Attack on Aumuculle (Chehaw)

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

Lott Warren became judge at the Lowndes County Grand Jury of 1833.

The people of the Native American village of Aumuculle had a long history of friendship with the American government and white settlers in Georgia. Yet,  on the morning of April 23, 1818, soldiers of the Georgia militia under the command of Captain Obed Wright massacred the village.  In the attack, a young lieutenant named Lott Warren followed orders to loot and burn the Indian houses, some with people still in them.

Attack on Aumuculle (Chehaw).

Obed Wright’s expedition  had been formed as a punitive strike against the hostile Creek Indian villages of Philema and Hopaunee, for depredations made by these Indians on white settlers along the Ocmulgee River.  The expedition arrived at Fort Early on the Flint River on April 22, 1818.  Despite the specific orders from Governor Rabun, Wright planned to bypass the villages of Philema and Hopaunee and advance his force on Au-muc-cu-lee (Chehaw) where he believed hostile Indians were in residence.  Wright ordered the commanding officer of Fort Early, Captain Ebenezer Bothwell, to provide an additional company to support the attack. Although Bothwell disapproved of the plan and insisted that the Aumuculle Indians were friendly, he provided the men Wright required.

“A pilot employed by Capt. Wright took him to the Chehaw town,” according to a later statement by Lott Warren before the U.S. Congress.    Captain Jacob Robinson alleged that upon approaching “within a half mile of the town, we found an Indian herding cattle, the most of which appeared to be white people’s marks and brands. A Mr. McDuffee, of Telfair attached to my corps, swore to one cow as the property of his father, and taken from near where the late depredation on the frontier of Telfair was committed.

Now absolutely convinced that hostiles were holed up at Chehaw, the expedition advanced on the town. Captain Obed Wright ordered the attack on the Native American village just before noon on April 23, 1818.  Captain Dean, a veteran of the War of 1812, ordered a charge, but  it was countermanded by Capt. Wright. Captain Robinson led the attack on the right. Half of the village’s warriors were absent, having volunteered to serve with General Jackson in Florida. The town was soon decimated. 

The outcome of the attack was reported by Captain Wright in a letter to Governor Rabun dated April 25, 1818, which was published in the Georgia Journal on May 5, 1818.

The Georgia Journal
May 5, 1818

Hartford, (Ga.) April 25, 1818.
His Excellency Governor Rabun;
Sir – I have the honor to inform you that agreeable to your orders, I took up the line of march from this place on the 21st instant, with Captains [Jacob] Robinson’s & [Timothy L.] Rogers’s companies of mounted gun-men, Captains [Elijah] Dean’s and [Daniel] Child’s infantry, together with two detachments under Lieutenants Cooper and Jones, Captain Thomason acting as Adjutant, in all about 270 effective men.
      On the night of the 22d I crossed Flint river, and at day break, advanced with caution against the Chehaw Town. The advance guard, when within half a mile of the town, took an Indian prisoner, who was attending a drove of Cattle, and on examination, found some of them to be the property of a Mr. M’Duffy (who was present) of Telfair County.
      The town was attacked, between 11 and 12 o’clock, with positive orders not to injure the women, or children, and in the course of two hours, the whole was in flames; they made some little resistance, but to no purpose.
      From the most accurate accounts, 24 warriors were killed, and owing to the doors of some of the houses being inaccessible to our men, and numbers of guns being fired at us through the crevices, they were set on fire; in consequence of which, numbers were burnt to death in the houses; In all probability from 40 to 50 was their total loss; some considerable number of warriors made their escape, by taking to a thick swamp; a very large parcel of powder found in the town, was destroyed. It is supposed their chief is among the slain. The town is laid completely desolate, without the loss of a man. We re-crossed the Flint to Fort Early the same evening, making a complete march of 31 miles (exclusive of destroying the town) in 24 hours.
The conduct of the officers and soldiers on this occasion, (as well as on all others) was highly characteristic, of the patriotism and bravery of the Georgians in general.

I am sir, with respect, your most
ob’t humble serv’t,
OBED WRIGHT Capt.
(Ga.) Dft. militia Comd’g

Miniature portrait of Thomas Glascock, Jr.

Brigadier General Thomas Glascock, Jr. constructed and commanded Fort Early in 1818.

Four days after Wright’s attack , Brigadier General Thomas Glascock came upon the scene of destruction. He had returned to Chehaw village on his way to Hartford, his drafted Georgia militia men having completed their term of enlistment in Florida. In early 1818, Glascock had spent considerable time near Chehaw supervising the construction of Fort Early. He had depended on the friendly village for supplies and for intelligence on the movements of hostile Indians in the area.

Some of the men traveling with General Glascock were warriors from Chehaw who had served with him in the campaign against the Seminoles in Florida.  All were shocked at finding the people massacred and the village burned out.  Glascock, having arrived with depleted provisions had again hoped to resupply his command at Chehaw, but was forced to march his troops on to Fort Early.

In a letter written a week afterwards,  Glascock reported the attack to his superior officer, General Andrew Jackson. Glascock’s account of the Chehaw affair is important not only for its description of how 230 militiamen killed “seven men . . . one woman and two Children” but also for how it shaped Jackson’s response to the massacre.

Fort Early, April 30, 1818.

SIR,
I have the pleasure to inform you, that my command has safely reached this place having suffered some little for the want of meat. The Gods have proved equally propitious to us, on our return as on our advance at Mickasuky. Some of my men were nearly out of corn, and searching about some old houses that had not been consumed, to see if they could make any discovery, in entering one of them, to their great astonishment and surprize, they came across the man who was lost from captain Watkin’s company, on the 2d of April. It appears from his statement, that he was taken with a kind of cramp, and was unable to move and became senseless. — When he recovered, he became completely bewildered, and never could reach the camp; he therefore concluded it was prudent to secrete himself in some swamp, and after wandering about some time came across a parcel of corn, on which he subsisted until we found him: he was very much reduced, and apparently perfectly wild. On that night Gray struck a trail, pursued it about a mile and half, came to a small hut, which fortunately contained 50 or 60 bushels of corn, some potatoes and peas, which enabled us to reach the Flint, opposite Chehaw village; when arriving within thirty miles of the place, I sent on major Robinson, with a detachment of 20 men to procure beef. On his arriving there, the Indians had fled in every direction. The Chehaw town having been consumed about four days before, by a party of men consisting of 230, under a captain Wright, now in command of Hartford. It appears that after he assumed the command of that place, he obtained the certificates of several men on the frontier, that the Chehaw Indians were engaged in a skirmish on the Big Bend
[Ocmulgee River – Breakfast Branch]. He immediately sent or went to the governor, and received orders to destroy the towns of Filemme and Oponee. Two companies of cavalry were immediately ordered out and placed under his command, and on the 22d he reached this place. He ordered captain Bothwell, to furnish him with 25 or 30 men to accompany him, having been authorized to do so by the governor. The order was complied with. Captain Bothwell told him, that he could not accompany him, disapproved the plan, and informed captain Wright, that there could be no doubt of the friendship of the Indians in that quarter; and stated, that Oponne had brought in a public horse that had been lost that day. This availed nothing; mock patriotism burned in their breasts; they crossed the river that night, and pushed for the town. When arrived there, an Indian was discovered grazing some cattle, he was made a prisoner. I am informed by sergeant Jones, that the Indian immediately proposed to go with the interpreter, and bring any of the chiefs for the captain to talk with. It was not attended to. An advance was ordered, the cavalry rushed forward and commenced the massacre. — Even after the firing and murder commenced, major Howard, an old chief, who furnished you with corn, came out of his house with a white flag in front of the line. It was not respected An order was given for a general fire, and nearly 400 guns were discharged at him, before one took effect — he fell and was bayonetted — his son was also killed. These are the circumstances relative to the transaction — Seven men were killed, one woman and two children. Since then three of my command, who were left at fort Scott, obtained a furlough, and on their way one of them was shot, in endeavoring to obtain a canoe to cross the Flint. I have sent on an express to the officer commanding fort Scott, apprising him of the affair, and one to adjutant Porter, to put him on his guard. On arriving opposite Chehaw, I sent a runner to get some of them in, and succeeded in doing so. They are at a loss to know the cause of the displeasure of the white people. Wolf has gone to the agent to have it inquired into. We obtained from them a sufficient quantity of beef to last us to Hartford, at which place I am informed there is a plentiful supply of provisions. I have the honor to be very respectfully,
Your friend and obedient servant,
[Signed]
THOMAS GLASSCOCK,
Brig. gen. comg. Ga. militia, U.S.S.

General Glascock gave orders that Major James Alston, paymaster to the Georgia Militia, should not pay the soldiers who marched against Chehaw under the orders of Captain Wright, but to pay only those who had remained behind to garrison the station at Hartford, GA.

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Augusta Herald May 5, 1818 edition reports massacre of Chehaw Indians.

Augusta Herald May 5, 1818. The first sketchy newspaper reports on the Chehaw expedition assumed that Captain Obed Wright had followed orders to attack two hostile Indian villages.

Lott Warren’s Account of the Massacre

Among the soldiers in Captain Wright’s command at the Chehaw Massacre was a young lieutenant Lott Warren, who would later serve as the judge on the Southern Circuit of Georgia. Judge Lott Warren presided over the Lowndes County Grand Jury of 1833, at Franklinville, GA,  then the county seat of Lowndes County. The role of Lott Warren in these events is described in Portraits of Eminent Americans,

Arrived within a few miles of the Chehaw town, which was supposed to be Philemi [Now the site of Philema, Lee County, GA?], a council of war was called, and it was determined to send forty of the best mounted men to reconnoitre. They discovered large herds of cattle that had been stolen from the whites on the Ocmulgee, and an Indian minding them. Captain Obed Wright, of the Chatham militia, who had volunteered his services, had positive orders from the Governor to destroy the Hoponee and Philemi towns, which were known to be hostile. Captain Wright then formed the command into a column, and gave express orders that the women and children should not be hurt, and that a white flag should be respected. Within half a mile of the main town a gate was opened by an aged warrior, and the troops passed in. Every thing was quiet. The children swung in their hammocks, and the women were beating meal. The cavalry in front fired several pistols to the left, killing the warrior who opened the gate. Capt. Dean ordered a charge, but Capt. Wright countermanded the order. Two Indians were seen loading their guns. About this time, Howard, a friendly chief, was killed, while holding up a white flag. The men dashed off in pursuit of the Indians, who fled in every direction. Lieut. Warren was ordered, with eighteen men, to burn the cabins. First removing whatever was valuable, two or three cabins only were burnt. The command then returned to Fort Early that night, sold the plunder next day, and divided the spoil. Lieut. Warren refused his portion.

It was the opinion of all concerned at the time, that it was Philemi town which had been destroyed. The chief Howard, and two other Indians who placed themselves in the power of the troops, were murdered in cold blood. But the error had been committed rashly, under excitement, and could not be repaired. 

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Lieutenant Lott Warren’s recollection of the plundering and selling of trophies taken during the raid supports a report published in the Augusta Chronicle, May 16, 1818, about three weeks after the attack. The Chronicle reported that Wright’s troops sacked and looted the village, the “spoils, consisting of breech-clouts, flaps, shirts, and blankets, some of which were sold (the products divided among the victors), and the remainder kept as patriotic mementos. The ear ornaments of poor old Howard were worn by a Mr. Thompson, of Elbert, acting adjutant of the expedition, as a trophy of his gallant conduct. This being, we understand, boasted of having killed with his own hand, two Chehaws, one of whom had been previously mortally wounded!”

Calls for Justice

Indian Agent D. B. Mitchell wrote to Governor Rabun, requesting an official inquiry “into the conduct of the officers engaged in the enterprise,” and to present the case for reparations to be paid to the survivors of the attack. A copy of this letter is in the collection of the Newberry Library, Chicago. Transcriptions were subsequently published in the Milledgeville Reflector, May 26, 1818, and the National Register, June 13, 1818.

Letter written May 5, 1818 by David Brydie Mitchell, Indian Agent, to William Rabun, Governor of Georgia, protesting the destruction of Chehaw village.

Letter written May 5, 1818 by David Brydie Mitchell, Indian Agent, to William Rabun, Governor of Georgia, protesting the “unwarrantable and barbarous” destruction of Chehaw village.

Indian War. DESTRUCTION OF THE CHEHAW VILLAGE.
Copy of a letter from D. B. Mitchell, esq., agent for Indian affairs, to governor Rabun, dated Milledgeville, May 5, 1818.

Sir,
On the 2d inst I rec’d information that a party of mounted men had attacked and destroyed the Chehaw town on Flint river, and killed many of the inhabitants. From all I could then learn it appeared to be uncertain what troops they were, and under whose command, or by whose order this unwarrantable and barbarous deed had been done; and as the consequences cannot be foreseen which may result, when the justly exasperated warriors of the town return, and find their town and property destroyed;—their unoffending and helpless families killed or driven into the woods to perish, whilst they were fighting their and our enemies, the Seminoles, I deemed it best to come to the state and endeavor to procure correct information. I now find that the party had been sent out by your orders, but failed to execute them; and that the attack on Chehaw was unauthorized. I present the case for the consideration of your Excellency, under a confident hope, that as the people of Chehaw were not only friends, but that their conduct during the present war entitle them to our favor and protection, some immediate step will be taken to render that satisfaction which is due for so great an injury.
The extent of their loss in a pecuniary point of view, I am not at this moment prepared to state, but so soon as I return to the agency I will loose no time in having that ascertained; and in the mean time, permit me to suggest the propriety of instituting some legal inquiry into the conduct of the officers engaged in the enterprise. I leave this early in the morning for the agency, from whence I will address you again upon this subject.
I have the honor to enclose an extract of a letter rec’d from old Mr. Barnard on this subject, the contents of which is corroborated by a verbal statement of the Wolf Warrior, who came to me directly from the spot.
I am, sir,
      with high consideration and respect
      Your Very Ob Servt,
     D. B. MITCHELL, agent for I. A.
P. S.—Since writing the above, I have rec’d a letter from the Little Prince, [speaker of the Lower Creeks,] upon this subject, a copy of which l also enclose.

 The Chief on the left hand in this Etching, was the well known Little Prince was head of the Creek Nation of Indians, and a man of considerable energy of purpose and respectability of character...The position of his fingers, was described as being characteristic of the old man. [On the right] - One of those settlers who, in other parts of the country, are called squatters, but who bear the appellation of Crackers in Georgia, - men who set themselves down on any piece of vacant land that suits their fancy, till warned off by the legal proprietor. The man here sketched lived...almost entirely by hunting and shooting. Drawn with the Camera Lucida by Capt B. Hall, R.N.


The Chief on the left hand in this Etching, was the well known Little Prince was head of the Creek Nation of Indians, and a man of considerable energy of purpose and respectability of character…The position of his fingers, was described as being characteristic of the old man. [On the right] – One of those settlers who, in other parts of the country, are called squatters, but who bear the appellation of Crackers in Georgia, – men who set themselves down on any piece of vacant land that suits their fancy, till warned off by the legal proprietor. The man here sketched lived…almost entirely by hunting and shooting. Drawn with the Camera Lucida by Capt B. Hall, R.N.

Copy of a letter from the Little Prince, speaker of the Lower Creeks, to D.B. Mitchell, Indian Agent to the Creeks, dated Fort Mitchell, April 25, 1818.

Fort Mitchell, April 25, 1818

“My Great Friend: I have got now a talk to send to you. One of our friendly towns, by the name of Chehaw, has been destroyed. The white people came and killed one of the head men, and five men and a woman, and burnt all their houses. All our young men have gone to war with General Jackson, and there is only a few left to guard the town, and they have come and served us this way. As you are our friend and father, I hope you will try and find out, and get us satisfaction for it. You may depend upon it that all our young men have gone to war but a few that are left to guard the town. Men do not get up and do this mischief without there is some one at the head of it, and we want you to try and find them out.”
(signed) TUSTUNNUGGIE HOPOIE

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Copy of a letter from Timothy Barnard, esquire (a white man), residing on Flint River, to D. B. Mitchell, agent for I. A.

April 30, 1818.

