The Family of Aden Boyd and Nancy Sykes

Aden Boyd and Nancy Sykes Boyd were among the  pioneer settlers of  Berrien County, GA.

According to Huxford, the children of Aden and Nancy were:

1. Blansett “Blanche” Boyd, born 1823, married Henry Tison.
2. David Boyd, born 1827, married Anna Ford, October 27, 1858.
3. Aden Boyd, Jr. born  1829, married Maxie Cook, daughter of Elijah Cook and Sarah “Sallie” Webb.
4. Lucinda Boyd, born  1832, married William Baldree, September 9, 1857.
5. Sarah Boyd,  born 1835, married Robert Lewis Taylor.
6. Mary E. Boyd,  born 1836, married Elbert J. Chapman.
7. Eliza H. Boyd, born 1838, married William J. Taylor, Jr., July 29, 1862.
8. William H. Boyd, born 1841, married – Tyson in Florida.

 Aden Boyd(1784-1864) was a son of David Boyd and Sarah Dabney. His father “was a Revolutionary soldier, enlisting in Culpepper County, VA, in Captain Ladson’s company, later being tranferred to Captain Clark’s company and serving under General Benjamin Lincoln at Charleston and Augusta” in the 1780’s.

After the Revolution, David Boyd RS settled in Old Washington County, GA. His property there was later cut into Montgomery and Tattnall counties.

“Aden Boyd was born in Georgia in 1800 according to the 1850 census, but in 1784 according to his tombstone.”

When Aden Boyd was about 12 years old his father was convicted of stealing a cow from a neighbor and received a severe sentence which included 117 lashes and being branded with an “R” for Rustler. (In 1999 David Boyd’s descendants were able to secure a full and unconditional pardon for David Boyd.  See 1999 Pardon for Revolutionary Soldier Balances Scales of Justice  for the complete story.)

“His wife, Nancy, was born 1802 in this state according to the 1850 census, but her tombstone shows she was born 1790. They were married in Tattnall County, GA on December 19, 1819 by J.A. Tippins, Justice of the Peace.  The bride was formerly Nancy Sykes, daughter of Arthur Sykes (she had a brother of the same name), and had previously been married, so that her name in the marriage license appears as Nancy Jones.”

“Aden Boyd and wife immediately after their marriage, proceeded to Appling County and made their home there until about 1828-30, 

Aden and Nancy Boyd made their home in Appling county, and are documented as residents of Appling County in the Census of 1820.  In 1823 the couple had their first child, a daughter they named  Blansett. Around that same time Aden’s parents both died, passing within a month of each other in Tatnall County, Ga. When the Georgia legislature created Ware County in December, 1824 Aden Boyd’s home was cut into the new county. On July 11, 1826, Aden Boyd purchased lot #155 in the 8th land district of Ware County, near a railroad stop known as “Old Nine” or “Number Nine”- a lot now within the city limits of Waycross, GA.  Aden Boyd sold this lot to Jeremiah Walker on Sept. 24, 1827.

About 1827, a son was born to Aden and Nancy Boyd. They named the boy David Boyd, after his paternal grandfather. Around 1828, Aden Boyd moved his family  to Old Lowndes County, where he established a home in the portion of the 10th land district which in 1856 was cut into Berrien County.  It appears that Aden’s brother, Bani J. Boyd, and nephew, Henry Boyd came to Lowndes from Tatnall County about this same time and settled nearby. In 1829, Nancy delivered another boy and the couple named him Aden Boyd, Jr.

In 1830, Aden Boyd and his young family are enumerated in Lowndes County.   They were originally members of Union Church which they joined on professions of faith, he being baptized November 12, 1831, and she on January 7, 1832.

Mr. and Mrs. Boyd were neighbors of Dred Newbern and Jonathan Sirmans. Nearby were the homesteads of  Bani J. Boyd, and Henry Boyd. The census shows that Aden Boyd did not own any slaves at this time. Over the next eight years, four more daughters were born to the couple, Lucinda B. (1832), Sarah B. (1835), Mary E. (1836), and Eliza (1838).   County deed records show that on February 22, 1839, Aden Boyd purchased land from Levi J. Knight, original settler of Ray City, GA . This land was a part of lot 356, 10th district of what was then Lowndes but now Berrien County.

By about 1845, Aden and Nancy’s eldest daughter,  Blansett Boyd, married Henry Tison and settled with her husband on a farm next door to her parents.

The Agricultural Census of 1850 shows Aden Boyd owned 735 acres of land, 40 acres of it improved. The cash value of his farm was $400, and he owned another $50 in farming implements and machinery. His livestock included 3 horses, 20 milch cows, 24 other cattle, and 100 swine. The total value of his live stock was $460 dollars. He had 300 bushels of Indian corn and 40 bushels of oats.  He had 1 bale, 400 lbs, of ginned cotton; 50 bushels of peas and beans; 20 bushels of sweet potatoes, 50 lbs of butter, and $125 dollars’ worth of slaughtered animals. His neighbors were John F. Clements and Henry Tison.  Nearby was the farm of Aaron Knight, and his family.

 

About 1852, son Aden Boyd, Jr married Maxie Cook, daughter of Elijah Cook and Sarah “Sallie” Webb.  Aden and Maxie settled on a place next to Stephen W. Avera, father of William Greene Avera, and the neighboring farms of William H. Boyett, Moses G. Sutton, Elijah Cook, and Mark R. Watson.

