More on the story of Old Yaller

More on the execution of “Old Yaller”, Elbert J. Chapman, a private of the Berrien Minute Men whose widow resided in the 1144th Georgia Militia District, the Rays Mill District.

“A VICTIM OF MILITARY DISCIPLINE.”

(Ed. Note: In the January number of this magazine was published a letter written by Captain Phil Carroll, of Augusta, Ga., giving an account of how a Confederate soldier who had transferred himself from Savannah, where there was no fighting, to the Western army, where he could fight and where he did fight, was shot as a deserter by his Confederate companions-in-arms.

Considering this one of the most barbarous deeds ever committed in the name of military discipline, the incident was woven into the war-story, “Bethany.”

The publication of Capt. Carroll’s letter attracted the attention of Capt. R. T. Redding, who wrote to Maj. Cumming about it.

The Major replied, corroborating Capt. Carroll, and hands us a copy of the letter, which we are glad to publish.)

Joseph B. Cumming, 1886.  Cumming served as Adjutant General of Walkers Division, and was present when the order for the execution of Elbert J. Chapman was issued.

Joseph B. Cumming, 1886. Cumming served as Adjutant General of Walkers Division, and was present when the order for the execution of Elbert J. Chapman was issued.

January 15, 1909.

Hon. Thos. E. Watson, Thomson, Ga.

My Dear Mr. Watson: At the request of Capt. R. J. Redding, of Griffin, I send you herewith, for such use, or no use, as you choose, copy of a letter which I wrote to him a few days ago.

Very truly yours,

JOS. B. CUMMING.

January 7th, 1909.
 Capt. R. J. Redding, Griffin. Ga.

My Dear Sir: I have your letter of January 6. I have not seen the article written by Mr. M. P. Carroll to which you refer. Mr. Carroll, however, probably refers to the execution at Morton, Miss., of a deserter, not from the 46th Georgia Regiment, but from one of the Georgia Regiments of Wilson’s brigade, either the 25th or the 29th or 30th Georgia, The facts, as I remember them very distinctly, were these:

“While Walker’s Division was in bivouac at Vernon shortly before the second battle of Jackson, a Confederate Cavalry Regiment came marching by. Col. Wilson, in command of Wilson’s Brigade, was an onlooker as it passed. He recognized in the ranks of the Cavalry a deserter from his Regiment while the latter was stationed at Savannah. He made reclamation for the man on the Colonel of the Cavalry Regiment, and the man was surrendered to him. He was tried by courtmartial for desertion, his desertion having consisted in his leaving Wilson’s Infantry Regiment, then stationed on the coast of Georgia, and joining a Cavalry Regiment at the front—a “desertion” of a soldier from inactive service in the rear to fighting at the front.

There was delay in promulgating the finding of the courtmartial, produced by the active operations in the neighborhood of Big Black, and at Jackson after the fall of Vicksburg. In the meanwhile the man was kept under guard. Neither he nor any one else except the members of the court knew that he had been condemned to be shot.

Colonel Claudius C. Wilson gathered a petition from the 29th Georgia Regiment requesting that Elbert J. Chapman's life be spared.

Colonel Claudius C. Wilson gathered a petition from the 29th Georgia Regiment requesting that Elbert J. Chapman’s life be spared.

The last day of our march from Jackson to Morton, there was a terrible rain and thunder storm, so violent that the troops, particularly as night came on. became very much scattered, and under these circumstances the guard lost their prisoner. After, however, the troops had bivouacked for the night in came the prisoner and surrendered to the Lieutenant in command of the guard, remarking, “Lieutenant, you thought you had lost me.” The next day the sentence of the courtmartial was promulgated and the order sent down to the headquarters of Walker’s Division for the execution of the sentence. I was then Adjutant General of the Division and under instructions from General Walker immediately sent a copy of the order to Col. Wilson, commanding the Brigade, with instructions to make a detail from Schaaf’s battalion for the execution of the man the next morning. Col. Wilson was horrified at this denoument, and at once got up a petition signed by himself and the officers of the man’s Regiment addressed to General Johnston, asking at least commutation of the sentence. This petition was brought up to General Walker’s headquarters where it happened that General Johnston was visiting at the time. I received the petition and handed it to Major J. B. Eustis (afterwards U. S. Senator from Louisiana), one of General Johnston’s staff, and asked him to hand it at once to General Johnston. He said, “I will do so, but there is no use; General Johnston will not change the order.” He did hand it to General Johnston during the visit, but he refused to consider it, and the petition was handed back to me. I prevailed upon Major Eustis to offer it again to General Johnston after he had mounted his horse, and I can see now the rather impatient way in which General Johnston waved Major Eustis aside.

The next day the man was shot.

My admiration for General Johnston was and remains very great. I never think of this incident without great pain and deep regret as the one shadow on the picture, which I image to myself of that great man.

At the close of the war I was on General Johnston’s staff, and was fully cognizant of, and participant in, an incident which showed, after all, how in the midst of great cares he could remember a poor private soldier and save him from the execution, to which he had been sentenced, but which had become uncalled for, as the war was manifestly about to end and the necessity for stern discipline was over.

Very truly yours,

JOS. B. CUMMING.

Memorial Day Remembrance of the Service and Sacrifice of Hubert Felton Comer

Hubert Felton Comer

Hubert Felton Comer

Memorial Day Remembrance of the Service and Sacrifice of Hubert Felton Comer

In the 2007-2008 Georgia Legislative Session, The Georgia Senate passed a resolution to dedicate the Ray City bridge over Cat Creek in memorial to Hubert F. Comer:

A RESOLUTION

Dedicating certain portions of the state highway system; and for other purposes.

WHEREAS, Hubert F. Comer served in the United States Navy and was assigned to the USS Rich, a destroyer escort during the Normandy invasion in June 1944; and

WHEREAS, the USS Rich hit three German mines off the Normandy coast two days after the Normandy invasion; and

WHEREAS, Hubert F. Comer was listed among the missing, and his body was never recovered; and

WHEREAS, Hubert F. Comer was awarded the American Area Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Area Campaign Medal, and the Purple Heart; and

WHEREAS, it is fitting and appropriate to honor Hubert F. Comer for his service and ultimate sacrifice in that service to the United States of America, the State of Georgia, and Berrien County by the naming of the SR 37 bridge on Cat Creek in honor and memory of his service and sacrifice.

Hubert  Felton Comer, age nine, was enumerated along with his family in the 1930 census living in the Lois community near Ray City, GA. He was a son of Margaret Jane Hudson and Audley H. Comer.  His father was a farmer, and Hubert and his older brother, Harold, assisted with the farm labor.

Hubert Felton Comer, 8th Grade, New Lois School, Berrien County, GA.

Hubert Felton Comer, 8th Grade, New Lois School, Berrien County, GA.

Hubert, and siblings who were of age, attended the one room school house at Lois.  A 1936-37 class photo (detail at right) depicting Hubert at about age sixteen is available at the Berrien County Historical Photos Collection.

Later, Hubert attended the Ray City School where he graduated from high school about 1940  (see Glee Club Gave 1939 Christmas Cantata).

Hubert Felton Comer enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve on April 6, 1942.

Hubert Felton Comer was born July 14, 1920 and died June 8, 1944.

The Nashville Herald
September 28, 1944

Hubert F. Comer Reported Dead

    Hubert F. Comer, 24, Carpenters Mate Second Class, U.S.N.R. , missing in action since July 9, was reported dead in a letter received last week by his wife.  The letter stated that he had been carried on the official records of the Navy Department in the status of missing since June 6, 1944.  He was servicing on board the U. S. S. Rich when that vessel was lost in the European Invasion as a result of enemy action.
     News of his death read:
     “It is with deep regret you are here advised that, although the body of your husband was not recovered, his commanding officer has reported that the circumstances surrounding his disappearance have lead to a conclusion of death.  It is hoped you may find comfort in the knowledge that he was serving his country at the time of his death.”
     He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. A. T. Comer of Ray City, who received similar news of his death.
     Young Comer was graduated from the Ray City high school in 1940 after which he was employed on construction projects at Augusta.  He enlisted in the Navy in April of 1942 and was married to the former Miss Paula Skinner in June 1943. His last leave at home was in March of this year.  He was a person of good moral character and his many friends are grieved to learn of his death.
     Survivors include his wife and parents, four brothers, M. Sgt. Harold Comer of Eglin Field, Fla., Sgt. James E. Comer, somewhere overseas, Jerry and Murray Comer of Ray City, and two sisters, Ms. Algerine Garner, of San Diego, Calif., and Miss Barbara Comer, of Ray City.

Aboard the USS Rich:

Hubert Felton Comer aboard the USS Rich (DE 695), WWII.

Hubert Felton Comer aboard the USS Rich (DE 695), WWII.

The USS Rich was officially described as, “DE – 695: displacement 1,800; length 306’; beam 36’10”; draft 13’6”; speed 24 knots; complement 215; armament 3 3”, 4 40mm., 8 20mm., 2 depth charge tracks, 8 depth charge projectors, 1 depth charge projector (hedgehog-type), 3 21” torpedo tubes; class Buckley.”

The USS Rich (DE-695) was laid down on March 27, 1943 by the Defoe Shipbuilding Co., Bay City, MI.; launched June 22, 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Ralph McMaster Rich; and commissioned October 1, 1943, Lt. Comdr. E. A. Michel, Jr., USNR, in command.

The USS Rich (DE-695) was laid down on March 27, 1943 by the Defoe Shipbuilding Co., Bay City, MI.; launched June 22, 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Ralph McMaster Rich; and commissioned October 1, 1943, Lt. Comdr. E. A. Michel, Jr., USNR, in command.

The USS Rich was laid down on 27 March 1943 at the Defoe Shipbuilding Company, Bay City, Michigan, the third destroyer escort to be built at that yard. She was launched on 22 June 1943, sponsored by Mrs. Ralph McMaster Rich, widow of Lt. Rich.

After completion, the USS Rich was sailed from the builder’s yard at Bay City, IL to Chicago, Illinois, arriving September 24, 1943. From there, she passed through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and down the Chicago River. At  Joliet, IL, pontoons were attached to the ship so she could be pushed down the Des Plaines River, Illinois River, and Mississippi River as part of a barge train.

USS Rich on the Mississippi River. Image source: http://www.informediate.com/USSRichDE695/Photos/PhotoGallery.htm

USS Rich on the Mississippi River. Image source: http://www.informediate.com/USSRichDE695/Photos/PhotoGallery.htm

The ship was docked at the Todd Johnson Shipyard in Algiers, Louisiana, on the west bank of the Mississippi at New Orleans.  Hubert Comer and the rest of the crew reported aboard, and the USS Rich was commissioned on October 1, 1943, Lieutenant Commander E. A. Michel, Jr., USNR, in command.

Crew of the USS Rich DE695 at commissioning ceremony in New Orleans, LA, October 1,1943. Image source: http://www.informediate.com/USSRichDE695/Photos/PhotoGallery.htm

Crew of the USS Rich DE695 at commissioning ceremony in New Orleans, LA, October 1,1943. Image source: http://www.informediate.com/USSRichDE695/Photos/PhotoGallery.htm

Hubert Felton Comer listed on the muster roll of the USS Rich (DE 695) during WWII.

Hubert Felton Comer listed on the muster roll of the USS Rich (DE 695) during WWII.

Following a shakedown cruise off Bermuda, the USS Rich was primarily engaged in coastal escort and patrol duty with Escort Division 19 (CortDiv 19) until the end of February 1944.   Then assigned to trans-Atlantic escort work, she completed three round-trip crossings by May. On May 10, 1944, Rich departed New York City in escort of a convoy to Britain in what would be her last transit of the North Atlantic.

USS Rich (DE 695)  somewhere in the Atlantic.

USS Rich (DE 695) somewhere in the Atlantic.

On May 23, 1943 the USS Rich arrived at Londonderry, Northern Ireland, and awaited a convoy to escort back to the United States. Instead, Rich was assigned to the Normandy Invasion force, and commenced preparations for “Operation Neptune”, the naval phase of the invasion of Normandy. She arrived at Plymouth, England on June 4, and was assigned as an escort to the battleship Nevada.

Delayed by weather for 24 hours, the “U” force sailed for France on 5 June, with Rich and her sister ship Bates in the screen of the bombardment group of Task Force 125 (TF 125), which consisted of the battleship Nevada and the heavy cruisers Quincy (CA-71), Tuscaloosa, and HMS Black Prince. On “D-Day”, 6 June 1944 and the two days following, she screened naval gunfire support ships off “Utah” Beach as they laid fire for the troops landed on Utah Beach to the northwest of the Carentan Estuary. On 6 June, Rich laid down a smoke screen which foiled an attack by German E-Boat.

On the morning of June, 8, 1944, soon after 08:45, she was ordered by the Commander of Task Group 125.8 (TG 125.8) aboard Tuscaloosa to proceed to Fire Support Area 3 to assist the destroyer Glennon which had struck a mine northwest of the Saint-Marcouf Islands. Rich proceeded at full speed to the area, and then followed in the wake of two minesweepers to the immediate area of the Glennon. Closing on Glennon, Rich dispatched a whaleboat, only to learn that her assistance was not needed at that point. Rich then started to round the disabled ship and take up station ahead of the minesweeper which had taken Glennon in tow. She moved at slow speed, with extra hands on the lookout for enemy planes and mines.

USS Rich with the USS Glennon

USS Rich with the USS Glennon

At approximately 0920, a mine exploded 50 yards off Rich’s starboard beam.

“Although men were shaken and power and lights lost temporarily, no serious damage occurred from the mine blast.  The ship was not so lucky when a second mine was encountered three minutes later.  A deafening explosion thundered from beneath RICH.  Men were thrown from the bridge to the deck.  A 50-foot section of the ship’s stern was torn off and set adrift.  Survivors attempted to cling to debris or swim to safety and the seriously wounded were helpless in the mangled wreckage.  A series of emergency reports reached the bridge – several torpedoes were making hot runs in their tubes; the main deck had sagged, vicinity of No. 2 engine-room; compartments forward of the engineering spaces had suffered only minor damage.  But, there was never time to assess the reports.  Only minutes later, a third mine unleashed its fury on RICH.  She stayed afloat less than thirty minutes before settling into the sea.  RICH and 89 crewmembers were gone.

Lt. Cmdr. Edward A. Michel, Jr. received the Navy Cross for heroism and devotion to duty.  USS RICH DE 695 was the last DesLant ship to go down to Nazi mines off Normandy.”

Roscoe, Theodore, “United States Destroyer Operations In World War II”, 1953, US Naval Institute.

One year after the sinking of the USS Rich, a memorial service was held in Ray City for Hubert Comer:

The Nashville Herald
June 7, 1945  Pg1

Memorial Services for Hubert Comer At Ray City Friday

      Memorial services for Hubert F. Comer, C. M. 2-C,  U.S.N.R., will be held Friday, June 8, at 4 E.W.T. at the New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church, Ray City.
       Seaman Comer served on the Destroyer Rich and participated in the invasion of France last June.  The U.S.S. Rich served as an escort ship and screening vessel in protection of heavier ships.
       During the invasion it stood by to render aid to another destroyer when it struck several mines and went down.   Seaman Comer went down with his ship and was never seen again.  He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Pauline S. Comer of Nashville, and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. A.T. Comer of Ray City, four brothers, Harold Comer of Eglin Field, Fla., James and Jerry Comer, who are overseas, and Murray Comer of Ray City, two sisters, Mrs. Algerine Garner, and Miss Barbara Comer of Ray City, and his grandparents, Elder and Mrs. Joe Hudson, of Bartow, Fla.
       Primitive hymns will be sung. Elder M. S. Peavy and Elder C. H. Vickers will officiate. A marker will be placed in the cemetery.

Memorial marker, New Ramah Cemetery. In Memory of Hubert F. Comer who died at sea, Jul 14 1920 - Jun 8 1944. "Nobly he fell while fighting for liberty."

Memorial marker, New Ramah Cemetery. In Memory of Hubert F. Comer who died at sea, Jul 14 1920 – Jun 8 1944. “Nobly he fell while fighting for liberty.”

Memorial marker for Hubert Felton Comer, Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Memorial marker for Hubert Felton Comer, Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Elbert J. Chapman Was A Victim of Military Discipline

Elbert J. Chapman, “Old Yaller”

The story of Elbert J. Chapman has been told many times and as many times forgotten.  Accounts published in 1887 editions of the Atlanta Constitution have been the subject of previous posts (see General Levi J. Knight’s Berrien Minute Men, and L.E. Lastinger and Captain Knight’s Berrien Minutemen)

In January, 1909 another version of the execution of old Yaller was published in Watson’s Jeffersonian Magazine under the title “A victim of military discipline“.

Cover, Watson's Jeffersonian Magazine

Cover, Watson’s Jeffersonian Magazine

Watson’s Jeffersonian Magazine was the monthly publication of Thomas E. Watson whose political influence was sought by many a Georgia politician, including the subject of the previous post, Jon P. Knight (see Jon P Knight Sought Nomination to the Bench).  Of Watson’s Jeffersonian Publishing Company, the New Georgia Encyclopedia says the following:

Incorporated in 1910 by the Georgia lawyer, author, and statesman Thomas E. Watson, the Jeffersonian Publishing Company was the official mouthpiece of Georgia’s firebrand Populist. The company  Tom Watson’s Magazine  printed most of Watson’s literary works—pamphlets, monographs, biographies, and histories—but it was known primarily for Watson’s newspaper, The Weekly Jeffersonian, and his monthly literary magazine, Watson’s Jeffersonian Magazine.  Initially given to trenchant muckraking editorials written in the Populist Party spirit, both magazine and newspaper eventually included Watson’s fierce attacks against the Catholic Church hierarchy and the domestic and foreign policies of U.S. president Woodrow Wilson. Watson’s publications survived an organized Catholic boycott and a federal prosecution for mailing obscene literature, and would not be silenced until finally suppressed by the Wilson administration under the Espionage Act of 1917. Despite controversy and opposition, Watson’s weekly and monthly publications commanded a loyal political force, and no Georgia governor between 1906 and 1922 was elected without Watson’s support.

While the Jeffersonian’s January 1909 account of Old Yaller  does not give his name, and incorrectly gives his unit as the 46th Georgia Regiment, it is clear from the details that this is the story of Berrien County’s Elbert J. Chapman.

Although E. J. Chapman never lived in the immediate vicinity of Ray’s Mill, GA his short life was inextricably interwoven with the settlers and events of the area. After his death, his widow was enumerated in the 1144th Georgia Militia District, the district centered on Ray City, GA.

Elbert J. Chapman was born about 1832; the details of his birth and parentage are not known at this time. About June of 1859 Chapman married Mary E. Boyd, a daughter of Aden Boyd and Nancy Sykes.

On October 1, 1861 Chapman enlisted in Company D, 29th Georgia Regiment.

His service records provide the following information:

Chapman, Elbert J. private October 1, 1861.
On furlough December 31, 1861.

Absent without leave December 31, 1862
Delivered to headquarters of regiment as
a deserter May 30,1863.
No later record.

Here transcribed, is M. P. Carroll’s account of the execution of Elbert J. Chapman, as published in Watson’s Jeffersonian Magazine:

Watson’s Jeffersonian Magazine
January 1909, Vol. 3, No. 1, Pg 79
A Victim of Military Discipline.

Dear Mr. Watson:

I am requested to write out the details of the execution of a Confederate soldier at Morton, Mississippi, In July, 1863. I will endeavor to do so to the best of my recollection; and I think that what I shall write will be substantially correct, because the incident is frescoed upon my memory.

During the siege of Vicksburg, General Joseph E. Johnson was placed in command of the Army in Mississippi which was being organized outside to relieve General Pemberton. General W. H. T. Walker commanded a division in said Army. His command consisted of the brigades of Qulst, Wilson, McNair, Ector and Gregg. I was on the staff of General Gregg. We were for some time at Yazoo City preparing to move on the rear of General Grant, who was then closely besieging Vicksburg. When we got ready and our large supply train prepared (which we expected to take into Vicksburg), we marched from Yazoo City towards the Big Black Creek and encamped some days at a little hamlet called Vernon, a few miles West of Canton. While in camp there, one day a regiment of cavalry passed along the road, by the side of which the 46th Georgia Regiment was encamped. This regiment was commanded by Colonel Peyton Colquitt, who was afterwards killed at Chickamauga. Some one recognized a man in the cavalry who formerly belonged to the 46th Georgia. The soldier had deserted from the latter regiment whilst it was on the Georgia coast, and joined this regiment of cavalry. He was arrested—charges preferred against him for desertion. He was tried by a court martial which was sitting at Vernon.

The man was convicted, but no publication was then made of the results of the trial, but the findings were regularly forwarded to General Johnson’s headquarters, and then we broke camp and moved down to the Big Black for the purpose of crossing to attack General Grant. Indeed, we reached the point to cross on the night  of July 3rd, and the engineer corps was preparing to throw the pontoons across, when news came that Vicksburg had surrendered. Then we commenced our retrograde movement towards Jackson—passing through Clinton, Mississippi, en route. Sherman was sent in pursuit and we reached Jackson one day ahead of him and went into the works which had been prepared for the defense of Jackson.

Sherman immediately extended his besieging lines with both flanks resting on Pearl River, forming a semicircle, leaving the Eastern side the city open for our retreat. I think we remained there one week before retreating. General Johnson found it impossible to keep Sherman from -crossing the river and getting in his rear and, therefore, evacuated the works and took up his line of march one night towards Meridian. After we were some distance on the road beyond Brandon, a terrific rain-storm came on, with heavy thunder and lightning. The rain was so heavy and the night so dark the troops scarcely march, encountering here and there wagons and artillery stuck in the mud.

We reached Morton about daylight and went into camp. The sun rose in all its brightness and intensity of July heat. The troops were drying off and preparing their camp for cooking, etc., when this convicted soldier struggled up to the provost guard and said to the Major in command: “Well, Major, I got lost last night but am up as soon as I could find you.” The officer turned over to the guard and said: “I am sorry you came up for orders have been issued that you must be shot today at one o’clock p. m.

General William H. T. Walker made a plea for the life of Elbert J. Chapman, but followed the orders of his superior officer, General Joseph E. Johnson.

General William H. T. Walker made a plea for the life of Elbert J. Chapman, but followed the orders of his superior officer, General Joseph E. Johnson.

When General Walker learned of this incident, his sympathies were aroused and he and Major Cumming mounted their horses and rode to General Johnson’s headquarters. General Walker dismounted, recited the facts to his superior officer and interceded for the poor fellow. The only reply was: “General Walker, my orders must be obeyed.” The latter saluted and replied, “General, they shall be,” and mounted his horse. With tears in his eyes he instructed Major Cumming to have Major Schauff (I do not know that I spell this name correctly) make a detail for the execution and carry it out at 1 o’clock promptly.

He then ordered the division out to witness the execution. The brigade formed three sides of a square in a large old field flanked by second growth of pines; the grave had been dug in the center of it, his coffin resting on the further side from the firing squad. The condemned man asked not to be blindfolded; his hands were tied behind his back, he knelt on his coffin, and in the presence of the whole division, including his old 46th Georgia Regiment and his comrades therein, and was shot to death, placed in his box, or coffin, and was buried right there in that old field.

The saddest part of it was that the testimony showed he had been so good and gallant soldier in his adopted regiment, and he stated the only reason he left the 46th Georgia was that he got tired of inaction down on the coast and wanted to be where he could do some fighting. He also stated that he had a wife and child at home in Georgia.

I wish I knew his name and Company, but I do not. Major Cumming may.

I think these facts are substantially correct, and hope they will be of some service to you.

M. P. CARROLL.

A Friend of Old Yaller

Old Yaller

A previous post transcribed an article  from the March 22, 1887 edition of the Atlanta Weekly Constitution concerning General Levi J. Knight’s Berrien Minute Men and the execution of Elbert J. Chapman during the Civil War.  Here is an earlier Constitution clipping on the same topic, published January 4, 1887:

1887 recollection of "Old Yaller," Elbert J. Chapman.

1887 recollection of “Old Yaller,” Elbert J. Chapman.

