Samuel Guthrie and the Capitulation of Macon

Samuel Guthrie,  whose Ray City, GA family connections have been the discussion of earlier posts, was a Confederate veteran.  His  unit, Company E, 54th Georgia Volunteers, fought all over Georgia; at Dug Gap, Kennesaw Mountain, and Atlanta, and other battle locales.  Matthew Hodge Albritton, James Baskin, William Gaskins, George W. Knight, William Lamb, Jeremiah May, Rufus Ray, and Samuel Sanders among other Berrien countians also served in this Company.  On April 20-21, 1865, two weeks after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox the 54th Georgia Volunteers, under the command of General Howell Cobb, joined in the last, futile defense of Macon.

After the war, the Federal records reported the circumstances:

Macon, Ga.,
April 20, 1865.

2nd Cavalry Division, Military Division of Mississippi.

This affair was the last engagement of Wilson’s raid through Alabama and Georgia. When within 20 miles of Macon the advance division encountered a Confederate cavalry command of 400 men. By a series of brilliant charges by the 17th Ind. the enemy was driven from behind every barricade where he took refuge and was completely routed, throwing away arms and ammunition in the haste of his flight.

When nine miles out of the city a Confederate flag of truce was met announcing an armistice between Sherman and Johnston, but Col. Robt. H. G. Minty, commanding the advance, refused to honor it and gave it five minutes to get out of the way. The Federals then continued the charge and dashed over the works into the city, which was surrendered by Gen. Howell Cobb.

The results of the capture were 350 commissioned officers, 1,995 enlisted men, 60 pieces of artillery, a large amount of small arms, and all public works.

The casualties were not reported.

Source: The Union Army, Vol.,6 p.,580

In his memoirs, General James Harrison Wilson wrote

“It is a matter of history that Cobb was not only one of the largest slaveholders, but an original secessionist, whose proudest boast was that his state followed him, not he his state. Nor is there any doubt that from the first he threw his whole heart and fortune into the Confederate cause, but he was sagacious enough to know when Lee and Johnston surrendered and Davis became a fugitive that the end had come and from that moment he did all in his power to restore order and confidence and to help earnestly in the work which pressed upon me at Macon.”

Samuel Guthrie lived through the War  and mustered out on 10 May 1865 at Tallahassee, FL.  He returned to his home in Berrien County where he lived out the rest of his days.

Related Posts:

Francis Marion Shaw and the Wrought Iron Range

In 1884 or early 1885 a traveling salesman for the Wrought Iron Range Company was working through his territory in Wiregrass Georgia. Apparently sales were brisk for he was closing deals in Irwin, Decatur, Mitchell, Colquitt, Worth, Thomas and Berrien counties.  One Berrien County customer was Francis Marion Shaw, long time resident of the Ray City, Georgia area.         
Wrought Iron Range Salesman, circa 1890

Wrought Iron Range Salesman, circa 1890

In the Feb 24, 1885 edition of the Milledgeville Union & Recorder, F.M. Shaw of Berrien County was listed among those giving testimonial to the purchase of a “Home Comfort” Wrought Iron Range


We the undersigned citizens of the following counties have each purchased Wrought Iron Ranges and cheerfully add our testimony to that of many others as to their superiority and excellence in every respect over any other stove we have ever seen or tried. These ranges take less fuel and cook quicker and more thoroughly than any cooking apparatus now made. The are cleanly, economical and durable, and in our opinion their equal has never been made and the superior never will be. We recommend these ranges to our fellow citizens, feeling sure that should they become purchasers, they and their families will be thoroughly pleased, and never regret having bought a “Home Comfort” Wrought Iron Range.

