Georgia Land Lottery of 1827

The Georgia land lotteries, legitimized by questionable and coercive treaties, continued the encroachment by settlers on the ancestral lands of Native Americans in Georgia, inevitably leading to conflict in the Indian Wars. Although Lowndes county, GA was sparsely populated at the time, the “Fortunate Drawers” in the lottery included a few Lowndes pioneers (listed below).

Drawing of winning names and land lots in the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827. Daily results were published in state newspapers.

Drawing the winning names and land lots in the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827. Daily results were published in state newspapers.

The 1827 Georgia Land Lottery was authorized by an Act of June 9, 1825   “to dispose of and distribute the lands lately acquired by a treaty [made] and concluded at the Indian Springs on the twelfth day of February, eighteen hundred and twenty-five”.  Citizens eligible for the lottery were directed to register their names in their home county within two months from the publication of the authorizing Act, however, persons were still being registered up to February 15, 1827.

The 1827 lottery dispensed lots in Lee, Muscogee, Troup, Coweta and Carroll counties.  Surveyors were elected by the legislature to survey the land to be distributed; these State surveyors directed teams of chainmen, axemen, and markers to lay out districts with lots of of 202 1/2 acres each.  Surveyors’ field notes  recorded the distances and points demarcating the district and land lots, land features, roads, and watercourses. These survey and field notes were conducted prior to the distribution of lands. (In the Georgia Land Lottery of 1832,  Levi J. Knight was state surveyor of Cherokee lands, Section 3, District 13). The surveyors sent the district and lot numbers to the governor’s office.

Fortunate Drawers among the pioneer settlers of Old Lowndes County, mother county of Berrien County, GA:

  •  Alfred Belote, one of the original four settlers of Lowndes County,  drew Lot 125 in the 25th District of Lee County, GA
  • Elijah Folsom, son of Lawrence Folsom, pioneer settler of Lowndes County, GA,   drew Lot 255 in the 8th District of Carroll County.
  • Enoch Hall, pioneer settler of Lowndes County, GA and son of Sion Hall,  drew Lot 200 in the 11th District of Carroll Co
  • William Clements of Wayne County, father-in-law of Levi J. Knight, as a veteran was entitled to receive an extra draw and drew Lot 87, 1st District of Muscogee County
  • Dixon Bennett, came with his parents in 1827 to settle on the east side of the Alapaha River in present day Lanier County, registered in Lowndes County and drew Lot 75, 11th District of Muscogee County on the 21st Day’s Drawing – March 30
  • David Gornto, settled in Lowndes County with his wife Eliza Ann Allen Gornto about 1828-1829, drew Lot 195, Section 2, District 10 in Muscogee County.
  • Lewis Vickers, son of Lowndes pioneer Drew Vickers, registered in Underwoods District of Irwin County, drew Lot 133, District 1 of Muscogee County.
  • Levi J. Knight, original settler of the Ray City, GA area, registered in Mannings District of Wayne County, drew Lot 223 in the 23rd District of Lee County.
  • William P. Roberts registered in the 11th District of Lowndes County, drew Lot 216, District 3 of Coweta County on the 5th Day’s Drawing – 12th March
  • John S. Whitfield registered in the 12th District of Lowndes County, drew Lot 176, District 4 of Coweta County on the 8th Day’s Drawing – March 15
  • Sarah Ritcherson, an illigitimate child, was registered in District 4 of Lowndes County, drew Lot 2, District 2 of Troup County on the 13th Day’s Drawing – March 21
  • Henry Parish, a veteran of the War of 1812 and pioneer settler who came to Lowndes County about 1825, was registered in the 10th District of Lowndes County, drew Lot 77, District 30 of Lee County on the 28th Day’s Drawing – April 7th
  • Isben Giddens, a veteran and one of the first settlers in the Ray City, GA area, son-in-law of Levi J. Knight, registered in the 10th District of Lowndes County, drew Lot 248 in the 13th District of Lee County on the 33d Day’s Drawing – April 13, 1827
  • Thomas Folsom,  following his uncle Lawrence Armstrong Folsom came about 1824-25 with brothers Israel and Pennywell Folsom to that region of Lowndes county now Brooks County, GA, registered for the lottery in the 1st District of Lowndes County, drew Lot 1, District 20 in Lee County, GA on 38th Day’s Drawings – April 19, 1827
  • Samuel Register, veteran of the War of 1812 brought his wife and family about 1826 as pioneer settlers of Lowndes County, settled in the 10th Land District near Possum Branch, not too far from the homestead of Levi J. Knight, registered for the lottery in the 10th District of Lowndes county, was a fortunate drawer in the 49th Day’s Drawings, May 2, 1827 drawing Lot 80, District 11 in Troup County, GA
  • Lewis Blackshear, pioneer settler of old Lowndes County registered in the 12 District of Lowndes and drew Lot 198,  6th District of Muscogee County on the 50th Day’s Drawings – May 3, 1827
  • John Kley, soldier, registered in the 10th District of Lowndes County, on the 53d Day’s Drawings – May 7 – drew Lot 37 in the 21st District of Muscogee County

Persons entitled to draw in the 1827 Georgia Land Lottery:

  • Bachelor, 18 years or over, 3-year residence in Georgia, citizen of United States – 1 draw
  • Married man with wife or son under 18 years or unmarried daughter, 3-year residence in Georgia, citizen of United States – 2 draws
  • Widow, 3-year residence in Georgia – 1 draw
  • Wife and/or child, 3-year residence in Georgia, husband and/or father absent from state for 3 years – 1 draw
  • Family (one or two ) of orphans under 18 years whose father is dead, 3-year residence in state or since birth – 1 draw
  • Family (three or more) of orphans under 18 years, 3-year residence in state or since birth – 2 draws
  • Widow, husband killed in Revolutionary War, War of 1812, or Indian War, 3-year residence in Georgia – 2 draws
  • Orphan, father killed in Revolutionary War, War of 1812 or Indian War – 2 draws
  • Wounded or disabled veteran of War of 1812 or Indian War, unable to work – 2 draws
  • Veteran of Revolutionary War – 2 draws
  • Veteran of Revolutionary War who had been a fortunate drawer in any previous Lottery – 1 draw
  • Child or children of convict, 3-year residence in Georgia – 1 draw
  • Male idiots, lunatics or insane, deaf and dumb, or blind, over 10 years and under 18 years, 3-year residence in Georgia – 1 draw
  • Female idiots, insane or lunatics, deaf and dumb, or blind, over 10 years, 3-year residence in Georgia – 1 draw
  • Family (one or two) of illegitimates under 18 years, residence since birth in Georgia – 1 draw
  • Family (three or more) of illegitimates under 18 years, residence since birth in Georgia – 2 draws
  • Child or children of a convict whose father had not drawn in any of the former land lotteries – entitled to a draw or draws in the same manner they would be entitled if they were orphans

Persons Excluded

  • Any fortunate drawer in any previous Land Lottery.
  • Citizens who volunteered or were legally drafted in the War of 1812 or the Indian War and who refused to serve a tour of duty in person or by substitute.
  • Anyone who may have deserted from military service.
  • Any tax defaulter or absconded for debt.
  • Any convict in the penitentiary.

The registered names were sent to the governor’s office at the state capital where they were copied onto slips of paper called “tickets” and placed in a large drum called a “wheel.” District and lot numbers were placed in a separate wheel. (At first, blank tickets were added to this wheel, so that the number of tickets would equal the number of persons drawing.) Commissioners appointed by the governor drew a name ticket from one wheel and a district/lot ticket from the other wheel. If the district/lot ticket was blank, the person received nothing. If the ticket contained a district/lot number, the person received a prize of that parcel of land. A ticket that contained a number was called a “Fortunate Draw.” With later lotteries (after 1820), when blank tickets were not added to the prize wheel, individuals whose names remained in the second wheel were considered to have drawn blanks. Anyone who received a Fortunate Draw could take out a grant for the lot he drew, after paying the grant fee. If he did not take out a grant, the lot reverted back to the state to be sold to the highest bidder. In the 1827 land lottery, the grant fee was $18.00 per land lot.

The Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the lottery was published in A Compilation of the Laws of the State of Georgia, Passed by the Legislature.

Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827 disposing of Creek lands.

Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827 disposing of Creek lands.

Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827 disposing of Creek lands.

Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827 disposing of Creek lands.

Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827 disposing of Creek lands.

Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827 disposing of Creek lands.

Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827 disposing of Creek lands.

Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827 disposing of Creek lands.

Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827 disposing of Creek lands.

Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827 disposing of Creek lands.

AN ACT to dispose of and distribute the lands lately acquired by the United States, for the use of Georgia, of the Creek nation of Indians, by a Treaty made and concluded at the Indian Spring, on the twelfth day of February, 1825.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Georgia in General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That the territory acquired of the Creek Nation of Indians by the United States, for the use of Georgia, as described in articles of a treaty entered into and concluded between Commissioners on the part of the United States, and the Chiefs. Head Men, and Warriors, of the Creek Nation of Indians, at the Indian Spring, on the 12th day of February, 1825, shall form and be divided into five sections, as follows, to wit: All that part of said territory which lies South of a line commencing on the Flint river, opposite where the line dividing the counties of Houston and Dooly strikes said river, and running due West to the Chatahoochie, shall form what shall be called Section the First; and the criminal jurisdiction thereof shall be attached to the county of Dooly. All that part of said territory which lies North of the line aforesaid, and South of the line commencing on Flint river, opposite where the original line dividing the counties of Monroe and Houston, and running due West to the Chatahoochie river, shall form the Second Section; and the criminal jurisdiction thereof be, and the same is hereby, attached to the county of Houston. And all that part of said territory which lies North of the line last aforesaid, and South of a line commencing on the Flint river, where the original line dividing the counties of Henry and Monroe strikes said river, and running due West until it strikes the Chatahoochie river, shall be, and the same is hereby, called the Third Section; and the criminal jurisdiction thereof attached to the county of Pike. And all that part of said territory which lies North of said line, and East of the Chatahoochie river. shall form the Fourth Section; and the criminal jurisdiction thereof shall be attached to the county of Fayette. And all that part of said territory lying West of the Chatahoochie river, and East of the dividing line between this State and the State of Alabama, shall form the Fifth Section ; and the criminal jurisdiction thereof shall be attached to the county of Pike.

Sec. 2. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That each of the sections herein before laid out and described. shall be divided into districts of nine miles square, as near as practicable; the district lines running parallel to the lines dividing sections, and crossed by other lines at right angles; and said districts, so laid out, shall be again subdivided by lines to be run in like directions into square tracts containing each two hundred two and one half acres, marked and numbered according to the plan heretofore pursued under the instructions of the Surveyor General.

Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That the fractional parts of surveys, which may be created by the divisions and subdivisions aforesaid, shall be reserved for public uses, and be disposed of as a future Legislature may direct.

Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That one hundred district surveyors shall be appointed by joint ballot of the Legislature in one general ticket; and the person having the highest number of votes shall be entitled to the first choice of districts, and in the same order, agreeably to the number of votes each surveyor may receive; and in case of a tie between any number of surveyors, then preference in choice shall be decided by lot, in presence of the Surveyor General.

Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That ten persons shall be appointed by joint ballot of the Legislature, neither of whom shall be a district surveyor, to run and plainly mark the several districts, reserves, and sectional lines, herein before directed, whose duties shall be apportioned by the Surveyor General as nearly equal as practicable ; and that no ticket shall be counted unless it contains the names of ten persons.
Sec. 6. And be it further enacted. That no ticket for district surveyors shall be counted unless it contains one hundred names. Any person elected a surveyor, who shall fail to perform the duties of his office, as required by the provisions of this act, shall be considered as forfeiting his bond, and himself and his sureties immediately liable therefor.

Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That the surveyors, respectively, shall give bond, in the sum of ten thousand dollars, to the Governor and his successors in office, with such security as he, or a majority of the Justices of the Inferior Court of the county in which such surveyor may reside, shall approve, conditioned for the faithful performance of the duties required of them by this act, which bond shall be deposited in the Executive office.

Sec. 8. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the surveyors appointed in pursuance of this act, to make the surveys of the sections, reserves, and districts, to which they may be appointed, in their own proper person; to mark, or cause to be marked, plainly and distinctly, upon trees, if practicable, otherwise on posts, all stations and all lines which they may be required to run, for the purpose of making the surveys of their respective sections, reserves, and districts, immediately upon being required so to do by the Surveyor General; to cause all such lines to be measured, with all possible exactness, with a half chain containing thirty-three feet, divided into fifty equal links, which shall be adjusted by the Surveyor General according to the standard in his office; to take, as accurately as possible, the meanders of all water courses which shall form natural boundaries to any of the surveys; to note, in field books to be kept by them respectively, the names of the corner and station trees, which shall be marked and numbered under the direction of the Surveyor General—also, all rivers, creeks, and other water courses, which may be touched upon or crossed in running any of the lines aforesaid; transcripts of which field books, after being compared with the originals by the Surveyor General, and certified and signed on every page by the surveyor returning the same, shall be deposited in the Surveyor General’s office, and become a record. And the district Surveyors shall make a return of their surveys and works within ninety days from the time they are notified to enter upon the discharge of their duties, containing a map of their district, in which shall be correctly represented and numbered all lots and fractions of said district, and waters therein delineated, as the Surveyor General may direct; and also return at the same time a detached plat of each lot and fraction which said district may contain, certified and signed by such surveyor, which plat shall be filed among the records of the Surveyor General’s office, and from which copies shall be taken to be annexed to grants: and said surveyors shall conform to such instructions as they may receive from time to time, from the Surveyor General, during their continuance in office: Provided, the same do not militate against this act. And the surveyors appointed to lay out section, reserve, and district lines, shall make return of their works to the Surveyor General within sixty days from the time they shall be required to enter upon the duties of their office, of all such surveys as shall have been made on the East side of the Chatahoochie river; and, as to the remainder of the territory, within sixty days from the notification of the running of the line between this State and Alabama.

Sec. 9. And be it further enacted, That the district surveyors to be appointed by this act, shall receive three dollars for every mile that shall actually be run or surveyed, as a full compensation for the duties required of them by this act, out of which they shall defray the whole of the expenses incident to their offices; and his Excellency the Governor is hereby authorized and required to issue his warrant on the Treasury in favor of each of the aforesaid surveyors, upon his being called into service, to the amount of three hundred dollars, to enable him with the less delay to enter upon his duties; and the balance to which such surveyor may be entitled, shall be paid to him, in like manner, upon his producing a certificate from the Surveyor General, setting forth a performance of the work, and the amount due.

Sec. 10. And be it further enacted, That the surveyors who may be appointed to run section, reserve, and district lines, shall receive three dollars and fifty cents for each mile they may run and survey, as a full compensation for their service, out of which all incidental expenses shall be paid; and the Governor is required to issue his warrant on the Treasury, in favor of each of said surveyors, for the sum of three hundred dollars, upon their being called into service, and, in like manner, to pay any balance which may be due when the work is completed, and the Surveyor General shall certify the same.

