1899 Sketch of Old Lowndes County

In 1856, Berrien County was cut out of Lowndes County, GA. Long before that all of this section, including Lowndes was encompassed in the original county of Irwin. The following is a sketch of the first 75 years of Lowndes County.

The Valdosta Times
October 14, 1899

Historic Sketch of Lowndes County
Written by R. E. L. Folsom

Old Irwin county was composed of sixteen districts, and included the present counties of Thomas, Brooks, Worth, Colquitt, Berrien, Lowndes, Clinch, Echols, and Irwin.  Out of this territory, about 1826, the counties of Thomas and Lowndes were formed, in the south-west and south-east portions respectively.  Lowndes included all of the present counties of Clinch and Echols, and most of the territory of Berrien, Colquitt and Brooks.  Clinch was formed first, then Berrien; then Colquitt; then Brooks; the Echols.

            The county of Lowndes was organized, and the first court held, at Frances Rountree’s on what is now [1899] known as the Remer Young old place, in the year 1827.

    Old Franklinville was the first permanent count seat, founded about the year 1827.  It was located on the Withlacoochee river, near where the skipper bridge now stands.  It was a fine location, from a natural standpoint, and had one of the best springs of water in this county.  It never amounted to much as a business location.  The first clerk of the county court of ordinary was William Smith.

            One among the first representatives of the county was Randall Folsom, from 1832 to 1833.  He was followed by Hamilton Sharpe.

            About 1838, the county seat was moved to the fork of the Withlacoochee and Little rivers, and named Troupeville, in honor of Gov. Troupe.  It was not a picturesque, or even attractive spot for a town, and today a bleak and barren sand ridge, with its scattered clusters of cactus and pine saplings, is all that is left to mark this historic old spot.  It was a great rendezvous for the devotees of fun and excitement and carousal, and a detailed history of the place would furnish every variety of incident, from deeds of heroism down to the most ridiculous escapades.  Troupeville was a considerable business point.  Of the merchants who did business there in the old days, were Moses and Aaron Smith,  E. B. Stafford,  Uriah Kemp, and Alfred Newburn.   The first physician in this section of the country, Dr. Henry Briggs, located there, and put up a drug store.  He built up a very extensive practice, which he kept to the end of his long life.  In those days there were no bar-rooms, as we now find them, but all the merchants, excepting M. & A. Smith, sold liquor.

            Two good hotels were kept here, one by William Smith, who was a master of his trade, and the other by Morgan G. Swain

            The first county surveyor was Samuel Clyatt.  He was succeeded by  Jeremiah Wilson, who held the office, with the exception of one term, till about the close of the civil war.

Judge C. B. Cole was one of the first judges of the superior court.  He was followed by Judge J. J. Scarborough.  It was under Judge Scarborough that Judge A. H. Hansell made his first appearance here, as solicitor general.  He succeeded  Judge Scarborough as judge of the superior court.

            About 1847, occurred the first murder trial in this county.  It was the trial of Samuel Mattox for the murder of a boy by the name of Slaughter.  He was found guilty and hanged for the crime.

            About the year 1859, upon the building of the old Atlantic and Gulf Railroad, now the S. F. & W., this county seat was moved to Valdosta.  The place was named in honor of the home of Gov. Troupe, which he called Val-d’Osta.  This was about the same time that Brooks county was organized.  Shade Griffin was representative at this time, and has the bill passed creating Brooks county.  As he lived on the east side of Little River, the boundary was run so as to put his place in Brooks, where it is said to be yet.

            The merchants who began business in Valdosta at its founding, or soon after, were Thomas B. Griffin, Adam Graham, Moses Smith, jr., Henry Briggs, A. Converse, Capt. Bill Smith,  W. H. Briggs, and the Varnedoes.

The first public road ever cut through this country, was the old Coffee Road, cut out by Gen. Coffee, on a contract from the state.  It began at Jacksonville, on the Ochmulgee River, and ended at old Duncanville, in Thomas county, on the east line.  The first white settlement in this section was made on this road in the fork of the Okapilco and Mule creeks in Brooks county, at an old Indian town, by Jose Bryant, in 1823.   The next settlement was also made on this road, by Sion Hall, near the present site of Morven.  It was here that the first court for the original Irwin county was held.  This settlement was made in 1824.   In the same year, Washington Joyce settled on the east bank of the Little River, and built a ferry at what is now the Miller Bridge.  This was the first white settlement in present Lowndes county.  Next to him came Drew Vickers and Lawrence Folsom and a man named Baker, who built a ferry on the Withlacoochee River, where the Williams bridge now stands.

One of the highways in this section was the old stage road, running from Thomasville to Brunswick through Troupeville.  This was discontinued as a stage line about the year 1850.

In those old days, marketing had to be done at long range.  Not very much cotton was raised – all of the upland variety – but it had to be hauled to Fussell’s and Mobley’s Bluffs, on the Ochmulgee River, and goods hauled back in return.  The only real markets for this section were Tallahassee, Newport and St. Marks.  Going to market was an event in those days, and people went to buy only what was absolutely necessary.   Ah! Those were the happiest days of all.

There were large stock owners in this section, in those days.  There was a fine range and plenty of room, and the raising of stock was then a source of considerable income.  The most important stock raisers were Berry Jones, Francis Jones, Will Folsom, Randall Folsom, James Folsom, and James Rountree.

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Sheriff Swain and Legal Affairs in Old Troupville.

Morgan G. Swain, subject of previous posts, moved to Troupville, seat of Lowndes County, GA in 1838.  In Troupville, he operated a blacksmith shop and later became owner and innkeeper of the Jackson Hotel.  He also worked as Deputy Sheriff, Sheriff, Justice of the Peace, and Jailor.  (see Morz Swain was Innkeeper, Blacksmith, Sheriff & Jailor of old Troupville, GA  and Morgan Goodgame Swain and the Estate of Canneth Swain)

In these roles he would have been well known to all citizens of Lowndes, including those pioneers who settled at the site of Ray City, GA.   He certainly would have known Levi J. Knight and his father, William Anderson Knight, who were also engaged in civic and political matters, although in politics Swain was a Democrat, whereas the Knights were staunch Whigs.  Morgan Swain served as 1st Lieutenant of Militia in the 763rd District in Thomas County while Levi J. Knight was a Militia Captain in Lowndes County. While Swain was a Justice of the Peace in Troupville, Knight was the Justice of the Peace in his home district.

From the time Swain moved to Troupville, GA through the 1840s the state newspapers carried literally hundreds of legal notices issued under his authority, especially the papers at the state capitol in Milledgevillge, GA,

An interesting series of legal advertisements in the pages of The Milledgeville Federal Union covered the affairs of one Uriah Kemp, of Troupville,GA. On January 6, 1839 Kemp obtained a judgement to seize a horse owned by Jacob Croft.

Deputy Sheriff Morgan G. Swain advertised on Jan 15, 1839, for the Lowndes County Sheriff's Sale

Deputy Sheriff Morgan G. Swain advertised on Jan 15, 1839, for the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Sale

In May, several lots owned by Uriah Kemp in the town of Troupville were auctioned off by the Lowndes county Sheriff to satisfy a debt owed to Joseph Sirmans.

Deputy Sheriff Morgan G. Swain advertised for the Lowndes County Sheriff's Sale, May 21. 1839

Deputy Sheriff Morgan G. Swain advertised for the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Sale, May 21. 1839 Advertised in the Milledgeville Federal Union.

In the fall of 1839 Kemp was forced to sell lot 61 in Troupville, GA  and Lot No. 238 in the 13th district in Thomas County to settle  debts owed to Morgan G. Swain, himself.

Morgan G. Swain levied on theTroupville, GA property of Uriah Kemp to collect on a debt.

November 5, 1839 Morgan G. Swain collects on a debt in Thomas county.

November 5, 1839 Morgan G. Swain collects on a debt in Thomas county. Sheriff’s Sale ad appeared in the Milledgeville Southern Recorder.

A little more than a year later, Morgan G. Swain and Uriah Kemp were co-defendants in a lien action brought against them by Ryall B. Thomas.

As reflected in the legal advertisements in the Milledgeville Federal Union, Morgan G. Swain entered duty as Sheriff of Lowndes County, GA. in  1840.

As reflected in the legal advertisements in the Milledgeville Federal Union, Morgan G. Swain entered duty as Sheriff of Lowndes County, GA. in 1840.

In other action handled by Sheriff Swain was a case concerning William C. Newbern, who was the brother of Etheldred Dryden Newbern and the uncle of Martha Newbern Guthrie (see Babe of the Indian Wars),

One interesting case concerned a levy on 100 bushels of corn made by William C. Newbern against John A. Priester.

One interesting case concerned a levy on 100 bushels of corn made by William C. Newbern against John A. Priester. Milledgeville Federal Union.

As Sheriff of Lowndes County, Morgan Swain also was responsible for the arrest of escaped slaves.  Again, legal advertisements were placed by the sheriff in The Milledgeville Federal Union.

Later advertisements gave Swain’s position as Jailor in Troupville, GA

A clipping of the August 11, 1847 edition of The Albany Patriot lists Morgan G. Swain as Jailor of Lowndes County, repsponsible for the incarceration of captured runaway slaves.

A clipping of the August 11, 1847 edition of The Albany Patriot lists Morgan G. Swain as Jailor of Lowndes County, responsible for the incarceration of captured runaway slaves.

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