George Washington Knight and the Populist Party

George Washington Knight was born September 8, 1845 in Lowndes County, GA.  His parents were Ann Sloan and Aaron Knight (1813-1887), brother of Levi J. Knight.

At age 16, on  July 3, 1862, George W. Knight enlisted as a Private  in Company E, 54th Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry.  His  unit fought all over Georgia; at Dug Gap, Kennesaw Mountain, and Atlanta, and other battle locales.  Matthew Hodge Albritton, James Baskin, William Gaskins, Samuel Guthrie, William J. Lamb, Jeremiah May, Rufus Ray, and Samuel Sanders, among other Berrien countians, also served in this Company.  On April 20-21, 1865, two weeks after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, the 54th Georgia Volunteers, under the command of General Howell Cobb, joined in the last defense of Macon.

George Washington Knight surrendered as a corporal with Company E, 54th Infantry Regiment Georgia on May 10,  1865 at Tallahassee, FL.

On Sept 20, 1865 George W. Knight married Rhoda Futch, a daughter of John M. Futch. She was born October 31, 1846; died January 4, 1909.  At first, the newlyweds made their home on a farm owned by George’s father.  But within a few months George bought a farm on Ten Mile Bay near Empire Church, about five miles northeast of the site of Ray’s Mill. George and Rhoda resided on this farm the rest of their lives.

Rhoda Futch and George Washington Knight

Rhoda Futch and George Washington Knight

“In 1892 Georgia politics was shaken by the arrival of the Populist Party. Led by the brilliant orator Thomas E. Watson this  new party mainly appealed to white farmers, many of whom had been impoverished by debt and low cotton prices in the 1880s and 1890s.”   Georgia farmers were being driven into ruin by the combination of falling cotton prices and rising railroad freight taxes .  Populism attracted followers in all of the southern states, but it was especially strong in Georgia.

Populist Party 1892 Campaign Buttons.  Campaign buttons for the Populist Party candidate, James B.Weaver, in the presidential election of 1892.

Populist Party 1892 Campaign Buttons. Campaign buttons for the Populist Party candidate, James B.Weaver, in the presidential election of 1892.

The Populist Party ran a candidate for president, as well as candidates for Congress, Governor of Georgia, and the Georgia Assembly.

George Washington Knight was the Populist party’s candidate for Georgia state senator of the Sixth District in 1894, but was defeated.

The platform of the Populist movement called for financial policies to drive up the price of cotton, banking reform, government ownership of the railroads, direct election of senators, and an agricultural loan program, known as the Sub-Treasury Plan,  which would help farmers get the best prices for their crops.

“Realizing that the white vote would probably split between the Populist and Democratic parties, the Populists—and Tom Watson in particular—tried to gain the support of African Americans. Although never calling for social equality, they invited two black delegates to their state convention in 1892 and appointed a black man to the state campaign committee in 1894. They also demanded an end to the convict lease system, a program by which the state leased its prisoners to private mining companies. Work in the mines was dangerous, conditions were brutal, and most of the prisoners were black. Democrats quickly accused the Populists of allying with former slaves. Such racist claims drove many whites from the People’s Party movement, and the contest was marked by fistfights, shootings, and several murders.”

On election day, the Democratic party triumphed over the Populists in the races for the top offices. But the Georgia elections of 1892 and 1894 that kept the Populists out of state offices were marked by blatant corruption.  In 1894 ballot boxes in many Georgia counties were stuffed with more votes than there were voters.

When the Populist ran a presidential candidate in the election of 1896, it split the democratic vote giving the national election to the William McKinley and the Republicans. At the state level, the Populists lost the gubernatorial race to the Democrats. After the defeat of 1896, white Populists slowly drifted back to the Democratic Party, although many of the Populist issues continued in Georgia politics. The Populist Party had never convincingly embraced African-American voters,  who quickly returned to the Republican party.  The Populist party was not always acceptable to the Primitive Baptists of the Wiregrass, either.  In November, 1892, for instance, in Empire Church near Rays Mill (Now Ray City), GA charges were preferred against Hardeman Sirmans “for voting the Populist ticket in the preceding General Election.” 

In later years, George Washington Knight returned to the Democratic party.

He died 8 Feb 1913 in Lakeland, Berrien, Georgia. Rhoda Futch and George Washington Knight are buried at Empire Church, Lanier county, GA.

