William H. Griffin, Wiregrass Jurist

William Hamilton Griffin (1853-1917)

William Hamilton Griffin was born in that part of Lowndes County, GA which was cut into Berrien County in 1856. He became a prominent public administrator and jurist of Wiregrass Georgia, and was involved in some of the most dramatic legal contests in Ray City history.

William H. Griffin

William H. Griffin

William Hamilton Griffin  was born July 18, 1853, on his father’s plantation, located in that portion of Lowndes county which is now included in Berrien county, GA. His honored parents, William D.and Nancy (Belote) Griffin, were also natives of Lowndes county.”

He was a cousin of Bessie Griffin, and Lester Griffin of the Connells Mill district (Georgia Militia District 1329), just west of  the Rays Mill community  (now Ray City, GA),

“The father, William D. Griffin, aided in effecting the organization of Berrien county and was its second treasurer, which office he held continuously until his death, in 1892, except one term, during the so-called -“Reconstruction” period, immediately succeeding the Civil War, when nearly all white voters were, under Federal statutes, practically disfranchised. The father was a soldier in the Confederate service during the latter part of the war and was with Johnston’s forces in the operations of the Atlanta Campaign.”

The paternal grandfather represented Brooks county in the state legislature, though his residence was on land now in Lowndes county. The great-grandfather, James Griffin, was a private soldier in the Revolutionary War.  James Griffin and Sarah Lodge Griffin were early settlers of Irwin County, GA.

William H. Griffin, the subject of this sketch, was afforded only the advantages of the common schools of his native county, the family fortunes, in common with those of most southern families, having been seriously affected by the war. He was educated in the public schools and academies at Nashville, GA. He soon developed traits of leadership and at twenty was elected clerk of the court for Berrien County, an office he held in 1874-5. From 1882 to 1885 he held of the office of Ordinary of Berrien County. While in this office he studied law, and in 1884 he was admitted to the Georgia bar. He at once began the practice of his profession at Nashville, but in 1885 he removed to Valdosta, GA.  There he formed a law partnership with Judge Benjamin F. Whittington, as Whittington & Griffin, this relation continuing for several years.

He was elected mayor of Valdosta in 1892, and served three consecutive terms. Governor William Yates Atkinson appointed him judge of the city court of Valdosta in 1897, for a term of four years, at the expiration of which he was reappointed for a like term, by Governor Allen D. Candler, and continued on the bench until 1905. During his eight years of service he tried 1,358 civil cases and 2008  criminal cases, a total of 3,866. His decisions were carried to the supreme court but 18 times and were reversed in only two cases.

In politics Judge Griffin was a Democrat, having always given that party his unqualified support. He served as mayor of Valdosta, judge of the city court, representative in the state legislature from Lowndes County, Chair of the Democratic Executive Committee of Lowndes County, and as referee in bankruptcy. His elevations to public office were a tribute to his worth and to the respect with which he was held by the community.

He was a member of the local lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and held membership in various bar associations. His chief recreations were fishing and hunting.

William H. Griffin was twice married — first, on May 18, 1879, to Margaret “Maggie” MacDonald, daughter of Dougal P. and Anna (Peeples) MacDonald, of Nashville, Berrien county. Maggie McDonald was born in 1864. Her father was listed on the 1860 roster of Levi J. Knight’s Berrien Minute Men, but he was also enumerated in Berrien County on the 1864  Census for Re-Organizing the Georgia Militia. Maggie was apparently raised by Dr. Hamilton M. Talley, as she appears in his household in Berrien County in the census of 1870. She died in 1890.

William H. Griffin was second married to Miss Carrie Abbott, of Randolph, VT, September 28, 1892. He had two children of the latter marriage—William Abbott Griffin, born in 1896, and Margaret Griffin, born in 1902. William and Carrie Griffin were members of the Methodist Episcopal church South.

William H. Griffin served as attorney for the estate of prominent Rays Mill turpentine man Robert S. Thigpen, engineering some of the largest property deals in Ray City history in the disposal of the Thigpen estate.  Thigpen’s holdings at the time of his death in 1898 included his turpentine plants and naval stores stock at Rays Mill, Naylor and Lenox, GA.

