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.

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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