Civil War Letters of James Parrish

Confederate Letters of James W. Parrish (1847 – 1916)

June 5, 1864 letter from James W. Parrish to his wife Christiana DeVane Parrish.  Full image available at www.berriencountyga.com

June 5, 1864 letter from James W. Parrish to his wife Christiana DeVane Parrish. Full image available at http://www.berriencountyga.com

Provided below is the transcription of a Civil War letter written  June 5, 1864 by James W. Parrish.   The letter is one of a collection of five Civil War letters written by James W. Parrish during the summer of 1864, while he was serving with the Confederate  Army near Atlanta.  These letters have been published along with other Civil War letters at the Berrien County Historical Society website courtesy of John C. Futch.  The letters are addressed to his wife Christian DeVane Parrish, and mention or refer to Captain Godfrey, Thomas Ray, Eli Futch, Ansel Parrish,  Absalom Parrish, Thomas DeVane,  P. W. Sineath, Thomas Futch, and others.

James W. Parrish.  Image detail courtesy of www. berriencountyga.com

James W. Parrish. Image detail courtesy of www. berriencountyga.com

James W. Parrish was a son of Elder Ansel Parrish and Molcy Knight Parrish,   After the war he owned 295 acres  on land Lots #371  an 366 just west of Ray’s Mill (Now Ray City, GA), along with others of the Parrish family connection.  He was a neighbor of Noah Griffin who was residing on 245 acres of  Lot #371 with his family.

According to the 1921 Confederate Widow’s Pension Application filed by Christiana Parrish, James W. Parrish enlisted in April 1864 in Company K, 1st Georgia Reserves, at Nashville, GA.  His letters home show James W. Parrish was with his unit at Camp Georgia near Atlanta in May, 1864.

The following letter was written June 5, 1864:

Camp Georgia Neare Atlanta Ga.

June the 5, 1864

Deare wife I once more imbrace the opportunity of dashing you a few lines which will informe you that I am in tolerable health. I truley hope this will come to hand in due time and find you all enjoying the best of health and as well satisfyde as the case will admit.  I will now say to you that I have but little newes that is reliable to write you more than what you see in the papers. we have a grate variety of newes here but we do not confidence were all of them.  we are still at the same place. we have all organised I think in companyes and Regments. Godfry is co. Captain, Thomas Ray, first Liutinant. we have a grate many woonded soldiers coming in here but there has not come any of the Berrien boys yet as I have herd of yet. Some of our men go to the hospital all most every day. There was a good rain here yesterday and after the rain slacked there was hevey fireing of the -nnon in the direction of our armey. we here the morning that Shurmans armey have fell back 10 miles. whether this is so or not I cannot tell. I will now say to you that I have made all the enquery I can about Eli. I have herd he had give out and was gone to the hospittle but wher I can not tell. It is thought by some that we will not stay here many days.  Gov. Brown have bin to see cos. twice. He says he will not keep us here eny longer than he can help. our county men I believe is all tolerable well. Let Mother and Ansel read this letter. I will close. You must write me all the newes. direct your letters to Camp Georgia near Atlanta, Ga  fifth ? Ga Militia care Cap Godfrey

Your loving husban

James Parrish

On July 2, 1864 the company was at a “camp in the woods” about ten miles west of Atlanta on the banks of the Chattahoochee River. On July 26 James W. Parrish wrote that was detailed as a company cook.  At the War’s end, his command surrendered at Goldsboro, NC, but James wasn’t with the unit at that time. According to the affidavit filed by his younger brother, Henry William Parrish, he was furloughed sick in Savannah in September, 1864. When he recovered, instead of returning to his unit he was detailed to a unit “hunting deserters” and was on that assignment when the war ended.

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Gilbert Parrish and the Dipper Gourd

Gilbert Parrish (1856-1903)

Gilbert Parrish, son of William Parrish and Rebecca Jane Devane, was a farmer of the 1156 District of Berrien County. As a farmer, Gilbert Parrish  appreciated the aesthetics of  country life.  The simplicity of a cool drink of water from a gourd dipper was, for his tastes, unbeatable.

