Isbin S. Giddens Visited Old Berrien Friends in 1905

Isbin Sylvester Giddens was born in Berrien county, Ga. in 1858,  a son of Elizabeth Edmondson and William Giddens.  “His family is Southern, his paternal grandfather having been a native of North Carolina, and his maternal grandfather of Virginia.  His father, William Giddens, was a planter in Georgia, a county judge and a soldier in the Confederate army. His mother, Elizabeth, was also a Georgian by birth. ” Isbin S. Giddens was the youngest of nine sons.

Isbin S. Giddens grew up on his father’s farm, near Ray City, GA in the 1144th Georgia Militia District, where he and his brothers helped work the farm.

By 1880, Isbin S. Giddens had moved to Manatee County, Florida where he was working as a grocer and living in the household of his brother, Matthew Giddens.

Some time before 1890, Isbin S. Giddens moved to Hillsborough County, FL where he served as county treasurer.  He enjoyed great success as a grocery merchant forming his own company,  I. S. Giddens & Co., wholesale grocers, of Tampa.  In 1900, the Giddens’  home was located on Seventh Avenue in Tampa, FL.  By 1905 Isbin S. Giddens had all but retired and, by 1910,  moved to the flourishing Hyde Park district of  Tampa, where he was engaged as a self-employed real estate broker.  Three  of his brothers also settled in Tampa, where they were among the prominent  citizens of the city: County Commissioner Marcus F. GiddensDr. John A. Giddens, a well known dentist, and Henry Clay Giddens, a successful business man.

In 1905, Isbin Giddens made a trip back to the old neighborhood in Berrien County.  His visit was reported in The Valdosta Times.

The Valdosta Times
December 16, 1905 pg 7

An Old Berrien County Boy.

Mr. I. S. Giddens, a retired capitalist of Tampa, Fla., was in Adel Monday, a guest of his niece Mrs. W.B. Wilkes.  Mr. Giddens was reared in Berrien County and went to Tampa when it was hardly as large as Adel.  He was treasurer of the county there for fourteen years and made a fortune in the wholesale grocery business.  He has a summer home in Monteagle, Tenn., and spends a good deal of the time there. His wife is visiting in Valdosta.  Her health has not been good for some time but is now much improved.  Mr. Giddens has many friend in Berrien who were glad to see him.  -Adel News.
Mr. Giddens is a brother of Mrs. J. B. Carter, of Valdosta, and Mrs.  Giddens has been a guest of Mr. and Mrs. Carter for a few days.

Grave of Isbin Sylvester Giddens (1858-1916), Woodlawn Cemetery, Tampa, FL.

Grave of Isbin Sylvester Giddens (1858-1916), Woodlawn Cemetery, Tampa, FL.

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John A. Giddens, D.D.S.

Yet another college educated son of William Giddens, of Berrien County, was John A. Giddens.  Like his brothers, Henry, Isbin and Marcus,  John A. Giddens moved from Berrien County to live in Tampa, FL.  His biography appeared in Memoirs of Florida in 1902.

Rerick, Rowland H. (1902) Memoirs of Florida: Embracing a general history of the province, territory, and state; and special chapters devoted to finances and banking, the bench and bar, medical profession, railways and navigation, and industrial interests.The Southern Historical Association, Atlanta, GA. Vol II, Pgs 525-526.

John A. Giddens, D.D.S., a well known dentist of Tampa, is a native of Berrien county, Ga., born July 24, 1860.  He was the son of William Giddens, a Georgia planter and Confederate soldier who died in 1900, and Elizabeth (Edmundson) Giddens, of Georgia, who died in 1882.  Dr. Giddens was reared on his father’s plantation, received his early education in the public schools of the vicinity and the Thomasville high school. At seventeen years of age he became a teacher in the public schools but after one year resigned in order to take up the study of dentistry.  He entered the dental office of Dr. Alfred Smith of Valdosta, Ga., and remained there until 1881 when he matriculated at the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery.  He was graduated from this famous institution in 1883 and at once entered upon the practice of his chosen profession in Berrien county, Ga., but remained there only one year and in the fall of 1883 removed to Florida, selecting as his location, the thriving city of Tampa.  Two years later he went to Key West, practicing in the last named place for ten years.  In September, 1897, he returned to Tampa, which has been his home since, and where he has built up a large and lucrative practice.  Dr. Giddens is a member of the Florida State Dental society and belongs to the Methodist Episcopal church South, of which he is a steward and local clergyman.  He has been married twice, first in January, 1889 to Mary, daughter of James R. Curry, of Key West. She died in November, 1893.  His second wife was Miss Carrie Hammerly, of Tampa, formerly of Virginia, to who he was married September 15, 1898.  He has two daughters, Pauline C. and Fannie E., aged eleven and nine years respectively. The family is quite popular and enjoys a wide circle of acquaintances and friends.

Matthew F. Giddens ~ Teacher, Businessman, Public Administrator

A  biographical sketch recently encountered in Memoirs of Florida tells the story of Matthew F. Giddens, who grew up in Berrien County, GA.

To set the  context, Matthew F. Giddens was a son of William Giddens, born in 1845 in that part of Lowndes county which was later cut into Berrien County.  Mathew’s grandfather, Isben Giddens was among the earliest settlers of the area.  Isben Giddens and William Giddens both served in the Lowndes County Militia during the Indian Wars of 1836-1838, under the command of  Captain Levi J. Knight.  The Giddens were among those who took part in the Battle of Brushy Creek, one of the last real engagements with the Creek Indians in this region.

Matthew F. Giddens attended the Valdosta Institute, founded by Samuel McWhir Varnedoe in 1866 in Valdosta, GA.  Giddens may have been a classmate of John Henry “Doc” Holiday, who attended the Valdosta Institute during the same time period.

Valdosta Institute, 1866. Valdosta, GA

Valdosta Institute, 1866. Valdosta, GA. Was Mathew F. Giddens a classmate of “Doc” Holliday at the Valdosta Institute? They both attended the institute some time between 1866 and 1870.

Rerick, Rowland H. (1902) Memoirs of Florida: Embracing a general history of the province, territory, and state; and special chapters devoted to finances and banking, the bench and bar, medical profession, railways and navigation, and industrial interests.The Southern Historical Association, Atlanta, GA. Vol II, Pgs 526-527.

Matthew F. Giddens, of Charlotte Harbor [Florida], superintendent of public instruction of De Soto county, was born in Lowndes county, Ga., December 18, 1845.  His father, William Giddens, a native of Georgia, was a planter and during the war served in the Confederate States army until he was elected judge of his county court [Berrien County]. The  wife of judge Giddens, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Edmondson, was also a Georgian by birth.  M.F. Giddens was reared and educated in Berrien and Lowndes counties, Ga., and attended the Valdosta institute.  After he had completed his education he taught school for some time. During the last two years of the war he served as a private in Company G, Twenty-ninth Georgia artillery, which, later became an infantry command, and although slightly wounded once received no severe injury and did not miss a day of service.  He was captured in the battle of July 22, 1864 near Atlanta, and was held until the close of the war.  In 1870 he came to Hillsboro county, Fla., and engaged as clerk in a store for some time, later conducting a mercantile business in Manatee county for two years. He next embarked in the cattle business an remained in it for ten years. He was county commissioner for two years before his removal to De Soto county, and in the latter county was school commissioner until he was elected to his present office of superintendent of public instruction in 1897.  In November, 1890, he was re-elected to the office without opposition.  Mr. Giddens has sixty schools under his supervision, which he inspects each year. He has the educational interests of the county at heart and has done much to advance the condition and efficiency of this important part of the public administration. He is also active in fraternal and church organization, as a trustee of the Methodist church, and is a master Mason.  By his marriage in 1872, to Mary Knight, of Hillsboro county, he has five sons and two daughters, Sumner, La Rue, Marcus, Paul, Grady, Virginia and Eva.