Constitution of Union Church

Located on the banks of the Alapaha River about two miles south of present day Lakeland, GA, the old Union Primitive Baptist Church lies about 10 miles east of where Levi J. Knight settled on Beaver Dam Creek (now Ray City, GA).  It was the first church constituted by the pioneer settlers of this region and became the mother church of many Primitive Baptist churches in south Georgia and North Florida. Levi J. Knight’s parents, Sarah and William Anderson Knight , were among the organizing members of the church.  The history of Union Church, also known as Burnt Church, was the subject of a series of sketches by Folks Huxford.

Like the Knights, the Carters were among the earliest settlers in this section of land which would later become Berrien County, GA,  the Knights arriving in 1824 and Carters in 1825.    Jesse Carter settled his family on the west side of the Alapaha River about one and one half miles south of present day Lakeland. The Knight and Carter families were soon connected.  About 1826, Jessie Carter’s  daughter, Rachel Carter, would marry William Cone Knight, son of William Anderson Knight and brother of Levi J. Knight.

Upon arrival, Jesse Carter established the first place of worship in the wilderness of the newly opened Lowndes County. According to Folks Huxford, “The first church building was known as ‘Carter’s Meeting House.’ Of course the name came from the early Carter family that played such a big part in establishing the church. The meeting houses took their names generally from some family that was most active in building the house. Jesse Carter gave the land for the meeting house and built the original building, which was a small log house.  The church records do not show that Mr. Carter was ever a member of Union Church but his wife, Mary, was a member.”  Jesse Carter would later fight under the command of Levi J. Knight in the Skirmish at William Parker’s Place during the Indian Wars of 1836.

Primitive Baptist Meeting House. Image source: Florida Baptist Historical Society

Primitive Baptist Meeting House. Image source: Florida Baptist Historical Society

In 1825 the primitive baptists convening at Carter’s Meeting House constituted as Union Church.  Fleming Bates and Mathew Albritton acted as the presbytery for the constitution of the church.

State of Georgia
Irwin County

1st October 1825

By the goodness of God we whose names are after ritten having been baptized upon a profefsion of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ having heare before lived in Kettle Creek Church and in Hebron and Macadonice Churches from them, have removed to this wilderness counteary, finding each thereout constituted together.  The propriety of becoming a constituted church and we’re on a greede uanamously. Then made application to our several churches for letters with dismission with leave to be come a constituted body at Carter’s Meeting House on the Alappahaw River by which we with the sefrutance of a presbylen intend to be come with the help of God a church independent (as our internal rights) of aney church or churches Presbytory or —— and we do set apart this day for the purpose of becoming constituted for which purpose we do call the following ordained preacher of the Baptist order to act as the Presbytery Lay – Fleming Bates and Mathew Albritton.

These are the names of the members on which the church was constituted.

William A. Knight
Jonathan Knight
Joshua Lee
James Patten
Josiah Sirmans, O.D.
Sarah Knight
Elizabeth Knight
Mary Knight
Martha Lee
Elizabeth Patten

The 1st of October 1825 being pronounced a church of Christ in order have united upon equal turmes and heare after be called and known by the name of Union Church.

 

 

Georgia Land Lottery of 1827

The Georgia land lotteries, legitimized by questionable and coercive treaties, continued the encroachment by settlers on the ancestral lands of Native Americans in Georgia, inevitably leading to conflict in the Indian Wars. Although Lowndes county, GA was sparsely populated at the time, the “Fortunate Drawers” in the lottery included a few Lowndes pioneers (listed below).

Drawing of winning names and land lots in the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827. Daily results were published in state newspapers.

Drawing the winning names and land lots in the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827. Daily results were published in state newspapers.

The 1827 Georgia Land Lottery was authorized by an Act of June 9, 1825   “to dispose of and distribute the lands lately acquired by a treaty [made] and concluded at the Indian Springs on the twelfth day of February, eighteen hundred and twenty-five”.  Citizens eligible for the lottery were directed to register their names in their home county within two months from the publication of the authorizing Act, however, persons were still being registered up to February 15, 1827.

The 1827 lottery dispensed lots in Lee, Muscogee, Troup, Coweta and Carroll counties.  Surveyors were elected by the legislature to survey the land to be distributed; these State surveyors directed teams of chainmen, axemen, and markers to lay out districts with lots of of 202 1/2 acres each.  Surveyors’ field notes  recorded the distances and points demarcating the district and land lots, land features, roads, and watercourses. These survey and field notes were conducted prior to the distribution of lands. (In the Georgia Land Lottery of 1832,  Levi J. Knight was state surveyor of Cherokee lands, Section 3, District 13). The surveyors sent the district and lot numbers to the governor’s office.

Fortunate Drawers among the pioneer settlers of Old Lowndes County, mother county of Berrien County, GA:

  •  Alfred Belote, one of the original four settlers of Lowndes County,  drew Lot 125 in the 25th District of Lee County, GA
  • Elijah Folsom, son of Lawrence Folsom, pioneer settler of Lowndes County, GA,   drew Lot 255 in the 8th District of Carroll County.
  • Enoch Hall, pioneer settler of Lowndes County, GA and son of Sion Hall,  drew Lot 200 in the 11th District of Carroll Co
  • William Clements of Wayne County, father-in-law of Levi J. Knight, as a veteran was entitled to receive an extra draw and drew Lot 87, 1st District of Muscogee County
  • Dixon Bennett, came with his parents in 1827 to settle on the east side of the Alapaha River in present day Lanier County, registered in Lowndes County and drew Lot 75, 11th District of Muscogee County on the 21st Day’s Drawing – March 30
  • David Gornto, settled in Lowndes County with his wife Eliza Ann Allen Gornto about 1828-1829, drew Lot 195, Section 2, District 10 in Muscogee County.
  • Lewis Vickers, son of Lowndes pioneer Drew Vickers, registered in Underwoods District of Irwin County, drew Lot 133, District 1 of Muscogee County.
  • Levi J. Knight, original settler of the Ray City, GA area, registered in Mannings District of Wayne County, drew Lot 223 in the 23rd District of Lee County.
  • William P. Roberts registered in the 11th District of Lowndes County, drew Lot 216, District 3 of Coweta County on the 5th Day’s Drawing – 12th March
  • John S. Whitfield registered in the 12th District of Lowndes County, drew Lot 176, District 4 of Coweta County on the 8th Day’s Drawing – March 15
  • Sarah Ritcherson, an illigitimate child, was registered in District 4 of Lowndes County, drew Lot 2, District 2 of Troup County on the 13th Day’s Drawing – March 21
  • Henry Parish, a veteran of the War of 1812 and pioneer settler who came to Lowndes County about 1825, was registered in the 10th District of Lowndes County, drew Lot 77, District 30 of Lee County on the 28th Day’s Drawing – April 7th
  • Isben Giddens, a veteran and one of the first settlers in the Ray City, GA area, son-in-law of Levi J. Knight, registered in the 10th District of Lowndes County, drew Lot 248 in the 13th District of Lee County on the 33d Day’s Drawing – April 13, 1827
  • Thomas Folsom,  following his uncle Lawrence Armstrong Folsom came about 1824-25 with brothers Israel and Pennywell Folsom to that region of Lowndes county now Brooks County, GA, registered for the lottery in the 1st District of Lowndes County, drew Lot 1, District 20 in Lee County, GA on 38th Day’s Drawings – April 19, 1827
  • Samuel Register, veteran of the War of 1812 brought his wife and family about 1826 as pioneer settlers of Lowndes County, settled in the 10th Land District near Possum Branch, not too far from the homestead of Levi J. Knight, registered for the lottery in the 10th District of Lowndes county, was a fortunate drawer in the 49th Day’s Drawings, May 2, 1827 drawing Lot 80, District 11 in Troup County, GA
  • Lewis Blackshear, pioneer settler of old Lowndes County registered in the 12 District of Lowndes and drew Lot 198,  6th District of Muscogee County on the 50th Day’s Drawings – May 3, 1827
  • John Kley, soldier, registered in the 10th District of Lowndes County, on the 53d Day’s Drawings – May 7 – drew Lot 37 in the 21st District of Muscogee County

Persons entitled to draw in the 1827 Georgia Land Lottery:

  • Bachelor, 18 years or over, 3-year residence in Georgia, citizen of United States – 1 draw
  • Married man with wife or son under 18 years or unmarried daughter, 3-year residence in Georgia, citizen of United States – 2 draws
  • Widow, 3-year residence in Georgia – 1 draw
  • Wife and/or child, 3-year residence in Georgia, husband and/or father absent from state for 3 years – 1 draw
  • Family (one or two ) of orphans under 18 years whose father is dead, 3-year residence in state or since birth – 1 draw
  • Family (three or more) of orphans under 18 years, 3-year residence in state or since birth – 2 draws
  • Widow, husband killed in Revolutionary War, War of 1812, or Indian War, 3-year residence in Georgia – 2 draws
  • Orphan, father killed in Revolutionary War, War of 1812 or Indian War – 2 draws
  • Wounded or disabled veteran of War of 1812 or Indian War, unable to work – 2 draws
  • Veteran of Revolutionary War – 2 draws
  • Veteran of Revolutionary War who had been a fortunate drawer in any previous Lottery – 1 draw
  • Child or children of convict, 3-year residence in Georgia – 1 draw
  • Male idiots, lunatics or insane, deaf and dumb, or blind, over 10 years and under 18 years, 3-year residence in Georgia – 1 draw
  • Female idiots, insane or lunatics, deaf and dumb, or blind, over 10 years, 3-year residence in Georgia – 1 draw
  • Family (one or two) of illegitimates under 18 years, residence since birth in Georgia – 1 draw
  • Family (three or more) of illegitimates under 18 years, residence since birth in Georgia – 2 draws
  • Child or children of a convict whose father had not drawn in any of the former land lotteries – entitled to a draw or draws in the same manner they would be entitled if they were orphans

Persons Excluded

  • Any fortunate drawer in any previous Land Lottery.
  • Citizens who volunteered or were legally drafted in the War of 1812 or the Indian War and who refused to serve a tour of duty in person or by substitute.
  • Anyone who may have deserted from military service.
  • Any tax defaulter or absconded for debt.
  • Any convict in the penitentiary.

The registered names were sent to the governor’s office at the state capital where they were copied onto slips of paper called “tickets” and placed in a large drum called a “wheel.” District and lot numbers were placed in a separate wheel. (At first, blank tickets were added to this wheel, so that the number of tickets would equal the number of persons drawing.) Commissioners appointed by the governor drew a name ticket from one wheel and a district/lot ticket from the other wheel. If the district/lot ticket was blank, the person received nothing. If the ticket contained a district/lot number, the person received a prize of that parcel of land. A ticket that contained a number was called a “Fortunate Draw.” With later lotteries (after 1820), when blank tickets were not added to the prize wheel, individuals whose names remained in the second wheel were considered to have drawn blanks. Anyone who received a Fortunate Draw could take out a grant for the lot he drew, after paying the grant fee. If he did not take out a grant, the lot reverted back to the state to be sold to the highest bidder. In the 1827 land lottery, the grant fee was $18.00 per land lot.

The Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the lottery was published in A Compilation of the Laws of the State of Georgia, Passed by the Legislature.

Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827 disposing of Creek lands.

Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827 disposing of Creek lands.

Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827 disposing of Creek lands.

Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827 disposing of Creek lands.

Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827 disposing of Creek lands.

Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827 disposing of Creek lands.

Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827 disposing of Creek lands.

Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827 disposing of Creek lands.

Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827 disposing of Creek lands.

Act of June 9th, 1825 authorizing the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827 disposing of Creek lands.

