Lowndes Grand Jury of 1833

When the May 1833 term of the Lowndes County, GA Superior court convened, the now defunct town of Franklinville was the site of the  County seat of government.   Lowndes then included most of present day Berrien county and the location of present day Ray City, GA.   This section of the country, Wiregrass Georgia, was then still an untamed frontier. As Montgomery Folsom described,  in the 1830s it was “a country that was well supplied with Indians, bears, panthers, wolves and other unfriendly neighbors…”   Dr. Jacob Motte, first doctor to visit Franklinville, observed Lowndes county “being so far south and in a low swampy part of the country had the worst possible reputation for health, and going there [in the warm] season of the year was almost considered certain death to a white man and stranger unacclimated.”

The year 1833 was in the administration of Andrew Jackson. John Coffee, a Jacksonian Democrat and builder of the Coffee Road which opened Lowndes County for settlement, was a U.S. Congressman from Georgia.  L.J. Knight, a Whig then serving as the senator from Lowndes in the Georgia Assembly, was a vocal opponent against what was seen as the executive excesses of “King Andrew.” Levi J. Knight was an original settler of Ray City. Knight’s father, William A. Knight, founding pastor of Union Church, was appointed in 1833 to visit the 35 Primitive Baptist churches and 1,010 members of the Ochlocknee Association situated between the Alapaha and Flint River to instruct them on their duties and responsibilities to the Association. That year L. J. Knight supported the founding of the State Rights Party of Georgia.  The party had been launched  by prominent Georgia political leaders  including John M. Berrien, for whom Berrien County would later be named.

The jurors of the 1833 Grand Jury came to Franklinville by horseback, sulky or wagon, over rude and uncomfortable stage roads described as among the worst in the state by Charles Joseph La Trobe.  La Trobe, an English traveler and writer, in 1833 rode from Tallahassee, FL to Milledgeville, GA  via the weekly stagecoach.

Franklinville, “At its best, it could only boast one store and three or four families and the court house. The court house was built there in 1828-29, and was a small crude affair, costing only $215.00.”  According to Huxford’s Sketch of the Early History of Lowndes County, Georgia, Franklinville was a small trading community of one or two stores and a few houses. Hamilton W. Sharpe, another prominent Whig of Lowndes County, regarded Franklinville a place of intemperance. William Smith, who served as clerk of the court, postmaster, and Ordinary of Lowndes County, was one of the few permanent residents of the town.  Attorney John J. Underwood was also a resident of the town and owned several town lots.  Henry Blair, who was sheriff of Lowndes County, held the Sheriff’s auctions in front of the old courthouse at Franklinville.

 

PRESENTMENTS Of the Grand Jury for the County of Lowndes, at May Term, 1833. WE, the Grand Jury, selected and sworn for the county of Lowndes, do present as a grievance, the conduct of James Touchstone, for frequent and repeated over charges in setting persons over the river at his ferry on the Alapahaw, in the county aforesaid.—Witness, William Roberts, Isben Giddens and Benjamin Sirman. And taking into consideration the badness of the roads, do earnestly and respectfully recommend to the honorable Inferior court, to use all diligence in enforcing the road laws for the improvement and keeping in good order our public roads. And also, having performed the duty devolved on us, in the examination of our county records, together with the records of our Poor School fund, find them correctly and neatly kept, and from an expose of the funds by the Treasurer in cash and good notes, find that the amount exhibited corresponds with the books. We cannot take leave of his honor Lott Warren, without tendering our thanks for his strict attention to the business of our county, and for the good order which he has enforced during the present term. Also we tender our thanks to the solicitor, Stephen F. Miller, for his polite attention to our body during the present term. W e request that these our presentments be published in the Milledgeville papers.
WILLIAM BLAIR, Foreman

Jeremiah Wilson,
Jesse Lee,
Nathan Hodges,
James Rountree,
Lewis Blackshear,
Elijah Beasley,
William Alderman,
Jeremiah Tillman,
Simpson Strickland,
William McMullin,
Thomas Self,
Isben Giddens,
Aaron Mattox,
James Wade,
Benjamin Sirman,
John Lawson,
Bani Boyd,
Alexander Campbell,
Francis Jones,
William Hendry,
William Burman, sen.

On motion of Stephen F, Miller, solicitor-general, it is ordered, That the foregoing presentments be published according to the request of the Grand Jury. I do hereby certify that the foregoing is s true copy from the minutes of the Superior Court.

WILLIAM SMITH, Clerk.
June 12, 1832 51

 

About the Jurors:

Jeremiah Wilson (1795-1877)
Jeremiah Wilson was a son of Captain James Wilson, Revolutionary Soldier and prisoner of war.  According to A History of Savannah and South Georgia, Vol II, Jeremiah Wilson, Sr., was born in Ireland. He lived for a while in Effingham county, Georgia, from there coming to the southern part of the state, and locating in that part of Lowndes county that is now included within the limits of Brooks county. The country roundabout was then heavily timbered, with only here and there an open place in which stood the cabin of the pioneer. Game of all kinds filled the forests, and the Indians, which still claimed this land as their happy hunting ground, made frequent raids upon the whites, ofttimes massacring many of the newcomers. [Jeremiah Wilson] was a member of a company formed for defense against the hostile savages, and for services which he rendered in various Indian warfares was granted two lots of land. The tracts which he selected for his own were in that part of Lowndes county now included in Brooks county, one lying six miles north of Quitman, and the other four miles to the northwest. He located on the latter tract, the removal from Walton county being made with teams, the only mode of transportation in those early days, before railroads were dreamed of. Clearing a space, he erected a log house, splitting puncheon for the floors, and riving shakes for the roofs. He was a well educated man, and did much of the surveying of public lands. In 1858 he surveyed and platted the town of Quitman. A successful agriculturist, he carried on general farming with the help of slaves, continuing to reside on his farm until his death at the age of seventy-two years.”  He married twice, first to Elizabeth Lucas about 1818 in Effingham County, GA, and second to Betty Lucas. The New Wilson Papers adds the following:  ” Following his marriage to Elizabeth Lucas, he moved his family to Walton County, GA; then about 1831, relocated to Lowndes County, GA. It is reported that he was also a civil engineer and well educated. He played the violin and was great lover of music. He also was a great fighter and never missed the opportunity for a good fight. He served in the Mexican War [1846-48]… Jeremiah was planter and slave-owner.   In the 1850 Census of Lowndes County,GA he was recorded to own 10 slaves. …[He] was County Surveyor of Brooks County, and helped survey the Florida-Georgia line [1857] He owned 300 acres of land on Lot #439 in the 12th District of Lowndes, which was seized by the Lowndes Superior Court and sold at auction on the courthouse steps at Troupville in 1849 to satisfy debts owed to James W. Smith and Samuel M. Clyatt.  In 1859, he laid out the city of Quitman, the county seat of Brooks County. His wife Elizabeth (nee Lucas) was blind for twenty years, but recovered her sight a short time before her death. She thereby had the pleasure of seeing her children and grandchildren. Jeremiah Wilson was a prominent Democrat of Lowndes County. He died in 1877.

Jesse Lee (1780-1853)
According to Folks Huxford, Jesse Lee was born in Marion District, SC, in 1780, son of Moses Lee. He was a brother of Joshua Lee, who about 1830 dammed the northern outflow of Grand Bay, and constructed a grist mill at Allapaha, GA (now Lakeland),GA. Jesse Lee and his wife, Sarah, had five known children (perhaps others): John Lee, born 1808, married Elenor Wetherington; Moses C. Lee, born 1814, married Jincy Register; Aseneth Lee, born 1820, first married Samuel E. Register; Elizabeth Lee, born 1825, married William D. Wilkerson; Winnifred Lee, born 1827, married John Studstill. Record is found in Marion County, S. C., of deed from Mr. Lee joined by his wife Sarah, to Malcolm McIntyre, dated July 30, 1806, for 100 acres same being a part of a 4434-acre tract granted Moses Lee (Deed book C, page 14, Marion Co.). Two years later they were living in Pulaski County, Ga,, when Mr, Lee and his wife Sarah, were witnesses to a deed dated April 23, 1808, from John Fielder to John Lee, of Laurens County, to Lot 56, 24th District (Pulaski County deed book A, page 3)In the War of 1812, Jesse Lee served as a private under Capt. Fort in a detachment of Georgia militia stationed at Forts Mitchell and Green on the Ocmulgee River in Pulaski County.  His brother, Joshua served as a captain at Fort Green. Jesse and Joshua Lee moved their families to Appling County about 1819, and a few years later they moved to Hamilton County, FL.  There, Jesse and Sarah Lee united with Concord Primitive Baptist Church about 1832. Shortly thereafter, they had moved to Lowndes County, GA, settling in the portion now Lanier County. There Jesse Lee died in 1853, and on May 2, 1853, his son, Moses C. Lee, and son-in-law, Samuel E. Register, applied for administration of his estate; they were appointed, and administered the estate. Mrs. Lee died about 1848. They were buried in the cemetery at Union Church; graves unmarked.


Nathan Hodges
Nathan Hodges came to Lowndes County, GA about 1828. He was a veteran of the War of 1812, having served in the local Tattnall County Militia. According to A History of Savannah and South Georgia, Vol II,  Nathan Hodges was, so far as known, a native Georgian, and about 1828 moved from Tattnall county to Lowndes county, settling some five miles south of the present site of Hahira. Lowndes county then comprised a much greater territory than at present, with Franklinville the county seat, which was subsequently transferred to Troupville. Nearly all the land was under state ownership, and directly from the commonwealth Grandfather Hodges bought a lot of four hundred and ninety acres, nearly all timber. [The 1835 Tax Digest for Lowndes County shows the property owned by Nathan Hodges, being all of Lot #85 in the 12th District of old Irwin County, was originally granted to his brother, William Hodges. Some say Nathan  purchased his Lowndes County homestead from William on October 13, 1827.] His family were sheltered under tents while he was erecting the first log-cabin home. For many miles around no mills had yet been built. He had brought with him a steel mill, operated by hand, for grinding grain, and this became such an institution that the neighbors brought their packs of corn long distances to be ground into meal. The date of the Hodges settlement was also several years previous to the final expulsion of the Florida Indians, and it was a not infrequent occurrence that marauding bands crossed the border and disturbed the south Georgians. A log fort stood on the grandfather’s place during these years, and it several times sheltered the inhabitants of this vicinity while hostile redskins were near. On this old homestead the grandfather and his wife spent their last years. They reared eight children, three sons and five daughters, namely: John, Daniel, Aleck, Elsie, Eliza, Caroline, Maria and Polly.

James Rountree (1787-1834)
James Rountree, it is said, was the first pioneer settler to build a house in Lowndes County, GA. The History of Lowndes County, GA reports that in 1821, the four settlers returned to that section of Irwin soon to be cut into Lowndes County. Sections in the north of old Irwin County had been settled and several counties had been laid out.  The families of James Rountree, Drew Vickers, Alfred Belote, and Lawrence Folsom and their African-American slaves were the first pioneer families to settle in the original county of Lowndes after moving there in the winter of 1821-1822. James Rountree was murdered in 1834 while returning home from the coast of the Florida Territory where he had gone to fetch salt.