According to Folks Huxford, Aden  and Nancy Boyd had continued as members of  Union Church but in 1854, with their children marrying and settling around them, “a meeting-house was erected on the Boyd lands called Boyd’s Meeting House. Aden Boyd gave land for a church and cemetery, and  a new church called Empire was organized there.  Empire Church is located near Five Mile Creek,  about six miles northeast of Ray City out the Sam I. Watson Highway, on Empire Road.

“Aden Boyd donated the land for Empire Church and Cemetery in Land Lot # 335, Lowndes County on 26 May 1855. The church lands were later cut into Berrien and Lanier counties. This deed transferring property from Aden to Empire is registered on page 369, Book A, Berrien County, GA deeds. Aden and Nancy were among the charter members of Empire Primitive Baptist Church, which was previously known as Boyd’s Meeting House. Aden’s tombstone inscription also states that he donated the ground for this cemetery. Minutes from the first church Conference held on Saturday, 27 May 1854 referred to the church as Boyd’s Meeting House, which was now to be called Empire.”

Mr. and Mrs. Boyd became charter-members of Empire Church by letter of transfer from Union Church dated March 11, 1854.” He and his wife continued as members at Empire for the rest of their lives.

On Feb 4, 1856, Aden Boyd and his sister, Mrs. Blansett Jones (wife of Abner Jones of Berrien County) Filed an application in Lowndes county for a pension as orphans of a deceased Revolutionary Soldier. Their pension application was denied since they were both adults with families of their own at the time of their father’s death.

Aden Boyd was one of the early rice growers of Berrien county. The Berrien County agricultural and manufacturing records  for 1860 show he had on hand 80 pounds of rice, along with 50 bushels of corn, 10 bushels of oats and 5 bushels of peas and beans.  By 1860, Aden Boyd kept a farm of just 100 acres for himself. Of this, 15 acres were improved and 85 unimproved. The land was assessed at $400, and his home furnishing were worth $5. His livestock consisted of one mule, two sheep, and ten swine, altogether valued at $100.

In 1860, Adin Boyd and his wife Nancy were living in Berrien County. His daughters Sarah, and Eliza H., and son William H. were enumerated in his household. His neighbors were William G. Aiken and Henry Tison.

Aden Boyd died in April 1864, and was  buried in the cemetery at the church he helped to found.  Nancy Sykes Boyd died in April, 1872 and was buried in the cemetery at the church.

aden-boyd-nancy-sykes

Grave marker of Nancy Sykes and Aden Boyd, Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA. Image detail courtesy of CT Zeigler http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=37125179

 ~

aden-boyd-nancy-sykes-detail

Inscription detail, grave marker of Nancy Sykes and Aden Boyd, Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

In 1857,  daughter Lucinda Boyd married William Baldree,  and the couple made their home adjacent to her parents and siblings.  The following year, David Boyd married Anna Ford and they also made their farm near his parents’ home place.

1860-boyd-family1

1860 census pages showing households of Aden Boyd and Nancy Sykes Boyd; Henry Tison and Blansett Boyd Tison; William; William Baldree and Lucinda Boyd Baldree; and David Boyd and Anna Ford Boyd.

Source: https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu111unit#page/n394/mode/1up

In June of 1859, Aden Boyd’s daughter Mary Boyd, married Elbert J. Chapman who was known locally as “Old Yeller” because of his pale complexion.  During the Civil War Old Yeller enlisted with Levi J. Knight’s company of Berrien Minute Men, and served in the 29th Georgia Regiment along with William Washington KnightJohn W. Hagan and other men of Berrien County.  But Chapman grew frustrated with relegation to a rear position and  abandoned his unit to seek action with  a westbound cavalry unit.  Although Chapman fought bravely with his new unit, he was eventually shot for his desertion from the 29th Georgia Infantry. Mary Boyd Chapman was later denied a Confederate Widow’s pension.

Sarah Boyd and Eliza Boyd married two brothers, Robert Lewis Taylor and William J. Taylor, respectively. They were brothers of Jemima Taylor, who married William Boyette.

The youngest son, William H. Boyd, married around the end of the Civil War or shortly thereafter.  According to Folks Huxford, he married a Tison woman in Florida.  The 1870 census provides her given name as “Georgia A.”, but no Georgia Tison has been located.  In 1870, William H. Boyd and wife Georgia, along with their sons Henry Harrison Boyd and Thomas H. Boyd, were making their household in the 1144 Georgia Militia District, the “Rays Mill” District of Berrien County, GA.  They were next door to William’s sister Blansett “Blanchy” and her husband, Henry Tison. Also living on the next farm was William’s widowed sister Mary Boyd Chapman, with her 8-year old daughter Mary A C Chapman and an infant daughter, 7-month-old Cressey Chapman.

Pages 91-92 of the 1870 Census of Berrien County, GA showing the adjacent households of Blansett Boyd Tison & Henry Tison; Jasper Tison; William H. Boyd & wife Georgia with sons Henry H Boyd and Thomas Boyd; and Mary Boyd Chapman with daughters Mary A C Chapman and Cressey Chapman.

