Judge Carleton Bicknell Cole

Carlton Bicknell Cole

Carleton Bicknell Cole

Judge Carleton Bicknell Cole (1803-1876)
Carleton B. Cole twice served as judge of the Southern Circuit and later presided over the courts of the Macon Circuit. In 1848 in the Lowndes County court at Troupville, GA, he was defense attorney for  Manuel and Jonathan Studstill, in the September 7, 1843 murder of William Slaughter, facing Augustin H. Hansell, solicitor general, for the prosecution. About Carlton Bicknell Cole: son of George Abbott Cole and Emmeline (Carleton) Cole. Born in Amherst, MA, August 3, 1803. Graduated Middlebury College, VT, in 1822. Taught and studied law in North Carolina. Admitted to the bar, 1826, and in 1827 removed to Macon, GA. Married Susan Taylor, September 6, 1827. (Children: Ann Eliza; Emmeline Carleton; John Taylor; George Abbott; Carleton Bicknell.) Incorporator and stockholder of The Commercial Bank at Macon, 1831. Judge of the Southern Circuit Court of Georgia, 1833-1847. Chairman of the Convention of Judges of the Superior Courts of Georgia, 1840. Operated a private law school at Midway, GA, 1844-1845. Opened a law practice in Milledgeville, GA, 1846. Admitted to practice before the Georgia Supreme Court, 1846. Chair of the Democratic Republican party of Twiggs County, 1847; A pro-Union Democrat in politics. Professor of Law, Oglethorpe University, 1847-1854. Resumed his law practice in Macon, 1854. Delegate to the State Constitutional Convention, 1865. Judge of the Macon Circuit Court, 1865-1873. Professor of Law, Mercer University, 1875-1876.  Died in Macon, GA, January 23, 1876.

 

The Sunny South
March 22, 1884

Bench and Bar of Georgia

Sketches and Anecdotes of Distinguished Judges and Lawyers.

Number 23.

By R. W. D.

Carleton B. Cole.

Carleton Bicknell Cole was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, August 7, 1803. His father died quite suddenly when the child was but a few months old, leaving him to the care of a young mother. His school advantages were good; he loved his books, became a close student and at the age of 19 graduated at Middlebury College, Vermont. His health having become impaired in consequence of his sedentary habits and close and unremitting application, he was sent to North Carolina that he might breathe the balmy Southern air and recuperate his wasted vitality. Being detained here from time to time, he finally decided to make the South his permanent home, and casting about for a permanent location, determined to adopt the profession of law. He commenced the study in the office of Judge Frederick Nash, of Hillsboro, and after a thorough course under that distinguished lawyer, was duly admitted to the bar. In 1826 Mr. Cole came to Georgia, locating in the then small town of Macon, where, in partnership with Hon. John G. Polhill (afterwards Judge of the Ocmulgee Circuit) he commenced the practice. While in Hillsboro, N.C. he had contracted marriage with Miss Susan N. Taylor, and therefore so soon as he had established himself in Georgia he returned to claim her as his wife. This good lady shared with him for many years his fortunes and reverses.
      Of the public life of Judge Cole I shall give nearly the whole space of this memoir to a communication from one who knew and loved him well.
General T. P. Smith, in Valdosta Times: 

“* * * * * He came to Georgia in 1826 or ’27 located in Macon to practice law and pursued the profession diligently for some years, when Gov. Schley appointed him to fill a vancancy on the bench of the Southern Circuit, caused by the death of Judge James Polhill. His commission bore date 13th April,1836, and not in 1833, as the Macon Telegraph erroneously stated. He took his seat on the bench at Pulaski Superior Court, third Monday in April, 1836, and continued to hold courts under his temporary appointment until the Legislature met in November ensuing.
When that body convened, the first important measure to engage its attention was the election of a Judge for the Southern Circuit. There were two candidates for the office, viz: Carleton B. Cole and Arthur A. Morgan. The writer of these lines went into the gallery of the House of Representatives to witness the election and remembers the balloting of the members and the sore disappointment of the friends of Judge Cole, who had entertained strong hopes of his election. The counting of the votes disclosed the fact that his opponent had more than doubled him. As the election of Judge Morgan was only for one year his opponents resolved to contest his election at the next session. The Legislature of 1837 convened and when the election for Judge of the Southern Circuit came up the names of Judge Morgan and Carleton B. Cole were again announced as candidates, as they had been the session before. The writer again went into the gallery of the House to witness the election and remembers the balloting of members, the counting of votes and the general rejoicing of the friends of Judge Cole when the Speaker announced his election as judge of the Southern Circuit, over his competitor. The exact vote is not remembered, but it was probably only two or three majority.

      Of the friends who worked most earnestly and uncompromisingly, and without whose assistance the election of Judge Cole must have failed at the second trial, were certain attorneys practicing in the courts over which Judge Morgan presided. It was they who arraigned Judge M. before the members of the Legislature of 1837 to undo the work of the previous session.
      Judge Cole entered at once upon the duties of his office, and presided for the term of four years and, in 1841, was re-elected over Col. Patterson, of Early – who had been a prominent man in the politics of the State. Thus it appears that he served eight years on the bench besides the temporary appointment in 1836, of Gov. Schley. At the close of his judicial career in 1845, the names of the political parties in Georgia had been changed from Union and States Rights to Whig and Democrat, and Judge Scarborough was elected by a Whig legislature to succeed him.
        Judge Cole resumed the practice of his profession and was a regular attendant on the courts of Lowndes and other counties of the Southern Circuit many years after his retirement from the Bench. Eventually the war came, slavery fell and a new constitution was ordered or required to meet the changed political condition of the State. Upon its adoption and the reorganization of the different departments, Judge Cole was tendered the judgeship of the Macon Circuit. He appeared upon the Bench and held the office for several terms. Certain members of the Bar were anxious for his reappointment and petitioned the Governor in his behalf. To this his Excellency declined to accede, but bestowed the office upon another who at present occupies the Bench of that Circuit.
       The most of Judge Cole’s judicial service was prior to the organization of the Supreme Court of Georgia, and when the legal opinions of the judge, given from the Bench, was the received and recognized law of the case. This autocratic power, it was sometimes stigmatized by counsel in their zeal for clients, caused them now and then to impeach, openly or covertly, the integrity of the presiding judge. The writer remembers our judge in Georgia who was impeached and tried before the Legislature for no other purpose, it was believed by many, than to get rid of his judicial opinions. It was this violence at the Bar engendered by a paltry judicial system, that led to the noted duel between Flournoy and Walton in 1811. The nephew espoused the cause of his uncle, Judge Walton, and lost his life. Judge Cole could not wholly escape this sort of vituperation, but met it apparently with a stoic indifference. Fortunately for the country the Supreme Court was organized in 1845, to determine questions of litigation in the last resort. The measure was not only beneficial in producing a better feeling between the judges and lawyers, but has been the ground work of vast progress and improvement in the laws of the State.
       A word concerning Judge Cole as a lawyer at the Bar, and these remarks will be brought to a close. In his day he was a popular attorney and had the management of many important causes. In his arguments before the court and jury it cannot be said that he was either eloquent or sought to stir the passions of the human heart. His strong forte was in a calm appeal to the good sense of the party addressed; in doing this he was always logical and interesting and seldom failed to command the closest attention. In his intercourse, during court, with the members of the bar, the county officers, the jurors and witnesses in attendance for the trial of causes, he was uniformly courteous and instructive; and when not engaged in the transaction of the business, he showed the sociability of his nature by mingling freely with the people, and by this means he gained their confidence and esteem.
       Judge Cole lived in Georgia nearly fifty years, and was at no time a candidate for office, except for Judge of the Superior Court. At no time was he called or known as a statesman of politician. His convictions and principles attached him warmly to the union of the States under the Federal Constitution, and in all the contests of Georgia looking to a separation of the Union, he was found true to his long cherished political sentiments.
T.P.S.
Valdosta, Ga., February 8, 1876

      Thus in the forgoing communication do we have a brief but comprehensive view of Judge Cole as a lawyer and judge, together with a mention of his political views. It remains but to be said that he left behind him a high reputation for his judicial worth and went to his grave with an untarnished name.

      It was stated in the communication quoted above, that Judge Cole was never a candidate for any position except the bench, but to this must be added, that he was sent by the people of Bibb to the Convention of 1865, an important body, which assembled immediately after the war, for the purpose of adjusting matters of State to the new order of things and providing for the people in their new and anomalous condition. Judge Cole made a useful member of this Convention, and did much toward shaping the future of Georgia. As being in a judicial line, he accepted the chairmanship of the law school of Mercer University at Macon a few years before his death. “Here,” says the memorial passed by the faculty of that institution, “his previous experience as a lecturer, his extensive practice at the bar and his long occupancy of judicial office, gave him rare and valuable qualifications for the impartation of legal instruction. So wide were the resources of his experience,and so great was the mastery of his memory over them, that he was prepared to explain and enforce every principle of the science of law with copious illustrations. Retaining, in an advance age, the freshness and verdure of the hear, he felt a deep and abiding interest in young men; and he gave to the organization of the school over which he presided, and especially to his own department – Equity Jurisprudence and Practice – warm devotion and faithful labor.”
       As explanatory of the reference in the extract given, “his previous experience as a law lecturer,” it should have been stated that in 1840, after his first retirement from the bench, he opened a law class at Midway near Milledgeville, the then site of Oglethorpe College, which he continued to teach for seven years, having a steady attendance of 25 or 30 students.
      By reference to the Court Roll in this volume it will be seen that Judge Cole presided over the Southern Circuit three different times, and over the Macon Circuit also under three successive appointments, giving him in all nearly fifteen years on the bench.
      He was tall, dignified and courteous, combining in his personthe suaviter in modo and fortiter in res.
     He led a consistent Christian life, and died an active and loved member of the Episcopal Church.
   

    I select as a fitting close to this memoir an extract from the memorial resolution of the Macon Bar:
      “In all the relations of society and home, Judge Cole was not less distinguished than as a professional and public man. Dignified and urbane in manner, he had a tender heart and affectionate disposition. As a Christian he was meek and humble as a child, relying for salvation not upon his own merits, but upon the atoning blood of his Savior and his God.
      Into the sanctity of his household we dare not intrude, but who can doubt that he was all that is lovely in a father, a husband and a master. He has left us, after filling his allotted space of more than three score years and ten, brimful of usefulness and honor, and well may we proclaim him.

      “The friend of man, the friend of truth,
       The prop of age, the guide of youth;”

and with just pride declare,

      “Few hearts like his with vigor warmed,
       Few heads with knowledge so informed.”

And knowing that of this world he made the best, and employed his talents to the advancement of his race and the glory of his Maker, we feel well assured that in another and brighter world
‘he lives in bliss.'”

Carleton Bicknell Cole
entered life enternal
Jan. 23, 1876.

Post Offices of the Old Berrien Pioneers

EARLY POSTAL SERVICE

In was not until after the Civil War that mail service  at Rays Mill (Ray City, GA) became available.  But the mail was one of the earliest public services provided in the Wiregrass frontier of Georgia and the postal service for the region of present day Ray City stretches back more than 185 years.

Access to this early postal service was hardly convenient.  When pioneers like Levi J. Knight brought their families to Beaverdam Creek in the 1820s, this area of what was then Lowndes County was on the remote southern frontier.   A small frontier community was beginning to grow about ten miles to the east, near the Alapaha River where Lakeland now is, where a settler named Joshua Lee had established a grist mill a few years earlier.   Joshua Lee and his brother Jesse had come to the area in 1820 , and in 1821 began using slave labor and free labor to construct a dam to impound Banks Lake for a mill pond.

But, in 1825  no postal service had been established at the Lee Mill  nor anywhere else in the region. In 1827, when an official post office finally was established, it was situated on the Coffee Road, some 25 miles from where the Knights homesteaded on Beaverdam Creek.

McCRANIE’S POST OFFICE
The first post office in Lowndes County (which then encompassed present day Lowndes, Berrien, Cook, Brooks, Lanier, and parts of Tift, Colquitt, and Echols counties) was established on  March 27, 1827, at the home of Daniel McCranie on the newly opened Coffee Road.  Coffee’s Road was the first road in Lowndes County, but it was only a “road”  in the sense that it was a path cleared through the forest with tree stumps cut low enough for wagon axles to clear them.  Officially,    McCranie’s Post Office was designated simply as “Lowndes.”

The Waycross Journal-Herald
April 8, 1952 Pg 3

The McCranie Family

Daniel McCranie settled on the Coffee Road on lot of land No. 416, 9th District of present Cook County, according to the writer’s information.  It was at his home there that the first post office in Lowndes County was established March 27, 1827, and he became the first postmaster; was also there that the first term of Lowndes Superior Court was held in 1826.  The next year 1828, the post office was moved down Little River to a new place called ‘Franklinville’  which had been designated the county seat, and there William Smith became the postmaster.  The mail in those days was carried by the stage coach except to those offices off the main lines of travel when it was carried in saddlebags on horseback.

1830 Georgia map detail - original Lowndes County, showing only a conceptual location of Coffee Road, Franklinville, Withlacoochee River, and Alapaha River.

1830 Georgia map detail – original Lowndes County, showing only a conceptual location of Coffee Road, Franklinville, Withlacoochee River, and Alapaha River.

SHARPE’S STORE POST OFFICE
The Milledgeville Southern Recorder, May 17, 1828 announced that Hamilton W. Sharpe had opened a post office at Sharpe’s Store, Lowndes County, GA.

Hamilton W. Sharpe announces post office at Sharpe's Store, Lowndes County, GA. The Milledgeville Southern Recorder, May 17, 1828.

Hamilton W. Sharpe announces post office at Sharpe’s Store, Lowndes County, GA. The Milledgeville Southern Recorder, May 17, 1828.

Milledgeville Southern Recorder
May 17, 1828

A Post Office has been recently established at Sharpe’s Store, in Lowndes county, Geo. on the route from Telfair Courthouse to Tallahassee – Hamilton W. Sharpe, Esq. P.M.

Hamilton W. Sharpe served as Postmaster at Sharpe’s Store until 1836.  At that time the name of the post office was briefly changed to Magnum Post Office, with John Hall appointed as Postmaster.

FRANKLINVILLE POST OFFICE
Franklinville, having been selected in 1827 as the public site new county of Lowndes, was situated near  the Withlacoochee River at a location about 10 miles southwest of  Levi J. Knight’s homestead (see Reverend William A. Knight at old Troupville, GA; More About Troupville, GA and the Withlacoochee River.)

…the post office was moved down the Withlacoochee River to the home of William Smith on lot of land No. 50, 11th district of present Lowndes where the court house commissioners had only recently decided to locate the first court house and name the place ‘Franklinville.’  On July 7, 1828, the Post Office Department changed the name of the post office to ‘Franklinville’ and appointed Mr. Smith as postmaster.

Postmaster Smith’s annual salary in 1831 was $16.67.

FRANKLINVILLE
    The erstwhile town of Franklinville did not exist long –  only about four years.  At its best, it could only boast one store and three or four families and the court house.

    The court house was built there in 1828-29, and was a small crude affair, costing only $215.00.  The first term of court in it was held in the fall of 1829.

    William Smith was the first one to settle there, and was living there when the site was chosen.  The only other families to ever live there, so far as can be determined were John Mathis, James Mathis and Sheriff Martin Shaw.  After a short residence there the three last named moved to that part of Lowndes cut off into Berrien in 1856.

    There began to be dissatisfaction about the location of the court house.  It was off the Coffee Road which was the main artery of traffic and communication, and from the beginning was not an auspicious location.  The legislature in 1833 changed the county-site to lot of land No. 109 in the 12th district, about three miles below the confluence of Little River and the Withlacoochee River.  It was named ‘Lowndesville.”  The post office however was not moved there, but the little court house was torn down and moved there.”

Newspaper accounts of the time indicate the courthouse remained at Franklinville at least as late as 1835, when a big Fourth of July celebration was held there.  Among the speakers celebrating the “Declaration of American Independence” at Franklinville that day were Levi J. Knight, Hamilton Sharpe, Reverend Jonathan Gaulden, William Smith, John Blackshear, James Williams and John Dees.

By 1836, the federal government acted to ensure reliable postal routes to the post office at Franklinville to serve the residents of Lowndes County (although the county seat had been removed to Lowndesville.)

 CHAP. CCLXXI.- An Act to establish certain post roads, and to alter and discontinue others, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the following be established as post roads:

***

In Georgia—From Franklinville, Lowndes county, Georgia, via Warner’s Ferry, to Townsend post office, in Madison county, Territory of` Florida.From Jacksonville, Telfair county, via Holmesville, in Appling county, and Wearesboro, in Weare county, to Franklinville, in Lowndes county.

***

Approved July 2, 1836

This post road, built with slave labor, ran through Allapaha (now Lakeland), passed just south of L. J. Knight’s place, and continued west to Franklinville. With a public road established, a stagecoach route went into service from Thomasville, via Frankinville, to Waycross.

Detail of J.H. Young's 1838 Tourist Pocket Map of the State of Georgia showing the route from Waresboro to Thomasville, GA.

Detail of J.H. Young’s 1838 Tourist Pocket Map of the State of Georgia showing the route from Waresboro to Thomasville, GA.

Detail of Burr's 1839 map showing the route from Waresboro to Thomasville via Franklinville and Magnum, Lowndes County, GA

Detail of Burr’s 1839 postal map showing the route from Waresboro to Thomasville via Franklinville and Magnum, Lowndes County, GA

TROUPVILLE POST OFFICE
Only a year after the clearing of the post roads to Franklinville, it was decided to move the Lowndes county seat  yet again, this time from Lowndesville to a new site, named Troupville, at the confluence of the Withlacoochee and the Little River  (Map of Old Troupville, GA with Notes on the Residents).

November 10, 1841 letter from Samuel Swilley to Charles J. McDonald, Governor of Georgia, posted at Troupville, GA

November 10, 1841 letter from Samuel E. Swilley to Charles J. McDonald, Governor of Georgia, posted at Troupville, GA and reporting Indian activity in the area. Captain Samuel E. Swilley was a militia leader in the 1836-1842 Indian Wars in Lowndes County, GA.

1845 letter sent from Troupville, GA had franked by Postmaster William Smith. Image source: http://www.cortlandcovers.com/

1845 letter sent from Troupville, GA hand franked by Postmaster William Smith. Image source: http://www.cortlandcovers.com/

In 1837, the transfer of the post office and Postmaster William Smith from Franklinville to Troupville inconvenienced many residents of north Lowndes county, possibly prompting the resumption of postal service at Sharpe’s Store on Coffee Road.  The name of Magnum Post Office reverted to Sharpe’s Store Post Office, and Hamilton W. Sharpe was again Postmaster.

H. W. Sharpe re-opened the post office at Sharpe's Store. Southern Recorder, April 18, 1837

H. W. Sharpe re-opened the post office at Sharpe’s Store on the Coffee Road, Lowndes County, GA. Southern Recorder, April 18, 1837.

Unfortunately,  Sharpe’s Store was even farther distant from Beaverdam Creek;  the Knights, Clements, and their neighbors were left with a forty mile round trip to Troupville fetch the mail.  Sharpe himself served as Postmaster 1837 to 1848.  James Perry took over as Postmaster at Sharpe’s store from 14 December, 1848 to 16 August, 1849, when Sharpe returned to the position. John G. Polhill took the position 5 July, 1850, and Norman Campbell took over 21 August, 1850 to 21 July 1853 when the post office was moved to Morven, GA.

By 1838, Postmaster William Smith at Troupville was receiving weekly mail via routes from Waresboro and Bainbridge, and from San Pedro, Madison County, FL. In 1847 weekly mail was coming and going from Irwinville and Bainbridge, GA, and from Madison, FL.  William Smith continued as the Troupville Postmaster until  October 30, 1848 when attorney Henry J. Stewart took over.  On  August 16, 1849 William Smith resumed as Postmaster at Troupville.

Weekly service extended in 1851 to Waresboro, Albany and Irwinville, and to Columbus, FL.

Travel in the South in the 1830s

Travel in the South in the 1830s

 ALLAPAHA POST OFFICE
By the late 1830s, Allapaha (now Lakeland, GA), had grown into a bustling trade center with several mills and businesses. Ten miles east of Knight’s farm, Allapaha was situated at the point where the Franklinville-Jacksonville Post Road crossed the Alapaha River. In 1838 a post office was established there , and Benjamin Sirmans was the first postmaster.  Weekly mail service berween Waresboro or Waynesville and Troupville came by Allapaha.

Early Postmasters of Allapaha (now Lakeland, GA)

Benjamin Sermons Postmaster 06/27/1838
Isaac D. Hutto Postmaster 05/03/1841
James S. Harris Postmaster 03/05/1842
Samuel H. Harris Postmaster 09/12/1846
Peter Munford Postmaster 01/28/1848
James S. Harris Postmaster 02/09/1849
Andrew J. Liles Postmaster 11/27/1849

While Andrew J. Liles was Postmaster, the name of the town was changed from Allapaha to Milltown, GA.

FLAT CREEK POST OFFICE
Another early  Berrien post office was located at Flat Creek, about 15 miles north of present day Ray City, GA. This post office was established on August 9th, 1847. At that time, Flat Creek was a growing community located on one of the first roads in Berrien County, and warranted the establishment of a post office. The community center was built largely by Noah Griffin with the aid of his sons and African-American slaves.  “At the time of the establishment of the post office there was a saw mill, grist mill, cotton gin, a country store and farm, all owned and run by Noah Griffin and his sons…”   The J. H. Colton Map of Georgia, 1855 shows the Flat Creek community situated on Lyons Creek, a tributary of the Alapaha River now known as Ten Mile Creek. The store at Flat Creek was located on a road that connected Irwinville and points north to the town then known as Allapaha (now known as Lakeland, GA).

HAHIRA POST OFFICE
On May 7, 1852, a post office was opened at Hahira, GA and Barry J. Folsom was appointed as the first postmaster. Randal Folsom took over as postmaster in 1858. The post office at Hahira was closed in 1866, and postal service did not resume there until 1873.

STAR ROUTES
When Berrien County was created in 1856, there were still very few post offices in the area. “These were supplied by star routes, the carrier rode horseback.”   Prior to 1845, in areas inaccessible  by rail or water transportation delivery of inland mail was let out to bid by contractors who carried mail by stagecoach.  On March 3, 1845 Congress  established an Act which provided that the Postmaster General should grant contracts to the lowest bidder who could provide sufficient guarantee of faithful performance, without any conditions, except to provide for due celerity, certainty and security of transportation.  These bids became known as “celerity, certainty and security bids” and were designated on the route registers by three stars (***), thus becoming known as “star routes.”  In rural areas, a bidder who could provide delivery by wagon, or even horseback, could win a Star Route mail contract.

NASHVILLE POST OFFICE
With the creation of the new county of Berrien in 1856, a public site was selected and Nashville was established as the county seat. The site was near the geographic center of the county and located on the Coffee Road, one of the earliest public roads in Georgia. “Previous to the creation of Berrien County there had been for many years a farm and public inn located at this point on the Coffee Road.” “The new county site had been laid out and christened and stores, shops and eating houses and other industries had been launched, where only a few months before there had been a farm and cow pens.”  In 1857 a post office was established at Nashville to serve the new town and the county residents. The early road from Nashville to Milltown passed through the Rays Mill community by way of the residences of General Levi J. Knight, Isben Giddens, and John M. Futch. Although Levi J. Knight’s farm was situated at the midpoint on the Nashville – Milltown(Lakeland) road, it probably became a matter of convenience to post mail at Nashville as that was where the business of the county was conducted.

CONFEDERATE POSTAL SERVICE
With Secession, the services of the U.S. Post Office were lost to the South and to Berrien County. The Southern Recorder, Dec 29, 1863 reported on Acts passed by the [Confederate] Legislature and signed by the Governor, Joseph E. Brown, which included an act, “Requesting the establishment of a mail route between Milltown and Nashville in Berrien county.”  The 1864 Census for the Reorganization of the Georgia Militia shows that A. K. Harmon was then serving as a postmaster for the 1144th Georgia Militia District, which was centered on Ray’s Mill. After the war, Nathan W. Byrd, a Nashville farmer and father-in-law of Matthew H. Albritton, served as the mail carrier on the route between Nashville and Milltown (Lakeland), GA.

RAY CITY POST OFFICE

After the Civil War postal service was established at the present site of Ray City, GA.  The previous post, Posting Mail at Ray City, describes how the grist mill built by General Levi J. Knight and his son-in-law Thomas M. Ray on Beaverdam Creek became the first post station here.

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