Albert Douglass: Soldier Grey and Sailor Blue

Special thanks to Wm Lloyd Harris for sharing research and contributing portions of this post.

Albert Benjamin Douglass

In 1862, Albert Benjamin Douglass appeared as one of the deserters from the Berrien Minute Men, 29th Georgia Infantry. He actually had a quite colorful record of service, prompting reader Wm Lloyd Harris to write with additional details relating  “the rest of the story.”   Harris is a great great grandson of Albert B. Douglass.

Military service was something of a tradition in the Douglass family.  Albert’s father and four brothers served in the Indians Wars in Florida. Albert and all four of his brothers served in the Civil War.  Before the Civil War was over Albert B. Douglass enlisted with at least four different units, was discharged once, and deserted three times. He fought for both the North and the South, and served in the Army and the Navy.

At the start of the Civil War, Albert Benjamin Douglass joined a company of Berrien county men going forth to be mustered into the 29th GA Regiment at Savannah, GA. In fact, according to Harris, his grandfather may have enlisted even earlier in another militia unit.

“A. B. Douglass appears as a 2nd Lieutenant in Company H, 25th Battalion Provincial Guard Georgia Infantry Regiment a local militia unit. The fact that the unit is termed ‘provincial’ typified early temporary military formations awaiting formal recognition or organization.”

Albert Benjamin Douglass was born in 1833, probably in Hamilton County, FL. His father, Seaborn Douglass, was born in Montgomery County, GA about 1800 and came to  Hamilton County, FL in the late 1820s. Seaborn Douglass and his family appear in the 1830 census of  Hamilton County.  The Douglass place in Hamilton County, FL was apparently located about eight miles from the home of Captain Archibald McRae.

Abert Douglass’  four brothers, Allen D. Douglass, Burrell Douglass, William Douglass, and Robert Douglass, and his father, Seaborn Douglass,  all served in  the  Indian Wars 1835-1858.

By 1838, Seaborn Douglass had moved his family to Lowndes County, GA. County tax records show Seaborn Douglass was late to pay his poll tax that year, although no taxes were assessed for any land holdings or slaves in Lowndes County. Seaborn Douglass appeared in the 1840 Lowndes County census with his children;   an unknown daughter (b. 1821), Allen Dickerson Douglass (1822 – 1919), Burrell Douglass (1825 – September 8, 1884), William Riley Douglass (1830 – ca. 1895), Robert Douglas (1833-1862), Albert Douglas (1835 – ), Rose or Rosean  Douglass (1839 – 1905), and an unknown daughter (b. 1840), although no spouse is found in his household.  Seaborn Douglass is believed to have died about 1843 in Lowndes County, Georgia.

About 1851, Albert Douglass, then a young man of 19,  married Abigail Shaw. She was a daughter of Martin Shaw, Sr., who was a pioneer settler of Lowndes County.  Martin Shaw had been one of a handful of  residents  at old Franklinville, GA, first seat of government of Lowndes County, and had  served as Lowndes’ first Sheriff.

Albert and Abigail Douglass appear in the 1860 census of  Berrien County, Georgia.  Albert was enumerated as 28 years old, Abigail as 35.  Their daughter Francenia  Douglass listed  as age 6.  Also in the Douglass household was the seven-year-old boy William W Turner.  The Douglas place was near that of Abigail’s  father, Martin Shaw. Nearby were the farms of  Jonathan A. Knight, Thomas Giddens and of William R. Brodgon, where William H. Outlaw was residing.

CIVIL WAR SERVICE OF THE DOUGLASS BROTHERS

All five sons of Seaborn Douglass served in the Confederate States Army.

  • Allen D. Douglass
    Served in the 1st Battalion, Florida Special Cavalry, Company B.  This unit was part of Lieutenant Colonel Charles James Munnerlyn’s famous “Cow Cavalry,” which was detailed to protect the supply of Florida cattle to feed the Confederate Army.
  • William R. Douglass
    Served with the 1st Battalion Florida Special Cavalry, also known as the “Cow Cavalry,” alongside his brother, Allen Dickerson Douglas, during the Civil War.
  • Burrell Douglass
    Enlisted September 22, 1862 at Camp Fort, Waynesville, GA, with Company A , 24th Battalion, Georgia Cavalry, under the command of Captain T.S. Hopkins ( This unit  later merged with the 7th Georgia Cavalry, Company G). While the Battalion was stationed at Camp Lee, Bryan County, GA, Burrell and a number of other soldiers became dissatisfied with the leadership of Colonel Edward C. Anderson.  Burrell Douglass  deserted on May 21, 1863  and returned to his home and family in Wayne County, GA.  Descendants believe he deserted and returned home because his wife was about to give birth, and his company had received orders to go to Virginia. About a year later in March or April, 1864 he enlisted with another company,  Captain Mann’s “Satilla Rifles.”    As soon as his name hit the war department he was arrested  for his earlier desertion and placed in Olglethorpe Barracks in Savannah. On April 11, 1864 he was court-martialed and found guilty.  He was sentenced to be shot “by musketry.” However, the execution was suspended on May 30, 1864, by order of Major General Samuel Cooper.  Douglass remained in custody until Jefferson Davis issued a pardon for Confederate deserters who resumed service.  Burrell’s records noted on November 19, 1864, “pardon and released to duty.” That was about the time Sherman was arriving in Savannah.  Burrell fought as an irregular in the Confederate Army (wherein an undisclosed injury was received) until the end of the war.  Buried at Mount Plesant Cemetery, Ware County, GA.
  • Robert Douglass
    Enlisted in the 7th Florida Infantry, Company B, on March 19, 1862. Died of “disease” in Knoxville, Tennessee, August 15, 1862. His wife, Elizabeth, received a widow’s pension as attested by Florida Confederate Pension Records. Buried in the Bethel Confederate Cemetery, Knoxville, Tennessee.

Albert B. Douglass in the Civil War

Records indicate Albert Douglass was enlisted in Berrien Minute Men, Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment.   This was the second company of Berrien Minute Men to come forth from Berrien County, GA. This second company, organized in the fall of 1861, was successively known as Company B Berrien Minute Men,  Captain Lamb’s Company,  Company D 29th GA Regiment, and Company K 29th GA Regiment.  The company mustered into the 29th Georgia Regiment at Savannah, GA.   Months passed as  the regiment trained and served picket duty on the Georgia coast.  The Berrien Minute Men were stationed at a number of camps  on the coastal islands and marshes, first at Sapelo Battery, off the coast of Darien, GA, then in Chatham County, GA at Camp Tatnall, Camp Causton’s Bluff, Camp Debtford, Camp Mackey, and Camp Young.

Albert Douglass must have been among those men who chaffed at the defensive nature of these assignments. The only Regimental return on file for Albert Douglass, Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment, shows that by December, 1862,  he was “absent without leave.”  In the following months. the 29th Georgia Regiment advertised a reward for his capture as a Confederate deserter.  Wanted notices were run in the Savannah, Georgia newspapers offering $30 dollars for his apprehension and giving his physical description as “32 years of age, 6 feet high, fair complexion, grey eyes, auburn hair.”   Among his fellow deserters were Elbert J. Chapman, who would be executed for desertion, and Benjamin S. Garrett, who was shot for being a Union spy.

  

Albert Douglas' regimental return for December 1862 shows him absent without leave;

Albert Douglas’ regimental return for December 1862 shows him absent without leave;

It appears that Albert Douglass must have left the Berrien Minute Men by the summer of 1862.  The research of Wm Lloyd Harris reveals that Albert Douglas(s) had actually deserted the 29th Georgia and enlisted in the 26th Georgia Infantry subsequently fighting with Army of Northern Virginia in Virginia. As early as June 1862 he appeared with the 26th in Richmond, Virginia.    The 26th Regiment, Georgia Infantry  [also called 13th Regiment] completed its organization in October, 1861, at Brunswick, GA. Its companies were recruited in the counties of Charlton, Berrien, Glynn, Twiggs, Clinch, Ware, Coffee, and Wayne. After serving in the Department of Georgia at St. Simons Island and Savannah, the unit moved to Virginia where it was brigaded under Generals A. R. Lawton, John B. Gordon, and C.A. Evans.

The 26th Georgia Regiment  and the rest of Lawton’s Brigade  experienced their first engagement at the Battle of Gaines’ Mill, sometimes known as the First Battle of Cold Harbor or the Battle of Chickahominy River. This battle took place on June 27, 1862, in Hanover County, Virginia, as the third of the Seven Days Battles.  John Jefferson Beagles was also at this battle, serving with the 61st Georgia Regiment in Lawton’s Brigade.

Albert Douglass  was admitted to Chimborazo Hospital, Richmond, Virginia, for dysentery, June 29, 1862.   Returned to duty, July 10, 1862.On August 14, 1862, he was admitted to Lovingston Hospital, Winchester, VA with a complaint of fever and convulsions.

Douglass returned to duty on August 27.  The following day, in the late afternoon and evening of August 28, 1862 the 26th Georgia Regiment suffered  horrific casualties at the Battle of Brawner’s Farm,  at Groveton, VA.    That same afternoon, The Berrien Light Infantry, Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment  was engaged just about ten miles west of Groveton driving federal forces out of  Thoroughfare Gap through the Bull Run mountains, and taking up and occupying position.  These actions were a prelude to the Second Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) August 29-20. During the battle, 0n August 29,  both  the 26th GA and the 50th GA regiments were in positions at Groveton. Among the men from the Ray City area serving with the 50th GA Regiment were Green Bullard, Fisher J. Gaskins, Lemuel Elam Gaskins, Joseph Gaskins,  John Jasper Cook and John Martin Griner.

Douglass’ regiment lost 37 killed and 87 wounded at Second Manassas.

On September 17, 1862 the 26th Regiment fought in the Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam), again suffering heavy casualties. The regiment reported 6 killed, 49 wounded, and 6 missing at Sharpsburg.

Douglass was admitted to 1st Division, General Hospital Camp Winder on October 19, 1862 and transferred to Hod Hospital on December 23. He was back on the morning report of Winder Hospital on December 24, and then transferred to Ridge Hospital.  He was admitted to Receiving and Wayside Hospital (General Hospital No. 9)  on June 4, 1863 and the following day he was discharged from the Confederate States Army.

At least one man of the 26th GA regiment, perhaps it was Douglass, called himself  a friend of Old “Yaller” Elbert J. Chapman. Chapman, like Douglass, left the Berrien Minute Men to go fight with other units, but Chapman was executed for his desertion.

After being discharged, Albert Douglass returned home. On July 18, 1863 he joined Captain Stewart’s Independent Company at Lake City, Florida; he was mustered into Company E, 9th Regiment, Florida Infantry. He was transferred to Company H, 9th Regiment on October 1, 1863. Albert Doulass appeared in a series of units. In August,  1863 he served as Provost Guard.  In October, 1863 he was detached to serve guard duty, Signal Corps. In November, he was detached from Captain Stewart’s Company and transferred to the Signal Corps. He was present for duty from December 1863 to April 1864.  On April 30, 1864 he was detached to the Pioneer Corps.  Two months later, he deserted to surrender to Union Army forces.

After his surrender, Albert Douglass was transferred to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he pledged the Oath of Allegiance to the United States on November 26, 1864.  On December 5, 1864 at the age of 32, he enlisted for a two-year term in the Union Navy, as an Ordinary Seaman.  At the time of enlistment he was residing in Washington, Davies County, Indiana.  His place of birth was given as Atlanta, GA; his occupation listed as “farmer.”  His Physical description was recorded as brown eyes, sandy blonde hair, florid complexion,  5’11” tall with a scar on his left arm.

albert-douglas-union-navy-record

Douglass was initially assigned to “R. S. Cairo.” This ship is sometimes thought to be the ironclad gunboat USS Cairo, but the USS Cairo was sunk in 1862 during a U.S. Navy excursion in support of the campaign for Vicksburg, MS.  Actually, R.S. Cairo refers to the Navy Receiving Ship at Cairo, IL, where new recruits were mustered into the navy. This ship was the sidewheel steamer USS Great Western.  There are no known images of the Great Western.

After completing receiving, Albert Douglass was assigned as an Ordinary Seaman to the tin-clad USS Gazelle, January 14, 1865.  The Gazelle, also a sidewheel steamer, patrolled between the mouth of the Red River and Morganza, Louisiana, and convoyed transports. She was armed with six 12-pound rifled cannons.  There are no known images of the USS Gazelle.

Apparently, Albert Douglass was on active duty aboard the USS Gazelle a scant two days before once again falling to illness.  Aboard the Gazelle, Albert Douglass received the usual treatment for chronic diarrhea – a cocktail of Opium,  Lead Acetate,  and Tannic Acid –  to no effect.  This was followed by a three-day course of  Opium, Silver Nitrate, and Powdered Acacia – also to no effect.  Douglass was finally given an enema of five grains of Silver Nitrate in three ounces of  aqua (distilled water) “without any apparent beneficial results.”

Douglass was  sent to Memphis Hospital, Memphis, TN.  Federal forces had occupied Memphis since 1862 and the city had become a major medical center.  “Wounded prisoners came by boat and wagon to be treated at hospitals that began to specialize as the war progressed.   Prior to the war the city had one hospital. By the end of the war, there were 15.  The Union used the hotels and warehouses of Memphis as a “hospital town” with over 5,000 wounded Union troops being brought for recovery.

According to the Records of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Department of the Navy, Douglass was transferred on February 7, 1865 with chronic diarrhea.   His sea bag contained his hammock, blanket, mattress, jacket, trousers, drawers, two flannel shirts, stockings, boots, handkerchief, and cap.

albert-douglas-union-navy-record-2-7-1865-hospital-ticket

Transcription of Hospital Ticket
7 Feb 1865
USS Gazelle
To W. Grier
Surgeon
You are hereby requested to receive Albert Douglass, Ordinary Seaman affected with chronic diarhea in the hospital under your direction and to provide for him accordingly according to the rules and regulations of the US Navy.
Receipt: 1 hammock, 1 blanket, 1 mattress, 1 jacket, 1 trousers, 1 drawers, 2 shirts flannel, 1 stockings, 1 boots, 1 handkerchief, 1 cap.
Respectfully, A.T.Crippen
Surgeon’s Steward in charge
Approved
Archy S. Palmer
Acting Ensign, Commanding

Albert Douglas hospital papers. Memphis Hospital, Memphis, TN

Albert Douglas hospital papers. Memphis Hospital, Memphis, TN

Transcription of Hospital Record describing his shipboard treatment prior to his admission to Memphis Hospital.
30 March 1865

Albert Douglass, Ordinary Seaman was born in the state of Georgia. Was admitted to sick list on the 21st of Jan 1865. Says he was affected with diarrhea two weeks before he reported to me. I do not know how he contracted the Disease as he was affected with it when he came aboard this Ship  Jan 19th. Ha been treated with plumbi acetas gr ii; Tannin gr iii; Opii Pulv gr SS; three times per day for three days.
Pulvi acaci gr iii; Opii gr i: Argenti nitros gr 1/12; every 24 hours for three days.
Enema argenti Nitras gr v to Agua 3i ounce without any apparent beneficial result.

A. T. Crippen
Surg’s Stew in charge
Have treated with stimulants ever since.

Federal military records show Albert Douglass deserted the Union Navy while in the hospital, on March 30, 1865.

albert-douglas-union-navy-record-3-30-1865-deserted

It appears that Albert never returned home to Abigail, and his whereabouts following his desertion from the US Navy in 1865 remain unknown. Abigail was last documented in the 1900 Lowndes County, Georgia, census in the household of John H. Godwin. second husband of her daughter Francine.  Francine’s first husband was Henry Clay Surrency. Abigail Shaw Douglass is believed to have died circa 1905. It appears that Abigail believed that Albert perished during the war as she identified herself as a widow for the remainder of her life.

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US Navy record also reflects that Albert was listed with an alternate name of Arthur Doyle, no doubt to deflect future trouble in the event he was captured by southern forces. (note that his initials AD remain a tie to his actual name).

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GEORGIA DOUGLASES WEBSITE

Dr. J. A. Fogle of Alapaha, GA

Dr. James A. Fogle,  a surgeon trained during the Civil War, was a physician of Alapaha, GA and an associate of Hardeman Giddens, of Ray’s Mill.  He was well known in Berrien County – an M.D.,  farmer, Mason, census enumerator,  innkeeper, merchant, and Justice of the Peace. In his judiciary role, he notably heard the 1879 case of John Cooper for the murder of Reese Byrd at Paxton’s turpentine farm.

Dr, J. A. Fogle, physician and Surgeon

Dr, J. A. Fogle, Physician and Surgeon of Alapaha, GA

Alapaha Star
October 2, 1886

Dr. J. A. Fogle
Physician and Surgeon,
Alapaha, Georgia

Returns thanks the citizens of Worth, Berrien, Irwin and Coffee counties for patronage in the past, and hopes to merit a continuance of the same. Calls by letter or telegraph promptly attended to. Charges are reasonable.

James A. Fogle was born September 12, 1838 in Columbus, GA. He was a son of Nancy L. Turner and Dr. Jacob Fogle, dentist and prominent citizen of Columbus.

As a young man, James A. Fogle attended the University of North Carolina, receiving the Bachelor of Arts degree  in 1860.

James A. Fogle served in the Civil War. He enlisted as a private in Company G, Georgia 2nd Infantry Regiment on April 16, 1861. He was detailed by the Secretary of War to work in a Confederate hospital. He was promoted to Full Hospital Steward on October 6, 1862. At that time he was posted at General Hospital Camp Winder, Richmond, VA. He was later promoted to Full Assistant  Surgeon on November 14, 1864.

General Hospital Camp Winder hospital ward, Richmond, VA. Dr. James A. Fogle was an Assistant Surgeon at the hospital in 1864. Fogle later practiced medicine at Alapaha, GA.

General Hospital Camp Winder hospital ward, Richmond, VA. Dr. James A. Fogle was detailed as a nurse at the hospital May 24, 1862. Fogle was later promoted to Assistant Surgeon, and practiced medicine at Alapaha, GA after the war.

http://civilwarodyssey.blogspot.com/2014/12/edge-of-obscurity-tracking-ailing.html

On November 1, 1862 Fogle was reassigned as a steward at Chimborazo Hospital No. 3, Richmond, VA.

Chimborazo Hospital, the "hospital on the hill." Considered the "one of the largest, best-organized, and most sophisticated hospitals in the Confederacy."

Chimborazo Hospital, the “hospital on the hill.” Considered the “one of the largest, best-organized, and most sophisticated hospitals in the Confederacy.”
Library of Congress

Fogle was at Chimborazo Division No. 3 in June of 1863 when Green Bullard, of Ray’s Mill, was admitted in the No. 2 Division with typhoid fever. In November 1864, Fogle was promoted to Assistant Surgeon and continued to work at Chimborazo Hospital. The Civil War ended six months later with Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.

After the war, Fogle returned to South Georgia. He took the loyalty oath in Baker County, GA on July 10, 1867.

James A. Fogle, Oath of Loyalty to the United States of America, July 10, 1867.

James A. Fogle, Oath of Loyalty to the United States of America, July 10, 1867.

On April 2, 1868 James A. Fogle married Sarah E. Leonard in Taylor County, GA.

Marriage certificate of James A. Fogle and Sarah E. Leonard, Taylor County, GA

Marriage certificate of James A. Fogle and Sarah E. Leonard, Taylor County, GA

James and Sarah Fogle made their home in Newton, Baker County, GA. The 1880 census shows they employed Sarah Gamble as a live-in cook. Dr. Fogle established his medical practice in Newton.

1870 census enumeration of Dr. James A. Fogle, Newton, GA

1870 census enumeration of Dr. James A. Fogle, Newton, GA

In the winter of 1872,  while traveling near Camilla, GA., Dr. Fogle plunged into a  a flooded creek to rescue a drowning African-American man.

Albany Herald, March 1, 1872 reports Dr. J. A. Fogle's rescue of two men from drowning in Racoon Creek, Camilla, GA

Albany Herald, March 1, 1872 reports Dr. J. A. Fogle’s participation in the rescue of two African-American men from drowning in Racoon Creek, Camilla, GA

Albany Herald
March 1, 1972

Narrow Escape.

We are informed by our agent, Dr. J. A. Fogle, that on the 14th inst. the two negroes of the Panitheopticonicon, while attempting to cross “Raccoon Creek,” had their horse drowned and came near loosing their own lives. Dr. Fogle, although the water was near freezing, swam in after one and rescued him by means of a rope.- Mr. Stokes Walton, with the assistance of Mr. Lee and four or five negroes, constructed a raft of logs and rescued the other. A half hour’s longer delay would have resulted in the death of both parties. Although nearly frozen, they were the happiest beings imaginable when taken out of the water.

This creek should, by all means, have a bridge over it. Last week Dr. Fogle came near losing his own and his horse’s life in the same place. Dr. Kirksey, Dr. F’s companion, lost his baggage, containing valuables to the amount of one hundred and twenty-five or one hundred and fifty dollars. [Camilla Herald.

The two rescued men were employees of the Panitheopticonicon.  The Panitheopticonicon was a religious dramatization presented with a stereopticon, or “Magic Lantern.”  A stereopticon is a slide projector  which has two lenses, usually one above the other. These devices became  a popular in the 1850s as  a form of entertainment and education, and continued in popularity into the 1900s. Mashburn’s 1913 “Possum Supper” for physicians in Valdosta, GA featured as stereopticon.  The Panitheopticonicon was billed as the “Great Religious Wonder of the Age!” where “Adam and Eve pass the scene… with the serpent following at their feet,” and attracted “almost the entire population without distinction of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

Dr. Fogle Comes to Alapaha
Some time before 1879, the Fogles made their way to Alapaha, GA. In the census of 1880 of Berrien County, James A. Fogle was the enumerator for the 4th District. He enumerated himself as 41 years of age, and employed as an M. D. and a farmer. His wife, Sarah, was keeping house.  Also in the household was Sarah’s widowed sister, Frances S. Leonard.

1880 Census enumeration of Dr. James A. Fogle, 1156 Georgia Militia District, Berrien County, GA

1880 Census enumeration of Dr. James A. Fogle, 1156 Georgia Militia District, Berrien County, GA.

In addition to his medical practice, Dr. Fogle opened a drug store in Alapaha.

1886-0ct-2-alapaha-star-ad-fogle-drug-store

Alapaha Star
October 2, 1886

Drug Store

Dr. J. A. Fogle,
Proprietor,
Alapaha, GA

My stock of drugs, medicines, perfumery, toilet articles, cigars, tobacco, etc., is the largest and best selected ever brought to this market.

Prescriptions

Carefully and accurately compounded day or night.

Thankful for liberal patronage in the past, I shall endeavor to merit a continuance of the
the same.

In the spring of 1886, the Macon telegraph reported that Dr. and Mrs. Fogle were opening a new hotel at Alapaha.

Fogle House, Alapaha, GA

Fogle House, Alapaha, GA

Macon Telegraph

March 24, 1886

At Alapaha. Her New Hotel. Her Clever Social People. Her Prosperous Merchants, Etc.,

[Alapaha has]…a new hotel, two stories high, nicely fitted up and well kept. Dr. J.A. Fogle, one of the most clever men you would met in a week’s hard riding, is the proprietor, but his time is mostly devoted to an extensive practice and to his well stocked drug store. The hotel is presided over by Mrs. Fogle, a lady of refinement and most pleasant manner, ably assisted by her sister, Miss Fannie Leonard. The table is bountifully supplied with tempting fare, the sleeping apartments are models of cleanliness and comfort, and the attention to guests is prompt and courteous The commercial tourists are fond in their praise of it, and you know they are, generally speaking, a difficult set to please.

 

1886-0ct-2-alapaha-star-ad-fogle-house

Dr. James A. Fogle died on Friday, January 6, 1888 at Alapaha, Georgia.  His death was reported in the Americus Weekly Recorder. Americus was the home of Dr. Fogle’s sister, Mary E. Fogle, and brother-in-law, Uriah B. Harrold:

Death of Dr. James A. Fogle, 1888.

Death of Dr. James A. Fogle, 1888.

Americus Weekly Recorder
January 12, 1888

Death.

Mr. U. B. Harrold Friday received a telegram announcing the death of Dr. James A. Fogle, at Alapaha, Berrien county, Ga.  As he had been suffering from inflammatory rheumatism, it is supposed that that was the cause of his death.  Dr. Fogle was an eminent physician and the brother of Mrs. Harold.  Mr. and Mrs Harrold left for Alapaha Friday night.

Dr. Fogle was laid to rest at Alapaha in Fletcher Cemetery.

Grave of Dr. James A. Fogle, Fletcher Cemetery, Alapaha, GA. Image source: D & D Fletcher

Grave of Dr. James A. Fogle, Fletcher Cemetery, Alapaha, GA. Image source: D & D Fletcher

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Mary Jane Smith and the Poison Pork

In the fall of 1916 Mrs. Mary Jane Smith, of Nashville, GA came to visit her daughter, Rachel Smith Sirmans, at Ray City, GA.  Rachel was recently widowed, her husband, Jay Sirmans, having died suddenly on September 20, 1916.  Rachel was left alone with two teen age boys to do the work of running a farm.

It was late October and with the first frosts of the season, people’s thoughts naturally turned toward the harvest of fresh meat from hogs fattened over the summer. Hog slaughter was generally reserved for the coldest days of the year. But after a diet of cured meats over the long heat of the Wiregrass summer and perhaps with the  smokehouse stock nearly depleted, for many farms the first cool day would do for a hog killing.  This was perhaps the occasion of Mrs. Smith’s visit.

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Hog-Killing

In the  Ray City of 100 years ago, winter was the season for hog killing as mechanical refrigeration was not available and there were no real facilities for cold storage.

In the 1920s, the Clements Lumber Company operated a cold storage facility and Ray City built a municipal electric plant in 1922, but dependable home electric service and electric refrigerators would not be available in the town until the 1930s.    Before that, most kitchens were equipped with  an “icebox” – a wood or metal cabinet insulated with straw or sawdust. A compartment near the top could be loaded with a block of ice to cool perishable food stored on lower shelves. Water from the melting ice was collected in a pan below the cabinet.  The ice kept the interior of the box far cooler than room temperature, but certainly no where near freezing.  As the ice block melted, it had to be continually replaced. Even small towns like Ray City had ice delivery men, such as Wilbur and Walter Aultman, or Ferris Moore, who regularly supplied ice to local homes and businesses (see Ferris Moore ~ Ray City Iceman).

In The Art of Managing Longleaf, Leon Neel describes  the practical and social significance of hog killing time in Wiregrass Georgia:

Hogs were a staple and we always had hog killings.  The families would get together to kill a hog or two when the weather was right, and then we would smoke our own meat.  Hog killing was a great time. Hogs were killed in cool weather, because pork spoils so easily.  The colder it was, the better it was for hog killing. But lots of times, the stored food would run out early, and we would have to kill hogs before it got to be the dead of winter.  Hog killing was a full-day’s process, and everybody had a job – the men folk, the women folk, everybody.  The process got started early in the morning.  Daddy had a little .22 rifle, and he usually shot the hog between the eyes.  Then we processed it right then and there. We had a big syrup kettle, and for hog killing time we would fill it with water and build a fire under it to get it boiling.  Then we put the hog in the kettle, which scalded it and made it possible to get the hair off with any trouble. Then we butchered the hog.  It is true what they say: Every part of the hog was utilized, everything but the squeal.  Hog killing was hard work, but it was also a great social occasion. 

For Mary Jane Smith  the visit with her daughter in Ray City was a homecoming of sorts.  She and her husband, John Woods Smith, had formerly been residents of Ray City.

Mrs. Mary Jane Smith was born Mary Jane Whitehurst, a daughter of James Whitehurst (1818-1914) and Sarah Ann Findley (1822-1914). She was born on July 7, 1848 in that part of Lowndes County which in 1850 was cut into Clinch County, GA . Her father’s place was on Land Lot 516 in the 11th Land District,  just east of the Alapaha River near Cow Creek.  Her father later moved to Berrien County and settled on the east side of the Little River where he established a grist mill and operated a ferry across the river.  For several years he had the contract to carry mail on the Star Route from Nashville, GA to Alapaha.

About 1866, Mary Jane married John Woods Smith  in Clinch County, GA.  He was a veteran of the Confederate army, having enlisted March 4, 1862 in Company G, 50th Georgia Regiment.   His time in active duty had been marked with sickness. Within months of his enlistment he had become so sick he was sent to the hospital at Macon,  GA. In June of 1862 he was given leave to “escort the dead body of a comrade home. ”   He returned to his unit but by the end of the year he was again on sick furlough.  He was sick yet again in June of 1863,  with typhoid fever.  This time he was sent to Chimborazo Hospital No. 2 at Richmond, VA then transferred to Jackson Hospital where he was diagnosed with pneumonia.  By the fall he had recovered sufficiently  to return to his unit, but on November 29, 1863 he was captured near Knoxville,  TN.  He was sent to the military prison at Louisville, KY as a prisoner of war,  then on to the notorious Camp Chase, Ohio where he was imprisoned for two years.   In March of 1865, he was transferred to Rock Island Barracks, IL  and from there he was released in a prisoner exchange.  He was  admitted to the Confederate General Hospital No. 9 at Richmond, VA where he recuperated before returning home to Berrien County, GA.

For a short while Mary Jane and John Woods Smith made their home in Clinch County, but by 1880 the couple had moved to Berrien County, GA.  In 1890, their home was in the Rays Mill district, GMD 1144, where they were neighbors of Isabelle Sirmans and Andrew W. Turner and others of the Sirmans family connection.

Children of Mary Jane and John Woods Smith were:

  1. Osborn Levi Smith  (1867 – 1896), buried at Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  2. Rachel Allifair Smith (1869 – 1940),  married Jay Mitchell Sirmans, son of Hardeman Sirmans
  3. Susan Earlie Smith (1871 – 1960)
  4. Cassie Jane Smith (1874 – 1948),  married Lucius John Knight, son of Rhoda Futch  and George Washington Knight, buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA
  5. William David Smith (1876 – 1887)
  6. Barzilla Newton Smith (1878 – )
  7. Sarah Levinia Smith (1880 – 1964), buried at Pinecrest Cemetery, Vidalia, GA
  8. Mary Ann Smith (1882 – 1965), married Henry J. Parrish
  9. John Dixon Smith (1884 – 1943)
  10. Martha Missouri Belle Smith (1887 – )
  11. Kissiah Amanda Smith (1889 – )

Mary Jane’s eldest daughter, Rachel Allifar Smith,  was married  to Jay Sirmans on March 22, 1893. He was son of Hardeman Sirmans and Elizabeth Knight. Rachel and Jay made their home and farm near Rays Mill (now known as Ray City), GA next door to Jay’s father. By 1910, Mary Jane and John Woods Smith had moved from Ray City to Nashville, GA where they owned a home on Washington Street where they operated a boarding house.

Mary Jane’s husband, John Woods Smith,  died April 24, 1915 and was buried at the Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA. Mary Jane Smith died a year and a half later while visiting with her daughter, Rachel, at Ray City, GA.  The cause of death was “pork poisoning.”

Without refrigeration the home preservation of meats, especially pork,  presented challenges.  In The prevention of disease; a popular treatise (1916), Kenelm Winslow reported:

Pork causes poisoning because it is imperfectly preserved by salt or smoking, and is often eaten insufficiently cooked in sausage and other forms.  Four-fifths of all cases of meat poisoning are due to eating the flesh of animals suffering from one of the germ diseases…unfortunately the meat is not altered in appearance in such cases, nor is cooking by any means a sure preventative against poisoning. Even poisoning by meat which has decomposed from too long keeping is much more frequent in the case of animals diseased before slaughter.  Expert veterinary inspection of the various organs of slaughtered animals will detect disease and prevent the killing of sick animals for food, which is most apt to occur in small towns where meat for local use is not properly inspected. Poisoning from meat which has putrefied from long keeping is more common in warm months and in the case of chopped meat or sausage. Putrid meat is usually recognizable, if not chopped, by softness and bad odor, especially about the bones and fat.  Boiling, roasting, or frying lessens the danger from putrefying meat, but does not absolutely prevent it.  Proper refrigeration in the household, both before and after cooking meat, is essential in order to preserve it, otherwise it should be eaten fresh. It is also advisable to clean refrigerators frequently with a hot solution of washing soda.  The poisoning is due to toxins in poisons produced by germs which originate in diseased animals, or contaminate the meat after slaughter and grow luxuriantly when refrigeration is imperfect.

 

1916-mary-jane-smith

Tifton Gazette

Friday, October 27, 1916

MRS. MARY JANE SMITH

Mrs. Mary Jane Smith died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. J. Sirmans, near Ray City, Saturday night after an illness of only a few days, says the Adel News. Mrs. Smith died of poison, some pork which she and Mrs. Sirmans had eaten, violently affecting them. Mrs. Sirmans was very ill for a time.

Mrs. Smith was the mother of eleven children, nine of whom survive her. Among her children are Mrs. Sirmans, Mrs. H. J. Parrish and Rev. John D. Smith, of Morven. The deceased was reared in this county and was sixty-nine years of age. She was a devoted member of the Methodist church. The funeral services and burial took place at Nashville Monday, the services being conducted by Rev. J. Harwell House, of Ocilla.

 

Grave of Mary Jane Whitehurst Smith, Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA

Grave of Mary Jane Whitehurst Smith, Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA

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Green Bullard Fought Sickness in the Civil War

Green Bullard  was a pioneer settler of Berrien county. He came to the area of present day Ray City, GA with his parents some time before 1850.  They settled on 490 acres of land acquired by his father, Amos Bullard, in the 10th Land District, then in Lowndes county, GA (cut into Berrien County in 1856).

confederate-camp

Following the commencement of the Civil War Green Bullard, and his nephew, Alfred Anderson, went to Nashville, GA and signed up on March 4, 1862 with the Berrien Light Infantry, which was being formed at that time.   The company traveled to Camp Davis, a temporary training camp that had been established two miles north of present day Guyton, GA (then known as Whitesville, GA). There they received medical examinations and were mustered in as Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment on March 30, 1862.

For many of the men in the 50th Regiment, this was the farthest they had ever been from home and the largest congregation of people they had ever seen.  Coming from the relative isolation of their rural farms and small south Georgia communities, many received their first exposure to communicable diseases such as Dysentery, Chicken Pox, Mumps,  Measles, or Typhoid fever. The first cases of Measles were reported within days of the men’s arrival and at times nearly two-thirds of the regiment were unfit for duty due to illness. On April 7, 1862 Bullard’s nephew, Alfred Anderson, reported sick with “Brain Fever” [probably either encephalitis or meningitis] while at Camp Davis, with no further records of his service.  With so many down sick, the Regiment could barely drill or even put on guard duty.  As the summer wore on, those that were fit participated in the barricading of the Savannah River and in coastal defenses.

