Kate Fulkerson

The Wedding of Catherine Elizabeth Fulkerson Was Interrupted by an Uninvited Crowd

Line of Descent:
Guillaume VIGNE and Adrienne CUVELIER
Dirck VOLCKERTSZEN and Christine VIGNE
Volkert DIRCKS and Annetje PHILIPS
Jacobus VOLKERTSON (Capt. James Fulkerson) and Mary VAN HOOK
Abram FULKERSON and Margaret Laughlin VANCE
Catherine Elizabeth FULKERSON (1832-1903)

Bristol Herald Courier

 Sunday, January 10, 1965 page 5 B 

During the Civil War

Unique Wedding Feast Took Place In Abingdon

By Mary F. Landrum

ABINGDON, Va. - A unique wedding feast was held in this historic old Southwest Virginia town 100 years ago. A handsome widower, Floyd B. Hurt, and his little daughter, Eulalie, were living at Gov. John B. Floyd's house. Handicapped by a hernia, Hurt was unable to fight but was serving in Southwest Virginia selling Confederate bonds. During those bleak years Hurt discovered charm and happiness in Kate Fulkerson, an attractive teacher at Martha Washington College.

  Eventually Hurt's marriage to Kate was planned for the evening of Dec. 14, 1864. Miss Kate's parents had died. She was living at the family home with her sister-in-law, Selina Johnson Fulkerson, whose husband, Col. Abram Fulkerson, was commanding the 63rd Tennessee Regiment at the time. Also in the house was "Aunt Lou", a slave purchased in Estillville (now Gate City) by Miss Kate's Brother, Judge Sam V. Fulkerson, who had been mortally wounded at Chickahominy in 1862.

"Women Were Busy"

  These three women busied themselves in preparations for the wedding, Miss Kate making her wedding clothes, the other two women bustling about finding and preparing food.

 On the wedding day the best china and silver decked the supper table while the sideboard was piled high with sliced ham and beef, pies, cakes, puddings, and the wedding cake with a gold ring baked into it. The rolls were rising and the coffee was ground. Miss Kate was getting into her wedding dress when Hurt, on horseback, galloped up to the house in dreadful haste and shouted that there would be no wedding that night because the Yankees were coming. He took the government money and fled with his slave, White Chappell, to the Knobs. Aunt Lou and Miss Kate collected the silver off the table and buried it in the garden.

"Yankees Came"

 It was not long before the Yankees came. This was the brigade of General Stephen G. Burbridge on its way to attack the saltworks and destroy the railroad. Burbridge had captured Bristol early that morning, driving out the command of the Confederate General Basil W. Duke, who cautiously backed up to Abingdon. When another Federal brigade, that of Gen. Alvan C. Gillem came into Bristol later in the morning, Burbridge, under orders of commanding General George Stoneman, pushed on to Abingdon.

 He maneuvered ahead of the Confederate forces under Duke and Vaughn and occupied the junction of the saltworks' roads. Vaughn, thus blocked, skirted over to North Carolina and headed for Wytheville. Duke discovered the enemy at the crossroads but did not attack because he feared they were too strong.

"Enemy Advanced"

 At 11 o'clock that night he notified Major-General John C. Breckinridge, "The enemy advanced tonight from Bristol upon Abingdon and drove in my pickets. They are in force, but advancing cautiously and slowly. I have been skirmishing with them on the Saltville road, and have gone into camp about three miles from Abingdon. They have ceased their attack. . ."

 The Federal soldiers had given up for the night and were looking for places to stay. An officer was detailed to the Fulkerson house to announce that the general would be spending the night there. As he was informing the women, he spied the unbelievable sight of the feast set out in the dining room. He made a quick foray into the banquet and left. When the other soldiers saw him with a mountain of food, they clamored into the house to enjoy the eating.

 One of the soldiers stuck a loaf of bread under his arm, grabbed a large cake in one hand and a hunk of beef in the other and started out the door. Mrs. Fulkerson in a furious rage shook the poker at him, but the men just laughed and kept on gorging until Burbridge suddenly appeared. He cleared the soldiers out of the house and made apologies to the ladies. Then he and a fellow officer spent the night there and ate up what the soldiers had left.

"Chased Vaughn"

 Gillem came into Abingdon at four o'clock the morning of the 15th and left four hours later to pursue Vaughn. They clashed at Marion on the 16th. This action - along with that at Mt. Airy and the subsequent destruction at Wytheville and at the leadmines - bypassed Saltville momentarily.

 On the return down the valley the Federal forces joined and took Saltville on the night of Dec. 20. Feeling that the leadmines were as important as the saltworks, Breckinridge had left Saltville to aid Vaughn and returned belatedly in the morning of the 21st. He attacked the Federal pickets, and the enemy retired the next morning.

 The destruction to the saltworks was variously described. The Yankees boasted that it was complete and irreparable. Confederate Col. H. L. Giltner reported, "Captain Scott just returned from Saltville. Says not two-thirds of shed and not one-third of the kettles were destroyed. Some of the sheds and furnaces left untouched. Loss not near so serious as at first feared."

 After the war, the groom of our story, Floyd B. Hurt, became general superintendent of these mines, "The Holston Salt and Plaster Co."

"Quiet Wedding"

  His marriage to Miss Kate occurred quietly, several days after the raid on the wedding supper.

  Years later Col. Abram Fulkerson went to Congress and met a northern Congressman who had been to Abingdon during the war. On his watch fob he carried the gold ring he found in someone's wedding cake. When Col. Fulkerson told him that it was his sister's cake, the congressman offered to send the ring back, but the lady who had graciously lent her ring for the occasion had died without heirs, so there was no reason to return the ring.

(Editor's Note: The information in this article was taken from an incident told by Aunt Lou and recorded by a member of the Hurt family.  This account and explanations of the details were given to the writer by Mrs. Catherine Wharton Gray of Sherman, Texas, a granddaughter of Floyd and Kate Hurt.    Military information in the article was taken from papers of "The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.)