For updated research be sure to read the Blog, I found your daddy, William Buck Marks
Zach is David’s grandfather and for many years was a mystery. Family members barely knew his real name. What few stories of him that circulated widely contradicted each other. Grandma Marks barely talked about him.
Our newly found North Carolina relatives hesitated to tell us what they knew of him, even though we said we were prepared for anything. It wasn’t until our second trip to Buies Creek that they started to open up and tell what little they knew.
Since then, we have uncovered dozens of newspaper article on him. It turns out that grandpa was the black sheep of the family and led a very colorful life.
Zach was born in March of 1870 in Chatham County, North Carolina. He was the oldest living son of Lucian H Marks and Clementine Gattis. He saw his older brother Wesley died when he was only 14 years old, along with three other all too young male siblings. His enlistment papers said that he had measles and chicken pox as a child. Perhaps this is what claimed his siblings.
Sometime in the 1870s, Lucian relocated his family to a one-room log cabin in Buies Creek in Harnett County. Zach mostly likely helped with the farm chores as he grew. Times were hard in the post-Civil War depression that gripped the South and Harnett's finances took a long time to recover. "Money was scarce and taxes hard to collect after the war. There were no banks nearer that Raleigh and Fayetteville.
But, on a lighter note, it seems that Lucian wasted no time seeing that his children received an education. Buies Creek Academy opened in 1887 with the belief that no student should be denied admission because of lack of funds. The 1888 rolls shows, Zaccheus (age 18) among the students.
Enlisted Into the Army
After piecing together Zach’s life I believe he was too restless to settle for farm life and yearned to go out into the world in search of adventure. On October 19, 1891 he went to Durham and enlisted into the army. His papers listed him as a farmer; he is described as 5’6”, 140 pounds, dark brown hair, blue eyes, a fair complexion and a depressed scar to the left of his eye. He had measles and chicken pox as a child. It was said that he never grayed out and looked twenty years younger than he actually was.
Zaccheus enlisted on Oct. 19, 1891 in Durham, North Carolina, and served in company “H” 17th Infantry US Army at Fort D A Russell in Cheyenne. According to one of the local newspapers he was a hospital steward.
The Johnson County War and its aftermath had provided some excitement for the 1890s when little else seemed to be happening. The 17th Infantry detachment picked up 43 civilian prisoners, stockmen and their employees and escorted them to Fort Russell, arriving on April 24, 1892.
The prisoners were housed under guard in the post bowling alley at Fort Russell, with some of the more prominent stockmen being given the freedom of the post. It was about four months later they were able to bail on their own recognizance. A trial date was delayed several times and finally the case was dismissed.
The garrison schedule served as a daily habit for most soldiers with little need for a clock to remind them what came next. A full and active schedule served a useful purpose in keeping the soldiers in fighting shape.
Army units remained remarkably strong throughout the Indian wars period despite very low and slow promotions. There was a high desertion rate, epidemics and hardships that caused most civilians to wonder why a soldier would stay with it.
According to one veteran, enlisted members of one company seldom sought friends or associates outside ones own company. Members of two regiments on the same post often were comparative strangers to each other, and particularly so if they were infantry and cavalry. The barracks room where the men were quartered represented their home and their most important room; other facilities such as orderly room, the storeroom, and library were merely adjuncts to the barracks room.
The local paper, “The Leader” on August 10, 11 and 12, 1894, reported a growing list of soldier complaints of their treatment in matters by Cheyenne Marshal T. Jeff Carr. Zach was in jail in Cheyenne, but the case against him was dismissed and this maybe tied in with all the problems they were having with the sheriff.
The newspaper charged, “The troops at Fort Russell, officers and men, were buying civilian clothes to wear when they had to come to Cheyenne to avoid being arrested by Marshal Carr. Soldiers started to avoid the town. The newspaper included a reminder that about $6,000 per month was paid to the enlisted men of the post, the greater part of which stayed In Cheyenne. Marshal Carr denied the Leader’s allegations, but the city must have been paying attention; it did not continue his employment for long.
An important part of the usual garrison duty” when troops were on post included rifle target practice. The recognition of good shooters played an important part in that program, and Fort Russell always had its share of highly qualified marksmen. The heavy escort and patrol demands on assigned units, plus the annual summer campaigns, made it difficult to find the time for target practice. Also target practice required additional ammunition, which cost money, and military appropriations were sparse after the Civil War. Another consideration, the arms and ammunition in the pre - 1890 period were less reliable, and target practice meant earlier failure or wear out of the arms.
