Eliza Allen and Sovin Knight

Eliza Allen (1862-1945),  wife of Sullivan J. “Sovin” Knight

Eliza Allen Knight. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Eliza Allen Knight. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Bryan Shaw has written about the life and family of Eliza Allen in the Shaw Family Newsletters.  She was a daughter of Barzilla Allen and Rachel Moore Allen and sister of John Levi Allen and William Barzilla Allen.  “She was born October 31, 1862, four months after the death of her father, Barzilla Allen, who had died of measles while serving with the Confederate Army in Charlottesville, Virginia.”

Her mother remarried in 1866 to Francis Marion Shaw,  a veteran of the Civil War who had lost his right arm in a skirmish near Cedar Key, FL in 1864, and who raised Eliza and her brothers as his own children. Eliza grew to womanhood on her step-father’s farm at the community of Lois near Ray City, GA.  “She was educated in the rural schools of the Lois, Georgia community, and attended the Pleasant Primitive Baptist Church with her mother and siblings…. At the age of 17, on June 6, 1880, she married Sullivan Jordan “Sovin” Knight, son of John W. Knight and Candacy Leaptrot.” Sovin’s brother was Primitive Baptist minister, Aaron Anderson Knight, of Ray City. The marriage was performed in Berrien County by William H. Snead, Justice of the Peace.

1880-sullivan-j-knight-marr-cert

In 1878, Sovin Knight was a young farmer who owned 50 acres of land in section 375 of the 10th district, on the northeast bank of Cat Creek,  about four miles north of  Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA.  This was probably part of his father’s holdings. The land was valued at $250 and he had livestock valued at $100. Bryan Shaw describes the land dealings of Sovin Knight in detail in his Shaw Family Newsletters.

Sullivan Jordan

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

After marriage Eliza and Sovin moved just southeast across Cat Creek to the adjacent land lot 408, to a 113 acre farm situated on Indian Camp Branch.  Within a few years Sovin was farming 412 acres slightly farther to the northeast on lots 364 and 365 on the north side of Indian Camp Bay, about six miles northeast of Ray City.  Sovin worked this farm on Indian Camp Bay for the next twenty years on his own account or on behalf of his father, John W. Knight.  Nearby were the farms of Levi J. Gaskins, John A. Kirkland, and Joe S. Clements.

Children of  Eliza Allen and Sullivan Jordan Knight

  1. Marion Mansfield Knight – born  May 9, 1881, Berrien County, GA; married November, 1906 to Mollie Gaskins, daughter of Levi J. Gaskins ; died March 20, 1940
  2. Effie J. “Sissy” Knight – born  August 15, 1882, Berrien County, GA; married Eldrid “Dred” Guthrie on October 17, 1900; died September 25, 1935
  3. Lillie C. Knight, – born February 2, 1885, Berrien County, GA; died March 12, 1885.
  4. Infant son Knight – Born and died about 1887
  5. Leland Thomas Knight – born  July 17, 1888, Berrien County, GA; married Lillie Sirmans on September 23, 1909; died May 8, 1949
  6. Ada Virginia Knight  – born  January 31, 1889 Berrien County, GA; married Joseph Redding “Buddy” Gaskins  September 1, 1907;  died March 5, 1964
  7. Fannie E. Knight – born  November 14, 1890, Berrien County, GA; married Sanford Gideon Gaskins about 1908; died May 16, 1969
  8. Rossie O. Knight – born  August 28, 1892 Nashville, GA; Never married; Served in France during WWI and with the Army of Occupation in Germany;  died November 16, 1963; buried Pleasant Cemetery,  near Ray City, GA
  9. Ida Lena Knight – born  October 22, 1898, Berrien County, GA married Edgar Ezekiel Hickman June, 1914; died February 17, 1977
  10. Rachel Knight – born May 1, 1901, Berrien County, GA; married Robert Talmage Chism about 1916; died January 7, 1985
  11. Ora Kathleen Knight – born May 16, 1904, Berrien County, GA; married Henry Alexander Swindle November 24, 1920; died June 2, 2003, at Savannah, GA.

Eliza and Sovin suffered a serious setback when the Knight house burned down in January 1909 while they were attending the funeral of  Sovin’s aunt Rhoda Futch Knight.

In January, 1911 Sovin J. Knight sold the remaining farm property in Berrien county to  Dr. Pleasant H. Askew,  prominent physician, businessman and landowner of Nashville, GA,  and moved Eliza and their four youngest children to Brooks county, near Barney, GA.

