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:

Lowndes Grand Jury of 1833

When the May 1833 term of the Lowndes County, GA Superior court convened, the now defunct town of Franklinville was the site of the  County seat of government.   Lowndes then included most of present day Berrien county and the location of present day Ray City, GA.   This section of the country, Wiregrass Georgia, was then still an untamed frontier. As Montgomery Folsom described,  in the 1830s it was “a country that was well supplied with Indians, bears, panthers, wolves and other unfriendly neighbors…”   Dr. Jacob Motte, first doctor to visit Franklinville, observed Lowndes county “being so far south and in a low swampy part of the country had the worst possible reputation for health, and going there [in the warm] season of the year was almost considered certain death to a white man and stranger unacclimated.”

The year 1833 was in the administration of Andrew Jackson. John Coffee, a Jacksonian Democrat and builder of the Coffee Road which opened Lowndes County for settlement, was a U.S. Congressman from Georgia.  L.J. Knight, a Whig then serving as the senator from Lowndes in the Georgia Assembly, was a vocal opponent against what was seen as the executive excesses of “King Andrew.” Levi J. Knight was an original settler of Ray City. Knight’s father, William A. Knight, founding pastor of Union Church, was appointed in 1833 to visit the 35 Primitive Baptist churches and 1,010 members of the Ochlocknee Association situated between the Alapaha and Flint River to instruct them on their duties and responsibilities to the Association. That year L. J. Knight supported the founding of the State Rights Party of Georgia.  The party had been launched  by prominent Georgia political leaders  including John M. Berrien, for whom Berrien County would later be named.

The jurors of the 1833 Grand Jury came to Franklinville by horseback, sulky or wagon, over rude and uncomfortable stage roads described as among the worst in the state by Charles Joseph La Trobe.  La Trobe, an English traveler and writer, in 1833 rode from Tallahassee, FL to Milledgeville, GA  via the weekly stagecoach.

Franklinville, “At its best, it could only boast one store and three or four families and the court house. The court house was built there in 1828-29, and was a small crude affair, costing only $215.00.”  According to Huxford’s Sketch of the Early History of Lowndes County, Georgia, Franklinville was a small trading community of one or two stores and a few houses. Hamilton W. Sharpe, another prominent Whig of Lowndes County, regarded Franklinville a place of intemperance. William Smith, who served as clerk of the court, postmaster, and Ordinary of Lowndes County, was one of the few permanent residents of the town.  Attorney John J. Underwood was also a resident of the town and owned several town lots.  Henry Blair, who was sheriff of Lowndes County, held the Sheriff’s auctions in front of the old courthouse at Franklinville.

 

PRESENTMENTS Of the Grand Jury for the County of Lowndes, at May Term, 1833. WE, the Grand Jury, selected and sworn for the county of Lowndes, do present as a grievance, the conduct of James Touchstone, for frequent and repeated over charges in setting persons over the river at his ferry on the Alapahaw, in the county aforesaid.—Witness, William Roberts, Isben Giddens and Benjamin Sirman. And taking into consideration the badness of the roads, do earnestly and respectfully recommend to the honorable Inferior court, to use all diligence in enforcing the road laws for the improvement and keeping in good order our public roads. And also, having performed the duty devolved on us, in the examination of our county records, together with the records of our Poor School fund, find them correctly and neatly kept, and from an expose of the funds by the Treasurer in cash and good notes, find that the amount exhibited corresponds with the books. We cannot take leave of his honor Lott Warren, without tendering our thanks for his strict attention to the business of our county, and for the good order which he has enforced during the present term. Also we tender our thanks to the solicitor, Stephen F. Miller, for his polite attention to our body during the present term. W e request that these our presentments be published in the Milledgeville papers.
WILLIAM BLAIR, Foreman

Jeremiah Wilson,
Jesse Lee,
Nathan Hodges,
James Rountree,
Lewis Blackshear,
Elijah Beasley,
William Alderman,
Jeremiah Tillman,
Simpson Strickland,
William McMullin,
Thomas Self,
Isben Giddens,
Aaron Mattox,
James Wade,
Benjamin Sirman,
John Lawson,
Bani Boyd,
Alexander Campbell,
Francis Jones,
William Hendry,
William Burman, sen.

On motion of Stephen F, Miller, solicitor-general, it is ordered, That the foregoing presentments be published according to the request of the Grand Jury. I do hereby certify that the foregoing is s true copy from the minutes of the Superior Court.

WILLIAM SMITH, Clerk.
June 12, 1832 51

 

About the Jurors:

Jeremiah Wilson (1795-1877)
Jeremiah Wilson was a son of Captain James Wilson, Revolutionary Soldier and prisoner of war.  According to A History of Savannah and South Georgia, Vol II, Jeremiah Wilson, Sr., was born in Ireland. He lived for a while in Effingham county, Georgia, from there coming to the southern part of the state, and locating in that part of Lowndes county that is now included within the limits of Brooks county. The country roundabout was then heavily timbered, with only here and there an open place in which stood the cabin of the pioneer. Game of all kinds filled the forests, and the Indians, which still claimed this land as their happy hunting ground, made frequent raids upon the whites, ofttimes massacring many of the newcomers. [Jeremiah Wilson] was a member of a company formed for defense against the hostile savages, and for services which he rendered in various Indian warfares was granted two lots of land. The tracts which he selected for his own were in that part of Lowndes county now included in Brooks county, one lying six miles north of Quitman, and the other four miles to the northwest. He located on the latter tract, the removal from Walton county being made with teams, the only mode of transportation in those early days, before railroads were dreamed of. Clearing a space, he erected a log house, splitting puncheon for the floors, and riving shakes for the roofs. He was a well educated man, and did much of the surveying of public lands. In 1858 he surveyed and platted the town of Quitman. A successful agriculturist, he carried on general farming with the help of slaves, continuing to reside on his farm until his death at the age of seventy-two years.”  He married twice, first to Elizabeth Lucas about 1818 in Effingham County, GA, and second to Betty Lucas. The New Wilson Papers adds the following:  ” Following his marriage to Elizabeth Lucas, he moved his family to Walton County, GA; then about 1831, relocated to Lowndes County, GA. It is reported that he was also a civil engineer and well educated. He played the violin and was great lover of music. He also was a great fighter and never missed the opportunity for a good fight. He served in the Mexican War [1846-48]… Jeremiah was planter and slave-owner.   In the 1850 Census of Lowndes County,GA he was recorded to own 10 slaves. …[He] was County Surveyor of Brooks County, and helped survey the Florida-Georgia line [1857] He owned 300 acres of land on Lot #439 in the 12th District of Lowndes, which was seized by the Lowndes Superior Court and sold at auction on the courthouse steps at Troupville in 1849 to satisfy debts owed to James W. Smith and Samuel M. Clyatt.  In 1859, he laid out the city of Quitman, the county seat of Brooks County. His wife Elizabeth (nee Lucas) was blind for twenty years, but recovered her sight a short time before her death. She thereby had the pleasure of seeing her children and grandchildren. Jeremiah Wilson was a prominent Democrat of Lowndes County. He died in 1877.

Jesse Lee (1780-1853)
According to Folks Huxford, Jesse Lee was born in Marion District, SC, in 1780, son of Moses Lee. He was a brother of Joshua Lee, who about 1830 dammed the northern outflow of Grand Bay, and constructed a grist mill at Allapaha, GA (now Lakeland),GA. Jesse Lee and his wife, Sarah, had five known children (perhaps others): John Lee, born 1808, married Elenor Wetherington; Moses C. Lee, born 1814, married Jincy Register; Aseneth Lee, born 1820, first married Samuel E. Register; Elizabeth Lee, born 1825, married William D. Wilkerson; Winnifred Lee, born 1827, married John Studstill. Record is found in Marion County, S. C., of deed from Mr. Lee joined by his wife Sarah, to Malcolm McIntyre, dated July 30, 1806, for 100 acres same being a part of a 4434-acre tract granted Moses Lee (Deed book C, page 14, Marion Co.). Two years later they were living in Pulaski County, Ga,, when Mr, Lee and his wife Sarah, were witnesses to a deed dated April 23, 1808, from John Fielder to John Lee, of Laurens County, to Lot 56, 24th District (Pulaski County deed book A, page 3)In the War of 1812, Jesse Lee served as a private under Capt. Fort in a detachment of Georgia militia stationed at Forts Mitchell and Green on the Ocmulgee River in Pulaski County.  His brother, Joshua served as a captain at Fort Green. Jesse and Joshua Lee moved their families to Appling County about 1819, and a few years later they moved to Hamilton County, FL.  There, Jesse and Sarah Lee united with Concord Primitive Baptist Church about 1832. Shortly thereafter, they had moved to Lowndes County, GA, settling in the portion now Lanier County. There Jesse Lee died in 1853, and on May 2, 1853, his son, Moses C. Lee, and son-in-law, Samuel E. Register, applied for administration of his estate; they were appointed, and administered the estate. Mrs. Lee died about 1848. They were buried in the cemetery at Union Church; graves unmarked.


Nathan Hodges
Nathan Hodges came to Lowndes County, GA about 1828. He was a veteran of the War of 1812, having served in the local Tattnall County Militia. According to A History of Savannah and South Georgia, Vol II,  Nathan Hodges was, so far as known, a native Georgian, and about 1828 moved from Tattnall county to Lowndes county, settling some five miles south of the present site of Hahira. Lowndes county then comprised a much greater territory than at present, with Franklinville the county seat, which was subsequently transferred to Troupville. Nearly all the land was under state ownership, and directly from the commonwealth Grandfather Hodges bought a lot of four hundred and ninety acres, nearly all timber. [The 1835 Tax Digest for Lowndes County shows the property owned by Nathan Hodges, being all of Lot #85 in the 12th District of old Irwin County, was originally granted to his brother, William Hodges. Some say Nathan  purchased his Lowndes County homestead from William on October 13, 1827.] His family were sheltered under tents while he was erecting the first log-cabin home. For many miles around no mills had yet been built. He had brought with him a steel mill, operated by hand, for grinding grain, and this became such an institution that the neighbors brought their packs of corn long distances to be ground into meal. The date of the Hodges settlement was also several years previous to the final expulsion of the Florida Indians, and it was a not infrequent occurrence that marauding bands crossed the border and disturbed the south Georgians. A log fort stood on the grandfather’s place during these years, and it several times sheltered the inhabitants of this vicinity while hostile redskins were near. On this old homestead the grandfather and his wife spent their last years. They reared eight children, three sons and five daughters, namely: John, Daniel, Aleck, Elsie, Eliza, Caroline, Maria and Polly.