Four companies of the 17th Infantry were ordered to Green River, Wyoming, in May 1894 to assist federal marshals there in protecting railroad property threatened by the Commonwealth Movement also known as the Commonwealers and Coxyeites. The nationwide strike had been called by the American Railway Workers Union, which was headed by Eugene Debs. Most of the strike violence occurred in the Chicago area, but the potential for violence existed in many railroad towns, including those in Wyoming. Two companies of the 17th Infantry were ordered to Pueblo, Colorado, and additional companies went of Rock Springs, Wyoming, and Pocatello, Idaho.
As the labor turmoil intensified, more army units of the Department of the Platte were ordered out to guard the railroad. The commander of the department, Brigadier General John Brooke, had orders to keep open the Union Pacific line. Army units were scattered all along the railroad, and soldiers were put aboard all trains. Brooke was considered general manager of the Union Pacific system for the period of this strike. Not until late summer did the rail strike wind down to the point the companies of the 17th Infantry could return to Fort Russell.
The 17th Infantry had barely found time to unpack when they received change-of-station orders to Columbus Barracks, Ohio. Three companies of the regiment would remain a Fort Russell for another year and then join the regiment in Ohio. The concentration of the army units near the big eastern cities, a policy inaugurated by the secretary of war and announced in September 1894, did sound ominous for the future of Fort Russell. The majority of the army regiments had been located in the West after the reconstruction occupation ended in the South after the Civil War. Now a regional balance was being sought for the peacetime deployment of the nation’s small army. Such cities as Washington, DC, St Louis, New York, Atlanta and Columbus, Ohio were mentioned as recipients. More western posts were to be abandoned, and again Cheyenne’s concern arose that the number of soldiers at Fort Russell might be scaled down or even worse, the post might close.
Cheyenne’s concern soon lessened when five companies of the 8th Infantry, plus the headquarters and band, arrived at Fort Russell in October 1894 for Fort McKinney and settled in for a four-year stay.
The units at Fort Russell spent an uneventful winter, with the usual garrison duties. Lt. General John Schofield, commander-in-chief of the army, and party visited Fort Russell in June three months before his retirement. He received a warm reception at the post and in Cheyenne. Major General Nelson Miles, a distinguished Civil War veteran who had also served for many years in the West, would replace Schofield in September.
Zaccheus was discharged on Jan. 18, 1895 with good character at Fort D.A. Russell, Wyoming.
The Chandler Case (1895)
Late on January 3, 1895, Zach was on furlough and in civilian clothes along with several friends from the 17th Infantry at May Foster’s (a.k.a. May Hunt) house of ill fame at 612 West 18th Street. Around 10:00 pm, eight men from the 8th Infantry arrived and rang the bell. It was suggested the door was not answered quickly enough and they kicked it in. Words were exchanged and the 8th suggested throwing the 17th out. Just as a fight was about to break out, officer Bob Ingalls arrived and told them to quiet down. This had no affect and Ingalls began to clear the place and things escalated.
Two men jumped Ingalls and he reached for his club and knocked one man down when he suddenly staggered forward. He had a life threatening cut to his neck and cheek from a knife or razor. Private Grimes was attacked and cut behind his ear by a soldier from the 8th when he went to the policeman’s aid. The attackers, privates Chandler and Ewing (8th Infantry) fled the scene, but were brought in the next day.
Officer Ingalls and Grimes were walked down to the Palace Pharmacy leaving a trail of blood in the street and the doctor was called to tend their wounds. Zach followed them in and “removed his coat and began to care for his wounded comrade”. By the time he had cleared away the blood, the doctor arrived and Zach refused to identify himself.
Joseph Wagge, Melvin Reaves (owners of a photography studio), John Gambrel (8th Infantry solider) and Zaccheus Marks (hospital steward at Fort Russell) where all listed as material witnesses in what became known as The Chandler Case. The witnesses were gathered up and then let out on parole the next day and then Gambrel deserted. It was expected that Gambrel would prove an important witness for the state. It was totally unexpected when the three witnesses for the defense swore at the preliminary hearing that Gambril was the actual assailant.
The three witnesses said that the officer knocked down Private Chandler with his billy club and was at that moment Private Gambrel “proceeded to carve the big policeman’ anatomy with a razor”. Several other witnesses testified that it was actually the other way around and that Chandler committed the deed.
The search for the deserter was renewed and he was picked up at his family home in Kentucky. Private Gamrel stated he had nothing to do with the cutting and had several witnesses to collaborate his story. He also testified that defense attorney Tew had gone out to the Fort and said if he where to go away, there would be no trouble in clearing Chandler. Mr. Tew promised to pay to protect him and defend him gratis if he got into any trouble through his action. He said there where three witnesses who would positively clear Chandler and promised him $50.00 to leave to which he finally consented, but only $25.00 was delivered.
On March 19th Prosecuting Attorney Baird filed charges of perjury against Zach and two other men and they were taken immediately into custody. According to the rules of the court, Zach could call in witnesses at his own expense, but since he had no means, the county paid the expenses to enable him to have a proper defense.
Joseph Wagy went to trial first and was acquitted by a jury and since it involved the same testimony the prosecuting attorney moved to dismiss Zach’s case on June 7, 1895. Chandler was sentenced to 14 years.
Re-Enlistment (1895 – 1898)
Now that the charges had been cleared up, Zach re-enlisted on June 21, 1895 at Fort D. A. Russell; his rank was listed as Artificer (skilled in working on artillery devices in the field). He was forecast to company “A” Infantry, then company “B” 17th Infantry.
Startling reports began emanating from Jackson Hole in northwest Wyoming in late July 1895, when 300 Bannock Indians reported to be full of fight showed up on the Hoback River. The Bannocks felt they had a treaty right to hunt in Jackson Hole. The arrests, and the death of one Bannock, created exaggerated rumors that the natives would revolt, and the paper reported that the Bannocks had massacred a large group of settlers in Jackson's Hole. In response the 8th Infantry, and the 17th Infantry were dispatched, but when troops arrived it was found that the situation was peaceful and the fears of uprising were unjustified.
With the Indians settled on reservations and relative quiet, Fort Russell now had time for organized recreation programs. No gym had yet been built, but the multi-purpose “post hall” served as a gym, and also a theater, chapel, and reception hall for social events. Each company now kept a library room.
A declaration of war with Spain occurred in April 1898, the 8th Infantry left Fort Russell on April 20 for Chicamauga Park, Georgia, an assembly point for units to be used in invading Cuba.
In May 1898, four companies of Wyoming National Guard from four different towns were called up and assembled at Fort Russell. After a short stay, the four companies moved to San Francisco for further movement in June to the Philippine Islands. There they participated with distinction in the Battle of Manila, which occurred on August 13, 1898, the day after the armistice had officially wined the war.
Zaccheus was discharged on June 18, 1898 at Fort D.A. Russell; right about the time that the Spanish-American War was bringing renewed importance to the post. The register of enlistments also indicates discharged June 20, 1898 at Tampa, Florida.
Marriage to Stella Almina Mull Small
Stella was only a year old when her mother past away at their home in Horse Creek on November 23, 1879 and it was agreed that it would be best for Stella’s grandmother raised her. They both lived in the home of her sons Alec and James. A few years later, Stella’s father, Braxton remarried to Mary McGinn and they made their home some 50 miles from the Jacksons.
Both Mr. Mull and his new wife wanted Stella to live with them, and were willing to keep and care for her and support her; that on one or two occasions a request was made for her of Mrs. Jackson, who did not receive it, very kindly. Stella did occasionally visit her father, and sometimes remained as long as six weeks.
Stella married George W Small on March 11, 1894 in Cook County, Illinois. They had a daughter, Leah who was born in Cheyenne, the Wyoming Territory a year later 1895. They were divorced by 1897. Although no record has been uncovered, Zach married Stella in 1897 and this may have been the reason he decided not to re-enlist. If he had, he probably would have been sent out with his unit to the Philippine Islands.
Back Home in Harnett County, NC (1898 – 1902)
Zach and his new family made their way back home to North Carolina. The County Union Newspaper in June of 1898 reported, "Mrs. Zaccheus Marks and two children arrived here Monday." It’s unknown at this time if the second child was Zach’s or from Stella’s first marriage. But, the infant did not live long after their arrival.
It seems that he tried his hand at photography at opened a gallery on August 15, 1898. He may have been inspired to try his hand at this because of the friendship he had with photographers Wagy and Reaves back in Cheyenne. One job was reported in the County Union paper on April 12, 1899: “Mr. Zaccheus Marks, the photographer, was call to Benson yesterday to take a photograph of the infant child of Mr. and Mrs. G. W. Cavenaugh which died yesterday morning”.
Apparently, he wasn’t able to make a living off his photography and settled into the life of a merchant by the 1900 census for Aversboro Township, Harnett County and they was renting a home very close to his brother Walter’s home. It’s very likely that he was working at his Uncle Sim’s store.
Back in Cheyenne Wyoming, Stella’s grandmother Mary Jackson past away sometime after June in 1900. A probate file (Laramie County District Court probate 1-451) shows she left her property (of which there was none) to Stella Small, "a non-resident."
Our North Carolina relatives heard stories of Zach’s reputation of being the wild one; he would openly carry his rifle into town and liked to travel a lot. The Raleigh newspaper reported on January 12, 1901 that a case against Zach for carrying a concealed weapon and was set for the next term. At that time the case was suspended on payment of cost. Both sides of the family seemed to have the story that Zach was married to an Indian Squaw and lived on the reservation in Oklahoma. If it were Stella they were speaking of, they would have been mistaken. The 1900 census shows that her father was born in Tennessee and her mother in Illinois. They may have believed she was Indian because she was from Wyoming.
The Raleigh & Cape Fear Railway
In order to haul lumber and logs, Jake Williams built a small railroad in 1899 from Apex in Wake County to his farm in Harnett County. This was a step up from using an ox cart and mule-drawn wagon to move lumber and logs.
According to an October 1902 newspaper account, Zach had secured a job as a sawmill operator.
A Drastic Turn In Events
In reading through newspaper articles of the time report events that drastically changed the course of Zach’s life. On October 27, 1902 Zach went to the home and Cider Shop of Daniel J McLeod in Neill’s Creek with his younger brother Joe. Both Marks and Ellen had been drinking and started to argue about 10pm. Marks threatened Ellen and he dared Marks to shoot saying, “Shoot, damn you, if you dare; I am not afraid of you”. Whereupon Marks shot him and Ellen started to fall at his feet. Marks then shot him a second time in the back of the head.
Ellen was said to be a man of “desperate character” and had been jailed more than once for crimes. Marks was also know to “be desperate” when drinking.
What brought about the argument is up for debate. There are several stories circulating.
Zach’s daughter, Emma Anderson heard that Ellen called Zach a “Son of a B-“ and he angrily called back to the man that he could insult him, but not his mother and shot the man.
Other sources recounted that Zach was working at a store and a man was bothering his cat. When Zach caught him in the act, he told him to leave his cat alone or he would kill him. Later that day, he found his cat dead and immediately went after the man.
Another story, which Zach himself later told the papers was that he and his little brother Joe went to a neighbor’s house to buy some blackberry wine. He claimed Ellen was drunk and tried to push some wine on McDonald and when Zach tried to stop him, things escaladed and Ellen came at him with a knife and he was only defending himself.
If Joe was with him, he would have taken him home told his family what had happened and departed. It’s said that he boarded the ferry and crossed the river and was never heard from again.
Governor Charles B Aycock offered a $200 reward for the “apprehension and delivery” of Zach Marks. The criminal dockets for September 4, 1905 in Lillington show that Zach had been charged with murder and had fled the area having never been prosecuted. When inquiring about further documentation on the charge we were informed that burned in the fire they had at the courthouse. Later on we will look at this again by way of newspaper accounts and hear Zach’s side of what happened.
married Stella Almina Mull
sometime in 1897 Wyoming. She was the daughter of Braxton Peter Mull Jr and Martha Agnes Jackson (b. Mar. 31, 1878 in Wyoming Territory / d. Feb. 5, 1967 in Canton, Saint Lawrence, New York)
Stella first married George W Small
on March 11, 1894 in Cook County, IL. He was the son of William P and Rebecca Small (b. 1878 Posey, Rush, IN). They had one child:
1. Ruth Leontine “Leah” Small
was born January 21, 1895 in Laramie, Wyoming. She died July 9, 1970 in Canton, New York.
2. Child Marks or Small
. The County Union Newspaper in June of 1898 reported, "Mrs. Zaccheus Marks and two children arrived here Monday." It’s unknown at this time if the second child was Zach’s or from Stella’s first marriage. But, the infant did not live long after their arrival and could have been one of the babies buried on the Marks farm in Buies Creek, NC.