Levi J. Knight and Lowndes First Superior Court.

Levi J. Knight, the earliest wiregrass pioneer to make his home on Beaverdam Creek at the site of present day Ray City, GA was among the prominent men of early Lowndes County (later, Berrien County.) When the first Superior Court in Lowndes County was convened in 1825 at Sion Hall’s Inn on the Coffee Road, Levi J. Knight served as foreman of the Grand Jury.  L. J. Knight’s father, William A. Knight was also present for the court session, which was a social event as much as a judicial one.  An 1888 article in the Valdosta Times reflected upon that first court session, Judge Thaddeus G. Holt presiding:

The Valdosta Times
Valdosta, GA
Oct. 13, 1888
The First Superior Court.

…I now turn the leaves of time back nearly seventy years to the time when Jackson having purchased Irwin and Early counties of the Creek Indians the people east of the Ocmulgee river began to cross over and settle the vast region of wilderness now known as the wiregrass.
    West of the Alapaha the first white settler was Joe Bryant in the fork of Ocapilco and Mule Creek.
    The first house built in Lowndes was by James Roundtree, and on the lands now owned by West and James Roundtree in the northwest corner of the county [Lowndes].  Here was born in 1823 Irwin Belote, who is in fact the oldest inhabitant, save uncle Mose Lucas, who came here a grown man and is over 100 years old.  Ah, met Irwin has had a time of it, but in his time a country that was well supplied with Indians, bears, panthers, wolves and other unfriendly neighbors, has been populated and made to produce support for many thousand people.
    Of course our forefathers were rough, but like Gen. Taylor were also ready in good deeds.  Pardon me kind reader if in recording some scene of the twenties or thirties you recognize a venerated ancestor, they were honest, brave men, but saw some fun when whiskey, that would put to shame our $2.00 cost, could be bought at three and four bits a gallon.
    I believe Holt was judge, I know Levi J. Knight was foreman of the grand jury, and Sion Hall’s house, now in Brooks county near Morven was the place of our first superior court.
    The men of Lowndes were gathered from the Alapaha to Mule Creek, from the village of LeConte to the Florida line, as much to see, hear, get acquainted, drink whiskey and swap horses as any thing else.
    And Father Knight was there the first minister in the county, and John C. Underwood was there.  They said I favored him when a boy, of whom more hereafter.
    Uncle John and Uncle Isben and Jack Sweat and Elze Lellman — well why enumerate.
    There were idle brains and the devil rolled up his sleeves and entered his shop as the peeped through tumbler bottoms.  After the half pints had vanished some of the old men could see their youthful days again and began to act.
    “Boys lets have a foot race,” said Hall as the crowd began to brag–old men of “when-I-was-young,” and young men of the present, “Why, uncle Green, Jack can beat you now, and give you ten steps the start for a quart!”  “Bet a quart he can’t”, came from the crowd.  Judges were selected, also a track, and as they ran Jack who was sober tripped uncle Green who was “stimulated” and sprained arm and no doctor the consequence.
    Uncle Green was carried into the dwelling of Mr. Hall.  Near the fire place the court was in session.  At the farther end of the room were two beds on one of which lay uncle Green.  “Father Knight, I’m ruined, I’m eternally ruined!” wailed uncle Green.  “Hush Green, hush!” said uncle John, who had also seen through the glass.  “Durn you, you’ll disturb the court!”
    The judge, convulsed with laughter, adjourned in honor of the occasion.  Men were men in those days.

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