James Rountree (1787-1834)
James Rountree, it is said, was the first pioneer settler to build a house in Lowndes County, GA. The History of Lowndes County, GA reports that in 1821, the four settlers returned to that section of Irwin soon to be cut into Lowndes County. Sections in the north of old Irwin County had been settled and several counties had been laid out.  The families of James Rountree, Drew Vickers, Alfred Belote, and Lawrence Folsom and their African-American slaves were the first pioneer families to settle in the original county of Lowndes after moving there in the winter of 1821-1822. James Rountree was murdered in 1834 while returning home from the coast of the Florida Territory where he had gone to fetch salt.

Lewis Blackshear (1805-1880?)
A  pioneer land owner of old Lowndes County, arrived in the county prior to 1827.  He was a fortunate drawer in the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827, drawing a lot in Muscogee County.  By the opening of the Second Seminole War in December 1835, he owned 980 acres of pineland on Lots 250 and 257 in the 12th Land District, Captain Godwin’s District of Lowndes County.   Lewis Blackshear appears  on the 1836 militia roster of men living in the 660th Georgia militia district (the Morven District, Lowndes County); organized under Captain William G. Hall, this company of men was not in active service in the war.   Moved to Alachua County, FL some time before 1850, and later to Volusia County, FL.

Elijah Beasley (1775-1863?) 
a pioneer land owner of Wiregrass Georgia.  In 1820, Elijah Beasley, Rebecca Burnett Beasley and their family were residents of  that part of  Irwin County, GA which was cut into Lowndes in 1825 and later cut into Brooks County.  Irwin county court records show in 1822, Elijah Beasley put up the surety bond for Robert H. Dixon, administrator for the estate of Moses Jurnigan. In the Act of the Georgia Assembly that created Lowndes County, Elijah Beasley was appointed as one of the commissioners charged with selecting a county site for the old Irwin County. The 1830 census places the Beasleys in Lowndes County.  In the newly created Lowndes County, Elijah Beasley was enumerated adjacent to many others of his wife’s Burnett family connections.   Tax digests from that year show Elijah Beasley owned Lot 267 in the 12th District, Captain Pikes District (then Lowndes County, now Brooks).

William Alderman,
From Lowndes County militia rosters, it appears  that William Alderman was living in the 660th Georgia militia district (the Morven District) at the opening of the Second Seminole War  in December 1835. When Governor William Schley called for the formation of general militia companies in Wiregrass Georgia, William Alderman and 89 other men of the 660th district were organized under Captain William G. Hall. Hall’s unit was not in active service.

Jeremiah Tillman,
According to A History of Savannah and South Georgia, “Jeremiah Tillman, a native of South Carolina, was there a resident when the War of 1812 was declared. Enlisting as a soldier, he came with his regiment to Georgia, where he was stationed until receiving his honorable discharge at the close of the conflict in Savannah. Being then joined by his family, he lived for awhile in Ware county, Georgia, subsequently becoming one of the original householders of that part of Irwin county now included within the limits of Colquitt county. Buying a tract of wooded land, he cleared a portion of it, and was there industriously employed in tilling the soil until his death, at the age of seventy-five years. To him and his wife, whose maiden name was Dicey Brown, six children were born and reared.” Jeremiah Tillman and Dicy Brown had the following children: Ruth Tillman, born 1789, married James M Norman; John Tillman, born 1798, married Sarah Mercer; Joshua Tillman, born 1800, married Mary Baker; Dicy Tillman, born 1808, married David Edmondson; Zilpha Tillman, born 1810, married Absalom Baker. Jeremiah’s homesite was located in the  area of Lowndes County, GA which in 1856 was cut into Colquitt County.  According to Folks Huxford, Jeremiah Tillman and wife Dicy Brown Tillman were buried at Old Hopewell Church, southeast of Moultrie. In the 1850 Census, Jeremiah Tillman was assessed with three slaves, one male age 19, one female age 17, and one female age 14.

Simpson Strickland (1806-1870?)
Simpson Strickland, was born about 1806, a son of Archibald and Luander Strickland, of Tatnall County, GA.  His father, Archibald Strickland,  fought with the 3rd Regiment (Wimberly’s Regiment), Georgia Militia, in the War of 1812. Simpson Strickland came with his parents and others of the Strickland family connection to Lowndes County, GA sometime berween 1820 and 1826.  His parents, Archibald and Luander Strickland, were organizing members of Bethel Primitive Baptist Church, September 2, 1826. William A. Knight was a deacon of this church; Matthew Albriton was an organizing Elder and later served as pastor; Redden Wooten was also an organizing member.   In 1829,  Simpson Strickland married Mary Wooten (1811-1851) in Lowndes County, GA. She was a daughter of Redden Wooten;  two of her sisters were married to Morgan Swain and Lasa Adams. In 1832, his father Archibald Strickland was a lucky drawer in the Cherokee Land Lottery. Simpson Strickland’s brother, Simeon Strickland, was married to Elizabeth Lydia Knight, daughter of Jonathan Knight and cousin of Levi J. Knight. Simpson Strickland in an 1850 Census, was recorded as owning three slaves, one female age 21, one female age 5,  one male age 4, and one female age 1. By 1860 Strickland had developed his farm into 140 acres of improved land and 440 acres unimproved. The farm was valued at $2000. He had $200 in farm implements, 1 horse, 8 milch cows, 12 other cattle, and 45 hogs.All told his livestock was valued at $315 dollars. He had 700 bushels of Indian corn, and 8 bales of cotton at 400 pounds each. He had 20 bushels of peas and beans, 400 bushels of sweet potatoes, 30 pounds of butter, 120 gallons of molasses.

William McMullin
William McMullin came to Lowndes County in 1827. In 1830 he  paid the poll tax in Lowndes County and the tax on 8 slaves. He owned 830 acres of pinelands and 150 acres of hardwood on lots 45, 46, and 47 in the 15th land district in Lowndes County, and a total of 740 acres in Thomas and Habersham counties.  William McMullin appears  on the 1836 militia roster of men living in the 659th Georgia militia district (the Nankin District, Lowndes County); organized under Captain Osteen, this company of men was not in active service in the war.

Thomas Self, (1777-1860)
Thomas Selph, son of Ezekiel Selph and Amy Jernigan, born in NC, moved to Bullock County, GA, to Telfair County, GA, and then to Lowndes County, GA some time between 1825 and 1830.  His old home site on Mule Creek, near Barwick, GA was cut from Lowndes into  Thomas County in 1850, and then cut into Brooks County, GA in 1858.  He died in 1860 near Barwick, GA  and is said to be buried at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church cemetery, Brooks County, GA.  His will was the 42nd will to be probated in Thomas County.

Isben Giddens, (1788-1853)
Son-in-law of William Anderson Knight and one of the orginal settlers of old Lowndes County. Isben Giddens and his son, William Giddens,  both served in the Lowndes County Militia during the Indian Wars of 1836-1838, under the command of  Captain Levi J. Knight.    Buried at Union Primitive Baptist Church, Lakeland, GA.

Aaron Mattox,  (1778-1860)
Aaron Mattox was a farmer of old Lowndes County, GA.  His farm place was in present day Berrien County near Ten Mile Creek. He was the father of Samuel Mattox who would be hanged for murder in 1843.

James Wade
James Wade, Soldier, McCraney’s, Lowndes County, GA was one of the lucky drawers in the 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery.  The 1830 Lowndes County Tax Digest shows James Wade owned 980 acres of pineland on lots 13 and 296 in the 9th District of Lowndes, 490 acres of pineland on lot 203 in the 5th District of Appling County, and one slave.  He also served on the June 1845 term of the Lowndes County Grand Jury.  He was one of the Commissioners appointed by the Georgia legislature in 1834 “to contract for and cause to be built in the county of Lowndes a suitable Court-house and Jail.”

Benjamin Sirman (1792-1863)
Benjamin Sirmans was born in Emanuel County, GA February 6, 1792, a son of Josiah Sirmans. He was married in July 1814, in Emanuel County, to Martha Johnson, daughter of David Johnson, Sr., and a sister to General David Johnson.  He came to this section with his father about 1822.  The children of Benjamin Sirmans and Martha Johnson Sirmans were: David J. Sirmans; Josiah Sirmans, Jr.; Ezekiel J. Sirmans; Cassie Sirmans, married John Smith; Lavinia Sirmans, married Aaron Tomlinson; Martha Sirmans, married Elihu Morgan; Lucretia Sirmans, married Charles Strickland; Benjamin E. Sirmans; Lyman A. Sirmans; and Levi J. Sirmans. On June 15, 1838 he served on Lowndes county Committee of Vigilance and Safety petitioning the governor for supplies and monies to support troops and militia to protect against Creek Indian attacks east of the Alapaha River in Lowndes County. Later that month, Benjamin Sirmans was appointed the first postmaster of the bustling trade center at Allapaha (now Lakeland, GA). Ten miles east of Levi J. Knight’s farm, Allapaha was situated at the point where the Franklinville-Jacksonville Post Road crossed the Alapaha River. He united with Union Primitive Baptist Church, September 9, 1848, and was baptized. His wife had previously united with the church December 11, 1841, and was baptized and died a member. He was granted a letter of dismission on February 8, 1862. In February, 1850, a legislative act creating Clinch County named Mr. Sirmans as one of the five commissioners to ‘lay out and organize’ the new county.  Benjamin Sirmans represented Lowndes County in the legislature several years and served one term as State senator from Clinch County. He was also a delegate to the secession convention in Milledgeville in 1861. He died May 1, 1863, and is buried at the Fender graveyard. His wife preceded him to the grave by about seven years.

John Lawson (1783-c.1870)
According to A History of Savannah and South Georgia, John Lawson was born and raised in North Carolina. He  “came when young to Georgia, traveling thither in his own conveyance. He located first in Laurens county, later coming south, and settling in that part of Irwin county which was subsequently converted into Lowndes county, and now forms a part of Brooks county. Purchasing land in the part now included in the Barney district, he began the improvement of a homestead. The wild and heavily wooded country roundabout was habited by wild animals of many kinds, and Indians were still numerous and troublesome. He began the pioneer labor of clearing the land, and raised his first crop on soil that had previously been used for the same purpose by the redskins. There being no railways in this vicinity for years after he came to Georgia, all surplus productions of the land had to be hauled to either Saint Marks, Georgia, or to Newport, on the Tallahassee, the general custom of marketing the goods being for a few of the neighbors to combine, and start with a number of teams loaded with produce, taking along with them provisions and cooking utensils, and camp by the way, on the return trip bringing home the household supplies needed. Having improved quite a tract of land, John Lawson occupied it several years, but later in life removed to Colquitt county, where he spent his declining days, passing away at the age of eighty-seven years. His wife, whose maiden name was Rachael Green, was born in North Carolina, and died, at a good old age, in Colquitt county. They reared four children, as follows: Eliza Lawson, Ashley Lawson, Greene Lawson, and Daniel Lawson.” 

Bani Boyd (1789-1854)
Bani Boyd was a son of Sarah Dabney and David Boyd, Revolutionary Soldier, born about 1789 in Montgomery County, GA. On February 3, 1811 Bani Boyd married Nancy Bird Bowen in Tatnall County, GA.   In the War of 1812 he served in the Georgia Militia, Bowling’s Detachment guarding the Georgia coast.  After his first wife died around 1820, Bani Boyd married Sarah Collins.  Around 1828, Bani Boyd and his son, Henry Boyd, moved their families  from Tatnall County to Old Lowndes County, where they established homesteads in that portion of the 10th land district which in 1856 was cut into Berrien County.  It appears that Bani’s brother, Aden Boyd,  brought his family to Lowndes from Ware County about this same time and settled in the same area. The 1844 tax digest of Lowndes County shows Bani Boyd owned 10 slaves and 1,960 acres of pinelands in the 11th Land District.

Alexander Campbell (1777-1875)
According to Folks Huxford, Alexander Campbell and his wife Flora Morrison were both born on the Isle of Skye, Scotland in 1777 and 1783 respectively. As children they came to America with their parents on the same ship following the Revolutionary War, arriving in 1788, the same year the Constitution of the United States was ratified.  The Campbell and Morrison families settled in the Wilmington, Brunswick area of North Carolina where Alexander and Flora grew up.  Some time between 1795 and 1810 they were married. Alex and Flora moved west from Wilmington and settled in Richmond County, NC. The first three of their children were born in Richmond County. With the declaration of the War of 1812, Alexander Campbell registered as a British subject  in the United States, as required by law About 1815 Alexander and Flora moved their family to Telfair County, GA where they appear in the census of 1820.  They lived there until 1827 when they moved their family down the Coffee Road to Lowndes County, Georgia and settled in the country outside of a settlement known then as Sharpe’s Store but now is Morven, Georgia.   In 1829 Alexander’s father and mother, John Campbell and Katherine Gillis Campbell, followed them to Morven; John Campbell died that same year. At Morven, they raised their children and developed a fine plantation. Their firstborn son, Norman Campbell, became a postmaster and tax collector in Lowndes County.  Alexander and Flora Campbell were liberal supporters of the nearby Mount Zion Camp-meeting which was started up the year they came to Lowndes, with Reverend Josiah Evans as the first circuit-riding minister. Originally Presbyterians, they united with the Methodist Church at the Camp Ground and continued in that faith until their deaths. The Methodist circuit-rider and other ministers always found a room prepared and waiting for them in the Campbell home. Alexander died in 1875, Flora in 1882. They were buried in the Mount Zion Camp Ground Cemetery at Morven, GA.

Francis Jones (1792-1849)
Major Francis Jones apparently came to the section of Lowndes County  now known as Kinderlou   sometime before 1826. He was the eldest son of James Jones (1764-1824) and Elizabeth “Betsy” Mills Jones,  born  January 27, 1792, in Bulloch County, Georgia.  His father, James Jones, was a veteran of the American Revolution, having served as a private in the Georgia Line.  Francis Jones and his mother were the administrators of his father’s large estate in Bulloch County.  He was also one of the executors of his deceased uncle,  Matthew Jones, in Tattnall County.  Shortly after his father’s death, Francis Jones relocated to Lowndes county with his widowed mother, his brother Berry Jones, and others of the Jones family connection.  On March 26,  1826 Francis Jones married  Rachel Inman Spain. She was the widow of Levi Spain and daughter of Daniel Shadrack Inman (1771-1837),   Revolutionary soldier of Burke County.  She had come from the Carolinas to Lowndes County with her son, John William Spain, and his wife Elizabeth Young Spain. John William Spain acquired 25,000 acres of land and built a house called Forest Hills overlooking the Withlacoochee River.  Francis Jones was a man of great wealth, and joined with his stepson, they soon acquired many more substantial land holdings in that section. He owned a number of plantations and many slaves and cattle. Major Francis Jones undertook the construction of a beautiful southern mansion (later known as Eudorafor his wife Rachel about 3 miles up the road from Forest Hills. Whether the Jones ever occupied the house is not known; he died before it was completed. Francis Jones served as a Justice of Lowndes Inferior Court from 1845 until his death, December 24, 1849.  He left a nuncupative (verbal) will which was probated in Thomas County.  He named Mitchell B. Jones as Executor and divised his large estate to his wife, Rachel, and to his brothers and sisters, viz:  Mrs. Lavinia Young, Matthew Jones, Berry M. Jones, Thomas Jones, Mitchell Brady Jones, Mrs. Elizabeth “Betsy” Jones Winn and Mrs. Harriet Jones Blackshear.   Francis Jones was buried at the Forest Hill Plantation of his stepson John William Spain. His widow, Rachel Inman Spain Jones, died at the home of her son, John W. Spain, in Brooks County, in 1862.

William Hendry (1783-1840)
William Hendry, third son of Robert Hendry , and Ann Lee Hendry, was born in New Hanover County, NC, Feb. 12, 1783. His father, a native of Isle of Arran, Scotland came to America about 1770-5; he served in the Revolutionary War under “Light Horse Harry” Lee and was at Yorktown at Cornwallis’ surrender. William came with his parents to Liberty County, GA and there married December 7, 1807 to Nancy McFail, sister to Catherine, wife of his brother John Hendry … On 28 August 1807, he was commissioned as Ensign of the 17th District of Liberty County...He served as 2nd Lieutenant in Captain Robert Quarterman’s Company, 2nd Regiment, Georgia Militia, in the War of 1812. In 1825 he was named a Justice of the Peace in the 17th District of Liberty County. Shortly thereafter the family moved to Lowndes now Brooks County, and settled in the vicinity of the Coffee Road crossing over Mule Creek, about midway between present Pavo and Quitman, GA and about 20 miles west of Troupville, GAWilliam Hendry was one of the prominent citizens of Lowndes County in his day…his upright and godly life and character has been handed down, by word of mouth, to the present generation… The Hendrys seem to have had skill building and operating mills in Liberty County and again on Mule Creek in his new home. He erected the first water driven mill in this part of Georgia. He engaged in farming and milling the rest of his life… William Hendry fought in the Indian Wars in 1836 and participated in the Battle of Brushy Creek. He was a member of the Methodist Church and was one of the leading spirits in establishing Mount Zion Camp Ground in 1828. He was named a Camp Ground Trustee in both the Act of Incorporation and the deed conveying the campground property. He was also named by the General Assembly December 28, 1835 as one of the Commissioners to locate the county-site of Lowndes County.  He died on his plantation near Mule Creek in western Lowndes County on June 6, 1840, in a typhoid epidemic which took the life of his wife and a son, Eli H. Hendry. He and his wife were buried on Mule Creek. James E. Hendry and William H. Hendry were appointed administrators of his estate. All of his livestock, furniture and other “perishable possessions” were sold at auction.

William Burman, sen.
The 1830 Lowndes County Tax Digest shows William Burman owned 830 acres of pineland and 150 acres of oak and hickory on lots 58 and 185 in the 12th District of Lowndes County

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Double Jeopardy for Rachel Sirmans

In Berrien County, GA in the summer of 1873  there arose a dispute between Burrell Hamilton Bailey and Bradford Ray over what has been described as  “some family matters.” On June 23, 1873, while the two men were in the community of Alapaha, GA  the argument turned violent. The exact nature of the dispute between Bradford Ray and B.H. Bailey has not been known these many years, but the research of Phil Ray may now shed some additional light on the matter.

B. H. Bailey was the second husband of Rachel Sirmans Mattox.  She was the widow of Samuel Mattox who was hanged at Troupville in 1843. She was a daughter of Jonathan Sirmans and Martha “Patsey” Rouse, and sister of Hardeman Sirmans.

Bradford Ray, son of Hiram Ray and Rachel Jeffcoat (1817-1865), was the husband of Martha J. Swan. She was a daughter of  Sarah King and Benjamin Swan.

Marriage Certificate of Bradford Ray and Martha Swann, January 5, 1865, Berrien County, GA

Marriage Certificate of Bradford Ray and Martha Swann, January 5, 1865, Berrien County, GA

Up until 1873, everything seemed cozy between the Rays and the Baileys. In 1872,  Bradford’s father made a land swap with Burrell Hamilton Bailey,  trading the Ray place near Cat Creek for  another farm in the 1307 Georgia Militia District, Lowndes County, GA.  Bradford Ray remained behind to work for Bailey as a tenant farmer.   That same year Bradford’s brother, Josiah Ray, married Martha M. Bailey,  a daughter of Rachel and B.H. Bailey. 

In addition to these family connections Bradford and Martha Ray  and Rachel Bailey were connected in faith, as well, all being members of the Primitive Baptist church at Flat Creek, then known as Emmaus Church.

Flat Creek Primitive Baptist Church, Berrien County, GA. Bradford Ray, Martha J Ray, and Rachel Sirmans Bailey were among the members of the church. Flat Creek was the site at which Berrien County was organized, February 25, 1856 following the creation of the county by the state legislature. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Flat Creek Primitive Baptist Church, Berrien County, GA. Bradford Ray, Martha J Ray, and Rachel Sirmans Bailey were among the members of the church. Flat Creek was the site at which Berrien County was organized, February 25, 1856 following the creation of the county by the state legislature. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

It was in the church minutes that Phil Ray found indications that trouble was brewing between the Rays and the Baileys:   I believe Bradford’s murder by Burrell Bailey was a result of this church incident regarding Bradford’s wife and the accusations by Rachel Bailey against Martha Swan Ray at Emmaus Primitive Baptist, May 3rd 1873. It festered and led to the murder. This is all speculation of course but it does seem to have played a part in it.”

The church minutes have been transcribed  by W. Henry Griffin, and entries of May 3, 1873 and July 5, 1873 are of particular note:

Emmaus Church (Flat Creek), A review of her history
The Griffin Papers,  Vol III, Pgs 78 – 79

 May 3d, 1873    

Martha Ray is reported in disorder and committee is appointed as follows Daniel N. McMillian, W. M. Avera and William Luke. Committee relies on statement of Mrs. Rachel Bailey and on her statement Mrs. Martha Ray is expelled.

Bradford Ray, her husband demands dismission. D. N. McMillian, Solomon Griffin and D. P. Luke are appointed as a committee to labor with him.

† † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † †

July 5, 1873

Bradford Ray having died the case on the church books against him was dismissed.

While the contention among the women played out in the church, the men fought in the streets. The cause of Bradford Ray’s death was a confrontation with Burrell H. Bailey which occurred in the early morning hours of June 23, 1873, while the two men were in Alapaha, GA.  When the standoff turned violent, Ray pulled a knife; Bailey pulled a gun. Bailey shot Ray in the stomach, inflicting a wound which proved fatal two weeks later.

 “Ray lived until Sunday morning, 1 o’clock, 29th ult. [June 29, 1873], when the spirit of the unfortunate man passed away.  Thus were the hearts of two families made to mourn over an irreparable loss.”

 Burrell H. Bailey was indicted for murder.  For Rachel Sirmans Bailey, it was a sort of double jeopardy.  Her first husband, Samuel Mattox, had stood trial for the September 7, 1843 murder of William Slaughter and was hanged for the crime.  Her second husband, Burrell Hamilton Bailey, tried for the 1873 murder of Bradford Ray, was acquitted.  Later, the Baileys relocated to Florida.

Epilogue:

  • Rachel Sirmans Bailey died Apr. 14, 1876 and is buried at Fellowship Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Sirmans, Madison County, FL.
  • Burrell Hamilton Bailey, after the death of Rachel Sirmans, married Mahala M. Taylor Boatwright. He died March 22, 1885 in Lafayette County, FL. His grave is at Salem Cemetery, Taylor County, FL.
  • Martha Swan Ray’s whereabouts after the death of Bradford Ray are unknown.
  • Bradford Ray died June 29, 1873. His final resting place is not known.

Special thanks to Phil Ray for research and contributions to this post.

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An Antebellum Trial at Troupville

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

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

AN ANTEBELLUM TRIAL AT TROUPVILLE

By J. N. TALLEY, of the Macon Bar

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Cause of Death Revealed by Hole in Hat.

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

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


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

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

Samuel Mattox escapes from Troupville, GA jail, 1843.

Federal Union, Nov. 21, 1843 — page 1

GEORGIA:

A Proclamation

By Charles J. McDonald, Governor of said State.

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

CHARLES J. McDONALD.

By the Governor,

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

Nov. 7 1843.

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

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

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

Resuming the account by J.N. Talley:

Mattox Convicted

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

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

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

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

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

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

Milledgeville Southern Reporter
August 13, 1844

Troupville, Lowndes Co.,
July 30, 1844.

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

Truly yours, &c.

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

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

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

Tifton Gazette
March 8, 1901

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

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

The Studstill Case

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

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

An Old Indictment

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

GEORGIA, LOWNDES COUNTY.

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

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

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

The Court Room

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

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

Procedure Reviewed

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

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

The Trial Proceeds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Argument Long and Loud

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

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

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

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

Conviction Affirmed

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

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

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

Jonathan Receives Pardon

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

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

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

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

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

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

∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫∫

The Dumb Act

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

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

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

 

Old Troupville

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A Vanished Town

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

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

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

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

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

The Valdosta Times
May 14, 1887

INDIAN FIGHTERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Burrell Hamilton Bailey Sells Out in 10th

Burrell Hamilton Bailey was a Wiregrass pioneer in the vicinity of present day Ray City, GA in the early 1800s. He was born 19 October 1826 in Irwin Co., Georgia, the son of Burrell Henry Bailey and Mary “Polly” Land.

According to the research of Phil Ray, Burrell Henry Bailey, the father, was appointed as a commissioner for superintending the first elections in Irwin County and was himself elected as an Inferior Court Justice in those elections held in March of 1820.  The very  first action of the Irwin Inferior Court was to authorize the Clerk of the Court to issue licenses to “tavern-keepers and retailers of spirituous liquors.”  Burrell Henry Bailey resigned from the court in May, 1821.

That July, Burrell Bailey and Isham Jordan were appointed by the Irwin county Inferior Court to survey and mark a portion of the first public road in Irwin county. Two years later, Isham Jordan would serve as a trailblazer and hunter for General John Coffee during the construction of a military road passing through the site of present day Nashville, GA and on southward to the Florida line (see Coffee Road Led to Creation of Lowndes County). Burrell Henry Bailey also served on the first Grand Jury in Irwin county in September 1820, and served as a Corporal in Company H, 4th Georgia cavalry.

After his father died in 1845, Burrell Hamilton Bailey sold his claim to Lot 241, a land grant of 490 acres in the 10th Land District,  Lowndes County (formerly Irwin County), GA.  This district covered a large area of Berrien county  including the present day area of Ray City, GA. Land records show that he sold this land to Bryan Edmondson in 1851.

(See Transcript below)

Burrell Hamilton Bailey 1851 land transaction with Bryan Edmondson, Lowndes County, GA (now Berrien County). Image courtesy of Phil Ray.

Burrell Hamilton Bailey 1851 land transaction with Bryan Edmondson, Lowndes County, GA (now Berrien County). Image courtesy of Phil Ray.

Georgia
Lowndes County

This indenture made and entered into the fifteenth day of September Eighteen hundred and fifty one between Burrell H. Bailey of the County and State aforesaid of the one part and Bryan Edmondson of the same place of the other part witnefseth that the said Burrel H Bailey for and in consideration of the sum of Two hundred and fifty Dollars to him in hand paid at and before the sealing and delivery of these presents the receipt where of is here by acknowledged hath granted bargained sold conveyed and confirmed unto the said Bryan Edmondson his heirs and afsigns all that tract & or parcel of Land situate lying and being in the Tenth District originally of Irwin now Lowndes County and known in the plan of said District by the number (241) Two hundred and forty One containing according to this plat is the Grant four hundred and ninety acres be the same more or lefs to have and to hold the said bargained premises to the only proper use benefit and behest of him the said Bryan Edmondson his heirs and afsigns forever in Fie Simple And I the said Burrell H. Bailey do by sinture of these presents warrant and find the aforesaid bargained prin Land from and against the claim or claims of myself my heirs executors administrators and afsigns and from the claim or claims of all and every other person or persons whatever unto the said Bryan Edmondson his heirs and afsigns forever in witnefs whereof I the said Burrell H. Bailey have herewith set my hand and seal this day and date above written signed sealed and acknowledged in presence of

Jesse Touchton                    Burrell H. Bailey
(2nd witness signature
not legible)

Enhanced detail of 1869 map of Berrien County, GA land lots in the 10th Land District, showing relative locations of Nashville, GA, Land lot 241, and homeplace of Levi J. Knight. Comparison with modern maps shows that the placement of rivers and streams is clearly distorted. Furthermore, this map shows General Knight's place located west of Cat Creek, when historical accounts indicate that the Knight homestead was east of the creek.

Enhanced detail of 1869 map of Berrien County, GA land lots in the 10th Land District, showing relative locations of Nashville, GA, Land lot 241, and homeplace of Levi J. Knight. Comparison with modern maps shows that the placement of rivers and streams is clearly distorted. Furthermore, this map shows General Knight’s place located west of Cat Creek, when historical accounts indicate that the Knight homestead was east of the creek.

In 1847 in Lowndes County, GA Burrell Hamilton Bailey married Rachel Sirmans Mattox.  She was the widow of Samuel Mattox who was hanged at Troupville in 1843, and had two children: Mary Mattox, born about 1843, and Aaron Mattox, born about 1844 in Georgia.  Rachel was the daughter of Jonathan Sirmans and Matha “Patsey” Rouse, and sister of Hardeman Sirmans.

After marriage, Rachel Sirmans and  Burrell H. Bailey lived at her father’s old home place.

In the 1850 Census  Rachel and Burrell are enumerated there in Lowndes County, with her two children and now with two daughters of their own;  Lavicey, age 3, and Winnifred H., age 1.  Living nearby is Rachel’s widowed mother, Martha Sirmans, age 59, head of her own household with her son, Abner (19).  Burrell H Bailey’s brother, Cullen Dean Bailey,  and sister-in-law, Elizabeth Ruth Herrin,  also had a farm nearby.

In 1856,  the Bailey’s land was cut out of Lowndes County,  with the creation of Berrien County.  Reader Sheri Felts contributes that Rachel’s mother moved sometime before 1860 to a place next to her son Mark R. Watson, where she farmed and cared for the children of her deceased son James Lemuel Kirkland. These children were Elizabeth Kirkland, John A. Kirkland, William O. Kirkland, and Rachel Kirkland;  Hardeman Sirmons was given actual guardianship of the children by his half brother James.

Rachel’s  brother, Abner Sirmans, took over her mother’s farm.  Rachel and Burrell continued to raise crops and children on their own place. The 1860 Census shows Rachel and Burrell H. Bailey and their children living on the farm adjacent to Abner Sirmans and his family.

Children of Burrell Hamilton Bailey and Rachel Sirmans:

  1. Luvicey L. Bailey, born April 26, 1848 in Georgia
  2. Winnifred H. Bailey, born about 1849 in Georgia died before 1860
  3. Lemuel H. Bailey, born March, 1851 in Laurens Co., Georgia married Mary Ann Gaskins on October 9, 1873. She was a daughter of Fisher J. Gaskins.
  4. Aurelius H. Bailey, born 1853 in Berrien Co., Georgia  probably died young.
  5. Martha M. Bailey, born March 14, 1854 in Georgia  married first Josiah Ray, this marriage ended in  divorce. She later married William Howard of Taylor County, Fl.
  6. Rachael Bailey, born April 1, 1856 in Taylor Co., Florida married John Slone of Madison County, FL
  7. Burrell H. Bailey Jr, born June 11, 1857 in Taylor Co., Florida married a  McLeod and moved to Madison County, FL
  8. Annie Eliza Bailey, born January 8, 1860 in Taylor Co., Florida married a Rowell and moved to Madison County, FL
  9. William Colonel Bailey, born April 10, 1862 in Berrien Co., Georgia
  10. John A. Bailey, born April 09, 1864 in Berrien Co., Georgia
  11. Sarah Almisy Bailey, born 1868 in Georgia
  12. Joseph S. Bailey, born May 30, 1870 in Georgia

Special thanks to Phil Ray for research contributing to this article.

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