Gilbert Parrish

Gilbert Parrish

For Parrish and other pioneers of Wiregrass Georgia, the utility of gourds was an essential part of daily living.   “In a thousand different ways the gourd is of the greatest use to all Southern families,” the Friends’ Intelligencer 1902 volume observed.

“… there is seldom found a farm-house where many gourd utensils are not in evidence, and the tourist will not be long in finding that in some of the poorer homesteads, and, in fact, in a great many of the well-to-do farm houses, they are the only known receptacles for water, milk, food, soap, and the various articles found in country kitchens. Every Southern housewife has a small sized gourd for holding salt, one for flour, one for pepper and other condiments, and a large one for lard, butter, corn, beans, and other vegetables…The housewife prides herself on her milking-gourds, which are kept white and clean by constant scourings and scaldings.” Large gourds are used as hens’ nests, water is carried to the farm hands in the fields in a large gourd bucket, the tinsmith and the shoemaker keep their tools in a gourd chest; they are also used as hanging baskets…” “Stopping at a farm-house in any of our Southern States of North America and asking for water, the tourist will be directed to help himself at the well, where a gourd dipper hangs in readiness.”

The 1883 American Agriculturalist noted the utility of the dipper gourd:

 One of the most useful forms is the Dipper-gourd, in which the smaller end, or handle, is sometimes curved, but quite as often it is straight. The shell of this gourd, when a large opening is made in one side, and the contents removed, forms a dipper, very useful on washing days and at soap-making times. When thoroughly cleansed and soaked, to remove all taste, it is used at the water- pail. 

Dipper gourd

Dipper gourd

While in Nashville, GA on a dog day afternoon, Gilbert Parrish waxed eloquently on the refreshing qualities of water from a dipper gourd.

Atlanta Constitution Wednesday, Aug 6, 1884. Pg. 2. GEORGIA GOSSIP.  From the Berrien, Ga. News   It was Sunday afternoon, and they were sitting under the awning in front of Bill K. Robert’s store. As we walked up Gilbert Parrish was delivering himself as follows: “Boys, you may talk about your fancy fixing, your silver and gold and your tin dippers, your oak buckets, and your drinking from the spring, but for solid comfort and keen enjoyment give me the old-fashioned country raised gourd – the kitchen gourd. It must hold about a quart, have a long crooked handle and be split about half way down the side and sewed up with white thread crossed just so (here he crossed his fingers like the letter x). If a man will drink some of our Berrien county water from such a gourd as that and say that it ain’t the very quintessence of pleasure, why I don’t want to know him, that’s all.”

Note: Storekeeper William K. Roberts was a son of Bryan J. Roberts, pioneer and Indian fighter of old Lowndes county.

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Death of Troy Fountain

At Pleasant Cemetery there stands a Woodmen of the World monument marking the grave of a young man who died September 4, 1909 just a few weeks shy of his 13th birthday.

IMG_2560

Ernest Troy Fountain, born October 10, 1896, was a grandson of Molcy Knight and Ansel Parrish, and  son of  Richmond Fountain and Mollie Parrish.

His father, Richmond Fountain was a farmer in the Connell Mill District, Georgia Militia District 1329.  Some time before 1910 Richard Fountain acquired a farm there, on the Lois & Rays Mill Road, where he engaged in general farming.

Apparently, the Fountains were bringing in a cotton crop that season. The afternoon of Friday, September 3, 1909 found Richmond and his son, Troy, at a ginnery at Lois, GA when a tragic accident occurred.

The Tifton Gazette reported: “Valdosta, Ga., Sept. 4. – The 12 year old son of Richmond Fountain, of Lois, Ga., was severely injured yesterday afternoon by being caught in a revolving shaft at a ginnery at that place.”

Ernest Troy Fountain died the following day, and was laid to rest at Pleasant Cemetery.

His mother, Mollie Parrish,  died four years later, on November 27, 1913 and was buried at his side at Pleasant Cemetery.  His father later owned a grocery store in Ray City and had a home on the Ray City-Valdosta road.

