W. P. McClatchey

Maj. W. P. McClatchey

Dies at Ripe Old Age


            Maj. W. P. McClatchey, Confederate soldier, lawyer and writer, died last night at 12:12 o’clock at his home, 410 East Second street, after an illness of six days. Maj. McClatchey was born in McMinn county, Tennessee, Feb. 16, 1847, of an old family which traces back to William Penn and other early settlers. He removed to Chattanooga in 1886 and engaged in the practice of law. For many years he was counsel for the Western & Atlantic railroad. He attended the veterans’ picnic on the mountain last Wednesday and returned home ill. Pneumonia developed, and, with an attack of heart trouble following, caused his death. He is survived by his wife and three daughters, Miss Annie Kate McClatchey, of Chattanooga; Mrs. Tom Merriam, of Rome, Ga., and Mrs. E. H. Porter, of Vicksburg, Miss., all of whom were with him when he died. Funeral arrangements will be announced later.

            Maj. McClatchey was born at Sweetbriar Hill, McMinn county, Tennessee, Feb. 16, 1847. His father, Wiley Jarratt McClatchey, was a native of Buncombe county, North Carolina, and his mother, whose maiden name was Minerva Lear? Rowles, was born in Hagerstown, Md. He received instruction at the Georgia Military institute and at Emor college, Oxford, Ga. At a very early age he became a Confederate soldier, being mustered into service with a battalion of Georgia cadets, and later transferred to the Texas Rangers. Then he was assigned to the field transportation department, then to staff duty with Gen. W. T. Woford. For this service he would have been commissioned as an officer, but the surrender occurred before his commission was received and he remained a private. He served under both Gen. Joseph E. Johnston and Gen. J. B. Hood. He was on a march from Jonesboro, Ga., to Nashville, Tenn., when they were ordered back to Macon, Ga., with a portion of the supply train, just before the battle of Franklin, Tenn. When Gen. Johnston surrendered at Greensboro, N. C., McClatchey and five others started to join the trans-Mississippi department, but they were captured by Gen. Juda, near Kingston, Ga., and paroled.

            The battle service undergone by Mr. McClatchey was at Resaca, New Hope church, Kennesaw mountain, around Atlanta, at Peachtree creek and Jonesboro, all in Georgia.

            He came to Chattanooga Jan. 5, 1887. He was, as he expressed it, “always a Georgia democrat, was never very active in politics, but generally let it be known where I stood on all public questions.” It is improbably that Mr. McClatchey would ever have received public office here, because of his disinclination to the practical side of politics, but for certain democratic disharmony upon a certain issue in 1894.

            The city councilmen could not agree upon a candidate for recorder for the city judge to be selected from the known aspirants, and to his great surprise McClatchey was selected and elected as a compromise man. Of course, the negro element known in police circles was interested in the personality of the man who had been selected to that important office, and it was said they were in a sense panic stricken when it became known that he was not only a Georgia democrat but a veteran of the Confederate army, of Georgia rearing. But Judge McClatchey, as everybody who knew him well could testify, was not only one of the mildest mannered of men, but one of the kindliest in his sentiments regarding people who seemed at all disposed to behave themselves or attempt doing so. An officious negro janitor put up a notice in the city court room, “No Smoking Aloud,” and the judge did not directly rebuke him for the unwarranted action, nor even in words criticize his spelling of the last word in the restrictive legend. He simply directed him to take the placard down, saying, “If people are going to smoke in here, I would just as soon they smoke aloud as any other way.” In the whole course of his official career he was noted for moderation and fine sense of justice. The Negroes were so impressed by these qualities that after his retirement they presented to him a gold-headed cane, upon which was engraved his name and the characters “1861 to 1865.” The presentation speech was made by a negro lawyer. When Judge McClatchey inquired why those figures were used, the man replied, “To emphasize the fact that you were a Confederate soldier and a democrat, and have treated our race with more fairness than any other man that ever occupied the office.” This cane, Judge McClatchey declared, was one of his most valued possessions.

            Judge McClatchey was for many years a member of the Chattanooga bar, and it is high praise of him to say that he always had the cordial esteem of all those lawyers who hold professional ethics and personal integrity the most essential elements of a true lawyer’s character. He was familiar with Georgia law and practice, wherefore his opinions were often sought relating to interests in that state, and he was frequently called to practice there.

            He married Miss Julia E. Allen, native of Marietta, Ga.

The Chattanooga Times, July 7, 1920.