Irwin Co.
Wm. Granthon   Dan Tucker
M.T Palk       Mrs. R. Palk
H. Harper      G.J. Harper
W.A. Mobley    A.E.M. Lord
Robt. Fussell  Wm. Pridgen
M. Dixon       C. Chancey
J.M. Barnes    S.P. Troupe
John Clemants  Isaac Gibbs
W.E. Fletcher  M.D. Luke
J.D. Rogers    J.S. Boberts
Thomas Gibbs  
O.N. Flours      S.S. May
G.A. Hiers       J. A. Alderman
D. W. Hooker     John Manning
Daniel Burnie    M.J. Alderman
C.J. Strickland  R. Weeks
W.H. Norman      Jas. Tillman
A. Baker         J.A. Tillman   
G.W. Sineath     Wm. Castleberry
J.J. Sineath     J.W. McKinney
W.W. Folsom      Reuben Inman
R.H. Hutchison   N.B. Jones
E. Parrish       Mrs. B. Morrison
L.A. Folston     J.H. Shaw
E.C. Parrish     F.M. Shaw
A.H. Shaw        J. McCraynie
G.B. Scott       J.P. Lovett
R. J. Griffin    Hughy Taylor
John Lindsey     J.W. Sutton
W.R. Watson      H. Giddens
Josh. Gaskins
J.G. Merrett      J.A. Ponder
Mrs. S. Crocker   J.E. Harrel
Aoel Umphreys     J.B. Umphreys
A.B.Belcher       W.J. Dollar
T.M. Chester      John R. Brook
J.J. Gaimons      J.D. Harrell
H.J. Logue        J.M. Whigham
Jas. Bell         G.W. Knight
C.F. Knight       J.A. Smith
T.O. Duggan       M.J. Connel
R.E. Wigham       T.M. Whigham
Mrs. M.J. Martin  J.J. Knight
Jas. Little        T.T. Mites     
T.J. Marceant     W.C. Culpepper
J.J. Moye         E.H. Akridge
J.R.Holton        J.J. Grimer
C.P. Parmer       W. Williams
J.F. Mansfield    W.H. Jones
A.G. Shirrah      F.W. Nix
L.A. Brooks       J.A. Glousen
E. Shanklin       W.S. Bowls
H.A.Hall          J.M. Pilcher, Jr.
S. Collier        Mrs. M. Collier
J.M. Chastain     John Jones
B. Chastain       John S. Culpepper
J.C. Shepherd     Henry White
W.B. Mire         H.R. Brinson
C. Singletary     R. Singletary
R.B. McCond       S.L. Ballard
A.W. Willis       Ben Cravy
G.W. Cravy        J.W. Overstreet
J.J. Henderson    B. Hobley
Hon. W.A. Harris  S.C. Mayo
B. Willis         J.D. Summer
J.M. Champion     A.B. Kierce
E.T. Goodman      T.J. Harris
W.J. Jackson      J.M. Springs
Mrs. N.A. Wilder  S.D. Parker
J.H. Dickson      
  2tFeb. 17, 1885        32     J. T. Drew       ChassongJos.

Samuel Guthrie Heirs in the Supreme Court of Georgia, 1920

In 1920, residents of Ray City, GA were once again appearing before the Supreme Court of Georgia. this time in the case of REGISTER et al. v. GUTHRIE et al.  The case concerned the estate of Samuel F. Guthrie, one of the early settlers of Berrien County.

The children of Samuel F. Guthrie and Martha Newbern were:

Lewis Guthrie  abt 1853 –
Josephene Guthrie 1856 –
Archibald Guthrie 1859 –
Samuel Guthrie 1860 –
Arren Horn Guthrie 1864 – 1932
Dicey Guthrie 1866 – 1953
James Berrien Guthrie 1868 – 1949
Martha Guthrie 1870 –
Linton Guthrie 1872 –
Betty Guthrie 1874 –
John Guthrie 1876 –
Dread Guthrie 1879-

Grave Marker of Samuel Guthrie

Grave Marker of Samuel Guthrie

When Samuel F. Guthrie  died, he left to each of his sons  a “two-horse farm.”  To his widow, he left “the Dowery.”  Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, there was a dispute among the heirs as to the disposition of their father’s land.

REGISTER et al. v. GUTHRIE et al.
(No. 1703.)

(Supreme Court of Georgia. June 18, 1920.)

(Syllabus by the Court.)

Executors and administrators <= 380(4)—Refusal of interlocutory injunction to restrain sale of realty purchased at administrator’s sale held not abuse of discretion.

The evidence was conflicting on the material points of the case. The court did not abuse his discretion in refusing to grant the interlocutory injunction.

Error from Superior Court, Berrien County ; R. G. Dickerson, Judge.

Suit by Josephine Register and others against S. F. Guthrie and others to set aside cloud on title, for an accounting, and for an injunction. Decree for defendants, and plaintiffs bring error. Affirmed.

The petition alleged that petitioners and defendants were the heirs of Samuel Guthrie, deceased, and that two of the defendants were the administrators of his estate; that defendants fraudulently entered into an agreement to suppress bidding at the administrators’ sale of the real property belonging to the estate of Samuel Guthrie, and to have one of the defendants bid in the property for the benefit of the others as cheaply as possible, and thereafter to account to the other defendants to the exclusion of petitioners. Petitioners prayed that the administrators’ deeds be set aside as a cloud on title, that defendants be compelled to account for the rents and profits received by them, and that they be enjoined from selling or incumbering the lands or the Umber thereon. Statement by editor.

