By Steve Tweed
“Right over there. That’s where it happened at”.
Those are the words that Freddy Patterson recalls his late Grandmother, Roxie Norton Patterson, saying with a pointed finger as they would ride down Highway 212 in northern Madison County. She would point to a spot behind a white farmhouse owned by Lance & Bethel Wallin each and every time they passed when Freddy was a child in the 1960’s.
What she was referring to was January 18, 1863, the bitterly cold day on which Confederate troops summarily executed 13 men & boys, suspected of Unionism.
Madison County had been divided, with the northern & western parts of the county being primarily Union with the southern & eastern being Confederate.
Roxie Norton Patterson’s grandfather, David Shelton, had been one of the victims.
One of the other victims was also named David Shelton. At 13 years of age, he had begged for his life, causing the soldiers to pause. Lieutenant-Colonel James Keith ordered them to shoot young Shelton or they would join him.
Although he was never tried, Keith’s career and reputation were destroyed.
The events on that cold January day gave Madison County the nickname “Bloody Madison” and created a rift in this county that stands to this day.
This writer recalls that as a child playing Little League Baseball in the 1970’s, the elders of the Shelton Laurel Community didn’t care if we lost every game of the season, with one exception: The two times we would face Marshall.