Sec. 11. And be it further enacted. That the territory acquired as aforesaid, shall be disposed of and distributed in the following manner, to wit: After the surveying is completed, and return made thereof, this Excellency the Governor shall cause tickets to be made out, whereby all the numbers of lots in the different districts intended to be drawn for, shall be represented, which tickets shall be put into a wheel and constitute prizes. The following shall be the description and qualifications of persons entitled to give in their names for a draw or draws under this act : Every male white person of 18 years of age and upwards, being a citizen of the United States, and an inhabitant within the organized limits of this State three years immediately preceding the passage of this act, including such as have been absent on lawful business, shall be entitled to one draw ; every male person of like description, having a wife or legitimate male child or children under 18 years of age, or unmarried female child or children, resident as aforesaid, or who were born and have ever since resided in this State, shall have two draws; all widows, with the like residence, shall be entitled to one draw ; and wives and children, in this State, of persons who have been absent from this State three years, shall be on the same footing as to draws, as if the said husband was dead, and the title to such lots as said females or children may draw, be vested permanently in them as though they were widows and orphans; all families of orphans resident as aforesaid, or who have resided in this State from their birth, under the age of eighteen years, except such as may be entitled in their own right to a draw or draws, whose father is dead, shall have one draw ; all families of orphans, consisting of more than two, shall have two draws, but if not exceeding two, then such orphan or orphans shall be entitled to one draw, to be given in the county and district where the eldest of said orphans, or where the guardian of the eldest resides : Provided, That should such guardian, or such orphan or orphans, or the eldest of such orphans, reside within the organized limits of this State, then such draw or draws shall be given in the county in which such guardian may reside, or such orphan or orphans, or the eldest of such orphans, may reside; all widows, of like residence, whose husbands were killed, or died in the service of the country. or on their return march, in the late wars against Great Britain or the Indians, shall be entitled to a draw exclusive of that otherwise allowed by this act to widows; all orphans, whose fathers were killed or died in the service of the country, or on their return march, in the late wars against Great Britain or the Indians, shall be entitled to a draw exclusive of that otherwise allowed by this act to orphans; and all men who have been wounded or disabled in the late war with Great Britain or the Indians, so they are not able to procure a competency for a support, in consequence of their wounds, be allowed one draw in addition; and they shall take the following oath in addition : I do solemnly swear. that I was wounded in the late war with Great Britain and the Indians, and am so disabled by the same, that it renders me unable to procure a support by my labor: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be so construed as to entitle any person or persons to a draw or draws in the present contemplated land lottery, who may have been fortunate drawers in any previous land lottery, except such persons as have drawn land as one of a family of orphans, and who have arrived at the age of eighteen, but such person shall be entitled to one draw. and the remainder of such families of orphans shall be entitled to one draw: …And provided, That all widows of Revolutionary soldiers shall have one draw in addition to those already contemplated by this act; and that all Revolutionary soldiers who were not fortunate drawers as Revolutionary soldiers in the late land lottery, shall be entitled to two draws as Revolutionary soldiers; and those who drew one tract of land in the former lottery as Revolutionary soldiers, one draw: Provided, That the citizens of this State, who come under this act as above contemplated, and who volunteered or were legally drafted in the late war against Great Britain or the Indians, and refused to serve a tour of duty, either in person or by substitute, or who may have deserted from the service of this State, or of the United States, shall not be entitled to the provisions of this act, as above contemplated, nor any of those who illegally avoided a draft. by removal or otherwise; and that no person or persons, who have removed from the organized limits of this State, for the purpose of avoiding the laws of this State, or who have absconded for debt, shall, in no wise, be benefited by this act, and who have not paid all taxes required of them. In case any land is drawn by minors, the grant shall issue accordingly, upon payment of the usual fees : Provided, also, Nothing herein contained shall be construed to exclude such persons as by the provisions of this act are allowed a draw or draws.

Sec. 12. And be it further enacted, That any sale or transfer that any person entitled to a chance or chances in this land lottery may make of such chance or chances, or may make of any lot or lots of land, such persons may draw before the grant or grants of the same are taken out, shall be void, and any bond or obligation or letter of attorney given by said person to make titles, shall not be binding on such person: And further, It shall be illegal for any magistrate, or person authorized to administer an oath, to administer an oath to any person selling his chance or chances, lot or lots, contrary to the provisions of this section, that he will make titles to the same.

Sec. 13. And be it further enacted, That nothing herein contained shall be so construed as to allow any convict in the Penitentiary, to give in for a draw in the present contemplated lottery : Provided, nevertheless, That the child or children. who have resided in this State three years, of any said convict, shall be entitled to a draw or draws, in the same manner they would be entitled if they were orphans, and maybe given in for by their mother, or other person under whose care they may be, and the grant or grants shall issue accordingly to any lands so drawn : Provided, no such convict has drawn in any of the former land lotteries of this State in his own name.

Sec. 14. And be it further enacted, That lists of persons entitled to draws under this act, shall be made out by the Inferior Court of each county, or such persons as they may appoint, (not exceeding two to each battalion) within two months from the publication of this act; and said Inferior Court of the several counties of this State, or the persons they may appoint, shall attend in each captain’s district, at least twice. giving ten days’ notice of such attendance, for the purpose of taking the names of the persons entitled to draws; the names of the persons entitled, shall be entered by the Receivers in a book to be kept for that purpose, a transcript of which book, fairly made out, shall be transmitted to the Executive, and the original deposited with the Clerk of the Superior Court of the respective counties; and should the Inferior Court of any county fail to take in such names themselves, or to make proper appointments, by the first day of September next, then the Clerk of the Superior Court, (or his legal deputy in his absence,) in such county, may make such appointments: And said Receivers, before they enter upon their duties, shall take and subscribe the following oath: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will not receive or register any name, except the person giving in shall first take the oath prescribed by this act: So help me God.” Which oath any Justice of the Inferior Court, or Justice of the Peace, is hereby required to administer, and the person, or persons, taking in names as aforesaid, shall administer to all applicants for draws, other than widows, guardians, or next friends of orphans, the following oath, to wit: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I am a citizen of the United States, and have resided in this State three years immediately preceding the passage of this act, except absent on lawful business, and am an inhabitant of the same ; that I was eighteen years of age at the time of the passing of this act; that I have (or have not) a wife, or child, or children; that I have not given in my name for any draw or draws in the present contemplated land lottery in any other part of the State; that I have not drawn a tract of land in the former lotteries in my individual capacity, or as an individual orphan; and that I did not, directly or indirectly, evade the service of this State, or of the United States, in the late wars against Great Britain or the Indians.” And the widows of Revolutionary soldiers shall take the following oath or affirmation, (as the case may be,) to the best of their knowledge and belief, viz: “I do solemnly swear, or affirm, that I am the widow of a Revolutionary soldier to the best of my knowledge and belief: So help me God.” The following oath shall be administered to all married women entitled to draws on account of three years’ absence of their husbands, as contemplated by this act, viz.: “I do solemnly swear, or affirm, that my husband has been absent from this State three years; that I have resided the three last years in this State, except absent on lawful business, and am now a resident in this district; that I have not put in my name for a draw in the approaching land lottery in any other part of the State; and that I have not drawn any tract of land in the former land lotteries, either in my individual capacity, or as an individual orphan, to the best of my knowledge and belief: So help me God.” The following oath shall be administered to the mother, or next friend, of any minor or family of minors, who may be entitled to a draw or draws on account of three years’ absence of their father, as contemplated by the act, viz.: “I do solemnly swear, that the minor, or family of minors, whom I now return, is, or are, entitled to a draw or draws under this act, to the best of my knowledge : So help me God.” The following oath shall be administered to all Revolutionary soldiers, who shall apply for draws under this act: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I served, as a soldier in the Armies of the United States, during the Revolutionary War, a tour or tours of duty, and am entitled to a draw or draws, according to the provisions of this act: So help me God.” And all guardians or next friends of orphans, or children of convicts in the Penitentiary, shall take the following oath: “And that the orphan, or family of orphans, or the child, or children, whom I now return, is (or are) entitled to a draw or draws under this act, to the best of my knowledge: So help me God.” The following oath shall be administered to all widows: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) I am a widow; that I have resided the three last years in this State, except absent on lawful business, and am now resident in this district; that I have not put in my name for a draw in the present lottery in any other part of the State; and that I have not drawn land in the former lotteries, to the best of my knowledge and belief: So help me God.” That all idiots and lunatics, entitled to a draw or draws by this act, shall be given in by their respective parents or guardians, or next friend, who shall take the following oath: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that the person whose name I now give in, is an idiot, or lunatic; that he is eighteen years of age, or upwards, at the time of the passage of this act, and entitled to a draw or draws under this act; that he has not drawn land in any of the former land lotteries of this State in his name, or as an individual orphan: So help me God.”

Sec. 15. And be it further enacted, That, immediately after the passage of this act, his Excellency the Governor shall cause the same to be published in such of the public gazettes of this State, as he may think proper and shall require all persons entitled to draws to give in their names to the persons authorized to receive them, and said persons taking in said names, shall receive twenty-five cents from each of said applicants for each draw.

Sec. 16. And be it further enacted, That, if any person entitled by this act to a draw or draws, should, by absence or other unavoidable causes, fail to give in his name within the time herein prescribed, it shall and may be lawful for such persons to make oath of the draw or draws to which he may be entitled, before any Justice of the Inferior Court of the county in which he may reside, and make return thereof to the Executive at any time before the commencement of the drawing: and it shall and may be lawful for any person or persons, entitled to a draw or draws in said lottery, who are about leaving the State on lawful business, to take the oath prescribed by this act, and deposite the same in the Clerk’s office of the county where such person or persons may reside, and their names shall be registered according to the provisions of this act: Provided, Such person shall swear that he intends to return and remain a citizen of this State.

Sec. 17. And be it further enacted, That five persons shall be appointed by joint ballot of the Legislature, to superintend the drawing of the lottery, to be convened at Milledgeville, by the Governor, when necessary, and that, wherever this act imposes duties on the Governor, Surveyor General, Surveyors, Receivers of Names, or Commissioners, such duties shall be severally performed, with as little delay as possible, consistently with a due execution of this act.

Sec. 18. And be it further enacted, That, as soon as said lists are made out and returned, his Excellency the Governor, for the purpose of carrying the lottery into effect, shall cause the names of persons entitled to draws, together with other designating remarks of residence, &c. to be placed on tickets as nearly similar as possible, which shall be deposited in one wheel, and the prizes or tickets of a like description, shall be deposited in another wheel, which prizes shall consist of all square lots in said territory, not herein reserved. And from each wheel, as nearly at the same time as may be, a ticket shall be drawn, and delivered to the Superintending Managers, and so on, until the whole number of prizes are drawn out, and said Managers shall make due and particular entry of the names so drawn out, and the prizes corresponding therewith; said names and prizes being first thoroughly mixed in their respective wheels. And his Excellency the Governor is required to give three weeks’ notice of the commencement of the drawing.

Sec. 19. And be it further enacted, That, should there be more districts than are contemplated by this act, and Surveyors elected for, or in case the appointment of any Surveyor should become vacant, by death, resignation, or otherwise, his Excellency the Governor is requested to fill said vacancy. And, in case any Surveyor shall be found incompetent, or fail to execute the duties required of him by this act, his office shall be vacant, and his vacancy filled in like manner.

Sec. 20. And be it further enacted, That the Surveyors to be appointed in pursuance of this act, shall, before they enter upon their duties, take and subscribe the following oath: “I ________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I an twenty-one years of age; that I will, well and faithfully, to the best of my skill and abilities, discharge the duties which may be required of me as Surveyor in the territory lately acquired : So help me God.” Which oath, the Surveyor General is required to administer. The oath to be administered to Chainmen by their respective Surveyors, shall be as follows: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that, to the best of my skill and judgment, I will measure all lines on which I may be employed as chain-carrier, as accurately, and with as little deviation from the course pointed out by the Surveyor, as possible, and give a true account of the same to the Surveyor: So help me God.” And similar oaths shall be administered by the said Surveyor to all axemen and markers.

Sec. 21. And be it further enacted, That the land to be distributed under the provisions of this act, shall be classed under the following heads, viz: First quality river land, second quality river land, first quality oak and hickory upland, second quality oak and hickory upland, first quality pine land, and pine land ; and that it shall be the duty of Surveyors charged with the business of dividing the districts into lots, to note upon the separate plat of each lot which he is required to file in the Surveyor General’s Office, the quality of each lot, according to the foregoing classes; and that all persons, who may draw lands under this act, shall be entitled to receive grants for the same, conveying fee-simple titles, on paying into the Treasury of this State, the sum of eighteen dollars; and any person drawing, and failing to take out his grant within two years from the date of said draw, shall forfeit his or her right to receive a grant to the land so drawn, and the same shall revert to the State, orphans, lunatics, and idiots excepted. And all persons who shall draw lands in the lottery authorized by this act, shall, whether the same be granted or not, pay taxes thereon, at the same rates as for other lands of similar qualities, until they shall relinquish the same to the use of the State, by writing, to be filed in the office of the Secretary of State. That all returns made contrary to the true intent and meaning of this act, are declared to be fraudulent; and all grants issued in consequence of any law made in the contemplated lottery, on such fraudulent returns, are hereby declared to be null and void; and the lands, so granted or drawn, shall revert and become the property of the State; and the question of the fraud may be tried upon scire facias, to be issued from under the hands of the Clerk of the Superior Courts of the county or counties in which the land lies, in the name of the Governor of said State, for the time being, upon the application of any individual against the tenant in possession of the land alleged to be fraudulently drawn, or against the drawer thereof, setting forth the circumstances of fraud in said scire facias specially, and upon return of said scire facias, with an entry thereon of service effected, by any sheriff of any county of this State, by leaving a copy thereof with the person named as defendant, or at his or her notorious place of abode, or by the return of such Sheriff, that the defendant is not to be found; upon which return the court is authorized to have service perfected by an order for three months’ publication in one or more of the public gazettes of this State; which rule, when duly published, shall be considered as sufficient service to authorize an issue to be made up under the direction of the court to try the question of fraud. And, in case the jury shall find the return fraudulent, the court shall, by judgment, pronounce the grant issued on such return and draw to be void, and order it cancelled; which judgment, when transmitted to the Surveyor General’s office and Secretary of State’s office, and entered on file there, shall be of sufficient authority to those officers to cancel the plats and grants for such fraudulent draws from their offices respectively. And the land when condemned, shall belong one-half to the State and the other half to the informer, and subject to be laid off between the informer and the State by writ of partition, to be issued under the direction of the Superior Court of the county in which the land lies; and to the proceedings of said writ of partition on behalf of the State, it shall be the duty of the Solicitors in the respective circuits to attend. And when the said lands are so laid off, the informer shall be entitled to a plot and grant for his share, upon the payment of the legal office fees: Provided, nevertheless, That no return made by or in behalf of orphan or orphans, shall be pronounced fraudulent until bis, her, or their legal guardian shall have been made a party to the scire facias, or other discreet person appointed by the court in which the case is tried, to defend the case for the said orphan or orphans. And provided, also, The proceedings under this section take place within four years from the date of the drawing.

Sec. 22. And be it further enacted, That no case, after being commenced as aforesaid, by scire facias, shall be settled or compromised by the informer, or otherwise disposed of to the prejudice of the State; and in case it is, said land shall be liable to be returned by any other informer, in manner above prescribed, and division made thereof accordingly.

Sec. 23. And be it further enacted. That no scire facias shall issue until the applicant shall have made, and deposited in the Clerk’s office from which the said scire facias shall issue, the following oath: “I do solemnly swear, that, in making this information, I have no combination or understanding, directly or indirectly, with the drawer, or any other person as the friend of, or on the part of, the drawer.

Sec. 24. And be it further enacted. That a quantity of land on the Flint river, opposite to the old Agency, and equal in size to the reserve on the East side of the same ; one mile square at Marshall’s Ferry, on the Flint river, including the ferry; one mile square at M’Intosh’s, on the Chatahoochie, including the ferry; and a reserve of five miles square on the Chatahoochie river, at the Cowetau falls, and including the same, the Northern boundary to cross the river at a point one mile above the lower shoal, be, and the same is, hereby set apart for public purposes.

JOHN ABERCROMBIE,
         Speaker of the House of Representatives.
ALLEN B. POWELL,
         President of the Senate.

Assented to, 9th June, 1825.
G. M. TROUP, Governor.

http://www.therainwatercollection.com/reference/ref802.pdf

http://files.usgwarchives.net/ga/deeds/1827/

 

The Booby Clift Affair in Valdosta

The Clift Affair occurred at the Valdosta Courthouse on Saturday, April 4, 1868.   Much of what has been written about the incident at Valdosta has minimized what would today undoubtedly be categorized as a terrorist attack.

The Clift Affair occurred just days after the Georgia Ku Klux Klan, probably under the leadership of former Confederate General John B. Gordon, began its reign of political terrorism in this state with the murder of Radical organizer George Ashburn at Columbus, GA. (Georgia would later name its largest military training base of WWI and WWII Camp Gordon in honor of General Gordon).     In Valdosta,  group of young white men attempted to detonate an 18 lb keg of gunpowder to disrupt a gathering of freedmen attending a political rally. The speaker, Joseph Wales Clift (derisively referred to as Booby in the southern press), was a Radical candidate for the U.S. Senate seeking the vote of former slaves.  Local public outcry over the Clift Affair in Valdosta, condemning equally the actions of the candidate and the bombers, was led by Richard A. Peeples, a prominent Confederate veteran and lawyer of Valdosta, and former Clerk of the Court of Berrien County, GA.