Pages 91-92 of the 1870 Census of Berrien County, GA showing the adjacent households of Blansett Boyd Tison & Henry Tison; Jasper Tison; William H. Boyd & wife Georgia with sons Henry Harrison Boyd and Thomas Boyd; and Mary Boyd Chapman with daughters Mary A C Chapman and Cressey Chapman.

By 1880 William H. and Georgia Boyd had moved to the 1058 Georgia Militia District in Echols County, GA. They were enumerated there with their son Harrison.  Also in the Boyd household was William’s sister, Mary Chapman, and her daughter Cressey Chapman.

1880 Census, Echols County, GA, enumeration of the household of William H. Boyd & wife Georgia with son Henry Harrison Boyd, sister Mary Boyd Chapman, and niece Cressey Chapman.

1880 Census, Echols County, GA, enumeration of the household of William H. Boyd & wife Georgia with son Henry Harrison Boyd, sister Mary Boyd Chapman, and niece Cressey Chapman.

https://archive.org/stream/10thcensus0145unit#page/n58/mode/1up

It appears that Georgia Boyd died shortly after 1880 and that William H. Boyd remarried.   William H. Boyd, himself, apparently died before 1900, but his second wife, Penny Boyd, appears in the Valdosta, GA household of his adult son, Harrison Boyd, along with her minor children in the  census of 1900.

Related Posts:

Double Jeopardy for Rachel Sirmans

In Berrien County, GA in the summer of 1873  there arose a dispute between Burrell Hamilton Bailey and Bradford Ray over what has been described as  “some family matters.” On 23 of June, 1873, while the two men were in the community of Alapaha, GA  the argument turned violent. The exact nature of the dispute between Bradford Ray and B.H. Bailey has not been known these many years, but the research of Phil Ray may now shed some additional light on the matter.

B. H. Bailey was the second husband of Rachel Sirmans Mattox.  She was the widow of Samuel Mattox who was hanged at Troupville in 1843. She was a daughter of Jonathan Sirmans and Martha “Patsey” Rouse, and sister of Hardeman Sirmans.

Bradford Ray, son of Hiram Ray and Rachel Jeffcoat (1817-1865), was the husband of Martha J. Swan. She was a daughter of  Sarah King and Benjamin Swan.

Marriage Certificate of Bradford Ray and Martha Swann, January 5, 1865, Berrien County, GA

Marriage Certificate of Bradford Ray and Martha Swann, January 5, 1865, Berrien County, GA

Up until 1873, everything seemed cozy between the Rays and the Baileys. In 1872,  Bradford’s father made a land swap with Burrell Hamilton Bailey,  trading the Ray place near Cat Creek for  another farm in the 1307 Georgia Militia District, Lowndes County, GA.  Bradford Ray remained behind to work for Bailey as a tenant farmer.   That same year Bradford’s brother, Josiah Ray, married Martha M. Bailey,  a daughter of Rachel and B.H. Bailey. 

In addition to these family connections Bradford and Martha Ray  and Rachel Bailey were connected in faith, as well, all being members of the Primitive Baptist church at Flat Creek, then known as Emmaus Church.

Flat Creek Primitive Baptist Church, Berrien County, GA.  Bradford Ray, Martha J Ray, and Rachel Sirmans Bailey were among the members of the church. Flat Creek was the site at which Berrien County was organized, February 25, 1856 following the creation of the county by the state legislature. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Flat Creek Primitive Baptist Church, Berrien County, GA. Bradford Ray, Martha J Ray, and Rachel Sirmans Bailey were among the members of the church. Flat Creek was the site at which Berrien County was organized, February 25, 1856 following the creation of the county by the state legislature. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

It was in the church minutes that Phil Ray found indications that trouble was brewing between the Rays and the Baileys:   I believe Bradford’s murder by Burrell Bailey was a result of this church incident regarding Bradford’s wife and the accusations by Rachel Bailey against Martha Swan Ray at Emmaus Primitive Baptist, May 3rd 1873. It festered and led to the murder. This is all speculation of course but it does seem to have played a part in it.”

The church minutes have been transcribed  by W. Henry Griffin, and entries of May 3, 1873 and July 5, 1873 are of particular note:

Emmaus Church (Flat Creek), A review of her history
The Griffin Papers,  Vol III, Pgs 78 – 79

 May 3d, 1873    

Martha Ray is reported in disorder and committee is appointed as follows Daniel N. McMillian, W. M. Avera and William Luke. Committee relies on statement of Mrs. Rachel Bailey and on her statement Mrs. Martha Ray is expelled.

Bradford Ray, her husband demands dismission. D. N. McMillian, Solomon Griffin and D. P. Luke are appointed as a committee to labor with him.

† † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † †

July 5, 1873

Bradford Ray having died the case on the church books against him was dismissed.

While the contention among the women played out in the church, the men fought in the streets. The cause of Bradford Ray’s death was a confrontation with Burrell H. Bailey which occurred in the early morning hours of June 23, 1873, while the two men were in Alapaha, GA.  When the standoff turned violent, Ray pulled a knife; Bailey pulled a gun. Bailey shot Ray in the stomach, inflicting a wound which proved fatal two weeks later.

 “Ray lived until Sunday morning, 1 o’clock, 29th ult. [June 29, 1873], when the spirit of the unfortunate man passed away.  Thus were the hearts of two families made to mourn over an irreparable loss.”

 Burrell H. Bailey was indicted for murder.  For Rachel Sirmans Bailey, it was a sort of double jeopardy.  Her first husband, Samuel Mattox, had stood trial for the September 7, 1843 murder of William Slaughter and was hanged for the crime.  Her second husband, Burrell Hamilton Bailey, tried for the 1873 murder of Bradford Ray, was acquitted.  Later, the Baileys relocated to Florida.

Epilogue:

  • Rachel Sirmans Bailey died Apr. 14, 1876 and is buried at Fellowship Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Sirmans, Madison County, FL.
  • Burrell Hamilton Bailey, after the death of Rachel Sirmans, married Mahala M. Taylor Boatwright. He died March 22, 1885 in Lafayette County, FL. His grave is at Salem Cemetery, Taylor County, FL.
  • Martha Swan Ray’s whereabouts after the death of Bradford Ray are unknown.
  • Bradford Ray died June 29, 1873. His final resting place is not known.

Special thanks to Phil Ray for research and contributions to this post.

Related Posts:

Sheriff Swain and Legal Affairs in Old Troupville.

Morgan G. Swain, subject of previous posts, moved to Troupville, seat of Lowndes County, GA in 1838.  In Troupville, he operated a blacksmith shop and later became owner and innkeeper of the Jackson Hotel.  He also worked as Deputy Sheriff, Sheriff, Justice of the Peace, and Jailor.  (see Morz Swain was Innkeeper, Blacksmith, Sheriff & Jailor of old Troupville, GA  and Morgan Goodgame Swain and the Estate of Canneth Swain)

In these roles he would have been well known to all citizens of Lowndes, including those pioneers who settled at the site of Ray City, GA.   He certainly would have known Levi J. Knight and his father, William Anderson Knight, who were also engaged in civic and political matters, although in politics Swain was a Democrat, whereas the Knights were staunch Whigs.  Morgan Swain served as 1st Lieutenant of Militia in the 763rd District in Thomas County while Levi J. Knight was a Militia Captain in Lowndes County. While Swain was a Justice of the Peace in Troupville, Knight was the Justice of the Peace in his home district.

From the time Swain moved to Troupville, GA through the 1840s the state newspapers carried literally hundreds of legal notices issued under his authority, especially the papers at the state capitol in Milledgevillge, GA,

An interesting series of legal advertisements in the pages of The Milledgeville Federal Union covered the affairs of one Uriah Kemp, of Troupville,GA. On January 6, 1839 Kemp obtained a judgement to seize a horse owned by Jacob Croft.

Deputy Sheriff Morgan G. Swain advertised on Jan 15, 1839, for the Lowndes County Sheriff's Sale

Deputy Sheriff Morgan G. Swain advertised on Jan 15, 1839, for the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Sale

In May, several lots owned by Uriah Kemp in the town of Troupville were auctioned off by the Lowndes county Sheriff to satisfy a debt owed to Joseph Sirmans.

Deputy Sheriff Morgan G. Swain advertised for the Lowndes County Sheriff's Sale, May 21. 1839

Deputy Sheriff Morgan G. Swain advertised for the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Sale, May 21. 1839 Advertised in the Milledgeville Federal Union.

In the fall of 1839 Kemp was forced to sell lot 61 in Troupville, GA  and Lot No. 238 in the 13th district in Thomas County to settle  debts owed to Morgan G. Swain, himself.

Morgan G. Swain levied on theTroupville, GA property of Uriah Kemp to collect on a debt.

November 5, 1839 Morgan G. Swain collects on a debt in Thomas county.

November 5, 1839 Morgan G. Swain collects on a debt in Thomas county. Sheriff’s Sale ad appeared in the Milledgeville Southern Recorder.

A little more than a year later, Morgan G. Swain and Uriah Kemp were co-defendants in a lien action brought against them by Ryall B. Thomas.

As reflected in the legal advertisements in the Milledgeville Federal Union, Morgan G. Swain entered duty as Sheriff of Lowndes County, GA. in  1840.

As reflected in the legal advertisements in the Milledgeville Federal Union, Morgan G. Swain entered duty as Sheriff of Lowndes County, GA. in 1840.

In other action handled by Sheriff Swain was a case concerning William C. Newbern, who was the brother of Etheldred Dryden Newbern and the uncle of Martha Newbern Guthrie (see Babe of the Indian Wars),

One interesting case concerned a levy on 100 bushels of corn made by William C. Newbern against John A. Priester.

One interesting case concerned a levy on 100 bushels of corn made by William C. Newbern against John A. Priester. Milledgeville Federal Union.

As Sheriff of Lowndes County, Morgan Swain also was responsible for the arrest of escaped slaves.  Again, legal advertisements were placed by the sheriff in The Milledgeville Federal Union.

Later advertisements gave Swain’s position as Jailor in Troupville, GA

A clipping of the August 11, 1847 edition of The Albany Patriot lists Morgan G. Swain as Jailor of Lowndes County, repsponsible for the incarceration of captured runaway slaves.

A clipping of the August 11, 1847 edition of The Albany Patriot lists Morgan G. Swain as Jailor of Lowndes County, responsible for the incarceration of captured runaway slaves.

Related Posts:

Me and Mrs. Jones: Harmon Gaskins Had A Thing Going On – Twice

Over the course of his life, Harmon Gaskins twice married widows named Mrs. Jones.  He first married Melissa Rouse Jones, widow of Clayton Jones, and second married Mary McCutchen Jones, widow of Matthew Jones. For nearly forty years, Harmon Gaskins and his family lived near Five Mile Creek, about six or seven miles northeast of present day Ray City, GA.

Graves of Melissa and Harmon Gaskins, Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Graves of Melissa and Harmon Gaskins, Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Harmon Gaskins was one of the early pioneers of Berrien County, originally settling along with his father, Fisher Gaskins, and brothers John and William near present day Bannockburn, GA. They made their homes on the west side of the Alapaha River about 16 miles distant from today’s Ray City, GA location.

Born in Beaufort, South Carolina around 1808, Harmon Gaskins was the youngest son of Rhoda Rowe and Fisher Gaskins, and a grandson of Thomas Gaskins, Revolutionary Soldier.  Fisher Gaskins and his family appear there in Beaufort District in the Census of 1810.  That same year, when Harmon was perhaps two years old, his mother died.   His widowed father packed up the five young children and moved the family back to Warren County, GA, where the family had lived prior to 1807.  There, on January 17, 1811 his father remarried.  Harmon’s new step-mother was Mary Lacy.  Her father, Archibald Lacy, was also a veteran of the Revolutionary War. His stepmother’s brother, the Reverend John B. Lacy, would later become a prominent Primitive Baptist Minister

It was about this time that Harmon’s father, Fisher Gaskins,  began to expand his livestock operations. Soon he was looking to acquire good land on which to raise his growing herds of cattle. By 1812,  Harmon’s father had moved the family to Telfair County, GA where there was good grazing land for his cattle. His father was very successful in the cattle business and soon had large herds, not only in Telfair County, but also in Walton and other surrounding counties where good natural pasturage could be had.

Around 1821, Harmon’s father moved his family and cattle yet again, this time to the newly created Appling County, GA, south of the Ocmulgee River.  Harmon Gaskins, now a lad of 12 or 13 years, moved with the family.

By the end of 1825, the Georgia Legislature formed the new county of Lowndes out of the southern half of Irwin County. It was around that time or shortly thereafter, Harmon’s father brought his cattle herds and family father south into that portion of Lowndes County that would later be cut into Berrien County.  Fisher Gaskins (Sr.) brought his family into Lowndes County and settled west of the Alapha River perhaps a little south of the present day Bannockburn, GA, and about 15 miles north of the area where William A. Knight, Isbin Giddens,  and David Clements were settling their families above Grand Bay.

Around 1832, Harmon’s father moved farther south into Florida where it was said that there was even better pasture land for cattle. Harmon stayed behind, as well as his brothers, William and John.

Harmon Gaskins married about 1835 and first established his own home place on the Gaskins land near Gaskins cemetery.  Harmon Gaskins, and his brothers William and John, were among Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company of men who fought in the Indian Wars of 1836.  Many published accounts of the pioneer skirmishes with Native Americans at  William Parker’s place on the Alapaha River and at Brushy Creek have been related on the Ray City History Blog.

In the late 1830s, Harmon Gaskins moved his family to a location near Five Mile Creek, about six or seven miles from present day Ray City, GA.  The Census of 1850 shows the Harmon Gaskins place was located next to the farm of Mark Watson, which was  in the area of Empire Church.  Harmon Gaskins kept his residence here until 1875, when he decide to build a place nearer the Alapaha River. Just two years later, Harmon Gaskins died and was buried at the Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

Sixty years after his death, the Clinch County News ran an account of Harmon Gaskins life in Berrien County:

The Clinch County News
April 23, 1937

Harmon Gaskins – 1808-1878

    This the youngest of the three sons of Fisher and Rhoda Rowe Gaskins, was born in 1808, and began life for himself as a laborer on the farm of a neighbor, Mrs. Clayton Jones.  He was about grown when his father decided to move to Florida; and ere long he was in love with Mrs. Melissa Jones, widow of Clayton Jones.  Mrs. Jones’ husband had moved to this county from Emanuel County along with the Sirmans family of Clinch and Berrien counties.  Her husband died about 1830 or 1832 and left her with three children, viz; Irving Jones and Henry Jones and Harriet who later married Wm. M. Avera.  The daughter Harriet was only about two or three years old when her father died, she being born in 1829.  Mrs. Melissa Jones was an illegitimate daughter of Miss Martha (Patsy) Rouse who later became the wife of Jonathan Sirmans of this [Clinch] county. The father of this illegitimate child was named Rowland, a fair-haired, blue-eyed Scotch-Irish man of handsome mien and who deceived the youthful maiden and went away never to return.  This illegitimate child grew up and married Clayton Jones in Emanuel county, and they came to Berrien county about 1825, and he died about 1830-2 as already stated, leaving his widow possessed of a home and farm and with five children to take care of.  Harmon Gaskins, about her age, but a little younger, after working for her on the farm a year or two, proposed marriage and was accepted and they were married about 1835.
    Their first child Rhoda was born Jan. 17, 1837, at the old homestead which was located on the Willacoochee Road leading east from Nashville by way of Avera’s Mill 7 miles east of Nashville and near the Gaskins Graveyard.
    The early life of Harmon Gaskins was not  different from that of other pioneers’ sons growing up in the atmosphere of frontier life.  He was reared to live the chase and many were the conquests made by him in company with his father and brothers of the wild beasts that then abounded and roamed through the country.  Like his father and brothers, he became the owner of a vast herd of cattle, and from the proceeds of sales of his beef-cattle each year he was able to save up gold and silver which in his hands stayed out of the channels of trade for years at the time. He was inured to the hardships of life as it then existed.  His only mode of travel was horseback unless he had to make a trip to a distant trading-point for supplies that could not be produced on the farm.  In such event of a trip, the horse was hitched to a two-wheeled cart of his own construction he being an excellent blacksmith and wheelright; and journey made in company with two or three neighbors situated like himself.  They drove their carts sitting astride their horses, and took rest-spells by occasionally walking by the side of the horse.  Such trips had to be made to St. Marks, Fla., or to old Center Village in what is now Charlton county.  An occasional trip would be made to Savannah but most of the trips were made to the other points named; these trips were usually about once a year, and would last a week or ten days.
  After the birth of two or three children the homesite of Harmon Gaskins was moved to a different location on the same lot of land and for many years he lived near Five-Miles Creek just east of his first location. This was  his home until about 1875 when he decided to locate on a lot of land which he had owned for several years lying nearer the Alapaha River and east of his old home.  Here he constructed a plain log dwelling and began the work of making a new home for himself and family, renting out the old home-place. He died at his last location.
    After the death of his first wife, Mr. Gaskins was married to Mrs. Mary Jones, widow of Matthew Jones and daughter of Robert and Cornelia McCutcheon, pioneer citizens of Irwin and Berrien counties.  By his two marriages, Mr. Gaskins had fourteen children – nine by his first wife and five by the second wife.
     Harmon Gaskins’ death was sudden and was deemed by his older children to appear to have been surrounded with peculiar circumstances.  A suspicion arose that he was poisoned by his wife.  This suspicion was nursed and grew in the minds of the children until it was determined several weeks later to have the body exhumed and a post mortem examination of the stomach made.  The State Chemist failed to find any trace of poison and the decision reached that he came to his death by natural causes.  This however engendered much bitterness and ill-feeling between the widow and her step children, and she entered suit for damages for slander.  She was given a verdict for $1600.00.  She later married Alfred Richardson by whom she had four children, and with whom she lived until a few years before her death in 1918.
    Harmon Gaskins enjoyed but few and limited opportunities for obtaining an education.  Nevertheless he was one of the best-posted men on political issues and economics of his time.  He was a liberal subscriber to the newspapers of his day, and he had a good collection of books on history and other subjects of all of which he was a great student. His counsel was found to be safe and his judgement sound; he was often sought after by others.  He was appointed one of the first judges of the Inferior Court of Berrien County, serving many years.  After the court was abolished he served many years as Justice of the Peace.  However, he never sought political office but rather preferred to stay home.  He labored with his own hands as long as he lived, and put in a good day’s work the day before he died.
At the death of his father in Columbia county, Fla., he inherited a large stock of cattle from the estate which ranged in Volusia and St. Johns counties, Fla., and until a few years preceding his death he made trips down there once a year for the purpose of rounding up the cattle, marking and branding the calves, and talking over his business affairs with those he had arranged to look after the herds.  The men were usually men living in the neighborhood there and under their contract were to look personally after the cattle and pen them about three months in the spring and each summer in order to keep them tradable, and sell the beef steers in the summer, and bring the money from the sales to the owner. For this service the herder was to receive every fifth calf raised and these calves were marked and branded for the herder at the April round-up.
I
ncompetent and probably dishonest herders in due time began to appear among those entrusted with the care of the Florida herds, and this with the gradual failing of the range and the development of the country there and the influx of people, all worked to the detriment of the enterprise. The income from the cattle grew less each year until Mr. Gaskins decided to sell what he had left and let Florida cattle growing alone. Thus he sold out about 15 or 20 years before he died. After his death some sixteen hundred dollars in gold and silver coin and several hundred dollars in paper money was divided among his heirs after having lain in his trunk for many years.
    The children by the first wife were:
    (1) Rhoda, born Jan. 17, 18–, married first to Francis Mobley and after his death in the civil war she married Wm. M. Griner.
    (2) Martha, married first to Thomas Connell who was killed in the civil war; second to William Parker who died three months later; third husband, Hardeman Giddens, was a first cousin on her mother’s side.
(3) Nancy, married Solomon Griffin of Berrien county.

    (4) Fisher H., married Polly Ann Griner.
    (5) Harmon Jr.  Never married, died a young man during the war.
    (6) Rachel, married William Griffin.
    (7) Sarah C., married Samuel Griner.
    (8) Thomas H., married Rachel McCutcheon.
    (9) John A., married Mary Bostick.
    The children by the second wife were: Wayne and Jane who died in childhood; Harmon E. Gaskins, never married, living single in east Berrien county; William H. Gaskins  and David D. Gaskins, The latter married Elsie Hughes.