 “In May 1862 the Confederate Government established a General Hospital in Guyton, GA,”  near Camp Davis. “This hospital was located on a nine acre tract of land adjacent to the Central Railroad… From May 1862 to December 1864, this hospital provided medical care, food, clothing, and lodging for thousands of sick and wounded Confederate soldiers.”  – Historical Marker, Guyton Confederate General Hospital.

Finally, in mid-July the 50th Regiment moved out via train to Richmond, VA where they joined Drayton’s Brigade in the CSA Army of Northern Virginia. The Regiment bivouacked first at Camp Lee.  Camp Lee was a Confederate training camp that had been converted from the Hermitage Fair Grounds near Richmond, with the exhibit halls converted into barracks and hospitals. The grounds were filled with the tents of infantry and artillery companies. The men bathed in a shallow creek, “but it is doubtful if their ablutions in that stream are productive of cleanliness,” opined the Richmond Whig in August of 1862.

Camp Lee, near Richmond, VA

Camp Lee, near Richmond, VA. Text from Confederate Military Hospitals in Richmond, by Robert W. Waitt, Jr., 1964.

On August 20, 1863  the 50th Georgia Regiment moved out to see their first real action.  but by that time company muster rolls  show that  Green Bullard was absent from the unit, with the note “Left at Lee’s Camp, Va. sick Aug 21st.”  On September 7, 1862  Bullard was admitted to the Confederate hospital at Huguenot Springs, VA.  Company  mate Pvt William W. Fulford was also attached to the convalescent hospital at that time.  The hospital muster roll of October 31, 1862 marks him “present: Bounty Paid”.  He remained “absent, sick”  from Company I at least through February, 1863.

In 1862, the Huguenot Springs Hotel was converted to a Confederate hospital.

In 1862, the Huguenot Springs Hotel was converted to a Confederate hospital. On September 7, 1862 Private Green Bullard, Company I, 50th Georgia Infantry, was one of the patients convalescing at the hospital.

On June 19, 1863 Bullard was admitted to Chimborazo Hospital Division No. 2, Richmond, VA  this time with typhoid pneumonia. Typhoid fever was a major killer during the war. At that same time, James A. Fogle was a Steward at Chimborazo Division No. 3. Fogle was later promoted to Assistant Surgeon, and after the war came to Berrien County to open a medical practice at Alapaha, GA.

Chimborazo Hospital, the "hospital on the hill." Considered the "one of the largest, best-organized, and most sophisticated hospitals in the Confederacy."

Chimborazo Hospital, the “hospital on the hill.” Considered the “one of the largest, best-organized, and most sophisticated hospitals in the Confederacy.”
Library of Congress

Sometime before February of 1864 Green Bullard returned to his unit. Records show he drew pay on February 29, 1864 and again on August 31 of that year. By October, 1864 he was again sick, but remained with his company. He continued fighting through his illness through November and December,1864. It was during this period (1864) that the 50th Georgia Regiment was engaged in battles at The Wilderness (May 5–6, 1864), Spotsylvania Court House (May 8–21, 1864), North Anna (May 23–26, 1864), Cold Harbor (June 1–3, 1864, Petersburg Siege (June 1864-April 1865, and Cedar Creek (October 19, 1864.)

At Cedar Creek, it is estimated that the Georgia 50th Regiment suffered more than 50% casualties. Among those captured was Jesse Bostick of Company G, the Clinch Volunteers. Bostick was sent to Point Lookout, Maryland, one of the largest Union POW camps. (see Jesse Bostick and the Battle of Cedar Creek.)

Receiving and Wayside Hospital, Richmond, VA.  was an old tobacco warehouse converted to a receiving hospital because of its nearness to Virginia Central Railroad depot.

Receiving and Wayside Hospital, Richmond, VA. was an old tobacco warehouse converted to a receiving hospital because of its nearness to Virginia Central Railroad depot.

By January, 1865 Bullard was too weak to continue fighting. He was sent to Receiving and Wayside Hospital (General Hospital No. 9), Richmond, VA.  From there he was transferred to Jackson Hospital, Richmond, VA where he was admitted with dysentery,  which was perhaps the leading cause of death during the Civil War.  Two months later, March 14, 1865 Bullard was furloughed from Jackson Hospital. No further service records were found.  Following less than one month, on April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, VA ending the War.

Twice  as many Civil War soldiers died from disease as from battle wounds, the result  in considerable measure of poor sanitation in an era that created mass armies that  did not yet understand the transmission of infectious diseases like typhoid,  typhus, and dysentery… Confederate men died at a rate three times  that of their Yankee counterparts; one in five white southern men of military  age did not survive the Civil War.  http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/national_cemeteries/death.html

Despite the odds and repeated  bouts of serious illness, Green Bullard survived the war and returned to home and farm in Berrien County, GA.

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