AN ACT to dispose of and distribute the lands lately acquired by the United States, for the use of Georgia, of the Creek nation of Indians, by a Treaty made and concluded at the Indian Spring, on the twelfth day of February, 1825.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Georgia in General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That the territory acquired of the Creek Nation of Indians by the United States, for the use of Georgia, as described in articles of a treaty entered into and concluded between Commissioners on the part of the United States, and the Chiefs. Head Men, and Warriors, of the Creek Nation of Indians, at the Indian Spring, on the 12th day of February, 1825, shall form and be divided into five sections, as follows, to wit: All that part of said territory which lies South of a line commencing on the Flint river, opposite where the line dividing the counties of Houston and Dooly strikes said river, and running due West to the Chatahoochie, shall form what shall be called Section the First; and the criminal jurisdiction thereof shall be attached to the county of Dooly. All that part of said territory which lies North of the line aforesaid, and South of the line commencing on Flint river, opposite where the original line dividing the counties of Monroe and Houston, and running due West to the Chatahoochie river, shall form the Second Section; and the criminal jurisdiction thereof be, and the same is hereby, attached to the county of Houston. And all that part of said territory which lies North of the line last aforesaid, and South of a line commencing on the Flint river, where the original line dividing the counties of Henry and Monroe strikes said river, and running due West until it strikes the Chatahoochie river, shall be, and the same is hereby, called the Third Section; and the criminal jurisdiction thereof attached to the county of Pike. And all that part of said territory which lies North of said line, and East of the Chatahoochie river. shall form the Fourth Section; and the criminal jurisdiction thereof shall be attached to the county of Fayette. And all that part of said territory lying West of the Chatahoochie river, and East of the dividing line between this State and the State of Alabama, shall form the Fifth Section ; and the criminal jurisdiction thereof shall be attached to the county of Pike.

Sec. 2. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That each of the sections herein before laid out and described. shall be divided into districts of nine miles square, as near as practicable; the district lines running parallel to the lines dividing sections, and crossed by other lines at right angles; and said districts, so laid out, shall be again subdivided by lines to be run in like directions into square tracts containing each two hundred two and one half acres, marked and numbered according to the plan heretofore pursued under the instructions of the Surveyor General.

Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That the fractional parts of surveys, which may be created by the divisions and subdivisions aforesaid, shall be reserved for public uses, and be disposed of as a future Legislature may direct.

Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That one hundred district surveyors shall be appointed by joint ballot of the Legislature in one general ticket; and the person having the highest number of votes shall be entitled to the first choice of districts, and in the same order, agreeably to the number of votes each surveyor may receive; and in case of a tie between any number of surveyors, then preference in choice shall be decided by lot, in presence of the Surveyor General.

Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That ten persons shall be appointed by joint ballot of the Legislature, neither of whom shall be a district surveyor, to run and plainly mark the several districts, reserves, and sectional lines, herein before directed, whose duties shall be apportioned by the Surveyor General as nearly equal as practicable ; and that no ticket shall be counted unless it contains the names of ten persons.
Sec. 6. And be it further enacted. That no ticket for district surveyors shall be counted unless it contains one hundred names. Any person elected a surveyor, who shall fail to perform the duties of his office, as required by the provisions of this act, shall be considered as forfeiting his bond, and himself and his sureties immediately liable therefor.

Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That the surveyors, respectively, shall give bond, in the sum of ten thousand dollars, to the Governor and his successors in office, with such security as he, or a majority of the Justices of the Inferior Court of the county in which such surveyor may reside, shall approve, conditioned for the faithful performance of the duties required of them by this act, which bond shall be deposited in the Executive office.

Sec. 8. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the surveyors appointed in pursuance of this act, to make the surveys of the sections, reserves, and districts, to which they may be appointed, in their own proper person; to mark, or cause to be marked, plainly and distinctly, upon trees, if practicable, otherwise on posts, all stations and all lines which they may be required to run, for the purpose of making the surveys of their respective sections, reserves, and districts, immediately upon being required so to do by the Surveyor General; to cause all such lines to be measured, with all possible exactness, with a half chain containing thirty-three feet, divided into fifty equal links, which shall be adjusted by the Surveyor General according to the standard in his office; to take, as accurately as possible, the meanders of all water courses which shall form natural boundaries to any of the surveys; to note, in field books to be kept by them respectively, the names of the corner and station trees, which shall be marked and numbered under the direction of the Surveyor General—also, all rivers, creeks, and other water courses, which may be touched upon or crossed in running any of the lines aforesaid; transcripts of which field books, after being compared with the originals by the Surveyor General, and certified and signed on every page by the surveyor returning the same, shall be deposited in the Surveyor General’s office, and become a record. And the district Surveyors shall make a return of their surveys and works within ninety days from the time they are notified to enter upon the discharge of their duties, containing a map of their district, in which shall be correctly represented and numbered all lots and fractions of said district, and waters therein delineated, as the Surveyor General may direct; and also return at the same time a detached plat of each lot and fraction which said district may contain, certified and signed by such surveyor, which plat shall be filed among the records of the Surveyor General’s office, and from which copies shall be taken to be annexed to grants: and said surveyors shall conform to such instructions as they may receive from time to time, from the Surveyor General, during their continuance in office: Provided, the same do not militate against this act. And the surveyors appointed to lay out section, reserve, and district lines, shall make return of their works to the Surveyor General within sixty days from the time they shall be required to enter upon the duties of their office, of all such surveys as shall have been made on the East side of the Chatahoochie river; and, as to the remainder of the territory, within sixty days from the notification of the running of the line between this State and Alabama.

Sec. 9. And be it further enacted, That the district surveyors to be appointed by this act, shall receive three dollars for every mile that shall actually be run or surveyed, as a full compensation for the duties required of them by this act, out of which they shall defray the whole of the expenses incident to their offices; and his Excellency the Governor is hereby authorized and required to issue his warrant on the Treasury in favor of each of the aforesaid surveyors, upon his being called into service, to the amount of three hundred dollars, to enable him with the less delay to enter upon his duties; and the balance to which such surveyor may be entitled, shall be paid to him, in like manner, upon his producing a certificate from the Surveyor General, setting forth a performance of the work, and the amount due.

Sec. 10. And be it further enacted, That the surveyors who may be appointed to run section, reserve, and district lines, shall receive three dollars and fifty cents for each mile they may run and survey, as a full compensation for their service, out of which all incidental expenses shall be paid; and the Governor is required to issue his warrant on the Treasury, in favor of each of said surveyors, for the sum of three hundred dollars, upon their being called into service, and, in like manner, to pay any balance which may be due when the work is completed, and the Surveyor General shall certify the same.

Sec. 11. And be it further enacted. That the territory acquired as aforesaid, shall be disposed of and distributed in the following manner, to wit: After the surveying is completed, and return made thereof, this Excellency the Governor shall cause tickets to be made out, whereby all the numbers of lots in the different districts intended to be drawn for, shall be represented, which tickets shall be put into a wheel and constitute prizes. The following shall be the description and qualifications of persons entitled to give in their names for a draw or draws under this act : Every male white person of 18 years of age and upwards, being a citizen of the United States, and an inhabitant within the organized limits of this State three years immediately preceding the passage of this act, including such as have been absent on lawful business, shall be entitled to one draw ; every male person of like description, having a wife or legitimate male child or children under 18 years of age, or unmarried female child or children, resident as aforesaid, or who were born and have ever since resided in this State, shall have two draws; all widows, with the like residence, shall be entitled to one draw ; and wives and children, in this State, of persons who have been absent from this State three years, shall be on the same footing as to draws, as if the said husband was dead, and the title to such lots as said females or children may draw, be vested permanently in them as though they were widows and orphans; all families of orphans resident as aforesaid, or who have resided in this State from their birth, under the age of eighteen years, except such as may be entitled in their own right to a draw or draws, whose father is dead, shall have one draw ; all families of orphans, consisting of more than two, shall have two draws, but if not exceeding two, then such orphan or orphans shall be entitled to one draw, to be given in the county and district where the eldest of said orphans, or where the guardian of the eldest resides : Provided, That should such guardian, or such orphan or orphans, or the eldest of such orphans, reside within the organized limits of this State, then such draw or draws shall be given in the county in which such guardian may reside, or such orphan or orphans, or the eldest of such orphans, may reside; all widows, of like residence, whose husbands were killed, or died in the service of the country. or on their return march, in the late wars against Great Britain or the Indians, shall be entitled to a draw exclusive of that otherwise allowed by this act to widows; all orphans, whose fathers were killed or died in the service of the country, or on their return march, in the late wars against Great Britain or the Indians, shall be entitled to a draw exclusive of that otherwise allowed by this act to orphans; and all men who have been wounded or disabled in the late war with Great Britain or the Indians, so they are not able to procure a competency for a support, in consequence of their wounds, be allowed one draw in addition; and they shall take the following oath in addition : I do solemnly swear. that I was wounded in the late war with Great Britain and the Indians, and am so disabled by the same, that it renders me unable to procure a support by my labor: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be so construed as to entitle any person or persons to a draw or draws in the present contemplated land lottery, who may have been fortunate drawers in any previous land lottery, except such persons as have drawn land as one of a family of orphans, and who have arrived at the age of eighteen, but such person shall be entitled to one draw. and the remainder of such families of orphans shall be entitled to one draw: …And provided, That all widows of Revolutionary soldiers shall have one draw in addition to those already contemplated by this act; and that all Revolutionary soldiers who were not fortunate drawers as Revolutionary soldiers in the late land lottery, shall be entitled to two draws as Revolutionary soldiers; and those who drew one tract of land in the former lottery as Revolutionary soldiers, one draw: Provided, That the citizens of this State, who come under this act as above contemplated, and who volunteered or were legally drafted in the late war against Great Britain or the Indians, and refused to serve a tour of duty, either in person or by substitute, or who may have deserted from the service of this State, or of the United States, shall not be entitled to the provisions of this act, as above contemplated, nor any of those who illegally avoided a draft. by removal or otherwise; and that no person or persons, who have removed from the organized limits of this State, for the purpose of avoiding the laws of this State, or who have absconded for debt, shall, in no wise, be benefited by this act, and who have not paid all taxes required of them. In case any land is drawn by minors, the grant shall issue accordingly, upon payment of the usual fees : Provided, also, Nothing herein contained shall be construed to exclude such persons as by the provisions of this act are allowed a draw or draws.

Sec. 12. And be it further enacted, That any sale or transfer that any person entitled to a chance or chances in this land lottery may make of such chance or chances, or may make of any lot or lots of land, such persons may draw before the grant or grants of the same are taken out, shall be void, and any bond or obligation or letter of attorney given by said person to make titles, shall not be binding on such person: And further, It shall be illegal for any magistrate, or person authorized to administer an oath, to administer an oath to any person selling his chance or chances, lot or lots, contrary to the provisions of this section, that he will make titles to the same.

Sec. 13. And be it further enacted, That nothing herein contained shall be so construed as to allow any convict in the Penitentiary, to give in for a draw in the present contemplated lottery : Provided, nevertheless, That the child or children. who have resided in this State three years, of any said convict, shall be entitled to a draw or draws, in the same manner they would be entitled if they were orphans, and maybe given in for by their mother, or other person under whose care they may be, and the grant or grants shall issue accordingly to any lands so drawn : Provided, no such convict has drawn in any of the former land lotteries of this State in his own name.

Sec. 14. And be it further enacted, That lists of persons entitled to draws under this act, shall be made out by the Inferior Court of each county, or such persons as they may appoint, (not exceeding two to each battalion) within two months from the publication of this act; and said Inferior Court of the several counties of this State, or the persons they may appoint, shall attend in each captain’s district, at least twice. giving ten days’ notice of such attendance, for the purpose of taking the names of the persons entitled to draws; the names of the persons entitled, shall be entered by the Receivers in a book to be kept for that purpose, a transcript of which book, fairly made out, shall be transmitted to the Executive, and the original deposited with the Clerk of the Superior Court of the respective counties; and should the Inferior Court of any county fail to take in such names themselves, or to make proper appointments, by the first day of September next, then the Clerk of the Superior Court, (or his legal deputy in his absence,) in such county, may make such appointments: And said Receivers, before they enter upon their duties, shall take and subscribe the following oath: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will not receive or register any name, except the person giving in shall first take the oath prescribed by this act: So help me God.” Which oath any Justice of the Inferior Court, or Justice of the Peace, is hereby required to administer, and the person, or persons, taking in names as aforesaid, shall administer to all applicants for draws, other than widows, guardians, or next friends of orphans, the following oath, to wit: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I am a citizen of the United States, and have resided in this State three years immediately preceding the passage of this act, except absent on lawful business, and am an inhabitant of the same ; that I was eighteen years of age at the time of the passing of this act; that I have (or have not) a wife, or child, or children; that I have not given in my name for any draw or draws in the present contemplated land lottery in any other part of the State; that I have not drawn a tract of land in the former lotteries in my individual capacity, or as an individual orphan; and that I did not, directly or indirectly, evade the service of this State, or of the United States, in the late wars against Great Britain or the Indians.” And the widows of Revolutionary soldiers shall take the following oath or affirmation, (as the case may be,) to the best of their knowledge and belief, viz: “I do solemnly swear, or affirm, that I am the widow of a Revolutionary soldier to the best of my knowledge and belief: So help me God.” The following oath shall be administered to all married women entitled to draws on account of three years’ absence of their husbands, as contemplated by this act, viz.: “I do solemnly swear, or affirm, that my husband has been absent from this State three years; that I have resided the three last years in this State, except absent on lawful business, and am now a resident in this district; that I have not put in my name for a draw in the approaching land lottery in any other part of the State; and that I have not drawn any tract of land in the former land lotteries, either in my individual capacity, or as an individual orphan, to the best of my knowledge and belief: So help me God.” The following oath shall be administered to the mother, or next friend, of any minor or family of minors, who may be entitled to a draw or draws on account of three years’ absence of their father, as contemplated by the act, viz.: “I do solemnly swear, that the minor, or family of minors, whom I now return, is, or are, entitled to a draw or draws under this act, to the best of my knowledge : So help me God.” The following oath shall be administered to all Revolutionary soldiers, who shall apply for draws under this act: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I served, as a soldier in the Armies of the United States, during the Revolutionary War, a tour or tours of duty, and am entitled to a draw or draws, according to the provisions of this act: So help me God.” And all guardians or next friends of orphans, or children of convicts in the Penitentiary, shall take the following oath: “And that the orphan, or family of orphans, or the child, or children, whom I now return, is (or are) entitled to a draw or draws under this act, to the best of my knowledge: So help me God.” The following oath shall be administered to all widows: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) I am a widow; that I have resided the three last years in this State, except absent on lawful business, and am now resident in this district; that I have not put in my name for a draw in the present lottery in any other part of the State; and that I have not drawn land in the former lotteries, to the best of my knowledge and belief: So help me God.” That all idiots and lunatics, entitled to a draw or draws by this act, shall be given in by their respective parents or guardians, or next friend, who shall take the following oath: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that the person whose name I now give in, is an idiot, or lunatic; that he is eighteen years of age, or upwards, at the time of the passage of this act, and entitled to a draw or draws under this act; that he has not drawn land in any of the former land lotteries of this State in his name, or as an individual orphan: So help me God.”

Sec. 15. And be it further enacted, That, immediately after the passage of this act, his Excellency the Governor shall cause the same to be published in such of the public gazettes of this State, as he may think proper and shall require all persons entitled to draws to give in their names to the persons authorized to receive them, and said persons taking in said names, shall receive twenty-five cents from each of said applicants for each draw.

Sec. 16. And be it further enacted, That, if any person entitled by this act to a draw or draws, should, by absence or other unavoidable causes, fail to give in his name within the time herein prescribed, it shall and may be lawful for such persons to make oath of the draw or draws to which he may be entitled, before any Justice of the Inferior Court of the county in which he may reside, and make return thereof to the Executive at any time before the commencement of the drawing: and it shall and may be lawful for any person or persons, entitled to a draw or draws in said lottery, who are about leaving the State on lawful business, to take the oath prescribed by this act, and deposite the same in the Clerk’s office of the county where such person or persons may reside, and their names shall be registered according to the provisions of this act: Provided, Such person shall swear that he intends to return and remain a citizen of this State.

Sec. 17. And be it further enacted, That five persons shall be appointed by joint ballot of the Legislature, to superintend the drawing of the lottery, to be convened at Milledgeville, by the Governor, when necessary, and that, wherever this act imposes duties on the Governor, Surveyor General, Surveyors, Receivers of Names, or Commissioners, such duties shall be severally performed, with as little delay as possible, consistently with a due execution of this act.

Sec. 18. And be it further enacted, That, as soon as said lists are made out and returned, his Excellency the Governor, for the purpose of carrying the lottery into effect, shall cause the names of persons entitled to draws, together with other designating remarks of residence, &c. to be placed on tickets as nearly similar as possible, which shall be deposited in one wheel, and the prizes or tickets of a like description, shall be deposited in another wheel, which prizes shall consist of all square lots in said territory, not herein reserved. And from each wheel, as nearly at the same time as may be, a ticket shall be drawn, and delivered to the Superintending Managers, and so on, until the whole number of prizes are drawn out, and said Managers shall make due and particular entry of the names so drawn out, and the prizes corresponding therewith; said names and prizes being first thoroughly mixed in their respective wheels. And his Excellency the Governor is required to give three weeks’ notice of the commencement of the drawing.

Sec. 19. And be it further enacted, That, should there be more districts than are contemplated by this act, and Surveyors elected for, or in case the appointment of any Surveyor should become vacant, by death, resignation, or otherwise, his Excellency the Governor is requested to fill said vacancy. And, in case any Surveyor shall be found incompetent, or fail to execute the duties required of him by this act, his office shall be vacant, and his vacancy filled in like manner.

Sec. 20. And be it further enacted, That the Surveyors to be appointed in pursuance of this act, shall, before they enter upon their duties, take and subscribe the following oath: “I ________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I an twenty-one years of age; that I will, well and faithfully, to the best of my skill and abilities, discharge the duties which may be required of me as Surveyor in the territory lately acquired : So help me God.” Which oath, the Surveyor General is required to administer. The oath to be administered to Chainmen by their respective Surveyors, shall be as follows: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that, to the best of my skill and judgment, I will measure all lines on which I may be employed as chain-carrier, as accurately, and with as little deviation from the course pointed out by the Surveyor, as possible, and give a true account of the same to the Surveyor: So help me God.” And similar oaths shall be administered by the said Surveyor to all axemen and markers.

Sec. 21. And be it further enacted, That the land to be distributed under the provisions of this act, shall be classed under the following heads, viz: First quality river land, second quality river land, first quality oak and hickory upland, second quality oak and hickory upland, first quality pine land, and pine land ; and that it shall be the duty of Surveyors charged with the business of dividing the districts into lots, to note upon the separate plat of each lot which he is required to file in the Surveyor General’s Office, the quality of each lot, according to the foregoing classes; and that all persons, who may draw lands under this act, shall be entitled to receive grants for the same, conveying fee-simple titles, on paying into the Treasury of this State, the sum of eighteen dollars; and any person drawing, and failing to take out his grant within two years from the date of said draw, shall forfeit his or her right to receive a grant to the land so drawn, and the same shall revert to the State, orphans, lunatics, and idiots excepted. And all persons who shall draw lands in the lottery authorized by this act, shall, whether the same be granted or not, pay taxes thereon, at the same rates as for other lands of similar qualities, until they shall relinquish the same to the use of the State, by writing, to be filed in the office of the Secretary of State. That all returns made contrary to the true intent and meaning of this act, are declared to be fraudulent; and all grants issued in consequence of any law made in the contemplated lottery, on such fraudulent returns, are hereby declared to be null and void; and the lands, so granted or drawn, shall revert and become the property of the State; and the question of the fraud may be tried upon scire facias, to be issued from under the hands of the Clerk of the Superior Courts of the county or counties in which the land lies, in the name of the Governor of said State, for the time being, upon the application of any individual against the tenant in possession of the land alleged to be fraudulently drawn, or against the drawer thereof, setting forth the circumstances of fraud in said scire facias specially, and upon return of said scire facias, with an entry thereon of service effected, by any sheriff of any county of this State, by leaving a copy thereof with the person named as defendant, or at his or her notorious place of abode, or by the return of such Sheriff, that the defendant is not to be found; upon which return the court is authorized to have service perfected by an order for three months’ publication in one or more of the public gazettes of this State; which rule, when duly published, shall be considered as sufficient service to authorize an issue to be made up under the direction of the court to try the question of fraud. And, in case the jury shall find the return fraudulent, the court shall, by judgment, pronounce the grant issued on such return and draw to be void, and order it cancelled; which judgment, when transmitted to the Surveyor General’s office and Secretary of State’s office, and entered on file there, shall be of sufficient authority to those officers to cancel the plats and grants for such fraudulent draws from their offices respectively. And the land when condemned, shall belong one-half to the State and the other half to the informer, and subject to be laid off between the informer and the State by writ of partition, to be issued under the direction of the Superior Court of the county in which the land lies; and to the proceedings of said writ of partition on behalf of the State, it shall be the duty of the Solicitors in the respective circuits to attend. And when the said lands are so laid off, the informer shall be entitled to a plot and grant for his share, upon the payment of the legal office fees: Provided, nevertheless, That no return made by or in behalf of orphan or orphans, shall be pronounced fraudulent until bis, her, or their legal guardian shall have been made a party to the scire facias, or other discreet person appointed by the court in which the case is tried, to defend the case for the said orphan or orphans. And provided, also, The proceedings under this section take place within four years from the date of the drawing.

Sec. 22. And be it further enacted, That no case, after being commenced as aforesaid, by scire facias, shall be settled or compromised by the informer, or otherwise disposed of to the prejudice of the State; and in case it is, said land shall be liable to be returned by any other informer, in manner above prescribed, and division made thereof accordingly.

Sec. 23. And be it further enacted. That no scire facias shall issue until the applicant shall have made, and deposited in the Clerk’s office from which the said scire facias shall issue, the following oath: “I do solemnly swear, that, in making this information, I have no combination or understanding, directly or indirectly, with the drawer, or any other person as the friend of, or on the part of, the drawer.

Sec. 24. And be it further enacted. That a quantity of land on the Flint river, opposite to the old Agency, and equal in size to the reserve on the East side of the same ; one mile square at Marshall’s Ferry, on the Flint river, including the ferry; one mile square at M’Intosh’s, on the Chatahoochie, including the ferry; and a reserve of five miles square on the Chatahoochie river, at the Cowetau falls, and including the same, the Northern boundary to cross the river at a point one mile above the lower shoal, be, and the same is, hereby set apart for public purposes.

JOHN ABERCROMBIE,
         Speaker of the House of Representatives.
ALLEN B. POWELL,
         President of the Senate.

Assented to, 9th June, 1825.
G. M. TROUP, Governor.

http://www.therainwatercollection.com/reference/ref802.pdf

http://files.usgwarchives.net/ga/deeds/1827/

 

William Patten Drew Lots for Inheritance

William Patten (1820-1907) and his brothers, John Jehu Patten, Jethro Patten, James Patten and Matthew Elihu Patten all lived within the vicinity of Rays Mill, GA (now Ray City) and  Milltown, GA (now Lakeland). They were sons of Elizabeth and James M. Patten. Their mother, Elizabeth Lee Patten, was a daughter of Joshua Lee, who about 1830 dammed the northern outflow of Grand Bay, and constructed a grist mill at Allapaha, GA (now Lakeland), GA. Their sister, Nancy Patten, married John F. Clements in Lowndes County in 1840.

William Patten, of Berrien County, GA Image detail courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

William Patten, of Berrien County, GA Image detail courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

William, the oldest of the Patten brothers, married Elizabeth Register on May 4, 1845. She was a daughter of Samuel Register, of Registerville, GA (now Stockton, GA), born in Lowndes, now Lanier County, August 31, 1828. The couple made their home near Ten Mile Creek in the area later known as Watson Grade where they raised 12 children.  William Patten was Justice of Peace in the 664th district, Lowndes County, 1845-1848, and 1849-1856.

It is widely reported that William’s father, James M. Patten, died in 1846. His grave marker bears that date, but legal  notices published in the period newspapers clearly indicate he died prior to March 4, 1845. On that date William Patten applied for letters of administration on the estate.

William Patten applied on March 4, 1845 for letters of administration on his father's estate. March 25, 1845 Milledgeville Southern Recorder

William Patten applied on March 4, 1845 for letters of administration on his father’s estate. March 25, 1845 Milledgeville Southern Recorder

Milledgeville Southern Recorder
March 25, 1845

Georgia, Lowndes County

Whereas William Patten applies for letters of administration on the estate of James M. Patten, late of said county, deceased-
These are therefore to cite and admonish all and singular, the kindred and creditors of said deceased, to be and appear at my office within the time prescribed by law, to shew cause, if any exists, why said letters should not be granted.
Given under my hand at office, this 4th day of March 1845. 
William Smith, c.c.o.

William Patten  was appointed the administrator of his father’s estate. Since the legal rights of women were severely abridged in those days, William Patten also acted as legal guardian for his minor siblings, Sarah Patten, James Patten, Elizabeth Patten, John Jehu Patten, Mathew Elihu Patten and Mary Patten.

Altogether there were 11 heirs to the James M. Patten estate, and a distribution of the deceased’ livestock was conducted at the March 1849 Term of the Lowndes Court of the Ordinary, with Levi J. Knight, Justice of the Peace, presiding and Thomas B. Griffin, Clerk of the Court. The livestock was divided into 11 lots. According to the court records, the lots were “numbred 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and were assnged to the distributees in the fowollowing maner to wit the names of the distributees were writen on another piece of paper and put into another hat. The hats were both well shaken. A name was then drawn from the hat containing the names then a number was drawn from the hat containing the number and in that manner continued till all were drawn.

William drew Lot number 5, consisting of “29 head cattle marked crop & split in one eare and under l— in the other, branded VV, approved to $4 per head” and took possession of similar lots on behalf of his six wards. William also purchased from his father’s estate a crosscut saw at $7.00, one bed & furniture at $11.00, one grub hoe at $.50, one desk, powder canister & trunk at $2.75, and five bee hives at $5.37.

William Patten was baptized into Union Primitive Baptist Church on September 9, 1848.  The church was constituted in 1825 on the banks of the Alapaha River by his parents, Elizabeth and James Patten, and maternal grandparents, Martha and Joshua Lee, along with William A. Knight, Sarah Knight, Jonathan Knight, Elizabeth Knight, Mary Knight, Josiah Sirmans, and Matthew Albritton.  William Patten served as clerk of Union church from May 10, 1851 to 1854 when he was dismissed by letter March 11, 1854, to unite with Jethro Patten, Aden Boyd, Nancy Boyd and others in organizing Empire Church. The Boyds gave the land for the church, located near Five Mile Creek  about six miles northeast of present day Ray City out the Sam I. Watson Highway, on Empire Road. Jethro Patten served as first deacon to the church.

William Patten remained a member of Empire church until his death.  William and Jethro were ordained to the ministry by Empire Church and served as pastors to several churches in Clinch and Berrien Counties.

In 1856, William Patten’s place was cut out of Lowndes into Berrien County and he was immediately elected to the office of Justice of the Peace in the newly formed 1144th district, an office he held from 1856 to 1869.  In 1862 he was Captain of the militia district.

There is nothing in the 1850 Census of Enslaved Inhabitants of Lowndes County or 1860 Census of Enslaved Inhabitants Berrien County to indicate that the Pattens were slave owners.  But like many other southern white men, both slave owners and non-slaveholders, the Pattens went off to fight for the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Historian Gordon Rhea attributes non-slaveholders’ commitment in the Southern cause to deep held belief in white supremacy, increasing isolation and alienation from the North, and the southern theological interpretation of biblical support for slavery.  Near universal messaging from Southern religious, political and community leaders  reinforced the fears in white southerners of slave rebellion, collapse of the southern economy, loss of status and privilege, and the alleged criminal desires of freedmen.

It is said that William Patten, John Jehu Patten, James Patten, Matthew Elihu Patten and Jethro Patten all fought for the Confederacy. It appears that Jethro Patten served in the 12th Georgia Militia. Jehu and James served with Company E, 54th Georgia Regiment. William served with Company I, 54th Georgia Regiment. Other Berrien Countians in Company I included John Gaskins, Fisher Gaskins, William Gaskins, Joseph Gaskins, and Lemuel Elam Gaskins.  Matthew E. Patten’s Civil War service is not known.

Children of William Patten and Elizabeth Register Patten:

  1. James Irwin Patten born February 15, 1846; married 1st cousin Leanna Patten, daughter of Jethro Patten and Nancy Brown; died 1934
  2. Lewis C. Patten born October 11, 1847; never married; died September 18, 1890.
  3. William C “Babe” Patten born December 28, 1849; married (1) Sarah Lee (2) Laura Watson.
  4. George W. L. Patten born April 21, 1852; died August 8, 1864.
  5. Henry R. Patten born April 17, 1854; died single, November 23, 1873.
  6. Sylvester M. Patten born May 15, 1856; married Eliza Watson; died 1940
  7. Elizabeth Roena Patten born June 27, 1858; married Levi J. Clements; died 1951
  8. Samuel Register Patten born July 8, 1860; married (1) Laura Curry, daughter of Charles W. Curry (2) Matilda Patten, daughter of Matthew Elihu Patten; died 1938
  9. Marcus Sheridan Patten born 1861; married January 1, 1901 to Mittie Walker, daughter of Edgar D. Walker; died 1950
  10. Catherine Matilda Patten born December 20, 1864; died single July 2, 1893.
  11. Mary Jane “Mollie” Patten born November 30, 1866; married John Thomas “J.T.” Webb (1863-1924); died 1955.
  12. Edward Levi Patten born March 31, 1869; died single July 7, 1928.

In 1865 William Patten joined the Masonic fraternity, receiving his degrees in the old Butler Lodge No. 211 at Milltown, GA (now Lakeland). Other members of Butler Lodge included Thomas M. Ray , Hardeman Sirmans and Jesse Carroll.  William Patten was demitted September 18, 1880, and on account of the attitude of his church towards Masonry, never affiliated with a lodge thereafter.

In 1867 William Patten owned all 490 acres of Lot 385 in the 1144th Georgia Militia District of Berrien County. Lot 385 was north of Milltown (now Lakeland) between the forks of the Alapaha River and Ten Mile Creek. To the west, on Lot 384 his brother James Patten also had some property and the rest of that lot was owned by J. C. Clements. Lot 353 to the northwest was but a small part of the holdings of M. C. Lee.  By 1874, William Patten acquired an additional 490 acres on the adjacent Lot 351 which straddled the Alapaha River.

In 1880, William Patten’s place consisted of 60 acres of tilled land and 920 acres of woodland. He put in 17 acres of corn producing 60 bushels, 20 acres of oats producing 300 bushels, 20 acres of cotton producing 8 bales, 1 acre of cane producing 300 gallons of molasses. He produced well over 100 bushels of sweet potatoes. His orchards included over 100 apple trees and 100 peach trees. His real estate was valued at $800. He owned $50 worth of farming implements and machinery, and $450 in livestock. For the year 1879, he spent $20 on building and repairs, $70 on fertilizer, and $30 on labor. He had one ox, 28 milk cows, and 37 head of other livestock. His herd dropped 16 calves that year and he slaughtered only one animal. On June 1, 1880 he had 75 sheep. His flock dropped 35 lambs that year and he slaughtered three animals. Five sheep were killed by dogs, and ten animals died of stress of weather. He sheared 50 fleeces for 120 pounds of wool. He had 17 hogs, about 20 barnyard chickens and about 50 other poultry. The estimated value of all farm production was $530.

When the 1300th Georgia Militia District was formed in 1889, William Patten was elected Justice of the Peace in that district serving in the office until 1893.

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Berrien Minute Men On the Square

Before the Civil War, some 32 percent of the population of Lowndes and Berrien County, Georgia were enslaved African-Americans.  In neighboring Thomas County, 51 percent of the people were enslaved. These numbers paled in comparison with the slave population of the coastal counties, where as much as 86 percent of the population toiled in bondage on the sea island cotton and rice plantations of Georgia’s tidewater.  In all, the State of Georgia estimated its citizens owned  three billion dollars worth of slaves.

Almost immediately after the election of Abraham Lincoln,  Levi J. Knight formed the Berrien Minute Men, a company of 103 volunteer infantrymen. Levi J. Knight, original pioneer settler of Ray City, GA was the military leader of the community and a slave owner. He had served as a captain of the local militia company in the Indian Wars, and as a general in the state militia.

The Berrien Minute Men drilled and paraded in the local communities before being called up for deployment. By May, 1861 newspapers reported, “the county is alive with volunteers, and all eager for a fight with the Abolitionists. Our citizens have liberally contributed funds to equip and prepare for service the poor men connected with the companies, and also to supply with provisions and clothing the destitute families of those who shall enter the service.

In 1888 a visitor to Nashville, GA met with surviving veterans of the Berrien Minute Men. A brief passage on their reminiscences was printed in the Atlanta Constitution.

Berrien Minute Men in formation at Nashville, GA

Berrien Minute Men in formation at Nashville, GA
About the Illustration: The Berrien Minute Men of the Georgia 29th Regiment in an 1861 pre-deployment ceremony at the Nashville, Georgia courthouse square. The mounted officer depicts Captain Levi J. Knight (1803-1870) a prominent leader in the area and retired major general of the Georgia militia. The building in the background represents the Berrien County Courthouse, the only known structure from Civil War era Nashville, GA which is documented in photographs. The balcony shown on the courthouse was actually not present until the building was converted to a hotel in 1898. Illustrator: Alan H. Archambault. Image courtesy of Jim Griffin.

The writer of the 1888 news clipping recalled the company of men in their uniforms on the courthouse square.

April 6,1888 Atlanta Constitution. A visitor to Nashville, GA recalls the formation of the Berrien Minute Men during the Civil War.

April 6,1888 Atlanta Constitution. A visitor to Nashville, GA recalls the formation of the Berrien Minute Men during the Civil War.

Atlanta Constitution
Friday April 6, 1888. Pg. 2.

A Brave Band of Men.

Berrien Correspondence Quitman, Ga., Herald.  May the brain that dictates and the hand that indites this sentence be paralyzed if we ever forget our friends and comrades in the days that tried men’s souls. From this county went forth the “Berrien Minute Men” to battle for the lost cause. They were the finest body of men we ever saw in line, and they belonged to the old Twenty-ninth Georgia. Twenty-five or thirty of them on the right of the company were over six feet high. They wore a grey uniform, cut on the claw-hammer style, with a black breast, and trimmed with large gilt buttons. They were a dangerous looking set, and truer, braver, manlier hearts never beat beneath the confederate grey.

Where are these stalwart forms now? We did not see them on the courthouse square at Nashville, where they once mustered so bravely.

Alas! nearly all of this gallant band have passed over the river and are resting under the shade of the trees. We met Henry Knight, John Knight, Lacy Lastinger, Jim Roberts, Jack Parrish, Frank Parrish, and a few others that we knew in the long ago, and we were welcomed, aye, thrice welcomed.

 

About the Courthouse

According to the Berrien Historical Foundation, the Berrien Courthouse was a two-story wooden structure that served the county’s judicial needs from 1858 until around 1897.  The courthouse occupied the square in Nashville, on lands purchased from pioneer, Daniel Griner, and chosen by a commission appointed by the Judge of the Inferior Court.

New Hansell Hotel. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

New Hansell Hotel. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

When the present brick courthouse was to be constructed, the two story wood structure was purchased by Dr. William Bryan Goodman, who moved it to the northeast side of the square and converted it into a hotel.

September 20, 1901 Tifton Gazette reported a new hotel in Nashville, GA

September 20, 1901 Tifton Gazette reported a new hotel in Nashville, GA

Tifton Gazette
September 20, 1901

At the entertainment given by Dr. and Mrs. W. B. Goodman in Nashville Thursday evening last, at which a voting contest for a name for the new Nashville hotel was held, about $20 was realized for the Nashville Methodist church fund. The name “Hotel Hansell,” was selected, in honor of the Southern circuit’s veteran judge.

October 25, 1901 Tifton Gazette reports Hotel Hansell under new management.

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Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island: Part 4

Berrien County in the Civil War
29th Georgia Regiment on Sapelo Island
Part 4: Berrien Minute Men and the Election of Officers

Randolph Spalding, first Colonel of the 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment, elected November, 1861

Randolph Spalding, first Colonel of the 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment, elected October, 1861

During the Civil War,  two companies of men that went forth from Berrien County, GA were known as the Berrien Minute Men.  October, 1861 to January, 1862, the campfires of the Berrien Minute Men  were made at Sapelo and Blackbeard islands protecting the approaches to Darien, GA on Doboy Sound and the Altamaha River.  The Berrien Minute Men arrived on Sapelo Island in early October.

Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island

  1. Arrival On Sapelo
  2. Place of Encampment
  3. Camp Spalding
  4. Election of Officers
  5. Tidewater Time
  6. In Regular Service

The two companies of Berrien Minute Men arrived on Sapelo Island without knowing who their regimental officers would be, or even which regiment they were in. The other companies in the no-name regiment on Sapelo were the Thomasville Guards and the Ocklocknee Light infantry, companies from Thomas County that had served with the Berrien Minute Men in the briefly constituted 13th Georgia Regiment at Brunswick, GA. Two other companies of the new regiment were still in Savannah.

The custom among the volunteer regiments of that time was that field officers were elected by popular vote of the troops, with the appointments officially made after confirmation by Army command. It was during the first few weeks on Sapelo Island, that the regiment held elections for the field officers. Among the candidates for Colonel were: Captain William H. Echols, a graduate of West Point and captain in the Engineering Corps of the Confederate Army; Cary Wentworth Styles who had commanded the 13th Regiment at Brunswick, and who, after the War founded the Atlanta Constitution;  and Randolph Spalding (1822-1862), who was master of the South-end Mansion on Sapelo Island and a son of Sapelo plantation founder Thomas Spalding.

 

William Holding Echols, a Captain of Engineers in the Confederate States Army, was a candidate for Colonel of the 29th GA Regiment.

William Holding Echols, a Captain of Engineers in the Confederate States Army, was a candidate for Colonel of the 29th GA Regiment.

The Berrien Minute Men and the Thomas county companies had experienced the leadership of Colonel Styles when they served with the 13th Georgia Regiment at Brunswick, and William W. Knight was of the opinion that they would never accept Styles as Colonel of the regiment.  The companies in Savannah preferred Echols, but the majority of the Regiment on Sapelo Island favored Randolph Spalding. The election was held on October 22, 1861.

October 23, 1861 Savannah Republican reports election of Levi J. Knight as Major of the 29th Georgia Regiment

October 23, 1861 Savannah Republican reports election of Levi J. Knight as Major of the 29th Georgia Regiment

Savannah Republican
October 23, 1861

Election of Officers. – An election for field officers of a new regiment to be composed of companies now in camp at our Parade Ground and on Sapelo Island, took place yesterday.  The vote of the Companies in this city [Savannah] show a majority of 20 votes for Echols over Spalding for Colonel.  Alexander received a large majority for Lieutenant Colonel, and L. J. Knight the same for Major. The vote from Sapelo has not been received.

October 24, 1861 Savannah Republican reports election of Levi J. Knight as Major of the 29th Georgia Regiment

October 24, 1861 Savannah Republican reports election of Levi J. Knight as Major of the 29th Georgia Regiment

Savannah Republican
October 24, 1861

Military Election. – The election of field officers for the new regiment now encamped here and at Sapelo, resulted in the choice of Randolph Spalding Colonel by a majority of 20 votes. ——- Alexander was chosen Lieutenant Colonel, and Levi J. Knight, Major.

Randolph Spalding was chosen as Colonel, perhaps due to the home field advantage. He was a successful planter on the mainland and on Sapelo Island where he was master of the Spalding’s South End mansion. In addition, he was a Representative from McIntosh County for several terms. He later served on the staff of General William H.T. Walker. (He would die in camp at Savannah in March of 1862.)

Thomas Williamson Alexander was elected Lieutenant Colonel.

Thomas Williamson Alexander was elected Lt. Colonel of the 29th Georgia Regiment

Thomas Williamson Alexander was elected Lt. Colonel of the 29th Georgia Regiment

Levi J. Knight advanced to Major of the newly formed Regiment.   Thomas Spalding Wylly, a nephew of Colonel Randolph Spalding and grandson of Thomas Spalding,  became Captain of Berrien Minute Men Company C.  Wylly was educated and experienced traveler, having joined an expedition to California in 1849. (Wylly later transferred to Clinch’s 4th GA Cavalry.) John C. Lamb was elected Captain of Berrien Minute Men Company D.

Thomas Spalding Wylly succeeded Levi J. Knight as captain of the Berrien Minute Men

Thomas Spalding Wylly succeeded Levi J. Knight as captain of the Berrien Minute Men. Image source: Wendy Wylly

 

With the election of officers, the Berrien Minute Men and the other companies on Sapelo were another step closer to completing the organization of the regiment. Over the next few months the worst foes the regiment would face in their backwater post were low morale, boredom, and disease.

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Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island: Part 3

Berrien County in the Civil War
29th Georgia Regiment on Sapelo Island
Part 3: Berrien Minute Men at Camp Spalding

During the Civil War,  two companies of men that went forth from Berrien County, GA were known as the Berrien Minute Men.  From October, 1861 to January, 1862, the campfires of the Berrien Minute Men  were made at Sapelo and Blackbeard islands protecting the approaches to Darien, GA on Doboy Sound and the Altamaha River.  The Berrien Minute Men arrived on Sapelo Island in early October.

Sapelo Island Lighthouse

Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island

  1. Arrival On Sapelo
  2. Place of Encampment
  3. Camp Spalding
  4. Election of Officers
  5. Tidewater Time
  6. In Regular Service

Despite conditions of camp life that drove some men away, the sea islands held a strange beauty for the Wiregrass farmers turned soldiers. While stationed at Camp Spaulding, Pvt. William W. Knight wrote, “we are camp on as pretty a place as I have seen. it is a high live oak grove one side open to the Atlantic its never ceasing roar about three quarters of a mile from camp.”  William W. Knight was a son of  Levi J. Knight, Captain of the Berrien Minute Men and original settler of Ray’s Mill (now Ray City), GA.

Private Robert Hamilton Harris of the Thomasville Guards, Company A, 29th Georgia Regiment, also found the island enchanting. These were the idyllic first days of Confederacy, when the Georgia volunteers still anticipated glorious battle and before they experienced “unholy war.”   Private Harris wrote to Martha (Mattie) Love, his girl back home,

Inside you will find a sort of map of our position and neighboring places. I think it is near enough correct to give you some idea of things about us. On the Atlantic side is a fine beach of firm white sand, with a good many shells scattered over it, not many of which are very fine however. When the winter gales begin to blow many nice ones will wash up, and then I will make a collection. Mattie, I wish you could stroll along our beach, or wander among the delightful groves of the Island, you would enjoy it so.
       If you would like to have some shells and other curiosities I can bring them to you when I go home, or send them to you if I do not go.

Harris’ correspondence is part of a collection of Civil War letters of Robert Hamilton Harris, housed in the Digital Library of Georgia.

1861 map of Confederate positions on and near Sapelo Island, GA including Sapelo Lighthouse, Sapelo gun batteries, encampment of the 29th Georgia Regiment (Camp Spaulding), Wolf Beacon, and the position of Berrien Minute Men, Company C, 29th GA Regiment on Blackbeard Island, GA

1861 map of Confederate positions on and near Sapelo Island, GA including Sapelo Lighthouse, Sapelo gun batteries, encampment of the 29th Georgia Regiment (Camp Spaulding), Wolf Beacon, and the position of Berrien Minute Men, Company C, 29th GA Regiment on Blackbeard Island, GA

 

Harris’ map shows the location of the camp of the 29th Georgia Regiment situated on the south end of Sapelo Island, on a bluff north of Lighthouse Creek.   The position of the Sapelo Island Lighthouse and the lighthouse causeway are shown, as well as the position of Spalding [Sapelo] Battery and masked batteries near Dean Creek.  Today, Sapelo Lighthouse is one of five remaining lighthouses in Georgia, and one of three open to the general public, advises Sherpa Guides.

Apparently represented but unlabeled on Harris’ map are Little Sapelo Island, Queens Island, and Wolf Island. Little Sapelo Island lies to the west of Sapelo, separated by the marshes around Duplin Creek. Doboy Island/Commodore Island, Queens Island, and Wolf Island lie to the south of Sapelo Island, across Doboy Sound.

The relative locations of the neighboring creeks and islands are somewhat distorted. Harris’ map identifies Dubois [Doboy] Island and Wolf Beacon. Wolf Beacon was a lighthouse at the northern end of Wolf Island. The Georgia Legislature had ceded jurisdiction of Wolf Island to the United States in 1819 for the purpose of building the 55-foot high beacon light to complement the lighthouse across Doboy Sound on Sapelo Island. The beacon was constructed by the U.S. Coast Guard  along with a keeper’s house and was in operation by summer 1822. Confederate forces eventually  blew up the Wolf Beacon light to eliminate its navigational aid to the Union Navy.

Harris’ map shows Captain Knight’s Company, the Berrien Minute Men, stationed at a battery defending the south end of Blackbeard. True enough, but it appears Harris mistakenly labeled St. Catherines Island to the north as Blackbeard Island.  His depiction of Sapelo Island is actually the combined Sapelo and Blackbeard islands. Harris’ combined Sapelo/Blackbeard clearly shows the prominent Northeast Point on Blackbeard Island, but failed to indicate the belt of marsh and the narrow Blackbeard Creek which diagonally separates Blackbeard from Sapelo. Captain Knight’s camp would have been at the inlet to Blackbeard Creek on the southernmost point of Blackbeard Island, on a dune and tree covered finger of land some 1400 yards wide lying between the seashore on the east and the creek on the west.

With their encampment established,  the companies on Sapelo turned their attention to the organization of the regimental command. By the first of November the Regiment held elections for  its officers.

About Robert Harris:

Robert Hamilton Harris (April 19, 1842-April 29, 1929) of Thomasville, Georgia, was the stepson of Rev. Robert Fleming. During the United States Civil War Harris served in Company A, 29th Regiment of the Georgia Infantry, reaching the rank of captain. For nearly twelve years after the Civil War, he studied and practiced law. During this period he served as Solicitor of the County Court in Thomas county, railroad attorney, and Mayor of Thomasville. Harris became an ordained minister in 1878. He served as a circuit preacher in rural southern Georgia and as a pastor of Baptist churches in Columbus and Cairo, Georgia, as well as Troy, Alabama. In 1900, he accepted a professorship at Cox Seminary in College Park, Georgia, where he remained until his retirement in the 1920s. On October 13, 1863, Robert Harris married Martha (Mattie) Love (March 5, 1845-December 28, 1900). Martha Love was the daughter of Peter Early Love (1818-1866) of Thomasville (Love served in the U.S. Congress, 1859-1861).

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Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island: Part 2

Berrien County in the Civil War
29th Georgia Regiment on Sapelo Island
Part 2: Place of Encampment

Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island

  1. Arrival On Sapelo
  2. Place of Encampment
  3. Camp Spalding
  4. Election of Officers
  5. Tidewater Time
  6. In Regular Service
William W. Knight wrote home from Camp Spalding, Sapelo Island, GA.

William W. Knight wrote home from Camp Spalding, Sapelo Island, GA.

The  Berrien Minute Men were two companies of infantry that went forth from Berrien County, GA during the Civil War. From October, 1861 to January, 1862, the campfires of the Berrien Minute Men  were made on the coast of McIntosh County at Sapelo and Blackbeard islands protecting the approaches to Darien, GA on Doboy Sound and the Altamaha River.  The Berrien Minute Men arrived on Sapelo in early October and were stationed on the island along with the Thomas County Guards, Thomas County Volunteers and Ochlocknee Light Infantry.

The regimental encampment on Sapelo was Camp Spalding, on the 4000 acre Sapelo Island plantation which had been established by Thomas Spalding.  Spalding, in 1827 served on a commission which attempted to survey the Florida-Georgia border and kept a journal of the journey.  The expedition bushwhacked its way from the east coast through largely unexplored areas of north Florida and south Georgia,  a portion of the route passing through Lowndes County to intersect Coffee’s Road near William Blair’s place just west of Sharpe’s Store.  The Coffee Road was cut in 1823 from Jacksonville, Telfair County, GA to Tallahassee, FL ; It was the only improved road through Wiregrass Georgia at that time and passed seven miles west of Ray City, GA.

According to New Georgia Encyclopedia,

“Thomas Spalding (1774-1851), noted antebellum planter of Sapelo Island, was one of the most influential agriculturists and political figures of his day in Georgia…He cultivated Sea Island cotton, introduced the manufacture of sugar to Georgia, and promoted Darien and the coastal area as the economic center of the state…Spalding was an influential Democrat and a pro-Union advocate.  As the sectional crisis worsened in the late 1840s he was instrumental in ensuring the support of Georgia for the Compromise of 1850.

Thomas Spalding, a pro-Union man, was elected president of the convention at the Georgia State Convention of 1850, convened to deliberate Georgia’s immediate secession or its alternatives. He led the convention with a majority of Union Men, mostly Whigs, to conditionally accept the Compromise of 1850 in a resolution known as the Georgia Platform. The act was instrumental in averting a national crisis, as other southern states soon followed the Georgia example.

…Despite his ownership of more than 350 slaves, Spalding had considerable misgivings about the institution of slavery, exemplified by his reputation as a liberal and humane master. He utilized the task system of labor, which allowed his workers to have free time for personal pursuits. Slaves were supervised not by the typical white overseers but by black managers, the most prominent of whom was Bu Allah (or Bilali), a Muslim and Spalding’s second-in-command on Sapelo.” 

The Muslim community at Sapelo Island was among the earliest in America, and some scholars believe the ruins on Sapelo include the foundations of one of the first mosques in the country.  Descendants of the 400 enslaved men, women and children who lived on Thomas Spalding’s antebellum plantation still reside on Sapelo Island in the Hog Hammock community. In the description of Sherpa Guides,

“The Gullah village, with its unique cultural, artistic, and linguistic traditions, is without a doubt the most unusual community in Georgia. Old timers speak geechee, a colorful creole that blends English with a number of African languages, primarily from the western coast. Hog Hammock was created in the early 1940s when R.J. Reynolds, who owned most of the island, consolidated the scattered black land holdings around the island. Blacks exchanged their holdings in Raccoon Bluff, Shell Hammock, and other communities for property and small houses with indoor plumbing in Hog Hammock.”

Thomas Spalding’s South End Mansion on Sapelo Island had been inherited by his son, Randolph Spalding.  Randolp Spalding and his five siblings had received the  slaves from their father’s estate, as well. In Sapelo’s People: A Long Walk to Freedom, William S. McFeely writes, “Randolph Spalding, unlike his scientific father, better fit the popular image of the Southern plantation grandee; in his thirties as the war approached he liked fast horses and big house parties.”

At the outbreak of the Civil War, the sea islands were among the most exposed and vulnerable southern properties.  For the tidewater plantation owners, “fears were great of a ‘plundering expedition’ aimed at the huge population of slaves along the coast.”

In McIntosh county 78 percent of the population was enslaved. In neighboring Glynn county 86 percent were slaves and the enslaved populations of the coastal Georgia counties were nearly as great: 67 percent in Camden county, 74 percent in Liberty, and 71 percent in Chatham.

1861 Harpers map of Georgia Slavery - detail of coastal counties.

1861 Harpers map of Georgia Slavery – detail of the Georgia coast showing the percentage of enslaved population in Chatham, Liberty, McIntosh, Glynn, and Camden counties.

“Charles Spalding, Randolph’s brother, wrote to an official of the Georgia militia on February 11, 1861 ‘that there are on the Island of Sapelo…about five hundred negroes which might be swept off any day unless protected by a small detachment of infantry on the island.” Spalding feared not only slave raiders, but the slaves themselves: ‘there are on.. [the nearby Altamaha rice plantations] some four thousand negroes, whose owners will continue to feel very insecure until some naval defenders are placed upon these waters.'”

That responsibility fell for a while on the Berrien Minute Men and the 29th Georgia Regiment. On Sapelo Island, the 29th  had duty manning Sapelo Battery  near Sapelo Lighthouse as well as additional gun batteries near Dean Creek.  A gun battery on Blackbeard Island at the Atlantic Inlet to Blackbeard Creek was the site of Captain Knight’s encampment. These positions were important in defending the northern delta of the Altamaha River and the port at Darien, GA from intrusion by Union forces.

A number of Civil War letters of John W. Hagan document the experiences of the Berrien Minute Men. Writing from Sapelo Island on October 11, 1861, Hagan gave his wife, Amanda Roberts Hagan, an update on her brothers Ezekiel W. Roberts and James S. Roberts, cousin Stephen N. Roberts, and the other soldiers of the Berrien Minute Men.

Sapelo Island, Ga.
Oct. 11, 61

My Dear Amanda,
I have imbraced the present opportunity of writing you a short letter which leaves my self and all the company in good health with a few exceptions. We landed in Savannah on Monday night at 8 Oclk and taken the Steamer on Tuesday eavening for our place of encampment which is on Sapelo Island. We landed on Sapelo on Wednesday morning & the same eavening Capt. L. J. Knight’s compny was removed to Sapelo all so and I found Ezeakle & James in good health & in good spearet. There is four companies stasioned hear now the Thomasvill guards & the Oclocknee light infantry & Capt Knights company and the company I came with. The health of the men on this Island is verry good and as to the reports which was going the roundes in Lowndes in regard to yellow feavor that is all faulce. Some of the men of Blackbeard did not take care of themselves, & by exposure and exerting too much they became bilious & I was realy surprised when I found all the boys in so fine health. As to James, Ezeakle & Stephen you would hardly know them. Ther is but four or five on sick report at this time and nothing is the matter with but colds & risings &c. Ezeakle will I think go home on the first boat & he will give moor satisfaction in regard to our fair than I can by writing. We have drew rashings but havent elected any of our offiscers for the company yet. We feel assured that John C. Lamb of Milltown will be our Capt but we know not who will be our Leutenants. All the boys was glad to see us and I think we will get along as well as any solders could expect. Capt Knights company has not drew any money yet but is to draw as soon as the Capt gets abble to go to Savannah. He has the Bloody Piles and is not able at present to travel. We have on this Island five canon mounted. The largest carries 16 lbs balls. The others are smaler & we calculate to mount moor as soon as posable. I do not apprehend any danger heare at present. There was a blockade came in sight here yesterday & we thought we should have a fight. The 3 companies was marched to the Battery or a detachment of the three companies. The cannon was uncovered & loaded & nessery arrangements was made for a fight when all at once the ship taken a tack in a different directsion. We do not now realy whether it was a blockade or an Inglish ship expected & last night at 11 Oclk a small steamer started out so that in case it should be an Inglish vessel they could convey her in.

Amanda, we are not regulated yet & I can not give you a full deatail but in my next letter I hope I shall be able to write something interresting. Some of the boyes are writing, some singing, some fiddleing, some dancing, some cooking, some play cardes & some are at work cleaning off our perade ground & places to pitch our tents. Cience I have bin hear I have seen several of the Thomas county boys. 2 of the old Allen Hagans boys from Thomas is heare. I feel satisfide that we will be healthey & fair as well as we could wish &c.

Amanda, Old man Crofford seemed to be in the nosion to buy my land when I saw him at Nailor. He said he would give me $1500 for my place if he traded with your father providing I would give him two payments from next January. Tel your father to make any trade with Crofford that he thinks proper, but if he wants time he must pay interrest on the payments. I must close for this time & I hope you wil write soon  & I think we had better change our Post office to Nailor because you can send evry Satterday or every other Satterday & get your mail shure & where we send too at present it is unsirtin when you get it. When you write you must derect it as I derect you nothing moor. yours affectsionate husband Til Death. John W. Hagan

N.B. address your letters to
John W. Hagan
Sapalo Island Ga
in care Capt Knight

N.B. Kiss Reubin for me
J. W. H.

By mid-October, 1861 the sick of the regiment on Sapelo Island were more or less recovering from their initial illness.  William Washington Knight wrote on October 12, “There is fourteen on the sick list but none of them very bad all able to be up some little.” Ten days later, William Washington Knight was himself sick with a “bowel complaint.” Of the Berrien Minute Men, he added, “father [Captain Levi. J. Knight] has been very sick but he is getting better so as to be about and attend to his businefs.    There are several of the recruits sick,   five that tolerable bad off although I do not think any are dangerous.    Some of the old company (Company C) are sick yet,    three pretty low.”  But by the end of October, a number of men had given up the regiment. Of the Thomas County Guards, James M. Blackshear provided a substitute and left.  Sixteen-year-old Elias Beall and W. R Pringle apparently went back home.    William A Jones left the Berrien Minute Men and went home on leave to Berrien County, never to return. Jones died of measles in Berrien County on January 18, 1862, leaving behind a pregnant wife  and a young son.

Measles would spread among the regiment  in the coming months at Camp Spalding.

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Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island: Part 1

Berrien County in the Civil War
29th Georgia Regiment on Sapelo Island
Part 1: Arrival on Sapelo

Sketch of Civil War Earthwork on Sapelo Island

1863 Sketch of Civil War Earthwork on Sapelo Island. near Sapelo Lighthouse,Doboy Sound, Georgia. Fron a reconnaissance made, under direction of C. O. Boutelle, Assistant U.S.C.S., by Eugene Willenbucher, Draughtman C. S. January 1863

Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island

  1. Arrival On Sapelo
  2. Place of Encampment
  3. Camp Spalding
  4. Election of Officers
  5. Tidewater Time
  6. In Regular Service

During the Civil War,  two companies of men that went forth from Berrien County, GA were known as the Berrien Minute Men. The first company, organized by Captain Levi J. Knight served temporarily with the 13th Georgia Regiment at Brunswick, GA, before going on to join in a new regiment being formed at Savannah,  GA.  The second company of Berrien Minute Men rendezvoused with Captain Knight’s company at Savannah and was also enjoined  in the formation of the new  regiment. The two companies were mustered in as Companies C and D of the as yet unnamed Regiment.  After brief training in the Camp of Instruction at Savannah and in coastal batteries defending the city, the companies were detailed for duty.

From October, 1861 to January, 1862, the campfires of the Berrien Minute Men  were made at Sapelo and Blackbeard islands protecting the approaches to Darien, GA on Doboy Sound and the Altamaha River. Darien was about 55 miles south of Savannah and 20 miles north of Brunswick, GA.  The environment of Darien, the sea islands and the Altamaha River basin were ideal for the cultivation of rice and long staple Sea Island cotton, and the agricultural economy of the southern tidewater was strategically important to the fledgling Confederate States.

According to historian Buddy Sullivan, “The soils of the Altamaha delta were extremely fertile, both for the production of cotton and sugar cane, but most especially for that of rice.” In the peak decade of the 1850s, the Altamaha delta produced over 12 million pounds of cleaned, hulled rice; “Darien was the center of some of the most extensive rice cultivation on the southeastern tidewater.”  The tidewater agriculture was particularly labor intensive and “paralleled by the prevalence of malaria, yellow fever and other tropical diseases  and their connectivity with  tidal marshes, mud and water attendant to  the breeding of mosquitoes…Slaves toiled in the wet, marshy rice fields under harsh, demanding conditions.”

“Captain Basil Hall, an English travel writer who visited the Altamaha district in 1828, observed that the growing of rice was ‘the most unhealthy work in which the slaves were employed, and that in spite of every care, they sank in great numbers.  The causes of this dreadful mortality are the constant moisture and heat of the atmosphere, together with the alternating flooding and drying of fields on which the Negroes are perpetually at work, often ankle deep in mud, with their bare heads exposed to the fierce rays of the sun.'”

Slaves working in the rice fields.

Slaves working in the rice fields.

When mosquito swarms peaked in the summer and early fall, the white plantation families of the Altamaha district left the care of the crops to their slaves and migrated to the drier Georgia uplands; they returned to their low country plantations with the first frosts.  Although the proliferation of mosquitoes in the summer months coincided with the incidence of malaria and yellow fever, no connection was made between the events. Instead the common belief was that the tropical diseases were “caused by the “miasma,” a noxious effluvium that supposedly emanated from the putrescent matter in the swamps and tidal marshes, and thought to float in the night air, especially in the night mists as a fog.”

It is perhaps no accident that the deployment of the Berrien Minute Men to Sapelo Island coincided with the waning of the fever season. It appears Captain Knight’s company of Berrien Minute Men (Company C, later reorganized as Company G) embarked from Savannah in September  and had arrived on Sapelo and taken up station on Blackbeard Island by the first of October, 1861.  Sapelo and Blackbeard islands are adjacent, being separated only by Blackbeard creek and a narrow band of marsh.

The Confederate soldiers on the islands had access, albeit limited and inconvenient, to the post office at Darien, GA on the mainland about  10 miles up the Altamaha River. A handful of surviving letters written by the men on Sapelo paint a picture of Confederate camp life on Georgia’s sea islands, including correspondence from William Washington Knight and John W. Hagan of the Berrien Minute Men, Robert Hamilton Harris and Peter Dekle of the Thomasville Guards, and Robert Goodwin Mitchell of the Ochlocknee Light Infantry.

After a number of the men on Blackbeard Island were reported sick, rumors circulated back at home that the regiment was stricken with Yellow Fever. The families of the Berrien Minute Men had reason to fear.  In 1854, a yellow fever outbreak had killed thousands of people on the southeastern coast, including as many as 400 victims at Darien, GA.  But in his letters home, Private John W. Hagan of Berrien county wrote, “as to the reports which was going the roundes in Lowndes in regard to yellow feavor that is all faulce. Some of the men of Blackbeard did not take care of themselves & by exposure and exerting too mutch they became bilious.”  Hagan knew something about yellow fever. His father, John Fletcher Hagan, had died of yellow fever in 1853.

The Berrien County men may have just been unacclimatized to the muggy heat of the coast, or the men may have contracted malaria  in the coastal marshes.  Levi J. Knight, Jr. later wrote that one of the Berrien Minute Men, Private Enos J. Connell, became “unfit for duty, rendered so by a protracted illness contracted on Blackbeard Island… the disease when first contracted was said by his physician to have been Billious fever.” Enos J. Connell never entirely recovered and was eventually discharged in June 1862. Private Thomas N. Connell, died at Blackbeard Island on October 2, 1861, the cause of death being given in his service record as “bilious fever.” Bilious fever,  a now obsolete medical diagnosis, was often used for any fever that exhibited the symptom of nausea or vomiting in addition to an increase in internal body temperature and strong diarrhea. Bilious fever (Latin bilis, “bile”) refers to fever associated with excessive bile or bilirubin in the blood stream and tissues, causing jaundice (a yellow color in the skin or sclera of the eye). The most common cause was malaria.  What treatment the sick men may have received on Sapelo Island is not described, but one known remedy for intermittent fever was quinine derived from the Georgia Fever Bark tree, which grew in the Altamaha River Valley.

If not actually ill, some men got sick and tired of the heat, bugs, exertion and boredom of camp life. 

Company D of the Berrien Minute Men  (later reorganized as Company K) arrived on Sapelo Island in early October. Company D steamed from Savannah late Tuesday evening, October 8, 1861. Among the men of Company D were privates John W. Hagan, William A. Jones, and William Washington Knight, a son of Captain Levi J. Knight.  There was a wharf on the north end of Sapelo at the Chocolate Plantation, then owned by the Spalding family. But the steamboat landed Company D on the south end of Sapelo perhaps at the Spalding’s South End mansion. Company D disembarked at daybreak on Wednesday, October 9, 1861 and then proceeded to encamp at Camp Spalding.

Visiting the camp hospital, Private William W. Knight found of the Berrien men, “only three that were sick much. Several had been sick but were able to wait on themselves.”   William A. Jones was crippled with a severe infection on his knee.   Captain Levi J. Knight had been among the sickest, but was somewhat recovered. Assistant Surgeon William H. Way, of Thomas County, GA, was the only medical officer with the Regiment at the time.  William P. Clower would later serve as Surgeon of the Regiment.

Within an hour of landing at South End on Sapelo , Private Knight started the eight to ten mile trek to the camp of his father’s company on Blackbeard Island. He was accompanied by Sergeant John Isom, who was returning to Company C.

At the bivouac on Blackbeard island, Private Knight found his father still convalescing.  “Father looks very bad, but he is gaining strength very quickly,” he wrote.  No sooner had Pvt. Knight and Sgt. Isom arrived at the camp on Blackbeard, than Captain Knight’s company packed up and  marched back to Camp Spalding on the south end of Sapelo.  Pvt. Knight described the round trip as “seventeen miles, part of it the roughest country on this globe.”

The soldiers would spend the coming weeks establishing camp and the routine of regimental life on their sea island outpost.

Related Posts:

 

Berrien Minute Men at Brunswick ~ July, 1861

Berrien County in the Civil War
Berrien Minute Men at Brunswick, July, 1861

Civil War letter of Robert Harris, 29th Georgia Regiment, while encamped at Brunswick, GA.

Civil War letter of Robert Hamilton Harris, 29th Georgia Regiment, while encamped at Brunswick, GA.

Even before the secession of Georgia, Levi J. Knight, pioneer settler of Ray City, GA, had gathered a company of men, styled the Berrien Minute Men, to serve as volunteer infantry.   Knight, an old Indian fighter, politicianrailroad investor, developer and social leader of south Georgia, anticipated of the formation of the Confederate States Army.  In the winter of 1860, he convened a meeting at Nashville, GA, seat of Berrien County which then included present day Lanier, Atkinson, Cook and Tift counties, as well as present day Berrien, where the company endorsed the Resolutions of the Berrien Minute Men.  In the spring of 1861, the Berrien Minute Men encamped and drilled at Nashville, GA.  On May 17, a Grand Military Rally was held at Milltown (now Lakeland), GA on behalf of the Berrien Minute Men.

The following month, Knight’s company of Berrien Minute Men was ordered to  report for muster into the Thirteenth Regiment of Georgia Volunteers.

 

<em>Savannah Daily Morning News</em>, July 24, 1861 reports Berrien Minute Men have received orders to join the formation of the 13th Georgia Regiment, in replacement of  Colonel Paul J. Semmes regiment.  Semmes regiment, the 2nd GA Regiment, which had been on station at Brunswick, GA had been ordered to Virginia.

Savannah Daily Morning News, July 24, 1861 reports Berrien Minute Men have received orders to join the formation of the 13th Georgia Regiment, in replacement of  Colonel Paul J. Semmes regiment.  Semmes regiment, the 2nd GA Regiment, which had been on station at Brunswick, GA had been ordered to Virginia.

 

Savannah Daily Morning News
July 24, 1861
        The following named companies will compose the Thirteenth Regiment Georgia Volunteers, which will take the place of Colonel Semmes’ regiment, now under orders for Virginia, viz:
        Wiregrass Minute Men, Capt. C. W. Styles,
        Brunswick Riflemen, Captain B. F. Harris, Brunswick.
        Lowndes Volunteers, Capt. G. T. Hammond, Valdosta.
        Ochlocknee Light Infantry, Captain W. J. Young, Thomasville.
        St. Mary’s Volunteers, Capt. A. B. Dufour, Darien.
        Seaboard Guards, Captain John C. Nichols, Waynesville.
        Berrien Minute Men, Captain Levi J. Knight, Nashville.
        Piscola Volunteers, Captain William A. Lane, Quitman. –Atlanta Intelligencer, July 21st.

Per orders,  Captain L. J. Knight took his company of Berrien Minute Men to the Georgia coast where  they and other volunteer companies from south Georgia counties were garrisoned at Camp Semmes for the defense of the port at Brunswick, GA.  Camp Semmes, south of the city, had been established by Colonel Paul J. Semmes, commanding officer of  the 2nd Regiment Georgia Volunteer Infantry. The defense of Brunswick had been the responsibility of the 2nd Regiment until that unit was ordered to Virginia.

Around mid-June, General Lafayette McLaws, Brigadier General A. R. Lawton, and Captain William W. Echols  had visited Brunswick to inspect the troops at Camp Semmes.  Colonel Semmes and the 2nd Regiment had established security checkpoints for all vessels entering the port of Brunswick.

July 4, 1861 Colonel Semmes publishes a circular with requirements for all ships making port at Brunswick, GA. The Berrien Minute Men were among the companies detailed for defense of Brunswick.

July 4, 1861 Colonel Semmes publishes a circular with requirements for all ships making port at Brunswick, GA. The Berrien Minute Men were among the companies detailed for defense of Brunswick.

Savannah Republican
July 8, 1861
CAMP SEMMES.
Brunswick, GA., 4th July, 1861.
Public attention is respectfully directed to the annexed circular, and notice given that all boats are expected to conform to its requirements.  Passengers are ordered not to take passage in any boat until assured by its master of his intention not to disregard the same; and in order to avoid accidents or detention to themselves, to compel, if need be, his compliance therewith.
PAUL J. SEMMES,
Col. 2d Reg’t G.V., comd’g Camp Semmes
and the adjacent coast.
Circular.
HEAD-QUARTERS 2D REG’T G.V.,
CAMP SEMMES, BRUNSWICK, GA., June 25, 1861.
         I. On and after this day, all boats or vessels of any description, passing up or down the river, will be required to set their colors, or, if they have none, to heave to and report themselves to the officer of the day, at Camp Semmes, during the day.
        After sun-down every vessel will heave to and reply to the questions of the sentinel or officer of the day.  One shot will be fired across the bow of any vessel attempting to pass without heaving to, when ordered, and if, after one shot, she attempts to proceed, she will be fired into.
         II. The sentinels on the posts facing the river will be instructed to hail all vessels passing up or down the river which do not set their colors, during the day, and to hail all vessels or boats after sun-down as follows: Steamer, or schooner, or boat, ahoy! (as the case may be,) heave to! The sentinel will then call for the corporal of the guard, who will in turn call for the officer of the day or officer of the guard. The officer of the day will inquire, “What boat (or other craft) is that? – where are you from? – Where are you bound? -have you anything to communicate?” &c.  If the replies be satisfactory, the officer of the day will permit the vessel to pass on.  If any vessel, after a fair challenge attempt to pass, the sentinel will fire across her bow, and call – “The Guard:”
By order of
Col. Paul J. Semmes
W. G. Clemons, 2d Lieut. Co. G.,
Acting Adjutant.

Among the companies replacing the 2nd Regiment at Brunswick   were the Berrien Minute Men with the Thomasville Guards,  Piscola Volunteers, Seaboard Guards, Brunswick Rifles,  Glynn Guards, and Wiregrass Minute Men.

It is a noble thing to fight for our country, and glorious to die in her cause…O, who wants not be a soldier! ~ Robert Hamilton Harris, Thomasville Guards, July, 1861

While encamped there, Robert Hamilton Harris, of the  Thomasville Guards, described the camp and his experiences in a letter to Martha (Mattie) Love, his girl back home in Thomas County, GA. She was a daughter of Peter Early Love,  U. S. Congressman and  former Solicitor General serving old Lowndes County, GA.

A portion of this correspondence has been preserved and scanned in the collection of Civil War letters of Robert Hamilton Harris, housed in the Digital Library of Georgia. Unfortunately, the extant portion of  this letter is not dated. However, we can surmise from contemporaneous events described by Harris that it was written about mid-July 1861.

The partial letter begins in mid-sentence with the description of a ship:

the prize (a boat) before she reaches Savannah. Our men will probably blow her up should any U. S. vessel attack them. She is laden with near $40000 worth of sugar, and was captured by the Jeff Davis on the coast of Newfoundland.

This “prize” was the Yankee brig John Welsh which was captured by the Confederate privateer C.S.S. Jeff Davis  at about 6:00 A. M. on Saturday, July 6, 1861.  This event was widely reported in Confederate and Union newspapers. According the Civil War Naval Encyclopedia, privateers were privately owned vessels sailing under special commissions from their governments in time of war that authorized them to capture ships of an enemy power, be they warships or merchant vessels.  The privateer Jeff Davis was reconnoitering off Delaware when she discovered the  merchantman John Welsh. The John Welsh had departed Trinidad, Cuba, on the 22nd of June for Falmouth, England, having on board a cargo of 300 hogsheads  and 475 boxes of sugar.  She was owned by John Welsh, esq., of Philadelphia. The value of the ship and cargo was estimated at $75,000.  The officers and crew of the John Welsh were taken aboard the Jeff Davis as prisoners and a prize crew was installed. They sailed the John Welsh to Savannah where she was to be condemned as a prize and sold at auction.  Although Robert Harris’s letter made no mention of it, the following day, July 7,  the privateer Jeff Davis captured the schooner S. J. Waring and detailed a prize master and crew  to take her to Beaufort, SC. Three of the original crew, two seamen and the African-American cook, William Tillman, were left on board. Tillman, however, managed to retake command of the ship, killing the Confederate prize master, first mate and second mate.  For his successful action in retaking the ship and sailing her back to New York, William Tillman became the first African-American hero of the Civil War, and received a reward of $6000.00

Harris’ letter goes on to describe  the volunteer infantry companies at the Brunswick rendezvous, and the camp life of the men. This gathering of the companies was prior to their official mustering in to the Confederate States Army:

There are seven companies now encamped in Brunswick, viz. the Thomasville companies, the Berrien Minute Men, Piscola Volunteers, Brunswick Riflemen, Seaboard Guards, and the Wiregrass Minute Men, all of them very fine companies. We will soon be ready for double our number of Federals, and then we will feel easier.
    Our boys seem to enjoy themselves, and I know I do.  We have very hard fare, and have to endure a great many hardships, but we are healthy and have fine bathing facilities. Some of us are in the water nearly all the time. I plunge in regularly every morning at daylight, and spend half an hour or so in the delightful exercise of swimming, after which I don’t go in again during the day. I think this is the best plan.  A very large shark showed himself in our bathing place this morning, but we all went in as soon as he left, for we can’t forego this healthful pleasure because we happen to see a shark in the neighborhood.

Four of these companies, the Piscola Volunteers, Brunswick Rifles, Seaboard Guards, and Wiregrass Minute Men, would later be reorganized into the 26th Georgia Regiment of Volunteer Infantry, along with companies from Lowndes, Ware, Clinch, McIntosh, Pierce and Twiggs  counties.

Harris’ letter mentions that one man of his company, John Bernard, had attempted suicide by cutting his throat. But Dr. [Edwin A.] Jelks of the Piscola Volunteers [Brooks County, GA] was able to suture the wound and keep the man alive, at least temporarily. Jelks, who was a relative of  Harris’ intended, went on to become Surgeon of the 26th GA Regiment.  The 26th Georgia was also the regiment Albert Douglass would join after deserting the Berrien Minute Men in 1862.

Harris also included with his letter a sketch of Brunswick, showing the position of the regimental camp south of the city.

1861 map of Brunswick, GA showing location of the encampment of Captain Levi J. Knight's company of volunteer infantry, the Berrien Minute Men.

Robert Hamilton Harris’ 1861 sketch of Brunswick, GA showing location of the encampment of Captain Levi J. Knight’s company of volunteer infantry, the Berrien Minute Men.

The camp was situated south of the city on the bank of the Turtle River, with  the river front on the west, cedar groves to the north and south, and woods to the east. The Berrien Minute Men (marked B.M.M.) were positioned on the northeast corner of the regimental grounds with the rest of the companies on the north side and on the riverfront. The regiment kept a picket guard on the southernmost tip of the peninsula. The marsh on the east side of the peninsula Harris incorrectly labeled “Bloody Marsh” -the actual Bloody Marsh is on the east side of St. Simons Island. Brunswick’s wharves on the Turtle River are shown, as well as Oak Grove Cemetery, the Darien Road, the Waynesville Road.

Harris’ map also depicts a “prize” ship anchored off the Brunswick wharf.  This may have been a U.S. vessel captured by the privateer schooner Triton, of Brunswick, GA.  The Triton was the very first privateer to be commissioned by the Confederate government.  Confederate president Jefferson Davis had authorized privateers on April 17, 1861 and the Triton was commissioned on May 10, 1861, the  day the orders were published. The Triton was a small, 30-ton schooner, armed with a single six-pounder gun.

The railroad shown on Harris’ map would have been the shortline Brunswick & Florida Railroad, which connected at Glenmore, GA with the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railroad and the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad.  The Atlantic & Gulf was intended to serve as a “Main Trunk” for the two coastal railroads, and it was planned to stretch across south Georgia to steamboat docks on the Flint River at Bainbridge , creating a passenger and freight connection to the Gulf of Mexico.  By 1860, the Atlantic and Gulf had reached the site of Valdosta, GA, bypassing the Lowndes County seat at Troupville, GA.

Civil War era map of the Brunswick & Florida Railroad, running from Yankee Town (now Waycross), GA to Brunswick, GA - Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

Civil War era map of the Brunswick & Florida Railroad, running to Brunswick, GA – Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

The captain of the Berrien Minute Men, Levi J. Knight,  was an investor in both the Brunswick & Florida Railroad, and the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad.  The state of Georgia had also invested half a million dollars in Brunswick & Florida stock because of the railroad’s perceived strategic value.  An advantage of  these connections, it was said, was that the railroad could move men and materials from ports on the Gulf of Mexico to the Brunswick port on the Atlantic in 24 hours “in case of war between this country and a foreign nation.”   The B&F connection to the Savannah, Albany & Gulf also provided convenient transportation between Brunswick and Savannah, GA.

The Savannah newspapers noted that the Berrien Minute Men and the rest of the 13th Regiment arrived in Savannah on July 30, 1861 via railroad. At that time, they received equipment issued by the Confederate army.

Savannah Daily Morning News
July 31, 1861

Arrival of Troops
The Berrien Minute Men and Piscola Volunteers (Brooks county) arrived yesterday afternoon by the Albany and Gulf Railroad, and are encamped, together with the other companies belonging to the 13th Georgia regiment, on the parade ground. The following is a list of the officers of the former:
Captain – Levy J. Knight
1st Lieutenant – Thomas S. Wylly
2nd Lieutenant – Wm. Giddens
3rd Lieutenant – John C. Lamb
Ensign – Wm. Y. Hill
They number some eighty-five men, rank and file.
Those of the latter are:
Captain – Wm. A. Lane
1st Lieutenant – J. D. Morton
2nd Lieutenant – M. J. Culpepper
3rd Lieutenant – J. M. Rushin
This corps numbers some seventy men.

In August, the seven companies Harris noted at Camp Semmes were joined by the Camden Rifles and the Glynn Guards. On Saturday, August 19, 1861 these nine companies were formally mustered into the 13th Georgia Regiment, under the command of Colonel Cary W. Styles, of Ware county.

It appears that the Lowndes Volunteers and St. Mary’s Volunteers were late for reporting at Camp Semmes, and were not mustered into the 13th GA Regiment. The Lowndes Volunteers later mustered into the 26th GA Regiment.  Another Lowndes company (Company I, 12th Georgia Regiment) under the command of Captain James W. Patterson was already in Virginia.  General McLaws encountered them June 21, 1861 at Branchville, VA.

In a letter written from Petersburg, VA McLaws described traveling with the Captain Patterson’s company of Lowndes company over the period from about June 21 to June 24.

We succeeded in starting [from Weldon, NC] about 8 P.M. in an extra train consisting of twenty freight cars and one passenger car. I have said we, because on arriving at Branchville, from Augusta a company of 116 Volunteers from Lowndes County Ga got into the train, and from that time, there was an end to all individuality. I managed to preserve my seat entire, by piling my overcoat, pillow & carpet bag beside me. But they were all around me, in all various attitudes conceivable, and dressed and undressed as suited their humor or degree of heat, artificial or natural, they had steamed up to at the time – one person, the wit of the party, said that if any body would give him a dollar he would sit in his shirt tail, and for an additional half would then pull off his shirt. Most of them pulled off their shoes, some had socks and others none and many were only partially provided. As the heat increased the fetid odor was tremendous – which added to the insane idea peculiar to volunteers that it was the patriotic duty of each and every one to hurrah and yell on passing through any settlement,made the time pass remarkably slow. And whenever we stopped a moment there was a general rush out in search of water, and then when the conductor shouted “get aboard” various fellows would say “I cant find a board but can get a shingle if you want one!” – all of which added to the general hilarity and made the night rather a sleepless one. When the crowd was put into the baggage cars, the noise was none the less but it was further off, so that second night passed more quiet. But today the passenger car was crowded with them again, and the odors and the singing and the patriotic yelling was truly remarkable. The Lowndes company, however, are a very fine looking body of men and in fact are remarkably well behaved, and have a Captain who has them under complete control by the mere force of his personal influence, his name is Patterson and I have no doubt he will do credit to his state.

Unfortunately, through a lack of coordination there was some duplication in the numbering of the Georgia regiments, and as it happened, there was already a 13th GA Regiment in service in Virginia.  In a short time Col. Styles regiment was reorganized, with the majority of the companies remaining at Brunswick to form the nucleus of the 26th GA Regiment while the Berrien Minute Men, Thomasville Guards, and Ocklocknee Light Infantry were ordered on to Savannah, GA to be mustered into the 29th Georgia Regiment.

About Robert Hamilton Harris:

Robert Hamilton Harris (April 19, 1842-April 29, 1929) of Thomasville, Georgia, was the stepson of Rev. Robert Fleming. During the United States Civil War Harris served in Company A, 29th Regiment of the Georgia Infantry, reaching the rank of captain. For nearly twelve years after the Civil War, he studied and practiced law. During this period he served as Solicitor of the County Court in Thomas county, railroad attorney, and Mayor of Thomasville. Harris became an ordained minister in 1878. He served as a circuit preacher in rural southern Georgia and as a pastor of Baptist churches in Columbus and Cairo, Georgia, as well as Troy, Alabama. In 1900, he accepted a professorship at Cox Seminary in College Park, Georgia, where he remained until his retirement in the 1920s. On October 13, 1863, Robert Harris married Martha (Mattie) Love (March 5, 1845-December 28, 1900). Martha Love was the daughter of Peter Early Love (1818-1866) of Thomasville (Love served in the U.S. Congress, 1859-1861) [In the 1840s, Love was Solicitor General of the Southern Circuit of Georgia, and served at the Lowndes Superior Court of 1845 which convened in Troupville, GA.]

Related Posts:

Mary Ann Knight and William A. Jones

Mary Ann Knight was born  July 1, 1838 near Beaverdam Creek,  the present day site of  Ray City, GA  Her parents, John Knight and Sarah Sally Moore were pioneer settlers of the area, then situated in Lowndes County, Georgia but cut into Berrien County in 1856.

Mary Ann Knight Jones married William A.  Jones On November 5, 1856 in Berrien County, Georgia in a ceremony performed by the bride’s grandfather, Elder William A. Knight. The Berrien County Marriage Records of 1956 include the following hand written entry:

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

John Lindsey Ordy

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

William A Knight, O.M.

Mary Ann and W.A. Jones settled on a farm next to her brother, William Washington Knight in the new county of Berrien, in the vicinity of present day Ray City, GA. Other nearby neighbors included James A. Knight, Reverend Nathan Talley, William R. Brandon, and James M. Baskin. The farm of Allen Jones and Kiziah Knight Giddens Jones was in the same area.

In 1861 Mary Ann and William had a son, William Malachi Jones.

When the Civil War got underway,  William A Jones joined the Berrien Minute Men, along with Mary Ann’s brothers and other men of Berrien County. This was a company of volunteer infantry organized by Mary Ann’s father, Levi J Knight.  The Berrien Minute Men were mustered in as Company G, 29th Georgia Infantry, and William A. Jones was enlisted as a private on August 1, 1861 at Savannah, GA. Four months later the company muster rolls note that he was “absent with leave.” Later service records show that he died of measles in Berrien County on January 18, 1862. The location of his grave is unknown.

Mary had two children by William A. Jones, the youngest, Adam, apparently born after his father’s death.  Adam Jones was deaf and dumb, birth defects with a high probability for a baby whose mother is infected with measles in the early weeks of pregnancy.

For five years, the widow Jones raised her children as a single parent. On March 25, 1866 she married Green Bullard  in Berrien County, GA.

Related Posts:

The Estate of Green Bullard

Green Bullard

 

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