 

Joseph Wales Clift, circa 1861-1865. Source: Mathew Brady Photographs of Civil War-Era Personalities and Scenes, National Archives.

Joseph Wales Clift, circa 1861-1865. Source: Mathew Brady Photographs of Civil War-Era Personalities and Scenes, National Archives.

Joseph Wales Clift was born in North Marshfield, Plymouth County, MA. on September 30, 1837. He attended the common schools and Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH. He graduated from the medical school of Harvard University in 1862. He entered the Union Army and was acting surgeon from July 13, 1862, to August 7, 1865, then served in the Army of the Potomac until November 18, 1866. Afterwards he moved to Savannah, GA with his brother, Walter Lovell Clift.  J. W. Clift established a medical practice and Walter L. Clift practiced law.  J. W. Clift joined the Georgia Medical Society and was elected Librarian of the organization in January, 1867. The brothers became activists encouraging freedmen to exercise their right to vote which had been granted in the Sherman Military Bill.  J.W. Clift spoke at a Savannah gathering of several thousand freedmen on March 18, 1867.  On May 25, 1867 the Atlanta Daily Intelligencer announced J. W. Clift  had been appointed to the board of voter registration for the city of Savannah by order of Major General Pope under the Reconstruction Acts. Of the 5,330 voters registered in Savannah that year, 3,061 were African-American. At a meeting for the organization of the Republican Party in Chatham County, J. W. Clift was elected as a delegate to the Republican State Convention to be held July 4, 1867 in Atlanta, GA. Both brothers spoke at the Savannah Republican rally October 21, 1867, attended by about 4000 freedmen according to the Atlanta Daily Intelligencer. W. L. Clift was a delegate to the state constitutional convention.  In early 1868, Dr. J. W. Clift was considered as a Radical candidate for mayor of Savannah, but at a mass meeting of freedmen on March 16. 1868 he was nominated as the Radical candidate for the U. S. Congress.

Hitting the campaign trail, J. W. Clift came to Valdosta, Lowndes County, GA. In Pines and Pioneers, J. Shelton described Cliff’s event here:

A candidate for Congress, J. W. Clift arrived in Valdosta to make a campaign speech. Clift sought the Negro vote, and he scheduled an address for Saturday night, April 4, 1868. Without bothering to secure from the authorities the required permission to speak publicly, Clift began his talk to an audience at the courthouse. There was an explosion, for a group of young Confederate veterans had placed a keg containing a “small modicum of powder” beneath the building. No one was hurt, but the young men succeeded in breaking up the meeting.

Primary sources on the Valdosta bombing attack,  the Valdosta Times and Savannah Daily News and Herald, ensconced the event in a shared language that derides the victims and excuses the perpetrators. language that many references have maintained up to the most recent years.

The political candidate, Dr. J. W. Clift was constantly referred to as a “prowling, sniveling booby,” “vagrant scalawag, ” or “carpet bagger.” The terms scalawag and carpetbagger have sometimes been redefined in the modern narrative as neutral;  scalawags were “southerners who supported Reconstruction” and Carpetbaggers were “northerners who came south after the war to seek their fortune through politics.”  But in 1868, these terms were unquestionably pejorative; carpetbaggers were unscrupulous Yankee profiteers and scalawags were the white southern traitors who collaborated with them and the freedmen.  In a clipping from the South Georgia Times reprinted August 20, 1868 in the Atlanta Constitution, Berrien County bragged that it had no scalawags:   “NO SCALLAWAGS IN BERRIEN! No scalawags in Irwin and Telfair, and that’s the reason no election is ordered for those counties. Y.M.D.C. is organized here, but there is not enough radicalism to keep it lively.” (The Young Men’s Democratic Club was the public political wing of the KKK,) Dr. Clift’s brother, Walter L. Clift, a lawyer and delegate to the state constitutional convention, was referred to as a “little cheese-eyed man” and both the Clift brothers were alternately tagged with the description as “a sour little fellow, with weak, wicked eyes…[and] industrious imbecility.” In an extended tirade, the Thomasville Enterprise referred to Dr. Clift as “a silly, overweening school boy, about to be elevated above his capacity…we were never more astonished at the extreme feebleness and want of prestige and capacity in a candidate for so high an office…Such is the contemptible creature who has the effrontery to ask the colored citizens of this district for their votes to send him to Congress of the United States… an unknown adventurer, destitute of talents, character, courage and every manly attribute – an ignorant, insolent upstart, who in the face of an outraged and indignant community, meanly seeks by falsehood and misrepresentation, by appeals to the prejudices and passions of their newly enfranchised race – by hypocrisy and deceit and every base and contemptible artifice, to obtain a position for which he is neither intellectually, morally, legally or socially qualified. 

White Valdostans asserted that by holding the meeting, Dr. Clift himself precipitated the incident  – that he was acting”illegally” since he did not have the approval of civil authorities, although the entire state was then under military rule and Clift was exercising free speech to address a peaceable assembly.  The Valdosta Times even suggested that J. W. Clift planted the bomb himself, in a diabolical plot to implicate “the poor rebs,”  widen the divide between the “good men” of Lowndes county and the “Negroes,” and create a sensation among his black supporters.

Valdosta Times referred to Clift’s audience as “ a mass of villainy, ignorance and vagabondism,” and the “ignorant and credulous classes.” The Valdosta Times wrote that the gullibility of the freedmen was illustrated in their naive belief of Clift’s statements that “white men would have to pay the tax to educate negro children.

The conspirators were just “some of the boys [who] concluded to have a little fun.”  They only “intended to create a ‘big scare’.

The bomb was just a “prank“…“a small modicum of powder, enough to make a little fume with the aid of fire.” Further, it couldn’t have been a real bomb because it was preposterous that any white man would have risked accidentally blowing himself up in the company of “negroes.

Subsequent reports suggest that the conspirators and their allies, having failed in the full destructive effects of the explosion, further broke up and dispersed the crowd of freedmen by force of arms, surrounding the Courthouse building and holding it throughout the night. At the time of the bombing on Saturday April 4, 1868, Valdosta and all of Georgia was still under the  federal military occupation of Reconstruction, and Federal officers viewed the civil unrest as a collapse of local authority. Albert B. Clark,  Freeman’s Bureau agent at Quitman,  “quickly reported to military headquarters at Thomasville that a riot had occurred and that local authorities were ‘powerless’ to do anything about it.

By Monday, April 6, newspapers all over the country were mentioning the Clift Affair in Valdosta, many attributing the violence to the KKK.

The Philadelphia Age
April 6, 1868
At a Republican meeting at Valdosta, Georgia, Saturday night, a disturbance was caused by the discovery of a keg of powder under the speaker’s desk. The meeting dispersed amid general excitement.

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Janesville, Wisconsin Gazette
April 6, 1868

The Tribune’s special Savannah of the 5th says the Republican meeting at Valdosta yesterday was broken up by a band of regulators of Ku klux Klan. Powder was placed under the building in which Dr. J. W. Cliff, the Republican candidate for Congress was to speak.

A New Georgia Encyclopedia article on Reconstruction violence in Georgia notes   “It is impossible to untangle local vigilante violence from political terrorism by the organized Klan, but it is clear that attacks on blacks became common during 1868. Freedmen’s Bureau agents reported 336 cases of murder or assault with intent to kill on freedmen across the state from January 1 through November 15 of 1868.”

At Valdosta, a number of concerned white residents of  met to discuss the bombing and attorney Richard A. Peeples, was called to the Chair.  Peeples was a former Clerk of the Berrien County Courts.  R. T. Myddleton was appointed Secretary. Following a motion by Col. A. J. Little, Peeples appointed a committee to draft a resolution expressing condemnation of the actions.  The committee, consisting of Henry Burroughs Holliday, Col. A. J. Little, B. F. Moseley, G. T. Hammond,  and M. C. Morgan quickly composed the following:

Whereas one J. W. Clift a candidate for Congress came to this place on Saturday last, and without giving to the civil authorities the notice required by military orders – so as to enable said authorities to have a police in readiness to preserve order – did at night hold a meeting composed of a large number of negroes, many of whom were armed and standing as guard around the house.

And whereas, certain irresponsible parties did, in a most irregular and disgraceful manner disperse and break up said meeting – thereby endangering the lives of many persons – much to the regret of all good citizens,

We the citizens in meeting assembled, do hereby, express our condemnation and dissapproval of said riotous conduct.

˜ ° ˜

On the evening of Monday, April 6, the civil authorities at Valdosta moved to preempt military intervention in the case. The Mayor M. J. Griffin, of Valdosta, ordered the arrest of  five  suspected conspirators in the bombing: A. H. Darnell, J. D. Calhoun. Iverson L. Griffin, B. L. Smith and J. J. Rambo.

A slightly more detailed version of the events in Valdosta, highly sympathetic to “the boys,” was published in the Savannah newspapers.

Savannah Daily News and Herald
April 10, 1868

The Booby Clift Affair in Valdosta

        Our readers have had rumors of a muss of some sort got up by the vagrant scalawag who aspires to represent the negro constituency of this District in Congress. We have heard various statements in regard to the affair, but nothing authentic until we met the following in the Valdosta Times of the 8th inst. The editor says:
        On Saturday night last there was quite a stir in our town. One Clift, surnamed booby, was here to make a speech, to induce the colored people to vote for him. He went illegally to work, having no fear of the military before his eyes, called his meeting, went to speaking, sans ceremonie, without so much as saying “by your leave, Mr. Mayor.” Having placed himself in the wrong by his lawless course, it is not to be wondered that there was as little sympathy for him as for his cause. Some of the boys concluded to have a little fun, and placed under the building a keg in which it was said there was a small modicum of powder, enough to make a little fume with the aid of fire.
        Another version of it is, that it was placed there with the cognizance of the said Clift, surnamed as above, for the purpose of making a finishing stroke to the poor rebs, as thereby and therein they were to be demolished indirectly by the gunpowder, but directly by his masterly strategy. It is idle to suppose that there was any intention on the part of the boys, if they did it, to blow up their friends and relations, some of whom were in the building. They intended a “big scare” and carried out their purpose quite effectively.
        We condemn in the strongest terms we can use, all such proceedings. They are both unlawful and unjustifiable. They tend to harm the cause they would subserve. The negroes will, of course, be inclined to listen to those who will endeavor to persuade them that it was really the intention to blow them up, and thus the breach be widened that good men are endeavoring to close up as far as may be practicable and right. And so far as this goes Clift has been partially successful, if his is the strategy that laid the explosive train.
        Our citizens have had a meeting and condemned this procedure in unqualified terms of disapproval.
        The strong presumption is that this diabolical gunpowder plot was “a weak invention of the enemy” – a resort of the prowling, sniveling Booby to create a sensation and to increase his electioneering capital with his ignorant and credulous classes.
         The idea that the young men of Valdosta would attempt with a handful of powder to blow up such a mass of villainy, ignorance and vagabondism as must have composed Booby’s auditory, is perfectly absurd – especially when it is considered that the Guy Fawkes of the enterprise in exploding the powder, to which no train or fuse was set, must necessarily have blown himself up with the rest. However fearless and self sacrificing the projector of such a plot might be, it is utterly preposterous to suppose that any white man would be willing to be blown to Ballahack or anywhere else, in such company.

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Valdosta Times
April 8, 1868

We are sorry that the Radicals have not sent a man of sense to run as a candidate for Congressional honors in the First Congressional District. The negroes yesterday “damned” Clift “with faint praise.” His speech was a feeble, sickly tirade against somebody or something, or nobody or nothing. Not one of his hearers could tell to-day what he said or what he meant. Some of them seemed to arouse when he said that white men would have to pay the tax to educate negro children. The response of one was “Bress God, brodder, let us pray.’’ The more sensible among them know how to estimate such a pretender. They are not quite so senseless as he took them to be.
Valdosta Times April 8th.

About the accused, this much is known:

  • IVERSON L. GRIFFIN
    Eighteen-year-old Iverson L. Griffin was the son of a wealthy planter and merchant of Valdosta. His father, Thomas B. Griffin, had served as a Confederate state senator of Georgia from 1861-1863 and was therefore disallowed from taking the Oath of Allegiance to restore his U.S. citizenship. His father had been the owner of 12 slaves, including 4 mulatto children under the age of 4. It is also noteworthy that the Mayor of Valdosta at the time was M. J. Griffin; the only M. J. Griffin that appears in the Lowndes County census records of that period is Iverson Griffin’s brother, Marcus J. Griffin.
  • JOHN DANIEL CALHOUN
    At the time of the Clift Affair, 24-year-old John Daniel Calhoun was a deputy sheriff of Lowndes County, GA. Census records suggest he may have been orphaned at an early age. His early childhood was in the household of Harmon Sapp. In the 1860 census, he was enumerated as a teenager in the household of William Bradford, working as a laborer. Also in the Bradford household was Richard Ault, who would later serve as blacksmith for the Berrien Minute Men. By the 1880s Calhoun would move to Berrien County, GA where he farmed in the 1145 Georgia Militia District. In 1905 he was serving as Postmaster in Crossland, GA.
  • ALEXANDER H. DARNELL
    Darnell was a young merchant of Valdosta. He was native of Kentucky and the first record of his presence in Lowndes County is his signature on the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, signed October 18, 1867. He was 25 years old at the time of the Clift incident. He died in Lowndes County in October 1869 from an “abscess of the liver”.
  • JOHN JAMES RAMBO
    Rambo, age 17 at the time of the Clift Affair, was an orphan of Confederate veteran Dr. John Rambo and Mary Ark Ryals. According to The Rambo Family Tree, his parents were both born in England and immigrated to Georgia. His father received his medical degree at the Medical College of Georgia in Atlanta, graduating in 1847. John J. Rambo was born January 18, 1851 in Perrys Mill, Tatnall County, Georgia. After his mother died of brain fever in 1859, his father married a second time to Maria Clifton.    His father was enumerated in 1860 as the owner of 7 enslaved people. During the Civil War, his father served as a surgeon in the 47th Georgia Infantry Regiment, rising to the rank of Major.  His step-mother died on March 14, 1862 His father left the army on September 17, 1862 because of a physical disability. Some time during or prior to 1863, John J. Rambo came with his father to live in Valdosta, leaving his half-brother William in the custody of his Clifton grandparents.  John’s father died in Valdosta about August 28 1864 at the age of 34.  After the Clift Affair in Valdosta,  John and some of his Ryals relatives kidnapped his younger step-brother, William Rambo, and traveled by boat to New York.  There, John J. Rambo studied to become a doctor and took up medical practice in Brooklyn, NY for the remainder of his life.

Mayor Griffin’s quick action was temporarily effective in preventing military intervention. By the time Lt. Bard and Corporal John Murray arrived in Valdosta with a detail of federal soldiers the five suspects were already in civil custody. For the time being the U. S. soldiers took no action. But a week later, after the alleged bombers were released on bond, the soldiers moved over night to arrest them and transported them to Savannah for confinement in the federal barracks. Valdosta Mayor M. J. Griffin protested the military arrests and Thomas B. Griffin, father of Iverson L. Griffin, traveled to Savannah to visit the accused in jail.  The South Georgia Times report of the arrest was reprinted in the Savannah Daily News and Herald, along with an exchange of telegrams between Mayor Griffin and military authorities.

Savannah Daily News and Herald
April 10, 1868

The Military Arrests in Valdosta.
{From the South Georgia Times}
         We are sorry to have to state that Monday night last some of our young men were taken from their beds and immediately hurried off to Savannah by United States troops, we presume to undergo military trial. It is alleged that they were engaged in the gunpowder sport referred to in — last. They have already given bond – the four are under arrest – to appear and answer before the civil tribunals. Our Mayor and Sheriff promptly discharged their duty in the premises. The hardship of the case is, that civil law has but a name. The iron is —ering in into the soil, and liberty and law is fast passing away. These young men are to be tried where perhaps their case is already prejudged, far away from their homes and sympathy and kindness of friends. Time was when such an act would have fired the great heart of the country from one end of is bounds to the other. They should have been tried by their peers of the vicin– — age, and if guilty of the violation of law, punished as that law would punish them, and not at the behest of prejudiced strangers.
        Our Mayor sent the following telegram to Gen. Meade relative to what had been done here. General Meade’s reply is appended. Alas! for the rights for which our fathers fought, and of which we have so much boasted.
         A telegram was received by Mr. M. J. Griffin, at 6 o’clock yesterday, from Mr. T. B. Griffin that “the boys were all comfortably quartered in the barracks, and well cared for.”

