Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Lafayette "Fayette" McMullen (1805-1880): Obituary

Lafayette "Fayette" McMullen was my first cousin four times removed, the nephew of my three times great grandmother, Mary (McMullin) Beard. He was born on 18 May 1805 in Bedford County, Virginia, and died from injuries sustained after being hit by a train on 8 November 1880 in Wytheville, Virginia. He served in the Virginia Senate from 1839-1849, U.S. House of Representatives from 1849 to 1857, as the second territorial governor of Washington Territory from 1857-1859, and in the Confederate House of Representatives from 1864 to 1865.

On 9 November 1880, the following article was published on page 3 of the Daily Dispatch, a Richmond, Virginia, newspaper:

As published in the Daily Dispatch on 8 November 1880; courtesy of the
Library of Congress' Chronicling America website

Accident to Governor McMullin
[Special telegram to the Dispatch]

WYTHEVILLE, VA -- November 8. -- Ex-Governor Fayette McMullin was struck by a train here tonight and seriously hurt. He attempted to cross the track in front of the engine, and was struck by the pilot and knocked down. His hip, it is thought, is broken. He also received some severe cuts and bruises about the face.

A day later, on 10 November 1880, his obituary was published in the same paper on page 2:

Death of Hon. Fayette McMullin

The accident to Hon. Fayette McMullin which was chronicled in our issue of yesterday resulted in his death the same day.

Mr. McMullin had been a public man in Virginia for perhaps fifty years. He served for many years as a member of one or the other branch of the State Legislature. He was rendered famous during that period by a newspaper controversy between him and the notorious William G. Brownlow, of Tennessee. But all of Brownlow's libels went for nothing with the unflinching friends of Mr. McMullin in "Little Tennessee," and he was not only continued in the General Assembly of Virginia as long as he desired to remain in that body, but when in 1849 (our elections were then held in May) he ran for the National House of Representatives he was easily elected. He served in that body until March, 1855, In May, 1857, he was appointed by President Buchanan Governor of the new Territory of Washington. Whilst there he committed what we suppose we may pronounce the greatest blunder of his life, as well as his most censurable act, in procuring a divorce from the wife of his youth.

After his return to Virginia, Governor McMullin became a candidate for the Confederate House of Representatives, and was elected to that body, serving until the close of the war. In 1868 he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, and aided in the nomination of Seymour and Blair. Since then he has been standing Independent candidate for Congress, but has always been beaten. His lat defeat he suffered on the 2nd instant, when he was distanced.

Governor McMullin was between seventy-five and eighty years of age at the time of his decease. He was a man of no cultivation, and was, we might add, but poorly qualified for the important legislative places to which he aspired and was elected. But he had a hold upon the honest yeomanry of Southwest Virginia which lasted until after the close of the late war between the States. There are still a good many devoted friends of the "Old Waggoner's" in his original congressional district who will say with Prince Hal, "We could have better spared a better man."

Governor McMullin was universally known throughout Virginia, and may friends will be pained to bear of his death. Peace to his ashes.

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