Rhoda Futch and George Washington Knight, Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Rhoda Futch and George Washington Knight, Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

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Jesse Bostick and the Battle of Cedar Creek

In the 1850s Jesse and Sarah Bostick made their home in Berrien County in the vicinity of present day Ray City, GA.  Jesse Bostick, born 1836 in Duplin County, NC  was the  eldest son of Treasy Boyette and John Bostick.  His wife, Sarah Ann Knight, was a daughter of Nancy Sloan and Aaron Knight of Berrien County, GA.

On March 22, 1862, Jesse S. Bostick enlisted in the Clinch Volunteers, which mustered in as Company G, Georgia 50th Infantry Regiment.  This unit was quickly dispatched to Virginia where they engaged in battle. Through 1862 and 1863 they fought battles all over Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.  The 50th GA Regiment’s bloodiest day was September 14, 1862 at the Battle of South Mountain, where the 50th GA Regiment suffered a casualty rate of 86% – 194 killed or wounded out of an effective force of about 225 men (see William Guthrie and the Bloody Battle of South Mountain).

While Jesse was away fighting in the war, tragedy struck at home.  In 1863, his wife and youngest daughter died.

Jesse continued to fight with his unit in engagements at Gettysburg, PA and Knoxville, TN among others. About 15 Feb 1864, shortly after the battle at Cumberland Gap, TN, he was promoted to Full 3rd Sergeant.

In the late summer and early fall of 1864, the 50th Georgia Regiment was fighting all up and down the Shenandoah Valley.  The 50th Georgia Regiment was a part of General Kershaw’s Division, in General Early’s Army of the Valley.  The Union forces under the command of General Philip Sheridan were engaged in destroying the economic base of the Valley, including crops in the field and stored goods, attempting to deprive General Robert E. Lee’s army of needed supplies.

In mid-October Sheridan’s Army of the Shenandoah was encamped at Cedar Creek, Virginia while the 50th Georgia Regiment and the rest of General Early’s Confederate forces had withdrawn to defensive positions at Fisher’s Hill, about three miles distant.  Believing the Confederate units in Shenandoah Valley too weak to attack his numerically superior force, on October 15 Sheridan returned to Washington D.C. to meet with General Grant and Secretary of War Staunton to begin planning the next phase of the war.  By October 18, Sheridan was returning to the scene and while in route spent the evening of the 18th at nearby Winchester, VA.

Seizing on the over confidence of the Union forces, Confederate General Early decided to launch a surprise attack across Cedar Creek in the early morning hours of October 19, 1864.  The men of the 50th Georgia regiment spent the day before the attack in preparations, cooking provisions and stocking their ammunition.

Early deployed his men in three columns in a night march, lit only by the moon.  The men moved out at midnight, with all gear secured against chance noise they  marched in silence.  By 5:00 am Kershaw’s Division crossed Cedar Creek at  Bowmans Mill Ford, with the 50th Georgia Regiment in the lead.

Just before sunrise, operating under a cover of dense fog, the confederate forces struck. The surprise was complete, and the Union position was quickly overrun. The Confederates took hundreds of Union prisoners, many still in their bedclothes, and captured eighteen guns.

Sheridan was away at Winchester, Virginia, at the time the battle started. Hearing the distant sounds of artillery, he rode aggressively to his command. (Thomas Buchanan Read wrote a famous poem, Sheridan’s Ride, to commemorate this event.) He reached the battlefield about 10:30 a.m. and began to rally his men. Fortunately for Sheridan, Early’s men were too occupied to take notice; they were hungry and exhausted and fell out of their ranks to pillage the Union camps.

Sheridan's Ride, October 19, 1864.

Sheridan’s Ride, October 19, 1864.

By 4 p.m., Sheridan had rallied and reorganized his troops to mount a counterattack.  The Union divisions were now reinforced by Brig. Gen. George A. Custer‘s cavalry division, which broke the Confederate lines. Custer’s cavalry chased the disorganized Confederates all the way back to Fisher’s Hill. The destruction a bridge in the Confederate rear cut off their escape route, “blocking up all the artillery, ordnance and medical wagons, and ambulances which had not passed that point.”  At Fisher’s Hill, the Confederates managed to regain some composure, organizing a defense and an orderly retreat.  Despite the reversal, the Confederates took with them some 1500 Union prisoners that had been captured in the morning’s attack.

Casualties  on the Confederate side were estimated as being “about 1,860 killed and wounded, and something over 1,000 prisoners” captured by Union forces. The Union took 43 guns (18 of which were their own guns from the morning), and supplies that the Confederacy could not replace.  The battle was a crushing defeat for the Confederacy. They were never again able to threaten Washington, D.C., through the Shenandoah Valley, nor protect the economic base in the Valley. The reelection of Abraham Lincoln was materially aided by this victory and General Phil Sheridan earned lasting fame.