Valdosta, April 14, 1868
Major Gen. Meade, Atlanta, Ga.
Sir: – At a late hour last night, without my knowledge, a party of U. S. soldiers arrived here and carried away the following persons, viz. A. H. Darnell, Iverson Griffin, John Calhoun, Ben Smith, John Rambo – who are alleged to have been concerned in a riot at this place on the 4th inst. These men, as Mayor, I had arrested and bound to appear at the Superior Court of this county to answer for the same. I respectfully request to be informed if they were arrested by your order, and if not, that they be released and take their trial before the civil tribunals of the county.
I have the honor to be,
Your Obedient Serv’t
M. J. Griffin,
Mayor Valdosta

Atlanta, GA., April 14th, 1868
M. J. Griffin, Mayor Valdosta:
The persons named in your telegram were arrested by General Meade’s order, and will be held for trial by Military Commission.
R. C. Drum, A. A. G.

In subsequent days state and national newspapers provided additional details.

The Macon Georgia Weekly Telegraph
April 24,1868

The Clift Electioneering Trick At Valdosta.
Yesterday, Lieutenant Bard, United States Army, arrived in this city on the train from Valdosta, having in charge five young men, whom he had arrested there the day previous, on a charge of having been the originators of the disturbance which occurred at that place on last Saturday night week. –
This is the general supposition, as nothing was said by the arresting officer of the why and the wherefore of their being taken into custody. Their names are Alexander H. Darrell, John Calhoun, John Rambo, Benjamin L. Smith and Iverson L. Griffin. They are all young men of good family, and entirely innocent of all blame in the matter. Mr. Calhoun was Deputy Sheriff of Lowndes County, and a faithful and efficient officer.- Mr. Griffin was not present at the Court House on the night in question, and in no way connected with the affair. Thus are innocent men torn from their families and thrust into prison by the strong arm of military power, and made to suffer by the rascality of a Radical carpet-bag adventurer. [Sav. Rep., 15th.

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Indianapolis Journal
April 30, 1868

ATTEMPT TO BLOW UP A REPUBLICAN MEETING – Information has reached the Congressional Committee rooms that on Tuesday last [Saturday, April 4, 1868] an attempt was made to blow up the Court House at Valdosta, Georgia, where a Republican meeting, composed mostly of colored people, was being addressed by Dr. J. W. Clift (white). A keg containing eighteen pounds of powder had been purchased at a store in the place, and a portion take out to make a train, and the remainder of the powder was placed under the Court House. Fortunately the cask was discovered and removed in season, but the train [fuse] was fired, and in an attempt of the persons present to escape, they were fired upon by a gang of white men outside, who had surrounded the building. This party held possession of the place that night, but on the next day they were dispossessed by the military, and the meeting was held.

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Bedford Inquirer
April 17, 1868

Terrorism In The South

      Our Democratic brethern would have the people believe that the South would be a perfect paradise if such men as Meade, Pope, Sickles, Sheridan, &c., were kept away. General Hancock has had several months control of the Southwest trying to carry out a different policy from that of the before-mentioned heroes with what results is indicated in the following article from the Pittsburg Chronicle of a few days ago:
      The dispatches which we published in yesterday’s issue, relative to the brutal murder of Hon. George W. Ashburn, of Columbus, Georgia, by a gang of villains in disguise, and the breaking up of a Republican meeting at Valdosta, Georgia, by a band of regulators of the Ku-Klux Klan, come at the heels of much similar information through letters and newspapers, and show that in portions of the South, a reign of terrorism is in actual operation. It verily seems that these ill-fated people are moved by some malignant fatality to thwart all efforts which look towards their gradual restoration to order and prosperous enterprise. Not satisfied with opposing every political measure that has been devised to enable them to get out of the dreadful slough in which they were left upon the suppression of the rebellion, they are actually engaged in the suicidal business of convulsing society so utterly by lawlessness, as to put a complete quietus upon the views and schemes of all those adventurous Northern capitalists, who had begun seriously to meditate risking their families and fortunes in the South…It is not pleasant for us to be compelled to state that at present, in many Southern States, it would he unsafe for a Northern man to buy property and attempt to carry on any farming or manufacturing enterprise. We have never gone out of our way to give added circulation to the prejudicial stories that are periodically current about the South. Whenever we could, consistently with the truth, present the bright side of the picture, we have cheerfully done so .But it is, in our judgment, perfectly clear from the accumulated information which pours in upon us, that, notwithstanding the cheerful fancies of such military optimists as General Hancock, there is an immense amount of crime perpetrated in Tennessee, Georgia, Texas, and portions of Arkansas and Missouri. How far it would be possible to curb these excesses by military power we cannot determine. It is probably impossible to keep perfect order over so wide an area and amongst a population so thoroughly demoralized by a long and unsuccessful war. Years will elapse before anything bearing the faintest semblance to the orderly and regulated institutions of the North will prevail. Then will slowly set in a desirable immigration, and the wasted and cursed South will begin to recover, to get strength,to enjoy the blessings of law, and to reap the fruits of sensibly directed industry.

The citizens of Lowndes county presented a bond for the release of the alleged bombers to the military authorities in Savannah, but this offer was rejected.

STILL IN CUSTODY – The young men who were arrested by the military at Valdosta, because Dr. Clift attempted to blow himself up with gunpowder, for political capital, are still held in custody at the United States Barracks in this city, awaiting the orders of General Mead.

The men were kept incarcerated through the election of 1868, and for a couple of weeks afterward.  After about a month of confinement, the suspects were finally released on bail secured by citizens of Savannah.

May 8, 1868

Release or the Valdosta Prisoners on Bail.
—Yesterday Messrs. A. H. Darnell, J. D. Calhoun. Iverson L. Griffin, B. L. Smith and J. J. Rambo, who, it will be remembered, were arrested on suspicion of being implicated in the supposed attempt to blowup a Radical meeting at Valdosta, previous to the election, while one Clift was addressing it, were released on bail in the sum of $10,000 each, to appear for trial when summoned by the military authorities. This was done by order of General Meade. Captain J. L. Moseley brought to the city a bond of $60,000 of the citizens of Lowndes county, which Col. Maloney would not accept, and six citizens of Savannah, representing nearly $200,000, offered themselves as security, were accepted and the prisoners released. The late prisoners requested us to publish the following:

Savannah, Ga., May 8, 1868.
Editors News and Herald: We, the Valdosta prisoners, who have been confined in the United States Barracks at this place, wish, through your paper, to render our thanks to Col. Maurice Maloney and his command, for their kind treatment, both to us and to our friends who visited us.
Yours Respectfully,
A. H. Darnell, Iverson L. Griffin, J D. Calhoun, B. L. Smith, J. J. Rambo, Savannah, GA, May 8,1868.

To the Citizens of Savannah: We wish to return our thanks for their kind attention and hospitality while we were in confinement at this place in the United States Barracks, and to the noble-minded merchants who have so generously stood our most unreasonable bail required by the military authorities. We trust we may at some future time be in such a position as to repay the many obligations under which we have been placed.
A. H. Darnell, Iverson L. Griffin, J D. Calhoun, B. L. Smith, J. J. Rambo,

The Georgia Election of April, 1868

The election of 1868 was a four day affair which commenced on April 20. Throughout the voting period, the southern newspapers maintained a cacophony of allegations of voter fraud, corruption, official vote rigging, coercion, voter ignorance, and other irregularities.  By 1867, the conditions of Reconstruction required an Oath of Allegiance to the United States in order to be listed in the register of qualified voters.  White southern men whose national citizenship had been renounced by way of the Ordinance of Secession, oaths of  abjuration of national citizenship, oaths of allegiance to Confederate states,  or acceptance of Confederate citizenship were required to swear a new oath of allegiance to the United States in order to have their national citizenship restored and to qualify for the right to vote. Some whites who had held posts in the Confederate government or the governments of Confederate states were disqualified from having their citizenship restored through the oath of allegiance.

The April 1868 election in Georgia was a vote for state officers and U.S. congressmen and a vote on ratification of of a new state constitution.  When the votes were counted, the new constitution  was approved by a vote of 88,172 to 70,200. In the race for governor Rufus Bullock, defeated Confederate General John B. Gordon 83,527 to 76,356. In the elections for state representatives, Radicals won 84 of the 172 House seats (29 of them black) and came within three seats of taking control of the House. In the state senate, however, the Radicals (3 of them black)  carried a solid majority, with 27 seats to the Democrats’ 17 seats. The Radical believed blacks were entitled to the same political rights and opportunities as whites.

Clift Wins Seat in House of Representatives

Under Reconstruction, the results of the election were subject to certification by the military authorities. In the announcement made by General Meade, Dr. J. W. Clift was declared the winner in the First Congressional District of Georgia.

Milledgeville Southern Recorder
July 7, 1868

Headq’rs Third Military District, Department of Ga., Fla. and Ala.,
Atlanta, Ga., June 30, 1868.

General Orders No. 93,

From the returns made to these Headquarters by the Boards of Registration, of the election held in the State of Georgia for civil officers of said State and for members of Congress, under the provisions of General Orders No. 40, (Paragraph III,) issued from these Headquarters, which election commenced on the 20th day of April, 1868, and continued four days, it appears that in said election the following named persons were elected Representatives to the Congress of the United States from the Congressional

Districts to their names respectively attached, viz :
             First District—J. W. Clift.
             Second District—Nelson Tift, Sr.
             Third District—W. P. Edwards.
             Fourth District–Samuel Gove.
             Fifth District—C. H. Prince.
             Sixth District—John H. Christy.
             Seventh District—P. M. B. Young.

By order of Major General Meade.
R. C. Drum,
Assistant Adjutant General.

Following the ratification of the 14th Amendment by the newly elected General Assembly, the US Congress initially readmitted Georgia to the Union in July 1868.

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on July 9, 1868, and granted citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” which included former slaves recently freed. In addition, it forbids states from denying any person “life, liberty or property, without due process of law” or to “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” By directly mentioning the role of the states, the 14th Amendment greatly expanded the protection of civil rights to all Americans and is cited in more litigation than any other amendment.

Joseph Wales Clift served in the Fortieth U.S. Congress from July 25, 1868, to March 3, 1869.  

Second Valdosta Attack on Representative Clift

Representative Clift did not enjoy a triumphant return to Valdosta. While passing through the “notorious” town in October 1868, he and his brother, Walter Lovell Clift, were again assaulted and their lives threatened.

Manitowoc Tribune
October 8, 1868

      We are informed that about ten days ago Joseph W. Clift, M. C. [Member of Congress] from Southern Georgia, while riding in the cars on the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad, with his brother was treated in a manner which shows conclusively that free speech is not tolerated in that section of the country.
     When the train stopped at Valdosta a town of one thousand inhabitants, distant from Savannah about one hundred and twenty miles, a large crowd surrounded the cars, and some fifteen or twenty ruffians, armed with heavy sticks, entered the car with the avowed purpose of taking them out and lynching them.
They were only prevented from doing this by the urgent entreaties of several prominent men, one of whom was an elector on the democratic ticket. The argument of the gentleman was, that the ‘boys mustn’t do it because it would injure the party and town!’ The crowd outside becoming weary of waiting for the sport to commence, hooted and yelled ‘Bring the d—-d Radical out!’ and again the roughs seemed determined to accomplish their purpose but were again met by the same objections on the part of their friends and after heaping all manner of insults on them offensive gentlemen were quietly passing through their town, reluctantly relinquished their purpose and left the train. This town Valdosta enjoys an unenviable notoriety as the scene of a Ku-Klux monstralation last April when a band of forty or fifty armed men first placed eighteen pounds of powder under the Court house where Dr. Clift was about to address a Republican meeting and when by accident the infernal plot was discovered just in season to prevent their drunken tool from firing the train [fuse] and hurling three hundred people into eternity, the meeting was broken up by violence, and the mob took and held the town all night threatening to assassinate prominent Republicans and rendering it necessary to send for military aid before the meeting could proceed.
       Several person prominent actors in the April affair, and now under bonds of $10,000 each for their participation in the same were leaders in the recent attack.

Returning to Washington, DC, Clift presented credentials as a Member-elect to the Forty-first Congress but during the recess period actions in Georgia,  including the expulsion of black legislators from the state Assembly and the Camilla Massacre, had resulting in the re-imposition of Reconstruction and federal military jurisdiction for the state under the command of General Alfred H. Terry.  With Georgia’s return to un-reconstructed status, Clift and the other representatives and senators of  Georgia were not allowed to take their seats in the U.S. Congress.  

Thomas Nast sketch from a montage on Reconstruction violence entitled "Southern Justice," Harpers Weekly, March 23, 1867

“Southern Justice,” Thomas Nast sketch of Reconstruction violence, Harpers Weekly, March 23, 1867  depicted a scene in Texas but aptly portrayed the events of the Camilla Massacre which occurred September 19, 1868.

In January 1870, General Terry  removed ex-Confederates from the Georgia General Assembly, replaced them with the Radical runners-up, and then reinstated the expelled black legislators. “Terry’s Purge”established a solid Radical majority in the Georgia legislature, which ratified the Fifteenth Amendment  in February 1870 and chose new senators to send to Washington.

 The 15th Amendment to the Constitution established voting rights for African American men by declaring that the “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Although ratified on February 3, 1870, the promise of the 15th Amendment would not be fully realized for almost a century. Through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests and other means, Southern states were able to effectively disenfranchise African Americans. It would take the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 before the majority of African Americans in the South were registered to vote

On July 15, 1870, Georgia became the last former Confederate state to be readmitted to the Union.

Upon the withdrawal of federal military rule from Georgia, the rise of KKK terrorism quickly suppressed the newly gained civil and political rights of southern blacks.  When the midterm election put white supremacists back in control of the state senate, Governor Bullock resigned and fled the state rather than face impeachment by a hostile legislature.

Speaking from the steps of the Continental Hotel, Washington, D. C. on November 29, 1871, Dr. Joseph W. Clift made an impassioned appeal to the Radicals of Georgia, which was printed and circulated in a political leaflet.

 

 An address to the Republicans of Georgia .... Joseph W. Clift. Continental Hotel, Washington, D. C. Washington. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/rbpe.20602100/

An address to the Republicans of Georgia …. Joseph W. Clift. Continental Hotel, Washington, D. C. Washington. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/rbpe.20602100/

 

 An address to the Republicans of Georgia .... Joseph W. Clift. Continental Hotel, Washington, D. C. Washington. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/rbpe.20602100/

An address to the Republicans of Georgia …. Joseph W. Clift. Continental Hotel, Washington, D. C. Washington. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/rbpe.20602100/

AN ADDRESS TO THE REPUBLICANS OF GEORGIA.

Governor Bullock having resigned, and the duly elected Representatives of the people having decided by an overwhelming majority that a Governor should be elected for the unexpired term, on the 19th of December, 1871, leaving only twenty days to organize a campaign under peculiar circumstances, and understanding that prominent Republicans, whom I honor and respect, have discussed the advisability of sustaining the veto of Governor Conley, by refusing to nominate or vote for any person for Governor, on that day, thereby letting the election go by default, I am prompted to write this letter and advocate, with such vigor as I may, exactly the opposite course of action.

I admit the arguments of my friends:

First . That there is little time to prepare for such a contest.

Second . That Governor Conley’s action, together with the silence of the Republican Representatives, who apparently acquiesced in it, have some force.

Third . Some minds may also be influenced by the depressing influences which still remain as the result of the election last December; and by the additional reason, that challenging for non-payment of the poll-tax, will prevent many colored Republicans from voting.

It has been said to me, let Governor Conley’s position be legal or illegal, it furnishes the Republican party an excellent excuse for not voting, and being badly beaten, the conditions being so unfavorable to their success in the contest. To many, these reasons, with other reasons, may be conclusive against our party running a candidate, and voting December 19; to my mind, they are not good reasons for such a course of action, and I sincerely hope our friends will immediately reconsider the question , and so far from letting the election “go by default,” make the above reasons alleged as sufficient to deter us from contesting the election with our Democratic friends, reasons for putting forth the most earnest and vigorous efforts to organize the party and meet the old enemies of Equal Rights, and exact justice to the colored man fairly and squarely in the teeth, and do brave battle for some pure-minded, honest Republican, who, if elected, will serve out the term with credit to himself and benefit to the State.

I am thoroughly convinced that this is the very best course for us to pursue. The contrary course seems to my mind neither wise, brave, patriotic, or just. We have as much time to work for the election as our opponents.

Governor Conley’s position is at least of doubtful legality, and even if it were technically correct, the voice of the people, speaking through their Representatives, speaks in thunder tones, and most emphatically—and as I think wisely—construes the language of the Constitution of Georgia to mean that a new Governor must be elected next month.

Neither brief time for preparation, Governor Conley’s position, the result of the last election, or the inability of our friends to pay their taxes, should for one instant shut our ears to this call of the people. It must, will, and ought to be obeyed at any cost.

The wishes of the people are entitled to respect, and the individuals, or party, who fail to heed them when so plainly expressed, and on so important a question as the one pending, will do itself great wrong, and suffer in the end accordingly.

I never did, and do not now believe in shirking a fight with Democracy under any pretext however specious, and circumstances however discouraging.

We ought to be ready and willing to meet them whenever and wherever duty calls, and defend the great principles advocated by our party since ’56, and by many good men long before.

These principles are as good and true to-day as ever they were, and the bitter and relentless warfare waged by our unscrupulous opponents against everything which tends to unshackle the hands of the honest laborer of Georgia—and everywhere else—should only nerve every man of us to “gird up his loins” and fight like heroes for the education and elevation of the masses, and the defeat of the cardinal principles of Democracy.

Instead of giving up the fight, let it be continued, and give them no quarter, till the last stronghold of the greatest foe of Liberty, and Equal Rights in this country, shall be carried, and they shall surrender to the cohorts of Freedom, and to the Civilization of the nineteenth Century.

If we would save our “Common School System,” in Georgia, and preserve the liberties of the people, we must fight it out with them, if we all go to our graves before the cause is finally triumphant. But triumphant it will be, and that at no distant time, as sure as a merciful God exists.

The wrongs of our poor people call loudly for redress, and the cry must be heeded, and responded to by all true hearts.

We must play no cowardly part in this fight, nor bow our neck to the Democratic yoke, otherwise we are not worthy the blessings we seek.

Let them, all the leading Republicans now in Atlanta, take Counsel together immediately, and prevail on Gov. Conley, Hon. J. S. Bigby, Ex-Gov. James Johnson, or one of a half dozen other pure and true Republicans of ability, and prominence, to allow the Party to make an effort to place them in the Gubernatorial chair.

Let Governor Conley reconsider his determination, and contest his right to his position before the PEOPLE, that Mighty Tribunal , higher than all courts.

Let us pay our poll taxes , rapidly organize our party in every county, and poll every vote we can; then , if we are ever so badly beaten, we shall have at least the satisfaction of meeting our old enemy face to face, and doing battle valiantly for the right.

It will put us in harness for the greater battle of ’72, in which the principles of justice will surely triumph over oppression and wrong, and the result be perfect Peace.

JOSEPH W. CLIFT.

Continental Hotel, Washington, D. C., Nov. 29, 1871.

 

Joseph Wales Clift died in Rock City Falls, Saratoga County, NY on May 2, 1908; He was buried in the cemetery adjoining the Clift estate, North Marshfield, MA.

 

Judge Lott Warren

Judge Lott Warren presided over the Lowndes County Grand Jury of 1833, at Franklinville, GA, the county seat of Lowndes which then included most of present day Berrien County.

Lott Warren was the presiding judge on the Southern Circuit at the Lowndes County Grand Jury Presentments of 1833.

Lott Warren was the presiding judge on the Southern Circuit at the Lowndes County Grand Jury Presentments of 1833.

 

According to the History of Bethel Association,

“His ancestors came from England, and settled in Virginia, from whence his father, Josiah Warren, removed to North Carolina during the Revolutionary war, and married Nancy Doty, in the county of Onslow. After the birth of two children, his parents settled in Burke county, Georgia, where Lott, the eleventh child, was born on the 30th day of October, 1797. From Burke they removed, in 1804, to a place four miles below Dublin, on the Oconee River, in Laurens county.

In his eighth year the subject of this memoir went to his first school, with six brothers and sisters, who walked daily upwards of three miles, to obtain what knowledge Mr. Matthew Burns, an Englishman, could impart during his sober intervals. The school lasted nine months; but, at the end of two quarters, Mr. Warren withdrew his children, owing to the intemperate habits of the teacher. Being a pious member of the Baptist Church, and a magistrate, Mr. Warren had a peculiar dislike to drunkards’, and, from his condemnation of that vice, his son, of whom it is our privilege to speak, no doubt imbibed that antipathy to alcoholic drinks which has since marked his career. Residing in a wilderness frontier, distant from other settlements, Mr. Warren was frequently called upon, as a justice of the peace, to unite persons in wedlock at his own house. On such occasions the visiting party brought their own wine or brandy, as the case might be, and used it among themselves; no member of the household participating.

In February, 1809, Mr. Warren and his wife both died. It is due to the memory of this excellent man to say, that he was an humble and zealous Christian, and a faithful magistrate. His very name was a terror to evil doers. He committed the guardianship of his sons Lott and Eli, (the latter now General Warren, of Houston county,) to the Rev. Charles Culpepper, who had married his eldest daughter. Mr. Culpepper was a minister of the Baptist Church, and brother of the Hon. John Culpepper, formerly a representative in Congress from North Carolina. After the season for working the crop was over, Lott passed a few weeks at school, under Mr. Joseph Culpepper, in 1809. His guardian removed to Wilkinson county in 1812, then a rough frontier settlement, and was sent to school to Mr. Elkanah Powell, (who was afterwards killed in Twiggs county, by a man named Summers.) During the six months under Mr. Powell’s tuition, our pupil learned to write, and made some progress in arithmetic. His next teacher was Mr. James Fitzgerald, (now a venerable citizen of Houston county.) and, after the usual labor on the farm, he again went to Mr. Powell’s school. While there an incident occurred, which, as it had a controlling influence on the mind of young Warren, is worthy of special notice.

A man was charged with forging a note on Gov. Irwin, and his trial came on in Wilkinson Superior Court, before the Hon. Stephen W. Harris, Judge. The prosecution was sustained by Colonel Abednego Franklin, Solicitor-General, assisted by Colonel Moses Fort. The prisoner was defended by Colonel Seaborn Jones, now of Columbus. Gov. Irwin was sworn and examined as a witness. His praise was in all the land. By leave of his teacher, young Warren was present as a spectator, the first privilege he had ever enjoyed of witnessing a trial in court. Standing barefoot, a coarse, ungainly lad of fifteen, clad in homespun, with wool hat in hand, gazing with intense curiosity, from a window, on the scene before him, all silence to hear the Governor deliver his testimony, what was his astonishment to hear Colonel Jones cross-examine the witness with as much boldness and rigor as if he had been only a common man! Speeches of counsel and the charge of the court followed; the whole proceeding filled him with an irresistible desire to be a lawyer. On his return home at night, he mentioned the subject to his sister, who expressed surprise and sorrow, raising two principal objections: first, that he had not the means, (his patrimony being less than $500,) to prepare for the bar, and in the next place she did not consider lawyers sufficiently moral. He replied that he must have an English education in some way, and as to any supposed vices prevalent amongst lawyers, he would endeavor to be an exception. His sister was nothing convinced, and disposed of his request without even consulting his guardian. She lived to see him, in less than twenty years afterwards, Judge of the Southern Circuit.

His brother, Eli Warren,  also became a lawyer and a judge, as well as a planter, state representative and representative to two Georgia Constitutional Conventions.

In the spring of 1810, young Warren entered as a clerk in the store of Amos Love, a pious Baptist, to whom Mr. Culpepper ministered in, Dublin. Owing to bad health, he left Dublin in the fall, and became clerk to S. & B. Worrel, in Irwinton, near his sister, and shortly returned to Mr. Love. Within a few weeks he was drafted into the militia service for the Seminole war; and in February, 1818, was elected Second Lieutenant of the Laurens Company, commanded by Capt. Elijah Dean.

[This was during Andrew Jackson’s invasion of Spanish East Florida on an expedition against the Seminoles in 1818, the First Seminole War.]

This was his first promotion; and highly gratified, no doubt, was he with his martial honors on the eve of an expedition. Not for the purpose of showing any military talent or conspicuous deed in arms, to entitle Lieutenant Warren to public admiration, do we attempt a brief sketch of the campaign in which he served; but to preserve a few incidents, of which he is, perhaps, the best if not the only living witness, in relation to the burning of the Indian town of Chehaw, near the present site of Starkville, Lee county. It was the burning of this town that led to an animated correspondence* between Gen. Andrew Jackson and Gov. Rabun. 

After General Gaines retired from Amelia Island, he took command of the state troops which had been ordered out by the Governor, and among them a company of Chatham militia, together with the Laurens and Wilkinson Companies. They were ordered to the Big Bend of the Ocmulgee River, below Hartford, under the command of Major Clinton Wright, of the U. S. Army, to discover the course of the Indians, who had been committing murders and robberies on that frontier. After organizing the guard, Major Wright, pointing his sword towards him, said, “Lieut. Warren, I shall look to you for the discharge of the duties of Adjutant of this detachment. Come to my fire as soon as possible.” The young subaltern went accordingly, and in vain alleged his ignorance of duty as a reason why he should be excused from the task. But the reply was, “You have nothing to do except to obey orders.” Thus forced into the position, Lieut. Warren performed its labor actively, much to his own improvement, and to the satisfaction of a meritorious officer, who was drowned soon afterwards in attempting to cross Flint River on a raft.

From Big Bend, by way of Hartford, the command marched on the Blackshear road to Fort Early, where it crossed Flint River in the night, and proceeded to destroy the Hoponee and Philemi towns, fifteen or twenty miles west of the river. Evidence had been collected implicating these towns in the atrocities on the frontier. Arrived within a few miles of the Chehaw town, which was supposed to be Philemi, a council of war was called, and it was determined to send forty of the best mounted men to reconnoitre. They discovered large herds of cattle that had been stolen from the whites on the Ocmulgee, ahd an Indian minding them. Captain Obed Wright, of the Chatham militia, who had volunteered his services, had positive orders from the Governor to destroy the Hoponee and Philemi towns, which were known to be hostile. Captain Wright then formed the command into column, and gave express orders that the women and children should not be hurt, and that a white flag should be respected. Within half a mile of the main town a gate was opened by an aged warrior, and the troops passed in. Every thing was quiet. The children swung in their hammocks, and the women were beating meal. The cavalry in front fired several pistols to the left, killing the warrior who opened the gate. Capt. Dean ordered a charge, but Capt. Wright countermanded the order. Two Indians were seen loading their guns. About this time, Howard, a friendly chief, was killed, while holding up a white flag. The men dashed off in pursuit of the Indians, who fled in every direction. Lieut. Warren was ordered, with eighteen men, to burn the cabins. First removing whatever was valuable, two or three cabins only were burnt. The command then returned to Fort Early that night, sold the plunder next day, and divided the spoil. Lieut. Warren refused his portion.

It was the opinion of all concerned at the time, that it was Philemi town which had been destroyed. The chief Howard, and two other Indians who placed themselves in the power of the troops, were murdered in cold blood. But the error had been committed rashly, under excitement, and could not be repaired. The companies were soon discharged, and returned home. Lieut. Warren resumed his situation in Mr. Love’s store.

In a few days, Major Davis, of the U. S. Army, called on Lieut. Warren in Dublin, and stated that he had orders from Gen. Jackson to arrest Capt. Wright. Lieut. Warren accompanied him to the hotel, .where he introduced him to Capt. Wright, who at once submitted. It may as well be remarked here that Capt. Wright had not been mustered into the service of the United States, and was, of course, not subject to the orders of Gen. Jackson. His arrest, by the authority of the latter, was therefore regarded by Gov. Rabun and the justices of the Inferior Court of Baldwin county, as a usurpation of power. After the discharge of Capt. Wright, upon Habeas Corpus, at Milledgeville, the Governor had him immediately arrested for disobeying orders, in not destroying the Hoponee and Philemi towns, as well as Chehaw, but, being at liberty on his parole of honor, Capt. Wright escaped.

We close this part of the memoir by a few extracts from the correspondence between Gen, Jackson and Gov. Rabun, as relevant. Referring to the outrage on the Chehaw village, Gen. Jackson in his letter of May 7, 1818, says:

“Such base cowardice and murderous conduct as this transaction affords, has no parallel in history, and shall meet with its merited punishment. You, sir, as Governor of a State within my military division, have no right to give a military order while I am in the field; and this being an open and violent infringement of the treaty with the Creek Indians, Capt. Wright must be prosecuted and punished for this outrageous murder, and I have ordered him to be arrested and confined in irons, until the pleasure of the President of the United States is known upon the subject. If he has left Hartford before my orders reach him, I call upon you, as Governor of Georgia, to aid me in carrying into effect my order for his arrest and confinement, which I trust will be afforded, and Captain Wright brought to condign punishment for this unparalleled murder.”

In his reply of June 1st, after referring to the communication of Gen. Glascock, on which Gen. Jackson based his censure, Gov. Rabun says:

“Had you, sir, or General Glascock, been in possession of the facts that produced this affair, it is to be presumed, at least, that you would not have indulged in a strain so indecorous and unbecoming. I had, on the 21st March last, stated the situation of our bleeding frontier to you, and requested you, in respectful terms, to detail a part of your overwhelming force for our protection, or that you would furnish supplies, and I would order out more troops, to which you have never yet deigned to reply. You state, in a very haughty tone, that I, a Governor of a State under your military division, have no right to give a military order whilst you were in the field. Wretched and contemptible indeed must be our situation if this be the fact. When the liberties of the people of Georgia shall have been prostrated at the feet of a military despotism, then, and not till then, will your imperious doctrine be tamely submitted to. you may rest assured that if the savages continue their depredations on our unprotected frontier, I shall think and act for myself in that respect.”

We have introduced these pungent passages, not only as a part of history, but to prepare the way to a graceful scene in Congress, twenty-four years afterward, between Ex-President Adams and Judge Warren, which we shall describe at the proper time.

Not having relinquished his design of becoming a member of the legal profession, Mr. Warren applied himself six months to a grammar school, in 1819, kept by Doctor William A. Hill, at the residence of General David Blackshear. Soon thereafter he was employed as supercargo, or agent, on a flatboat, to keep the accounts of the commissioners of the Oconee River, to buy provisions for the hands at work in cleaning out the river, and to disburse money set apart for this and other purposes connected with the inland navigation of Georgia. Having frequent intervals of leisure, he read Blackstone’s Commentaries, through while on the river, and before retiring from his situation, in February, 1820.

 

Commentaries on the Laws of England, by William Blackstone, are an influential 18th-century treatise on the common law of England by Sir William Blackstone, originally published by the Clarendon Press at Oxford, 1765–1769. The work is divided into four volumes, on the rights of persons, the rights of things, of private wrongs and of public wrongs. " As an elementary book, however, it may be enough to say that the whole body of American lawyers and advocates, with very few exceptions, since the Revolution, have drawn their first lessons in jurisprudence from the pages of Blackstone’s Commentaries; and no more modern work has succeeded as yet in superseding it."

Commentaries on the Laws of England, by William Blackstone, are an influential 18th-century treatise on the common law of England by Sir William Blackstone, originally published by the Clarendon Press at Oxford, 1765–1769. The work is divided into four volumes, on the rights of persons, the rights of things, of private wrongs and of public wrongs. ” As an elementary book, however, it may be enough to say that the whole body of American lawyers and advocates, with very few exceptions, since the Revolution, have drawn their first lessons in jurisprudence from the pages of Blackstone’s Commentaries; and no more modern work has succeeded as yet in superseding it.”

He then entered the law-office of Daniel McNeel, Esq., in Dublin, and diligently applied himself to legal studies, not, however, with such entire devotion as to exclude matrimony from his thoughts. An attachment formed at school was crowned, October 19th, 1820, by his marriage with Miss Jane Desaubleaux, orphan of a French gentleman [Louis P. B. DeSaubleaux] who came to the United States during the Revolutionary War, and who constituted General Blackshear the testamentary guardian of his daughters. The patrimony of his bride for a long time was unproductive, but at length became valuable from the character of the property. 

