Riverside Cemetery has suffered a loss with the disappearance of a marker for Colonel John Houston Savage, a Confederate soldier who was born and raised in McMinnville.
“I don’t know who would do this,” said Heritage Alliance president Jimmy Haley, a local historian. “I’ve been livid about it since I noticed it was gone.”
The marker was there last year.
“I don’t know when it was taken,” said Haley. “It was there last spring. Now, it’s not. Chris Keathley first noticed the marker missing and alerted me to it.”
Riverside Cemetery is owned by the city of McMinnville. Haley, who is also mayor, will be filing a report with the McMinnville Police Department on the theft in an attempt to find it.
“It’s of historical significance,” said Haley. “My hope, once people know it was stolen, that someone does the right thing and returns it. If nothing else, maybe it will keep the marker from being pawned or traded on the black market. Once people know it’s stolen, they will be hesitant to buy it.”
Savage was born in October 1815 in McMinnville to George and Elizabeth Kenner Savage. He spent his youth as a farmer on his father’s farm.
Among his numerous accomplishments:
• In 1836, enlisted in a Company commanded by John B. Rogers of Rock Island, called “The Mountain Blues” to help in the war raging in Texas as it fought for its independence.
• Studying law in 1837, he was admitted to the bar in 1839 and commenced practice in Smithville.
• In 1841, he was made Attorney-General of the fourth Tennessee district taking up the post until 1847, when he resigned and enlisted in the Army to join in the war with Mexico.
• Appointed Major in the 14th Infantry he was severely wounded by a shell in the assault on Molino-del-Rey.
• Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel he was assigned to the 11th Infantry. After the death of Colonel William M. Graham he commanded this Regiment until the close of the war. On returning home he again took up law.
• Elected as a Democrat to the House of Representatives from 1849-53 and from 1855-59.
• Answering the call to arms at the start of the Civil War, he was appointed Colonel on June 10, 1861 of the 16th Tennessee.
• Wounded twice, and having his horse shot from under him, at the Battle of Perryville (Chaplin Hills), October 8, 1862, he continued in command until the battle was over.
• He was again wounded at the Battle of Murfreesboro (Stones River), December 30, 1862 to January 3, 1863.
• After the war he moved his practice to McMinnville, and in 1872, he moved to Hot Springs, AR, to rest.
• Elected member of the State House of Representatives 1877-79 and 1887-91 and the State Senate 1879-81.
• In 1903 he published his memoirs, “The Life of John H. Savage.”
• On the March 26, 1904 he petitioned that a monument to the 16th Tennessee be raised in McMinnville. It was unveiled on the May 10, 1904.
Savage died in early April 1904. Funeral services were held at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and he was buried in Riverside Cemetery.
A $250 reward is being offered for the arrest and conviction of the individual or individuals responsible for removing the marker, or the return of the marker with no questions being asked.
If anyone has information pertaining to the marker, call the McMinnville Police Department at 473-3386.