W. R. Smith and R. A. Hendricks, both of Nashville, for plaintiffs in error.

J. D. Lovett, of Nashville, for defendants in error.

GiLBERT, J. Judgment affirmed.
All the Justices concur.

Register et. al. v. Guthrie et. al.

Register et. al. v. Guthrie et. al.

Related Posts:


Horace Cox and the Burning of Bank’s Mill

Horace Cox was born April 2, 1849, a son of Samuel D. Cox.  He married Sarah Ann Green on Dec 3, 1868.

In 1870 Horace Cox was enumerated in Georgia Militia District 1144, the Ray’s Mill district, in Berrien County, Georgia. Living in his household and keeping house was his wife Sarah Cox, age 16, and the 8 month old baby boy Lorenzo A. Cox.   The census taker noted Horace Cox “works in carriage shop”.  His real estate was valued at $200, and personal estate at $78.  His neighbors were the wheelwright, William J. Wilkinson, and  James H. Carroll, who before the war had been one of the wealthiest men in Berrien County.[1]

In later life, Horace Cox became a notorious man.

He was living in the Milltown, GA area in 1896 when the historic Bank’s Mill burned to the ground.

It was on Leap Day,  February 29, 1896 that the burning of Bank’s Mill was reported. The brief story ran the following day in the Atlanta Constitution.

 News was received here [Valdosta, GA] this morning of the destruction of Bank mill [sic] on Bank pond [sic], several miles above this city. The mill and ginnery caught fire from forest fires and the whole business was consumed, causing a loss of about $4,000.  Banks mill was the oldest establishment of the kind in this part of the country, having been in operation before the war and being very valuable at the time. It could not be learned whether the building was insured or not.

Banks Mill, Milltown (nka Lakeland), Georgia

Horace Cox was accused of setting the fire that burned Banks Mill. He stood trial for the crime and was acquitted.

In later litigation, S.L. Lewis would testify under oath about the character of Horace Cox: ” From the talk of the people in that neighborhood, I do not think that his character was very good; he was alleged to have burned two or three houses over there, and accusations were brought against him.” In the same legal action J.T. Asbury testified: “Have known Cox for 12 or 14 years; his general character in the neighborhood where I live is a little sort of bad; he was accused of burning houses in Milltown; he was accused of burning Bank’s gin, about a mile and a quarter from Milltown, and there was some talk that he was accused of burning the building of DeLoaches.”

Studstill added: “I have known Horace Cox since he was quite small. I do not know that I ever knew his general character there when I lived in that neighborhood, but I have heard a great deal of talk about him; he was accused of burning Bank’s mill there; he was tried for it and came clear; he was tried for burning Bank’s mill-house. I went on his bond in that case. I do not know of my own knowledge of anything against his character; it is just hearsay.”  Also testifying was J. B. Strickland: ” I have known Horace Cox a good many years. Cox’s general character in the neighborhood where he lived before he moved to his present place was pretty bad.”

Accusations of arson would continue to follow Horace Cox in Clinch County.

In April of 1896, Horace Cox brought a suit of libel against 110 citizens of Clinch and Berrien counties, and the Valdosta Times, “alleging that he has been damaged in the sum of $50,000, by reason of certain alleged false and defamatory publications of and concerning him, contained in certain resolutions published in the Valdosta Times…”

The Atlanta Constitution reported it with a Brunswick, Ga., April 6, 1896. dateline:


Brought Against  110 Citizens of Church [sic] County.

     Brunswick, Ga., April 6.-(Special.)-A damage suit for $50,000 brought by Horace Cox, of Clinch county, against J. B. Strickland, one hundred and ten citizens of Clinch county and the Valdosta Times Publishing Company, for alleged libel committed June 19, 1894, to be tried at Clinch county court this term, is set for a hearing on April 13th.  By reason of the prominence and number of the persons involved, the peculiar nature of the libel charged, being committed, the liability of a newspaper for publishing a damaging card under the head of “advertisement,” and other minor acts connected therewith, the case is attracting unusual interest and will attract the attention of hundreds of relatives and friends of the defendants as well as publishers and the public generally.

