Levi J. Knight ~ in the Antebellum Wiregrass

Antebellum Wiregrass

By the early 1840s Levi J. Knight, pioneer settler of Ray City, GA, was well known across the state for his military and political leadership, and had been noted in the national press for his actions in the Indian Wars. In his home county of Lowndes, (now Berrien), GA Knight  had a well established estate and was consolidating his real property.   On April 11, 1842 he  purchased 9 lots in the 10th District.  These Lots were available for purchase to anyone with the cost of the $18 survey fee. The Digest of the Taxes of Lowndes County for the Year 1844 shows the following about the property held by the Knight family:

Levi J. Knight owned 7350 acres of pines in the 10th district, Lowndes County, 40 acres of “oak & hickory” on Lot No. 830 in the 18th District, Cherokee county, and seven slaves.

William A. Knight, father of Levi J. Knight, owned 2940 acres of pine land in the 10th district  in Lowndes county, this land improved with bridges and ferries valued at $200. Also three slaves and 250 acres of pine land on Lot 250 in the 7th District in Early County. His tax liability for the year was $15. 26.

John Knight owned Lot No. 453 in the 10th District, Lowndes county, with 490 acres of pine land. No slaves were assessed, with his total property tax being $0.85.

Aaron Knight owned the adjacent Lot No. 454, with all 490 acres in pines. No slaves were assessed, with his total property tax being $0.85.

1844-property-taxes-family-of-levi-j-knight-thumb

In 1846, Lowndes County Deputy Sheriff Jesse W. Carter advertised a Sheriff’s sale which included Levi J. Knight’s property in Lot No. 292 in the 10th district. The land was sold to satisfy a debt Knight owed to Elias Roberts.

The Milledgeville Federal Union, April 28, 1846 — page 3 Lowndes Sheriff’s Sale. Will be sold on the first Tuesday in June next, within the legal hours of sale, before the Court house door in the town of Troupville, Lowndes county, the following property, to wit:… …at the same time and place, will be sold 490 acres of land, known as lot No. 292, in the 10th district of originally Irwin now Lowndes county; levied on as the property of Levi J. Knight, to satisfy a fi fas from Lowndes Superior Court-Elias Roberts vs. Levi J. Knight: property pointed out by defendant. JESSE W. CARTER, D.S. April 16, 1846.

Elias Roberts, plaintiff in the above case, was a fellow veteran of the Indian Wars. He had settled a home place in western Lowndes county bordering on Mule Creek.  About him, historian William Harden wrote,

Elias Roberts, having bought land bordering Mule creek, first built a house of round logs to shelter his family. Then his slaves laboriously whip-sawed boards from the native timber and with a skilled house-joiner and carpenter to direct the operations, a commodious two-story dwelling was erected. The boards were two and a half inches thick, were dove-tailed together at the ends, and were fastened to the studding with wooden -dowel-pins in lieu of nails. When finished, and for some years afterward, this was the most pretentious residence in all this countryside…  Before coming into this part of Georgia, he had served under General Jackson in the Florida Indian wars, and after coming here was a member of a company organized for protection against the Indians over the border, the company being several times called out to drive the red men back to their reservations. During such troublous times the Roberts homestead above described became the place of refuge for the women and children of the settlement, so that it served both as a residence and a fort. Elias Roberts had been a participant in the battle of Brushy Creek in 1836, when the Indians made their last great stand in defense of their hunting grounds.

In 1847, L. J. Knight’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth,  married Hardeman Sirmans.  According to historian Folks Huxford, “Mr. Sirmans served in the Indian War as a private in a volunteer company of Lowndes County militia commanded by his father-in-law, Capt. (afterwards General) Levi J. Knight, August 15th to Oct 15 1838. He was 1st Lieutenant of the 664th militia district, Lowndes County, 1845-46, then served as Captain in same district 1847-1851. Folks Huxford also states in his sketch of Levi J. Knight that when the Mexican War broke out in 1848,  Knight enlisted and served as a captain of volunteers the greater part of that war. About this service, little else is known. In 1850 Levi J. Knight resigned his commission as Major General of the 6th Division of the Georgia Militia, an office he held since 1840. He tendered his resignation in a simple letter to Governor George W. Towns posted September 16, 1850 from Troupville, GA. (see The Commission of Major General Levi J. Knight.) Resignation notwithstanding, state newspapers continued at least through 1854 to report Maj. General Knight as in command of the 6th Division, Georgia Militia with his Head Quarters at Troupville, GA . The 1850 census of Lowndes County, Georgia showed Levi J. Knight’s real estate holdings by that time had amassed a value of $5000. At the time of enumeration his occupation was listed as farming. The  Knight household in 1850 included Levi J. Knight (47)  Ann D. Knight (48), and children William Washington Knight (21), John Knight (18), Mary A. Knight (14), Levi A. Knight (12), Jonathan D. Knight (10), Keziah A. Knight (7).  Also in the Knight home was Elizabeth Clements, age 80, blind, born in Ireland.  Sons William and John assisted their father with farming, The General’s neighbors were his son-in-law Hardeman Sirmans, and William Patton, who was Justice of the Peace. These were difficult and contentious political times. The threat of southern rebellion over the constitutionality of slavery, the fugitive slave law, and the admission of free states to the Union was imminent. In November of 1850, Levi J. Knight  was selected by “the People of Lowndes county, believing that no just cause of resistance now exists” as the Whig delegate to a state Convention that had been called “to resist past aggression – the admission of California into the Union.”  In light of the Compromise of 1850 which had been passed by the U.S. Congress the previous month, Knight pledged that he believed the people of Georgia could honorably acquiesce  in reference to the subject of slavery;  that he would exercise “Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation” at the Convention; and that he would  commit no act nor give his vote for any measure that would tend directly or indirectly to subvert the Constitution of Georgia, or the United States. As one of the most educated men in the county, L. J. Knight was frequently called upon by his neighbors to handle legal affairs. In 1850 he acted with power of attorney for Thomas Giddens, an illiterate veteran of the Seminole Wars, to receive 80 acres of land due Giddens as compensation for eight months of military service. 1850-ljknight-power-of-attorney In the election of 1851, Levi J. Knight was re-elected to the State Assembly as the Senator from Lowndes, Ware, and Clinch counties. Following his retirement from the Georgia Militia, General Levi J. Knight engaged in the construction of Georgia railroads.  He became one of the principals in the Brunswick & Florida Railroad, apparently as both a commercial venture and as a strategy in response to looming military conflict  (see General Levi J. Knight ~ Railroad Tycoon and General Knight’s Railroad Rolls Into Civil War ). In 1856 L. J. Knight was instrumental in the laying out and establishing of Berrien County, newly created from portions of Lowndes, Irwin and Coffee counties. One of Knight’s unhappy senatorial duties in 1856 was  to serve as chair of the legislative delegation sent to pay last respects to Andrew J. Miller, a member of the Georgia Legislature for 20 years and twice president of the state senate.  

The joint committee of the Senate and House appointed to attend the funeral could not reach this city [Augusta] in time. The Mayor received the following dispatch from the chairman : — Macon, February 5. Hon. W. E. Dearing, Mayor: — A joint committee of both Houses came this far on their way to attend the funeral of the Hon. A. J. Miller; but the trains failed to connect, and we cannot reach Augusta in time. Levi J. Knight, Chairman.

In the fall of 1857, Levi J. Knight suffered the passing of his wife, Ann D. Herrin Knight, she having died on October 14, 1857.  The burial was at Union Church cemetery, in present day Lanier County, GA.

Grave of Ann D. Knight, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Grave of Ann D. Knight, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

On Sept 1, 1858, the General’s youngest daughter, Keziah, married her cousin, James A. Knight.  The Census of 1860 shows the couple living in the General’s household. November, 1859 Levi J. Knight was among the gentlemen “appointed by the Governor, Delegates from the State at Large, and from the several Congressional Districts, to represent the State of Georgia in Southern Commercial Convention, to be held in the City of Savannah, on the 8th of December next.” In the winter of 1859 Levi J. Knight’s mother and father both passed away.  His mother, Sarah Cone Knight, died of old age in November 1859 at the age of 80. The following month his father William Anderson Knight, revered Primitive Baptist minister, also succumbed at the age of 82.  Their deaths are recorded in the 1860 Berrien County Mortality Schedule under the names William Knyte and Sarah Knyte. The year came to a close with Levi J. Knight disposing of some of his Lowndes county property:          

Weekly Georgia Telegraph. Dec. 13, 1859. Advertisement. Pg. 1 FOR SALE! In Lowndes County – fourteen hundred and seventy (1470) acres land – particularly desirable for planting and conveniently located in one body. For description, apply to Gen. Levi J. Knight. Milltown, Berrien county, Ga., or to W. COWLES nov 12              at E.L. Strohecker & Co.

The 1860 United States Federal Census lists Levi J.Knight’s occupation as a farmer, with real estate valued at $5000, and a personal estate of $1500. 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:

J. M. Sloan Dies after Throw From Horse

James Murray Sloan came to the Ray's Mill, GA neighborhood in 1871. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

James Murray Sloan came to the Ray’s Mill, GA neighborhood in 1871. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

James Murray Sloan, a son of David and Diadema Sloan, was born Jan. 18, 1833 in Duplin County, N.C.,  J. M. Sloan and his wife, Martha Susan Gordon,  removed from North Carolina to Mississippi for a brief stay, then to Echols Co., Ga.; thence to Berrien County, GA in 1871 where J.M. Sloan engaged in farming.  A number of Duplin County, NC families had relocated in the 1850s to that portion of Lowndes County which was cut into Berrien County in 1856. Among these Duplin transplants were William J. Lamb, James Carroll, Jesse Carroll, William Godfrey, Andrew J. Liles, William Best, James W. Dixon, and Robert Rouse. James Dobson brought his family and slaves, Peter McGowan and Richard McGowan believed to be among them. William Hill Boyett, John Bostick, Treasy Boyett Bostick and Mary C. Bostick came from Duplin to Berrien in the mid-century, and A few years later, Jessie Bostick also removed from Duplin County to the area.  Many of these settled in the area between present day  Ray City and Lakeland, GA (then called Allapaha).

County property tax records for 1873  show J. M. Sloan paid a poll tax in Berrien County that year but  listed no taxable property in his name.  The 1874 tax records show an assessment on  household and kitchen furniture valued at $10, $25 in plantation and mechanical tools, and $166 in ‘other property,’ but no real estate.  By 1875 J. M. Sloan had acquired 245 acres in lot 450, 1144 GMD, in the 10th district, about a mile outside of present day Ray City, GA,  valued at $400 and had $145 in ‘other property.’  Portions of adjoining Land Lots 422, 423, 451, and 452 in the 10th land district  were owned jointly by William Roberts and T.M. Ray, founder of Ray’s Mill, GA. (see Thomas M Ray Founded Ray’s Mill in 1863)

1869 Berrien County Map detail showing location of land lot # 450.

1869 Berrien County Map detail showing location of land lot # 450.

The 1876 tax records show  James M. Sloan listed as “agent for wife,”   with 242  acres in lot 450, 10th district valued at $250.  At that time he had  $50 household and kitchen furniture;  $115 in horses, mules, hogs, sheep, cattle, etc.; and  $9 in plantation & mechanical tools.

He was faring about the same in 1877, still on the same acreage in lot 450, now with  $60 household and kitchen furniture, pianos, organs, etc;  $142 in horses, mules, hogs, sheep, cattle, etc.; and  $41 in plantation & mechanical tools.  His total estate was valued at $493.

Neighbors were William E. Langford with 60 acres and  John B. Gaskins with 100 acres on the same land lot 450;  Jethro Patten on Lot 449; John G & Mary Knight on portions of Lot 450 and 451. Barney B. Chism on Lot 426; William A. Bridges on portions of Lot 470 and 471; and 471 Robert Woodard on lot 471. Neighbor Jonathan D. Knight , who was on portions of Lots 424, 425, 450 and 451, was a signer of the 1877 Georgia Constitution. Another neighbor was John Thomas Clower, Doctor of Ray’s Mill, on a small farm in lot 424.

The 1880 tax records show James M. Sloan was the liquor dealer at Rays Mill.

