What Becomes Of A Broken Heart?

In this case, we decided to bring you our first tale out of Milledgeville. Its a story about a man that lost everything he loved, and did the unthinkable, or did he?  This is the tragic story of Thomas Jefferson Fish.  His death has been disputed, but has also created a legend in the area where he is “buried.”  Before we get into that, we must first share the history.

Although history didn’t keep an exact record of the month and days of his birth, we do know that Thomas Jefferson Fish was born in 1837.  In his short life span, we know that he served in the CSA during the Civil War.  To what extent is not known, or is it?  We’ll discuss later.

Legend states that both his wife and daughter fell ill and died at an early age in 1863.  Stricken with grief, he placed their bodies in the Fish Mausoleum (located in Memory Hill).  After doing so he “grabbed his favorite rocking chair and bricked the entrance up from the inside.”  Here is where stories begin to differ.  Some say that he shot himself, others say he was never heard of again.  Some even say that he’s not in the brick structure at all.

Outside of the Fish vault, there is a small tombstone that reads “T.J. Fish Co 1 4th Inf or Reg.” (Note, the bottom of that stone is hard to read from pictures, so we tried our best to fill it in.)  The legend states that sometimes visitors have knocked on the door of the vault and gotten a response back.  All of that, of course, is folktale.  In fact, this entire story may actually be up for debate, or is it?

The first problem that we found when researching this case was that there appears to be no record of his wife and daughter.  We found no names.  To put that into perspective, we found his parents (William and Sarah Fish) and six of his siblings. 

You have to ask yourself, why is there no record of his wife and daughter?  A tragic story like this would at least warrant an obituary or newspaper article, right?  On the other hand, you have to remember that Milledgeville was the capital of Georgia at that time.  The Civil War was raging and the following year it would see its downfall due to the hands of Sherman.  Could that have had an impact on this folklore?  We found nothing.

The final issue we found that didn’t seem very clear to us is that there was, with certainty, a man named Thomas J Fish who was a part of Company 1, 4th Regiment of the Georgia Volunteer Infantry Army out of Macon County.  He was wounded at a battle in Chancellorville, Virginia and died from his wounds in Richmond.  What year?  You guessed it, 1863.  Is this the same person with the whole “suicide” story being fabricated?  We don’t know, but it sure looks like it.  Also to note, this Thomas J Fish is buried in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond Virginia.  Could the small stone outside of the Fish Family Mausoleum just be a memory piece for the man that’s buried in Virginia?

Now, we invite you to do your own research on this topic, but it became a bit confusing to us.  We were left to believe that this tale may be false.  Instead, Mr. Fish may have died in battle.  There’s always the chance that we are completely wrong.  As always, we’ll let you be the judge!

Hey!  We hope you enjoyed this story! Memory Hill is a cemetery, so we must warn you to never trespass or visit at night for any reason to any cemetery without permission of the owners of the cemetery.  This cemetery has many stories and legends, so please do your part to keep it preserved.



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