Judge Hansell: Distinguished Man of Georgia

Augustin Harris Hansell, Judge on the Southern Circuit of Georgia from the 1850s to 1902, tried many cases in the Superior Court of Berrien County.

Augustin Harris Hansell, Judge on the Southern Circuit of Georgia from the 1850s to 1902, tried many cases in the Superior Court of Berrien County.

As a young attorney Augustin H. Hansell put up a sensational murder defense for Jim Hightower (aka James Stewart); as Solicitor General he won an equally sensational murder conviction against Jonathan Studstill, which was later pardoned by the state legislature. From 1858 to 1902, Judge Hansell sat on the bench for the Southern Circuit of the Superior Court.  He presided over the trials of  some of Ray City’s early settlers in the Superior Court of Berrien County.  One sensational case was the 1899 trial of James T. Biggles, who shot down Madison Pearson on the front porch Henry H. Knight’s mercantile store at Ray’s Mill, GA.  He was a representative of Thomas County, GA at the Georgia Secession Convention of 1861, and signed the Georgia Ordinance of Secession along with: John Carroll Lamb, of Berrien County, who would later serve as a captain of the Berrien Minute Men and a major of the 29th Georgia Regiment; and Colonel Carey W. Styles of Ware County, who commanded Captain Levi J. Knight’s company of Berrien Minutemen while they served with the 13th Georgia Regiment at Brunswick, GA.

 The Atlanta Constitution printed a short biography of Judge Hansell in 1896 :

 The Atlanta Constitution
March 2, 1896  Pg 8 JUDGE HANSELL.Sketch of One of Georgia’s Most Distinguished Men.

PUBLIC OFFICES HELD BY HIM

And Which He Has Filled to the Satisfaction of His People – Sketch of the Judge.

