The Family of Aden Boyd and Nancy Sykes

Aden Boyd and Nancy Sykes Boyd were among the  pioneer settlers of  Berrien County, GA.

According to Huxford, the children of Aden and Nancy were:

1. Blansett “Blanche” Boyd, born 1823, married Henry Tison.
2. David Boyd, born 1827, married Anna Ford, October 27, 1858.
3. Aden Boyd, Jr. born  1829, married Maxie Cook, daughter of Elijah Cook and Sarah “Sallie” Webb.
4. Lucinda Boyd, born  1832, married William Baldree, September 9, 1857.
5. Sarah Boyd,  born 1835, married Robert Lewis Taylor.
6. Mary E. Boyd,  born 1836, married Elbert J. Chapman.
7. Eliza H. Boyd, born 1838, married William J. Taylor, Jr., July 29, 1862.
8. William H. Boyd, born 1841, married – Tyson in Florida.

 Aden Boyd(1784-1864) was a son of David Boyd and Sarah Dabney. His father “was a Revolutionary soldier, enlisting in Culpepper County, VA, in Captain Ladson’s company, later being tranferred to Captain Clark’s company and serving under General Benjamin Lincoln at Charleston and Augusta” in the 1780’s.

After the Revolution, David Boyd RS settled in Old Washington County, GA. His property there was later cut into Montgomery and Tattnall counties.

“Aden Boyd was born in Georgia in 1800 according to the 1850 census, but in 1784 according to his tombstone.”

When Aden Boyd was about 12 years old his father was convicted of stealing a cow from a neighbor and received a severe sentence which included 117 lashes and being branded with an “R” for Rustler. (In 1999 David Boyd’s descendants were able to secure a full and unconditional pardon for David Boyd.  See 1999 Pardon for Revolutionary Soldier Balances Scales of Justice  for the complete story.)

“His wife, Nancy, was born 1802 in this state according to the 1850 census, but her tombstone shows she was born 1790. They were married in Tattnall County, GA on December 19, 1819 by J.A. Tippins, Justice of the Peace.  The bride was formerly Nancy Sykes, daughter of Arthur Sykes (she had a brother of the same name), and had previously been married, so that her name in the marriage license appears as Nancy Jones.”

“Aden Boyd and wife immediately after their marriage, proceeded to Appling County and made their home there until about 1828-30, 

Aden and Nancy Boyd made their home in Appling county, and are documented as residents of Appling County in the Census of 1820.  In 1823 the couple had their first child, a daughter they named  Blansett. Around that same time Aden’s parents both died, passing within a month of each other in Tatnall County, Ga. When the Georgia legislature created Ware County in December, 1824 Aden Boyd’s home was cut into the new county. On July 11, 1826, Aden Boyd purchased lot #155 in the 8th land district of Ware County, near a railroad stop known as “Old Nine” or “Number Nine”- a lot now within the city limits of Waycross, GA.  Aden Boyd sold this lot to Jeremiah Walker on Sept. 24, 1827.

About 1827, a son was born to Aden and Nancy Boyd. They named the boy David Boyd, after his paternal grandfather. Around 1828, Aden Boyd moved his family  to Old Lowndes County, where he established a home in the portion of the 10th land district which in 1856 was cut into Berrien County.  It appears that Aden’s brother, Bani J. Boyd, and nephew, Henry Boyd came to Lowndes from Tatnall County about this same time and settled nearby. In 1829, Nancy delivered another boy and the couple named him Aden Boyd, Jr.

In 1830, Aden Boyd and his young family are enumerated in Lowndes County.   They were originally members of Union Church which they joined on professions of faith, he being baptized November 12, 1831, and she on January 7, 1832.

Mr. and Mrs. Boyd were neighbors of Dred Newbern and Jonathan Sirmans. Nearby were the homesteads of  Bani J. Boyd, and Henry Boyd. The census shows that Aden Boyd did not own any slaves at this time. Over the next eight years, four more daughters were born to the couple, Lucinda B. (1832), Sarah B. (1835), Mary E. (1836), and Eliza (1838).   County deed records show that on February 22, 1839, Aden Boyd purchased land from Levi J. Knight, original settler of Ray City, GA . This land was a part of lot 356, 10th district of what was then Lowndes but now Berrien County.

By about 1845, Aden and Nancy’s eldest daughter,  Blansett Boyd, married Henry Tison and settled with her husband on a farm next door to her parents.

The Agricultural Census of 1850 shows Aden Boyd owned 735 acres of land, 40 acres of it improved. The cash value of his farm was $400, and he owned another $50 in farming implements and machinery. His livestock included 3 horses, 20 milch cows, 24 other cattle, and 100 swine. The total value of his live stock was $460 dollars. He had 300 bushels of Indian corn and 40 bushels of oats.  He had 1 bale, 400 lbs, of ginned cotton; 50 bushels of peas and beans; 20 bushels of sweet potatoes, 50 lbs of butter, and $125 dollars’ worth of slaughtered animals. His neighbors were John F. Clements and Henry Tison.  Nearby was the farm of Aaron Knight, and his family.