In 1899, William H. Griffin represented James Thomas Beagles, defending him for the Killing of Madison G. Pearson at Henry Harrison Knight’s store at Rays Mill (now Ray City),GA some 12 years earlier. The Beagles case was tried before Judge Augustin H. Hansell. Attorney Griffin made a most eloquent and affecting appeal in behalf of his client, Beagles, for a light sentence, and every one in the court room was moved by his strong and well-chosen words. Beagles was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to only two years incarceration.

In 1906, after his retirement from the bench Judge Griffin entered into a partnership with Hon. Elisha Peck Smith Denmark, and formed the law firm, Denmark & Griffin. It was said that “He enjoyed the confidence, esteem and patronage of the most prominent and important people and business interests of Lowndes and adjoining counties.”

In the matter of Green Bullard’s estate, William H. Griffin was retained by William B. Shaw to represent the interests of his wife, Fannie Bullard ShawGreen Bullard was a long time resident of the Rays Mill (now Ray City) area, and  owned land out Possum Creek Road and on toward the community of Cat Creek. The Shaws wanted the estate to be administered by Fannies’ brother, Henry Needham Bullard, rather than her half-brother, William Malachi Jones.   The other side of the family was represented  by Buie & Knight in the dispute. Mallie Jones was the son of Mary Ann Knight Bullard by her first husband, William A. Jones.

Judge Griffin’s name was synonymous with integrity. He “walked uprightly, worked righteousness, and spoke the truth in his heart.” He exemplified the best ideals of the profession. He was generous-spirited, and gave liberally of praise and commendation where he thought it due.  When the first train to roll through Ray City on the Georgia & Florida Railroad arrived at Valdosta, it was Judge W. H. Griffin that gave the welcome address at the celebration.

His death occurred at his home in Valdosta, April 15, 1917, and the throng of people, including many lawyers from other counties, who attended his funeral attested strongly the esteem and love there was for him in the hearts
of those who knew him.

Obituary of William Hamilton Griffin

Obituary of William Hamilton Griffin

Post-Search Light
Apr. 19, 1917

Judge Griffin Died Sunday

Prominent Valdosta Jurist Passed Suddenly Away From Heart Trouble – Well Known Here.

    The following account appearing under a Valdosta date line in the daily press Monday will be interest to Bainbridge friends of the deceased.
     Judge Griffin was well known here, and was related to Representative E. H. Griffin, of this city.
    “Judge William H. Griffin, one of Valdosta’s prominent men and a leading south Georgia lawyer, succumbed to attack of heart failure this afternoon at 1:45 o’clock after less than an hour’s illness.  He was alone at his home when the attack came on him, members of his family being at church.  Mrs. Griffin returned home soon after he was stricken and a physician reached his side in a few minutes but was powerless to relieve his patient.
    “Judge Griffin was sixty-four years of age, an active south Georgian, and for forty years a citizen of Valdosta. He was a member of the law firm of Denmark & Griffin, and controlled a large and lucrative practice.  He was a member of the two last general assemblies of Georgia and exerted a strong but conservative influence in that body.  He had been judge of the city court of Valdosta, mayor of the city, member of the school board and active in the public life of this city and section, which loses one of its best citizens in his death.
     “Judge Griffin is survived by his wife and two children, a son, Mr. Abbot Griffin, and daughter, Miss Margaret.
   “His son was in Macon, where an announcement of his father’s death reached him.
    “Judge Griffin’s funeral and interment will take place here probably on Monday.”

Grave of William Hamilton Griffin, Sunset Hill Cemetery

Grave of William Hamilton Griffin, Sunset Hill Cemetery. Image source: Robert Strickland.

Related Posts:

Advertisements

King’s Chapel School

King’s Chapel School
Portions reprinted from Shaw Family Newsletters courtesy of Bryan Shaw

King's Chapel School

King’s Chapel School

Ω

kings-chapel-2

King’s Chapel School

Ω

King's Chapel School

King’s Chapel School

Several schools in lower Berrien county provided the basic education for local families around the turn of the century. The Pine Grove and Kings Chapel schools were filled with the children of Rachel and Marion Shaw. The Pine Grove schoolhouse is no loner standing, but the Kings Chapel school is still weathering the years. It is located just across the county line, and sits just around the corner from its original location.