    The desire for information touching the personal history of those distinguished men who have become renowned in science, in arts, in letters, in statesmanship and in the attainments of those beneficial victories of peace no less renowned than those of war, has always been so general among our people that it may be said to be natural.
    We have such distinguished personages as these all over Georgia – men who have been in the public service for years with their harness still entwined tightly around them, dispensing justice or looking after the welfare of our beloved state. And one of these is Hon. Augustin H. Hansell, the patriarch judge of the southern circuit of Georgia.
    With only one year lacking, a half century has this good man occupied a seat in the judicial chair of his native state.  His is one of the grandest characters in all Georgia – grand in all the emolumental features that go to make up the man – grand in the mighty elements of characteristic truth, justice, and moderation; grand in the noble attributes of both public and private life, and grand in the pure, simple faith of Christian duty.
    With a mind loaded with the fruits of many years of arduous study and mental toil, and with a heart as tender as a woman’s and as big as Stone mountain, he wields the gavel of justice over the people like a loving father over a numerous household, as strict and stern to the deliberate transgressor as he is kind and lenient to the tear-eyed repentant.  What a strong argument his life would make in favor of electing judges for lifetime on good behavior.
    I was frequently thrown in contact with Judge Hansell during my stay in Thomasville this summer and obtaining from him a sketch of his life, which no doubt will be of interest to the people of Georgia and serve as a good moral lesson to the young generation now advancing.
    Augustin H. Hansell was born in Milledgeville, Ga., the 26th of August, 1817.
His father was William Y. Hansell, for a long time a prominent lawyer of that city and afterwards residing in Marietta. His mother was a daughter of Captain Augustin Harris and a sister of Judge Iverson L. Harris. of Milledgeville.  Judge Hansell was educated in the academies of that day.In 1836 he was one of the volunteer cavalry company from Baldwin county in the Creek war and while in the field was appointed military secretary by General J. W. S. Sanford, commanding the Georgia troops.  In 1838 he was appointed by Governor Gilmer as his military secretary under a special act of the legislature and at the expiration of that term he was appointed auditor of military claims against the state.  He afterwards studied to the bar at Macon under Judge S. M. D. King in May, 1839.  In  November of that year he located in Hawkinsville and devoted himself to his profession.   In May, 1840, he was married to Miss M. S. Paine, daughter of Dr. C. J. Paine, of Milledgeville, by Rev. John W. Baker, then pastor of the Presbyterian church there, but now residing in Marietta.  It was a veritable love match and as the years went by the bond of protection and loyalty, of care and fidelity, of mutual love and tenderness cemented these two hearts in a love that was unalterable.  Together they have lived for more than fifty-five years without a harsh or unkind word having passed between them and with a family of children who have been devoted to their parents and added greatly to the happiness of the peaceful, quiet old home.  Judge and Mrs. Hansell had a large reception of their friends at their golden wedding in 1890.
    In 1843 Judge Hansell was elected to and served one term as representative of Pulaski county in the legislature and in 1847 was elected solicitor general for the southern circuit, then extending from Laurens and Twiggs counties to the Florida line, covering an immense territory and commanding a travel by private conveyance of at least 2,000 miles every year to attend the various courts.
    Judge Hansell was a member of the Whig party, but devoted himself mainly to his profession and was never an offensive partisan, and in 1849, with a democratic majority in both branches of the legislature, he had so many warm personal friends of that party in the assembly that he was elected judge of the southern circuit by a handsome majority.  In the spring of 1850 he removed his family to Scottsboro, where they remained until November, 1852, when he resigned the judgeship and removed to Thomasville, his present home, and resumed the practice of law in partnership with  Hon. James L. Seward.
     In 1859 Judge Lane, who had succeeded him on the bench, was elected to congress and Judge Hansell was appointed to the bench by Governor Joseph E. Brown and elected by the people in January, 1860.  He continued on the bench and had been re-elected by the people in 1868, but on the reconstruction was voted off.  Soon afterwards he was nominated for congress by the democrats of the first district and accepted and made a short canvass of the district, but the election was postponed until the next year, and having fully resumed the practice of law, he declined being a candidate and continued to give his attention to the practice until the democrats gained control of the state government and in 1870 he was appointed judge by Governor James M. Smith and has been continued in office until this time and was re-elected by the last legislature for another term of four years and  is now under his eleventh commission as judge of the southern circuit.
    Judge Hansell was a member of the convention of 1861 when the state seceded, and was also a member of the constitutional convention of 1877.
    Judge Hansell, though always open and firm in his politics, has never been what is called an active politician, and as the greater part of his active life has been on the bench, he has been careful to avoid being offensive.  He has thus been fortunate in acquiring and retaining that confidence which is so important to a judge.  In all of his elections he has had no opposition since 1849, and has always been engaged holding his courts at such times without having to come to Atlanta to take part in the scrambles for office.
Judge and Mrs. Hansell were blessed with five  children, all of whom are now living.  Captain Charles P. Hansell, of Thomasville, well known in Georgia, is their only son, and their married daughters are Mrs. B. L. Baker, wife of the pastor of the Presbyterian church at Monticello, Fla.; Mrs. James S. Denham, wife of Hon. J. S. Denham, who has been mayor of that town for a good number of years, and a prominent merchant and business man, and Mrs. James Watt, wife of Mr. James Watt, a most successful hardware merchant of Thomasville, a native of Edinburgh, Scotland.  Only their youngest daughter, Miss Sallie, remains with “the old folks at home.”

     Judge Hansell’s manners are a singular union of artless simplicity, polished elegance and dignity; his conversation always breathes a pure and gentle spirit, while it is animated, judicious and instructive.  In his intercourse with the world he is never offensive, never sycophantic, equally opposed both to that confident self-esteem, which justly gives offense, and that cringing suppleness, which as justly loses respect.  He   has  a keen and intuitive perception of fact and character.  His principles of conduct are those of punctilious honor, refined and guarded by moral and religious sentiment.  He possesses strict and scrupulous integrity,  enthusiastic warmth and bravery of spirit, and that moral and civic courage which is most uncommon, most difficult of attainments, and most valuable and commanding of all the qualities which dignify and adorn the man and the citizen and without which the public official is a curse.
    His character, as exhibited in private life, is most attractive.  He is an attentive and affectionate father, husband and friend, indulgent to the faults of others, sincere, generous and affable.  He is a zealous and faithful Christian.  Religion is the child of his judgment, not the creation of his passion.  With the sublime system of revelation resting in his thoughts, the Christian law hangs like a tablet upon his breast, and duty ever points her finger to the scriptural commands graven there to serve him as a model for practice.
    He is now nearing the end of a long and useful career, being only a few  years of four score; and as he lives, so will he die, giving lessons and examples of good to his latest breath – the same composed, thoughtful, cheerful and peerless man when treading on the brink of time, as when careering  midway on his pilgrimage, elate with hope and scattering seeds of good along his pathway.
   May God bless him and preserve him for many more years of usefulness to his people.    – MILLARD GEORGE.