Lewis Blackshear (1805-1880?)
A  pioneer land owner of old Lowndes County, arrived in the county prior to 1827.  He was a fortunate drawer in the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827, drawing a lot in Muscogee County.  By the opening of the Second Seminole War in December 1835, he owned 980 acres of pineland on Lots 250 and 257 in the 12th Land District, Captain Godwin’s District of Lowndes County.   Lewis Blackshear appears  on the 1836 militia roster of men living in the 660th Georgia militia district (the Morven District, Lowndes County); organized under Captain William G. Hall, this company of men was not in active service in the war.   Moved to Alachua County, FL some time before 1850, and later to Volusia County, FL.

Elijah Beasley (1775-1863?) 
a pioneer land owner of Wiregrass Georgia.  In 1820, Elijah Beasley, Rebecca Burnett Beasley and their family were residents of  that part of  Irwin County, GA which was cut into Lowndes in 1825 and later cut into Brooks County.  Irwin county court records show in 1822, Elijah Beasley put up the surety bond for Robert H. Dixon, administrator for the estate of Moses Jurnigan. In the Act of the Georgia Assembly that created Lowndes County, Elijah Beasley was appointed as one of the commissioners charged with selecting a county site for the old Irwin County. The 1830 census places the Beasleys in Lowndes County.  In the newly created Lowndes County, Elijah Beasley was enumerated adjacent to many others of his wife’s Burnett family connections.   Tax digests from that year show Elijah Beasley owned Lot 267 in the 12th District, Captain Pikes District (then Lowndes County, now Brooks).

William Alderman,
From Lowndes County militia rosters, it appears  that William Alderman was living in the 660th Georgia militia district (the Morven District) at the opening of the Second Seminole War  in December 1835. When Governor William Schley called for the formation of general militia companies in Wiregrass Georgia, William Alderman and 89 other men of the 660th district were organized under Captain William G. Hall. Hall’s unit was not in active service.

Jeremiah Tillman,
According to A History of Savannah and South Georgia, “Jeremiah Tillman, a native of South Carolina, was there a resident when the War of 1812 was declared. Enlisting as a soldier, he came with his regiment to Georgia, where he was stationed until receiving his honorable discharge at the close of the conflict in Savannah. Being then joined by his family, he lived for awhile in Ware county, Georgia, subsequently becoming one of the original householders of that part of Irwin county now included within the limits of Colquitt county. Buying a tract of wooded land, he cleared a portion of it, and was there industriously employed in tilling the soil until his death, at the age of seventy-five years. To him and his wife, whose maiden name was Dicey Brown, six children were born and reared.” Jeremiah Tillman and Dicy Brown had the following children: Ruth Tillman, born 1789, married James M Norman; John Tillman, born 1798, married Sarah Mercer; Joshua Tillman, born 1800, married Mary Baker; Dicy Tillman, born 1808, married David Edmondson; Zilpha Tillman, born 1810, married Absalom Baker. Jeremiah’s homesite was located in the  area of Lowndes County, GA which in 1856 was cut into Colquitt County.  According to Folks Huxford, Jeremiah Tillman and wife Dicy Brown Tillman were buried at Old Hopewell Church, southeast of Moultrie. In the 1850 Census, Jeremiah Tillman was assessed with three slaves, one male age 19, one female age 17, and one female age 14.

Simpson Strickland (1806-1870?)
Simpson Strickland, was born about 1806, a son of Archibald and Luander Strickland, of Tatnall County, GA.  His father, Archibald Strickland,  fought with the 3rd Regiment (Wimberly’s Regiment), Georgia Militia, in the War of 1812. Simpson Strickland came with his parents and others of the Strickland family connection to Lowndes County, GA sometime berween 1820 and 1826.  His parents, Archibald and Luander Strickland, were organizing members of Bethel Primitive Baptist Church, September 2, 1826. William A. Knight was a deacon of this church; Matthew Albriton was an organizing Elder and later served as pastor; Redden Wooten was also an organizing member.   In 1829,  Simpson Strickland married Mary Wooten (1811-1851) in Lowndes County, GA. She was a daughter of Redden Wooten;  two of her sisters were married to Morgan Swain and Lasa Adams. In 1832, his father Archibald Strickland was a lucky drawer in the Cherokee Land Lottery. Simpson Strickland’s brother, Simeon Strickland, was married to Elizabeth Lydia Knight, daughter of Jonathan Knight and cousin of Levi J. Knight. Simpson Strickland in an 1850 Census, was recorded as owning three slaves, one female age 21, one female age 5,  one male age 4, and one female age 1. By 1860 Strickland had developed his farm into 140 acres of improved land and 440 acres unimproved. The farm was valued at $2000. He had $200 in farm implements, 1 horse, 8 milch cows, 12 other cattle, and 45 hogs.All told his livestock was valued at $315 dollars. He had 700 bushels of Indian corn, and 8 bales of cotton at 400 pounds each. He had 20 bushels of peas and beans, 400 bushels of sweet potatoes, 30 pounds of butter, 120 gallons of molasses.

William McMullin
William McMullin came to Lowndes County in 1827. In 1830 he  paid the poll tax in Lowndes County and the tax on 8 slaves. He owned 830 acres of pinelands and 150 acres of hardwood on lots 45, 46, and 47 in the 15th land district in Lowndes County, and a total of 740 acres in Thomas and Habersham counties.  William McMullin appears  on the 1836 militia roster of men living in the 659th Georgia militia district (the Nankin District, Lowndes County); organized under Captain Osteen, this company of men was not in active service in the war.

Thomas Self, (1777-1860)
Thomas Selph, son of Ezekiel Selph and Amy Jernigan, born in NC, moved to Bullock County, GA, to Telfair County, GA, and then to Lowndes County, GA some time between 1825 and 1830.  His old home site on Mule Creek, near Barwick, GA was cut from Lowndes into  Thomas County in 1850, and then cut into Brooks County, GA in 1858.  He died in 1860 near Barwick, GA  and is said to be buried at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church cemetery, Brooks County, GA.  His will was the 42nd will to be probated in Thomas County.

Isben Giddens, (1788-1853)
Son-in-law of William Anderson Knight and one of the orginal settlers of old Lowndes County. Isben Giddens and his son, William Giddens,  both served in the Lowndes County Militia during the Indian Wars of 1836-1838, under the command of  Captain Levi J. Knight.    Buried at Union Primitive Baptist Church, Lakeland, GA.

Aaron Mattox,  (1778-1860)
Aaron Mattox was a farmer of old Lowndes County, GA.  His farm place was in present day Berrien County near Ten Mile Creek. He was the father of Samuel Mattox who would be hanged for murder in 1843.

James Wade
James Wade, Soldier, McCraney’s, Lowndes County, GA was one of the lucky drawers in the 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery.  The 1830 Lowndes County Tax Digest shows James Wade owned 980 acres of pineland on lots 13 and 296 in the 9th District of Lowndes, 490 acres of pineland on lot 203 in the 5th District of Appling County, and one slave.  He also served on the June 1845 term of the Lowndes County Grand Jury.  He was one of the Commissioners appointed by the Georgia legislature in 1834 “to contract for and cause to be built in the county of Lowndes a suitable Court-house and Jail.”

Benjamin Sirman (1792-1863)
Benjamin Sirmans was born in Emanuel County, GA February 6, 1792, a son of Josiah Sirmans. He was married in July 1814, in Emanuel County, to Martha Johnson, daughter of David Johnson, Sr., and a sister to General David Johnson.  He came to this section with his father about 1822.  The children of Benjamin Sirmans and Martha Johnson Sirmans were: David J. Sirmans; Josiah Sirmans, Jr.; Ezekiel J. Sirmans; Cassie Sirmans, married John Smith; Lavinia Sirmans, married Aaron Tomlinson; Martha Sirmans, married Elihu Morgan; Lucretia Sirmans, married Charles Strickland; Benjamin E. Sirmans; Lyman A. Sirmans; and Levi J. Sirmans. On June 15, 1838 he served on Lowndes county Committee of Vigilance and Safety petitioning the governor for supplies and monies to support troops and militia to protect against Creek Indian attacks east of the Alapaha River in Lowndes County. Later that month, Benjamin Sirmans was appointed the first postmaster of the bustling trade center at Allapaha (now Lakeland, GA). Ten miles east of Levi J. Knight’s farm, Allapaha was situated at the point where the Franklinville-Jacksonville Post Road crossed the Alapaha River. He united with Union Primitive Baptist Church, September 9, 1848, and was baptized. His wife had previously united with the church December 11, 1841, and was baptized and died a member. He was granted a letter of dismission on February 8, 1862. In February, 1850, a legislative act creating Clinch County named Mr. Sirmans as one of the five commissioners to ‘lay out and organize’ the new county.  Benjamin Sirmans represented Lowndes County in the legislature several years and served one term as State senator from Clinch County. He was also a delegate to the secession convention in Milledgeville in 1861. He died May 1, 1863, and is buried at the Fender graveyard. His wife preceded him to the grave by about seven years.

John Lawson (1783-c.1870)
According to A History of Savannah and South Georgia, John Lawson was born and raised in North Carolina. He  “came when young to Georgia, traveling thither in his own conveyance. He located first in Laurens county, later coming south, and settling in that part of Irwin county which was subsequently converted into Lowndes county, and now forms a part of Brooks county. Purchasing land in the part now included in the Barney district, he began the improvement of a homestead. The wild and heavily wooded country roundabout was habited by wild animals of many kinds, and Indians were still numerous and troublesome. He began the pioneer labor of clearing the land, and raised his first crop on soil that had previously been used for the same purpose by the redskins. There being no railways in this vicinity for years after he came to Georgia, all surplus productions of the land had to be hauled to either Saint Marks, Georgia, or to Newport, on the Tallahassee, the general custom of marketing the goods being for a few of the neighbors to combine, and start with a number of teams loaded with produce, taking along with them provisions and cooking utensils, and camp by the way, on the return trip bringing home the household supplies needed. Having improved quite a tract of land, John Lawson occupied it several years, but later in life removed to Colquitt county, where he spent his declining days, passing away at the age of eighty-seven years. His wife, whose maiden name was Rachael Green, was born in North Carolina, and died, at a good old age, in Colquitt county. They reared four children, as follows: Eliza Lawson, Ashley Lawson, Greene Lawson, and Daniel Lawson.” 

Bani Boyd (1789-1854)
Bani Boyd was a son of Sarah Dabney and David Boyd, Revolutionary Soldier, born about 1789 in Montgomery County, GA. On February 3, 1811 Bani Boyd married Nancy Bird Bowen in Tatnall County, GA.   In the War of 1812 he served in the Georgia Militia, Bowling’s Detachment guarding the Georgia coast.  After his first wife died around 1820, Bani Boyd married Sarah Collins.  Around 1828, Bani Boyd and his son, Henry Boyd, moved their families  from Tatnall County to Old Lowndes County, where they established homesteads in that portion of the 10th land district which in 1856 was cut into Berrien County.  It appears that Bani’s brother, Aden Boyd,  brought his family to Lowndes from Ware County about this same time and settled in the same area. The 1844 tax digest of Lowndes County shows Bani Boyd owned 10 slaves and 1,960 acres of pinelands in the 11th Land District.

Alexander Campbell (1777-1875)
According to Folks Huxford, Alexander Campbell and his wife Flora Morrison were both born on the Isle of Skye, Scotland in 1777 and 1783 respectively. As children they came to America with their parents on the same ship following the Revolutionary War, arriving in 1788, the same year the Constitution of the United States was ratified.  The Campbell and Morrison families settled in the Wilmington, Brunswick area of North Carolina where Alexander and Flora grew up.  Some time between 1795 and 1810 they were married. Alex and Flora moved west from Wilmington and settled in Richmond County, NC. The first three of their children were born in Richmond County. With the declaration of the War of 1812, Alexander Campbell registered as a British subject  in the United States, as required by law About 1815 Alexander and Flora moved their family to Telfair County, GA where they appear in the census of 1820.  They lived there until 1827 when they moved their family down the Coffee Road to Lowndes County, Georgia and settled in the country outside of a settlement known then as Sharpe’s Store but now is Morven, Georgia.   In 1829 Alexander’s father and mother, John Campbell and Katherine Gillis Campbell, followed them to Morven; John Campbell died that same year. At Morven, they raised their children and developed a fine plantation. Their firstborn son, Norman Campbell, became a postmaster and tax collector in Lowndes County.  Alexander and Flora Campbell were liberal supporters of the nearby Mount Zion Camp-meeting which was started up the year they came to Lowndes, with Reverend Josiah Evans as the first circuit-riding minister. Originally Presbyterians, they united with the Methodist Church at the Camp Ground and continued in that faith until their deaths. The Methodist circuit-rider and other ministers always found a room prepared and waiting for them in the Campbell home. Alexander died in 1875, Flora in 1882. They were buried in the Mount Zion Camp Ground Cemetery at Morven, GA.

Francis Jones (1792-1849)
Major Francis Jones apparently came to the section of Lowndes County  now known as Kinderlou   sometime before 1826. He was the eldest son of James Jones (1764-1824) and Elizabeth “Betsy” Mills Jones,  born  January 27, 1792, in Bulloch County, Georgia.  His father, James Jones, was a veteran of the American Revolution, having served as a private in the Georgia Line.  Francis Jones and his mother were the administrators of his father’s large estate in Bulloch County.  He was also one of the executors of his deceased uncle,  Matthew Jones, in Tattnall County.  Shortly after his father’s death, Francis Jones relocated to Lowndes county with his widowed mother, his brother Berry Jones, and others of the Jones family connection.  On March 26,  1826 Francis Jones married  Rachel Inman Spain. She was the widow of Levi Spain and daughter of Daniel Shadrack Inman (1771-1837),   Revolutionary soldier of Burke County.  She had come from the Carolinas to Lowndes County with her son, John William Spain, and his wife Elizabeth Young Spain. John William Spain acquired 25,000 acres of land and built a house called Forest Hills overlooking the Withlacoochee River.  Francis Jones was a man of great wealth, and joined with his stepson, they soon acquired many more substantial land holdings in that section. He owned a number of plantations and many slaves and cattle. Major Francis Jones undertook the construction of a beautiful southern mansion (later known as Eudorafor his wife Rachel about 3 miles up the road from Forest Hills. Whether the Jones ever occupied the house is not known; he died before it was completed. Francis Jones served as a Justice of Lowndes Inferior Court from 1845 until his death, December 24, 1849.  He left a nuncupative (verbal) will which was probated in Thomas County.  He named Mitchell B. Jones as Executor and divised his large estate to his wife, Rachel, and to his brothers and sisters, viz:  Mrs. Lavinia Young, Matthew Jones, Berry M. Jones, Thomas Jones, Mitchell Brady Jones, Mrs. Elizabeth “Betsy” Jones Winn and Mrs. Harriet Jones Blackshear.   Francis Jones was buried at the Forest Hill Plantation of his stepson John William Spain. His widow, Rachel Inman Spain Jones, died at the home of her son, John W. Spain, in Brooks County, in 1862.

William Hendry (1783-1840)
William Hendry, third son of Robert Hendry , and Ann Lee Hendry, was born in New Hanover County, NC, Feb. 12, 1783. His father, a native of Isle of Arran, Scotland came to America about 1770-5; he served in the Revolutionary War under “Light Horse Harry” Lee and was at Yorktown at Cornwallis’ surrender. William came with his parents to Liberty County, GA and there married December 7, 1807 to Nancy McFail, sister to Catherine, wife of his brother John Hendry … On 28 August 1807, he was commissioned as Ensign of the 17th District of Liberty County...He served as 2nd Lieutenant in Captain Robert Quarterman’s Company, 2nd Regiment, Georgia Militia, in the War of 1812. In 1825 he was named a Justice of the Peace in the 17th District of Liberty County. Shortly thereafter the family moved to Lowndes now Brooks County, and settled in the vicinity of the Coffee Road crossing over Mule Creek, about midway between present Pavo and Quitman, GA and about 20 miles west of Troupville, GAWilliam Hendry was one of the prominent citizens of Lowndes County in his day…his upright and godly life and character has been handed down, by word of mouth, to the present generation… The Hendrys seem to have had skill building and operating mills in Liberty County and again on Mule Creek in his new home. He erected the first water driven mill in this part of Georgia. He engaged in farming and milling the rest of his life… William Hendry fought in the Indian Wars in 1836 and participated in the Battle of Brushy Creek. He was a member of the Methodist Church and was one of the leading spirits in establishing Mount Zion Camp Ground in 1828. He was named a Camp Ground Trustee in both the Act of Incorporation and the deed conveying the campground property. He was also named by the General Assembly December 28, 1835 as one of the Commissioners to locate the county-site of Lowndes County.  He died on his plantation near Mule Creek in western Lowndes County on June 6, 1840, in a typhoid epidemic which took the life of his wife and a son, Eli H. Hendry. He and his wife were buried on Mule Creek. James E. Hendry and William H. Hendry were appointed administrators of his estate. All of his livestock, furniture and other “perishable possessions” were sold at auction.

William Burman, sen.
The 1830 Lowndes County Tax Digest shows William Burman owned 830 acres of pineland and 150 acres of oak and hickory on lots 58 and 185 in the 12th District of Lowndes County

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Confederate Letters of John William Hagan

In 1954, the Confederate letters of John W. Hagan were published by  Bell Irvin Wiley.  Hagan lived in the Cat Creek community near Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA.  In the Civil War, Hagan enlisted in  the “Berrien Minute Men,” a Confederate army unit organized by  Levi J. Knight, original settler at the site of Ray City.  Hagan served in the 29th GA infantry in Company  D, (later reorganized as Company K, the Berrien Minutemen),  and was elected 3rd Sergeant.  By 1864, he was serving as 1st Sergeant, and at times was in command of the Company.

Confederate Letters of John W. Hagan

Confederate Letters of John W. Hagan

John W. Hagan wrote regularly from field camps and battle lines to his wife and family back in Berrien County. His letters were typically addressed to Amanda Hagan, his wife, or  Rueben Roberts, his father-in-law.  He frequently mentions relatives, colleagues in the Berrien Minute Men, and other Wiregrass Georgia residents including James Roberts, Ezekiel Roberts, Stephen Roberts, Sherard Roberts, Kiziah Roberts, Bryant J. Roberts, John J. Roberts, George Roberts, James Roberts, Levi J. Knight, Jonathan D. Knight, William Washington Knight, William Sirmans, John Herndon, Wiley E. Baxter, Barzilla Knight, John M. Griffin, Thomas Griffin, Asa Newsome, William Roberts, Benjamin S. Garrett, J. L. Robert, Elias Thomas, Harriet Newell Wilson, Ellen Groover Clifford,  John Moore, Nancy Moore, Isbin B. Giddens, William J. Beatty,  James L. O’Neil, William Giddens, Burrell H. Howell, Moses H. Giddens, James Turner, Edward Maloy, U.D. Knight, Henry Harrison Knight, Edwin Griffin, Wiley E. Baxter, William Cameron, Jonas Tomlinson, Thomas Clifford, Jasper Roberts, John C. Clements, Thomas W. Ballard, James W. Mathis, James D. Pounds, James Giddens, Elias Lastinger, James Fender, Aaron Mattox,  Moses F. Giddens, and  William Anderson.

John W. Hagan witnessed  and described the death of Major John C. Lamb, who commanded the 29th Georgia Regiment until he was killed during the retreat from Vicksburg, MS in 1863.  Hagan also wrote about the execution of “Old Yaller” Elbert J. Chapman, who was shot for desertion even though he had left the 29th Georgia Regiment to serve with another unit.

John W. Hagan was captured during the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864 along with John Hearndon, Jonathan D. Knight, James D. Pounds, among others, and was sent to Camp Chase, OH for the remainder of the war .

The 43 letters he wrote home between 1861 and 1865 were published by Bell Irvin Wiley, and subsequently appeared in the Georgia Historical Quarterly.  The content of these letters may now be viewed online through JSTOR archives of the journal articles.

cover-georgia-historical-quarterlyTHE CONFEDERATE LETTERS OF JOHN W. HAGAN. Part I

Bell Irvin Wiley
The Georgia Historical Quarterly Vol. 38, No. 2  (June, 1954), pp. 170-200
Published by: Georgia Historical Society
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40577510

cover-georgia-historical-quarterlyTHE CONFEDERATE LETTERS OF JOHN W. HAGAN: Part II

Bell Irvin Wiley
The Georgia Historical Quarterly Vol. 38, No. 3  (September, 1954), pp. 268-290
Published by: Georgia Historical Society
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40577711
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An Antebellum Trial at Troupville

In 1932, James Nicholas Talley, a son of Berrien County, GA and member of the Macon Bar, published a dramatic account of court proceedings  that occurred in the 1840s in Troupville, county seat of old Lowndes County, Georgia.  Samuel Mattox, son of Aaron Mattox,  was charged in the September 7, 1843 murder of William Slaughter. The Studstill brothers,  Jonathan and Emanuel “Manny” Studstill, sons of Rachel Sirmans and Hustus Studstill (aka Eustus Studstill), were also implicated in the crime. In 1836, Samuel Mattox had been the first to discover Indians were active in then Lowndes county near Ten Mile Creek, prior to the Battle of Brushy Creek.  Ten Mile Creek, the locality of the Slaughter murder, lies slightly northeast of present day Ray City, GA.

Talley’s narrative of the murder of the Slaughter boy and the trials that ensued are transcribed below, along with contemporaneous news clippings of the events and other supplemental information.

AN ANTEBELLUM TRIAL AT TROUPVILLE

By J. N. TALLEY, of the Macon Bar

Late in the afternoon of September seventh, Eighteen Forty-three, a fifteen-year-old boy, William Slaughter, rode through the pine woods near Ten Mile creek. He was driving up a herd of cattle, for it was milking time at his father’s pioneer settlement in the upper part of Lowndes.

At a distant clearing, the calves having been rounded up and penned, Samuel Mattox and his wife, Rachel, the milker, stood at the pasture bars. With them were two young men of the neighborhood, Jonathan Studstill and his brother, Manuel, who had come over to see Mattox and make plans for an early deer hunt. While they were waiting somewhat impatiently for the cows, Manuel displayed a gun which he had brought along, a rifle  so rusty and antiquated in pattern that he declared, to the amusement of the group, it wouldn’t kill a steer at fifteen steps. They were “all in a laugh,” when the straggling herd, guided by the mounted boy, came into sight a quarter of a mile away.

The ford was soon reached, but there horse and rider stopped and, scattering out over a wiregrass level, the cows began to graze.

Observing from the calf lot this delay at the ford, Jonathan with a loud halloo ordered the boy to “come on.” William doubtless did not hear the command, for he continued to await the arrival of a brother from across the creek. From his stand by the fence, possibly actuated by the instinct of the hunter, perhaps-for no reason at all, Mattox closely contemplated the distant youthful figure in the fading light dimly outlined against the dense foliage of the swamp. While Mattox was so engaged, Manuel handed him the rifle and suggested that he shoot. Jonathan likewise said “shoot,” adding that the old firearm wouldn’t hit the side of a house. “Moved and seduced by the instigation of the Devil”, as was afterwards charged, Mattox took aim and sighted, first however, it is said, deliberately resting the rifle barrel on a heap of brush. “Stop” screamed Rachel, but the shot rang out, and through the clearing smoke the unoffending lad was seen to fall from his saddle.

Dropping the gun and leaving Rachel at the pasture bars, the men ran to the ford and found the stricken boy. Horrified they discovered that the ball, speeding with unexpected force and accuracy, had penetrated his skull. ­Realizing that the report of the gun had carried far and thinking to avert suspicion, Jonathan and Mattox roughly pressed a pine stick through the open wound into the substance of the brain. Upon receiving this shock, the prostrate and apparently lifeless form arose and for one awful moment stood, face distorted by pain and wide unseeing eyes fixed upon Jonathan. Seizing the horse, which had remained standing by its unconscious master,  Manuel rode away to summons help. Later when Samuel Slaughter, the brother, and [Captain John] Sanderson, a neighbor arrived, and the mother came up in her cart, they were told by Mattox and Jonathan how a random shot fired from across the creek had frightened the horse, how the boy had been violently thrown, and how in falling his head struck a pine knot. Pointing to the stick, Jonathan declared to the mother, “that snag proved your son’s death.”

Early next morning young Slaughter died. The locality where he was shot is still known locally as Slaughter’s Ford and is some five or six miles from the present town of Nashville in Berrien county.

 

Cause of Death Revealed by Hole in Hat.

The remote rural community had been thoroughly aroused. Samuel Slaughter, who heard the shot, maintained that it came from the direction of the calf pen, for at the time he himself had been “across the creek.”  The Studstills, Mattox and Rachel did much talking, and after several days Mattox acknowledged that it was he who fired the “random shot” which frightened the horse. The theory of accidental death was being generally accepted until one day Moses Slaughter at home took down his son’s hat and found a hole, clear cut and evidently made by a bullet. Then Sanderson, who had removed the stick, remembered that instead of being jammed it was loose and moved with the pulsations of the brain. The body was disinterred, a post-mortem made by Dr. Briggs of Troupville, and a rifle ball found imbedded in the left side of the head.

 A Warrant issued for the arrest of Mattox, who promptly sought refuge in the thickets about a secluded pool, afterwards called “the Mattox pond,” and now crossed by State Highway No. 11.


At this point in J. N. Talley’s story we can add that Samuel Mattox was captured and taken to Troupville, GA where he was incarcerated in the county jail. During this time the Jailor in Troupville was Morgan Swain, who was also a blacksmith and innkeeper.  Swain’s Hotel was favored by courtgoers, amicus curiae, and the just plain curious who flocked to town on court days.

As it happened, Mattox was held with cellmates Tarlton Swain and John Strickland.  Tarlton “Talt” Swain was the brother of Morgan Swain, and whereas Morgan represented law and order, Talt Swain and his posse were the community Bad Boys.  It is said that Talt  not being of a mind to take chances with a court trial, effected an escape.  The Milledgeville Federal Union reported the fugitives’ flight and the Governor’s offer of reward for their capture:

Samuel Mattox escapes from Troupville, GA jail, 1843.

Federal Union, Nov. 21, 1843 — page 1

GEORGIA:

A Proclamation

By Charles J. McDonald, Governor of said State.

Whereas, official information has been received at this Department, that SAMUEL MATTOX, charged with the offence of murder, and TARLTON SWAIN and JOHN STRICKLAND, charged with the offence of aiding prisoner to escape from Jail, in the county of Lowndes, have made their escape from the Jail of said county.  Now in order that the said Samuel Mattox, Tarlton Swain and John Strickland, may be brought to trial for the offence of which they stand charged; I have thought proper to issue this my Proclamation, hereby offering a reward of ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS, for the apprehension and delivery of either, or THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS for all three, to the Sheriff or Jailer of said county; and I do moreover, charge and require all officers, civil and military in this State, to aid and assist in apprehending and securing said fugitives.
Given under my hand, and the Great Seal of the State, at the Capitol in Milledgeville, this the 7th day of November, 1843, and of the American Independence the sixty-eighth.

CHARLES J. McDONALD.

By the Governor,

J. W. A. Sanford, Secretary of State,

Nov. 7 1843.

The Governor’s offer of a reward was issued by Georgia Secretary of State John William Augustine Sanford.  Sanford had been prosecutor Augustin H. Hansell‘s commanding officer in the Indian Wars of 1836.

It is interesting to note that the legal classified advertisement following the reward announcement  above was for the law offices Samuel Spencer and H. S. Stewart.  Spencer’s presence in Troupville, or the lack thereof, would figure prominently in later court proceedings during the trial of Jonathan Studstill.

Mattox was apparently captured in a timely manner and remanded back to the jail at Troupville to stand trial.

Resuming the account by J.N. Talley:

Mattox Convicted

At Troupville, Mattox was put on trial for his life, convicted, and sentenced to death. The many vital questions argued by counsel were finally decided by the then highest judicial authority, a superior court judge, for there was no supreme court, and no appeal.

New York Herald, June 24, 1844. Samuel Mattox convicted of murder in Lowndes County, GA.

New York Herald, June 24, 1844. Samuel Mattox convicted of murder in Lowndes County, GA.

The execution took place in July (probably 1844) on a hill just east of the Withlacoochee river, and was conducted by sheriff John Towels, who happened to be an intimate friend of the victim. The hanging was witnessed by a crowd said to have been the largest, with one exception, ever assembled at Troupville, the exception being a circus in the late 50’s which for all time set an attendance record at Lowndes’ antebellum capital.

1844 Hanging of Samuel Mattox at Troupville, GA was reported in the Milledgeville Southern Reporter, August 13, 1844 edition.

1844 Hanging of Samuel Mattox at Troupville, GA was reported in the Milledgeville Southern Reporter, August 13, 1844 edition.

Milledgeville Southern Reporter
August 13, 1844

Troupville, Lowndes Co.,
July 30, 1844.

Messrs. Editors:  – Samuel Mattox was found guilty of the murder of William Slaughter, at the last term of our Court, and sentenced to be hung on Friday last, which was done in presence of one thousand persons, as we suppose; and the very next day, (last Saturday.) Alexander McFail killed Ebenezer J. Perkins, by stabbing him. Thus it is among us: one scene of murder succeeds another in such rapid succession, that it is alarming and distressing. McFail has fled.

Truly yours, &c.

J. N. Talley noted in his narrative that, “The records of the Mattox trial were destroyed when the courthouse burned in June, 1858.” From later news clippings, we know that one of the jurors was Ajaniah Smith, who later moved to Baker’s Mill, FL.

Tifton Gazette, March 8, 1901 clipping indicates Ajaniah Smith served on the jury at the trial of Samuel Mattox in 1844.

Tifton Gazette, March 8, 1901 clipping indicates Ajaniah Smith served on the jury at the trial of Samuel Mattox in 1844.

Tifton Gazette
March 8, 1901

Mr. A. Smith, of Baker’s Mill, Fla., is one of the old-timers in this section and was the first sheriff that Brooks county had.  He also fought the Indians in this section, and served on the jury which hanged Samuel Mattox for the murder of a son of Moses Slaughter, in Berrien county many years ago. – Valdosta Times.

Talley documents that  in the matter of the murder of William Slaughter the legal proceedings were an incredibly drawn out affair, stretching over a seven year period. His narrative picks up in 1848 with the trial of Jonathan Studstill, who allegedly aided and abetted the murder of Slaughter.

The Studstill Case

The Studstill brothers had been indicted for murder in the second degree, a capital felony. The charge against them was not tried until 1848, five years after the crime had been committed. Throughout this long period Jonathan languished in Troupville’s little jail near the banks of the Withlacoochee. In the meantime Rachel Mattox had become Rachel Bailey. This comely, young woman seemed dogged by the spectre of crime. Her second husband [Burrell Hamilton Bailey] some years later was also tried for murder, but found not guilty.  (SEE Showdown in Allapaha and  The State vs Burrell Hamilton Bailey)

Troupville in 1848, boasted of three hotels and four lawyers. The resident bar, normally adequate for local needs, was more or less eclipsed by the semi-annual advent of the circuit riders. These perambulatory dignitaries, traveling in gigs and sulkies or on horseback, that year had begun their ­”Fall’ riding at Dublin on the first Monday in September.

An Old Indictment

The following indictment had been returned against Jonathan and Manuel Studstill:

GEORGIA, LOWNDES COUNTY.

