The Old Log Church

Montgomery Morgan Folsom was a grandson of Randal Folsom and great grandson of Lawrence Armstrong Folsom, one of the pioneer settlers of Old Lowndes County, GA. On his mother’s side he was a grandson of Sarah Wooten and Morgan G. Swain, early residents of Troupville, GA.

Folsom was, according to his obituary, among the best known and most versatile newspaper men in the South. He wrote prolifically and his stories and poetry were widely published. He wrote about his childhood memories and tales heard from his elders about pioneer days along  Withlacoochee RiverTroupvilleCoffee Road, the formation of Lowndes County,  the Battle of Brushy Creek, fire hunts, and early Wiregrass Methodists.  His grandfather, Randall Folsom, was a leading member of the Methodist church.

In his book, Scraps of Songs and Southern Scenes,  Montgomery M. Folsom recalls his grandfather as larger than life. His details, if not an actual historical portrait, paint the church life of early Methodist pioneers. The piece, “Malachi,” describes a Methodist church which is not identified.  If it is Salem Church, it must be the original structure and not the church built in 1856 on the Coffee Road.  The church in Malachi matches the description of old Salem Church Folsom gave in 1885 “Long time ago there was another Salem, built of logs, clap-boards and puncheons.”  For Montgomery to have ever attended a service in the old log church means it must have stood for some years after 1857, the year of his birth, and saw at least occasional use, perhaps on special observances such as the love feast.

 

MALACHI

Ah, the old log church!

With its long roof of clapboards, and the swag in the middle where the back bone had weakened, and the broad, shutterless door, and the puncheon steps in front.

Then the side door where the women went in, and the window at the back of the pulpit. And the rows of benches running crosswise, and down next to the pulpit, either side, rows of benches that ran lengthwise.

These were for the old folks – mothers and fathers in Israel – and the old women sat on one side and the old men on the other.

The Amen corner. Grandpa had his seat up there, and he wore the old bench slick sitting there listening to the sound of the gospel and raising the hymns.

The old man – sacred be his memory – owned much cattle. He pastured his flocks and herds from the Ocmulgee to the Flint, and from Stono, where the devil dropped his shot gourd; and old Pindertown, on the north, to the black swamps of the Okeefenokee, and the pimple hills of Ocopilco on the South.

He hunted his cattle over an area as big as the German Empire.

He carried a whip that you could hear a mile, and when he hollered “cow holler,” the echoes reverberated from the pine clad ridge and the banks of reedy river, till you would have thought it was a regiment of whangdoodles sounding the charge.

Grandpa was very religious. He used to get formidably happy, and when he shouted he shook the walls of the old log house like Joshua and his ram-shorns on the plains of Jericho.

And he could talk at love-feast till the tears would trickle down the cheeks of the brethren like the summer rain on the furrowed brow of Signal Mountain.

When he prayed I always thought the good Lord paid some attention to him, for the old man meant every word he said, and he spoke out loud, and if he wanted rain he just asked for it.

Some of the rest of them I was a little doubtful about; but I knew the good Lord was obliged to hear Grandpa.

I can see him now, raise himself, clear up his throat, and as the preacher finished “lining out” the hymn, the old man’s broad chest would expand, a new light would come into that keen grey eye that was as sharp as an eagle’s ; and —

” All hail the power of Jesus’ name,
Let Angels prostrate fall.”

Another pause while the next two lines were read and like the rich throb of some great organ —

” Bring forth the royal diadem

And crown Him Lo-o-rd of All —
Bring forth the roy-al di-a-dem

And crow-n H-im Lo-o-rd of All ! “

Weaker voices swelled the grand old anthem of triumph, but Grandpa’s voice led all the rest.

It was like the deep rich roll of summer thunder, accompanied by the rythmic patter of the falling rain.

I just knew then, and I have no doubt to this day, that angels gazed over the walls of paradise and chanted a joyous refrain.

I was a little Catholic. Too young to know much about it, and I looked upon Grandpa as my father in God.

And my confidence was not misplaced.

This very night, somewhere beyond the twinkling stars of heaven, the old man is wandering among perennial pastures and by streams that never go dry. And his great big heart is throbbing with calm contentment, and his great big voice is leading some choir of angel voices in that same old song —

“And crown Him Lord of all ! “

One time, howbeit, the old man got me into a predicament.

It was one Sunday, when they had love-feast. Those wiregrass Methodists had real feasts of love in those days, when they laid aside the bickerings and cares and the fretfulness of earth, and gathered themselves to worship the God of love.

And the sun shone on leafy trees, and the winds were sweet and low as they sang softly among the pines. Wild birds flitted from wind-swayed bough to blooming thicket, and at the foot of the hill the streamlet crooned among the pebbles.

Far away in the golden deeps of the summer heavens cloud-ships lay at anchor, soon to hoist sail for the land of dreams.

One by one the elder members arose and told their experiences, and, good souls, magnified the few small sins their simple lives had known into black and bitter wrongs against their God.

Grandpa sat with his hands on the back of the bench in front of him, and listened with deepest interest to all that was said, now smiling gladly with one whose face beamed with the gladness of hope; now brushing off a tear in sympathy with some one whose anguish of spirit wrung scalding tears from a burning heart.

I grew drowsy.” I had committed but few sins. Stole a few watermelons, perhaps ; or caused Ponchartrain to kill the tabby cat’s kitten ; or broke up a bluebird’s nest ; or told a story about going in swimming. But they were sins too small for God or Grandpa either to mind much.

I sat on a crosswise bench where I could watch Grandpa and keep my eye on the preacher, all at the same time. Besides, I wanted to swap knives with Charlie Remington as soon as they all got through, and the love-feast was of only secondary interest to me.

Grandpa’s time came.

I was watching a jaybird in an oak tree outside, and my eyes were trying to make me believe there were two jaybirds, when I knew there was but one.

The old man arose, and resting his hands on the back of the bench, he gazed away off in the distance for a moment, and then cleared his throat.

“A-hem!”

He took the big red handkerchief from his hat by his side, wiped his ruddy face, and another —

“A-hem!”

Then he began deliberately —

“Well, bretherin, I feel that we aire all sinful creatures in the sight of God. The Scripter saith : ‘He that saith he liveth and sinneth not is a liar, and the truth aint in ‘im ! ‘

“But I don’t b’lieve in puttin’ too much distress on our sins and shortcomin’s. We’re bad enough without that.

“Let us be of good cheer, and not be cast down. Our Saviour tells us that He will send a Comforter, and ‘if I go not, the Comforter will not come.’ I am mighty well satisfied to take His word in all these matters.

“He has gone to prepare us a home, but He has not left us hopeless. That is the beauty of religion.

“And I want to tell you a source of great comfort to me.

You know for sev’ral weeks I’ve been a-ridin’ in the woods and I ain’t had much time to attend to my duties like I ort to, but I’ve kept my Bible with me, and I’ve been a readin’ at odd chances.

“And I want to tell you a little book that I’ve came acrost in the Bible that has done me more good than a little. And I want you all to read it keerfully. It’s a little book away over in the back of the Old Testyment, and you mought miss it unless you looked close.

“Mind what I tell you, now, and ‘tend to this right away. Fust thing when you go home, do you hunt it up and read it keerfully.

“Away out yander in them lonesome woods” — and one rough, brown hand was raised in the direction of the forest — “that little book has be’n a comforter to me.

“It is the little book of Malachi!”

Bang !

The fist came down on the back of the seat; I started from my doze, the jaybird flitted away, several old men groaned, and several old women said “Bless the Lord!”

The old man sat down.

“Malachi, Malachi, Malachi.”

The name seemed imbedded in my memory like a bullet in a tree.

“Malachi.”

All the day it haunted me, and at night I awoke from a dream and muttered, “Malachi!”

Next day I kept thinking over it, and it bothered me.

“Malachi.”

I would look it up. Grandpa said it was good to read and Grandpa knew. So I would make a still hunt for Malachi.

I found it, just as he said, and I read it over and over — skipped the hard names and spelled out the long words.

But to save my life I never was able to discover anything of special interest in Malachi. I found it very short, and I decided that was why he found it so comfortable. He could read it while his horse was eating, and be done with it.

And although I reverence the very wild vines that clamber over his crumbling tomb, and cherish every memory of the good man that is gone, I am still puzzled about Malachi.

Perhaps

If I should live to be
The last leaf on the tree

In the spring, I might find that comforter which the old man found in reading Malachi.

 

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In Salem Church

Salem Methodist Church

Salem Church, Lowndes County, GA circa 1866

Salem Church, Lowndes County, GA circa 1866

Salem Church is among the earliest Methodist churches in this section. The church would have been on the Troupville Circuit ridden by Reverend Peurifoy, a Methodist circuit rider of Wiregrass Georgia. Other Methodist churches on the circuit included Troupville, established about 1832, Oak Grove Church, Concord Church, and Bethlehem Church. Pre-dating any of these churches was the annual Methodist revival held at the old Lowndes Camp Ground, later called the Mount Zion Camp Ground. The earliest Methodist church in Ray City was organized in 1910.

About Salem Church

“The exact year this church was organized is unknown but it is believed that the original church building was a small log structure constructed near a spring fed branch behind the present 110-year-old home place of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Folsom. The existing Salem UMC was built on its new location in 1856, on land that was deeded by Eli Driver Webb. The first trustees were Randall Folsom, Joseph T. Webb, William Varn, William D. Smith and Berry J. Folsom. It is believed that the first pastor of Salem was either Rev. Joseph T. Webb or Rev. Hamilton W. Sharpe, both local Methodist preachers of that era. Many of the citizens of the community attended school in a one-room school across the street from the church and, when needed, the church was also used for classroom space.”  – South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church

Salem Church was attended by slave owners and slaves, as well. The church kept two graveyards, a white cemetery and an  African-American cemetery. There is still a distinct line between the two cemeteries, one with unmarked graves, the other with neat white headstones and plush grass.  Laying in the marked graves are many of the Folsom family connection, among them Dr. James Rountree Folsom, father of Montgomery M. Folsom.

M.M. Folsom was one of the best known and most versatile newspaper men in the South, according to his obituary. He was a great and prolific writer of prose and poetry, which was widely read and copied.  In the September 14, 1885 Atlanta Constitution, Montgomery M. Folsom recalls Salem Church of his youth.

 

In Salem Church

The Memory of a Middle Age Man Stirred Up.

M.M. Folsom in Valdosta, Ga, Times.

        Let me see, the old church must be getting old indeed, now; I am shiffling along toward the dim and mysterious regions of the third decade of life, and, I am beginning to feel right patriarchal. Yes, I was walking along the street a few day since when a diminutive specimen of the genus homo accosted me with “hello, old chum,” and I came very near rebuking him on the spot, but on second thought I remember how fine a sense of ridicule the modern ragmuffin is blessed with, so I contented myself with a withering glance, and then winked to keep him from thinking hard of me. Good gracious! How egotistical I am growing. But never mind, I’m going to be a country editor, some day, and then I can use that delusive pronoun “we” and then we’ll make ourself just as great an ass as we choose, and no one will molest us or make our cheek to blush.
       Well, that church is a few months older than I, but I trust it hasn’t half as much to answer for. When last I threw a ball at its stately front I tried to hit the figure “6” in the date, “1856” painted above the tall columns which support its venerable front.
       Long time ago there was another Salem, built of logs, clap-boards and puncheons. “H.W.S.” could tell you all about it. The good Methodists decided to build a new one, and the present site, fronting the old Coffee road, was selected. I think William McGuire was the master carpenter in the job, but I don’t know, it has been so long. Oh! what a flood of sweet old memories come trouping along as, in fancy, I sit once more within those sacred walls. A goodly space, in the rear of the pulpit was partitioned off for the negroes who were then slaves, of course.
      Certain seats were recognized as the special property of certain old people, not that we had any pew renting, and the like of that, but they came so regularly, and occupied the same seat so often, that younger folks soon learned to look for Uncle Randal on a long bench near the partition, with the south window at his back. Dear old man! How I loved to watch his portly figure as he waddled up the isle, and the few scant locks glistening like a glowing silver light above his ruddy brow. Uncle Billy Sineath was bent with age and hard labor. He would plow hard all the week, and till near meeting time Saturday, then he donned his meeting clothes, and started for the church just like the true Christian that he was. His face was rugged, and the dark eyes glowed beneath a pair of cavernous brows, but never a kinder heart beat in the bosom of any man. Uncle Hamp was always there, too, with a kind word and a hearty handshake for every one. What made him more conspicuous was the tall beaver, that he took off at the door. Now there is a great deal of individuality about a hat. Grandpa and Uncle Billy Sineath wore broad brims, and the brim had to turn up in certain places, while in others it must lay flat, or curve around in a peculiar manner. I used to wonder how much time they spent training a new hate ere it acquired the regulation flop. Our old teacher was straight as an arrow and nearly as slim, his hair was always gray, I suppose, but when he patted one of us little urchins on the head as he stepped into the porch, we were of the elect the balance of that day. But why try to describe such individual? It would require volumes simple to record their goodness and the act of Christian charity which they did in their days.
        I remember one sermon that touched me, boy as I was, deeply and it stirred the depths of the hearts of every individual in the vast congregation that were packed in the church. Leonard C. Peake had lately been blind, but his sight was now restored. A man of venerable aspect and commanding presence, he stood in the pulpit that day and preached as I never heard man preach before. His text was “And Moses said unto——-” but I can’t remember, it was so long ago but it read on- “we are journeying unto the land which the Lord God hath given us. Come thou and go with us, and we will do thee good.” In the course of his sermon he told how, after a season of darkness, he had been allowed to look again on the blessed light of Heaven. Oh, that was a time long to be remembered.
      Then there was Jesse J. Giles, the happiest looking man I ever saw. His soul knew no wintry season. His face eternally beamed with the smiles of a perpetual spring season. To look at him was to love him, and to love him was but a step removed from the worship of that God whom he worshiped with the most sublime adoration. His voice was a s a woman’s and the musical tones were like the strains of music from some faraway land. The old well-worn copy of “John Wesley” that he gave me so many years ago lies before me as I write. Unhidden tears bedim my eyes as I think of the last words he ever said to me.
       But the grandest old warrior was big, burly, tender-hearted John Hendry. His voice was of that deep, rich kind which men of slender chests are wont to covet. The tawny beard covered his face and hung down on his breast. When he ascended the pulpit steps the evil doer trembled, and the first syllable of that deep voice sent a thrill through me like an electric shock. And oh! you ought to have heard him sing,
“I’m glad salvations’ free!”
      The great voice filled the whole building, and the thunder tones went reverbating and re echoing among the dark pine woods. Wafted by the soft evening breeze the echoes grew fainter and fainter until the word “Salvation” died away on the hilltops faraway, away, where the autumn moon shed such a wondrous shower of golden light.
       But we had one funny parson, I’ve forgotten his name. He said that when he left his last circuit he left “six crowing roosters sitting on the front yard fence.” He never stayed long.
       Another was a vissionary and a dreamer. In fact, he was so fond of relating his wonderful dreams, that there grew a proverb out of it, and we sacrilegious boys were in the habit of illustrating our opinion of a doubtful yarn by saying, “Ah! you thought like—–dreamt when you studied that up.”
      There was one man who could never pray without weeping. His voice would grow husky and broken and his petition always ended in a heart-broken sob. If that many wasn’t a Christian I never knew one.
Good men they were. I have not mentioned a tithe of them. The subject is too big for me. I cannot write of things that touch such tender chords, and wake such sacred memories. All that was best in my wasted life is interwoven with the story of old Salem. How often in my wanderings have I cast my longing eyes thitherward, and sighed to think of the days that are past forever more.

“Blest scenes of enjoyment long have we been parted,

My hopes almost gone, and my parents no more;
And now as an exile, forelorn, broken-hearted,
I wonder alone on a far distant shore.”

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Montgomery Morgan Folsom

Montgomery Morgan Folsom (1857-1899)
Montgomery M. Folsom was the eldest son of Dr. James Roundtree Folsom and Rachel Inman Swain. He was a grandson of Randal Folsom and great grandson of Lawrence Armstrong Folsom, one of the pioneer settlers of Lowndes County, GA. On his mother’s side he was a grandson of Sarah Wooten and Morgan G. Swain, early residents of Troupville, GA.

Montgomery M. Folsom was a poet and a writer of the Wiregrass section of Georgia who contributed to both Georgia and New York newspapers. He was a prolific writer of prose and poetry, which was widely published and read.  He was a protege’ of Henry Grady, outspoken white supremacist and publisher of the Atlanta Constitution.  Folsom’s works captured the spirit of his early life in old Berrien County and the oral history of Wiregrass pioneers and slaves.

Among other topics, Folsom wrote about the Withlacoochee River, Troupville, Coffee Road, the formation of Lowndes County,  the Battle of Brushy Creek, fire hunts, and early Wiregrass Methodists.

His literary writing seems clearly influenced by the work of Joel Chandler Harris; his creative period coincides almost exactly with Harris’ tenure as assistant editor and lead editorial writer at the Atlanta Constitution. In some of Folsom’s stories, his use of dialect and appropriation of African-American culture could be subject to the same criticism as Harris’ Uncle Remus stories.

Montgomery M. Folsom

Montgomery M. Folsom

 

Born in Berrien County, GA on January 31, 1857, he was baptized by Reverend Payton P. Smith at Salem Church near Hahira, GA; He was married in New Pleasant Hill Church, Colquitt County, GA, November 13, 1879 to Frances Edna Croft, daughter of Mary Ann Hiers and William Nathaniel Croft, born in Colquitt County, GA, July 15, 1860.

Children:

  1. Mamie Leona Folsom – Born near Hempstead, Colquit County, GA, August 25, 1881; married in Atlanta, GA, September 15, 1898, to Dr. Frank Alexander Wynne of Rome, GA; widowed [date unknown]; moved to Dallas, TX; wrote stories and articles for newspapers and magazines; taught voice and piano; prominent in club work; traveled to Europe.
  2. Ewell Vernon Folsom – born February 10, 1883 near Tifton, GA; married in Orange, TX, April 7, 190e to Emma Myer Curtis, of Orange, TX; engaged in lumber trade in Orange, TX; prominent in social circles, a writer of short stories, a singer with a fine bass voice; died in Beaumont, TX February 18, 1933.
  3. Noel Byron Folsom – Born December 2, 1885 near New River Church, Berrien County, GA; served in the Army after the Spanish American War as an Assistant Veterinary Surgeon; married in New York, NY in June, 1912 to Mabel Bell Walsh, a resident of Yonkers, NY; craftsman, engaged in ship-building during WWI; writer of prose and poetry.
  4. Julia Grady Folsom – born May 15, 1889 on Fort Hawkins Hill, East Macon, Bibb, County, GA; named for Mrs. Julia King Grady, wife of Henry Grady; married first at age 14 in St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Atlanta to Richard Trevanion Patton, son of Mrs. Julia Iverson Patton; divorced September 13, 1909, both being too young to carry on; married second on December 31, 1925 to John Daniel Hargraves, son of Frances L. Daniel and Dr. Benjamin Worthington Hargraves, who was First Lieutenant, Company K, 55th Infantry in WWI; writer of many fine poems, published in the Atlanta Constitution and other publications.
  5. Jessie Juanita Folsom, born February 9, 1894 in Atlanta, GA; graduated Law School, admitted to the bar but never practiced; feature writer for the Atlanta Journal; married July 22, 1917 in St. Philips Cathedral, Atlanta to Lieutenant Basil Stockbridge, Atlanta lawyer.

He died very suddenly of apoplexy in Atlanta, GA July 1, 1899. Upon his death, the Atlanta Constitution proclaimed Montgomery M. Folsom one of the best known and most versatile newspaper men in the South.  He was buried July 4, 1899 at Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, GA.

Montgomery M. Folsom Dead; Had Only A Few Hours’ Illness

Seized with a Sinking Spell Saturday Afternoon, He Rapidly Grew Worse Until the End Came Yesterday Morning,

Apoplexy Was The Cause

He was on the Streets Saturday In His Usual Health.

Was A Capable Journalist And Poet

He Was Well Known in the South and His Writings Were Widely Read and Copied – A Sketch of His Life.

      Montgomery M. Folsom, one of the best known and most versatile newspaper men in the south, died suddenly at his residence, 445 East Fair street, at 7 o’clock yesterday morning, after an illness of only a few hours.
      Saturday morning Mr. Folsom was apparently in his usual good health, and left his home in unusually good spirits. He returned home about 1 o’clock in the afternoon and complained of feeling bad. At 3 o’clock he had a violent sinking spell and was soon unconscious. His family became alarmed at his condition, and Dr. Johnson, who lives in the vicinity of the Folsom residence, was summoned. His efforts were unavailing, and the stricken man failed to regain consciousness.
       Later in the afternoon no change in his condition taking place, his son-in-law, Dr. F. A. Wynne, was called in. He remained by the side of Mr. Folsom all night long, but saw that his condition was hopeless.
At 6 o’clock in the morning he partially regained consciousness, but could not speak. At 7 o’clock death came suddenly and without pain.
      The immediate cause of death was apoplexy, superinduced by an affection of the heart, from which he had been a suffering for the past two years.
      Montgomery Folsom is survived by a wife and five children; Mrs. F. A. Wynne, Ewell V. Folsom, aged seventeen; Noel F. Folsom, aged sixteen; Julia G. Folsom, aged thirteen, and Jessie Juanita Folsom, aged eight. He also leaves one brother and one sister- Carroll R. Folsom and Mrs. Minnie Weeks.

The Funeral Arrangements
      The deceased was a member of the Cherokee lodge, Masonic Order, of Rome. The funeral will be conducted Tuesday afternoon at 4 o’clock with masonic honors.
      Up to a late hour last night it had not been decided whether the services would be conducted from the residence of a church. The list of pallbearers will also be announced later.

Sketch of his life.
      Montgomery Morgan Folsom was one of the most brilliant and prolific writers in the south, and his literary productions were widely read and copied. He wrote prose and poetry with equal facility, and his acquaintance with men and affairs was extensive. He was an indefatigable worker and one of the most productive newspaper men in Atlanta.
      By nature he was extremely companionable, and made many friends who were warmly attached to him. His death was the cause of universal sorrow among a wide circle of friends and acquaintances.
Montgomery Folsom was born near Hahira, Lowndes county, Georgia, January 31, 1857, and was therefore forty-two years old at the time of his death. He was the son of James Rountree Folsom and Rachel Inman Folsom.
       His grandfather, Randel Folsom, was at one time a wealthy planter, possessed of literary tastes, who, when financial reverses overtook him, retired to the seclusion of his library and spent his declining years absorbed in study. It was from Randel Folsom that young Montgomery attained the rudiments of an education, which afterwards ripened into a rare culture.
      Montgomery Folsom was essentially a self-made man, and his fight for an education was a bitter, uphill one, fraught with obstacles in the shape of poverty and scant resources that would have daunted a nature with less steadfast purpose.
      However, he had a marvelous faculty for acquiring and assimulating knowledge, and once he read a book its substance remained with him. His grasp at the salient facts of a history or a scientific treatise was remarkable from the time he was a mere boy.
      Up to the time he was eighteen or nineteen years of age his days were spent in toll on a farm, and his nights in study. Arrived at the age of twenty, he became a pedagogue and taught small country schools in various parts of south Georgia. It was at Thomasville, Ga., while engaged in the avocation of school teacher, that he did his first newspaper work. His first published writings appeared in the Savannah Morning News, when he was a mere boy. They consisted of poems and articles of a literary and humorous vein.
      Later he began to contribute to the northern papers, and the New York Post and The Sun accepted many of his prose writing and verse. Up to the day of his death the later paper gladly accepted everything he wrote.
      The success of his writings decided him to adopt newspaper work as a profession, and his first editorial position was on The Thomasville Times. While at the head of this paper he wrote “Jeff Hancock’s Bull,” a set of humorous verses which attracted widespread attention —– for him a more than local reputation
      From Thomasville he went to Americus where he edited the Times-Recorder. Later he was given a position on the Macon Telegraph, and it was while in that city that his work attracted the attention of the late Henry Grady, who made him the Macon correspondent of The Constitution and encouraged him to write special articles for this paper.

Would Not Accept Pay.
      During the early days when Montgomery Folsom was connected with newspapers in the south he continued to do work for the northern press. This work he refused to accept pay for, and time and time again he returned checks to the senders with the request that they pay him in books. In this way he managed to accumulate a handsome library, which was composed chiefly of the poets. He was particularly fond of Byron, Shelley, Burns and Caldridge and knew many of their works by heart. He was also an ardent admirer of Victor Hugo, and was a deep student of the French revolution. Napoleon was his hero, and probably no man in Atlanta had read more miscellaneous literature bearing on the life and personal characteristics of Bonaparte.
       From Macon he went to Cedartown, where he purchased an interest in The Cedartown Standard, and was placed in editorial charge. In 1887 fire visited The Standard office and the plant, together with Mr. Folsom’s fine collection of books, was burned.
      Soon after this disaster he came to Atlanta and secured a position on the local staff of The Constitution. His  special work at this time, under the pseudonym of “The Night Hawk,” attracted considerable attention throughout the state.
      A connection with Society, a literary paper published by Mrs. Lollie Belle Wylie, followed. From Society he went to The Journal and from The Journal to Rome, where he edited The Tribune for a number of months.
      When The Evening Constitution was started he returned to Atlanta and was placed on the local staff of that paper. After the suspension of The Evening Constitution he returned to The Journal once more, leaving that paper to accept a position on The Chattanooga Times during the Spanish-American war, when troops were encamped at Chickamauga.
       In 1894 Mr. Folsom began to correspond regularly for a number of northern papers, and this work he continued to do up to the time of his death.
       He was a brilliant writer and a kindly gentleman, whose warm heart and generous impulses made for him many friends.

Grave of Montgomery Morgan Folsom, Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, GA

Grave of Montgomery Morgan Folsom, Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, GA

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Wiregrass Babes in Sugarland

To children of Wiregrass Georgia, sugar cane was the homegrown candy of choice.  The harvest of the cane crop, and cane grinding time was anticipated by children of all ages.

Children of the Cane. Children in Berrien County, as in other Wiregrass Georgia counties, looked forward to the sugar cane cutting with great anticipation. Pictured here are children of the Liles and Edson families together on the Leggett farm, Berrien County, GA. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Children of the Cane. Children in Berrien County, as in other Wiregrass Georgia counties, looked forward to the sugar cane cutting with great anticipation. Pictured here are children of the Liles and Edson families together on the Leggett farm, Berrien County, GA. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Sugar cane has been an integral part of Wiregrass culture since it was introduced into South Georgia in around 1828.  John Moore began the cultivation of cane when he settled near the Grand Bay swamp in Lowndes County.  By 1876 sugar cane was one of the staple field crops of South Georgia, and an important staple in the farming and agriculture of Ray’s Mill (now Ray City), and the section. “Sugar, Syrup, and Molasses are made on a considerable scale in the southern part of this State from tropical Cane.” Hundreds of gallons of cane syrup could be produced from a single acre of sugar cane. In 1879 the Columbus Daily Enquirer reported, “The Berrien County News contends that cane planting can be made as profitable in Southern Georgia as in Mississippi, Louisiana or elsewhere, and that Southern Georgia syrup cannot be excelled by that made anywhere.”

In 1885, Montgomery Folsom, poet/historian of Wiregrass Georgia, wrote about the sweet childhood experience of sugar cane:

The Atlanta Constitution
June 24, 1885 pg 2

Down the River.

Now we have reached the point where the [Little] river widens out, and winds along through interminable swamps.  Here in the autumn the mellow haws hang red on the trees, and in the sweet Indian summer great festoons of wild grapes and “bullaces” hanging in mellow lusciousness from the vines which have twined their tendrils around the topmost boughs of the tall trees.  Fields of yellow corn cover the fertile hillside, the withered stalks rustling and creaking in the whispering breeze.  These farmers have inherited a goodly legacy in these broad acres. The cotton fields are white as snow, and the merry jests and hearty laugh attest the contentment of the laborers. In striking contrast with the brilliant colors of the autumnal foliage is the deep blue green of the sugar cane.  Through long years of cultivation in alien soil it has preserved its identity as a child of the tropics, and holds its green until the great leveler, Jack Frost, chills its sugary sap. Other plants have learned to adapt themselves to the new order of things, and shorten the season of their growth accordingly, but the sugar cane never ripens.  If I have dwelled long on the peculiarities of this plant it is because I have experienced so many perils and pleasures in connection with it.  Is there a south Georgia boy, to-day, who never slipped in at the back of the cane patch, starting nervously as he chanced to snap a blade, picking his way carefully until a selection was made, then cutting down the cane by easy stages, so that it would not crack loudly when it fell; carefully stripping of the blades one, by one, then stealing noiselessly out, ensconcing himself in a fence jamb and then – oh! the delicious taste of the juice! “Trebly sweet when obtained through so much peril. Hark! Ahem!” The boy springs to his feet and trembling in every limb beholds the “old man” leaning his elbow on the fence and watching him intently. “Ahem!” “Is it gittin’ sweet yet sonny?” But the boy is too dumbfounded to answer. ” “Well, I guess I’d better give ye a row, and you musn’t cut any out’n the rest of the patch.” Oh! Joy! In less than ten minutes every child on the place is informed that “pa has give us a row of cane to chaw.” And the old man stalks about in the potato patch in search of a late watermelon, an odd smile on his lips.  He passed the same experience some twenty or thirty years ago.

If you want to learn more about the traditions, practice and science of Georgia cane syrup making, be sure to see Bill Outlaw’s essays at Southern Matters http://www.southernmatters.com/  where he shares family history and research on sugar cane and syrup production, along with other connections to the past.

Related Posts:

Morz Swain was Innkeeper, Blacksmith, Sheriff & Jailor of old Troupville, GA

By special request…

On August 9, 1851, A brief announcement appeared in the newspapers of the state capitol at Milledgeville, GA.  Morgan G. Swain, prominent and colorful citizen of Troupville, GA, was dead.

Obituary of Morgan G. Swain appeared Aug 19, 1851 in the Milledgeville Federal Union newspaper.

Obituary of Morgan G. Swain appeared Aug 19, 1851 in the Milledgeville Federal Union newspaper.

The Milledgeville Federal Union
August 19, 1851

DIED. – In Lowndes County, on the 9th inst., after a short but severe illness, Morgan G. Swain in 48th year of his age.

A slightly longer obituary appeared a few days later in The Albany Patriot.

Obituary of Morgan G. Swain.

Obituary of Morgan G. Swain.

The Albany Patriot
August 22, 1851

OBITUARY.
Departed this life on the 9th instant at his residence, in Lowndes county, Geo., MORGAN G. SWAIN, aged fifty years, after an illness of nine days.
He has left a wife and a large family of Children, besides an extensive circle of acquaintances to lament his loss.
Troupville, August 13, 1851.

Born in 1805 in Montgomery County, Georgia, Morgan G. Swain was one of thirteen children of Rebecca Johnston and Canneth Swain (1770-1831).  His father, Canneth Swain, was a planter of Montgomery County and served there as Justice of the Peace  from 1808 to 1812.  Swainsboro, GA was named after his uncle, Senator Stephen Swain, who served in the Georgia Assembly for more than twenty years and who introduced the bill that created Emanuel County.

About 1826, Morgan G. Swain moved with his parents to the newly created Thomas County, GA where his father had purchased land in 1825.  In addition to the property in Thomas County,  Canneth Swain owned nearly two thousand acres of land in Early and Lee counties, and herds of hogs and cattle.

On September 3, 1828 Morgan Swain married seventeen-year-old Elizabeth Wooten in Thomas County, GA.  She was a daughter of Redden Wooten and Susannah Byrd. Swain’s brother-in-law was Lasa Adams, who fought in the Indian Wars of 1836.

1828 Marriage license of Morgan Swain and Elizabeth Wooten, Thomas County, GA

1828 Marriage license of Morgan Swain and Elizabeth Wooten, Thomas County, GA

To any Judge  Justice of the Inferior Court   Justice of the peace or ordained Minister of the Gospel    Greeting   These are to authorise you to Join together in holy and sacred Matrimony Mr Morgan Swain and Miss Elizabeth Wooten for which this will be your sufficient Licence given under my hand at office this the 18th August 1828

Neill McKinnon CCC the witness    Executed on the 3rd day of September by Amelus Hughen   Minister of the Gospel    1828

Entered this the 23 December 1828

On the census records of 1830, Morgan Swain was enumerated in Thomas County next to his father-in-law, Redden Wooten. For several years the Swains made their home in Thomas County;  Morgan Swain served as 1st Lieutenant of  the Militia in the 763rd District.  But when Troupville was establish in 1838 as the county seat of Lowndes County,  the Swains moved  there to be among the town’s first residents. In Troupville, Morgan Swain set up a blacksmith shop  and  also took work as Deputy Sheriff, both trades that suited him as one of the biggest, strongest men in Wiregrass Georgia.

For five years the Swains prospered in Troupville.  While Elizabeth Swain raised their children,  Morgan Swain “became owner and operator of Swain’s Hotel in Troupville, which competed with “Uncle Billie” Smith’s hotel [Tranquil Hall] for public patronage, especially during court and muster days.”  But on June 20, 1843 Elizabeth Wooten Swain died at age 32, leaving Morgan with two young children to raise.  Elizabeth Wooten Swain was buried, it is said, in Bethel Primitive Baptist Church cemetery, where others of the Wooten family connection are interred.

About six months later, in January, 1844 Morgan Swain married a second time. On January 11, 1844, Swain married Rebecca Griffin, eldest daughter of Shadrach Griffin. Her father was a pioneer settler of Irwin County, and a road commissioner on that section of the Coffee Road which crossed over the Alapaha River. Morgan and Rebecca were married in a ceremony performed by X. Graham. The wedding was announced in The Macon Telegraph.

Wedding announcement for Morgan G. Swain and Rebecca Griffin appeared in The Macon Telegraph, Feb 20, 1844.

Wedding announcement for Morgan G. Swain and Rebecca Griffin appeared in The Macon Telegraph, Feb 20, 1844.

Morgan G. Swain operated one of the three hotels in Troupville. One was “Tranquil Hall” run by William “Uncle Billy” Smith.  The second was that operated by Jonathan Knight for eight or ten years until he moved away to Appling County about 1849.  A third hotel, situated on the town square,  was operated by Swain.

Upon the occasion of his marriage in January, 1844 Swain apparently felt it necessary to advertise his intention to continue as innkeeper. “Swain’s Hotel,” the tavern operated by Morgan G. Swain, was properly called The Jackson Hotel, and for several months in 1844 he ran this ad in the papers of the state capitol.

Jackson Hotel, Troupville, GA was operated by Morgan G. Swain.

Jackson Hotel, Troupville, GA was operated by Morgan G. Swain.

The Milledgeville Federal Union
February 6, 1844

JACKSON HOTEL
Troupville, Georgia
The subscriber respectfully informs his friends, and the public generally, that he still continues at his old stand, and feels grateful for the liberal encouragement heretofore extended to him, and assures his friends that no effort on his part, shall be wanting, to render the utmost satisfaction to those who may favor him with a call.
His Table will at all times, exhibit the best specimens of eating, the country affords.
His Stables are large and commodious – he is likewise able to oversee in person, that every care and the best of provender, is amply supplied to all animals, entrusted to him.  His terms are adapted to suit the times – very reasonable.

MORGAN G. SWAIN
Troupville, Ga., Jan. 16, 1844

Morgan Swain’s grandson, Montgomery M. Folsom, was a Wiregrass poet and historian whose writings have been featured in previous posts on this blog.  According to Folks Huxford, Folsom, a sort of grandson of old Troupville, in his series of articles entitled “Down the River” published in ‘The Valdosta Times’ in 1885, also wrote of old Troupville in an interesting manner”

‘Old Troupville! What a charming spot for the mind of the lover of reminiscent lore to contemplate! Here, semi-annually the Judge and his satellites, the jurors, litigants, court attaches, sightseers, horse-swappers, peddlers, tinklers, bummers, rowdies and all the rabble rant; all did congregate in august assemblage and solemn conclave.

* * * * *

Among those who settled in Troupville and left behind many momentous memories, was Morgan Goodgame Swain, a burly blacksmith from Emanuel, who was ever ready for a fight, frolic or a footrace. He stood six feet three and weighed over two hundred without pound of surplus flesh. As handsome as a Greek god he was gifted with herculean strength and a heart that was generous and true. He erected his forge on the bank of the Ockolockochee, and his wife took possession of the tavern. Becky, she was lord above, and Morz was lord below.

* * * * *

There, at that pile of rocks stood Morgan G. Swain’s blacksmith shop, and the rocks are the remains of his forge. Many a time and oft has he stepped out in the road and throwing off his hunting-shirt, flop his arms and crow like a game-cock “Best man in Troupville, by —–!’

Despite this zest for life, in late 1845, Morgan Swain sought to dispose of his hotel and Troupville city lots.

In November 1845, Morgan G. Swain advertised to sell the Jackson Hotel and his Troupville, GA property.

In November 1845, Morgan G. Swain advertised to sell the Jackson Hotel and his Troupville, GA property.

Albany Patriot
November 26, 1845

NOTICE

Being desirous of paying up my debts and moving into the country, I offer my possessions in the county of Lowndes, consisting of FOUR LOTS in the town of Troupville, three of which are Well Improved, and 245 Acres of Pine Land, also well improved, in the immediate vicinity of Troupville, for sale at the lowest price for which property can  be had.
    On the Town Lots now is standing, and in good repair, a Large TAVERN, suited for the accommodation of Travellers.  Purchasers, by paying a part of the price in cash,  can have their time to pay the balance.
    The above will be sold at Public Outcry, on the First Tuesday in January, if disposed of before at private sale. The house-hold and kitchen furniture will also be sold in the same manner.
MORGAN G. SWAIN
Troupville, Nov. 26, 1845

During this period Swain had continued to hold public office, serving as Justice of the Peace of 658th District of Lowndes County from 1844 to 1849, and also as the county Jailor.

In 1847 Swain’s old place, the Jackson Hotel, hosted the Lowndes County Democratic party for the purpose of selecting representatives to the gubernatorial convention and also candidates for election to the state legislature. In 1849, Swain’s further interest in politics was apparent in his involvement in the activities of the Democratic party in Lowndes county.

Morgan G. Swain was a member of the Democratic Party.

Morgan G. Swain was a member of the Democratic Party.

The Albany Patriot

Democratic Meeting in Lowndes.
Troupvill, May 6th, 1849 
   The Democratic party of Lowndes county held a meeting in the Court House today. – On motion, William Hines was called to the Chair, and – Edmondson requested to act as Secretary.  The object of the meeting was explained by Morgan G. Swain, Esq.  The following resolutions were passed:
Resolved, That this meeting appoint a committee of seven to select delegates from each district to meet the delegates from the county of Ware at David Johnson’s, Esq., on the 4th Saturday in June next, to nominate for this district a Senatorial candidate for the Legislature.
Resolved, That James Jamerson, David G. Hutchinson, William Zeigler, James Coston, Thomas B. Griffin, James C. Hodges, and Wm. L. Morgan, Esqrs. be selected delegates to the Convention in Milledgeville to nominate a Governor of the Democratic party.
Resolved, That the citizens of the different districts in this county be requested to appoint  two delegates each to meet in Troupville on the first Monday in July next, to nominate a candidate for Representative of this county to the next Legislature.
Resolved, That this meeting now adjourn.
WM. Hines, Chm’n
–Edmonson, Sec’y

As given above, Morgan G. Swain lived a short but prominent life in old Troupville, GA and there he died on August 9, 1851.  It is said he was buried in the cemetery of Bethel Primitive Baptist Church, Brooks County, Ga.

His father-in-law, Shadrach Griffin, served as administrator of his estate.

1822 Legal advertisement for administration of the estate of Morgan G. Swain, appeared in The Albany Patriot, August 22, 1851.

1822 Legal advertisement for administration of the estate of Morgan G. Swain, appeared in The Albany Patriot, August 22, 1851.

The Albany Patriot
 August 22, 1851.

Georgia Lowndes County.
Whereas, Shadrick Griffin applies to me for Letters of Administration on the estate of Morgan G. Swain, late of said county dec’d.
     These are therefore to cite, summons and admonish all persons interested, to be and appear at my office within the time prescribed by law, to shew cause (if any) why said letters may not be granted.
     Given under my hand at office, this, 16th day of August, 1851.
DUNCAN SMITH, cco.
August 22, 1851.

Swain’s widow applied in July 1852, for guardianship of the “minors and orphans” of the deceased.  Dr. Henry Briggs, Ordinary of the Lowndes Court advertised the application in The Milledgeville Southern Recorder.  Dr. Briggs was one of the first doctors to take up residence in Troupville, GA.

Rebecca Swain applied for guardianship of "the minors and orphans of Morgan G. Swain."

Rebecca Swain applied for guardianship of “the minors and orphans of Morgan G. Swain.”

Milledgeville Southern Recorder
July 13, 1852

 GEORGIA, LOWNDES COUNTY
     Whereas Rebecca Swain applies to me for letters of Guardianship of the persons and property of the minors and orphans of Morgan G. Swain, late of said county, deceased –
     These are, therefore, to cite, summon and admonish all persons interested to be and appear at my office on or before the first Monday in September next, and show cause, if any exist, why said letters of Guardianship should not be granted.
     Given under my hand this  1st July, 1852.
H. BRIGGS, Ordinary L. C.
July 6, 1852

Shadrach Griffin, Swain’s father-in-law and administrator of his estate, continued with the disposal of his property and the conclusion of his affairs.

Administrator's Sale: estate of Morgan G. Swain

Administrator’s Sale: estate of Morgan G. Swain

The Albany Patriot
February 6, 1853

Administrator’s Sale.
Georgia, Lowndes County.

Will be sold at the late residence of Morgan G. Swain, late of said county dec’d, on Thursday the 1st day of April next, all the personal property, consisting of cattle, horses, hogs, stock cattle, and household and kitchen furniture, and a great many other articles too tedious to mention.  Sale will continue until all is sold.  Terms of sale made known on the day.
SHADRACH GRIFFIN, Adm’r
February 6, 1853.
——————————————-
All persons indebted to the estate of Morgan G. Swain, late of Lowndes county dec’d, will come forward and make payment – and all those having claims against said estate will render them in according to law.
SHAD’H GRIFFIN, Adm’r.
February 6, 1853

Pennywell Folsom Fell at Brushy Creek

Penuel Folsom, the first soldier killed in the Battle of Brushy Creek, was buried in what is now known as the Rountree Cemetery, his being the first grave in it. – Lucian Lamar Knight

Grave marker of Pennywell Folsom, Roundtree cemetery (aka Evergreen Cemetery), Cook County, GA

Grave marker of Pennywell Folsom, Rountree Cemetery (aka Evergreen Cemetery), Cook County, GA

Pennywell Folsom fell in the first volley fired in the Battle of Brushy Creek, fought in July, 1836. After the fighting was over, Captain Hamilton Sharpe carried Folsom from the battlefield on horseback, but the mortally wounded soldier could not long survive. Folsom was carried back to the fort at the Rachel Morrison place (now the property of the Rountree family) near the Little River, where he was buried in a lone grave. Sharpe’s Company fired a volley of gunfire over the grave in salute to their fallen comrade. As that final tribute sounded through the forest, Captain Levi J. Knight and his company of men arrived on the scene. (Levi J. Knight was the original settler on the site of present day Ray City, GA.) Knight’s company had marched 30 miles from the Alapaha River where they had skirmished with Indians at the homeplace of William Parker (see Short-Arm Bill Parker and the Last Indian Fight In Berrien County, and Levi J. Knight Reports Indian Fight of July 13, 1836.)

Fifty years after the event, Montgomery M. Folsom reflected on the death of his kinsman:

The Atlanta Constitution
June 24, 1885 Pg 2

Down the River

The Folsom bridge, a noted crossing place, spans the [Little] river here. In the olden time a party of road cutters under the command of General Coffee passed through south Georgia from east to west. At this point they crossed the river. If you were to ask the old settlers they would show you the blazes on the pine trees that were made long ago. This road was a great thoroughfare and many a hardy settler has packed his traps in a cart drawn by a tough pony, and driving his flocks and herds before him has traversed the lonely pine barrens in search of a more generous soil and greener pastures. The hunters of Coffee’s party were Isham Jordan and Kenneth Swain. The song that was made by the hardy pioneers has been given to posterity as follows:

“Yonder comes ole Isham Jordan,
That ole ‘onest huntin’ man.
Glorious tidin’s he doth bring,
Swain has kilt another turkey hent.

We’ll allow the New Convention;
We’ll all allow the rights of men;
We’ll allay the Injun nation;
The volunteers and the drafted men.”

About a mile and a half from the bridge, eastward, the ancestor of the Folsom’s settled. It had been a populous Indian town, and there are in existence to day, a tomahawk, a sofka pestle, a small cannon ball, and innumerable arrow-heads and skinning knifes of flint that were found there. The old gentleman had erected a strong block house, and when there was an alarm of Indians, the women and children were carried there, and the old men and boys left to defend them while the ablebodied once sallied forth to meet the foe. From this fort they marched forth to the bloody encounter at Brushy creek. The Indians had been goaded to madness. They were concealed in the dark swamp, and awaited in silence the approach of the whites. Penuel Folsom had made his will before leaving home, and when the soldiers were all drawn up at a safe distance from the enemy, and the scouts were cautiously advancing, he and Orville Shanks dashed forward with a yell and received the fire of a dozen unerring rifles. Shanks fell dead, and Folsom desperately wounded, was carried from the field, after the battle was over, behind Captain Sharpe who rode a powerful horse. When they halted he was laid down on the green grass and breathed his last. Some years ago I visited his grave in a lonely spot in the heart of one of the gloomiest forests of Berrien county. – Montgomery M. Folsom

There is a more detailed account of the Battle of Brushy Creek given at the Early History of Lowndes County and Valdosta , Georgia website:

Levi J. Knight described the fight to the governor, who later commended Knight and his comrades for their bravery. Knight wrote that both Enoch Hall and Hamilton Sharpe were in charge of companies of militia. In the course of tracking the Indians through Lowndes, fifteen men commanded by Captain Sharpe formed a battalion with thirty-one men from Thomas County after they discovered Indians in the fork of the Little River and Big Warrior Creek. Following the trail for three miles down the east side of the river, Sharpe and his soldiers encountered about sixty warriors and their families. In the ensuing fight, Captain Sharpe lost one man, Mr. P. Folsom, and one wounded, when he was forced to retreat. Reinforced by the remainder of the battalion, the Lowndes men pursued the Indians for another three miles and found them on a pine ridge, their rear protected by a cypress pond, and in their front a wide, open, boggy meadow. A general engagement commended about 9 o’clock a. m. and after a severe fight for two hours, the Indians were completely routed, with a loss of twenty-two Indians and two Negroes killed, that were seen, and many wounded. Of the militia, Bartow Ferrell of Thomas County and Edwin D. Shanks of Lowndes County were killed and nine wounded.

Norman Campbell, John McDermott, Robert N. Parrish, Pennywell Folsom, Ashley Lawson, Edwin D. Shanks, West Roundtree and others were among those going to the battle from around Troupville.

Knight’s Company and other militia units would continue to pursue the Indians across Berrien county. A few weeks later, the militia caught up with an Indian band in southeast Berrien county at a place called Cow Creek.

THE ROUNTREE CEMETERY

Pennywell Folsom no longer lies alone in deep Georgia woods. Around his grave, the Rountrees placed their own dead, until this burying ground became known as the Rountree Cemetery. This cemetery is located in present day Cook county , on Evergreen Church Road (CR 99), near the intersection with Rountree Bridge Road (CR 251) (see map). Around 1945, the present Evergreen Church was constructed adjacent to Rountree Cemetery, the original church building located on Rountree Bridge Road having been destroyed by fire.

Notes on Pennywell Folsom:
Pennywell Folsom was born in 1810 in Hawkinsville, GA. He was a son of Edith Pennywell and George Folsom. His father served during the War of 1812 in the Georgia Militia under Captain Allen Tooke builing forts on the frontier of Pulaski County to defend against Indian attacks.

When Pennywell was about 10 years old, around 1819, his father died. Pennywell became a ward of his uncle William Folsom and moved to Lowndes County (then Irwin County.)

According to Internet histories, Pennywell Folsom married Mary Ann McLeod about 1827. Their children were:

  1. Anna Jane Folsom 1828 – 1830
  2. Chloe Ann Folsom 1830 – 1906
  3. Bryant P. Folsom 1832 – 1864
  4. Anna America Folsom 1833 – 1912
  5. Edieth Folsom 1833 – 1907
  6. Emily Folsom 1835 – 1908

Captain Hamilton Sharpe, who led the Lowndes militia at the Battle of Brushy Creek, served as the administrator of Pennywell Folsom’s estate:

Captain Hamilton Sharpe administered the estate of Pennywell Folsom, killed under Sharpe's command at the Battle of Brushy Creek, July 1836.

Captain Hamilton Sharpe administered the estate of Pennywell Folsom, killed under Sharpe’s command at the Battle of Brushy Creek, July 1836.

Southern Recorder
August 23, 1836

Georgia, Lowndes County

Whereas Hamilton W. Sharpe applies to me for letters of administration, on the estate of Pennywell Folsom late of said county, deceased:
These are therefore to cite and admonish all and singular the kindred and creditors of said deceased, to be and appear at my office within the time prescribed by law, to shew cause (if any they have,) why said letters of administration should not be granted.
Given under my hand, at office, this 1st day of August, 1836.

WILLIAM SMITH, Cl’k c.c.
August 16 31 5t

More About Troupville, GA and the Withlacoochee River

Montgomery M. Folsom

Montgomery M. Folsom, from his 1889 book, Scraps of Song and Southern Scenes.

Found this 1889 account of the history of  Troupville, GA by erstwhile Wiregrass historian, poet, and humorous writer Montgomery M. Folsom.  Folsom starts his tale at the headwaters of the Okolocoochee and Withlacoochee rivers. He traces them down to their connection with the Withlacoochee, at which point Troupville was founded. As the government seat, Troupville was the center of legal and civic activity for Lowndes County (see An Antebellum Trial at Troupville). Troupville was also an important center of commerce and social life for the pioneer settlers of Lowndes County, like Levi J. Knight, who established the first community near the site of present day Ray City, GA.  The Knights settled on another branch of the Withlacoochee;  Beaverdam creek, at Ray City, flows into Cat Creek on down to the Withlacoochee.  For a while the Troupville elders thought the Withlacoochee would provide a navigable waterway to the Gulf of Mexico. Even the Georgia Legislature in 1833 entertained “A bill to be entitled, an act to lay out, open, define and make navigable the Withlocoochey river, from Joyce’s ferry, on said river, to the Florida Line”, Joyce’s ferry being the Withlacoochee river crossing of the Coffee Road. But it was not to be.

Atlanta Constitution, January 29, 1889, Pg 12.

THE WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER.
VALDOSTA, Ga., January 19. -[Special.]- Away up near the northern limit of the great wiregrass section there is a big cypress swamp. They call them bays there. From this bay emerges a little stream of claret colored water. This is near Peckville, and close to the corner of Worth, Irwin, and Dooly counties. This is the head of the Ockolocoochee, Little river.
    Farther eastward, some ten or fifteen miles, there is another bay from which emerges a restless current that goes rushing away toward the south, fretting among the pine boles, resting among the silent solitudes of the mysterious swamps, the Alapaha.
    About midway between these streams, some twenty miles below their heads, the Withlacoochee steals stealthily out of the depths of a brambly brake and glides noiselessly away, like some black serpent of the swamps winding in and out among the barrens.
    The Ockolocoochee curves and twines among the pine-clad ridges, receiving the tribute of some lesser stream at every turn. Ty Ty, Warrior, Big Indian on the West, No-Man’s-Friend, Frank’s creek from the east, till it reaches Troupville. It is, properly, the river, despite the fact that its name is lost after its confluence with the Withlacoochee. It is like the wedding of a great big strapping wiregrass girl with a short, stout, presumptive little man.
    The Ockolochoochee is the stream for fishing. Along the snowy margin of its glistening sand-bars the red-belly, the perfection of perch; and in its placid eddies, beneath the shadow of the tupeloes, the red-horse sucker, chief of all the carp tribe; abound in strength and numbers sufficient to gratify the most inveterate of anglers.
    New river gives the Withlacoochee a good start, and it swerves away to receive the tribute of half a dozen streams on its tortuous course. From its fountain head it is dark and forbidding, and the secrets of its black waters are preserved most faithfully.
    Away back in the olden days when Lowndes county was as big as Poland, an act was passed by the Georgia legislature, appointing a commission to select an appropriate place for a county site. Franklinville had been its capital, but was not near enough to the center. As the legend goes, Big Billy Knight and Big Billy Folsom were appointed.
    These two worthies, one from the pimple hills of the Ockolocoochee, and the other from the saw palmetto flats of the Withlacoochee; decided that the most appropriate point was right in the fork of the two rivers. They had an idea that the river would be navigable that high up, even above the point where the Alapaha disappears and runs underground a mile before uniting with the Withlacoochee.
    So it came about that where the wine-red waters or the Ockolocoochee and the black current of the Withlacoochee meet at the end of a long sandbar and go tumbling and writhing, eddying and curving down the long reach of moss-grown trees, like two huge serpents struggling for the mastery, the plat of a town was drawn, and it was called after Georgia’s great chevelier governor, “Troupville,” with a strong accent on the “ville.” They had not learned to say “Troupvul” then, and it was such a high sounding title that they lingered lovingly on the pronunciation.
    The town grew apace. It enjoyed what the modern’s call a boom. Land lots sold rapidly, and settlers came rushing in, mainly the Smiths. Lowndes county has ever been prolific in the smith line. Owen Smith, Old Billy Smith, Young Billy Smith, all sorts of Smiths, even down to our Hamp, who so ably represents that historic name in the present pushing metropolis Valdosta.
One of the Smith’s built a tavern, and another Smith set up in business, and young Dr. Briggs, who came from the north, broken in business, but full of energy and ability, and laid the foundation of that prosperity that has long distinguished the Briggs and the Converse families.
    Troupville only suffered one inconvenience. 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.
   One thing more hindered her prosperity. At the only season when the main river was navigable, the Old Nick, himself, couldn’t navigate it. So it transpired that the only freighted barge that ever tempted its tempestuous tide was a flat boat that went down the river to the Suwanee, thence down that river to Cedar Keys.
    It never returned.
    The boatmen sold the vessel and cargo and walked home.
    Life was too short to navigate that crooked stream, with its sunken logs and treacherous sands, and the hope of water transportation was abandoned.
    Among those who settled in Troupville and left behind many momentous memories, was Morgan Goodgame Swain, a burly blacksmith from Emanuel, who was ever ready for a fight, frolic or a footrace. He stood six feet three and weighed over two hundred without  pound of surplus flesh. As handsome as a Greek god he was gifted with herculean strength and a heart that was generous and true. He erected his forge on the bank of the Ockolockochee, and his wife took possession of the tavern. Becky, she was lord above, and Morz was lord below.
    The town of Valdosta was laid off when the old Atlantic and Gulf Railroad was built, about the opening of the war. Brooks and Echols had been cut off from Lowndes, and the county site was moved four miles southeast of Troupville to Valdosta. A great many of the buildings were moved bodily. And now there is not one brick upon another to tell the story of Troupville. A pile of white rocks marks the spot of Swain’s old forge, and some weather beaten mulberry trees still bud and blossom around the old square where stood the tavern. Aside from these there is nothing left to keep alive the cherished hopes that once animated the soul of Troupville.
   The Withlacoochee still glides along to meet the Ockolocoochee, and the land that lies between them, once town property, is now a barren waste, overgrown with somber pines, solitary tufts of bear grass whose white crests wave to and fro in ghostly suggestiveness in the twilight of summer evenings when the whip-poor-wills chant their weird melodies among the lonely thickets.
    Around the once populous portion of the town lies a waste of sedgy fields that are barren and unproductive. The half-wild goats browse among the fennels and briars. “Ichabod” is written in lichen crusted letters, and desolation reigns supreme.
                 MONTGOMERY M. FOLSOM.

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