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Big Blaze of 1915

The big fire at Rays Mill broke out just a few minutes after sunrise on a Sunday morning, April 25, 1915.  The flames originated in the business district in a small store operated by Johnnie Clements, Jr. and soon spread to nearby buildings including the two story Rays Mill Hotel. The J.M. Parrish & Company store owned by Joseph Math Parrish was also damaged; bookkeeper at the store was Leon Lacy Parrish.  At that time there was no water system in the town, and no way to effectively fight the blaze.

The Nashville Herald
April 30, 1915

Destructive Fire Visits Rays Mill

      One of the most disastrous fires in the history of Rays Mill visited that place Sunday morning about 6 o’clock.  Several stores and considerable amount of goods were destroyed by the flames.

      The fire started in a store owned by John Clements of Milltown, in which building his son, Johnnie Clements, Jr., was operating a small store, and the store and contents were completely destroyed.  The loss in this instance was about $1,000 on the building and about the same amount on the stock.  There was insurance covering about half the loss.

      The flames leaped over a brick building and it was completely consumed [missing] & Co. and set fire to the Rays Mill hotel.  The hotel was a two-story building and it was completely consumed by the fire.  It was owned by Messrs. J.H. and Jas. S. Swindle and was valued at $5,000 or $6,000.  The hotel was destroyed with most of its contents.  Mr. J.F. Hineley, who operated the hotel, also had a small store which was entirely destroyed.

      The flames when the hotel was burning were so hot that the brick store of J.M. Parrish & Co. caught and was entirely destroyed.  The building was valued at about $4,000 and the stock of goods was valued at about $15,000.  The stock was largely the property of Mr. G.W. Varn, of Valdosta.  There was insurance for about half of this loss.

      Two other store buildings belonging to Mr. Will Studstill of Valdosta were destroyed by the flames.  These small buildings were valued at about $1,000, while the stocks of goods in them were small.

      It was impossible to control the flames as there was no water supply sufficient to cope with the fire and about all that could be done was to stand by and watch the different buildings burns and try to prevent any spreading.  The losses are heavy ones and will injure the town materially.

      The total loss is figured at $23,000, and the total amount of insurance carried was $14,000, according to Mr. J.S. Swindle, who was in Nashville yesterday.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

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The Tifton Gazette
April 30, 1915

BAD FIRE AT RAY’S MILL

Flames Destroyed Hotel and Stores.  $30,000 Loss

Valdosta, April 26. – One-third of the business section of Rays Mill, a flourishing town fourteen miles from Valdosta, was destroyed by fire on Sunday.  A number of merchants lost their stores and stocks and the Rays Mill hotel, a large two-story building, was entirely destroyed with most of the furnishings.

The losses will amount to about $30,000, the property being partly covered by insurance.  J.F. Hinely, proprietor of the hotel; J.M. Parrish & Company, John J. Clements, Jr., J.H. and J.S. Swindle and W.M. Studstill are the principal losers.

The town has no water facilities and the block in which the flames started was burned before the fire could be checked.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

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The Nashville Herald
May 21, 1915

Rays Mill, The Week’s Doings In and Around

      The debris has been cleared away and work on the new buildings which will replace those destroyed by the recent disastrous fire is progressing rapidly.  With the completion of these new brick buildings, we will have what appears from the depot, almost a solid brick block, which we trust will be a reality in the near future.  The J.M. Parrish Company’s store which was only partially destroyed, will be ready for occupancy again within a few days.  This should be good news to all their many customers and friends, as they will have a new and complete line of general merchandise.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

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Bryan J. Robert’s Account of the Last Indian Fight in Berrien County

Bryan J. Roberts, and his brothers Nathan and John, were among Levi J. Knight’s company of men who fought in the Indian Wars of 1836.  Many published accounts of the pioneer skirmishes with Native Americans at  William Parker’s place on the Alapaha River and at Brushy Creek have been related on the Ray City History Blog.

Here is the story the way it was told by B. J. Roberts 50 years after the event:

The Valdosta Times
May 14, 1887

INDIAN FIGHTERS

A Brief Account of the Fighting In This Section In 1836.

Mr. Bryan J. Roberts, father of Mr. W. K. Roberts of this place, is one of the pioneers of Lowndes, and has seen service as an Indian fighter in this and Clinch counties.  He is now in his 78th year and is spending the evening of his life very happily among his devoted children, having a few years ago divided a fine property among them, reserving for himself a sufficiency for his simple needs.  His children are all prospering and he is happy in seeing them happy.

In 1836 the rumors of depredations and murders by Indians in other portions of the State caused widespread alarm in this section, and the citizens organized companies for the protection of their families and property.  Capt. Levi J. Knight commanded the company to which Mr. Roberts belonged.

This company was on duty one hundred and five days, and during that time engaged in two bloody fights with the red skins.

In August, 1835, a squad of Indians raided Mr. William Parker’s home, not far from Milltown.  They carried his feather beds out into the yard; cut them open, emptied the feathers, cut and carried the ticks with them.  They also robbed him of provisions, clothing, and $208.25 in money.

Capt. Knight’s company was soon on the trail of this squad and in a short time overtook them near the Alapaha river, not far from the Gaskins mill pond.  The sun was just rising when the gallant company opened fire on the savages. A lively fight ensued, but it soon terminated in the complete routing of the Indians, who threw their guns and plunder into the river and jumped in after them.  A few were killed and a number wounded.  One Indian was armed with a fine shot gun.  This he threw into the river and tried to throw a shot bag, but it was caught by the limb of a tree and was suspended over the water.  This bag contained Mr. Parker’s money, every cent of which he recovered as well as all the other property taken from his house. The fine gun was fished out of the river and, afterwards sold for $40, a tremendous price for a gun in those days.  In the fight Mr. Peters was shot with this same gun.  One buck-shot struck him just above the waist-band of his pants, passed through and lodged under the skin near the backbone. He was also struck by two shot in the left side, which made only slight wounds.  The Indian was not more than thirty yards distant when he shot him.  Mr. Peters recovered from his wounds in less than twelve months.

Having driven the Indians into the dense swamp beyond the river, Capt. Knight marched his company as rapidly as possible in the direction of Brushy creek, in the Southwestern portion of the county.  When they arrived near that place, they heard a volley of small arms, and on arrival found that the battle had been fought and that the volley they heard was the last tribute of respect over the grave of their brave comrade-in-arms, Pennywell Folsom.  Edwin Shanks and a man named Ferrell were also shot dead in the fight.  Edwin Henderson was mortally wounded and died near the battlefield.  Mr. Robert Parrish, Sr., who lives near Adel, had his arm broken by a bullet in this fight. The Indians lost 27 killed and a number wounded.  We have no account of any prisoners being taken.  The battle of Brushy Creek was fought in a low, marshy swamp where Indian cunning was pitted against the invincible courage of the Anglo-Saxon, and in five minutes after the fight opened there was not a live red skin to be seen.

From this place Capt. Knight marched his company to what is now Clinch county.  He overtook the Indians at Cow Creek, where a sharp engagement took place, resulting in the killing of three and the taking of five prisoners. Mr. Brazelius Staten was dangerously wounded in this fight but finally recovered.

This ended the Indian fighting in which Capt. Knight’s company were engaged. Half a century has passed since then.  Nearly all the actors in that brief but bloody drama are at rest beyond the stars. A few of them are still among us, the valiant pioneers of this country, who bared their breasts to the bullets of the savages in order that their descendants might possess this fair land in peace.

The following is a list, as near as can now be ascertained, of the living and dead of Capt. Knight’s company.  The company numbered 120 men, many of whom came from neighboring counties, whose names cannot now be recalled.

LIVING–Bryan J. Roberts, Moses Giddens, John Studstill, Jonathan Studstill, Aaron Knight, Guilford Register, Echols county.) David Clements, William Giddens, John and Nathan Roberts, Fla.) (Zeke Parrish, Lowndes county,) John McMillain, John McDermid and Robert Parrish.

DEAD–George Henedge, Jeremiah Shaw, Daniel Sloan, John Lee, Moses Lee, James Patten, William J. Roberts, Isben Giddens, Jacob Giddens, Elbert Peterson, John Knight, Thomas Giddens, Harmon Gaskins, John Gaskins, William Gaskins, Sam Lee, Frederick Giddens, James Parrish, Martin Shaw, Archie McCranie, Daniel McCranie, Malcom McCranie, Alexander Patterson, James Edmondson, David Mathis, Thomas Mathis, Levi Shaw, William Peters, Jonathan Knight, Levi J. Knight and Brazelias Staten.

The Indians who passed through here belonged to the Creek Nation and were on their way from Roanoke to Florida to join the Seminoles.  They were first discovered in this county by Samuel Mattox, at Poplar Head, near where Mr. Tom Futch now lives.  Mattox was afterward hanged for murdering the fifteen-year-old son of Mr. Moses Slaughter.  Most of these Indians reached the Okeefenokee Swamp where they were joined by a large band of Seminoles.  From then until 1839 these savages did much damage to the white settlers in the vicinity of the Swamp, but in that year they were driven out and took refuge in the Everglades, where they were, with the exception of a small number, finally captured and sent to Arkansas.
Since the above was put in type another of the gallant old Indian fighters, Mr. Aaron Knight, has joined his comrades beyond the stars.

A 1915 reprint of this article also  noted “The Malcolm McCranie referred to was the father of Mr. Geo. F. McCranie, cashier of the Bank of Willacoochee and Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners of Coffee.”

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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).

Eulogy of Elder Ansel Parrish

Ansel Parrish (1824 -1891)

 Elder Ansel Parrish, of Berrien County, GA was one of the ablest and best known Primitive Baptist preachers of his time.  Ansel Parrish joined Pleasant Church at the age of 19, and thereafter dedicated his life to the service of the Primitive Baptist faith. During the Civil War he ministered to the confederate soldiers in 50th Georgia Regiment at their encampment near Savannah, GA.  He became a leader among the Primitive Baptists, and preached at many of the churches in the area.  From the death of Elder William A. Knight in 1860 until 1865, the close of the Civil War,  Ansel Parrish served as pastor of Union Church, the mother church of all the Primitive Baptist churches in this section.

Ansel Parrish (1824 - 1891). Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Ansel Parrish (1824 – 1891). Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Recognized throughout the Wiregrass, “he was considered a great power in the church as well as out of the church”.

The Thomasville Times
August 16, 1884

Moultrie Meanderings.

The yearly meeting of the Primitive Baptists at Barber’s church, three miles east of here, came off last week. The attendance was large, Elder Ancil Parrish, one of the old landmarks, was present. Uncle Ancil bids fair to weather the storms of several winters yet. The creed of these people may be at fault, or not, I don’t pretend to say; but the predominant idea of their lives seems to be embodied in the maxim: “Be honest, industrious and attend to your own business, and they endeavor to carry out this proposition with might and main.

Ansel Parrish married Molcy Knight on December 15, 1842.

Elder Ansel Parrish, (1824 -1891), and Molcy Knight Parrish (1826 - 1897). Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Elder Ansel Parrish, (1824 -1891), and Molcy Knight Parrish (1826 – 1897). Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Following the death of Ansel Parrish on January 16, 1891, Eulogies appeared in The Valdosta Times:

The Valdosta Times
Saturday, January 24, 1891

He Will Be Missed.

