The Biggles Farm

In 1880, Needham W. Pearson deeded 80 acres of land to his daughter, Elizabeth Pearson Biggles. She was the wife of James Thomas Biggles, subject of the previous post.

James Thomas Beagles and Mary Elizabeth Pearson Beagles

James Thomas Biggles and Mary Elizabeth Pearson Biggles

About 1901, James Thomas Biggles  returned to the Rays Mill area after completing a prison term in the Fargo Convict Camp for the murder of his brother-in-law, Madison G. Pearson. Re-joining his wife, Biggles purchased an 100 acre tract, adjacent to her land,  from Eugene M. Giddens. This tract had been in the Giddens family since the early 1800s. Isbin Giddens brought his wife, Keziah, and their two young children, William and Moses Giddens from Wayne County to settle in what was then Irwin County, near the present day Ray City GA in the winter of 1824-25. Present day county lines place the land in Lanier County, about 6 miles east of Ray City and just north of Highway 129.

After the death of James Thomas Biggles in 1911, the 100 acre tract that was in his name was sold at an administrator’s sale to J. V. Talley. The 80 acre tract was sold in 1924 by the heirs of Elizabeth Pearson Biggles, following her death in 1923. About that time Dr. Reubin Nathaniel Burch acquired both the 100 acre and the 80 acre tracts from different owners. Dr. Burch sold the property about 1930 and it was eventually accquired by the Roquemore family of Lakeland, GA for turfgrass production.

Matthew O. Giddens ~ Confederate POW

Matthew O. Giddens, youngest son of Isbin Giddens, was born 1844 in that part of Lowndes County, GA later cut into Berrien County.

When Matthew was about nine years old his father died, on October 21, 1853.  Isbin Giddens was buried at  Union Church Cemetery, in present day Lanier County, GA.  Matthew’s older brothers, William, Moses, and Aaron served as executors of his father’s estate.  Two years later in 1855  Matthew’s mother, Kizziah Knight Giddens married the widower Allen Cone Jones.  Matthew and his minor siblings were taken into their step-father’s household. Matthew, his brother Isbin T., and sister Mary all appear in the Jones household in the census of 1860.  Matthew’s mother died in November 1861 and  she was buried at Union Church, Lanier County GA.

Matthew and his brother Isbin T. Giddens  served in the Civil War.  On August 1, 1861 they went to Milltown (nka Lakeland), GA where they joined the Berrien Minute Men, Company G, 29th Georgia Infantry, a unit formed by their uncle General Levi J. Knight.  Neither brother would survive the war.  Matthew O. Giddens was taken prisoner on December 16, 1864 near Nashville, TN.  He was imprisoned at Camp Chase, Ohio where three months later, on Feb 8, 1865, he died of pneumonia.  Isbin T. Giddens, died of brain fever at Guyton Hospital in Georgia.

Federal records of deaths of Confederate prisoners of war show that M. O. Giddens, 29th GA Infantry, died of pneumonia on February 7, 1865 at Camp Chase, OH. Reel 0012 – SELECTED RECORDS OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT RELATING TO CONFEDERATE PRISONERS OF WAR 1861-65 – 21-South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, 1862-65

Camp Chase, OH ca. 1861-1865, federal prison camp for confederate soldiers. Photographer, Manfred M. Griswold. The conditions at Camp Chase were deplorable, some say nearly as bad as the prison operated by the Confederates at Andersonville, GA.

Camp Chase, OH ca. 1861-1865, federal prison camp for confederate soldiers. Photographer, Manfred M. Griswold. The conditions at Camp Chase were deplorable, some say nearly as bad as the prison operated by the Confederates at Andersonville, GA.

Gravemarker of M.O. Giddens, 29th GA Regiment, one of 2260 confederate graves at Camp Chase Cemetery.

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John A. Giddens, D.D.S.

Yet another college educated son of William Giddens, of Berrien County, was John A. Giddens.  Like his brothers, Henry, Isbin and Marcus,  John A. Giddens moved from Berrien County to live in Tampa, FL.  His biography appeared in Memoirs of Florida in 1902.

Rerick, Rowland H. (1902) Memoirs of Florida: Embracing a general history of the province, territory, and state; and special chapters devoted to finances and banking, the bench and bar, medical profession, railways and navigation, and industrial interests.The Southern Historical Association, Atlanta, GA. Vol II, Pgs 525-526.

