Nathan Byrd

Nathan W. Byrd

Nathan W. Byrd was one of the mail carriers for the post offices of Old Berrien County, GA. He carried mail on  the postal route between Nashville, GA and Milltown (now Lakeland, GA) in the period after the Civil War.  This road from Lastinger Mills at Milltown to the county seat at Nashville was one of the first public roads built in Berrien County. The route passed by the residences of Isben Giddens, Levi J. Knight, and John M. Futch, among others residing in the vicinity of Ray’s Mill, GA.

In 1875 Nathan W. Byrd was awarded the contract  to carry mail between Nashville, GA and Alapaha, GA, 13 miles and back, three times a week. The trip was a four hour ride each way.

The 1876 records of the U.S. Congress show in that year Nathan W. Byrd also put in a bid to carry the mail on  the route from Nashville, GA to Allapaha, GA.

1876 mail routes, Berrien County, GA

1876 mail routes, Berrien County, GA

The route was awarded to William J. Nelson of Allapaha, who was contracted to provide the mail service, three round trips a week, for $190 per year.   That sum would equate to about $49,300 in comparative 2013 dollars.

Nathan W. Byrd was born October 6, 1808 and raised in Sampson County, North Carolina.  He was the only child of Robert Byrd and his second wife, Elizabeth Gulley.   Nathan’s father, Robert Byrd, was a veteran of the Revolutionary War who served with the North Carolina militia from about 1777 to 1780. Nathan’s maternal grandfather, William S. Gulley was also a soldier of the Revolutionary War.

As a young man, Nathan Byrd came to Georgia where he met Ellen Gay, of Alabama. On January 24, 1834  the 25 year-old Nathan W. Byrd married Ellen Gay, age 16 and the couple made their home in Stewart County, GA.

Marriage license of Nathan W. Byrd and Eleanor L. B. Gay. August 14, 1834, Stewart County, GA.

Marriage license of Nathan W. Byrd and Eleanor L. B. Gay. August 14, 1834, Stewart County, GA.

Georgia, Stewart County
I do certify that Nathan W. Byrd and Eleanor L. B. Gay were duly joined in Matrimony by me this 14th day of August 1834
James S. Lunsford, M.G.
Recorded this 22nd day of August 1834
Thomas M. Dennis, Clk

 

The following year their first child was born, James Byrd, but the child died in infancy.   A daughter, Mary Elizabeth, was born to the couple in 1837,  and in 1839 a second daughter, Martha, was delivered. The following year their son, William Byrd, was born.   By 1840, the Byrds had moved to Houston County, GA where they appear in the census of that year, along with their three children.

Over the next decade, the couple added three more daughters to their growing family; Sarah (1843), Ellen (1846), and Susan Catherine (b. 1848). The Census of 1850 found them still living in Houston County. Nathan was a farmer with $2000 in real estate. At age 40, with four daughters and only one son, William, age 9, to help with farm labor, Nathan would have found it tough going. But the Slave Inhabitant Schedule in the 1850 Census shows that he owned three slaves.

Also enumerated in 1850 living in the Byrd household was 22-year-old William Gay, farmer. A search of the available records has failed to disclose the exact relation of William Gay, but it seems most likely that he is the younger brother of Ellen Gay Byrd. The parents of Ellen or William Gay are not known, the only clue to their origins being Huxford’s assertion that Ellen Gay was “of Alabama.”

In 1850, Nathan W. Byrd was a member of the Southern Rights Party of Houston County, a party dedicated to repelling “the efforts of the North…to interfere with [Southern men’s] rights in slave property.”  At that time there was grave sectional contention  over the future of slavery in this country.  In September of that year, the United States Congress passed the Compromise of 1850,  a package of five separate bills which defused the political confrontation between slave and free states on the status of territories acquired in the Mexican–American War.

Joseph E. Brown, Governor of Georgia from 1857 to 1865.

Joseph E. Brown, Governor of Georgia from 1857 to 1865.

In Georgia, the Legislature directed Governor Joseph E. Brown to convene a State Convention to consider the impact of the Compromise of 1850 on the state’s federal relations.

Each county was to select delegates to this convention. In Houston County,  Nathan W. Byrd was appointed as an elector to nominate four Houston county delegates to the convention.  In Berrien County, one of the candidates for convention delegates was Levi J. Knight, original settler at Ray City, GA. Levi J. Knight was a pro-Union man and lost out to candidates who favored secession.

The State Convention met at Milledgeville, on the 10th of December, 1850 “for the purpose of taking into consideration the many aggressive measures persisted in by the North upon the institutions of the Southern States, and as far as possible and consistent with the provisions of the Federal Constitution, to redress past wrongs and insure sufficient protection for the future.

The Compromise of 1850, dealing with territory acquired during the Mexican War, had numerous critics despite its passage by Congress. Southerners were upset by the admittance of California as a free state, which gave free states a majority of votes in the U.S. Senate. Northerners protested the inclusion of a tough Fugitive Slave Act, designed to appease Southerners. Several Southern states, including Georgia, had highly vocal secessionist movements calling for immediate secession. The Georgia General Assembly authorized a call for a state convention to determine the state’s course. Howell Cobb, Alexander H. Stephens, and Robert Toombs, who represented Georgia in Congress, wielded their influence in Georgia in support of the Compromise. Of the 264 delegates elected to the special convention in November 1850, 240 were Unionists. A Committee of Thirty-three drafted a response, pages 14-26, adopted by a vote of 237 to 19. In it, Georgia gave a qualified endorsement to the Compromise so long as the North complied with the Fugitive Slave Act and ceased to attempt to ban the expansion of slavery into new territories and states. – Georgia Archives

The outcome of this 1850 Georgia Convention was a statement known as the Georgia Platform.

 Supported by Unionists, the Georgia Platform affirmed the acceptance of the Compromise as a final resolution of the sectional slavery issues while declaring that no further assaults on Southern rights by the North would be acceptable. The Platform had political significance throughout the South. In the short term it was an effective antidote to secession, but in the long run it contributed to sectional solidarity and the demise of the Second Party System in the South.

 

Nathan W. Byrd served as a Grand Juror on the November 1853 term of the Houston County Superior Court.

Up to about 1854, the Byrds continued in Houston County with two more daughters added to the family; Caroline (1851), and Annie (1854). In February, 1854 the Georgia General Assembly passed an Act creating Coffee County from portions of Clinch, Irwin, Telfair, and Ware counties. Seeking opportunity in the newly created county, Nathan Byrd relocated his family. Records show he served as a Grand Juror in Coffee County for the June term, 1854.  Sometime before the 1860 census, William Gay left the Byrd household, or perhaps he remained behind when the family moved from Houston County. In Coffee county, a final child was born to Nathan and Ellen Byrd, a daughter, Eliza, born 1857.

When Douglas, GA was founded in 1855 as the seat of Coffee County, the Byrds were one of the first families in the new town. For a few years they operated a boarding house at Douglas.  Perhaps the location was not conducive, or perhaps the looming war held back development, but the town was slow to develop.  “From 1854, when Coffee County was created, until the 1880s, only a white frame courthouse, a hotel, a store or two, and a few houses occupied the site in the middle of the piney woods.”

National Archive records of Appointments of Postmasters show on October 34, 1856 Nathan W. Byrd was appointed postmaster at Byrd’s Mills, GA. In those days shortly after the creation of Coffee county, the  only other post offices in the county were at Douglas, Ocmulgeeville, and Red Bluff.  Nathan Byrd was succeeded as postmaster by James W. Overstreet on October 13, 1857.

On January 8, 1857 Nathan and Ellen’s eldest daughter, Mary Elizabeth Byrd, then 19, married Littleton L. Albritton  in Berrien County, GA. He was a brother of Matthew H. Albritton.  It was her second marriage; her first husband was a man named Mobley. Mary Elizabeth and Littleton Albritton  were enumerated in Nashville, Berrien County, GA in the Census of 1860.  Nathan Byrd and family were enumerated still living in Coffee county, in the vicinity of Bird’s Mill, GA.

The 1860 Gazetteer of Georgia describes Bird’s Mill as a post office and small village, one of only five towns in all of Coffee county.  By this time daughter Martha had also left home. Their son, William Byrd, now 19, was working as a school teacher.  Nathan Byrd owned $2000 in real estate and $3490 in personal estate. The Slave Inhabitant schedule in the Census of 1860 shows he owned three enslaved people, a 24-year-old black woman, a 3 year old mixed-race boy, and a 3 month old girl. In 2009 dollars his comparative net worth would have been about $1.85 million dollars.

According to Huxford,  the Byrd  family moved to Clinch County in 1861 and made their home at the community of Guest Mill.  Little information is available about the historic community of Guest Mill.  The location of “Guest” is shown on the U.S. Coast Survey Map of 1865,  about nine or ten miles due east of Homerville, GA.  The Guest Millpond Dam is drawn on the modern United States Geological Service (USGS) Sandy Bottom Topo map. Guest Millpond Dam is located in northern Clinch County, GA in the 1061st Georgia Militia District. The dam is located at the latitude and longitude coordinates of 31.1949275 and -82.8606999.

Nathan W Byrd was enrolled in the militia of the 1061st GMD in 1861, and in 1864 he was enumerated there in the Census for Reorganization of the Georgia Militia. He was 55 years old and occupied in farming.  Among his neighbors enumerated in the 1864 census was Miles J. Guest.

Around the end of the war, Nathan Byrd moved his family across the Alapaha River about 25 miles southwest to Nashville, GA where his  daughter, Mary, and son-in-law, Littleton Albritton, were residing. Huxford’s sketch details, “there Mr. Byrd bought a tract of land within the present limits of the town but at that time outside of town. He farmed there and also carried the mails between Nashville and Milltown (Lakeland) for some years.”

On November 28, 1869 Byrd’s daughter, Susan Catherine Byrd, married Confederate veteran Matthew Hodge Albritton,  the brother of her sister’s husband, Littleton Albritton. Matthew and Susan Catherine Albritton  lived first in Nashville, GA, but later made their home near Ray’s Mill in southern Berrien County. Matthew’s sister, Mary Jane Albritton, was the first wife of Thomas M. Ray, of Ray’s Mill.

In the Census of 1870, Nathan and Ellen Byrd, were living in the 1157th Georgia Militia District, centered on Nashville, GA.   Like other men of antebellum wealth in Berrien county, Nathan Byrd had lost most of his net worth after the war. By 1870 Byrd’s assets amounted to just 12 percent of their pre-war value, but he still had a farm.  The 1870 Agriculture Census shows the Byrds were living on 30 acres of land, with three acres improved and the rest in woodlands. The farm was valued at $250 with $10 worth of farm equipment. Byrd owned one horse, two dairy cows and five other cattle, 15 sheep and 15 hogs. All together his livestock was valued at $273. He had 50 bushels of corn, 75 bushels of oats, and 150 bushels of sweet potatoes on hand. He had 60 pound of butter, 110 pounds of honey and 10 pounds of wax. His farm products included two bales of cotton, 400 pounds each, and 34 pounds of wool. The value of “home manufactures” was $106 and the value of animals slaughtered or sold for slaughter was $114. The total value of all farm production including betterments and addition to stock was $682. Nathan Byrd was now 61 years old, still supporting his wife and two minor children.

The 1878 Berrien County tax records show Nathan W. Byrd owned 30 acres of land on Lot 190 in the tenth land district. This lot was on the east of Nashville.

The 1879 records show his neighbors included: John D. Calhoun on Lot 189; Daniel McCranie on parts of 190 and 225; and Levi Sapp on Lot 191; Thomas Asa Baker and his wife Nancy Griner Baker on parts of 191 and 192.  Jane Ivey held an additional 90 acres of Lot 190.

This land was valued at $165 in land and $25 in “town property”. He owned $50 in household furnishings, $47 in livestock, and $15 in other property.

Nathan W. Byrd died at his home January 5, 1881. Mrs. Byrd died March 17, 1901.

 

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Matthew Hodge Albritton

matthew-hodge-albritton

Matthew Hodge Albritton was born  March 8, 1842 in Houston County, GA a son of Allen and Rebecca Albritton.  His parents were well off. By the time of the Civil War, Allen Albritton had amassed a net worth that would have made him a multi-millionaire by today’s standards. Allen Albritton, was a farmer and owned land in the 5th District of Houston County, number not known, and adjoining the land of Stephen Castellow and others.

Matthew’s siblings were Littleton L. Albritton, Mariah Albritton, Mary Jane Albritton, William M. B. Albritton, George A. Albritton, Wright M. Albritton and Joe L. Albritton.  About 1842, Matthew’s cousins,  McCuin A. “Mack” Albritton and Matthew R. B. Albritton, also came to live with the family after the death of their father,  McCuin Albritton, Sr.  The boys, Mack and Matthew R. B.,  became legal wards of Allen Albritton, and their father’s property was sold off.

Estate of McCuin Albritton

Administrator’s Sale on the Estate of McCuin Albritton, November 21, 1943.

Macon Georgia Telegraph
November 28, 1843

Administrator’s Sale.

Will be sold, on the first Tuesday in FEBRUARY next, before the Court-House door in Perry, Houston county, within the usual hours, one-half of Lot of Land No. 195, in the 5th District of Houston county,  containing 101 1/4 acres, more or less – belonging to the Estate of McCuin Albritton, deceased, late of Burke county.  Sold agreeable to an order of the Inferior Court of Burke county, when sitting for ordinary purposes.  Terms cash – purchasers to pay for titles.

James Grubbs, Admr.

Nov 21

On March 3, 1852 Matthew’s sister, Mary Jane, married Thomas M. Ray  in Houston County, GA and the newlyweds moved to an area of Lowndes County that was cut into Berrien County in 1856.  T. M. Ray founded a grist mill in 1863 in the southern part of Berrien County, in partnership with Levi J. Knight.  This mill became the nucleus of the community now known as Ray City, GA.

Some time in the 1850s, Allen Albritton moved his family to Pike County, Alabama, near the town of New Providence.  Matthew, William, George, and  Wright all made the move with their father, as well as their adopted cousins Matthew R.B. and Mack. At least by 1857,  Matthew’s brother Littleton L. Albritton and sister Mariah Albritton had followed their sister, Mary Jane, to Berrien County, GA where Mariah married Matthew R. Grace that year.

Allen Albritton established legal guardianship of Matthew R.B. and Mack Albritton in Alabama, and petitioned to be discharged from that responsibility in Georgia.

1860-allen-albritton-adopts-nephews

Georgia Weekly Telegraph, September 20, 1860

Georgia Weekly Telegraph
September 20, 1860

GEORGIA, HOUSTON COUNTY.

Ordinary’s Office, for said County.
Upon hearing the petition of Allen Albritton, Guardian of M.R.B. & M.A. Albritton, minors of McCuin Albritton, deceased, showing that he has recently removed beyond the limits of this State to the county of Pike, State of Alabam, and take with him his said wards, with their property, and has there been duly appointed Guardian of said minors.
 It is ordered that all persons concerned be and appear at the November Term of this Court, to show cause, it any they have, why said Albritton should not be discharged from his said trust.
Given under my hand and official signature, the Sept. 6th, 1860.

W. T. Swift, Ordinary

In the Census of 1860, Matthew Albritton and his family were enumerated in Pike County, Alabama. Matthew, his brother William, and adopted brothers and cousins Matthew R.B, and Mack were all  working the family farm.  Their father and guardian, Allen Albritton,  had $23,775 in his personal estate and another $9,000 in real estate.

1860-censusAllenAlbritton

About 1861, Matthew left the farm in Alabama and joined his brother and sister in Berrien County, GA.

In May of 1862, Matthew’s brother, Littleton Albritton, went to Nashville, GA where he enlisted as a sergeant in Company E, 54th Georgia Infantry Regiment,, the Berrien Light Infantry.  On October 22, 1862 Matthew Albritton followed Company E to their encampment at Coffee Bluff near Savannah, GA where he enlisted as a private. Jehu Patten, of the Rays Mill District of Berrien County, GA, served as 4th Sergeant of  Company E, and other soldiers in the unit included John Lee, George Washington Knight, James Madison BaskinWilliam Varnell Nix, Stephen Willis Avera, William J. Lamb, Samuel Guthrie,  William Henry Outlaw, and Benjamin Sirmans.

The regiment served for some time in the department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. During January and February, 1863 Company E was stationed at Coffee Bluff south of Savannah.  The orders from March 1863 show Company E was among the units assigned to the Savannah River Batteries and other  defenses. 

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

The 54th Georgia Regiment was reconstituted on April 22, 1864. The regiment moved to Dalton, GA arriving on May 2, 1864 and went into action in the Atlanta Campaign. They fought almost daily engagements.  The last card on file in M. H. Albritton’s Confederate Service Records show he was issued clothing on May 8, 1864.  At some point, according to later pension records, he was shot through the throat (date and place not given) and sent home.

Engagements of the 54th Georgia Regiment:

from May 7-13, 1864 demonstrations at Rocky Face Ridge;

May 14-15 actions at Lay’s Ferry, Oostenaula River, GA.; May 17 engagement at Adairsville,Ga.;  May 19 combat near Cassville,GA.; May 25-26 Battle of New Hope Church.

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

On June 10-July 3, 1864 Operations about Marietta and the Pine Mountain-Lost Mountain line; June 27 Battle of Kennesaw Mountain;  July 5-July 17 Operations on the line of the Chattahoochee River; July 20 Battle of Peachtree Creek.

During the Civil War Matthew was shot in the throat.  Following his injuries he was granted a furlough and returned home.  In early April of 1865 he was making his way back north to rejoin his unit when he learned that General Lee had surrendered at Appomattox on April 7, 1865.  He surrendered to Federal troops near Augusta, GA. He was paroled  and returned to Berrien County. Later, he would receive a pension for his service in the CSA.

Susan Catherine Byrd

Susan Catherine Byrd

On November 28, 1869 Matthew Albritton was wed to Susan Catherine Byrd, the 21-year-old daughter of Nathan W. Byrd.  Susan Byrd’s family had moved to Nashville, GA around the end of the Civil War. Her father was a farmer and also a mail carrier on the route between Nashville and Milltown (now Lakeland), GA.

Matthew Hodge Albritton lived for many years at Nashville, GA, and later bought a farm home in the Lois Community, just west of Ray City, GA.

Marriage certificate of Matthew Hodge Albritton and Susan Catherine Byrd.

Marriage certificate of Matthew Hodge Albritton and Susan Catherine Byrd.

Matthew and Susan were married for 13 years before her death on March 2, 1882.

Children of Susan Byrd and Matthew Albritton:

  1. Theophilus Theodorea Albritton, born January 07, 1871.
  2. Gertrude Albritton, born May 23, 1872; married Francis Arthur Shaw
  3. Tula Albritton, born 1874; married Lacy Lester Shaw.
  4. Mary Jane Albritton, born July 07, 1876; married Luther Americus Webb.
  5. Sophronia Albritton, born September 22, 1878; married William Guilford Devane.
  6. Matthew Allen Albritton, born January 28, 1881.

Three years later, on July 16, 1885 Matthew, now 43, married again, this time to 27 year old Laura A. Myers of Nashville, GA. This was her first marriage. The couple had five children.

Children of Laura A. Myers and Matthew Albritton are:

  1.      Rena Albritton, born March 20, 1886 in GA.
  2.      Sarah Nina Albritton, born March 20, 1886 in GA, married Robert C. Register
  3.      Rebecca L. Albritton, born September 17, 1888 in GA.
  4.      Nona Hortense Albritton, born May 6, 1891 in GA.
  5.      Lola Alma Albritton, born Dec 1, 1893 in GA; married Caulie Augustus DeVane

Matthew Albritton died September 20, 1915  and is buried at Pleasant Cemetery near Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

Laura Myers Albritton died April 9, 1921. She was buried in Pleasant Cemetery.

Grave of Matthew Hodge Albritton, Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA. Image source: Charles T. Zeigler

Grave of Matthew Hodge Albritton, Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA. Image source: Charles T. Zeigler

Matthew Hodge Albritton submitted a Confederate Pension Application as an Indigent Soldier in 1906.  Albritton’s physical examination by Dr. W. B. Goodman cited the old neck wound received in the Civil War, an injury in his right side abdomen “made by heavy lifting,” infirmity and old age.

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