At March term, 1821, of Laurens Superior Court, Mr. Warren was admitted to the bar. He immediately opened an office in Dublin, and attended several of the courts in the southern and middle circuits, with a fair prospect of business.

That same year he became the guardian of his wife’s younger sister, Penelope DeSaubleaux, who was still a minor. He acted as an administrator, along with William L. Mcree, for his father-in-law’s estate, liquidating DeSaubleaux’s slave holdings and Laurens county plantation for the benefit of the heirs.

Appointment of Lott Warren as an administrator of the estate of Louis P. DeSaubleaux and guardian of his minor child, Penelope DeSaubleaux

Appointment of Lott Warren as an administrator of the estate of Louis P. DeSaubleaux and guardian of his minor child, Penelope DeSaubleaux

In 1823, he was elected a major of battalion in the militia, and in 1824 a representative in the legislature from Laurens county. With a view to improve his situation he removed to the village of Marion, Twiggs county, in February, 1825.

Lott Warren was temporarily serving as Solicitor-General of the Southern Circuit during the presentments of the Grand Jury of Telfair County at the June term, 1825. Among the jurors at that term of court were Redden Wooten, John Lawson, and Daniel McDonald, the three of which would later move to Lowndes County, GA. The presiding judge was Thaddeus G. Holt who that same year presided over the very first session of the Superior Court of Lowndes County, convened at the home of Sion Hall, and where Levi J. Knight served as foreman of the Grand Jury.

In March of 1826,  Thomas D. Mitchell, Esq., Solicitor-General of the Southern Circuit, was killed in a duel with Dr. Ambrose Barber.  Governor Troup made a recess appointment to place Lott Warren as Solicitor-General of the Southern Circuit, the appointment being ratified by the Legislature in November, 1826.  While in office, it became his duty to prosecute several Indians in Thomas county, for murder. According to the Bench and Bar of Georgia,

That portion of Georgia was then on the Indian frontier, and the abode of a miserable population, such as the adjoining wilds of Florida had invited. Robberies and murders were frequent, sometimes perpetrated by white men and most generally shifted off on the Indians. The Hon. Moses Fort, Judge of the Southern Circuit, held the first court in Thomas county in 1826. Two Indians were convicted before him on the offence of murder. They had killed a man by the name of White as the latter and his friends were trying to recapture certain property which the Indians had stolen. The late William H. Torrance, Esq. was appointed by the court to see that the prisoners got a fair trial. His plea to the jurisdiction of the court, on the ground that the offence was committed in Florida, (within certain disputed lines,) having been overruled, very little could be said to the merits. The solicitor-general [Lott Warren] had the assistance of Mr. [Paul] Coalson, -if not in the argument, at least in the evidence. It is presumed, however, that the prosecution needed no very special aid, as there was no adverse public opinion to combat.
When the prisoners were brought before the court to receive sentence of death, they were told through an interpreter what was to be done with them, – hung by the neck until they were dead. The judge omitted to invoke the usual blessing, – “May God have mercy on their souls!” – for the reason that the prisoners did not understand English.”

He served in this capacity to April, 1828, inclusive.  He declined being a candidate for re-election.

About the time he retired from the office of Solicitor-General, the intellect and energy of Major Warren began to attract public observation. He was employed in almost every litigated case on the circuit. No one excelled him in zeal, and but few in strength, among his associates at the bar. He frequently came in collision with Shorter, Prince, Rockwell, Torrance, Strong, and other advocates of established reputation, and always sustained himself in argument. Mr. Warren was never eloquent, if flowery language, a cultivated voice, and classic gestures be indispensable to eloquence; but he was at all times interesting,—a close reasoner, with authorities well applied; and what was better still, he exhibited a degree of self-possession and common-sense which often secured him victory in the jury-box over a competitor far more astute and pretending.

In 1828, Lott Warren chaired a large public meeting held at the Twiggs County courthouse at Marion, GA to protest the “Tariff of Abominations” which had been enacted during Andrew Jackson’s administration. The tariff, which protected northern industry and was unfavorable to the Southern agricultural economy, would lead to the Nullification Crisis. On February 1, 1833 Lott Warren would play a prominent role in the formation of the Twiggs County Free Trade & State Rights Association; Thaddeus G. Holt served as the first chairman of that organization. The State Rights Party of Georgia would be launched in 1833 by prominent leaders of the Troup party, including William H. Crawford, John M. Berrien, George R. Gilmer,  William C. Dawson, and Augustin S. Clayton.  In Lowndes County, the effort to form a State Rights Association was led by William A. KnightLevi J. KnightHamilton W. SharpeJohn Blackshear, John McLean, John E. Tucker, and William Smith at Franklinville, GA, 1834.  At the Independence Day Celebration, 1834 at Franklinville, these men and other prominent citizens of Lowndes County repeatedly toasted Nullification in opposition to Federal authority.  Among the state rights Lott Warren was most concerned with were the right of Georgia to incarcerate Native Americans without interference from the Federal Government, and the right of Georgians to retrieve fugitive slaves from other states.  Lott Warren was a slave owner, as shown in the 1860 Census of “Slave Inhabitants” of Albany, Dougherty County, GA.

Lott Warren had always been a warm supporter of Governor Troup. In 1830  he was elected to the state Legislature as the senator from Twiggs County and was seated when that body convened, but the election was contested.  An investigation ensued in the Legislature, but ultimately his election was confirmed.

 In his senatorial career of only one session, he was active in the preparation and advocacy of measures which he deemed for the public good. He exerted considerable influence in debate, and returned to his constituents with praise. The organization of the Cherokee Territory, which led to the imprisonment of the Missionaries, and the fruitless mandate of the Supreme Court to enjoin the execution of the Indian Tassels, was the leading topic of the session, and received the cordial support of the Senator from Twiggs.

In November, 1831, Mr. Warren was elected by the legislature, Judge of the Superior Courts of the Southern District, for a term of three years. Although his manner of presiding was not altogether as affable and patient as some members of the bar desired, his decisions were in general satisfactory, from the sound reasoning on which they were based. Occasionally, when a question was raised, he embarrassed counsel by an intimation of his mind, yet seldom declined hearing the argument in full. It was evident, however, from his countenance, which he rarely attempted to control for effect, that his opinion had been formed, and that it was a useless consumption of time to combat it. In such emergencies, if counsel, gathering courage and fresh ideas from the necessity of the case, could succeed in impressing the Judge that his hasty conclusion was adverse to recognized authorities, a very patient hearing was accorded; and if he was really convinced of error, he always had the frankness to correct it in proper time. It has happened, that older members of the bar, entertaining a very liberal estimate of their own qualifications, and no extraordinary respect for those of the Judge, owing, no doubt, to his want of polish and urbanity,—have ventured to argue a point, contrary to rule, after the court had pronounced its decision. To such experiments, he promptly gave a quietus by reminding counsel that the protection which the Rules of Court afforded the Bench, after a question had been decided, was not altogether nominal in his court. On a few occasions, when even this hint was unavailing, and the attempt to argue was further persisted in, he has been known to order counsel to their seats.

Judge Warren never pretend[ed] to forget the obscurity and adversities of his youth; and while he manifest[ed] a due respect for the rights and feelings of others, he never permitted any infringement of his own to escape rebuke. Soon after he settled in Marion, a gentleman, who felt himself aggrieved by the testimony of Mr. Warren before a committee of the House of Representatives, made a very conspicuous and disrespectful allusion to him, in his absence, at a public dinner. As soon as he was informed of it, Mr. Warren dispatched a note by a gallant friend, opening the way to explanation, or, that failing, to another resort usual among gentleman who recognized the code of honor. Mutual friends interposed, and the affair was honorably adjusted. We mention this circumstance merely to show that Judge Warren [had] warm passions. His temperament [was] essentially sanguine. [From 1833], however, he [was] a pious member of the Baptist Church, and kept his constitutional ardor more in subjection.

In the 1830s, Lott Warren became a prominent member of the Twiggs County Temperance Society. On July 28, 1832 he was present at the constitution of this organization and was elected its first president.  He was a member of Richland Church. He served on the church committee organizing the protracted meeting of the United Effort Company held at Richland Church which commenced on the Friday before the second Sunday in May, 1835.

At the expiration of his judicial term, in 1834, without having placed himself in the power of a legislative majority opposed to him in politics, Judge Warren resumed the practice of the law.

In December 1834, in order to pursue his business interests, Lott Warren offered his Twiggs County property for sale; “577 and 3/4 acres of land, lying near Marion, most of it good planting land, finely timbered and well-watered; 200 acres in cultivation and in a good state for making a crop – also, a few hands, stock of horses, cattle, hogs, &c.”

In January 1836.  Lott Warren moved from Marion County to Americus, GA. Following the Battle of Chickasawhatchie Swamp in the summer of 1836, he was among those presiding at a testimonial dinner at Americus, GA given in honor and gratitude for the “arduous service” of the Sumter County Volunteer Militia in the campaign “against the Creek Indians.”  The Native Americans, resisting the forceful removal to the West and fleeing to Florida, also passed through Lowndes County where local militia companies engaged them at several locations including the Skirmish at Bill Parker’s Place, the Battle of Brushy Creek, actions on Warrior Creek, Skirmish at Cow Creek, actions on Little River and at Grand Bay, and the skirmish at Troublesome Ford.

In 1837, Lott Warren was a trustee of The Georgia Baptist Institute, at Talbotton, GA.  “Talbotton is situated on the ridge of country dividing the waters of the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers, and directly on the daily stage rout from Washington City to New Orleans.”   That same year he went into partnership with William H. Crawford, with  offices in Americus, GA and providing legal services in Muscogee, Marion, Stewart, Randolph, Early, Baker, Lee, Sumter, Houston, Twiggs, Pulaski, Lowndes, Thomas Decatur and Dooly counties. In December, 1837, at a Convention of the State Rights Party, Lott Warren was nominated as a candidate for the United States Congress. In the election of 1838, he won a seat in the the U.S. House of Representatives; Julius C. Alford, who led actions against the Indians in Lowndes in Lowndes County in 1836, was also elected to the House. Although Warren did not seek the nomination, at the Anti-Van Buren Convention held June 1, 1840 at Milledgeville, he was again advanced as a candidate in the election of 1840. Subsequently , he was duly elected.

On his motion, the one-hour rule was adopted. He had seen such unnecessary waste of time for the sake of notoriety in discussion, and for selfish purposes on the part of members of Congress, that he resolved to correct the evil. Guided by a strong will of his own, against the persuasion of many friends, he moved in the matter, and the one-hour rule was incorporated into the forms of the House. Though much complained of by longwinded talkers, the rule continues still unrepealed, and will remain a proof of the sagacity and nerve of the mover…

While absent in Congress, Judge Warren was ably represented at the bar by his partner in the practice, William H. Crawford, Esq., son of the former distinguished Secretary of the Treasury—Georgia’s candidate for President in 1824. From Americus he removed to his farm in Lee county, and from thence to the town of Albany, [then] in Baker county…. In 1843 he was elected Judge of the Superior Courts of the South-Western District, and re-elected in 1847 for a term which …expire[d] in December, 1852.

For many years the Judge has acted a prominent part in the affairs of his church, frequently officiating in the pulpit, and is ever foremost in the promotion of Sunday-Schools, Bible Societies, and other benevolent institutions. He has tender sympathies and a charitable heart. Avarice forms no part of his nature. His property, though not large, renders him independent. Much of his income has been expended in a generous hospitality. Preachers, religious persons of all denominations, and his friends generally, feel quite at home under his roof.

In person, the Judge is fully six feet high, and weighs about one hundred and ninety pounds. His forehead is large and round, eyes blue, and complexion fresh and sandy. He steps quick, and is a little restless when sitting, unless his attention is much engaged. Owing to his kind feelings, which are manifest in his countenance, he does not always preserve that order in Court which a more austere visage and deportment would command. When the noise amounts to an interruption of business, he frequently alarms the bailiffs by threats of a fine for a neglect of duty. Perfect silence then reigns for a moment, but soon the uproar is renewed, the Judge himself setting the example by some pleasantry with the bar.

As the style of “Lott Warren Division, No. —,” in Sumter county, would indicate, the Judge is a son of Temperance. His lectures on that subject are very interesting. In fact, his whole time is occupied, in some way, in trying to benefit his fellow-beings. In politics, he is strictly conservative, and prefers the Union as it is, to any change which might be proposed as a remedy for real or imaginary grievances.

We have endeavored to exhibit the character and qualities of Judge Warren with that fidelity which an acquaintance of twenty-five years enables us to exercise. His example ought to stimulate poor and friendless youth to strike bravely, and bear up with fortitude, in the contest of life. If such shall be the tendency of this memoir, the writer will have accomplished his object.

In politics Lott Warren was a Whig, and he, along with his brother, General Eli Warren, and nephew Judge James Jackson Scarborough all attended the 1852 Scott Convention, the Whig state convention held at Macon, Georgia to nominate General Winfield Scott as the Whig candidate for president, with his running mate William A. Graham.  James Jackson Scarborough was trained in law under the supervision of his uncles; In 1848, Judge Scarborough would preside at Troupville, GA in the Lowndes County trial of Manuel and Jonathan Studstill for the murder of William Slaughter.

The  1934 History of Bethel Association adds the eulogy of Lott Warren by the Albany church:

“Our beloved brother, Lott Warren, departed this life on Monday, 17th of June, 1861. Such was his prominence as a citizen, a Christian, and an able and active member of this church, that it becomes highly proper that a brief memorial of his life and character should be entered upon our record.

He was born in Burke County, Georgia, October 30th, 1797. After an energetic and noble struggle with many difficulties in his early years, he at length entered upon the practice of law, which he prosecuted, with some short intervals, with much ability and success to the hour of his death. He was called by his fellow citizens to many important positions of trust and honor. He was for a time a member of our State Legislature (of the House in 1824, and of the Senate in 1830); and also Solicitor-General (from 1826 to 1828), and Judge (from 1831 to 1834), of the Southern Circuit. [It was during this period that he presided over the presentments of the Lowndes County Grand Jury.]

But it was as a decided Christian and Baptist that Brother Lott Warren became entitled to a special and honorable place upon our church records. He was baptized by the Reverend Joseph R. Hand, and became a member of the Richland Church, Twiggs County, GA in 1834. Subsequently removing to southwestern Georgia, he united with the Baptist Church in Americus. In 1845 he united with the work of the Gospel ministry, and by his occasional fervent labors in the pulpit, he rendered much useful service to the cause of Christ.

Brother Warren was remarkably exemplary in all the relations of life. He was a man of warm, earnest and unquestioned piety, decided in his opinions, of whatever he believed to be right. He was a conscientious, decided and uncompromising Baptist, though kind and affectionate in his feelings towards all whom he believed to be good men. He was the advocate of strict discipline, contributed liberally of his substance to the support of his pastor, and other pious objects. He was a friend of the poor, a bold and able champion of the cause of temperance, and an unwearied and enthusiastic supporter of the Sabbath School enterprise. For many years he labored with indefatigable zeal as a teacher in the Sunday School connected with the Albany Church. He was a lover of gospel truth, a lover of the gates of Zion, and remarkably punctual in the discharge of his duties as a church member. It deserves a special place upon our records that the Hon. Lott Warren, the able Representative, lawyer, statesman and Judge, was emphatically the humble doorkeeper of our church. On days of public worship his watchful, affectionate and gentlemanly service was ever tendered where needful, to friends and strangers, to rich and poor, that they might be provided with comfortable seats in our worshiping assemblies. His humble, cheerful conduct in this particular was a delightful comment upon the expression of the Psalmist, ‘I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.’

Brother Warren had his faults, but they were such as we might naturally expect to see in one of his ardent temperament, strong impulses and great force of character. The grace of God shone conspicuously in his life; his frailties were overshadowed by bright, prevailing virtues. He died suddenly when making a speech in the courthouse at Albany, in the defense of the life of a slave, who was on trial for commitment. He was smitten with apoplexy, sunk suddenly to the floor, and without a word, breath or struggle, passed into eternity. On the following day a large concourse followed his remains to the tomb, where they sleep in hope of a blessed resurrection.

 

From the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress:

Lott Warren, born in Burke County, near Augusta, Richmond County, GA, October 30, 1797.  He attended the common schools in the area. At the age of 19 he moved to Dublin, Laurens County, GA.  He served as a second lieutenant of Georgia Militia Volunteers in Andrew Jackson’s invasion of Spanish East Florida on an expedition against the Seminoles in 1818 (First Seminole War).   After the war he studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1821 and commenced practice in Dublin, Laurens County, GA. ; was also a regularly ordained Baptist minister, but never filled a definite charge; moved to Marion in 1825; elected major of the State militia in 1823; member of the State house of representatives in 1824 and 1831; served in the State senate in 1830; solicitor general and judge of the southern circuit of Georgia 1831-1834; moved to Americus, Sumter County, in 1836; elected as a Whig to the Twenty-sixth and Twenty-seventh Congresses (March 4, 1839-March 3, 1843); was not a candidate for renomination in 1842; moved to Albany in 1842; was judge of the superior court of Georgia 1843-1852; resumed the practice of his profession; died in Albany, Dougherty County, Ga., June 17, 1861; interment in Riverside Cemetery [Oakview Cemetery].

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Rays Mill Public Service Company Electrified Hahira

The Rays Mill Public Service Company was formed about 1912 to provide local public utilities services, including electric and telephone service.

America's Electrical Week

America’s Electrical Week

The week of December 2 to 9, 1916 was celebrated throughout the country as America’s Electrical Week. During this time electricity and electrical goods were in the spotlight to an unusual extent. Thousands of manufacturers, dealers and agents in every state of the Union were booming the celebration. December 2, 1916 was the first time the Statue of Liberty was illuminated. The Western Electric Company celebrated the big week.

Coincidentally, the Western Electric News, December, 1916 edition included a note about the Rays Mill Public Service company.

Despite its name, the Rays Mill Public Service company apparently first offered service in Hahira, GA.   The article below indicates that the company established electrical service at Hahira in 1912 (Electrification would not be established in Ray City until 1923).  The company was proud of its record of uninterrupted service in Hahira and of the fact that its power plant was so simply designed that it could be operated by an illiterate.

Rays Mill clipping from December, 1916 edition of the Western Electric News.

Rays Mill clipping from December, 1916 edition of the Western Electric News.

Western Electric News
December, 1916

As Others See Us

Four years ago we sold the Rays Mill Public Service Western Electric equipment for an electric light plant to supply Hahira, Georgia, with electricity. Our Atlanta office recently received an unsolicited letter from the Manager of the Public Service that says in part:
“We have a record with our plant that I am certain very few others have, and that is – we have never had a “dark” night since. Mr. Pinch turned the juice on something like three or four years ago – and furthermore we have never had a man that run our plant that we paid more than $50.00 per month, and he is now running it and cannot read his own name in print! Now if that is not some RECORD for Western Electric goods I will that some man to trot out one better.

The company was later renamed the Ray City Public Service company.

 

Old Ray City Fire Department

Today, Ray City, GA has a fine volunteer fire department housed in a modern facility on the south side of Main Street.  In the 1970s, the fire department consisted of a one-engine garage on the ground of City Hall.

Fire station at Ray City, GA, 1978

Fire station at Ray City, GA, 1978

Berrien Minute Men On the Square

Before the Civil War, some 32 percent of the population of Lowndes and Berrien County, Georgia were enslaved African-Americans.  In neighboring Thomas County, 51 percent of the people were enslaved. These numbers paled in comparison with the slave population of the coastal counties, where as much as 86 percent of the population toiled in bondage on the sea island cotton and rice plantations of Georgia’s tidewater.  In all, the State of Georgia estimated its citizens owned  three billion dollars worth of slaves.

Almost immediately after the election of Abraham Lincoln,  Levi J. Knight formed the Berrien Minute Men, a company of 103 volunteer infantrymen. Levi J. Knight, original pioneer settler of Ray City, GA was the military leader of the community and a slave owner. He had served as a captain of the local militia company in the Indian Wars, and as a general in the state militia.

The Berrien Minute Men drilled and paraded in the local communities before being called up for deployment. By May, 1861 newspapers reported, “the county is alive with volunteers, and all eager for a fight with the Abolitionists. Our citizens have liberally contributed funds to equip and prepare for service the poor men connected with the companies, and also to supply with provisions and clothing the destitute families of those who shall enter the service.

In 1888 a visitor to Nashville, GA met with surviving veterans of the Berrien Minute Men. A brief passage on their reminiscences was printed in the Atlanta Constitution.

Berrien Minute Men in formation at Nashville, GA

Berrien Minute Men in formation at Nashville, GA
About the Illustration: The Berrien Minute Men of the Georgia 29th Regiment in an 1861 pre-deployment ceremony at the Nashville, Georgia courthouse square. The mounted officer depicts Captain Levi J. Knight (1803-1870) a prominent leader in the area and retired major general of the Georgia militia. The building in the background represents the Berrien County Courthouse, the only known structure from Civil War era Nashville, GA which is documented in photographs. The balcony shown on the courthouse was actually not present until the building was converted to a hotel in 1898. Illustrator: Alan H. Archambault. Image courtesy of Jim Griffin.

The writer of the 1888 news clipping recalled the company of men in their uniforms on the courthouse square.

April 6,1888 Atlanta Constitution. A visitor to Nashville, GA recalls the formation of the Berrien Minute Men during the Civil War.

April 6,1888 Atlanta Constitution. A visitor to Nashville, GA recalls the formation of the Berrien Minute Men during the Civil War.

Atlanta Constitution
Friday April 6, 1888. Pg. 2.

A Brave Band of Men.

Berrien Correspondence Quitman, Ga., Herald.  May the brain that dictates and the hand that indites this sentence be paralyzed if we ever forget our friends and comrades in the days that tried men’s souls. From this county went forth the “Berrien Minute Men” to battle for the lost cause. They were the finest body of men we ever saw in line, and they belonged to the old Twenty-ninth Georgia. Twenty-five or thirty of them on the right of the company were over six feet high. They wore a grey uniform, cut on the claw-hammer style, with a black breast, and trimmed with large gilt buttons. They were a dangerous looking set, and truer, braver, manlier hearts never beat beneath the confederate grey.

Where are these stalwart forms now? We did not see them on the courthouse square at Nashville, where they once mustered so bravely.

Alas! nearly all of this gallant band have passed over the river and are resting under the shade of the trees. We met Henry Knight, John Knight, Lacy Lastinger, Jim Roberts, Jack Parrish, Frank Parrish, and a few others that we knew in the long ago, and we were welcomed, aye, thrice welcomed.

 

About the Courthouse

According to the Berrien Historical Foundation, the Berrien Courthouse was a two-story wooden structure that served the county’s judicial needs from 1858 until around 1897.  The courthouse occupied the square in Nashville, on lands purchased from pioneer, Daniel Griner, and chosen by a commission appointed by the Judge of the Inferior Court.

New Hansell Hotel. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

New Hansell Hotel. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

When the present brick courthouse was to be constructed, the two story wood structure was purchased by Dr. William Bryan Goodman, who moved it to the northeast side of the square and converted it into a hotel.

September 20, 1901 Tifton Gazette reported a new hotel in Nashville, GA

September 20, 1901 Tifton Gazette reported a new hotel in Nashville, GA

Tifton Gazette
September 20, 1901

At the entertainment given by Dr. and Mrs. W. B. Goodman in Nashville Thursday evening last, at which a voting contest for a name for the new Nashville hotel was held, about $20 was realized for the Nashville Methodist church fund. The name “Hotel Hansell,” was selected, in honor of the Southern circuit’s veteran judge.

October 25, 1901 Tifton Gazette reports Hotel Hansell under new management.

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Marsh’s Ferry, the Lopahaw Bridge and Tyson Ferry

One of the early roads in Berrien County described by William Green Avera was, “the road from Milltown northward to Tyson Ferry on the Alapaha River just east of the present site of Alapaha. This road pass[ed] by the residence of the late John Studstill, first sheriff of Berrien County, later the home of Joe Studstill, his son; Stony Hill, the old residence of the late Moses C. Lee; Keefe and Bullocks Turpentine still; the residence of the late J. H. Rowan [and] the residence of his widow, Mrs. Phoebe Rowan; the residence of the late William Gaskins — the grandfather of the late Alvah W. Gaskins of Nashville, GA.”    At  Tyson Ferry,  the Milltown road intersected the Coffee Road.

Alapaha River was crossed by the Coffee Road at this site.

Monday, June 19, 2017, Julian Fields led a field trip to the site where the ferry on the old Coffee Road crossed the Alapaha River. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7_-0AzgKgw

It was the 1823 opening of the Coffee Road that led to the creation of Lowndes County, which then covered a vast area of Wiregrass Georgia including present day Berrien County, GA.   When  John Coffee first cut through the wilderness, there was no ferry or bridges.  Early travelers on Coffee road traversed the Alapaha river  at Cunningham’s Ford. With seasonally high water, the river was no doubt difficult, if not impossible to cross. The WWALS Watershed Coalition documents a number of waypoints, creek and river crossings on the route of the old Coffee Road.

It appears that some time prior to 1836, a ferry was established over the Alapaha for the convenience of Coffee Road travelers.  Marsh’s Ferry was operated by Reuben Marsh, an early settler of Irwin County who was one of the commissioners appointed by the legislature to fix the location of the county seat, Irwinville.

THE LOPAHAW BRIDGE

In 1836 the Georgia Assembly provided partial funding for the construction of a public bridge over the Alapaha River. Later records of the Inferior Court of Irwin County indicate  Tyson Ferry was put into service to replace this bridge .

1836 Georgia Act to construct a bridge across the Lopahaw River

1836 Georgia Act to construct a bridge across the Lopahaw River

 

       AN ACT, To appropriate the sum of eight hundred dollars, to build a Bridge across the Lopahaw.
      Whereas, it is all important that a Bridge should be built across the Lopahaw, at or near Coffee’s Road, and whereas, the citizens are unable to build the said Bridge, and whereas, a subscription is on foot to raise or contribute eight hundred dollars which is thought will be about one half of the amount necessary and requisite to build and erect a substantial Bridge, for remedy whereof:
       Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Georgia in General Assembly met, and it is enacted by the authority of the same, That Jacob Polk of the county of Irwin, Daniel Grantham, Sen’r. John McMillon, be and they are hereby authorized to draw and appropriate the sum of eight hundred dollars, for the purpose of building a Bridge over and across the Lopahaw, at or near where the Coffee Road crosses the said river, and for the repair of Coffee’s Road.
       Sec. 2. Be it enacted by the authority of the same, That the said Commissioners shall give bond and sufficient security for the faithful discharge of their duty, and properly to expend the aforesaid sum for the erection of said Bridge.
        Sec. 3. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That His Excellency the Governor, be, and he is hereby authorized and required, on the receipt of said bond as before required, to pay the amount of eight hundred dollars to the said Commissioners aforesaid, out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated.

JOSEPH DAY,
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
ROBERT M. ECHOLS,

President of the Senate.
Assented to, Dec. 26, 1836.
WILLIAM SCHLEY, Governor.

It appears that the Lopahaw bridge was not constructed on the direct path of Coffee Road over the Alapaha, for at the February 1838 term of the Inferior Court of Irwin County marking commissioners were appointed to lay out a route which bypassed the ford and proceeded over the public bridge, rejoining Coffee road after the crossing.

At February term, 1838, Jacob A. Bradford, John Harper and Leonard Jackson, appointed commissioners to lay out and mark road, leaving Coffee road near Cornelius Tyson’s to public bridge on Alapaha, thence to intersect Coffee road
at or near Micajah Paulk’s, Sr. 

When the  Inferior Court of Irwin County next met road commissioners were appointed for Coffee Road, to include the new routing over the public bridge.

At July term, 1838, Leonard G. Jackson, Shaderick Griffin and Andrew McClelland, appointed commissioners on road, commencing at C. Tyson’s to public bridge on Alapaha, then to intersect Coffee road near Micajah Paulk’s, they to commence at county line and ending at district line.

There is reason to question just how long this bridge remained in service, for in 1841, Georgia experienced a severe, wide-spread flood known as the Harrison Freshet:

In the early part of March, 1841, after President Harrison’s inauguration, the big fresh occurred west of the Oconee, and the Ocmulgee, Flint and Chattahoochee rivers, and all other smaller streams, contained more water and produced greater damage than ever known. In this section the last inundation was also called the Harrison freshet; hence the confusion that arose many years afterwards in distinguishing which was the proper Harrison fresh. The discrimination was, however, distinctly recorded at the time of the occurrences. The fresh of May and June, 1840, while the convention was held at Milledgeville, was named by the Democrats, “The Nomination Freshet,” and the fresh of March, 1841, was also named by the same “unterrified” authority “The Harrison Inauguration Freshet.” An iron spike was driven into the western abutment of the [Macon] city bridge by Mr. Albert G. Butts, denoting the highest water ever in the river down to that time, March, 1841. The spike still remains, and is inspected at every freshet in the Ocmulgee.

The flood of the Harrison Freshet is known to have washed away bridges on the Alapaha River.   “Few bridges on the common streams … stood the shock.” The Milledgeville Federal Union declared it a 100 year flood.  The “extraordinary flood…caused awful damage in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina” with major erosion, land slides, “roads rendered almost impassable, and plantations disfigured with enormous gullies.

Whether or not the Lopahaw Bridge weathered the storm is not known, but Clement’s History of Irwin County relates that “the public bridge” over the Alapaha was condemned at the January 1856 term of the Irwin County Inferior Court.

TYSON FERRY

At the same 1856 term of court according to James Bagley Clements’ History of Irwin County“Cornelious Tyson was granted authority to erect a ferry on Alapaha River on the Coffee road at the location of the condemned bridge and he is allowed to charge the following rates: man and horse, six and one-fourth cents; horse and cart, twenty-five cents; four-horse wagon, fifty cents; horse and buggy, thirty-seven and one-half cents.” 

Cornelius Tyson was one of the five marking commissioners appointed by the state legislature in 1856 to fix the boundary lines of the newly created Berrien County.  Cornelius Tyson is enumerated in Berrien County, GA as Cornelius Tison in the Census 1860.

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Juanelle Wilson, Mayor of Ray City

Juanelle Wilson, Mayor of Ray City

Juanelle Wilson, 1986, Mayor of Ray City, GA

Juanelle Wilson, 1986, Mayor of Ray City, GA

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Juanelle Wilson was elected May of Ray City, GA, 1986

Juanelle Wilson was elected Mayor of Ray City, GA, 1986

Valdosta Times
January 20, 1986

Ray City Gets First Female Mayor

RAY CITY- For the first time in the history of Ray City, a woman has been elected as the mayor.

Juanelle Wilson was sworn into office at City Hall by City Clerk Betty Shearl Jan. 7.

She is excited about her election. “I was pleased to know people wanted me and supported me,” she said.

Mrs. Wilson, wife of Don A. Wilson, isn’t a newcomer to the political arena. She ran for the Ray City mayor’s office unsuccessfully three times, the first being in 1973. But later that year she was placed on the City Council by a special election and has been very active in politics since that time.

In addition to serving on city council, she has worked as city clerk and she still serves as director of the Ray City Bicentennial Park.  Mrs. Wilson would like to see a swimming pool and tennis court added to the park in the near future.

She is also active with the homecoming committee, which is in charge of annual homecoming activities on tap for the July 4th weekend celebration in Ray City.

“I have worked as hard as I could and enjoyed every minute of it,” she said of her hectic schedule.  Mrs. Wilson sees a progressive year for Ray City.  She would like to see the sewer system upgraded and a multi-housing plan started. She adds that a small industry would also contribute to the city’s expansion.

Mrs. Wilson attended Mayor’s Day in Atlanta where she sought funds for the projects she has on the agenda. “When we lift the face of the city, we need to lift mine, too,” she joked.

She said her husband and their only grandchild, Miriam, who lives with them, are excited for her and supportive of her endeavors.

No one in Mrs. Wilson’s family was ever interested in politics, with the  exception of her grandfather, the late Fred Purvis of Berrien County. She said whenever he served on the jury, he usually would up bringing some of his fellow jurors home for the night, if they lived too far away.

“I like people,” said Mrs. Wilson. “I have to be around people.” She has good rapport with the city’s council members. They are Willie James Doe, Raymond Bailey, Johnny Cooper and Eston Giddens.

At one time, a telephone service which contacted senior citizens on a daily basis to ensure their safety, was operative in the city. Mrs. Wilson would like to see this project re-established.

“We desperately need a community center to be used for the youth and senior citizens as a gathering place,” said Mrs. Wilson.  She sees that as one of her goals.

Mrs.Wilson said she feels her efforts for the city and the people who live there will be successful. “I think I’ll have their support and I’ll do the best job I can,” she said.

The 62-year-old mayor, who will celebrate her birthday Feb. 17, was born in Atlanta. Her father, the late Henry L. Starling, was a student of Georgia Tech on the GI Bill at that time. Mrs. Wilson said her father designed the tobacco flue and that required her family to move constantly. Her family returned to Berrien County when she was 6 months old.

Mrs. Wilson and her husband were married on Jan. 14, 1943. She and her husband move 22 time during his 27 1/2 years of service in the Air Force. “It was fun traveling and being part of the communities,” she said.

The Wilsons have two children, Barbara Joyce, who lives near Ray City, and a son, Dale Allen of San Diego, Calif.

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1922 Ray City Elections

 

William H. Griffin, Wiregrass Jurist

William Hamilton Griffin (1853-1917)

William Hamilton Griffin was born in that part of Lowndes County, GA which was cut into Berrien County in 1856. He became a prominent public administrator and jurist of Wiregrass Georgia, and was involved in some of the most dramatic legal contests in Ray City history.

William H. Griffin

William H. Griffin

William Hamilton Griffin  was born July 18, 1853, on his father’s plantation, located in that portion of Lowndes county which is now included in Berrien county, GA. His honored parents, William D.and Nancy (Belote) Griffin, were also natives of Lowndes county.”

He was a cousin of Bessie Griffin, and Lester Griffin of the Connells Mill district (Georgia Militia District 1329), just west of  the Rays Mill community  (now Ray City, GA),

“The father, William D. Griffin, aided in effecting the organization of Berrien county and was its second treasurer, which office he held continuously until his death, in 1892, except one term, during the so-called -“Reconstruction” period, immediately succeeding the Civil War, when nearly all white voters were, under Federal statutes, practically disfranchised. The father was a soldier in the Confederate service during the latter part of the war and was with Johnston’s forces in the operations of the Atlanta Campaign.”

The paternal grandfather represented Brooks county in the state legislature, though his residence was on land now in Lowndes county. The great-grandfather, James Griffin, was a private soldier in the Revolutionary War.  James Griffin and Sarah Lodge Griffin were early settlers of Irwin County, GA.

William H. Griffin, the subject of this sketch, was afforded only the advantages of the common schools of his native county, the family fortunes, in common with those of most southern families, having been seriously affected by the war. He was educated in the public schools and academies at Nashville, GA. He soon developed traits of leadership and at twenty was elected clerk of the court for Berrien County, an office he held in 1874-5. From 1882 to 1885 he held of the office of Ordinary of Berrien County. While in this office he studied law, and in 1884 he was admitted to the Georgia bar. He at once began the practice of his profession at Nashville, but in 1885 he removed to Valdosta, GA.  There he formed a law partnership with Judge Benjamin F. Whittington, as Whittington & Griffin, this relation continuing for several years.

He was elected mayor of Valdosta in 1892, and served three consecutive terms. Governor William Yates Atkinson appointed him judge of the city court of Valdosta in 1897, for a term of four years, at the expiration of which he was reappointed for a like term, by Governor Allen D. Candler, and continued on the bench until 1905. During his eight years of service he tried 1,358 civil cases and 2008  criminal cases, a total of 3,866. His decisions were carried to the supreme court but 18 times and were reversed in only two cases.

In politics Judge Griffin was a Democrat, having always given that party his unqualified support. He served as mayor of Valdosta, judge of the city court, representative in the state legislature from Lowndes County, Chair of the Democratic Executive Committee of Lowndes County, and as referee in bankruptcy. His elevations to public office were a tribute to his worth and to the respect with which he was held by the community.

He was a member of the local lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and held membership in various bar associations. His chief recreations were fishing and hunting.

William H. Griffin was twice married — first, on May 18, 1879, to Margaret “Maggie” MacDonald, daughter of Dougal P. and Anna (Peeples) MacDonald, of Nashville, Berrien county. Maggie McDonald was born in 1864. Her father was listed on the 1860 roster of Levi J. Knight’s Berrien Minute Men, but he was also enumerated in Berrien County on the 1864  Census for Re-Organizing the Georgia Militia. Maggie was apparently raised by Dr. Hamilton M. Talley, as she appears in his household in Berrien County in the census of 1870. She died in 1890.

William H. Griffin was second married to Miss Carrie Abbott, of Randolph, VT, September 28, 1892. He had two children of the latter marriage—William Abbott Griffin, born in 1896, and Margaret Griffin, born in 1902. William and Carrie Griffin were members of the Methodist Episcopal church South.

William H. Griffin served as attorney for the estate of prominent Rays Mill turpentine man Robert S. Thigpen, engineering some of the largest property deals in Ray City history in the disposal of the Thigpen estate.  Thigpen’s holdings at the time of his death in 1898 included his turpentine plants and naval stores stock at Rays Mill, Naylor and Lenox, GA.

In 1899, William H. Griffin represented James Thomas Beagles, defending him for the Killing of Madison G. Pearson at Henry Harrison Knight’s store at Rays Mill (now Ray City),GA some 12 years earlier. The Beagles case was tried before Judge Augustin H. Hansell. Attorney Griffin made a most eloquent and affecting appeal in behalf of his client, Beagles, for a light sentence, and every one in the court room was moved by his strong and well-chosen words. Beagles was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to only two years incarceration.

In 1906, after his retirement from the bench Judge Griffin entered into a partnership with Hon. Elisha Peck Smith Denmark, and formed the law firm, Denmark & Griffin. E.P.S. Denmark was the husband of Mary Lane, daughter of Remer Young Lane, a Valdosta banker and one of the largest land owners in all of Lowndes County.  Of Judge Griffin, it was said that “He enjoyed the confidence, esteem and patronage of the most prominent and important people and business interests of Lowndes and adjoining counties.”

In the matter of Green Bullard’s estate, William H. Griffin was retained by William B. Shaw to represent the interests of his wife, Fannie Bullard ShawGreen Bullard was a long time resident of the Rays Mill (now Ray City) area, and  owned land out Possum Creek Road and on toward the community of Cat Creek. The Shaws wanted the estate to be administered by Fannies’ brother, Henry Needham Bullard, rather than her half-brother, William Malachi Jones.   The other side of the family was represented  by Buie & Knight in the dispute. Mallie Jones was the son of Mary Ann Knight Bullard by her first husband, William A. Jones.

Judge Griffin’s name was synonymous with integrity. He “walked uprightly, worked righteousness, and spoke the truth in his heart.” He exemplified the best ideals of the profession. He was generous-spirited, and gave liberally of praise and commendation where he thought it due.  When the first train to roll through Ray City on the Georgia & Florida Railroad arrived at Valdosta, it was Judge W. H. Griffin that gave the welcome address at the celebration.

His death occurred at his home in Valdosta, April 15, 1917, and the throng of people, including many lawyers from other counties, who attended his funeral attested strongly the esteem and love there was for him in the hearts
of those who knew him.

Obituary of William Hamilton Griffin

Obituary of William Hamilton Griffin

Post-Search Light
Apr. 19, 1917

Judge Griffin Died Sunday

Prominent Valdosta Jurist Passed Suddenly Away From Heart Trouble – Well Known Here.

    The following account appearing under a Valdosta date line in the daily press Monday will be interest to Bainbridge friends of the deceased.
     Judge Griffin was well known here, and was related to Representative E. H. Griffin, of this city.
    “Judge William H. Griffin, one of Valdosta’s prominent men and a leading south Georgia lawyer, succumbed to attack of heart failure this afternoon at 1:45 o’clock after less than an hour’s illness.  He was alone at his home when the attack came on him, members of his family being at church.  Mrs. Griffin returned home soon after he was stricken and a physician reached his side in a few minutes but was powerless to relieve his patient.
    “Judge Griffin was sixty-four years of age, an active south Georgian, and for forty years a citizen of Valdosta. He was a member of the law firm of Denmark & Griffin, and controlled a large and lucrative practice.  He was a member of the two last general assemblies of Georgia and exerted a strong but conservative influence in that body.  He had been judge of the city court of Valdosta, mayor of the city, member of the school board and active in the public life of this city and section, which loses one of its best citizens in his death.
     “Judge Griffin is survived by his wife and two children, a son, Mr. Abbot Griffin, and daughter, Miss Margaret.
   “His son was in Macon, where an announcement of his father’s death reached him.
    “Judge Griffin’s funeral and interment will take place here probably on Monday.”

Grave of William Hamilton Griffin, Sunset Hill Cemetery

Grave of William Hamilton Griffin, Sunset Hill Cemetery. Image source: Robert Strickland.

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Charles X Jones Was a Leading Spirit of Ray City

In a shady cemetery plot at New Bethel Church, about seven miles southwest of Ray City, GA, lies the grave of the town’s first elected mayor, Dr. Charles X. Jones.

Grave of Charles X. Jones (1870-1933), First Elected Mayor of Ray City, GA

Grave of Charles X. Jones (1870-1933), First Elected Mayor of Ray City, GA

Charles X. Jones was born in Carroll County, GA on September 15, 1870 (or 1869 according to his death certificate).    When Charles  was born  his father, Maj. William Dudley Jones, was 50 and his mother, Martha H. Word, was 45. His father was a farmer at Bowdon, GA and also served as county tax collector of Carroll County. His mother’s parents were John Bryson Word and Amelia Sparks.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, son of Major William Dudley Jones, in Carroll County, Georgia, on June 3, 1880.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, son of Major William Dudley Jones, in Carroll County, Georgia, on June 3, 1880.

Charles X. Jones grew up on his father’s farm near Bowdon, GA in the 1111th district of Carroll County.  Bowden was a progressive community and the site of Bowdon College, “Georgia’s fifth chartered institution of higher education and first coeducational institution. Bowdon was a frontier community of merchants and yeomen who nourished the growth of a school where earnest students of limited means bettered their lives and their communities…Graduates have carried the honor of the institution into our state and national capitals and throughout the world. From her halls have come educators, doctors, lawyers, journalists, judges, bankers, farmers, industrialists, governors, and senators.”  Charles X. Jones was admitted to Bowden College where he completed the full program of study and graduated on July 1, 1891.

Bowdon College, GA, photographed circa 1899. Charles X. Jones graduated from Bowdon College in 1891.

Bowdon College, GA, photographed circa 1899. Charles X. Jones graduated from Bowdon College in 1891.

Jones later attended the medical school in Augusta, GA now known as Georgia Regents University, and received his medical degree  in 1898.

Old Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA. Charles X. Jones graduated with a medical degree in 1898.

Old Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA. Charles X. Jones graduated with a medical degree in 1898.

After medical school, young Dr. Jones came to Berrien County,GA to the Ray’s Mill Community.  He boarded with James S. Swindle and Catherline “Candas” Swindle while establishing his practice.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, physician, in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia, on June 13, 1900.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, physician, in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia, on June 13, 1900.

In 1901, Dr. Jones married 17-year-old Effie J. Mclean; he was about 31 years of age. The marriage ceremony was performed in Berrien County, GA by Elder Aaron Anderson Knight, Primitive Baptist Minister of Ray City.  Elder Knight’s church at that time was New Ramah Church in Ray City, GA

Dr. Charles X. Jones married Effie J. McLean on December 3, 1901 in Berrien County, GA.

Dr. Charles X. Jones married Effie J. McLean on December 3, 1901 in Berrien County, GA.

In 1903, Charles X. Jones purchased a 4 acre tract of land from James S. Swindle along Card Creek, the outflow of Ray’s Millpond now known as Beaverdam Creek.  That same year Charles and Effie began their family with the birth of their first child, Sam Jones.

In the summer of 1905, word came from Bowdon, GA that Dr. Jones’ father had died of a stroke. The obituary was published in the Atlanta Constitution and other state papers.

Obituary of Major William Dudley Jones, died June 19, 1905.

Obituary of Major William Dudley Jones, died June 19, 1905. Atlanta Constitution, June 21, 1905.

Atlanta Constitution
June 21, 1905

Major W.D. Jones, Carrollton, Ga.

Major W. D. Jones, a very highly respected citizen of this county, who lived near Bowdon, died suddenly as a result of a stroke of paralysis yesterday. He was 90 years old. He was the father of the late Colonel J. W. Jones, of Bowdon, and of Dr. Charles X. Jones, near Valdosta.

In 1908, Charles X. Jones’ tract of land was platted into town lots in the newly incorporated town of Rays Mill, GA.  Charles and Effie built the first house in  the  town and became its first residents. This house was located on the lot that surrounds the present Methodist Church. The street which ran past the Jones residence was named Jones Street in the doctor’s honor. Redding D. Swindle was  appointed as the mayor until the first elections could be held, and Jones carried the election in the first casting of ballots for the government of the new town. Mary Etta Swindle, wife of R.D. Swindle won a contest to name the new town, proposing it be called Ray City, GA although the title of Rays Mill persisted for many years thereafter.

The Jones residence was the very first household enumerated in Rays Mill, GA in the census of 1910. Dr. Charles X. Jones was enumerated with a reported age of 39, wife Effie J. Jones (26), and their children Sam Jones (7), Fred Jones (5), Trixie Jones (3), and Charles X. Jones, Jr (1).

Census enumeration of Dr. Charles X. and family in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia, April 15, 1910.

Census enumeration of Dr. Charles X. and family in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia, April 15, 1910.

Dr. Jones was also a banker. When the Bank of Rays Mill was formed in 1911, Dr. Jones  was elected Vice President of the bank, and served on the Board of Directors along with B. P. Jones,  J. S. Swindle, J. H. Swindle, W. H. E. Terry, L. J. Clements and bank president Clarence L. Smith. Later, Charles X. Jones  and Clarence L. Smith served together on the board of directors of Southern Bank & Trust Co., formed 1913 in Valdosta, GA.  The Southern Bank & Trust Company closed its doors in 1918.

A legal notice in the January 6, 1912 edition of the Valdosta Times shows that Dr. Jones had acquired property at the community of Barretts, about five miles south of Ray City. The Dr.’s land apparently fronted on the public road then running from Ray City to Valdosta (now known as Barretts Road) and was bounded on the south by the property of T. J. Taylor.  The 1920 census places Dr. Jones on his farm  at Barretts, where he had relocated and continued his medical practice. This was in the 1307th Georgia Militia District, the Cat Creek District of Lowndes County, GA. In the census of 1920, Jones residence was enumerated by census taker Arthur Walton McDonald, brother of Lacy A. McDonald who was a mailman at Ray City.

1920 census enumeration of Dr. Charles X. Jones, Lowndes County, GA

1920 census enumeration of Dr. Charles X. Jones, Lowndes County, GA

By the time of the 1930 census, Charles X. Jones was about 60 years old and retired from medical practice. His farm place near Barretts, valued at $5000,  was owned free and clear of mortgage. Census record indicate Jones had become a merchant/operator of a dry goods store.  Also in Dr. Jones household were his  son, Charles X. Jones, Jr.,  daughter Trixie Jones Moore (widow of Carl L. Moore), and her children, Mattie Lou Moore and Helene Moore. Trixie Jones Moore, worked as a general merchandise clerk, while Charles X. Jones, Jr. helped with the farm work.

1930 census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, Lowndes County, GA. Now retired from medical practice, Jones operated a dry goods store and maintained his farm in the Barretts Community.

1930 census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, Lowndes County, GA. Now retired from medical practice, Jones operated a dry goods store and maintained his farm in the Barretts Community.

On August 3, 1933 Charles X. Jones suffered an attack of “apoplexy” – a venerable word for a stroke, a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), often associated with loss of consciousness and paralysis of various parts of the body.  Before the day was out he succumbed to death.

Charles X. Jones was a civic minded citizen and an important figure in the incorporation of the town of Ray’s Mill (now Ray City), GA.  He was said to be a leading spirit of the town.

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