 

About 1852, son Aden Boyd, Jr married Maxie Cook, daughter of Elijah Cook and Sarah “Sallie” Webb.  Aden and Maxie settled on a place next to Stephen W. Avera, father of William Greene Avera, and the neighboring farms of William H. Boyett, Moses G. Sutton, Elijah Cook, and Mark R. Watson.

According to Folks Huxford, Aden  and Nancy Boyd had continued as members of  Union Church but in 1854, with their children marrying and settling around them, “a meeting-house was erected on the Boyd lands called Boyd’s Meeting House. Aden Boyd gave land for a church and cemetery, and  a new church called Empire was organized there.  Empire Church is located near Five Mile Creek,  about six miles northeast of Ray City out the Sam I. Watson Highway, on Empire Road.

“Aden Boyd donated the land for Empire Church and Cemetery in Land Lot # 335, Lowndes County on 26 May 1855. The church lands were later cut into Berrien and Lanier counties. This deed transferring property from Aden to Empire is registered on page 369, Book A, Berrien County, GA deeds. Aden and Nancy were among the charter members of Empire Primitive Baptist Church, which was previously known as Boyd’s Meeting House. Aden’s tombstone inscription also states that he donated the ground for this cemetery. Minutes from the first church Conference held on Saturday, 27 May 1854 referred to the church as Boyd’s Meeting House, which was now to be called Empire.”

Mr. and Mrs. Boyd became charter-members of Empire Church by letter of transfer from Union Church dated March 11, 1854.” He and his wife continued as members at Empire for the rest of their lives.

On Feb 4, 1856, Aden Boyd and his sister, Mrs. Blansett Jones (wife of Abner Jones of Berrien County) Filed an application in Lowndes county for a pension as orphans of a deceased Revolutionary Soldier. Their pension application was denied since they were both adults with families of their own at the time of their father’s death.

Aden Boyd was one of the early rice growers of Berrien county. The Berrien County agricultural and manufacturing records  for 1860 show he had on hand 80 pounds of rice, along with 50 bushels of corn, 10 bushels of oats and 5 bushels of peas and beans.  By 1860, Aden Boyd kept a farm of just 100 acres for himself. Of this, 15 acres were improved and 85 unimproved. The land was assessed at $400, and his home furnishing were worth $5. His livestock consisted of one mule, two sheep, and ten swine, altogether valued at $100.

In 1860, Adin Boyd and his wife Nancy were living in Berrien County. His daughters Sarah, and Eliza H., and son William H. were enumerated in his household. His neighbors were William G. Aiken and Henry Tison.

Aden Boyd died in April 1864, and was  buried in the cemetery at the church he helped to found.  Nancy Sykes Boyd died in April, 1872 and was buried in the cemetery at the church.

aden-boyd-nancy-sykes

Grave marker of Nancy Sykes and Aden Boyd, Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA. Image detail courtesy of CT Zeigler http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=37125179

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aden-boyd-nancy-sykes-detail

Inscription detail, grave marker of Nancy Sykes and Aden Boyd, Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

In 1857,  daughter Lucinda Boyd married William Baldree,  and the couple made their home adjacent to her parents and siblings.  The following year, David Boyd married Anna Ford and they also made their farm near his parents’ home place.

1860-boyd-family1

1860 census pages showing households of Aden Boyd and Nancy Sykes Boyd; Henry Tison and Blansett Boyd Tison; William; William Baldree and Lucinda Boyd Baldree; and David Boyd and Anna Ford Boyd.

Source: https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu111unit#page/n394/mode/1up

In June of 1859, Aden Boyd’s daughter Mary Boyd, married Elbert J. Chapman who was known locally as “Old Yeller” because of his pale complexion.  During the Civil War Old Yeller enlisted with Levi J. Knight’s company of Berrien Minute Men, and served in the 29th Georgia Regiment along with William Washington KnightJohn W. Hagan and other men of Berrien County.  But Chapman grew frustrated with relegation to a rear position and  abandoned his unit to seek action with  a westbound cavalry unit.  Although Chapman fought bravely with his new unit, he was eventually shot for his desertion from the 29th Georgia Infantry. Mary Boyd Chapman was later denied a Confederate Widow’s pension.

Sarah Boyd and Eliza Boyd married two brothers, Robert Lewis Taylor and William J. Taylor, respectively. They were brothers of Jemima Taylor, who married William Boyette.