Eliza Allen and Sovin J. Knight lived in this home at Barney, GA in 1911.  Photographed in 1998.  Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and the Berrien Historical Foundation www.berriencountyga.com

Eliza Allen and Sovin J. Knight lived in this home at Barney, GA in 1911. Photographed in 1998. Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and the Berrien Historical Foundation http://www.berriencountyga.com

Shortly after their move to Barney, “on April 16, 1911, just 26 days after the purchase of the new farm, Sovin suffered a severe heart attack and died in his new home. He left his wife of 31 years, a widow with three children, a survivor once again.” Sullivan Jordan Knight was buried at Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA.

After settling the estate of her husband about 1914, “Eliza and her two daughters returned to Berrien county, where she moved into her parents’ farm home just outside of Ray City.  She joined the newly constituted New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church at Ray City by letter of transmission.

About 1917,  she moved with her aging parents into town to a new home located on the north side of Jones Street and just  east of Ward Street.

Home built circa 1917 for Francis Marion and Rachel Horne Shaw was later the residence of Gordon V. Hardie and wife, Addie Hodges Hardie.

Home built circa 1917 for Francis Marion and Rachel Horne Shaw was later the residence of Gordon V. Hardie and wife, Addie Hodges Hardie.

Eliza lived with her parents in their  Ray City home, raising her last two children, until November, 1920, when her youngest daughter, Kathleen was married to Ray City merchant Henry A. Swindle.

Henry and Kathleen took Eliza into their home on Main Street, Ray City, GA, where she resided for the following 25 years… She spent most of those years involved in the social and religious functions of the New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church in Ray City,  an association which she dearly loved.”

Eliza Allen Knight with her granddaughter, Carolyn Swindle, daughter of Henry and Kathleen Knight Swindle.  Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and the Berrien Historical Foundation www.berriencountyga.com

Eliza Allen Knight with her granddaughter, Carolyn Swindle, daughter of Henry and Kathleen Knight Swindle. Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and the Berrien Historical Foundation http://www.berriencountyga.com

Ann Eliza Allen Knight,  passed away on November 4, 1945, at the age of 83.  She was buried next to her husband at Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA.

Grave of Sullivan Jordan Knight and Eliza Allen

Grave of Sullivan Jordan Knight and Eliza Allen

Special thanks to Bryan Shaw for research, content and images contributed to this article.

More About Troupville, GA and the Withlacoochee River

Montgomery M. Folsom

Montgomery M. Folsom, from his 1889 book, Scraps of Song and Southern Scenes.

Found this 1889 account of the history of  Troupville, GA by erstwhile Wiregrass historian, poet, and humorous writer Montgomery M. Folsom.  Folsom starts his tale at the headwaters of the Okolocoochee and Withlacoochee rivers. He traces them down to their connection with the Withlacoochee, at which point Troupville was founded. As the government seat, Troupville was the center of legal and civic activity for Lowndes County (see An Antebellum Trial at Troupville). Troupville was also an important center of commerce and social life for the pioneer settlers of Lowndes County, like Levi J. Knight, who established the first community near the site of present day Ray City, GA.  The Knights settled on another branch of the Withlacoochee;  Beaverdam creek, at Ray City, flows into Cat Creek on down to the Withlacoochee.  For a while the Troupville elders thought the Withlacoochee would provide a navigable waterway to the Gulf of Mexico. Even the Georgia Legislature in 1833 entertained “A bill to be entitled, an act to lay out, open, define and make navigable the Withlocoochey river, from Joyce’s ferry, on said river, to the Florida Line”, Joyce’s ferry being the Withlacoochee river crossing of the Coffee Road. But it was not to be.

Atlanta Constitution, January 29, 1889, Pg 12.

