Letters to the Editor
Memphis Commercial Appeal
 
Learn about Forrest before judging
 
I hope that the Memphians who opposed the application for placing Forrest Park on the National Register of Historic Places (Oct. 3 article) will follow The CA’s advice and, for the first time in their lives, actually study the history of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. The best place to do that is our public library. They would find in "First With the Most" by Robert Henry that one of Forrest’s regular slave-trade customers was a black slave-trader from Kentucky who bought and sold over 1,200 slaves a year.
 
There were Memphians who Forrest would never sell a slave to because they had a reputation of being abusive masters. Further research in the special manuscripts section of our public library reveals a "Roll of Honor" with the names of Memphians who donated to the Forrest equestrian monument fund such as: Boyle, Chase, Crump, Collier, Donelson, Fontaine, Galloway, Goldsmith, Gerber, Halle, Heiskell, Lowenstein, Loeb , Mallory, Neely, Norfleet, Orgill, Overton, Seessel, Turley, Wellford, just to name a few. Our own Commercial Appeal was on the donor list.
 
At the monument dedication ceremony on May 16, 1905, Sen. Thomas B. Turley had these remarks: "It is a fact, Mr. Mayor, if Memphis should be overwhelmed by misfortune — if she should lose all her commercial greatness, in fact, if she should be blotted from the map and become a mass of ruins like Memphis of old on the Nile, still she would be remembered as the home of Forrest." It is also a fact that Memphis has a Charles Henry Niehaus 11/2 life-size equestrian bronze sculpture that is inventoried by the Smithsonian among 126 works of art by Niehaus. That should be reason enough to place the park on the historic register.
 
Becky Muska
Shelby Forest