        Many of our readers knew a man, now gone from view, whose plain and simple life, unadorned with the polish of modern culture, illustrated in a striking degree many of the higher and nobler attributes of manhood; whose life-work stamped him a man of power.  Although denied in his youth the benefits of the ordinary high schools of the country, and necessarily therefore a stranger to theological seminaries, yet he had the gift of oratory, and the force of strong convictions. He expounded the Scriptures as he understood them, and labored to make men better.  He was not skilled in the arts of the modern doctors of divinity, nor was he a juggler with words. He was a plain blunt man. To him there shone a light through the clouds of the letter of the word which fired his heart and loosened his tongue. He went out among his people and taught them justice and the ways of peace. He was a law-giver of the old-time type. When brothers quarreled he called them together, heard the testimony, settled the dispute, and sent them away reconciled. He always kept them out of the Courthouse when he could, but if he failed he followed them to the bar of the court, and there exercised a wonderful influence in the settlement of the case. The people believed his heart was pure and his judgment was sound, and seldom a jury was found which would not accept his convictions and make them their own verdict, in spite of the pleadings of the lawyers. It was his custom on such occasions to take a seat within the bar of the court room, and when the lawyers on his side opposed to his convictions would rise to address the jury he would sit dumb and motionless. It is said the lawyers, knowing his power, would often address much of their speech to him, hoping to draw some token of assent, but he could not be coaxed or driven from his position. But when the other side – the right side – was being presented to the jurors, his face would show his sympathy; and repeatedly, and unconsciously, as it were, when strong points were being driven home by the logic of the speaker, or when important quotations bearing on the case would be drawn from the evidence, he would nod assent, and give audible tokens of approval. He was always in touch with the juries, and the verdicts always came right.
It has been often said by lawyers practicing in that court that he was more greatly to be feared, if he was against their client, than the logic and eloquence of the most astute practitioner in the circuit.
This good old man – simple and home-spun in his ways – was a power in the region about him. If he drove to the county town, or to a railway station, a crowd would gather round his buggy before he could get out, and two or three would begin unhitching his horse.
He asked no money for his preaching, but he always had plenty – the product of a well-tilled farm; and no widow, or other deserving poor person in the neighborhood, went unprovided for if he knew of their want. It is said that he studiously avoided giving publicity to his charities, and that the beneficiaries were often ignorant as to the identity of their benefactor.
The fame of this man went beyond the limits of his neighborhood and county. Wherever those of his faith and order assembled in Wiregrass Georgia or Florida he was known, and his name was reverently mentioned. If he was present he was a leader; if absent, his absence was felt.
Such a man was Elder Ansel Parrish, the old Primitive Baptist preacher of Berrien County, as seen by one who was neither his partisan nor his parishioner.
When news of his fatal illness spread over the country hundreds of his devoted friends and followers journeyed to the bedside of the dying preacher to get a last look into the depths of those great grey eyes before the light went out and the old-time fire burnt down in their sockets. And when they laid his body away in the old family burying ground, a great concourse of people gathered to mingle their tears with the sod in the new made mound.

A week later, The Valdosta Times followed up with a tribute to Elder Parrish.

The Valdosta Times
Saturday, January 31, 1891

 Ansel Parrish

        A Brief Biographical Sketch Of One Who Will Be Missed. “Oh for the touch of a vanished hand, and the sound of a voice that is still.” Elder Ansel Parrish was born in Bulloch County, Ga., July 7th, 1824, and died at his home seven miles southwest of Nashville in Berrien County January 16th, 1891.
Elder Ansel was the fourth son of Henry and Nancy Parrish, who moved from Bulloch to Lowndes, now Berrien County, in 1825, and the future preacher learned to take his first toddling steps at a camp fire on the road while his parents were moving here.
He grew up with the meager opportunities common to our country and his literary attainments were therefore meager. Of a calm temper he was early separated from the wild life of the country and joined the Primitive Baptist Church in 1843, being in his nineteenth year, and was ordained an Elder March 18th, 1854. He was married to Miss Mollsey Knight, whose father was William Knight and her mother a daughter of Jesse Carter, thus uniting the two largest family connections in Lowndes County. To write of him as a neighbor and friend, a husband and father would be out of place here. Those who knew him best loved him most.
It is as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus I would fain write most, and then, he was so widely known that the task will alas fall short of his merit. The writer heard him preach first and most frequently at Salem (Adel) Church of which he was one of the Pastors for a long number of years, assisted by his uncle, brother and co-worker the late lamented Elder Ezekiel J. Williams. As a preacher he was earnest in the faith as he interpreted the word of God, yet not harsh, ever bearing in mind the faith of others. He devoted his early and mature manhood to his Master’s service and when the infirmities of age began to creep on him he seemed to not regard them as an excuse to satisfy self ease, but labored on, and when he could not stand in the sacred desk to deliver his message he preached seated. For all this work and work in physical pain, he never, to my knowledge, asked a dollar as a reward.
A good substantial farmer, he was not only self sustaining but ever ready to open his hand to the needy when his already open heart heard the cry of distress. Seventeen children, 14 of whom are living, 7 sons and 7 daughters were born to him. He leaves 80 living grandchildren, and 24 dead, preceded him of his 8 brothers and 2 sisters, only the venerable Josiah Parrish of Ava, and Absalom of Arkansas survive him.
Elder Parrish was at the time of his death Pastor of the following Churches:  Pleasant and Cat Creek, literally falling in the line of duty. May his fidelity to his Master’s cause be taken as an example by those whom he has so long and faithfully warned. In him his family has lost all that goes to make a husband and father, and his Church its wisest counselor.