THE WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER.
VALDOSTA, Ga., January 19. -[Special.]- Away up near the northern limit of the great wiregrass section there is a big cypress swamp. They call them bays there. From this bay emerges a little stream of claret colored water. This is near Peckville, and close to the corner of Worth, Irwin, and Dooly counties. This is the head of the Ockolocoochee, Little river.
    Farther eastward, some ten or fifteen miles, there is another bay from which emerges a restless current that goes rushing away toward the south, fretting among the pine boles, resting among the silent solitudes of the mysterious swamps, the Alapaha.
    About midway between these streams, some twenty miles below their heads, the Withlacoochee steals stealthily out of the depths of a brambly brake and glides noiselessly away, like some black serpent of the swamps winding in and out among the barrens.
    The Ockolocoochee curves and twines among the pine-clad ridges, receiving the tribute of some lesser stream at every turn. Ty Ty, Warrior, Big Indian on the West, No-Man’s-Friend, Frank’s creek from the east, till it reaches Troupville. It is, properly, the river, despite the fact that its name is lost after its confluence with the Withlacoochee. It is like the wedding of a great big strapping wiregrass girl with a short, stout, presumptive little man.
    The Ockolochoochee is the stream for fishing. Along the snowy margin of its glistening sand-bars the red-belly, the perfection of perch; and in its placid eddies, beneath the shadow of the tupeloes, the red-horse sucker, chief of all the carp tribe; abound in strength and numbers sufficient to gratify the most inveterate of anglers.
    New river gives the Withlacoochee a good start, and it swerves away to receive the tribute of half a dozen streams on its tortuous course. From its fountain head it is dark and forbidding, and the secrets of its black waters are preserved most faithfully.
    Away back in the olden days when Lowndes county was as big as Poland, an act was passed by the Georgia legislature, appointing a commission to select an appropriate place for a county site. Franklinville had been its capital, but was not near enough to the center. As the legend goes, Big Billy Knight and Big Billy Folsom were appointed.
    These two worthies, one from the pimple hills of the Ockolocoochee, and the other from the saw palmetto flats of the Withlacoochee; decided that the most appropriate point was right in the fork of the two rivers. They had an idea that the river would be navigable that high up, even above the point where the Alapaha disappears and runs underground a mile before uniting with the Withlacoochee.
    So it came about that where the wine-red waters or the Ockolocoochee and the black current of the Withlacoochee meet at the end of a long sandbar and go tumbling and writhing, eddying and curving down the long reach of moss-grown trees, like two huge serpents struggling for the mastery, the plat of a town was drawn, and it was called after Georgia’s great chevelier governor, “Troupville,” with a strong accent on the “ville.” They had not learned to say “Troupvul” then, and it was such a high sounding title that they lingered lovingly on the pronunciation.
    The town grew apace. It enjoyed what the modern’s call a boom. Land lots sold rapidly, and settlers came rushing in, mainly the Smiths. Lowndes county has ever been prolific in the smith line. Owen Smith, Old Billy Smith, Young Billy Smith, all sorts of Smiths, even down to our Hamp, who so ably represents that historic name in the present pushing metropolis Valdosta.
One of the Smith’s built a tavern, and another Smith set up in business, and young Dr. Briggs, who came from the north, broken in business, but full of energy and ability, and laid the foundation of that prosperity that has long distinguished the Briggs and the Converse families.
    Troupville only suffered one inconvenience. To get to town three-fourths of the population had either to cross the river of the east or the river of the west and half the time, during the winter and spring, these rivers were raging with freshets, the bridges were afloat and were frequently swept away.
   One thing more hindered her prosperity. At the only season when the main river was navigable, the Old Nick, himself, couldn’t navigate it. So it transpired that the only freighted barge that ever tempted its tempestuous tide was a flat boat that went down the river to the Suwanee, thence down that river to Cedar Keys.
    It never returned.
    The boatmen sold the vessel and cargo and walked home.
    Life was too short to navigate that crooked stream, with its sunken logs and treacherous sands, and the hope of water transportation was abandoned.
    Among those who settled in Troupville and left behind many momentous memories, was Morgan Goodgame Swain, a burly blacksmith from Emanuel, who was ever ready for a fight, frolic or a footrace. He stood six feet three and weighed over two hundred without  pound of surplus flesh. As handsome as a Greek god he was gifted with herculean strength and a heart that was generous and true. He erected his forge on the bank of the Ockolockochee, and his wife took possession of the tavern. Becky, she was lord above, and Morz was lord below.
    The town of Valdosta was laid off when the old Atlantic and Gulf Railroad was built, about the opening of the war. Brooks and Echols had been cut off from Lowndes, and the county site was moved four miles southeast of Troupville to Valdosta. A great many of the buildings were moved bodily. And now there is not one brick upon another to tell the story of Troupville. A pile of white rocks marks the spot of Swain’s old forge, and some weather beaten mulberry trees still bud and blossom around the old square where stood the tavern. Aside from these there is nothing left to keep alive the cherished hopes that once animated the soul of Troupville.
   The Withlacoochee still glides along to meet the Ockolocoochee, and the land that lies between them, once town property, is now a barren waste, overgrown with somber pines, solitary tufts of bear grass whose white crests wave to and fro in ghostly suggestiveness in the twilight of summer evenings when the whip-poor-wills chant their weird melodies among the lonely thickets.
    Around the once populous portion of the town lies a waste of sedgy fields that are barren and unproductive. The half-wild goats browse among the fennels and briars. “Ichabod” is written in lichen crusted letters, and desolation reigns supreme.
                 MONTGOMERY M. FOLSOM.

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