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Biography: Captain Charles Drennen, M. D. born Sept. 6, 1842 – photograph

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(1842 – 1913)

Walker County, Alabama

Captain Charles Drennen M. D., of Birmingham, was born in Walker County, Alabama Sept. 6, 1842. His father, Rev. Walter Blythe Drennen, born May 29, 1817 was a native of Tennessee. He came to Alabama in infancy with his mother.

He became a clergyman of the Methodist church and married Matilda H. Cornwall, a native of Alabama. He died June 9, 1871. Matilda was born Sep. 1819 and died July 16, 1892. She is buried in Arkdelphia Cemetery, Cullman County, Alabama.

Dr. Drennen was reared in Walker County and became a student at the University of Alabama. The Drennen family descended from Scotch stock, that emigrated to Ireland, and from Ireland to America, settling in South Carolina. Members of the family were in the Revolutionary War; one was a major at the surrender of Yorktown; others fought with Moultrie and still others were bushwhackers. The families lived in the country and were landowners. Dr. Charles Drennen had at least one known brother, Walter Melville Drennen, a businessman who was born at Arkadelphia, Blount County, Alabama.

Earlier history from the Drennen family includes the following: “Labum Gravely married Mary Blythe the daughter of William and Sarah Murphy Blythe. Labum and Mary married about the year 1804 and about 1808 they moved to Rhea County, Tennessee having two daughters, Sarah and Margaret.

William was born February 9, 1810 and John was born May 31, 1812. In April 1814 Labum Gravely died leaving Mary alone with four children to raise and care for. Mary married once more in 1817 to Thomas Drennen and they had two children, Walter Blythe Drennen and Mary Drennen who died as an infant. The Drennen families of Cullman County are the descendants of Walter Blythe Drennen.

In 1819, Mary sold out her possessions and started the move to Alabama and stopped in the Wills Valley in the Cherokee Nation to make a crop. April 18, 1820 is the date that Mary and her children landed on the Mulberry River, about a mile from Hambys old mill. Thomas Drennen had stayed behind in Tennessee to collect some old debts and never arrived in Alabama. There was a letter received from Thomas, but he was never heard from again. Once more Mary was alone to raise children by herself and she never remarried. Mary Drennen died on June 28, 1841 after losing a bout with typhoid fever. Mary had been a member of the Primitive Baptist Church for about eighteen years. ”

Charles left his studies in the spring of 1861 to enter the Confederate service and enlisted in the company of Captain F. A. Gamble. Charles Drennen was elected first lieutenant of Company F, Twenty-eighth Alabama infantry, a regiment which went into the service early in 1862, under Col. John W. Frazer, and was assigned to the brigade of General Manigault at Corinth, Mississippi. Lieutenant Drennen served during the siege of that city by Halleck’s army, and in the summer and fall of 1862 took part in General Bragg’s invasion of Kentucky, participating in the battles of Munfordville and Perryville.

At the battle of Murfreesboro on Dec. 31, 1862, Lieutenant Drennen commanded his company, after Captain Gamble resigned to accept the office of probate judge of Walker county. He was promoted to captain after this battle for gallant and meritorious conduct on this field. In this battle, the Twenty-eighth shared in the assault of Manigault’s brigade upon the right of Sheridan’s division, and was driven back by a heavy fire of artillery and musketry. Though many men had fallen they returned to the attack a second time and a third time, and finally broke the Federal line.

In the midst of this desperate struggle Lieutenant Drennen was wounded in the left arm but he continued in the fight until victory was won and darkness put an end to the strife. He commanded his company at the great battle of Chickamauga, and also during the siege of Chattanooga. Finally when Missionary Ridge was captured by Grant’s army Nov. 25, 1863, he was among the captured and was sent as a prisoner of war to Johnson’s Island and held until the close of the war.

In 1863 he married Elizabeth M. Wilson daughter of Colonel Washington and Melissa (McCarns) Wilson. Col. Washington was a native of South Carolina and his wife of Alabama. They had five sons and a daughter; two sons became physicians,

  1. Dr. Charles Travis Drennen, (b. July 2, 1864 Blount County, Alabama) of Hot Springs, Arkansas.
  2. Dr. Daniel E. Drennen, his father’s partner.
  3. Felix M. Drennen became a merchant
  4. Jesse LaFayette Drennen, an attorney, he graduated from the University of Alabama law school in 1897, both at Birmingham,
  5. Walter Earle Drennen, the youngest son, became a vocalist of marked distinction, having spent years in the study of vocal music under masters in Boston and elsewhere.
  6. daughter married J. P. Russsell of Birmingham.

Captain Drennen began the study of medicine in 1867 in his home county and after attending lectures at Baltimore and the Alabama Medical college, at Mobile, he graduated in March, 1873. In 1874 he organized the Walker County Medical society and was twice elected its president.

He practiced at Arkadelphia, Alabama for more than a decade then took a post-graduate course at the New York Polyclinic in 1885. In 1886 he moved with his family to Birmingham where he was recognized as one of the leading practitioners. He was a member of the State Medical association and of the Jefferson County Medical society and a contributor to the professional press.

Dr. Drennen and his family were active members of the Methodist church. He was a Knight Templar, and a member of the Knights of Pythias and Knights of Honor orders. He was a leading Republican and active in state and national politics. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Orange County, Florida. Dr. Charles Drennen, Sr. was probably living with his son Walter Earl Drennen, b. Feb. 14, 1879 who resided in Orange County, Florida in the early 1900’s.

His son Charles Travis Drennen lost one of his right arm in a severe accident at the age of sixteen but he continued his studies under his father’s direction, and at seventeen began the study of medicine. His academic course in medicine was pursued at Louisville Medical College, the Ohio Medical College and the Rush Medical College in Chicago, where he graduated in 1885.

He returned to Alabama to practice medicine with his father. His father, Dr. Charles Drennen, Sr. moved to Birmingham in 1886 and he followed his father to Birmingham in 1887 but after finding the general practice of medicine too onerous, Dr. Charles Travis Drennen moved to New York in 1888, and devoted himself to special studies. The following year he resumed work at Birmingham with his father and his brother Dr. Daniel E. Drennen.

In 1894, Dr. Charles Travis Drennen moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas and developed a large practice. He became an authority on syphilology, and his opinions on this subject, both as consulting physician and as a writer were valued. His contributed articles to “Medical News,” ” Medical Record, “”International Clinics,” and many other leading medical journals in America as well as French, German and English Periodicals. He was frequently invited to deliver lectures and addresses to the leading medical societies and schools upon scientific questions. He was a member of the leading societies of Arkansas and throughout America. In 1898, he was vice-president of the Tri-State Medical Society, and president of the Hot Springs Medical Society.



  1. The National cyclopaedia of American biography
  2. Notable men of Alabama edited by Joel Campbell DuBose
  3. Arkadelphia Cemetery Arkadelphia, Cullman County, Alabama
  4. Gravlee Family of Walker County Researched, written and submitted by Gene Gravlee-2004
  5. Orange County, Florida – 1917-18 Civilian Draft Registration (A – K)
  6. OLD PENDLETON DISTRICT GEDCOM DATABASE PROJECT Old Pendleton District Chapter of S.C. Genealogical Society
  7. Find A Grave Memorial# 14983368

This biography can be found in Biographies of Notable and Not-so-Notable Alabama Pioneers Volume VI 


About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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