The archives of the US GenWeb project provide the following biography:

Biography of Elder Ansel Parrish

Elder ANSEL PARRISH was one of the ablest and best known Primitive Baptist mininsters in his day for over 35 years prior to his death. He was considered a great power in the church as well as out of the church. He was born in Bullock County, July 7, 1824, a son of Henry and Nancy Parrish.
        He was married Dec. 15, 1842, in Lowndes (now Berrien) County, to Molcy Knight, born Nov. 7, 1826, daughter of William Cone Knight. 
        Elder Parrish was first converted and united with Pleasant Church in Lowndes County, Aug. 19, 1843, and was baptized. Mrs. Parrish followed him into the church and was baptized November, 1847. He was ordained a deacon in his church, Feb. 2, 1848, and served in this office until he was licensed to preach, Jan. 17, 1852. Two years later, March 19, 1854, he was ordained to the full Gospel Ministry by a presbytery composed of Elders Wm. A. Knight, J. B. Smith and J.E.W. Smith. From then until his death, Jan. 16, 1891, his was a very busy and fruitful ministry among the Primitive Baptist Churches in Berrien and adjoining counties. His first cousin, Elder E. J. Williams, was Pastor of Pleasant Church when he (Elder Parrish) was ordained and continued as such until 1881 when he declined re-election; thereupon Elder Parrish was called. He continued as Pastor of his home hurch until his death. At the time (1881), he was already serving Cat Creek Church in Lowndes County, and in April, 1881, he was called as Pastor by Friendship Church near Hahira, also Salem Church in Adel. These four Churches he continued to serve as pastor until his death 13 years later. He also served as Moderator of the Union Association several years. Elder Parrish owned a large tract of land in Berrien County and gave each of his sons a farm when they married. Mrs. Parrish died June 25, 1897. She and her husband were buried in the Lois Cemetery near Pleasant Church.

Grave of Ansel Parrish (1824 - 1891), Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.  Image source: FindAGrave.com

Grave of Ansel Parrish (1824 – 1891), Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA. Image source: FindAGrave.com

Children of Molcy Knight and Ansel Parrish

  1. Rachel E Parrish 1844 –
  2. Elizabeth L Parrish 1845 – 1928, married Marion Register
  3. James W Parrish 1847 – 1916
  4. Nancy E Parrish 1848 – 1924
  5. Mary Eleanor Parrish 1849 – 1909, married John Lee
  6. Henry William Parrish 1851 – 1928
  7. John A Parrish 1853 – 1914
  8. Sarah Laura Parrish 1854 – 1933
  9. Ezekiel Crofford Parrish 1856 – 1924
  10. Martha M.  “Mattie”  Parrish 1860 – 1942, married Aaron A. Knight
  11. Josiah Allen Jones Parrish 1861 – 1929
  12. Jesse A Parrish 1864 – 1938
  13. Amanda Celestia Parrish 1866 – 1900
  14. Naomi Parrish 1867 – 1886
  15. Moorna Parrish 1868 –
  16. Child Parrish 1869 –
  17. Alderman B Parrish 1871 – 1932

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Theodocia "Docia" Rigell Parrish (1865-1942)

Theodocia “Docia” Rigell Parrish (1865-1942)

Grave of Docia Rigell Parrish, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Grave of Docia Rigell Parrish, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Theodocia “Docia” Rigell was born September 26, 1865 in Clinch Co. Georgia.

She married Aaron A. Parrish February 14, 1883 in Berrien Co. Georgia, son of Matthew Parrish and Sarah Giddens. He was born February 10, 1856 in Lowndes Co. Georgia, and died November 11, 1890.

Docia’s brother, David Rigell, opened one of the earliest stores in the Ray’s Mill, Georgia area.

Docia Parrish died January 15, 1942. She was buried in Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

See more about Docia Parrish and Ray City, GA history see http://raycity.pbworks.com/