Biggles case was tried by Judge Hansell

The Biggles murder trial of 1899 concerned a family feud at Rays Mill, Georgia in which J.T. Biggles gunned down Madison Pearson on the porch of Henry Harrison Knight’s store. (See 1887 Family Feud at Ray’s Mill, More on the 1887 Family Feud at Rays Mill, GA, Beagles/Biggles/Beigles of Rays Mill, The Biggles Farm.) Judge Hansell, who for fifty years served on the Southern Circuit of the Superior Court, presided at the trial.

Judge Augustin H. Hansell, Southern Circuit, tried many cases in Berrien County, GA.

Judge Augustin H. Hansell, Southern Circuit, tried many cases in Berrien County, GA.

The Atlanta Constitution
October 16, 1899 Pg 3

FIFTY YEARS ON THE BENCH
Judge Hansell’s Remarks to the Grand Jury of Berrien County.
    Tifton, Ga., October 15. – (Special.) – Berrien superior court, after four days’ session, adjourned Thursday evening.  The entire session of the court was devoted to criminal business, no civil cases being called for trial.
  The most important case was that against Thomas J. Beagles, who killed his brother-in-law, Madison G. Pearson, at Ray’s Mill, this county [Berrien], November 4, 1887, or twelve years ago.
    Beagles had married Pearson’s sister and out of this a bitter enmity grew up between him and his brother-in-law.  Pearson had threatened Beagle’s life and a day or so previous to the shooting had gone to his house and cursed his wife and children.
    Beagles swore out a peace warrant for Pearson, and he was carried to justice court at Ray’s Mill for trial. On the court ground the difficulty arose again, and Pearson, the man under arrest challenged Beagles for a fight, and started out the door, pulling of his coat as he went.  Beagles was standing near the door and as Pearson came out unarmed, drew a pistol and shot him through the head.  The ball entered just in front of the right ear, and produced instant death.
    Beagles left the country and was gone three years, but came back and was arrested and placed under bond. Two months ago he was given up by his bondsmen and placed in jail.
The trial of the case consumed a day and a half.  The state was represented by Solicitor General Thomas and Colonel W. H. Griffin, of Valdosta,  and the defense by Colonels Joseph A. Alexander and W. M. Hammond.  Every inch of the ground was well fought and the arguments of Colonels Hammond and Griffin, covering six hours eloquent and masterly.  The jury remained out seven hours, returning a verdict of manslaughter with a recommendation to mercy.  Colonel Griffin made a touching and eloquent plea for a light sentence and Judge Hansel gave Beagles two years in the penitentiary.
Jim Oscar Sterns, colored, who killed another negro with a coupling pin in Tifton a few weeks ago, was sentenced to the penitentiary for life.
North Cochran, colored, who committed highway robbery, taking $41 from another negro, was given six years in the penitentiary.
Warren Moss, colored, who burglarized the store of C. G. Gray, at Lenox, was given five years.
John Davis, colored, who burglarized the store of J. L. Ford, in Tifton, was given five years.
There were a number of sentences to the chaingang for smaller offenses, all the parties being negroes.
The grand jury recommended the building of a new jail for the county.
In thanking the grand jury for an exceedingly complimentary reference to himself, Judge Hansell stated that next month would be the fiftieth anniversary of his donning the judicial ermine, and the fifty years had been spent on the bench in south Georgia.

Home of Judge Augustin H. Hansell circa 1884, Thomasville, GA. On porch, Mrs. Hansel and Judge Hansell; sitting on top step, Miss Sallie Hansell; on bottom step, Jim Jarrett; at foot of steps, Nannie Boles; standing in yard, left to right, Mrs. James Watt, William A Watt, Hansel Watt, Mr. James Watt.

Home of Judge Augustin H. Hansell circa 1884, Thomasville, GA. On porch, Mrs. Hansel and Judge Hansell; sitting on top step, Miss Sallie Hansell; on bottom step, Jim Jarrett; at foot of steps, Nannie Boles; standing in yard, left to right, Mrs. James Watt, William A Watt, Hansel Watt, Mr. James Watt.

In A HISTORY OF SAVANNAH AND SOUTH GEORGIA, (p. 872-874) author William Harden  wrote a brief sketch on the life of Judge Hansell:

Augustin Harris Hansell, father of Charles P., was born at Milledgeville, August 17, 1817, and being reared in one of the prosperous homes of Georgia, was given excellent advantages. Prof. Carlisle Beaman was one of his tutors in general subjects, and he studied law under R. K. Hines and Iverson L. Harris. After admission to the bar he began practice at Milledgeville, and for a time served as private secretary for Governor Gilmer. In 1847 he was elected solicitor general, and two years later judge of the southern circuit, then embracing the greater part of south Georgia. Railroads had not yet penetrated to this region, and he journeyed from court to court in his private carriage. He resigned as judge in 1853 but was again elected to the same office in 1859. For some years, until 1850, he was a resident of Hawkinsville, then in Scottsboro two years, and in 1852 came to Thomasville, being one of the most prominent among the early settlers of this locality. During the war he served on the relief committee, and in 1864 spent three months distributing supplies to the soldiers around Atlanta and Marietta. In 1868 he left the bench, resuming private practice for four years, but in 1872 was again appointed judge of the southern circuit and continued in this office until 1903. For more than forty years he honored the bench with his character and ability, and his is one of the foremost names in the Georgia judiciary during the last half of the nineteenth century. On retiring from the bench he lived retired until his death in 1907.

Judge Hansell married Miss Mary Ann Baillie Paine, who was born in Milledgeville. Her father was Charles J. Paine, a native of Petersburg, Virginia, and a physician. … Judge Hansell’s wife died in 1906, and her five children were as follows: Susan V., Charles Paine, Mary H., Frances B., and Sally H.

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Pennywell Folsom Fell at Brushy Creek

Penuel Folsom, the first soldier killed in the Battle of Brushy Creek, was buried in what is now known as the Rountree Cemetery, his being the first grave in it. – Lucian Lamar Knight

Grave marker of Pennywell Folsom, Roundtree cemetery (aka Evergreen Cemetery), Cook County, GA

Grave marker of Pennywell Folsom, Rountree Cemetery (aka Evergreen Cemetery), Cook County, GA

Pennywell Folsom fell in the first volley fired in the Battle of Brushy Creek, fought in July, 1836. After the fighting was over, Captain Hamilton Sharpe carried Folsom from the battlefield on horseback, but the mortally wounded soldier could not long survive. Folsom was carried back to the fort at the Rachel Morrison place (now the property of the Rountree family) near the Little River, where he was buried in a lone grave. Sharpe’s Company fired a volley of gunfire over the grave in salute to their fallen comrade. As that final tribute sounded through the forest, Captain Levi J. Knight and his company of men arrived on the scene. (Levi J. Knight was the original settler on the site of present day Ray City, GA.) Knight’s company had marched 30 miles from the Alapaha River where they had skirmished with Indians at the homeplace of William Parker (see Short-Arm Bill Parker and the Last Indian Fight In Berrien County, and Levi J. Knight Reports Indian Fight of July 13, 1836.)

Fifty years after the event, Montgomery M. Folsom reflected on the death of his kinsman:

The Atlanta Constitution
June 24, 1885 Pg 2

Down the River

The Folsom bridge, a noted crossing place, spans the [Little] river here. In the olden time a party of road cutters under the command of General Coffee passed through south Georgia from east to west. At this point they crossed the river. If you were to ask the old settlers they would show you the blazes on the pine trees that were made long ago. This road was a great thoroughfare and many a hardy settler has packed his traps in a cart drawn by a tough pony, and driving his flocks and herds before him has traversed the lonely pine barrens in search of a more generous soil and greener pastures. The hunters of Coffee’s party were Isham Jordan and Kenneth Swain. The song that was made by the hardy pioneers has been given to posterity as follows:

“Yonder comes ole Isham Jordan,
That ole ‘onest huntin’ man.
Glorious tidin’s he doth bring,
Swain has kilt another turkey hent.