The two-room schoolhouse has tongue-and-groove wallboards which were covered with a mixture of charcoal and egg whites to create a dull black surface. This sufficed as a blackboard. Each classroom had a wood burning stove for heat. One room has doors opening to each side, while the other has two doors to the front side. A single door joins the two rooms in the center wall. The structure formerly had a porch on the front wall, which was used as a stage for plays and graduation days.

In 1928, the Georgia Library Commission reported the Kings Chapel School as one of only two libraries in Berrien County, the other being at the Ray City School.

The school also served as a voting precinct. It was in use until the school districts were combined in the mid-1930s.

Today the schoolhouse serves as a storage shed, owned by David Fields. His mother, Eva Pearl Gaskins, taught there a number of years.

 ◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊

1905 Staff

  • M.G. Knight, Principal
  • Susan Parish, 1st grade license, former principal of River Bend School
  • Lillie Brown, Assistant teacher

1905 Students

  • Neta Bradford
  • Susie Mathis
  • Carrie Lou Williams
  • Pearl Smith
  • Ilah Peters
  • Perry Swindle
  • Johnnie Mathis
  • Frank Shaw
  • Lonnie Smith
  • Eugene Mathis
  • Caulie Smith
  • Mansfield Smith

1906 Staff

  • Mr. James B. Peters, Principal
  • Mr. Thomas E. Casey
  • Miss Susie Parrish

1906 Student Officers of the Kings Chapel School Literary Society

  • J.W. Deans, President
  • Leon Parrish, Vice President
  • Lillie McDonald, Secretary
  • Callie Hightower, Assistant Secretary

Other 1906 students:

  • David Mathis, 4th Grade
  • Maggie May Smith, 4th Grade
  • Lonnie Swindle, 4th Grade
  • Arlie Gaskins, 4th Grade
  • Cora Shaw, 4th Grade
  • Mary Deane, 4th Grade
  • Alma Smith, 4th Grade
  • John Deane, 5th Grade
  • Tom Smith, 5th Grade
  • Martha Hall, 5th Grade
  • Caulie Smith, 5th Grade
  • Idella Williams, 5th Grade
  • C.C. Smith, 7th Grade
  • Clarence Bradford, 7th Grade
  • C.W. Bradford
  • Martha Hall
  • Eva Williams
  • H.E. Mathis
  • Charles Dean
  • Ilah Peters
  • Iva Williams
  • F.H. Gaskins
  • Shelly Mathis
  • Susie Mathis
  • Cora Webb
  • Eugene Mathis
  • Billie Peters
  • Perry Swindle
  • Mansfield Smith

1907 Staff

  • John Smith (of Nashville), Principal

Other Kings Chapel Students and Staff

  • Susie Bullard
  • Fannie Bullard
  • Sallie Bullard
  • Jesse Shelby “Dock” Shaw
  • Fondren Willie Mitchell Shaw
  • Mary Idell Shaw,  attended 1918-1924
  • Charles Bruner Shaw, Jr, attended 1930
  • Ina Weaver Brown, taught 1930

Related Posts:

 

Green Bullard

Green Bullard

William “Green” Bullard was born February 1, 1829 in Georgia,  son of Amos Bullard and Cynthia Lastinger.   He came with his parents from Waynesboro, Burke County, GA to Lowndes County, GA some time in the 1840s.

Enumeration of Green Bullard in the Census of 1850, Lowndes County, GA

Enumeration of Green Bullard in the Census of 1850, Lowndes County, GA

Green Bullard, age 21, was enumerated in 1850 in Lowndes County, GA in the household of his father, Amos Bullard, along with his minor siblings, Martha and Mary.  Also in the Bullard home was 14-year-old Candis Leaptrot.  Next door was John Knight, his wife Sarah, and children William J. Knight, Levi J. Knight (known as Jr. to avoid confusion with his uncle General Levi J. Knight), James A. Knight, Mary Ann Knight, Henry Harrison Knight, Sarah A. L. Knight, and Kiziah A. L. Knight.

According to Census agriculture schedules, Amos Bullard’s farm was valued in 1850 at $400, consisting of 490 acres of which 30 acres were improved. The Bullard farm inventory included $20 of farming implements and machinery, one horse, 15 hogs, 100 bushels of Indian corn, one 400 lb. bale of cotton, 60 bushels of peas and beans, 10 bushels of sweet potatoes, 200 pounds of butter, and $50 worth of butchered meat.

