Hood County Texas Genealogical Society
ALFRED HAMILTON HAYES TOLAR, SR.
Houston, Texas, Saturday Morning, July 2, 1927
FIGHTER DIESCaptain Alf H. H. Tolar, pioneer newspaperman and valorous soldier in the civil war, who died Friday at his home here. He was 86.
VETERANS WILL JOIN IN TOLAR FUNERAL HEREAging members of Dick Dowling Camp, United Confederate Veterans, who knew him on the battlefields of the civil war, will escort the body of Captain Alf H. H. Tolar, valorous soldier and pioneer newspaper man, at funeral services at 5 p. m. Saturday from the Fogle-West Undertaking company chapel, and at Forest Park cemetery. Rev. E. P. West will officiate. Active pallbearers will be: C. M. Brown, Horace Soule, Austin Y. Bryan Jr., D. A. Smith, L. C. Robertson, and Tolar N. Hamblen. Honorary pallbearers will be: General J. C. Foster and members of Dick Dowling camp, U. C. V., Colonel George M. Bailey, Colonel Thomas H. Ball, Frank Ray, Dr. G. D. Parker, A. N. Raiford, Captain J. H. Roberts of Arcadia, E. S. Stockwell and R. H. King of Alvin, Captain J. C. McNeill of Brazoria, T. T. Shanks and S. H. Hodgins of Velasco, Abner J. Strobel of Chenango, B. M. Jamison and D. B. Jamison of Angleton, and Colonel J. M. Heiskell of Galveston. Captain Tolar died Friday morning at his home, 2604 Pease, after a residence of more than 25 years in Houston. He was 86 years old.
Born in Carolina.He is survived by his wife, Adelaide Alston Tolar; two sons Harry L. Tolar and Alf H. H. Tolar Jr.; three daughters, Mrs. Margaret Tolar Davis, Mrs. Irene Tolar Stockwell (all of Houston) and Mrs. Mary Tolar Jamison of San Antonio; and seven grandchildren, Henry T. Davis of Detroit, Mich., Alston T. Davis of Houston, John T. Stockwell and Palmer Stockwell of Phoenix Ariz., Mrs. Lucius Robertson of Houston, Miss Margaret Jamison of San Antonio and Miss Harriet Tolar of Houston. Captain Alf H. H. Tolar was born in Cumberland county, North Carolina, July 27, 1841, with the heritages belonging to a family of American pioneers and fighters. Captain Tolar's life was crowded with the stirring experiences of war and the trials and hardships that go with the fortunes of the pioneer. His was the blood of the fighter and the spirit of the frontiersman. And with his death there has passed another of those links between the old and the new South - a gallant soldier under General Lee and the last remaining eyewitness at the death of Stonewall Jackson.
Nine Brothers.There were nine Tolar brothers who entered the Confederate service at the beginning of the civil war. Captain Tolar enlisted as a private at the age of 20 and for his bravery, ability and merit was advanced to the rank of Captain in Company K, Eighteenth North Carolina Volunteers, The "Light division", Stonewall Jackson's corps, Army of Northern Virginia. In the old Cross Creek Confederate cemetery at Fayetteville, N. C., there is a monument erected to "The Nine Tolar Brothers Who Fought for the Southland". In the first campaigns under Jackson, Captain Tolar was wounded three times but not seriously enough to keep him out of the principle battles. He was with his company at Hanover, Mechanicsville, Cold Harbor Gaines Mill, Fraysers Farm, Malvern Hill, the second battle of Manassas, Sharpsburg, Leesburg, Shepherdstown and Gettysburg.
Wins Citation.From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg he was in command of the "Sharpshooters", who were the advance troops of Lee's army. And at Gettysburg he won a citation for bravery on the field of battle - the highest honor that could come to a soldier under Lee and Jackson. And he was seriously wounded. The losses at Gettysburg had been terrific. On the last of those three days of fighting two Confederate officers were left to carry forward the last charge - Captain Tolar and one other. Captain Tolar got within 20 feet of the Federal works and was shot down. Carried to the back of the lines by one of his men, he was deposited on a litter and forgotten. Later on, the wagon train, which held his litter, was captured by the Federals and he escaped by crawling out of the wagon and over a stone fence into a wheat field. After hours of hiding, he was found by two of his soldiers. Fitzhugh Lee came up about that time and recaptured most of the wagon train and Captain Tolar was conveyed to the nearest hospital. But after three months spent in and around hospitals he was retired from active service and assigned to the enrolling service in North Carolina, where he remained until the close of the war. Captain Tolar was the last of the men living who witnessed the death of Stonewall Jackson. Not long ago, in recalling some of his war experiences to his son Alf H. H. Tolar Jr., he described the events that led up to that tragic climax, as vividly as though they had occurred yesterday. "It was at Chancellorsville", he said. "General Jackson, accompanied by his staff and couriers, was making an examination of the enemy lines. They had gone down the plank road in front of our troops. But they approached so near the enemy line that they were discovered and a fusillade of shot and shell was sent into their midst. To avoid this dangerous fire, General Jackson and his party pushed into the forest and galloped rapidly toward our lines. "It was almost dark and the noise coming up through the forest sounded like a cavalry charge and was so considered by Colonel Thomas J. Purdy, in command of the 18th North Carolina Volunteers. We had the information that no one but the enemy were in our front. Our skirmishers had been called in and we were in high tension waiting for the order to advance.
