Benjamin Franklin Nutt, born 1824 in Alabama, married Judith Joanna Eagle, born ca:1832. They were married in 1848. She died March 28, 1861 after giving birth to triplets, all of whom died. He was left with five small children. Family sources say that he was a very large man who was a true frontiersman in that he loved nature and all the activities which kept him out of doors and always respected the rights of others. He was violently opposed to slavery - feelings that were to cost him his life.
Efforts were made to induct him into the Confederate Army - as happened to many of his brothers and cousins, but he rebelled and went into hiding. This was used against him by a group known locally as Greybacks. These so called Greybacks preyed upon the locals as most of the responsible men were away at war. They seized upon the fact that Ben would not join them or the Rebel Army and began to hunt him and others as justification for their banding together to make raids upon their neighbors.
The term "Greyback" seems to be a term used in Dallas and Calhoun County, and a few other adjoining Arkansas counties. Descendants of the Greybacks, as much as 100 years later want the knowledge that their ancestors were Greybacks to die with them. The court records show that there were a lot of hard feelings among some of the people in the area that extended long past the Civil War.
Ben evaded the Greybacks for a long time. He obtained a small horse from his sister, Isabella Quarles, who was a widow then living on their brother William's farm, while William was away in the war. William died later as a Confederate soldier. Isabella's husband had died in October of 1861.
The Greybacks came close to capturing him several times. In March of 1863, Ben risked a visit (I'm not sure to which property - MAM)to pay his respects to his brother Martin Van Buren Nutt, who had died of typhoid fever. The Greybacks were so close to capturing him that he had to dismount and hold his hands over the horse's nostrils to keep it from being heard. Another time, Ben hid in a bear cave that had cubs in it. He didn't know which would find him first, the Greybacks or the mother bear. Fortunately for him, the noise of the men hunting him kept the mother bear away long enough for him to escape after the Greybacks left the area.
The Greybacks took Robert G. Nutt, Ben's younger brother who had not enlisted, and put a rope around his neck to make him tell where Ben was hiding and to force him to enlist in the Confederate Army. He told them that he did not know where Ben was hiding. They let him go but said that they would return to hang him if he did not sign up. He signed up on May 4, 1863. Robert got sick (or played sick) about a month later and was left on the south Camden Road on June 6, 1863. He went back to Dallas County and stayed there.
19 Mar 1863 one of Ben's children was sick. He risked going to his house to check on the child. Dogs and men were so close behind him that after a quick look at the child, he ran out the back door and across the field. The family saw the men catch him. They took him to the edge of the Nutt field and hung him.
After a few days, a Negro came to the house and told them that Ben had been hung and where to find him. The whole group start off to get him. Jacob, who was about 6 years old, ran ahead when he saw his father's body. The tree limb that the rope was tied to had bent over after several days and Ben's lifeless feet were touching the ground. Jacob grabbed his father's hand and Ben's fingers came off in Jacobs hand. It is said that Jacob had his father's fingers at the bottom of his trunk when he (Jacob) died.
The body was in such bad shape that they buried him under the tree that he was hung in. They took a few bricks and stones to make a marker. This is about a mile out of Fordyce on the Old Road to Kingsland.
The children lived alone for 6 weeks, subsisting on hominy and milk, until John Nutt could get away from the army and take them to Kentucky where John's wife, Josephine, had gone to live during the war. Josephine was the sister of their mother, Judith Joanna Eagle. The children lived with their Uncle John and Aunt "Fine" after the war.
The above is compiled from 2 sources.
One of Niven Nutt's sources for this story was "Mr. Robert Eli Quarles, a grandson of Isabella Nutt Quarles. Quarles was named Eli after his grandfather. He was about 16 when his grandmother died. She told him stories of his great-grandfather and her brothers and sisters. One was that Ben was a doctor, which we know is incorrect but the others are possibly true." page 64 (My theory is that since he was such an "outdoors man" he may have known many herbal cures and healing skills, that his sister may have been referring to his doctoring skills. Not that he was a formally trained doctor. MAM)
"Ted Ledbetter took me to the place where he (Ben Nutt)was hung and buried. He said that he had to go to Kingsland about once a week when he was a child and passing the place where Ben was hung was the fastest way for him to go. He said that he ran all the way. His grandfather stopped one time and showed him the tree and the grave. Until then, when I told him that he was hung by the Greybacks, Ted thought that he was hung because he was a Greyback. The Greybacks had such a horrible reputation.
The area was so grown up that we did not look for the grave. The area was full of rattlesnakes and we were not dressed for a search in the thick bush. Ted said that he would be able to find it easily in the winter." (page 65 Nutts of the Bahamas by Niven Nutt)
I find it interesting that the Greybacks did not hang Ben's brother Robert when they had him. It seems to me that they must have had a real vendetta against Ben to kill the father of 5 small children. I haven't found an explanation and suspect that the reason is long lost. MAM
See Sampson McCown Speer for related story.
1850 Tulip, Dallas Co, AR - image 2
neighbors Benjamin F Nutt and Judith J Eagle Nutt (my GR GR GR grandparents), Jeremiah and Eliza Mitchell (my Gr Gr Gr grandparents), Samuel (my 1st cousin 5 X's removed) and old John and Elizabeth Speer (my 5 Gr grandparents), and John Nutt and Isabella Speer Nutt (my 4 Gr Aunt and uncle).
1860 Calhoun Co, AR - image 3, lives next to father Sampson and Uncle Pleasant Nutt. Sourced from My Son Adam's Family on Rootsweb
*NOTE:The Confederacy passed its first of 3 conscription acts 16 April 1862 for men 18-to-35-year-old. Unpopular, unwieldy, and unfair, conscription raised more discontent than soldiers. Note he was 39 years old. (first ever draft
Ben's land sold to Elcana (spelled “Elkanah”) Sullivant December 7, 1867.
Marriage to Judith Joanna Eagle in 1848 and had 8 known children.
Judith Joanna Eagle Nutt
1828–1861 (m. 1848)