By 1860, Green Bullard had established a household of his own, a home that he shared with Milley Gardell and her daughter Elizabeth D. Gardell.  Milley, born Amelia Jones, was the widow of John Gardelle

1860 census record of Green Bullard in Berrien County, GA

1860 census record of Green Bullard in Berrien County, GA

http://archive.org/stream/populationschedu111unit#page/n401/mode/1up

Green’s dwelling was next door to the farm of his brother, James Bullard, who owned 490 acres with 32 under cultivation. Green had a personal estate of $500, but apparently no land as yet, for he does not appear in the  1850 Census non-population schedule for agriculture. It seems probable that he was helping his brother with farm labor.

After the Civil War commenced Green Bullard went to Nashville, GA  with his nephew Alfred Anderson and signed up on March 4, 1862 with the Berrien Light Infantry, which was being formed at that time.  Bullard  fought dysentery and Typhoid pneumonia while in the army (see Green Bullard Fought Sickness in the Civil War), but was also present with his unit for significant 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.) By January, 1865 Bullard was too weak to continue fighting. He was sent to the hospital with dysentery and was furloughed. Less than a month later the War ended.

With the end of the Civil War, Green Bullard returned to home and farm. Within a year, he married Mary Ann Knight in Berrien County, Georgia.  Mary Ann Knight was “the girl next door” from Green Bullard’s younger days.  As mentioned above, Mary Ann Knight was the daughter of John Knight and Sarah Sally Moore,  who were the neighbors of Amos Bullard, Green’s father. She was born  July 1, 1838 in Rays Mill, Lowndes (nka Berrien) County, Georgia.  She was also the widow of William A. Jones. Her husband served in the Berrien Minute Men in the war, and was among those who succumbed to ravaging illnesses of camp life;  he died of measles in Berrien County on January 18, 1862.  Mary had two children by William A. Jones, the youngest, Adam, apparently born after his father’s death.  Adam Jones was deaf and dumb, birth defects with a high probability for a baby whose mother is infected with measles in the early weeks of pregnancy.

Green Bullard and Mary Ann Knight were joined on March 25, 1866 in Berrien County, GA.  The ceremony was performed by William Patten, Justice of the Peace.

Marriage certificate of Green Bullard and Mary A. E. Knight, March 25, 1866, Berrien County, GA.

Marriage certificate of Green Bullard and Mary A. E. Knight, March 25, 1866, Berrien County, GA.

In 1867 Green Bullard signed the standard loyalty oath required to restore voting rights of southerners during Reconstruction.

Loyalty Oath of Green Bullard,  signed July 23, 1867, Berrien County, GA

Loyalty Oath of Green Bullard, signed July 23, 1867, Berrien County, GA

The census of 1870 enumerated Green Bullard’s blended family in the 1144 Georgia Militia District of Berrien County, GA, the Rays Mill District.  The Bullard household included Green and Mary, their three year old daughter, Sarah Bullard, Mary’s sons William Malachi Jones and Adam Jones, and Green’s widowed sister, Celia Bullard.  Mary and Celia kept house while Green and William worked the farm.

1870-enumeration-of-green-bullard

1870 census enumeration of Green Bullard

http://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0135unit#page/n443/mode/1up

The records of appointments of U.S. Postmasters show that Green Bullard  was appointed postmaster of Knight’s Mill (later known as Rays Mill) on August 3, 1868. Bullard held the position until June 29, 1871 when the Knight’s Mill post office was discontinued.

Berrien County Property Tax records of 1872 show Green Bullard owned 980 acres including all of lots 420 and 469 in the 10th land district.   The land was valued at $1300 total. The records show he owned “other property” valued at $379, for an aggregate estate of $1679. Green Bullard employed one “hand” to help with the work.

By the following year, Green Bullard had expanded his operation to 10 hands. The tax records also noted a ten year old   male in his household was deaf and dumb. He had $270 cash or liquid assets, and his total property was valued at $2742. By 1878 his personal estate also included $742 worth of livestock.

