General Assembly index

Robert King BYRD (1823-1885)

SENATE, 41st General Assembly, 1879-81; representing counties of Roane, Campbell, Cumberland, Fentress, Morgan, Overton, Putnam, Scott, and White; listed as a Democrat at this session; had been a Whig before Civil War and was a strong Union man during war; in the presidental election of 1864, BYRD was a member of the State Executive Committee of what was called in Tennessee and elsewhere the Union Party of National Union Party and also referred to as the Republican Party, the nominees of which were Abraham LINCOLN, Republican, and Andrew JOHNSON, Union Democrat. BYRD was born in Roane County Nov. 4, 1823; son of Joseph and Ann (PRIDE) BYRD. Extent of schooling not clear but "probably" attended Rittenhouse Academy, Roane County. Married July 23, 1861, to Mary Lucretia LEA, daughter of Dr. James W. and Malvina (WEAR) LEA; names of children, if any, not found. Described as a military leader, farmer, trader; lived at Byrd Mansion on plantation on Emory River near Kingston; on part of which the city of Harriman is situated. Trustee of Roane County 1860-61; delegate to East Tennessee Union Convention which met at Knoxville, Knox County, May 30-31, 1861; member State Executive Committee of National Union Party, 1864, supporting ticket of Abraham LINCOLN and Andrew JOHNSON; in 1868 served on executive committee of convention of East Tennessee counties to seek Federal aid in developing Tennessee River at Muscle Shoals for year-round navigation. In Mexican War, enrolled at Kingston Sept. 30, 1847, as 1st Lt., Col. C, 4th Tenn. Inf.; resigned Feb. 4, 1848; in Union Army; organized 1st Tennessee Volunteer Inf. at Camp Dick Robinson, Ky., Sept. 1, 1861; commanded regt. and also served as brigade commander at times; regiment saw action for most part in eastern Kentucky and Tennessee; BYRD was mustered out at Nashville, Davidson County, Sept. 17, 1864; the R.K. BYRD Post, Grand Army of the Republic, so named in his honor. Member Presbyterian Church; Kingston Lodge No. 38, Free and Accepted Mason and gave land on which lodge building was erected. Died at home near Kingston May 2, 1885; buried in Kingston Cemetery.

Sources: Wells, History of Roane County, 54, 155; Temple, Notable Men of Tennessee, 79; Harriman Record, "Roane Countians in the Civil War," Oct. 5, 1861; War of Rebellion Records, Ser. I, Vol. 52, Pt. 1, pp. 150, 169; microcopy, Tennesseans in Mexican War, roll 10; microcopy Tenn. Union Service Records, roll 118; Tenn. Civil War Centennial Commission, Tennesseans in Civil War, Pt. 1, p. 375.

From Biographical Directory, Tennessee General Assembly, 1796-1969, Roane County, Tennessee State Library and Archives.