It is estimated that the Georgia 50th Regiment suffered more than 50% casualties in the Battle of Cedar Creek.  In Jesse Bostick’s unit, Company G, two men were mortally wounded, two others received wounds and nine were taken prisoner. Quarterman Staten, Captain of Company G, was severely wounded, but was transported to a hospital and eventually furloughed home to Echols County, GA.

Jessie Bostick was among those captured.

As a prisoner of war he was sent to Point Lookout, Maryland, one of the largest Union POW camps.  During the war, a number of captured soldiers from the Ray City area and Berrien County went through the POW depot at Point Lookout, among them John T. Ray, Benjamin Harmon Crum, Benjamin Thomas Cook and Aaron Mattox.

The conditions at Point Lookout were horrific – more than 20,000 men crammed into tents in a prison built to hold 10,000.  Nearly 4000 Confederate prisoners died at Point Lookout, about 8 percent of the 50,000 men who passed through the prison camp during the war.

Point Lookout, MD.  Hammond General Hospital and U.S. General Depot for Prisoners of War.

Point Lookout, MD. Hammond General Hospital and U.S. General Depot for Prisoners of War.

Jesse Bostick survived at Point Lookout for four cold months before finally being exchanged on March 21, 1865.

Prisoners at Point Lookout, MD taking the oath of allegiance. A group of prisoners stand in a building, with the U.S. Flag draped across the ceiling, each with his hand on a Bible. A Union officer stands at a dias administering the oath of allegiance to the Union. Image courtesy of Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society, [Digital ID, nhnycw/ae ae00007] http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ndlpcoop/nhihtml/cwnyhshome.html

Prisoners at Point Lookout, MD taking the oath of allegiance. A group of prisoners stand in a building, with the U.S. Flag draped across the ceiling, each with his hand on a Bible. A Union officer stands at a dias administering the oath of allegiance to the Union. Image courtesy of Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society, [Digital ID, nhnycw/ae ae00007] http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ndlpcoop/nhihtml/cwnyhshome.html

With the end of the war, Jesse Bostick returned to his home in Berrien County, Ga.  Within six months of the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, Jesse Bostick married Mrs. Nancy Corbitt Lastinger.  She was the widow of James G. Lastinger, another confederate soldier who served with the 29th Georgia Regiment (the Berrien County Minutemen) and died in a Union hospital in 1864.

Jesse and Nancy Bostick lived out their days in Berrien County, GA.   They were buried across the Alapaha River in present day Atkinson County at Live Oak Cemetery, where others of the Corbitt family connection are buried.

Jesse Bostick

Jesse Bostick, born 1836 in Duplin County, NC was the eldest son of Treasy Boyette and John Bostick. In the mid 1800s he came with his parents to South Georgia and they settled near present day Lakeland, GA) about 10 miles east of the Ray City, Georgia area.

Wiregrass historian Folks Huxford wrote, “John Bostick and family moved to what was then Lowndes County not long after several other families had moved here from their home community in Duplin County, N. C.  Among these families were those of William J. Lamb, James Carroll, Jesse Carroll, William Godfrey, Andrew J. Liles, William Best, James W. Dixon and others.  These all settled in or around the village then called Alapaha but now named Lakeland, Lanier County.”

On July 3, 1856 Jesse Bostick married Sarah Ann Knight in Berrien County, GA. She was a daughter of Nancy Sloan and Aaron Knight. The bride’s grandfather, William Anderson Knight, performed the ceremony. The Knights were among the earliest pioneer families to settle in the Ray City area.

Marriage of Jesse Bostick and Sarah Ann Knight, July 3, 1856.

Marriage of Jesse Bostick and Sarah Ann Knight, July 3, 1856.

Jesse and Sarah Bostick made their home in Berrien County in the vicinity of present day Ray City, GA, next to the home of Sarah’s brother, John W. Knight. Jesse worked as a farm laborer, as he had no real estate or personal estate of his own. Perhaps he worked for his brother-in-law, who had a substantial plantation.

Children of Sarah Ann Knight and Jesse S. Bostick:

  1. Mary E. Bostick, born 1859, married John A. Gaskins
  2. Sarah E. Bostick, born 1860, died young.

During the Civil War, Jesse S. Bostick enlisted in Company G, Georgia 50th Infantry Regiment. While Jesse was away fighting in the war, tragedy struck at home. In 1863, his wife and youngest daughter died.

A memorial to Sarah Ann Knight  (1841-1863), wife of Jesse Bostick, appears on the grave marker of Mary Bostick Gaskins at Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA.

