White County’s last Confederate soldier died in 1939. He was Morris Hartsell of the Clearwater community. He was born November 26, 1845, and came to White County from East Tennessee in 1855 with his parents Esau Hartsell (born 1828 in Cocke County, Tennessee) and Elizabeth Jane Hartsell (born 1827 in Tennessee). Morris's grandparents were Isaac Hartsell and Roseanna Lee (Robinson) Hartsell. Morris and his family made the trip in wagons drawn by four mules. They settled 15 miles north of Searcy. Morris later recalled seeing many wild animals near his home. The blood-curdling scream of panthers often was heard. Wolves and bears made frequent raids on sheep and pigs, approaching within 50 yards of the house and making away with as many as 16 sheep in one night. Wild turkeys and deer were plentiful. He once saw a herd of 50 deer.

In 1863, Morris Hartsell, then 18, enlisted in the Civil War, joining McGehee’s regiment as a private in Woodruff County. This regiment joined General Sterling Price in Missouri where Morris took part in several engagements. Though he never was wounded, his horse was killed in one of the battles. Of several skirmishes in White County, one took place north of Judsonia where the Confederates surprised Northern soldiers at a farmhouse. Hurriedly mounting their horses, the Yankees escaped. In 1890, a rusty cavalry saber and scabbard were found at this place, possibly dropped by one of the fleeing Yankees. After the war, Morris married Mary L. Donaldson. He was 25 and she was 19, born September 9, 1851, in Mississippi. They lived 53 years in the house he built before their marriage. In 1936 he still owned the farm which he bought in 1868. It was located in Hartsell Township, which was named for him. At this old homestead, 13 children were born, 10 living to maturity. His wife Mary died March 1, 1928. In 1936 he had seven living children, 27 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren. At age 91, Morris believed that he was the only surviving Confederate in White County and the only living member of the company in which he served during the Civil War. His health was good, but his eyesight and hearing was failing. In his last days he made his home with a daughter, Mrs. Ella Thompson, at Clearwater. White County’s last Rebel soldier died April 7, 1939, and was laid to rest with Mary and several children in Philadelphia Cemetery at Sunnydale. Their daughter Ella (Hartsell) Thompson (March 18, 1882 - February 27, 1954) is also buried in Philadelphia Cemetery, as is Morris' mother Elizabeth Jane, who died March 10, 1856. Esau and Elizabeth Jane Hartsell had three other known children; Josephine Suzan (born 1849), Lawson "Loss" (born 1852) and Mary Mavis (born 1854). Esau Hartsell then married Eliza Jones March 26, 1882 in White County. He died three years later and was buried in Philadelphia Cemetery. Lawson "Loss" Hartsell married Sina Z. (born 1855). He died in 1934 and Sina died in 1941. Both are buried in Philadelphia Cemetery. The known children of Morris and Mary L. (Donaldson) Hartsell, all born in White County, are as follows (information obtained from cemetery records and the 1880 census): (1) John C. Hartsell (June 12, 1871 - January 15, 1874), buried in Philadelphia Cemetery; (2) George L. Hartsell (born 1875); (3) Emma D. Hartsell (born 1877); (4) Martha A. Hartsell (October 9, 1878 – March 13, 1911), who married W.H. Pinegar and had one known son, Lawrence Pinegar. She is buried in Philadelphia Cemetery; (5) Alfred Hartsell (December 29, 1879 - September 19, 1881), buried in Philadelphia Cemetery; (6) Ella Hartsell (March 18, 1882 – February 27, 1954), who married a Thompson; (7) Euless Hartsell (born 1884); (8) Ettie (twin) Hartsell (born 1886); (9) Nettie (twin) Hartsell (born 1886); (10) Thomas Hartsell (October 1, 1887 – July 10, 1910), who married Lula and had one known son, R. Howard Hartsell (September 10, 1909 - November 12, 1909). Thomas and R. Howard Hartsell are buried in Philadelphia Cemetery; (11) Barney Hartsell (September 15, 1889 – July 1, 1973), who married Birdie (October 9, 1894 – November 30, 1976) and in 1936 became the White County Tax Collector. Both are buried in Oaklawn Memorial Gardens, Searcy; (12) Arthur Hartsell (November 16, 1891 - June 8, 1910), buried in Philadelphia Cemetery.

White County’s last Confederate soldier lived an honest and honorable life. The Hartsells made many contributions to the growth and prosperity of this area.

March 2005 William Gary Telford, Family Roots Genealogy Research, P. O. Box 282, Bald Knob, AR 72010. Contact All rights reserved. This information may be used by libraries and genealogical societies, however, commercial use of this information is strictly prohibited without prior permission of the owner. If copied, this copyright notice must appear with the information. The writer is a member of the White Co. Historical Society.