Autobiography written by Rev. MARTIN ALONZO EAST of Sebastian County, Arkansas
(Given to his son John East, year unknown)
My Father's people immigrated from Williamson Co., Tenn. (Near Nashville-about the time Mother's people came form Ga. And settled close neighbors. Father had several brothers. I recall some of their names Viz: Henry, William, Josiah, & James. Some of them were mill-wrights and one (I have forgotten which) owned and operated a mill in Illinois. Mother had a number of brothers and Sisters-every brother was a mechanic-brick and stone masons- plasterers except Uncle Will Cason who was by profession a painter. One of Mother's sisters married a man by the name of Baltimore, something of a politician and he died in Little Rock-he was a member of the Legislature at the time of his death - his widow afterwards married an abolitionist of Batesville, and with a brother (Uncle Hillery Cason) emmigrated to Oregon in 1850 - settling in Portland, Ore. Two of the Baltimore boys became newspaper men - and the Baltimore girl Augusta married Congressman Ellis of Spokane Falls, Oregon. She visited Uncle Simeon Cason at Batesville on the same trip. Through Uncle Simeon I learned of her trip and afterwards corresponded with her at Spokane.
In 1852 we rented the farm out for 4 years, and moved to Austin, Texas. Bought a "Block" about 4 Blocks N.E. of the State House - lived there one year and in ‘53 moved mid-way between Bastrup and Lockhart - in Bastrup Co. - living there till Sept. 1856 - we moved back to the farm in Independence County, Arkansas. We came by way of Fort Smith. I drove 5 yoke of oxen down Garrison Ave. - the first business house was Bastic Griffith Pennyweights & Co. where we bought supplies. It was on the spot of the B Bare House Cor. 2 St. A young man by the name of Ramay drove 4 yoke of oxen all the way from Austin to Batesville. The Avenue looks "shust" a little different now from then. There were several log shacks on the Av. & quite a lot up around Texas Cor. Mostly occupied by soldiers.
It so happened that I never got any schooling worth naming - I can only remember going altogether bout one month, but I guess few ever studied harder than I. If I could have had the opportunities and facilities of the present age - I would know more that I do. No knows better than I how a person is handicapped by reason of so little education.
John - could fill a dozen or two sheets like this but I guess this will do. Maybe I'll give you some of my army experiance in the future.
In Oct. 1857 I worked in Mr. Hicks' Fruit Nursery with three other men. We received 8$ per month. I worked there until Nov. 1858 - Then I went to Brownsville Prairie Co. Ark. And joined the Annual Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church and was appointed to the Ozark and Clarksville Circuit- traveling there till Nov. "59 and was assigned to the Greenwood & Roseville Ct. - returning to Batesville (where the innual Conf. met) in Nov. 1860 - & was there assigned to the Searcy and Quitman Circuit - remaining there till Nov. 1861. Net with the Annual Conf. at Dover and was appointed to Cane Hill & Fayetteville Circuit but the bit "Sooting Match" was on hand - I mean the Civil War, and so I returned from Fayetteville and concluded to marry - was married the 3 of Feb. 1862 and settled down to farm life - in Dec. 1862 or Jan. 1863 I with 27 other made our way to Fayetteville, Ark. And enlisted in Company "I" 1st Ark. U.S. Vol Infantry - commanded by Capt. William J. Heffingotn (known all over western Ark. As "Wild Bill") but as harmless and clever a gentleman as ever lived - he was killed in action near Cassville Mo. In June'63. After enlisting at Fayetteville in Feb. ‘63 I received orders to go to Sebastian Co. and bring out recruits. Uncle Cal Ruthford and I made our way back crossed the Ark. River some 6 miles below Van Buren in a dug-out and went home that night. The county was thick with Confederate Bushwhackers, seven of us got together and we swam the River about midnight - about a mile north of the Vinyard near Central. The late Jodge John Howard furnished me a young mule to ride - no saddle, we plunged the River, all swam but my donkey, he went to the bottom several times, I couldn't swim so as he rose to the surface I caught him by the tail (after sliding back) and I caught up with the others and was the first to land on the north beach, in making an effort to get the bridle reins he kicked me in the left temple inflicting such a wound that affects me till this day. Mr. James Blythe who now lives between Jenny Lind and Fort Smith is the man who pulled me out of the water. Blythe, Cal Rutherford and myself are yet living, the other 4 have long since joined the "silent majority".
We arrived at Fayeteville and rejoined the Command and about April 1st ‘63 the entire army marched to Springfield, Mo. Remaining there till July then we were ordered to join General Blunt at Fort Gibson - then we started for Fort Smith and arrived there the 1st of Sept. 1863.
March 10th ‘64 the 3rd Div 7th A.C. Started form Forth Smith to join Steal's army - which moved south from Little Rock. A junction of the two armies was formed near Arkadelphia and after several enagements went into quarters at Camden on the Washita Riv. - at the Battle of Poison Springs. We lost several hundred 4 and 6 mule Gov. wagons and 74 killed - with the loss of 2 piceces 3 Indian Artilery. Ther 7th Army Corps retreated back to Little Rock arriving there about May the 1st ‘64. Our Division was soon ordered to Ft. Smith, where we arrived early in June ‘63, so our Division had marched almost continuously sence we left Fort Smith on March the 10th - we were out something like 80 or 90 days. At Little Rock I think I contracted Small Pox. I believe I walked far enough while in the army to go from Fort Smith to Denver and possibly further. I wish here to say that after swimming the Ark. River in the night that we came very near running into General Cabell's 1200 Cavalry - on the top of Mulberry Mountain this was about 4 o'clock the next day after crossing the river - that night we turned 7 head of horses and mules loose and took it afoot till we reached Fayetteville in about 2 ½ days. Our Regiment was "mustered out" of the service at Fort Smith Aug. 19, 1865 and I took a steamer for St. Louse and, finally landed at the old home in Independence Co. Sept. 1, ‘65. Moved to this Co. Nov. 1870.
John, I have scribbled this off from memory, of corse left out many "minor" details. M.A. East
(Don's note: In 1861, Martin Alonzo's older brother Calvin, his Uncle's, Martin & Simeon Cason & 1st cousin Oliver Berry Cason joined the Confederate Army together. Confederate Army records show Calvin East was a 2nd Lt, in New Co H of the 8th Ark Inf. which was part of General Braxton Bragg's army operating in Tennessee. He was killed in the battle of Murfreesboro, TN on Dec 31, 1862.)