A memorial to Sarah Ann Knight (1841-1863), wife of Jesse Bostick, appears on the gravemarker of her daughter, Mary Bostick Gaskins, at Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA.

Jessie Bostick was captured at the Battle of Cedar Creek, and imprisoned at Point Lookout, MD. With the end of the war, Jesse Bostick returned to his home in Berrien County, Ga. Within six months of the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, Jesse Bostick married Mrs. Nancy Corbitt Lastinger. She was the widow of James G. Lastinger, who served with the 29th Georgia Regiment (the Berrien County Minute Men) and died in a Union hospital in 1864.  Nancy Corbitt had come from Tennessee to Clinch County, GA sometime prior to 1860 with her widowed mother and siblings.

Marriage of Jesse Bostick and Nancy Lastinger, October 1, 1865, Berrien County, GA

Marriage of Jesse Bostick and Nancy Lastinger, October 1, 1865, Berrien County, GA

The census of 1870 shows Jesse, Nancy, and Jesse’s daughter, Mary, living in the household of Nancy’s younger brother, Monroe Corbitt.  Monroe was also a Confederate veteran  having served as a sergeant in Company H, 29th Georgia Regiment, and he had managed to retain a farm even through the war years. The Corbitt farm was in the 1148 Georgia Militia District of Berrien County.  Jesse worked as a farm laborer, while Nancy and Mary assisted with housekeeping and domestic chores.

Later the Bosticks lived in the Willacoochee area in Berrien County.

Nancy Bostick died September 18, 1918 and Jesse Bostick died August 21, 1925 in Berrien County, GA. They are both buried at Live Oak Methodist Church, in present day Atkinson County.

Gravemarker of Jesse Bostick and Nancy Corbitt Lastinger Bostick, Live Oak Cemetery, Atkinson County, GA.

Gravemarker of Jesse Bostick and Nancy Corbitt Lastinger Bostick, Live Oak Cemetery, Atkinson County, GA.

A Brief History of New Ramah Baptist Church at Ray City, GA

New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church, at Ray City, GA, was built on land donated by   Elias M “Hun” Knight, John T. “Coot” Knight, Alexander “Bub” Knight, and  Levi Jackson Knight, the four sons of  Sarah “Sallie” Moore and Henry Harrison Knight,  and grandsons of pioneer settler John Knight.

New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church, Ray City, GA

New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church, Ray City, GA

In 1976, B.L. Johnson wrote a brief history of the church:

NEW RAMAH PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH

The land for the church and cemetery was donated by A.S. Knight, E.M. Knight, L.J. Knight, and John Knight, all sons of Henry H. Knight.

On August 30, 1913 the following brethren met and established the new church:  Elder I.A. Wetherington, Unity Church; Elder H.W. Parrish, Salem Church; Elder A.A. Knight, Pleasant Church; Elder E.R. Rhoden, Pleasant Hill; and Elder Ed Lindsey, Ty Ty Church.

Public donations from twenty-five cents on upwards to thirty-five dollars were given to build the church.  Elder A.A. Knight was the first pastor and served for twelve years from August 1913 until July 1925.  He was the father of June Knight,  Mrs. Martha Burkhalter, and Mrs. J.L. Lee, all former residents of the community.

Elder C.H. Vickers succeeded Elder Knight and he served as pastor until December 1970, having served continuously for almost 45 years. Serving shorter terms as pastor were Elder J.R. Stallings from January 1971 to January 1972; and Elder Elisha Roberts from January 1972 until August 1973.  The present pastor, Marcus Peavy, began his pastorate in August 1973.

Brethren who have served the church as clerks are George Mikell, Terrell Richardson, Lloyd Cribb and the present clerk, Austin Register.

There are presently eighteen members of the church.

Harriet Swindle Moore ~ First Lady of Ray City

Harriet “Hattie” Swindle Moore was First Lady of Ray City, GA from 1942-1944, during her husband’s term of office as Mayor.

Born on the day after Christmas, December 26,  1871, Harriet Swindle  was a daughter of  James Henry Swindle and Nancy Jane Parker.

Harriet Swindle and sister, Martha Ada Swindle, image detail from a photo taken in

Harriet Swindle (left) and sister, Martha Ada Swindle (right), image detail from a photo taken in front of the Swindle home place about two miles from Ray’s Mill (nka Ray City), Georgia, probably taken around 1890.

Harriet married James Lacy Moore on September 12, 1900 in Berrien County, GA.  The wedding was performed by  Elder  Aaron A. Knight.

Harriet Swindle and James Lacy Moore, Marriage License, September 12, 1900, Berrien County, GA. They were lifelong residents of Ray City, GA.

