Born: about 1836 in White County, Tennessee
Died: 11 June 1881 in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee
Buried: unmarked grave in the Mount Olivet Cemetery, Davidson County, Tennesse
Parents: James Mathias and Susie (Rickett) Welch

Married: Frances Womack on 25 August 1858 in Putnam County, Tennessee
Born: March 1838 in Warren County, Tennessee
Died: 25 May 1910 in Putnam County, Tennessee
Parents: Thomas Jasper and Lora Elizabeth (Blanton) Womack


  1. Mary Welch
  2. Thomas Anderson Welch
  3. Martha Welch
  4. Susan Welch
  5. Julia Welch
  6. James Matthias Welch
  7. Louisa Welch


  • Brother: Alexander Welch - 25th Tennessee Infantry Regiment
  • Brother: James Welch - 25th Tennessee Infantry Regiment
  • Brother-in-law: James J. Womack - 16th Tennessee Infantry
  • Brother-in-law: Willis Womack - 25th Tennessee Infantry


84th Tennessee Infantry Regiment
Company D


  • Entered military as Private and left as a Private
  • Enlisted 17 Nov 1862 at McMinnville
  • Jan &  Feb 1863: Deserted at Shelbyville, 20 Jan 1863
  • Nov 27 - Dec 31 1862: Deserted at Shelbyville, 20 Jan 1863



(File at


  • Filed 3 September 1908
  • Rejected
  • Born in Warren County
  • Lived here all of her life
  • Maiden Name: Frances Womack
  • Married by Rev. Abraham Ford in Putnam County
  • Husband died in Nashville in 1881
  • Children: Mary 49, Thos A. 47, Martha (dead), Susie (dead), Julia 41, Louisa (dead), James 36
  • Witness: A. Welch, M. L. Ray, M. M. Sparks
    • Known her 50 years
    • Husband died in Nashville

Supporting Documents:

  • Frances Welch & Alex Welch (9 May 1908) - Bible Record of marriage on 25 August 1858
  • Frances Welch & Alex Welch (21 Nov 1908) - Affidavit of marriage and maiden name
  • Tennessee Board of Pension Examiners (3 Sep 1908) - No proof of marriage and no proof how John Welch got out of the army
  • Tennessee Board of Pension Examiners (5 Sep 1908) - Requests Service Records
  • War Department (10 Sep 1908) - Returns Service Records
  • Frances Welch (Sep 1908) - Requests status of Pension Application
  • Frances Welch (13 Feb 1909) - Requests status of Pension Application


  • 1850 Census: White County, TN, Page 122
  • 1860 Census: Putnam County, TN, Page 36
  • 1870 Census: Putnam County, TN, Page 143A
  • 1880 Census: Putnam County, TN, Page 136A


The Daily American
12 June 1881
Page 1, Column 6

  • Death of Welch, the Moonshiner - John Welch, the moonshiner, who was wounded in Rhea county, on the 5th inst., while attempting to escape from the revenue officers, died at the city hospital, at 4am yesterday. Since he has been here he has had every possible attention, day and night, nurses having been employed to wait on him. His remains were interred at Mt. Olivet cemetery yesterday afternoon. Welch's people live in Putnam county.


The Daily American
31 May 1881
Page 4

Capture of Welch, the Moonshiner, Who Shot Capt. Davis
A Lively Revenue Adventure in Rhea CountyThe following dispatch was received here yesterday morning:
Special to the American
Capt. James M. Davis, Deputy Collector of Internal Revenue, captured John Welch this morning on Walden's Ridge, near Ed Hendersons. Welch refused to surrender and was shot. The ball entering the right scapular, passed through the right lunch and clavicle bone,  making its exit in front. By request of Capt. Davis and Welch's physician and the prisoners consent, he was conveyed to Darwin Station and left on the 12 o'clock (night) train for Nashville, in charge of Capt. Davis and Commissioner Campbell. The exemplary deportment of these officers, and the humanity and kindness to the prisoner are highly commendable.

Capt. Davis arrived here with Welch on the 5 p.m. train from Chattanooga. They were met at the Chattanooga depot by Deputy Collectors Elder and Priest, who assisted Capt. Davis and others in carrying the wounded man from the train to an express wagon and from it to the jail, where Welch will remain until the next term of the United States Circuit Court, unless he should, meantime, give a bond for his appearance before that court.

It will be remembered that about six months ago, in Putnam county, Welch and his kinsmen attacked Capt. Davis and United State Commissioner G. W. Campbell, and came near putting an end to both, by striking them on the head with billets and shooting Davis, while he and Campbell were endeavoring to make their escape, and subsequently cut their horses throats. John Welch then removed from Putnam county, but where no one in hte neighborhood seemed to have any knowledge. A man named William Clark was put on his truck, however, about three months ago, and he gradually worked his way to Rhea county, where Welch was running an illicit distillery, and kept his eye on him. United States Collector Woodcock was informed by Clark of Welch's whereabouts and Capt. Davis, Wm. Smith and Untied States Commissioner Campbell were sent to capture him. On getting off the railroad, last Friday, they walked sixteen miles before reaching Welch's neighborhood. They did not go to his distillery that night. On Saturday afternoon Welch was properly located, and on Sunday morning at an early hour they slipped up to Ed Henderson's premises and watched for Welch to make his appearance. Henderson stepped from his house and went over to the fence where Davis had stationed himself. After being there a short while he suddenly espied Davis, who ordered him to "bounce over the fence." Henderson stood still at first, hardly knowing what to do. A more emphatic demand, emphasized by Davis cocking his gun, brought him over. He was carried a short way off, and Smith and Campbell requested to guard him. To make him more secure they handcuffed him and tied his arms around a tree, that he need not be kept under close surveillance in case of any unforeseen emergency. They had hardly regained their former positions before they saw Welch and halted him. Telling them to "go to h--l." he broke off into a run. He was again halted but refused to stop and they commenced firing upon him with three Springfield rifles. One of the balls having taken effect, as stated in the dispatch, Welch threw up his hands and said he would surrender. When Davis came to him Welch told him that he supposed that he was addressing Captain Davis, and asked that no further injury might be done him. Captain Davis told him that he had no disposition to harm him and would protect him, and that he would not have been hurt at all  if he had not attempted to make his escape.

During the firing Henderson had got the handcuffs and rope off and made his escape.

Capt. Davis and party,after capturing Welch, Went to his distillery and smashed the concern. Ed Henderson is alleged to have been Welch's partner. They found in Welch's distillery Capt. Davis' Hery rifle, which Welch's band "captured" during the fight in Putnam county, and a Spencer rifle which had been stolen from Sam Chapman at Cookeville.

Welch has been one of the most successful moonshiners in the mountains. He has had his wild cat distilleries smashed frequently, but was never confined and held in custody until now. He was suffering considerably from his wound, last evening, but was made as comfortable as possible, and a physician was called to attend him.

The Death of John Welch, Moonshiner from Putnam County, Tennessee