Andrew Johnson Reed


Andrew Johnson Reed.jpg


The attack of pneumonia from which Andy Reed, the well known colored man, was suffering a week ago, proved fatal on Wednesday morning. His death removes one of the most familiar characters of the village, and a man who had an individuality all his own. In his own sphere in life he was one of our most useful and faithful citizens, and his death causes unselfish regret to a great many people with whom he had been brought into more or less intimate contact.


He came to Brattleboro in the summer of 1864, accompanying Dr. Gale, who was sent on by the governor to care for our wounded after the battle of the Wilderness. The doctor first met him, a "contraband of war," at Aquia Creek while he was on his way from Washington to Fredericksburg.


He liked his general bearing, for he was a useful, willing boy, and finally the doctor consented that he might come home with him "to take care of his horses." He spent two or three years at the doctor's, but there was not work enough for him to do, he grew uneasy if idle, and the result was that he went to O. L. Miner's for a time, then he worked for the late Dea. Isaac Hines.


In due course of time, he drifted into the line of general household jobbing, in which he has been so familiar and so useful for almost 20 years past.


It was not until he had been some time in Brattleboro that the members of the Tyler family---the relatives of the brilliant and lamented Col. John S. Tyler---learned that Andy had been first discovered and cared for by that officer. Not long before the battle of the Wilderness Col. Tyler had written home of being out with a scouting party and coming upon a company of colored refugees, among whom was a boy whom he especially noticed and who said his name was "Andy."


"Andy what?" said the colonel, "Andy Johnson?" thinking of the Tennesseean then so prominent in the public mind. "Yes, Massa," the boy answered, and so his name was fixed. He said his old master's name was Reed, and this he naturally took as his own surname.


The ignorant, helpless refugees said they had run away from their master, hearing of the approach of the Yankee soldiers, and they wanted to go with the soldiers and "be taken care of". The boy Andy said he could do "anything," and he wanted to be the colonel's body servant. The result was inevitably that they were taken along to the Union camp.


The story which they told was that they had staid at home till then, while their master was in the rebel army, and had done the farm work and taken care of "missus and the chillun," but now the master had come home on furlough and set them to making saddles for the rebel cavalry men, and they couldn't stand that!


Andy was with Col. Tyler until he fell mortally wounded in the battle of the Wilderness, and when the colonel was removed to the Georgetown hospital he followed on there, and in this way he came to Dr. Gale's attention.


After Col. Tyler's father, Rev. Dr. Tyler, and his uncle, Judge Royall Tyler, learned that Andy had been with the young man in his last days they and their families felt a warm interest in him which they have ever since retained and recognized some of his personal belongings, like a knife and a pocket book, saying he had seen the colonel have them "a great many times."


Andy married in 1874 a Virginia colored girl who had been employed in Judge Royall Tyler's family, her mistress, Mrs. Commander Brown, giving them their wedding, which took place at Judge Tyler's.


Andy's old master lived in Charlottesville in central Virginia. He was engaged in general farming, and Andy was born there, probably in August, 1841. He had two brothers whom he never saw or heard from after he left the old place.


He was the youngest of the plantation gang, and used to tell how hard he would work on some special occasions to show himself the equal of the old hands, though his usual work was about the stables, "hooking up the horses," and about the house. He always said the hands were well treated, and recalled with delight some of the gay times that were enjoyed, especially at Christmas, when a little money was given the slaves to spend.


As has already been said, Andy Reed was, in his own way, one of the most useful and valuable members of the community. He was strictly honest and faithful, and many families now feel as if their main reliance was gone. In his personal bearing he was as far removed from presumption and officiousness as he was from obsequiousness. He possessed a native brightness and good sense and a certain self-respecting independence which made him a general favorite.


For fifteen years, beginning with the time when Col. Estey took command of the Estey Guard, Andy has gone regularly into camp with him as his attendant and body servant, and in that capacity has shown himself a rarely competent and useful man. No member of the company has ever felt more pride in it than he has.


Mr. and Mrs. Reed have had no children of their own, but they have done a praiseworthy deed in the adoption of three children of sisters of Mrs. Reed. Two of them, John and Richard, are well known in the community. No boys in the village show better bringing up or give more promise of becoming useful, self-respecting citizens.


Andy was a communicant at St. Michael's Episcopal church, and his funeral takes place from the church at 2 o'clock this afternoon. A detachment of the Estey Guard will attend as escort. He was also a member of Sumner lodge of (colored) Free Masons of Springfield, Mass., and members of that lodge will be present at the funeral.


Vermont Phoenix, March 15, 1889.


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Andy Reed was born August 10, 1842 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Dr. George F. Gale is the Civil War surgeon who met him at Aquia Creek. Reed later worked for Ozias L. Miner on the farm along the Whetstone brook south of the Creamery bridge, now the Living Memorial Park. Col. John Steele Tyler, Col. Julius J. Estey, and Judge Charles Royall Tyler are all mentioned in this tribute.


Andrew Johnson Reed married Georgietta Colden on February 17, 1874 at the home of Judge Charles Royall Tyler, the ceremony performed by the Rev. Charles Clarke Harris of St. Michael's Episcopal Church.


Georgietta was born in Hampton, Virginia around 1853, the daughter of Richard and Sarah Colden. She was working for Allan D. Brown, Commander, United States Navy, retired, and a future Episcopal minister.


The children, John and Richard, were probably adopted from Georgietta's sister Annie L. Colden, who died of consumption at the age of nineteen years and seven months, unmarried, on April 12, 1883. The Reed family lived for years in a house on Forest Street.


Andrew Johnson Reed was a pall bearer at the funeral for John G. Sugland at the Tyler Cemetery out the Pond road in Vernon, Vermont in 1887. After Reed's death, his friends provided for a brownstone monument for his grave in the Prospect Hill Cemetery.


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