We’ll allow the New Convention;
We’ll all allow the rights of men;
We’ll allay the Injun nation;
The volunteers and the drafted men.”

About a mile and a half from the bridge, eastward, the ancestor of the Folsom’s settled. It had been a populous Indian town, and there are in existence to day, a tomahawk, a sofka pestle, a small cannon ball, and innumerable arrow-heads and skinning knifes of flint that were found there. The old gentleman had erected a strong block house, and when there was an alarm of Indians, the women and children were carried there, and the old men and boys left to defend them while the ablebodied once sallied forth to meet the foe. From this fort they marched forth to the bloody encounter at Brushy creek. The Indians had been goaded to madness. They were concealed in the dark swamp, and awaited in silence the approach of the whites. Penuel Folsom had made his will before leaving home, and when the soldiers were all drawn up at a safe distance from the enemy, and the scouts were cautiously advancing, he and Orville Shanks dashed forward with a yell and received the fire of a dozen unerring rifles. Shanks fell dead, and Folsom desperately wounded, was carried from the field, after the battle was over, behind Captain Sharpe who rode a powerful horse. When they halted he was laid down on the green grass and breathed his last. Some years ago I visited his grave in a lonely spot in the heart of one of the gloomiest forests of Berrien county. – Montgomery M. Folsom

There is a more detailed account of the Battle of Brushy Creek given at the Early History of Lowndes County and Valdosta , Georgia website:

Levi J. Knight described the fight to the governor, who later commended Knight and his comrades for their bravery. Knight wrote that both Enoch Hall and Hamilton Sharpe were in charge of companies of militia. In the course of tracking the Indians through Lowndes, fifteen men commanded by Captain Sharpe formed a battalion with thirty-one men from Thomas County after they discovered Indians in the fork of the Little River and Big Warrior Creek. Following the trail for three miles down the east side of the river, Sharpe and his soldiers encountered about sixty warriors and their families. In the ensuing fight, Captain Sharpe lost one man, Mr. P. Folsom, and one wounded, when he was forced to retreat. Reinforced by the remainder of the battalion, the Lowndes men pursued the Indians for another three miles and found them on a pine ridge, their rear protected by a cypress pond, and in their front a wide, open, boggy meadow. A general engagement commended about 9 o’clock a. m. and after a severe fight for two hours, the Indians were completely routed, with a loss of twenty-two Indians and two Negroes killed, that were seen, and many wounded. Of the militia, Bartow Ferrell of Thomas County and Edwin D. Shanks of Lowndes County were killed and nine wounded.

Norman Campbell, John McDermott, Robert N. Parrish, Pennywell Folsom, Ashley Lawson, Edwin D. Shanks, West Roundtree and others were among those going to the battle from around Troupville.

Knight’s Company and other militia units would continue to pursue the Indians across Berrien county. A few weeks later, the militia caught up with an Indian band in southeast Berrien county at a place called Cow Creek.

THE ROUNTREE CEMETERY

Pennywell Folsom no longer lies alone in deep Georgia woods. Around his grave, the Rountrees placed their own dead, until this burying ground became known as the Rountree Cemetery. This cemetery is located in present day Cook county , on Evergreen Church Road (CR 99), near the intersection with Rountree Bridge Road (CR 251) (see map). Around 1945, the present Evergreen Church was constructed adjacent to Rountree Cemetery, the original church building located on Rountree Bridge Road having been destroyed by fire.

Notes on Pennywell Folsom:
Pennywell Folsom was born in 1810 in Hawkinsville, GA. He was a son of Edith Pennywell and George Folsom. His father served during the War of 1812 in the Georgia Militia under Captain Allen Tooke builing forts on the frontier of Pulaski County to defend against Indian attacks.

When Pennywell was about 10 years old, around 1819, his father died. Pennywell became a ward of his uncle William Folsom and moved to Lowndes County (then Irwin County.)

According to Internet histories, Pennywell Folsom married Mary Ann McLeod about 1827. Their children were:

  1. Anna Jane Folsom 1828 – 1830
  2. Chloe Ann Folsom 1830 – 1906
  3. Bryant P. Folsom 1832 – 1864
  4. Anna America Folsom 1833 – 1912
  5. Edieth Folsom 1833 – 1907
  6. Emily Folsom 1835 – 1908

Captain Hamilton Sharpe, who led the Lowndes militia at the Battle of Brushy Creek, served as the administrator of Pennywell Folsom’s estate:

Captain Hamilton Sharpe administered the estate of Pennywell Folsom, killed under Sharpe's command at the Battle of Brushy Creek, July 1836.

Captain Hamilton Sharpe administered the estate of Pennywell Folsom, killed under Sharpe’s command at the Battle of Brushy Creek, July 1836.

Southern Recorder
August 23, 1836

Georgia, Lowndes County

Whereas Hamilton W. Sharpe applies to me for letters of administration, on the estate of Pennywell Folsom late of said county, deceased:
These are therefore to cite and admonish all and singular the kindred and creditors of said deceased, to be and appear at my office within the time prescribed by law, to shew cause (if any they have,) why said letters of administration should not be granted.
Given under my hand, at office, this 1st day of August, 1836.

WILLIAM SMITH, Cl’k c.c.
August 16 31 5t

Norman Campbell Collected Taxes, Fought Indians

Norman Campbell, Wiregrass Pioneer, participated in the 1836 Battle of Brushy Creek, near present day Adel, GA.

Norman Campbell, Wiregrass Pioneer, participated in the 1836 Battle of Brushy Creek, near present day Adel, GA.

Norman Campbell was a Wiregrass Pioneer who came to south Georgia with his family in 1829.  His parents,  Alexander Campbell and Flora Morrison Campbell, had come to America from the Isle of Skye, Scotland in 1788, the same year the U. S. Constitution went into effect.

Norman Campbell was an early tax collector of Lowndes County, back when it included the present day counties of Berrien, Clinch, Lanier, Echols, Cook, and Brooks.  Three times a year he made a circuit around the county, an eleven days ride, to collect the taxes.

At age 26, Campbell was among the troops who fought in the 1836 Battle of Brushy Creek, described as one of the last real Indian fight in the immediate vicinity. Some 65 years later,  the Atlanta Constitution recounted Campbell’s role in the episode:

He also participated in the Indian fight here in July, 1836, when the Creek Indians passed through here in their attempt to reach the Seminoles in Florida. He tells of his encounter with were an Indian in that fight. It was a running skirmish through the woods and he became detached from his party. Suddenly his horse shied and he discovered an Indian behind a tree. The Indian attempted to shoot him, but the gun only snapped. Dismounting, he approached the Indian, slowly raising his gun to his shoulder. He said if the Indian had begged for his life he intended to spare him, but the man stood quite still, clinched [sic] his teeth and looked him in the eyes with no sign of surrender, so he shot him.

Norman Campbell came to the area about 1829 and first made his home in the area of Troupville, GA.  He owned all of land lots #221 and #240,  each consisting of 490 acres. That land was sold at auction to satisfy a debt in 1848:

Albany Patriot
July 15, 1848 pg 4

Lowndes Sheriff’s Sale.

On the first Tuesday in August next. Will be sold before the Court House door in the town of Troupville, Lowndes county, between the usual hours of sale, the following property to wit:
Also, 980 acres of land drawn by lots Nos. two hundred and twenty-one, (221,) two hundred and forty, (240,) all in the twelfth district, of originally Irwin now Lowndes county, levied on as the property of Norman Campbell to satisfy a fi fa from Lowndes Inferior Court, the Central Bank of Georgia vs Mary Graham maker, Dugald B. Graham, Norman Campbell and Moses Smith, adm’r., on the estatd [sic] of Ebenezer J. Perkins, Endorser.