Sir,
The Wolf Warrior, the bearer of this, has just arrived here, and brings bad news from the Au,muc,culla town (Chewhaw.) Nearly all the warriors belonging to that town are now with our army. Seven days past a company of white people collected and rushed on the town; and as there were but few red people there, and all friendly, just what few were left to guard their town, the rest still with our army, the white people killed every one they could lay their hands on: killed the old chief Tiger King, and one other chief, both I have known always to be friendly to our color, ever since I have been in this land. The whole of what are killed is nine men and one poor old woman. They took of what horses were there, the owners of some of which are still living; they took the horses to the fort, which is not far from the town they have destroyed. The chiefs that are still alive, beg that you will get their horses, or any thing else returned. The red people don’t know whether it is the regular troops, or Georgia militia that have committed this unwarrantable act. I have wrote you all that I think necessary – If you see cause to write anything to me, to inform them of, I will do it with pleasure. If these people do not get some friendly treatment for the damage done them, I am afraid, when their warriors return back from our army, something bad will happen to some of our color. I am very sorry to have to write you on such a horrid piece of business. I write you in haste, as the bearer is in great hurry to see you.
I remain, sir, your friend, and most ob’t serv’t
(Signed) T. BARNARD

Timothy Barnard wrote with some authority:  He was the “first white settler known to live on land now in Macon County, operated an Indian Trading Post on the west bank of the Flint River, from pre-Revolutionary days until he died in 1820. For his loyalty to the American cause, his sons by his Uchee wife were give reserves in the County. Trusted by his Indian neighbors, he became Assistant and Interpreter to Benjamin Hawkins, Indian Agent… He blazed Barnard’s Paths, principal early trails from the Chattahoochee River to St. Mary’s and St. Augustine. = Waymarking.com

Every one will admit that the anger which blazed up in the heart of General Jackson when he received this intelligence was most natural and most righteous. He instantly dispatched a party to arrest Captain Wright, and convey him in irons to Fort Hawkins. The following letters, all dated on the same day, are of the kind that require no explanation:—

GENERAL JACKSON TO MAJOR DAVIS.

“HEADQUARTERS Division of the South,
“May 7th, 1818. }

“SIR: You will send, or deliver personally, as you may deem most advisable, the inclosed talk to Kanard, with instructions to explain the substance to the Chehaw warriors.

“You will proceed thence to Hartford, in Georgia, and use your endeavors to arrest and deliver over, in irons, to the military authority at Fort Hawkins, Captain Wright, of the Georgia militia, who has been guilty of the outrage against the woman and superannuated men of the Chehaw village. Should Wright have left Hartford, you will call upon the Governor of Georgia to aid you in his arrest. To enable you to execute the above, you are authorized to take a company with you of the Tennesseans that went from hence lately for Fort Scott, and await, if you think it necessary, the arrival of the Georgians, now on march, under Major Porter. “You will direct the officer commanding at Fort Hawkins to keep Captain Wright in close confinement, until the will of the President be known. “The accompanying letters, for the Secretary of War and Governor of Georgia, you will take charge of until you reach a post-office. “ANDREW JACKSON.”

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Major General A. Jackson.
Gen. Jackson to the Chiefs and Warriors of Chehaw Village.
On my march to the west of Apalachicola, May 7, 1818.

Friends and Brothers,
I have this morning received, by express, the intelligence of the unwarrantable attack of a party of Georgians on the Chehaw village, burning it, and killing six men and one woman.

Friends and Brothers,
The above news fills my heart with regret and my eyes with tears. When I passed through your village your treated me with friendship, and furnished my army with all the supplies you could spare; and your old chiefs sent their young warriors with me to fight, and put down our common enemy. I promised you protection: I promised you the protection and fostering friendship of the United States by the hand of friendship.

Friends and Brothers,
I did not suppose there was any American so base as not to respect a flag; but I find I am mistaken. I find that Captain Wright of Georgia has done it. I cannot bring your old men and women to life, but I have written to your father, [James Monroe] the President of the United States, the whole circumstance of your case, and I have ordered Captain Wright to be arrested and put in irons, until your father, the President of the United States, makes known his will on this distressing subject.

Friends and Brothers,
Return to your village; there you shall be protected, and Capt. Wright will be tried and punished for this daring outrage of the treaty, and murder of your people; and you shall also be paid for your houses, and other property that has been destroyed; but you must not attempt to take satisfaction yourselves; this is contrary to the treaty, and you may rely on my friendship, and that of your father, the president of the United States.

I send you this by my friend, Major [John M.] Davis, who is accompanied by a few of my people, and who is charged with the arrest and confinement of Captain Wright; treat them friendly; they are your friends; you must not permit your people to kill any of the whites; they will bring down on you destruction. Justice shall be done to you; you must remain in peace and friendship with the United States. The excuse that Captain Wright has made for this attack on your village, is that some of your people were concerned in some murders on the frontiers of Georgia; this will not excuse him. I have ordered Captain Wright, and all the officers concerned in this transaction, in confinement, if found at Hartford. If you send some of your people with Major Davis, you will see them in irons. Let me hear from you at Fort Montgomery. I am your friend and brother.

ANDREW JACKSON
Maj. Gen. Com’dg, Division of the South

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GEN. JACKSON TO WILLIAM RABUN, GOVERNOR of GEORGIA.

“Seven miles advance of Fort Gadsden, May 7th, 1818.

“SIR:

I have this moment received by express the letter of General Glascock (a copy of which is inclosed) detailing the base, cowardly and inhuman attack on the old women and men of the Chehaw village, while the warriors of that village were with me fighting the battles of our country against the common enemy, and at a time, too, when undoubted testimony had been obtained and was in my possession, and also in the possession of General Glascock, of their innocence of the charge of killing Leigh and the other Georgian at Cedar Creek.

“That a Governor of a State should assume the right to make war against an Indian tribe, in perfect peace with and under the protection of the United States, is assuming a responsibility that I trust you will be able to excuse to the government of the United States, to which you will have to answer, and through which I had so recently passed, promising the aged that remained at home my protection, and taking the warriors with me in the campaign, is as unaccountable as it is strange. But it is still more strange that there could exist within the United States a cowardly monster in human shape that could violate the sanctity of a flag when borne by any person, but more particulaly when in the hands of a superannuated Indian chief, worn down with age. Such base cowardice and murderous conduct as this transaction affords has not its parallel in history, and shall meet with its merited punishment.

“You, sir, as Governor of a State within my military division have no right to give a military order whilst I am in the field; and this being an open and violent infringement of the treaty with the Creek Indians, Captain Wright must be prosecuted and punished for this outrageous murder, and I have ordered him to be arrested and to be confined in irons until the pleasure of the President of the United States is known upon the subject. If he has left Hartford before my order reaches him, I call upon you as Governor of Georgia to aid in carrying into effect my order for his arrest and confinement, which I trust will be afforded, and Captain Wright brought to condign punishment for this unparalleled murder. It is strange that this hero had not followed the trail of the murderers of your citizens; it would have led to Mickasucky, where we found the bleeding scalps of your citizens; but there might have been more danger in this than attacking a village containing a few superannuated women without arms or protectors. This act will to the last age fix a stain upon the character of Georgia.

“I have the honor, etc.,
“ANDREW JACKSON.”

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There were those who came to Captain Wright’s defense. Jacob Robinson, captain of the Laurens County Light Dragoons, who participated in the attack, gave an account that significantly differed from that of Lieutenant Lott Warren. Robinson wrote in the May 5, 1818 edition of the Milledgeville Georgia Journal:

I find some people are misled, or under wrong impressions, as to the late expedition to the Nation, supposing the town destroyed by Capt. Wright’s detachment (acting under the orders of the Executive) was actually friendly. As an officer commanding a volunteer corps on that occasion, I feel it my duty to state, that when the army, or rather the advance, appeared within half a mile from the town, we found an Indian herding Cattle, the most of which appeared to be white people’s marks and brands. A Mr. M’Duffee of Telfair, attached to my corps, attached to my corps, swore to one cow as the property of his father and taken from near where the late depredation on the frontier of Telfair was committed. We found in the town a rifle gun, known to be the one taken from a man of the name of Burch, who fell in the before mentioned skirmish [Battle of Breakfast Branch]. When we determined to attack the town, positive orders were given to spare the women and children, and all such as claimed protection; which was strictly enforced by the Officers, so far as was practicable, or came within my observation. My Troop was directed to advance on the right of the Town, which was done speedily. On our approach & before a man of my company fired a gun, the Indians, from a sink or cave near the path we were in, fired apparently 12 or 15 guns at my men; the bullets were distinctly heard by all, and slightly felt by two or three of the men. Some of the Indians found in the town were painted; all I saw evinced a disposition to fight or escape. We killed 24 warriors and burnt the town, agreeable to orders. A considerable number of new British muskets, carbines, &c. were destroyed – in nearly all of the houses there were explosions of gun-powder. The Indian we found herding cattle informed us that Hoponee resided there, and was then in the town. I am not certain whether he was slain or not. In possession of the last Indian killed, who was painted red, was found letters, one from Col. Milton, the other from Maj. Minton, both addressed to Gen’l Gaines, the seals of which had been broken.
JACOB ROBINSON
April 30th, 1818

Captain Jacob Robinson was later court martialed and cashiered for making out a false payroll report for the service of his men who participated in the Chehaw Massacre, keeping the excess pay for himself (Georgia Journal, Sept 28, 1819).  Those serving on the military court that convicted Robinson included Captain Elijah Dean and Lieutenant Charles S. Guyton, who served with Robinson at the attack on Chehaw.  Robinson later attempted to coerce them and other members of the court, under threat of law suit, to certify that his men had been paid properly.

On May 20, 1818 Governor Rabun responded to Mitchell,  U.S. agent to the Creek Indians regarding letters that he has received about Captain Obed Wright’s unwarranted attack on innocent Creeks in the Chehaw Village. Rabun tries to justify the attack by explaining that Captain Wright’s detachment descended on the village because they had been told by credible sources that the Indians living there were under the leadership of Chief Hopaunee, whose warriors had been hostile towards frontier settlers. Rabun apologizes for the mistake but says that civilian casualties are an unfortunate part of war. He laments the negative attention that this attack has generated among the people of the state, particularly as it obscures the recent “outrages” committed by the Creeks. To appease the public, Rabun has ordered a tribunal to investigate the attack. In the meantime, he urges Mitchell to express his apologies to the Creeks.

Executive Department Georgia Milledgeville 20th May, 1818.
Sir

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 6th inst. [instant] enclosing a Copy of a letter from Old Mr. Barnard, & one from the Little Prince, Speaker of the Lower Creeks, both on the subject of the late unfortunate attack made by a detachment of Georgia Militia under Captain Wright on the Chehaw Village which had previously been supposed to be friendly.

I have examined these Communications with the candor their importance naturally required. It is unquestionably your duty as Agent to attend to the complaints of the Red people and cause justice to be done to them as far as your powers will extend. — It will also readily be acknowledged by all, that my duty as Governor of the State, requires that I should defend the cause of the Whites as far as that cause can be supported by the great principles of Justice. — As you have furnished me with the Indian account of this transaction, and assured me of the friendship towards the whites that existed among them prior to the attack; I feel it incumbent on me to explain to you and thro’ you to the Nation over which you preside, the motives by which the Officers were actuated who conducted the enterprise and the grounds upon which they will attempt to justify the proceeding, or extenuate the guilt that may in the view of some men be attached to them — You will readily acknowledge the decided and inveterate hostility of those Indians which belong to the Vilages under the immediate direction and controul of the Chiefs Hopaunee and Phelemmee, and that the orders which eminated from this department for their chastisement was both necessary and proper — You are also well apprised that the orders given confined them Specially to that object — So far then as respects myself I feel perfectly justified in the measures I adopted and which I deemed essentially necessary to prevent a repetition of the horrid murders and depredations committed by those Indians on our unprotected frontier —

I will now undertake to offer in behalf of the detachment the best apology for their conduct that I may be able to furnish and which I am authorized to state, can be supported by ample proof. — When the detachment was on their way to and reached the neighborhood of Fort Early they were credibly informed by several persons of veracity that the celebrated old Chief Hopaunee (whose town had all joined the hostile party) had removed and was at that time living in [added: the] Village upon which the attack was made, and was considered as their principal leader, and that a great portion of them was alledged to be under his immediate direction, altho’  part of them might be with [Chief William] McIntosh — They therefore considered themselves authorized to attack it as being one of Hopaunee’s Towns. — The result I need not mention, as you have seen the statements made by Captains Wright and Robinson which I am authorized by very respectable testimony to assure you, was substantially true, except as to the number reported to have been killed, which was fortunately incorrect. —

Now Sir if I have been misinformed and given a wrong construction to this affair, I should like very much to have more Correct information, but if it should be founded in fact, what more can you or the Indians require, than for me to assure you, that I regret the circumstance, and consider it as one of the misfortunes attendant on war, where the innocent frequently suffer in Common with the guilty — I have however, for the satisfaction and information of the public, as well as for the reputation of the Officer who commanded the expedition, Ordered him to this place for the purpose of having his conduct investigated by a military tribunal. — This unfortunate affair has been shamefully misrepresented by many of our Citizens, whose delicate feelings seem to have forgotten the many wanton outrages that have been committed on our frontier by the Indians, and would even cover the whole State with disgrace, merely because this small detachment have in this instance  carried their resentment to an improper extent. —

The experience of all ages have shewn, that it it is much easier for us to complain of the conduct of others (and especially those in responsible Stations) than to correct our own. —

I have ascertained, that the property left by the Indians who were run off from, or near Docr.  Birds Store on the Ocmulgee, some time past, is now in the possession of Mr. Richard Smith in the lower end of Twiggs County, and will be delivered at any time when proper application shall be made. —

You will please to assure the Red people under your care, that I feel a disposition to maintain peace and friendship with them on liberal terms. —

I have the honor to be,
Very Respectfully your Ob. [Obedient] Servant.
[Signed] Wm [William] Rabun

A heated exchange of letters ensued between General Jackson and Governor Rabun regarding the jurisdiction of military authority in Georgia. The full text of the correspondence of Governor William Rabun and General Andrew Jackson is available in the Life of Andrew Jackson: In Three Volumes. II The incident came under intense national scrutiny and was eventually reviewed by Congress.

The whole issue became an early States’ Rights argument. Jackson maintained that a Governor had no right to issue orders to the militia while a Federal officer was in the field, and in a series of heated letters with Rabun, called Telfair county residents ” . . . a few frontiers settlers . . . who had not understanding enough to penetrate the designs of my operations.” Rabun fired back that Jackson’s own actions at St. Augustine were on par with Wright’s at Chehaw, and that Jackson was more interested in his career than in protecting Georgians. – Kevin J. Cheek

General Jackson viewed the incident as shamefully disloyal and extremely dangerous, with the potential to turn the friendly Chehaws, who Glascock described as “at a loss to know the cause of this displeasure of the white People,” into enemies. Soon after he received Glascock’s account of the massacre, Jackson wrote to William Rabun, the governor of Georgia, calling Wright a “cowardly monster in human shape” and demanding that “Capt. Wright must be prosecuted and punished for this outrageous murder.”  – Massacre of American Indian Allies, 1818

 

Related Posts:

The Chehaw Massacre and Lott Warren

In April, 1818,  Native Americans at the Chehaw Indian village of Au-muc-cul-le near present day Leesburg, GA were massacred by soldiers of the Georgia militia.  Aumucculle (meaning “pour upon me”) was located on Aumuculle Creek [Muckalee Creek], ten or fifteen miles above its junction with Kinchafoonee Creek  (meaning Mortar Bone Creek). Captain Obed Wright, commanding the expedition, claimed his militia justifiably shot or burned to death more than 40 people.

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

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

A young lieutenant, Lott Warren, led the burning of the Indian houses.  Warren later became the judge on the Southern Circuit Court of Georgia, and presided over superior court trials at Troupville, GA and other county seats across Wiregrass Georgia.

The fact that the massacred Chehaw Indians were friendly to the American government and to General Andrew Jackson only deepened the tragedy.

Just a month before Wright’s attack, General Jackson was back in south Georgia to put an end to Indian depredations…

General Jackson’s weary soldiers had sojourned in the Chehaw village while traveling from Tennessee to Florida. The local chief, known as “Major Howard” among the whites, fed and provisioned the men. Subsequently, many Chehaw warriors joined Jackson’s troops to help pursue the Seminoles. – Gilder Lerhman Institute of American History

The Lower Creeks had settled along the Chattahoochee River watershed after the defeat of the Creeks in the Yamasee War 1715-1717.  Among the villages they eventually established was Aumucculle (later known as Chehaw) on a tributary of the Flint River. However, there was  another Indian town in early historical accounts and maps also known as “Chiaha” or “Chiaja”, and sometimes called Chehaw, on the Chattahoochee River about thirteen miles below present day Columbus, GA.  This town is represented as “Chiha” on John Mitchell’s 1755 Map of the Southeastern United States. The town was known to early traders in the region, and when the colonial government of Georgia regulated the Indian Trade in 1761, Chehaw [Chiaha?]  was assigned to  George Mackay and James Hewitt. “Cha-hah” is mentioned among the six principal Creek towns in Adair’s 1775 History of the American Indian.  This town also appears to be the one William Bartram passed upon crossing the Chata Uche [Chattahoochee River] at Chehaw about January 4, 1788 as he was traveling to Augusta with a company of traders.  In the 1790s, this town was know for raiding white settlers to steal their slaves, and for harboring a community of “free and maroon negroes, from the Americans and a a few from Pensacola, [who were] forming a type of palisade. They number more than 110.”

<br /> Southeastern part of the present United States : from the Mitchell map of 1755, showing Chiha (Chehaw) on the Chattahoochee River.

Southeastern part of the present United States : from the Mitchell map of 1755, showing Chiha village on the Chattahoochee River. Full map image in the Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections.

 

Aumuculle, the site of the Chehaw Massacre, appears as Amohkali in John R. Swanton‘s study of the distribution and movement of the tribes and towns of the Creek Confederacy.

John R. Swanton map showing Amohkali (Aumucculle; Chehaw) near the Flint River.

John R. Swanton map showing Amohkali (Aumucculle; Chehaw) near the Flint River.

Aumucculle (pour upon me) was described in 1799 by Benjamin Hawkins, General Superintendent of Indian Affairs.  Hawkins was known to the Creek Indians as Iste-chale-lige-osetate-chemis-te-chaugo: The beloved man of the Four Nations:

Aumuccullee. On a creek of that name, 60 feet wide, on the right bank of Thlonotiscauhatchee [Flint River]. The village is 15 miles up the creek, on the left bank; it is 45 miles below Timothy Barnard’s. There are 60 gun men in the village; they belong to Cheauhau. The lands are poor; limestone springs in the neighbourhood. The swamps are cypress, in hammocs, some water oaks and hickory. The pine lands are poor, with ponds and wire grass. This creek is a main branch of Kitchonfoone [Kinchafoonee Creek], which it joins 3 miles from its mouth (pg 172)…Cheauhau Village, situated on the river a pine barren surrounding it. There is a ford here opposite the town (pg 172).

In  A Sketch of the Creek Country, Hawkins added the village “is in some places well fenced; they have cattle, hogs and horses, and a fine range for them, and raise corn, rice and potatoes in great plenty.”

Hawkins described the buildings that would have been typical in a Creek Town:

Choocothlucco, (big house,) the …public square, consists of four square buildings of one story, facing each other, forty by sixteen feet, eight feet pitch; the entrance at each corner. Each building is a wooden frame, supported on posts set in the ground, covered with slabs, open in front like a piazza, divided into three rooms, the back and ends clayed, up to the plates. Each division is divided lengthwise into two seats; the front, two feet high, extending back half way, covered with reedmats or slabs; then a rise of one foot, and it extends back, covered in like manner, to the side of the building. On these seats, they lie or sit at pleasure.

The rank of the Buildings which form the Square.

  1. Miculgee intoopau, the Micco’s cabin.
    This fronts the east, and is occupied by those of the highest rank;
    the centre of the building is always occupied by the Micco of the town; by the agent for Indian affairs when he pays a visit to a town; by the Miccos of other towns, and by respectable white people.
    The division to the right is occupied by the Micugee, (Miccos, there being several so called in every town, from custom, the origin of which is unknown,) and the counsellors. These two classes give their advice, in relation to war, and are in fact the principal counsellors.
    The division to the left, is occupied by the Enehau Ulgee, (people second in command, the head of whom is called by the traders, second man.) These have the direction of the public works appertaining to the town, such as the public buildings, building houses in town for new settlers, or working in the fields. They are particularly charged with the ceremony of the a-ce, (a decoction of the cassine yupon, called by the traders black drink,) under the direction of the Micco.
    The Micco of the town superintends all public and domestic concerns; receives all public characters; hears their talks; lays them before the town, and delivers the talks of his town. The Micco of a town is always chosen from some one family. [The Micco of Aumuculle (Chehaw) was Cochamicco, know by the traders as Old Howard]. After he is chosen and put on his seat, he remains for life. On his death, if his nephews are fit for the office, one of them takes his place as his successor; if they are unfit, one is chosen of the next of kin, the descent being always in the female line…
    When a Micco, from age, infirmity, or any other cause, wants an assistant, he selects a man who appears to him the best qualified, and proposes him to the counsellors and great men of the town, and if he is approved of by them, they appoint him as an assistant in public affairs, and he takes his seat on this cabin accordingly.
  2. Tustunngulgee intoopau, the warriors’ cabin.
    This fronts the south; the head warrior sits at the west end of his cabin, and in his division the great warriors sit beside each other. The next in rank sit in the centre dividion, and the young warriors in the third. The rise is regular, by merit, from the third to the first division. The Great Warrior, for that is the title of the head warrior. He is appointed by the micco and counsellors, from among the greatest war characters.
    When a young man is trained up and appears well qualified for the fatigues and hardships of war, and is promising, the Micco appoints him a governor, or as the name imports, a leader, (Istepuccauchau,) and if he distinguishes himself, they give him a rise th the centre cabin. A man who distinguishes himself, repeatedly , in warlike enterprises, arrives to the rank of the Great Leader, (Istepuccauchau thlucco.) This title, though greatly coveted, is seldom attained; as it requires a long course of years, and great and numerous in war.
    The second class of warriors is the Tussekiulgee. All who go to war, and are in the company, when a scalp is taken, get a war name. The leader reports their conduct, and they receive a name accordingly. This is the Tussekiochifco, or war name. The term leader, as used by the Indians, is the proper one. The war parties all march in Indian file, with the leader in front, until coming on hostile ground; he is then in the rear.
  3. Istechaguculgee intoopau, the cabin of the beloved men.
    This fronts the north.

    There are great men who have been war leaders, and who although of various ranks, have become estimable in a long course of public service. They sit themselves on the right division of the cabin of the Micco, and are his counsellors. THe family of the Micco, and great men who have thus distinguished themselves, occupy this cabin of the beloved men.
  4. Hutemauhuggee intoopau, the cabin of the young people and their associates.
    This fronts the west.
  5. Choocofau thlucco, the rotunda, assembly room [or Council House].
    Called by the traders, “hot-house.” This is near the square, and is constructed after the following manner: Eight posts are fixed in the ground, forming an octagon of thirty feet diameter. They are twelve feet high, and large enough to support the roof. On these, five or six logs are placed, of a side, drawn in as they rise. On these, long poles or rafters, to suit the height of the building are laid, the upper ends forming a point, and the lower ends projecting out six feet from the octagon, and resting on posts five feet high, placed in a circle round the octagon, with plates on them, to which the rafters are tied with splits. The rafters are near together and fastened with splits. These are covered with clay and that with pine bark; the wall, six feet from the octagon, is clayed up; they have a small door into a small portico, curved round for five or six feet, then into the house.
    The space between the octagon and the wall, is one entire sopha, where the visiters lie or sit at pleasure. It is covered with reed, mat or splits. 
    In the centre of the room, on a small rise, the fire is made of dry cane or dry old pine slabs, split fine, and laid in a spiral circle. This is the assembly room for all people, old and young; they assemble every night, and amuse themselves with dancing, singing, or conversation. And here, sometimes, in very cold weather, the old and naked sleep.
    In all transactions which require secrecy, the rulers meet here, make their fire, deliberation and decide. When they have decided on any case of death or whipping, the Micco appoints the warriors who are to carry it into effect; or he give the judgement to the Great Warrior, (Tustunnuggee thlucoo,) and leaves to him the time and manner of executing it.

During the Red Stick War (1813-1814), the Aumuculle chiefs had repeatedly demonstrated their friendship and loyalty to the U.S., and to the state of Georgia.

In August, 1814 , the Chiefs from Aumuculle warned white settlers on the Ocmulgee River of impending danger from hostile Indians, and gave assurances that neither their people nor the Hitchiti Indians were responsible for the trouble. The Chiefs reported that a party of hostile Indians had joined the British. A Chehaw man encountered four of the hostile warriors on August 1, 1814 headed towards Hartford, GA who admitted that they were on a raid to steal horses and commit mayhem.

 

redsticks

Red Stick warriors depicted in “Four American Indians

The Chiefs had set their men to try to recover any stolen property.  The Aumuculle Chiefs went on to warn that the British had landed “300 negroes as soldiers and 300 white troops” at the mouth of the Apalachicola River, and were building forts there and at the confluence of the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers.  This intelligence was conveyed by letter from Timothy Barnard, an Indian trader and sometimes assistant agent to the Creek Indians:

Flint river 5th Augt  1814
Mr. Mumford
Sir

I write you this in consequence of some allarming news got late last Evening from two of the Aumauculle Cheifs. They say Mr Kenerd sent them on to bring me the information and also to request of me to write down Express to the Citizens of Hartford to put them on there gaurd and also that if any mischeif is done on Ockmulgee [river] that their friends the white people in that Quarter may not suspect the Aumuculle people or Hitchetaus for [illegible]. Its the report the Chiefs being [illegible] as follows – four men from the hostile partey that has Joined the Brittish was seen by a Chehaw man crossing Flint river at the old feild were the old Chehaw town
was formerly. The Chehaw man asked him were they were goeing. There answer was to ockmulge. They were asked if there business was to steal horses. There answer was that was not the whole they meaint to do. The man that saw them he sayes he Said Every thing he could to Stop them but to no purpose. They crossed the river and pushed [on].
Yesterday was the fourth day since they crossed flint river. Therefore I fear before this they have commited some murder or stole of some horses, perhaps both. The Aumauculle Cheifs  has appointed Sevin men to way lay the river and if they return back the same way and bring horses to take them from the robbers and have them Sent to Hartford.
It is time our Citizens on all our frontiers were better prepar’d to meet hostilities, as from the Brittish warriors we must Expect ravage and murders. The Chiefs here present also inform me that a red man that has been down at the mouth of these rivers — were the Brittish are landing Says they have landed 300 negroes as soldiers and 300 white troops wich he saw on the shore and that they are busey building a fort and are also comeing up to the Junction of the two rivers flint river and Chattahoche and build another fort there wich is 70 or 80 miles from the mouth of the two rivers. The Indian report is that they counted 70 Ships layeing near the mouth of these rivers and that they have landed Sheep hogs turkes geese ducks wich is a proof of they mean to trye to hold that countrey. I have give you here an account of Every thing I think necessary to put my friends in Hartford or on any parts of frontiers of Georgia [on] there gaurd wich appears to me to be too much Exposed in the present Situation of affairs. If you and the other Gentlemen in Hartford see cause you may send this information on to His Excly the governor of Georgia, as its rite he should know the present situation of his frontiers. If my Sons has not left you that went down with Mr Harris, plese send me a Quire or half a Quire of paper by them. If I hear any more bad news Shall rite you again

remin Sir your most Obdt Sert
[Signed] Timy [Timothy] Barnard

ps if any mischief has been done before you receive this plese write me T B

After finishing the talk the Cheif recolected something more that his Cheifs that sent him on here had told him to communicate wich is as follows —
That the Citizens of georgia from a few miles below Hartford on the west Side of ockmulge [Ocmulgee River] are setling thick from that down to the Allattamahau [Altamaha] and the woods full of cattle and hogs. Some White people the Cheifs say are also setled of[f] some distance from the river. The Cheifs say that they considered and heard by the conclusion of the treaty respecting the line that they, the red people, were to hold possession of all the land above the line they [therefore] beg of the goverment of the U. States to see justice done them as they say they have been alway freindly to their freinds, the white people, on the frontiers and neaver wish to doe them any injurye.

[Signed] Timy Barnard

In November 1814, the Aumuculle chiefs again provided intelligence on the actions of the British and the Red Stick Indians. The report was conveyed by Timpoochee Barnard to his father, Timothy Barnard, who relayed the information to Colonel Benjamin Hawkins, U. S. Agent to the Creeks.

Timpoochee Barnard, son of Timothy Barnard, conveyed intelligence from Aumuculle (Chehaw) village on the movement of hostile Red Stick Indians.

Timpoochee Barnard, son of Timothy Barnard, conveyed intelligence from Aumuculle (Chehaw) village on the movement of hostile Red Stick Indians.  History of the Indian Tribes of North America

Flint river 3d Novr 1814
Colo. B. [Colonel Benjamin] Hawkins

Sir

My Son Timpuge [Timpoochee Barnard] arrived here yesterd[ay] from his route to Chehaw and old — Kenerds. Old Kenerd told my Son that he had an Express come to him that the War Indians wer on there march wich allarmed him a good deal wich caused him to have an Express Sent on to you. Kenerd relates that the day after this happ[ened] five of the Aumanculle Cheifs that had been down at the mouth of the rivers were Perriman lives arrived at there [their] town and informed Kenerd that the war partey had stoped comeing on in consequence of wich Kenerd requested of my Son to proceed on up to Your house and give you the information. Catchaw micko hatke [Cochamico; Old Howard] of aumancule [Aumuculle] requested of my son to inform Colo [Colonel] Hawkins that all the people in his town take no part with the red Stiks [Red Sticks] but meain to hold the Americans there freinds [their friends] by the hand. Join the Cowetaws there [their] friends the red people. The Aumnucule [Aumuculle] Cheifs are all determined if the red Stick will begin to Spill blood that they meain [mean] to move there [their] Quarters up this way Somewer were [Somewhere where] they can Join there freinds [their friends], one thing the Catchaw micco says when he and his people moves they have large familyes and does not know what way he has to support them without his — freinds the white people will assist them —
One of the aumuculle Chiefs that went on to Perriman known by the name of hitchufulawa [Hitchiti Lawa?] wich I have always known to be a man of truth, if any of the [illegible] deserves the name in this land, was the man that stoped the red Stick from comeing on this Expedition wich has been a good thing.

It may give our frontier inhabitants time to be better prepard [prepared]. It seems the brittish officer that was up at perrimans at the time urging the red Stick on was much offended at the Red people not proceeding on the route he and perriman pushed on down to the Stores at the mouth of the river. Should not have Wrote you so much as my Son was goeing [going] up by request of the Chiefs to tell you all the news but Expected you might be gone in to fort Hawkins. Am still in so low a state am scarcely able to set up to rite or to walk aboute. My son can tell you aboute your runaway black. He says when he got down to Aumaucule that there was but very few red people in the town. The Wolfe Warrier at the time was laying very sick. The first and only news he could hear of them was that they were seen ten miles of[f] from the East Side of the river twenty miles below Obaunes. If you should be at home when my son gits up plese write me a few lines and if you have a late paper that you can spare plese send me one or two.

remain Sir with respect your most most Obdt &c &c
[Signed] Timy Barnard

A letter dated November 15, 1814 from Colonel Benjamin Hawkins, U.S. Agent to the Creeks, to Peter Early, Governor of Georgia (1813-1815), included extracts from other letters regarding appearances of “hostile” Creek and Seminole Indians along the Georgia frontier.  The excerpts  include testimony relating to the involvement of the British in inciting the Seminoles,  and information on the enrollment of “friendly” Creeks to fight against the Seminoles and “hostile” Creeks.

Information of hostile appearances among the Simenolies [Seminoles] and Hostile Creeks.

11th. novr.  from low down Flint river

“Two of the war or predatory parties had been turned back, one by the Aumucculle chiefs and the others by the chiefs in the neighborhood of Kinnards. The King of Micco Sookee dos what he can to restrain his young people. They are impudent and eager for mischief.  A man who called himself a British officer and Tom Perriman visited the King and urged him to war and to go out with the Warriors offering him 100 dollrs.  for every trader, cowbuyer or other American found in their country and the like sum for captured negros. The King answered, begin you first the war and you will then see what the Red people will do. The headquarters of the encouragers of mischief is Perrimans. Ten negros arrived almost perished from Pensacola and 100 expected to join the British.””

14 nov.  From three confidential people examined in presence of Colo. Jones, at Mr. Barnards, interprited by him

“The first movement of the Hostiles was from Perrimans. The Aumucculle Chiefs prevailed on them there to halt. A party of them came on and stole six horses from Mr. Barnard and family and four from the agency. The second ground movement was stoped  again on the adoption of a new plan which was to be kept secret under pain of death. This however has leaked out, from one in the secret, to his Uncle, who sent it to the agent.  When the Georgia army marched and shall have passed through to Jackson, they [the hostiles] are to attack and plunder the frontiers Eastward of F. [Fort] Hawkins for horses for the British officers who will want many, and for negros. When the Miccosookee King and the officer had the conversation related above, The latter said if the Simonolies would not go against the Americans as he had given them munitions of War for that purpose, he would take his negros and march through their country to St. Marys to mischief and bring the Georgians on them. He would give 40 dollrs. for the Scalp of every man brought to him. Where this second movement was charged two parties come on to mischief below fort Hawkins and about Mr. Barnards sons. One of them was stoped by the Aumucculle people and the other by Obaune.  A third party supposed to be one seen near Hartford must have gone round about; Its return trail was seen as supposed by one of the informants; a large one all moc,a,sin trailes [moccasin trails] no horse tracks and he thinks they were either called back by runners or that they discovered the scout of Horsemen coming out from Hartford, got alarmed and returned.”

