Captain Edwin B. Carroll and the Atlanta Campaign

Edwin B. Carroll, Captain of the Berrien Minute Men, Company G, 29th Georgia Regiment.

Edwin B. Carroll, Captain of the Berrien Minute Men, Company G, 29th Georgia Regiment.

Edwin B. Carroll

In the Civil War, E. B. Carroll served in the leadership of the Berrien Minute Men, one of four companies of Confederate infantry sent forth from Berrien County, GA.

After serving  on Confederate coastal artillery at Battery Lawton on the Savannah River the Berrien Minute Men, Company G, 29th Georgia Regiment,  finally ended their long detached duty in Savannah and went to rejoin the 29th Georgia Regiment at Dalton, GA. The 29th Regiment was to be part of the Confederate forces arrayed northwest of Atlanta in the futile attempt to block Sherman’s advance on the city.  By this time the ranks of the 29th Georgia regiment had been decimated by casualties and disease.   The 29th Regiment “in September, 1863, had been consolidated with the 30th Regiment. The unit participated in the difficult campaigns of the Army of Tennessee at Chickamauga, endured Hood’s winter operations in Tennessee, and fought at Bentonville. In December, 1863, the  combined 29th/30th totaled only 341 men and 195 arms,” according to battle unit details provided by the National Park Service.

The Berrien Minute Men departed Savannah April 26, 1864 by train at the depot of the Central of Georgia Rail Road. (The building now serves as the Savannah Visitors Center). Col. Anderson saw the men off

Tuesday, 26th April… at 4 1/2 repaired to the CRR Depot to see the Lawton Batty Co’s go off – They parted with me with every demonstration of regard – Many of the men coming up & shaking hands with me.”

Four days later, the 54th GA Regiment was dispatched to Dalton GA to join the Confederate defensive positions against Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign.  Anderson noted in his Journal:

Saturday, April 30, 1864
The 54th Regt, Col Way left this morning en route for Dalton. I understand they left many stragglers behind.

Apparently by June of 1864  Captain Carroll was present for at least part of the Battle of Marietta.  By this time it seems an exaggeration to call the 29th Georgia a regiment.  The unit was assigned to General Claudius Wilson’s, C.H. Stevens’, and Henry Rootes Jackson‘s Brigade in the Confederate Army of Tennessee, led at that time by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. Henry R. Jackson in 1860 had attended the arrival of the first train to reach Valdosta, GA.

Sherman first found Johnston’s army entrenched in the Marietta area on June 9, 1864. The Confederate’s had established defensive lines along Brushy, Pine, and Lost Mountains. Sherman extended his forces beyond the Confederate lines, causing a partial Rebel withdrawal to another line of positions.

Harpers Weekly illustration - Sherman's view of Kennesaw Mountain from Pine Mountain, from a sketch drawn about June 15, 1864. In the distance is a view of Marietta. Between the two mountains the smoke ascends from three Federal encampments, belonging to the armies of the Cumberland, the Ohio, and the Tennessee. The Confederates under General Johnston hold a strong position on Kennesaw Mountain.

Harpers Weekly illustration – Sherman’s view of Kennesaw Mountain from Pine Mountain, from a sketch drawn about June 15, 1864. In the distance is a view of Marietta. Between the two mountains the smoke ascends from three Federal encampments, belonging to the armies of the Cumberland, the Ohio, and the Tennessee. The Confederates under General Johnston hold a strong position on Kennesaw Mountain.

By June 15 1864, Sherman’s army was occupying the heights on Pine Mountain, Lost Mountain and Brushy Mountain. On that day H.L.G. Whitaker, Thomas County Volunteers, Company I, 29th GA Regiment wrote home telling of the death of his friend Chesley A. Payne. Payne was a private in Company B, Ochlockonee Light Infantry, 29th GA Regiment.

“Dear beloved ones, I will say to you that my dear friend C. A. P. [Chesley A. Payne] was cild [killed] on the 15 of June. Robert Reid was standing rite by him syd of a tree. Dear friends it is a mistake about his giting cild [killed] chargin of a battry, nothing more than a line of battle. So I cant tell you eny thing more about him.”

On the Federal line Pvt Charles T. Develling, 17th Ohio Regiment recorded the day’s of skirmishing.

June 17th, we moved to front line. Companies D. and H. skirmished all night. We built breastworks, and rebels attacked us but were repulsed. June 18th, Companies C. and F. charged rebel pickets capturing 4 and driving the rest into their breastworks, fighting nearly 2 hours without support, when our brigade came up and fought till dark. Company C had 1 killed and 2 wounded. J

On Saturday, June 18, 1864 the Confederate newspaper dispatches reported:

Three Miles West of Marietta, June 18 – The enemy has moved a large number of his forces on our left. Cannonading and musketry are constant, amounting almost to an engagement. The rains continue to render the roads unfit for military operations. The indications are that our left and centre will be attacked. The army is in splendid spirits and ready for the attack. A deserter came in this morning drunk. But few casualties yesterday on our side…

June 19. Rain has been falling heavily and incessantly the greater part of last night and all this morning. – Columbus Times, 6/20/1864

Pvt Charles T. Develling, 17th Ohio Regiment continued in his journal:

June 19th, daylight revealed the fact that the rebels had retreated [Johnston had withdrawn the Confederate forces to an arc-shaped position centered on Kennesaw Mountain.] We pursued them, day spent in skirmishing; very heavy artillery firing from our batteries. Night found us in front of Kenesaw Mountain fronting east, skirmishing with the rebels, and fortifying with dispatch. We advanced to within about 700 yards of the rebel’s works, and kept their artillery silent with musketry. Threw up a temporary fort at night for our artillery.

June 20th, our skirmish line, is within 15 or 20 yards of the rebels. We have three lines of works. Heavy skirmishing all along the line. Our artillery gave the rebels a terrific shelling this evening.

June 21st, the rebels got their artillery in position or the mountain and began shelling our camps, immediately our batteries opened and there was one of the grandest artillery duels of the war. Heavy skirmishing in our front just before night; our men held their ground.

"Kennesaw's Bombardment, 64", sketch of Union artillery in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, by Alfred Waud,

“Kennesaw’s Bombardment, 64”, sketch of Union artillery in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, by Alfred Waud,

On the Confederate side of the line, on June 21st and 22nd John W. Hagan, of the Berrien Minute Men, wrote battlefield letters to his wife, Amanda Roberts Hagan, in which he refers to Captain Edwin B. Carroll.

Letters of John W. Hagan:

In Line of Battle near Marietta, Ga
June 21st 1864

My Dear Wife I will drop you a few lines which leaves Ezekiel & myself in good health. James was wounded & sent to Hospital yesterday. He wounded in the left thygh. It was a spent ball & made only a flesh wound after the ball was cut out and he was all right. He stood it allright. I think he will get a furlough & he will also write to you when he gets to Hospital. We had a fight day before yesterday & yesterday on the 19th we had a close time & lost a grate many in killed & wounded & missing. The 29th [GA Regiment] charged the Yankees & drove them back near 1/2 mile or further. I cannot give a list of the killed & wounded in the fight. In Capt Carrells [Edwin B. Carroll] there was only one killed dead & several wounded. Lt J. M. Roberts [Jasper M. Roberts] was killed dead in the charge & Sergt. J. L. Roberts [James W. Roberts] of our company was killed dead & Corpl Lindsey wounded. Capt Knight is in command of the Regt. Capt. Knight & Capt Carrell is all there is in the Regt. The companies is all in commanded by Lieuts & Sergts. I have been in command of our company 3 days. Lieut Tomlinson [Jonas Tomlinson] stays along but pretends to be sick so he can not go in a fight but so long as I keep the right side up Co. “K” will be all right. The most of the boys have lost confidence in Lt Tomlinson. As a genearl thing our Regt have behaved well. If the casualties of the Regt is got up before I send this off I will give you the number but I will not have time to give the names. You must not be uneasey about James for he is all right now. Ezekiel stands up well & have killed one Yankee. I do not know as I have killed a Yankee but I have been shooting among them. You must not be uneasy about me and Ezekiel for we have our chances to take the same as others & if we fall remember we fell in a noble cause & be content that we was so lotted to die, but we hope to come out all right. Ezekiel hasent bin hit atal & I have bin hit twice but it was with spent balls & did not hurt me much. I was sory to hear of Thomas Cliffords getting killed for he was a gallant soldier & a noble man. I havent time to write much but if we can find out how many we lost in the 19th & 20th I will give a statement below. Ezekiel has just received yours of the 15th & this must do for and answer as we havent time to write now & we do not know when we will have a quiet time. You speak of rain. I never was in so much rain. it rains incisently. Our clothing & blankets havent been dry in Sevearl days & the roads is all most so we can not travel atal. I will closw & write again when I can get a chance. You must write often. Ezekiel sends his love to you all. Tel Mr. and Mrs. Giddins that Isbin is all right. Nothing more. I am as ever yours
affectsionatly
J. W. H.

P.S. as to Co. G being naked that is not so. All have got there cloths that would carry them. Some threw away there cloths but all have cloths & shoes yet. E.W. & Is doesn’t threw thayen away & have plenty. P.S. since writing the above another man of Co. G. is wounded.

In Line of Battle near Marietta, Ga 

June 22, 1864

My Dear Wife, As I have and opportertunity of writing I will write you a few lines this morning. I wrote to you yeserday but I was in a grate hurry & could not give you the casualities of the Regt. & I can not yet give you the names but I will give you the number killed wounded & missing in the Regt. up to yesterday 6 oclock P.M. we had 83 men killed wounded & missing & only 7 but what was killed or wounded. This is only the causalties since the 14th of this month & what it was in May I do not know. I do not beleave any of Co. “G” have writen to Jaspers [Jasper M. Roberts] mother about his death & if you get this before She hears the correct reports you can tell her he was in the fight of the 19th & was killed dead in a charge he was gallantly leading & chering his men on to battle and was successfull in driving back the Yankees. He was taken off the battle field & was burried as well as the nature of the case would permit. Our Regt suffered a grate deal on the 19th & some on the 20th. I was in the hotest of this fight & it seemes that thousand of balls whisled near my head, but I was protected. Heavy fighting is now & have been going on for some time on our right & left & I beleave the bloodiest battle of the war will come off in a short time & I feel confident that when the yankees pick in to us right we will give them a whiping, but Gen Johnston dos not intend to make the attack on them.
Amanda, I want you to go & see John C. Clements & find out when he is coming to camps & I want you to sen me some butter by John in a bucket or gord or jar. You can not send much for John can not get much from the R. Road to our camps. You must not send me the book I wrote for some time ago. I can not take care of anything in camps now. You must be shure to go & see cosin Sarah Roberts & tel her about Jasper. I would write to her but I have a bad chance to write on my knee. This leaves Ezekiel & myself in good health & hope you and family are the same
I am as ever your aff husband
J. W. Hagan

P. S. if any of the old citizens from that settlement comes out here, you can send me some butter and a bottle or two of syrup by them. Parson Homer came out some time ago & brought Co. G a nice lot of provissions &c.

In the evening of the 22nd, on the Federal side of the line, Pvt Charles T. Develling, 17th Ohio Regiment wrote in his journal.

June 22nd, the rebels gave us a severe shelling this afternoon, from five different points. Our artillery replied promptly and with effect. Shortly after dark we moved to the right and into front line, already fortified, in an open field, in the hottest hole we have yet found, as regards both the sun and fire from the rebels.

General Sherman's Campaign - The Rebel Charge on the Right, Near Marietta, GA, June 22, 1864. Harpers Weekly illustration of the Battle of Kolb's Farm, four miles west of Marietta, June 22, 1864. On the Federal line, General Schofield held the extreme right; on his left, General Hooker commanded the Marietta Road; General Howard held the center; and Palmer and McPherson extended the Federal line to Brush Mountain, on the railroad. Nearly all day the rebels engaged Howard, to divert attention from the right, where they were massing troops on the Marietta Road against Hooker. A furious attack was made by the Rebels at this point at five P.M.

General Sherman’s Campaign – The Rebel Charge on the Right, Near Marietta, GA, June 22, 1864. Harpers Weekly illustration of the Battle of Kolb’s Farm, four miles west of Marietta, June 22, 1864. On the Federal line, General Schofield held the extreme right; on his left, General Hooker commanded the Marietta Road; General Howard held the center; and Palmer and McPherson extended the Federal line to Brush Mountain, on the railroad. Nearly all day the rebels engaged Howard, to divert attention from the right, where they were massing troops on the Marietta Road against Hooker. A furious attack was made by the Rebels at this point at five P.M.

Southern newspapers claimed the fighting on June 27th as a victory for the South,  reporting that Cleburne’s Division and Cheatham’s division had killed 750 federal troops along the front and inflicted another 750 casualties in the Federal lines. General Hardee’s Corps and General Loring’s corps were credited with inflicting nearly 8,000 casualties. “Five hundred ambulances were counted from the summit of Kennesaw Mountain to Big Shanty.” – Daily Chattanooga Rebel, June 30,1864

On June 28th, John W. Hagan wrote  Amanda of more casualties in the Berrien Minute Men

I haven’t any news to write you that would interest you much. There hasent been much fighting neather on the right or left today & we beleave the Yankees are trying to flank us again. We have had a hard time & have lost about 100 killed wounded & missing. We had our Lieut of Co. “B” killed yesterday. Liut. Ballard of Co. “C” wounded and R. Bradford [Richard Bradford] of Co. “G” wounded & one leg cut off. I hope times will change soon &c. I hear today James had got a furlough for 30 days & was gone home. I hope it is true & I want you to send me a box of something the first chance you get. Send me some butter & a bottle of syrup & some bisket if you see a chance to get them direct through. Also send us some apples if you can get any in the settlement. John Clemants or James Matthis might bring it. Express it to Atlanta & then ship it to Marietta in care of the Thomas County Releaf Society. I think old Lowndes & Berrien is not very patriotic or they would dispach some man from that section with something for the soldiers who are fighting for them daley. Many things might be sent us & some one sent with it. Thomas County has its society out here & do a great deal for the sick & wounded & many boxes are shiped through them to fighting troops…

From the Front
Further Particulars of Monday’s Fight
Marietta, [Wednesday], June 29th [1864] –Unusual quiet prevails along the lines to-day, the enemy being permitted to bury his fast putrifying dead…

Following the retreat from Kennesaw Mountain, the Berrien Minute Men were in the line of battle at Marietta, GA on July 4, 1864. After dark, the Confederate forces withdrew to take up a new defensive line on the the Chattahoochee River. In a letter to his wife, John William Hagan  wrote about the Confederate retreat to the Chattahoochee and his confidence in the defensive works of General Joseph E. Johnston’s River Line and the Shoupades.   These earthwork fortifications along the north bank of the Chattahoochee, some of the most elaborate field fortifications of the Civil War, were constructed under the direction of Artillery Commander, Brig. General Francis A. Shoup.

In the Battle of Atlanta, Edwin B. Carroll was captured July 22, 1864 near Decatur, GA along with Captain John D. Knight, 2nd Lieutenant John L. Hall, Jonas Tomlinson and others of the 29th Georgia Regiment.

In the Berrien Minute Men Company G, Sgt William Anderson, 2nd Lieutenant Simeon A. Griffin, 2nd Lieutenant John L. Hall, Captain Jonathan D. Knight were captured. James A. Crawford was mortally wounded. Levi J. Knight, Jr. was wounded through the right lung but recovered. Robert H. Goodman was killed.  In the Berrien Minute Men Company K, Wyley F. Carroll, James M. Davis, James D. Pounds, William S. Sirmans, and Jonas Tomlinson were captured.  John W. Hagan was reported dead, but was captured and sent to Camp Chase.

In the Berrien Light Infantry, Company E, 54th Georgia James M. Baskin was wounded in the hip; he spent the rest of the war as a POW in a U.S. Army hospital.

In a letter written from camp near Atlanta, H.L.G. Whitaker reported Robert Reid, Ocklocknee Light Infantry, Company B, 29th GA Regiment was among those killed on July 22.  In the Ocklocknee Light Infantry David W. Alderman, John L. Jordan, Thomas J. McKinnon, P. T. Moore were wounded; Mathew P. Braswell and Joseph Newman were captured.

Among the Thomasville Guards, Company F, 29th GA Infantry the wounded were Stephen T. Carroll, Marshall S. Cummings, Thomas S. Dekle, Walter L. Joiner. Private Green W. Stansell and Sgt D. W. McIntosh were killed; Ordinance Sgt R. A. Hayes was mortally wounded. John R. Collins was missing in action,

In the Alapaha Guards, Company H, 29th GA Infantry, Joseph Jerger was wounded and captured. In the Georgia Foresters, Company A, 29th GA, H. W. Brown and 1st Corporal Furnifull George were captured. Richard F. Wesberry shot in the leg, was sent to Ocmulgee hospital where his leg was amputated. In the Thomas County Volunteers, Company I, M. Collins, Alexander Peacock were wounded; Captain Robert Thomas Johnson and Ransom C. Wheeler wounded and captured. Thomas Mitchell Willbanks was wounded in the leg, necessitating amputation.

For Captain E. B. Carroll the fighting was over. A prisoner of war, he was put on the long journey to a northern prison camp.

On September 17, 1864 Captain E. B. Carroll was being held prisoner near Jonesboro, GA.  A few days later  on August 31 – September 1, 1864 remnants of the 29th Georgia Regiment were engaged  in the Battle of Jonesboro.  Apparently Captain Carroll’s kid brother, David Thompson Carroll, had joined the Berrien Minute Men by this time. Seventeen-year-old David T. Carroll had left school in the spring of 1862 and traveled to St. Marks, FL to enlist with the 5th Florida Infantry, but after 2 1/2 months of service had been discharged with a hernia and “epileptic convulsions.” Although the official service records of the Confederate States Army do not document that he re-enlisted,  both Edwin B. Carroll and William H. Lastinger later reported that David T. Carroll was a soldier of the Berrien Minute Men and that he was among the  men killed in the Battle of Jonesboro.  Hundreds of Confederate dead, including men from the Berrien Minute Men and probably David T. Carroll,  were buried in unmarked graves at  Jonesboro in the yard of the train depot which is now Patrick Cleburne Cemetery.

In 1890 Edwin B. Carroll would return to the Battlefield at Jonesboro where he found rusting weapons still lying about the abandoned earthworks.

After his capture, Edwin B. Carroll and other Confederate prisoners were transported to the Louisville Military Prison at Louisville, KY then to the U. S. Military Prison at Johnson’s Island.

Prisoners were transported to Sandusky, OH and were conveyed by steam tugs across an arm of Lake Erie three miles to Johnson’s Island. Johnson’s Island contains about one hundred acres, twenty of which were enclosed in a stockade…Within this enclosure were fifteen buildings – one hospital, two mess halls, and twelve barracks for the prisoners. The stockade was rectangular, and there was a block-house in each corner and in front of the principal street…The guards… had five block houses with several upper stories pierced for rifles and the ground floors filled with artillery. Moreover, outside the pen there were enclosed earth-works mounting many heavy guns. and the gunboat Michigan with sixteen guns lay within a quarter of a mile.”

Despite the presence of the prison fortress, Johnson’s Island continued to be the destination of organized boat excursions from nearby towns, which brought picnickers to the island and a brass band for entertainment.

Sixty-two  of the Confederates captured at Atlanta on July 22nd entered the Johnson’s Island prison population on August 1, 1864.  The indignant prisoners were searched before being taken into the prison.

 

Sketch of U. S. Military Prison at Johnson's Island, Lake Erie.

Sketch of U. S. Military Prison at Johnson’s Island, Lake Erie.

Arriving in the heat of summer, the men had the unfortunate experience of dealing with the bedbugs that infested the camp.

Any description of Johnson’s Island which contains no mention of bedbugs would be very incomplete. The barracks were cieled, and were several years old. During the cool weather the bugs did not trouble us much, but towards the latter part of May they became terrible. My bunk was papered with Harper’s Weekly, and if at at any time I struck the walls with any object, a red spot would appear as large as the part of the object striking the wall. We left the barracks and slept in the streets…When I get my logarithmic tables and try to calculate coolly and dispassionately the quantity of them, I am disposed to put them at one hundred bushels, but when I think of those terrible night attacks, I can’t see how there could have been less than eighty millions of bushels.

Men of the 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment already at Johnson’s Island included Lieut. Thomas F. Hooper, Berry Infantry.

Hooper had been captured June 19, 1864 at Marietta, GA. Details of Hooper’s capture were documented when a letter addressed to him reached the Berry Infantry days after he became a prisoner of war.  The letter, addressed to Lieut Thomas F. Hooper, 29th Reg Ga Vol, Stevens Brigade, Walkers Division, Dalton, Georgia, was initially marked to be forwarded to the Army of Tennessee Hospital in Griffin, Georgia. But when it was discovered that the addressee had been captured, it was forwarded a second time back to Okolona, MS with ‘for’d 10’ added on the envelope for the forwarding fee. Lieutenant  Thomas J. Perry, added a lengthy notation on the back of the envelope.

“Marietta, Ga June 22, 1864 The Lt was captured on the 19th inst out on skirmish. He mistook the enemy for our folks and walked right up to them and did not discover the mistake until it was too late. As soon as they saw him, they motioned him to come to them and professed to be our men. I suppose Capt [John D.] Cameron has written you and sent Andrus on home. The Lt was well when captured. Thos J. Perry.”

Thomas F. Hooper, Berry Infantry, 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment

Thomas F. Hooper, Berry Infantry, 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment

 

Thomas J. Perry writes about capture of Thomas F. Hooper near Marietta, GA on June 19, 1964

Thomas J. Perry writes about capture of Thomas F. Hooper near Marietta, GA on June 19, 1964

On the night of September 24, 1864 a tornado struck the Johnson’s Island prison, destroying half the buildings, ripping roofs off three of the barracks and one wing of the hospital, and flattening a third of the fence.  But in the midst of the gale the Federal guards maintained a picket to prevent any escape. One of the mess halls was wracked and four large trees were blown down in the prison yard. Ten prisoners were injured, only one severely.  The stockade fence was repaired by September 29; it was weeks before the camp was sound again.

As the war dragged on, outrage grew both sides over the treatment of prisoners of war.  Following newspaper reports of the mistreatment of U.S. Army soldiers in Confederate prisons, the U.S. Commissary General of Prisons ordered that Confederate prisoners of war held at Johnson’s Island and other prisons “be strictly limited to the rations of the Confederate army.” Furthermore, the previous practice of allowing prisoners to purchase food from vendors on the prison grounds was disallowed. “On October 10, Hoffman ordered that the sutlers should be limited to the sale of paper, tobacco, stamps, pipes, matches,
combs, soap, tooth brushes, hair brushes, scissors, thread, needles, towels, and pocket mirrors.”

A prisoner at Johnson’s Island wrote,

“Our rations were six ounces of pork, thirteen of loaf bread and a small allowance of beans or hominy – about one-half the rations issued to the Federal troops. The pork rarely had enough grease in it to fry itself, and the bread was often watered to give it the requisite weight. Such rations would keep soul and body together, but when they were not supplemented with something else, life was a slow torture. …the prisoners were not to buy anything [to eat]. The suffering was very great. Men watched rat holes during those long, cold winter nights in hopes of securing a rat for breakfast. Some made it a regular practice to fish in slop barrels for small crumbs of bread, and I have had one man to point out to me the barrel in which he generally found his “bonanza” crumb. If a dog ever came into the pen he was sure to be killed and eaten immediately.” 

The prisoners provided all kinds of services for themselves; There were cooks, tailors, shoe-makers, chair-makers, washer-men, bankers and bill-brokers, preachers, jewelers, and fiddle-makers.

We had schools of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Theology, Mathematics, English, Instrumental Music, Vocal Music, and a dancing school. The old “stag-dance” began every day except Sunday at 9 a.m., and the shuffling of the feet would be heard all day long till 9 p.m.”

“Tailoring was well done at reasonable rates. Our shoe-makers, strange to say were reliable and charged very moderate prices for their mending. The chair-makers made very neat and comfortable chairs, and bottomed them with leather strings cut out of old shoes and boots. Our washer-man charged only three cents a piece for ordinary garments, and five cents for linen-bosomed shirts, starched and ironed. Our bankers and bill-brokers were always ready to exchange gold and silver for green-backs, and even for Confederate money till Lee’s surrender.”

We had also a “blockade” distillery which made and sold an inferior article of corn whiskey at five dollars, in green-backs, per quart. It was a very easy matter to get the corn meal; but I never could imagine how they could conceal the mash-tubs and the still, so as to escape detection on the part of the Federal officers who inspected the prison very thoroughly two or three times each week.

John Lafayette Girardeau, a slave owner and proponent of white supremacist theology, was famous for his ministry to enslaved people.

John Lafayette Girardeau, a slave owner and proponent of white supremacist theology, was famous for his ministry to enslaved people.

We had many preachers, too. Dr. Girardeau, of South Carolina, one of the ablest preachers in the South preached for us nearly every day. Our little Yankee chaplain was so far surpassed by the Rebs that he rarely showed his face.

Major George McKnight, under the nom de plume of “Asa Hartz,” wrote:

There are representatives here of every orthodox branch of Christianity, and religious services are held daily.

The prisoners on Johnson’s Island sent to the American Bible Society $20, as a token of their appreciation for the supply of the Scriptures to the prison.

We have a first-class theater in full blast, a minstrel band, and a debating society. The outdoor exercises consist of leap-frog, bull-pen, town-ball, base-ball, foot-ball, snow-ball, bat-ball, and ball. The indoor games comprise chess, backgammon, draughts, and every game of cards known to Hoyle, or to his illustrious predecessor, “the gentleman in black.”

There was a Masonic Prison Association, Capt. Joseph J. Davis, President, which sought to provide fresh fruit and other food items to sick prisoners in the prison hospital. The hospital was staffed by one surgeon, one hospital steward, three cooks, and seven prisoner nurses. Medical and surgical treatment was principally provided by Confederate surgeons.

On November 9, 1864, Sandusky bay froze over. In early December the prison got a blanket of snow.  Monday, the 12th of December was the coldest day of the year, and perhaps one of the strangest at Johnson’s Island Prison. That day one of the POW officers gave birth to a “bouncing boy”; the woman and child were paroled from the prison. That night a group of prisoners rushed the fence, perhaps thinking they could make their escape over the ice. The guards managed to push them back; the next day four corpses were placed in the prison dead-house. Ohio newspapers reported Lt. John B. Bowles, son of the President of the Louisville Bank, was among the dead.

The cemetery at Johnson’s Island was at the extreme northern tip of the island, about a half mile from the prison.

Digging graves in the island’s soft loam soil was not difficult. However, between 4 feet and 5 feet down was solid bedrock. It was officially reported that the graves were “dug as deep as the stone will admit; not as deep as desirable under the circumstances, but sufficient for all sanitary reasons.” The graves were marked with wooden headboards. – Federal Stewardship of Confederate Dead

 

Major McKnight described funerals at the prison:

Well! it is a simple ceremony. God help us! The “exchanged” is placed on a small wagon drawn by one horse, his friends form a line in the rear, and the procession moves; passing through the gate, it winds slowly round the prison walls to a little grove north of the inclosure; “exchanged” is taken out of the wagon and lowered into the earth – a prayer, and exhortation, a spade, a head-board, a mound of fresh sod, and the friends return to prison again, and that’s all of it. Our friend is “exchanged,” a grave attests the fact to mortal eyes, and one of God’s angels has recorded the “exchange in the book above. Time and the elements will soon smooth down the little hillock which marks his lonely bed, but invisible friends will hover round it till the dawn of the great day, when all the armies shall be marshaled into line again, when the wars of time shall cease, and the great eternity of peace shall commence.

Two prisoners of Johnson’s Island were released  by order of President Abraham Lincoln, issued on December 10, 1864. The Tennessee men were released after their wives appealed to the President, one pleading her husband’s case on the basis that he was a religious man.

When the President ordered the release of the prisoners, he said to this lady: “You say your husband is a religious man; tell him when you meet him that I say I am not much of a judge of religion, but that, in my opinion, the religion that sets men to rebel and fight against their Government because, as they think, that Government does not sufficiently help some men to eat their bread in the sweat of other men’s faces, is not the sort of religion upon which people can get to heaven.”

Berrien Minute Men Second Lieutenants James A. Knight and Levi J. Knight, Jr. arrived at the prison on December 20, 1864; They were captured at Franklin, TN on December 16.

Col. William D. Mitchell, 29th Georgia Regiment. Image Source: Tim Burgess

Col. William D. Mitchell, 29th Georgia Regiment. Image Source: Tim Burgess https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/26944690/william-dickey-mitchell

December 22, 1864 was snowy, windy and bitter cold at Johnson’s Island. New arrivals at the prison on that day included Col. William D. Mitchell, 29th, GA Regiment; Lacy E. Lastinger; 1st Lieutenant Thomas W. Ballard; Captain Robert Thomas Johnson, Company I, 29th Regiment,  arrived at the prison.  Lastinger, 1st Lieutenant from Berrien Minute Men, Company K, 29th GA Regiment and Ballard, Company C, 29th GA  had been captured December 16, 1864 at Nashville, TN.   Other arriving prisoners from the 29th GA Regiment included 2nd Lieutenant Walter L. Joiner, Company F.

Edwin B. Carroll and the other prisoners passed Christmas and New Years Day on Johnson’s Island with little to mark the occasion.  By February 1865, Confederate POWs at Johnson’s Island were being exchanged for the release of Federal POW’s imprisoned in the South.

On March 29, Major Lemuel D. Hatch wrote from Johnson’s Island,

For several months we suffered here very much for something to eat, but all restrictions have now been taken off the sutler and we are  living well… The extreme cold of last winter and the changeableness of the climate has been a severe shock to many of our men. I notice a great deal of sickness especially among the Prisoners captured at Nashville. Nearly all of them have suffered with rheumatism or pneumonia since their arrival.

The end of the war came with Robert E. Lee’s surrender on April 9, 1865 and, for Georgians, the surrender of General Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate Army to General William T. Sherman at the Bennett Place, April 26, 1865.

The surrender of Genl. Joe Johnston near Greensboro N.C., April 26th 1865 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pga.09915

The surrender of Genl. Joe Johnston near Greensboro N.C., April 26th 1865
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pga.09915

After spending almost a year in the Johnson’s Island prison, Edwin B. Carroll was released in June 1865.

To leave Johnson’s Island a prisoner was required to take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States, as by accepting Confederate citizenship they had renounced their citizenship in the United States. The Confederate prisoners called taking the oath “swallowing the eagle,” and men who swore allegiance to the United States were called “razorbacks,”  because, like a straight-edged razor, they were considered spineless.

The prisoner had to first apply to take the Oath. He was then segregated from the prison population and assigned to a separate prison block. This was done for the safety of those taking the Oath as they were now repudiating their loyalty to the Confederacy. Until 1865, only a small number of prisoners took the Oath because of their fierce devotion and loyalty to the cause for which they were fighting. However, in the Spring of 1865, many prisoners did take the Oath, feeling the cause for which they fought so hard was dead. The following letter written by prisoner Tom Wallace shows that “swallowing the eagle” (taking the oath) was not done without a great deal of soul searching.  http://johnsonsisland.org/history-pows/civil-war-era/letters-to-and-from-confederate-prisoners/

Tom Wallace, 2nd Lieutenant in the 6th Kentucky Regiment wrote from Johnson’s Island in 1865 about taking the Oath of Allegiance:

My dear mother,
Perhaps you may be surprised when I tell you that I have made application for the “amnesty oath”. I think that most all of my comrades have or will do as I have. I don’t think that I have done wrong, I had no idea of taking the oath until I heard of the surrender of Johnston and then I thought it worse than foolish to wait any longer. The cause that I have espoused for four years and have been as true to, in thought and action, as man could be is now undoubtedly dead; consequently I think the best thing I can do is to become a quiet citizen of the United States. I will probably be released from prison sometime this month

Edwin B. Carroll swore the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America on June 14, 1865 at Depot Prisoners of War, Sandusky, OH. He was then described as 24 years old, dark complexion, dark hair, hazel eyes, 5’11”

When the War ended, and he returned home, he could find no employment but teaching, in which he has been engaged almost every year since… In October, 1865, he was married to Mrs. Julia E. Hayes, of Thomasville, Georgia.

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Richard Seward Johnson ~ Ray City Farmer

Richard Seward Johnson (1855-1936)

Richard Seward Johnson. Image courtesy of Henry Aubrey Bullard. All rights reserved.

Richard Seward Johnson. Image courtesy of Henry Aubrey Bullard. All rights reserved.

 

Richard Seward Johnson, a son of Merritt H. Johnson (1814 – 1877) and Mary Ann Holland (1819 – 1894), was born about 1855.  His father, Merritt H. Johnson, was a farmer of Thomas County, GA who before the Civil War had $600 in real estate and $3453 in his personal estate. His father was not enlisted during the Civil War, instead appearing on the 1864 Census for Re-Organizing the Georgia Militia,   a statewide census of all white males between the ages of 16 and 60 who were not serving at that time.  Many of the men enumerated in this census were exempt from service, and Merritt H. Johnson may have been exempted on account of his age (50).

Richard Seward Johnson’s parents came from Johnston County, North Carolina to settle in Thomas County, GA some time before 1850, along with his maternal grandparents and many others of the Holland family connection. Enumerated in 1850 in Thomas County, GA and  in Colquitt County in 1860, his parents were apparently residing in that portion of Thomas County which was cut into Colquitt County in 1856.

Richard Seward Johnson left his parents’ household by the time he was 15, as indicated by his absence there in the Census of 1870.  He apparently made his way to Berrien County, GA where on April 28, 1878 he married Ida Isabelle Shaw.   She was a daughter of William Jasper Shaw and Elizabeth Wetherington, born on the first Christmas of the Civil War, December 25, 1861.

Marriage certificate of Richard Seward Johnson and Ida Shaw

Marriage certificate of Richard Seward Johnson and Ida Shaw

By 1878 Richard Johnson owned 100 acres of lot 498, 10th Land District on the south side of the Ray’s Mill community, 1144 GMD. This land was valued at $300, and another 50 acres valued at $300 were in Mary Ann Johnson’s name. Together, they owned $70 in household furnishings, $259 in livestock, $70 in books and tools. Another 100 acres of Lot 498 was listed as the property of Jerry R. Johnson.  Jonathan Knight held an adjacent plantation of some 12oo acres on lots 497, 496 and 517. Other neighbors included Thomas S. Murphy on portions of lots 497 and 498,  Marcus Giddens on portions of lot 497,  Senator Jonathan E. Bryant on Lot 515, Green Bullard on lot 469,  and James M. Baskin owned lots 470 and 471.

From the 1879 tax records it appears that most of Mary’s acreage had been transferred to Richard. Mary was not listed as a property owner, whereas Richard was shown with 140 acres on Lot 498, valued at $600. His brother, James R. Johnson had also acquired 100 acres of Lot 498.  His father-in-law, William J. Shaw had acquired 310 acres on portions of Lot 499 and 514.  Jeremiah Shaw owned portions of Lots 499 and 500. Another 220 acres of lot 498 belonged to Thomas S. Murphy.  Moses H. Giddens was on a 250 acre portion of Lot 497, James M. Baskin continued on lots 470 and 471, and Jonathan Knight maintained his extensive plantation on adjacent lots.

In 1880, Richard S. Johnson had 140 and James R. Johnson 110 acres on Lot 498.  Moses H. Giddens on was on parts of 497, Thomas S. Murphy on portions of 497 and 498, William J. Shaw on portions of 499 and 514, and James M. Baskin owned lots 470 and 471.

For the  about the next 50 years, Richard Seward Johnson and his bride raised children and crops at Ray City, GA.

  1. William Cauley Johnson (1879 – 1958) married Rosa Lena Knight
  2. Florence Johnson (1881 – 1969) married Johnnie S. Peters
  3. Mary Johnson (1882 – 1914 ) married  Henry Needham Bullard (1878 – 1938)  on May 26,  1901 in Berrien Co., GA.
  4. Bessie Johnson (1885 – 1980) married Joseph B. Patten (1887 – 1971) on February 12, 1910
  5. Lillie Johnson (1886 – 1963) married Charlie Register who served as minister of Cat Creek Church
  6. Manning Filmore Johnson (1890 – 1967) married Marie Lola Carter
  7. Manson Lowndes Johnson (1890 – 1975)
  8. Ida Bell Johnson (1894 – )

Ida Isabell Shaw Johnson died January 4, 1927 at Ray City, Berrien County, GA.  She was buried at Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.  Richard Seward Johnson died in 1936 and was buried at Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.

 

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

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Bryan J. Roberts ~ Lowndes Pioneer

Bryan (or Bryant) John Roberts (1809-1888)

In 1827, eighteen-year-old Bryan J Roberts arrived in the newly created Lowndes County, GA with his parents and siblings.  His father, John Roberts, settled the family on a plot of land situated near the Cat Creek community, eventually establishing a large plantation there.

Bryan J. Roberts

Bryan J Roberts 1809-1888. Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.

According to Folks Huxford, Bryan J. Roberts was born in Wayne County, GA on June 4, 1809, a son of Phoebe Weeks Osteen and John R.  Roberts.

In Lowndes County, on January 26, 1832 Bryan J. Roberts married Wealthy A. Mathis (1813 – 1888). As a young woman, she had come from Bulloch County, GA with her parents, Rhoda Monk and James Mathis, to settle at the site of present day Cecil, GA in Cook County.

Wealthy and Bryan J. Roberts established their home place on the land that had been settled by his father in 1827.  Of B. J. Roberts, Huxford says. “He had a large plantation and lived in comfortable circumstances.”     Roberts may have been among the earliest  planters to introduce pecans in Georgia, as pecans are mentioned in a Civil War letter written by John Hagan, of Berrien County, dated June 2, 1862.  Hagan wrote to his wife, Amanda Roberts:

 ”Give my respects to your Uncle Bryant J. Reoberts…Tel him I would like to heare how his little cob corn is doing. Also letter me know if Capt Martin has paid his cotoe [quota] of the precans [pecans] for introductsion.”

Children of Wealthy Mathis and Bryan J. Roberts:

  1.  John Jackson Roberts (1832 – 1907), married: (l) Susan Vickers daughter of Lewis Vickers; (2) Mrs. Catherine Gaskins widow of John Gaskins of Coffee County.
  2. James W. Roberts (1834 – 1900), married Elizabeth “Eliza” Edmondson daughter of David Adam Edmondson .
  3. Mary Ann Roberts (1835-1919), married Archibald Duncan Wilkes of Berrien County.
  4. Stephen N. Roberts (1837 – 1863), never married; joined the Berrien Minute Men in 1861 and served at Brunswick, Sapelo Island and Savannah; died of pneumonia January 6, 1863 in Lowndes County, GA; buried at Owen Smith Cemetery, Hahira, GA.
  5. Jemima Roberts (1839-1913), married William H. Burgsteiner son of John R. Burgsteiner.
  6. Rachel Roberts (1841-1867), married Jacob Dorminy son of John Bradford Dorminy, Jr. of Irwin County.
  7. Nancy Roberts (1843- ),  married William S. Phillips of Stockton.
  8. Warren H. Roberts (1846-1908), married: (1) Virginia S. “Jennie” Edmondson daughter of Rev. John Edmondson; (2) Isabella Strickland, daughter of Charles Strickland.
  9. William K. Roberts (1847-1908), married Phyllis McPherson Oct 27, 1888 in Berrien County, GA.
  10. Leonard L Roberts (1849-1919 ),  married Georgia Ann Baskin, daughter of James Madison Baskin
  11. Elizabeth “Betty” Roberts (1851-1933), married Daniel D. Andrew Jackson Dorminy, son of John Bradford Dorminy, Jr. of Irwin County.
  12. Martha Roberts  (1854-1898), married Frank Moore son of Levi Moore.

From 1827 to 1829, Bryan J. Roberts served as an ensign in the 663rd district of the Lowndes County militia. He was elected Justice of the Peace in the 658th district, Lowndes County, for the 1834-1837 term. He served in the Indian War of 1836-1838 as a private in Captain Levi J. Knight’s company of Lowndes County militia, and was one of those present at the skirmish with Indians at William “Short-arm Billy” Parker’s place preceding the Battle of Brushy Creek.

Prior to his death, Bryan J. Roberts divided his property among his children. This “self-administration” of his estate was reported in The Valdosta Times, August 8, 1885.

The Valdosta Times
August 8, 1885

His Own Administrator.

      Mr. Bryant Roberts is 77 years old, and he moved to this county in 1827.  He has reared 10 children and there are numerous grand-children.  The old gentleman lost his wife last year, and since that time he has been lonely at the old homestead.  Last week he summonsed all his children together and made up and inventory of all he owned.  It footed up $10,000.  Six thousand of his property was divided up into ten equal parts, and each child drew for his or her share.  The old gentleman reserved $4,000 for his own use for the balance of his life.  The homestead was included in the property divided, and the old gentleman will break up housekeeping and spend the remainder of his declining years around among his children.
      Mr. Roberts has taken this step because he feels that the silken cord has weakened under the weight of years and he prefers to be his own administrator.  We trust his children will make it pleasant for the old gentleman during the remainder of his sojourn with them.

According to the above newspaper clipping, Wealthy Mathis Roberts died about 1884. on July 8, 1888 Bryan J. Roberts followed her in death. They were buried at Cat Creek Primitive Baptist Church.

-30-

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Thomas M Ray Founded Ray’s Mill in 1863

Thomas Marcus Ray, founder of Ray’s Mill, came to the area in 1855 prior to the formation of Berrien County, GA.

Gravemarker of Thomas Marcus Ray, founder of Rays Mill, GA.

Gravemarker of Thomas Marcus Ray, founder of Rays Mill, GA.
Epitaph of Thomas Marcus Ray
The pains of death are past.
Labor and sorrow cease.
and Life’s long warfare closed at last.
His soul is found in peace.

Thomas Marcus Ray was born on September 20, 1822,  in the area of Georgia that would later be known as Griffin, Monroe County, GA.  His parents were Thomas and Mary Ray.  Little is known of his early life.

The 1850 census  shows at age 28 Thomas M. Ray was working as a mechanic in Twiggs County, GA.  He  married Mary Jane Albritton on March 3, 1852  in Houston County, GA. She was the daughter of Allen and Rebecca Albritton, and the sister of Matthew H. Albritton.

Marriage Certificate of Thomas Marcus Ray and Mary Jane Albritton, March 3, 1852, Houston County, GA.

Marriage Certificate of Thomas Marcus Ray and Mary Jane Albritton, March 3, 1852, Houston County, GA.

The newlyweds moved to the area of Lowndes County that was later cut into present day Berrien County, GA.  A little more than a year later, Mary Jane gave birth to a son, John William Allen Ray, on May 10, 1853.

Sadly, just six days later Mary Jane died and Thomas, a 31 year old widower,  was left to raise the infant on his own. Thomas buried Mary Jane in the cemetery at Union Primitive Baptist Church, which was the only church in the area. Union Church, now known as Burnt Church, is located on the Alapaha River in present day Lakeland, Lanier County, Georgia.

Gravemarker of Mary Jane Albritton Ray, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA.

Gravemarker of Mary Jane Albritton Ray, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA.

In 1853 this section of the state was only sparsely populated, and most of the settlers in the area gathered at least once a month at Union Church for services.  Thomas Ray was among those who attended.  It may be there that he met the 17 year old Mary Adelaide Knight.   She was the daughter of Levi J. Knight, a renowned Indian fighter and prominent planter in the area.  She was also the granddaughter of the Reverend William A. Knight, one of the founders of the Union Church and the first state senator elected to represent Lowndes County.  The following year, on August 22, 1854 Thomas M. Ray and Mary Adelaide Knight were married.

Thomas and Mary established their homestead on lot #516 in the 10th district of Lowndes County near Grand Bay, on land that Thomas purchased from his wife’s grandfather, William A. Knight, in 1855.  This land was soon to be cut into Berrien County in 1856 (and later into Lanier county).  Thomas’ father-in-law, Levi J. Knight, was instrumental in laying out the boundaries of the newly formed Berrien county.

On this land, the newlywed couple settled down to raise a family. In 1855, a daughter was born,  whom they named Mary Susan Ray. In 1858 a son was born to the couple, Thomas M. Ray, Jr.  and in the spring of 1860 Mary A. delivered another son, Charles F. Ray.

The Census of 1860 shows that Thomas M. Ray was clearly a wealthy man in his day.  On the census form his occupation  is listed as merchant.  At that time owned $2000 in real estate, and held $10,400 in personal estate. If he had a comparable net worth in 2007, he would certainly have been a multimillionaire.

The 1860 Census indicates that, in addition to the Ray children, two other youngsters were living with the Ray’s.  John T. Ray, Thomas Ray’s 15 year old nephew, lived with the family and attended school along with his cousins.  John T. Ray would be killed in a train wreck in 1888 (see Railroad Horror! 1888 Train wreck kills John T. Ray and 30-odd others.) A young girl  nine-year-old Efare Hayes (aka Ellifare Hayes), who was also living in the Ray household did not attend school.  Later census forms show that she was a domestic servant for the Rays. The census records show Ray’s neighbors were John Gaskins and Louie M. Young. The 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules show in that year Thomas M. Ray also was a slave owner, with one black female slave and one slave house enumerated.

Together, Thomas M. Ray and Mary Adelaide Knight had nine more children between 1855 and 1876, their last son being born in the year of Thomas’ death.

In the early 1860’s Thomas Ray partnered with his father-in law Levi J. Knight to build a grist mill and mill pond (now known as Ray’s Millpond) on Beaverdam Creek on land owned by L. J. Knight.  Mr. Knight would provide the land for the project, Mr. Ray would be mechanic and operator.    With the assistance of slave labor, the Ray family began the work to construct the earthen dam that would create an impoundment on Beaverdam Creek. In her later years, Mary Susan Ray, daughter of Thomas and Mary A. Ray, recalled that she helped build the dam when she was young child. ” Each day the family would load all equipment into the wagon, go over and work all day on the dam.”  In the age before power equipment the construction of the earthen dam that created the millpond was a massive undertaking. The dam is 1200 feet long with an average height of 12 feet, 12 feet wide at the top and 20 feet wide at the base.  It took approximately 10,800 tons of earth, dug and moved by human muscle to construct the dam.

It was while the dam was under construction that the initial hostilities of the Civil War broke out. On  April 12, 1861 at 4:30 a.m. Confederate  forces opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.  During the Civil War, Thomas Ray’s father-in-law, Levi J. Knight, and his future son-in-law Henry H. Knight both served in the 29th Georgia Volunteer Infantry.  Thomas himself, was a major in the 138th Battalion, 6th Military District, Lowndes, County, GA. There is no record that this unit saw active duty during the war.

Thomas M. Ray was apparently at his home near Grand Bay in the fall of 1861, for Mary delivered another daughter the following spring: Sarah Jane “Sallie” Ray was born May 23, 1862.  According to a history of the Wiregrass area published by the Coast Plain Area Planning & Development Commission, Thomas M. Ray began operation of the grist mill, known as “Knight and Ray’s Mill”  on November 7, 1863.

Ray's Mill, Ray City, Berrien County, GA

Ray’s Mill, Ray City, Berrien County, GA

Thomas Ray was still at home in the late summer to early fall of 1864, for in the spring of 1865 James David Ray was born on April 30, 1865, just days after the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox.

After the war, in 1866 Thomas Ray bought land from his partner and father-in-law, Levi J. Knight, where the Rays constructed a new home and moved their family. This land was 225 acres of  lot #424 in the 10th district of Berrien County,  on the west side of Beaver Dam Creek right next to the grist mill.  Nearby were the homes of his mother- and father-in-law, Levi J. and Ann Knight, and his wife’s cousin Henry H. Knight.  To the west of the Ray farm was the property of William Gaskins.

Even after the Civil War ended slavery, cotton was the major agricultural concern in the south.  In 1869, Thomas Ray and William Roberts set up a mill for ginning and carding cotton on Beaverdam Creek downstream from Ray’s Mill.  From that point on the creek came to be known as both Beaverdam Creek and Card Creek.   The cotton mill was situated on land purchased from the estate of William Washington Knight, deceased brother-in-law of T. M. Ray.   (W.W. Knight died of disease during the Civil War; see The Poetry of Mary Elizabeth Carroll.)  The mill site included 30 acres on lot #452 and the right to impound water on lot #451, just east of #452. “This operation was apparently taking advantage of a small pond and dam already put in place by John Knight whose property it adjoined…” The dam site was on Beaverdam Creek about 20 yards just east of present day Pauline Street in Ray City, GA..

In early August of 1870 when the census was enumerated for the 1144th Georgia Militia District, the household of Thomas M. and Mary Ray  included  their children  William A.,  Mary  S., Thomas M. Jr., Charles F., Sarah J., James D., and one year old Elizabeth Texas Ray.  Also living with the family was Thomas Ray’s mother, Mary Ray, 78 years of age. Ellifare Hayes, the family maid was now a young woman of 19. Eight year old Ellin Jones  was an African-American domestic servant also living in the Ray household.  In 1870  Thomas M. Ray’s personal estate was valued at $5000 and his real estate at $2714.   His neighbors included  Robert A. Elliott and Annis Lastinger Elliott, and their children.  Robert A. Elliott was a mechanic and a hand at the wool mill. Another neighbor was Isaac J. Edmonsen.

General Levi J. Knight, long time friend, partner and father-in-law of Thomas Ray, died on  February 23, 1870 in the community where he lived (nka Ray City) in Berrien County, Georgia.  Afterwards, Thomas Ray bought out L. J. Knight’s interests  in the grist mill and the land, including water-flow rights, from the General’s estate.  Over time the mill became the focal point of a community which came to be known as Ray’s Mill, GA.

Willis Allen Ray was born in 1871, and Robert Jackson Ray in 1873.

The 1874 tax digest show that Thomas M. Ray was an employer; working for him was Andrew Wilkins, a Freedman and farmhand who lived near Rays Mill.

In 1874 when Mercer Association missionary Reverend J. D. Evans came to Ray’s Mill, Thomas M. Ray was deeply moved by the baptist’s message.  Thomas M. Ray must have attended the church meetings in the old log school house and the big revivals that were held in May and July, for he became instrumental in the formation of a Baptist Church at Ray’s Mill (see Men at Beaver Dam Baptist Church.)  On September 20, 1874 a small group of followers met with Reverend J. D. Evans  at  the  home of Thomas and Mary Ray to organize the church.  Thomas M. Ray. and David  J. McGee were elected to represent the new church to the Mercer Baptist Association and were sent as messengers to the Valdosta Church. The Reverend J. D. Evans wrote a petitionary letter which they carried to the association. In November 1874 Thomas M. Ray was appointed to a church building committee along with James M. Baskin and D. J. McGee. He served on the committed that selected and procured the site for the construction of the church building. He continued to serve on the building committee until his death.

In 1876, Joseph Henry Ray was born.

Children of Thomas Marcus Ray and Mary Jane Albritton (1836 – 1853)

  1.  John William Allen Ray (1853 – 1934)

Children of Thomas Marcus Ray and Mary A Knight (1836 – 1923)

  1. Mary Susan Ray (1855 – 1926)
  2. Thomas Marcus Ray, Jr (1858 – 1923)
  3. Charles Floyd Ray (1860 –
  4. Sarah Jane (Sally) Ray (1862 – 1938)
  5. James David Ray (1865 – 1937)
  6. Elizabeth Texas Ray (1869 – 1952)
  7. Willis Allen Ray (1871 – 1901)
  8. Robert Jackson Ray (1873 – 1954)
  9. Joseph Henry Ray (1876 – 1907)

Thomas M. Ray died June 14, 1876.  His death was announced in The Valdosta Times:

The Valdosta Times
Saturday, July 1, 1876
Thomas M. Ray

Maj. T.M. Ray, a prominent citizen of Berrien County, died last week, after a long spell of illness.

His lodge brothers in Butler Lodge No. 211 Free and Accepted Masons provided this tribute:

The Valdosta Times
Saturday Aug 26. 

     Tribute Of Respect , Butler Lodge No. 211 F.A.M.  Milltown, Ga., Aug. 12th, 1876. Whereas, it hath pleased the Grand Architect of the Universe, in His wise Providence, to remove from labor, in the lodge on earth, to refreshment (as we trust) in the Great Grand Lodge in Heaven, or brother Thomas M. Ray

Therefore be it

     Resolved, 1st. That, in his death Masonry has lost a worthy brother, the neighborhood an upright and honest citizen; his family a kind husband, and indulgent father and a good provider.

     Resolved, 2nd. That while we mourn his loss and miss his association, we bow with meek submission to the will of Him who doeth all things well.

     Resolved, 3rd. That we cherish his memory and recommend to the emulation of the Craft Iris virtues and the uprightness and integrity of his character.

     Resolved, 4th. That we extend to the family an relatives of our deceased brother our heartfelt sympathies, praying upon them the guidance and protection of our common Heavenly  Father.

     Resolved, 5th. That a blank page in our minute book be inscribed to his memory, and that a copy of this preamble and resolution be furnished the family of brother Ray, and a copy furnished the Berrien County News, for publication and the Valdosta Times requested to copy.

By order of Butler Lodge No. 211 F. &A.M.

Ogden H. Carroll, T.O. Norwood, Jesse Carroll,  Com.

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Men at Beaver Dam Baptist Church

A group of men assembled at Beaver Dam Baptist Church (now known as Ray City First Baptist Church), Ray City, GA.  This was before the present brick church was built.

A group of men assembled at Beaver Dam Baptist Church (now known as Ray City First Baptist Church), Ray City, GA. The church building was the original wooden structure that served before the present brick church was built. (Identifications Needed.)

Walter Howard Knight, photographed at Beaver Dam Baptist Church (now known as Ray City Baptist Church), Ray City, GA.

Walter Howard Knight, photographed at Beaver Dam Baptist Church (now known as Ray City Baptist Church), Ray City, GA.

Walter Howard Knight, a son of William Washington Knight (1829 – 1863) and  Mary E Carroll (1839 – 1906), is the only identified individual in the photo above.  He was born November 28, 1859 in Berrien Co., GA and died June 13, 1934.  Walter Howard Knight is buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

BEAVER DAM BAPTIST CHURCH
In 1874 when Mercer Association missionary Reverend J. D. Evans came to Ray’s Mill, GA  Thomas M. Ray was deeply moved by the Baptist’s message.  Thomas M. Ray must have attended the church meetings in the old log school house and the big revivals that were held in May and July, 1874, for he became instrumental in the formation of a Baptist Church at Ray’s Mill.  On September 20, 1874 a small group of followers met with Reverend J. D. Evans  at  the  home of Thomas and Mary Ray to organize the Beaver Dam church.  Thomas M. Ray. and David J. McGee were elected to represent the new church to the Mercer Baptist Association and were sent as messengers to the Valdosta Church. The Reverend J. D. Evans wrote a petitionary letter which they carried to the association. In November 1874 Thomas M. Ray was appointed to a church building committee along with James M. Baskin and David J. McGee. He served on the committed that selected and procured the site for the construction of the church building. He continued to serve on the building committee until his death.

The original wooden church building at Beaver Dam was constructed by W.A. Bridges and James M. Baskin (see Baskin Family Helped Found Ray City Baptist Church).  Construction began in  January of 1875.  Baskin and Bridges hand hewed the timbers to frame the church.   Sawn lumber were purchased but had to be dressed by hand. The building was finished with windows and siding. The pulpit, table and pews were all built on site. J.M. Baskin made the doors himself.

Baskin Family Helped Found Ray City Baptist Church

Baskin monument, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Baskin monument, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

 

Frances Bell and James Madison Baskin were among the pioneer families that settled in the Ray City, GA area.

Frances was a member of the Troupville Baptist Church (now the First Baptist Church of Valdosta).  After the New Bethel Church, Lowndes County, was organized 1871, Frances and James were united with it.

Three of their daughters, Georgia Ann Baskin, Martha J. Baskin, and  Sarah E. Baskin were among founding members of Beaverdam Church  who met in the home of Mary and Thomas M. Ray, Sr. with Reverend J. D. Evans on September 20, 1874 to organize the church. While the minutes of that September meeting do not show their father, James Madison Baskin, present at the organizational meeting, he is listed on the plaque honoring charter members along with W.A. Bridges.    James and Frances remained members of the Ray City church for life.

In October 1874 J.M. Baskin was elected first deacon of the church , becoming ordained on March 21, 1875. He served on the committee that selected and procured the site for the construction of the church building.  According to notes written by Mary A. Ray, James M. Baskin and W.A. Bridges were the builders of the church building. Construction began in  January of 1875. Baskin and Bridges hand hewed out all the timber to frame the church. Windows and sawn lumber were purchased but had to be dressed by hand. The pulpit, table and pews were all built on site. J.M. Baskin made the doors himself.  He continued to serve as a deacon of the church until 1903 when dismissed by letter.

Frances Bell Baskin died on June 3, 1885 in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia.  James Baskin was a widower, 56 years old, the youngest of his 11 children just 9 years old. He decided to re-marry. Just six months later, on Dec 30 1885 he married Mary Ann Harrell. She was a native of Lowndes County, born in  Nov. 29, 1859. At 27, she was a prominent citizen experienced in public service, and a former Ordinary (probate judge) of Lowndes county. This union produced six children.

James Madison Baskin lived on his land near Ray City with his second wife until his death on July 7, 1913 .  He and both of his wives are buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery in Ray City.

The graves of James Madison Baskin (1829-1913) and his two wives, Frances J. Baskin (1833-1885) and Mary A. Baskin (1859-1917). The obelisk marking the three graves is the largest monument in Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Civil War Service of James Madison Baskin

James M. Baskin, early settler of the Ray City area, fought in the Civil War.  He owned many slaves who worked at his farm, cotton gin and other enterprises.  At the start of the war he was about 32 years of age, and like other able-bodied southern men he joined the Confederate army.  He left behind his wife, Frances Bell Knox Baskin, to care for their young family and to administer the Baskin farm and business interests.

On May 6, 1862 he enlisted at Nashville, GA and was first mustered into the 5th Georgia Infantry along with other recruits. This unit became the 54th Georgia Volunteer Infantry at Savannah, Georgia on June 5.   James Baskin was enlisted a private in Company E, the Berrien Light Infantry, under the command of Captains J. H. Evans and H. M. Tally.  Other soldiers in the Berrien Light Infantry included John Lee, George Washington Knight,  William Varnell Nix, Stephen Willis Avera, William J. Lamb, Samuel Guthrie, Matthew Albritton, Littleton Albritton, William Henry Outlaw, and Benjamin Sirmans. Jehu Patten, of the Rays Mill District of Berrien County, GA, served as 4th Sergeant of  Company E.

The regiment served for some time in the department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

Confederate service records show in November and December, 1862  Pvt. James M. Baskin was on extra duty as a “Boatman.” Baskin’s service records for the first half of 1863 are missing, but during January and February, 1863 Company E was stationed at Coffee Bluff south of Savannah.  The orders from March 1863 show Company E was among the units assigned to the Savannah River Batteries and other  defenses. 

James M. Baskin may have returned home some time around June of 1863 as his wife, Frances, delivered the couple’s first son, James B. Baskin, on February 9, 1864. Or perhaps Frances traveled to Savannah to visit James that summer of 1863.  Martha Guthrie and other housewives of Berrien County are known to have made this trip to see their husbands the following year.

Pvt. Baskin was recorded on extra duty at Savannah from July 1, 1863 to April 1864, Baskin was serving as a mechanic.

Meanwhile, in July of 1863, Company E and other infantry units of the 54th Regiment were moved up to the Charleston area, where they were involved in numerous engagements.  On July 10 and 11, 1863. U. S. Army forces had made an assault against Battery Wagner on Morris Island, know as the First Battle of Fort Wagner.  The construction engineer of Battery Wagner was Langdon Cheves; he was killed by one of the first shells thrown into the Battery, but the  attack was repulsed. From mid-July to September 1863 the 54th GA Regiment was involved in the defense of Charleston Harbor at Battery Wagner.  On July 16th, they fought in the engagement near Grimball’s Landing, James Island, South Carolina.     A second assault was made on Battery Wagner July 18, but was also repulsed (Second Battle of Fort Wagner).

The 54th Georgia Regiment was reconstituted on April 22, 1864. The regiment moved to Dalton, GA arriving on May 2, 1864 and went into action in the Atlanta Campaign. They fought almost daily engagements: from May 7-13 demonstrations at Rocky Face Ridge; May 14-15 actions at Lay’s Ferry, Oostenaula River, GA.; May 17 engagement at Adairsville,Ga.;  May 19 combat near Cassville,GA.; May 25-26 Battle of New Hope Church.

On May 25-June 5  the 54th Regiment was participating in operations on the line of Pumpkin Vine Creek, Paulding County, just north of the town of Dallas, GA.

On June 10-July 3 Operations about Marietta and the Pine Mountain-Lost Mountain line; June 27 Battle of Kennesaw Mountain;  July 5-July 17 Operations on the line of the Chattahoochee River; July 20 Battle of Peachtree Creek.

During the Battle of Atlanta, on July 22, 1864 , James M. Baskin was wounded in the hip – one of 83 casualties the Regiment suffered in that engagement.

“He lay all night on the ground. The next day he heard a rustling in the grass and called out.  He was rescued by a Yankee soldier.”

He spent time in  hospital in Lagrange, GA until in April 1865 he was furloughed ‘wounded’  and returned to his home to Berrien County.  While James was away, Frances ran the Baskin farm and cotton gin.   With the end of the war, James Baskin returned to farm life.  After the Baskin’s slaves were freed, most made their homes on the farm and lived out their lives there.

While working in the gin Frances had contracted a form of tuberculosis. She died on June 3, 1885 in Rays Mill (now known as Ray City), Berrien County, Georgia.

The widower James Baskin, with minor children still at home, decided to re-marry.  On December 30, 1885 he married Mary Ann Harrell of Lowndes County.  This union produced six children.

In his old age, James M. Baskin applied for and received an annual Indigent Soldier’s pension.  His applications stated that he applied on account of “age and poverty.” He was in bad physical condition and suffered from rheumatism. His application stated his wife owned a small farm where they lived with five children, and up until that time he was “trying to farm” and “made a scant living.’

James Madison Baskin Settled at Beaver Dam Creek.

James Madison Baskin, first of the Baskin family to settle in the Ray City area, came to Berrien county about the time it was created in 1856.  He was the grandfather of Armstrong B. Baskin, and great grandfather of Mary Frances Baskin. James M. Baskin was born 6 April 1829 in Houston County, GA, one of thirteen children born to Sarah Goode and James G. Baskin.  His father was born 1792 in Abbeville District, SC.  and came to Georgia as a child.

When grown to adulthood, James M. Baskin left his family home with two slaves given to him by his father.  These slaves were experienced in construction, and James went into business as a building contractor.

While on a stay in Atlanta, James M. Baskin resided at the Bell House, a boarding house said to be the first hotel in Atlanta. There, he met the proprietor’s daughter, Frances Bell Knox.  She was  a widow with a three-year-old son, Alton Knox.  (The 1850 Dekalb County census  records show that by the age of 17 she was married to Joseph Knox, age 28, and that the couple had a one year old son named Alton.)

About 1852, Frances Bell Knox and James Madison Baskin were married  in Houston County.  In 1853, Frances gave James a daughter,  Fannie E. Baskin.  Another daughter, Sarah “Sallie” E., followed in 1856.

James M. Baskin’s father died in 1856.  About that time he decided to move his family from their home in Houston County.  His adopted son was now seven years old, his daughter three. His wife was probably either pregnant or was caring for their second infant daughter Sarah “Sallie” E., who was born that same year.   Who knows his reasons for uprooting his young family?  The Indian wars were over – south Georgia was secure. The Coffee Road provided a migration route and there was a steady southward flow of settlers.  Perhaps the disposition of his father’s estate incited him to move.  Perhaps he foresaw the coming war and wanted his family farther from north Georgia military objectives, or perhaps he saw more opportunities in the new counties being opened in southern Georgia.

It was in 1856 that Berrien County was cut out of Lowndes County; Levi J. Knight and others were setting boundaries and surveying the new county. James M. Baskin brought his family to the area of Beaverdam Creek in the southernmost part of the new county.  He settled about a mile outside of present day Ray City, GA  on land Lots 470 and 471 in the 10th land district. Tax records from the 1870s show James M. Baskin owned 1080 acres pf land in Berrien county,  relatively valuable land appraised at $1.85 per acre.

1869 Berrien County Map detail showing location of land lots #470 and 471.

1869 Berrien County Map detail showing location of land lots #470 and 471.

Over the next five years three more daughters were added to the Baskin family: Georgia Ann (1857), Martha J. (1859), and Mary J. (1861)

The Civil War came along and James M. Baskin joined the Confederate army, enlisting as a private in the 54th Georgia Infantry. He fought throughout the war and was wounded in the Battle of Atlanta.

After the war, James Baskin returned to farm life.  Over the next ten years he and Frances had five more children.  In all,  James M. Baskin and Frances Bell had 11 children. James and Frances Baskin, and some of their children, were active in the formation of Beaver Dam Baptist church, now known as Ray City Baptist Church.

Children of James Madison Baskin and  Frances Bell:

  1. Baskin, Fannie E. (1853 – 1892) m. William A. K. Giddens
  2. Baskin, Sarah “Sallie” E. (1856 – ) m. Thomas M. Ray, Jr.
  3. Baskin, Georgia Ann (1857 – 1934) m. Leonard L. Roberts
  4. Baskin, Martha J. (1859 – 1950) m. David C. Clements, Dec. 22, 1881
  5. Baskin, Mary J. (1861 – 1902) m. Ulysses A. Knight
  6. Baskin, James B. (1864 – 1943) m. Fannie Ellen Hagan, dau. of John W. Hagan, Dec. 15, 1887
  7. Baskin, Callie D. (1866 – 1890)  m. John T. Smith
  8. Baskin, William H. (1869 – ) m. Mamie Harrell, dau. of John W.
  9. Baskin, Emma (1872 – ) m. George T. Patten
  10. Baskin, Maggie May (1874 – 1898) m. Robert L. Patten
  11. Baskin, Ollie (1876 – ) m. L. H. Dasher

Frances Bell Knox Baskin died on June 3, 1885 at Rays Mill (now Ray City), Berrien County, Georgia.

James Baskin was a widower, 56 years old, the youngest of his 11 children just 9 years old. He decided to re-marry. Just six months later, on Dec 30 1885 he wed Mary Ann Harrell. She was a native of Lowndes County, born in  Nov. 29, 1859. At 27, she was a prominent citizen experienced in public service, and a former Ordinary (probate judge) of Lowndes county.

Children of James Madison Baskin and Mary Ann Harrell, – m. 30 DEC 1885 in Lowndes County, Georgia

  1. Baskin, Alonzo L. (1886 – ) b.   Nov. 17, 1886, m. Corine Rodriguez
  2. Baskin, Verdie (1888 – ) b.   Dec. 17, 1888, m. James W. Lovejoy
  3. Baskin, Infant (1891 – 1891)
  4. Baskin, Ruby (1893 – ) b.   May 16, 1893, m. Walter M. Shaw
  5. Baskin, Ruth (1894 – 1922) b.   Dec. 15, 1894, died single, age 22 years
  6. Baskin, John Holmes (1897 – ) b.   Oct. 8, 1897, m. Mrs. Laura Hall Sweat of Waycross

James Madison Baskin lived on his land near Ray City with his second wife until his death on July 7, 1913. Mary Ann Harrell Baskin  died April 29, 1917.

He and both of his wives are buried in the Ray City Cemetery.

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Samuel Guthrie and the Capitulation of Macon

Samuel Guthrie,  whose Ray City, GA family connections have been the discussion of earlier posts, was a Confederate veteran.  His  unit, Company E, 54th Georgia Volunteers, fought all over Georgia; at Dug Gap, Kennesaw Mountain, and Atlanta, and other battle locales.  Matthew Hodge Albritton, James Baskin, William Gaskins, George W. Knight, William Lamb, Jeremiah May, Rufus Ray, and Samuel Sanders among other Berrien countians also served in this Company.  On April 20-21, 1865, two weeks after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox the 54th Georgia Volunteers, under the command of General Howell Cobb, joined in the last, futile defense of Macon.

After the war, the Federal records reported the circumstances:

Macon, Ga.,
April 20, 1865.

2nd Cavalry Division, Military Division of Mississippi.

This affair was the last engagement of Wilson’s raid through Alabama and Georgia. When within 20 miles of Macon the advance division encountered a Confederate cavalry command of 400 men. By a series of brilliant charges by the 17th Ind. the enemy was driven from behind every barricade where he took refuge and was completely routed, throwing away arms and ammunition in the haste of his flight.

When nine miles out of the city a Confederate flag of truce was met announcing an armistice between Sherman and Johnston, but Col. Robt. H. G. Minty, commanding the advance, refused to honor it and gave it five minutes to get out of the way. The Federals then continued the charge and dashed over the works into the city, which was surrendered by Gen. Howell Cobb.

The results of the capture were 350 commissioned officers, 1,995 enlisted men, 60 pieces of artillery, a large amount of small arms, and all public works.

The casualties were not reported.

Source: The Union Army, Vol.,6 p.,580

In his memoirs, General James Harrison Wilson wrote

“It is a matter of history that Cobb was not only one of the largest slaveholders, but an original secessionist, whose proudest boast was that his state followed him, not he his state. Nor is there any doubt that from the first he threw his whole heart and fortune into the Confederate cause, but he was sagacious enough to know when Lee and Johnston surrendered and Davis became a fugitive that the end had come and from that moment he did all in his power to restore order and confidence and to help earnestly in the work which pressed upon me at Macon.”

Samuel Guthrie lived through the War  and mustered out on 10 May 1865 at Tallahassee, FL.  He returned to his home in Berrien County where he lived out the rest of his days.

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