Related posts:

Update on Perry Thomas Knight

Perry Thomas Knight

Found a new bio of Perry Thomas Knight in the Georgia Official and Statistical Register, 1955-1956 – page 134 (below), and new photo at Berrien County Historical Photos Collection.  Prior to attending Southern Normal University, P.T. Knight attended the Green Bay School near Ray City, and the Oaklawn Academy at Milltown, GA  (now Lakeland, GA).  In 1923, he led the fundraising effort to pay for the Doughboy Monument in Nashville, GA.

PERRY THOMAS KNIGHT, Atlanta, Dec’d. Associate Public Service Commissioner Emeritus. Born Mar. 7. 1877 at Rays Mill, Berrien co., Ga. Graduated Southern Normal University, LL.B. degree, 1901.

Advertisement for Southern Normal University, 1901.

Advertisement for Southern Normal University, 1901.

Began the practice of law in 1901. Baptist. Democrat. Mason. WW I —Chaplain & 1st Lt. Former member, Berrien County Board of Education; W. & A. Railroad Commission, 1925-27. Member, house of rep., Berrien co., 1921-22, 1923-23 Ex.-24. Senator, 6th dist., 1925-26. Ex.-26 2nd Ex. Public Service Commissioner, Jan. 25, 1928 – July 21. 1933 removed by Governor Eugene Talmadge; re-elected Nov. 16, 1936–continuously served until Apr. 1, 1953 (vice-chairman 1949 until date of retirement, April 1 1953). Retired under Legislative Act, and became Associate Public Service Commissioner for life. Dec’d Sept. 17 1955.

Family details: Married July 19, 1903 in Milltown (know Lakeland) Ga., Annie Lota Duggar, daughter of Wiley J. and Sallie (Bowen) Duggar. Children: James Perry, married and has 5 children; Elwin Thomas, married and has 4 children. Perry T. Knight was the son of George Washington Knight and Rhoda (Futch) Knight, and the grandson of Aaron and Nancy (Sloan) Knight, and of John M. and Phoebe (Mathis) Futch.

 

According to 1917 draft records in Berrien County,  P. T. Knight also engaged in farming operations and was an employer.  One of his  workers was Charles Anthony Ray, a one-eyed farm laborer from Wayne County.

 

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Ray City Home of Aaron Anderson Knight

Ray City Home of Aaron Anderson KnightPrimitive Baptist minister Elder Aaron A. Knight lived in Ray City, GA  in this house. Originally on the west side of Park Street about four lots south of Main Street, the house has since been moved about 1/4 mile further south on Park Street to the end of Ice Castle Lane, at the edge of Cat Creek.

Sullivan Jordan “Sovin” Knight (1858 – 1911)

Sullivan Jordan Knight (1858 – 1911)

Sullivan Jordan “Sovin” Knight. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

Continuing research on  Aaron Anderson Knight: his brother, Sullivan Jordan “Sovin” Knight, was a farmer at Ray’s Mill, GA.   The following is transcribed from the Valdosta Daily Times, January 6, 1909

Valdosta Daily Times
January 6, 1909
Rays Mill Home Burned
Residence Of S. J. Knight Consumed While He was At Funeral

Milltown, Ga., Jan. 6. — Tuesday morning while Mr. S.J. Knight and family of the Rays Mill district were at the burial of Mrs. Geo. W. Knight, his home and smokehouse burned down. One of the two sons, who did not go to the burial, was at work in a back field and saw the flames coming from the direction of his home. He was quickly on the scene and with the assistance of the neighbors, who joined him, and succeeded in saving a portion of the furniture, and most of the meat from the smokehouse. It is not known what started the fire, unless it was rats, as the fire seemed to have started in the upper part of the house. It is not known whether Mr. Knight carried any insurance.

Aaron Anderson Knight (1857 – 1925)

 
 

Ray City History
Current Reseach Subject: Aaron Anderson Knight (1857 – 1925)

A.A. Knight, Pleasant Cemetery, New Lois, near Ray City, GA

Aaron Anderson Knight

was a Primitive Baptist minister in Berrien County, Georgia.  He was born April 13, the day after Easter, 1857,  the son of John W. Knight.

On October 28, 1877 Aaron A. Knight married Mattie Martha Parrish.  She was born May 20, 1860,  in Lowndes County, Georgia. Her parents were the Reverend Ansel Parrish and Molcy Knight.

Elder Aaron Knight lived in Ray City, GA  in a house on the west side of Park Street about four lots south of Main Street.  This house has since been moved further out Park Street to the end of Ice Castle Lane.

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