The Grand Jurors, etc., in the name and behalf of the citizens of Georgia, charge and accuse Manuel Studstill and Jonathan Studstill, both of the County and State aforesaid, with the offence of murder, as principals in the second degree. For that one Samuel Mattox, not having the fear of God before his eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the Devil, on the 7th day of September, 1843, with force and arms in the County aforesaid, in and upon one William Slaughter, in the peace of the State then and there being, feloniously, unlawfully, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, then and there did make an assault, and that he, the said Samuel Mattox a certain rifle gun of the value of twenty dollars, the property of Manuel Studstill, then and there being found, the said rifle gun being then and there charged with gunpowder and a leaden bullet, which rifle gun he, the said Samuel Mattox, in both his hands then and there had and held at, against and upon him, the said William Slaughter, then and there feloniously, unlawfully, and of his malice aforethought, did discharge and shoot off; and that he, the said Samuel Mattox, with the leaden bullet aforesaid, by force of the gunpowder aforesaid, so by him, the said Samuel Mattox as aforesaid, discharged and shot off, him, the said William Slaughter, in and upon the left side of the head of him, the said William Slaughter, then and there feloniously, unlawfully, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, did strike and wound, giving to the said William Slaughter, then and there, with the leaden bullet aforesaid, out of the said rifle gun, so as aforesaid discharged and shot off, in and upon the said left side of the head of him, the said William Slaughter, one mortal wound of the breadth of one inch and depth of two inches, of which said mortal wound he, the said William Slaughter, on and from the said 7th day September, in the year aforesaid, until the 8th day of September, in the year aforesaid, at the house of one Moses Slaughter, in the County aforesaid, did languish, and languishing did live, on which said 8th day of September, in the year aforesaid, about the hour of nine o’clock, in the morning, he, the said William Slaughter, at the house of said Moses Slaughter, in the County aforesaid, of the mortal wound aforesaid, died.

And the jurors aforesaid, on their oaths aforesaid, do say, that the said Manuel Studstill and the said Jonathan Studstill, on the said 7th day of September, in the year aforesaid, in the County and State aforesaid, then and there feloniously, wilfully, unlawfully, and of their malice aforethought, were present, aiding helping, abetting, comforting, assisting and maintaining the said Samuel Mattox in the felony and murder aforesaid, in manner and form aforesaid, to do and commit, contrary to the laws of said State, etc.

This indictment language, convoluted and legally flawed as it was, became an exemplar of indictments, and was cited in legal forms encyclopedias for decades afterwards.  Although the Lowndes court records of this trial were also lost in the courthouse fire of 1858, we know from other court records that the foreman of the jury was Thomas M. Boston.

The Court Room

The State against Manuel and Jonathan Studstill, murder, was sounded for trial at the December term, 1848. The small scantily furnished court room was crowded. Within the bar a dozen or more lawyers occupied cowhide bottom chairs irregularly arranged behind plain pine tables. These tables supported sundry well-worn but highly prized volumes of law, a nondescript collection of ink wells and quill pens, and numerous resplendent stove pipe hats carefully deposited upside down. Trained under his uncles, Eli and Lott Warren, the presiding judge James Jackson Scarborough had become one of the outstanding lawyers of two circuits. His reputation at the bar, however, it is said, was surpassed by that which he attained while on the bench, and “there was a child-like simplicity about him which blended with his legal acumen and judicial ability made him a refreshing character.”  Augustin H. Hansell, solicitor general, appeared for the prosecution. The following year he was to succeed Scarborough as Judge of the Southern Circuit, a station which he occupied and conspicuously adorned during forty-three years. To assist in the prosecution had been retained Samuel Rockwell, rich in garnered experience and gifted in forensic oratory. On behalf of the Studstills appeared the learned Carlton B. Cole, twice judge of the Southern Circuit and destined in after years to preside over the courts of the Macon Circuit, and with Clifford Anderson and Walter B. Hill to form the first faculty of the Law School at Mercer University.

According to J. T. Shelton’s Pines and Pioneers, Carlton B. Cole was assisted by Peter Love, John J. Underwood, Clark, and Samuel Spencer.

Procedure Reviewed

The State being ready, the first motion came from the defendants who asked for a severance and that they be tried separately.  This granted, Hansell announced that Manuel’s case would be taken up first. Cautiously refraining from announcing that Manuel was ready for trial, Cole informed the court of a pending plea of autrefois acquit.  Issue being joined, there was a complete trial, which ended in a verdict against the plea. Thereupon Hansell announced that the State elected to put Jonathan on trial. This unexpected action was vigorously protested by Cole who insisted that the prosecution could not abandon the case on trial and take up that of Jonathan; Judge Scarborough held, however, that the disposition of the plea was merely the removal of an obstacle out of the way and not a part of the main trial, and directed Jonathan to plead. Cole now moved for a continuance of Jonathan’s case on account of the absence of Samuel Spencer, a member of the Thomasville bar, who was then at Tallahassee in attendance on a meeting of the Presidential Electors, the first to be held in the new state of Florida. In support of this motion it was shown that one [William] Holliday had been subpoenaed by the State for the purpose of proving that in a conversation Jonathan had confessed his guilt. Spencer was expected to testify that Holliday afterwards admitted being “so beastly drunk” on the occasion in question as to have been utterly incapable of understanding the conversation or anything else. The motion was overruled, but the prudent Hansell during the trial was careful not to call Holliday as a witness, thus avoiding the effect of a favorable ruling which might constitute reversible error.  These preliminaries disposed of, at a word from his attorney, Jonathan slowly walked to the prisoner’s dock and awkwardly stood there for arraignment and plea. Already knowing what the State held against him, the prisoner soon tired of listening to the verbose indictment, and turned his gaze straight to a window by the judge’s bench. There, beyond the moss draped trees fringing the Withlacoochee he saw the very hill where a few years before an enormous crowd had gathered to make of Mattox’ hanging a Roman holiday.

With jury in the box the stage was set for the trial of Jonathan’s case upon its merits.

The Trial Proceeds

The attention of all in the court room centered upon Augustin H. Hansell as he arose to open the case for the State. In appearance the young solicitor general was tall and strikingly handsome, clean shaven, his abundant hair worn rather long as was the fashion, and his dress, that affected by gentlemen of his profession – dark frock coat, trousers neatly fitting over high boots, waistcoat of gaily flowered silk, surmounted by the folds of a black stock sharply contrasting with his gleaming linen. The prosecuting attorney told the jury that if the State produced that proof the nature of which he had outlined, it would be their duty to find Jonathan guilty.

Before any evidence was submitted, the dignified Cole, addressing the judge, stated that even if the State’s proof should measure up to the expectations of the learned solicitor general, yet the jury would be bound to acquit the prisoner, and moved the court for a directed verdict of not guilty. It was pointed out by Cole that although the indictment charged Jonathan with murder in the second degree, it nowhere directly charged Mattox, the principal, with the offense of murder. While the offense had been described in the body of the indictment, nevertheless, argued Cole, there was at its conclusion no express allegation that Mattox had murdered the deceased, and that the omitted expression, technical though it was, could be supplied by no other. 2 Hawk. Pl. Cr. 224.

The attorneys for the State could not controvert the proposition that this objection to the indictment was fatal at common law. They contended, however, that the rule laid down did not apply to a principal in the second degree, but could find no authority. Driven from the principles and precedents of the cherished common law, the prosecution was reluctantly forced to fall back upon that section of the penal code of 1833, which provided that every indictment shall be deemed sufficiently technical which states an offense in the language of the code or so plainly that the nature of the offense may be understood by the jury. Prince 658.

Notwithstanding the indictment was an imperfect specimen of the draughtsman’s art, yet its meaning being understandable, the judge was constrained to overrule the motion.

Over the objection of the defendant, the indictment against Mattox, together with verdict and judgment and certain confessions made by him, were offered in evidence by the State, and then from the stand was narrated the story of how the boy while driving up his father’s cattle had been shot at the ford on Ten Mile Creek.

Rachel, the chief witness for the prosecution, and perhaps the only woman in the crowded court room, found herself in a trying situation. On the one side was fixed upon her the stern gaze of the unrelenting old pioneer settler, and on the other she beheld the kindly pleading eyes of Jonathan, friend of her former husband. Under these circumstances she clung to the anchor of remembered truth and testified that she heard Jonathan and Manuel tell Mattox to shoot, that the gun wouldn’t hit a boy at fifteen steps, but that she did not know whether her husband took aim or fired at random. Opposing her statement was that of Manuel who said he did not hand Mattox the gun, that so far as he saw or heard, his brother had nothing to do with the killing, and that he did not hear Rachel tell Mattox not to shoot,

The evidence concluded, on the law Cole argued that because of the great distance, the killing was not a probable consequence of the negligent act, therefore, the homicide was reduced to involuntary manslaughter as to which there could be no principal in the second degree. The State, however, contended that since the shooting itself was an unlawful act, the defendant was guilty, if the killing was even a possible consequence.

Argument Long and Loud

As soon as the first outburst of impassioned eloquence put the village on notice that jury speaking had begun, men came running from the square, the groceries, the taverns, and stables, and soon taxed the capacity of the courtroom. The anticipation of this probable consequence, it may be remarked without impropriety, did not prevent the aforesaid outburst from being made both early and loud, for it should be remembered that in those days the perambulatory attorney usually had in mind not only the case in hand but two others in the bush, and frequently also political preferment in the offing.

To most of those present, the jury speaking, which embraced argument, anecdote, pathos, oratorical flights, and sharp clashes between counsel, was the high point of the semi-annual entertainment presented by the court. The distinguished and resourceful antagonists no doubt made free use of all the material afforded by the case on trial, and we may imagine how in the disputation poor Rachel was bandied and buffeted back and forth – now thrown down as weak, simple, dominated, untrustworthy –  now exalted as a paragon of unswerving truth and womanly virtue. 

In his charge Judge Scarborough no doubt “summed up” the testimony as is still done in the United States Court, and may have expressed his opinion. Certain it is, the Judge stated to the jury if Rachel swore the truth the defendant was guilty. In view of the hard circumstances of this unusual case and the prominence given her testimony, it is not unlikely the jury conceived the practical question to their determination to be, Did Rachel swear the truth? Since an effort at her impeachment had miserably failed, it was perhaps, easy for them to conclude that she was a truthful witness, and, therefore, to decide, as they did, that Jonathan was guilty of murder.

The pageantry of the trial over, its excitement and suspense ended, a wave of sympathy appeared to move the hushed crowd of curious onlookers.  As they heard the fearsome pronouncement of the judge, interrupted only by the stifled sobs of Rachel, and saw Jonathan standing at the bar, with his staring gaze fixed upon the barren hilltop beyond the Withlacoochee.

Conviction Affirmed

The conviction was affirmed by the Supreme Court sitting at Hawkinsville at the June Term, 1849. Studstill vs. State  7 Ga. 2. 

In sustaining Judge Scarborough’s ruling that the indictment was good, although it did not meet the technical requirements of the common law, Justice Joseph Henry Lumpkin used the following language:

 “The age is past for the civil and criminal justice of the country to be defeated by the absence or presence of one or more ‘absque hocs,’ ‘then and theres,’ videlicts,’ etc. And for one, I rejoice to see edifices built, although they may be ‘with the granite of Littleton, the cement of Coke, the trowel of Blackstone, and the Masonic genius of a hundred Chief justiciaries, and covered with the moss of many generations,’ swaying beneath the sturdy blows so unsparingly applied by the hand of reform. Why should the spirit of progress which is abroad in the World, and which is heaving and agitating the public mined in respect to the arts, sciences, politics and religion, halt upon the vestibule of our temples of justice? Why not penetrate tearlessly, the precincts of the Bar and Bench, and remodel the principles and practice of the old common law, to accommodate it to the enlightenment of a rapidly advancing civilization? Our courts should co-operate cordially with the Legislature in building up a modernized jurisprudence, upon the broadest foundations.” _­Studstill vs. State, 7 Ga. 2.

Jonathan Receives Pardon

By an act approved February 6, 1850, the General Assembly granted to Jonathan Studstill a pardon and declared him entirely exonerated and discharged from the pains and penalties of his conviction and sentence “as fully, freely and entirely as if such conviction and sentence had never taken place or the offense committed.”

After this disposition of Jonathan’s case, apparently the prosecution against Manuel was abandoned.

Pardon of Jonathan Studstill, Acts of the State of Georgia 1849-50.

Pardon of Jonathan Studstill, Acts of the State of Georgia 1849-50.

 AN ACT to pardon Jonathan Studstill of the county of Lowndes.

Whereas at a Superior Court held in and for the county of Lowndes, at December Term, 1848, Jonathan Studstill was convicted of the crime of murder; and whereas petitions from a large number of the citizens of said county of Lowndes have been presented to the General Assembly, asking the exercise of legislative clemency:
Be it therefore 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 from and immediately after the passing of this act, the said Jonathan Studstill be and he is hereby declared to be freely, fully and entirely pardoned, exonerated, and discharged from the pains and penalties of his said convictions and sentence as fully, freely and entirely as if such conviction and sentence had never taken place or the offence committed.
Approved, February 6, 1850.

∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫

The Dumb Act

 It is significant that the same legislature passed a statute, approved February 21, known as “the Dumb Act of 1850,”which made it unlawful for any superior court judge in his charge to the jury to express or intimate his opinion as to what has or has not been proved or as to the guilt of the accused. There was at the time a considerable sentiment in favor of curbing the judiciary, but the Studstill case was probably one of the leading factors which crystallized that sentiment in Georgia.

The bill which became known as the Dumb Act was introduced by Richard H. Clark, then a senator living at Albany. Incidentally it is interesting to note that the author of the bill himself subsequently occupied the judicial station for twenty-two years. We are told this distinguished jurist would sometimes lose sight of the restraints thrown around the judge by our peculiar system of jurisprudence and appear to invade the province of the jury, and that most of the reversals of his judgment by the supreme court were based upon exceptions to alleged expressions of opinion before the jury. 99 Ga. 817

Judge Clark was familiar with the Studstill case, and in 1876 he referred to it as “one of the most interesting cases in the judicial annals of the State.” (58 Ga. 610).

 

Old Troupville

Lowndes County in 1843, when young Slaughter was killed, lay between Thomas and Ware, extended from the Florida line northward ninety miles, and was very sparsely settled. Its first county seat Franklinville, on the Withlacoochee two miles west of Cat Creek, had been abandoned ten years before and a permanent capital established at Troupville, a village situated in the angle formed by the confluence of the Little and Withlacoochee rivers, some six miles distant from the site of the present city of Valdosta.

At the time of the Studstill trial in 1848 Troupville was still a small village the next decade however, being a gateway to the new state of Florida, and supposed to be on the line of a projected railroad from Savannah, its growth was almost phenomenal.  At one time its bar consisted of thirteen members. Its newspaper The South Georgia Watchman, was the predecessor of the Valdosta Times.

When attending court, the judge and lawyers usually stopped at a tavern widely famed for its hospitality and presided over by a genial host, who was affectionately called “Uncle Billy Smith”. Across the street from the inn was the public square. On this was situated not only the court-house and jail, but also the stables belonging to the stage line and a convenient “grocery”.

The orderly decorum of the court room at Troupville was occasionally disturbed by energetic but short-lived fist fights on the square, but another disturbance occurring periodically had the more serious effect of halting the court. This was preceded by the shrill blasting of a bugle, followed by the measured“ beat of galloping horses and the loud, reverberations of the lumbering stage coach from Thomasville, as it rattled across the boards of Little River bridge. The forced recess continued until the stage with four fresh horses crossed over the Withlacoochee bridge and departed on its long journey through the pines to Waresborough.

A source of interruption within the court room itself was the practice of having grand jury witnesses sworn in open court. From time to time, more or less inopportune, a grand juror escorting two or three witnesses would appear at the bar, where upon the business in hand was suspended until the oath could be administered. These interjected proceedings were narrowly watched, and not infrequently a bystander, whose conduct was about to be investigated would be seen to make a hurried departure for the purpose of securing temporary immunity from punishment should the grand jury return a presentment.

The general complexion of a court crowd in those times differed somewhat from that of the post bellum period in that the black population remained at home, excepting the family coachman. These privileged and interesting characters contributed their bit to entertain the transients on the square, while their influential masters within the courtroom occupied chairs and hobnobbed with the dignitaries of bench and bar.

Court Week always attracted a great concourse of people. Some attended from necessity or compulsion, some to enjoy the feast of erudition and eloquence; others to trade, traffic or electioneer, but to many it was an occasion for much drinking and horse swapping, and for indulgence in cock fighting, horse racing, and other “Worldly amusements” for which Troupville became somewhat notorious. Indeed, among the Godly, it was regarded as a wild town – almost as wicked as Hawkinsville.

 

A Vanished Town

Now beneath a spreading oak that shades the old Stage road, a granite marker points out to passers-by the place where once stood Troupville – the far famed capital of Lowndes.

Only the rivers there remain, eternally the same –
Black waters, musically slipping,
Whose ripples sway the gray moss dipping
From hoary overhanging, trees
That murmur to the whispering breeze
Old tales of ancient memories.

-30-

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William W. Knight Writes Home About Old Yellow and Men of the 29th Georgia Infantry

From 1861 to 1863, William Washington Knight served  as 2nd Sergeant in the 29th GA infantry in Company K, the Berrien Minutemen,  a Confederate army unit organized by his father,  Levi J. Knight.  William W. Knight was born March 4, 1829 and grew to a man in the neighborhood of Beaverdam Creek, near present day Ray City, Berrien County, GA.

In October of 1861, William W. Knight left his farm, 26 acres of cleared land and 464 acres forrested, in the care of his wife, Mary (See The Poetry of Mary Elizabeth Carroll). He left Mary with their one horse, $25 worth of farm implements, six cattle, 35 hogs, about 350 bushels of Indian corn, 120 pounds of rice, 50 bushels of peas and beans, 100 bushels of sweet potatoes, 75 pounds of butter, 80 gallons of molasses, and 50 pounds of honey. Their farm was situated next to that of William’s uncle, John Knight, and also the farm of William A. Jones, who was also serving with the Berrien Minutemen.

In a  Civil War letter dated June 3, 1863, transcribed below,  William W. Knight observes that deserter Elbert J. Chapman had rejoined his unit.    Chapman, known to his troop mates as Old Yellow or ‘Old Yaller,’  was shot for desertion about five weeks later, in a tragic episode of military discipline.  In the letter, Knight mentions several other soldiers (see notes below), including his brother, Jonathan David Knight.

As noted in previous posts, this is one of 37  of Civil War Letters of William W. Knight which have been scanned and placed online by Valdosta State University Archives. He  wrote home to his wife, Mary Elizabeth Carroll Knight, and father numerous times while on deployment  with his unit.

In the letter of June 3, the quality of the original document combined with Knight’s affinity for run on sentences makes for rather difficult reading.  For clarity, the transcription below takes some interpretive  liberties with punctuation. Knight’s letter of June 3, 1863 can be viewed in the VSU archives.

Mississippi

Camp Near Yazoo City     June 3rd 1863

Dear Mary,

Again I seat myself to write to you  few lines th[ough] I wish you could see the seat and place we are camped at. We are in a narrow bottom with a creek running through it, clear limestone water.  It is all the running water we have seen in any creek since we have been in this State.  We are below Yazoo city three miles, or rather we are sout[h] of it, fifty miles from Vicksburgh.  There are more men here than you ever saw in all your live, the number I will not give, not knowing but this might fall in the Federals hands. We came here yesterday. We lay up day before two miles from here.

We left our camp at Deasonville, Saturday near twelve o’clock and marched till night.  Sunday was the hardest days march we ever taken, not the farthest, we have marched farther in the day, but the country very broken, the weather very hot and not water enough to barely sustain life. Many men gave out and could go no further. Some fainted in the road and had to be taken up and carried off but none of our brigade died from the march so far as I can ascertain.  This country is the barest of water of any I ever saw.

We are gradually  closing up around Vicksburgh. The Abrahamites are around it, our men inside under Gen. Pemberton, our outside army under Gen. Johns[t]on or he commands the whole army.  We are under Gen. Walker. He is my General now and in command this squad here.  They are from different states.

There is some sickness among the men but none of them dangerous. I think in our company there the following men sick but they can walk about and tend to their business: John S Adams, William Cameron, Henry A. Lastinger, Mathew R. Lindsey, Edmond Mathis, Aaron Mattox, John A. Parrish, Corpl. John R. Patterson, Alfred B. Findley, Jacob J. Truitt.  They are only too weak to hold out to march. They have fever or diarrhea.  Jonathan had the fever two days ago but he is better, he did not have much fever yesterday, he got too hot Sunday of the march. Lt Parrish is well again. All the rest of the Company are well.

Manning Fender got a letter from James Fender last week he was getting better. We left him at Columbus, Ga.

Elbert J. Chapman, or as the boys called, Old Yellow, is with us again. William D. Warren of the Sharpshooters from Thomas County found him at Canton.  Warren did belong to our regiment before he was put in the Sharpshooters battalion. Chapman is heartier than I ever saw him, he was in the 20th Mississippi Regiment of mounted infantry. He had been there five months and two day[s]. The regiment has been in several battles since he has been in it. He went by the name of Manning Coleman. He says he does not know any thing of Benjamin Garrett, that he has not seen him since last December. They got parted at Brookhaven in this State.

We have no tents in our regiment, we take the world and weather as we find it. We have four fry pans and one oven for our company. The rest of the companies are no better off than our[s]. Where we are stopped we get enough to eat, but when we are marching we do not have any chance to cook enough to eat, and water to cook with is often not to be had.  We marched seven miles Sunday. After sunset we stopped to camp where it had been represented we could get water but it was not there to get, and we had to come seven miles further before we could get it, and then there was not enough and what there was was very bad.

I will describe the kind of water we have been using until we come to this place. That is, if your imagination will help draw the picture.  It is in holes in the creeks, the soil thick yellow mud void of sand, the water yellow muddy stuff with a green scum on it – but seldom over a foot deep – some times half covers holes. And no more near enough to be got at, and that the chance for several thousand men, and a great many of them like hogs.  If they are not minded out, they will be in it, washing there hands, face, feet or old, nasty clothes. Its astonishing how many men there in this world that are only animals in human form. Ask one and he will tell you it is wrong, but he saw somebody else do so and he had as well do so as any body else. That is always the answer you get. They have a kind of elastic consciences that expand to fit any case.

