“A cold a dreary day, 1865 was the year. Tensions are still running high, as the country tries to come to terms with the end of the Civil War. Three men have a score to settle, but never did they imagine a confrontation with an ax wielding girl, who’ll stop at nothing to protect her father.”
All the years that I have been researching my family, the countless conversations that I have had with family members, both young and old, the mounds of paperwork that I’ve accumulated, I have NEVER heard anyone utter even a hint of this story. I wasn’t until I did a general Google search for my great – great grandfather that this gem appeared.
Now, I know there are plenty of reasons why no one would want to share this story, bringing a family members name into a bad light. This story certainly does not portray my ancestor’s in the most positive way. But this story has all the makings of a modern day media frenzy.
Tom Patton happens to be my paternal great-great grandfather. Making his father, Sam Patton, my great great great grandfather. Sam Patton made his home in Baxter, where the Maxwell North Cemetery is located. Both Sam and Tom are interred in that cemetery.
The following story appeared in the ‘A History of Putnam County Tennessee, by Walter S. McClain’:
THE GUNTER TRAGEDY— A deplorable tragedy of Civil War times that has been invested with a
fiction or romance not warranted by the facts, was the slaying of two men and the serious wounding a third by a young girl, Marina Gunter, daughter of John Gunter, one night in
This bloody episode has been rather widely exploited as the outcome of political feeling— a tottering old Confederate sympathizer being whipped by Yankee soldiers, when his daughter rushed to the rescue. The truth of the matter is, the question of politics was not even remotely involved, since all of the parties concerned were republicans and unionists. The facts here set out were given to the writer by several of the best citizens of Baxter, near the scene of the tragedy. Old Sam Patton and John Gunter had swapped horses, and the latter, claiming that he had been cheated, was preparing to bring suit against Patton for damages. Thinking to head this off, Patton induced his son, Tom, and a nephew, Alvin Maxwell, and B. F. Miller, to go over to
Gunter’s, call the old man out and give a whipping with some advice about leaving the country— not an uncommon proceeding in that day. The three boys, with courage stimulated by drink, proceeded to carry out instructions. Patton held the horses, while Maxwell and Miller called old man Gunter to the gate and then forced him to accompany them to a spot about a hundred yards from his house and were applying the whip, when a son and daughter in the house, hearing their father’s cries, rushed to his aid. Marina, the heroine, armed with a keen-edged axe led the way. Passing Patton with the horses, she slashed at him, nearly severing his arm. Next she fell upon Maxwell and Miller with all of the fury and superhuman strength of one possessed, chopping them with the axe until they fell. The two desperately wounded young men were found next day in a large hollow stump where they had been placed, presumably, by the Gunters. They were carried to the house of a Mr. Presley, not far away, where Maxwell lived nine days and Miller eighteen days. Patton’s wound healed in the usual length of time. Marina Gunter, high-strung and impulsive, was perhaps justifiable from her point of view and understanding. She lived to a ripe old age, passing away only a short time ago. Sam Gunter, the sole survivor, still lives near Baxter.