Order to Fire."Colonel Purdy gave the order, 'Fix bayonets! Fire!' And the firing commenced. Then Captain Morrison, aide-de-camp of General Jackson, drove his horse into the lines shouting, 'My God men, you are firing on your own officers'. "This all happened on our immediate front and very quickly. It was found that General Jackson was severely wounded. He was moved to the rear as soon as possible where he lingered a few days and died. "In the delirium of those last few days, General Jackson fought over again many of his great battles. He gave commands and sent orders and messages in his regular military routine. His last words were identical with a command that he had given before the battle of Cedar Run - an afternoon that I remember quite well and one that must have come back into his mind many times in those hours before his death.
Last Words."I see", continued Captain Tolar, "a long winding lane full of soldiers for several miles. At one end of the lane is the Rapidan river. General Jackson and his staff are riding at the front. The soldiers are tired, footsore and hungry and the sun is scorching hot. On the other side of the river is a green bank and a forest of large shady trees. General Jackson turns to General A. P. Hill and says, 'Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees'. "That same command was on his lips when he died. According to my own memory and the accounts of some historians, General Jackson's last words were 'Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees'. "After General Jackson left us to take the long journey, it became well known to every soldier in Lee's army that the daring and skillful maneuvers, marches, and flank movements had ceased. Lee had lost the one man whom he could trust to complete his bold strokes against the enemy. Then came Gettsyburg. And the terrific losses we suffered there seemed to turn the tide against us".
Tolar Marries.It was while Captain Tolar was enrolling officer at Johnsonville, N. C., that he met and married Miss. Adelaide Alston McNeill in 1865, shortly before the close of the war. In the early years of their marriage they faced the problems of the post-war period in North Carolina, the carpet-bag rule, martial law and a political situation in which most of the civil offices were held by negroes. The original Ku Klux Klan sprang into being and Captain Tolar was one of the organizers and officers of that body of loyal and harassed Southerners. In 1870, after the burning of their turpentine factory in Baldwin county, the Tolars moved to Texas, arriving in Galveston in October. Traveling on the Texas Central railroad as far as Kosse, and from there overland through Wace and Meridian, they arrived November 1st at Stephenville, where they lived for the next seven years. Stephenville was then on the frontier of Texas. Herds of buffalo still ranged the prairies nearby and every month, during the full moon, there were Indian raids. Strenuous and hazardous was the life of a citizen of Stephenville and on several occasions, Captain Tolar narrowly escaped death.
Gets Contract. In 1879 he got a contract for grading the right of way of the Texas & Pacific railroad and many miles of that road toward the western boundary of Texas were built by him. Captain Tolar followed the railroad to Colorado City, where he started a newspaper, the Colorado Clipper. His first newspaper office was a dugout lined with boxes and home-made shelves. It was here that he first met and formed the lifelong friendship of Colonel George M. Baily, vice president and editor of the Houston Post-Dispatch, who was then engaged in the newspaper business in that little city. Captain Tolar owned and operated the Colorado Clipper, the Abilene Daily and the Abilene Weekly Reporter. He was a representative in the state legislature from the Forty-third (Jumbo) district, which comprised 68 counties of 61,131 square miles and was one third of the live stock district of the entire state.
He was the author of the Tolar land bill, the textbook law, the school district bond bill, and many other educational bills and measures, as well as various measures pertaining to agricultural and irrigation relief for the progress of the state. The Alamo heroes monument at Austin is the direct result of Captain Tolar's efforts to obtain an appropriation for the commemoration of those early Texas martyrs. His uncle, Micajah Autry was a defender of the Alamo and died in the historic encounter. In 1880 Captain Tolar was state agent for public lands. In 1890 he moved to Gulf Coast country where he sold and settled thousands of acres of land to new citizens. Since 1902 he has been a resident of Houston, engaged in the real estate business. The town of Tolar, Texas in his old (Jumbo) district, was named for him as well as Tolar, N. M.
Submitted by Sharon Grissette
2001 HOOD COUNTY TEXAS GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY