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

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4 Comments

  1. December 17, 2013 at 6:53 am

    Very nice. Is Margaret Chestnut the same Mary Chestnut whose words were used in the Civil War by Tim Burns?

  2. March 31, 2014 at 12:50 am

    Mary Elizabeth Carroll Knight, was my second Great Grandmother. She was born May 9, 1839. I was born May 9, 1944. Her son Walter Howard Knight was my Great Grandfather.

  3. Jerry C. Williamson said,

    June 4, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    Mary Elizabeth Carroll Knight Lamb was my second Great Grandmother also. Lillian Melissa Knight Griffin was my Great Grandmother. Her daughter Bessie Griffin Bazemore was my Grandmother. My mother was Lois C. Bazemore Williamson.

    • Noah W. Griffin said,

      October 15, 2014 at 1:11 am

      Mary Carroll Knight Lamb was my Second Great Grandmother as well Lester Griffin was my grandfather. My fathers name was Webster (Webb) Griffin


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