    In brief the petitioner, Horace Cox, claims that the following named persons J.W. Powell, C. C. Bridges, W. JJ. Tomberling, H. N. McWhite, James Browning,  J. J. Grooms, John King, John B.  Tomilson, E. D. Williams, J. Browning, L. Johnson, J. Wilcox, M. Eddy, C.C. Hannah, J. Rodgers, J. Jerold, March Brown,  F. M. Bradford, C. M. Sharp, Bea Sirmans, Lewis Browning, R. L. Bradford, M. Love, J. B. Bradford, R. Brogdan, J. M. Moore, H. J. Bridges, H. R. Bridges, F. S. Thornton, C.S. Vining,  J. B. Strickland, B. McEddy, Robert Jackson, J. S. Sirmans, M. T. Tomilson, L. H. Howell, Moses Smith, J. S. Moore, M. D. Fiveash, H. H. Smith, V. Tomilson, W. E. Smith, J. M. Williams, L.F. Siler, A. M. Tomilson, E. M. Williams, S. Harris, B. Fender, Alfred Brogdon, C. W. Cameron, Isaac Sirmans, Joe Browning, S. Wilcox, J. P. Fiveash, R. L. Reeves, B. S. Hannah, P. McKnight, V. Cooper, E. Long, M. Sirmans,  H. H. Gruss, M. T. Tullis, E. L. Roberts, William Browning, L. T Pafford, J. M. Wilson, C. M. D. Howell, W. Fanner, Ben Smith, W. J. Knight, A. H. Mathews, J. D. Corbett, W. M. Bridges. G. B. Conine, J. F. Pafford, M. Phillips, W. T. Howell, B. L. Thornton, D. J. Connie, B. J. Giddings, J. E. Sirmans, P. J. Giddings, P. Williams, J. L. Anderson, M. Tomilson, J. F. Simans,  H. L. Langford, G. J. Smith, J.W. Hall, Abner Sirmans, B. B. Johnson, H. H. Jackson, F. B. Simmons, R. R> Howell, and S. C. Townsend, of Clinch county; C. S. Strickland, of Berrien, and The Valdosta Times Publishing Company, of Lowndes county, signed a false and malicious set of resolutions which were published in The Valdosta Times under the head of “Advertisement,”  which damaged him some $50,000 worth. The resolutions referred to were offered, adopted and signed at a mass meeting of indignant people under the direction of State Senator F. B. Sirmans, who assembled in Clinch county on June 19, 1894, to take action in regard to an incendiary fire which destroyed the ginhouse of Citizen Strickland.

    They stated, in substance, that the object of the meeting was to eradicate an evil existing in the community, said evil being the first clandestine burning of property that had occurred in the community; that the citizens felt thoroughly outraged and were firmly of the opinion that Horace Cox was either directly or indirectly connected with the fire, because Cox had been accused of numerous cases of like nature in Berrien county, from where he came, and because of strong circumstantial evidence in the Clinch county case. The signers pledged themselves to abstain from violence in the Cox case, and stated that they were acting free from malice or prejudice, but with a view to protecting the property of themselves and neighbors they asked that Cox’s employer remove him from his premises, as he was obnoxious and detrimental to them in the highest degree, also that they would hold their patronage from him until Cox was removed. A clause was also added to furnish Cox with a copy of the resolutions.

    After these resolutions were passed and published Cox did not leave the county but instead employed counsel and entered suit against the signers and participants for $50,000 damages. He alleges in this suit that the mass meeting was at the instigation of Strickland, a business rival, who lives in Berrien county near him, and that Strickland aided and abetted in passing the resolutions from business and personal enmity, but did not sign them alleging non-residence in Clinch county as his reasons, thus expecting to escape any possible damage suit, but that he was really the prime mover in it all and was acting through malice in his efforts to hold Cox up to public hatred, contempt and ridicule.

    Cox admits the “freedom of the press” but denies the right of any publisher to private person to insert or allow to be inserted into papers, statements which are libelous, even though they be under the head of “advertisement.” Cox’s petition concludes with a complete denial of the charges against him and also asks for a judgment in the sum named.

    In answer to this the defendants plead complete justification and the case is liable to draw a big crowd to the trial. Cox’s attorneys are Meyers & Hitch, of Waycross, while the defendants are represented by Attorneys Denmark of Valdosta, and Brantley of Brunswick.

    Judge Sweat being disqualified from presiding by reason of relation to some of the defendants, a visiting judge will preside.

One of the signers, Cawley Strickland, was a previous victim of an arsonist that struck in Milltown, Ga. in the spring of 1886:

 Fire in Berrien County.
Atlanta Constitution . Apr 14, 1886.