1880 census enumeration of Green Bullard, Berrien County, GA

1880 census enumeration of Green Bullard, Berrien County, GA

http://archive.org/stream/10thcensusl0134unit#page/n381/mode/1up

The Census of 1880 found Green Bullard still employing his step-son Malachi Jones to work on the farm.  Step-son Adam Jones was not enumerated in the Bullard household at this time but would appear in later census records.   The Census enumeration noted that three daughters of Green Bullard and Mary Ann Knight,  Sally (13), Susan (9), and Fannie (5) were all at school.  They attended the King’s Chapel School, located just across the county line, in Lowndes County.  Among the other students at King’s Chapel was Jesse Shelby “Dock” Shaw, who would later marry Susie Bullard.

The 1880 Census – Agricultural Production Schedule shows the Green Bullard farm consisted of 125 acres of land tilled, fallow, or grass (pasture or meadow), and 850 acres of unimproved woodland and forest. In 1879 Bullard had planted 17 acres in Indian corn which produced 200 bushels, 28 acres of oats produced 330 bushels, and 22 acres of cotton which produced about 8 or 9 bales. He had another 2 or 3 acres planted in sugar cane. Bullard owned one horse, one mule, and one ox. He had 16 milk cows and 54 other cattle. His stock dropped 13 calves and he purchased another 29. He sold 7 calves and two died. He had 45 sheep on hand and had 11 lambs dropped. Ten sheep died of disease. He sheared 36 fleeces for 100 pounds of wool. His other livestock included swine and poultry. The farm, land, fences and buildings were valued at $1,400, farming equipment and machinery at $15, and live stock at $694. In the previous year, Bullard had purchased about $350 dollars worth of fertilizer. His total farm production value was estimated at $600.

By 1881, the property tax appraisal of Bullard’s livestock grew to $1008 , and he was holding $500 of crops, probably cotton, for sale. His total estate was valued at $4368. Green Bullard continued to prosper through the 1880s, farming his land on lots 420 and 469:

1895-feb-15 Tifton Gazette green bullard

1895-feb-15 Tifton Gazette green bullard

Tifton Gazette
February 15, 1895

Mr. Green Bullard, of Berrien county, has thirty odd bales of Sea Island cotton stored away and has not sold a bale in four years, despite the fact that he raises some every year.  Mr. Bullard raises his provisions at home and sells other product necessary for expenses.  He makes money by making cotton entirely a surplus crop. — Valdosta Times.

Enumeration of Green Bullard in the Census of 1900,  Rays Mill District, Berrien County, GA

Enumeration of Green Bullard in the Census of 1900, Rays Mill District, Berrien County, GA

http://archive.org/stream/12thcensusofpopu179unit#page/n776/mode/1up

According to Bryan Shaw,  in December of 1901 Green Bullard deeded 132 acres of his property in Lots 500 and 501 of the 10th Land district near Cat Creek to his daughter [Susie] and son-in-law [Dock Shaw].  The farm home of Dock and Susie Shaw was located about 2 1/2 miles south west of Ray City, Georgia on the east side of Possum Branch Road, just south of the crossing over Possum Branch (See JESSE SHELBY “DOCK”
SHAW FARM HOME NEAR RAY CITY, GEORGIA)

By the fall of 1907, Green Bullard was in his 78th year and the health of the old veteran was failing.

November 2, 1907 Valdosta Times reports Green Bullard is very ill.

November 2, 1907 Valdosta Times reports Green Bullard is very ill.

Valdosta Times
November 2, 1907

Mr. Green Bullard of this section [Cat Creek] is very ill.  He has many friends who wish him an early recovery.

Green Bullard died on Friday, November 15, 1907.  He was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, GA.

Grave of Green Bullard, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave of Green Bullard, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Children of Mary A. Knight and William A. Jones (1835-1866)

  1. William Malachi Jones (1861-1925)
  2. Adam Allen Jones (1863-1922)

Children of Green Bullard and Mary A. Knight

  1. Sally Louise Bullard  1866 – 1919
  2. Susan Bullard 1871 – 1950
  3. Fannie Bullard 1874 – 1941
  4. Henry Needham Bullard 1878 – 1938  (married Mary Johnson, 26 May 1901 – Berrien Co., GA,  a daughter of Richard Seward Johnson and Ida Isabelle Shaw)
  5. Louis Malone Bullard 1881 – 1945

Related Posts: