- Wayne County Beginnings 1803-1827
- Settling Lowndes County 1827-1836
- Seminole Wars 1836 – 1842
- Antebellum Wiregrass 1843 -1860
- Civil War 1861-1865
- Wiregrass Reconstruction 1866-1870
Settling in Lowndes County
About 1827 Levi J. Knight and his new bride Ann Herrin Clements homesteaded on land on Beaverdam Creek, near the present day site of Ray City, GA. In their first year on Beaverdam Creek, the Knights established a household and prepared to begin a family.
The Knight homestead was situated in Lowndes County (present day Berrien County). When the first Superior Court in Lowndes County was convened at Sion Hall’s Inn on the Coffee Road, Levi J. Knight served as foreman of the Grand Jury. At that time, the only post office in Lowndes County (which then encompassed present day Lowndes, Berrien, Cook, Brooks, Lanier, and parts of Tift, Colquitt, and Echols counties) was at the home of Daniel McCranie on the newly opened Coffee Road. When Franklinville, GA became the first town in Lowndes County in 1828, the post office was moved there. Located west of the Withlacoochee River about 9 miles southwest of the Knight property, Franklinville served as the first county seat of Lowndes County and a courthouse of hewn logs was constructed there at a cost of $215. According to Huxford’s “Sketch of the Early History of Lowndes County, Georgia“, Franklinville was a small trading community of one or two stores and a few houses. Hamilton W. Sharpe, a fellow Whig, regarded Franklinville a place of intemperance. Settlers in Lowndes County did most of their trading at Tallahassee, St. Marks or Newport, Florida, or traveled to Centerville on the St. Marys River.
In 1829, Levi was Justice of the Peace for the 658th District, Lowndes County:
Election Districts and Elections. Courts and elections to be held at the house of Sion Hall, 1825, vol. iv. 128 – Removed to the house of Francis Roundtree, 1826, vol. iv. 134 – Elections in the 15th district to be held at the house of Daniel Burnett; in the 16th, at the house of Silas Overstreet, 1828, vol. iv. 179 – At Jesse Goodman’s, the place of justices’ courts in Capt. Williams’ district; at Sion Hall’s, the place of justices’ courts in Capt. Pike’s district; at John Townsend’s, being the court ground in Studhill’s district; at Levi Knight’s, the court place in Knight’s district; at Lewis Roberts’, the justices’ court place in Johnson’s district; and at Mr. Davis’, in Cowart’s district, 1829, vol. iv. 185—One dollar to the presiding magistrate for attending at the court-house to consolidate the returns, 1829, vol. iv. 409
Levi J. Knight received power of attorney from his father-in-law, William Clements, of Wayne County, on 19 Nov. 1830, “to appear for him in the Courts in Alabama and to sue for and collect all demands he has against Angus McDonald…” Angus McDonald had served as deputy clerk of the superior court of Wayne County. Georgia. On December 24, 1822 William Clements had put up surety on the $1000 bond of Angus McDonald, guardian of Sidney Pilcher who was the orphan of Harriet Burney. Apparently, Clements had to make good on the surety, and he wanted Levi J. Knight to get his money back.
Ann gave birth to their first son, William Washington Knight in 1829. Three more children were born over the next three years; Elizabeth (1830), John G. (1832), and Sarah (1833). During this period Levi J. Knight served out his term (1829-1833) as Justice of the Peace, and returned to his experience as a surveyor, again mapping lands the state had gained from the Indians. As the state surveyor of Cherokee lands, Section 3, District 13, he took field notes recording the distances and points demarcating the district and land lots, land features, roads, and watercourses. These field notes, along with those of other surveyors, were conducted prior to the distribution of lands in the 1832 Land Lotteries in Georgia.
|Career in Public Service
“Levi, J. Knight, a planter of Berrien County…held several county offices; for a number of years he represented the county and was senator from his district in the general assembly.”
“He was commissioned a justice of the peace of the 658th district of Lowndes County in 1829, and served until 1832, when he was elected State senator from Lowndes County. He was again elected justice of the peace and commissioned October 15th, 1838. He served again as senator through the sessions of 1834-35 and 1837 to 1841. In 1845 he was again elected justice of the peace and served four years. In 1851 he was elected State senator from the 5th district, which then included Berrien County, and served through the session of 1851-52.”
Levi J. Knight was Sheriff of Wayne County (1824), Justice of the Peace of Lowndes County (1829-1833), State Senator from Lowndes County (1832, 1834, 1837, 1841). He was Senator from 5th District (1851-1856). He was Justice of the Berrien Inferior Court 1861, and a Delegate to the State Constitutional Convention in 1868.
