Shedrack ‘Shed’ Golden – Murdered 1865 in Alabama for being a Unionist and Anti-Slavery … or maybe a fence was involved … or for both reasons

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Shedrack Golden 1808-1865
Photo: ANC/BrendaHooper50

Shedrack (Shadrack) ‘Shed’ Golden, 1808-1865 Madison Co., Alabama

Shedrack’s gravestone reads: “Shedrick Golden was born July 4, 1808 in the year of our Lord. On the 13th day of January, 1865 he was taken off and murdered for maintaining the Union and Constation (sic Constitution) of the United States“.

His grave sits today in Bragg Cemetery on Hurricane Road, Hurricane Valley, Madison County, Alabama, also referred to as the Madison County Cemetery in some references.

Politics, war and religion can make for spiteful companions. There was no religion involved in this situation but there was plenty of war and politics.

From memories recorded within the Madison County Cemetery Book, Vol. II by Dorothy Scott Johnson:

“This man is still referred to in the community by his nickname “Shed” Golden. He was killing hogs at a natural spring along with William E. Norris (1835-1920) when “bushwackers” accosted them. Young Norris outran them but they caught Shed Golden and killed him. Mr. Golden did not believe in slavery. He was a fiercely patriotic man and the Golden family was known to be honest and fine citizens. The “Yankees” forced the community to bury him ‘in style’ according to the grandson of William E. Norris, W. Howard Norris.”

Shedrack Golden’s description as a ‘fierce patriot’ must have stirred animosity in his community. After his body was found the Union troops ordered that he be given a proper burial, which was in the nearby Bragg Family Cemetery, with the Bragg family having very strong dislike for Goldens.

Shedrack’s Grave Used as a Trashheap

Bragg family members have described their hatred for Shedrack and how his grave was used as the cemetery trashheap.

Golden - Shedrack Golden - 1808 to 1865 - Madison Alabama - grave used as a trash heap
Page 235 of “Loyalty and Loss: Alabama’s Unionists in the Civil War and Reconstruction”, by Margaret M. Storey

While there is no doubt as to how he died, shot by Southern militia, Shedrack had managed to make it through four years of war with his family unharmed and still pro-Union. The backdrop to this story is that his neighbor may have used the war to set Shedrack up in order to forcibly settle a property dispute.

There was a property line feud with the Barley family. The story goes that the Barley family claimed part of Shed Golden’s property as their own and would fence that part as their own. Shed would move the fence back to the property line as he contended it to be. In early January 1865, Union troops from Indiana had entered the county and were rooting out Confederates. It is believed that Samuel D. Barley may have informed Confederate “Rebel” soldiers that Golden betrayed them. Should something happen to Golden then that would also settle the property dispute.

Civil War - North and South

An alternative theory is that a member of the neighboring Bailes family was responsible for notifying or participating in the militia that ended with Shedrack Golden being executed. Per an 1872 letter, Shedrack was executed on Bailes Hill, which can be presumed to be on the Bailes property.

Golden - Shedrack Golden - 1808 to 1865 - Madison Alabama - 1976 book excerpt Rome GA library
From the 1976 book ‘All In Our Family, A Family Book of the Bullington Halbert Legg Golden Vickrey Brackeen Eastep and Other Related Families’, a monograph available in the Rome, Georgia Carnegie public library.
Grave Monument to Shedrack Golden
Shedrack has one of the largest grave monuments in the cemetery. Photo from FINDAGRAVE memorial by Tom Baker

If you have been following the family names, the Braggs were intermarried with the Bailes family. Neither family had any love for the Goldens whom they considered traitors.

What we know officially is very little, except for what is recorded in the military unit log books from the Indiana Union troops. These logs remain in existence and have been published in whole. They give us no reason to believe that Shedrack Golden had any involvement with them until his dead body was found. He was killed the day before the troops actually arrived in New Market where he lived and died.

The Indiana Union troops arrived in Madison County on January 8th and were building winter quarters. The troops then began search-and-engage forays around Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama on January 14th which is when Shedrack’s body was found.


The following excerpt comes from “The Eighty-Sixth Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry. A Narrative of its Services., page 524:

“During the afternoon a squad under the command of Captain Jeremiah Haugh, of Company B, visited the house of an old rebel not very far from the bivouac where, it was reported, there were quite a number of government shoes stored that had been captured from a train by guerrillas or the enemy ‘s calvary. While the shoes were not found, yet the squad discovered almost everything else. A corpse was at the house, said to have been that of a Union man, Golden or Goldman by name, who had been killed by bushwhackers on a mountainous ridge not far away. And it was generally believed by the people in the neighborhood that this Union man had been killed by a member of the family where the body now lay. It was generally remarked by those who knew the people and their animosities, that the body was secured and taken to the house as a protection when it was learned that the scouting force would probably come into this neighborhood. It did not, however, wholly shield them, as will be seen. There was no one at the house but women, which was a suspicious circumstance, as the men of the family were known to be in this locality. The women said that their family was the dead man’s best and truest friend, and were wholly at a loss to know why anyone should have killed him as it was not known that he had a personal enemy in the world. They confirmed the report that he was a Union man and acknowledged that their sympathies were with the South, thus giving some show of reason for believing the neighborhood reports that the male members of the family may have been the guilty ones, or, at least, the instigators of the crime.”

Not pertinent to Shedrack’s death, but while investigating his death, the Indiana Union troops discovered several caches of cured hams within the home and on the premises where his body was found. The Union troops ate very well that evening much to the protest of the family (not identified by name in the records) that lived in the house where Shedrack’s body was found.

Shedrack’s Parents:

William M. Golden (1776 – 1852) and Mary Elizabeth Polly Turner (1776 – 1860). This line supposedly tracks back to John Golding (1640 – 1684) and Elizabeth Ripley (1639 – 1683) of Gloucester, Virginia via:

  • John William Golding (1670-1747)
  • John William Golding/Golden (1725-1801) and ??? … MANY family histories list his wife as Elizabeth (Garnett) Foster, but this was the wife of William Golding (1704-1782) who was supposedly half-brother to John William Golding (1725-1801).

The evidence for descent before William M. Golden’s birth: there is no evidence.

  • There is a well-established YDNA profile for William Golding (1704-1782) so it is easy to identify which Golden/Golding males are related to this line.
  • There is now a well-established YDNA profile for the Gaulding family of Essex, Virginia. This line began with John Gaulding, born 1665-1670 at Essex. Gaulding is a phonetic version of Golding. The Gaulding YDNA is different than the William Golding line; not related. The Gaulding line also claims descent from John Golding and Elizabeth Ripley, as does at least three other Golden lines which can be defined as unrelated due to YDNA testing.

There is no known evidence of who were the parents of William M. Golden.

YDNA — This is a very interesting line as the line of descent from John Golding and Elizabeth Ripley does not come through William Golding (1704-1782) and Elizabeth Foster (1704-1775). A number of matching YDNA test results exist for the Golding/Foster line but not for the Golden/Turner line. I would be willing to pay for two YDNA tests for male Goldens descended from the Golden/Turner line. Contact Bill Golden at

Shedrack Golden married twice:

Charlotte Vickery (1810 – 1844)

  • Margaret Ann Golden (1832 – 1898)
  • Mary Polly Golden (1833 – 1902)
  • Millie Caroline Golden (1834 – 1873)
  • Hickman M Golden (1839 – 1897)
    — Was Shedrack’s estate administrator after his murder
  • Jasper N Golden (1839 – 1864)
  • Luvisa Golden (1844 – 1932)
  • Elizabeth Golden (1844 – 1882)
  • Margaret Ann Golden (1844 – 1882)
  • Charlotte Golden (1846 – ??)

Martha Combs (1819 – 1870)

  • Sara Golden (1848 – 1926)
  • Andrew Jeff Golden (1851 – 1860)
  • Nancy Jane Golden (1851 – 1930)
  • Joseph A Morgan Golden (1852 – 1926)
  • Martha J Golden (1855 – 1905)

For a collection of notes and footnotes on Shedrack Golden’s life please follow this link.

You are welcome to add to or to correct this story by contacting: Bill Golden,

BTW – I look forward to sharing your stories, photos and in-search-of quests. Contact me at the email address above.

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