FERRIER FILES: Nashville man's family cursed by President Lincoln assassination plot

MGN/Alexander Gardner

On this weeks Secrets of Middle Tennessee, Chris Surratt is going to share a family secret with us, and it's not one that makes him proud.

"Our name was so notorious that a lot of our family that had the Surratt name changed the spelling of their name," Chris Surratt said.

What did these Surrat's do? They plotted the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

Mary Surratt, John Surratt , John Wilkes Booth and other conspirators plotted the murder in the family boarding house.

Mary Surratt became the first woman ever hung by the U.S. government. John Surratt escaped and was spared after a hung jury decision.

"If you trace our family back on from Mary Surratt and John Surratt up until my grandfather, they are pretty bad people," Surratt said. "Outlaws and bootleggers and thieves. There was a generational curse."

That curse lasted nearly a hundred years, including E.L. Surratt who was an outlaw in dust bowl Oklahoma. The newspaper called him the meanest man in town, but his wife converted to Christianity at a tent revival. She then kicked her drunken, abusive husband out of the house.

"Basically he had a Damascus road moment," Surratt said. "Like Paule, God knocked him to his knees. He begged God for forgiveness from that day on he as completely changed."

E.L. Surratt became a minister, a church planter, an evangelist, and there was never a regret or a backslide.

The generational curse was broken and what happened next is hard to believe. All of his kids became ministers, and all of their kids became ministers, every single one of them. That's at least 21 Surratts.

"Some of them are in the biggest churches in the country, literally touching thousands of lives on a weekly basis," Surratt said.

Chris is the Lifeways small groups pastor after a long run at Crosspoint church. He said he has never doubted his choice.

"Until I take my final breath, I can't imagine doing anything else," Surratt said.

He said he can't begin to tell you why not even one Surratt has chosen a different career, just that it must be something bigger.

"Christ always brings hope," Surratt said. "The resurrection shows God can resurrect anything, and that is the story of my family."

Surratt believes that the curse was broken, not when his grandfather fell to his knees, but when his grandmother raised her hand at the revival. It was that moment of surrender that changed the Surratt legacy.

"Whatever you call it whether, it is a generational curse or a chain, it can be broken," Surratt said.

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