This is a very rich farming country. They make fine corn with the least work of any country I have ever been in. They break up their land, plant their corn, side the corn, turn the dirt from it, hoe it out, let it stand about two weeks, side it again turning the dirt to the corn, let stand about the same time, and plough out the middles, and they are done that crop.  They make from thirty to fifty bushels to the acre. Their lands are nearly all bottom lands. It averages fifty bushels to the acre.

Mary, I got two letters Saturday from you dated the 9th & 17th of last month. I was very glad to hear that you and the children had been well since I left Savannah.  I say had been, for the[y] had been written so long they were almost out of date, but I recon mine are quite as old before they get to you if they ever get there.

Well, Mary, I recon you need not be uneasy for fear I will suffer for money because of what I sent you. I have quite as much as I will need, I hope. If I had not have left Savannah I should have sent you as much more.  I have sent you this year one hundred and ten dollars in money and a little over thirty dollars worth of things.  I  have about sixty dollars with me now. I recon it will last me till we draw again.  I had much rather see you and the children than any amount of money we will ever have at one time.

I am in hope I will keep well and able to do all the duty that may be required of me.  I think all the men in our company would get well in a week if they could have that long to rest.  There is no chance for them to write when we are on a march. We have but one ambulance for the regiment. It will not carry more than eight men.  I will write when ever I have a chance.

Your Faithful Husband

William W. Knight

«««««««««««♦»»»»»»»»»»»

Some additional notes on the men of the 29th Georgia Regiment mentioned in Knight’s Letter:

William W. Knight,   Enlisted as a private Company D, 29th Georgia Regiment, October 1, 1861 in Berrien County, GA.  Made 2nd Sergeant in December, 1861.  Was sent for Camp equipage in December 1862. September 5, 1863 receipts show he accepted at camp in the field a delivery of two pairs of shoes. Receiving equipage in the field, October 31, 1863, “the men being in a destitute condition.” Requisition records show he was at Dalton, GA on December 6, 1863 where he received additional equipment for the unit.  Died of chronic diarrhea at Milltown, GA. December 27,1863. A son of Levi J. Knight, and husband of Mary Elizabeth Carroll.

John S. Adams was from Duval County, FL. He enlisted as a private in Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment on April 3, 1862 in Savannah, GA.  By the late spring  of 1863 service records show he was a patient at the Confederate hospital at Point Clear, AL.  He apparently recovered to return to his unit, but in the summer of 1864 he was again sick, this time appearing on the register of patients at Ocmulgee Hospital, Macon, GA and suffering with chronic diarrhea. He was furloughed on May 16, 1864.

Alfred B. Finley,  private, Company D, 29th Georgia Infantry. Born in Georgia on January 15, 1840. While in the Confederate service he contracted measles and St. Anthony’s Fire (erysipelas),  a streptococcus infection which resulted in loss of his left eye. Captured near Nashville, TN on December 16, 1864, during the Battle of Nashville, TN.  Released at Camp Chase, OH,  June 12, 1865.  Died at Nicholls, GA on October 18,1921.

Benjamin S. Garrett, private, Enlisted October 1, 1861 Company K, 29th Georgia  Infantry at Berrien County, GA. August, 1862 at Convalescent Camp. Service Records include the notation “Deserted.”  Reported absent without leave for December 1862. Some say Garrett was later killed in Florida, but regimental records show he joined the 17th Georgia Infantry Regiment, was sent to Virginia, caught typhoid pneumonia and died November 9, 1862 at Chimborazo Hospital No. 5, Richmond, VA.

Jonathan D. Knight, Was the brother of William Washington Knight. Jonathan D. Knight was Captain, Company D, 29th Georgia Regiment. He was captured near Decatur, GA on July 22,1864  during the Battle of Atlanta and held as a prisoner of war until released at Fort Delaware, DE on June 17,1865. Later elected a senator in the Georgia state government, and signed the Georgia Constitution of 1877.

Henry Andrew Lastinger,  private, joined the Berrien Minute Men (later renamed Company K, 29th Georgia Infantry) officially inducted on August 1,1861.  He was a son of Louisa  English and William Lastinger. His sister, Elizabeth Lastinger, was present at the Grand Military Rally for the Berrien Minute Men held in May, 1861 at Milltown (now Lakeland), GA.  Four of his brothers also served with the Berrien Minute Men. A fifth brother served with the 5th Georgia Reserves. On September 19,1863 Henry A. Lastinger was shot in the right foot at the Battle of Chickamauga, GA, leaving him permanently disabled. Received extra pay from March 18 to August 2, 1864. Pension records show he was at home on wounded furlough close of war. Born in Georgia in 1832. Died December 24,1908.  His brother, Lacy Elias Lastinger, wrote about the execution of Elbert J. Chapman after the war.

Matthew R. Lindsey, private, Company K, 29th Georgia Infantry.   According to Widow’s Pension records he enlisted May 10, 1862, was wounded in right shoulder at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain,  June 27, 1864; was furloughed for 60 days in 1864, and was unable to return the unit.

Edmond W. Mathis, enlisted in Company K, 29th Georgia Infantry as a private on October 4, 1861, later Corporal.  He was captured near Nashville, TN on December 16, 1864 during the Battle of Nashville, TN.  Died February 11, 1865 of pneumonia at Camp Chase prison, Columbus, OH. Buried in Grave #1175, Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery.

John R. Patterson,  born about 1830, enlisted in Company K, 29th Georgia Infantry as a private October 1, 1861. Appointed Sergeant. Wounded near Atlanta, GA,  August 1864 during the Atlanta Campaign. Evacuated to a temporary Confederate field hospital at Forsyth, GA, known in confederate service records as “Ford Hospital”, established  by Andrew Jackson Foard, Field Medical Director for the Confederate Army of Tennessee.  Died in the hospital at Forsyth, Monroe County, GA August 14, 1864. Buried at Forsyth City Cemetery.

John A. Parrish, Private, Enlisted in Company D, Georgia 29th Infantry Regiment on November 1, 1861. Absent, sick, December 31, 1861. In Convalescent Camp August 31, 1862. On June 14, 1864  he was wounded at Pine Mountain, GA; that was the same day Confederate General Leonidas Polk was killed atop Pine Mountain by a lucky cannonshot from Union forces.  After June 14, John A. Parrish never returned to his unit. He was born February 18, 1844 a son of Josiah and Mary M. Parrish. Died October 28, 1885; buried Antioch Cemetery, Adel, GA.

Jacob Truett,  Private. Born in South Carolina February 9,1834.  Enlisted December 5, 1861in Lowndes County, GA. Service Records show in October 1862 he was “absent on expired sick furlough,”  and still absent sick in November and December, 1862.  In the Spring of 1864 he was issued new clothing and  detailed with Captain O. D. Horr.  He was again issued new clothing on September 30, 1864. Wounded in left shoulder at Murfreesboro, TN on December 7, 1864, the date of the Battle of Murphreesboro.  Admitted to Way Hospital at Meridian, MS, on account of wounds, January 19, 1865. Pension records show he surrendered at Greensboro, NC April 26,1865, the date and location of General Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender to General William T. Sherman.

James Fender, Corporal, Company K, 29th Georgia Infantry.  Absent sick, October and November 1862. Listed as Absent without Leave in December 1862. On September 3, 1863, he drew pay for July and August.    Buried at Fender Cemetery, Clinch County, GA

Manning Fender, private, Company K, 29th Georgia Infantry. At Convalescent Camp August, 1862.  Killed in battle at Chickamauga, GA, September 19, 1863.

Aaron Mattox,  enlisted in Company  G, 29th Georgia Infantry.  On August 22, 1864 he was captured  at Atlanta, GA and sent to  Camp Chase, OH.  From there, he was transferred to Point Lookout, MD on March 22, 1865. He died while imprisoned there in 1865 .

William Cameron. Private.  Shot in the left arm  during battle on June 15, 1864 with the ball lodging in the left elbow.  Admitted to Ocmulgee Hospital, Macon, GA on August 23,1864 where apparently the lead ball was removed from the wound. Furloughed home to Clinch County, August 29, 1864. Surrendered and Paroled at Thomasville, GA on May  26, 1865.

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Levi J. Knight Reports Indian Fight of July 13, 1836

The Ray City history Blog has previously reported various versions of the last Indian fights in Berrien (then Lowndes) County,  the 1836 skirmish near Short-arm Bill Parker‘s place and the Battle of Brushy Creek, all published some 19 to 90 years after the fact.

Below is Levi J, Knight’s own account of the skirmish near William Parker’s place, written immediately after the encounter.

This letter, dated July 13, 1836, is from Levi J. Knight to William Schley, Governor of Georgia (1835-1837) is perhaps the only primary source documentation of the fight, written by one of the principal participants at the time of the event.

Knight writes from Lowndes County, Georgia to inform the governor of the defeat of a band of Indians 20-25 in number following their raid on the homestead of William Parker. Over a three day period from July 10 to July 12, 1836 Levi J. Knight and a party of about 75 men, pioneers of old Lowndes County,  pursued and engaged the Indians near the Alapaha River.  Knight reports that the engagement occurred  on the banks of the Alapaha River about 10 miles above Gaskin’s Ferry.  According to Knight, only six Indians escaped, the rest being killed in the skirmish.  Knight’s group suffered one casualty; William Peters receiving two wounds in the encounter. This skirmish was a prelude to the Battle of Brushy Creek, which occurred some days later in the western part of the county.

Knight’s account of the skirmish made the national press, the content of his letter being published in newspapers all over the country. (Plain text transcript provided below image.)

July 13, 1836 letter from Levi J. Knight to William Schley, Governor of Georgia.

July 13, 1836 letter from Levi J. Knight to William Schley, Governor of Georgia.

The Constantine Republican
Constantine, MI
September 21, 1836, Front Page

From the Standard of Union, August 22.

Lowndes Co., Ga. July 13, 1836.

To his Excellency William Schley:

    Dear Sir: – I hasten to inform you of a defeat met by the hostile Creek Indians, in trying to pass through our country.  On the 10th of this instant a party of Indians, about 15, were discovered near Aaron Mattoxe’s, in the 10th district of this county, by two of his sons, and were travelling an east course, and on the same day about 8 miles from where they were then by Mattox, and in the direction they were travelling, three were seen by Mrs. Boyett and daughter; on the next day, Monday, a number of us, say 40, repaired to where they were discovered by Mattoxe’s sons, and took their trail; they travelled very near east to the Allappaha swamp, almost twelve miles, and passing them were discovered by Mrs. Boyett, about one mile south.
    Night setting in we were compelled to make up camp on the swamp of the Allappaha, and about dark, and in a few minutes after we had encamped, two runners came to us, stating that the Indians at two hours before sunset, were at Wm. Parker’s four miles above, plundering his house.  In the morning of Tuesday, we divided our force, which had increased in the day to near eighty men, and sent all but 35 men over the river to rendezvous where they were expected to cross; we then repaired to Wm. Parker’s, found that they had robbed his house of every thing of value in it; had many other things about 25 lbs. of powder, 30 bars of lead, and 140 weight of shot, also $308 in money.  We took their trail through a most desperate swamp – through lakes and creeks, several of them up to our arm pits, and bushes and briers almost impenetrable by any human being other than a savage, for two miles, when we came to their camp, on a large lake near the river bank, here the trail bore up the river, a north course to Gaskin’s ferry, eight miles of Parker’s; here we despatched a runner to our force, which had crossed the river, to recross, and come up to us, as the trail continued up the river, and now a little north west; our men pressed forward with a zeal and fierceness that would surmount any difficulty; by night we were so near them, that we knew where the camp was – about ten miles above Gaskin’s ferry – an open bluff opposite Mr. Mitchell’s, was examined by a party of our men after sunset, and found the Indians had not passed, and continuing up within two miles.  Night now setting in our reinforcement coming up we encamped at Mr. Mitchell’s; in the morning at day break our party again divided, thirty-eight men were posted on the bluff, their left resting on the river bank, and their right extending about two hundred yards right out from the river, who were silently to await the approach of the enemy; Jesse Carter was chosen to command on the left, William A. Knight in the centre, and William Peters on the right;  thirty-three repaired down to where we could again find the trail, and bearing up until we came in sight of our men that were posted at the bluff where we saw them charging down towards us, and bearing into a point of bushes, in a small bend of the river, a tremendous fire ensuing, our trailers dashed off at the top of their speed, and Mr. Peter’s company who were in the lead, dashed up among the enemy, who had selected their position in a clump of pines and bushes, at the river bank, fired at our men who were coming up with great bravery;  Mr Peters was badly wounded in the right breast, and the left side of the abdomen; he fell, but cried out to his men to charge on the whole force, now bearing in from above and below, and but few had discharged their guns, reserving their fire to see an object to shoot at, and charging at the top of their speed, the Indians dropped every thing, throwing their guns into the river, and plunged in for life; our men ran to the bank and shot them while swimming; only six made their escape to the other bank, and from their trail two or three of them were wounded;  there were about from 20 to 25, one squaw, was shot in the back with four buck shot, as we ascertained by the dress which she dropped at the edge of the water, and was perforated with holes; she was heard to make a noise until she arrived to the middle of the stream, when all was silent, as the warriors never yelled after they dropped their guns, 15 of their packs were found, and ten of ther guns was got out of the river by our best swimmers, two of the Indians that were nearest the bank were got out, and left a prey to the buzzards and wild beasts on the bank.  Parker’s property was nearly all obtained, and his money was found in one of the shot-bags found in the river in his own pocket book, his name being written in several places.  On of the number of these marauders was from every appearance a white man, from his dress and complexion : it was in the shot-bag carried by him, that the money was found ; he was never seen to climb up the opposite bank, so he has paid for his treachery : the six that got across the river reached the bank naked, except their flaps ; we trust this rebuke will be a caution to the next party that may try to pass through our country.
     I have the honor to be your excellency’s most obedient and humble servant,

LEVI J. KNIGHT.

N. B.  We had but two commissioned officers among us, and they both captains, who only filled the place of privates as the company claimed the right of choosing their own leaders.  I forgot to state that myself was chosen to lead  on the trailers, Ivy Simmons to second, and Wm. C. Knight third or in the rear.
L. J. K.

P. S. – Their guns and ammunition and property of every kind was sold on the spot, and the proceeds given to Wm. Peters, as he was the only sufferer – their property amounted to $170.  They had some valuable guns.

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Burrell Hamilton Bailey Sells Out in 10th

Burrell Hamilton Bailey was a Wiregrass pioneer in the vicinity of present day Ray City, GA in the early 1800s. He was born 19 October 1826 in Irwin Co., Georgia, the son of Burrell Henry Bailey and Mary “Polly” Land.

According to the research of Phil Ray, Burrell Henry Bailey, the father, was appointed as a commissioner for superintending the first elections in Irwin County and was himself elected as an Inferior Court Justice in those elections held in March of 1820.  The very  first action of the Irwin Inferior Court was to authorize the Clerk of the Court to issue licenses to “tavern-keepers and retailers of spirituous liquors.”  Burrell Henry Bailey resigned from the court in May, 1821.

That July, Burrell Bailey and Isham Jordan were appointed by the Irwin county Inferior Court to survey and mark a portion of the first public road in Irwin county. Two years later, Isham Jordan would serve as a trailblazer and hunter for General John Coffee during the construction of a military road passing through the site of present day Nashville, GA and on southward to the Florida line (see Coffee Road Led to Creation of Lowndes County). Burrell Henry Bailey also served on the first Grand Jury in Irwin county in September 1820, and served as a Corporal in Company H, 4th Georgia cavalry.

After his father died in 1845, Burrell Hamilton Bailey sold his claim to Lot 241, a land grant of 490 acres in the 10th Land District,  Lowndes County (formerly Irwin County), GA.  This district covered a large area of Berrien county  including the present day area of Ray City, GA. Land records show that he sold this land to Bryan Edmondson in 1851.

(See Transcript below)

Burrell Hamilton Bailey 1851 land transaction with Bryan Edmondson, Lowndes County, GA (now Berrien County). Image courtesy of Phil Ray.

Burrell Hamilton Bailey 1851 land transaction with Bryan Edmondson, Lowndes County, GA (now Berrien County). Image courtesy of Phil Ray.

Georgia
Lowndes County

This indenture made and entered into the fifteenth day of September Eighteen hundred and fifty one between Burrell H. Bailey of the County and State aforesaid of the one part and Bryan Edmondson of the same place of the other part witnefseth that the said Burrel H Bailey for and in consideration of the sum of Two hundred and fifty Dollars to him in hand paid at and before the sealing and delivery of these presents the receipt where of is here by acknowledged hath granted bargained sold conveyed and confirmed unto the said Bryan Edmondson his heirs and afsigns all that tract & or parcel of Land situate lying and being in the Tenth District originally of Irwin now Lowndes County and known in the plan of said District by the number (241) Two hundred and forty One containing according to this plat is the Grant four hundred and ninety acres be the same more or lefs to have and to hold the said bargained premises to the only proper use benefit and behest of him the said Bryan Edmondson his heirs and afsigns forever in Fie Simple And I the said Burrell H. Bailey do by sinture of these presents warrant and find the aforesaid bargained prin Land from and against the claim or claims of myself my heirs executors administrators and afsigns and from the claim or claims of all and every other person or persons whatever unto the said Bryan Edmondson his heirs and afsigns forever in witnefs whereof I the said Burrell H. Bailey have herewith set my hand and seal this day and date above written signed sealed and acknowledged in presence of

Jesse Touchton                    Burrell H. Bailey
(2nd witness signature
not legible)

Enhanced detail of 1869 map of Berrien County, GA land lots in the 10th Land District, showing relative locations of Nashville, GA, Land lot 241, and homeplace of Levi J. Knight. Comparison with modern maps shows that the placement of rivers and streams is clearly distorted. Furthermore, this map shows General Knight's place located west of Cat Creek, when historical accounts indicate that the Knight homestead was east of the creek.

Enhanced detail of 1869 map of Berrien County, GA land lots in the 10th Land District, showing relative locations of Nashville, GA, Land lot 241, and homeplace of Levi J. Knight. Comparison with modern maps shows that the placement of rivers and streams is clearly distorted. Furthermore, this map shows General Knight’s place located west of Cat Creek, when historical accounts indicate that the Knight homestead was east of the creek.

In 1847 in Lowndes County, GA Burrell Hamilton Bailey married Rachel Sirmans Mattox.  She was the widow of Samuel Mattox who was hanged at Troupville in 1843, and had two children: Mary Mattox, born about 1843, and Aaron Mattox, born about 1844 in Georgia.  Rachel was the daughter of Jonathan Sirmans and Matha “Patsey” Rouse, and sister of Hardeman Sirmans.

After marriage, Rachel Sirmans and  Burrell H. Bailey lived at her father’s old home place.

In the 1850 Census  Rachel and Burrell are enumerated there in Lowndes County, with her two children and now with two daughters of their own;  Lavicey, age 3, and Winnifred H., age 1.  Living nearby is Rachel’s widowed mother, Martha Sirmans, age 59, head of her own household with her son, Abner (19).  Burrell H Bailey’s brother, Cullen Dean Bailey,  and sister-in-law, Elizabeth Ruth Herrin,  also had a farm nearby.

In 1856,  the Bailey’s land was cut out of Lowndes County,  with the creation of Berrien County.  Reader Sheri Felts contributes that Rachel’s mother moved sometime before 1860 to a place next to her son Mark R. Watson, where she farmed and cared for the children of her deceased son James Lemuel Kirkland. These children were Elizabeth Kirkland, John A. Kirkland, William O. Kirkland, and Rachel Kirkland;  Hardeman Sirmons was given actual guardianship of the children by his half brother James.

Rachel’s  brother, Abner Sirmans, took over her mother’s farm.  Rachel and Burrell continued to raise crops and children on their own place. The 1860 Census shows Rachel and Burrell H. Bailey and their children living on the farm adjacent to Abner Sirmans and his family.

Children of Burrell Hamilton Bailey and Rachel Sirmans:

  1. Luvicey L. Bailey, born April 26, 1848 in Georgia
  2. Winnifred H. Bailey, born about 1849 in Georgia died before 1860
  3. Lemuel H. Bailey, born March, 1851 in Laurens Co., Georgia married Mary Ann Gaskins on October 9, 1873. She was a daughter of Fisher J. Gaskins.
  4. Aurelius H. Bailey, born 1853 in Berrien Co., Georgia  probably died young.
  5. Martha M. Bailey, born March 14, 1854 in Georgia  married first Josiah Ray, this marriage ended in  divorce. She later married William Howard of Taylor County, Fl.
  6. Rachael Bailey, born April 1, 1856 in Taylor Co., Florida married John Slone of Madison County, FL
  7. Burrell H. Bailey Jr, born June 11, 1857 in Taylor Co., Florida married a  McLeod and moved to Madison County, FL
  8. Annie Eliza Bailey, born January 8, 1860 in Taylor Co., Florida married a Rowell and moved to Madison County, FL
  9. William Colonel Bailey, born April 10, 1862 in Berrien Co., Georgia
  10. John A. Bailey, born April 09, 1864 in Berrien Co., Georgia
  11. Sarah Almisy Bailey, born 1868 in Georgia
  12. Joseph S. Bailey, born May 30, 1870 in Georgia

Special thanks to Phil Ray for research contributing to this article.

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