Polemicscat's Weblog

Examining settled and unsettling questions.

The Death of Augustus Bunyan Horn

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My mother’s father, Whit Horn, was born in 1866. He was the eleventh and youngest child of a family that had first lived in Pike County, Alabama. The head of that family, my Great-grandfather Daniel H. Horn, was serving in the State Senate of Alabama when the State seceded from the Union. He left the Senate and formed a company of soldiers which eventually became Company K, 33rd Regiment Alabama Infantry.

My grandfather was not born until after the War, but his brother, Augustus B. Horn, born in 1845, enlisted on November 23, 1863. He served as a private in Company A, Fifth Battalion of the Florida Cavalry. His name appears on a list of Paroled Confederate Soldiers for the month of June 1865.

About the time the War for Southern Independence ended, Daniel moved his family from Alabama to Florida. They settled on the shores of Hicks Lake and Lucas Lake in Northwest Florida where the oldest son, Augustus, rejoined the family. My grandfather described the setting of their new home in his autobiography, as follows:

My father kept a boat in each lake and fished as much in one as in the other. Friends frequently visited him and spent much of their time in the forest hunting or on the lakes fishing. There were lots of turkeys, bear, and wild cats in the forest then. My father kept some good hunting hounds that were noted deer dogs. One pair I well remember. These two, Cheatum and Venus.

The surrounding forest was so wild and unsettled that the family’s livestock was allowed to roam untethered and feed on whatever plants and nuts they could find. But these domestic animals were at risk of being attacked by wild predators. One morning the dogs ran barking across the yard. “My father had a sow with a bed of young pigs which he had located the day before. The dogs led off barking in their direction.” He took his gun and followed them toward the swamp near Hicks Lake. When he came to the sow, he found that one of the pigs was missing. “About that time he heard the dogs treeing. He went to them and found them barking at the foot of a big cypress, and out on a limb he saw a large wild cat” which he dispatched.

One Sunday morning in April of 1867, members of the family were dressing for church when they heard the dogs which had struck the trail of a deer on the far side of the two lakes. His father urged Augustus to take a rifle, mount one of their horses, and intercept the deer as it came along the edge of the lakes. To do this, Augustus had to cross a slough that linked the two bodies of water.

He quickly bridled the horse but did not take time to put on a saddle. As he was crossing, Augustus slipped off and was kicked by the horse as it swam. The young man’s body and rifle were retrieved from the slough which was about nine feet deep. The family soon moved away from that homestead. “My mother could not bear to look at the lakes after his death.”

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Written by polemicscat

September 14, 2008 at 2:12 pm

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