Nashville, Ga., April 13. -{Special}-On Saturday morning, a little after midnight the gin house of Cawley Strickland, of Milltown, in the eastern portion of the county, was discovered to be on fire, the work of an Incendiary, as the fire was in the upper story and roof when discovered. There was in the gin house a 12-horse power engine, three long cotton gins, and one short, 1 sixteen horse boiler,  one thousand bushels of cotton seed – all a total loss. Insurance $2,000, loss about $3,000. The flames reached the academy and Masonic hall, a large and commodious building, which was also entirely consumed, with contents, save the Masonic furniture.

The lawsuit Cox vs. Strickland, et al.  was a drawn-out and dramatic affair that went all the way to the Supreme Court of the State of Georgia and involved some of the most prestigious legal talent in the state.  Among the scandalous testimony was the statement of John King about  “a conversation between himself and one Burkhalter, in which conversation Burkhalter offered to procure for defendants a witness who would swear anything they desired him to swear.”

Because of several errors in the first trial the decision was reversed and the case went back to the lower courts.

The  lawsuit continued into Superior Court in 1903:


Horace Cox Brings Suit for Defamation of Character.

    Quitman, Ga., April 22. -(Special.)- One of the cases on docket for the May term of the superior court, which will convene in a few days is the suit of Horace Cox versus J.B. Strickland and others for damages in the sum of $50,000 for defamation of character. The prosecution claims that Strickland and about a hundred others, who are made parties to the suit, promulgated a set of resolutions reflection on his character and caused them to be published in The Valdosta Times, which is also made a party to the suit.  By these allegations, which he says are untrue, he claims to be damaged to the amount named. The resolutions are said to have been drawn in 1894 and were signed by some of the most prominent men in Clinch county, one of them being state senator at the time.  The attorneys for the plaintiff are Hon. C. M. Hitch, of  Atlanta; Hitch & Moyers,  S. F. Burkhalter and S. S. Bennet, and those for the defense are W. S. Humphreys, Denmark & Ashley and Congressman Brantley.

    With such legal talent on both sides the trial is looked forward to with much interest here as well as in Lowndes and Clinch counties.

By 1904 the case made its way to the Southern Circuit of the Supreme Court of Georgia.

Horace Cox died March 27, 1922.

Arson and Evangelism in Rays Mill, GA

Continuing with this weeks theme of fire in the Wiregrass, a  hundred year old tale of arson and evangelism in Rays Mill, GA.

Valdosta Times, Dec 1, 1909, Vol 4, No.41, Pg 8

Miscreant Did Dirty Piece of Work at Rays Mill
    News of the burning of a gospel tent in which a woman evangelist has been preaching at
Ray’s Mill was received here yesterday afternoon.
    Mrs. Rebecca J. Fox, who has traveled extensively over the United States doing rescue  and evangelistic work for a number of years, went to Ray’s Mill about ten days ago and began a series of services. Good crowds attended the meeting, but apparently certain parties in that section who are unknown, were opposed to the meetings and began to harass the woman preacher. First the ropes to the tent were cut to pieces, but repairs were made and the services continued. Between midnight Sunday night and daylight on Monday the tent was set on fire, presumably by the same parties who had cut the ropes before. The tent, seats, and an organ used in the services were all burned.
    The people there are said to be greatly incensed over the affair, and we understand a reward of $200 has been offered for the detection of the guilty parties, with evidence sufficient to convict.
    A letter which The Times has received from the evangelist states that land has been donated on which to build a church or assembly hall. Mrs. Fox is undaunted by the burning of the tent and proposes to continue the  meetings. She writes that a shack of some kind will be built at once and that she will continue to preach.
    It is understood that Mrs. Fox is a member of the Holliness [sic] or “Unknown tongue” faith.

While the gospel tent of Rebecca J. Fox was burned in Ray City, GA, there also was her passion kindled. Before the year was out she married Ray City resident Manassah W. Henderson. (See 1910 Valdosta Train Wreck for more on Henderson)

Incendiaries in Berrien County

In 1884, The chronicle : a weekly journal, devoted to the interests of insurance, manufacturers and real estate reported:

Webster defines incendiarism to be the act of maliciously and wilfully setting buildings and other combustible property on Are, and this paper will discuss the subject in the light of that definition.

The ancients, in recognition of that famous medical maxim, “similia similibus curantur,” treated incendiaries with fire, that is, the incendiaries themselves were burned, to the complete vindication of the maxim just quoted. We regret that among the ” lost arts” we must number a mode of “fire prevention” so salutary and effectual.

Indeed, the 1876 Code of the State of Georgia required the death penalty as the punishment for arson, although it fell short of demanding burning at the stake.  The 1884 Chronicle continued:

According to statisticians one third of all our fires is the work of incendiaries; they who wilfully set buildings or other combustible property on fire, and presumably two-fifths of our entire fire waste is the fruit of crime. The number of fires of incendiary origin exceed those from the combined causes of accidents, carelessness, defective construction in all its bearings, including all defects of flues, furnaces, heating and lighting apparatus, friction in machinery, gasoline and coal oil stoves, ignition, spontaneous combustion, mischievous children, lightning and the much abused tramp.

Berrien County certainly knew its share of firebugs. By way of example,  The Columbus Daily Enquirer-Sun, Dec 14, 1887 pg 3 include the following

 The corn crib and contents of Mr. J.J. Sirmans, of Berrien county were incendiarised. The house contained 400 bushels of corn which had just been housed, 35 bushels of oats, all his farming utensils, besides bridles, saddles and other property.

Every decade, probably every year, included accounts of arson. In March of 1915, A.E. Rampey and Virge Curry were arrested in connection with the burning of Rampey’s gin house. “both of these parties were convicted of arson in the burning of the said gin house and sentenced to terms in the penitentiary ”

The  Georgia Report of the Insurance Department of the Comptroller-General’s Office for the year ending 1916,

21. Sparks, Ga.
I went to Nashville, Ga., this week to appear before the Grand Jury of Berrien County in regard to the burning of the dormitory at Sparks, Ga., last December. I had already investigated this fire and turned over what evidence and affidavits I had secured to the solicitor-general and he had me to appear before the grand jury. The grand jury went thoroughly into this case and returned true bills against five of the boys who were attending this school. I am just informed by the solicitor that the sheriff had two of these boys in jail at Nashville and was close after the other three.

22. Milltown, Ga.
Leaving Nashville I stopped by Valdosta and learned of a fire that had occurred at Milltown, Ga., a short distance from Valdosta. I began an investigation and secured strong evidence against E. A. Rampey, owner of the gin that burned, and also against Verge Curry. I was satisfied that Rampey hired Curry to fire the gin, so I hurried back to Nashville where court was in session and took the cases before the grand jury, with the result that true bills were returned as follows: E. A. Rampey as accessory before the fact, and Verge Curry as principal. As soon as these bills were returned I had Sheriff Morris and his deputy to go at once to Milltown and arrest both parties. He succeeded in getting both. They were brought before Judge Thomas at Nashville, and he assessed a bond of $5,000 against each of them, in default of which they were put in jail.

27. Nashville, Ga.
.was acquitted and convicted and sentenced to serve five years on the Prison Farm at Milledgeville. Wright was tried at this term of court. Bridges were tried with the burning of the dormitory at Sparks, Ga. They were chargedPhilip Bridges and James Wright

and convicted and sentenced to serve five years each.were tried and Verge Curry RampeyI attended court M Nashville, Berrien County, for two weeks, trying four cases of arson that I had made on previous occasions. E. A.

The 1884 Chronicle also offered this wisdom:

Incendiarism In Georgia.

The Vindicator counts up several noteworthy instances of incendiarism in Georgia, and then comments as follows: “In the days when insurance was unknown, such fires would have caused the people to turn out and hunt up these ‘ fire bugs,’ and to deal out to them summary justice. Now, however, it is more convenient and saves much trouble, to collect from insurance companies the losses, and let the ‘ grand jury find the criminals.’

Expecting communities to deal with incendiaries themselves was perhaps not so wise advice for those who would a few years later face  some of the most notorious cases of arson in Wiregrass history.

William A. Knight Giddens marries Mary Hall


Recent reseach encountered the marriage certificate of William A. K. Giddens and Mary Hall. The significance of the  documentation is that many Internet histories list her name as Mary Hale.

William Anderson Knight Giddens was born January 3, 1851, in Lowndes (nka Berrien) County, Georgia. He was the son of William Moses Giddens and Elizabeth Edmonson.  He was the great grandson of William Anderson Knight, patriarch of the Knight family that first settled the area now know as Ray City, GA.

William A.K. Giddens first married Fannie E. Baskins,  born November 25, 1853 in Lowndes County, Georgia. William and Fannie made their home in Berrien County and raised their family there.   The couple was married nearly 40 years. Fannie E. Baskins died May 26, 1892 in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia.

Ten years later, William A.K. Giddens remarried.

The marriage of William K. Giddens and Mary Hall was cut short by her death in 1904.

William Anderson Knight Giddens and his two brides are all buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

James Swindle ~ Wiregrass Pioneer

James Swindle was a pioneer of the Wiregrass area of Georgia.  He was born  in 1830 in South Carolina, and by the 1850s he was living in Liberty County.   James Swindle moved his family to Berrien County some time in the 1860’s.   The Swindle farm was located about two miles outside Ray’s Mill, GA [now Ray City, GA].

On November 22, 1855 at age 25 James Swindle married Nancy Jane Parker in Liberty Co, GA.  Nancy Jane Parker was the daughter of Solomon Parker and Harriet Baxter. She was born January 2, 1837 in Liberty County, GA.


Swindle, James (1830-1914)



James Swindle & Nancy Jane Parker

James Swindle & Nancy Jane Parker



Left to right: James Henry Swindle, Nancy Jane Parker Swindle, Harriet Swindle, Martha Ada Swindle. The home was located about two miles outside Ray City.

Left to right: James Henry Swindle, Nancy Jane Parker Swindle, Harriet Swindle, Martha Ada Swindle. The home was located about two miles outside Ray City.


Children of Nancy Jane Parker and James Swindle:

  1. William Lawrence Swindle, b. September 8, 1856, Liberty County, GA; died 1915
  2. George Emory Swindle, b. April 5, 1859, Liberty County, GA.
  3. Ann Eliza Swindle, b. July 4, 1861, Liberty County, GA.
  4. Marietta Swindle, b. June 12, 1865, Liberty County, GA.
  5. James S. Swindle, b. July 13, 1867, Liberty County, GA.
  6. Catherine Ardella Swindle, b. April 13, 1870, Liberty County, GA; d. 1882.
  7. Harriet Swindle, b. December 26, 1871, Liberty County, GA.
  8. Martha Ada Swindle, b. March 18, 1877, Berrien County, GA; d. April 16, 1957, Valdosta Lowndes

Related Posts:


Death Papers of Martha Guthrie and the Death Date Discrepancy

Ray City History  

Martha Newbern Guthrie was the wife of Samuel F. Guthrie, and the daughter of Dred Newbern and Elizabeth “Betsy” Sirmans.  According to her grave marker, her birthdate was April 10, 1836.  The papers recording her date of death all show that she died on February 23, 1925.  

Martha Newbern Guthrie was a lifelong resident of Berrien County, Georgia and generations of her descendants have made their homes at Ray City, GA.  Her husband, Samuel F. Guthrie, fought in the Civil War in the 54th Georgia Volunteer Infantry.  After his death in 1910 she applied for and eventually received an annual Confederate Widow’s Pension. Her last application paperwork documents her death and burial arrangements.   

The death certificate of Martha Guthrie shows that her attending physician was Dr. J.V. Talley, of Nashville, GA, from Feb 21st to the 23rd. On the afternoon of February 23, she finally succumbed to “paralysis.”   

Death Certificate of Martha Newbern Guthrie


The doctor’s bill, the bill from W.H. Tygart for funeral arrangements, and the death certificate itself all confirm her death occurred on February 23, 1925.   

Why then does her grave marker at Guthrie Cemetery, Berrien County, Georgia give her date of death as January 25, 1925?   

Gravemarker of Martha Newbern Guthrie gives her death date as January 25, 1925.


For more history of the Guthrie family in Ray City, GA see

William Guthrie and the Bloody Battle of South Mountain

As a young man, William James Guthrie lived in the area of Lowndes county that would be cut into Berrien County in 1856, and later into Lanier County. Many of the Guthrie family connection still live in Ray City and Berrien County, Georgia.  By 1860 William Guthrie had moved his family to Clinch County, where in 1862 he joined the Clinch Volunteers, Company G, 50th Georgia Infantry Regiment.  His brother, Samuel Guthrie, joined the 54th Georgia Regiment.

In the fall of 1862, the 50th Georgia Regiment suffered horrific casualties in the Maryland Campaign.  William Guthrie was killed September 14, 1862 at South Mountain near Boonesboro, Maryland. That was the day on which the 50th Georgia Infantry Regiment, and the rest of Drayton’s Brigade, was slaughtered at Fox’s Gap in the Battle of South Mountain.  The 50th GA Regiment suffered a casualty rate of 86% that bloody day, with 194 killed or wounded out of an effective force of about 225 men.  In Company I, the Berrien Light Infantry,  Mathew Hendley and Elisha B. Herring were among those killed; Richard P. Connell was mortally wounded; William Hartley and James H. Tison were missing in action; Lewis Marshall and Lemuel Gaskins were wounded and captured;  Randall McMillan was wounded.

By 3:00PM  Drayton’s Brigade arrived on the field. Drayton had initially deployed his brigade in an inverted L-shaped formation at the gap. The 550 men in his two South Carolina units were in the Old Sharpsburg Road facing south and the 750 soldiers in the three Georgia units were posted facing east at a stone wall overlooking a deep ravine some 200 yards east of the Wood Road. At 4:00PM Col. Drayton ordered his three veteran regiments to attack the Federals to the south. His two new regiments, the 50th and 51st Georgia, moved into the sunken road, also facing south to offer support. What Drayton did not know was that Orlando Willcox’s 3,600 man IX Corps division had arrived on the field and was massed ready to launch an attack just beyond the forest to the left front. The Federals charged northwest into the woods and pushed the Phillips Legion out of the woods into Wise’s field. Willcox’s Federals quickly reached the edge of the woods facing the 50th Georgia in the Old Sharpsburg Road. The 30th Ohio of Cox’s division had also charged forward south of Wise’s field and, in conjunction with Willcox’s troops now at the eastern edge of Wise’s field, forced the 3rd SC Battalion to spin 90 degrees and drop into the “protection” of the Ridge Road. To the east the 800 man 17th Michigan regiment of Willcox’s division, which had been sent by Willcox to get behind the Confederate’s left (eastern) flank, had moved into the field behind the Georgians. Having gained the rear of the enemy, the 17th Michigan changed their front facing south and charged the Georgians, stopping about 20 yards from the road and began to fire into the Confederates in the road. Most of the 350 casualties suffered by the two Georgia regiments occurred in the road in front of you, in a span of time lasting less than five minutes. The Federals had now almost surrounded Drayton’s men. The 45th Pennsylvania and the 46th New York were pouring in volleys from the east side of Wise’s field. The 30th Ohio was firing from the south end of the field and other elements of Cox’s division were working through the woods to the west. Meanwhile the 17th Michigan had moved around behind the Confederate left (eastern) flank and was charging up the fields north of the Old Sharpsburg Road. By 5:00Pm the last of Drayton’s Brigade was driven from the field. The entire brigade suffered a staggering 51% loss. –

Old Sharpsburg Road, South Mountain, Maryland, GA

Old Sharpsburg Road, South Mountain, Maryland, GA

As terrible as the Confederate losses were at South Mountain, they were just a “bloody prelude” to the battle fought three days later at Antietam, September 17, 1862.  The remnants of the 50th Georgia Regiment experienced that day from the vantage point of the Lower Bridge over Antietam Creek, afterwards known as “Burnside’s Bridge.”

Antietam bridge, looking across stream. Sept. 1862. Gardner, Alexander, 1821-1882, photographer.

Antietam bridge, looking across stream. Sept. 1862. Afterwards known as Burnside’s Bridge. Gardner, Alexander, 1821-1882, photographer.

On the morning of September 17, 1862, this bridge was defended by the 2nd and 20th Georgia of Toombs’ Brigade and the 50th Georgia of Drayton’s Brigade. The 20th Georgia was on the high wooded bluff immediately opposite this end of the bridge; and the 2nd and 50th Georgia in open order, supported by one Company of Jenkins’ S.C. Brigade, continued the line to Snavely’s Ford. One Company of the 20th Georgia was was on the narrow wooded strip north of this point between the creek and the Sharpsburg Road. Richardson’s Battery of the Washington Artillery was posted on the high ground about 500 yards northwest and Eubank’s (Va.) Battery on the bluff north of and overlooking the bridge. The Artillery on Cemetery Hill commanded the bridge and the road to Sharpsburg.

At 9 A.M. Crooks Brigade of the Ninth Corps, moving from the ridge northeast of the bridge, attempted to cross it but failed. Soon after, the 2nd Maryland and 6th New Hampshire, of Nagle’s Brigade, charging by the road from the south were repulsed. At 1 P.M. the bridge was carried by an assault of Ferrero’s Brigade and the defenders, after a vain effort to check Rodman’s Division, moving by Snavely’s Ford on their right flank, fell back to the Antietam Furnace Road and reformed on the outskirts of the town of Sharpsburg.

Antietam, Md. Confederate Dead by a Fence on the Hagerstown Road, Antietam, Maryland,
Alexander Gardner, photographer,
September 1862.

Antietam, Md. Confederate Dead by a Fence on the Hagerstown Road, Antietam, Maryland

According to the National Park Service, Antietam was the bloodiest one day battle in American history: 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing after twelve hours of savage combat on September 17, 1862. The Battle of Antietam ended the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia’s first invasion into the North and led to Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. =