Biographical Information of Captain Emzy W. Easley
54th KY Infantry Regiment (Mounted)
Submitted By: Michael Cooper
Emzy W. Easley joined the 54th Kentucky Mounted Infantry on 23 September 1864 in New Castle, KY. Records in the National Archives indicate his occupation as Millwright. He was 5’9”, gray eyes, light hair and fair complexion. He was 37 at the time of his enlistment.
Emzy W. Easley, born September 20, 1827 in Shelby County Kentucky was the fifth of Woodson Gale and Nancy (Tinsley) Easley’s children. He was probably named for Emzy Wilson who married his mother’s sister Mary Ann Tinsley. He was married July 26, 1849 in Henry County, Kentucky to Catherine Allen Ireland. They lived in Eminence, Kentucky then later in Bridgeport. They may have lived in other parts of the county but in later years they owned a farm about one mile out of North Pleasureville. The farm is still in the family; the present owner is great grandson Howard Lee Byers. Captain Easley died on June 12, 1905. Catherine Easley, his widow, lived on the farm outside Pleasureville until her death on April 22, 1917. Both are buried in the Pleasureville Cemetery just to the right of the driveway soon after the gate entrance.
The following story about Captain Easley appeared in the March 14, 1903 issue of the Louisville Evening Post:
“Captain E.W. Easley has in his possession a rare wartime relic in the shape of a telegram from President Abraham Lincoln. It is valuable not only because it was sent by the martyred President, but because of the peculiar story that centers on it. The telegram, when written by President Lincoln, was intended to save one life. Through a little mistake Captain Easley made in reading it, the telegram saved three lives.
Captain Easley, who is now in his seventy-fourth year, tells an interesting story of the incident. ‘In the early part of 1865 General Burbridge ordered a number of Confederate soldiers executed in retaliation for the killing of some prominent Federal sympathizers by the Confederates. About January 15, 1865 four of them were executed at Pleasureville in retaliation for the killing of Preston Sparks. On February 2, 1865 I was detailed on duty with my Company at Eminence. On the 4 o’clock train, General Burbridge sent down from Lexington three Confederate soldiers, William E. Waller, Monroe Wellman and Hugh Harrod, with orders that they be executed the next morning at 9 o’clock in retaliation for the murder of E.B. Massie of Spencer County. I was heartsick over the task assigned me and would have gone into battle against any force rather than execute those men. Orders are orders, though, and as a soldier I had to obey. But at 8 o’clock, just one hour before the time set, I received a telegram signed Abraham Lincoln. It ordered the execution of Waller deferred and that he be sent back to Lexington until further orders. When I saw the contents of the message, at first glance, I was so overjoyed that I thought it referred to all of the men. I did not read it again, but sent all three men back instead of one. In this way, Wellman and Harrod were saved, for the execution never took place, and in a few months the war was over. One of the strangest parts of the whole story is that I did not discover my mistake for thirty years. While looking over my wartime papers, I found the order of execution and the President’s telegram, and on comparing them found that the order was for three men, while the President’s clemency extended to only one. Young Waller afterward became a Baptist minister. I do not know the further history of Wellman and Harrod’.
A family member said that sometime after Captain Easley died a man went to his home and asked Mrs. Easley to give him the telegram and she did. So a valuable possession passed out of the family and its location is not known.”
Emzy Easley invented and patented a farm gate that could be opened and closed without leaving one’s buggy or wagon.
In the history of the Pleasureville Baptist Church printed on their program at the dedication of a new education building on June 16, 1967, Captain Easley is named as one of the first three deacons and he and Mrs. Catherine Easley as charter members when the church was organized in 1877. The first church building was planned and built by him.