Roster of Levi J. Knight’s Independent Militia Company, 1838 with Notes on the Soldiers

Second Seminole War
Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company, 1838

In 1836 as bands of Indians moved across Lowndes County, GA towards the Okefenokee Swamp, Captain Levi J. Knight’s company and other local militia companies engaged them in skirmishes at William Parker’s place, Brushy Creek, Warrior Creek, Cow Creek, Troublesome Ford and other places. In 1838, when Indians raiding from the swamp attacked and massacred nearby settlers and travelers militia companies were again called up, first on local authority of the Lowndes County Committee of Vigilance and Safety, then on the authority of Governor Gilmer.  J. T. Shelton summarized the situation in Pines and Pioneers:

In 1838, Governor Gilmer authorized the call up of eight additional volunteer companies, notifying Colonel Enoch Hall to have any company raised there to report to General Charles Floyd in charge of the militia at Waresboro.  Levi J. Knight promptly volunteered the services of a company of mounted riflemen of which he was captain, Barzilla Staten first lieutenant, and George Roberts second lieutenant, and sixty-five men who were “ready at a minutes warning-to march where ever you may order.” Knight had been operating for some time under the Committee of Safety for Lowndes County; He had searched the west side of the Okefenokee for fifty miles and found signs of about 500 warriors who had left ten days ago; he believed they would come back to steal corn and potatoes; he approved of the executive’s use of “efficient means to rid us of these troublesome neighbors.” Gilmer quickly accepted Captain Knight’s independent company and that of Captain Tomlinson into Floyd’s regiment. Knight, with a full company complement of seventy-five men served in the “sudden emergency” from August 15 to October 15, 1838.  

The 1838 muster roll of Knight’s company was transcribed and published in the South Georgia Historical and Genealogical Quarterly. Nearly a third of the men in Captain Knight’s Company had prior military service. Many had served under Captain Knight in skirmishes with the Indians in 1836.   Governor Schley had noted in his November 7, 1837 address to the Georgia Assembly that militia volunteers who served enlistments in 1836 had received “payment for articles lost ‘in battle, or in the immediate pursuit of the Indians, or while employed in actual service,’ which shall not extend ‘beyond the loss of horses and equipages, wagons and wearing apparel of the soldier.’ The Governor paid “all accounts for ‘subsistence forage, ammunition, clothing, tents, camp equipage, cooking utensils, medicine, hospital stores &c.’…  “The laws of the United States allowed each militia man in the service of the United States, two dollars and fifty cents per month in lieu of clothing.” No compensation was given for horses which died of natural causes.  Militia volunteers, privates and officers received the same pay as soldiers enlisted in the U. S. Army. Sick or wounded men were compensated for any expenses for medical treatment they received from civilian physicians.
The militia volunteers enlisting in 1838 probably expected similar compensation.

Muster roll of Levi J. Knight's Independent Company, 1838. South Georgia Historical and Genealogical Quarterly

Muster roll of Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company, 1838. South Georgia Historical and Genealogical Quarterly

 

(Editor’s Note: In 1838 the Indians in this section of Georgia went on the warpath, and the state malitia was called out to repel them. The following seven companies of state militia from Ware and Lowndes counties saw service in this war, and these rosters are taken from the records in the capitol at Atlanta. The following is the caption as copied concerning Capt. Levi J. Knight’s company:

MUSTER ROLL OF CAPT. LEVI J. KNIGHT’S Independent Company from Lowndes county, from 15th day of August, 1838 to 15th day of October, 1838, which entered the service on a sudden emergency to repel the invasion of the Indians into that county in the year 1838.

  • Levi J. Knight, Captain
  • Barzilla Staten, First Lieut.
  • George Roberts, Second Lieut.,
    Martin Shaw (1803-1876), First Sargent
    Martin Shaw (Jr.), born in SC April 1, 1803, a son of Pvt. Martin Shaw; apparently moved with his father and siblings to Liberty County, GA between 1811 and 1816; moved by 1825 to McIntosh County where he paid a poll tax of 31 cents and 2 1/2 mills in Captain Duncan McCranie’s district; moved to Lowndes County, GA about 1828; a Whig in politics; in 1834-1835, a member of the State Rights Association of Lowndes County, GA; deputy sheriff of Lowndes County, 1834-1836;   served as a private in Captain Hamilton W. Sharpe’s Company of Florida Volunteers in the Indian War of 1836; Sheriff of Lowndes County 1836-38, and at that time a resident of Franklinville, the then county seat of Lowndes County; after a short residence at Franklinville moved to that part of Lowndes County cut off into Berrien in 1856; married 1st in 1839, to Elizabeth Mathis, daughter of James and Rhoda Monk Mathis; married second Mrs. Matilda Sharpe of Colquitt County; served in the Indian War as a private in Captain Levi J. Knights company of Lowndes County Militia in 1838; served on 1849 committee to nominate a Whig candidate for Lowndes County representative to the state legislature; in 1852, administrator of the estate of Riley Deloach, Lowndes County, GA; in 1853, administrator of the estate of Abraham Deloach; He was cut out of Lowndes County into Berrien in 1856; elected one of the first Justices of The Inferior Court of Berrien county, serving 1856-1861; in 1858, served on Resolutions Committee to protest the proposed route of the the Atlantic & Gulf railroad to the south to bypass Troupville, GA; paid 1866 IRS “buggy” tax in Berrien County, GA; served as County Commissioner of Berrien County, 1872-73; 1872 offered as unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Berrien County representative to the state legislature; died suddenly at his home in Berrien County, GA (now Cook), two miles east of Adel, November 7, 1876; buried Old Salem Church cemetery, now in the City of Adel, GA and known as Woodlawn Cemetery.
  • William P. Roberts, Second Sargent
    A fortunate drawer in the 1827 Georgia Land Lottery.
  • Abram Register, Third Sargent,
  • Reubin Roberts, Fourth Sargent
  • James Johnson, First Corporal
  • Mark Ratcliff, Second Corporal
  • John Register, Third Corporal
  • Harmon Gaskins, Fourth Corporal

PRIVATES

  1. Box, John (1795- )
    John C. Box (1795- ) born in South Carolina; came to Lowndes County, GA some time between 1830 and 1838; moved to Clinch County, GA prior to the 1860 census.
  2. Brance, James T. (1818-1906)
    James Thomas Branch, born February 6, 1818, Laurens County, GA; as a young man moved to Irwin County, GA; Married February 13, 1838 to Ruthie Ann Sumner; served in Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company, Lowndes County, GA, 1838; Commissioned as militia Captain, September 7, 1861; enlisted as a private Company F, 49th Georgia Infantry Regiment, March 4, 1862; transferred to Company A, 61st Georgia Infantry Regiment; May 1864 elected Justice of the Peace, 690th Georgia Militia District, Irwin County, GA; moved to Berrien County, GA about 1878; later moved to Worth County; died November 8, 1906; buried Hickory Springs Baptist Church, TyTy,GA.
  3. Bell, David
    David Bell; resident of Mattox’s District, Lowndes County, 1832; served as militia captain in Lowndes County; supporter of State Rights Association of Lowndes County; fortunate drawer in the 1832 Land Lottery; served for the January, 1837 term of the Grand Jury of the Lowndes Superior Court; served as a private in Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company of Lowndes County, 1838, during Indian Wars.
  4. Clements, John F. (1810-1864)
    John Franklin Clements born October 7, 1810 in Wayne County, GA;  served as Wayne County Tax Collector  1830-32; moved to Lowndes County (now Berrien) in 1832; served in Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company of Lowndes County; married Nancy Patten, a daughter of James M. Patten and Elizabeth Lee, in 1840; served on the Lowndes County Grand Jury of 1841; died on September 23, 1864; buried at Union Church Cemetery, Lakeland, GA.
  5. Clements, William
  6. Clements, David
    Marched with Levi J. Knight’s company in the Indian Wars of 1836;
  7. Cribb, John (1897-)
    John Cribb, born about 1897 in South Carolina; came to Lowndes some time prior to 1838; served in Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company of Lowndes County; appears in the 1840 and 1870 census of Lowndes County, GA.  John Cribb died between 1870 and 1880. His widow, Eady Cribb, and daughter, Elizabeth Cribb, appear in the 1880 census of the 661 Georgia Militia District, the Naylor District, Lowndes County, GA.
  8. Douglas, Eaton (1800- )
    Eaton Douglas, born 1800, Burke County, GA; relocated to Tattnall County, then Appling County, GA; married Maria Branch in Appling County, GA; Administrator of the estate of Penelope Branch, 1835, Appling County, GA; about 1835 he located on Land lot 506 in the 11th District, north of Stockton, Lowndes County (now Lanier), GA;  in 1838 served in Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company of Lowndes County;  served as 2nd Lieutenant under Captain John J. Johnson in the Indian War, September 22, 1840 to October 18, 1840; joined September 9, 1848 to Union Primitive Baptist Church, expelled by request September 11, 1863.
  9. Douglas, Barzilla (1821- )
    Barzilla Douglas, born about 1821, son of Eaton Douglas and Maria Branch; in 1838 served in Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company of Lowndes County;   married Dicey Bennett about 1839; established his household next to his father’s homeplace north of Stockton, GA; later moved to Florida.
  10. Devane, Francis (c1798-1868)
    Francis DeVane, born circa 1798 in North Carolina, son of Captain John DeVane, Jr. and Ann Julia Davis, and brother of Benjamin Devane; Private, War of 1812 in Captain Montesquieu W. Campbell’s Company, New Hanover County Regiment of Militia, NC; Private in the company of Bladen County, NC Militia commanded by Captain Sellers. married  Frances Giddens about 1815; tax defaulter, 1815-16, New Hanover County, NC; in 1825, acted as attorney for Lucretia Rogers and her children James Rogers, Ann Rogers and Benjamin Devane in the sale of 585 acres of land in New Hanover Count, North Carolina; relocated to Lowndes County (now Brooks County), Georgia in 1828, moving with the Rogers family;  in 1838 served in Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company of Lowndes County; Died March 8, 1868 in Berrien County, Georgia; buried Pleasant Cemetery.
  11. Devane, Benjamin (1796-1878)
    Benjamin Devane  was born 1796 in New Hanover County, NC,  son of Captain John DeVane, Jr. and Ann Julia Davis, and brother of Francis Devane; served in the War of 1812 as a Corporal  in the New Hanover Regiment of Militia, New Hanover County, NC, serving from July 20, 1813, to August 2, 1813, under Captain George W. Bannerman; in 1814 married Mary Rogers of New Hanover County and afterwards moved to Bulloch County, GA; moved to Lowndes County, GA around 1828;  enlisted as a private at Pedro, Fl, under Captain M. C. Livingston in the 2nd Regiment, East Florida Volunteers, June 16, 1837, and was honorably discharged at Newnansville, December 18, 1837; In 1838, Benjamin Devane served as a private in Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company, Lowndes County, GA; served as a private in Captain Thomas Langford’s Florida Mounted Militia, volunteering at Fort Collins, September 4, 1839, serving until March 4, 1840; In 1848 moved to Madison County, Fl; about 1858 moved to Brooks County, GA; in 1861 returned to Shady Grove, Madison County, FL; after the Civil War moved to Hillsborough County, Fl; received a land grant June 29, 1878, for services in the Indian War; received a pension for service in the War of 1812; died October 28, 1879 in Hillsborough County, FL; buried in Mount Enon Baptist Church cemetery near Plant City, FL.
  12. Durrance, William (1804-1841)
    William Durrence was born in 1804; married Lourany Deloach on February 19, 1824, in Tattnall County, Georgia and settled on land near Bull Creek; Justice of the Peace, 1829, Tatnall County; moved to Lowndes County, GA some time after 1830; In 1836 served in Captain Hamilton W. Sharpe’s Company of Florida Volunteers; In 1838,  served as a private in Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company, Lowndes County, GA; 1841, filed a fi fa action in Lowndes Superior Court, Troupville, GA, against Elias Skipper; died on March 8, 1841, in Lowndes County, Georgia, at the age of 37.
  13. Edmondson, James (1799-1870)
    James Edmondson, born 1799 in Bulloch County, GA, son of Revolutionary Soldier Isaac Edmondson and Ann Cox; married Sabra James about 1820 in Bulloch County; between 1825 and 1828 moved to that part Lowndes County, GA now in Brooks County; relocated one year later to near the Withlacoochee River, about 8 miles southwest of present day Ray City, GA (four miles east of Hahira); baptised into Union Primitive Baptist Church, December 12, 1832; a lucky drawer in the 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery, drawing Lot 55, 18th District, Fourth Section, Walker County, GA; transferred Muscogee County, GA land grant to Thomas Belote in 1832; appointed by the Georgia legislature December 12, 1834 as a commissioner to determine a new location for the Lowndes County courthouse and jail; served as a private in Captain Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company 1836-1838, in the skirmish with Indians at William Parker’s place and afterwards; owned in 1840, 490 acres, Lot 3, 11th District of Lowndes; owned in 1844, 980 acres and 5 slaves in Lowndes County, GA;  dismissed by letter from Union Primitive Baptist Church, October 9, 1847 and later joined Pleasant Church; died about 1870.
  14. Emanuel, Amos (1795- )
    Amos Emanuel, born about 1795 in South Carolina; married about 1819, wife Martha; located in Montgomery County, GA by 1820, owning Lot Nos. 250 and 240 in the 11th District, Montgomery County; involved in 1825 Fi Fas legal action with John J. Underwood against William Gibbs; sold at auction in Montgomery County, April 3, 1827, one slave woman, Mary Ann, property of Amos Emanuel; relocated to Lowndes County, GA about 1827; authorized by the Georgia Legislature  on November 14, 1827 “to establish a ferry across Little River where Coffee’s road crosses the same, in Lowndes County, on his own land“; enrolled for six months service, June 16, 1837 to December 16, 1837 in Captain John G. Johnson’s Company of the 2nd Regiment East Florida Mounted Volunteers; In 1838, served as a private in Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company, Lowndes County, GA; removed to 719th Georgia Militia District, Ware County, GA prior to 1840; July 2, 1844 Ware County Sheriff seized seven head of stock cattle, taken as property of Amos Emanuel, to satisfy debts owed to the Superior Court of Ware County.
  15. Griffis, Joel (1803-1871)
    Joel Griffis, born 1803 in Clinch County, Georgia, a son of Nancy and Samuel Griffis, elder brother of Pvt. Littleberry Griffis and Pvt. John Griffis, and nephew of Charles A. Griffis; the father, Samuel Griffis (1775-1851), also served with Captain Levi J. Knight in the Indian Wars; moved to Appling County with his parents when he was young; Captain of the militia in the 719th district, Ware Co, 1835-1840; served a short volunteer term of enlistment in Capt. Levi J. Knights independent company of Lowndes County militia in 1838; married Elizabeth Bennett, 1841, daughter of John Bennett and Sallie Register; lived on lot of land number 310, 12th district of Ware County; sold out to Abraham Hargraves, of Ware County in 1851, and moved to Land lot number 149, 12th district in the southwest corner of Clinch County; Joel and  Elizabeth Griffis were received and baptized in 1847 in Wayfare Primitive Baptist Church – He was excluded in March 1867; died 1871 in Clinch County, Georgia; buried at Wayfare Church, graves unmarked.
  16. Griffis, John (1809-1880)
    John Griffis born 1809 in Georgia; a son of Nancy and Samuel Griffis, brother of Pvt. Joel Griffis and Pvt. Littleberry Griffis; the father, Samuel Griffis (1775-1851), also served with Captain Levi J. Knight in the Indian Wars; married Easter Bennett (1817-1855) about 1830;  moved in his youth with his parents to Appling County, thence to Ware County; served as a second lieutenant in the Ware County militia, 719th district 1830-35; served as a private in Capt. Levi J. Knight’s militia company in 1838 in the Indian War; married about 1843 to divorcee’ Esther Padgett who had abandoned her husband, John Stalvey, and children; moved to that part of Columbia County, FL later cut into Bradford County, FL; died about 1880 in Bradford County, FL
  17. Griffis, Littleberry (1811-1895)
    Berrian “Littleberry” Griffis, born August 24, 1811 in that part of Ware County cut into Clinch County, GA, in 1850, and into Atkinson County in 1917; a son of Nancy and Samuel Griffis, younger brother of Pvt. Joel Griffis and Pvt. John Griffis; the father, Samuel Griffis (1775-1851), also served with Captain Levi J. Knight in the Indian Wars; married Easter Bennett (1817-1855) about 1830; moved with his family to the 12th land district of Ware county (now Clinch); October 30, 1833, purchased a note held by A. E. Thomas on Lot Number 57,  Sixth District, Carroll County, GA and sold same note August 15, 1850 to Miles J. Guest; In 1838 in the Indian Wars, served as a private in Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company, Lowndes County, GA; November 1st to December 31, 1839,served as a private in Captain David Johnson’s company of Ware County militia; purchased land lot 417, 12th district, Clinch County, about 1852 where he established his homeplace; married second, widow Mrs. Sarah Brooker; baptized October 2, 1874 into Bethel Primitive Baptist Church, Echols County, GA and dismissed March 9 1876 to unite in constituting Ramah Church in Clinch County, which he did April 15, 1876- expelled July 24, 1882; married third, Sidney Lee in Cinch Co, Dec 16 1878 -separated in August 1884-divorced 1892; died April 1, 1895; buried Moniac Cemetery, Charlton County, GA.
  18. Giddens, Thomas (1789-1857)
    Thomas Giddens, born 1789 in North Carolina, believed to be the son of Thomas Giddens, Sr., Revolutionary Soldier; brother of Frances Giddens Devane, Ann Giddens Rogers, Morris Giddens and Pvt. Duncan Giddens; married first  Mrs. Gregory; married second, on April 25, 1825, Mary “Pollie” Nevill in Bulloch County, GA; moved from Bulloch County to Mattox’s District, Lowndes County, GA some time before 1830; a fortunate drawer in the 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery, drawing Lot 280, 9th District, Walker County, GA; marched with Levi J. Knight’s company in the Indian Wars of 1836; volunteered April 3, 1838, at Troublesome, GA (now Statenville) and served under Captain David R. Byran in his company of Lowndes County militia, and was honorably discharged there July 22, 1838; served July, 1838 to October 15, 1838 as a private in Captain David R. Bryan’s mounted company; served as a Private in Capt Levi J Knight’s Company of Georgia Militia, 1838; In 1850 assigned power of attorney to Captain Levi J. Knight to secure 80 acres of bounty land due Giddens as compensation for eight months of military service during the Indian Wars; died February 22, 1857.
  19. Giddens, Frederick (1812-1867)
    Frederick Giddens born 1812 in New Hanover County, North Carolina, son of Thomas Giddens (1789-1857); his mother died when he was a boy and from age 12 he was raised by his step-mother Mary “Pollie” Nevill; came with his father to Lowndes County before 1830; December 8-9, 1833, fortunate drawer in the Cherokee Land Lottery, drawing Lot 325 in the 4th District of Cherokee County, GA; married Elizabeth Mathis, 1833, in Lowndes County, GA; Lowndes County 1834 tax records show he owned 80 acres of oak and hardwood land in Cherokee County; settled in  Lowndesin that part which was  cut into Berrien County in 1856, on the Nashville-Valdosta Road, the homeplace later being known as the Harmon F. Gaskins place; served as a Private in Captain Levi J Knight’s Company of Georgia Militia in 1836 in the skirmish at William Parker’s place and in 1838; Lowndes County 1844 tax records show the Frederick M. Giddens homeplace was 980 acres in Captain Sanderson’s District on Land lots 464 and 465 in the 10th District; February 6,1867, administrator of the estate of John W. Giddens, acting in the sale of 365 unimproved acres of Lot No. 334, widow’s dower excepted, in the 10th District of Berrien ; According to Berrien County court records,  Frederick Giddens sold property to Benjamin Wooding which included the grave of a Giddens’ infant, and subsequently a feud arose between the two over burial rights at what Giddens considered a family burial ground; died July 5, 1867 in Berrien County, GA; buried Woodlawn Cemetery, Adel, GA.
  20. Guthrie, Aaron (1788-)
    Born 1788 in South Carolina; Lowndes County Tax Digest show him in Captain Sermon’s District in 1840;
  21. Guthrie, John (1795-c1870)
    John L. Guthrie, brother of Aaron Guthrie; born 1795 in South Carolina; In the Indian Wars (Second Seminole War) served enlistments in Captain Johnson’s Company, Captain David R. Bryan’s Company, and Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company; donated the land for Guthrie Cemetery, Berrien County, GA; His son, Samuel Guthrie married Martha Newbern, daughter of Etheldred Newbern;  Died about 1870; buried Guthrie Cemetery.
  22. Guthrie, John, Jr. (c1821-1904)
    John Hamilton “Hamp” Guthrie, son of John L. Guthrie; born about 1821; in 1849 a member of the Berrien Tiger hunting party along with brother Samuel Guthrie; Census of 1850 shows he lived on 675 acres in Clinch County, GA; died 1904; grave unknown.
  23. Guthrie, Hamilton
  24. Giddens, Isbin (1788-1853)
    Pioneer settler of Berrien County, GA and brother-in-law of Captain Levi J. Knight; born in Blounts Creek, Beaufort County, North Carolina on November 4, 1788; lieutenant of the 334th District Militia, Wayne County, from 1816 to 1820;  Member of Kettle Creek Baptist Church, 1823; Member of Union Primitive Baptist Church, 1827; Fortunate drawer in the 1827 Georgia Land Lottery; marched with Levi J. Knight’s company in the Indian Wars of 1836;
  25. Giddens, William
    Marched with Levi J. Knight’s company in the Indian Wars of 1836;
  26. Giddens, Moses  (1821-1906)
    Son of Isbin Giddens and Kiziah Amanda Knight, born November 14, 1821, Appling County,GA; served with Levi J. Knight’s company in 1836 skirmishes with Indians; a private on the 1860 muster roll of Levi J. Knight’s Berrien Minute Men, Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment; died January 11, 1906, Alapaha, GA.
  27. Griffis, John J.
  28. Gaskins, John (1802-1865)
    Pioneer settler and cattleman of Berrien County, GA; born June 29, 1802 in Warren County, GA; marched with Levi J. Knight’s company in the Indian Wars of 1836; Gaskins’ own home was raided by Indians while the family was away; died July 13, 1865; buried Riverside Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.
  29. Griffis, Leighton
  30. Griffis, Richard
  31. Gaskins, Harmon (1811-1877)
    Harmon Gaskins, Brother of Pvt. John Gaskins; born January 15, 1811; among Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company of men who fought in the Indian Wars of 1836; appointed one of the first judges of the Inferior Court of Berrien County; Justice of the Peace;  Died September 4, 1877; buried Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA
  32. Giddens, Duncan (1808-1907)
    Duncan Giddens, Son-in-law of Pvt. John Mathis; born in North Carolina in 1808; came to Lowndes County, now Berrien about 1827-1828; 1st Lieutenant of the militia in the 664th District of Lowndes County 1834-1840; died in Brooks County, GA, on November 26, 1907; buried Old Giddens Family Home Cemetery, Sandy Bottom, Atkinson County, Georgia.
  33. Griffis, Charles, Jr. (1800-1875)
    Charles Griffis, Jr., born 1800 in Montgomery County, Georgia, and died 1875 in Appling County, Georgia.
  34. Hodges, John (1809-1875)
    John Hodges, born in Tattnall County in 1809 and came to Lowndes County at the age of nineteen; participated in the Battle of Brushy Creek; established a mule-powered cotton gin on his farm; died 1875.
  35. Hodges, Alex. (1816-1884)
    Alexander Hodges, brother of Pvt. John Hodges; born May 17, 1816 in Tattnall County, GA; became a Primitive Baptist reverend; Died April 6, 1884 at High Springs, FL; buried New Hope Primitive Baptist Church.
  36. Hodges, James
    James Hodges, Brother of Pvt. Alexander Hodges and Pvt. John Hodges.
  37. Harnage, George (1807-1895)
    George Harnage, born 1807; came to Lowndes from Liberty County, GA; a son-in-law of Jeremiah Shaw; marched with Levi J. Knight’s company in the Indian Wars of 1836; Primitive Baptist Deacon; died about 1895.
  38. Harnage, Isaac (1804-1868)
    Isaac Harnage, Brother of Pvt. George Harnage; buried Boney Bluff Cemetery, Echols County, GA
  39.  Hearndon, Wm. Z. (c1804-1865)
    William Z. Herndon, born about 1804 in North Carolina; married Amelia Ann Freaux (or Fruhock); made their home in  Appling, Lowndes and Ware County, GA; Served in Levi J. Knights Independent Company of Lowndes County from August 15, 1838 to October 15, 1838; about 1842 moved to Columbia County, FL; appointed U.S. Postmaster, January 20, 1853 at New River, Columbia County, FL; became a Methodist Preacher in Indian River County, FL; in 1860 moved to Fort Meade, Polk County, FL; died in 1865; buried at Homeland, FL.
  40. Henley, Elmore
  41. Johnson, David (1804-1881)
    David Johnson, born January 29, 1804, Bulloch County, GA, son of Martha Hardeman and David Johnson, Revolutionary Soldier, and grandfather of J.H.P. Johnson, of Ray City, GA; moved in 1822 to the Mud Creek District near the Alapaha River in Irwin County (now Clinch) where he was among the first to settle; about 1825 moved to Leon County, Florida Territory; about 1828 moved to Lowndes County, GA near present Valdosta, GA; married about 1828 to Nancy “Mary Ann” Burnett; moved to Ware (now Clinch) County GA; served as a Private in Capt Levi J Knight’s Company of Georgia Militia, 1838; from November 1, 1839 – December 31, 1839, captain of a Georgia Militia company ordered into Federal Service in the Indian Wars; commissioned Major General of the 2nd Brigade, 6th Division of the State Militia on December 16, 1850; elected April 1, 1850, Justice of the Inferior Court, Clinch County; served as Justice of the Inferior Court April 12, 1850-1854;  in 1855 a candidate for state senator from Clinch County; Justice of the Inferior Court January 10, 1861; on February 2, 1861, resigned commission as Major General of the 2nd Brigade, 6th Division of the State Militia; delegate to the 1868 Democratic district convention at Blackshear, GA; died April 9, 1881; buried Fender Cemetery, Lanier County, GA.
  42. Johnson, James R.
  43. Knight, Jonathan
    Jonathan Knight, Son of William Cone Knight; came to Irwin County (in the Lowndes territory) over the winter of 1824-25; a constituting member of Union Primitive Baptist Church; marched with Levi J. Knight’s company in the Indian Wars of 1836;
  44. Knight, John
    John Knight, marched with Levi J. Knight’s company in the Indian Wars of 1836; In 1844 John Knight owned Lot No. 453 in the 10th District, Lowndes county, with 490 acres of pine land. No slaves were assessed, with his total property tax being $0.85.
  45. Knight, Aaron
    In 1844, Aaron Knight owned the adjacent Lot No. 454, with all 490 acres in pines. No slaves were assessed, with his total property tax being $0.85.
  46. Knight, William
  47. Kirkland, Lemuel
  48. McDonald, Wm.
    William McDonald, born 1810; Lucky Drawer in the 1832 Georgia Gold Lottery, drawing Lot 1034 in Cherokee County; died on December 1, 1889; buried at Cat Creek Primitive Baptist Cemetery
  49. Mathis, Riley (1817-1864)
  50. Mixon, Michael
  51. Mathis, Tyre (1806-1891)
    Tyre Mathis joined Union Church by letter April 12, 1828, dismissed by letter December 11, 1847; buried Prospect Church Cemetery, Clinch County, GA
  52. Mathis, John (1802-1875)
    John Mathis, Brother of Pvt. Tyre Mathis; born 1802, Bulloch County, GA; Ensign of Militia, District 442, Appling County, GA 1822-25; married in 1827 to Jemima Lee b 1807 GA, daughter of Joshua Lee; Justice of Peace, District 664, Lowndes County, GA 1833-38; Coroner, Clinch County, GA 1851-58 and 1861-64; transferred his church membership January 22, 1859 to Prospect Primitive Baptist Church, Clinch County, GA near his home; owned land Lot 441, 7th Dist in Clinch County, GA; died 1875, Hamilton County, FL; buried Prospect Cemetery, White Springs, FL.
  53. Mixon, Joshua
  54. McKennon, James (1804-1880)
    James McKennon (or McKinnon) Born about 1804 in North Carolina; a private in the Indian War under Captain Levi J. Knight, Lowndes County Militia; enumerated in 1840 in the 586th militia district of Ware County; sheriff of Coffee County 1856 to 1858; died 1880, Coffee County, GA.
  55. McDaniel, Benj. (1790-)
  56. Newbern, Etheldred (1794-1874)
    Etheldred Dryden Newbern, born 1794 in South Carolina, the eldest son of Thomas Newbern; came with his family to Georgia about 1798, to Bulloch County; said to have fought in the War of 1812; had moved with his family to Tattnall County by 1815; moved with his family to Appling County, near present day Blackshear, GA; married 1823 to Elizabeth  “Betsy” Sirmans and homesteaded in Appling County; cut into Ware County in 1825; 1825 to 1827 served as First Lieutenant of militia, 584th district; 1828, moved to Lowndes County (now Berrien) to a site on Five Mile Creek; elected First Lieutenant of the militia in the 664th district of Lowndes County, Captain Levi J. Knight’s district; July, 1836, served as a  private in Captain Levi J. Knights Independent Militia Company in the skirmish at William Parker’s place; moved to a homestead on the west side of the Alapaha River; 1865 moved to Clinch County; purchased Lot 256, 10th District; died 1874; buried in an unmarked grave at Wayfare Church, Echols county, GA.
  57. Peterson, Eldred
  58. Peterson, Henry
  59. Prester, Henry
  60. Roberts, Lewis (1802-1854)
    Lewis Leonard Roberts, son-in-law of Jonathan Knight; his home was a polling place in the Lowndes County election of 1829; died September 1, 1854; buried Swift Creek Cemetery, Lake Butler, FL
  61. Roberts, Bryant (1809-1888)
    Bryant J. Roberts, born in Wayne County, GA on June 4, 1809 and came to Lowndes County in 1827; ensign in the 663rd district of the Lowndes County militia, 1827 to 1829; Justice of the Peace in the 658th district, Lowndes County, 1834-1837 term; private in Captain Levi J. Knight’s company of Lowndes County militia, and present at 1836 skirmish with Indians at William “Short-arm Billy” Parker’s place; Died July 8, 1888; buried Cat Creek Primitive Baptist Church.
  62. Sirmans, Jonathan (1796-1850)
    Jonathan Sirmans, neighbor of Etheldred Newbern; father of Rachel Sirmans, Hardeman Sirmans; step-father of Melissa Rowland who married Harmon Gaskins; buried Fender Cemetery, Lanier County, GA
  63. Sirmans, Hardy
  64. Shaw, Jeremiah (1800-1883)
    Owned portions of Lots 499 and 500, 10th Land District, Lowndes County (later Berrien);
  65. Sloan, Daniel
  66. Stalvey, John J.
  67. Slaughter, Moses (c1796-1868)
    Moses Slaughter, father of Samuel and William Slaughter; the murder of his son William in 1843 resulted in two sensational trials at Troupville, GA and the hanging of Samuel Mattox; owned 490 acres on Lot 240, 10th District, Lowndes County;
  68. Sirmans, Hardeman (1821-1896)
    Hardeman Sirmans, son of Pvt. Jonathan Sirmans; son-in-law of Captain Levi J. Knight
  69. Skinner, Randol
  70. Shaw, Martin, Sr. (1773-1863)
    Martin Shaw Sr., born about 1773 in South Carolina; married 1st to unknown in South Carolina; came to Georgia between 1811 and 1816; married 2nd, Elizabeth Chancey on September 12, 1816 in Liberty County, GA; moved by 1825 to McIntosh County, owning 400 acres of pineland and 200 acres of swamp in Captain Duncan McCranie’s district; a fortunate drawer in the 1827 Georgia Land Lottery, drawing 400 acres in Muscogee County, GA; moved to Lowndes County, GA about 1828, establishing residence in Folsom’s District; a fortunate drawer in the 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery; in 1834 a tax defaulter in Captain Caswell’s District, Lowndes County, GA; in 1835 paid taxes on 980 acres of pineland on Cat Creek in Captain Bell’s District on Lots 408 and 420, 10th District, Lowndes County and 40 acres in Cherokee County, GA; marched with Levi J. Knight’s company in the Indian Wars of 1836; served as a private in Captain Levi J. Knights company of Lowndes County Militia in 1838;  died 1863; buried Old Salem Church cemetery, now in the City of Adel, GA and known as Woodlawn Cemetery.
  71. Slaughter, John (1798-1859?)
    John Slaughter, born about 1798 in South Carolina, son of James Slaughter, and uncle of William Slaughter who was murdered in Lowndes (now Berrien) county, GA in 1843; married Sarah ? some time before 1825; came to Lowndes County about the time it was created from part of Irwin County, and settled in that part of the county which would be cut into Berrien County in 1856; served as a private in Captain Levi J. Knights company of Lowndes County Militia in 1838; Resided in Lowndes until 1840 when he removed to Jefferson County, FL; in the Civil War, his sons, Moses H. Slaughter and John H. Slaughter deserted Confederate service and took their families to seek refuge on the U.S.S Sagamore at Cedar Key, FL along with hundreds of other Floridians.
  72. Thomas, Dixon
    Dixson Thomas, according to family researchers born 1805 in Screven County, GA, eldest son of William Thomas and cousin of Ryall B. Thomas, Isham B. Thomas, and Elias Thomas; in 1831, occupied as a surveyor in Bulloch County, GA with his cousin Ryall B. Thomas; married on May 2, 1831 to Susannah Bennett in Bulloch County; juror for the July 1833 term of the Inferior Court of Bulloch County; by 1836 moved to the vicinity of Franklinville, Lowndes County, GA with others of the Thomas family connection; served August 6, 1836 to September 6, 1836 in Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company during which time was engaged in local actions against Creek Indians along Warrior Creek, Little River, and at Cow Creek; served September 19, 1836 to October 15, 1836 in Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company;  in November 1836, held on charges of riot, along with William M. Thomas – after the two escaped from custody charges were dropped; purchased in September, 1838 Lot number 180, District 11, Lowndes county for $250 – sold same to Joshua Hightower on January 14, 1845 for $250; purchased in November 1845 Lot number 89 and half of Lot number 50, District 11 Lowndes County for $150; purchased in March 1848 the remaining half of Lot 50 for $33 – “Lot 50 included all and every part and parcel of town lots originally lay out and runs off in the town of Franklinville, GA”; sold Lot numbers 50 & 89 to Thomas A. Jones in July 1851 for $600; in 1852, moved to that area of Camden County, GA which was cut into Charlton County in 1854; on March 5, 1855 received 80  acres bounty land in Lowndes County, GA, Warrant No. 47,191 for service in the Indian Wars; On April 05, cancelled warrant number 47,191 and requested William Smith to prosecute his claim and receive his (new?) Warrant when issued; In 1855 received 80 acres bounty land in Charlton County, GA, Warrant number 19383, probably at Trader’s Hill, then the government seat of Charlton County, GA; died October 10, 1857 in Charlton County, GA;  said to be buried at Mill Creek Primitive Baptist Cemetery, Nassau County, FL with others of the Thomas family connection, although the grave could not be located in 2016.
  73. Thomas, Harvey
  74. Thomas, Elias
  75. Thomas, Jesse

An Antebellum Trial at Troupville

In 1932, James Nicholas Talley, a son of Berrien County, GA and member of the Macon Bar, published a dramatic account of court proceedings  that occurred in the 1840s in Troupville, county seat of old Lowndes County, Georgia.  Samuel Mattox, son of Aaron Mattox,  was charged in the September 7, 1843 murder of William Slaughter. The Studstill brothers,  Jonathan and Emanuel “Manny” Studstill, sons of Rachel Sirmans and Hustus Studstill (aka Eustus Studstill), were also implicated in the crime. In 1836, Samuel Mattox had been the first to discover Indians were active in then Lowndes county near Ten Mile Creek, prior to the Battle of Brushy Creek.  Ten Mile Creek, the locality of the Slaughter murder, lies slightly northeast of present day Ray City, GA.

Talley’s narrative of the murder of the Slaughter boy and the trials that ensued are transcribed below, along with contemporaneous news clippings of the events and other supplemental information.

AN ANTEBELLUM TRIAL AT TROUPVILLE

By J. N. TALLEY, of the Macon Bar

Late in the afternoon of September seventh, Eighteen Forty-three, a fifteen-year-old boy, William Slaughter, rode through the pine woods near Ten Mile creek. He was driving up a herd of cattle, for it was milking time at his father’s pioneer settlement in the upper part of Lowndes.

At a distant clearing, the calves having been rounded up and penned, Samuel Mattox and his wife, Rachel, the milker, stood at the pasture bars. With them were two young men of the neighborhood, Jonathan Studstill and his brother, Manuel, who had come over to see Mattox and make plans for an early deer hunt. While they were waiting somewhat impatiently for the cows, Manuel displayed a gun which he had brought along, a rifle  so rusty and antiquated in pattern that he declared, to the amusement of the group, it wouldn’t kill a steer at fifteen steps. They were “all in a laugh,” when the straggling herd, guided by the mounted boy, came into sight a quarter of a mile away.

The ford was soon reached, but there horse and rider stopped and, scattering out over a wiregrass level, the cows began to graze.

Observing from the calf lot this delay at the ford, Jonathan with a loud halloo ordered the boy to “come on.” William doubtless did not hear the command, for he continued to await the arrival of a brother from across the creek. From his stand by the fence, possibly actuated by the instinct of the hunter, perhaps-for no reason at all, Mattox closely contemplated the distant youthful figure in the fading light dimly outlined against the dense foliage of the swamp. While Mattox was so engaged, Manuel handed him the rifle and suggested that he shoot. Jonathan likewise said “shoot,” adding that the old firearm wouldn’t hit the side of a house. “Moved and seduced by the instigation of the Devil”, as was afterwards charged, Mattox took aim and sighted, first however, it is said, deliberately resting the rifle barrel on a heap of brush. “Stop” screamed Rachel, but the shot rang out, and through the clearing smoke the unoffending lad was seen to fall from his saddle.

Dropping the gun and leaving Rachel at the pasture bars, the men ran to the ford and found the stricken boy. Horrified they discovered that the ball, speeding with unexpected force and accuracy, had penetrated his skull. ­Realizing that the report of the gun had carried far and thinking to avert suspicion, Jonathan and Mattox roughly pressed a pine stick through the open wound into the substance of the brain. Upon receiving this shock, the prostrate and apparently lifeless form arose and for one awful moment stood, face distorted by pain and wide unseeing eyes fixed upon Jonathan. Seizing the horse, which had remained standing by its unconscious master,  Manuel rode away to summons help. Later when Samuel Slaughter, the brother, and [Captain John] Sanderson, a neighbor arrived, and the mother came up in her cart, they were told by Mattox and Jonathan how a random shot fired from across the creek had frightened the horse, how the boy had been violently thrown, and how in falling his head struck a pine knot. Pointing to the stick, Jonathan declared to the mother, “that snag proved your son’s death.”

Early next morning young Slaughter died. The locality where he was shot is still known locally as Slaughter’s Ford and is some five or six miles from the present town of Nashville in Berrien county.

 

Cause of Death Revealed by Hole in Hat.

The remote rural community had been thoroughly aroused. Samuel Slaughter, who heard the shot, maintained that it came from the direction of the calf pen, for at the time he himself had been “across the creek.”  The Studstills, Mattox and Rachel did much talking, and after several days Mattox acknowledged that it was he who fired the “random shot” which frightened the horse. The theory of accidental death was being generally accepted until one day Moses Slaughter at home took down his son’s hat and found a hole, clear cut and evidently made by a bullet. Then Sanderson, who had removed the stick, remembered that instead of being jammed it was loose and moved with the pulsations of the brain. The body was disinterred, a post-mortem made by Dr. Briggs of Troupville, and a rifle ball found imbedded in the left side of the head.

 A Warrant issued for the arrest of Mattox, who promptly sought refuge in the thickets about a secluded pool, afterwards called “the Mattox pond,” and now crossed by State Highway No. 11.


At this point in J. N. Talley’s story we can add that Samuel Mattox was captured and taken to Troupville, GA where he was incarcerated in the county jail. During this time the Jailor in Troupville was Morgan Swain, who was also a blacksmith and innkeeper.  Swain’s Hotel was favored by courtgoers, amicus curiae, and the just plain curious who flocked to town on court days.

As it happened, Mattox was held with cellmates Tarlton Swain and John Strickland.  Tarlton “Talt” Swain was the brother of Morgan Swain, and whereas Morgan represented law and order, Talt Swain and his posse were the community Bad Boys.  It is said that Talt  not being of a mind to take chances with a court trial, effected an escape.  The Milledgeville Federal Union reported the fugitives’ flight and the Governor’s offer of reward for their capture:

Samuel Mattox escapes from Troupville, GA jail, 1843.

Federal Union, Nov. 21, 1843 — page 1

GEORGIA:

A Proclamation

By Charles J. McDonald, Governor of said State.

Whereas, official information has been received at this Department, that SAMUEL MATTOX, charged with the offence of murder, and TARLTON SWAIN and JOHN STRICKLAND, charged with the offence of aiding prisoner to escape from Jail, in the county of Lowndes, have made their escape from the Jail of said county.  Now in order that the said Samuel Mattox, Tarlton Swain and John Strickland, may be brought to trial for the offence of which they stand charged; I have thought proper to issue this my Proclamation, hereby offering a reward of ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS, for the apprehension and delivery of either, or THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS for all three, to the Sheriff or Jailer of said county; and I do moreover, charge and require all officers, civil and military in this State, to aid and assist in apprehending and securing said fugitives.
Given under my hand, and the Great Seal of the State, at the Capitol in Milledgeville, this the 7th day of November, 1843, and of the American Independence the sixty-eighth.

CHARLES J. McDONALD.

By the Governor,

J. W. A. Sanford, Secretary of State,

Nov. 7 1843.

The Governor’s offer of a reward was issued by Georgia Secretary of State John William Augustine Sanford.  Sanford had been prosecutor Augustin H. Hansell‘s commanding officer in the Indian Wars of 1836.

It is interesting to note that the legal classified advertisement following the reward announcement  above was for the law offices Samuel Spencer and H. S. Stewart.  Spencer’s presence in Troupville, or the lack thereof, would figure prominently in later court proceedings during the trial of Jonathan Studstill.

Mattox was apparently captured in a timely manner and remanded back to the jail at Troupville to stand trial.

Resuming the account by J.N. Talley:

Mattox Convicted

At Troupville, Mattox was put on trial for his life, convicted, and sentenced to death. The many vital questions argued by counsel were finally decided by the then highest judicial authority, a superior court judge, for there was no supreme court, and no appeal.

New York Herald, June 24, 1844. Samuel Mattox convicted of murder in Lowndes County, GA.

New York Herald, June 24, 1844. Samuel Mattox convicted of murder in Lowndes County, GA.

The execution took place in July (probably 1844) on a hill just east of the Withlacoochee river, and was conducted by sheriff John Towels, who happened to be an intimate friend of the victim. The hanging was witnessed by a crowd said to have been the largest, with one exception, ever assembled at Troupville, the exception being a circus in the late 50’s which for all time set an attendance record at Lowndes’ antebellum capital.

1844 Hanging of Samuel Mattox at Troupville, GA was reported in the Milledgeville Southern Reporter, August 13, 1844 edition.

1844 Hanging of Samuel Mattox at Troupville, GA was reported in the Milledgeville Southern Reporter, August 13, 1844 edition.

Milledgeville Southern Reporter
August 13, 1844

Troupville, Lowndes Co.,
July 30, 1844.

Messrs. Editors:  – Samuel Mattox was found guilty of the murder of William Slaughter, at the last term of our Court, and sentenced to be hung on Friday last, which was done in presence of one thousand persons, as we suppose; and the very next day, (last Saturday.) Alexander McFail killed Ebenezer J. Perkins, by stabbing him. Thus it is among us: one scene of murder succeeds another in such rapid succession, that it is alarming and distressing. McFail has fled.

Truly yours, &c.

J. N. Talley noted in his narrative that, “The records of the Mattox trial were destroyed when the courthouse burned in June, 1858.” From later news clippings, we know that one of the jurors was Ajaniah Smith, who later moved to Baker’s Mill, FL.

Tifton Gazette, March 8, 1901 clipping indicates Ajaniah Smith served on the jury at the trial of Samuel Mattox in 1844.

Tifton Gazette, March 8, 1901 clipping indicates Ajaniah Smith served on the jury at the trial of Samuel Mattox in 1844.

Tifton Gazette
March 8, 1901

Mr. A. Smith, of Baker’s Mill, Fla., is one of the old-timers in this section and was the first sheriff that Brooks county had.  He also fought the Indians in this section, and served on the jury which hanged Samuel Mattox for the murder of a son of Moses Slaughter, in Berrien county many years ago. – Valdosta Times.

Talley documents that  in the matter of the murder of William Slaughter the legal proceedings were an incredibly drawn out affair, stretching over a seven year period. His narrative picks up in 1848 with the trial of Jonathan Studstill, who allegedly aided and abetted the murder of Slaughter.

The Studstill Case

The Studstill brothers had been indicted for murder in the second degree, a capital felony. The charge against them was not tried until 1848, five years after the crime had been committed. Throughout this long period Jonathan languished in Troupville’s little jail near the banks of the Withlacoochee. In the meantime Rachel Mattox had become Rachel Bailey. This comely, young woman seemed dogged by the spectre of crime. Her second husband [Burrell Hamilton Bailey] some years later was also tried for murder, but found not guilty.  (SEE Showdown in Allapaha and  The State vs Burrell Hamilton Bailey)

Troupville in 1848, boasted of three hotels and four lawyers. The resident bar, normally adequate for local needs, was more or less eclipsed by the semi-annual advent of the circuit riders. These perambulatory dignitaries, traveling in gigs and sulkies or on horseback, that year had begun their ­”Fall’ riding at Dublin on the first Monday in September.

An Old Indictment

The following indictment had been returned against Jonathan and Manuel Studstill:

GEORGIA, LOWNDES COUNTY.

The Grand Jurors, etc., in the name and behalf of the citizens of Georgia, charge and accuse Manuel Studstill and Jonathan Studstill, both of the County and State aforesaid, with the offence of murder, as principals in the second degree. For that one Samuel Mattox, not having the fear of God before his eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the Devil, on the 7th day of September, 1843, with force and arms in the County aforesaid, in and upon one William Slaughter, in the peace of the State then and there being, feloniously, unlawfully, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, then and there did make an assault, and that he, the said Samuel Mattox a certain rifle gun of the value of twenty dollars, the property of Manuel Studstill, then and there being found, the said rifle gun being then and there charged with gunpowder and a leaden bullet, which rifle gun he, the said Samuel Mattox, in both his hands then and there had and held at, against and upon him, the said William Slaughter, then and there feloniously, unlawfully, and of his malice aforethought, did discharge and shoot off; and that he, the said Samuel Mattox, with the leaden bullet aforesaid, by force of the gunpowder aforesaid, so by him, the said Samuel Mattox as aforesaid, discharged and shot off, him, the said William Slaughter, in and upon the left side of the head of him, the said William Slaughter, then and there feloniously, unlawfully, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, did strike and wound, giving to the said William Slaughter, then and there, with the leaden bullet aforesaid, out of the said rifle gun, so as aforesaid discharged and shot off, in and upon the said left side of the head of him, the said William Slaughter, one mortal wound of the breadth of one inch and depth of two inches, of which said mortal wound he, the said William Slaughter, on and from the said 7th day September, in the year aforesaid, until the 8th day of September, in the year aforesaid, at the house of one Moses Slaughter, in the County aforesaid, did languish, and languishing did live, on which said 8th day of September, in the year aforesaid, about the hour of nine o’clock, in the morning, he, the said William Slaughter, at the house of said Moses Slaughter, in the County aforesaid, of the mortal wound aforesaid, died.

And the jurors aforesaid, on their oaths aforesaid, do say, that the said Manuel Studstill and the said Jonathan Studstill, on the said 7th day of September, in the year aforesaid, in the County and State aforesaid, then and there feloniously, wilfully, unlawfully, and of their malice aforethought, were present, aiding helping, abetting, comforting, assisting and maintaining the said Samuel Mattox in the felony and murder aforesaid, in manner and form aforesaid, to do and commit, contrary to the laws of said State, etc.

This indictment language, convoluted and legally flawed as it was, became an exemplar of indictments, and was cited in legal forms encyclopedias for decades afterwards.  Although the Lowndes court records of this trial were also lost in the courthouse fire of 1858, we know from other court records that the foreman of the jury was Thomas M. Boston.

The Court Room

The State against Manuel and Jonathan Studstill, murder, was sounded for trial at the December term, 1848. The small scantily furnished court room was crowded. Within the bar a dozen or more lawyers occupied cowhide bottom chairs irregularly arranged behind plain pine tables. These tables supported sundry well-worn but highly prized volumes of law, a nondescript collection of ink wells and quill pens, and numerous resplendent stove pipe hats carefully deposited upside down. Trained under his uncles, Eli and Lott Warren, the presiding judge James Jackson Scarborough had become one of the outstanding lawyers of two circuits. His reputation at the bar, however, it is said, was surpassed by that which he attained while on the bench, and “there was a child-like simplicity about him which blended with his legal acumen and judicial ability made him a refreshing character.”  Augustin H. Hansell, solicitor general, appeared for the prosecution. The following year he was to succeed Scarborough as Judge of the Southern Circuit, a station which he occupied and conspicuously adorned during forty-three years. To assist in the prosecution had been retained Samuel Rockwell, rich in garnered experience and gifted in forensic oratory. On behalf of the Studstills appeared the learned Carlton B. Cole, twice judge of the Southern Circuit and destined in after years to preside over the courts of the Macon Circuit, and with Clifford Anderson and Walter B. Hill to form the first faculty of the Law School at Mercer University.

According to J. T. Shelton’s Pines and Pioneers, Carlton B. Cole was assisted by Peter Love, John J. Underwood, Clark, and Samuel Spencer.

Procedure Reviewed

The State being ready, the first motion came from the defendants who asked for a severance and that they be tried separately.  This granted, Hansell announced that Manuel’s case would be taken up first. Cautiously refraining from announcing that Manuel was ready for trial, Cole informed the court of a pending plea of autrefois acquit.  Issue being joined, there was a complete trial, which ended in a verdict against the plea. Thereupon Hansell announced that the State elected to put Jonathan on trial. This unexpected action was vigorously protested by Cole who insisted that the prosecution could not abandon the case on trial and take up that of Jonathan; Judge Scarborough held, however, that the disposition of the plea was merely the removal of an obstacle out of the way and not a part of the main trial, and directed Jonathan to plead. Cole now moved for a continuance of Jonathan’s case on account of the absence of Samuel Spencer, a member of the Thomasville bar, who was then at Tallahassee in attendance on a meeting of the Presidential Electors, the first to be held in the new state of Florida. In support of this motion it was shown that one [William] Holliday had been subpoenaed by the State for the purpose of proving that in a conversation Jonathan had confessed his guilt. Spencer was expected to testify that Holliday afterwards admitted being “so beastly drunk” on the occasion in question as to have been utterly incapable of understanding the conversation or anything else. The motion was overruled, but the prudent Hansell during the trial was careful not to call Holliday as a witness, thus avoiding the effect of a favorable ruling which might constitute reversible error.  These preliminaries disposed of, at a word from his attorney, Jonathan slowly walked to the prisoner’s dock and awkwardly stood there for arraignment and plea. Already knowing what the State held against him, the prisoner soon tired of listening to the verbose indictment, and turned his gaze straight to a window by the judge’s bench. There, beyond the moss draped trees fringing the Withlacoochee he saw the very hill where a few years before an enormous crowd had gathered to make of Mattox’ hanging a Roman holiday.

With jury in the box the stage was set for the trial of Jonathan’s case upon its merits.

The Trial Proceeds

The attention of all in the court room centered upon Augustin H. Hansell as he arose to open the case for the State. In appearance the young solicitor general was tall and strikingly handsome, clean shaven, his abundant hair worn rather long as was the fashion, and his dress, that affected by gentlemen of his profession – dark frock coat, trousers neatly fitting over high boots, waistcoat of gaily flowered silk, surmounted by the folds of a black stock sharply contrasting with his gleaming linen. The prosecuting attorney told the jury that if the State produced that proof the nature of which he had outlined, it would be their duty to find Jonathan guilty.

Before any evidence was submitted, the dignified Cole, addressing the judge, stated that even if the State’s proof should measure up to the expectations of the learned solicitor general, yet the jury would be bound to acquit the prisoner, and moved the court for a directed verdict of not guilty. It was pointed out by Cole that although the indictment charged Jonathan with murder in the second degree, it nowhere directly charged Mattox, the principal, with the offense of murder. While the offense had been described in the body of the indictment, nevertheless, argued Cole, there was at its conclusion no express allegation that Mattox had murdered the deceased, and that the omitted expression, technical though it was, could be supplied by no other. 2 Hawk. Pl. Cr. 224.

The attorneys for the State could not controvert the proposition that this objection to the indictment was fatal at common law. They contended, however, that the rule laid down did not apply to a principal in the second degree, but could find no authority. Driven from the principles and precedents of the cherished common law, the prosecution was reluctantly forced to fall back upon that section of the penal code of 1833, which provided that every indictment shall be deemed sufficiently technical which states an offense in the language of the code or so plainly that the nature of the offense may be understood by the jury. Prince 658.

Notwithstanding the indictment was an imperfect specimen of the draughtsman’s art, yet its meaning being understandable, the judge was constrained to overrule the motion.

Over the objection of the defendant, the indictment against Mattox, together with verdict and judgment and certain confessions made by him, were offered in evidence by the State, and then from the stand was narrated the story of how the boy while driving up his father’s cattle had been shot at the ford on Ten Mile Creek.

Rachel, the chief witness for the prosecution, and perhaps the only woman in the crowded court room, found herself in a trying situation. On the one side was fixed upon her the stern gaze of the unrelenting old pioneer settler, and on the other she beheld the kindly pleading eyes of Jonathan, friend of her former husband. Under these circumstances she clung to the anchor of remembered truth and testified that she heard Jonathan and Manuel tell Mattox to shoot, that the gun wouldn’t hit a boy at fifteen steps, but that she did not know whether her husband took aim or fired at random. Opposing her statement was that of Manuel who said he did not hand Mattox the gun, that so far as he saw or heard, his brother had nothing to do with the killing, and that he did not hear Rachel tell Mattox not to shoot,

The evidence concluded, on the law Cole argued that because of the great distance, the killing was not a probable consequence of the negligent act, therefore, the homicide was reduced to involuntary manslaughter as to which there could be no principal in the second degree. The State, however, contended that since the shooting itself was an unlawful act, the defendant was guilty, if the killing was even a possible consequence.

Argument Long and Loud

As soon as the first outburst of impassioned eloquence put the village on notice that jury speaking had begun, men came running from the square, the groceries, the taverns, and stables, and soon taxed the capacity of the courtroom. The anticipation of this probable consequence, it may be remarked without impropriety, did not prevent the aforesaid outburst from being made both early and loud, for it should be remembered that in those days the perambulatory attorney usually had in mind not only the case in hand but two others in the bush, and frequently also political preferment in the offing.

To most of those present, the jury speaking, which embraced argument, anecdote, pathos, oratorical flights, and sharp clashes between counsel, was the high point of the semi-annual entertainment presented by the court. The distinguished and resourceful antagonists no doubt made free use of all the material afforded by the case on trial, and we may imagine how in the disputation poor Rachel was bandied and buffeted back and forth – now thrown down as weak, simple, dominated, untrustworthy –  now exalted as a paragon of unswerving truth and womanly virtue. 

In his charge Judge Scarborough no doubt “summed up” the testimony as is still done in the United States Court, and may have expressed his opinion. Certain it is, the Judge stated to the jury if Rachel swore the truth the defendant was guilty. In view of the hard circumstances of this unusual case and the prominence given her testimony, it is not unlikely the jury conceived the practical question to their determination to be, Did Rachel swear the truth? Since an effort at her impeachment had miserably failed, it was perhaps, easy for them to conclude that she was a truthful witness, and, therefore, to decide, as they did, that Jonathan was guilty of murder.

The pageantry of the trial over, its excitement and suspense ended, a wave of sympathy appeared to move the hushed crowd of curious onlookers.  As they heard the fearsome pronouncement of the judge, interrupted only by the stifled sobs of Rachel, and saw Jonathan standing at the bar, with his staring gaze fixed upon the barren hilltop beyond the Withlacoochee.

Conviction Affirmed

The conviction was affirmed by the Supreme Court sitting at Hawkinsville at the June Term, 1849. Studstill vs. State  7 Ga. 2. 

In sustaining Judge Scarborough’s ruling that the indictment was good, although it did not meet the technical requirements of the common law, Justice Joseph Henry Lumpkin used the following language:

 “The age is past for the civil and criminal justice of the country to be defeated by the absence or presence of one or more ‘absque hocs,’ ‘then and theres,’ videlicts,’ etc. And for one, I rejoice to see edifices built, although they may be ‘with the granite of Littleton, the cement of Coke, the trowel of Blackstone, and the Masonic genius of a hundred Chief justiciaries, and covered with the moss of many generations,’ swaying beneath the sturdy blows so unsparingly applied by the hand of reform. Why should the spirit of progress which is abroad in the World, and which is heaving and agitating the public mined in respect to the arts, sciences, politics and religion, halt upon the vestibule of our temples of justice? Why not penetrate tearlessly, the precincts of the Bar and Bench, and remodel the principles and practice of the old common law, to accommodate it to the enlightenment of a rapidly advancing civilization? Our courts should co-operate cordially with the Legislature in building up a modernized jurisprudence, upon the broadest foundations.” _­Studstill vs. State, 7 Ga. 2.

Jonathan Receives Pardon

By an act approved February 6, 1850, the General Assembly granted to Jonathan Studstill a pardon and declared him entirely exonerated and discharged from the pains and penalties of his conviction and sentence “as fully, freely and entirely as if such conviction and sentence had never taken place or the offense committed.”

After this disposition of Jonathan’s case, apparently the prosecution against Manuel was abandoned.

Pardon of Jonathan Studstill, Acts of the State of Georgia 1849-50.

Pardon of Jonathan Studstill, Acts of the State of Georgia 1849-50.

 AN ACT to pardon Jonathan Studstill of the county of Lowndes.

Whereas at a Superior Court held in and for the county of Lowndes, at December Term, 1848, Jonathan Studstill was convicted of the crime of murder; and whereas petitions from a large number of the citizens of said county of Lowndes have been presented to the General Assembly, asking the exercise of legislative clemency:
Be it therefore enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Georgia in General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That from and immediately after the passing of this act, the said Jonathan Studstill be and he is hereby declared to be freely, fully and entirely pardoned, exonerated, and discharged from the pains and penalties of his said convictions and sentence as fully, freely and entirely as if such conviction and sentence had never taken place or the offence committed.
Approved, February 6, 1850.

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The Dumb Act

 It is significant that the same legislature passed a statute, approved February 21, known as “the Dumb Act of 1850,”which made it unlawful for any superior court judge in his charge to the jury to express or intimate his opinion as to what has or has not been proved or as to the guilt of the accused. There was at the time a considerable sentiment in favor of curbing the judiciary, but the Studstill case was probably one of the leading factors which crystallized that sentiment in Georgia.

The bill which became known as the Dumb Act was introduced by Richard H. Clark, then a senator living at Albany. Incidentally it is interesting to note that the author of the bill himself subsequently occupied the judicial station for twenty-two years. We are told this distinguished jurist would sometimes lose sight of the restraints thrown around the judge by our peculiar system of jurisprudence and appear to invade the province of the jury, and that most of the reversals of his judgment by the supreme court were based upon exceptions to alleged expressions of opinion before the jury. 99 Ga. 817

Judge Clark was familiar with the Studstill case, and in 1876 he referred to it as “one of the most interesting cases in the judicial annals of the State.” (58 Ga. 610).

 

Old Troupville

Lowndes County in 1843, when young Slaughter was killed, lay between Thomas and Ware, extended from the Florida line northward ninety miles, and was very sparsely settled. Its first county seat Franklinville, on the Withlacoochee two miles west of Cat Creek, had been abandoned ten years before and a permanent capital established at Troupville, a village situated in the angle formed by the confluence of the Little and Withlacoochee rivers, some six miles distant from the site of the present city of Valdosta.

At the time of the Studstill trial in 1848 Troupville was still a small village the next decade however, being a gateway to the new state of Florida, and supposed to be on the line of a projected railroad from Savannah, its growth was almost phenomenal.  At one time its bar consisted of thirteen members. Its newspaper The South Georgia Watchman, was the predecessor of the Valdosta Times.

When attending court, the judge and lawyers usually stopped at a tavern widely famed for its hospitality and presided over by a genial host, who was affectionately called “Uncle Billy Smith”. Across the street from the inn was the public square. On this was situated not only the court-house and jail, but also the stables belonging to the stage line and a convenient “grocery”.

The orderly decorum of the court room at Troupville was occasionally disturbed by energetic but short-lived fist fights on the square, but another disturbance occurring periodically had the more serious effect of halting the court. This was preceded by the shrill blasting of a bugle, followed by the measured“ beat of galloping horses and the loud, reverberations of the lumbering stage coach from Thomasville, as it rattled across the boards of Little River bridge. The forced recess continued until the stage with four fresh horses crossed over the Withlacoochee bridge and departed on its long journey through the pines to Waresborough.

A source of interruption within the court room itself was the practice of having grand jury witnesses sworn in open court. From time to time, more or less inopportune, a grand juror escorting two or three witnesses would appear at the bar, where upon the business in hand was suspended until the oath could be administered. These interjected proceedings were narrowly watched, and not infrequently a bystander, whose conduct was about to be investigated would be seen to make a hurried departure for the purpose of securing temporary immunity from punishment should the grand jury return a presentment.

The general complexion of a court crowd in those times differed somewhat from that of the post bellum period in that the black population remained at home, excepting the family coachman. These privileged and interesting characters contributed their bit to entertain the transients on the square, while their influential masters within the courtroom occupied chairs and hobnobbed with the dignitaries of bench and bar.

Court Week always attracted a great concourse of people. Some attended from necessity or compulsion, some to enjoy the feast of erudition and eloquence; others to trade, traffic or electioneer, but to many it was an occasion for much drinking and horse swapping, and for indulgence in cock fighting, horse racing, and other “Worldly amusements” for which Troupville became somewhat notorious. Indeed, among the Godly, it was regarded as a wild town – almost as wicked as Hawkinsville.

 

A Vanished Town

Now beneath a spreading oak that shades the old Stage road, a granite marker points out to passers-by the place where once stood Troupville – the far famed capital of Lowndes.

Only the rivers there remain, eternally the same –
Black waters, musically slipping,
Whose ripples sway the gray moss dipping
From hoary overhanging, trees
That murmur to the whispering breeze
Old tales of ancient memories.

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Bryan J. Robert’s Account of the Last Indian Fight in Berrien County

Bryan J. Roberts, and his brothers Nathan and John, were among Levi J. Knight’s company of men who fought in the Indian Wars of 1836.  Many published accounts of the pioneer skirmishes with Native Americans at  William Parker’s place on the Alapaha River and at Brushy Creek have been related on the Ray City History Blog.

Here is the story the way it was told by B. J. Roberts 50 years after the event:

The Valdosta Times
May 14, 1887

INDIAN FIGHTERS

A Brief Account of the Fighting In This Section In 1836.

Mr. Bryan J. Roberts, father of Mr. W. K. Roberts of this place, is one of the pioneers of Lowndes, and has seen service as an Indian fighter in this and Clinch counties.  He is now in his 78th year and is spending the evening of his life very happily among his devoted children, having a few years ago divided a fine property among them, reserving for himself a sufficiency for his simple needs.  His children are all prospering and he is happy in seeing them happy.

In 1836 the rumors of depredations and murders by Indians in other portions of the State caused widespread alarm in this section, and the citizens organized companies for the protection of their families and property.  Capt. Levi J. Knight commanded the company to which Mr. Roberts belonged.

This company was on duty one hundred and five days, and during that time engaged in two bloody fights with the red skins.

In August, 1835, a squad of Indians raided Mr. William Parker’s home, not far from Milltown.  They carried his feather beds out into the yard; cut them open, emptied the feathers, cut and carried the ticks with them.  They also robbed him of provisions, clothing, and $208.25 in money.

Capt. Knight’s company was soon on the trail of this squad and in a short time overtook them near the Alapaha river, not far from the Gaskins mill pond.  The sun was just rising when the gallant company opened fire on the savages. A lively fight ensued, but it soon terminated in the complete routing of the Indians, who threw their guns and plunder into the river and jumped in after them.  A few were killed and a number wounded.  One Indian was armed with a fine shot gun.  This he threw into the river and tried to throw a shot bag, but it was caught by the limb of a tree and was suspended over the water.  This bag contained Mr. Parker’s money, every cent of which he recovered as well as all the other property taken from his house. The fine gun was fished out of the river and, afterwards sold for $40, a tremendous price for a gun in those days.  In the fight Mr. Peters was shot with this same gun.  One buck-shot struck him just above the waist-band of his pants, passed through and lodged under the skin near the backbone. He was also struck by two shot in the left side, which made only slight wounds.  The Indian was not more than thirty yards distant when he shot him.  Mr. Peters recovered from his wounds in less than twelve months.

Having driven the Indians into the dense swamp beyond the river, Capt. Knight marched his company as rapidly as possible in the direction of Brushy creek, in the Southwestern portion of the county.  When they arrived near that place, they heard a volley of small arms, and on arrival found that the battle had been fought and that the volley they heard was the last tribute of respect over the grave of their brave comrade-in-arms, Pennywell Folsom.  Edwin Shanks and a man named Ferrell were also shot dead in the fight.  Edwin Henderson was mortally wounded and died near the battlefield.  Mr. Robert Parrish, Sr., who lives near Adel, had his arm broken by a bullet in this fight. The Indians lost 27 killed and a number wounded.  We have no account of any prisoners being taken.  The battle of Brushy Creek was fought in a low, marshy swamp where Indian cunning was pitted against the invincible courage of the Anglo-Saxon, and in five minutes after the fight opened there was not a live red skin to be seen.

From this place Capt. Knight marched his company to what is now Clinch county.  He overtook the Indians at Cow Creek, where a sharp engagement took place, resulting in the killing of three and the taking of five prisoners. Mr. Brazelius Staten was dangerously wounded in this fight but finally recovered.

This ended the Indian fighting in which Capt. Knight’s company were engaged. Half a century has passed since then.  Nearly all the actors in that brief but bloody drama are at rest beyond the stars. A few of them are still among us, the valiant pioneers of this country, who bared their breasts to the bullets of the savages in order that their descendants might possess this fair land in peace.

The following is a list, as near as can now be ascertained, of the living and dead of Capt. Knight’s company.  The company numbered 120 men, many of whom came from neighboring counties, whose names cannot now be recalled.

LIVING–Bryan J. Roberts, Moses Giddens, John Studstill, Jonathan Studstill, Aaron Knight, Guilford Register, Echols county.) David Clements, William Giddens, John and Nathan Roberts, Fla.) (Zeke Parrish, Lowndes county,) John McMillain, John McDermid and Robert Parrish.

DEAD–George Henedge, Jeremiah Shaw, Daniel Sloan, John Lee, Moses Lee, James Patten, William J. Roberts, Isben Giddens, Jacob Giddens, Elbert Peterson, John Knight, Thomas Giddens, Harmon Gaskins, John Gaskins, William Gaskins, Sam Lee, Frederick Giddens, James Parrish, Martin Shaw, Archie McCranie, Daniel McCranie, Malcom McCranie, Alexander Patterson, James Edmondson, David Mathis, Thomas Mathis, Levi Shaw, William Peters, Jonathan Knight, Levi J. Knight and Brazelias Staten.

The Indians who passed through here belonged to the Creek Nation and were on their way from Roanoke to Florida to join the Seminoles.  They were first discovered in this county by Samuel Mattox, at Poplar Head, near where Mr. Tom Futch now lives.  Mattox was afterward hanged for murdering the fifteen-year-old son of Mr. Moses Slaughter.  Most of these Indians reached the Okeefenokee Swamp where they were joined by a large band of Seminoles.  From then until 1839 these savages did much damage to the white settlers in the vicinity of the Swamp, but in that year they were driven out and took refuge in the Everglades, where they were, with the exception of a small number, finally captured and sent to Arkansas.
Since the above was put in type another of the gallant old Indian fighters, Mr. Aaron Knight, has joined his comrades beyond the stars.

A 1915 reprint of this article also  noted “The Malcolm McCranie referred to was the father of Mr. Geo. F. McCranie, cashier of the Bank of Willacoochee and Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners of Coffee.”

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