Albert Douglass: Soldier Grey and Sailor Blue

Special thanks to Wm Lloyd Harris for sharing research and contributing portions of this post.

Albert Benjamin Douglass

In 1862, Albert Benjamin Douglass appeared as one of the deserters from the Berrien Minute Men, 29th Georgia Infantry. He actually had a quite colorful record of service, prompting reader Wm Lloyd Harris to write with additional details relating  “the rest of the story.”   Harris is a great great grandson of Albert B. Douglass.

Military service was something of a tradition in the Douglass family.  Albert’s father and four brothers served in the Indians Wars in Florida. Albert and all four of his brothers served in the Civil War.  Before the Civil War was over Albert B. Douglass enlisted with at least four different units, was discharged once, and deserted three times. He fought for both the North and the South, and served in the Army and the Navy.

At the start of the Civil War, Albert Benjamin Douglass joined a company of Berrien county men going forth to be mustered into the 29th GA Regiment at Savannah, GA. In fact, according to Harris, his grandfather may have enlisted even earlier in another militia unit.

“A. B. Douglass appears as a 2nd Lieutenant in Company H, 25th Battalion Provincial Guard Georgia Infantry Regiment a local militia unit. The fact that the unit is termed ‘provincial’ typified early temporary military formations awaiting formal recognition or organization.”

Albert Benjamin Douglass was born in 1833, probably in Hamilton County, FL. His father, Seaborn Douglass, was born in Montgomery County, GA about 1800 and came to  Hamilton County, FL in the late 1820s. Seaborn Douglass and his family appear in the 1830 census of  Hamilton County.  The Douglass place in Hamilton County, FL was apparently located about eight miles from the home of Captain Archibald McRae.

Abert Douglass’  four brothers, Allen D. Douglass, Burrell Douglass, William Douglass, and Robert Douglass, and his father, Seaborn Douglass,  all served in  the  Indian Wars 1835-1858.

By 1838, Seaborn Douglass had moved his family to Lowndes County, GA. County tax records show Seaborn Douglass was late to pay his poll tax that year, although no taxes were assessed for any land holdings or slaves in Lowndes County. Seaborn Douglass appeared in the 1840 Lowndes County census with his children;   an unknown daughter (b. 1821), Allen Dickerson Douglass (1822 – 1919), Burrell Douglass (1825 – September 8, 1884), William Riley Douglass (1830 – ca. 1895), Robert Douglas (1833-1862), Albert Douglas (1835 – ), Rose or Rosean  Douglass (1839 – 1905), and an unknown daughter (b. 1840), although no spouse is found in his household.  Seaborn Douglass is believed to have died about 1843 in Lowndes County, Georgia.

About 1851, Albert Douglass, then a young man of 19,  married Abigail Shaw. She was a daughter of Martin Shaw, Sr., who was a pioneer settler of Lowndes County.  Martin Shaw had been one of a handful of  residents  at old Franklinville, GA, first seat of government of Lowndes County, and had  served as Lowndes’ first Sheriff.

Albert and Abigail Douglass appear in the 1860 census of  Berrien County, Georgia.  Albert was enumerated as 28 years old, Abigail as 35.  Their daughter Francenia  Douglass listed  as age 6.  Also in the Douglass household was the seven-year-old boy William W Turner.  The Douglas place was near that of Abigail’s  father, Martin Shaw. Nearby were the farms of  Jonathan A. Knight, Thomas Giddens and of William R. Brodgon, where William H. Outlaw was residing.

CIVIL WAR SERVICE OF THE DOUGLASS BROTHERS

All five sons of Seaborn Douglass served in the Confederate States Army.

  • Allen D. Douglass
    Served in the 1st Battalion, Florida Special Cavalry, Company B.  This unit was part of Lieutenant Colonel Charles James Munnerlyn’s famous “Cow Cavalry,” which was detailed to protect the supply of Florida cattle to feed the Confederate Army.
  • William R. Douglass
    Served with the 1st Battalion Florida Special Cavalry, also known as the “Cow Cavalry,” alongside his brother, Allen Dickerson Douglas, during the Civil War.
  • Burrell Douglass
    Enlisted September 22, 1862 at Camp Fort, Waynesville, GA, with Company A , 24th Battalion, Georgia Cavalry, under the command of Captain T.S. Hopkins ( This unit  later merged with the 7th Georgia Cavalry, Company G). While the Battalion was stationed at Camp Lee, Bryan County, GA, Burrell and a number of other soldiers became dissatisfied with the leadership of Colonel Edward C. Anderson.  Burrell Douglass  deserted on May 21, 1863  and returned to his home and family in Wayne County, GA.  Descendants believe he deserted and returned home because his wife was about to give birth, and his company had received orders to go to Virginia. About a year later in March or April, 1864 he enlisted with another company,  Captain Mann’s “Satilla Rifles.”    As soon as his name hit the war department he was arrested  for his earlier desertion and placed in Olglethorpe Barracks in Savannah. On April 11, 1864 he was court-martialed and found guilty.  He was sentenced to be shot “by musketry.” However, the execution was suspended on May 30, 1864, by order of Major General Samuel Cooper.  Douglass remained in custody until Jefferson Davis issued a pardon for Confederate deserters who resumed service.  Burrell’s records noted on November 19, 1864, “pardon and released to duty.” That was about the time Sherman was arriving in Savannah.  Burrell fought as an irregular in the Confederate Army (wherein an undisclosed injury was received) until the end of the war.  Buried at Mount Plesant Cemetery, Ware County, GA.
  • Robert Douglass
    Enlisted in the 7th Florida Infantry, Company B, on March 19, 1862. Died of “disease” in Knoxville, Tennessee, August 15, 1862. His wife, Elizabeth, received a widow’s pension as attested by Florida Confederate Pension Records. Buried in the Bethel Confederate Cemetery, Knoxville, Tennessee.

Albert B. Douglass in the Civil War

Records indicate Albert Douglass was enlisted in Berrien Minute Men, Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment.   This was the second company of Berrien Minute Men to come forth from Berrien County, GA. This second company, organized in the fall of 1861, was successively known as Company B Berrien Minute Men,  Captain Lamb’s Company,  Company D 29th GA Regiment, and Company K 29th GA Regiment.  The company mustered into the 29th Georgia Regiment at Savannah, GA.   Months passed as  the regiment trained and served picket duty on the Georgia coast.  The Berrien Minute Men were stationed at a number of camps  on the coastal islands and marshes, first at Sapelo Battery, off the coast of Darien, GA, then in Chatham County, GA at Camp Tatnall, Camp Causton’s Bluff, Camp Debtford, Camp Mackey, and Camp Young.

Albert Douglass must have been among those men who chaffed at the defensive nature of these assignments. The only Regimental return on file for Albert Douglass, Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment, shows that by December, 1862,  he was “absent without leave.”  In the following months. the 29th Georgia Regiment advertised a reward for his capture as a Confederate deserter.  Wanted notices were run in the Savannah, Georgia newspapers offering $30 dollars for his apprehension and giving his physical description as “32 years of age, 6 feet high, fair complexion, grey eyes, auburn hair.”   Among his fellow deserters were Elbert J. Chapman, who would be executed for desertion, and Benjamin S. Garrett, who was shot for being a Union spy.

  

Albert Douglas' regimental return for December 1862 shows him absent without leave;

Albert Douglas’ regimental return for December 1862 shows him absent without leave;

It appears that Albert Douglass must have left the Berrien Minute Men by the summer of 1862.  The research of Wm Lloyd Harris reveals that Albert Douglas(s) had actually deserted the 29th Georgia and enlisted in the 26th Georgia Infantry subsequently fighting with Army of Northern Virginia in Virginia. As early as June 1862 he appeared with the 26th in Richmond, Virginia.    The 26th Regiment, Georgia Infantry  [also called 13th Regiment] completed its organization in October, 1861, at Brunswick, GA. Its companies were recruited in the counties of Charlton, Berrien, Glynn, Twiggs, Clinch, Ware, Coffee, and Wayne. After serving in the Department of Georgia at St. Simons Island and Savannah, the unit moved to Virginia where it was brigaded under Generals A. R. Lawton, John B. Gordon, and C.A. Evans.

The 26th Georgia Regiment  and the rest of Lawton’s Brigade  experienced their first engagement at the Battle of Gaines’ Mill, sometimes known as the First Battle of Cold Harbor or the Battle of Chickahominy River. This battle took place on June 27, 1862, in Hanover County, Virginia, as the third of the Seven Days Battles.  John Jefferson Beagles was also at this battle, serving with the 61st Georgia Regiment in Lawton’s Brigade.

Albert Douglass  was admitted to Chimborazo Hospital, Richmond, Virginia, for dysentery, June 29, 1862.   Returned to duty, July 10, 1862.On August 14, 1862, he was admitted to Lovingston Hospital, Winchester, VA with a complaint of fever and convulsions.

Douglass returned to duty on August 27.  The following day, in the late afternoon and evening of August 28, 1862 the 26th Georgia Regiment suffered  horrific casualties at the Battle of Brawner’s Farm,  at Groveton, VA.    That same afternoon, The Berrien Light Infantry, Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment  was engaged just about ten miles west of Groveton driving federal forces out of  Thoroughfare Gap through the Bull Run mountains, and taking up and occupying position.  These actions were a prelude to the Second Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) August 29-20. During the battle, 0n August 29,  both  the 26th GA and the 50th GA regiments were in positions at Groveton. Among the men from the Ray City area serving with the 50th GA Regiment were Green Bullard, Fisher J. Gaskins, Lemuel Elam Gaskins, Joseph Gaskins,  John Jasper Cook and John Martin Griner.

Douglass’ regiment lost 37 killed and 87 wounded at Second Manassas.

On September 17, 1862 the 26th Regiment fought in the Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam), again suffering heavy casualties. The regiment reported 6 killed, 49 wounded, and 6 missing at Sharpsburg.

Douglass was admitted to 1st Division, General Hospital Camp Winder on October 19, 1862 and transferred to Hod Hospital on December 23. He was back on the morning report of Winder Hospital on December 24, and then transferred to Ridge Hospital.  He was admitted to Receiving and Wayside Hospital (General Hospital No. 9)  on June 4, 1863 and the following day he was discharged from the Confederate States Army.

At least one man of the 26th GA regiment, perhaps it was Douglass, called himself  a friend of Old “Yaller” Elbert J. Chapman. Chapman, like Douglass, left the Berrien Minute Men to go fight with other units, but Chapman was executed for his desertion.

After being discharged, Albert Douglass returned home. On July 18, 1863 he joined Captain Stewart’s Independent Company at Lake City, Florida; he was mustered into Company E, 9th Regiment, Florida Infantry. He was transferred to Company H, 9th Regiment on October 1, 1863. Albert Doulass appeared in a series of units. In August,  1863 he served as Provost Guard.  In October, 1863 he was detached to serve guard duty, Signal Corps. In November, he was detached from Captain Stewart’s Company and transferred to the Signal Corps. He was present for duty from December 1863 to April 1864.  On April 30, 1864 he was detached to the Pioneer Corps.  Two months later, he deserted to surrender to Union Army forces.

