1899 Sketch of Old Lowndes County

In 1856, Berrien County was cut out of Lowndes County, GA. Long before that all of this section, including Lowndes was encompassed in the original county of Irwin. The following is a sketch of the first 75 years of Lowndes County.

The Valdosta Times
October 14, 1899

Historic Sketch of Lowndes County
Written by R. E. L. Folsom

Old Irwin county was composed of sixteen districts, and included the present counties of Thomas, Brooks, Worth, Colquitt, Berrien, Lowndes, Clinch, Echols, and Irwin.  Out of this territory, about 1826, the counties of Thomas and Lowndes were formed, in the south-west and south-east portions respectively.  Lowndes included all of the present counties of Clinch and Echols, and most of the territory of Berrien, Colquitt and Brooks.  Clinch was formed first, then Berrien; then Colquitt; then Brooks; the Echols.

            The county of Lowndes was organized, and the first court held, at Frances Rountree’s on what is now [1899] known as the Remer Young old place, in the year 1827.

    Old Franklinville was the first permanent count seat, founded about the year 1827.  It was located on the Withlacoochee river, near where the skipper bridge now stands.  It was a fine location, from a natural standpoint, and had one of the best springs of water in this county.  It never amounted to much as a business location.  The first clerk of the county court of ordinary was William Smith.

            One among the first representatives of the county was Randall Folsom, from 1832 to 1833.  He was followed by Hamilton Sharpe.

            About 1838, the county seat was moved to the fork of the Withlacoochee and Little rivers, and named Troupeville, in honor of Gov. Troupe.  It was not a picturesque, or even attractive spot for a town, and today a bleak and barren sand ridge, with its scattered clusters of cactus and pine saplings, is all that is left to mark this historic old spot.  It was a great rendezvous for the devotees of fun and excitement and carousal, and a detailed history of the place would furnish every variety of incident, from deeds of heroism down to the most ridiculous escapades.  Troupeville was a considerable business point.  Of the merchants who did business there in the old days, were Moses and Aaron Smith,  E. B. Stafford,  Uriah Kemp, and Alfred Newburn.   The first physician in this section of the country, Dr. Henry Briggs, located there, and put up a drug store.  He built up a very extensive practice, which he kept to the end of his long life.  In those days there were no bar-rooms, as we now find them, but all the merchants, excepting M. & A. Smith, sold liquor.

            Two good hotels were kept here, one by William Smith, who was a master of his trade, and the other by Morgan G. Swain

            The first county surveyor was Samuel Clyatt.  He was succeeded by  Jeremiah Wilson, who held the office, with the exception of one term, till about the close of the civil war.

Judge C. B. Cole was one of the first judges of the superior court.  He was followed by Judge J. J. Scarborough.  It was under Judge Scarborough that Judge A. H. Hansell made his first appearance here, as solicitor general.  He succeeded  Judge Scarborough as judge of the superior court.

            About 1847, occurred the first murder trial in this county.  It was the trial of Samuel Mattox for the murder of a boy by the name of Slaughter.  He was found guilty and hanged for the crime.

            About the year 1859, upon the building of the old Atlantic and Gulf Railroad, now the S. F. & W., this county seat was moved to Valdosta.  The place was named in honor of the home of Gov. Troupe, which he called Val-d’Osta.  This was about the same time that Brooks county was organized.  Shade Griffin was representative at this time, and has the bill passed creating Brooks county.  As he lived on the east side of Little River, the boundary was run so as to put his place in Brooks, where it is said to be yet.

            The merchants who began business in Valdosta at its founding, or soon after, were Thomas B. Griffin, Adam Graham, Moses Smith, jr., Henry Briggs, A. Converse, Capt. Bill Smith,  W. H. Briggs, and the Varnedoes.

The first public road ever cut through this country, was the old Coffee Road, cut out by Gen. Coffee, on a contract from the state.  It began at Jacksonville, on the Ochmulgee River, and ended at old Duncanville, in Thomas county, on the east line.  The first white settlement in this section was made on this road in the fork of the Okapilco and Mule creeks in Brooks county, at an old Indian town, by Jose Bryant, in 1823.   The next settlement was also made on this road, by Sion Hall, near the present site of Morven.  It was here that the first court for the original Irwin county was held.  This settlement was made in 1824.   In the same year, Washington Joyce settled on the east bank of the Little River, and built a ferry at what is now the Miller Bridge.  This was the first white settlement in present Lowndes county.  Next to him came Drew Vickers and Lawrence Folsom and a man named Baker, who built a ferry on the Withlacoochee River, where the Williams bridge now stands.

One of the highways in this section was the old stage road, running from Thomasville to Brunswick through Troupeville.  This was discontinued as a stage line about the year 1850.

In those old days, marketing had to be done at long range.  Not very much cotton was raised – all of the upland variety – but it had to be hauled to Fussell’s and Mobley’s Bluffs, on the Ochmulgee River, and goods hauled back in return.  The only real markets for this section were Tallahassee, Newport and St. Marks.  Going to market was an event in those days, and people went to buy only what was absolutely necessary.   Ah! Those were the happiest days of all.

There were large stock owners in this section, in those days.  There was a fine range and plenty of room, and the raising of stock was then a source of considerable income.  The most important stock raisers were Berry Jones, Francis Jones, Will Folsom, Randall Folsom, James Folsom, and James Rountree.

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Judge Carleton Bicknell Cole

Carlton Bicknell Cole

Carleton Bicknell Cole

Judge Carleton Bicknell Cole (1803-1876)
Carleton B. Cole twice served as judge of the Southern Circuit and later presided over the courts of the Macon Circuit. In 1848 in the Lowndes County court at Troupville, GA, he was defense attorney for  Manuel and Jonathan Studstill, in the September 7, 1843 murder of William Slaughter, facing Augustin H. Hansell, solicitor general, for the prosecution. About Carlton Bicknell Cole: son of George Abbott Cole and Emmeline (Carleton) Cole. Born in Amherst, MA, August 3, 1803. Graduated Middlebury College, VT, in 1822. Taught and studied law in North Carolina. Admitted to the bar, 1826, and in 1827 removed to Macon, GA. Married Susan Taylor, September 6, 1827. (Children: Ann Eliza; Emmeline Carleton; John Taylor; George Abbott; Carleton Bicknell.) Incorporator and stockholder of The Commercial Bank at Macon, 1831. Judge of the Southern Circuit Court of Georgia, 1833-1847. Chairman of the Convention of Judges of the Superior Courts of Georgia, 1840. Operated a private law school at Midway, GA, 1844-1845. Opened a law practice in Milledgeville, GA, 1846. Admitted to practice before the Georgia Supreme Court, 1846. Chair of the Democratic Republican party of Twiggs County, 1847; A pro-Union Democrat in politics. Professor of Law, Oglethorpe University, 1847-1854. Resumed his law practice in Macon, 1854. Delegate to the State Constitutional Convention, 1865. Judge of the Macon Circuit Court, 1865-1873. Professor of Law, Mercer University, 1875-1876.  Died in Macon, GA, January 23, 1876.

 

The Sunny South
March 22, 1884

Bench and Bar of Georgia

Sketches and Anecdotes of Distinguished Judges and Lawyers.

Number 23.

By R. W. D.

Carleton B. Cole.

Carleton Bicknell Cole was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, August 7, 1803. His father died quite suddenly when the child was but a few months old, leaving him to the care of a young mother. His school advantages were good; he loved his books, became a close student and at the age of 19 graduated at Middlebury College, Vermont. His health having become impaired in consequence of his sedentary habits and close and unremitting application, he was sent to North Carolina that he might breathe the balmy Southern air and recuperate his wasted vitality. Being detained here from time to time, he finally decided to make the South his permanent home, and casting about for a permanent location, determined to adopt the profession of law. He commenced the study in the office of Judge Frederick Nash, of Hillsboro, and after a thorough course under that distinguished lawyer, was duly admitted to the bar. In 1826 Mr. Cole came to Georgia, locating in the then small town of Macon, where, in partnership with Hon. John G. Polhill (afterwards Judge of the Ocmulgee Circuit) he commenced the practice. While in Hillsboro, N.C. he had contracted marriage with Miss Susan N. Taylor, and therefore so soon as he had established himself in Georgia he returned to claim her as his wife. This good lady shared with him for many years his fortunes and reverses.
      Of the public life of Judge Cole I shall give nearly the whole space of this memoir to a communication from one who knew and loved him well.
General T. P. Smith, in Valdosta Times: 

“* * * * * He came to Georgia in 1826 or ’27 located in Macon to practice law and pursued the profession diligently for some years, when Gov. Schley appointed him to fill a vancancy on the bench of the Southern Circuit, caused by the death of Judge James Polhill. His commission bore date 13th April,1836, and not in 1833, as the Macon Telegraph erroneously stated. He took his seat on the bench at Pulaski Superior Court, third Monday in April, 1836, and continued to hold courts under his temporary appointment until the Legislature met in November ensuing.
When that body convened, the first important measure to engage its attention was the election of a Judge for the Southern Circuit. There were two candidates for the office, viz: Carleton B. Cole and Arthur A. Morgan. The writer of these lines went into the gallery of the House of Representatives to witness the election and remembers the balloting of the members and the sore disappointment of the friends of Judge Cole, who had entertained strong hopes of his election. The counting of the votes disclosed the fact that his opponent had more than doubled him. As the election of Judge Morgan was only for one year his opponents resolved to contest his election at the next session. The Legislature of 1837 convened and when the election for Judge of the Southern Circuit came up the names of Judge Morgan and Carleton B. Cole were again announced as candidates, as they had been the session before. The writer again went into the gallery of the House to witness the election and remembers the balloting of members, the counting of votes and the general rejoicing of the friends of Judge Cole when the Speaker announced his election as judge of the Southern Circuit, over his competitor. The exact vote is not remembered, but it was probably only two or three majority.

      Of the friends who worked most earnestly and uncompromisingly, and without whose assistance the election of Judge Cole must have failed at the second trial, were certain attorneys practicing in the courts over which Judge Morgan presided. It was they who arraigned Judge M. before the members of the Legislature of 1837 to undo the work of the previous session.
      Judge Cole entered at once upon the duties of his office, and presided for the term of four years and, in 1841, was re-elected over Col. Patterson, of Early – who had been a prominent man in the politics of the State. Thus it appears that he served eight years on the bench besides the temporary appointment in 1836, of Gov. Schley. At the close of his judicial career in 1845, the names of the political parties in Georgia had been changed from Union and States Rights to Whig and Democrat, and Judge Scarborough was elected by a Whig legislature to succeed him.
        Judge Cole resumed the practice of his profession and was a regular attendant on the courts of Lowndes and other counties of the Southern Circuit many years after his retirement from the Bench. Eventually the war came, slavery fell and a new constitution was ordered or required to meet the changed political condition of the State. Upon its adoption and the reorganization of the different departments, Judge Cole was tendered the judgeship of the Macon Circuit. He appeared upon the Bench and held the office for several terms. Certain members of the Bar were anxious for his reappointment and petitioned the Governor in his behalf. To this his Excellency declined to accede, but bestowed the office upon another who at present occupies the Bench of that Circuit.
       The most of Judge Cole’s judicial service was prior to the organization of the Supreme Court of Georgia, and when the legal opinions of the judge, given from the Bench, was the received and recognized law of the case. This autocratic power, it was sometimes stigmatized by counsel in their zeal for clients, caused them now and then to impeach, openly or covertly, the integrity of the presiding judge. The writer remembers our judge in Georgia who was impeached and tried before the Legislature for no other purpose, it was believed by many, than to get rid of his judicial opinions. It was this violence at the Bar engendered by a paltry judicial system, that led to the noted duel between Flournoy and Walton in 1811. The nephew espoused the cause of his uncle, Judge Walton, and lost his life. Judge Cole could not wholly escape this sort of vituperation, but met it apparently with a stoic indifference. Fortunately for the country the Supreme Court was organized in 1845, to determine questions of litigation in the last resort. The measure was not only beneficial in producing a better feeling between the judges and lawyers, but has been the ground work of vast progress and improvement in the laws of the State.
       A word concerning Judge Cole as a lawyer at the Bar, and these remarks will be brought to a close. In his day he was a popular attorney and had the management of many important causes. In his arguments before the court and jury it cannot be said that he was either eloquent or sought to stir the passions of the human heart. His strong forte was in a calm appeal to the good sense of the party addressed; in doing this he was always logical and interesting and seldom failed to command the closest attention. In his intercourse, during court, with the members of the bar, the county officers, the jurors and witnesses in attendance for the trial of causes, he was uniformly courteous and instructive; and when not engaged in the transaction of the business, he showed the sociability of his nature by mingling freely with the people, and by this means he gained their confidence and esteem.
       Judge Cole lived in Georgia nearly fifty years, and was at no time a candidate for office, except for Judge of the Superior Court. At no time was he called or known as a statesman of politician. His convictions and principles attached him warmly to the union of the States under the Federal Constitution, and in all the contests of Georgia looking to a separation of the Union, he was found true to his long cherished political sentiments.
T.P.S.
Valdosta, Ga., February 8, 1876

      Thus in the forgoing communication do we have a brief but comprehensive view of Judge Cole as a lawyer and judge, together with a mention of his political views. It remains but to be said that he left behind him a high reputation for his judicial worth and went to his grave with an untarnished name.

      It was stated in the communication quoted above, that Judge Cole was never a candidate for any position except the bench, but to this must be added, that he was sent by the people of Bibb to the Convention of 1865, an important body, which assembled immediately after the war, for the purpose of adjusting matters of State to the new order of things and providing for the people in their new and anomalous condition. Judge Cole made a useful member of this Convention, and did much toward shaping the future of Georgia. As being in a judicial line, he accepted the chairmanship of the law school of Mercer University at Macon a few years before his death. “Here,” says the memorial passed by the faculty of that institution, “his previous experience as a lecturer, his extensive practice at the bar and his long occupancy of judicial office, gave him rare and valuable qualifications for the impartation of legal instruction. So wide were the resources of his experience,and so great was the mastery of his memory over them, that he was prepared to explain and enforce every principle of the science of law with copious illustrations. Retaining, in an advance age, the freshness and verdure of the hear, he felt a deep and abiding interest in young men; and he gave to the organization of the school over which he presided, and especially to his own department – Equity Jurisprudence and Practice – warm devotion and faithful labor.”
       As explanatory of the reference in the extract given, “his previous experience as a law lecturer,” it should have been stated that in 1840, after his first retirement from the bench, he opened a law class at Midway near Milledgeville, the then site of Oglethorpe College, which he continued to teach for seven years, having a steady attendance of 25 or 30 students.
      By reference to the Court Roll in this volume it will be seen that Judge Cole presided over the Southern Circuit three different times, and over the Macon Circuit also under three successive appointments, giving him in all nearly fifteen years on the bench.
      He was tall, dignified and courteous, combining in his personthe suaviter in modo and fortiter in res.
     He led a consistent Christian life, and died an active and loved member of the Episcopal Church.
   

    I select as a fitting close to this memoir an extract from the memorial resolution of the Macon Bar:
      “In all the relations of society and home, Judge Cole was not less distinguished than as a professional and public man. Dignified and urbane in manner, he had a tender heart and affectionate disposition. As a Christian he was meek and humble as a child, relying for salvation not upon his own merits, but upon the atoning blood of his Savior and his God.
      Into the sanctity of his household we dare not intrude, but who can doubt that he was all that is lovely in a father, a husband and a master. He has left us, after filling his allotted space of more than three score years and ten, brimful of usefulness and honor, and well may we proclaim him.

      “The friend of man, the friend of truth,
       The prop of age, the guide of youth;”

and with just pride declare,

      “Few hearts like his with vigor warmed,
       Few heads with knowledge so informed.”

And knowing that of this world he made the best, and employed his talents to the advancement of his race and the glory of his Maker, we feel well assured that in another and brighter world
‘he lives in bliss.'”

Carleton Bicknell Cole
entered life enternal
Jan. 23, 1876.