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.

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Annie B. Sirmans Once Owned Ray’s Mill

Image detail: Ann Sirmans Matheny, circa 1915. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Image detail: Ann Sirmans Matheny, circa 1915. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Annie B. Sirmans was the granddaughter of Anne Donald Clements and General Levi J. Knight, and the daughter of Elizabeth Knight and Hardeman Sirmans. About 1931, she inherited Ray’s Mill which had been founded by her grandfather and her uncle Thomas M. Ray almost 70 years earlier.

Annie B. Sirmans was born on Christmas day, 25 December 1872 in Berrien County, GA.

In 1880, seven-year-old Annie Sirmans was living with her parents and eight brothers and sisters in the 1144th Georgia Militia District, the Ray’s Mill district. Also boarding in the Sirmans home were two young girls, Eliza and Mary Hays. Annie’s father was a farmer, and her older brothers assisted with the farm labor.

In 1890, her brother,  Hardy Sirmans, Jr. purchased Ray’s Mill, the grist mill originally constructed on Beaver Dam Creek by his uncle Thomas M. Ray and grandfather, General Levi J. Knight.  Assisted by Mitch Fountain, Hardy Sirmans, Jr. operated the mill until his death in 1931.

As Annie grew older, she continued to live on her parent’s farm. On Sept 21, 1896 her father died leaving her brother, Thomas Hardeman “Hardy” Sirmans, to become the head of the household. The census of 1900 shows Annie Sirmans was still at home in her brother’s household. Her mother and siblings, Bellaria and Joseph, and nephew Daniel Walker Sirmans also shared the house.

In 1905 while in Tennessee, Annie’s brother Joe Sirmans married Olive Pearl Matheny, the daughter of Judith L. Craft and James W. Matheny.  Joe Sirmans brought his bride back to make their home in Willacoochee, GA about 20 miles north of Ray’s Mill.  No doubt it was through this family connection that Annie Sirmans came to know John Chilton Matheny, brother of Olive P. Matheny.  John C. Matheny was thirty-something , with blue eyes and dark hair, average in height and build.  He was a farmer and since age 22 when his father died,  head of the Matheny family, responsible for his mother and siblings.

Four years later, On October 5, 1909 Annie B. Sirmans and John Chilton Matheny were wedded  in Berrien County, GA.  She was 37, he 35.  It was the first marriage for both.  At first, the newlyweds made their home near the Ray’s Mill community (now Ray City, GA) on the Sirmans home place, now the farm of Annie’s bachelor brother, Hardy Sirmans.  Annie’s mother was still there  at the Sirmans place, as well as her Aunt Mary Ray and nephew Daniel Walker. The census of 1910 shows Hardy Sirmans and John C. Matheny both farming on their own account.

Infant son of Annie B. Sirmans and John Chilton Matheny, grave marker, October 7, 1912.

Infant son of Annie B. Sirmans and John Chilton Matheny, grave marker, October 7, 1912. Empire Church Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Annie may have married late, but within  couple of years she was pregnant.  On October 7, 1912 she gave birth to a baby boy. Sadly, the child died the same day.   The infant was buried near his grand parents, Elizabeth and Hardeman Sirmans,  at Empire Church cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

The following year Annie was again pregnant, and on May 23, 1914 she presented  John C. Matheny with a son, Thomas Hardeman Matheny. The image detail above is from a photograph of Annie and the boy (view the full image), probably taken around 1915, and clearly portrays her great affection for  the child.  But tragedy struck the family again when Thomas died at age two on September 15, 1916.

Thomas Hardeman Matheny, 1914-1916, Empire Church Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Thomas Hardeman Matheny, 1914-1916, Empire Church Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Perhaps  the loss was too much for John Matheny to bear;  A notation  on the bottom of his 1917 draft registration written by Perry Thomas Knight observed that John had just returned from the insane asylum.  Annie and John would remain childless for the rest of their lives.

At that time the draft card notes, the Mathenys were making their home in Nashville, GA 10 miles above Ray City, but by the census of  1920  Annie and John Matheny were back at Ray City where they owned a farm on “Settlement Roads” that John worked on his own account.  Annie’s older brother, Hardy Sirmans (Thomas Hardeman Sirmans), lived with the couple and also farmed.  The farm next door was rented by  Annie’s nephew, Daniel Walker Sirmans and his young family.

In the census of 1930,  the Mathenys were still living in the Ray’s Mill Precinct, the 1144th Georgia Militia District.  They owned a home valued at $1000.00.  John continued to work the farm on his own  account: Annie assisted with the farm labor. Annie’s brother Hardy, now 70, still resided with the couple but no longer worked.  The Mathenys had also taken in a boarder, Matthew F. Fender, who worked as a farm laborer.

But the 1930s brought hard times in the life of Annie Sirmans Matheny. Annie’s brother, Hardy Sirmans, died on July 27, 1931.  In 1932, Ann lost her husband: John Chilton Matheny died December 15, 1932. Both men were buried at Empire Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

After the death of Hardy Sirmans, Annie inherited ownership of her family’s gristmill, Ray’s Mill.  Later, the widowed Ann Matheny sold Ray’s Mill to Pollard Fountain, the son of Mitch Fountain who had operated the grist mill with her deceased brother.

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

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

Annie Sirmans Matheny died in 1963 and was buried next to her husband at Empire Church Cemetery.

Grave marker of Annie B. Sirmans and John Chilton Matheny, Empire Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Grave marker of Annie B. Sirmans and John Chilton Matheny, Empire Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

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