In 1890 the Berrien County tax digest shows the Sloans were still on their 242 acre farm on Lot 450 in the 10th Land District, now valued at $500.

Neighbors in 1890 still included John B. Gaskins on Lot 450 and John G. Knight on portions of Lots 424, 450 and 451; Redding D. Swindle on portions of Lot 423 and 424;  Mary A. Ray  and Texas E Ray on portions of Lot 423 and 424; James A. Knight on portions of Lot 471; Elizabeth E. Knight on portions of Lots 424, 450, and 451; Walter H. Knight on Lot 426; Louis L. Knight on portions of Lot 451;  Joseph E. Langford on a portion of Lot 450; portions of Lots 424 and 449 belonged to John T. Higgs; Barney B. Chism on Lots 426 and 427; James M. Baskin on Lots 470 and 471.

In 1894, The Tifton Gazette reported the demise of  James M. Sloan, his death occurring on November 20, 1894.

The Tifton Gazette
Nov. 30, 1894 — page 1

Mr. J. M. Sloan, a thrifty farmer of Rays Mill neighborhood, died on Tuesday of last week.  He fell from his horse some time ago, from which he sustained injuries that produced death.  He was a native North Carolinian, but a resident of Georgia for quite a quarter of a century.

James Murray Sloan died after being thrown from a horse.

James Murray Sloan died after being thrown from a horse.

His widow, Martha Gordon Sloan, continued to reside  in the Rays Mill District.  The census of 1900 shows  she owned the family farm, free and clear of mortgage, which she worked on her own account, with the assistance of farm laborer Charlie Weaver.

Martha Gordon Sloan, wife of James Murray Sloan. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Martha Gordon Sloan, wife of James Murray Sloan. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Children of Martha Susan Gordon and James Murray Sloan:

  1. John Fisher Sloan 1858 – 1930
  2. Emma Jane Sloan 1859 – 1871
  3. Mary Ann Sloan 1861 – 1863
  4. Sarah Virginia Sloan 1864 – 1944
  5. Martha Ida Letitia Sloan 1867 – 1930
  6. Susan Evelyn Sloan 1870 – 1940
  7. Catherine Diademma Sloan 1872 – 1901
  8. Celia Frances Sloan 1874 – 1895
  9. Fannie Sloan 1874 –
  10. Minnie Gordon Sloan 1876 – 1904
  11. William David Sloan 1879 – 1935
Graves of James Murray Sloan and Martha Susan Gordon, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Graves of James Murray Sloan and Martha Susan Gordon, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Related posts:

Levi J. Knight ~ Wayne County Beginnings

  1. Wayne County Beginnings 1803-1827
  2. Settling Lowndes County 1827-1836
  3. Seminole Wars 1836 – 1842
  4. Antebellum Wiregrass 1843 -1860
  5. Civil War 1861-1865
  6. Wiregrass Reconstruction 1866-1870

In November of 1827 Levi J. Knight  became the original settler at Beaverdam Creek, Lowndes County, GA (now Berrien county). At the age of 24, he was already a leader,  experienced in military matters and in civil service. He was a man of action, an Indian fighter, and he was among the earliest pioneers to settle in the Wiregrass area of southern Georgia.    To this newly opened land he brought his new bride, Ann D. Herrin Knight. The couple had married just a few days earlier, on Nov 14, 1827 in an area of Wayne County that is now Brantley County, Georgia.

Levi’s parents, Sarah and William Anderson Knight, brothers Aaron Knight, William C. Knight, Jonathan Knight and others of the family connection had preceded them, having settled in Lowndes County two years earlier.  Levi J. Knight’s homestead became the nucleus of a community first known simply as Knight,  that later grew into present day Ray City, GA.

Wayne County Beginnings

Levi was born on the first of September, 1803 in Wayne County, Georgia.  His mother was Sarah Cone Knight; his father, Elder William Anderson Knight.  Levi grew up in Wayne County at the southern frontier of the young American nation. Wayne county had only been officially created by the Georgia General Assembly just three months before he was born. This land had been the ancestral home of the Creek Indians, and there was continuing conflict between the Native Americans and encroaching settlers. Despite efforts of the state of Georgia to take the Creek land by treaty,  conflicts continued as the Georgia Land Lotteries brought more settlers to the area.

Levi J. Knight’s family had been among the first to settle in Wayne county, his parents having arrived there in 1803 prior to his birth.  The Knights were well positioned in the community, and already had a long tradition of military service.  Both of Levi’s grandfathers were veterans of the Revolutionary War. His paternal grandfather, John Knight, had been a  sergeant in the 1st Georgia Battalion of Continental Troops in the American Revolution and had received several land grants in South Carolina, Georgia, and in Spanish Florida.  On his mother’s side, his grandfather was William Cone,  a Baptist pastor and Revolutionary soldier who served as a captain  in McLean’s Regiment of Georgia Troops, under General Francis Marion.  William Cone served as a major in the 1st Battalion of the Richmond County Militia  (see Levi J. Knight’s Military Heritage).

While Levi J. Knight was a young boy, his uncle Jonathan Knight was sheriff of Wayne County from 1810-1812 and became Captain of the Wayne County militia in 1813.  No doubt Captain Knight regaled his young nephew with pioneer tales- true stories all – of cattle ranching, tracking run-away slaves, and fighting privateers in Spanish Florida. At just 15 years old,  Levi J. Knight served as a private in the Wayne County militia. The militia was engaged in defending the frontier settlers from Indian attacks that continued even after the Creek War of 1814.

On May 3rd, 1824 extant legal records note that Levi J. Knight, along with Robert Stafford posted sureties in the amount of $500 for Sibbiah O’Neil [or O’Neal] for the guardianship of Martha and Mary T. O’Neil. The O’Neals were friends of the Knights.  Later, Sarah Amanda “Sallie” O’Neal,  daughter of Henry O’Neal and Jane Dowden, would marry Levi J. Knight’s nephew, Levi J. Knight, Jr. (son of John and Sarah Knight).

Before he was 21, on June 16, 1824 Levi was appointed as Sheriff of Wayne County to serve out an unexpired term. Shortly after that, his parents relocated to the soon-to-be-created Lowndes County area.  His father, William A. Knight, was elected as the first state senator from the new county, and his brother Jonathan was elected as the first representative.  Levi J. Knight served on the jury in the first Superior Court of the new county.

According to state records, in 1826 Levi J. Knight was working  as a state surveyor mapping land in north Georgia newly ceded by the Creek natives.  The Official Register of Land Lottery of Georgia, 1827 shows he was a “fortunate drawer” in the land lottery of 1827, having received Lot 223, District 23, Section 1 (Lee County, GA),  in the drawing of April 24,  1827.

It was in this situation that Levi courted and smartly married the former Mrs. Ann Donald Herrin. She was the 25 year-old daughter of  William and Elizabeth Clements, a well-to-do family of Wayne County. Levi J. Knight and Ann Herrin were wed on November 14, 1827 in Wayne County, Georgia.  Jonathan Knight, Justice of the Peace completed the marriage license.   Just days later, the newlywed pioneers headed south to settle on Beaverdam Creek in Lowndes County (now Berrien), Georgia.

From 1832 to 1840 Levi J. Knight was elected six times to the Georgia Assembly as the Senator from Lowndes County. His father had served in the same office before him.  L. J. Knight was a contemporary of John M. Berrien, for whom Berrien county was named.

Children of Levi J. Knight and Ann D. Clements Herrin:

  1. William Washington Knight – born about 1829 Lowndes (now Berrien) County, GA; married Mary Elizabeth Carroll; died December 27 , 1863 Berrien County, Georgia
  2. Elizabeth Knight – born  April 14, 1830, Lowndes County, Georgia; married Hardeman Sirmans; died September 6, 1912, Berrien County, GA
  3. John Graham Knight – born June 23, 1832 Lowndes (now Berrien) County, GA; married 1) Eliza B. Carter, 2) Mary Ann Davis; died May 8, 1908 Ray’s Mill, Berrien County, Georgia
  4. Sarah “Sally” Knight – born April 6, 1831 Lowndes (now Berrien) County, GA; married Gideon Gaskins; died April 13, 1903
  5.  Mary Adelaide Knight – born about 1836 Lowndes (now Berrien) County, GA; married Thomas M. Ray; died November 11, 1923
  6. Levi A. Knight – born about 1838 Lowndes County, GA; died about 1856
  7. Jonathan David Knight – born April 2, 1840 Lowndes (now Berrien) County, GA; married Emily E. Brandon; died March 9, 1884
  8. Keziah A. Knight –  born about 1843 Lowndes (now Berrien) County, GA; married her cousin, James Aaron Knight, in 1858

Sources:

  1. Huxford, F. (1922). Marriage Licenses Wayne County, Ga. in The South Georgia historical and genealogical quarterly A quarterly magazine devoted to the history and genealogy of southern Georgia and its settlers. Homerville, Ga: [s.n.]. Copied from Book “C” of transcribed records, pages 176 to 204, Covering Years 1809 to 1850. Available online at http://www.archive.org/details/southgeorgiahist00huxf
  2. Huxford, F. 1951. Pioneers of Wiregrass Georgia, Vol 1. pg 159
  3. Hill, L. 2005. The CONE FAMILY HISTORY and its Variants such as MacCone, Kohn, Coan: Scotland/Ireland immigrants to USA. pgs 1822-1823
  4. http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~soup/Campbell/ps36/ps36_337.htm
  5. Huxford, F. (1916). History of Clinch County, Georgia, , comp. and ed. by Folks Huxford. Macon, Ga: J.W. Burke. pg. 265
  6. OLD RECORDS BOOK “H” OF BONDS, WAYNE COUNTY, GEORGIA, COURT OF ORDINARY, FIRST 77 PAGES in THE SOUTH GEORGIA HISTORICAL AND GENEALOGICAL QUARTERLY. , VOL. 1, JULY 1922, NO. 3, pp. 03-05.
  7. Houston, M. L. (1929). Reprint of Official register of land lottery of Georgia, 1827. Columbus, Ga: Printed by the Walton-Forbes.
  8. Huxford, F. (1922). Marriage Licenses Wayne County, Ga. in The South Georgia historical and genealogical quarterly A quarterly magazine devoted to the history and genealogy of southern Georgia and its settlers. Homerville, Ga: [s.n.]. Copied from Book “C” of transcribed records, pages 176 to 204, Covering Years 1809 to 1850. Available online at http://www.archive.org/details/southgeorgiahist00huxf
  9. Georgia. (1927). Georgia’s official register. Atlanta: The Dept.
  10. New Georgia Encyclopedia. John Macpherson Berrien (1781-1856). http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-3239

DEATH OF MRS. BULLARD

One hundred and three years ago today, on this date, December 27, 1908, Mrs. Mary Ann Knight Bullard died at the home of her son, Henry Needham Bullard, in Valdosta, Georgia.  Mrs. Bullard was a lifelong resident of the Ray City area.

Mary Ann Knight was born July 1, 1838 in the Knight settlement at the location now known as Ray City,  Berrien County, Georgia.  Her father was John Knight and her mother was Sarah “Sallie” Moore. She was a niece of General Levi J. Knight.

On November 5, 1856 Mary Ann Knight married William A Jones in Berrien County, Georgia. The bride’s grandfather, Elder William A. Knight, performed the marriage.  The Berrien County Marriage Records of 1856 include the following hand written entry:

 Go any ordained minister of the gospel Judge of the Superior Justice of the Inferior Court Justice of the peace or any person by the Laws of this State authorised to Celibrate  these are to authorise and permit you to join in the Venerable State of matrimony this William A. Jones of the one part and this Mary Ann Knight of the other part according to the constitution and laws of this state and according to the rites of your church provided there be no lawful cause to obstruct the same and this shall be your authority for so doing given under my hand and seal this the 1st day of November 1856.

John Lindsey Ordy

 Thereby Certify that William A. Jones and Miss Mary Ann Knight were duly joined in matrimony by me this fifth day of Nov 1856

William A Knight, O.M.

After William Jones was killed in the Civil War, the young widow married Green Bullard.  Green Bullard was a Civil War veteran who served with Company I,  50th Georgia Regiment, the Berrien Light Infantry. They were married March 25, 1866 in a ceremony performed by William Patten, Justice of the Peace.   For forty years the Bullards lived near Ray City, GA in what is now Lanier County.  Green Bullard died November 15, 1907, and was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave marker of Mary Ann Elizabeth Knight Bullard, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave marker of Mary Ann Elizabeth Knight Bullard, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Mary Ann Knight Bullard died in the morning on the last Sunday of the year, December 28, 1908.  She was buried next to her husband, Green Bullard, at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Valdosta Times
January 2, 1909 pg 3

DEATH OF MRS. BULLARD.

An aged and good Woman Passed Away Early Sunday Morning.

Mrs. Mary Ann Bullard, one of the oldest and best known women in this section, died at the home of her son, Mr. H. N. Bullard, in this city about one o’clock Sunday morning.  Her remains were carried to Berrien county and interred at Beaver Dam church, near her old home, on Monday.
    Mrs. Bullard was the widow of Green Bullard, one of Berrien county’s pioneer citizens, and resided in that county for probably fifty years.  She was a daughter of John Knight, and a sister of Capt. L. J. Knight, of Quitman; of the late H. H. Knight and of Jack Knight, of Berrien county, and has two sisters living, Mrs. Louis Clyatt, of Lake City, and Mrs. Linny Griffin of Berrien county.  She leaves a large family connection throughout this section.
    Mrs. Bullard was married twice, her first husband being a Mr. Jones, who died during the civil war, leaving his young widow with two small children.  She was united to Mr. Bullard about the close of the war and lived happily with him until his death in November, 1907.  Her children are Mallie and Adam Jones, of Berrien county; Mrs. Sallie Surrency, of Florida; Mrs. Susie Shaw, of Berrien county; Mrs. Fannie Shaw, of Bainbridge, Ga.; H. N. Bullard of this city, and Lewis Bullard of Ray’s Mill.
    For three or four years Mrs. Bullard had been in feeble health, having suffered from two or more strokes of paralysis, complicated with heart trouble.  She was about 70 years old, and despite the loving care of her family her end could not be prolonged.
    Her death is mourned not only by her children and relatives, but by a large number of friends, who had grown to love her after a long and intimate acquaintanceship.

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Jonathan David Knight, Signer of the Georgia Constitution of 1877

Preamble to the Georgia Constitution of 1877

Preamble to the Georgia Constitution of 1877

In 1877, Georgia was emerging from the federally directed period of Reconstruction that followed the end of the Civil War.  Under the terms of Reconstruction, Georgia had adopted a new state constitution in 1868 that was distasteful to many Georgians.  Although the delegates to the 1868 State Constitutional Convention had included some antebellum Georgia political leaders, such as General Levi J. Knight, of Berrien County (subject of previous posts), many Georgia natives felt that the drafting of the Constitution of 1868 had been dominated by northern Republicans and northern sympathizers. When the Constitution of 1868 had been completed and the vote came up on the question of its adoption, General Knight was absent and did not vote.

As Reconstruction came to a close southern Democrats regained control of the state government and called for a new constitutional convention in 1877.  On July 11, 1877, 193 delegates met  in Atlanta to draft a new constitution.  Among them was Jonathan David Knight, a son of General Levi J. Knight, Confederate veteran, and the convention delegate representing Berrien, Lowndes and Clinch counties.  He was six feet tall, with fair complexion, light hair and blue eyes.

Jonathan D. Knight made his home in the Rays Mill district of Berrien County, GA, the 1144 Georgia Militia District.  When the Constitutional Convention adjourned on August 25, his signature was on the new constitution. Georgia voters ratified the new constitution in December of 1877.

When the Georgia Constitutional Convention convened on July 11, 1877 the Atlanta Constitution printed “Sketches of the Members:”

Jonathan D. Knight   

 Jonathan David Knight, of Berrien county, was born on the 2nd day of April, 1840, in what was then Lowndes county. He is the son of Hon. Levy J. Knight, who represented the county of Lowndes in the Legislature from 1835 to 1854.
   He entered the army with the second company from his county on July 28, 1861, in the Twenty-ninth Georgia Regiment. He was elected Second Lieutenant after two months service as a private, and was, on the reorganization of the regiment in 1862, elected First Lieutenant, and soon afterwards was made Captain. He served with this rank in all the severe campaigns in the West, and was among the few were not disabled when this gallant regiment returned home at the close of the war.
    He taught school before the war, but held no civil office. After the war he was elected to the Convention of 1865, and in 1872 was elected to the Senate from the Sixth District and served four years.