The Atlanta Weekly Constitution
January 4, 1887

“Old Yaller”

Sometime ago THE WEEKLY CONSTITUTION published an article about the execution of a deserter who was known among the soldiers as “Yaller Jacket.” A member of the 26th Georgia, who claims to be familiar with the facts, says the soldier was known as “Old Yaller,” instead of “Yaller Jacket.” Yaller was a member of the 29th Georgia, and his real name is given as Chapman. When Yaller overstayed his time and was put in the guard tent for a term of days he decided his sentence was too severe, and he accordingly “lit out.” The member of the 26th Georgia who claims that his is the true story says Yaller went to Mississippi and joined a cavalry company where later on in the war he was found, a deserter, it is true, but still fighting for the confederacy. Yaller was put under arrest a second time, but instead of trying to escape, would stick to the guard all through the skirmishing, retreating and marching. One night in a severe rain all the guards were lost, but next morning old Yaller turned up smiling. The member of the 26th, who writes to set history straight, says:

“We continued the march to Brandon and Norton station, some ten or twelve miles east, and here took up camp again.  Here it was made known that “Yaller” had received a death sentence and was to be shot.  Near this place, out in an old field, the army was marched out to witness his execution.  These are the facts, according to the best of my recollection of twenty-three years ago.  “Yaller” was a member of the 29th Georgia, and not of the 30th.”
If “Old Yaller,” or “Yaller” or “Yaller Jacket” has any friends living I would be glad to hear more about him.  It will be noticed that while he was late in getting back from his trip home and skipped out from the guard tent while under a light sentence, he still stuck to the army and never deserted the guards when the finding of the court-martial hung over him.

About three weeks later, a response appeared in the Constitution:

1887 clipping about a friend of Old Yaller.

1887 clipping about a friend of Old Yaller.

The Atlanta Weekly Constitution
January 25, 1887 pg 3

A Friend of Old Yaller

Mr. Moses Williams of Thomasville, Ga., says that old “Yaller” of “Yaller Jacket,”  the soldier who was shot for desertion, lived near him before the war.  Mr. Williams says of “Old Yaller:” “He was a good man, but was poor.  He fought right on for the confederacy and was a good soldier, too.  There were twelve men to shoot him.  I hope he is at rest.

-30-

Related Posts:

 

Memorial to Levi J. Gaskins

Levi Joseph Gaskins, a son of Gideon Gaskins and Sarah “Sally” Knight, was a member of New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church, Ray City, GA. His maternal grandparents where Ann D. Clements and General Levi J. Knight, and on his father’s side were Polly Barrow and John Gaskins.  Upon his death in 1921, Levi J. Gaskins was buried at New Ramah Cemetery.

Levi J. Gaskins, 1860-1921, Rays Mill, GA

Levi J. Gaskins, 1860-1921, Rays Mill, GA

Minutes of  the New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church

Memorial

It is with much sorrow and regret that we here record the death of our beloved brother Levi J. Gaskins who was born to this Life Nov. 18th, 1860 and Died Dec. 15, 1921.

He together with his faithful wife united with the Church at New Ramah on Sept 7, 1916 at which place he lived to his Death. He was united in marriage to his wife who was Miss Mary Strickland Feb 24th, 1878.

We can truthfully say of our beloved and departed brother that He was ever faithful kind and gentle. As a husband father and friend, and as a neighbor he was ever ready to raise the fallen and help the weak. In truth His life was as we feel the life of a Christian who is unselfish and unassuming.

Our beloved brother was never the author of confusion in the Church or in His community, and we feel that His life is worth of our Imitation

 and we would say that we grieve not for Him as we would for one who has no Hope for we feel that our loss is His eternal gain and when the blessed Savior comes again to gather his jewels home that this dear brother will be formed and fashioned like his Glorious body and be escorted away to that Celestial City not made with hands where there will be no more sickness sorrow pain nor Death.

We pray God’s greatest and richest blessings upon the berieved family Trusting that they may be able to be resigned to the will of Him who doeth all things well.

by your committy

C. B. Herring
W. L. Register
G. C. Mikell

Grave of Levi J. Gaskins and Mary E. Strickland, New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Grave of Levi J. Gaskins and Mary E. Strickland, New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA

30

Jon P Knight Sought Nomination to the Bench

Jonathan Perry Knight, 1902.

Jonathan Perry Knight, 1902.

Born in Rays Mill, GA, Jonathan Perry Knight rose to prominence in local and state politics, and practiced law for many years in Nashville, GA. (see Knight of Berrien ~ Jonathan Perry Knight)

When in 1921 Knight learned of the resignation of Georgia Supreme Court justice Walter Franklin George, he wrote to Senator Thomas E. Watson, seeking his recommendation for the position.  The nomination for the new justice would be made by Governor Thomas Hardwick.  Although the two had a long history of vitriolic dialogue,  Senator Watson enjoyed a congenial relationship with the Governor at the time time of Knight’s writing.  In fact, a year earlier the “Two Toms” had appeared together in Thomasville, GA .

Letter from Jon P. Knight to Thomas E. Watson, 26 October 1921. The Thomas E. Watson Papers #755, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Letter from Jon P. Knight to Thomas E. Watson, 26 October 1921. The Thomas E. Watson Papers #755, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Jon P. Knight
Attorney at Law
Nashville, Ga.

October 26th, 1921.

Senator Thomas E. Watson,
Washington, D. C.

My Dear Senator:

                    I have just learned of the resignation of Judge Walter F. George, from the Supreme Court bench of Georgia, to take effect January 1st. next, and I am writing you for your endorsement in my behalf to Governor Hardwick, to succeed to the vacancy.  I have had more than eighteen years in active practice at the bar, in both State and Federal Courts, and feel that I am equipped with both efficiency and practice for this very important position.

                   I will be fifty years of age my next birthday, and my health is good, and can promise to the people of Georgia, should I be appointed, active, energetic, honest and faithful service.

                   I am fully aware of what I ask at your hand and promise you, that should you give me this endorsement, that neither you nor the people of Georgia shall ever have cause to regret it.

                   I cannot close the request without taking the liberty of saying to you again, as I did in the lobby of the Senate Chamber, some time ago, while in Washington, that Old Man People are forever with you in the fight you are waging in the Senate.

                  Thanking you in advance for a compliance with the above request, if you can grant it, and if so, leaving it to your best judgement as to the manner and form of endorsement,
I am,
                                      Your obedient servant,
                                      J. P. Knight

dk/jpk

 By unfortunate circumstance, the timing of Knight’s letter coincided with the falling out of the “Two Toms”:

Citing political differences with Governor Thomas Hardwick, Senator Watson declined to convey his endorsement.

Letter from Thomas E. Watson to Jon P. Knight, 29 October 1921. The Thomas E. Watson Papers #755, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Letter from Thomas E. Watson to Jon P. Knight, 29 October 1921. The Thomas E. Watson Papers #755, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

October 26, 1921

Hon. J. P. Knight,
Attorney at Law,
Nashville, Ga.

My dear Mr. Knight:

Yours received.  As you have doubtless seen in the papers since your letter was written, the relation between Governor Hardwick are such that it is impossible for me to write to him on any subject whatever.

Were conditions different, I would be glad to recommend you to him for the appointment.

I am sure you will appreciate my position in view of the present status of things.

Accept my thanks for the kind personal reference made in your letter.  I am deeply appreciative of your friendship and will be glad to render you any service at any time that I can.

Yours very truly,

When Senator Watson died in 1922, it was Walter F. George who was elected to succeed him.

30

Thomas M Ray Founded Ray’s Mill in 1863

Thomas Marcus Ray, founder of Ray’s Mill, came to the area in 1855 prior to the formation of Berrien County, GA.

Gravemarker of Thomas Marcus Ray, founder of Rays Mill, GA.

Gravemarker of Thomas Marcus Ray, founder of Rays Mill, GA.
Epitaph of Thomas Marcus Ray
The pains of death are past.
Labor and sorrow cease.
and Life’s long warfare closed at last.
His soul is found in peace.

Thomas Marcus Ray was born on September 20, 1822,  in the area of Georgia that would later be known as Griffin, Monroe County, GA.  His parents were Thomas and Mary Ray.  Little is known of his early life.

