Big Thumb McCranie was First Postmaster of Lowndes

On this date, one hundred and eighty-five years ago, March 27, 1827, the first post office in Lowndes County was established at the home of Daniel McCranie on the Coffee Road. The McCranie post office, situated on the only real “road” in the county, was perhaps a fifty mile round trip  from the point to the east where Levi J. Knight settled, at present day Ray City, GA.

Daniel ‘Big Thumb’ McCranie had come to this area of south Georgia in the winter of 1824 or 1825. This was before Lowndes County was created out of parts of Irwin County, and about the same time that William Anderson Knight brought his family from Wayne County. Daniel ‘Big Thumb’ McCranie, ‘of full Scottish blood and fiery temper,’ was known to still wear a kilt on certain occasions.

Did Daniel McCranie have Brachydactyly?
His nickname, ‘Big Thumb’ McCranie, might indicate that Daniel McCranie had brachydactyly type D, a genetic condition that affects 1 out of a 1000 people, commonly known as clubbed thumb or toe thumb. Brachdactyly captivated the attention of the entertainment media in 2009-10, when movie star and superbowl headliner Megan Fox was identified with this condition. The word brachydactyly comes from the Greek terms brachy and daktylos. “Literally, what it means is short finger,” says Dr. Steven Beldner, a hand surgeon at Beth Israel Medical Center.  “The nail of the thumb in this condition is often very short and wide.”  “It is usually hereditary,” Beldner explains. “Although it could also have been caused by frostbite, or it could have been an injury to the growth plate in childhood.” Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/gossip/brace-megan-fox-imperfection-actress-thumbs-article-1.196125#ixzz1qGndhWsv

McCranie, Daniel 1772-1854

Daniel ‘Big Thumb’ McCranie was born in North Carolina in 1772, a son of Catherine Shaw and Daniel McCranie, R.S.  His father had immigrated to North Carolina from Scotland and fought with the Cumberland County Militia during the American Revolution.

About 1793, young Daniel McCranie married  Sarah McMillan, daughter of Malcolm McMillan of Robeson County, N. C.

To Daniel and Sarah were born:

  1. Neil E. McCranie, born 1794, married Rebecca Monroe. Moved to Florida.
  2. Mary McCranie, born 1795, married John Lindsey, son of Thomas Lindsey.
  3. John McCranie, born 1797, married Christiana Morrison, daughter of John Morrison.
  4. Daniel McCranie, born 1800, married Winnie Lindsey, daughter of Thomas Lindsey.
  5. Malcolm McCranie, born 1802, married Elizabeth Parrish, daughter of Henry Parrish.
  6. Duncan McCranie, born 1805, married (unknown). Lived in Liberty Co.
  7. Nancy McCranie, born 1808, married Robert N. Parrish.
  8. Archibald McCranie, born 1810, married a cousin, Nancy McMillan.
  9. William McCranie born 1812, married Melvina Beasley, daughter of Elijah Beasley.
  10. Elizabeth McCranie, born 1815, married Sampson G. Williams

Daniel McCranie’s parents moved from Robeson County, North Carolina, to Bulloch County, GA about 1800 and shortly thereafter, Daniel and Sarah also brought their family to Georgia, moving to Montgomery county sometime before 1802.   He was a Justice of the Inferior Court of Montgomery County and was commissioned Jan. 17, 1822.

It was on December 23 of that year, 1822, that the Georgia General Assembly appropriated $1500.00 for construction of  a frontier road to run from a point on the Alapaha river to the Florida Line.  General John E. Coffee and Thomas Swain were appointed “to superintend the opening of the road,  to commence on the Alapaha at or near Cunningham’s Ford” and running to the Florida line near the “Oclockney”  river. The route, which became known as Coffee’s Road, was an important for supply line to the Florida Territory for military actions against Indians in the Creek Wars, but also quickly became a path for settlers moving into the south Georgia area.

In a previous post (see Pennywell Folsom fell at Brushy Creek), historian Montgomery M. Folsom’s  described General Coffee’s ‘road cutters’, his hunters Isham Jordan and Kenneth Swain, and the Wiregrass pioneers that honored them with song.  Isham Jordan, along with Burrell Henry Bailey and others had worked to survey and mark the first public roads in Irwin County.

About Coffee’s Road,

“This road was a great thoroughfare and many a hardy settler has packed his traps in a cart drawn by a tough pony, and driving his flocks and herds before him has traversed the lonely pine barrens in search of a more generous soil and greener pastures.”

About 1824,  Daniel and Sarah McCranie moved their family from Montgomery County and settled on Coffee’s Road in the lower section of Irwin County .  The place where they settled was Lot of Land No 416 in the 9th district of Irwin County. In 1825 this section of Irwin was cut off into the new county of Lowndes.  (In 1856, this property was cut into Berrien, and in 1918 into Cook County.)