Levi J. Knight or one of his sons occupied a seat in the Georgia General Assembly for a period of forty years.
Levi J. Knight was elected to the State Assembly as Senator from Lowndes County in 1832 and 1834. It was in this time that the Whig Party was rising against what was seen as executive excesses of “King Andrew” Jackson. The Whigs favored national development and over time built an unlikely coalition of anti-slavery, pro-slavery, and anti-masonic supporters. Levi J. Knight became a strong supporter of the Whig party and served as the Lowndes delegate to the Whig state conventions on several occasions.
In 1835, Levi J. Knight gave the Forth of July oration at the county courthouse at Franklinville to a large crowd and enthusiastic crowd, “We have come up on the jubilee of our country’s liberty, to honor the day that gave birth to the greatest republic in the world.” The celebration was followed by a banquet with a round of regular toasts to Washington, Jefferson, LaFayette, and to former Georgia Governor, George Michael Troup, as well as some to denounce the excesses of President Andrew Jackson.
Some time in the 1830s the Lowndes County center of government moved from Franklinville to the growing settlement of Lowndesville. Located about twenty miles south of the Knight homestead, Lowndesville was near the confluence of the Withlacoochee and Little Rivers. This location was touted by some to become a riverboat landing and the prospect of river transportation was hoped to foster a pioneer boom period for the community, but according to Montgomery M. Folsom that dream was never realized.
When the community had grown to about 25 families, the name of the town was changed to Troupville in honor of Georgia Governor George M. Troup. Troup was an outspoken proponent of the State Rights theory, which asserted that individual states were not bound by Federal law. Levi J. Knight and many other pioneers of old Lowndes County were Troup supporters, and in 1834 Levi J. Knight and his father William A. Knight were instrumental in forming the the State Rights Association of Lowndes County, GA. Troupville quickly became the leading town in the region. In Troupville there were stores, hotels, churches, doctors, lawyers, newspapers, entertainment, even a bowling alley. The Knights were among the planters of Lowndes County who made Troupville their center of trade (Map of Old Troupville, GA with Notes on the Residents).
In 1836 another daughter was born to the Knights, Mary Adelaide Knight. As a young woman, Mary would become the bride of Thomas M. Ray who, along with her father, founded the original grist mill at Ray City.
In the spring of 1836 there were reports and rumors of Indians attacking pioneers in other parts of the state. The Seminole War was brewing… and that summer the original settlers of Ray City, GA were engaged in Indian skirmishes.
- (1942). History of Lowndes County: Georgia, 1825-1941. Valdosta, Ga.: General James Jackson chapter, D.A.R. Pg 5-6.
- Georgia. 1837. A digest of the laws of the state of Georgia: containing all statutes and the substance of all resolutions of a general and public nature, and now in force, which have been passed in this state, previous to the session of the General assembly of Dec. 1837.pg 995
- THE SOUTH GEORGIA HISTORICAL AND GENEALOGICAL QUARTERLY, VOL. 1, JULY 1922, NO. 3, pp. 03-05.OLD RECORDS BOOK “H” OF BONDS, WAYNE COUNTY, GEORGIA, COURT OF ORDINARY, FIRST 77 PAGES.
- Huxford,F. 1971. Pioneers of Wiregrass Georgia, Volume VI, The Jesup Sentinel, Jesup, Georgia 1971. pg 139.’
- Huxford,F. 1954. Pioneers of Wiregrass Georgia, Volume II, Press of the Patten Publishers, Adel, Georgia, pg 176.
- Huxford, F. 1975, Pioneers of Wiregrass Georgia, Volume VII, Jesup Sentinel, Jesup, Georgia. pg 226.
- Huxford, F. 1967. Pioneers of Wiregrass Georgia, Volume V, Herrin’s Print Shop, Waycross, GA. pg 162.
- Georgia Surveyor General. 1832 – SURVEY RECORDS – FIELD NOTE BOOKS – Cherokee, Section 3, District 13, Levi J. Knight, 1832. http://find.sos.state.ga.us/archon/?p=collections/findingaid&id=324&q=&rootcontentid=231131#id231131
- Memoirs of Georgia, Volume I, Southern Historical Association, Atlanta, Georgia, 1895, Book, page 316
- Huxford, F. (1916). History of Clinch County, Georgia, , comp. and ed. by Folks Huxford. Macon, Ga: J.W. Burke. pg. 265
- Loyless, T. W. (1902). Georgia’s public men 1902-1904. Atlanta, Ga: Byrd Print. Pp 166.