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Below is a family biography included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Sharp County, Arkansas published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1889.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Mr. J. L. Abernethy of Evening Shade, Sharp County, Ark., was born at Morganton, on the Little Tennessee River, in London County, East Tenn., on the 3d of March, 1835. He is the youngest son of Rev. Berry and Myra (Cobb) Abernethy, formerly of Lincoln County, N. C. The Abernethy family are purely Scotch-Irish blood. As early as the sixteenth century, Rev. John Abernethy, a dissenting minister of the Presbyterian faith, in the Highlands of Scotland, attained great distinction as a theologian and author. Later, Dr. John Abernethy, another member of the family, who emigrated to London, was greatly renowned as a physiologist and surgeon. He was a pupil of Sir Astley Cooper, and gave medical lectures for thirty-five years at St. Bartholomew Hospital. He wrote and published many books on medical and kindred topics. McIlwain, in 1835, published a book entitled “Memoirs of Abernethy,” which was re-published in America by the Harpers, and is extensively read. Mr. Abernethy’s ancestors came to America prior to the Revolutionary War, settling first in Virginia and then in North Carolina. To a man they stood for the colonies, and against the British. His parents emigrated from North Carolina to Tennessee seventy-four years ago. Rev. Berry Abernethy was licensed to exhort by Bishop Asbury, and to preach by Bishop Roberts, of the Methodist Church. In his day, he was a minister and revivalist, and well known in the Holston conference. In 1844 he went with the Church South, and fully maintained his Christian character as a minister and a citizen for about sixty years, and died at Rhea Springs, Rhea County, East Tenn., in 1871, aged eighty-eight years. Mr. Abernethy’s mother is still living, at the age of eighty-nine years, and is a hale, hearty and active old lady — a woman remarkable for her strong native intellect, and is thoroughly posted in the great events which have transpired during her long and pleasant life. The parents had eight children: Eliza D., Susan R., Martha M. and Artie A.; John C., A. Sylvester, James T. and Joseph L. Eliza D. and Sylvester are dead; balance, except the subject of this sketch, now living in East Tennessee. Dr. John C. Abernethy is an eminent physician and surgeon. He was surgeon of the Sixty-second Tennessee Confederate Regiment and Brigade, surgeon of Gen. Vaughan’s brigade at Vicksburg. James T., who was residing in Missouri at the beginning of the war, adhered to the Union side of the controversy, and became colonel of the Tenth Tennessee Cavalry. The subject of this memoir was educated at the Morganton Academy, under the Rev. T. K. Munsey, and Hiawassee College, under Profs. Doak, Bruner and Duncan. He first studied medicine with Dr. Bickwell, at Madisonville, Tenn., and attended lectures in 1855-56 at the University of Nashville. Subsequently, in 1861, he enlisted in the Confederate service. He enlisted as a private in Capt. Cawood’s company, Forty-third Tennessee Regiment, commanded by Col. J. W. Gillespie and Lieut. Col. D. M. Key, now United States judge, residing at Chattanooga. He was soon transferred to the medical service, and was assigned to duty at Loudon Post, in charge of the sick and wounded, where he remained until the spring of 1863. He then resigned for the purpose of aiding Col. John A. Rowan in raising the Sixty-second Tennessee Regiment, with a view of being surgeon in the field. After the formation of the regiment, he was, on account of domestic afflictions, compelled to decline the position, and his place was filled by his brother. Mr. Abernethy retired to Rhea Springs, and had no further connection whatever with the war of the States. He began the study of law in August, 1863, and gave it unremitting attention for more than two years, when he was licensed to practice by Judge E. T. Hall, of Knoxville, Tenn., and Chancellor D. C. Trewhitt, of Chattanooga, Tenn. He was first admitted to the bar at Washington, Rhea County, Tenn. Subsequently, he removed to Knoxville, and practiced there until 1870, when, having professional business in Arkansas, he visited that State, and was so well pleased with the country, and especially with his prospective wife, that he removed to the State of Arkansas, and located at Evening Shade, the county seat of Sharp County, where he has since remained, engaged in the practice of the law, and in farming. In 1880 Mr. Abernethy was the Democratic elector on the Hancock and English ticket, for the Fourth Congressional district of Arkansas, and made a thorough canvass of the same. He is now serving his third term as State’s attorney for the Third judicial circuit of Arkansas, and is faithfully discharging the duties of the office to the best of his ability. In 1858 he was married to Miss Mary A. Johnston, a daughter of James H. Johnston, a leading citizen of Monroe County, Tenn. By her he had three children. One, Joseph L., is dead; the others, Allie and Effie, their mother having died July 9, 1863, he brought to Arkansas in 1871. They are accomplished young ladies. John B. McCaleb, an attorney of good promise, married Miss Allie, and they have three children. Robert E. Huddleston married Miss Effie. They reside at Ash Flat, and have charge of the high school at that place. Mrs. Huddleston is an accomplished music teacher, and now has charge of a large class of pupils. In the fall of 1871, Mr. Abernethy married the widow of James S. Shaver, on Reed’s Creek, Sharp County. She was the daughter of James P. Monger, deceased, and is a native of Roane County, East Tenn. The Shaver and Shelby families are closely connected, and were noted people in Southwestern Virginia, and Upper East Tennessee many years ago. Mrs. Abernethy had one son by Mr. Shaver, James R. Shaver, who is now engaged in the study of law in his step-father’s law office. Mr. and Mrs. Abernethy had three children: Artie and John Loudon living, and Elsie Pearl, who is dead. Mr. Abernethy owns a farm of about 400 acres, situated on Piney Fork of Strawberry River, one and a half miles from town. On this he has two neat and substantial residences, and about 110 acres in cultivation. His home residence is in the suburbs of Evening Shade, surrounded by shrubbery, flowers, forest trees and orchards of the different kinds of fruits. He calls it “Forest Home.” Evening Shade is
“The loveliest village of the plain, where health and plenty cheer the laboring swain.”

At the beginning of the National troubles in 1860-61, Mr. Abernethy doubted the expediency and right of separate State action, and was in favor of remaining in the Union, but after the disruption was an accomplished fact, and the tragedy of war began, he allied himself to the cause of the South, and remained faithful thereto. He believes in maintaining the supremacy of Federal States and individual rights under the laws, and in a revenue tariff, and in a strict construction of the constitution in every article and section thereof. Whilst he is a Democrat from principle and choice, he is conservative, and is neither loud nor illiberal in the expression of his political opinions. He is not a member of any church, but believes all denominations of Christians are meritorious and doing good, more or less. In matters of faith, he is attached to the old-fashioned Methodist doctrines and polity, and thinks the best religion is to live well, die poor, and go to Heaven.

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This family biography is one of 43 biographies included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Sharp County, Arkansas published in 1889.  View the complete description here: Sharp County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Sharp County, Arkansas family biographies here: Sharp County, Arkansas Biographies

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