The 1850 census  shows at age 28 Thomas M. Ray was working as a mechanic in Twiggs County, GA.  He  married Mary Jane Albritton on March 3, 1852  in Houston County, GA. She was the daughter of Allen and Rebecca Albritton, and the sister of Matthew H. Albritton.

Marriage Certificate of Thomas Marcus Ray and Mary Jane Albritton, March 3, 1852, Houston County, GA.

Marriage Certificate of Thomas Marcus Ray and Mary Jane Albritton, March 3, 1852, Houston County, GA.

The newlyweds moved to the area of Lowndes County that was later cut into present day Berrien County, GA.  A little more than a year later, Mary Jane gave birth to a son, John William Allen Ray, on May 10, 1853.

Sadly, just six days later Mary Jane died and Thomas, a 31 year old widower,  was left to raise the infant on his own. Thomas buried Mary Jane in the cemetery at Union Primitive Baptist Church, which was the only church in the area. Union Church, now known as Burnt Church, is located on the Alapaha River in present day Lakeland, Lanier County, Georgia.

Gravemarker of Mary Jane Albritton Ray, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA.

Gravemarker of Mary Jane Albritton Ray, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA.

In 1853 this section of the state was only sparsely populated, and most of the settlers in the area gathered at least once a month at Union Church for services.  Thomas Ray was among those who attended.  It may be there that he met the 17 year old Mary Adelaide Knight.   She was the daughter of Levi J. Knight, a renowned Indian fighter and prominent planter in the area.  She was also the granddaughter of the Reverend William A. Knight, one of the founders of the Union Church and the first state senator elected to represent Lowndes County.  The following year, on August 22, 1854 Thomas M. Ray and Mary Adelaide Knight were married.

Thomas and Mary established their homestead on lot #516 in the 10th district of Lowndes County near Grand Bay, on land that Thomas purchased from his wife’s grandfather, William A. Knight, in 1855.  This land was soon to be cut into Berrien County in 1856 (and later into Lanier county).  Thomas’ father-in-law, Levi J. Knight, was instrumental in laying out the boundaries of the newly formed Berrien county.

On this land, the newlywed couple settled down to raise a family. In 1855, a daughter was born,  whom they named Mary Susan Ray. In 1858 a son was born to the couple, Thomas M. Ray, Jr.  and in the spring of 1860 Mary A. delivered another son, Charles F. Ray.

The Census of 1860 shows that Thomas M. Ray was clearly a wealthy man in his day.  On the census form his occupation  is listed as merchant.  At that time owned $2000 in real estate, and held $10,400 in personal estate. If he had a comparable net worth in 2007, he would certainly have been a multimillionaire.

The 1860 Census indicates that, in addition to the Ray children, two other youngsters were living with the Ray’s.  John T. Ray, Thomas Ray’s 15 year old nephew, lived with the family and attended school along with his cousins.  John T. Ray would be killed in a train wreck in 1888 (see Railroad Horror! 1888 Train wreck kills John T. Ray and 30-odd others.) A young girl  nine-year-old Efare Hayes (aka Ellifare Hayes), who was also living in the Ray household did not attend school.  Later census forms show that she was a domestic servant for the Rays. The census records show Ray’s neighbors were John Gaskins and Louie M. Young. The 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules show in that year Thomas M. Ray also was a slave owner, with one black female slave and one slave house enumerated.

Together, Thomas M. Ray and Mary Adelaide Knight had nine more children between 1855 and 1876, their last son being born in the year of Thomas’ death.

In the early 1860’s Thomas Ray partnered with his father-in law Levi J. Knight to build a grist mill and mill pond (now known as Ray’s Millpond) on Beaverdam Creek on land owned by L. J. Knight.  Mr. Knight would provide the land for the project, Mr. Ray would be mechanic and operator.    With the assistance of slave labor, the Ray family began the work to construct the earthen dam that would create an impoundment on Beaverdam Creek. In her later years, Mary Susan Ray, daughter of Thomas and Mary A. Ray, recalled that she helped build the dam when she was young child. ” Each day the family would load all equipment into the wagon, go over and work all day on the dam.”  In the age before power equipment the construction of the earthen dam that created the millpond was a massive undertaking. The dam is 1200 feet long with an average height of 12 feet, 12 feet wide at the top and 20 feet wide at the base.  It took approximately 10,800 tons of earth, dug and moved by human muscle to construct the dam.

It was while the dam was under construction that the initial hostilities of the Civil War broke out. On  April 12, 1861 at 4:30 a.m. Confederate  forces opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.  During the Civil War, Thomas Ray’s father-in-law, Levi J. Knight, and his future son-in-law Henry H. Knight both served in the 29th Georgia Volunteer Infantry.  Thomas himself, was a major in the 138th Battalion, 6th Military District, Lowndes, County, GA. There is no record that this unit saw active duty during the war.

Thomas M. Ray was apparently at his home near Grand Bay in the fall of 1861, for Mary delivered another daughter the following spring: Sarah Jane “Sallie” Ray was born May 23, 1862.  According to a history of the Wiregrass area published by the Coast Plain Area Planning & Development Commission, Thomas M. Ray began operation of the grist mill, known as “Knight and Ray’s Mill”  on November 7, 1863.

Ray's Mill, Ray City, Berrien County, GA

Ray’s Mill, Ray City, Berrien County, GA

Thomas Ray was still at home in the late summer to early fall of 1864, for in the spring of 1865 James David Ray was born on April 30, 1865, just days after the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox.

After the war, in 1866 Thomas Ray bought land from his partner and father-in-law, Levi J. Knight, where the Rays constructed a new home and moved their family. This land was 225 acres of  lot #424 in the 10th district of Berrien County,  on the west side of Beaver Dam Creek right next to the grist mill.  Nearby were the homes of his mother- and father-in-law, Levi J. and Ann Knight, and his wife’s cousin Henry H. Knight.  To the west of the Ray farm was the property of William Gaskins.

Even after the Civil War ended slavery, cotton was the major agricultural concern in the south.  In 1869, Thomas Ray and William Roberts set up a mill for ginning and carding cotton on Beaverdam Creek downstream from Ray’s Mill.  From that point on the creek came to be known as both Beaverdam Creek and Card Creek.   The cotton mill was situated on land purchased from the estate of William Washington Knight, deceased brother-in-law of T. M. Ray.   (W.W. Knight died of disease during the Civil War; see The Poetry of Mary Elizabeth Carroll.)  The mill site included 30 acres on lot #452 and the right to impound water on lot #451, just east of #452. “This operation was apparently taking advantage of a small pond and dam already put in place by John Knight whose property it adjoined…” The dam site was on Beaverdam Creek about 20 yards just east of present day Pauline Street in Ray City, GA..

In early August of 1870 when the census was enumerated for the 1144th Georgia Militia District, the household of Thomas M. and Mary Ray  included  their children  William A.,  Mary  S., Thomas M. Jr., Charles F., Sarah J., James D., and one year old Elizabeth Texas Ray.  Also living with the family was Thomas Ray’s mother, Mary Ray, 78 years of age. Ellifare Hayes, the family maid was now a young woman of 19. Eight year old Ellin Jones  was an African-American domestic servant also living in the Ray household.  In 1870  Thomas M. Ray’s personal estate was valued at $5000 and his real estate at $2714.   His neighbors included  Robert A. Elliott and Annis Lastinger Elliott, and their children.  Robert A. Elliott was a mechanic and a hand at the wool mill. Another neighbor was Isaac J. Edmonsen.

General Levi J. Knight, long time friend, partner and father-in-law of Thomas Ray, died on  February 23, 1870 in the community where he lived (nka Ray City) in Berrien County, Georgia.  Afterwards, Thomas Ray bought out L. J. Knight’s interests  in the grist mill and the land, including water-flow rights, from the General’s estate.  Over time the mill became the focal point of a community which came to be known as Ray’s Mill, GA.

Willis Allen Ray was born in 1871, and Robert Jackson Ray in 1873.

The 1874 tax digest show that Thomas M. Ray was an employer; working for him was Andrew Wilkins, a Freedman and farmhand who lived near Rays Mill.

In 1874 when Mercer Association missionary Reverend J. D. Evans came to Ray’s Mill, Thomas M. Ray was deeply moved by the baptist’s message.  Thomas M. Ray must have attended the church meetings in the old log school house and the big revivals that were held in May and July, for he became instrumental in the formation of a Baptist Church at Ray’s Mill (see Men at Beaver Dam Baptist Church.)  On September 20, 1874 a small group of followers met with Reverend J. D. Evans  at  the  home of Thomas and Mary Ray to organize the church.  Thomas M. Ray. and David  J. McGee were elected to represent the new church to the Mercer Baptist Association and were sent as messengers to the Valdosta Church. The Reverend J. D. Evans wrote a petitionary letter which they carried to the association. In November 1874 Thomas M. Ray was appointed to a church building committee along with James M. Baskin and D. J. McGee. He served on the committed that selected and procured the site for the construction of the church building. He continued to serve on the building committee until his death.

In 1876, Joseph Henry Ray was born.

Children of Thomas Marcus Ray and Mary Jane Albritton (1836 – 1853)

  1.  John William Allen Ray (1853 – 1934)

Children of Thomas Marcus Ray and Mary A Knight (1836 – 1923)

  1. Mary Susan Ray (1855 – 1926)
  2. Thomas Marcus Ray, Jr (1858 – 1923)
  3. Charles Floyd Ray (1860 –
  4. Sarah Jane (Sally) Ray (1862 – 1938)
  5. James David Ray (1865 – 1937)
  6. Elizabeth Texas Ray (1869 – 1952)
  7. Willis Allen Ray (1871 – 1901)
  8. Robert Jackson Ray (1873 – 1954)
  9. Joseph Henry Ray (1876 – 1907)

Thomas M. Ray died June 14, 1876.  His death was announced in The Valdosta Times:

The Valdosta Times
Saturday, July 1, 1876
Thomas M. Ray

Maj. T.M. Ray, a prominent citizen of Berrien County, died last week, after a long spell of illness.

His lodge brothers in Butler Lodge No. 211 Free and Accepted Masons provided this tribute:

The Valdosta Times
Saturday Aug 26. 

     Tribute Of Respect , Butler Lodge No. 211 F.A.M.  Milltown, Ga., Aug. 12th, 1876. Whereas, it hath pleased the Grand Architect of the Universe, in His wise Providence, to remove from labor, in the lodge on earth, to refreshment (as we trust) in the Great Grand Lodge in Heaven, or brother Thomas M. Ray

Therefore be it

     Resolved, 1st. That, in his death Masonry has lost a worthy brother, the neighborhood an upright and honest citizen; his family a kind husband, and indulgent father and a good provider.

     Resolved, 2nd. That while we mourn his loss and miss his association, we bow with meek submission to the will of Him who doeth all things well.

     Resolved, 3rd. That we cherish his memory and recommend to the emulation of the Craft Iris virtues and the uprightness and integrity of his character.

     Resolved, 4th. That we extend to the family an relatives of our deceased brother our heartfelt sympathies, praying upon them the guidance and protection of our common Heavenly  Father.

     Resolved, 5th. That a blank page in our minute book be inscribed to his memory, and that a copy of this preamble and resolution be furnished the family of brother Ray, and a copy furnished the Berrien County News, for publication and the Valdosta Times requested to copy.

By order of Butler Lodge No. 211 F. &A.M.

Ogden H. Carroll, T.O. Norwood, Jesse Carroll,  Com.

Related Posts:

Mary Jane Gardner Stewart rests at Beaver Dam Cemetery

Mary Jane Gardner was a sister of Chloe Gardner.

Mary Jane Gardner moved with her parents from Hamilton County, FL to south Florida some time before 1900.   Her sister, Chloe Gardner, married JHP Johnson in 1899 and made her home first in DuPont, GA and later in Ray City.  Upon her death in 1977, Mary Jane Gardner Stewart was laid to rest at Beaver Dam Cemetery, in Ray City.

Mary Jane Gardner Stewart and son, Elton. Mary Jane was a sister of Chloe Gardner Johnson.

Mary Jane Gardner Stewart and son, Elton. Mary Jane was a sister of Chloe Gardner Johnson.

Gardner Sisters: Emma Gardner, Chloe Ann Gardner Johnson, Mary Gardner Stewart, & Martha Leone Gardner. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Gardner Sisters: Emma Gardner, Chloe Ann Gardner Johnson, Mary Gardner Stewart, & Martha Leone Gardner. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Beaver Dam Cemetery

Grave of Mary Jane Gardner Stewart (1884-1977), Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, GA.

Grave of Mary Jane Gardner Stewart (1884-1977), Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, GA.

The Poetry of Mary Elizabeth Carroll

Mary Elizabeth Carroll was born May 9, 1839 a daughter of Margaret Chestnut and  Jesse Carroll. Before the Civil War, Mary Carroll’s father was one of the wealthiest men in Berrien County.

Mary Elizabeth Carroll, wife of 1) William Washington Knight, 2) William Joseph Lamb.

Mary Elizabeth Carroll, wife of 1) William Washington Knight, 2) William Joseph Lamb.

Mary Elizabeth Carroll married William Washington Knight in 1855, a union of two influential families in Lowndes and Berrien county histories (The Knights and the Carrolls were cut from Lowndes into Berrien County in 1856.) The bride was a petite dark-haired beauty of 16; the  groom, at 26, was 6 feet in height, with dark hair and blue eyes.   William was born 4 Mar 1829 in that part of Lowndes, Georgia that is now known as Berrien County, Ga.  He was the eldest son of Levi Knight and Ann Clements/Herrin, and a grandson of William Anderson Knight.

In 1860, before the start of the Civil War, Mary E. Carroll and her husband William Washington Knight were living in the vicinity of Beaver Dam Creek near the present site of Ray City, GA. William owned a farm there, situated next to the farm of his uncle, John Knight.

1860 Slave Schedule, Berrien County, GA.

1860 Slave Schedule, Berrien County, GA.

http://archive.org/stream/populationschedu142unit#page/n140/mode/1up

William W. Knight’s real estate in 1860 was valued at $1100, and he had a personal estate of $700. William and Mary were raising their young children, Mary V. Knight (4), Margaret A. Knight(2) and Walter H. Knight (6 months).

1860 census enumeration of Mary Elizabeth Carroll and William Washington Knight, Berrien County, GA.

1860 census enumeration of Mary Elizabeth Carroll and William Washington Knight, Berrien County, GA.

http://archive.org/stream/populationschedu111unit#page/n403/mode/1up

In January 1861, William Washington Knight was elected Justice of the Peace in the 1144th Georgia Militia District. As an elected official he could have claimed exemption from military service during the Civil War.  But on October 1, 1861 Knight enlisted in  the “Berrien Minutemen,” a Confederate army unit then being organized by his father,  Levi J. Knight.  William served in the 29th GA infantry in Company K, the Berrien Minutemen, and was elected 2nd Sergeant.

It must have been difficult for young Mary E. Knight, left home to raise her children alone while William and many other young men of the county  marched off to war with the Berrien Minutemen.  Two years into the war, on August 6, 1863, she penned the following:

It is not that my lot is low

that bids this silent tear to flow,

It is not greaf that bids me mourn;

It is that I am All Alone.

In woods and glens I love to roam

When the tierd hedges hies him home

Or by the woodland poole to rest

When pale the stars looks on its breast

Yet when the silent evening sighs

with hallowed airs and symphonies

my spirit takes another tone

and sighs that it is All Alone.

The Autumn leaf is sear and dead

It floats upon the watery bead

It would not be a leaf to dye

Without recording sorrows sigh

The woods and winds with sudden wail

Tell the same unvaried tale

I ‘ve now to smile when I am free

And when I sigh to sigh with me

Yet in my dreams a form I view

that thinks on me and loves me too

I start, and when the visions flown

I weep, alas that Am All Alone.

Mary Elizabeth Carroll suffered not just the loneliness of a soldier’s wife, but the grief of a mother. It was during the war, in 1863, that she lost her little girl, Margaret Ann Knight, just five years old.

Supply requisition records for Company K show that William Washington Knight was in service in Dalton, Georgia on December 6, 1863.  Shortly after that, Knight was furloughed home because of illness. He died of chronic diarrhea at Milltown, GA December 27, 1863.

As the war dragged on, the widowed Mary E. Carroll Knight was left to raise their three surviving children :

  1. Mary Virginia Knight 1856 – 1916, married William E. Langford
  2. Margaret Ann Knight 1858 – 1863
  3. Walter Howard Knight 1859 – 1934
  4. Lillian Melissa “Pink” Knight March 22, 1862– 1947, married Noah Webster Griffin

But with the end of the war Mary re-married in 1865. Her second husband,William Joseph Lamb, was also her first cousin.  His mother, Margaret Carroll, was a sister of Jesse Carroll, Mary’s father. His father was William Lamb, who was one of the early settlers of Milltown.

William J. Lamb was a Civil War veteran who had been seriously wounded in battle (see  William J. Lamb ~ Confederate Veteran).   The census of 1870 shows  Mary Elizabeth Carroll was living with her husband, William J. Lamb, in the 1144th Georgia Militia District, later known as the Ray’s Mill District. With them were Mary’s children Mary V. Knight, Walter H. Knight, Lillian Knight.

1870 census enumeration of William J. Lamb and Mary Elizabeth Carroll, Berrien County, GA.

1870 census enumeration of William J. Lamb and Mary Elizabeth Carroll, Berrien County, GA.

http://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0135unit#page/n439/mode/1up

Living with the Lambs was their cousin, Henry Harrison Knight, a son of John Graham Knight.  Henry was working as a country merchant at the time. Later he would open one of the first stores in the community of Rays Mill (nka Ray City), GA.

Also living at the Lamb farm were freedman Morris Wilkinson, his wife Charlott Wilkinson, and a three-year-old son, Henry Wilkinson. The Lambs employed Morris Wilkinson as a farm laborer and Charlotte Wilkinson worked as a domestic servant.

Mary Elizabeth Carroll Lamb, circa 1875, daughter of Margaret Chestnut and Jesse Carroll. Image detail from original courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Mary Elizabeth Carroll Lamb, circa 1875, daughter of Margaret Chestnut and Jesse Carroll. Image detail from original courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

The 1880 census enumeration of Mary Elizabeth Carroll Lamb with husband, William J. Lamb, in Berrien County, GA.  Neighbors were William, Virginia and Luther Langford.  Nearby were Mary’s son, Walter Howard Knight, and his wife, Jimmie Gardener Gullette.

1880 census enumeration of William J. Lamb and Mary Elizabeth Carroll, Berrien County, GA.

1880 census enumeration of William J. Lamb and Mary Elizabeth Carroll, Berrien County, GA.

http://archive.org/stream/10thcensusl0134unit#page/n380/mode/1up

In 1900 the census records show Mary and William Lamb living in the Lower Fork District, No. 658 of Lowndes County. They were boarding with Bessie Griffin and Joseph S. Bazemore. (see Bazemore-Griffin Wedding 1899)

1900 census enumertion of William J. Lamb

1900 census enumeration of William J. Lamb and Mary Elizabeth Carroll Lamb

http://archive.org/stream/12thcensusofpopu209unit#page/n440/mode/1up

Mary Elizabeth Carroll Lamb died December 29, 1906.  She was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, GA.

Grave marker of Mary Elizabeth Lamb, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Grave marker of Mary Elizabeth Lamb, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

-30-

Related posts:

Knight of Berrien ~ Jonathan Perry Knight

Jonathan Perry Knight (1872-1953)

Jonathan Perry Knight, 1902.

Jonathan Perry Knight, 1902.

Jonathan Perry Knight was born in Ray’s Mill, GA. in Berrien County on March 14 1872.  A son of John Graham Knight and Mary A. Davis, he was the middle of three children.  His grandfather, Levi J. Knight, served as a major in the Indian War, a major-general in the state militia,  and  as a captain in the Confederate army.

In his basic education Jonathan P. Knight attended the schools of Berrien County. When he was 16 he was presented with a prize by his teacher, W.L. Patton, “For Your Merit in School.”  The prize was a book, “The Life of Daniel Webster“, which was to have a profound and lasting affect on the young man.

Life of Daniel Webster

Life of Daniel Webster

http://archive.org/stream/lifeofdanielwebs00everiala#page/n0/mode/1up

Jonathan Perry Knight went on to study at North Georgia Agricultural College in Dahlonega, GA (now the University of North Georgia).  The college was a military academy and military duty was obligatory for all male students over the age of 15.  The cadets drilled daily in artillery, infantry and other exercises.

Cadets on parade in front of North Georgia Agricultural College, 1894.  Jonathan Perry Knight, of Rays Mill, GA attended the college around the late 1880s.

Cadets on parade in front of North Georgia Agricultural College, 1894. Jonathan Perry Knight, of Rays Mill, GA attended the college around the late 1880s.

Knight later attended Law School at Mercer University in Macon, GA. He was a teacher in Berrien and Lowndes Counties, “and considered the teaching profession as a sacred trust.”

On November 6, 1896 at the age of 23, he married Ada Parrish at Lois, Georgia.  That same year he was elected Clerk of the Superior Court of Berrien County for the term beginning in 1897, and moved to the county seat in Nashville, GA.  To Jonathan and Ada a son was born on May 1, 1898. This was the same day in which Commodore George Dewey led US Naval forces to a decisive victory over the Spanish fleet in the Battle of Manilla Bay.  Just a few weeks earlier, the Spanish-American War had broken out and the newspapers of the time were full of sensationalism. No where was there greater fervor than in Georgia.  “When the United States became involved in war with Spain, Georgia furnished according to population more volunteers than any other State of the Union.”

It seems that the war was paramount in the minds of the Knights, as they expressed their patriotism by naming their new son Dewey Knight, in honor of the nation’s new naval hero. The couple had three additional children, Thelma, Jonathan, and Nell.

Jonathan Perry Knight continued to serve as the Clerk of the Superior Court in Berrien County until 1900, when he aspired to higher political office.  In February, 1900 The Atlanta Constitution reported:

“It is also very probably that Mr. John P. Knight, at present clerk of Berrien superior court, will offer as a candidate for representative in the general assembly. It is not known as yet who will oppose him, but there likely will be one or more opponents.”

As expected J.P. Knight did contend for the house seat, and his opponents in the short campaign were W.L. Kennon and H. K. Hutchinson of Adel.  Ballots were cast on May 15, 1900 and a large voter turn out was reported for Berrien County. On the morning of May 16th, The Atlanta Constitution reported that Knight was elected to the Georgia General Assembly as the Representative from Berrien County.

Representative Knight took to his new office with relish.  During the passage of the Depot Bill, his sensibilities were apparently offended by the “lobbyism and the use of whiskey.” “J.P. Knight, being disgusted with the way things were going, sent to the speaker’s desk a privileged resolution to have the hall cleared of all save those entitled to seats, which when read by the speaker, was refused recognition.”  Apparently, when it came to a question of whiskey,  the other legislators didn’t see eye to eye with the freshman representative from Berrien.  Later, Knight would write a letter charging that there was lobbying and outright “drunkeness” in the Georgia House of Representatives on the day the Depot Bill was passed.

Among his other legislative activities, he was on the legislative committee that visited Dahlonega, GA in December 1901 to inspect the North Georgia Agricultural College. His position on that committee was fitting, since he attended college in Dahlonega.  Georgia’s Public Men 1902-1904 noted,  “He took a prominent part in the deliberation of the House during his first term and also in the recent campaign for the governorship.”

In a report filed from Tifton, GA, The Atlanta Constitution of March 4, 1902  announced that Knight would seek re-election.  Among his expected opponents was Joseph A. Alexander, who had three years earlier represented Ray City murder defendant, J. T. Biggles.

“J.P Knight announces himself for reelection to the house, and it is said that he will be opposed by either Joseph A. Alexander formerly senator, John R. McCranie , former representative, or  F.M. Shaw, Jr., chairman board of county commissioners, who has represented Berrien in the legislature several years ago.  All are prominent and popular and the race for representative should be lively indeed.”23

In fact, the strongest challenge to Knight’s re-election bid was M.S. Patten. As voters went to the polls in June 1909, The Atlanta Constitution printed Berrien election reports filed from from Tifton, GA:

“The race is very close between J.P. Knight and M.S. Patten for representative, with chances in favor of Knight.  When all the votes were counted J.P. Knight was re-elected to the House of Representatives in the Georgia General Assembly. He was appointed to serve on the committees for: Immigration, Invalid Pensions; Mines and Mining; Roads and Bridges; and, Wild Lands.  In the description of the Honorable J.P. Knight given in Georgia’s Public Men, his occupation was given as “farmer and cotton buyer. “

In September of that year, Honorable John P. Knight was in Macon, Georgia where he was entering the study of law at Mercer College. He was hailed in the newspapers as ” one of the most influential members of the next house. His past record in the legislature is highly creditable to him.” Nine months later, in June of 1903 J.P. Knight was among 37 new attorneys who were graduated from Mercer.  The newspaper announcement observed that 24 of the 37 students had college degrees. Knight was one of two married men in the graduating class. The paper noted that as a member of the Georgia legislature, “he has kept the class and professors posted on the acts of Georgia’s lawmakers.” In the individual records of men, Knight was honored thus,

“Hon. J.P. Knight, representative of the state legislature from Berrien county, will receive his diploma with all honor and glory. Mr. Knight, like all modern politicians, gets along with all the boys. He is one of the highest men in the class. He attended college at Dahlonega. In 1896 he was elected clerk of the superior court of Berrien County and held that office until 1900, when he was elected to the state legislature, where he has been ever since. In spite of the fact that the gentleman from Berrien attended to his legislative duties during the last session, he will be honored with a degree. His friends at Nashville, Ga. will be glad to know that he intends returning home to practice his profession.”

Knight was admitted to the Bar of Georgia in April of 1903, and began to practice law in Nashville, the courts of Georgia, and in Federal Court.

In the Georgia state election of 1904, Knight put in for a third term in the term in the House of Representatives in the Georgia General Assembly.  Challenging for the seat was C.W. Fulwood.  With votes being cast on April 20th,  the Atlanta Constitution called the election for the challenger, ” incomplete returns from one of the hardest fought campaigns ever held in Berrien indicate the election of C. W. Fulwood over J.P. Knight for representative by about 200 majority.”  But the next day, with all votes counted Knight was declared the winner.

That year J. P. Knight also served on a local Berrien county committee to solicit and collect funds for the construction of a monument to the confederate general John B. Gordon.

Back in the Georgia Assembly for 1905, Knight served on several standing House Committees. “Knight of Berrien” served on the House standing Committees on Corporations, Education, Penitentiary, Immigration, Manufacturers, Blind Asylum, Auditing, and the Western and Atlantic Railroad.

With the following election of 1906, he was elected to a term in the Georgia Senate. In an interesting note, the Nashville Herald reported on August 13, 1909, “Hon. Jon P. Knight and County Treasurer D.D. Shaw went to Atlanta Tuesday night to help sing the Doxology at the closing of the Georgia Legislature.”

In 1907 J.P. Knight presided as Mayor of Nashville.  He was a member of the state Democratic executive committee, and attended the committee meeting of  April, 1908.  In October he was back in Atlanta.

Atlanta Georgian and News, Oct. 23, 1908 — page 11
Senator Knight Here.
Senator John P. Knight, of Berrien county, who figured prominently in the settlement of the convict lease legislation when that matter was before the state senate, was a visitor at the capitol Friday. He came on business connected with a pardon and was in consultation with both the members of the prison commission and the governor.

In 1909 it was rumored in local politics reported in the Atlanta Constitution that he would run for Solicitor General of the Circuit Court in Nashville, a position being vacated by Will Thomas in a bid for the judgeship of the court.

Atlanta Georgian and News, Oct. 1, 1909 — page 15
Hon. J.P. Knight Ill.
Nashville, Ga., Oct. 1 Hon J.P. Knight, who has represented Berrien county in the lower house and in the state senate, is very ill at his home in Nashville.

He was a Judge of the City Court of Nashville, Judge of Alapaha Judicial Circuit, and he served as Chairman of the Trustees of the City Schools of Nashville, GA for many years.

He put his hat in the ring in 1910 to run for U.S. congressman for the  Second Congressional District to fill out the unexpired term of the late James M. Griggs.  He won the Berrien County vote by a landslide but it wasn’t enough to carry the district.

Ada Parrish Knight died February 1913 in Berrien Co., Ga.

Children of Ada Parrish and Jonathan Perry Knight:

  1. Dewey Knight 1898 – 1983 Spouses: Laura FRASEUR
  2. Thelma Knight 1901 – 1983 Spouses:  Joseph Stanley UPCHURCH
  3. Nell “Nellie” Knight 1905 – 1996  Spouse:  George ERICKSON
  4. Jonathan P. Knight 1907 – 1984  Spouses: Elizabeth BAKER

Jonathan Perry Knight  again ran for state office and was elected the Berrien Representative to the Georgia Assembly for the 1915-1916 term.  He returned again for the 1919-1920 term.

In the 1920’s, Jonathan Perry Knight and his son, Dewey Knight, had a law practice together in Nashville.  It was not unusual to see the law firm of Jno. P. and Dewey Knight mentioned in the legal advertisements in the Nashville Herald as representing the plaintiff in some divorce action, or offering to negotiate farm loans.

In 1924 he returned to the bench to served out an unexpired term as Judge of the Superior Court, and later that year he was elected to a subsequent term serving until December 31,1928.

Jonathan Perry Knight

Jonathan Perry Knight

Following the loss of his first wife  Ada in 1914 J. P. Knight married again, to Gladys Brooks. They had one son, Jack Knight, who served as an Air Force Colonel.

Jon P. Knight died December 28, 1953.

In retrospection, the Historical Notes of Berrien County observed, “He enjoyed traveling, fishing, gardening, reminiscing with old friends, and the radio; he loved Georgia, Berrien County, family, and friends with deep devotion; he despised hypocrisy, snobbery and laziness. He lived in Berrien County all his life – was a real Berrien County product, boy and man.”

Cite: Georgia. (1927). Georgia’s official register. Atlanta: The Dept.].pg 117-118SUPERIOR COURTSALAPAHA CIRCUITJONATHAN PERRY KNIGHT, Nashville, Judge. Born Mch. 14, 1872 at Rays Mill, Berrien Co., Ga. Son of John Graham Knight (born June 23, 1832 in Berrien Co., Ga.; lived at Rays Mill, Ga.; served the four years of the War Between the States in Stonewall Jackson’s Corps; died May 8, 1908) and Mary (Davis) Knight (born near Tallahassee, Leon Co., Fla.; died Sep. 19,1902). Grandson of Levi J. Knight (born Sep. 1, 1803; senator. Lowndes Co.. 1832, 1834, 1837, 1838, 1839, 1840, 1853/54, 1855/56; senator, 5th Dist., 1851/52; member. Constitutional Convention 1868; major-general, 6th Div., Ga. Militia, Dec. 4, 1840-; died Feb. 23, 1870) and Ann D. Knight, and of James and Rena Davis, who lived near Valdosta, Ga.Educated in local schools. North Ga. Agr. College, and Mercer University (law course). Began the practice of law July 13, 1903 at Nashville, Ga.

Married (1) Nov. 3, 1896 Ada E. Parrish (Nov. 1880-Feb. 12, 1914), dau. of John A. Parrish; married (2) June 21, 1915 in Jacksonville, Fla.,Gladys Brooks (born Nov. 5, 1893). Children by first marriage: Dewey of Miami, Fla.; Thelma (Mrs. J. S. Upchurch), Thomasville, Ga.; Nell of Miami, Fla.; John of Miami, Fla.; by second marriage, one child. Jack, age 6 years.Baptist. Democrat. Clerk, Superior Court, Jan. 1, 1897-Oct. 20, 1900; member. House of Rep., Berrien Co., 1900-01, 1902-03-04, 1905-06. 1915-15 Ex.-16-17 Ex., 1919-20; senator, 6th Dist., 1907-08-08 Ex; chairman, board of education, Nashville, eight years; judge, Alapaha Cir. Oct. 21, 1924-date (term expires Jan. 1, 1929).

« Older entries