After his surrender, Albert Douglass was transferred to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he pledged the Oath of Allegiance to the United States on November 26, 1864.  On December 5, 1864 at the age of 32, he enlisted for a two-year term in the Union Navy, as an Ordinary Seaman.  At the time of enlistment he was residing in Washington, Davies County, Indiana.  His place of birth was given as Atlanta, GA; his occupation listed as “farmer.”  His Physical description was recorded as brown eyes, sandy blonde hair, florid complexion,  5’11” tall with a scar on his left arm.

albert-douglas-union-navy-record

Douglass was initially assigned to “R. S. Cairo.” This ship is sometimes thought to be the ironclad gunboat USS Cairo, but the USS Cairo was sunk in 1862 during a U.S. Navy excursion in support of the campaign for Vicksburg, MS.  Actually, R.S. Cairo refers to the Navy Receiving Ship at Cairo, IL, where new recruits were mustered into the navy. This ship was the sidewheel steamer USS Great Western.  There are no known images of the Great Western.

After completing receiving, Albert Douglass was assigned as an Ordinary Seaman to the tin-clad USS Gazelle, January 14, 1865.  The Gazelle, also a sidewheel steamer, patrolled between the mouth of the Red River and Morganza, Louisiana, and convoyed transports. She was armed with six 12-pound rifled cannons.  There are no known images of the USS Gazelle.

Apparently, Albert Douglass was on active duty aboard the USS Gazelle a scant two days before once again falling to illness.  Aboard the Gazelle, Albert Douglass received the usual treatment for chronic diarrhea – a cocktail of Opium,  Lead Acetate,  and Tannic Acid –  to no effect.  This was followed by a three-day course of  Opium, Silver Nitrate, and Powdered Acacia – also to no effect.  Douglass was finally given an enema of five grains of Silver Nitrate in three ounces of  aqua (distilled water) “without any apparent beneficial results.”

Douglass was  sent to Memphis Hospital, Memphis, TN.  Federal forces had occupied Memphis since 1862 and the city had become a major medical center.  “Wounded prisoners came by boat and wagon to be treated at hospitals that began to specialize as the war progressed.   Prior to the war the city had one hospital. By the end of the war, there were 15.  The Union used the hotels and warehouses of Memphis as a “hospital town” with over 5,000 wounded Union troops being brought for recovery.

According to the Records of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Department of the Navy, Douglass was transferred on February 7, 1865 with chronic diarrhea.   His sea bag contained his hammock, blanket, mattress, jacket, trousers, drawers, two flannel shirts, stockings, boots, handkerchief, and cap.

albert-douglas-union-navy-record-2-7-1865-hospital-ticket

Transcription of Hospital Ticket
7 Feb 1865
USS Gazelle
To W. Grier
Surgeon
You are hereby requested to receive Albert Douglass, Ordinary Seaman affected with chronic diarhea in the hospital under your direction and to provide for him accordingly according to the rules and regulations of the US Navy.
Receipt: 1 hammock, 1 blanket, 1 mattress, 1 jacket, 1 trousers, 1 drawers, 2 shirts flannel, 1 stockings, 1 boots, 1 handkerchief, 1 cap.
Respectfully, A.T.Crippen
Surgeon’s Steward in charge
Approved
Archy S. Palmer
Acting Ensign, Commanding

Albert Douglas hospital papers. Memphis Hospital, Memphis, TN

Albert Douglas hospital papers. Memphis Hospital, Memphis, TN

Transcription of Hospital Record describing his shipboard treatment prior to his admission to Memphis Hospital.
30 March 1865

Albert Douglass, Ordinary Seaman was born in the state of Georgia. Was admitted to sick list on the 21st of Jan 1865. Says he was affected with diarrhea two weeks before he reported to me. I do not know how he contracted the Disease as he was affected with it when he came aboard this Ship  Jan 19th. Ha been treated with plumbi acetas gr ii; Tannin gr iii; Opii Pulv gr SS; three times per day for three days.
Pulvi acaci gr iii; Opii gr i: Argenti nitros gr 1/12; every 24 hours for three days.
Enema argenti Nitras gr v to Agua 3i ounce without any apparent beneficial result.

A. T. Crippen
Surg’s Stew in charge
Have treated with stimulants ever since.

Federal military records show Albert Douglass deserted the Union Navy while in the hospital, on March 30, 1865.

albert-douglas-union-navy-record-3-30-1865-deserted

It appears that Albert never returned home to Abigail, and his whereabouts following his desertion from the US Navy in 1865 remain unknown. Abigail was last documented in the 1900 Lowndes County, Georgia, census in the household of John H. Godwin. second husband of her daughter Francine.  Francine’s first husband was Henry Clay Surrency. Abigail Shaw Douglass is believed to have died circa 1905. It appears that Abigail believed that Albert perished during the war as she identified herself as a widow for the remainder of her life.

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US Navy record also reflects that Albert was listed with an alternate name of Arthur Doyle, no doubt to deflect future trouble in the event he was captured by southern forces. (note that his initials AD remain a tie to his actual name).

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GEORGIA DOUGLASES WEBSITE

Reverend Robert H. Howren ~ Methodist Circuit Rider

Reverend Robert H. Howren ~ Methodist Circuit Rider

Reverend Howren brought his family to old Lowndes County in 1836 as conflicts with Native Americans were rising in Florida and Georgia.  The Howren’s settled on Coffey’s Road and became neighbors of fellow Methodist Hamilton W. Sharpe.  Sharpe’s Store, on the Coffee Road, was the first commercial establishment  in Lowndes County, and became an early post office for the area.  Sharpe was a captain of local militia in the Indian Wars and was active in politics.

Methodist minister Robert Hudson Howren. Reverend Howren was a neighbor of Hamilton W. Sharpe in Old Lowndes County. He was Methodist minister Robert Hudson Howren. Reverend Howren was a neighbor of Hamilton W. Sharpe in Old Lowndes County. He was appointed to ride the Troupville Circuit of south Georgia in 1841.appointed to ride the Troupville Circuit of south Georgia in 1841.Methodist minister Robert Hudson Howren was appointed to ride the Troupville Circuit of south Georgia in 1841

Methodist minister Robert Hudson Howren. Reverend Howren was a neighbor of Hamilton W. Sharpe in Old Lowndes County. He was appointed to ride the Troupville Circuit of south Georgia in 1841.

About Reverend Howren, Folks Huxford wrote:

Reverend R. H. Howren, one of the old ante-bellum preachers, moved with his family in 1836 from Madison county, Florida, to that portion of Lowndes, which now is in Brooks county, and for a few years lived near Brother Hamilton W. Sharpe of whom mention has already been made.

His [Reverend Howren’s] reminiscences contained in his article published in the Wesleyan Christian Advocate under date of December 17, 1884 is very valuable in throwing light on the early Methodist activities and the spiritual life of old Lowndes county. His article was written forty-eight years after.  At that time he was a retired minister living at Concord, Florida. From his article we quote at length:

   “We refugeed to that neighborhood (Lowndes county) from Madison Fla., on account of the Indians; rented a farm from Bro. Hamilton W. Sharpe and soon became connected with the Sunday-school and members of the large interesting bible class conducted by Bro. Sharpe that year (1836) at old Bethlehem Church in Lowndes county, Ga. The Sunday-school was flourishing, congregation full and attentive, preaching nearly every Sabbath. The style of it was Wesleyan, or if you please apostolic – in demonstration of the Spirit and power.  Often the preachers would stop and shout while preaching, and sometimes the people would shout and stop the preacher for a little while whether he felt like shouting or not, and in all this there was no confusion or disorder at all, but the very harmony of heaven.  It kept the stones from crying out. It was the lumbering of the train on the track heard at a distance while the freightage on board was born on in quiet safety.’Oh, that men now and then, would praise the Lord in the assembly of His saints’ and ‘talk of His wonderful work to the children of men!’

The Methodists first served old Lowndes county as a part of the Tallahassee District. This vast district swept across south Georgia from the Flint River to the Okefinokee Swamp. In 1832 the Methodists established the Lowndes Mission, and the first Methodist ministers riding on the Lowndes Circuit were George W. Davis, George Bishop, Capel Raiford and Robert Stripling.

In 1884, Reverend Robert H. Howren  wrote of the early work of the Methodists in Old Lowndes County.

This early work was called the Lowndes Circuit and embraced Lowndes county and portions of other counties around.   Bros. Francis M. Smith and J. J. Taylor were the preachers. Bro. Smith married Miss Clementine Perry, a member of Bro. Sharpe’s family.  He traveled a few years and then studied medicine.  Wonder if he is still living? Bro. Taylor traveled on a few years, married Mrs. Lowe of Columbia county, Florida, located, subsequently was readmitted to the Florida Conference, in a few years located again, then for many long years served the church as a local preacher, and was faithful to death. He died last year (1883) in Wellborn, Fla., finishing his work, as we learned, in great peace. He was my friend. I loved him like a brother; we were young preachers together and we were old preachers together; fought side by side many a battle. He is now crowned and I’m yet “laboring up the hill.”

Continuing in his article Bro.Howren made mention of the local preachers of the Lowndes Circuit in those early days (1830s).

“The local preachers of this circuit were Thomas Clift, John Johnson and Paul Johnson, three as faithful men as I have ever known through limited in their education. They were a power in the pulpit, doing great good through al that country for many years. Bro. Clift was a natural born preacher. The first words he uttered were a flood of light to my mind on the subject; his text was ‘Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God’ (Matthew 5:9). He said ‘No man can be a peacemaker in the sense of my text until he first makes his peace with God’, etc. He had a hard struggle through life for a material support but his brethren helped him more or less every year, and sometimes at camp-meetings he would get as much as fifty dollars in presents from his friends and those who appreciated his godly labors.  Bro. John Johnson was a good and useful preacher, rode the same horse for many years; after he became blind his faithful animal would carry him to and from his appointments in perfect safety, stopping every time under the same limb or at the same tree where it was accustomed to be hitched. Bro. Paul Johnson was a weeping profit. I don’t think I ever heard him that he did not weep most of the time he was preaching, and in this way reached the hearts of many that no doubt would not have been touched by ordinary preaching. He had a son who grew up and became a preacher; held family prayer three times a day – morning, noon and night – the only man I have ever known to do it. He prospered in the world. God’s word was verified: ‘Say ye to the righteous, it shall be will with him'”.