The youngest son, William H. Boyd, married around the end of the Civil War or shortly thereafter.  According to Folks Huxford, he married a Tison woman in Florida.  The 1870 census provides her given name as “Georgia A.”, but no Georgia Tison has been located.  In 1870, William H. Boyd and wife Georgia, along with their sons Henry Harrison Boyd and Thomas H. Boyd, were making their household in the 1144 Georgia Militia District, the “Rays Mill” District of Berrien County, GA.  They were next door to William’s sister Blansett “Blanchy” and her husband, Henry Tison. Also living on the next farm was William’s widowed sister Mary Boyd Chapman, with her 8-year old daughter Mary A C Chapman and an infant daughter, 7-month-old Cressey Chapman.

Pages 91-92 of the 1870 Census of Berrien County, GA showing the adjacent households of Blansett Boyd Tison & Henry Tison; Jasper Tison; William H. Boyd & wife Georgia with sons Henry H Boyd and Thomas Boyd; and Mary Boyd Chapman with daughters Mary A C Chapman and Cressey Chapman.

Pages 91-92 of the 1870 Census of Berrien County, GA showing the adjacent households of Blansett Boyd Tison & Henry Tison; Jasper Tison; William H. Boyd & wife Georgia with sons Henry Harrison Boyd and Thomas Boyd; and Mary Boyd Chapman with daughters Mary A C Chapman and Cressey Chapman.

By 1880 William H. and Georgia Boyd had moved to the 1058 Georgia Militia District in Echols County, GA. They were enumerated there with their son Harrison.  Also in the Boyd household was William’s sister, Mary Chapman, and her daughter Cressey Chapman.

1880 Census, Echols County, GA, enumeration of the household of William H. Boyd & wife Georgia with son Henry Harrison Boyd, sister Mary Boyd Chapman, and niece Cressey Chapman.

1880 Census, Echols County, GA, enumeration of the household of William H. Boyd & wife Georgia with son Henry Harrison Boyd, sister Mary Boyd Chapman, and niece Cressey Chapman.

https://archive.org/stream/10thcensus0145unit#page/n58/mode/1up

It appears that Georgia Boyd died shortly after 1880 and that William H. Boyd remarried.   William H. Boyd, himself, apparently died before 1900, but his second wife, Penny Boyd, appears in the Valdosta, GA household of his adult son, Harrison Boyd, along with her minor children in the  census of 1900.

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William W. Knight Writes Home About Old Yellow and Men of the 29th Georgia Infantry

From 1861 to 1863, William Washington Knight served  as 2nd Sergeant in the 29th GA infantry in Company K, the Berrien Minutemen,  a Confederate army unit organized by his father,  Levi J. Knight.  William W. Knight was born March 4, 1829 and grew to a man in the neighborhood of Beaverdam Creek, near present day Ray City, Berrien County, GA.

In October of 1861, William W. Knight left his farm, 26 acres of cleared land and 464 acres forrested, in the care of his wife, Mary (See The Poetry of Mary Elizabeth Carroll). He left Mary with their one horse, $25 worth of farm implements, six cattle, 35 hogs, about 350 bushels of Indian corn, 120 pounds of rice, 50 bushels of peas and beans, 100 bushels of sweet potatoes, 75 pounds of butter, 80 gallons of molasses, and 50 pounds of honey. Their farm was situated next to that of William’s uncle, John Knight, and also the farm of William A. Jones, who was also serving with the Berrien Minutemen.

In a  Civil War letter dated June 3, 1863, transcribed below,  William W. Knight observes that deserter Elbert J. Chapman had rejoined his unit.    Chapman, known to his troop mates as Old Yellow or ‘Old Yaller,’  was shot for desertion about five weeks later, in a tragic episode of military discipline.  In the letter, Knight mentions several other soldiers (see notes below), including his brother, Jonathan David Knight.

As noted in previous posts, this is one of 37  of Civil War Letters of William W. Knight which have been scanned and placed online by Valdosta State University Archives. He  wrote home to his wife, Mary Elizabeth Carroll Knight, and father numerous times while on deployment  with his unit.

In the letter of June 3, the quality of the original document combined with Knight’s affinity for run on sentences makes for rather difficult reading.  For clarity, the transcription below takes some interpretive  liberties with punctuation. Knight’s letter of June 3, 1863 can be viewed in the VSU archives.

Mississippi

Camp Near Yazoo City     June 3rd 1863

Dear Mary,

Again I seat myself to write to you  few lines th[ough] I wish you could see the seat and place we are camped at. We are in a narrow bottom with a creek running through it, clear limestone water.  It is all the running water we have seen in any creek since we have been in this State.  We are below Yazoo city three miles, or rather we are sout[h] of it, fifty miles from Vicksburgh.  There are more men here than you ever saw in all your live, the number I will not give, not knowing but this might fall in the Federals hands. We came here yesterday. We lay up day before two miles from here.

We left our camp at Deasonville, Saturday near twelve o’clock and marched till night.  Sunday was the hardest days march we ever taken, not the farthest, we have marched farther in the day, but the country very broken, the weather very hot and not water enough to barely sustain life. Many men gave out and could go no further. Some fainted in the road and had to be taken up and carried off but none of our brigade died from the march so far as I can ascertain.  This country is the barest of water of any I ever saw.

We are gradually  closing up around Vicksburgh. The Abrahamites are around it, our men inside under Gen. Pemberton, our outside army under Gen. Johns[t]on or he commands the whole army.  We are under Gen. Walker. He is my General now and in command this squad here.  They are from different states.

There is some sickness among the men but none of them dangerous. I think in our company there the following men sick but they can walk about and tend to their business: John S Adams, William Cameron, Henry A. Lastinger, Mathew R. Lindsey, Edmond Mathis, Aaron Mattox, John A. Parrish, Corpl. John R. Patterson, Alfred B. Findley, Jacob J. Truitt.  They are only too weak to hold out to march. They have fever or diarrhea.  Jonathan had the fever two days ago but he is better, he did not have much fever yesterday, he got too hot Sunday of the march. Lt Parrish is well again. All the rest of the Company are well.

Manning Fender got a letter from James Fender last week he was getting better. We left him at Columbus, Ga.

Elbert J. Chapman, or as the boys called, Old Yellow, is with us again. William D. Warren of the Sharpshooters from Thomas County found him at Canton.  Warren did belong to our regiment before he was put in the Sharpshooters battalion. Chapman is heartier than I ever saw him, he was in the 20th Mississippi Regiment of mounted infantry. He had been there five months and two day[s]. The regiment has been in several battles since he has been in it. He went by the name of Manning Coleman. He says he does not know any thing of Benjamin Garrett, that he has not seen him since last December. They got parted at Brookhaven in this State.

We have no tents in our regiment, we take the world and weather as we find it. We have four fry pans and one oven for our company. The rest of the companies are no better off than our[s]. Where we are stopped we get enough to eat, but when we are marching we do not have any chance to cook enough to eat, and water to cook with is often not to be had.  We marched seven miles Sunday. After sunset we stopped to camp where it had been represented we could get water but it was not there to get, and we had to come seven miles further before we could get it, and then there was not enough and what there was was very bad.

I will describe the kind of water we have been using until we come to this place. That is, if your imagination will help draw the picture.  It is in holes in the creeks, the soil thick yellow mud void of sand, the water yellow muddy stuff with a green scum on it – but seldom over a foot deep – some times half covers holes. And no more near enough to be got at, and that the chance for several thousand men, and a great many of them like hogs.  If they are not minded out, they will be in it, washing there hands, face, feet or old, nasty clothes. Its astonishing how many men there in this world that are only animals in human form. Ask one and he will tell you it is wrong, but he saw somebody else do so and he had as well do so as any body else. That is always the answer you get. They have a kind of elastic consciences that expand to fit any case.

This is a very rich farming country. They make fine corn with the least work of any country I have ever been in. They break up their land, plant their corn, side the corn, turn the dirt from it, hoe it out, let it stand about two weeks, side it again turning the dirt to the corn, let stand about the same time, and plough out the middles, and they are done that crop.  They make from thirty to fifty bushels to the acre. Their lands are nearly all bottom lands. It averages fifty bushels to the acre.

Mary, I got two letters Saturday from you dated the 9th & 17th of last month. I was very glad to hear that you and the children had been well since I left Savannah.  I say had been, for the[y] had been written so long they were almost out of date, but I recon mine are quite as old before they get to you if they ever get there.

Well, Mary, I recon you need not be uneasy for fear I will suffer for money because of what I sent you. I have quite as much as I will need, I hope. If I had not have left Savannah I should have sent you as much more.  I have sent you this year one hundred and ten dollars in money and a little over thirty dollars worth of things.  I  have about sixty dollars with me now. I recon it will last me till we draw again.  I had much rather see you and the children than any amount of money we will ever have at one time.

I am in hope I will keep well and able to do all the duty that may be required of me.  I think all the men in our company would get well in a week if they could have that long to rest.  There is no chance for them to write when we are on a march. We have but one ambulance for the regiment. It will not carry more than eight men.  I will write when ever I have a chance.

Your Faithful Husband

William W. Knight

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Some additional notes on the men of the 29th Georgia Regiment mentioned in Knight’s Letter:

William W. Knight,   Enlisted as a private Company D, 29th Georgia Regiment, October 1, 1861 in Berrien County, GA.  Made 2nd Sergeant in December, 1861.  Was sent for Camp equipage in December 1862. September 5, 1863 receipts show he accepted at camp in the field a delivery of two pairs of shoes. Receiving equipage in the field, October 31, 1863, “the men being in a destitute condition.” Requisition records show he was at Dalton, GA on December 6, 1863 where he received additional equipment for the unit.  Died of chronic diarrhea at Milltown, GA. December 27,1863. A son of Levi J. Knight, and husband of Mary Elizabeth Carroll.

John S. Adams was from Duval County, FL. He enlisted as a private in Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment on April 3, 1862 in Savannah, GA.  By the late spring  of 1863 service records show he was a patient at the Confederate hospital at Point Clear, AL.  He apparently recovered to return to his unit, but in the summer of 1864 he was again sick, this time appearing on the register of patients at Ocmulgee Hospital, Macon, GA and suffering with chronic diarrhea. He was furloughed on May 16, 1864.

Alfred B. Finley,  private, Company D, 29th Georgia Infantry. Born in Georgia on January 15, 1840. While in the Confederate service he contracted measles and St. Anthony’s Fire (erysipelas),  a streptococcus infection which resulted in loss of his left eye. Captured near Nashville, TN on December 16, 1864, during the Battle of Nashville, TN.  Released at Camp Chase, OH,  June 12, 1865.  Died at Nicholls, GA on October 18,1921.

Benjamin S. Garrett, private, Enlisted October 1, 1861 Company K, 29th Georgia  Infantry at Berrien County, GA. August, 1862 at Convalescent Camp. Service Records include the notation “Deserted.”  Reported absent without leave for December 1862. Some say Garrett was later killed in Florida, but regimental records show he joined the 17th Georgia Infantry Regiment, was sent to Virginia, caught typhoid pneumonia and died November 9, 1862 at Chimborazo Hospital No. 5, Richmond, VA.

Jonathan D. Knight, Was the brother of William Washington Knight. Jonathan D. Knight was Captain, Company D, 29th Georgia Regiment. He was captured near Decatur, GA on July 22,1864  during the Battle of Atlanta and held as a prisoner of war until released at Fort Delaware, DE on June 17,1865. Later elected a senator in the Georgia state government, and signed the Georgia Constitution of 1877.

Henry Andrew Lastinger,  private, joined the Berrien Minute Men (later renamed Company K, 29th Georgia Infantry) officially inducted on August 1,1861.  He was a son of Louisa  English and William Lastinger. His sister, Elizabeth Lastinger, was present at the Grand Military Rally for the Berrien Minute Men held in May, 1861 at Milltown (now Lakeland), GA.  Four of his brothers also served with the Berrien Minute Men. A fifth brother served with the 5th Georgia Reserves. On September 19,1863 Henry A. Lastinger was shot in the right foot at the Battle of Chickamauga, GA, leaving him permanently disabled. Received extra pay from March 18 to August 2, 1864. Pension records show he was at home on wounded furlough close of war. Born in Georgia in 1832. Died December 24,1908.  His brother, Lacy Elias Lastinger, wrote about the execution of Elbert J. Chapman after the war.

Matthew R. Lindsey, private, Company K, 29th Georgia Infantry.   According to Widow’s Pension records he enlisted May 10, 1862, was wounded in right shoulder at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain,  June 27, 1864; was furloughed for 60 days in 1864, and was unable to return the unit.

Edmond W. Mathis, enlisted in Company K, 29th Georgia Infantry as a private on October 4, 1861, later Corporal.  He was captured near Nashville, TN on December 16, 1864 during the Battle of Nashville, TN.  Died February 11, 1865 of pneumonia at Camp Chase prison, Columbus, OH. Buried in Grave #1175, Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery.

John R. Patterson,  born about 1830, enlisted in Company K, 29th Georgia Infantry as a private October 1, 1861. Appointed Sergeant. Wounded near Atlanta, GA,  August 1864 during the Atlanta Campaign. Evacuated to a temporary Confederate field hospital at Forsyth, GA, known in confederate service records as “Ford Hospital”, established  by Andrew Jackson Foard, Field Medical Director for the Confederate Army of Tennessee.  Died in the hospital at Forsyth, Monroe County, GA August 14, 1864. Buried at Forsyth City Cemetery.

John A. Parrish, Private, Enlisted in Company D, Georgia 29th Infantry Regiment on November 1, 1861. Absent, sick, December 31, 1861. In Convalescent Camp August 31, 1862. On June 14, 1864  he was wounded at Pine Mountain, GA; that was the same day Confederate General Leonidas Polk was killed atop Pine Mountain by a lucky cannonshot from Union forces.  After June 14, John A. Parrish never returned to his unit. He was born February 18, 1844 a son of Josiah and Mary M. Parrish. Died October 28, 1885; buried Antioch Cemetery, Adel, GA.

Jacob Truett,  Private. Born in South Carolina February 9,1834.  Enlisted December 5, 1861in Lowndes County, GA. Service Records show in October 1862 he was “absent on expired sick furlough,”  and still absent sick in November and December, 1862.  In the Spring of 1864 he was issued new clothing and  detailed with Captain O. D. Horr.  He was again issued new clothing on September 30, 1864. Wounded in left shoulder at Murfreesboro, TN on December 7, 1864, the date of the Battle of Murphreesboro.  Admitted to Way Hospital at Meridian, MS, on account of wounds, January 19, 1865. Pension records show he surrendered at Greensboro, NC April 26,1865, the date and location of General Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender to General William T. Sherman.

James Fender, Corporal, Company K, 29th Georgia Infantry.  Absent sick, October and November 1862. Listed as Absent without Leave in December 1862. On September 3, 1863, he drew pay for July and August.    Buried at Fender Cemetery, Clinch County, GA

Manning Fender, private, Company K, 29th Georgia Infantry. At Convalescent Camp August, 1862.  Killed in battle at Chickamauga, GA, September 19, 1863.

Aaron Mattox,  enlisted in Company  G, 29th Georgia Infantry.  On August 22, 1864 he was captured  at Atlanta, GA and sent to  Camp Chase, OH.  From there, he was transferred to Point Lookout, MD on March 22, 1865. He died while imprisoned there in 1865 .

William Cameron. Private.  Shot in the left arm  during battle on June 15, 1864 with the ball lodging in the left elbow.  Admitted to Ocmulgee Hospital, Macon, GA on August 23,1864 where apparently the lead ball was removed from the wound. Furloughed home to Clinch County, August 29, 1864. Surrendered and Paroled at Thomasville, GA on May  26, 1865.

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How Old Yellow Was Killed

In 1909, Rufus Augustus Means, who served  in the 29th Georgia Volunteer Infantry along with Elbert J. “Old Yaller” Chapman, related the circumstances of Chapman’s death.     Elbert J. Chapman’s widow, Mary Ann “Patsy” Chapman, later lived in the 1144th Georgia Militia District, the Ray’s Mill District.

Rufus Augustus Means was one of the men detailed to shoot Elbert J. Chapman.

Rufus Augustus Means was one of the men detailed to shoot Elbert J. Chapman for desertion during the Civil War.

Rufus Augustus Means was a private in Company B, under the command of J.J. Owens, and Chapman was mustered in Company D, the Berrien Minute Men. But Means spoke of “Old Yaller” in a familiar manner, referring to Chapman’s family as “Patsy and the children in Milltown.”

Account of the death of Elbert J. Chapman published in The Jeffersonian, Volume 6, Issue 9, 12 August 1909 (Page 3), from the Thomas E. Watson Papers #755, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Account of the death of Elbert J. Chapman published in The Jeffersonian, Volume 6, Issue 9, 12 August 1909 (Page 3), from the Thomas E. Watson Papers #755, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

HOW  “OLD YELLOW” WAS KILLED.

     Dear Sir: – As to the shooting of E. J. Chapman, of the 29th Georgia regiment, in Mississippi, I have seen two or three statements of the shooting.  I will give you my statement of it.  The 29th was stationed at Savannah, Ga., and when in the tent he was taken with a  notion to visit Patsy and the children at Milltown, Berrien County, Ga., and from there he went to Mississippi and joined Adams’ cavalry, and when the brigade went to Mississippi our quartermaster, J. D. Cameron, caught Chapman at Canton, Miss., and we marched from there in the direction of Vicksburg, and at Vernon, Miss., they court-martialed Chapman, and they held up the sentence until after the seige of Jackson.  We stayed some time and then we marched from there to Morton Station, the the Mississippi Southern, and when we stopped there the sentence was read out at dress parade.  In the evening they did not have time to execute him, and had to put it off until the next day.  The Judge Advocate of the Court was Major J. C. Lamb, of the 29th regiment.  J. C. Lamb was the first captain of the company that Chapman belonged to.  Major Lamb got the upper half of his head  shot off at Jackson and so he got killed before Chapman was shot. I will never forget that killing, as I was one of the men that was detailed to shoot him, and also three others out of my company.  He went by the name of “Old Yellow.”  My company was from Franklin County, Ga.  J. J. Owen was our first captain.
    This is a correct account of the shooting of “Old Yellow,” as he was called.

RUFUS A. MEANS
29th Ga. Regiment, Co. B.
Leesburg, Texas.

30

A Friend of Old Yaller

Old Yaller

A previous post transcribed an article  from the March 22, 1887 edition of the Atlanta Weekly Constitution concerning General Levi J. Knight’s Berrien Minute Men and the execution of Elbert J. Chapman during the Civil War.  Here is an earlier Constitution clipping on the same topic, published January 4, 1887:

1887 recollection of "Old Yaller," Elbert J. Chapman.

1887 recollection of “Old Yaller,” Elbert J. Chapman.

The Atlanta Weekly Constitution
January 4, 1887

“Old Yaller”

Sometime ago THE WEEKLY CONSTITUTION published an article about the execution of a deserter who was known among the soldiers as “Yaller Jacket.” A member of the 26th Georgia, who claims to be familiar with the facts, says the soldier was known as “Old Yaller,” instead of “Yaller Jacket.” Yaller was a member of the 29th Georgia, and his real name is given as Chapman. When Yaller overstayed his time and was put in the guard tent for a term of days he decided his sentence was too severe, and he accordingly “lit out.” The member of the 26th Georgia who claims that his is the true story says Yaller went to Mississippi and joined a cavalry company where later on in the war he was found, a deserter, it is true, but still fighting for the confederacy. Yaller was put under arrest a second time, but instead of trying to escape, would stick to the guard all through the skirmishing, retreating and marching. One night in a severe rain all the guards were lost, but next morning old Yaller turned up smiling. The member of the 26th, who writes to set history straight, says:

“We continued the march to Brandon and Norton station, some ten or twelve miles east, and here took up camp again.  Here it was made known that “Yaller” had received a death sentence and was to be shot.  Near this place, out in an old field, the army was marched out to witness his execution.  These are the facts, according to the best of my recollection of twenty-three years ago.  “Yaller” was a member of the 29th Georgia, and not of the 30th.”
If “Old Yaller,” or “Yaller” or “Yaller Jacket” has any friends living I would be glad to hear more about him.  It will be noticed that while he was late in getting back from his trip home and skipped out from the guard tent while under a light sentence, he still stuck to the army and never deserted the guards when the finding of the court-martial hung over him.

About three weeks later, a response appeared in the Constitution:

1887 clipping about a friend of Old Yaller.

1887 clipping about a friend of Old Yaller.

The Atlanta Weekly Constitution
January 25, 1887 pg 3

A Friend of Old Yaller

Mr. Moses Williams of Thomasville, Ga., says that old “Yaller” of “Yaller Jacket,”  the soldier who was shot for desertion, lived near him before the war.  Mr. Williams says of “Old Yaller:” “He was a good man, but was poor.  He fought right on for the confederacy and was a good soldier, too.  There were twelve men to shoot him.  I hope he is at rest.

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L.E. Lastinger and Captain Knight’s Berrien Minutemen

Lacy Elias Lastinger was the son of William Lastinger who was a prominent citizen of Berrien County (later Lanier) and founder of Lastinger Mill in Milltown, GA (now Lakeland).  During the Civil War L. E. Lastinger was in the 29th Georgia Regiment along with General Levi J. Knight and the man referred to as Levi J. Knight, Jr., both whom were Lastinger’s lifelong associates.

Lacy Elias Lastinger

Lacy Elias Lastinger. Image detail courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com/

 After the war L.E. Lastinger became a sort of historian of the Berrien Minutemen (Companies G & K, 29th GA Regiment).  He served as the adjutant of the Dixie Camp, United Confederate Veterans, Nashville, Georgia.

L. E. Lastinger wrote about the good and the bad of the Berrien Minutemen. He wrote about the part he played in the execution of ‘Old Yaller’ whose death sentence was imposed for the charge of desertion, an account of which was the subject of an earlier post (see Berrien Minute Men and Civil War Stories). Here is Lastinger’s account of the event, published March, 1909 in Watson’s Jeffersonian Magazine.

The Deserter

    In the January number of The Jeffersonian, under the head of “A Victim of Military Discipline,” the author gives an account of the execution of Elbert J. Chapman, who belonged to Co. K, 29th Ga. Regt. Chapman named himself “Old Yaller,” and by this name was generally known.
     His regiment was stationed at “Camp Young,” near Savannah.  Chapman was confined in the guard house, as a punishment for some misbehavior, from which he made his escape.
He went to his home, near Mill Town, in Berrien county.  He claimed he was sick and coud not get well in the guard house and went home to recuperate, intending to return to his command when he got able. This he failed to do.
Our brigade, under command of Col. Wilson, of the 25th Ga. Regt., went West to join the Army of the Mississippi.  When marching through Canton some of the boys saw Chapman and hollered at him, “Hello, ‘Yaller’,” then others commenced calling him, in the same way, when he very indignantly said to them, “You must be a set of darn fools,” but the boys continued, “We know you, ‘Yaller’.” “Yes, we would know your hide in a tan trough.”  “Yaller” was slow to acknowledge his identity – but did so, and good humoredly joined the company, saying, “Yes, boys, this is ‘Old Yaller’.” Then followed a general hand-shaking.  Subsequently “Old Yaller” was court-martialed, and suffered the extreme penalty of death for desertion. The writer assisted Geo. R. McKee, adjutant of the 29th Ga. Regt., in loading the guns – which were given to a squad of twelve men commanded by Lieut. A.P. Perham, of Waycross, who carried out the orders to execute him.  Of this Mr. M. P. Carroll gives a very correct account.
During  Governor Atkinson’s administration Hon. F. M. Shaw, who was a member of the  Legislature, saw in person the Governor and our Pension Commissioner, Mr. Lindsey, in regard to Mrs. Chapman drawing a pension, which had been rejected because her husband was a deserter.  The fact that he only quit one command and went to another, that he had, in fact, deserted neither his flag nor his country, but was serving both faithfully and well when found in Canton, did not change the conclusion reached by the Pension Commissioner, and Mr. Shaw’s efforts to secure her a pension were in vain.  She was an invalid and living in poverty.

L. E. LASTINGER

In 1929 L .E. Lastinger was the last surviving member of Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment.  He published a pamphlet entitled The Confederate War: A compilation of the Confederate Soldiers going forth from Berrien County, Georgia. When they enlisted — and whether or not they survived the war.  A reprint of this text is on file at the Ray City Community Library, Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia. It is in this publication that he provides a brief account of the Berrien Minutemen, along with entries on General Levi J. Knight and Levi J. Knight, “Junior,”  who both did stints as Captain of Company “G”, 29th Georgia Regiment.

In the next post we examine Lastinger’s account of the Berrien Minutemen and the two Captains Knight.

Berrien Minute Men and Civil War Stories

Found the following account by Alexander Paris Perham concerning General Levi J. Knight’s Berrien Minute Men and the execution of Elbert J. Chapman in the March 22, 1887 edition of the Atlanta Constitution:

THE STORY OF OLD YALLER

As Told by an Officer in Command of the Zhooting Jquad. [sic]
    One of the first of the Constitution’s War Stories was an account of the execution of “Yaller Jacket” or “Old Yaller” for desertion.  Below is an account written by Captain A.P. Perham of the Quitman Free Press. Captain Perham commanded the squad that executed Old Yaller. He says:
Chapman was the man’s proper name, but we called him “Old Yaller” on account of the peculiar color of his hair, beard, and complexion. This nickname was given very soon after he enlisted, and he was known by no other, except on the roll of his company. I think he came from the northeastern portion of Berrien County. At any rate he belonged to the “Berrien Minute Men,” the company that General Levi J. Knight carried into service.
During the second year of the war, the Twenty-ninth and Thirtieth Georgia Regiment were ordered from Savannah to Jacksonville to repel the enemy, whom it was thought were trying to effect a landing at that point.  Returning a few weeks later  “Yaller” stepped off the train at the station on the Savannah, Florida, and Western railroad nearest his home — probably Naylor, and went to see his family.
He was reported “absent without leave,” and when he returned to his command at Savannah, he was placed in the guard tent and charges were preferred against him. It was from the guard tent that he deserted and went home the second time.
After staying home a short while he joined a cavalry command and went west.  It is said that he was in several engagements and fought bravely, and this fact was made known to the court martial that tried him.
A few months before the fall of Vicksburg the troops from Savannah were ordered to the west, and soon after reaching Mississippi, a man by the name of Bill Warren who belonged to Company I, twenty-ninth Georgia regiment discovered “Yaller” in a cavalry company and reported the fact to Colonel Young. “Yaller” was arrested and soon after tried by court martial; I think at Canton. There was probably not a day nor night, from the time of his trial until he was executed, that he could not have easily escaped.
During the retreat from Yazoo to Jackson he made great complaint that he could not keep his guard together, and on the retreat from Jackson he procured a cow bell, and it is a fact, that with this he often collected the scattered, retreating and tired men, who should have been taking care of him.
At Morton the army rested somewhat demoralized, discouraged

 [text obscured]

forehead. Life’s pathway has not aways been strewn with flowers for me, nor yet have thorns continually beset me. My experience has probably been similar in a general way to that of most others, but I do not believe that there are many who have passed through what I did on that memorable day. The army understood the situation and knew the evidence and circumstances surrounding the whole case. We were all aware that Chapman had not deserted the “cause” and was simply being shot that discipline might be enforced. His execution could not, under these circumstances,  have the desired effect. It was a military mistake instead of a “military necessity.”
The condemned man stated to the writer that he left the guard tent at Savannah because he thought injustice was being done him, but that thought of deserting to the enemy never entered his mind. Chapman had a wife and several children in Berrien county. Perhaps some of our old war friends, the Knights or the Lastingers can tell us what became of them.
During the sad and solemn march from the camp to the place of execution the condemned man assured the guard and the officer in command the he had nothing but the kindest feelings for us, and appreciated the fact that we were doing our duty. “Old Yaller” was a stranger to fear and met his death and terrible preparations  for his execution in the coolest and most perfectly indifferent manner possible. There was no blanching of the cheek, no trembling of the knees, no excitement of any kind visible about the man. He possessed a certain kind of manhood that enabled him to meet the grim monster without a tremor and apparently without a fear. At the time of Chapman’s execution I was second lieutenant of company F twenty-ninth Georgia regiment, and have given the facts as I remember them.

A. P. Perham