Civil War Veteran James C. Gordon Passes Away At Age 87…85 Years Ago Today

Ex-Confederate artilleryman James Gordon is the third veteran from the right seated in this Lyle photograph of the old soldiers at the Limestone County Corthouse.   Gordon’s white whiskers make him easily identifiable in photographs of veteran gatherings.

The following is an article from The Alabama Courier concerning the passing of my 3x great grandfather, James Calvin Jones Gordon, on February 23, 1932, 85 years ago today.  My great grandmother, Margaret Legg White, referred to him as “Grand Pa Gordon.”  It’s been said that Grand Pa Gordon fired the last shot with a cannon as part of Ward’s Artillery Battery on Sunday, April 16, 1865, one week after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered.  Grand Pa Gordon was also one of the first to be elected sheriff in Limestone County post-Reconstruction.

Athens, Ala. – At his late residence in Athens last Monday afternoon, Mr. James C. Gordon, one of the best known and most prominent citizens of Limestone County, departed this life at the age of eighty-seven years.
Born in Giles County, Tennessee, he came with his parents to this county when a small boy and spent the remainder of his life among the people of his adopted county, serving them in many capacities, always well and faithfully.  When grown, he taught school for many years, having enjoyed unusual advantages and was one of the best educated men of his time, and he was sought in many communities as a teacher.  Few men of his day had the preparation for the work that he enjoyed.
Sixty-five years ago, he was happily united in wedlock with Miss Mary Meals, who passed away seventeen years ago, leaving the husband of her youth to mourn her passing, together with three daughters and two sons, the daughters being Mrs. W.J. Legg, Mrs. W.L. Jones, and Mrs. James Jones, the sons being C.E. and Benny Gordon.
Mr. Gordon was elected sheriff of Limestone County in the eighties and served one term, rendering a fine service and leaving an enviable record as a faithful and conscientious servant of the people.
He has made his home in Athens since his retirement from the office and devoted himself to many causes, chief of which was that of the Confederate veterans, being a solider of the Confederacy, serving four years and seeing hard service as any man in the cause.  He was one of the best informed men on the great Civil War we have ever heard discuss the question.  He was also a very devoted member of the Masonic order and was one of the most regular attendants on the meetings of the lodge and was for many years secretary of the local Masonic lodge, being faithful and efficient in the service given him to discharge.
He lived by the golden rule as any man we knew.  He believed in doing the right thing and did his part.  He gave to his children every benefit he was able.  He wanted them all educated, and he offered them the best education he could afford.
For some time his health has been such that he was unable to be out of the home, but was interested in all that was going on.  He has been failing rapidly of late, and his death was not a surprise to his family and friends.
His funeral took place Wednesday afternoon from his late home, and his body was laid to rest by the side of the fine woman who journeyed with him so many years and shared with him his joys and sympathized with him in his disappointments.
When he was prepared for his last rites, his body was clothed in a beautiful black broadcloth suit that he was married in and which had been religiously taken care of for more than sixty-five years for this occasion and was as beautiful as when he stood before the bridal alter and plighted his troth to the young woman who was to share with him his future years.
To the children who will miss the passing of this noble father we tender our sincere sympathy.  For nearly fifty years, he has been a friend of the editor of the Courier and as such, we appreciated him.  We regret deeply the passing of this noble, generous and true friend.

For Officer Donnie Johns, It's Been A Balance Between Work & Family

Donnie Johns with his granddaughter, Harper.

Elkmont, Ala. – At a very young age, we all ask ourselves the question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”  As we grow, there are many circumstances that lead us to our decision.  In the early 1970’s, Donnie Johns was attending Elkmont High School and playing football as a halfback for the Red Devils.  His father, Cedric Johns, was a lieutenant with the Athens Police Department, so law enforcement was in Donnie’s blood.  After graduating high school in 1974, Johns didn’t find himself in law enforcement, but digging ditches, by hand, for Burgreen.  It didn’t take long before he knew he wanted to do something else.  Johns was hired by Athens Fire Department and would work there for two years before being hired by the Athens Police Department.  Along with his friend and fellow officer, Jerry Crabtree, Johns was sent to Jacksonville, Alabama, for the police academy.  He would serve the City of Athens for eight years as a police officer before taking short-term jobs with Steelcase and Saginaw.  Johns says that one man he worked with made the comment that his kids were grown up and it was difficult to be there with them as they grew up.  With thoughts like that in mind, Johns took a job with Athens Utilities and worked there for the next 17 years.  donnie2  Looking back, Johns says, “I may have never made much money, but I didn’t miss out on the things that Coty and Amanda (Johns’ children) did”.  In 2004, Johns found himself back in law enforcement when an opening became available with the Elkmont Police Department.  While serving at Elkmont, Johns also worked with the Limestone Sheriff’s Department, serving there for a decade.  Today, Johns still serves the citizens of Elkmont as a police officer and works part-time at Athens State University as a security officer.  As for the family, in March, Johns will be celebrating 42 years of marriage with his high school sweetheart, Vickie.  His children, Coty and Amanda, are grown and they now have families of their own.  Johns says they get to spend a lot of time enjoying the grand kids.  The majority of Johns’ career has been spent serving his community while making time for his family.  As a final piece of advice, Johns says, “you’ll never regret the time spent with family”.  You can “Mark It Down”.
Donnie and son Coty playing together in an Elkmont alumni football game in 2014.