Bro. Howren in discussing the lay members and leading Methodist families, wrote in the same article:

Outside of the ministry there was a noble band of lay members at and around old Bethlehem.  The Blairs, Folsoms, Campbells, and Granthams.  Bro. William Grantham was the class-leader and was not only a soldier of the Cross and fought bravely the battles of the Lord but was a good soldier of his country.

That year in that neighborhood they had a very heated skirmish with the Indians. Brother Sharpe, I believe, commanded the fight. A great, stalwart Indian and Bro. Grantham made for the same tree at the same time; coming from opposite sides, neither discovered the other til they met at the tree.  Then came the ‘tug of war’ – around and around that old cypress tree of a hundred years growth they went, each trying to shoot the other.  At length the Indian fired and missed; he then attempted to retreat but Bro. Grantham captured him.”

Howren’s above recollection of  “a very heated skirmish” refers to the 1836 Battle of Brushy Creek in Lowndes County, GA.  Norman Campbell’s account of the battle also relates the incident of Grantham and the Indian chasing each other around a cypress tree. Lasa Adam’s account of the Battle of Brushy Creek and actions on Warrior Creek highlights the leadership of Captain Grantham. Captain Hamilton Sharpe and Levi J. Knight also led a companies of Lowndes County men in these engagements.

Bro. Hamilton W. Sharpe in his article in the Wesleyan Christian Advocate in 1884 …, said in reference to these early local preachers: “Among the early ministers little and unknown and who were loved and prized by God for their love and patience wre Revs. Thomas Cliffs, Paul Johnson, John Johnson, Thomas Carleton with many others I could name, who now mingle the redeemed in Heaven. Only a few days since while walking in the cemetery at Concord Church I remarked to my wife that among the dead there was Bro. Cliffs but nothing is there to mark his grave. Bro. Cliffs was good, poor and afflicted but he is where no sorrow ever comes.”

Bro. Howren in another article in th Advocate (April 23, 1884) tells of the time he was first licensed to preach.  It was at the old Morven Camp-ground then called Lowndes Camp-ground in 1837. He wrote in part:

“In the fall of that year I was licensed to exhort. Bro. Francis M. Smith was circuit preacher; Bro. John L. Jerry, presiding elder.  Bro. Hamilton W. Sharpe was licensed at the same time and place.  It was what was then called Lowndes Camp-ground but for many years since called the Morven-cmpground  which I believe is still kept up by the brethren there and is over fifty years old, has been in that country  a power for good.

“I remember very distinctly at one of those meetings that the older preachers got up a discussion on sanctification, some contending it to be a separate work from regeneration. I was young and said nothing but thought it would spoil if not break up the meeting.  A young preacher who, like myself, had nothing to say on the subject in dispute, was appointed to preach on Saturday night.  He got up and took his text ‘He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.’ He got about half through his sermon; all at once the Holy Ghost came down upon the preacher and people; he had to stop preaching, and just such a time of shouting and rejoicing I never witnessed before nor since under one sermon. That young man was the Rev. J. J. Taylor, now living at Wellborn, Fla. I never heard him preach before nor since as he did on that night. The discussion ceased, the Devil left the camp-ground and we were all of one mind and heart, rejoicing in the love of Jesus.”

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Secretary of War Disputes Indian War Claims of Levi J. Knight

Engagements with Native Americans fought in South Georgia in the year 1842, were a topic of Governor George W. Crawford’s address of November 7, 1843 to the Georgia General Assembly.  The Governor referenced reports  submitted by Levi J. Knight and others  documenting Indian movements and attacks.  Knight was captain of militia companies that fought engagements in Lowndes County during the Indian Wars 1836-1842 (see Levi J. Knight Reports Indian Fight of July 13, 1836;   Final Report of General Julius C. Alford on Actions at the Little River and at Grand Bay, August, 1836)

George W. Crawford, Governor of Georgia 1843-1847. In politics, Crawford was a Whig, as was Levi J. Knight of Lowndes County (now Berrien). Crawford was the only Whig elected to the Governors office in Georgia. Appointed Secretary of War in the Cabinet of President Zachary Taylor and served from March 8, 1849, to July 23, 1850; presided over the State secession convention in 1861; died on his estate, “Bel Air,” near Augusta, Ga., July 27, 1872; interment in Summerville Cemetery.

George W. Crawford, Governor of Georgia 1843-1847. In politics, Crawford was a Whig, as was Levi J. Knight of Lowndes County (now Berrien). Crawford was the only Whig elected to the Governors office in Georgia. Crawford was appointed Secretary of War in the Cabinet of President Zachary Taylor and served from March 8, 1849, to July 23, 1850; presided over the State secession convention in 1861; died on his estate, “Bel Air,” near Augusta, Ga., July 27, 1872; interment in Summerville Cemetery.

In the spring of 1842 Levi J. Knight’s company of men was among those activated to pursue Indians fleeing from Florida and to defend against Indian attacks. After these actions, Governor Crawford was engaged in a dispute with U. S. Secretary of War James Madison Porter over  whether Federal funds were owed to the State of Georgia for expenses incurred when militia companies were called out in Lowndes County.

In his address, Governor Crawford cites Document 200. This document was a report prepared for the U.S. House of Representatives, April 22, 1842 and titled “Depredations by Indians and United States troops in Georgia.” The report included all correspondence between the Governor of Georgia and the War Department from March 4, 1841 and April 20, 1842 “in relation to Indian depredations in Georgia; and the complaints made and evidence submitted of depredations on the citizens of Georgia and their property, by the United States troops;”

The question was whether Governor Crawford’s predecessor, Governor Charles McDonald, was warranted in calling out the militia. McDonald and Crawford maintained that the federal government had failed in its responsibility to provide protection and security to Georgia citizens.  The people of Wiregrass Georgia certainly felt exposed, but federal officers believed there was little real threat from Indians in Georgia.  Bad relations between the federal troops and local citizens complicated the issue.  At the heart of matters was the shooting of D.S. Cone, son of Captain William Cone by federal troops; Cone was investigating the theft of livestock by the federal troops. Furthermore, federal authorities disparaged reports by Levi J. Knight that Indians were responsible for the attack and murder of a Mrs. Oglesby in Ware County on February 28, 1842.

The War Department contended the activation of militia companies was unnecessary and disallowed payment to Georgia.

Exerpt from Governor Crawford’s address to the Georgia Assembly, November 7, 1843, Milledgeville, GA:

In execution of the act of 27th December last, “to provide for the pay, forage, subsistence and transportation, of the troops ordered out by His Excellency the Governor, and by Generals Knight and Hilliard, for the protection of the southern frontier of this State, against intrusions of the Seminole Indians, ” Col. James Rogers of this place [Milledgeville], was appointed paymaster, who proceeded to examine and report to this Department all such claims as were presented under said act, together with the evidence in support of the same.

A coppy of his report is laid before you. The evidence on which it was based is to be found on the files of this Department.  Some of the officers are discontented with the allowances made them and the men under their command by the paymaster. I refer you to copies of letters received from Captains [William B.] North and [Matthew M.] Deas on this subject, which will put you fully in possession of the objections urged against the conclusions of the paymaster, and by a comparison of which, with the testimony on file, you will be enabled to arrive at justice in your decision as to further allowances. It will be remarked that the proof consists, generally, of the affidavits of the men who performed the service.
     I call your particular attention to the letter from the paymaster, relative to Captain North’s roll,  and recommend that every dollar to which the men of his company are entitled, be allowed, but that measures be adopted to remedy such abuses as are disclosed on the part of that officer.
     A warrant has been drawn for the sum of $2,000. for the payment of these troops, which exceeds the amount of claims reported. This sum will cover every small amount of additional claims which may be proven and the pay and expenses of the paymaster who will account for any balance. I regret that the illness of this officer has hitherto prevented the execution of the duties assigned him. I addressed a letter to the President of the U. States, on the subject of the payment of the above troops, and also invited the attention of the Georgia delegation in Congress to it.  Unexpectedly to me, the President referred the matter to the then Secretary of War, an officer with whom I could not communicate with regard to it, after the evidence of his insincerity as exposed in my message to the last General Assembly.  After I was informed by the Adjutant General of the army, that the rights of the State were to be controlled by so unworthy and influence, I deemed it due to the people, whom I represented, to have no further intercourse respecting them, with any officer subject to be biased by his prejudices.  I cannot forbear, however, calling your attention to a passage in his letter of the 27th February last, to a portion of the Georgia delegation, a copy of which is herewith communicated, in which to justify his conduct in opposing the right of Georgia to pay, he remarks that,

“there was no outrage committed by any Indians in the State of Georgia, during the year 1842, and there was no probable or plausible ground to apprehend any.  Its southern border was guarded by ten military posts and by an unceasing vigilance which afforded the most effectual protection.”

These assertions are made notwithstanding the Document 200, to which he refers in the sentence immediately preceding this, being a communication made by himself, to the committee on Military affairs, contains a letter from Major Gen. Knight, giving information of an Indian murder, committed on Tom’s creek, in the county of Ware, in the month of February, of that year.

It is true, that in one of the Documents is contained a letter from an officer of the army, which is intended to create a doubt whether the murder was committed by Indians. But the evidence adduced is inconclusive on that point.  I lay before you, an extract from a letter from Captain Clyatt, of the 26th Sept, 1842, which proves that in August of that year, the Indians had passed into Georgia, and there had an engagement with a company of Georgians and Floridians.  Should there bean error in Captain Clyatt’s geography, which seems impossible, as he examined the lines, the Indians had certainly passed the ten military posts, and there was at least “plausible” ground to apprehend Indian outrages.

Bayings from Green Bay, GA ~ 1896

Green Bay Community of Berrien County, GA

Green Bay, now long gone, was once a community in south Berrien County, near Ray City, GA.  In the late 1800s, Green Bay had its own newspaper, the Green Bay Herald,  and Green Bay School was attended by many students associated with the town of Ray City.

Tifton Gazette
March 13, 1896

Bayings

        GREEN BAY, March 10. – Mr. P. T. Knight, one of Green Bay’s students received a very interesting letter from one of Lowndes county’s Cahoosiers.  He puts a very fantastical name to his epistle.  The initials of so called name is J. R. F. He offers a reward for the one who will give the Cracker the right name.
Mr. Jasper Cook, had the misfortune to lose a five-year-old mule last Friday, apparently the mule was all right until a few hours before he died.
Well what are the people of Green Bay community going to have connected with their academy next? They have two or three societies running there, and Monday morning they rolled in a $125 organ. We know of nothing better to elevate the growing youths than good societies, and there is nothing like having their wants supplied.
This is the third school in which I’ve been instructed by Prof. J. M. Patten and I must say that this one is quite different from any of the others. Why? He has adopted the method of working all problems mentally. Some might say that students could not do that, but it is an evident fact that he has five in his school that have worked up to 167 page in Wentworth’s arithmetic.
The Green Bay Singing Society convenes next Sunday, and a large attendance is expected.
The Green Bay Literary Society will hold their meetings on Friday evening instead of Saturday.  We have made a division in our society. One for the larger members, known as the Advanced Class literary and the other as the Juvenile Society, as the time was too long between intervals, we have simmered down to semimonthly.  For the Advanced Society we elected J. A. Weaver, president; Miss Amanda Clements, secretary, Miss Lillie Clements and B. L. Wilkerson, Editors; J. M. Patten and P. T. Knight, critics, For Juvenile, W. P. Patten President; Miss Jennie Lee, Secretarys; Lucius Clements, critic.

Mr. Mathew Patten killed some more of those porkers this morning, and now for another fresh feast.

AJAX.

 

 

March 13, 1896 notes from the community of Green Bay, Berrien County, GA

March 13, 1896 notes from the community of Green Bay, Berrien County, GA

 

Notes:

Professor James Marcus Patten was running the Green Bay School. His wife was Ida Lou Hall Patten. Professor J.M. Patten was college educated, having completed the teacher education program at North Georgia Agricultural College. His lifelong career was teaching in the common schools of Berrien County. In 1911, he and his wife were teaching at the Ray City School.

James Alfred Weaver was a member of Union Primitive Baptist Church, and was elected in 1901 as its clerk.

Perry T. Knight attended Oaklawn Baptist Academy  and went on to became a teacher, lawyer, soldier, chaplain, railroad commissioner, legislator, and public service commissioner.

Lucius J. Clements, son of Levi J. Clements and Elizabeth Rowena Patten, later  attended the Georgia Normal College & Business Institute,  and managed the Clements Sawmill at Ray City until the Clements family sold the business.  He became a businessman, license inspector, and assistant tax collector.

Lillie Clements, sister of Lucius J. Clements, married Fisher H. Gaskins.

Benjamin L. Wilkerson became a dentist and later moved to Miami, FL.

Jennie L Lee (1882 – 1974), daughter of Moses C. Lee and Amanda Lee Clements,  married Sam I Watson, 1900.

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Dr. Motte Arrives at Franklinville, GA, 1836

In the midst of the Second Seminole War young Dr. Motte, a Harvard educated Army surgeon, found himself detailed for duty at Franklinville, GA to provide medical care for soldiers under the command of Major Greenleaf Dearborn.  The arrival of federal troops in Lowndes County in late September of 1836 followed  a series of engagements between local militia and Native Americans who were fleeing to Florida to avoid forced removal to western lands.  Levi J. Knight, pioneer settler of Ray City, GA, had led a company of men in a skirmish at William Parker’s place on July 12, 1836, and from July through August, engagements were fought at Brushy Creek, Little River, Grand Bay, Troublesome Ford, Warrior Creek and Cow Creek.

Dr. Motte recorded his experiences in Lowndes County in a journal he kept of his military service. This part of his story picks up in the first days of Autumn, 1836…

In consequence of the great alarm excited in the southern counties of Georgia by murders and depredations committed by the Creek Indians who were endeavoring to escape into Florida from Alabama, Governor Schley had petitioned Gen. Jesup to station some troops in Ware or Lowndes County, that being the least populous and most defenceless portion of the country through which the Indians were passing.  It was also liable to invasions from the Seminoles, as it bordered upon Florida.  In compliance with this request, Major [Greenleaf] Dearborn with two companies of Infantry was ordered to proceed immediately to the above counties in Georgia, and there establish himself.  These counties being so far south and in a low swampy part of the country had the worst possible reputation for health, and going there at this season of the year was almost considered certain death to a white man and stranger unacclimated.  It was necessary then to send some surgeon with the troops, that it may not be said they died without proper medical attendance; and also that they might have a chance of a surgeon in the other world to physic them. Dr. Lawson, the Medical Director, was therefore instructed by Gen. Jesup to select some on of the surgeons for this duty; and the Doctor with his usual friendly discrimination, whenever there was any particularly disagreeable duty to be done, picked upon me. [Dr. Thomas Lawson, Medical Director at Fort Mitchell, was appointed Surgeon General of the United States on November 30, 1836.] So away I was ordered, to die of fever as I thought amidst the swamps of Lowndes County.  Major Dearborn to whom I was ordered to report myself was at Irwinton [Eufala, AL], sixty miles below Fort Mitchell, on the Alabama side of the Chatahooche. It was therefore necessary for me to proceed there forthwith alone….

I found Major Dearborn encamped two miles from Irwinton, and after reporting myself to him rode over to visit Major Lomax, who was also stationed in the neighbourhood with his battalion of Artillery.

On the 29th Sept we took up the line of march for Lowndes County, Georgia, and after crossing the Chattahooche advanced fifteen miles the first day over the most wretched roads that ever disfigured the face of the earth.  We proceeded by easy marches, generally resting in the middle of the day when we took our food, which was prepared before we started in the early morn and again when we encamped for the the night. The second night I slept in a church by the roadside…The third night we slept in the midst of a pine barren. The fourth near the banks of the Kinchafoonee River upon the site of an old Indian town [Chehaw village, where Georgia militia massacred Creek Indians in 1818]

Dr. Jacob Motte's 1836 route to Franklinville, GA

Dr. Jacob Motte’s 1836 route to Franklinville, GA

The fifth night, the surgeon was coming down with fever. Of the sixth day, he wrote that the column had passed through Pindartown, in present day Worth County, GA.  According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, Pindartown was of considerable importance in the early days. When the Creek lands changed hands in 1821, the village was bought from the Indians. Pindartown served as the only post office between the Ocmulgee and Flint rivers in the early days. The town was located at the head of navigation on the Flint River, and the stagecoach road between Milledgeville and Tallahassee, Florida, went through Pindartown.

Continuing his narrative of the travel on October 4, 1836, Motte wrote of his worsening condition.

We crossed the Flint river, and had got beyond Pinderton in Baker county, when the exertion proved too great for me, for fever with its dreadful hold had seized on my very life-springs; and finding myself unable to keep my saddle, I was forced to dismount and lie down upon the road until one of the baggage wagons came up, when I was helped into it. The torture I endured for four days during which I was conveyed in this vehicle of torment cannot be expressed in language.  My anxiety, however, to continue with the troops, enabled me to support the greatest agony for some time. 

Motte’s description of the rude and uncomfortable travel by wagon over the stage roads matches the perceptions of  Charles Joseph La Trobe, an English traveler and writer, who in 1833 rode from Tallahassee, FL to Milledgeville, GA  via the weekly stagecoach. La Trobe observed “The roads through the south of Georgia are in the roughest state.

The rough roads in the heat of an Indian summer in south Georgia were too much for the feverish Dr. Motte.

The thin covering to the wagon afforded my burning brain no protection against the heat of a vertical sun in this latitude, and the constant jolting over the rugged roads and roots of trees was fast driving me into a dreadful tempest of delirium. Human nature could endure such suffering no longer, and with reluctance I was compelled to be left in a log-house which stood beside the road in Thomas county, ten miles from Florida. The occupant, whose name was Adams, seemed a kind hearted man, and he promised to bestow [upon me] all the care in his power. Fortunately I retained my reasoning faculties, and I was enabled to prescribe for myself the proper medicines…

… By aid of a good constitution I was at last enabled to master the disease, and after ten days confinement to bed, again stood upon my legs. …On the 21st Oct I had regained sufficient strength to ride my horse; so on that day I bid farewell to my kind and hospitable host…and following upon the trail of the troops, proceeded to rejoin them.

The route of the troops from Thomasville toward Franklinville would have undoubtedly been along the Coffee Road.     Coffee Road, the military road constructed by John Coffee and Thomas Swain in 1823 became the first route opening up the south central Georgia region to pioneer settlers.  In this section the road passed through Thomas county, Lowndes county, and present day Berrien county, continuing on to its terminus at Jacksonville, GA on the Ocmulgee River. From Thomasville heading east via the Coffee Road, Dearborn’s company could reach Sharpe’s Store which was just fifteen miles west of Franklinville, GA

Now traveling alone and by horseback, Motte’s perception of  conditions along the rough-cut roads are in marked contrast to his torturous wagon ride.

Autumn with its refreshing sunshine had now superceded the heat of summer, and its hollow winds, with mournful sound announcing the approach of dreary winter, were driving the leaves about in eddying course; their rustling alone broke the stillness of the scene as I journeyed slowly through the wide forests, which were now throwing off their garb of sturdy vigour and assuming the ostentatious and gaudy livery of the season. The beauty of woodland scenery is always heightened just before the chilly winter throws its icy influence over their bloom. and envelopes them in a robe of dusky brown.  Then it is that the gorgeous and fantastic blending of green, yellow, crimson, purple and scarlet, which tinge the distant prospect, defies the art of the painter, who endeavours in vain to imitate successfully the varied hues of nature.

On the evening of the 22nd Oct I arrived at Franklinville, which is the only town in the whole of Lowndes county, and contains only three log-houses one of which is a court-house, and another the Post-office; the third is a store. This great place is situated on the upper Withlacooché, and here I found the troops encamped. They were preparing to move farther south, and nearer to Florida; and the day after I joined, the tents were struck, the Withlachooché crossed, and after marching ten miles in a southerly direction, a new place of encampment was selected near the plantation of  a Mr. Townsend.

[Thomas O. Townsend was one of the first settlers of Lowndes County, and later owned several lots in the town of Troupville.]

Major Dearborn apparently found the environs of Franklinville unsuitable to military discipline, this despite the fact that the only buildings were the courthouse, post office, an inn operated by William Smith, who was also clerk of the court and postmaster, and the residences of Sheriff Martin Shaw, and of John Mathis and James Mathis. Still, Franklinville was the only “town” in all of Lowndes County and was on the stage road from Jacksonville.   In reflecting on the early history of Lowndes County, Hamilton Sharpe, who operated Sharpe’s Store on Coffee Road, intimated that Franklinville was a rowdy place of drunkenness, at least on days when citizens gathered from the countryside of meetings of the circuit court.

In any event, Major Dearborn soon had his troops relocated to a more remote location.

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Dr. Jacob Rhett Motte: Army Surgeon

In the fall of 1836 at the onset of the Second Seminole War, Dr. Jacob Rhett Motte became perhaps the first surgeon in Lowndes County, GA, which then encompassed a vast area including all of present day Lowndes, Berrien, Brooks, Cook, Lanier and Echols counties. Motte was the first of the medical men anywhere in the vicinity of the pioneer homesteaders at the settlement now known as Ray City, GA. Dr. Motte, a U.S. Army surgeon detailed to serve under the command of Major Greenleaf Dearborn, had come to Franklinville, GA which was the first government seat and post office of Lowndes County.

The early pioneers of the area cheered the deployment of federal troops, and the arrival of a doctor was especially welcome.  But to Dr. Motte, the assignment for duty in Lowndes was most unwelcome, in his words the county “being so far south and in a low swampy part of the country had the worst possible reputation for health, and going there at this season of the year was almost considered certain death to a white man and stranger unacclimated.”

The Milledgeville Federal Union reported the arrival of United States troops in Lowndes County.

September 27, 1836 Milledgeville Federal Union reports Major Greenleaf Dearborn and 200 federal troops have taken up position in Lowndes County, GA.

September 27, 1836 Milledgeville Federal Union reports Major Greenleaf Dearborn and 200 federal troops have taken up position in Lowndes County, GA.

 Milledgeville Federal Union
September 27, 1836

United States Troops in Lowndes.

It is stated that Gen. Jesup has ordered Maj. Dearborn with about two hundred United States regulars, into Lowndes county, for the protection of that and the surrounding country against the depredations of Indians. It is anticipated that when operations shall be renewed in Florida, parties of Creek Indians, perhaps accompanied by the Seminole allies, will return through our southwestern counties to their ancient homes; and this force is designed, we learn, as a preparation for such a state of things. – Gen. Jesup has been at Tallahassee, and it was there understood, that he would be invited by Gov. Call to take command of the Florida forces.

As Native American inhabitants of Georgia, Alabama and Florida forcibly resisted removal to western lands, the summer of 1836 had erupted into a string of violent encounters. On or about July 12, 1836 Levi J. Knight led a company of men in a skirmish at William Parker’s place. In subsequent days, engagements were fought at Brushy Creek, Little River, Grand Bay, Troublesome Ford, Warrior Creek and Cow Creek.

About Dr. Motte…

Young Jacob Rhett Motte,  descendant of two distinguished and colorful South Carolinian families, graduated with an A .B. degree from Harvard University in 1832. Disappointed at his failure to receive an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, he returned to his home in Charleston. There he entered the Medical College of South Carolina and served his apprenticeship under the direction of a Doctor J. E. Holbrook. Upon the completion of his medical studies he became a citizen M. D. at the United States Government Arsenal in Augusta, Georgia. A yearning for a military career finally led the young physician to Baltimore where in March, 1836, he was examined by the Army Medical Board. His application for a commission as Assistant Surgeon was approved on March 21, and around the first of June he was ordered to active duty with the Army in the Creek Nation. For seven months he participated in the so-called Second Creek War in Georgia and Alabama-an action which was nothing more than the employment of about 10,000 regular and volunteer troops in a giant round-up of the demoralized and dispossessed Creek Indians. Early in 1837 he was transferred to the Army in Florida and for the next fourteen months took part in the campaigns against the Seminole Indians.

During his period of service with the Army in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, Motte faithfully kept a journal in which he recorded, in a fascinating style, his travels, experiences, activities, observations and impressions.

-James F. Sunderman

According to The Army Medical Department, 1818-1865,

President Jackson decided that it was necessary to move Army units into Georgia, Alabama, and Florida to force the removal of the Seminoles and Creeks, a step that had the added effect of intimidating the most reluctant members of the other three tribes. Although the Creeks put up less resistance to removal than the Seminoles, the possibility of wholesale active resistance caused the Army to order sixteen companies of regular troops from artillery and infantry regiments, more than 1,000 men, south by mid-1836 to assist over 9,000 state troops in rounding up the reluctant members of this tribe in preparation for their removal. In the course of the following six months, over 14,000 Creeks left the area under Army escort.

The Medical Department provided medical supplies for some of those going west, including the Cherokees, Choctaws, and Chickasaws, for which it was reimbursed from a special fund by the “Indian department,” and medical officers also vaccinated large groups from the various tribes for smallpox. At least one Army surgeon, Eugene Abadie, was sent with the Creeks and specifically designated “Surgeon to Emigrating Indians” although, except for surgeons assigned to Army escorts, physicians accompanying groups of migrating Indians were apparently usually civilians. Abadie reported that many Indians fell sick during their march, fevers, dysentery, and diarrhea being the most common ills, and that many died, especially the very old and the very young. Abadie appears to have left the Creeks shortly after their arrival in the West, for he was at Fort Brooke, Florida, in August 1837.

Some of those whose duty it was to assist in the removal of the members of these tribes were well aware of the tragedy involved. Although he was not assigned to accompany the Creeks as they moved west, Assistant Surgeon Jacob Rhett Motte, who was then attached to one of the artillery units in the territory of the Creeks, studied their language and learned to respect them as a people. He watched at least 500 Creeks being brought in chains to Fort Mitchell, Alabama, and deplored the melancholy spectacle as these proud monarchs of the soil were marched off from their native land to a distant country, which to their anticipations presented all the horrors of the infernal regions. There were several who committed suicide rather than endure the sorrow of leaving the spot where rested the bones of their ancestors. The failure of his attempt to escape the round-up drove one warrior to self destruction; the fact that the only weapon at his disposal was an extremely dull knife did not deter him. With it he made several ineffectual efforts to cut his throat, but it not proving sharp enough, he with both hands forced it into his chest over the breast bone, and his successive violent thrusts succeeded in dividing the main artery, when he bled to death.

The troops based at Fort Mitchell during the Creek removal suffered primarily from dysentery and diarrhea, which Motte blamed on “the rotten limestone water of the country.” The sick were sheltered in two small buildings, each with a ten-foot wide piazza shading it from the summer’s sun. Both structures were in poor condition, with split floor boards and rooms without ceilings. Neither had been intended to serve as a hospital, but the building constructed for this purpose was on private land and had been taken over as a home, apparently by the family owning the land. The diseases endured by the men who came to the facility were, for the most part, fevers, probably malarial, and, in hot weather, diarrhea and dysentery. An epidemic of measles broke out in the fall of 1836, and the surgeon was occasionally called upon to treat the victims of delirium tremens or even of poison ivy. By the summer of 1836 the facility was serving as a general hospital, taking in both Regular Army patients from the garrison and men from the Alabama volunteers, recently back from Florida and the war against the Seminoles.

Character of the Second Seminole War

A brief show of strength served to eliminate Creek resistance, but an increasing number of attacks on white families and ambushes of small Army units emphasized the determination of the Seminoles never to leave their homes. In the last weeks of 1835, the conflict erupted into open warfare. In the guerrilla struggle that followed, Army regulars and members of various state units sent to subdue the Seminoles fought in an unfamiliar and dangerous land, “healthy in winter but sickly in summer; . . . a most hideous region,” where insects and bacteria alike throve and multiplied.”

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Isham Watson, Revolutionary Soldier

Isham Watson, Revolutionary Soldier (1759-1842)

Isham Watson,  a veteran of the Revolutionary War,  and his wife Rhoda Ann Oswald came to Lowndes County, GA about 1831. At least one of their children, son Frederick Watson, came with them to Georgia.  Lowndes county then encompassed  present day Lowndes, as well as Berrien County, Tift, Cook, Brooks, Atkins, Lanier, and  Echols counties. The county seat was at Franklinville, on the Withlacoochee River (although the river was then labeled on maps as the Ockolacoochee). Isham Watson’s place was on Lot 100, 12th Land District, about 10 miles west of Franklinville, and about two miles east of the Little River (labeled on the original land plats as the Withlacoochee).

Isham Watson was born about 1759 in Dobbs County (now Wayne County),  in the British Crown Colony of North Carolina. He  was one of ten children born to Samuel Watson (1731-1784) and Christine Watson (1740-1810).  He grew to young adulthood during the time of escalating tension between England and the American Colonies.

“In the early 1770’s, North Carolina sentiment on the subject of independence was fairly evenly divided. Back country settlers in 1771 openly defied royal authority, but they were successfully quelled by Governor William Tryon at the Battle of Alamance. By 1775, North Carolinians had generally split into two factions: patriots, who were willing to fight England for independence; and loyalists, who were either strongly in favor of British rule or those who did not feel that war was a way to redress grievances.”

Following on news of the fighting  at Lexington and Concord in April, 1775, the patriots of North Carolina  began organizing Continental Army and militia units. Isham Watson was among those who were willing to fight for independence.  By the age of 16, he joined Captain John Sheppard’s Company of the Dobbs County Regiment of Militia.  The Dobbs County Regiment, led by Col. Abraham Sheppard, Maj. Martin Caswell, and Maj. William McKinnie, would play a pivotal role in the opening of hostilities in the Revolutionary War.

When Governor Josiah Martin learned of patriot military preparations he fled the palace at New Bern and by July was on board a British warship off the North Carolina shore.

With Governor Martin out of the colony the patriots established a provisional government and began mobilizing their forces.

From his exile, Governor Martin organized a plan to recapture the colony. He hoped to raise a loyalist army of 10,000, many of which would be back-country Highland Scots. The army would then march to the coast and join a British expeditionary force led by Lord Cornwallis, Sir Henry Clinton and Sir Peter Parker. Together they would be able to re-establish royal authority in the Carolinas.

By February 15, 1776 Governor Martin’s Tory army assembled at Cross Creek (now Fayetteville), NC, mustering about 1,600 loyalists, including some 500 Scots armed with broadswords.   Under the command of Brigadier General Donald McDonald and lieutenant Colonel Donald McLeod, the Tory force began the march down the Cape Fear River to link up the the British regular forces on the coast at Wilmington where Cornwallis and Clinton had six regiments of British regulars  and a fleet of seventy-two ships to control the coast. The goal was to divide the northern and southern colonies.

But through a series of troop maneuvers and posturing, the patriots  managed to intercept the Tory army at Moores Creek Bridge.

On February 20, MacDonald began his march toward the coast; however, he found his way barred by Moore at Rockfish Creek. Instead of bringing on a fight the loyalists turned eastward and crossed the Cape Fear River. With Moore outmaneuvered, another patriot leader, Colonel Richard Caswell with 800 men [private Isham Watson and the Dobbs County Militia among them] rushed to take possession of the bridge on Widow Moores’ Creek, a crossing the loyalists must make in order to reach Wilmington. Moore sent 200 men with Colonel Alexander Lillington to reinforce Caswell and with his own force followed the enemy in hope of attacking his rear.

Lillington arrived at Moores Creek Bridge on the 25th and erected an earthwork on a slight rise overlooking the bridge and its approaches. The creek at this point is a dark, sluggish stream about 50 feet wide and 5 feet deep. A simple wooden bridge provided passage across the creek, but much of the terrain adjacent to the crossing was swampy.

With Caswell’s arrival on the 25th the patriot strength climbed to 1,000 men. Instead of joining Lillington, Caswell crossed the creek to the western bank and prepared a position there.

When the loyalists neared the creek and learned of the presence of the patriots, they had to decide whether to march in another direction or to fight. After a lengthy debate, the younger leaders prevailed and the decision was to fight. MacDonald was ill, so McLeod commanded the attack. Captain John Campbell with 75 picked broadswordsmen was to lead the charge into Caswell’s camp. However, a reconnaissance warned Caswell of his vulnerable position so he withdrew across the creek to the position of Lillington’s earthwork.

Caswell’s troops left their campfires burning as they quietly shifted across the bridge. Thus, on the evening of February 26th, 1776,  Private Watson found himself along with the other patriots “entrenched on a sandy elevation, about one hundred yards [east] from the bridge. The flooring of the bridge was taken up, the pine pole girders thoroughly greased with tallow, over which quantities of soft soap were poured to make crossing the more difficult, and then the patriots resolutely awaited the coming of the Tories.”

An hour before dawn on February 27, the loyalists struck Caswell’s deserted camp and found only low-burning campfires. McLeod quickly regrouped his men and when musket fire was heard near the bridge, they charged with the rallying cry, “King George and Broad Swords.” Though it was not daylight, they rushed the partly-demolished bridge with claymores drawn and bagpipes skirling.  As the advance party struggled across the bridge, they were met with a hail of musketry and artillery fire.

North Carolina Patriots , Private Isham Watson among them, defeated loyalist militia at Moores Creek Bridge on February 27, 1776. Isham Watson later moved to Lowndes County, GA.

North Carolina Patriots , Private Isham Watson among them, defeated loyalist militia at Moores Creek Bridge on February 27, 1776. Isham Watson later moved to Lowndes County, GA.

“From their well-defended position, hundreds of patriots trained their guns on the loyalist Scots who charged from the shadows in the light of dawn.  But bravery and broadswords were no match for muskets and cannon.  Within seconds, the front ranks of the loyalists were decimated. Some lay dead below the earthworks, while others drowned in Moore’s Creek.”

The patriots counter-attacked with vigor, producing a loyalist rout. The battle lasted only three minutes, with the patriots losing but one man.

A firsthand account of the battle was written by Colonel Richard Caswell in a letter published in 1776 in  John Almon’s work The Remembrancer.

1776-feb-29-caswell-letter-2

Extract of a letter from Col. Richard Caswell, late a delegate for the province of North Carolina in the Continental Congress, and now commander of a body of troops in that Province, to the Hon. Cornelius Harnett, Esq: president of the Provincial council of North Carolina, dated from his camp at Long Creek, Feb. 29, 1776

“I have the pleasure to acquaint you that we had and engagement with the Tories at Widow Moore’s Creek bridge on the 27th current.  Our army was about one thousand strong, consisting of the Newbern battalion of minute-men, the militia from Craven, Johnston, Dobbs, and Wake, and a detachment of the Wilmington battalion of minute-men which we found encamped at Moore’s Creek bridge the night before the battle, under command of Colonel Lillington.  The Tories, by common report, were three thousand; but General Mcdonald, who we have a prisoner, says there were about fifteen or sixteen hundred. He was unwell that day, and not in battle. Captain McLeod, who seemed to be the principal commander, with Captain John Campbell, are among the slain. The number killed and mortally wounded, from the best accounts I was able to collect, was about thirty; most of them were shot on passing the bridge.  Several had fallen into the water, some of whom, I am pretty certain, had not risen yesterday evening when I left the camp.  Such prisoners as we have made say there were at least fifty of their men missing.

The Tories were totally put to the rout, and will certainly disperse. Colonel Moore arrived at our camp a few hours after the engagement was over. His troops came up that evening, and are now encamped on the ground where the battle was fought. And Colonel Martin is at or near Cross-Creek, with a large body of men. Those, I presume, will be sufficient effectually to put a stop to any attempt to embody again. I therefore, with Colonel Moore’ s consent, am returning to Newbern, with the troops under my command, where I hope to receive your orders to dismiss them. There I Intend carrying the General. If the Council should rise before my arrival, be pleased to give order in what manner he shall be disposed of. Our officers and men behaved with the spirit and intrepidity becoming freemen, contending for their dearest privileges.

RICHARD CASWELL.

To the Hon˙ Cornelius Harnett, President of the Provincial Congress of North-Carolina.

After the battle, the Patriots captured hundreds of loyalists, large quantities of weapons, supplies, and more than £15,000 ($13,850,000 in today’s money).  The Patriot victory at Moores  Creek Bridge played a significant role in ending the British ambitions in North Carolina.

Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge, References:

Almon, J. 1776. The Remembrancer, or Impartial repository of public events
Lewis, J. D. 2012. The Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge
Moore, F. 1876. Record of the Year, a Reference Scrap Book: Being the Monthly Record of Important Events Worth Preserving, Together with a Selection of the Choicest Current Miscellany, Volume 1, pg 207
National Park Service. 1969. Moores Creek National Military Park Master Plan: History
North Carolina. 1907. The Battle of Moores Creek Bridge in Literary and Historical Activities in North Carolina, 1900-1905.Pg 215

Dobbs County militia participated in a number of subsequent battles in the Revolutionary War, but Isham Watson’s is not known to have been present.  He continued to reside in Wayne County, NC.

On February 12, 1781 Isham Watson was among the citizens of Wayne County, NC signing a petition to the North Carolina General Assembly requesting the appointment of new county commissioners to select a sight for the county courthouse, the former commissioners have failed to select a central location.  It is interesting that so trivial an event of local governance would take up the time and attention of the citizens of Wayne County or the NC General Assembly in light of the fact that Lord Cornwallis was then occupying North Carolina, forcing Nathanael Green’s Continental Army troops to retreat into Virginia.

The British fortunes were quickly reversed. Despite a British victory at Guilford Court House, Cornwallis was unable to control the colony. Just months later, George Washington’s victory at Yorktown would end the major conflicts in America.

Isham Watson remained in Wayne County, NC after the war. The census of 1790 show he was a slaveholder there with 9 slaves.

About 1831, Isham Watson and his wife came to Lowndes County, GA originally settling in Folsom’s District.  Among other Revolutionary soldiers homesteading in Lowndes County were John Davis, Henry Hayman, Gideon Elvington, and William Peters.

In the 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery, Revolutionary Soldiers were given extra draws, and Isham Watson, of Lowndes County, GA was a fortunate drawer. He drew a lot in Cherokee County, GA, but it appears that he never occupied the property, and quickly sold it.

The 1834 property tax digests of Lowndes County, GA show that Isham Watson owned 490 acres of pine lands in Section 1, District 12, Lot 100,  Captain Caswell’s District.

The last record of Isham Watson appears in the 1840 Census of Lowndes County, GA.  He died in the 1840s; the location of his grave is not known.

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William Jackson Taylor, Sr.

William Jackson Taylor, Sr.

Special appreciation goes to Linda Ward Meadows, 3rd great grand daughter of William Jackson Taylor, Sr. and Samantha Jane Rogers Taylor, and 2nd great grand daughter of Benjamin Thomas Cook and Samantha Jane Taylor Cook, for her avid research and contributions to this post.

William Jackson Taylor, Sr. (1801-1885) was a settler of that part Lowndes County, GA which was cut into Berrien County in 1856. He came to the area about 1851, first renting land from William J. Lamb and later establishing a homeplace on the Indian Ford Road (Upper Mud Creek Road).

Grave of William Jackson Taylor, Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA. Image source: ShelbyGT2011

Grave of William Jackson Taylor, Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA. Image courtesy of Linda Ward Meadows.

William Jackson Taylor was the subject of a biographical sketch compiled about 1927 by William H. Griffin, an early historian of Berrien County, GA.  Griffin described how William J. Taylor came from South Carolina to settle in Georgia:

William J. Taylor
The subject of this sketch was born in Marion Township, South Carolina, January 4, 1801 and died at his home in Berrien county, Georgia, July 18, 1885.

In the year 1851 he decided to cast his fortunes in the state of Florida, consequently he set out by private conveyance to reach that state but for some cause halted at the village of Alapaha, later known as Milltown [now Lakeland, GA], and rented land from William Lamb remaining there a short period when he moved over into what is known as the Upper Tenth district and bought land, cleared up a farm and remained there until his death.  The farm he cleared is a portion of the land [later] owned by E. B. Taylor, a grandson, on the Indian Ford or Upper Mud Creek road.

Mr. Taylor in addition to being a farmer was an expert blacksmith and maker of bells, trivets, etc.  It was his custom to make a lot of these useful articles and take them on the old fashioned two-wheeled horse cart and peddle them out among the people of the surrounding country, often going into other counties in the sale of his wares. Among the stock raisers of South Georgia, and almost every resident in that day was engaged in stock raising, it was an easy matter to make a sale of one or more bells of different sizes at every house, while the housewife who did her cooking on the open fireplace never failed to barter with him for one or two trivets for use under her cooking utensils.  A trivet, as its name implies, is a 3 legged utensil for use under the pots, spiders and ovens to raise the pot or oven up from the hearth so as to give room for building the fire underneath.  It is formed by welding three legs on to an iron ring about eight inches in diameter, the legs being about four inches in length.  It was a great help to the housewife in her primitive method of cooking. Other articles of Mr. Taylor’s man——- —— —— ———- —– fireplace and on which the pots and kettles were suspended while boiling.  Mr. Taylor’s approach was always heralded by a ringing of his bells of different tones in unison and his quaint method of showing off the merits of his bells were always a source of great amusement to the children who would leave their tasks and gather about his cart while he was bartering with the father and mother.

South Carolina Beginnings

William Jackson Taylor was born January 14, 1801 in South Carolina.  His lineage is uncertain, but his presence is well established in the Census records of  Marion County, SC, along with others of the Taylor family connection.

William J. Taylor first married Samantha J. Rogers. She was born in South Carolina February 3, 1800.  In the 1850 census of William Taylor’s household, his wife “Mantha” and eight children are enumerated by name, all of whom moved with their parents to Lowndes County, GA (now Berrien) in 1851.

1850 census enumeration of William J. Taylor and family in Marion County, South Carolina

1850 census enumeration of William J. Taylor and family in Marion County, South Carolina

In 1850 in Marion County, SC, William Taylor’s neighbors  were Robert Taylor, age 75, and Thomas Taylor, age 50.

A William Taylor appears in the 1840 census of Marion County, SC, with the same neighbors Robert Taylor and Thomas Taylor. Although names of spouses and children were not recorded in the 1840 census or earlier, this enumeration  shows three female children and one male child in William Taylor’s household, as would be expected from the ages given in the 1850 census.  Despite some discrepancies in ages of William, his wife and children, it seems almost certain that the  William Taylor in the 1850 and in the 1840 census of Marion County, SC are one and the same person.

William Taylor also appears as a head of household in the 1830 census of Marion County, SC , as do Robert Taylor and Thomas Taylor. In William Taylor’s household in 1830 there are his spouse and  three children, two boys and one girl. But all of the children named in the 1850 census were born after 1830. If this is the same William Taylor, which seems most likely,  then these three children all left their father’s household before 1850. Given their ages were at least twenty-something by then, it is entirely reasonably that they should have married and established their own households.

In 1820, William Taylor and Robert Taylor both appear as heads of households  in Marion County, SC. William’s household includes his spouse and two children.   William Jackson Taylor and Samantha J. Rogers in 1820 would have been 19 and 20 years old, respectively. If this was indeed their household, then their marriage must have occurred about 1817.  Unfortunately, no documentation of their marriage date has been located.

From Federal Census records, though,  it seems that by 1820  William Taylor and Samantha J. Rogers had established their household in Marion County, SC.  The names of the three eldest Taylor children are not known, and it appears that they had left their father’s household by the time of the 1850 census, but the names of the known children of Samantha J. Rogers and William J. Taylor are listed below.  All of these children were born in South Carolina. The reported dates of birth of the children show typical variances found in 19th century census records; where given below the dates of birth are taken from  grave marker inscriptions.

  1. unknown male Taylor, born about 1818 in South Carolina
  2. unknown female Taylor, born about 1819 in South Carolina
  3. unknown male Taylor, born about 1826 in South Carolina
  4. Fannie R. Taylor, born January 21, 1832; died June 30, 1904; never married; buried Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA.
  5. Mary Taylor, born 1833; at home with her parents in Berrien County, GA in 1860
  6. Thomas L. Taylor, born November 7, 1838; married Fairiby Cook (b. 1846), daughter of Elijah Cook;   died June 18, 1922; buried Poplar Springs Missionary Baptist Church, Berrien County, GA.
  7. Emeline Taylor, born about 1839, in South Carolina; married Joseph Lewis, January 28, 1866 in Berrien County, GA.
  8. Jemima Taylor, born January 22, 1842; married on December 25, 1856 to William Hill Boyett, who was born July 27, 1834 and died December 16, 1897; Jemima died June 28, 1926; buried Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA
  9. Robert Lewis Taylor, born 1845; married 1st Nancy Tison, daughter of Henry Tison, on June 22, 1834; married 2nd Sallie Boyd, daughter of Aden Boyd; said to be buried in an unmarked grave at Empire Church Cemetery
  10. William Jackson Taylor, Jr. born 1847; married Eliza H. Boyd, daughter of Aden Boyd, on July 29, 1862.
  11. Samantha Jane Taylor, born December 28, 1848; married Benjamin Thomas Cook in Berrien County on December 14, 1865; Jane died June 7, 1888; Ben died October 5, 1924; buried Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA.

The 1860 Federal Census of Berrien County, GA lists two other children living in William J. Taylor’s household.  They were Martha, age 3, and Harriet, age 1. Both girls were born in South Carolina.

William Jackson Taylor and his wife, Samantha, joined with the Primitive Baptist congregation of Empire Church.  Their future in-laws, Nancy Sykes and Aden Boyd, gave land in 1854 to establish Empire Church,  located on Empire Road near Five Mile Creek,  about six miles northeast of Ray City out the Sam I. Watson Highway.

The Sons of William Jackson Taylor

According to W. H. Griffin, all three sons saw service in the Confederate army. The sons were:

  • Thomas Lang Taylor who married Ferraby Cook, a daughter of Elijah Cook, and they were the parents of George M., E.B., William J., Archie and Arthur, twins, and the three daughters. Thomas Lang Taylor enlisted in Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment on March 22, 1862, and mustered out on February 15, 1863 at Camp Winder, Richmond, VA. He was enumerated at age 23 in Berrien County, in the 1864 Census for Re-organizing the Georgia Militia. His profession as “shoemaker”  was critical to the war effort; “keeping the troops adequately shod was a problem that plagued Confederate authorities from first to last.” Thomas L. Taylor later served as  Justice of the Peace in Berrien County.
  • Lewis Robert Taylor, who married first Nancy Tison and after her death Sallie Boyd, a daughter of Aiden Boyd. Pvt L. R. Taylor enlisted in Company E, 50th Georgia Regiment on January 28, 1863 at Coffee Bluff near Savannah, GA.
  • William J. Taylor Jr. was too young for service when the Civil War started. He was enumerated at age 16 in Berrien County in the 1864 Census for Reorganization of the Georgia Militia. William J. Jr., [was] still living [in 1927] and was married to Eliza Boyd, another daughter of Aiden Boyd.  William J. Jr., [was then] in his eightyeth year.

Widower and Groom in a Month

Samantha J. Rogers Taylor,  scarcely survived the end of the Civil War.  William J. Taylor was left a widower on November 6, 1865; Samantha was buried at Empire Church Cemetery, near Ray City, GA.

Samantha Jane Taylor tombstone

Grave of Samantha J. Taylor, Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA. Image courtesy of Linda Ward Meadows.

William J. Taylor was not in mourning for long. Within days following the death of his first wife, Mr. Taylor married Mrs. Mary Ford. She was the young widow  of William A. Ford, who apparently died at home in Berrien County, GA about 1864. Born Mary Patience Ellen Musselwhite, she was daughter of Asa Musslewhite, of Lowndes County.   Mrs. Ford had four young children:  Mary Ann E. Ford, age 7; Nancy E. Ford, age 5; John S. Ford, age 3; and Anna Ford, age 1.

There seems to be some confusion of the military records of William A. Ford with those of William D. Ford.

William D. Ford (1839-1862)
William D. Ford, of Berrien County, GA was the husband of Lydia M. Baker.  Military records show he served with The Berrien Light Infantry, Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment.  He enlisted on March 4, 1862 at Nashville, GA and died on October 26, 1862 at Winchester, Frederick County, VA. Extensive research on the 50th Georgia Regiment by James W. Parrish, author of Wiregrass to Appomattox, indicates William D. Ford died of disease at Winchester Hospital and was buried at Stonewall Confederate Cemetery, Winchester VA.

William A. Ford (abt 1825 -abt 1864)
William A. Ford, married Mary P. E. Musselwhite in 1851 in Dooly County, GA and moved to Berrien County, GA before 1860. He  did not serve in the Civil War, claiming the equivalent of “conscientious objector” status.  William A. Ford was enumerated in the 1864 Census for the Re-organization of the Georgia Militia  at age 42 years and 7 months.  His occupation was farming but he was also a preacher, which was the basis of his exemption from Confederate service. Apparently William A. Ford died shortly after the 1864 Georgia census; the date of death and place of burial is not known.

 

William J. Taylor, Sr. and Mary Musslewhite Ford were married in Berrien County on November 30, 1865.  The groom was 64;  The bride was exactly half his age, at 32.

William J. Taylor, Sr and Mary Ford, Certificate of Marriage, November 3, 1865, Berrien County, GA

William J. Taylor, Sr and Mary Ford, Certificate of Marriage, November 3, 1865, Berrien County, GA

The Taylor children’s position on their father’s remarriage so soon after the death of their mother, and to a much younger woman, is unknown.  The wedding ceremony was performed by the widower’s son, Thomas L. Taylor, who was Justice of the Peace.  On the other hand, William J. Taylor’s youngest daughter, Samantha J. Taylor, left the home of her father and new step-mother just two weeks later, to be married to Benjamin Thomas Cook.

On October 27, 1866  William J. Taylor was expelled from the Empire Primitive Baptist Church, presumably on account of his association with a Missionary Baptist church.  According to W. H. Griffin, “Mr. Taylor was a member of the Missionary Baptist church and was a co-temporary and fellow worker with Moses G. Sutton and other pioneer citizens in the establishment of Poplar Springs church out ten miles east of Nashville…”

In 1867,  William Taylor  signed the Oath of Allegiance to the United States in order to have his national citizenship restored and to qualify for the right to vote.  The Oath of Allegiance was required of all southern men whose national citizenship had been renounced by way of the Ordinance of Secession, oaths of  abjuration of national citizenship, oaths of allegiance to Confederate states,  or acceptance of Confederate citizenship.

In 1867 William J. Taylor signed an oath of allegiance to the United States and sought to have his civil rights restored.

In 1867 William J. Taylor signed an oath of allegiance to the United States and sought to have his civil rights restored.

William  and Mary made their home in Berrien County in the 10th Land District.  The children of William J. Taylor and Mary  P. E. Musselwhite were:

  1. Moses A. Taylor, born about 1868
  2. Sarah Ann Taylor, born August, 1870
  3. Ephraim Taylor, born about 1872

The 1870 Census shows William J. Taylor and Mary PE Musselwhite Taylor were enumerated on their farm in the 1148 Georgia Militia District, Berrien County, GA. In their household were their children Moses and Sarah Ann, and Mary’s children by her former marriage, Mary A., Nancy, John and Ann.  Their neighbors were the families of John Sapp, William Garrett, William Gaskins, and Emily Gaskins Newbern, widowed daughter-in-law of Etheldred Newbern.

1870 Census enumeration of William J. Taylor and Mary P E Musselwhite Taylor in Berrien County, GA https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0135unit#page/n501/mode/1up

1870 Census enumeration of William J. Taylor and Mary P E Musselwhite Taylor in Berrien County, GA https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0135unit#page/n501/mode/1up

In 1880, William  and Mary were still in the 1148 th District of Berrien County. In their household were their minor children Moses , Sarah, and Ephriam, and Mary’s daughter, Nancy Ford.  Enumerated at age 81, William Taylor was still working as a blacksmith.  On neighboring farms were the families of his son, Thomas Taylor, and of James Sirmans.

 

1880 Census enumeration of William J. Taylor and Mary P E Musselwhite Ford in Berrien County, GA. https://archive.org/stream/10thcensusl0134unit#page/n432/mode/1up

1880 Census enumeration of William J. Taylor and Mary P E Musselwhite Ford in Berrien County, GA. https://archive.org/stream/10thcensusl0134unit#page/n432/mode/1up

William J. Taylor, Sr. is buried by his first wife Samantha in Empire Church Cemetery. Several of their children are buried nearby.  His second wife Mary survived him by many years.

SOURCES:
Griffin Papers, by William Henry Griffin; Taylor Family folder found in Huxford Library; 1820, 1830, 1840,1850 Federal Census for Marion County, SC; 1860, 1870, and 1880 Federal Census for Berrien County, GA; Tombstone inscriptions in Empire Cemetery; Berrien County marriage records.

 

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John Franklin Clements

John Franklin Clements (1810 – 1864)

Grave of John F. Clements, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA.

Grave of John F. Clements, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA.

John F. Clements, his parents, and brother David C. Clements were among the earlier pioneer families that settled the vicinity of Georgia now known as Ray City, Berrien County. The Clements arrived here some time around 1832.  “The Knights were no doubt responsible for their coming, since they and the Clementses had been neighbors in Wayne County (now Brantley County), and Ann, [John F. Clements’] sister in 1827 had married Levi J. Knight, whose parents had moved to this area a couple of years earlier” – Nell Patten Roquemore

John F. Clements was born October 7, 1810 in Wayne County, GA , a son of William and Elizabeth Clements. As he was growing up his family lived in a part of Wayne county that was later cut into Brantley County. The Clements farm was situated near the Old Post Road, one of the early roads in south Georgia.

Next door to the Clements’ farm lived their friends and future in-laws, the Knights. William Clements had settled his family on land adjacent to the farm of William Anderson Knight, and the two became good friends. William A. Knight, patriarch of the Knight family, was among the very first settlers of Wayne County, having arrived there just after the creation of the county, about 1803.  Knight was one of five commissioners empowered by the Georgia Legislature to determine the site of the county seat in the new county, and “when it was done it was located on lands owned by Mr. Knight and by William Clements.” The county seat was named Waynesville.

John F. Clements and his siblings grew up with the sons and daughters of William A. Knight. In late 1827 John F. Clements’ widowed sister, Mary Ann Clements Herrin, married Levi J. Knight in Wayne CountyMr. and Mrs. L.J. Knight set out to homestead in Lowndes county (now Berrien) on Beaverdam creek, at the present site of Ray City, GA.

In Wayne County, John F. Clements served as Tax Collector  for the two year term from 1830-32. He was elected February 12, 1830, with his father William Clements putting up a surety bond along with William Flowers.   Shortly after John’s term as tax collector expired, the entire Clements family followed the Knights and made the move west to Lowndes County, GA.  He took up residence in Mattox’s District, although tax records do not show he acquired land of his own there. Other Lowndes County settlers in this district included David Bell, James Price, Aaron Mattox, Etheldred Newbern, John Jones, Jr., Michael Peterson, John Peacock, Thomas Giddens, George Hunt, and Frederic McGiddery. In 1832, John F. Clements was a fortunate drawer in the Cherokee Land Lottery, drawing Lot 124, 28th District, 3rd Section, Cherokee County.  Lowndes county tax records from 1834-1844 show John F. Clements owned 400 acres of oak and hardwood land in Cherokee County.

During the Indian Wars (Second Seminole War) John F. Clements served in Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company of Lowndes County, appearing on a company muster roll from August 15 to October 15,  1838. Knight’s Company fought at the Skirmish at William Parker’s Place, and Actions on Little River, among other local engagements.

John’s father, William Clements, died in March of 1837. It is said that he is buried in an unmarked grave  in Union Church Cemetery, (now in Lanier County, GA).  John served as the administrator of his father’s estate.

1837-oct-21-southern-recorder-john-f-clements_administrator

John F. Clements appointed administrator of the estate of William Clement.

Southern Recorder
October 31, 1837

Four Months after date, application will be made to the honorable the Inferior Court of Lowndes county, when sitting for ordinary purposes, for leave to sell the land and negroes belonging to the estate of William Clements, late of said county, deceased.  John F. Clements, Adm’r.

 

In 1840, John F. Clements was enumerated in Lowndes County. He was 30 years old. His household included another white  male, age 40-something, a young slave woman and a slave girl.  Neighbors included John Lee, John Roberts, Benjamin Sirmans and John Knight. Later that year he married Nancy Patten, a daughter of James M. Patten and Elizabeth Lee, sister of Jehu Patten. 

John F. Clement served on the Lowndes County Grand Jury of 1841 which was convened in Troupville, GA, seat of Lowndes County, in May, 1841 under Judge Carlton B. Cole. Levi J. Knight served as foreman of the jury.   The jury criticized the condition of roads in the county and the past-due collections for the sale of lots in the town of Troupville. The jury allowed tax collector Norman Campbell thirty dollars, forty-two-cents and three mills for his insolvent list for the year 1839.

By 1844, John F. Clements had also acquired 245 acres in the 10th  District of Lowndes County. He was also administering 490 acres in Rabun County and 550 acres in Wayne County on behalf of his father

By 1850, John F. Clements owned 980 acres in Lowndes County, 50 of which were improved. The cash value of the farm was assessed at $500, and Clements owned another $50 in equipment and machinery. His livestock included 4 horses, 37 milch cows, 87 other cattle, 21 sheep, and 100 swine, valued at $1000 taken all together. He had on hand 300 bushels of Indian corn, 40 bushels of wheat, 1 bale of cotton at 400 pounds, 20 bushels of sweet potatoes, 50 lbs of butter, and $125 worth of meat. His neighbors were Aaron Knight, Aden Boyd, Henry Tison and William Giddings.

In 1856, the Clements and their neighbors were cut out of Lowndes county and into the newly created Berrien County.

When the Civil War started, John F. Clements was about 49 years old. The 1864 Census for Reorganizing the Georgia Militia  enumerated John F. Clements in the 1144th Georgia Militia District.  His age was given and 52 years, 7 months.  The 1864 Census for Re-organizing the Georgia Militia was a statewide census of all white males between the ages of 16 and 60 who were not at the time in the service of the Confederate States of America. Based on a law passed by the Georgia Legislature in December 1863 to provide for the protection of women, children, and invalids living at home,  the 1864 census was a list of  men who were able to serve in local militia companies and perform such home-front duties as might be required of them. Possibly John F. Clements was mustered into the 5th Georgia Reserves, Company L.  Military records show a J. F. Clements, 1st corporal of Company L paroled May 1, 1865 following the Confederate surrender.

john-f-clements-5-georgia-reserves

John F. Clements died on September 23, 1864 at age 54. He was buried at Union Church Cemetery, Milltown (now Lakeland, GA).  Levi J. Knight assisted the widow Nancy Clements with the administration of the estate. At the time of his death, the Clements farm place was on six hundred and six acres of land situated on parts of Lots of Land No. 381, 356, and 335 in the 10th District of Berrien. His widow, Nancy Clements, was left to run their farm, provide for the six of their children who were still at home, and care for her aged mother.

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Hamilton Sharpe and Lafayette

When General Lafayette, hero of the American Revolution, returned to Georgia in 1825 great crowds thronged to Savannah for his arrival. Among those who gathered to greet the great man was Hamilton Sharpe,  pioneer settler of Lowndes County, GA.

Marquis de Lafayette, from Memoirs of General La Fayette, published 1825.

Marquis de Lafayette, from Memoirs of General La Fayette, published 1825.

“Arriving in Savannah on March 19, 1825, the sixty-seven-year-old Lafayette disembarked from his steamboat to a salute from the Chatham Artillery and the cheers of the crowd. The most poignant moments of his stay in Savannah came when he laid the cornerstones for monuments honoring two other Revolutionary War heroes, Count Casimir Pulaski and General Nathanael Greene.”  – New Georgia Encyclopedia

Hamilton W. Sharpe was just a boy when Lafayette visited Savannah, but his memory of the occasion lasted a lifetime. Sharpe grew up in Tatnall County, but when “a young man hardly in his twenties, had come down from Tatnall County over the Coffee Road, and decided to locate near the home of Hon. Sion Hall at whose home the first court in Lowndes [county] was held a few months afterwards.  So young Sharpe built a small store building out of logs near the Sharpe home; that was in 1826. 

Sharpe’s Store, on the Coffee Road, was the first commercial establishment  in Lowndes County, and became an early post office for the area.  Sharpe was active in politics, and served as a captain of local militia in the Indian Wars.  In religion, Hamilton W. Sharpe was a Methodist. He conducted a large bible class at old Bethlehem Church in Lowndes County, and was a friend and neighbor of Reverend Robert H. Howren. He was a trustee of the Fletcher Institute, of Thomasville, GA.  In his later years he was an innkeeper at Quitman, GA.

Hamilton Wynn Sharpe

Hamilton Wynn Sharpe

In 1886, Hamilton W. Sharpe wrote of his memories of Lafayette in a letter to the editor of the Savannah Morning News (reprinted in the Oct 6, 1886 edition of the Waycross Headlight.)   Sharpe refers to his guests at  the Sharpe House as “inmates” and goes on to reminisce about the weather, his father’s business in Savannah, the Planters Hotel, and the people and places he knew in Savannah:

1886-oct-6-hamilton-w-sharpe

     Editor Morning News:  It has just been remarked by one of our inmates: “How awfully warm it is!”  This remark induced a peep at the themometer-not quite 90 deg.  This does not indicate very warm weather for the middle of September, but I notice that there is no rustling among the leaves on the  trees. Every thing is as “still as the breeze;” not even a shaking, and therefore I conclude that it is owning not so much to the intensity of the heat as the lack of wind, for I do not remember to have seen so little wind in the month of September so far.
      While I confess a deep sympathy for the citizens of our neighboring city of Charleston in all her unparalleled sufferings I am grateful, too, that your city, the emporium of the State of Georgia, has suffered less.
      The writer, though now 80 years of age, has a very distinct recollection of Savannah when but a little boy.  Along with his father, time and again, he visited the city to obtain many of the necessaries and luxuries of life. These were the days of small things to Savannah, compared to her present grand improvements.  Then the principal business of the city was done around the market square and north to the river.  The wholesale houses were principally from Nos. 1 to 8 Gibbons’ buildings, and there was no such thing as the Pulaski House, or the Marshall or Screven House.  The Planters’ Hotel was at that time the hotel of the city.
       Sometimes I have a very distinct recollection of the men with whom my father traded at the time – such men as Gildon, Edward Coppee and others – and the late Thomas Holcombe was a boy about my own age and size.
       Your stately printing and publishing hous was not there to adorn the cornner of Bay and Whitaker streets, nor was there any other important public buildings save the old Exchange.
       It was there the writer happening to be in the city, pressed himself along with the crowd, when the procession was formed in the long room of the Exchange to look upon the venerable features of Gen. Lafayette and shake his hand.  I have always been proud of the occasion and the act.  The next day the corner stone of the Greene and Pulaski monument in Johnson Square was laid.  Gen. Lafayette was the Grand Master of the occasion, and the following words were sung, to wit:

“And around thy brow will twine
The tender leaf of green which grew
In days of Auld Lange Syne.”

      And the wreath in the hands of one of Savannah’s beautiful daughters was fittingly and gracefully twined around the head of the venerable man whose name will ever be dear to Americans.
          The words were sung to the tune, “Auld Lang Syne.”
         Should you ever wander as far as Quitman inquire for Tranquil Hall or the Sharpe House, and you will find the house persided over by two old people who will be glad to see the editor of the Morning News, and will treat him kindly. Our prayer is that both your city and your sister City by the Sea will be relieved for the future of any further shaking up.

H. W. S.

Additional notes:

  • Charles Gildon was a Savannah, Georgia storekeeper. He is referenced in early Savannah newspapers between 1805 and 1855. Gildon’s shop was located on Lot 6, Digby Tything, Decker Ward which faced Ellis Square from 1815-1823.
  • Edward Coppee was a physician and merchant of Savannah, operating businesses at a number of locations in the city.
  • Thomas Holcombe (1815-1885) was a wholesale grocer of Savannah, and served as Mayor of the city during the civil war.

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