The McCranie’s home served as the first post office in original Lowndes County. Known simply as  “Lowndes,”  the post office was established March 27,1827, with Daniel McCranie as the first postmaster. That arrangement lasted only a year, as the following year the Lowndes county seat was established in the new town of Franklinville, GA. The post office was moved to Franklinville and William Smith became the new postmaster (see Post Offices of the Old Berrien Pioneers).

In the Indian War in 1836,  Daniel McCranie provided forage for the local militia. It is said that five of McCranie’s sons fought in the Battle of Brushy Creek, serving in Captain Hamilton W. Sharpe’s Company, of the Georgia Militia. The Battle of Brushy Creek, was among the last military actions against Native Americans in this area.

Sarah McCranie died about 1842. Her grave is the earliest known burial in Wilkes Cemetery.  Following her death, Daniel McCranie  married Mrs. Kittie  Holmes Paige in 1844. She was the widow of James Paige of Jefferson County, GA.  Kitty Holmes was born Jan. 2, 1802, in Duplin County, N. C., and moved with her parents to Washington County, GA, in 1812.  In 1818 she married Silas Godwin and by him had one son, S. B. Godwin, who became a resident of Berrien County. After divorcing  Silas Godwin she had  married James Paige of Jefferson County, Ga., and lived with him twenty years until his death. By James Paige she had two children, one of whom, Allen Paige, became a resident of Lowndes County.

Kitty joined Pleasant Primitive Baptist Church, Lowndes (now (Berrien) County on October 17, 1850.  A month later Daniel joined, on November 16, 1850.

Daniel McCranie died in 1854 and was buried in the Wilkes Cemetery in present Cook County. After his death, Kittie left Pleasant Church for New Salem Church, Adel, Georgia.  Kittie McCranie died in 1889 and was buried beside Daniel at Wilkes Cemetery.

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Pennywell Folsom Fell at Brushy Creek

Penuel Folsom, the first soldier killed in the Battle of Brushy Creek, was buried in what is now known as the Rountree Cemetery, his being the first grave in it. – Lucian Lamar Knight

Grave marker of Pennywell Folsom, Roundtree cemetery (aka Evergreen Cemetery), Cook County, GA

Grave marker of Pennywell Folsom, Rountree Cemetery (aka Evergreen Cemetery), Cook County, GA

Pennywell Folsom fell in the first volley fired in the Battle of Brushy Creek, fought in July, 1836. After the fighting was over, Captain Hamilton Sharpe carried Folsom from the battlefield on horseback, but the mortally wounded soldier could not long survive. Folsom was carried back to the fort at the Rachel Morrison place (now the property of the Rountree family) near the Little River, where he was buried in a lone grave. Sharpe’s Company fired a volley of gunfire over the grave in salute to their fallen comrade. As that final tribute sounded through the forest, Captain Levi J. Knight and his company of men arrived on the scene. (Levi J. Knight was the original settler on the site of present day Ray City, GA.) Knight’s company had marched 30 miles from the Alapaha River where they had skirmished with Indians at the homeplace of William Parker (see Short-Arm Bill Parker and the Last Indian Fight In Berrien County, and Levi J. Knight Reports Indian Fight of July 13, 1836.)

Fifty years after the event, Montgomery M. Folsom reflected on the death of his kinsman:

The Atlanta Constitution
June 24, 1885 Pg 2

Down the River

The Folsom bridge, a noted crossing place, spans the [Little] river here. In the olden time a party of road cutters under the command of General Coffee passed through south Georgia from east to west. At this point they crossed the river. If you were to ask the old settlers they would show you the blazes on the pine trees that were made long ago. This road was a great thoroughfare and many a hardy settler has packed his traps in a cart drawn by a tough pony, and driving his flocks and herds before him has traversed the lonely pine barrens in search of a more generous soil and greener pastures. The hunters of Coffee’s party were Isham Jordan and Kenneth Swain. The song that was made by the hardy pioneers has been given to posterity as follows:

“Yonder comes ole Isham Jordan,
That ole ‘onest huntin’ man.
Glorious tidin’s he doth bring,
Swain has kilt another turkey hent.

We’ll allow the New Convention;
We’ll all allow the rights of men;
We’ll allay the Injun nation;
The volunteers and the drafted men.”

About a mile and a half from the bridge, eastward, the ancestor of the Folsom’s settled. It had been a populous Indian town, and there are in existence to day, a tomahawk, a sofka pestle, a small cannon ball, and innumerable arrow-heads and skinning knifes of flint that were found there. The old gentleman had erected a strong block house, and when there was an alarm of Indians, the women and children were carried there, and the old men and boys left to defend them while the ablebodied once sallied forth to meet the foe. From this fort they marched forth to the bloody encounter at Brushy creek. The Indians had been goaded to madness. They were concealed in the dark swamp, and awaited in silence the approach of the whites. Penuel Folsom had made his will before leaving home, and when the soldiers were all drawn up at a safe distance from the enemy, and the scouts were cautiously advancing, he and Orville Shanks dashed forward with a yell and received the fire of a dozen unerring rifles. Shanks fell dead, and Folsom desperately wounded, was carried from the field, after the battle was over, behind Captain Sharpe who rode a powerful horse. When they halted he was laid down on the green grass and breathed his last. Some years ago I visited his grave in a lonely spot in the heart of one of the gloomiest forests of Berrien county. – Montgomery M. Folsom

There is a more detailed account of the Battle of Brushy Creek given at the Early History of Lowndes County and Valdosta , Georgia website:

Levi J. Knight described the fight to the governor, who later commended Knight and his comrades for their bravery. Knight wrote that both Enoch Hall and Hamilton Sharpe were in charge of companies of militia. In the course of tracking the Indians through Lowndes, fifteen men commanded by Captain Sharpe formed a battalion with thirty-one men from Thomas County after they discovered Indians in the fork of the Little River and Big Warrior Creek. Following the trail for three miles down the east side of the river, Sharpe and his soldiers encountered about sixty warriors and their families. In the ensuing fight, Captain Sharpe lost one man, Mr. P. Folsom, and one wounded, when he was forced to retreat. Reinforced by the remainder of the battalion, the Lowndes men pursued the Indians for another three miles and found them on a pine ridge, their rear protected by a cypress pond, and in their front a wide, open, boggy meadow. A general engagement commended about 9 o’clock a. m. and after a severe fight for two hours, the Indians were completely routed, with a loss of twenty-two Indians and two Negroes killed, that were seen, and many wounded. Of the militia, Bartow Ferrell of Thomas County and Edwin D. Shanks of Lowndes County were killed and nine wounded.

Norman Campbell, John McDermott, Robert N. Parrish, Pennywell Folsom, Ashley Lawson, Edwin D. Shanks, West Roundtree and others were among those going to the battle from around Troupville.

Knight’s Company and other militia units would continue to pursue the Indians across Berrien county. A few weeks later, the militia caught up with an Indian band in southeast Berrien county at a place called Cow Creek.

THE ROUNTREE CEMETERY

Pennywell Folsom no longer lies alone in deep Georgia woods. Around his grave, the Rountrees placed their own dead, until this burying ground became known as the Rountree Cemetery. This cemetery is located in present day Cook county , on Evergreen Church Road (CR 99), near the intersection with Rountree Bridge Road (CR 251) (see map). Around 1945, the present Evergreen Church was constructed adjacent to Rountree Cemetery, the original church building located on Rountree Bridge Road having been destroyed by fire.

Notes on Pennywell Folsom:
Pennywell Folsom was born in 1810 in Hawkinsville, GA. He was a son of Edith Pennywell and George Folsom. His father served during the War of 1812 in the Georgia Militia under Captain Allen Tooke builing forts on the frontier of Pulaski County to defend against Indian attacks.

When Pennywell was about 10 years old, around 1819, his father died. Pennywell became a ward of his uncle William Folsom and moved to Lowndes County (then Irwin County.)

According to Internet histories, Pennywell Folsom married Mary Ann McLeod about 1827. Their children were:

  1. Anna Jane Folsom 1828 – 1830
  2. Chloe Ann Folsom 1830 – 1906
  3. Bryant P. Folsom 1832 – 1864
  4. Anna America Folsom 1833 – 1912
  5. Edieth Folsom 1833 – 1907
  6. Emily Folsom 1835 – 1908

Captain Hamilton Sharpe, who led the Lowndes militia at the Battle of Brushy Creek, served as the administrator of Pennywell Folsom’s estate:

Captain Hamilton Sharpe administered the estate of Pennywell Folsom, killed under Sharpe's command at the Battle of Brushy Creek, July 1836.

Captain Hamilton Sharpe administered the estate of Pennywell Folsom, killed under Sharpe’s command at the Battle of Brushy Creek, July 1836.

Southern Recorder
August 23, 1836

Georgia, Lowndes County

Whereas Hamilton W. Sharpe applies to me for letters of administration, on the estate of Pennywell Folsom late of said county, deceased:
These are therefore to cite and admonish all and singular the kindred and creditors of said deceased, to be and appear at my office within the time prescribed by law, to shew cause (if any they have,) why said letters of administration should not be granted.
Given under my hand, at office, this 1st day of August, 1836.

WILLIAM SMITH, Cl’k c.c.
August 16 31 5t