John A. Giddens, D.D.S., a well known dentist of Tampa, is a native of Berrien county, Ga., born July 24, 1860.  He was the son of William Giddens, a Georgia planter and Confederate soldier who died in 1900, and Elizabeth (Edmundson) Giddens, of Georgia, who died in 1882.  Dr. Giddens was reared on his father’s plantation, received his early education in the public schools of the vicinity and the Thomasville high school. At seventeen years of age he became a teacher in the public schools but after one year resigned in order to take up the study of dentistry.  He entered the dental office of Dr. Alfred Smith of Valdosta, Ga., and remained there until 1881 when he matriculated at the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery.  He was graduated from this famous institution in 1883 and at once entered upon the practice of his chosen profession in Berrien county, Ga., but remained there only one year and in the fall of 1883 removed to Florida, selecting as his location, the thriving city of Tampa.  Two years later he went to Key West, practicing in the last named place for ten years.  In September, 1897, he returned to Tampa, which has been his home since, and where he has built up a large and lucrative practice.  Dr. Giddens is a member of the Florida State Dental society and belongs to the Methodist Episcopal church South, of which he is a steward and local clergyman.  He has been married twice, first in January, 1889 to Mary, daughter of James R. Curry, of Key West. She died in November, 1893.  His second wife was Miss Carrie Hammerly, of Tampa, formerly of Virginia, to who he was married September 15, 1898.  He has two daughters, Pauline C. and Fannie E., aged eleven and nine years respectively. The family is quite popular and enjoys a wide circle of acquaintances and friends.

Henry Clay Giddens ~ Man of the South

Henry Clay Giddens, portrait from Men of the South, 1922.

Henry Clay Giddens, portrait from Men of the South, 1922.

Another Giddens brother detailed in Memoirs of Florida was Henry Clay Giddens, who was born and raised in Berrien County, GA.  His parents were Elizabeth and William Giddens.

Rerick, Rowland H. (1902) Memoirs of Florida: Embracing a general history of the province, territory, and state; and special chapters devoted to finances and banking, the bench and bar, medical profession, railways and navigation, and industrial interests.The Southern Historical Association, Atlanta, GA. Vol II, Pgs 525-526.

Henry Clay Giddens, a worthy business man of Tampa, was born in Berrien county, Ga., November 2, 1863.  His family is Southern, his paternal grandfather having been a native of North Carolina, and his maternal grandfather of Virginia.  His father, William Giddens, was a planter in Georgia, a county judge and a soldier in the Confederate army; his wife was Elizabeth Edmundson Giddens, also a Georgian.  Henry C. is the tenth of eleven children and the youngest of nine sons.  Eight of these children are still living.  He is one of the four brothers who settled in Tampa, where the are among the prominent  citizens: Marcus F., Isbin S., county treasurer and member of the firm I. S. Giddens & Co., wholesale grocers, and Dr. John A. Giddens, a well known dentist. Henry C. Giddens was reared and received his early education in his native county.  He took a course in the Eastman business college, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where he graduated in September, 1885.  At the age of twenty he came to Tampa and clerked one year in the store of C.L. Friebele, and for six years was bookkeeper and general manager for E. A. Clarke & Co. November 1, 1891, he embarked in the clothing business as the partner of  W. B. Henderson, one of the leading men of Tampa.  Mr. Giddens has been treasurer of the Building and Loan association ever since its organization ten years ago.  He is a member of the Board of Trade and of the order of the Knights of Pythias,  and is one of the pillars of the Presbyterian church of which he is deacon.  He was married June 27, 1887 to Sallie M. Graham of Tampa, a native of Alabama, and they have two children, Henry Chalmers, born August 22, 1895, and James Graham, born July 10, 1891, died April 27, 1901.

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  An updated sketch of  Henry Clay Giddens was published in Men of the South in 1922.

Moore, Daniel Decatur. 1922. Men of the South: a work for the newspaper reference library. Southern Biographical Association. New Orleans. Pg 272.

  Henry Clay Giddens, retail clothier, of clothier, of Tampa, Florida, is a native of Berrien county, Georgia, where he was born November 2, 1863.
Mr. Giddens attended the common schools at his home and then took a commercial course at the famous Eastman Business College, Poughkeepsie, New York.
He located in Tampa, in 1883, at the age of twenty, when that city was a mere village and when there were only two or three mercantile establishments in the town.  He “looked for a job” and found one with C.L. Frieble, one of the pioneer merchants of the place. He was later employed as a clerk by E.A. Clarke & Company and was soon promoted to manager of the store.
Six years after his arrival in Tampa, Mr. Giddens found himself established in his own business, Henry Giddens & Company, his partner being the late W.B. Henderson.  This business has been continuously in operation ever since and, with the growth of Tampa, has become one of the largest retail clothing establishments in the State, occupying the corner store of the Giddens building, at Franklin and Lafayette streets. The firm has been incorporated as the Henry Giddens Clothing Company.
Mr. Giddens is a member of the Board of Trade, one of the most active directors of the Young Men’s and Women’s Christian Associations and the Old People’s Home, and always alert in the interest of Tampa.  He served on the City Council four years and on the Board of Public Works four years and is now president of the Board of Trustees of the Tampa Public Library, to which he gives much time and attention.
Mr. Giddens married, in 1887, Miss Sallie Graham, and they have one son, H.C., Jr., who is vice-president of the Henry Giddens Clothing Company.

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