Grave of Melissa Gaskins, 1810-1864, wife of Harmon Gaskins, buried at Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

Grave of Melissa Gaskins, 1810-1864, wife of Harmon Gaskins, buried at Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

Grave of Harmon Gaskins, Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Grave of Harmon Gaskins, Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Portrait of Hardeman Sirmans and Elizabeth Knight

Hardeman Sirmans and Elizabeth Knight

Hardeman Sirmans and Elizabeth Knight , Berrien County, GA

Hardeman Sirmans and Elizabeth Knight , Berrien County, GA

Ray City History
Hardeman Sirmans (1821 – 1896)  Elizabeth Knight (1830 – 1912)

Hardeman Sirmans was born October 25, 1821 in Appling County, Georgia, the son of Jonathan Sirmans and Martha “Patsy” Rouse.

During the Indian War in 1838-39 Hardeman Sirmans and his father served as privates under Captain Levi J. Knight (later General Knight) in the Lowndes County militia. They both appear on the 1838 Muster Roll of Captain Knight’s Independent Company.

In 1847 Hardeman married Elizabeth Knight, daughter of General Levi J. Knight and Ann D. Herrin. She was born in 1830.

According to Folks Huxford,

“Mr. Sirmans served in the Indian War as a private in a volunteer company of Lowndes County militia commanded by his father-in-law, Capt. (afterwards General) Levi J. Knight, August 15th to Oct 15 1838. He was 1st Lieutenant of the 664th militia district, Lowndes County, 1845-46, then served as Captain in same district 1847-1851. For nearly twenty years Mr. Sirmans was a member of the Masonic order, receiving his degrees in Butler Lodge, No. 211, F. & A.M. at old Milltown (now Lakeland) in 1858. He withdrew and was granted a demit Dec. 8 1877, on account of his church’s attitude toward secret orders. He united in 1877 with Empire Primitive Baptist Church and was baptized. On Jan. 21, 1888 he withdrew from the church, but was restored Nov. 21, 1888. On Nov. 26, 1892, charges were preferred against him in his church for voting the Populist ticket in the preceding General Election; however, the church minutes state he ‘satisfied’ the church, Dec. 24, 1892, and the charges were dropped. He remained a member until his death Sept. 21, 1896. His children seemed to have disagreed over the division of his estate, and it was finally divided by arbitration in Berrien Superior Court, March 8, 1897. Mrs. Sirmans died Sept. 6, 1912, and was buried by her husband in the cemetery at Empire Church.”

Before the Civil War, Hardeman Sirmans was a slave owner. One of his slaves was Richard McGowan. For a time after the war, Richard McGowan continued to live on the Sirmans farm, working as a farm laborer.

Children of Elizabeth Knight and Hardeman Sirmans:

  1. Levi Winfield Sirmans 1848 –  married Nancy R. Clements
  2. Jonathan D Sirmans 1850 – 1926 married Nancy Elizabeth Clements
  3. Sarah Malissa Sirmans 1852 – 1898
  4. Lott W. Sirmans 1854 – 1898 married Josephine Knight
  5. Thomas Hardyman Sirmans 1860 – 1931
  6. Martha Elizabeth Sirmans 1862 – 1935 married Joe S. Clements
  7. Joseph O Sirmans 1862 – 1848 married Olive Pearl Matheny
  8. Jay Sirmans 1864 – 1916 married Rachel Allifar Smith
  9. Clara Sirmans 1868 – 1928 married Frank Gallagher
  10. Christiana Sirmans 1869 – 1943 married Joseph Bartow Gaskins
  11. Annie B. Sirmans 1872 – 1963 married John Chilton Matheny
  12.  Valeria Sirmans 1874 – 1961 married James Isaac Lee

Related Posts:

Burrell Hamilton Bailey Sells Out in 10th

Burrell Hamilton Bailey was a Wiregrass pioneer in the vicinity of present day Ray City, GA in the early 1800s. He was born 19 October 1826 in Irwin Co., Georgia, the son of Burrell Henry Bailey and Mary “Polly” Land.

According to the research of Phil Ray, Burrell Henry Bailey, the father, was appointed as a commissioner for superintending the first elections in Irwin County and was himself elected as an Inferior Court Justice in those elections held in March of 1820.  The very  first action of the Irwin Inferior Court was to authorize the Clerk of the Court to issue licenses to “tavern-keepers and retailers of spirituous liquors.”  Burrell Henry Bailey resigned from the court in May, 1821.

That July, Burrell Bailey and Isham Jordan were appointed by the Irwin county Inferior Court to survey and mark a portion of the first public road in Irwin county. Two years later, Isham Jordan would serve as a trailblazer and hunter for General John Coffee during the construction of a military road passing through the site of present day Nashville, GA and on southward to the Florida line (see Coffee Road Led to Creation of Lowndes County). Burrell Henry Bailey also served on the first Grand Jury in Irwin county in September 1820, and served as a Corporal in Company H, 4th Georgia cavalry.

After his father died in 1845, Burrell Hamilton Bailey sold his claim to Lot 241, a land grant of 490 acres in the 10th Land District,  Lowndes County (formerly Irwin County), GA.  This district covered a large area of Berrien county  including the present day area of Ray City, GA. Land records show that he sold this land to Bryan Edmondson in 1851.

(See Transcript below)

Burrell Hamilton Bailey 1851 land transaction with Bryan Edmondson, Lowndes County, GA (now Berrien County). Image courtesy of Phil Ray.

Burrell Hamilton Bailey 1851 land transaction with Bryan Edmondson, Lowndes County, GA (now Berrien County). Image courtesy of Phil Ray.

Georgia
Lowndes County

This indenture made and entered into the fifteenth day of September Eighteen hundred and fifty one between Burrell H. Bailey of the County and State aforesaid of the one part and Bryan Edmondson of the same place of the other part witnefseth that the said Burrel H Bailey for and in consideration of the sum of Two hundred and fifty Dollars to him in hand paid at and before the sealing and delivery of these presents the receipt where of is here by acknowledged hath granted bargained sold conveyed and confirmed unto the said Bryan Edmondson his heirs and afsigns all that tract & or parcel of Land situate lying and being in the Tenth District originally of Irwin now Lowndes County and known in the plan of said District by the number (241) Two hundred and forty One containing according to this plat is the Grant four hundred and ninety acres be the same more or lefs to have and to hold the said bargained premises to the only proper use benefit and behest of him the said Bryan Edmondson his heirs and afsigns forever in Fie Simple And I the said Burrell H. Bailey do by sinture of these presents warrant and find the aforesaid bargained prin Land from and against the claim or claims of myself my heirs executors administrators and afsigns and from the claim or claims of all and every other person or persons whatever unto the said Bryan Edmondson his heirs and afsigns forever in witnefs whereof I the said Burrell H. Bailey have herewith set my hand and seal this day and date above written signed sealed and acknowledged in presence of

Jesse Touchton                    Burrell H. Bailey
(2nd witness signature
not legible)

Enhanced detail of 1869 map of Berrien County, GA land lots in the 10th Land District, showing relative locations of Nashville, GA, Land lot 241, and homeplace of Levi J. Knight. Comparison with modern maps shows that the placement of rivers and streams is clearly distorted. Furthermore, this map shows General Knight's place located west of Cat Creek, when historical accounts indicate that the Knight homestead was east of the creek.

Enhanced detail of 1869 map of Berrien County, GA land lots in the 10th Land District, showing relative locations of Nashville, GA, Land lot 241, and homeplace of Levi J. Knight. Comparison with modern maps shows that the placement of rivers and streams is clearly distorted. Furthermore, this map shows General Knight’s place located west of Cat Creek, when historical accounts indicate that the Knight homestead was east of the creek.

In 1847 in Lowndes County, GA Burrell Hamilton Bailey married Rachel Sirmans Mattox.  She was the widow of Samuel Mattox who was hanged at Troupville in 1843, and had two children: Mary Mattox, born about 1843, and Aaron Mattox, born about 1844 in Georgia.  Rachel was the daughter of Jonathan Sirmans and Matha “Patsey” Rouse, and sister of Hardeman Sirmans.

After marriage, Rachel Sirmans and  Burrell H. Bailey lived at her father’s old home place.

In the 1850 Census  Rachel and Burrell are enumerated there in Lowndes County, with her two children and now with two daughters of their own;  Lavicey, age 3, and Winnifred H., age 1.  Living nearby is Rachel’s widowed mother, Martha Sirmans, age 59, head of her own household with her son, Abner (19).  Burrell H Bailey’s brother, Cullen Dean Bailey,  and sister-in-law, Elizabeth Ruth Herrin,  also had a farm nearby.

In 1856,  the Bailey’s land was cut out of Lowndes County,  with the creation of Berrien County.  Reader Sheri Felts contributes that Rachel’s mother moved sometime before 1860 to a place next to her son Mark R. Watson, where she farmed and cared for the children of her deceased son James Lemuel Kirkland. These children were Elizabeth Kirkland, John A. Kirkland, William O. Kirkland, and Rachel Kirkland;  Hardeman Sirmons was given actual guardianship of the children by his half brother James.

Rachel’s  brother, Abner Sirmans, took over her mother’s farm.  Rachel and Burrell continued to raise crops and children on their own place. The 1860 Census shows Rachel and Burrell H. Bailey and their children living on the farm adjacent to Abner Sirmans and his family.

Children of Burrell Hamilton Bailey and Rachel Sirmans:

  1. Luvicey L. Bailey, born April 26, 1848 in Georgia
  2. Winnifred H. Bailey, born about 1849 in Georgia died before 1860
  3. Lemuel H. Bailey, born March, 1851 in Laurens Co., Georgia married Mary Ann Gaskins on October 9, 1873. She was a daughter of Fisher J. Gaskins.
  4. Aurelius H. Bailey, born 1853 in Berrien Co., Georgia  probably died young.
  5. Martha M. Bailey, born March 14, 1854 in Georgia  married first Josiah Ray, this marriage ended in  divorce. She later married William Howard of Taylor County, Fl.
  6. Rachael Bailey, born April 1, 1856 in Taylor Co., Florida married John Slone of Madison County, FL
  7. Burrell H. Bailey Jr, born June 11, 1857 in Taylor Co., Florida married a  McLeod and moved to Madison County, FL
  8. Annie Eliza Bailey, born January 8, 1860 in Taylor Co., Florida married a Rowell and moved to Madison County, FL
  9. William Colonel Bailey, born April 10, 1862 in Berrien Co., Georgia
  10. John A. Bailey, born April 09, 1864 in Berrien Co., Georgia
  11. Sarah Almisy Bailey, born 1868 in Georgia
  12. Joseph S. Bailey, born May 30, 1870 in Georgia

Special thanks to Phil Ray for research contributing to this article.

Related Posts: