Miss Mollie.

           " In Line of Battle on the Chattahoochee, July 15, 1864
Miss Mollie—This warm summers day I find myself talking on paper to one who is ever uppermost in my thoughts. Seated on the high bank of the railroad, luxuriating in the delicious shade afforded by the generous branches of the majestic oak and nodding pine. While my brow is tanned by the balmy breeze. Overhead light light—white clouds dance in fantastic glee over the azure vault of the over archine “skey” like a beautiful fairy tripping over a carpet of roses. My mind fondly wanders through the intricate labyrinth of the past. And ____ evergreen of memory made ever bright by the sunlight of beautiful though—delights to linger around the fair lithesome form of a certain young lady whose fairy image has flitted through my brain more than a thousand times in my recent “very rash” trip to Covington, I was unable to follow the bent of my inclination to come and see you. You will readily excuse me when I inform you the terrors of the law were hanging over my head ready to burst with all the terrific fury of a volcano, culminating in a court martial. The result of which is enough to appall the stoutest heart. If I had went in the centre of the city, I should have most certainly been seen by the guard and placed in “durance vile”—I having left the army without permission. We are out oat the front on picket. All is quite. Naught serves to break the monotony of the scene save the distant sullen muttering of hostile thunder and cannon knocking on the door for admittance in the Gate City of Atlanta. At night, often as I recline on the generous lap of mother earth watching the whirling chariot of the queen of night as it glides along the milky way attended by the train of innumerable twinkling sentinels, my mind involuntarily recurs to the pleasant moments spent in your society. I long for their return. Tis at just such a time as this that remembrance wakes with all her busy train swells at my breast and turns past pleasures into pain. I do trust I shall be permitted to renew our pleasant association so soon as the mad shock of battle is over. An Inexplicable silence on your part of late has put me in hot water. What shall I attribute it to? Your desire to stop corresponding or what? Well what ever it is—I shall have father time to determine, I trust you will soon answer this for I can assure you that were you here and could see the eager crowd collect around the mail carrier when he brings the mail and behold the joyous triumphant smiles light up the countenance of the fortunate ones, and then behold the countenance of the unlucky ones go away sorrowful and sad with lean faced envy beaming from the corners of their dejected eyes, you would be more than convinced that there was a potent ___ fires in the dumb messengers called letters, and doubtless you would be constrained to write whether you received letter for letter and be generous enough not to be too exacting with the poor soldier. I must soon close, the sable curtains of night are fast being drawn around the ever tossed and cruel old world and already the god of dreams has sent off his ministering spirits forced upon the sightless couriers of the air. The invisible spirits are past winging their flight—to this mundane sphere. There to minister with pleasant dreams to the slumbers of the war worn warrior. The reason I sent for you “Cousin Mollie” to come around to Mrs Ropers was this, as my stay from the army was very limited, I could not show myself in the public places of Covington as I had no papers to show. How I came and I only visited those of my friends who lived in the most retired places and I was so anxious to see you before I went back was the reason I sent for you. I knew at that time that it was not leap year. Nannie told me that you had an engagement—so I did not wish to intrude. So I throw myself on your noble generosity for pardon. I forgot to tell you Cousin Mollie, I get slightly acquainted with another divinity down there during my flying trip in the person of Miss Bettie Hodge—She is a perfect lady in her manners and has an excellent education but I suppose you are acquainted with her. I regret very much that my short stay in Covington prevented me from becoming better acquainted with her. I suppose you have great amusement in black—berrying. I do wish I was there to enjoy some of your pleasures but alas cruel war deprives me of a great many privileges which I might otherwise enjoy if it was not going on but I suppose and I am making you tired of my nonsense so I will wind up this letter by requesting you to favor me with an answer as soon as convenient as I should be very sorry indeed to lose you as a correspondent with tokens of the highest regard and esteem I beg leave to remain your true and elevated friend.
                                    William P. Fairman
                                    Co H, 154th Sr. Regiment Tenn
                                    Vol Vaughns Brigade
                                    Cheathams Division   
                                    Army of Tenn

To Mollie.
                  Tis Strange that art can weave a face
                  So radiant and Fine     
                  So eloquent with thought and grace   
                  So beautiful as thine

                  And gracing on those orbs of light
                  Did I but know the girl
                  I’d brave the battles fiercest fight
                  For one bright smile or curl."

  • July 22: Admitted to hospital with “vulselopet”
  • ***vulselopet is a gunshot wound.
  • July 23: Furloughed
  • November 30: William fights with Gordon’s men pushing through the breach and engaging in hand to hand combat on the Carter farm.

1865

 

  • William Fairman is captured in Salisbury North Carolina on April 12th.
  • “Roll of Prisoners of War…at Nashville, Tenn., captured by forces under Maj. Gen. Thomas, commanding Dept. of the Cumberland, and forwarded to Capt. C. B. Pratt, Commissary of Prisoners, Louisville, Ky., April 29, 1865.”
  • May 1: received at Military Prison, Louisville, Ky.
  • May 2: discharged and sent to Camp Chase.
  • May 4: received at Camp Chase, Ohio, from Louisville, Ky.
  • May 15:  Name appears as signature to an Oath of Allegiance to the United States, Subscribed             and sworn to at Camp Chase, Ohio. William’s personal information/description appears as follows:
                Place of Residence: Allegheny County, PA
                Complexion: Florid
                Hair: Lt       Eyes: Blue        Height: 5’10”

1870

 

  • The United States Federal Census taken on September 7th in Allegheny City, Allegheny County, PA shows William, an undertaker, and Hattie living with their 3 year old son Robert.
  • ***Sometime between 1870 and 1880 William and Hattie are divorced.***

1880

  • The United States Federal Census taken on June 9th in Allegheny, Allegheny County, PA shows William Fairman, an undertaker, living at 41 Ohio Street. He is divorced and living on his own.
  • ***William marries his 2nd wife Mollie btwn 1880-1883.***

1883

  • Mollie gives birth to her oldest child, daughter, Agnes J. Fairman in February.

1894

  • William Thomas Pressley Fairman dies just 11 days after his youngest daughter was born on March 17th in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, PA. He is buried at Union Dale Cemetery. The Cemetery his father founded.
  • ***Interesting note. Mollie filled out an application for a military headstone for William, however she simply put he was a “civil war” veteran: no side. William has no military stone.***

1900

  • The United States Federal Census taken on June 11th in Allegheny, Allegheny County, PA shows a widowed Mollie, living with her children: Agnes J., 17yrs, William T. P. , 14, Marie H., 11, and Margaret, 6. Also living with the family is Mollie’s sister Emma M. Herron.