In a “talk” dated December 27, 1816 from the Chiefs of the Chehaw Towns (Creek Nation) to David B. Mitchell, then Governor of Georgia (1815-1817), the chiefs complained of attacks made upon them by white settlers along the St. Marys River. They relate one incident in particular in which the settlers attacked a Chehaw hunting party, stole their horses, deer skins and other articles, and took one man prisoner. A similar attack was made on another party near the Okefenokee Swamp. The Chiefs remind the Governor of their long friendship with the white people of Georgia; and of their loyalty during the Red Stick War.  Despite these attacks on their people,  the Chiefs restrained their young warriors from seeking “satisfaction” from the settlers. Instead, they beseeched the governor to have their property restored and recover the man who was taken prisoner. The Chiefs also observe that white settlers are trespassing on Creek lands near the Altamaha [Ocmulgee] River. The letter is signed by Chefecksecoimmauthlau, as a representative of the Chehaw Chiefs, and Timothy Barnard, as interpreter.

Letter from Timothy Barnard esqr. dated 27th. Dec: [December] 1816.
Indian Affairs

A Talk Sent on by the Indian Cheifs who reside Sixty miles below this on flint river known by the name of the Chehaws to His Excellncy — David B. Mitchill,Governor and Commander of the State of georgia. Their talk is in consequence of depredations commited on them by the white people who reside on the river St maryes, Citizens of the United States. The Cheifs sent on to me three days past states there complaints as follows, that near two months past a party the red people were hunting near the St marys river at wich time a party of white people rushed on there camp and took on[e] red man a prisoner and took him of[f] and twelve hed of horses and Every thing Else that was movea[ble] at the dear Skins and many other articles. Since that not many days past a party of red people were in camp on the East side of the oconfenoga [Okefenokee] Swamp at wich time a party of white people rushed on them and robed [robbed] them of ten horses they say that they believe that if they had not run of[f] into Swamp that the white people meant to kill them as they were all armed — the Cheifs say they send this to his Excellency as freinds as its well known that they have neaver commited any hostile acts on the Citizens of georgia. The also say they neaver took no part with those called the red Sticks wich they say I know to be true and wich is true. They have been in all the last bad times in this countrey. They have behaved as well and better than any other tribe I know. The Chiefs therefore beg the favour of his Excellency as a freind to git there property restored to them and also the red man that was carrid of[f] a prisoner if he is Still liveing. The Cheifs say that a party of their young warriers had collected to goe down near were they were robed [robbed] and plunder property to the ammount of there loss but that they the Cheifs that Send this talk had Stopt them. They Cheifs therefore beg the favour of his Excellency as a freind to the red people to send them an answer to this communication directed to me that I may inform them if they may have any hopes of there property been [being] returned —

The above talk givein by the Cheif.
Sent on to me this 27th Decr 1816
Chefecksecoimmauthlau his X mark
Timy Barnard, Interpreter

After finishing [the] talk the Cheif recolected Something more that his Cheifs that sent him on here had told him to communicate wich is as follows —
That the citizens of georgia from a few miles below Hartford on the west side of ockmulgeare setling thick from that down to the Allattamahau [Altamaha River] and the woods full of cattle and hogs. Some white people the Cheifs say are also setled of[f] some distance from the river. The Cheifs say that they considered and heard by the conclusion of the treaty respecting the line that they the red people were to hold possession of all the land above the line. They beg the goverment of the U. States to see justice done them as they say they have been alway freindly to their freinds the white people on the frontiers and neaver wish to doe them any Injurye.

Thus it was that Aumuculle was well regarded as a friendly village and an ally, when Andrew Jackson came through the area in 1818 on his way to engage hostile Seminole Indians in Florida.

In early 1818, as he traversed the region, Andrew Jackson stopped at Aumucullee, now referred to as simply “Chehaw.” At this time, the town “consisted of fifteen or twenty cabins with a large Council house in the Centre” flying a white flag of peace ( GA Genealogy)General Glascock reported there was a ferry over the Flint River opposite the village.

FORT EARLY

Miniature portrait of Thomas Glascock, Jr.

Brigadier General Thomas Glascock, Jr. constructed and commanded Fort Early in 1818. He later served as a Georgia member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

To defend the Georgia frontier and in preparation for Jackson’s campaign,  Brigadier General Thomas Glascock had been sent in January of 1818 to oversee the reconstruction of Fort Early on the Flint River. His militia bivouac on the Flint above Chehaw village was called Camp Cumming.  A soldier wrote from Camp Cumming, “We arrived here after a fatigueing march of 12 days from Hartford, 10 of which rained. The whole of our march has been through a poor, flat, pine-woods glades, where I have seen eight horses frequently to a waggon, which they moved with difficulty. This detachment has had constant, various and almost insurmountable difficulties to encounter. We have had many false alarms, but no fighting; nor need there be any apprehension of an attack. A hostile party however is scouting in the neighborhood, consisting of about thirty men, and have rifled the house of a friendly Chehaw chief ( Raleigh Minerva, Jan 30, 1818).”   On January 10, 1818, Glascock wrote from Camp Cumming about hostile Indians from Fowltown (called Totalosi Talofa by the Native Americans) threatening the safety of his men and effectively cutting off their supplies from the friendly Indians at Chehaw.

In a letter written January 18, 1818 Glascock informed General Edmund Pendleton Gaines that sixty of his men were erecting blockhouses, and that he intended to bring up the rest of his force up to complete the works.  The log stockade was built near the site of an earlier breastworks originally constructed in the War of 1812.

 

August Herald Jan 30, 1818 reports construction of Fort Early

Augusta Herald Jan 30, 1818 reports construction of Fort Early

Augusta Herald
Jan 30, 1818

The LAST NIGHT’S MAIL from Milledgeville, brought us the following intelligence, being the latest received from the Georgia Troops now in service.

The Army.

An intelligent gentleman, who left the Army on the 18th instant, has favored us with the following particulars respecting the Georgia militia in service. The detachment is stationed on the east side of Flint river, 42 miles from Hartford, about 70 miles from Fort-Scott, and ten above the nearest settlement of Chehaw (a friendly Indian town) to which place a road has been opened. A new Fort is erecting on the site of old Fort-Early, selected by Gen. Blackshear, and considered very eligible—it is to be called Bloomfield. The adjacent country is open and glady, and the mud so extremely bad, that the troops have to be supplied by pack-horses. Boats are building at the Agency, to transport provisions down the river—they are to be shot-proof, and it is supposed are nearly finished. No difficulty is now believed to exist relative to crossing the Spanish line—and, it is understood, offensive operations, on our part, will soon be resumed—The army was expected to be reinforced in a few days, by three Companies of militia from the low-country, and 100 regulars. A party of thirty or forty hostile Indians were scouting about the lower part of Chehaw where they had rifled the house of a friendly Chief. When last beard from, they were only 12 miles from Camp, and were proceeding up the river to cut off a party that had been sent to Chehaw, which hastily and safely retreated. A volunteer corps was about forming to go in pursuit of them.
[Georgia Journal, Jan. 27. 

The new Fort Early would serve as a troop garrison, a bivouac point for federal troops and state militia, and as a depot for the shipment of army supplies from Hartford, GA to Fort Scott, sixty miles down the Flint River.

Style of blockhouse typically constructed along the Georgia frontier during the early 1800s.

Style of blockhouse typically constructed along the Georgia frontier during the early 1800s.

During the construction, Glascock’s detachment ran short on rations, “The Contractor’s Agent having failed to comply with the requisitions of Gen. Gaines, for subsisting the United States’ troops and the Georgia Militia under Gen. Glascock.”

We have now on hand about three days Rations of Flour, not more that two of meat, & scarcely any supply of corn. I am in expectation of procuring a further supply of meat from Chehaws, perhaps a little, but very little corn.

On January 22, 1818 Glascock received word that hostile Indians had attacked supply wagons four miles east of Fort Early, killing two men – decapitating  one and scalping the other. The attackers were presumed to be from the Indian village of Fulemmy (Philema, GA). A few hours later word was received that Fort Gaines, approximately 80 miles west on the Chattahoochee River, was under imminent threat of capture by hostile Creek Indians. Settlers in the area had been scalped and the small stockade was crowded with soldiers, men, women and children.   The next day,  Major Thomas Simpson Woodward took a detachment of  22 men from Fort Early and 14 warriors from Chehaw  (Aumuculle) village, the Indian chief Major Howard among them, to reinforce Fort Gaines.  A few days later, Woodward’s company was relieved by federal troops and returned to Fort Early.

Portrait of Andrew Jackson by Charles Wilson Peale, 1819

Portrait of Andrew Jackson by Charles Wilson Peale, 1819

General Jackson arrived at Fort Early about February 22, 1818, escorted by two companies of Kentucky militia.  But prior to  Jackson’s arrival, Glascock’s  Georgia militia men having completed their term of enlistment were discharged. Glascock went to Hartford to organize a new militia force called up by Governor Rabun.

Meanwhile, word had come from the commander of Fort Scott, GA that because of a lack of supplies and imminent threat of attack from hostile Indians gathering at Fowltown, he intended to abandon the post.  Jackson’s urgent mission was to “prevent such a disastrous movement.”  On February 25, 1818 General Glascock wrote of his return  to Fort Early with a fresh contingent of Georgia militia infantry and riflemen from Hartford, GA. The troops brought a drove of 1,100 hogs, but otherwise arrived without supplies, as excessive rains had made the roads impassable for their supply wagons. In a letter written from Fort Early, Jackson informed John C. Calhoun, Secretary of War, “Eleven hundred men are now here without a barrel of flour or bushel of corn. We have pork on foot; and tomorrow I shall proceed for Fort Scott, and endeavor to procure from the Indians a supply of corn that will aid in subsisting the detachment until we reach that place.

The arrival of the militia and the urgency of the situation at Fort Scott, obliged Jackson to depart with the available force on February 27, expecting to supplement the swine with some provisions he hoped to secure from friendly Indians en route (M. A., vol. 1, p. 698). At Jackson’s order, Maj. T. S. Woodward of the Georgia militia, had sent a talk to the Chehaw town, proposing that their warriors join the army, to which appeal they promptly responded when the army passed by, unaware of the tragic fate in store for their town during their absence. … Some supplies of corn, potatoes, and ground peas were secured at this place [Chehaw]… –River Basin Surveys Papers

General Jackson’s force passed through Chehaw about February 28, 1818 marching south to Fort Scott.  At this time, the town “consisted of fifteen or twenty cabins with a large Council house in the Centre” flying a white flag of peace (GA Genealogy)  David Brydie Mitchell, United States Indian Agent to the Creek Nation and former Governor of Georgia, said of “the principal chief called Howard…There was not a better, a more friendly or a more intelligent Indian in the Nation.”  The old chiefs welcomed the Americans and provided them with corn and other supplies that could be spared (- GA Genealogy) . Capt. Hugh Young, topographer of Jackson’s army, credited Chehaw with “from 70-80 warriors under Old Howard or Cochamico, and rated them as friendly but unreliable. They were invited to furnish a force of auxiliaries to Jackson’s army and responded with enthusiasm. It is not known whether Young’s comment expressed a pre- or post-campaign opinion.The chiefs sent Jackson off to Spanish Florida with forty of their young warriors to fight their common enemy – the Seminoles, fugitive Upper Creeks, and renegade Lower Creeks (- GA Genealogy)

General Glascock recalled, “In passing through that town, we not only obtained a large quantity of supplies for the use of the army, but had to leave some of our sick under the protection of these very people.”  Jackson later wrote of Chehaw village:

On my march from Hartford,[Georgia] to fort Scott, the necessities of my army were first relieved at the Chehaw village, and every act of friendship characterized the conduct of their old chiefs. The young warriors immediately entered, and were mustered into the service of the United States; and under the command of colonel [Noble] Kennard, were esteemed one of the most efficient corps of friendly Indians.  – Military Affairs, Vol 1, pg 776

A “Muster roll of friendly Creek troops raised during the First Seminole Waris held in the Andrew Jackson Collection at the Tennessee Virtual Archives includes It lists the names, ranks, expiration of service, and remarks for  68 Creek warriors under the command of Captain Powas Hanjo [chief of the Chehaw village of Eufala].  Since the 1818 Florida incursion was a US regular army operation, these native allies were likely being paid by the Federal government. Jackson as a military commander used Native American allies in nearly all of his military operations.”

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Isham Jordan Fought Indians, Opened Early Wiregrass Roads

Isham Jordan worked in 1823 to open John Coffee’s Road from Jacksonville, GA to the Florida line, thus opening for settlement old Irwin County which then encompassed Lowndes and Berrien, and other counties of Wiregrass Georgia.  Isham Jordan, along with Burrell Henry Bailey and others had worked to survey and mark the first public roads in Irwin County.

When Coffee’s road was cut, Jordan and the other hunters who supplied meat to the work party were honored in the songs and stories of the Wiregrass pioneers. Some of these verses were passed down in the works of Montgomery M. Folsom (see also Pennywell Folsom fell at Brushy Creek), whom Folks Huxford described as “a sort of grandson of old Troupville,” Georgia.

“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.”

Isham Jordan and John Coffee were among the early pioneer settlers of Telfair County, GA. Telfair was formed from Wilkinson County in 1807, and named for Edward Telfair.

When Pulaski County was created in 1808, the legislative act,

“Provided, That until the court-houfe fhall be erected the elections and courts for faid county fhall be held at the houfe of Ifham Jordan.”

1822 map detail of Telfair County, GA and Pulaski County, GA

1822 map detail of Telfair County, GA and Pulaski County, GA

The first term of Pulaski Superior Court held in 1809 at Isham Jordan’s house on Jordan’s Creek, presided over by Judge Peter Early.  Early, whose family had one of the largest slaveholding plantations in Greene County, was an outspoken opponent of any attempts to outlaw the importation of African slaves.

Unfortunately, the first three census schedules for Georgia (1790-1810)  are missing, thus there is no 1810 enumeration of Isham Jordan.  Legal actions indicate that Isham Jordan appeared in 1813 before Justice of the Peach, Josiah Cawthorn, in Telfair County, GA where a judgement was found against him in the amount of $25 in favor of Adam G. Saffold. Saffold subsequently assigned the debt to his attorney, Griffin Mizell.

Georgia, Jones County:
Know all men by these presents that I do by these presents constitute and appoint Griffin Mizell my true and lawful attorney so far as to take full and complete control of a judgement in my favor on a note of $25 against Isham Jordan in the Justice’s Court held before Josiah Cawthorn in the county of Telfair; receipt for and receive the same & apply the amount to his own use. May 5th, 1813
(Signed)
Adam G. Saffold.
Carter & Mizell Correspondence

 

Telfair County court records show legal actions were taken against Isham Jordan and Nancy Moore in 1817. Apparently, a bench warrant was issued for their arrest for failure to appear in court. They were hauled before the court and subsequently posted bond in the amount of $800 against their future appearance.

The State vs Isham Jordan & Nancy Moore, Fi Fa, 1817

A rule having been obtained for the Sheriff to return into court the above fi fa with his actings and doings thereon or show to the contrary and cause having been shewn ordered that said rule be discharged.
Petit Jury Sworn
  1. Richard Wooten
  2. William Studstill
  3. Wilkins Fulwood
  4. Arch McLeod
  5. Joseph Fletcher
  6. Jacob Cravey
  7. Meriden Messec
  8. Stephen Hubert
  9. Joshua McCann
10. William Moore
11. William Mooney
12. Henry Jones

The State vs Isham Jordan & Nancy Moore

          William Hendry [sheriff?] surrendered the principles in Court it is therefore ordered that the said be discharged from his recognizance.
         Isham Jordan and Nancy Moore and Andrew Posey aknowledge themselves indebted to the Governor and his Successors in office in the Sum of eight hundred dollars to be void on the condition that the said Jordan and Moore appear at the next Superior Court and not depart without leave thereof.

         his
Isham X Jordan
mark

          her
Nancy X Moore
mark

Andrew Jolly

 

In 1818, it was Isham Jordan who reported the Battle of Breakfast Branch, subsequently conveyed by letter to Governor William Rabun and published in the Milledgeville, GA newspapers.

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Georgia settler’s encroachment on territory of the Creek Nation, recognized in treaties with the U.S. government, led to conflict.  Image source: “Four American Indians

JOURNAL OFFICE
Milledgeville, March 11, 1818.
Skirmish with Indians.

The following was received this evening by express to the Governor:

Hartford, March 10th, 1818.

Sir :—I have this moment received information through Mr. Isham Jordan, of Telfair County, which I rely on, of a skirmish between the Indians and some of the citizens of Telfair, on the south side of the Ocmulgee River, in the afternoon of the 9th inst., twenty or twenty-five miles below this.

On the night of the 3d inst., Joseph Bush [Burch] and his son [Littleton Burch] were fired upon by a party of Indians, the father killed, and the son severely wounded and scalped, but he so far recovered as to reach home in two days after. The citizens having received information of the foregoing facts, assembled on the 9th instant to the number of thirty-six, and crossed the river in the forenoon to seek redress. Finding considerable signs of Indians, they pursued the trail leading from the river some distance out, where they came in view of a body of savages, fifty or sixty, advancing within gun-shot. The firing was commenced by each party, and warmly kept up for three-quarters of an hour. A part of the detachment effected their retreat, bringing off one badly wounded; four are certainly killed; the balance of the detachment has not been heard from; Major Cothom, (commandant of the Telfair Militia,) is among the missing. Four Indians were killed.

From information, the citizens below this are much alarmed, and leaving their homes, I have thought proper to communicate the foregoing to you by express. I am your Excellency’s most obedient servant,

Richard H. Thomas, Lieutenant-Colonel.

In consequence of the foregoing, the Pulaski Troop of Cavalry has been ordered out by the Executive, to scour the frontier and afford protection to the inhabitants. – The Telfair detachment we fear, has suffered greatly and we shall rejoice, if all who are missing have not perished. It would seem, that the Indians confiding in superior numbers, had sought to draw out the militia, by permitting the young man whom they scalped to reach the settlement.

Another Milledgeville newspaper added:

Rumour says, that the part of the detachment who are spoken of as having effected a retreat, fled at the beginning of the action, leaving the rest, most of whom have since returned, to contend with the Indians. Mitchell Griffin, Esq., Senator from Telfair, was among the killed.

Battle of Breakfast Branch, March 9, 1818 -Georgia Historic Marker

Battle of Breakfast Branch, March 9, 1818 -Georgia Historic Marker

Another account of the route of the Telfair Militia was included in Pate’s History of Turner County:

In 1884, Wash Graham, an aged mail carrier from Abbeville via Ashley, Grover and on to Wolf Creek, related the following story:

About 1818, Joseph Burch was building a house near Poor Robin Spring. He was killed and one son lay perfectly still and let the Indians scalp him. The young man recovered, and Mr. Graham afterwards saw and talked with him about the massacre and his escape. The white people came over from Telfair County and encountered the Indians at Breakfast Branch below Abbeville to punish them for their crime.

The white people were terribly and quickly routed by the numerical strength of the Indian band of marauders and murderers. Before the battle Capt. Mark Wilcox and Mr. Nat Statham had been carrying guns for each other. In the retreat Mr. Statham came across his deadly enemy wounded and being left for the torture of the Indians. Uncle Nat, a powerful man, threw his old enemy across his shoulder and carried him to a place of safety.

One of the party was shot through the knee and knowing he could not outrun the Indians, ran into an old cypress pond, got behind a log against which the trash had lodged and was all under the water but his nose and although they hunted the pond over carefully they failed to get his scalp. In the race for the boats in the river, the faster runners got to the river first and carried all the boats across, leaving the bravest to swim, drown or be killed by the Indians.

∫∫∫

The dead were a Mr. Nobels, William Mooney, William Morrison, Michael Burch (brother of the scalped Littelton) and Captain Benjamin Mitchell Griffin…Mark Willcox, son of John, was severely wounded with a rifle ball in the head but was saved by Thompson Nathaniel Statham…In addition to Mark, Moses Roundtree and John Lawson were wounded and both recovered…Others known to have been in the battle were Redding Hunter, Daniel Drawdy and Daniel Campbell… John Wilcox,  James Lea Wilcox.  Four Indians were known to have been killed. –  Thomas Wilcox Family

Unfortunately, the attack on the Burches and the Battle of Breakfast Branch helped to precipitate the Chehaw Massacre,  perpetrated by Georgia militia soldiers upon a village of Native Americans who were actually friendly to the American government.

By 1820, Isham Jordan and his family appear in the census records of Irwin County, GA.  The enumeration indicates Jordan was a neighbor of Burrell Bailey.

1820 Census enumeration of Isham Jordan in Irwin County, GA

1820 Census enumeration of Isham Jordan in Irwin County, GA

At the first term of the Superior Court of Irwin County, held September 21, 1820, Isham Jordan was drawn to serve on the first Petit Jury. The court was held at the house of David Williams, on land lot 147, 4th District of Irwin County. His Honor Thomas W. Harris was Judge, and Thaddeus G. Holt was Solicitor. The only business transacted was the drawing of the Grand and Petit Jury for the next term of court. Among those selected as Jordan’s jury mates for the first Petit Jury were Sion Hall and Drew Vickers. Burrell Bailey, Willis King, Elijah Beasley and Ludd Mobley were among those selected to serve on the first Grand Jury.

At the second term of the court the Petit Jury was not called for duty, but Isham Jordan faced charges brought by the Grand Jury for alleged adultery and fornication:

The second term was held at the house of David Williams on March 29, 1821. Judge T. W. Harris presiding, T. G. Holt, Solicitor-General. The only business transacted was by the Grand Jury as follows:

“We, the Grand Jury, for the county of Irwin, at a Superior Court held at the house of David Williams on the 29th day of March, 1821, make the following presentment. We present Isham Jordon and Nancy Moore for living in a state of adultery and fornication in the county aforesaid on the 28th day of March, 1821 and before that time. We present Alexander McDonal and Barbary Kelly for living in a state adultery and fornication in the county of Irwin on the twenty-eighth day of March, 1821, and before.”
(Signed)
Samuel Boyd, Foreman; David Hunter, Thomas Burnett, John Sutton, David Callaway, Achibald McInnis, Elijah Beasley, Redding Hunter, Willis King, James Rutherford, James Burnett, Ludd Mobley, David Allen, David Williams, William Hall, Daniel Burnett, Nathaniel Statum, Green Graham.

It appears that Jordan and Moore stood trial for the charge of adultery and fornication.  An undated Court record provides the following

The State vs Isom Jourdon & Nancy Moore
Adultery & Fornication
Verdict
We find the defendants not Guilty
Thomas Fulgham, foreman

 

 

Irwin County court records show Jordan and Bailey served together as a road commissioners.

At the July term, 1821, an order was passed establishing a public road in Irwin County beginning at the county line at Ludd Mobley and continue a river road, crossing House Creek at David Calaway ford and continue to the upper line, and Ludd Mobley, Willis King and Murdock McDuffie were appointed to lay out and mark said road beginning at county line up to House Creek and Green G. Graham, Burrell [Henry] Bailey and Isham Jordan were appointed to lay out and mark said read from House Creek to upper line of county.

At July term, 1822, an order was passed appointing David Calaway, Isham Jordan and Nathaniel Statum, commissioners, to lay out and mark a river road beginning at David Calaway ford on House Creek and up to line of the county.

Isham Jordan subsequently appears in the 1830 census of Irwin County.

1830 Census enumeration of Isham Jordan in Irwin County, GA

1830 Census enumeration of Isham Jordan in Irwin County, GA

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Reuben Marsh, Coffee Road Ferryman

Reuben Marsh was a pioneer settler of that area of old Irwin County which later became Berrien County, GA. This section of south Georgia was opened up for settlement with the cutting of the Coffee Road in 1823.  Marsh was a ferry  operator on the Coffee Road for nearly 20 years.

Independent ferry operators were authorized by the Georgia Legislature to provide river crossings on the Coffee Road.

Independent ferry operators were authorized by the Georgia Legislature to provide river crossings on the Coffee Road.

Reuben Marsh was born about 1793 in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. According to  Roots & Branches Genealogical Society of West Volusia County, Florida, he came with his family to Georgia in about 1800, settling in Telfair County.  His father died there in 1805 at age 31.

In 1812, at age 19 Reuben Marsh married fifteen-year-old Nancy Marshall,  daughter of Matthew Marshall and Margaret King. The young couple first made their home in Telfair County, GA. In 1820, Reuben Marsh was enumerated there as a head of household along with his wife, five children, and one slave.  A white female over age 45 enumerated in his household may have been his widowed mother. It is said his mother died that year.

Reuben Marsh, of Telfair County, was among the fortunate drawers in the Third or 1820 Land Lottery of Georgia announced in the December 19, 1820 edition of the Milledgeville Southern Recorder.  This lottery was to dispose of an immense area of land now covering the southern third of the entire state of Georgia, which had been demanded from the Creek Indians by President Jackson after the Creek War (1814).    A second section of land in northeast Georgia was included. This other, smaller section defined the eastern end of the Cherokee Nation for 12 years. The lottery winners drew lots in Appling, Early, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Rabun, Walton or Irwin county.

According to Huxford’s Pioneers of Wiregrass Georgia, Vol. 2, Reuben Marsh moved to Irwin County, GA about 1828 and settled in the 5th district on land Lot 381.  This lot which straddles Willacoochee Creek is where he established a farm and a ferry to serve travelers on the Coffee Road. The Coffee Road had been blazed through the Wiregrass wilderness in 1823 by General John Coffee, and first opened the area of Lowndes County and present day Berrien County to pioneer settlers.  

Enhanced detail of Irwin County survey plat District 5 showing location of land lot 381 on Willacoochee Creek. Reuben Marsh established a ferry over the Willacoochee in 1828.

Enhanced detail of Irwin County survey plat District 5 showing location of land lot 381 on Willacoochee Creek. Reuben Marsh established a ferry over the Willacoochee in 1828 to serve travelers on the Coffee Road.

Marsh, an early settler of Irwin County,  was appointed by an act of the Georgia legislature as one of five Commissioners to establish a site for the county government.   The legislation, signed by Governor Gilmer on December 23, 1830, assigned the location of Irwin’s county seat to Land Lot 255 in the Fourth District, directing that it be named Irwinsville.  This location would have placed the Courthouse near the Ocmulgee River about 40 miles north of Reuben Marsh’s residence. Section Three of the act named Robert H. Dixon, Jacob Young, William Bradford, Daniel Luke, and Reuben Marsh as Commissioners for the town with authority to lay out and sell town lots and to contract for building a courthouse and jail.  The Marshes and Bradfords must have been good neighbors, as their sons and daughters intermarried.

 

On December 23, 1830 Governor George Gilmer signed an Act appointing Reuben Marsh as one of five commissioners to establish the town of Irwinsville as county seat of Irwin County. However, a year later no action had been taken and a new Commission was named.

On December 23, 1830 Governor George Gilmer signed an Act appointing Reuben Marsh as one of five commissioners to establish the town of Irwinsville as county seat of Irwin County. However, a year later no action had been taken and a new Commission was named.

 

This 1830 Act followed more than a decade of indecision and failure of prior commissioners to establish a location for the Irwin courthouse. However, for whatever reason, another year went by without action by the appointed commissioners. On December 22, 1831 Governor Wilson Lumpkin signed yet another act designating “the public site in the county of Irwin…permanently fixed and located on lot number thirty nine, in the third district of said county,” and appointed a new set of Commissioners for the town. The new location on Lot 39, 3rd District shifted the site of the Courthouse about 20 miles to the southeast, just east of the headwaters of the Alapaha River but still no closer to Marsh’s residence.

That year, Reuben Marsh was also serving as a road commissioner for an Irwin County road following along the Ocmulgee River.

At the July term, 1831, an order was passed appointing Ruebin Marsh, John Fussell and Ludd Mobley, road commissioners on road from line of Telfair County up to Big House  Creek at Isaac Stevens’, that Jehu McCall, George R. Reid and Daniel Luke be appointed commissioners from Big House Creek to Pulaski line at Norman McDuffie’s.

This river road started from “the line of Telfair County.”  At that time the boundary of Telfair County extended south of the Ocmulgee River on a line running from Jacksonville, GA due south to the Satilla River.  The Coffee Road followed the Telfair county line  for ten miles south from the Ocmulgee River before the road veered to the southwest to skirt around the headwaters of the Satilla.  The road ran on the south side of the river from the Coffee Road fifteen miles west to Big House Creek, or House Creek,  then on another 24 miles to the Pulaski County Line.

It appears that sometime between 1832 and 1835, Reuben Marsh acquired land Lot 424, 5th District on the Alapaha River, about five miles south of Lot 381 on the Willacoochee. Nashville, GA,  future county seat of Berrien County, GA was about 12 miles south on Coffee Road, situated on Lot 189 in the 10th District of Old Irwin County.

Irwin County tax records show that prior to 1832, Lot 424 was owned by Cornelius Tyson, who would operate a later ferry on the Alapaha River.   By 1835, records of the Irwin County Inferior court indicate Marsh had established a ferry across the Alapaha. In that year a road was constructed from the Irwin courthouse on Lot 39 to Marsh’s Ferry.

At the January Term, 1835 of the Inferior Court [of Irwin County]…Shaderick Griffin, Ruebin Gay and Richard Tucker [were appointed] to lay out and mark road from Irwin courthouse to Alapaha River at Marsh’s ferry.

 

Enhanced Detail of Irwin County District 5 survey plat showing relative location of Lot 381 on Willacoochee Creek and Lot 422 on the Alapaha River.

Enhanced detail of Irwin County District 5 survey plat showing relative location of Lot 381 on Willacoochee Creek and Lot 424 on the Alapaha River, GA.

Unfortunately, Irwin County tax records for the later 1830s aren’t available, but from 1836 onward there are multiple mentions of “Marsh’s Ferry on Alapaha” in the records of the Irwin County Inferior Court.

At January term, 1836 [Irwin County Inferior Court], Daniel Luke, Hezekiah Walker and Mathew Merritt, appointed commissioners on road leading from courthouse to Widow Mobley’s and intersect there with Coffee Road, also Frederick Merritt, Andrew McCelland and Micajah Paulk, appointed commissioners on Coffee road leading from Thomas L. Swain’s ferry to Ruebin Marsh’s ferry on Alapaha.

In 1836 Swain’s Ferry was the Coffee Road crossing over the Ocmulgee River near Jacksonville, GA. Thomas L. Swain had been one of the builders of the 1822 Coffee Road. Swain had a plantation on the north side of the Ocmulgee situated between Jacksonville, GA and Fort Clark, two miles west of the town.   John Clark, later Governor Clark, also had a plantation and house adjacent to the fort.

Thus, Micajah Paulk, Frederick Merritt and Andrew McClelland were responsible for oversight of the approximately 40 mile stretch of the Coffee Road which ran from the Ocmulgee River to Marsh’s Ferry on the Alapaha River. Micajah Paulk’s home was situated on this section of the Coffee road, 10 miles north of Marsh’s Ferry on the Alapaha.

At January adjourned term, 1836, commissioners were authorized to turn the road leading from [Irwin County] courthouse to Ruebin Marsh’s ferry on Alapaha to near John Benefield’s on to Elisha Grantham’s ferry and strike Coffee Road nearest and best way.

Furthermore, later Berrien County tax records show all 490 acres of Lot 424 was in the estate of Reuben Marsh. (This section of Irwin County was cut into Berrien County when Berrien was created in 1856.) The 1872 Berrien County tax record lists Little Berry Marsh, son of Reuben Marsh, as the executor on his father’s estate representing Lot 424.

The year 1836 began yet another period of armed conflict between encroaching pioneer settlers and the Native American occupants of Wiregrass Georgia.  Along the Alapaha River south of Marsh’s Ferry,  Levi J. Knight led a company of white settlers against a band of Native Americans in a skirmish at William Parker’s place.  Historian James Bagley Clements cites another battle in Irwin County, fought at Wavering Pond, also known as the Battle of Gay’s Hammock:

As an illustration, in what is now Wilcox County, but originally Irwin, lived a man by the name of James Brown. He caught an Indian stealing a hog and shot him. The Indians did not molest Brown but went from there about five miles west of Ashburn, now Turner County, at least thirty miles away where lived a family by the name of Willis. The husband was away from home at the time and they killed his wife, mutilating the body severely and took a small baby by the feet and smashed its brains out on a stump. The settlers came together and gave chase, following them south out of the country. From that time until his death Mr. Brown went by the name of (Indian Jim Brown). The lady’s name who was killed was Peggy Willis. The company following these Indians came up with them south of Ashburn on what is known as Hat Creek at a point not far from where the road crosses said creek leading from Irwinville to Inaha. In the company following the Indians was a man named Hobby who was riding a spirited young horse. The Indians were concealed in the swamps of this creek and a battle was fought. Mr. Hobby’s horse became frightened and threw him in the creek where he lost his hat. The horse followed after the horses of the whites and when he appeared among them the whites thought Hobby had been killed but later on he appeared on foot bare-headed and upon relating his experience the creek was then named Hat Creek, by which name it is known to the present time. The settlers followed the Indians from this point on, finally coming up with them at a point on the Albany road at a place now in Worth County, formerly Irwin, at a pond called the  Wavering Pond, where a battle was fought and a majority of the Indians were killed or captured.

An account published in History of Worth County, Georgia adds,

They came upon the Indians at Wavering Pond…while they were cooking breakfast. The Indians were surprised and fled in such haste that a baby was left swinging to a limb. This little baby girl was raised in this county as a slave girl and married a negro. The Indians fled to a hammock, and here a great battle was fought. Two Indian Squaws were captured. A white man by the name of Luke Jenkins, a brother-in-law of John Ford, was left to guard them as prisoners while the company pursued the rest of the Indians. As the sun began to sink in the west, Jenkins, fearing other Indians might come upon him, killed his prisoners and fled.

In the Indian Wars of 1836, Marsh’s Ferry provided crossing over the Alapaha River for Georgia Militia troops moving on the Coffee Road. After the cessation of hostilities in 1840, Reuben Marsh sought payment from the Georgia legislature for services rendered, which in turn sought reimbursement from the federal government. The Georgia Senate took up this billing in session in December, 1840.  The resolution erroneously reports that Reuben Marsh’s ferry was across the Altamaha river, rather than the Alapaha river.

 

1840 Resolution of the Georgia Senate to compensate Reuben Marsh for service to ferry soldiers across the Alapaha river in the Indian Wars. The resolution erroneously refers to the Altamaha river.

1840 Resolution of the Georgia Senate to compensate Reuben Marsh for service to ferry soldiers across the Alapaha river in the Indian Wars. The resolution erroneously refers to the Altamaha river.

Journal of the Senate of the State of Georgia, 1840

MONDAY MORNING, DECEMBER 21, 1840.

Mr. Gordon, Chairman of the Select Committee, which was appointed, laid the following report on the table; which was taken up, read, and agreed to, viz:
– – The United States, – Dr.
To Reuben Marsh, of Irwin county,
1836.        to ferriage of soldiers across the Altamaha River,  $4.18
May 3,      to ferriage of forage for horses,                              24.12
April 11,          do                do                                                 2.–
                                                                                            $30.30

The Select Committee, to whom was referred the claim of Reuben Marsh, of Irwin county, for ferriage of soldiers across the Altamaha River, and for forage supplied to the mounted men, report, that they have examined the account, and find it just, and one that should be paid by the State, and made a charge against the United States, and recommend the following resolution: -Resolved, That the sum of thirty dollars thirty cents, be paid to Reuben Marsh, of Irwin county, for ferriage of soldiers across the Altamaha River, in 1836, and for forage supplied, and that the sum be charged to the United States; and that his Excellency, the Governor, serve his warrant on the Treasury for the same, to be paid out of the Military Fund.

According to Roots & Branches Genealogical Society, oral tradition has it that Reuben Marsh also went into active service with the Georgia Militia during the Indian Wars:

Reuben and Nancy raised 14 children, 13 of whom were born before Reuben joined the Georgia Militia fighting the Indians in the Second Seminole War. He was among a party of soldiers who set up a camp near what is now Astor [ Astor, Volusia County, Florida, is situated on the St. John’s River below Lake George, about 200 miles south of Reuben Marsh’s place on the Alapaha River ]. The story was passed down that Reuben was much impressed with the terrain, the abundant game and mild climate. Family tradition has it that he said that if he lived through the war he was going to come back and settle in Florida. He didn’t make it back. After the war he returned to farming in Irwin County, Georgia. –Roots & Branches Genealogical Society of West Volusia County, Florida.

By 1837, a road from Milledgeville, GA intersected the Coffee Road at Marsh’s Ferry, providing a route from the capitol city of Georgia to Tallahassee, the capitol of Florida.  The 1837 Gazetteer of the State of Georgia reports a stage ran between the two cities once a week. The fare was $25.00. The stage left Milledgeville on Wednesdays and arrived in Tallahassee after five days of travel. The road was destitute of water for many miles.

Milledgeville to Hartford ————- 61     61
                         Jacksonville, ——— 44   105
                         Ferry on Alapahaw – 33   138
      Here you enter Coffee’s Road
                         Thomasville, ——– 68   206
                         Tallahassee, ——– 40    246

James Bagley Clements’ History of Irwin County indicates the Inferior Court of Irwin County continued to authorize Marsh’s Ferry and set rates in 1842:

At the January term, 1842, an order was passed by the Inferior Court establishing a ferry across the Alapaha River at a place known as Marshes Ferry. The rates were fixed as follows: man and horses, twelve and one-half cents; man, horse and cart, twenty-five cents; two-horse wagon, fifty cents; jersey wagons, thirty-seven and one-half cents; mules and horses, 3 cents per head; cattle, 3 cents per head, sheep and hogs, one and one-have cents per head; foot persons, free. Rates to be advertised at ferry.

At same term of court a ferry was established across the Willacoochee where Coffee road crosses said creek and the above rates shall govern said ferry. – History of Irwin County

Reuben Marsh died in Berrien County at age 56 in 1849, leaving Nancy with six minor children. The Berrien County Georgia census records enumerated Nancy Marsh as head of household in 1850. The households of her sons, James Marsh and Henry Marsh were next door.

1850 census Nancy Marshall Marsh, Irwin County,GA

1850 census Nancy Marshall Marsh, Irwin County,GA

Name: Nancy Marsh
Age: 53
Birth Year: abt 1797
Birthplace: Georgia
Home in 1850: Division 44, Irwin, Georgia, USA
Gender: Female
Family Number: 7
Household Members:
Name              Age
Nancy Marsh     53
Little B Marsh    21
Martha Marsh   17
Susanah Marsh 15
Rheubin Marsh 14
Geo W Marsh   12
Marian Marsh   10
Moses Marsh     8

 

Children of Reuben Marsh and Nancy Mary Marshall:

  1. Sarah Marsh, born April 22, 1813, Montgomery, GA; married 10 November 1832 to Jacob A. Bradford  in Telfair Co GA; Committed February 1860, to state sanitorium for long periods of poor health; died,1875; buried Connell Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.
  2. James J. Marsh, blacksmith; born 1815, Telfair County, GA; died of fever June 16, 1879, Sumter County, FL; buried Adamsville Cemetery, Adamsville, FL.
  3. Dr. Henry Marsh, born April 28, 1818, Telfair Co., GA; married Rhoda Bradford; died December 10, 1883, Sumter County, FL; buried Sumterville Cemetery, Sumterville, FL.
  4. Eady Marsh, born 1820, Telfair County, GA; married William Griffin; died date unknown.
  5. Nancy Marsh, born April 22, 1823, Telfair County, GA; married John Ellis Connell,  November 21, 1841 in Irwin County, GA; died April 22, 1866; buried Crossroads Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Adel, GA.
  6. Abigail Marsh, born 1826, Telfair County, GA; married Daniel H. Clanton, August 29, 1847, Irwin County, GA; died date unknown.
  7. John Jasper Marsh, born July 09, 1828, Telfair or Irwin County, GA; married Rebecca Hall November 15, 1846 in Irwin County, GA; died October 8, 1897; buried Fort McCoy Cemetery, Fort McCoy, FL.
  8. Littleberry Marsh, born 1829, Irwin County, GA; died date unknown.
  9. Martha Virginia Marsh, born April 11, 1833, Irwin County, GA; married Sion Hall Pike; died February 20, 1918, Marion County, FL; buried Umatilla Cemetery, Umatilla, FL.
  10. Reuben Marsh, Jr., born April 1, 1834, Irwin County, GA; married Mary Jane Clanton, 1859; died January 26, 1908; buried Bethel Cemetery, Deland, FL.
  11. Susannah Marsh, born April 11, 1835, Irwin County, GA; died date unknown.
  12. George Washington Marsh, born about 1838; died date unknown
  13. Mary Ann Marsh, born 1840; married Nathaniel A.J. Gordon; died date unknown; buried Millwood Cemetery, Reddick, FL.
  14. Moses M. Marsh, born 1842, Irwin County, GA; married Cora O. Bracy, May 25, 1875, Volusia County, FL; died April 29, 1893; buried Beresford Cemetery, DeLandVolusia CountyFlorida

The newsletter of the Roots & Branches Genealogical Society of West Volusia County, Florida gives a detailed sketch of the family.

In 1851 Nancy and the children came to Florida, except for Mary who had married Jacob Bradford and remained in Georgia. The family settled near Ocala in Marion county. Eventually the family scattered… 

Abigail Marsh married and returned to Georgia. Nancy went to Alabama.  James, and Henry moved to Sumter County, FL and Eady (Edith) married and went on to Hillsboro County, FL. John Marsh married Rebecca Hall; they, with his mother Nancy remained in Marion County, FL. Nancy (Marshall) Marsh died in Marion County and is buried in the Ocala City Cemetery.

When the Civil War started all seven of the Marsh boys joined the Confederate army. The brothers joined three Regiments according to their ages.

    • James Marsh, 1st Regiment, Florida Infantry Reserves;
    • Henry Marsh, 1st Regiment, Florida Infantry Reserves;
    • John J. Marsh, Company F, 9th Regiment, Florida Infantry; fought in the Battle of Olustee, Ocean Pond, FL, February 20, 1864.
    • Little B. (aka Littleberry or L.B.) Marsh, 9th Regiment, Florida Infantry;
    • George W. Marsh, 9th Regiment, Florida Infantry;
    • Moses Marsh,  2nd Regiment, Florida Cavalry
    • Reuben Marsh, Jr, 2nd Regiment, Florida Cavalry

Reuben, Jr. with his 18-year-old bride Mary Jane Clanton came to Volusia County where Reuben purchased a Settlers Claim from Bryant Osteen. He built a cabin and a store at Cabbage Bluff on the St. Johns River. Cabbage Bluff was where boats on the river stopped when they could not get into Lake Beresford.

Related Posts:

Marsh’s Ferry, the Lopahaw Bridge and Tyson Ferry

Coffee Road Led to Creation of Lowndes County

Coffee’s Road Passed Seven Miles West of Ray City

 

1899 Sketch of Old Lowndes County

In 1856, Berrien County was cut out of Lowndes County, GA. Long before that all of this section, including Lowndes was encompassed in the original county of Irwin. The following is a sketch of the first 75 years of Lowndes County.

The Valdosta Times
October 14, 1899

Historic Sketch of Lowndes County
Written by R. E. L. Folsom

Old Irwin county was composed of sixteen districts, and included the present counties of Thomas, Brooks, Worth, Colquitt, Berrien, Lowndes, Clinch, Echols, and Irwin.  Out of this territory, about 1826, the counties of Thomas and Lowndes were formed, in the south-west and south-east portions respectively.  Lowndes included all of the present counties of Clinch and Echols, and most of the territory of Berrien, Colquitt and Brooks.  Clinch was formed first, then Berrien; then Colquitt; then Brooks; the Echols.

            The county of Lowndes was organized, and the first court held, at Frances Rountree’s on what is now [1899] known as the Remer Young old place, in the year 1827.

    Old Franklinville was the first permanent count seat, founded about the year 1827.  It was located on the Withlacoochee river, near where the skipper bridge now stands.  It was a fine location, from a natural standpoint, and had one of the best springs of water in this county.  It never amounted to much as a business location.  The first clerk of the county court of ordinary was William Smith.

            One among the first representatives of the county was Randall Folsom, from 1832 to 1833.  He was followed by Hamilton Sharpe.

            About 1838, the county seat was moved to the fork of the Withlacoochee and Little rivers, and named Troupeville, in honor of Gov. Troupe.  It was not a picturesque, or even attractive spot for a town, and today a bleak and barren sand ridge, with its scattered clusters of cactus and pine saplings, is all that is left to mark this historic old spot.  It was a great rendezvous for the devotees of fun and excitement and carousal, and a detailed history of the place would furnish every variety of incident, from deeds of heroism down to the most ridiculous escapades.  Troupeville was a considerable business point.  Of the merchants who did business there in the old days, were Moses and Aaron Smith,  E. B. Stafford,  Uriah Kemp, and Alfred Newburn.   The first physician in this section of the country, Dr. Henry Briggs, located there, and put up a drug store.  He built up a very extensive practice, which he kept to the end of his long life.  In those days there were no bar-rooms, as we now find them, but all the merchants, excepting M. & A. Smith, sold liquor.

            Two good hotels were kept here, one by William Smith, who was a master of his trade, and the other by Morgan G. Swain

            The first county surveyor was Samuel Clyatt.  He was succeeded by  Jeremiah Wilson, who held the office, with the exception of one term, till about the close of the civil war.

Judge C. B. Cole was one of the first judges of the superior court.  He was followed by Judge J. J. Scarborough.  It was under Judge Scarborough that Judge A. H. Hansell made his first appearance here, as solicitor general.  He succeeded  Judge Scarborough as judge of the superior court.

            About 1847, occurred the first murder trial in this county.  It was the trial of Samuel Mattox for the murder of a boy by the name of Slaughter.  He was found guilty and hanged for the crime.

            About the year 1859, upon the building of the old Atlantic and Gulf Railroad, now the S. F. & W., this county seat was moved to Valdosta.  The place was named in honor of the home of Gov. Troupe, which he called Val-d’Osta.  This was about the same time that Brooks county was organized.  Shade Griffin was representative at this time, and has the bill passed creating Brooks county.  As he lived on the east side of Little River, the boundary was run so as to put his place in Brooks, where it is said to be yet.

            The merchants who began business in Valdosta at its founding, or soon after, were Thomas B. Griffin, Adam Graham, Moses Smith, jr., Henry Briggs, A. Converse, Capt. Bill Smith,  W. H. Briggs, and the Varnedoes.

The first public road ever cut through this country, was the old Coffee Road, cut out by Gen. Coffee, on a contract from the state.  It began at Jacksonville, on the Ochmulgee River, and ended at old Duncanville, in Thomas county, on the east line.  The first white settlement in this section was made on this road in the fork of the Okapilco and Mule creeks in Brooks county, at an old Indian town, by Jose Bryant, in 1823.   The next settlement was also made on this road, by Sion Hall, near the present site of Morven.  It was here that the first court for the original Irwin county was held.  This settlement was made in 1824.   In the same year, Washington Joyce settled on the east bank of the Little River, and built a ferry at what is now the Miller Bridge.  This was the first white settlement in present Lowndes county.  Next to him came Drew Vickers and Lawrence Folsom and a man named Baker, who built a ferry on the Withlacoochee River, where the Williams bridge now stands.

One of the highways in this section was the old stage road, running from Thomasville to Brunswick through Troupeville.  This was discontinued as a stage line about the year 1850.

In those old days, marketing had to be done at long range.  Not very much cotton was raised – all of the upland variety – but it had to be hauled to Fussell’s and Mobley’s Bluffs, on the Ochmulgee River, and goods hauled back in return.  The only real markets for this section were Tallahassee, Newport and St. Marks.  Going to market was an event in those days, and people went to buy only what was absolutely necessary.   Ah! Those were the happiest days of all.

There were large stock owners in this section, in those days.  There was a fine range and plenty of room, and the raising of stock was then a source of considerable income.  The most important stock raisers were Berry Jones, Francis Jones, Will Folsom, Randall Folsom, James Folsom, and James Rountree.

Related Posts:

Marsh’s Ferry, the Lopahaw Bridge and Tyson Ferry

One of the early roads in Berrien County described by William Green Avera was, “the road from Milltown northward to Tyson Ferry on the Alapaha River just east of the present site of Alapaha. This road pass[ed] by the residence of the late John Studstill, first sheriff of Berrien County, later the home of Joe Studstill, his son; Stony Hill, the old residence of the late Moses C. Lee; Keefe and Bullocks Turpentine still; the residence of the late J. H. Rowan [and] the residence of his widow, Mrs. Phoebe Rowan; the residence of the late William Gaskins — the grandfather of the late Alvah W. Gaskins of Nashville, GA.”    At  Tyson Ferry,  the Milltown road intersected the Coffee Road.

Alapaha River was crossed by the Coffee Road at this site.

Monday, June 19, 2017, Julian Fields led a field trip to the site where the ferry on the old Coffee Road crossed the Alapaha River. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7_-0AzgKgw

It was the 1823 opening of the Coffee Road that led to the creation of Lowndes County, which then covered a vast area of Wiregrass Georgia including present day Berrien County, GA.   When  John Coffee first cut his road through the wilderness, there were no ferries or bridges over the creeks and rivers.  Early travelers forded water crossings as best they could. The WWALS Watershed Coalition documents a number of waypoints, creek and river crossings on the route of the old Coffee Road.  The route of the Coffee entering present day Berrien County from the north first crossed the Willacoochee River, then traversed the Alapaha river  at Cunningham’s Ford. With seasonally high water, these rivers were no doubt difficult if not impossible to cross. 

Within a few years ferries were established over the Willacoochee and the Alapaha for the convenience of Coffee Road travelers.

According to Huxford’s “Pioneers of Wiregrass Georgia” Vol. 2, Reuben Marsh moved to Irwin County about 1828 and settled in the 5th district on land Lot 381 which straddles the Willacoochee River.  There he established a farm and ferry apparently to serve travelers on the Coffee Road. 

Enhanced detail of Irwin County survey plat District 5 showing location of land lot 381 on Willacoochee Creek. Reuben Marsh established a ferry over the Willacoochee in 1828.

Enhanced detail of Irwin County survey plat District 5 showing location of land lot 381 on Willacoochee Creek. Reuben Marsh established a ferry over the Willacoochee in 1828.

Marsh, an early settler of Irwin County,  was one of the Commissioners appointed by the legislature to fix the location of the county seat, Irwinville.

It appears that sometime prior to 1836, Reuben Marsh acquired land Lot 424.

At January term, 1836 [Irwin County Inferior Court], Daniel Luke, Hezekiah Walker and Mathew Merritt, appointed commissioners on road leading from courthouse to Widow Mobley’s and intersect there with Coffee Road, also Frederick Merritt, Andrew McCelland and Micajah Paulk, appointed commissioners on Coffee road leading from Thomas L. Swain’s ferry to Ruebin Marsh’s ferry on Alapaha.

 

At January adjourned term, 1836, commissioners were authorized to turn the road leading from [Irwin County] courthouse to Ruebin Marsh’s ferry on Alapaha to near John Benefield’s on to Elisha Grantham’s ferry and strike Coffee Road nearest and best way.

THE LOPAHAW BRIDGE

In 1836 the Georgia Assembly provided partial funding for the construction of a public bridge over the Alapaha River. Later records of the Inferior Court of Irwin County indicate  Tyson Ferry was put into service to replace this bridge .

1836 Georgia Act to construct a bridge across the Lopahaw River

1836 Georgia Act to construct a bridge across the Lopahaw River

 

       AN ACT, To appropriate the sum of eight hundred dollars, to build a Bridge across the Lopahaw.
      Whereas, it is all important that a Bridge should be built across the Lopahaw, at or near Coffee’s Road, and whereas, the citizens are unable to build the said Bridge, and whereas, a subscription is on foot to raise or contribute eight hundred dollars which is thought will be about one half of the amount necessary and requisite to build and erect a substantial Bridge, for remedy whereof:
       Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Georgia in General Assembly met, and it is enacted by the authority of the same, That Jacob Polk of the county of Irwin, Daniel Grantham, Sen’r. John McMillon, be and they are hereby authorized to draw and appropriate the sum of eight hundred dollars, for the purpose of building a Bridge over and across the Lopahaw, at or near where the Coffee Road crosses the said river, and for the repair of Coffee’s Road.
       Sec. 2. Be it enacted by the authority of the same, That the said Commissioners shall give bond and sufficient security for the faithful discharge of their duty, and properly to expend the aforesaid sum for the erection of said Bridge.
        Sec. 3. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That His Excellency the Governor, be, and he is hereby authorized and required, on the receipt of said bond as before required, to pay the amount of eight hundred dollars to the said Commissioners aforesaid, out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated.

JOSEPH DAY,
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
ROBERT M. ECHOLS,

President of the Senate.
Assented to, Dec. 26, 1836.
WILLIAM SCHLEY, Governor.

It appears that the Lopahaw bridge was not constructed on the direct path of Coffee Road over the Alapaha, for at the February 1838 term of the Inferior Court of Irwin County marking commissioners were appointed to lay out a route which bypassed the ford and proceeded over the public bridge, rejoining Coffee road after the crossing.

At February term, 1838, Jacob A. Bradford, John Harper and Leonard Jackson, appointed commissioners to lay out and mark road, leaving Coffee road near Cornelius Tyson’s to public bridge on Alapaha, thence to intersect Coffee road
at or near Micajah Paulk’s, Sr. 

The  Irwin County Tax records of 1831 and 1832 show Cornelius Tyson’s Irwin County property included Lots 422 and 424 in the 5th Land District of Irwin County. 

1831-1832-Cornelius-Tison-tax-records-Irwin-County-GA

1831 – 1832 Irwin County, GA property tax records of Cornelius Tyson

 

 

When the  Inferior Court of Irwin County next met road commissioners were appointed for Coffee Road, to include the new routing over the public bridge.

At July term, 1838, Leonard G. Jackson, Shaderick Griffin and Andrew McClelland, appointed commissioners on road, commencing at C. Tyson’s to public bridge on Alapaha, then to intersect Coffee road near Micajah Paulk’s, they to commence at county line and ending at district line.

There is reason to question just how long this bridge remained in service, for in 1841, Georgia experienced a severe, wide-spread flood known as the Harrison Freshet:

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

The flood of the 1841 Harrison Freshet is known to have washed away bridges on the Alapaha River.   “Few bridges on the common streams … stood the shock.” The Milledgeville Federal Union declared it a 100 year flood.  The “extraordinary flood…caused awful damage in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina” with major erosion, land slides, “roads rendered almost impassable, and plantations disfigured with enormous gullies.”  At Troupville, GA, then the county seat of Lowndes County, the town was inundated, the flood setting a high water mark on the old cypress tree there which set a record , according to the March 28, 1897 New Orleans Times-Democrat, which was not surpassed for 56 years.

Whether or not the Lopahaw Bridge weathered the 1841 storm is not known, but  James Bagley Clements’ History of Irwin County states,

        “At the January term, 1842, an order was passed by the Inferior Court [Irwin County] an order was passed establishing a ferry across the Alapaha River at a place known as Marshes Ferry. The rates were fixed as follows: man and horse, twelve and one-half cents; man, horse and cart, twenty-five cents; two-horse wagon, fifty cents; four-horse wagon, one dollar; pleasure carriages, one dollar; gigs, fifty cents; jersey wagons, thirty-seven and one-half cents; mules and horses, 3 cents per head; cattle, 3 cents per head, sheep and hogs, one and one-half cents per head; foot  persons, free. Rates to be advertised at ferry.
At same term of court a ferry was established across the Willacoochee where Coffee Road crosses said creek and the above rates shall govern said ferry.

 

Clement’s History of Irwin County relates that “the public bridge” over the Alapaha was condemned at the January 1856 term of the Irwin County Inferior Court.

TYSON FERRY

At the same 1856 term of court according to James Bagley Clements’ History of Irwin County“Cornelious Tyson was granted authority to erect a ferry on Alapaha River on the Coffee road at the location of the condemned bridge and he is allowed to charge the following rates: man and horse, six and one-fourth cents; horse and cart, twenty-five cents; four-horse wagon, fifty cents; horse and buggy, thirty-seven and one-half cents.” 

Cornelius Tyson was one of the five marking commissioners appointed by the state legislature in 1856 to fix the boundary lines of the newly created Berrien County.  Cornelius Tyson is enumerated in Berrien County, GA as Cornelius Tison in the Census 1860.

Related Posts:

 

Judge Holt and the Fish-Grass Case

It is said that Judge Thaddeus Goode Holt presided over the first session of the Superior Court of Lowndes County, GA in 1825, convened at the home of Sion Hall, and where Levi J. Knight served as foreman of the Grand Jury.

In Macon, the Honorable Thaddeus G. Holt  went into law practice with his brother-in-law, Allen Fleming, Esquire. A case of note was the Fish-Grass case, concerning the fishing for shad on the Ocmulgee River.

American Shad.

American Shad.

In The bench and bar of Georgia: memoirs and sketches, with an appendix, containing a court roll from 1790 to 1857, etc, Volume 2, Steven Frank Miller tells a story of the Fish-Grass case in which Thaddeus G. Holt and Allen Fleming represented defendants in the Superior Court of Twiggs County:

A little circumstance may be here related as occurring in 1832, or thereabout…

A well-known citizen of Macon, considerably advanced in years and of great wealth, had retained Messrs. Shorter and Gordon as standing counsel. The litigation in which he was engaged was quite extensive, and some of it very curious. Among other possessions he owned land on opposite sides of the Ocmulgee, and had resolved to permit no fishing on his property, except by his leave. In the shad-season, several poor men residing in Bibb crossed over, fastened their canoes to the Twiggs side, and threw out their nets for fish in the river. To warm themselves, they kindled a fire on the bank, burned pine-knots, and probably increased their comfort by adding a few sticks of other wood to the flame. This was the only ” breaking the plaintiff’s close and treading down his grass” for which his counsel were instructed to bring an action in Twiggs Superior Court, because it was for a trespass on the realty. The defendants employed a gentleman* [Thaddeus G. Holt] who had just retired from the bench of the Southern circuit, and his partner† [Allen Fleming] in the practice, whose modesty alone forced him afterward from the bar. The trial came on:  the plaintiff, trembling with bodily infirmities, yet resolute, appeared in court with his title-papers, scowling vengeance on the poor fishermen who had dared to trample on his rights,— “the grass aforesaid.”

The evidence showed a legal trespass of a very harmless character. Mr. Gordon argued the case for the plaintiff by stating the law, and maintaining that because the plaintiff was rich it was no reason why justice should be denied where a plain case of damage had been made out; for the law presumed damage whenever a trespass was committed. The effort was up-hill, a heavy strain to counsel, and the jury looked as if they had no disposition to encourage him by nods or smiles of approbation as he dwelt on the strong points of his argument.  After Mr. Gordon closed, the junior counsel of the defendants launched forth in a vein of goodhumored yet convulsive ridicule, and blowed the case so completely that the jury in five minutes returned a verdict for the defendants. Whereupon the plaintiff instantly paid the cost and entered an appeal, declaring that he would “give it to the rascals next time.” While the appeal was pending in the grass-fish case, Mr. Gordon found it inconvenient to attend Twiggs court, and the action was transferred into the hands of a gentleman‡ [John A. Cuthbert] who, as an advocate, (a former Representative in Congress,) evinced a high order of talent and very refined and uniformly-courteous address. His speech for the plaintiff was calmly logical, and was a fair specimen of Westminster deduction from small premises. The ex-judge, who was behind none of his compeers in blandness of manner, then touched the spark to the magazine of fun in the case, and away it exploded, causing much suppressed laughter, even at the expense of Mr. Gordon, who was accused of deserting his large practice in the court rather than appear in so pitiful a case or seeming to offend his rich client by a refusal,—a case so unequal, so much power on the one side and so much weakness on the other, as to remind one of a whale making war upon a minnow, if nature ever permitted such contests; a case where a rich man grudged a few straggling fish in a public highway (for all rivers in Georgia were such) to the poor families who looked to it for their daily support. The special jury readily gave a concurring verdict for the defendants. A motion was made for a new trial, on which a rule nisi was granted, and taken to the Convention of Judges, who advised a dismissal of the rule. Thus terminated the case,

* Hon. Thaddeus G. Holt, now of the city of Macon.

†Allen Fleming, Esq., then of Marion, but who for the last eight or ten years has been the Agent of the Marine and Fire Insurance Bank at Griffin.

‡John A. Cuthbert, Esq., then editor of the Federal Union, now a resident of Mobile, Alabama, and late judge of the county court.

 

Additional notes on Judge Thaddeus G. Holt:
His father, Thaddeus Holt, served for a short time in the state legislature and as a lieutenant colonel in the militia during the War of 1812. He participated in several duels during his life and was eventually murdered in October of 1813.

 

John Gaskins, Pioneer of Old Berrien

John Gaskins (1802 – 1865)

Grave marker of John Gaskins (1802-1865), Riverside Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Grave marker of John Gaskins (1802-1865), Riverside Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

 John Gaskins was one of the early pioneers of Berrien County, settling along with his father, Fisher Gaskins,  and brothers near present day Bannockburn, GA.  They made their homes on the west side of the Alapaha River about 16 miles distant from today’s Ray City, GA location, settling there about the same time the Knights and Clements were homesteading in the area around Beaverdam Creek.

John Gaskins was born June 29, 1802 in Warren County, GA. He was the eldest child of Fisher Gaskins and Rhoda Rowe, and a grandson of Thomas Gaskins, Revolutionary Soldier.  When John was around four or five years old, his parents  and grandparents  moved  the family back to Beaufort District, South Carolina, from whence they had originated.  The family appears there in Beaufort District in the Census of 1810. By the time of the 1810 enumeration, John Gaskins’ parents had given him four siblings – two brothers and two sisters.

But immediately following the birth of her fifth child, John’s mother died.  He was eight years old at the time.  His widowed father packed up the five young children and moved the family back to Warren County, GA.  There, on January 17, 1811 his father married Mary Lacy. Her father, Archibald Lacy, was also a veteran of the Revolutionary War, and her brother was the Reverend John B. Lacy, who would later become a prominent  Primitive Baptist Minister.  Around this time John’s father was expanding his livestock business and began looking for good grazing land for his growing herds of cattle.

By 1812, John Gaskins’ father moved the family to Telfair County, GA where he acquired good grazing land for his cattle. His father and his uncle, David Gaskins, were very successful in the cattle business and soon had large herds, not only in Telfair County where they were enumerated in 1820, but also in Walton and other surrounding counties where good natural pasturage could be had.

Around 1821, the Gaskins again moved their families and cattle herds to the south, crossing the Ocmulgee River at Mobley’s Bluff and pushing into the new frontier of Appling County,GA.  John, now a young man of 17 or 18 years old, made the move with his family.  His uncle, David Gaskins, halted in an area of Appling County known as “The Roundabout”, situated in present day Atkinson County, where he found good range land for his cattle. John’s father took his herd across the Alapaha River into then Irwin County at a location that for many years was known as the John Ford.

The Fisher Gaskins clan, John’s father and his brothers, settled west of the Alapaha River a little south of present day Bannockburn, GA near the site of Riverside Church. On April 14, 1825  John Gaskins married Mary Pollie Barrow in Irwin County, GA.      This was about 15 miles north of the area where the Knights and Clements were settling their families above Grand Bay, near present day Ray City, GA.  John and Mary Gaskins established their homestead just to the north of his father’s place. By the end of 1825, the Georgia Legislature divided Irwin County and from the southern portion formed the new county of Lowndes.

On August 11, 1826 Mary Gaskins delivered to John his first son, Gideon Gaskins. A second son arrived on February 16, 1828, whom they named Fisher Jackson Gaskins; Fisher – after his paternal grandfather, and Jackson perhaps after Andrew Jackson, the Hero of New Orleans who would be elected President that year.

John Gaskins appeared as a head of household in Lowndes County in the Census of 1830, as did his father, Fisher Gaskins.  About 1829 or 1830, John’s father moved his cattle across the county and settled on Lot 91 of the 9th Land District, which was subsequently known as the Chambliss place, and later became the home of George D. Griffin.

About 1831 a contagious disease struck Fisher Gaskins’ herd, killing off several hundred head of cattle and inciting the elder Gaskins to seek new pastures yet again. With the help of hired hands, among them a young John G. Taylor, he drove his remaining cattle into North Florida to settle in the area of Alachua County, FL.   John and Mary stayed behind in Lowndes County (now Berrien), as well as John’s brothers,  William and Harmon.

“When he moved to Florida, he [Fisher Gaskins] left much of his herds behind in Georgia to be looked after by his sons, John, William, and Harmon who by that time were grown.  These herds multiplied and in turn, other herds were formed and placed about at various points in what is now Clinch, Echols and Lowndes counties and over in Florida, under the management of herdsmen, who for their services were paid at the end of the year a percentage of the proceeds of the cattle sold that year.  The beef cattle were driven to Savannah and other distant places each year and sold. This arrangement with the herds and herdsmen continued with the elder Gaskins making periodic visits of inspection until his death, after which the three sons in Georgia received the Georgia herds in a division of the estate.”

Cattlemen like John Gaskins sold their Berrien County livestock at points like Savannah, GA or  Centerville on the St. Mary’s River, or Jacksonville, Florida.

John Gaskins fought in the Indian War 1836-1838, serving in Levi J. Knight’s Militia Company.   Georgia historian Folks Huxford wrote,  “His home was visited  by the savages on one occasion while the family was absent, and a good deal of vandalism and theft was committed.”   John Gaskins and his brother William were among those who took part in the Battle of Brushy Creek, one of the last real engagements with the Creek Indians in this region.

At age 38, John Gaskins and family were enumerated in the Census of 1840, still living in the northeast area of old Lowndes county now known as Berrien County. His brother, William, was living next door, and nearby were the homesteads of David Clements and William Clements, and other early settlers.

In 1850 the Gaskins remained in  Lowndes County.  Enumerated nearby the Gaskins home place were the residences of General Levi J. Knight, William Patten, Hardeman Sirmans, David Clements, Moses C. Lee, and other early settlers. John Gaskins was a farmer, with $600 in real estate.

Around 1855 the Gaskins were involved in some sort of public disturbance in Lowndes county.  Hardeman Sirmons, Benjamin S. Garrett, Drewry Garrett, Will Garrett, John Gaskins, William Gaskins, Gideon Gaskins, and Lemuel Gaskins were all brought before the Lowndes Superior Court for their involvement in a riot.  In 1856, however, the Gaskins and their neighbors were cut out of Lowndes county and placed in the new county of Berrien. The defendants were able to have their case  transferred to Berrien County in June of 1856, and apparently escaped serious consequences.

In the Census of 1860 John Gaskins appeared on the enumeration sheets listed next to Thomas M. Ray, who would begin construction of Ray’s Millpond just a few years later.

From 1858 to 1861, John Gaskins served as a Justice of the Peace in Berrien County.

During the Civil War five of his sons joined Georgia Volunteer Infantry regiments: Fisher J. Gaskins, William Gaskins, Lemuel Gaskins, Joseph Gaskins, and Harris Gaskins, .

Children of John Gaskins and Mary Pollie Barrow:

  1. Gideon Gaskins, born 1826, Berrien County, GA; married Sarah Knight (July 17, 1831 – February 03, 1902); buried Riverside Baptist Church, Berrien County, GA.
  2. Fisher J. Gaskins, Sr., born February 16, 1828, Berrien County, GA; married Elizabeth Sirmans, daughter of Abner Sirmans; served in Company I, 50th GA Regiment; died November 14, 1908, Berrien County, GA; Buried at Riverside Baptist Church.
  3. John Gaskins, Jr., born January 16, 1830, Berrien County, GA; married Catherine Calder; died May 6, 1886.
  4. Emily Gaskins, born 1832, Berrien County, GA; married Joseph Newbern.
  5. William Gaskins, born March 5, 1833; married Elizabeth Clements, daughter of David G. Clements; served in Company I, 54th GA Regiment; died August 27, 1910; buried Empire Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA.
  6. Lemuel Elam Gaskins, born 1836, Berrien County, GA; married Sarah Ann Sirmans, daughter of Abner Sirmans; served in Company I, 50th GA Regiment;  died October 26, 1862, Richmond, VA; buried Richmond VA, memorial marker at Riverside Baptist Church.
  7. Joseph Gaskins, born April 28, 1840, Berrien County, GA; married Harriet Sirmans, daughter of James Sirmans; served in Company I, 50th GA Regiment; died February 4, 1911; Buried at Riverside Baptist Church.
  8. Harmon Gaskins, born 1842, Berrien County, GA; died young.
  9. Harrison  “Harris” Gaskins, born April 5, 1842, Berrien County, GA.; married Roxanna “Roxie” Sirmans, daughter of James Sirmans, on April 17, 1862; served in Company K, 29th GA Regiment; died January 7, 1926; Buried at Riverside Baptist Church
  10. Bryant Gaskins, born 1846, Berrien County, GA

Clinch County News
April 23, 1937

John Gaskins – 1802-1865

Oldest son of Fisher Gaskins by his first wife. Came to Berrien while a youth, grew to manhood here. His wife was a daughter of Joseph Barrow… Immediately after their marriage John Gaskins and his wife settled on the Alapaha River a short distance north of the old home of his father and near where Bannockburn now is, and there they spent their entire married life together.   The death of John Gaskins occurred at this home July 18, 1865; and 23 years later, January 6, 1888 his widow joined her husband in the spirit-land, at the age of 83.  Both are buried at Riverside Cemetery and their graves are substantially marked. They were the parents of a large family of sons and daughters and their living descendants in this county to-day are very numerous.

John Gaskins was a man who spent his life at home and gave his time and attention to his avocation.  The farm was made self-sustaining; work was the rule and grim want never came to stare the inmates of this farm-home in the face.  Food for family and stock was well and abundantly supplied and the excellence of the range went a long way in helping him to provide meat for family and lay up money from the sales of beef-cattle.  Deer and turkeys were plentiful and could be taken at any time. Fish abounded in the river and with all of these good things around life on the frontier was not so bad after all.  Hogs grew almost wild in the hammocks and only required a few weeks’ finishing off with corn or field crops to be ready for slaughter. Cattle were let to go at large all the time except they were penned regularly for about six weeks during the months of April and May so that they may be marked and branded and kept under control; and the annual sale of these beef-cattle brought the gold in their homes against the rainy-day and old age.

John Gaskins took part in driving the last of the wandering bands of Indians from Georgia soil, and one of the last engagements with the redskins fought on Berrien county soil took place near the home of this old pioneer.  His home suffered from Indian predations to the extent that the feather beds were taken out, the ticks ripped open, the feathers emptied and scattered and the ticks carried away with some other articles of the household.  Some of these articles were recovered, among which was a beautiful pitcher which had been treasured as an heirloom for many years.  The place where the pitcher was recovered after it had been cast aside by the Indians in their flight across the Alapaha River, is known to this day among the local inhabitants as “Pitcher Slough.”

Following the death of John Gaskins in 1865 his sons Fisher J. and John, Jr. served as the administrators of his estate.

Milledgeville Federal Union
August 21, 1866 — page 4

Georgia, Berrien County.
Two months after date application will be made to the Court of Ordinary of said county for leave to sell the lands belonging to the estate of John Gaskins, Sen., deceased, for the benefit of the heirs and creditors of said deceased.
F. J. Gaskins,
John Gaskins, Jr.   Adm’r’s.
July 2d, 1866.        WEC       50 9c

Related Posts:

Me and Mrs. Jones: Harmon Gaskins Had A Thing Going On – Twice

Over the course of his life, Harmon Gaskins twice married widows named Mrs. Jones.  He first married Melissa Rouse Jones, widow of Clayton Jones, and second married Mary McCutchen Jones, widow of Matthew Jones. For nearly forty years, Harmon Gaskins and his family lived near Five Mile Creek, about six or seven miles northeast of present day Ray City, GA.

Graves of Melissa and Harmon Gaskins, Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Graves of Melissa and Harmon Gaskins, Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Harmon Gaskins was one of the early pioneers of Berrien County, originally settling along with his father, Fisher Gaskins, and brothers John and William near present day Bannockburn, GA. They made their homes on the west side of the Alapaha River about 16 miles distant from today’s Ray City, GA location.

Born in Beaufort, South Carolina around 1808, Harmon Gaskins was the youngest son of Rhoda Rowe and Fisher Gaskins, and a grandson of Thomas Gaskins, Revolutionary Soldier.  Fisher Gaskins and his family appear there in Beaufort District in the Census of 1810.  That same year, when Harmon was perhaps two years old, his mother died.   His widowed father packed up the five young children and moved the family back to Warren County, GA, where the family had lived prior to 1807.  There, on January 17, 1811 his father remarried.  Harmon’s new step-mother was Mary Lacy.  Her father, Archibald Lacy, was also a veteran of the Revolutionary War. His stepmother’s brother, the Reverend John B. Lacy, would later become a prominent Primitive Baptist Minister

It was about this time that Harmon’s father, Fisher Gaskins,  began to expand his livestock operations. Soon he was looking to acquire good land on which to raise his growing herds of cattle. By 1812,  Harmon’s father had moved the family to Telfair County, GA where there was good grazing land for his cattle. His father was very successful in the cattle business and soon had large herds, not only in Telfair County, but also in Walton and other surrounding counties where good natural pasturage could be had.

Around 1821, Harmon’s father moved his family and cattle yet again, this time to the newly created Appling County, GA, south of the Ocmulgee River.  Harmon Gaskins, now a lad of 12 or 13 years, moved with the family.

By the end of 1825, the Georgia Legislature formed the new county of Lowndes out of the southern half of Irwin County. It was around that time or shortly thereafter, Harmon’s father brought his cattle herds and family father south into that portion of Lowndes County that would later be cut into Berrien County.  Fisher Gaskins (Sr.) brought his family into Lowndes County and settled west of the Alapha River perhaps a little south of the present day Bannockburn, GA, and about 15 miles north of the area where William A. Knight, Isbin Giddens,  and David Clements were settling their families above Grand Bay.

Around 1832, Harmon’s father moved farther south into Florida where it was said that there was even better pasture land for cattle. Harmon stayed behind, as well as his brothers, William and John.

Harmon Gaskins married about 1835 and first established his own home place on the Gaskins land near Gaskins cemetery.  Harmon Gaskins, and his brothers William and John, were among Captain 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.

In the late 1830s, Harmon Gaskins moved his family to a location near Five Mile Creek, about six or seven miles from present day Ray City, GA.  The Census of 1850 shows the Harmon Gaskins place was located next to the farm of Mark Watson, which was  in the area of Empire Church.  Harmon Gaskins kept his residence here until 1875, when he decide to build a place nearer the Alapaha River. Just two years later, Harmon Gaskins died and was buried at the Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

Sixty years after his death, the Clinch County News ran an account of Harmon Gaskins life in Berrien County:

The Clinch County News
April 23, 1937

Harmon Gaskins – 1808-1878

    This the youngest of the three sons of Fisher and Rhoda Rowe Gaskins, was born in 1808, and began life for himself as a laborer on the farm of a neighbor, Mrs. Clayton Jones.  He was about grown when his father decided to move to Florida; and ere long he was in love with Mrs. Melissa Jones, widow of Clayton Jones.  Mrs. Jones’ husband had moved to this county from Emanuel County along with the Sirmans family of Clinch and Berrien counties.  Her husband died about 1830 or 1832 and left her with three children, viz; Irving Jones and Henry Jones and Harriet who later married Wm. M. Avera.  The daughter Harriet was only about two or three years old when her father died, she being born in 1829.  Mrs. Melissa Jones was an illegitimate daughter of Miss Martha (Patsy) Rouse who later became the wife of Jonathan Sirmans of this [Clinch] county. The father of this illegitimate child was named Rowland, a fair-haired, blue-eyed Scotch-Irish man of handsome mien and who deceived the youthful maiden and went away never to return.  This illegitimate child grew up and married Clayton Jones in Emanuel county, and they came to Berrien county about 1825, and he died about 1830-2 as already stated, leaving his widow possessed of a home and farm and with five children to take care of.  Harmon Gaskins, about her age, but a little younger, after working for her on the farm a year or two, proposed marriage and was accepted and they were married about 1835.
    Their first child Rhoda was born Jan. 17, 1837, at the old homestead which was located on the Willacoochee Road leading east from Nashville by way of Avera’s Mill 7 miles east of Nashville and near the Gaskins Graveyard.
    The early life of Harmon Gaskins was not  different from that of other pioneers’ sons growing up in the atmosphere of frontier life.  He was reared to live the chase and many were the conquests made by him in company with his father and brothers of the wild beasts that then abounded and roamed through the country.  Like his father and brothers, he became the owner of a vast herd of cattle, and from the proceeds of sales of his beef-cattle each year he was able to save up gold and silver which in his hands stayed out of the channels of trade for years at the time. He was inured to the hardships of life as it then existed.  His only mode of travel was horseback unless he had to make a trip to a distant trading-point for supplies that could not be produced on the farm.  In such event of a trip, the horse was hitched to a two-wheeled cart of his own construction he being an excellent blacksmith and wheelright; and journey made in company with two or three neighbors situated like himself.  They drove their carts sitting astride their horses, and took rest-spells by occasionally walking by the side of the horse.  Such trips had to be made to St. Marks, Fla., or to old Center Village in what is now Charlton county.  An occasional trip would be made to Savannah but most of the trips were made to the other points named; these trips were usually about once a year, and would last a week or ten days.
  After the birth of two or three children the homesite of Harmon Gaskins was moved to a different location on the same lot of land and for many years he lived near Five-Miles Creek just east of his first location. This was  his home until about 1875 when he decided to locate on a lot of land which he had owned for several years lying nearer the Alapaha River and east of his old home.  Here he constructed a plain log dwelling and began the work of making a new home for himself and family, renting out the old home-place. He died at his last location.
    After the death of his first wife, Mr. Gaskins was married to Mrs. Mary Jones, widow of Matthew Jones and daughter of Robert and Cornelia McCutcheon, pioneer citizens of Irwin and Berrien counties.  By his two marriages, Mr. Gaskins had fourteen children – nine by his first wife and five by the second wife.
     Harmon Gaskins’ death was sudden and was deemed by his older children to appear to have been surrounded with peculiar circumstances.  A suspicion arose that he was poisoned by his wife.  This suspicion was nursed and grew in the minds of the children until it was determined several weeks later to have the body exhumed and a post mortem examination of the stomach made.  The State Chemist failed to find any trace of poison and the decision reached that he came to his death by natural causes.  This however engendered much bitterness and ill-feeling between the widow and her step children, and she entered suit for damages for slander.  She was given a verdict for $1600.00.  She later married Alfred Richardson by whom she had four children, and with whom she lived until a few years before her death in 1918.
    Harmon Gaskins enjoyed but few and limited opportunities for obtaining an education.  Nevertheless he was one of the best-posted men on political issues and economics of his time.  He was a liberal subscriber to the newspapers of his day, and he had a good collection of books on history and other subjects of all of which he was a great student. His counsel was found to be safe and his judgement sound; he was often sought after by others.  He was appointed one of the first judges of the Inferior Court of Berrien County, serving many years.  After the court was abolished he served many years as Justice of the Peace.  However, he never sought political office but rather preferred to stay home.  He labored with his own hands as long as he lived, and put in a good day’s work the day before he died.
At the death of his father in Columbia county, Fla., he inherited a large stock of cattle from the estate which ranged in Volusia and St. Johns counties, Fla., and until a few years preceding his death he made trips down there once a year for the purpose of rounding up the cattle, marking and branding the calves, and talking over his business affairs with those he had arranged to look after the herds.  The men were usually men living in the neighborhood there and under their contract were to look personally after the cattle and pen them about three months in the spring and each summer in order to keep them tradable, and sell the beef steers in the summer, and bring the money from the sales to the owner. For this service the herder was to receive every fifth calf raised and these calves were marked and branded for the herder at the April round-up.
I
ncompetent and probably dishonest herders in due time began to appear among those entrusted with the care of the Florida herds, and this with the gradual failing of the range and the development of the country there and the influx of people, all worked to the detriment of the enterprise. The income from the cattle grew less each year until Mr. Gaskins decided to sell what he had left and let Florida cattle growing alone. Thus he sold out about 15 or 20 years before he died. After his death some sixteen hundred dollars in gold and silver coin and several hundred dollars in paper money was divided among his heirs after having lain in his trunk for many years.
    The children by the first wife were:
    (1) Rhoda, born Jan. 17, 18–, married first to Francis Mobley and after his death in the civil war she married Wm. M. Griner.
    (2) Martha, married first to Thomas Connell who was killed in the civil war; second to William Parker who died three months later; third husband, Hardeman Giddens, was a first cousin on her mother’s side.
(3) Nancy, married Solomon Griffin of Berrien county.

    (4) Fisher H., married Polly Ann Griner.
    (5) Harmon Jr.  Never married, died a young man during the war.
    (6) Rachel, married William Griffin.
    (7) Sarah C., married Samuel Griner.
    (8) Thomas H., married Rachel McCutcheon.
    (9) John A., married Mary Bostick.
    The children by the second wife were: Wayne and Jane who died in childhood; Harmon E. Gaskins, never married, living single in east Berrien county; William H. Gaskins  and David D. Gaskins, The latter married Elsie Hughes.

Grave of Melissa Gaskins, 1810-1864, wife of Harmon Gaskins, buried at Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

Grave of Melissa Gaskins, 1810-1864, wife of Harmon Gaskins, buried at Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

Grave of Harmon Gaskins, Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Grave of Harmon Gaskins, Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA