Elijah Cook

Elijah Cook

Graves Elijah Cook and Arrinda Chandler Cook, Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Graves Elijah Cook and Arrinda Chandler Cook, Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

ELIJAH COOK (1816-1889)
According to Folks Huxford, Elijah Cook was born in Wilkinson County, November 22, 1816.  His father was James Cook, who was said to have come to Wilkinson from Effingham County. His grandson, Aaron Cook, served in the Spanish American War.

Elijah Cook was married twice. His first wife was Sarah “Sallie” Webb. She was daughter of Dawson Webb and Frances Phoebe Beall, and a sister of John Webb. Elijah and Sallie were married in Wilkinson County, May 14, 1837.  In their second year of marriage a child came to them; Maxie Jane Cook was born June 13, 1839. But with the delivery of her daughter, Sallie Webb Cook expired. Sallie’s parents moved with their remaining children to Lowndes County, GA some time before 1850.

Elijah Cook married Miss Arrinda M. Chandler on Sept. 26, 1841 in Wilkinson County, GA. She was born November 25, 1824, a daughter  of Pheriby and Aaron Chandler of Wilkinson County.

Some time before 1850 Elijah and Arrinda moved from Wilkinson to Irwin County, GA.

1850 Census enumeration of the family of Elijah Cook in Irwin County, GA

1850 Census enumeration of the family of Elijah Cook in Irwin County, GA: Elijah Cook, Arrinda Chandler Cook, Maxie Cook, John J.Cook, Fairiby Cook, Juda Cook, Sufrony Cook. https://archive.org/stream/7thcensus0059unit#page/n717/mode/1up

About 1852, Elijah’s daughter Maxie Jane Cook, at just 13 or 14 years old, married Aden Boyd, Jr of Lowndes County (later Berrien). Aden Boyd, Jr was a son of Nancy Sykes and Aden Boyd, who 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.

Around 1856, about the time Berrien County was being created from land cut out of Lowndes County,  Elijah and Arrinda Cook came to the area. They settled in the 10th district within sight of Empire Church, and became neighbors of their in-laws, the Boyds.

The Cooks were one of a dozen or so families originating from Wilkinson county who made the move to the newly established Berrien County around that time, including  the families of Elijah’s sisters, Tabitha Cook and Piety Cook. Tabitha married Daniel Avera and Piety married Nicholas Lewis, both of these couples moving to Berrien.  Dawson Webb, father of Elijah’s first wife, also moved to Berrien.  Louisa Eliza Webb, sister of  Sallie Webb, had married Moses G. Sutton and came to Lowndes County (now Berrien) a few years earlier.

In 1859, Elijah’s daughter Fairiby Cook married Thomas Lang Taylor.  T. L. Taylor was a son of William Jackson Taylor and Samantha Jane Rogers, and a Justice of the Peace. Fairiby and Thomas established their homestead near her father’s farm on lot 218.

https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu111unit#page/n397/mode/1up

1860 Census enumeration of the family of Elijah Cook in Berrien County, GA: Elijah Cook, Arrinda M. Cook, Jasper J. Cook, Feriby E. Cook, Judah R. Cook, Emily “Amanda” Cook, Sarah Cook, Henry N. Cook, Francis M. Cook. https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu111unit#page/n397/mode/1up

The 1860 population census shows Elijah and Arrinda Cook established their homestead near the farm of Elijah’s daughter, Maxie Jane, and her husband Aden Boyd, Jr. On the neighboring farms were William H. Boyd, Moses G. Sutton,  and Stephen W. Avera, father of William Greene Avera.

“Elijah Cook was a progressive and industrious farmer, an honest and neighborly citizen and his practices as a farmer were very much in advance of the average Berrien County, citizen of his day.  He was one of the first in the county to erect gins for serving the public in preparing cotton for market, his gins being operated by horse power.”  

The 1860 Agricultural Census shows Elijah Cook’s farm consisted of 980 acres, 50 acres of which were improved. The farm was valued at $1200, and he owned $50 worth of farm equipment. His livestock, valued at $500, included two horses, a mule, two working oxen, six milk cows, 16 other cattle, 20 sheep, and 40 hogs. He had 150 bushels of Indian corn, and 30 bushels of oats, 1 bale of cotton, and 100 pounds of wool. He had $100 in stored meat, 50 pounds of honey and 5 pounds of beeswax.

“The American Civil War began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate shore batteries under General Pierre G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Bay.”  Elijah Cook was 44 years old when the Civil War commenced, and did not himself enlist for service with the Confederate States Army.  His eldest son, John Jasper Cook, served with Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment, but returned to his parent’s Berrien county farm and on October 9, 1864 married a neighbor girl, Lucretia Sirmans, a daughter of James Sirmans.

After the War, Elijah Cook continued to work his Berrien County farm. The 1867 Berrien County tax records show Elijah Cook’s lands  were on 730 acres of Land Lots 217 and 218, which straddled Five Mile Creek.

1870 Census enumeration of the family of Elijah Cook in Berrien County, GA.

1870 Census enumeration of the family of Elijah Cook in Berrien County, GA: Elijah Cook, Arrinda Cook, Judy Cook, [Emily] Mandaville Cook, Sarah Cook, Arkansas Cook, Henry Cook, Francis Cook, [Rachel] Arena Cook, Jackson Cook, Arinda Cook. https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0135unit#page/n437/mode/1up

 The 1870 population census placed the  value of Elijah Cook’s real estate at $500, and his personal estate at $1439.  The 1870 census also shows that three of the Cook children were mentally disabled. These children apparently suffered from a rare, debilitating form of the genetic skin condition ichthyosis, and were known locally as the “alligator children.”  According to period newspaper accounts, the Cooks were very protective of their children and refused offers from promoters, including P. T. Barnun, to put them on exhibition.  “These children were carried on the Pauper Roll of Berrien Co, where they placed by the Grand Jury at the March Term, Berrien Superior Court, 1885, under which they drew a pension from the county as long as they lived.”

Elijah’s daughter, Arkansas Cook, married William Hansford Hughes in 1872.  W.H. Hughes grew up on a farm in the same district; He was a son of Irene Shaw Hughes, widow of Henry Hansford Hughes.  Arkansas and William established their home on a farm near their parents.

In 1872 Elijah Cook’s 740 acres of property on Lots 217 and 218  was valued at $1 an acre. His personal property was valued at only $568 dollars. His son-in-law, Aden Boyd, husband of Maxie Jane Cook, also owned 50 acres on Lot 217. Son-in-law Thomas L. Taylor, husband of Fairiby Cook, owned 147 acres of Lot 218.  Aden Boyd’s sister, Sarah Boyd, and her husband Robert  Lewis Taylor (brother of T. L. Taylor), were also on 50 acres on Lot 217. To the north Fisher W. Gaskins owned all 490 acres of lot 199.  To the east, Mark R. Watson owned 1715 acres of adjacent land, situated on Five Mile Creek on Lots 197, 195, 172, and 173. To the southwest, Stephen W. Avera had 100 acres on Lot 243, and James Sirmans had 300 acres on the same lot.

Around 1874 Elijah Cook let go of his land on Lot 217, and acquired lot 198 which was just to the north.  Around that time Benjamin Thomas Cook acquired 65 acres on Lot 219.  Benjamin T. Cook was undoubtedly a cousin of Elijah Cook, although the exact relationship is not known. Like Elijah, B. T. Cook was a native of Wilkinson County, GA; he came to Berrien County after the Civil War, a former prisoner of war at Point Lookout, MD.

Elijah’s daughter Rachel Arena Cook married William Marshall Lewis in 1875. In 1879, his son Francis M. Cook married Anna J. Ford, and son Henry N. Cook married Mary Ann Boyd.  Francis and Henry settled with their wives near their father’s place. By 1879, Elijah Cook had disposed of some 200 acres of his land, keeping 680 acres on Lots 217 and 198. This move gave him  contiguous land all situated on the same side of Five Mile Creek.  Benjamin T. Cook also had 40 acres on lot 217.

1880 Census enumeration of the family of Elijah Cook in Berrien County, GA.

1880 Census enumeration of the family of Elijah Cook in Berrien County, GA.
https://archive.org/stream/10thcensusl0134unit#page/n391/mode/1up

The 1880 population census shows Elijah and Arinda continued to provide care for their three disabled children, Juda, Amanda, and Sarah. Their youngest children, Jackson and Arinda continued to reside with them, as well as John Ford, who was a brother of Anna Ford Cook.  Jackson and John provided the farm labor. By 1880, the old man had given up most of his land, retaining just 80 acres for himself on Lot 198.  His son, Francis M. Cook had acquired 390 acres of the land on Lot 217, and 100 acres on Lot 198, and son Henry N. Cook had 100 acres of Lot 198. Benjamin T. Cook now had 390 acres on Lot 215.

In 1882, Elijah’s youngest son Jackson J. Cook married Mary Melissa Lewis. She was a sister of William Marshall Lewis, husband of Rachel Arrinda Cook.

Meanwhile, the Cook family land deals continued. Elijah had re-acquired 290 acres of Lot 217 in 1881. In 1882, in yet another family transaction, Elijah took back another 100 acres of the land on Lot 217, while son Francis M. Cook moved to 100 acres on Lot 198. The following year, Francis left Lot 198 for 125 acres on Lot 190. Elijah continued to hold 300 acres of Lots 198 and 217. Henry Cook stayed with his 100 acres of Lot 198, and Benjamin T. Cook remained on his 300 acres of Lot 215.

By 1884, Francis Cook returned to 100 acres on Lot 198. Benjamin gave up 160 acres on Lot 215, retaining 130 acres there. Elijah’s eldest son, J. J. Cook, acquired 100 acres of the land on Lot 217, and Elijah retained 250 acres spread across Lots 198 and 217.  Elijah had $75 in household belongings, $432 in livestock, and $20 worth of tools and books.

Children of Elijah Cook and Arrinda Chandler:

  1. John Jasper Cook, born June 13, 1839;  married October 9, 1865 to Lucretia Sirmans, daughter of James Sirmans; died May 30, 1924; buried Empire Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery
  2. Juda Cook, born March 12, 1845*; suffered from a crippling congenital disability, never married; died October 29, 1895; buried Empire Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery
  3. Fairiby G. Cook, born 1846; married Thomas L. Taylor, 1859; died December 26, 1920; buried Poplar Springs Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery (about 8 miles northeast of Ray City, GA).
  4. Emily Amanda Cook, born June 10, 1849*, suffered from a crippling congenital disability, never married; died May 15, 1915; buried Empire Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery
  5. Sarah J. Cook, born 1851, suffered from a crippling congenital disability, never married.
  6. Arkansas Cook, born November 13, 1853; married 1) 1872 to William Hansford Hughes, 2) July 20, 1909 to George Washington Nix; died December 24, 1911; buried Empire Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery next to her first husband.
  7. Henry N. Cook, born 1855; married Mary Ann Boyd, May 25, 1879; died May 14, 1940; buried Poplar Springs Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery (about 8 miles northeast of Ray City, GA).
  8. Francis M. “Frank” Cook, born October 3, 1859; married Anna J Ford, February 27, 1879; died February 13, 1936; buried Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  9. Rachel Arrinda Cook, born July 6, 1862*, married William L Lewis; died March 26, 1937;  buried Poplar Springs Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery (about 8 miles northeast of Ray City, GA).
  10. Jackson “Jack” Cook, born about 1862; married October 5, 1882 to Mary Melissa Lewis;
  11. Arinda Cook, born about 1867

* census records inconsistent with birth year on grave marker

The Valdosta Daily Times edition of Saturday, February 16, 1889 reported “Old man Elijah Cook, about 80 years old, one of the oldest settlers in Berrien County, was at the point of death yesterday, and is likely dead by to-day. He was a Primitive Baptist, and a man highly respected by his neighbors.”

But Elijah held on for another nine months.  He died on his farm at Five Mile Creek on November 15, 1889. Arrinda Chandler Cook died October 18, 1893. They were buried in the cemetery at Empire Church of which they were members.

 

Remember the Maine, Aaron Cook and the Spanish American War

Aaron Cook, of the Watson Grade community near Ray City, GA, was 30 years old when the  USS Maine sank in Havana harbor on February 15, 1898.

Grave of Aaron Cook, veteran of the Spanish-American War, Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Grave of Aaron Cook, veteran of the Spanish-American War, Empire Church Cemetery, near Ray City, GA.

Born June 23, 1867 in Berrien County, GA , Aaron A. Cook  was the youngest son of Lucretia Sirmans and John Jasper Cook. His parents’ farm was in the Watson Grade community just northeast of Rays Mill, GA.  His sister Charlotte married William Jackson Boyette, and sister Mary Ellen Cook (1876-1939) was the wife of Reverend Orville A. Knight.

Just weeks after his birth, local South Georgia papers observed that a rebellion was underway in Cuba, wryly noting that the U. S. government seemed to be more supportive of rebels in other countries.  The Cuban rebels founded the “Revolutionary Committee of Bayamo” in July 1867 and the period of Aaron Cook’s childhood and young adulthood coincided with Cuba’s long struggle for independence from Spain.   The people of Wiregrass Georgia were largely indifferent to the Cuban rebellion, although there was some U. S. desire for  the annexation of this “Queen of the Antilles” where American commercial interests were heavily invested.    In Cuba, the rebels quickly initiated an all-out military uprising against Spanish rule,  starting the  Ten Years’ War and unleashing contention with Spain which spanned a period of thirty years.

The smoldering Cuban insurrection re-erupted in the  Cuban War of Independence (1895–1898). In Wiregrass Georgia, the Cuban conflict was mostly marked by rising costs of coffee and sugar caused by the war, and a mild interest the Cuban rebels’ plans for emancipation of the slaves that worked the Cuban plantations.  A curious side note was circus promoter W. H. Harris’  offer of the man-killing elephant, Gypsy, to the Cuban insurgents.  In 1896, Gypsy had performed  before Wiregrass crowds in Thomasville, GA as a part of Harris’ Nickel Plate Show. Harris reckoned, “If Hannibal found elephants useful in battle, why should not [the Cubans] conquer with Gypsy.”  The elephant would be killed five years later after a murderous rampage in Valdosta, GA.

For the U. S., the war exploded with the sinking of USS Maine:

In January 1898, USS Maine, a second-class battleship built between 1888 and 1895, was sent to Havana  to protect American interests during the long-standing revolt of the Cubans against the Spanish government. In the evening of 15 February 1898, Maine sank when her forward gunpowder magazines exploded. Nearly three-quarters of the battleship’s crew died as a result of the explosion. While the cause of this great tragedy is still unsettled, contemporary American popular opinion blamed Spain, and war followed within a few months. http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/spanam/events/maineskg.htm

USS Maine as she entered Havana harbor, Cuba, on 25 January 1898. She was destroyed by explosion there some three weeks later, on 15 February. Image source: http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/spanam/events/maineskg.htm

USS Maine as she entered Havana harbor, Cuba, on 25 January 1898. She was destroyed by explosion there some three weeks later, on 15 February. Image source: http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/spanam/events/maineskg.htm

Following the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor on February 15, 1898, the United States entered the conflict, allying with the rebels and declaring war on Spain on April 25, 1898.

No where was there greater war fervor than in Georgia.  “Georgia furnished according to population more volunteers than any other State of the Union,” and Wiregrass babies were  named in honor of the war’s heroes.

Aaron Cook was among some 3,000 Georgians  to serve in the Spanish-American War. He was enlisted on July 2, 1898, and mustered in at Macon, GA as a private in Company E, Third Regiment, U.S. Volunteer Infantry. Other Berrien countians serving in the Third Regiment were Luther Lawrence Hallman and William F. Patten, both in Company B.     Company E was mustered in with  63 enlisted men and 23 recruits under the command of Captain Yancey Cade Carter, 1st Lieutentant John A. Sibley,  of Tifton, GA, and 2nd Lieutenant Edward Stevens. Of the Georgia units activated for the Spanish American war, only the Third Volunteer Infantry would see overseas duty, serving as an occupation force in Cuba during the first three months of 1899.

Aaron Cook, Spanish-American War

Aaron Cook, Spanish-American War

The U.S. War Department was fully aware that Yellow Fever would pose a major threat to U.S. military operations in Cuba.

Yellow fever begins after an incubation period of three to six days. Most cases only cause a mild infection with fever, headache, chills, back pain, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting. In these cases the infection lasts only three to four days.

In fifteen percent of cases, however, sufferers enter a second, toxic phase of the disease with recurring fever, this time accompanied by jaundice due to liver damage, as well as abdominal pain. Bleeding in the mouth, the eyes, and the gastrointestinal tract will cause vomit containing blood, hence the Spanish name for yellow fever, vomito negro (“black vomit”). The toxic phase is fatal in approximately 20% of cases, making the overall fatality rate for the disease 3% (15% * 20%). In severe epidemics, the mortality may exceed 50%.

Surviving the infection provides lifelong immunity.

By the time the 3rd Georgia Regiment reached Cuba, an armistice  had been signed between the U.S. and Spain.  With the fighting ended, the Third Regiment assumed the role of occupation forces. After a few days at Santiago, the Regiment was transported by boat to Cameira de Cuba, then by train to Guantanamo, leaving garrison troops at each of these locations. Around August 22, the regiment arrived at Jamaica de Cuba, about 12 miles northwest of Guantanamo.

Aaron Cook’s unit, Company E, was assigned to maintain the garrison at Jamaica de Cuba and to man outposts at Los Canos, Santa Cecilla, San Carlos, Romila, and La Luisa.

 

The regiment served in Cuba until March 30, 1899 when it steamed for the U.S. The transport ship departed from Sagua de Tanamo and arrived at Fort Pulaski, Savannah, GA on April 2, 1899. The ship was sent to Sapelo Island for five days quarantine. Upon the return to Savannah, the troops were put aboard a train and sent to Macon, GA to be mustered out.

Aaron Cook received an honorable discharge on May 2, 1899.  Afterwards Aaron and his wife, Nancy Baldree Cook, spent the rest of their lives farming near Ray City, GA.

Aaron Cook died December 2, 1946 and was buried at Empire Church near Ray City, GA.  His widow applied for and received a headstone provided by the government to mark the graves of honorably discharged veterans. The upright marble headstone is inscribed in raised lettering inside a recessed shield.   The inscription encompasses the arched name and abbreviated military organization. No emblems of belief or additional inscriptions were inscribed.  While the dates of birth and death were allowed below the shield, these were not inscribed on Aaron Cook’s marker.

 

aaron-cook-headstone-app

 

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Jesse E. Sirmans also known as Jesse Carroll Sirmans

Another news item from the Watson Grade community, near Ray City, GA was the death of  J. E. Sirmans, which occurred on March 12, 1904.

Tifton Gazette
March 25, 1904

Mr. J. E. Sirmans Dead.

Mr. J. E. Sirmans died last Saturday night at 11:45. He had been sick only about four days, and was not thought to be dangerously ill until a few hours before his death. Mr. Sirmans has been suffering with heart trouble for several years and Dr. Askew, of Nashville, says it was pleurisy complicated with heart trouble that caused his death. He leaves a wife and ten children to mourn his loss. His remains were interred in the Fender cemetery.

Of course, the name of Sirmans itself variously appears in historical records as Sirmons, Sermans, Simmons, and in other forms. In this case there has been some mystery over the given name as well.

It seems that this son of  Benjamin E. Sirmans and Francenia Carroll is known in many family genealogies as Jesse Carroll Sirmans.  But his census, tax, and marriage records, as well as the obituary above, indicate that his name was actually Jesse E. Sirmans.

Who was J. E. Sirmans? The census records of 1900  show that Jessie E. Sirmans owned a farm in the 1300 Georgia Militia District in the neighborhood of the Patten and Watson families  a few miles northeast of Ray City.

1900 census numeration of Jesse Sirmans, with his wife Malind King Sirmans, and children Henrietta, Maggie, Ezekiel, Mary Alice, Ben, Ruth, Charlie, Neddie, and Joseph. Image courtesy of Internet Archive:  https://archive.org/stream/12thcensusofpopu180unit#page/n82/mode/1up

1900 census numeration, 1300 GMD, of Jesse Sirmans, with his wife Malinda King Sirmans, and children Henrietta, Maggie, Ezekiel, Mary Alice, Ben, Ruth, Charlie, Neddie, and Joseph. Image courtesy of Internet Archive: https://archive.org/stream/12thcensusofpopu180unit#page/n82/mode/1up

At the time of his death in 1904,  Jessie E.  Sirmans had ten children, matching the obituary above.  Jessie Sirmans’ eleventh child, Eugene Sirmans, was born eight months after his death.

Children of Jesse E. Sirmans and Malinda King:

  1. Henrietta Sirmans (1883 – )
  2. Maggie E Sirmans (1885 – )
  3. Ezekiel Sirmans (1887 – 1941)
  4. Mary Alice Sirmans (1890 – )
  5. Ben Sirmans (1892 – )
  6. Ruth M Sirmans (1892 – )
  7. Charlie L Sirmans 1893 –
  8. Neddie Sirmans 1895 –
  9. Joseph I Sirmans 1900 –
  10. Edna Sirmans 1903 –
  11. Eugene Sirmans  (November 8 , 1904 –  July 5, 1989)

Jesse’s father, Benjamin E. Sirmans  was a farmer in Clinch County, GA. “Records show in 1854 he purchased land in lot 436 of the tenth district of Clinch County from Martin Mattox.”  Jesse was born about 1859, and first appears in census records in 1860, at age 1.

1860 census enumeration of Jesse E. Sirmans, age 1, in the household of his parents, Benjamin E. Sirmans and Francenia C. Sirmans. Also enumerated is Jesse's brother, David J. Sirmans, age 3. Image courtesy of Internet Archive: https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu117unit#page/n213/mode/1up

1860 census enumeration of Jesse E. Sirmans, age 1, in the household of his parents, Benjamin E. Sirmans and Francenia C. Sirmans. Also enumerated is Jesse’s brother, David J. Sirmans, age 3. Image courtesy of Internet Archive: https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu117unit#page/n213/mode/1up

In 1860, the Sirmans were neighbors of General David Johnson, who fought in the Indian Wars of 1836, and who was an uncle of Benjamin E. Sirmans.

1870 census enumeration of Jesse Sirmans, with his parents, Benjamin and Francenia Sirmans, and siblings David, Margaret, Martha, Joseph, William, and Benjamin, Jr. Image courtesy of Internet Archive: https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0144unit#page/n326/mode/1up

1870 census enumeration of Jesse Sirmans, with his parents, Benjamin and Francenia Sirmans, and siblings David, Margaret, Martha, Joseph, William, and Benjamin, Jr. Image courtesy of Internet Archive: https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0144unit#page/n326/mode/1up

In 1861 Jesse’s father “purchased 490 acres of lot 393, in the tenth district of Clinch County from Jared Irwin.”

When Jesse was about 18 years of age his father died , expiring on November 22, 1877. Benjamin E Sirmans was buried in Fender Cemetery, Lanier County, GA. He left an estate of ” approximately 400 head of cattle and land in Lots 437 and 438 in the seventh district of Clinch County, GA. Jesse’s uncles, Ezekiel Johnson Sirmans and David J. Sirmans, acted as executors for the estate  and sold off the cattle to pay his father’s debts.

According to tax records of 1880 Jesse’s mother, Francenia Carroll Sirmans, owned 264 acres on parts of lots 437 and 438 in the 7th Land District,(GMD 586, Mud Creek District) this land valued at $400.  On November 4, 1880, Francenia sold her portion of the estate to  Jesse’s uncle, Senator Franklin B. Sirmans.  A few months later, on April 3, 1881, Francenia married Henry Mainor.

The 1880 enumeration of Jesse E. Sirmans has not been located, but it appears that he continued to reside in Clinch County, GA.

On December 21, 1882, Jesse E. Sirmans married Malinda King in Clinch County, GA.

December 21, 1882 marriage certificate of Jesse E. Sirmans and Malinda King, Clinch County, GA.

December 21, 1882 marriage license of Jesse E. Sirmans and Malinda King, Clinch County, GA.

Tax records show by 1886 Jesse Sirmans owned 405 acres on Lot 484 in the 7th Land District,(GMD 586, Mud Creek District) this land valued at $150. By 1887 it appears he had disposed of some of the less valuable acreage, retaining 210 acres on Lot 484 in the 7th Land District,(GMD 586, Mud Creek District) this land valued at $150. In 1890 he owned 410 acres on lot 484 in the 7th Land District,(GMD 586, Mud Creek District) this land valued at $200.

Some time before 1900, Jesse E. Sirmans relocated his family to Berrien County where he farmed in the Watson Grade community, just northeast of Ray City, GA.  His aunt Lucretia Sirmans Cook resided at Watson Grade with her husband John Jasper Cook, and children (Charlotte Cook, Melvina Cook, Aaron Cook, Sarah Ann Cook, James Cook, and Mary Ellen Cook)  as did others of the Sirmans and Cook family connections.

 

Elder Orville Augustus Knight (1874-1950)

Elder Orville Augustus Knight (1874-1950)

Orvil A. Knight with his first wife, Ellen Cook, and daughters Callie (middle) and Cordia (right.)  Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Orvil A. Knight with his first wife, Ellen Cook, and daughters Callie (middle) and Cordia (right.) Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Orville Augustus Knight was a son Rhoda Futch and George Washington Knight.  He was born and raised in Berrien County in the 1144 Georgia Militia District, the Rays Mill District.  For twenty years or more O. A. Knight made his home near Ray City, GA, and most of his life he  was engaged in farming on his own account.  He became a member of Empire Church, a few miles northeast of Ray City,  and in 1915 at the age of 41 was ordained as an Elder of the Primitive Baptist faith.   In 1925, Orville A. Knight became pastor of Union Church near Lakeland, GA. His great grandfather, William Anderson Knight, had served 100 years earlier as the original pastor of Union Church. That year he also served as pastor at his home church, Empire.

Orville A. Knight was first married in 1892 to Mary Ellen Cook (1876-1939). She was a daughter of John Jasper Cook and Lucretia Sirmans, and sibling of Aaron Cook and Charlotte Cook. Following her death, Knight was married a second time in 1939 to Mrs. Margaret Texas “Maggie” Overstreet. She was the widow of James Willis Overstreet, and a daughter of Elbert Mathis and Martha Susan “Mattie” Pounds.

Children of Orville Augustus Knight and Mary Ellen Cook:

  1. Callie R Knight (1893 – 1914)
  2. Cordie B Knight (1895 – 1965)
  3. Dollie Knight (1898 – 1899)
  4. Lonnie Alvin Knight (1900 – 1978)
  5. Lola E Knight (1905 – )
  6. Willie Ernest Knight (1906 – 1969)
  7. George Selman Knight (1909 – 1917)
  8. Myrtle Knight (1913 – 1980)

From “Gospel Appeal:”  Elder Orville A. Knight was born February 28, 1874, in Berrien County, Georgia, and passed away at his home in Valdosta, Ga., Dec 27, 1950.

Orville A. Knight united with Empire Church, Berrien County, Ga., on July 22, 1909.  He was baptized by Elder W. H. Parrish.  On Nov. 27, 1915, he was ordained to the full work of the gospel ministry.  Elders forming the presbytery for his ordination were I. A. Wetherington, H. W. Parrish, B. L. Starling, and A. A. Knight.

Elder Knight was called to serve his home church, Empire, in 1925 and over the years of his ministry also served as pastor of Ramah, Prospect, Olive Leaf, Bethany (Arabia), Unity, Cat Creek, Wayfare (Cow Creek),  Ben James, Union (Burnt Church), Providence and other churches.

In 1903, Elder T. R. Crawford wrote in the Goodwill of his impressions of Elder Knight and described him as “one of the most loved, esteemed, honored and respected servants of the most High God that has ever graced the pulpit of the churches of the deep south.”

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Wed under the Great Comet of 1882

William Jackson “Jack” Boyette and Charlotte “Lottie” Cook

William Jackson Boyett and Charlotte Cook Boyett. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

William Jackson Boyett and Charlotte Cook Boyett. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

William Jackson  Boyette was born 11 Oct 1862 and lived his life in the Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia vicinity. He was a son of William Hill Boyette and Jemima Taylor, pioneer settlers of the Ray City, GA area.

He married Charlotte Cook on August 27, 1882. She was a daughter of Lucretia Sirmans and John  Jasper Cook.  J.J. Cook was a farmer of the Watson Grade community just northeast of Rays Mill.  He would later be among those who opposed the creation of Lanier County.  Her brother, Aaron Cook,  fought in the Spanish American War.

One wonders if the newlyweds saw it as an auspicious sign that just a few days later there appeared in the sky the Great Comet of 1882.  The comet was soon visible even in the daytime sky.

 The Comet in Georgia
From the Berrien County News
October 11, 1882

It exceeds in brilliancy the great comet which made its appearance in the days of Millerism. Who knows but what its luminous tail will swoop down upon the earth, as it seems to be rapidly approaching this terrestrial ball.

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See more about the history of Ray City, GA at http://raycity.pbworks.com/