Lott Warren and the Arrest of Obed Wright

When Georgia militia troops attacked  the friendly Aumuculee  (Chehaw) Indian village in 1818, the nation was scandalized.

Let not the “star spangled banner” of our country be for a moment polluted with so foul a blot – Augusta Chronicle, May 16, 1818

The friendship of Aumuculle had been long known.  During the Red Stick War (1813-1814), the Aumuculle chiefs had repeatedly demonstrated their friendship and loyalty to the U.S., and to the state of Georgia.  Aumuculle had provisioned troops during the construction of Fort Early and sent 40 of their warriors to join the command of Andrew Jackson in his campaign against the Seminoles, who in the Creek language were called the Iste-Semole – the wild men.  Despite this record, the village was massacred by Georgia militia, under the supposed justification that the attack was a reprisal for earlier Indian depredations.

The attack itself was widely publicized with contradicting reports and a running dispute between General Andrew Jackson and Georgia governor William Rabun. Their dispute over military jurisdiction became so controversial, President James Monroe was required to furnish Congress with a complete set of the correspondence relating to the incident.

 

 

Lott Warren was the presiding judge on the Southern Circuit at the Lowndes County Grand Jury Presentments of 1833.

Lott Warren was the presiding judge at the Lowndes County, GA Grand Jury of 1833.

Lott Warren, who had  been present at the massacre and who followed orders to loot and burn the Indian houses, now had a small role to play in the capture of the perpetrator of the attack, Captain Obed Wright.  Warren would go on to serve as Solicitor-General  of the Southern Circuit, including Lowndes County, GA.  In 1826 Warren prosecuted two Indians before Judge Fort in Thomas County, GA for murder, securing a conviction and sentence that they  be “hung by the neck until they were dead. The judge omitted to invoke the usual blessing, – “May God have mercy on their souls!” – for the reason that the prisoners did not understand English.”  Warren became an ardent supporter of the “States Rights” cause. Among the state rights he was most concerned with were the right of Georgia to incarcerate Native Americans without interference from the Federal Government, and the right of Georgians to retrieve fugitive slaves from other states.  Lott Warren was a slave owner, as shown in the 1860 Census of “Slave Inhabitants” of Albany, Dougherty County, GA.  Elected to the Georgia state legislature, he supported Indian Removal and Georgia’s defiance of U.S. Supreme court rulings that favored Native American rights.  Warren supported the expulsion of sympathetic missionaries from the Indian Territory, and the execution of Corn Tassels for a crime committed in the Indian Nation.  He was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives where he vehemently defended the character of Governor William Rabun and his assertion states rights.

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Following the attack on Aumuculle (Chehaw), Obed Wright, commanding officer at the Chehaw Massacre,  and the militia companies under his command had been discharged at Hartford and had returned to their homes. Lieutenant Lott Warren returned to Dublin, GA and resumed his work as a clerk in the store of Amos Love.  Warren’s employer, Amos Love, was the father of Peter Early Love who became a leading statesman of Georgia, serving as a solicitor general, superior court judge and U.S. Congressman. Peter Early Love, was a judge on the Southern Circuit; Judge Love was a former Solicitor General serving old Lowndes County, GA, and presided at the first session of the Superior Court held in Berrien County in 1856. He was elected as a U. S. Congressman and was among the southern representatives who walked out of Congress when Secession was declared.  Amos Love’s grandaughter, Mattie Love, would marry during the Civil War to Private Robert Hamilton Harris of the Thomasville Guards, Company A, 29th Georgia Regiment.

Meanwhile, pursuant to orders from General Andrew Jackson, Major John M. Davis commenced tracking down Captain Obed Wright to secure his arrest.

Arriving in Hartford in mid-May, 1818 Major Davis found Captain Wright had already departed for Savannah, GA. Davis pursued, first going by way of Fort Hawkins and Milledgeville.  Major Davis finally tracked Wright to Dublin, GA. There, Davis sought out Lieutenant Lott Warren. In a statement to the U.S. Congress, Lott Warren later recounted, “Major Davis called upon me, and in great confidence disclosed his business, and inquired for Capt. Wright, to whom in a few minutes I introduced him…” – Georgia Journal, 26 Apr 1842

Major Davis… stated that he had orders from Gen. Jackson to arrest Capt. Wright. Lieut. Warren accompanied him to the hotel, where he introduced him to Capt. Wright, who at once submitted. It may as well be remarked here that Capt. Wright had not been mustered into the service of the United States, and was, of course, not subject to the orders of Gen. Jackson. His arrest, by the authority of the latter, was therefore regarded by Gov. Rabun and the justices of the Inferior Court of Baldwin county, as a usurpation of power.

 

Major Davis presented Captain Wright with an official, written letter of arrest.

Capt. Obed Wright, Georgia militia

Dublin, Georgia, May 24, 1818

Sir,
I am directed by major general Jackson, commanding the division of the south, to arrest you and conduct you to fort Hawkins, where you are to remain, until the pleasure of the President of the United States, be known on your case.
You will therefore, consider yourself in arrest, and proceed accordingly.

I am, respectfully yours, &c.

JNO. M. DAVIS
Ass’t inspr. gen. U.S. army;

 

Having taken Captain Wright into custody, Major Davis proceeded with his prisoner toward Fort Hawkins, at Macon, GA.  Wright prevailed upon Davis to go by way of the state capitol at Milledgeville, where he said he had papers important to his defense.  At Millegeville, however, Wright attempted to escape… or at least to delay the march long enough for his attorney to file legal proceedings.

Extract of a letter from a gentleman in Milledgeville to his friend in Raleigh, (N.C.) dated June 4.

Our metropolis has been in considerable commotion for several days past. Captain Obed Wright, the murderer of the friendly Indians, was arrested by order of gen. Jackson, the first of last week below this, and at his request was permitted to come to this place [Milledgeville], for the purpose of procuring some papers which he said would be necessary at his trial. On Thursday morning last, when the officer [Major John M. Davis] was about to proceed on his journey, the prisoner broke ground, and moved with such velocity that he succeeded in reaching the top of one of our longest hills before he was overtaken by persons on horseback. His conduct so enraged the officer, that he looked as if he intended severing the fellow’s head with his sword, which he “waved in fiery circles” (as Weams would say) above the trembling prisoner, who looked as if he expected every moment to meet old Howard in another world. This affair afforded time enough for a friend of Wright to procure a writ of habeas corpus, which was served on the officer, and he notified to attend a court called to try the case, in a few hours. The court decided that the orders of gen. Jackson were informal, as they contained no charge for which the prisoner was arrested, or to be tried – Jackson simply directs the officer to arrest and confine him until instructions can be received from the president. The prisoner was discharge, and the officer went off, cursing our governor and the whole state and threatening us with vengeance, to tell gen Jackson how he had been treated, who has never shewn much courtesy towards our chief magistrate. Jackson considered Wright in the service of the United States, and our governor thinks he was in the service of this state. There is much difference of opinion on the subject. The governor is censured, generally – perhaps justly too.  – The New York Evening Post, 25 Jun 1818

Wright’s attorney, Seaborn Jones, filed the writ of habeas corpus with the Inferior Court of Baldwin County, Milledgeville;

Chambers, May 28, 1818
Present: Their honors Robert Wynn, William Bevin, and James Fleming, Justices.
The court met for the purpose of hearing Obed Wright, who was brought up before them upon a writ of habeas corpus, which is as follows:
Georgia, Baldwin county.
To any Justice of the Inferior Court.
The petition of Obed Wright showeth: That he is detained in confinement by Major Davis, an officer in the United States service, and he therefore prays the benefit of a habeas corpus, to inquire into the cause of his confinement and detention.
Seaborn Jones
Attorney for petitioner.

Pursuant to the petition a writ of habeas corpus was issued by the court.

Habeas corpus, by the Constitution of the United States, and of the State of Georgia.
To Major Davis,
an officer in the United States service.

Georgia, Baldwin county:
It appears, from the petition of Obed Wright, that he is now kept in custody by you, and he having prayed a writ of habeas corpus, you are, therefore hereby commanded, that you bring before me, at the court-house of the county, by the hour of 11 o’clock of the forenoon of the day, the body of the said Obed Wright, by whatever title he may be known to you, together with the cause of his commitment and detention, that he may be dealt with according to law. Fail not, and have you then and there this writ.
Given under my hand and seal, the 28th of May, 1818.

William Bevin, J. I. C.

Major Davis produced Obed Wright in court in Milledgeville, GA

Milledgeville, May 28, 1818
I have the said Obed Wright in court, together with the cause of his commitment and detention.
John M. Davis,
Ass’t Inspector General U.S.A.

After hearing the case, the court ordered the immediate release of Obed Wright.

Major John M. Davis, assistant inspector general of the United States’ Army, in obedience to a writ of habeas corpus, this day served on him, having produced the body of said Obed Wright, mentioned in the habeas corpus, before the court, together with the cause of his commitment and detention:
And the court, on consideration, deeming that no sufficient cause is shown for his detention: on motion, ordered, that he be discharged forthwith.
Robert Wynn.
William Bevin.
James Fleming.

 

Upon reaching Fort Hawkins, Major Davis wrote a letter to Gen. Jackson explaining the circumstances of Wright’s release:

Fort Hawkins 30th May 1818

Sir,
By express I hasten to communicate to you, that in pursuance of your order to me of the 7th inst. I came up with Captain Obed Wright of the Georgia Militia, in Dublin on the 24th Inst. I arrested him, and brought him on with me as far as Milledgeville, where civil authority interfered and discharged him. A copy of the proceedings is herewith enclosed to you – I also enclose you copies of my letters to the Secy. War, & Govr. of Georgia, together with a copy of your order to me (which you kept no copy of) – and a copy of Wright’s arrest.
So far as I have had an opportunity of discovering, the minds of the Georgians is much agitated on this occasion, and many of them warmly advocate Wright’s conduct – I had to brook several insults while I had him in custody – The General impression of the rable was that Wright would be delivered up to the Indians – The enlightened class new better, & said that you were incapable of doing such an act – I did not let the court know the extent of my orders -I only shew my first order, which directs him to be delivered over to the military authority at Fort Hawkins there to be kept in close confinement untill the will of the President be known. The Govr. of Georgia is absent at present, whether he will on his return order him to be delivered over to me on my application, or not is uncertain, I dont expect he will.
I deem it necessary & therefore have communicated the facts as herein related to the Secy. War, I have enclosed him a copy of the proceedings of the court, and a copy of Wrights arrest – I notified him that I have communicated the circumstance to you.
I have the honor to very Respectfully your Obt Sert
Jno. M. Davis
Asst Ins. Genl

Augusta Herald

Friday June 5, 1818
Milledgeville, June 2.
Capt. Wright —Major Davis, of the United States army, in compliance with orders from General Jackson, arrested Captain Obed Wright in Dublin, a few days ago, for the purpose of carrying him to Fort Hawkins, and securing him until instructions could be received from the President. Whilst in this place, on Thursday last, the prisoner was released from custody by a writ of habeas corpus, before a Court called to determine the case. The Court, after suitable investigation, decided that the orders of Gen’l Jackson were informal, as they contained no specific charge against the prisoner, who was accordingly released from custody. We understand Capt. Wright has been arrested by order of Gov. Rabun, and is now on parole in this place, waiting the organization of a court-martial.

Meanwhile, among the Creeks over there was growing resentment over the attack…

Milledgeville Reflector
June 2, 1818

The Chehaw Indians estimate the property lost by the late attack on their town, at $8000. We understand that there will be a general meeting of the Creek Nation at Fort Mitchell on the 7th instant, for the purpose of investigating the late affair.

On June 28, 1818, President James Monroe finally wrote,

An officer of rank should be ordered to visit the Chehaw town in the name of the executive of the United States, to examine into the loss and damage that indemnity may be made and to console the survivors.

Chief William McIntosh

Chief William McIntosh

In a letter dated July 8, 1818 Nashville, Tennessee  Major General Andrew Jackson informed Creek leader General William McIntosh that he had ordered the arrest of Captain Obed Wright for the “wanton outrage and murder” at Chehaw, but that Wright had been released by civil authorities in Milledgeville. Jackson wrote that he was awaiting President Monroe’s instructions on how to proceed further in the matter.

Head Quarters
Division of the South
Nashville 8 July 1818
General William McIntosh.
Friend and Brother

Shortly after the capture of Pensacola, I was taken very ill which prevented my writing you; I have continued indisposed ever since & on my return to Nashville was taken seriously ill, — From this attack I have just recovered sufficiently to write you —

On my march from Fort Gadsden to Pensacola I received the disagreable  intelligence of the wanton and outrageous attack by Capt Wright, commanding a detachment of Georgia Militia, on the Chehaw Village — I immediately sent the Chehaws a talk which you have seen, and ordered Capt Wright to be apprehended & confined for trial. Major Davis executed this order, arrested Capt Wright, and in passing through Milledgeville, Capt Wright was released from his confinement by the Civil Authority. I am awaiting the instructions of your Father the President of the United States on this subject. That Capt Wright ought to be punished for this wanton outrage and murder all good men agree, and I have no doubt Your Father the President of the U. States will have ample justice done in this case —

Your Friend & Brother
Andrew Jackson
Major Genl Comdg

After the discharge of Capt. Wright, upon Habeas Corpus, at Milledgeville, the Governor had him immediately arrested for disobeying orders, in not destroying the Hoponee and Philemi towns, as well as Chehaw,… Portraits of Eminent Americans.    However, Wright  while still officially under arrest was soon released on a “parole of honor” pending instructions from the President on the disposition of the case.

Secretary of State John Quincy Adams followed up with another letter to Governor Rabun, telling him that “The President of the United States has directed that Captain Obed Wright should be prosecuted for the murder of friendly Indians.” – Massacre of American Indian Allies, 1818

The Savannah Republican reported the instructions from President Monroe; Captain Wright would be tried before justices of the Supreme Court, and if convicted, would be executed.  In a second article The Savannah Republican explained to the legal authority to prosecute Wright in federal court.

Savannah Republican
July 14, 1818

The President has issued orders for the arrest of captain Obed Wright, which the marshal of this district will execute forthwith. A special court has also been ordered for the trial of Wright, to be held in September next, in this city, or Milledgeville, at which two of the judges of the supreme court are to preside. Wright is charged with having committed murder, and the destruction of the Chehaw town.

Savannah Republican
Milledgeville, July 23.

The law of Congress passed in 1802 to regulate trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes, and to preserve peace on the frontiers, under which Captain Wright is to be tried, enacts, that “if any citizen, or other person, shall go into any town, settlement, or territory belonging to any nation or tribe of Indians, and shall there commit murder, by killing any Indian or Indians, belonging to any nation or tribe of Indians in amity with the United States, such offender, on being thereof convicted, shall suffer death.”
“And when the offender shall be apprehended or brought for trial into any of the United States, it shall be lawful for the President of the United States to issue a Commission to any one or more Judges of the supreme court of the United States, and the judge of the district in which such offender may have been apprehended, or shall have been brought for trial; which Judges, or any two of them, shall have the same jurisdiction, in such capital cases, as the Circuit Court of such district, and shall proceed to trial and judgement in the same manner, as such circuit court might or could do.”
For the immediate attainment of the objects of the general government in relation to captain Wright, the acting attorney of the United States for the district of Georgia, (Mr. Davies having temporarily left the state for the benefit of his health, which has been considerably impaired by an incessant devotion to business) has written to the Creek agent for Indian Affairs, we are informed, requesting him to pursue such steps as will authorize the Marshal to take captain Wright into custody; and the Governor has been desired to cause him to be delivered to any judicial officer of this county, whenever he shall be demanded by virtue of a warrant from the proper authority, and to detain him, till then, under his present military arrest. – Journal.

Wright heard that rather than facing a military courtmartial he was  to be tried before a federal court as soon as federal charges could be preferred. He petitioned Governor Rabun for immediate release from his arrest, but receiving no reply decided to flee from justice.

ESCAPE OF CAPTAIN WRIGHT.
From the Milledgeville Journal, 4th instant.
Capt. Wright, of noted memory, has broken his parole of honor, and absconded. On the 26th ult. [July 26, 1818] (the day previous to his dissappearing) he addressed the following note to the governor;-

“Sir – On the 28th of May last, I was arrested by order of your excellency. Since that time I have waited in the expectation, that a courtmartial would be ordered for my trial. No charge has yet made its appearance against me. I therefore pray that your excellency would withdraw the arrest. If you should think proper not to do so, suffer me to call and see you, as I have business of importance. (signed) Obed Wright.”

To this communication no answer was returned. His fears, we understand, were considerably excited by the statement in the Savannah Republican, of the determination of the president of the U. States to have him tried before the federal court for murder. Dreading a long and loathsome imprisonment in gaol [jail], and probably apprehending, from the “hue and cry” which had been raised against him, that his conduct would not be impartially investigated, he took the fatal resolution to flee from justice.
A reward of 500 dollars has been offered by the executive for his apprehension. The deputy marshal and assistant agent for Indian affairs, arrived here on Thursday with a warrant to take him into the custody of the civil authority- but the “bird had flown.”  – Savannah Republican, Aug 8, 2018

Governor Rabun then informed Secretary of State John Quincy Adams that Wright had fled.

Executive Department of Georgia
Milledgeville, 29th July, 1818

SIR
I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 30th ultimo, containing the determination of the President of the United States relative to the case of Captain Obed Wright; and was highly gratified that the affair should be brought before the civil authority of the United States, where, I have no doubt but ample justice would have been administered.
I had determined to detain him agreeably to your request, and would have cheerfully submitted him to the custody of the marshall, whenever he might have appeared; but the President’s instructions to the District Attorney were unfortunately made public in the newspapers of Savannah, and from them copied into others, and were thereby improperly communicated to captain Wright, who, being alarmed at the prospect that awaited him, (on the night of the 27th inst.) made his escape from the custody of the Adjutant General of this state, *who had been instructed to arrest and detain him) and I have received no information of him since.
I shall use every possible exertion to cause him to be arrested again, and hold him subject to the proper authorities of the United States.
I have the honor to be, Sir, very respectfully, your most obedient and very humble servant,
WM. RABUN
Hon. John Quincy Adams, Sec’y. of State.

Governor Rabun issued a proclamation offering a reward of $500 for the apprehension of the fugitive Obed Wright.

July 30, 1818 Proclamation of Governor William Rabun offering $500.00 reward for the capture of Captain Obed Wright.

July 30, 1818 Proclamation of Governor William Rabun offering $500.00 reward for the capture of Captain Obed Wright.

A proclamation, by his excellency William Rabun, governor and commander in chief of the army and navy of the state of Georgia, and of the militia thereof-
Whereas, captain Obed Wright, late of the Georgia militia, was on the 29th day of May last, arrested and confined by the executive authority of this state, for a violation of orders, in the commission of an outrage on the friendly Indians of the Chehaw village, in order that the president of the United States with regard to the manner in which he should be tried for said offence should be known: And whereas I have received information, that the said Obed Wright did on the night of the 27th inst. break his said arrest, and abscond from the place of his confinement and probably from this state: I have therefore though proper to issue this proclamation, hereby offering a reward of five hundred dollars, to any person or persons, who may apprehend the said Obed Wright, and deliver him into the custody of the deputy marshall of the United States, for the district of Georgia, residing at Milledgeville.- And I do moreover, hereby require and command all officers, civil and military, to be found within this state; and to give all aid and assistance in their power, to any person or persons, who may apprehend him for confinement, in order that he may be brought to trial for the crime of which he is charged.
Given under my hand and the great seal of the state, at the state house in Milledgeville, this thirtieth day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighteen, and of the independence of the United States of America the forty-third.
WM. RABUN
By the governor,
AB. HAMMOND, sec. of state.

Obed Wright is supposed to be about 30 years of age, 5 feet 11 inches high, slender, trim built, said to be very active, fair complexion, light blue eyes, and light brown hair. – Lancaster Intelligencer, 22 Aug 1818

In plotting his escape, Wright turned to Jacob Robinson, who had been his second in command at the Chehaw massacre. Robinson would later be court-martialed for falsifying the payroll report for the service of his men at Chehaw, keeping the excess pay for himself. “And in that trial his loyalty to Wright and his part in effecting his escape was brought out. A witness testified that Wright had gone to Robinson’s home in Laurens County and informed him that the Governor had “released him from under arrest,” and told him “that he had to fly his country,” and that Robinson helped. A third witness testified that Robinson had told him that he had “hope” Wright along by giving him “a wooden horse [canoe]” in which to float down the Ocmulgee River, and that by now he was in Florida or “gone on to South America.” A fourth witness stated that Wright had said that a United States marshal was going to arrest him and keep him in jail in irons and that his health would not stand it, but that he was willing to be tried if at once. Robinson, himself, testified that Wright called at his home “on his way to the low country,” stating that his arrest had been withdrawn, “and that a different course would be pursued and to contend with the ilnature and influence” of Jackson he could not, “that being destitute of friends and money, that confinement in a common jail would be death,” and that his health could not stand it, he had decided to leave. Robinson said, “I treated the man with that hospitality honest men at all times receive in my house. I permitted him to take a canoe of mine which I felt willing to spare.” – The Chehaw Affair

From Dublin, GA Wright could have canoed down the Oconee River some 50 miles to where the river merges with the Ocmulgee River near Lumber City, GA to form the Altamaha River. The Altamaha then flows some 130 miles to Darien, GA at the mouth of the river.  By land or sea, Wright made his way to Spanish Florida. In a story that was picked up by national newspapers, The Savannah Republican reported that Wright had been spotted at St. Augustine, FL.

Savannah, Sept. 8

From the South. – We have just seen a gentleman from St. Augustine, who informs us…that he saw captain Obed Wright in St. Augustine – that he had taken a Spanish protection, and intended in a few days to go to the Havana. -The United States Gazette, 19 Sep 1818

President Monroe consulted with Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, and Attorney General William Wirt regarding the propriety of issuing a proclamation offering a reward for the apprehension of Obed Wright. The Attorney General advised that the President should instead seek an indictment from the next grand jury for the circuit court of Georgia. If Wright was indicted a federal warrant would be issued and the president could offer a reward for his arrest. U.S. marshals and federal authorities would be instructed that “if Wright should make his appearance anywhere within the United States, to cause him to be arrested according to law.” – Washington Daily Union, May 26, 1850

Probably reflecting on Andrew Jackson’s lack of respect for the sovereignty of the Spanish government in Florida, Obediah Wright decided to place a little more distance between himself and the U.S. authorities. By November Wright was spotted in Havana, Cuba.

From Havana. – Mr. Topliff’s correspondent at Havana writes him as follows, under date of Nov. 21 [1818]:… Capt. Obed Wright, late of the U. S. army, arrived here a few days since from St. Augustine. Capt. Wright was of the Georgia militia. – New York Evening Post, 14 Dec 1818.

National Intel.
A resolution has passed both branches of the Georgia Legislature, without a dissenting voice, exculpating the Governor from any blame on account of the unfortunate attack on Chehaw town, and the escape of Obed Wright. – Vermont Intelligencer, 21 Dec 1818 

Wright was never heard from again, and no one was ever held legally responsible for the massacre of the Chehaws.

In 1912, the Daughters of the American Revolution dedicated a monument  commemorating the Chehaw Massacre.

 

Chehaw Monument dedicated June 14, 1912 by the Americus Chapter of the DAR. The Atlanta Journal said the monument commemorated "the bloody massacre of innocent tribesmen, women and children by Captain Obed Wright, commanding a company of Georgia Militia, in 1818. The memorial is intended asa slight reparation for the great wrong thus done against a tribe of friendly Indians, and at a time when the men of the tribe were fighting in the ranks of Gen. Andrew Jackson;s two regiments sent against the Seminoles in the Florida Everglades in 1818."

Chehaw Monument dedicated June 14, 1912 by the Council of Safety (Americus) Chapter of the DAR. The Atlanta Journal said the monument commemorated “the bloody massacre of innocent tribesmen, women and children by Captain Obed Wright, commanding a company of Georgia Militia, in 1818. The memorial is intended as a slight reparation for the great wrong thus done against a tribe of friendly Indians, and at a time when the men of the tribe were fighting in the ranks of Gen. Andrew Jackson;s two regiments sent against the Seminoles in the Florida Everglades in 1818.” The inscription reads: Large Indian town, home of the Chehaws, a friendly agricultural people of the Creek Tribe, who aided our early settlers. They contributed men, food and horses to subdue the hostile Seminoles; Here Andrew Jackson rested with his starving army and was given help in 1818. Here also in 1818, through misunderstanding, were massacred seven of this tribe by Georgia troops, for which all possible amends were made. Erected in 1911 by Council of Safety Chapter, D. A. R.

 

Council of American Safety [Chapter of the DAR]. (Americus, Ga.) – Chehaw monument, near Leesburg, Ga., erected by the Chapter, was unveiled June 14th, 1912. The picture shows a scene after unveiling, and those of the rostrum who took part in the exercises on this occasion, follows from left to right: Mr. J.E.D. Shipp, orator; Miss Anna Caroline Benning, a former State Regent; Miss Annie May Bell; the three children who unveiled the monument: Lucy Simmons, Frank Harrold, Jr., Louise Dudley; Mrs. William Lawson Peel, Vice-President General; Mrs. Charles A Fricker, Chapter
We have done other good work, but erecting this monument by our Chapter is the greatest accomplishment since our organization five years since. Chehaw was an Indian town on the DeSoto Trail. The people were agricultural and friendly to our settlers. They were of the Creek tribe of Indians, and were of superior intelligence and civilization. In thus perpetuating the memory of this tribe, in recognition of their aid to our country, we emphasize the fact that Andrew Jackson, on his march in 1818, to subdue the uprising Seminoles in Florida, rested at Chehaw, and to him were contributed by the natives, shelter, food and horses for his starving army.
This monument is located exactly where stood the great “Council Oak” of the Chehaw Indians, a tree famous for its great size. The trunk was 8 feet in diameter, covering a space of 120 feet across, the outer circumference being clearly defined by a circle of oaks of perfect symmetry, sprung from the acorns dropped from the outspreading branches of the old tree, making one of the loveliest spots in Georgia. – Mary Charlton Fricker, Regent

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The Harrison Freshet

Way back a hundred and eighty years ago, at Troupville, GA which was then still the county seat of old Lowndes county, there stood an old cypress tree. This old tree weathered many a Wiregrass storm and its roots held steadfast. Passing under its boughs, pioneer settlers like Levi J. Knight came to Troupville to conduct the governmental, commercial and social affairs of the county.  The town was built right in the fork of the Little River and the Withlacoochee.  “Troupville only suffered one inconvenience, wrote Montgomery M. Folsom. To get to town three-fourths of the population had either to cross the river of the east or the river of the west and half the time, during the winter and spring, these rivers were raging with freshets, the bridges were afloat and were frequently swept away.”

When the flood of March, 1841 inundated the town the residents noted the high water level by a mark on the old tree. 

The height of that flood, known as the Harrison Freshet, became the standard by which all subsequent floods were judged for a hundred years thereafter.   The flood was associated with William Henry Harrison, who carried the presidency in 1840, in an election which lasted 34 days. Levi J. Knight’s nephew, Henry Harrison Knight, was born November 17, 1840 smack in the middle of the election.

William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison

There has come to be some confusion over which flood is properly known as the Harrison Freshet, some histories placing the so-named flood in 1840 and others in 1841.  Congressional records state the Harrison Freshet “occurred in 1841, lasting from the 11th of March to the 19th.” Newspapers all over the state of Georgia reported rising waters and washed-out bridges during this period, just days after the inauguration of William Henry Harrison as the ninth President of the United States. But parts of Georgia had also been awash in the  flood of 1840, which saw waters rise as high.

The freshet of May [1840] continued while the convention at Milledgeville that nominated General William H. Harrison for the Presidency, was in session, and it was, therefore, called by the people east of the Oconee river the Harrison freshet. In that portion of the country, and beyond the Savannah river and in Carolina, the rivers and streams were higher, and the overflow and destruction greater than by any other freshet since the Yazoo freshet in 1796. The cities of Augusta and Hamburg were submerged.

In the early part of March, 1841, after President Harrison’s inauguration, the big fresh occurred west of the Oconee, and the Ocmulgee, Flint and Chattahoochee rivers, and all other smaller streams, contained more water and produced greater damage than ever known. In this section the last inundation was also called the Harrison freshet; hence the confusion that arose many years afterwards in distinguishing which was the proper Harrison fresh. The discrimination was, however, distinctly recorded at the time of the occurrences. The fresh of May and June, 1840, while the convention was held at Milledgeville, was named by the Democrats, “The Nomination Freshet,” and the fresh of March, 1841, was also named by the same “unterrified” authority “The Harrison Inauguration Freshet.” An iron spike was driven into the western abutment of the city bridge by Mr. Albert G. Butts, denoting the highest water ever in the river down to that time, March, 1841. The spike still remains, and is inspected at every freshet in the Ocmulgee. – Historical Record of Macon and Central Georgia

At Troupville, it was the same; The mark remained on the old cypress tree, and it was inspected at every freshet. The flood of 1897 precipitated such an inspection.

Troupville, GA flood of 1897 described in the New Orleans Times Democrat

Troupville, GA flood of 1897 described in the New Orleans Times Democrat

New Orleans Times Democrat
March 28, 1897
Bridges Washed Away and Railroad Traffic Stopped.

Special to the Times-Democrat.
       Atlanta, Ga., March 27. – All of the streams running into the largest rivers of Southwest Georgia are flooded to such an extent as to have almost suspended travel on the east and west line of the Plant system, as well as on the Georgia and Alabama Railroad Line. The Georgia Southern Railroad is washed out in many places, and no trains have passed in the last twenty-four hours. In the neighborhood of Valdosta the floods have risen to such an extent as to cover almost the entire country. The Willacoochie rose at the rate of two feet an hour at first, and is still rising. It has covered all the railroad tracks from view, though the trestle is a high one, and half a mile long. All the bridges in Lowndes county have been carried away.
      At the old cypress tree at Troupville the high water mark of the Harrison freshet has been covered. The Allapaha river is also on a rampage, and every bridge on the Flint, from its source down to its junction with the Chattahoochee, has been carried away. The Central Railroad branch running from Columbia, Ala., to Albany is so largely under water that transportation has been abandoned. Americus also has been cut off by the overflowing of the Muckalee for a week, and travel is done by boats. It is the most general flooding that part of the country has ever received.

Of course, Troupville is gone now, but whatever happened to that old cypress tree?

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Judge Carleton Bicknell Cole

Carlton Bicknell Cole

Carleton Bicknell Cole

Judge Carleton Bicknell Cole (1803-1876)
Carleton B. Cole twice served as judge of the Southern Circuit and later presided over the courts of the Macon Circuit. In 1848 in the Lowndes County court at Troupville, GA, he was defense attorney for  Manuel and Jonathan Studstill, in the September 7, 1843 murder of William Slaughter, facing Augustin H. Hansell, solicitor general, for the prosecution. About Carlton Bicknell Cole: son of George Abbott Cole and Emmeline (Carleton) Cole. Born in Amherst, MA, August 3, 1803. Graduated Middlebury College, VT, in 1822. Taught and studied law in North Carolina. Admitted to the bar, 1826, and in 1827 removed to Macon, GA. Married Susan Taylor, September 6, 1827. (Children: Ann Eliza; Emmeline Carleton; John Taylor; George Abbott; Carleton Bicknell.) Incorporator and stockholder of The Commercial Bank at Macon, 1831. Judge of the Southern Circuit Court of Georgia, 1833-1847. Chairman of the Convention of Judges of the Superior Courts of Georgia, 1840. Operated a private law school at Midway, GA, 1844-1845. Opened a law practice in Milledgeville, GA, 1846. Admitted to practice before the Georgia Supreme Court, 1846. Chair of the Democratic Republican party of Twiggs County, 1847; A pro-Union Democrat in politics. Professor of Law, Oglethorpe University, 1847-1854. Resumed his law practice in Macon, 1854. Delegate to the State Constitutional Convention, 1865. Judge of the Macon Circuit Court, 1865-1873. Professor of Law, Mercer University, 1875-1876.  Died in Macon, GA, January 23, 1876.

 

The Sunny South
March 22, 1884

Bench and Bar of Georgia

Sketches and Anecdotes of Distinguished Judges and Lawyers.

Number 23.

By R. W. D.

Carleton B. Cole.

Carleton Bicknell Cole was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, August 7, 1803. His father died quite suddenly when the child was but a few months old, leaving him to the care of a young mother. His school advantages were good; he loved his books, became a close student and at the age of 19 graduated at Middlebury College, Vermont. His health having become impaired in consequence of his sedentary habits and close and unremitting application, he was sent to North Carolina that he might breathe the balmy Southern air and recuperate his wasted vitality. Being detained here from time to time, he finally decided to make the South his permanent home, and casting about for a permanent location, determined to adopt the profession of law. He commenced the study in the office of Judge Frederick Nash, of Hillsboro, and after a thorough course under that distinguished lawyer, was duly admitted to the bar. In 1826 Mr. Cole came to Georgia, locating in the then small town of Macon, where, in partnership with Hon. John G. Polhill (afterwards Judge of the Ocmulgee Circuit) he commenced the practice. While in Hillsboro, N.C. he had contracted marriage with Miss Susan N. Taylor, and therefore so soon as he had established himself in Georgia he returned to claim her as his wife. This good lady shared with him for many years his fortunes and reverses.
      Of the public life of Judge Cole I shall give nearly the whole space of this memoir to a communication from one who knew and loved him well.
General T. P. Smith, in Valdosta Times: 

“* * * * * He came to Georgia in 1826 or ’27 located in Macon to practice law and pursued the profession diligently for some years, when Gov. Schley appointed him to fill a vancancy on the bench of the Southern Circuit, caused by the death of Judge James Polhill. His commission bore date 13th April,1836, and not in 1833, as the Macon Telegraph erroneously stated. He took his seat on the bench at Pulaski Superior Court, third Monday in April, 1836, and continued to hold courts under his temporary appointment until the Legislature met in November ensuing.
When that body convened, the first important measure to engage its attention was the election of a Judge for the Southern Circuit. There were two candidates for the office, viz: Carleton B. Cole and Arthur A. Morgan. The writer of these lines went into the gallery of the House of Representatives to witness the election and remembers the balloting of the members and the sore disappointment of the friends of Judge Cole, who had entertained strong hopes of his election. The counting of the votes disclosed the fact that his opponent had more than doubled him. As the election of Judge Morgan was only for one year his opponents resolved to contest his election at the next session. The Legislature of 1837 convened and when the election for Judge of the Southern Circuit came up the names of Judge Morgan and Carleton B. Cole were again announced as candidates, as they had been the session before. The writer again went into the gallery of the House to witness the election and remembers the balloting of members, the counting of votes and the general rejoicing of the friends of Judge Cole when the Speaker announced his election as judge of the Southern Circuit, over his competitor. The exact vote is not remembered, but it was probably only two or three majority.

      Of the friends who worked most earnestly and uncompromisingly, and without whose assistance the election of Judge Cole must have failed at the second trial, were certain attorneys practicing in the courts over which Judge Morgan presided. It was they who arraigned Judge M. before the members of the Legislature of 1837 to undo the work of the previous session.
      Judge Cole entered at once upon the duties of his office, and presided for the term of four years and, in 1841, was re-elected over Col. Patterson, of Early – who had been a prominent man in the politics of the State. Thus it appears that he served eight years on the bench besides the temporary appointment in 1836, of Gov. Schley. At the close of his judicial career in 1845, the names of the political parties in Georgia had been changed from Union and States Rights to Whig and Democrat, and Judge Scarborough was elected by a Whig legislature to succeed him.
        Judge Cole resumed the practice of his profession and was a regular attendant on the courts of Lowndes and other counties of the Southern Circuit many years after his retirement from the Bench. Eventually the war came, slavery fell and a new constitution was ordered or required to meet the changed political condition of the State. Upon its adoption and the reorganization of the different departments, Judge Cole was tendered the judgeship of the Macon Circuit. He appeared upon the Bench and held the office for several terms. Certain members of the Bar were anxious for his reappointment and petitioned the Governor in his behalf. To this his Excellency declined to accede, but bestowed the office upon another who at present occupies the Bench of that Circuit.
       The most of Judge Cole’s judicial service was prior to the organization of the Supreme Court of Georgia, and when the legal opinions of the judge, given from the Bench, was the received and recognized law of the case. This autocratic power, it was sometimes stigmatized by counsel in their zeal for clients, caused them now and then to impeach, openly or covertly, the integrity of the presiding judge. The writer remembers our judge in Georgia who was impeached and tried before the Legislature for no other purpose, it was believed by many, than to get rid of his judicial opinions. It was this violence at the Bar engendered by a paltry judicial system, that led to the noted duel between Flournoy and Walton in 1811. The nephew espoused the cause of his uncle, Judge Walton, and lost his life. Judge Cole could not wholly escape this sort of vituperation, but met it apparently with a stoic indifference. Fortunately for the country the Supreme Court was organized in 1845, to determine questions of litigation in the last resort. The measure was not only beneficial in producing a better feeling between the judges and lawyers, but has been the ground work of vast progress and improvement in the laws of the State.
       A word concerning Judge Cole as a lawyer at the Bar, and these remarks will be brought to a close. In his day he was a popular attorney and had the management of many important causes. In his arguments before the court and jury it cannot be said that he was either eloquent or sought to stir the passions of the human heart. His strong forte was in a calm appeal to the good sense of the party addressed; in doing this he was always logical and interesting and seldom failed to command the closest attention. In his intercourse, during court, with the members of the bar, the county officers, the jurors and witnesses in attendance for the trial of causes, he was uniformly courteous and instructive; and when not engaged in the transaction of the business, he showed the sociability of his nature by mingling freely with the people, and by this means he gained their confidence and esteem.
       Judge Cole lived in Georgia nearly fifty years, and was at no time a candidate for office, except for Judge of the Superior Court. At no time was he called or known as a statesman of politician. His convictions and principles attached him warmly to the union of the States under the Federal Constitution, and in all the contests of Georgia looking to a separation of the Union, he was found true to his long cherished political sentiments.
T.P.S.
Valdosta, Ga., February 8, 1876

      Thus in the forgoing communication do we have a brief but comprehensive view of Judge Cole as a lawyer and judge, together with a mention of his political views. It remains but to be said that he left behind him a high reputation for his judicial worth and went to his grave with an untarnished name.

      It was stated in the communication quoted above, that Judge Cole was never a candidate for any position except the bench, but to this must be added, that he was sent by the people of Bibb to the Convention of 1865, an important body, which assembled immediately after the war, for the purpose of adjusting matters of State to the new order of things and providing for the people in their new and anomalous condition. Judge Cole made a useful member of this Convention, and did much toward shaping the future of Georgia. As being in a judicial line, he accepted the chairmanship of the law school of Mercer University at Macon a few years before his death. “Here,” says the memorial passed by the faculty of that institution, “his previous experience as a lecturer, his extensive practice at the bar and his long occupancy of judicial office, gave him rare and valuable qualifications for the impartation of legal instruction. So wide were the resources of his experience,and so great was the mastery of his memory over them, that he was prepared to explain and enforce every principle of the science of law with copious illustrations. Retaining, in an advance age, the freshness and verdure of the hear, he felt a deep and abiding interest in young men; and he gave to the organization of the school over which he presided, and especially to his own department – Equity Jurisprudence and Practice – warm devotion and faithful labor.”
       As explanatory of the reference in the extract given, “his previous experience as a law lecturer,” it should have been stated that in 1840, after his first retirement from the bench, he opened a law class at Midway near Milledgeville, the then site of Oglethorpe College, which he continued to teach for seven years, having a steady attendance of 25 or 30 students.
      By reference to the Court Roll in this volume it will be seen that Judge Cole presided over the Southern Circuit three different times, and over the Macon Circuit also under three successive appointments, giving him in all nearly fifteen years on the bench.
      He was tall, dignified and courteous, combining in his personthe suaviter in modo and fortiter in res.
     He led a consistent Christian life, and died an active and loved member of the Episcopal Church.
   

    I select as a fitting close to this memoir an extract from the memorial resolution of the Macon Bar:
      “In all the relations of society and home, Judge Cole was not less distinguished than as a professional and public man. Dignified and urbane in manner, he had a tender heart and affectionate disposition. As a Christian he was meek and humble as a child, relying for salvation not upon his own merits, but upon the atoning blood of his Savior and his God.
      Into the sanctity of his household we dare not intrude, but who can doubt that he was all that is lovely in a father, a husband and a master. He has left us, after filling his allotted space of more than three score years and ten, brimful of usefulness and honor, and well may we proclaim him.

      “The friend of man, the friend of truth,
       The prop of age, the guide of youth;”

and with just pride declare,

      “Few hearts like his with vigor warmed,
       Few heads with knowledge so informed.”

And knowing that of this world he made the best, and employed his talents to the advancement of his race and the glory of his Maker, we feel well assured that in another and brighter world
‘he lives in bliss.'”

Carleton Bicknell Cole
entered life enternal
Jan. 23, 1876.

Judge Johnson of Jasper, FL had Troupville Connections

David B. “DB” Johnson was born in Lowndes County in 1833.  As a young man he completed preparatory work at Troupville Academy before beginning an education in law at Benton Academy and Business College, Benton, TN.  Eventually completing his law studies under his own initiative, he became a lawyer  then a Judge of Hamilton County, FL.

David B. Johnson (1833-1921), a student of Troupville Academy, veteran of the Indian Wars and Civil War, went on to become a Judge in Hamilton County, FL. Image source: Nevan1941

David B. Johnson (1833-1921), a student of Troupville Academy, veteran of the Indian Wars and Civil War, went on to become a Judge in Hamilton County, FL. Image source: Nevan1941

David B. Johnson is represented in  the Biographical Souvenir of the States of Georgia and Florida: Containing Biographical Sketches of the Representative Public, and Many Early Settled Families in These States (1889),   and in the History of Florida: Past and Present, Historical and Biographical, Volume 2, (1929).

His father, John J.  Johnson, was an Englishman who came to America in the year 1812, when but a boy, and settled near Milledgeville, GA, where he grew up to manhood.  He moved to Appling County, Ga., and there established himself as a planter and married Elizabeth Staten (1798-1882), a [sister] of Burzille [Barzilla] Staten (1791-1846), a respectable and well-to-do Appling County planter.

About 1830, John J. Johnson and his brother-in-law, Barzilla Staten, brought their families to eastern Lowndes County, GA, settling in that part of the county which was later cut into Echols County. (Barzilla Staten served in Levi J. Knight’s company of men in the Indian Wars, and was severely wounded in 1836 during a skirmish at Cow Creek a few miles south of his home.)

Children of John J. Johnson and Elizabeth Staten:

  1. Zilpha Johnson (1820- abt 1892)
  2. Eleanor Johnson (1825-)
  3. John S. Johnson (1826-1908)
  4. Mary Johnson (1827-1903)
  5. George J. Johnson (1832-1851)
  6. David B. Johnson (1833-1821)
  7. Catherine Johnson (1837-1919)
  8. Burzille [Barzilla] Staten Johnson (1840-1864)

The sixth of these children, D. B. Johnson, is the subject of this sketch. He was born in Lowndes County, Ga., June 17, 1833. 

∫⋅∫⋅∫

…with a clear, strong mind, given a religious training that made for righteousness, he grew up to manhood’s estate under conditions which helped to make him a typical Southerner, enthusiastic, earnest, warm-hearted, broad-minded, ready to attempt to do large things in a large way, for he was cast in a generous mould.

∫⋅∫⋅∫

He attended the common schools of Lowndes County; spent one year in the academy of Troupville, Ga., and in pursuance of his father’s plans to educate him for the profession of the law, was sent to a college then at Benton, Tenn.  Before he had risen to sophomore he fell in love with miss Cyntha Honey [or Honea] , a young lady of Benton, married her, and, packing up his books, took them and his wife and returned home to tell his parents what he had done. He had just passed his eighteenth year.  The problem of life was then presented to him in a very practical shape and he set about in a business-like way to settle it. He began farming and followed it successfully for several years. He lost his wife one year after marriage -1852 – and married again six years later; his second wife was Margery P. Morgan, of Echols County, Ga. 

Johnson lived in a period when men’s souls were tried as by fire, and he rendered a remarkable service both as a soldier and patriot, first in the Florida-Indian war of 1856, and subsequently during the unhappy war between the two sections of the country, in behalf of the Confederacy.

In 1860 the opening of the war found Mr. Johnson on a farm in Hamilton County, Fla., with a wife and family and other responsibilities, but he gave them up and went into the service…

He was one of the first to enlist from Florida, joining the Confederate Army in Jasper as a member of the company organized by Captain Jenkins, which afterwards became Company B, Tenth Florida Regiment, Finnegan’s Brigade, Mahone’s Division, A. P. Hill’s Corps.

D. B. Johnson enlisted in Company C, Tenth Florida Regiment on December 3, 1861  in Liberty County, FL at Rico’s Bluff on the Apalachicola River. (His brother, Barzilla Staten Johnson, joined for service August 15, 1861 and served in the same regiment; Barzilla S. Johnson died of disease May 21, 1864. )

During his period of service he participated in many hard-fought battles, and was an ideal soldier.

He served for some time in Florida, participating in the battle of Olustee and some others of lesser note, and was subsequently ordered with his regiment to the army then in Virginia. He joined Lee above Richmond and took part in may of the hard-fought battles of the Virginia campaigns.  He was wounded in the second battle of Cold Harbor, and was disabled from service for a few months…

Among other Confederate units engaged at Cold Harbor in early June, 1864 was Company E, 50th Georgia Regiment, which included Green Bullard of Rays Mill, GA.

Johnson rejoined the command and served faithfully throughout the war, and surrendered with the fragment of Gen. R. E. Lee’s once magnificent army at Appomattox, Virginia, April 9, 1865.

At the close of the war he returned to Hamilton County, Fla., and resumed farming, which he followed up to 1872. 

… he once more took up the burden of civil life, and during the heart-breaking reconstruction days was a source of inspiration to his associates, as he had been one of courage and good cheer in camp, and of unfaltering courage on the battle field. Accepting the verdict of the war, he threw himself into the important work of bringing about a return of prosperity to his beloved state…

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He then turned his attention to the object of his life – the law – an object which had been frustrated by his youthful marriage, the war, and other hindrances.  He read privately, attended the courts and familiarized himself by observation with the rules of practice and routine of office and was admitted at Jasper, Fla., in 1879.  Since that time he was steadily engaged at the practice, eschewing politics and all other interests and pleasures.  He  reared a family of four children, three boys and one girl.  Two of his sons, John O. and Quarterman S., became successful teachers; his third son, Bartow B., graduated in law in 1888 in the University of Georgia, and became [1889] the junior partner of his father. Ida C., the youngest child, remained at home with her parents.

Children of Judge David B. Johnson

  1. John O. Johnson
  2. Quarterman S. Johnson
  3. Bartow B. Johnson
  4. Ida C. Johnson

Johnson’s ability as a lawyer was confirmed when he was raised to the bench of Hamilton County, and so efficient was he in that capacity that he was returned to the office a number of times.

 Judge David Bryan Johnson was one of the legalists and jurists of Jasper who was devoted to the welfare of the public, and represented Florida with hospitality, grace and tact in all his public acts.

In 1896, D. B. Johnson was a member of Hebron Primitive Baptist Church, Hamilton County, Florida

His life has passed away, but his memory will remain as long as Jasper has a history. He was not alone a citizen of Jasper; he was more. He was at once a fine product and a worthy representative of the best forces that have made this country what it is..

He was spared for many years of usefulness, for he lived until 1921, passing away in his eighty-seventh year. For many years he was one of the most honored members of the Jasper Camp of Confederate Veterans, and served it as commander at the time of his death.

As a judge he was singularly careful of the proprieties, patient, painstaking and courteous, kind to all appearing before him. He knew neither friends, enemies nor strangers, his dominant idea being the proper application of the law to the case in hand. He was fearless, yet cautious; gentle, but firm; and in the proper case his warm heart turned the scales of justice toward the side where Mercy sat. But however brilliant the lawyer or jurist, and however much these terms tend to obscure the man, it is, after all, the character of the man that gives color to the brilliance of either. The lofty, noble character of Judge Johnson made possible the able lawyer and jurist; yet it is not the lawyer or jurist who is revered by his former fellow citizens and family, but the man…

Judge Johnson died October 13, 1921. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery at Jasper, Hamilton County, FL.

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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. (Captain Cone was an uncle of Levi J. Knight.)  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.

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Benjamin Thomas Cook in Postbellum Berrien County

Benjamin Thomas Cook (1842-1924) Berrien County,  GA

Benjamin Thomas Cook came to Berrien County, GA after the Civil War and settled on land near Empire Church, not far distant from the grist mill Thomas M. Ray and Levi J. Knight had established on Beaver Dam Creek, a tributary of Cat Creek in southern Berrien County. Cook was a veteran who had been a prisoner of war, and came to Berrien to join others of the Cook family connection.

Benjamin Thomas Cook was born in Georgia in 1842, a son of Martha Knight and John  Cook.  His parents were married  December 5, 1841, in Wilkinson County, and Ben was  first enumerated at eight years old on his father’s farm in the  1850 census  of  the county.

1850-census-benjamin-t-cook

1850 Census enumeration of Benjamin Cook in the household of his parents, Martha Knight and John Cook, Wilkinson County, GA. https://archive.org/stream/7thcensus0067unix#page/n602/mode/1up

By the time of the 1860 census, John Cook had moved his family to Milledgeville, Baldwin County, GA.  John Cook was a miller and Benjamin Thomas Cook was employed as a “common laborer.”

"1860

Milledgeville was then capitol of the State of Georgia, also the site of the state arsenal, penitentiary, lunatic asylum, and Oglethorpe University.  Milledgeville was a bustling city, with a cosmopolitan flair.  The Cook residence was near the Milledgeville Hotel, and the neighbors of the Cooks included not only doctors, pharmacists, craftsmen, politicians and state administrators,  but also professionals such as editors and engineers from New York, fencing masters from France, merchants from many states and countries, attorneys from Scotland, watchmakers from Ireland, daguerreotype artists from Germany, and many others who simply gave their occupation as “gentleman.”

Western view of the State House and other buildings in Milledgeville. The view is from near the residence of R. M. Orme, Esg.; the State House is seen on the right; the Milledgevill and McComb's Hotels on the left. The Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, and Episcopal churches appear in the central part.

Milledgeville, GA, 1861.

Western view of the State House and other buildings in Milledgeville.
The view is from near the residence of R. M. Orme, Esg.; the State House is seen on the right; the Milledgeville and McComb’s Hotels on the left. The Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, and Episcopal churches appear in the central part. Barber, J. W., & Howe, H. (1861). Our whole country; or, The past and present of the United States, historical and descriptive. Cincinnati: H. Howe. https://books.google.com/books?id=dpzRlpLAGnwC&q

At the age of 20, Benjamin Thomas Cook was a resident of Milledgeville, Georgia, of florid complexion, dark brown hair, hazel eyes, and 5 ft, 3 3/4 inches tall. When the Civil War got underway Benjamin and his brother, Henry Cook, joined the Confederate cause. He enlisted May 1, 1862,  at Macon,  GA  with Company A, 1st Confederate Georgia Regiment, according to the Confederate Pension application he later filed. He appears in the National Park Service database of Civil War Soldiers and Sailors as a private of Company A, 1st Georgia Reserves. There were over thirty Georgia battle units incorporating the “First Georgia” title, so Benjamin’s unit service record remains unclear.

Georgia Ordinances of 1861 required that “every free white person, who shall be engaged in actual service, military or naval, of the State, and shall take an oath of his intention to continue in such service for at least three months, unless sooner discharged honorably, and, also, the oath of allegiance below prescribed.”

“That the oath of allegiance to this State shall be in the following form, to wit: ‘I do swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and true allegiance bear to the State of Georgia so long as I may continue a citizen thereof.”

Those who were residents of Georgia at the time the Ordinance of Secession was passed were implicitly no longer citizens of the United States, but citizens of the State of Georgia. After the passage of Secession, anyone who came from a Union state to reside in Georgia  was required to take the Oath of Abjuration, an explicit statement renouncing their American citizenship.

“The oath of abjuration shall be in the following form, to wit: ‘I do swear (or affirm) that I do renounce and forever abjure all allegiance and fidelity to every prince, potentate, State or sovereignity whatsover, except the State of Georgia.’

While in Confederate service, Benjamin Cook was captured at Milledgeville, GA.  The Roll of Prisoners of War at Point Lookout, MD shows he was captured November 23, 1864, and held as a POW at the federal prison there at Point  Lookout, MD. His brother, Henry Cook, was also among the POWs at Point Lookout, as were John A. Gaskins, John T. Ray, Benjamin Harmon Crum and Aaron Mattox of Berrien County, GA.

Point Lookout had been hastily constructed in 1863 to confine Confederate prisoners of war captured at Gettysburg.

At the end of August 1863, Point Lookout’s stockade held more than 1,700 Confederate soldiers.  The prison population swelled to 9,000 by the end of the year. During the summer of 1864, the prison population grew to 15,500, well more than the stockade’s designed capacity, and reached 20,000 in June 1865. Conditions for the prisoners severely worsened as the population exploded.  The military did not construct barracks or other permanent housing; instead, tents provided inadequate shelter from the sweltering summer heat and brutal winters.  Contaminated water, meager rations, malaria and typhoid fever, and exposure to the elements led to a high death rate in the camp.  Approximately 4,000 of the total 50,000 Point Lookout prisoners died while  incarcerated. National Park Service

Following the Confederate surrender, B.T. Cook swore an Oath of Allegiance to the United States, and was released from Point Lookout on June 10, 1865.

Prisoners at Point Lookout, MD taking the oath of allegiance. A group of prisoners stand in a building, with the U.S. Flag draped across the ceiling, each with his hand on a Bible. A Union officer stands at a dias administering the oath of allegiance to the Union. Image courtesy of Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society, [Digital ID, nhnycw/ae ae00007] http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ndlpcoop/nhihtml/cwnyhshome.html

Prisoners at Point Lookout, MD taking the oath of allegiance. A group of prisoners stand in a building, with the U.S. Flag draped across the ceiling, each with his hand on a Bible. A Union officer stands at a dias administering the oath of allegiance to the Union. Image courtesy of Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society, [Digital ID, nhnycw/ae ae00007] http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ndlpcoop/nhihtml/cwnyhshome.html

It appears from the Point Lookout records that B.T. Cook  was transported to Hilton Head, SC arriving on July 1, 1865.

After the War, Ben and his brother, Henry, came to Berrien  County, GA. In doing so, Ben and Henry were joining  about a dozen or so families originating from Wilkinson county who had made the move to the newly established Berrien County some ten years earlier. These included  the families of Ben’s cousins Elijah, Tabitha, 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, had also moved to Berrien around 1856, and Webb’s daughter Louisa Eliza Webb and son-in-law Moses G. Sutton came to Lowndes County (now Berrien) a few years prior.

In Berrien County on 14 December 1865, Ben married Samantha  Jane “Mantha” Taylor. Jane was the daughter of blacksmith William Jackson Taylor and his wife, Samantha Jane Rogers, originally from Marion County, SC. The marriage ceremony was performed by Jane’s brother, Thomas L. Taylor, Justice of the Peace. 1865-benjamin-thomas-cook-marriage-cert

Back from the war,  Benjamin Cook endured the conditions of Reconstruction in Berrien County, GA. “It was also a time when the entire nation, but especially the South, was forced to come to grips with the legacy of slavery and the consequences of emancipation.” -National Park Service

Congress passed the Reconstruction Act in 1867 requiring the former Confederate states to ratify the 14th Amendment,  which “defined all persons born in the United States as national citizens, who were to enjoy equality before the law.”  States were compelled to adopt new state constitutions, providing “equal protection of the laws” to all national citizens, black and white.  Southern states which continued to deny the vote to black men would lose representation in Congress.

W. H. Griffin, Jr.,  who was born during the Civil War, described the post-war perspective of ex-Confederates in Berrien County:

“Georgia had been placed under military rule, Union soldiers stood guard everywhere, indignities were piled upon the citizens of Berrien county by scalawags and carpet baggers who subjected war worn soldiers to almost brutal treatment in order to force them to take the oath of allegiance.” – The unpublished papers of W.H. Griffin Jr., (1863-1932) 

In July 28, 1866 The Albany Patriot wrote:

“Unjust and discriminating taxes are heaped upon us, and we are allowed no voice or representation in the councils of the Government. We are invited to degrade ourselves on a level with the most miserable and debauched class of people known among us.  With our oaths of allegiance staring us in the face, we are baselessly charged with disloyalty and our motives impugned.”

By 1867, white Georgia voters were required to complete the Oath of Allegiance in order to be listed in the register of qualified voters. White 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 were required to swear a new oath of allegiance to the United States in order to have their national citizenship restored and to qualify for the right to vote. Some whites who had held posts in the Confederate government or the governments of Confederate states were disqualified from having their citizenship restored through the oath of allegiance.

Like many other men of Berrien County, Benjamin Thomas Cook swore to this new Oath of Allegiance, signifying his acceptance on the written oath by making his x mark over his printed name:

I, B. T. Cook do solemnly swear in the presence of Almighty God, that I am a citizen of the State of Georgia; that I have resided in said State for 24 months next preceding this day, and now reside in the County of Berrien in said State; that I am 21 years old; that I have not been disenfranchised for participation in any rebellion or civil war against the United States, nor for felony committed against the laws of any State or the United States; that I have never been a member of any State Legislature, nor held any executive or judicial office in any state, and afterwards engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State Legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, and afterwards engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or given aid and comfort to the enemies thereof, that I will faithfully support the Constitution and obey the laws of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, encourage others so to do. So help me, God”

Benjamin Thomas Cook,1867 Oath of Allegiance, Berrien County, GA

Benjamin Thomas Cook,1867 Oath of Allegiance, Berrien County, GA

The 1870 census records show Benjamin T. Cook took up farming next door to his brother-in-law, Thomas L. Taylor, and cousin, Elijah Cook, in the 1148th Georgia Militia District. Ben owned $50 in real estate and $85 in personal property. Benjamin T. Cook was undoubtedly a cousin of Elijah Cook, although the exact relationship is not known. Like B. T. Cook, Elijah was a native of Wilkinson County, GA.

1870 Census enumeration of Benjamin T. Cook and family, 1148th Georgia Militia District, Berrien County, GA

1870 Census enumeration of Benjamin T. Cook and family, 1148th Georgia Militia District, Berrien County, GA https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0135unit#page/n437/mode/1up

Around 1874 Benjamin Thomas Cook acquired 65 acres of Berrien County land on Lot 219 in the 10th Land District. About that time, Elijah Cook let go of his land on Lot 217, and acquired Lot 198 which was just to the north.  In 1879, Benjamin T. Cook had 40 acres on lot 217, and Elijah Cook held 680 acres along Five Mile Creek,  on Lots 217 and 198.

In 1880, Benjamin and  Samantha Jane “Mantha” Cook were enumerated by L. E. Lastinger in the 1148th Georgia Militia District of Berrien County. Children in the Cook household were William (13), Fannie (11), Mary (9), Henry (5) and James (3). William and Mary attended school.  The 1880 census also recorded sickness or disability on the day of enumeration;  11-year-old Fannie Cook was enumerated as at home, suffering from “rheumatism” that left her classified in the census as “maimed, crippled, bedridden, or otherwise disabled.”

Next door to the Cooks  was the family of  Samantha’s sister, Emaline Taylor Lewis, and her husband, Joseph Lewis.  Joseph Lewis was Ben’s  cousin, a son of  Piety Cook and Nicholas Lewis. Two of the sons of Joseph Lewis and Emaline Taylor Lewis, 14-year-old Thomas Lewis and  4-year-old William Lewis, also suffered from debilitating “rheumatism.”

1880 census enumeration of Benjamin Cook, 1148 Georgia Militia District, Berrien County, GA

1880 census enumeration of Benjamin Cook, 1148 Georgia Militia District, Berrien County, GA https://archive.org/stream/10thcensusl0134unit#page/n393/mode/1up

The 1880 population census also shows that three of the children of  Ben’s cousin Elijah Cook and his wife Arinda Chandler Cook were also disabled.  These Cook daughters were Juda, Amanda, and Sarah. These girls were known locally as the “alligator children,” and apparently presented a rare, debilitating form of the genetic skin condition ichthyosis. Two of the grandchildren of Elijah Cook also suffered from ichthyosis, and Ben’s nephew Andrew Cook, son of Henry Cook, was also disabled (When Henry Cook went to prison for manslaughter in 1907, an application was submitted on behalf of Andrew to receive his father’s Indigent Soldiers pension as a dependent.)

Benjamin T. Cook in 1880 had 390 acres on Lot 215. In 1884 Benjamin gave up 160 acres on Lot 215, retaining 130 acres there.

Children of Benjamin Thomas Cook and Samantha Jane Taylor include:

  1. William Jackson “Jack” Cook – born March 13, 1867; married 1st Annie Laura Mathis (1871-1910), September 25, 1887; married 2nd, Nancy Barker; married 3rd, Carrie E. Sullivan (1878-1942); died February 1, 1951; Jack, Laura, and Carrie are buried Empire Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA.
  2. Francis “Fannie” Cook – born April 3, 1868; married Enoch “Bud” Benefield, August 18, 1887, Berrien County GA;
  3. Mary Elizabeth Cook – born December 31, 1878; married James Elijah Benefield March 24, 1891 in Berrien County, GA; died May 22, 1947; buried Poplar Springs Cemetery, Berrien County, GA
  4. Henry Cook – born abt 1875; married Fannie Giddens
  5. James Lewis Cook – born February 7, 1876; married Elizabeth Virginia “Lizzie” Duren, August 24, 1899, Berrien County, GA; died May 31, 1945; buried Pine Grove Baptist Church Cemetery, Berrien County, GA
  6. Elijah “Lige” Cook – born December 10, 1881 in Berrien County, GA; married Eva Studstill, February 9, 1905; died October 19, 1963; buried Union Hill Cemetery, Atkinson County, GA
  7. Martha Cook – born abt 1884; married Charlie S. Tucker, December 10, 1909 in Berrien County, GA; buried Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Samantha Jane “Mantha” Taylor Cook died on Thursday, June 7, 1888.  She was buried at Empire Church Cemetery, about seven miles northeast of Ray City, GA.

Grave of Samantha Jane

Grave of Samantha Jane “Mantha” Taylor Cook, first wife of Benjamin Thomas Cook. Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA. Image courtesy of Linda Ward Meadows.

Just seven weeks  after the death of Samantha Jane “Mantha” Taylor Cook, Benjamin T. Cook married his second wife, Arrilla “Sis” Stone. They were married on Thursday, July 26, 1888, in Berrien County, GA,  the bride’s name appearing on the Marriage license as “Gurila” Stone.  The marriage ceremony was performed by J.P. Patten, Notary Public. Arrilla was a daughter of Elizabeth Harris (1840-1929) and David Stone (1838-1899). The groom was 46 and the bride was 21; she was born in March of 1867. Her father, a Confederate veteran, served with the Okefenokee Rifles,  Company G, 26th Georgia Infantry and was wounded in the abdomen at the Battle of Brawner’s Farm.

1888-benjamin-thomas-cook-marriage-cert

Marriage certificate of Benjamin Cook and Arrilla Stone, July 26, 1888, Berrien County, GA

On January 29, 1898, Ben was enrolled into the Berrien County Confederate Veterans Association in Nashville, GA. Ben and Arrilla Cook appear in the 1900 Census in the 1300 Georgia Militia District of Berrien County, GA.  In their household were four children: David (7), Elizabeth (5), Nancy (2), Leonard (1).  Also living in the Cook home was Fannie Taylor; the census taker recorder her relationship to Ben as “Grandmother” but she was actually the sister of his first wife, Samantha Jane Taylor. Around their farm were the farms of their son, Lewis Cook, and  their sons-in-law,  Enoch Benefield and James Elijah Benefield.

1900 census enumeration of Benajmin T. Cook and other of the Cook family connection in Berrien County, GA

1900 census enumeration of Benajmin T. Cook and other of the Cook family connection in Berrien County, GA

In the 1910 census records Benjamin T. Cook and Arrilla Cook  appeared in the 1300 Georgia Militia District of Berrien County, GA; Arrilla was enumerated under the name “Gorilla.” Ben owned his farm, free and clear of mortgage. Ben and Arrilla were listed as parents of seven children: David (16), Elizabeth (15), Nancy 14), Leonard (10), William Harrison (8), and Celia Samantha (2).

1910 census enumeration of the families of Benajmin T. Cook, and his sons Lewis and Elijah

1910 census enumeration of the families of Benajmin T. Cook, and his sons Lewis and Elijah “Lige” Cook in Berrien County, GA https://archive.org/stream/13thcensus1910po172unit#page/n902/mode/1up

Some time between 1910 and 1920, Benjamin Cook became a widower for the second time.  Arrinda Stone Cook was buried at Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA, near the grave of Benjamin Cook’s first wife, Mantha J. Taylor Cook. The date death came for Arrinda Stone Cook is not known; the marker for her grave bears only her date of birth.

Children of Benjamin Thomas Cook and Arrinda “Sis” Stone include:

  1. David”Dave” Cook – born June 22, 1891;  married  Lou Annie Gray6/22/1891; died April 1, 1957;  buried at Empire Cemetery.
  2. Elizabeth Cook – born September 1894
  3. Nancy Cook – born October 1897; married Isaac Gray
  4. Leonard Cook – born February 1899; moved to Alabama
  5. William Harrison Cook- born September 13, 1902;  married Mineola Smith (b.3/10/1904); Died February 1, 1967. both are buried at Empire.
  6. Celia Samantha Cook- born June 5, 1907; married Eddie Gray November 11, 1922 in Berrien County (Separated and resumed her maiden name.); died December 1, 1997; buried at Empire Cemetery

By 1918, B.T. Cook was 75 years old. He deeded 30 acres of his land on Lot 309 to his son, James Lewis Cook, and four .

1918-b-t-cook-deed

Quit Claim Deed, B.T. Cook to J.L. Cook, Lot #309 in the 10th District, Georgia, Berrien County. Image courtesy of Linda Ward Meadows.

Warranty Deed, B.T. Cook to Elizabeth Cook, #308 in the 10th District, State of Georgia, Berrien County. Image courtesy of Linda Ward Meadows.

Warranty Deed, B.T. Cook to Elizabeth Cook, #308 in the 10th District, State of Georgia, Berrien County. Image courtesy of Linda Ward Meadows.

Benjamin T. Cook applied for a Confederate Veteran’s pension in  1919. His application for a pension was  accepted, and he was awarded $6.00 a month.

By 1920, Benjamin Cook was 77 years old. He was residing in the household of his son-in-law James Elijah Benefield and daughter Mary Cook Benefield. The Benefield  place was situated on the Milltown & Willacoochee Road. Elijah was engaged in general farming with the assistance of his eldest sons, Willie and Eddie Benefield. Just down the Milltown & Willacoochee Road were the farm places of William J. Cook and Elijah Cook.

1920 enumeration of Benjamin Cook, 77, in the household of his son-in-law James Elijah Cook.

1920 enumeration of Benjamin Cook, 77, in the household of his son-in-law James Elijah Cook. https://archive.org/stream/14thcensusofpopu235unit#page/n479/mode/1up

Ben  died  at  home on October 5, 1924. The certificate of death, filed in Berrien County, GA, gave his cause of death as “old age & heart trouble.”  His daughter, Mary Benefield, was the informant and R. N. Mathis was the local registrar.  There was no doctor in attendance to sign the death certificate or undertaker to handle funeral arrangements.

1924 death certificate of Benjamin Thomas Cook, Berrien County, GA

1924 death certificate of Benjamin Thomas Cook, Berrien County, GA

Family members who remember Ben recall a man with a temper, who  enjoyed family get-togethers, such as barbecues. He  was  a man who walked with a limp, which was the result of his breaking his  leg when he fell from a barn roof. He rebroke it before  it healed, thus the limp.

Ben  died  at  his home in the 10th district  of  the  newly formed  Lanier County sometime in the early part of 1924.  He  is buried  between his two wives at Empire Cemetery. His home  still stands  as a reminder of the industrious man who came to  Berrien County  and carved a home for himself and his large family  after the Civil War.

Grave of Benjamin Thomas Cook, Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA. Image courtesy of Linda Ward Meadows.

Grave of Benjamin Thomas Cook, Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA. Image courtesy of Linda Ward Meadows.

Special thanks to Linda Ward Meadows for contributions of content and images to this article, and for the following selected sources : Tombstones Empire Cemetery; GA Census records 1850  Wilkinson, Co., 1860 Baldwin Co., 1870-1910 Berrien  Co.; Interviews with Grandchildren of Ben & Jane Cook; Pension Records from GA  Archives; Berrien Co. and Wilkinson Co.  marriage  records; Interview with Celia Samantha Cook and her  sister-in-law, Mineola  Smith  Cook, at their home on  10/13/1990;  Cook  family Bibles. Mineola  Smith Cook and Celia Samantha Cook went to  the Berrien County, GA nursing home shortly after my visit with them in 1990. Both are deceased; GA Death Certificate Berrien Co, GA.: Linda Ward Meadows is a great-great granddaughter of Benjamin  Thomas Cook and Samantha Jane Taylor Cook. (9088  Val-Del  Road, Adel, GA, 31620. Ph 912-896-3591) lmeadowsz4@windstream.net

Rosie Lee Owens

Rosie Lee Owens

While many young women and men of Ray City attended local institutions, Georgia State Womens College or Emory College in Valdosta, or other educational opportunities of the Wiregrass, Doris Mobley and Rosie Lee Owens attended Georgia State College for Women, in Milledgeville, Georgia.

Rosie Lee Owens, of Ray City, GA, entered GSCW in the fall of 1945.

Rosie Lee Owens, 1946 Freshman at Georgia State College for Women

Rosie Lee Owens, 1946 Freshman at Georgia State College for Women

Students in front of the GSWC Administration Building, 1946

Students in front of the GSCW Administration Building, 1946

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Terrell Hall, Georgia State College for Women.  As a freshman, Rosie Lee Owens most likely was a resident of the Terrell Hall dormitory.

Terrell Hall, Georgia State College for Women. As a freshman, Rosie Lee Owens most likely was a resident of the Terrell Hall dormitory.

Rosie Lee Owens, of Ray City. 1947 Georgia State College for Women, Milledgeville Georgia.

Rosie Lee Owens, of Ray City. 1947 Georgia State College for Women, Milledgeville Georgia.

 

The girls in Mansion Annex live next door to a reminder of our heritage from the past.  Mrs. Smith presides over this dormitory and the officers are L. Johns, F. Bradley, and R.L. Owens.

In 1947, Rosie Lee Owens was residing in the Mansion Annex dormitory at Georgia State College for Women (now Georgia College),  next door to the former Governor’s Mansion in Milledgeville, GA. Mrs. Smith presided over this dormitory and the officers were L. Johns,  Frances Bradley, and Rosie Lee Owens.

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Grand Jurors of 1845, Lowndes County, GA

In June of 1845, The Grand Jury of Lowndes County, Georgia convened at Troupville, GA. The reader will bear in mind that in 1845, Lowndes encompassed all of present day Berrien, Cook, Brooks, Lanier, and parts of Tift, Colquitt, and Echols counties, as well.  So the citizens on this 1845 grand jury were the friends and neighbors of  the Knights, Giddens, Sirmans, and others who settled around present day Ray City, GA.

It had been 20 years since Judge Holt had convened the first Lowndes Superior court in 1825 at the home of Sion Hall on the Coffee Road. In the intervening years, not one, but three Courthouses had been built. The first courthouse was at Franklinville, but after a few years the county seat was moved to Lowndesville, and then to Troupville, in the fork of the Withlacoochee and Little rivers. The 1845 Court may have been conducted with a bit decorum, than the original. Then again, it may not have been. Troupville was said to be a wicked place, with horse racing & other gambling, drinking, games and amusements.

Judge Carlton B. Cole presided at the 1845 court session, and Duncan Smith served as clerk of the Court.

The jurors were Samuel E. Swilley, John W. Spain, John Carter, Sr., Enoch Hall, Matthew M. Deas, James Wade, Jesse Hunter, Mathew Young, James McMullen, John McMullen, James Sowell, A. S. Smith, William H. Devane, Sampson G. Williams, William Folsom, Thomas B. Griffin, David Matthis, Ezekiel W. Parrish, Dennis Wetherington, Joshua Limeberger, and Henry Strickland, with Robert Micklejohn serving as foreman of the Jury.

Robert Micklejohn (1799-1865)
Robert Micklejohn was born July 2, 1799 in Louisville, GA, which was named in honor of King Louis XVI and was then serving as the State Capitol of Georgia. At the age of five, he moved with his parents, George Micklejohn and Elizabeth Tanner,to Milledgeville, GA which became the state capitol in 1806. He married Mary Jane Sowell on September 3, 1823 in Milledgeville, GA. In 1830-31, he served as Tax Collector of Baldwin County. He came to Lowndes County about 1845 where he entered into a partnership with Richard Allen, Robert Prine, and his brother-in-law James Sowell. Invoices in probate records indicate Robert Micklejohn also worked for Captain Samuel E. Swilley as a tutor and clerk. By 1850  he returned to Milledgeville, where he served as clerk of the City Council and as a Justice of the Peace. Robert Micklejohn died on his 66th birthday, July 2, 1865. His grave is at Memorial Hill Cemetery, Milledgeville, GA.

Captain Samuel E. Swilley (1793-1846)
Captain Samuel E. Swilley was a military leader in the late 1830s conflicts with Native Americans. His company of men fought in the Battle of Brushy Creek, actions at the Little River and at Grand Bay, August, 1836, and led the Skirmish at Troublesome Ford.  Samuel Swilley came from Appling County to Lowndes in 1827, bringing  his wife and children  to settle about 23 miles south of the Lowndes county seat at Franklinville.  He established a large plantation  on Hammock Lake near present day Lake Park, GA, where he constructed a substantial log house on the edge of the woods and log cabins for his slaves in the midst of his corn fields. He built a water-powered mill  with a grist mill, cotton gin and sawmill.  In all, his land holdings in Lowndes county consisted of more than 5000 acres. He was a member of the Democratic Republican Party of Lowndes County.  Just a year after serving on the Grand Jury, in the fall and winter of 1846, a deadly fever struck the Swilley household taking the lives of  Mr. Swilley, his wife and most of their children. For years thereafter, it was referred to as the Swilley Fever.

David Mathis (1802-1875)
David Mathis was a Whig and a strong supporter of state’s rights. He was among the Pioneers of Old Lowndes Toast[ing] State Rights and American Independence at the Fourth of July 1835 Jubilee at Troupville, GA. In 1836, he served in Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company in  the Last Indian Fight in Berrien County.   “David Mathis, oldest son of John Mathis, was born in North Carolina in 1802, and was brought as an infant by his parents to Bulloch County, Georgia. He was married in 1822 to Miss Sarah Monk, born 1801 in Bulloch County a daughter of William and Jerushia Monk. David Mathis brought his family to what was then Lowndes County in the winter of 1825-1826, and settled on lot 102, 9th district. This is one mile east of the present village of Cecil, Cook County. In January 1826, he built his log home, a sturdy and comfortable home that he occupied until his death about fifty years later. This home was on the Coffee Road, main thoroughfare of travel in those days from middle Georgia into southwest Georgia and Florida. It was a stagecoach stop where the horses were rested. Many people in those pioneer days enjoyed the hospitality of the Mathis home.  Mr. Mathis was ensign of the militia in the 658th district, 1828-1840, and Justice of Peace, same district, 1829-1834. In the Indian Wars of 1836, he provided forage for the Volunteers of Hamilton W. Sharpe’s Company. He served as Justice of Berrien Inferior Court, 1861-1862. Mr. Mathis was a member of Pleasant Primitive Baptist Church into which he was baptized about 1840, but later transferred his membership to Salem Church which is now in the City of Adel. His wife was a member also. He died about 1875 and his wife died soon after. They were buried at Pleasant Church.”

John Carter, Sr. (1794-1880)
According to descendants “John Carter was born in Colleton District, South Carolina in 1794. John usually signed his name as John Carter, Sr., to distinguish himself from his first cousin John Carter. He was a son of Elijah Carter. He was married in Colleton about 1825 and his wife Lavinia, born 1799 in South Carolina. Her maiden name is unknown. Mr. Carter removed from his old home in South Carolina, near Little Salkehatchie River to Lowndes County, GA, in 1830.  Mr. Carter was a First Lieutenant in the militia in the 661st district of Lowndes County, 1832-33 and served again in the same company between 1835-39. He served an enlistment as a private under Capt. Samuel E. Swilley in the 2nd Regiment, 2nd Brigade of the Florida Mounted Volunteers, June 16th to Dececember 16th, 1837, in the 2nd Florida Indian War. It was noted he entered into this enlistment with 1 black horse. He was Honorably Discharged from Ft Gilleland on December 18. He enrolled at Ft Palmetto in [Levy County, Florida].  John Carter, Sr., was baptized into the membership of Union Primitive Baptist Church; August 9, 1840; and the next year, on June 9, 1841, was dismissed by letter with others, to join in the constituting of Antioch Church which was nearer his home. He became a charter member of Antioch and continued as a member there for some years, as did his wife.  Their home was cut out of Lowndes into Echols County in 1858.”

Matthew M. Deas (1794-1873)
“Matthew M. Dees, an early prominent citizen of Lowndes County, was born in South Carolina, in 1794, and was a son of John Dees, R. S., and his wife, Mary. The parents moved with their children to Tattnall County, Ga., at an early date, and it was there that the subject grew to manhood and married. His first wife by whom his children were born, was Jane Strickland, born 1795 in N. C. daughter, of Lewis and Martha Grantham Strickland, a pioneer Tattnall County family. In 1829, Matthew M. Dees removed from Tattnall County to Madison County, FL, and settled near the Georgia line, thence he moved to Lowndes County about the time the Indian War began, and he acquired lands in the present Clyattville district of Lowndes County. He served as Major of the 138th Battalion, Lowndes County militia, 1838-1841. About 1845 he moved to the Bellville section of Hamilton County, Fla., only a few miles from his former Georgia home, and lived there until his death about 1872. He served as County Commissioner of Hamilton County, 1849-1851, and as a Justice of Peace there, 1863-65. The first wife died in 1851, in Hamilton County, and Mr. Dees was married to Rebecca Downing, Jan, 9, 1853, in Hamilton County. She was born 1802 in South Carolina. She survived her husband several years. He is listed in the 1850 Census for Hamilton County, FL (56 years old) Maj. Dees died intestate in Hamilton Co. Fla., November, 1873”

Matthew Young
Matthew Young was among the prosperous planters living near Troupville, GA and making that town their trading headquarters. The 1850 agricultural census of Lowndes County shows Matthew Young owned 3040 acres of land, 300 acres of which were improved. He had $440 worth of farm equipment and machinery, five horses, a mule, 30 milk cows, two oxen, 70 other cattle, 75 sheep and 100 hogs. His crib was stocked with 800 bushels of Indian corn,  400 bushels of sweet potatoes, and 25 lbs of butter. He had 28 bales of ginned cotton at 400 lbs each, and 150 lbs of wool.

A.S. Smith
A.S. Smith was a Storekeeper at Troupville, GA.

Sampson G. Williams (1808-1896)
Sampson G. Williams lived in McCraney’s District, Lowndes County. was one of the fortunate drawers in the 1832 Cherokee Land lottery.  He was born January 31, 1809, a son of James Williams, Revolutionary Soldier, and Elizabeth Holleway.  Sampson Griffin Williams married Elizabeth McCranie, daughter of Daniel “Big Thumb” McCranie, on March 10, 1831 in Lowndes, later Berrien, and now Cook County. His place was 490 acres on Land lot 323, 9th District.  S. G. Williams served in Hamilton W. Sharpe’s company in the Indian Wars of 1836, and later was elected Senator in the Georgia Assembly.

Thomas B. Griffin (1816-1877)
Thomas Butler Griffin was born 1816 in Montgomery Co, GA, and lived in Old Troupville in Lowndes County, GA. He  was a wealthy merchant and planter, a member of the Lowndes County Democratic Party. He, along with Andrew J. Clyatt,  Duncan Smith, and John W. Spain, represented Lowndes County at the May 3, 1841 Convention of Democratic Young Men of Georgia, in Milledgeville, GA.     In a meeting at Swain’s Inn at Troupville, Thomas B. Griffin, was selected delegates to the Convention in Milledgeville to nominate a Governor of the Democratic party.  In 1843, He married Jane Moore, daughter of Jesse Moore and Rebecca Studstill. She was born 1827 in Bullock Coounty, GA, and died April 13, 1892 in Lowndes County.  Thomas B. Griffin, was the Sheriff of Lowndes county 1846-1848.  In 1860 Thomas B. Griffin was enumerated as the owner of 12 slaves. He moved from Troupville to the new town of Valdosta when it was formed,  and according to the Valdosta Historic Downtown Visitor’s Guide,  owned the first store in Valdosta, located at Patterson and Hill Avenue. Thomas B. Griffin was elected State Senator for the period of 1861-1863. In 1868, his son, Iverson Lamar Griffin, was allegedly involved in the bombing of a gathering of Freedmen attending a political speech. In 1873, he was one of the incorporators on the Valdosta and Fort Valley Railroad. Thomas B. Griffin died January 20, 1877 in Lowndes Co, GA.

Ezekiel W. Parrish (1818-1887)
Ezekiel W. Parrish, born February 16, 1818, in Bulloch county, Georgia, son of Henry Parrish and father of Ansel A. Parrish, was very young when his parents removed to southern Georgia and after his father’s death he remained with his mother until his marriage, when he bought land one mile from where is now located the town of Cecil and there engaged in farming and stock-raising. In 1864 he sold his farm and received its value in Confederate money, which he still held when the war closed, but fortunately he had retained about seventeen hundred acres east of Hahira in Lowndes county. He settled on the latter estate, erected the necessary buildings and made it his home until his death on September 1, 1887. Martha C. (Wootten) Parrish, his wife, born in Taliaferro county, Georgia, had preceded him in death, her demise having occurred in June, 1871. She was a daughter of Redden Wootten and wife, the latter of whom was a Miss Bird before her marriage.

Joshua Lymburger (1809-1848)
Joshua Lymburger or Limeberger came from Effingham to Lowndes county,GA  some time before 1834 and settled with his wife in Captain Dees’ district. He was a son of Israel Christian  Limeberger and Mary Catherine Schneider. Joshua Limeberger married Salome Schrimp on January 10, 1830 in Effingham County, GA.   In 1834, he owned 490 acres in Irwin county and was the agent of record for 2027 acres in Houston county under his father’s name. By 1848  he owned two lots of land [980 acres MOL]  in Lowndes County. Joshua Limeberger died May 13, 1848 in Lowndes County, GA.  His grave is at Forest Grove Cemetery, Clyattville, GA.

John W. Spain (1818-1870)
John William Spain, born December 4, 1818, a son of Levi Spain and Rachel Inman Spain. His father  died while John was a minor.  According to an article by Nancy Young Schmoe, John William Spain and widowed mother Rachel Inman Spain, came about 1826 to the section of Lowndes County now known as Kinderlou. “They came from the Carolinas and were of Welsh descent. John William then bought twenty five thousand acres of land on both sides of the Withlacoochee River, and soon moved with his family across the river and built a home known as Forest Hill,” on a bluff overlooking the Withlacoochee about six miles southeast of  present day Quitman, GA. “The road running beside the house was an old stage coach road that came out of Lowndes County into Brooks, crossing the Withlacoochee at a place known as ‘Spain’s Crossing,’ where a ferry boat plied the river for many years.”  His mother married on March 26, 1826 to Major Frances Jones, a wealthy planter who built one of the earliest plantation mansions of Lowndes county, known today as Eudora Plantation (in present day Brooks County).  As an orphan, John William Spain, received a draw in the Cherokee Land Lottery of 1832,  drawing Lot 127, 11th Dist., 2nd Sect., Gilmer County. John William Spain married Elizabeth Young (1822-1885). John W. Spain was a member of the Democratic Republican Party. He was elected as the Lowndes county representative to the state legislature for the 1841-1843 term. John W. Spain, along with Andrew J. Clyatt,  Duncan Smith, and Thomas B. Griffin, represented Lowndes County at the May 3, 1841 Convention of Democratic Young Men of Georgia, in Milledgeville, GA. In 1844, the Georgia Legislature passed an act “to establish John W. Spain’s bridge across the Withlacoochee river, on his own land, in the 12th district of Lowndes county, and rate the ferriage for the same.” In the 1850s he served as postmaster of the post office at Piscola, Lowndes, County, GA.  Among his properties, Spain owned Lot #10 of the 15th district, in Brooks County. In 1859, he served as a Brooks County Road Commissioner. At the onset of the Civil War, he provided $2000 to equip the Brooks Rifles militia company with rifles.  Applied for and received a presidential pardon from President Andrew Johnson for acts of Rebellion, August 28, 1865. Died November 7, 1870; grave at West End Cemetery, Quitman, GA.

Enoch Hall (1804-1886)
Enoch Hall, a Lowndes county pioneer and son of Sion Hall and Mrs. Bridget “Beady” Hall, was an overseer in the laying out of the Coffee Road, and settled with his father near present day Morven, GA, about 1823 shortly after the opening of the road. Justice of the Lowndes County Inferior Court, 1832-37. Served as Lt. Colonel, Lowndes County, 81st Regiment, Georgia Militia, under Colonel Henry Blair. Enoch Hall led, as a Major, a company of men in Actions at the Little River and at Grand Bay, August, 1836  Together with his father, Sion Hall, the Halls held 2,680 acres of pine lands in the 12th Land District of Lowndes County, 1220 acres in Cherokee County, 2027 acres in Lee County, 2027 acres in Carroll County and 4054 acres in Randolph County, GA. Died September 2, 1886; grave at Hall Cemetery, Morven, GA.

James Wade 
James Wade, Soldier, McCraney’s, Lowndes County, GA was one of the lucky drawers in the 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery. He served on the May 1933 term of the Lowndes County Grand Jury.  He was one of the Commissioners appointed by the Georgia legislature in 1834 “to contract for and cause to be built in the county of Lowndes a suitable Court-house and Jail.”

Jesse Hunter (1811-1871)
Jesse W. Hunter was born about 1811 in Georgia, a son of Abraham Hunter and Ann Rushing. According to the History of Brooks County, he came to Lowndes County  about 1823,  shortly after the opening of the Coffee Road, with his mother and father, who settled in the fork of the Okapilco and Mule Creeks. The 1844 Lowndes County Tax Digest shows Jesse W. Hunter owned 301 acres of pine lands in Lowndes County and 360 acres of hardwood in Cherokee County. His Lowndes county home was cut into Brooks county when it was formed in 1858.  During the Civil War, he was drafted into Company F, 5th Georgia Regiment, but petitioned Governor Brown for a discharge on account of age and infirmity. Jesse W. Hunter died August 16, 1871. The grave of Jesse W. Hunter, and the grave of his wife Elizabeth are at Union Church Cemetery (aka Burnt Church), near Lakeland, GA.

James Sowell
James Sowell was a brother-in-law of Robert Micklejohn, who served as foreman of the 1845 Grand Jury of Lowndes County.  He was born 1801 in Bertie  North Carolina, a son of Ezekiel Sowell and Ann Layton. He came with his family to Georgia some time before 1823, and on December 8, 1826 James Sowell married Milly Rape in Henry County, GA.  James Sowell, Hood’s District, Henry County was a lucky drawer in the 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery, drawing lot number 159 in the Tenth District,Third Section of the Cherokee Country.  Tax digests show that James Sowell had arrived in Lowndes County, GA by 1844, settling in Captain Samuel E. Swilley’s District.  The 1850 census shows James and Milly in Lowndes County with their nine children. Some time before 1860, James Sowell moved his family to Florida where they were enumerated in Hamilton County.

James McMullen (1806-1865)
According to A History of Savannah and South Georgia, Vol 2, “James McMullen  was born and reared in Georgia. His father was one of the earlier settlers of Georgia, having located in Thomas county while that section of the country was in its pristine wilderness. He was of thrifty Scotch ancestry and a man of sterling integrity.  James McMullen was trained to habits of industry and early showed natural ability as a mechanic.  Although he never learned a trade, he became an expert with tools, and could do general blacksmithing, or  make either a barrel or a wagon. After his marriage he lived for a while in Thomas county, from there  removing to that part of Lowndes county that is now a part of Brooks county. Purchasing land in the Hickory Head district, he was there a resident until his death at the age of sixty years. He married Harriet Rountree, who was born in Lowndes county, where her father, a pioneer settler, was murdered by negroes while taking the produce of his farm to one of the marketing points in Florida, either Tallahassee or Newport. She too died at the age of three score  years…In his political affiliation James McMullen was a Whig, and long before there were any railroads in Georgia he served as a representative to the state legislature.”  His daughter, Martha McMullen, married Edward Marion Henderson, who died of wounds after the 1836 Battle of Brushy Creek. In 1859, James McMullen served as a Brooks County Road Commissioner. Died December 6, 1865; grave at James McMullen Cemetery, Brooks County, GA.

John McMullen (1808-1868)
According to the 1913 text Georgia’s Landmarks, Memorials, and Legends, “John and James McMullen, brothers, were among the earliest pioneers to enter the pine solitudes of this section [present day Brooks County] of Georgia…”   John married Nancy Rountree and James married  Harriet Rountree, daughters of Francis Rountree, of Lowndes County, GA. In 1859, John McMullen served as foreman of the first Grand Jury in Brooks County.

William H. Devane (1817-1869)
William H. Devane was a farmer in the 53rd Division of Lowndes County, GA. He came with his parents to Lowndes County as a boy around 1828. His father, Benjamin Devane,  was a veteran of the War of 1812, and served in the Indian Wars in Florida and Georgia; In 1838, Benjamin Devane served as a private in Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company.  William H. Devane married his first cousin, Margaret A.Rogers, about 1841.  In 1859, he served as a Brooks County Road Commissioner. At the onset of the Civil War,  William H. Devane sought to raise a company of Brooks County volunteers, but ended up enlisted in Company E, Georgia 1st Infantry Regiment.

David McCall (1802-1881)
David McCall, Jr, was born in 1802,  a son of David McCall and Frances “Fannie” Fletcher. He married Eleanor Johnson on  July 20, 1825 in Tatnall County, GA; she was born in 1810. In 1835 they made their home in Appling County, GA.  Some time before 1844, they relocated to Lowndes County, Georgia.  He was later a hotel keeper in Valdosta, GA.

William Folsom
William Folsom was the uncle of Penneywell Folsom, who fell at Brushy Creek in the Indian Wars of 1836. The Folsom place was located near the Coffee Road, and about a mile and a half further west is where the road crossed the Little River. “The Folsom bridge, a noted crossing place, spans the [Little] river here.”  The Folsoms had built a small fort against Indian attacks, and it was from this fort that the Lowndes county pioneers marched to the encounter at Brushy Creek.  In 1837,  William Folsom served on the commission appointed to select a new site for the Lowndes county seat of government;  a location at the junction of the Withlacoochee and Little Rivers was chosen, and Troupville became the county site.

Dennis Wetherington (1807-1885)
Dennis Wetherington, an early settler of Lowndes County, was born in South Carolina, October 1, 1807, a son of Peter Wetherington.  He moved to Lowndes County with his parents between 1825 and 1830. In 1831, he first married Sarah Carter, a daughter of Captain Jesse Carter and Mary “Molsy” Touchton. The couple settled on a farm in the present day Naylor District. Dennis Wetherington was baptized into the membership of Union Church, February 11, 1832, and was dismissed by letter to join in constituting Unity Church nearer his home, about 1842. Molsy Carter Wetherington died about 1850. After her death, Mr. Wetherington married 2) Rebecca Roberts, daughter of John C. Roberts, who lived on Cow Creek. Upon Rebecca’s death, he married her sister, Elizabeth Roberts. This according to Folks Huxford.

Henry Strickland (1794-1866)
Henry Strickland was born in 1794 in Georgia.  He married Sarah Lanier November 6, 1820 in Effingham County, GA. He moved his family to Lowndes County about 1831 and settled in Captain Caswell’s District.  The 1834 Lowndes County tax digest shows he owned 930 acres in Lowndes County, 400 acres in Effingham County, 490 acres in Appling, 490 acres in Thomas County, 250 acres in Baker county, 2027 acres in Lee County, and 2027 acres in Meriwether County. Henry Strickland was Justice of Lowndes Inferior Court from 1833 to 1837 and again from 1857 to 1859;  December 23, 1835 appointed commissioner to select the site of the Lowndes County courthouse and jail; Major of the 138th Battalion, Georgia Militia, 1836 to 1838 – participated in actions at the Little River; December 22, 1837, appointed to the board of trustees for the proposed Lowndes County Academy at Troupville; Primitive Baptist; affiliated with Friendship Church along with wife, Sarah, soon after moving to Lowndes County;  membership received by letter in March, 1846 at Old Antioch Church, now in Echols county,  elected church clerk;  died 1866.