A brief 1896 account of the  early pioneers of Morven, GA  remarked upon Norman Campbell’s early days in the county:

The Atlanta Constitution
May 25, 1896 Pg 3

GEORGIA  PIONEERS: Morven Has a Number of Them in Her Borders

Morven, Ga., May 24. –(Special.)– There are some very old people in this district, among them being Mr. Norman Campbell, who came to this county in 1829. He was then a young man. Mr. Campbell is a full-blooded Scotchman. In 1846 he ran a wagon from Morven, then Sharp’s store to Magnolia, what was then a seaport town near the mouth of St. Marks river on the coast below Tallahassee, Fla.  He hauled cotton down there and brought salt back.  Cotton brought 3 to 4 cents per pound and salt brought in this county from $3 to $7 a sack, yet the people made some money and were contented.  In this section are several other old men. Mr. George Mitchell is about eighty-six and so is John Delk.  Mr. Mitchell came from Robeson county, North Carolina, and Mr. Delk from Liberty county, Georgia.  Messrs. Campbell, Mitchell and Delk are the three oldest men in that section – all over eighty-five years old. Not very far behind these in age are Phillip Hiers, Rev. John Hendry and Richard Scruggs.  Mr. George Mitchell gave Morven its name.

The 1902 article from the Atlanta Constitution gave a more complete account of Campbell’s life:

The Atlanta Constitution
October 13, 1902  Pg 3

PATRIARCH OF BROOKS MARRIED AT 63, NOW 92

Quitman, Ga., October 12. –(Special Correspondence.)– There are perhaps few more interesting characters in Brooks county than Norman Campbell.  As the name indicates, he is of Scotch descent.  His father and mother came to North America from the Isle of Skye in 1788, when they were children.  He remembers that his grandmother  could not speak a word of English and his parents invariably spoke Scotch with each other and their children spoke Scotch, Mr. Campbell not learning English until he was 8 years old.  The Campbells came here in pioneer days from Telfair county.  Mr. Campbell, who was born in 1910, is now 92 years old and has spent most of his life here and knows much of the early history of the country, and has played a part in all of it. He has now come down to a serene old age, as his picture shows.
    These latter years he spends all of his time, winter and summer, when the weather is dry, under a giant chinaberry tree in front of his house.
    It was here your correspondent found him one sunny afternoon recently in the very attitude of the picture.  Mr. Campbell has lived in this house seventy-two years.
    He was the only son of the family and he had seven sisters.  He did not marry, and after his parents’ death took care of his sisters until they married and left him.  Two of them died and he took their children and reared them.  In time these nieces and nephews also grew up and left him, and at the age of 63 he found himself quite alone, so he decided to marry.
    After three visits to Miss Wilkes, a young woman of 30 years, who lived in Berrien county, he asked her to marry him, and she did.  When they got home they found a long table erected in front of the house with a wedding dinner on it, and everybody in the neighborhood present to welcome them.  The couple had three children, and now there are three little grandchildren, all of them remarkably beautiful babies.
    Naturally Mr. Campbell has a store of reminiscences.  He was the first tax collector of the county when it included all of the present Brooks, Berrien , Lowndes, Clinch and Echols counties.  This was in 1836, and the taxes amounted to $332.  He also participated in the Indian fight here in July, 1836, when the Creek Indians passed through here in their attempt to join the Seminoles in Florida.  He tells of an encounter with an Indian in that fight. It was a running skirmish through the woods and he became detached from his party. Suddenly his horse shied and he discovered an Indian behind a tree. The Indian attempted to shoot him, but the gun only snapped. Dismounting, he approached the Indian, slowly raising his gun to his shoulder. He said if the Indian had begged for his life he intended to spare him, but the man stood quite still, clinched his teeth and looked him in the eyes with no sign of surrender, so he shot him.  At that time this country, now so populous and cultivated, was virgin forests ans was overrun with bears and deer, ans well as Indians.  In his hardy, outdoor life, Mr. Campbell contracted rheumatism when a very young man, and could not stand erect for several years.  He heard of a doctor who gave steam baths for rheumatism, but being unable to go to him, he treated himself.  He dug a pit and burned oak and hickory wood to coals –  as for a barbecue.  Over the pit he laid stout green poles and covered them with every herb he had ever heard of as possessing curative properties.  Stripped of clothing, he wrapped himself in a heavy blanket and laid down on this, which, of course, induced heavy perspiration.  After six or seven treatments he was practically cured, and has never been so badly afflicted with it since.
  Long before the war Mount Zion campground, near the Campbell home, was known throughout south Georgia as a rallying place for the religious, and it was in 1827 that the Campbells assisted in organizing the first camp meeting held there.  The old patriarch recalled the past very vividly as he talked.  He is still in good health and attributes it to his continued outdoor life, even when activity is forbidden him.  The thing most impressive about him is his entire serenity, the natural outcome of a well-spent and well-rounded life.

Norman Campbell died on Monday, April 9, 1906. He was buried at the Zion Camp Ground, near Morven, GA.  His obituary ran in the Tuesday April 10 edition of the Valdosta Times, repeated in the Saturday edition:

The Valdosta Times
April 14, 1906 Pg 3

A PIONEER CITIZEN DEAD.

Uncle Norman Campbell Died Yesterday Near Morven.

(From Tuesday’s Daily.)
     News has been received here of the death of Mr. Norman Campbell at his home near Morven yesterday after an illness of several weeks. Mr. Campbell was the oldest man in the county, being 96 years old and was prominent in the history of the county from the days of the earliest settlers. He was of Scotch descent and was a man of wonderfully fine character.  No man ever lived in the county who was more generally beloved and esteemed and in his late years he has been surrounded by the tender care and veneration of friends and family. He retained his strength and faculties to a remarkable degree almost to the end of his long life.
     Mr. Campbell is survived by three children, Mrs. Robert Ousley, Alex Campbell and Norman Campbell Jr, all of Morven.
The funeral and internment will take place today at three o’clock at the old Camp ground cemetery near Morven. Mr. Campbell was a devoted member of the Methodist church and a prominent Mason. – Quitman Free Press.

Interview With an Indian Fighter

Norman Campbell, Wiregrass Pioneer, participated in the 1836 Battle of Brushy Creek, near present day Adel, GA.

Norman Campbell, Wiregrass Pioneer, participated in the 1836 Battle of Brushy Creek, near present day Adel, GA.

Norman Campbell was one of the last surviving participants in the July, 1836 Battle of Brushy Creek, widely regarded as one of the last skirmishes with Native Americans in Berrien county. Earlier, Levi J. Knight led an action against Indians at the residence of William Parker, on the Alapaha River (see Martha Guthrie: Babe of the Indian Wars.) Following the fight at the Parker place, Knight and his troops had marched to join the engagement at Brushy Creek, near Adel, GA, but arrived only in time for the final salute fired over the graves of those settlers killed in the engagement. After weeks of pursuit, Knight and others caught a band of Indian entering the Okefenokee swamp and fought the Skirmish at Cow Creek, near Statenville, GA.

Norman Campbell gave an interview on the Battle of Brushy Creek, published in the Atlanta Constitution on September 3, 1903:

The Atlanta Constitution
September 20, 1893 Pg 4

The Quitman Free Press says that the following questions and answers interestingly describe a fight with Indians in Lowndes county, which took place over fifty years ago. Mr. Norman Campbell, who took part in this fight, and who describes it, is still living at a ripe old age at his home near Morven:
“When was the Brushy Creek fight?”
“In July, 1836.”
“Where was the fight?”
“On Brushy creek, in Lowndes (now Berrien) county.”
“What officers were in command?”
Colonel Blackshear, Captains John Pike, Newman, Tucker, and H. W. Sharpe.”
“Who was wounded of the white men?”
“Agnes McCauley, C. S. Gaulden, Daniel McLane, Malcolm McLane, Monroe, Ed Henderson, (died afterwards) and Robert Parrish.”
“Who were killed of the white men?”
“Edward Shanks, P. Folsom and Howell.”
“How many Indians were killed?”
“Twenty-two that we found and two negroes.”
“How many Indians captured?”
“Eighteen.”
“What caused the fight?”
“The Creek Indians were on their way from the west to Florida.
“We overtook the Indians at Daniel McCraney’s on the Brushy creek and attacked them. The fight was in and around a large cypress pond. One of our men, Benjamin Grantham, got to the same cypress in the pond with an Indian and fought round the tree till he killed the Indian.”

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