Jonathan D. Knight had been educated in the common schools of the county.  William Green Avera, great educator of early Berrien County, wrote:

“Eighty percent of the age eligibles for the Civil War service were illiterates. But among all this illiteracy, a number of boys received inspiration from these early teachers that made them colossal powers in our day — in legislative, judicial, and literary circles. A few of the names are; Hon Jonathan D. Knight, a noted teacher and who served more terms in the House and Senate of the legislature of Georgia than any other man in the County (he died while Senator); Hon. Lacy E. Lastinger, a noted teacher , lawyer, and judge of the Court; Hon, W.H. Griffin, a noted teacher, lawyer, and member of the legislature, and a judge; Hon Henry B. Peeples, a successful lawyer, Judge, and senator; Hon Henry H. Knight, a successful merchant and Senator.”  – W.G. Avera, 1937

Jonathan D. Knight joined the Berrien County Minute Men, Company C, 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment, as a private on August 1, 1861. He was elected Junior Second Lieutenant of Company D, November 7, 1861. On May 7, 1862 he was elected First Lieutenant while the Berrien Minute Men were stationed at Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah. On this same date, his brother-in-law, James Aaron Knight,  enlisted at Smith’s Island and joined Berrien Minute Men Company C.

The officers election of May 7 notwithstanding, Jonathan D. Knight was made Captain on May 13, 1862   This  appointment would be officially confirmed by officers’ examination conducted July 1862 at Causton’s Bluff.

In July 1862, regimental records note Captain J. D. Knight was sick.  In a letter from Causton’s Bluff, John W. Hagan reported “The company is very sickly & dose not seem to improve. The health of the troops at this post is very bad. We have had 3 deaths in 24 hours & others expecting to die evry day.”

From November 1862 to December 8, 1862, regimental records note Jonathan D. Knight was present with the Berrien Minute Men at Camp Young and that he was “in arrest.” The records of December 8, also note that he was sick. The charge must have been minor or was dismissed, for in December he was present with the unit at Camp Clingman.

Jonathan D. Knight suffered from serious illness in 1863 and was absent sick from the unit.  In a letter home dated March 19, 1863, John Hagan, a solider of the 29th wrote, ” Capt. J. D. Knight is yet absent from the company and we are all very anxious to see him with us again. He has had a hard spel of sickness I know or he would have returned before now.”

Knight did recover and return to his unit. He was captured near Decatur, GA on July 22,1864 and held as a prisoner of war until released at Fort Delaware, DE on June 17,1865.

In 1872, the CSA veteran was nominated for State Senator. Under the terms of Reconstruction, this was the first post-war free election of state officers in Georgia.

Atlanta Daily Sun, Sep. 8, 1872 — page 2
Sixth Senatorial District
A convention of the Democrats of the above district, was held in Valdosta on the 3d inst., and Capt. J. D. Knight, of Berrien county , was nominated for State Senator.

He was elected and served for four years before serving at the Constitutional Convention in 1877.  At the conclusion of the convention, he was the 99th representative to sign the new Georgia Constitution. The 115-page constitution written by this convention was approved by the voters and went into effect December 21, 1877.  The Georgia Archives provides links to the Preamble, the Bill of Rights (Section I), and nine pages of signatures.

Signature of Jonathan David Knight, of Rays Mill, GA, on the Georgia Constitution of 1877

Signature of Jonathan David Knight, of Rays Mill, GA, on the Georgia Constitution of 1877

Jonathan D. Knight born April 2, 1840, died March 9, 1884. He was buried in Old Town Cemetery, Milltown, Ga. (now Lakeland, Lanier County, GA.)

Related Posts:

The Grand Jury of 1868, Berrien County, Georgia