Judge Lott Warren

Judge Lott Warren presided over the Lowndes County Grand Jury of 1833, at Franklinville, GA, the county seat of Lowndes which then included most of present day Berrien County.

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

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

 

According to the History of Bethel Association,

“His ancestors came from England, and settled in Virginia, from whence his father, Josiah Warren, removed to North Carolina during the Revolutionary war, and married Nancy Doty, in the county of Onslow. After the birth of two children, his parents settled in Burke county, Georgia, where Lott, the eleventh child, was born on the 30th day of October, 1797. From Burke they removed, in 1804, to a place four miles below Dublin, on the Oconee River, in Laurens county.

In his eighth year the subject of this memoir went to his first school, with six brothers and sisters, who walked daily upwards of three miles, to obtain what knowledge Mr. Matthew Burns, an Englishman, could impart during his sober intervals. The school lasted nine months; but, at the end of two quarters, Mr. Warren withdrew his children, owing to the intemperate habits of the teacher. Being a pious member of the Baptist Church, and a magistrate, Mr. Warren had a peculiar dislike to drunkards’, and, from his condemnation of that vice, his son, of whom it is our privilege to speak, no doubt imbibed that antipathy to alcoholic drinks which has since marked his career. Residing in a wilderness frontier, distant from other settlements, Mr. Warren was frequently called upon, as a justice of the peace, to unite persons in wedlock at his own house. On such occasions the visiting party brought their own wine or brandy, as the case might be, and used it among themselves; no member of the household participating.

In February, 1809, Mr. Warren and his wife both died. It is due to the memory of this excellent man to say, that he was an humble and zealous Christian, and a faithful magistrate. His very name was a terror to evil doers. He committed the guardianship of his sons Lott and Eli, (the latter now General Warren, of Houston county,) to the Rev. Charles Culpepper, who had married his eldest daughter. Mr. Culpepper was a minister of the Baptist Church, and brother of the Hon. John Culpepper, formerly a representative in Congress from North Carolina. After the season for working the crop was over, Lott passed a few weeks at school, under Mr. Joseph Culpepper, in 1809. His guardian removed to Wilkinson county in 1812, then a rough frontier settlement, and was sent to school to Mr. Elkanah Powell, (who was afterwards killed in Twiggs county, by a man named Summers.) During the six months under Mr. Powell’s tuition, our pupil learned to write, and made some progress in arithmetic. His next teacher was Mr. James Fitzgerald, (now a venerable citizen of Houston county.) and, after the usual labor on the farm, he again went to Mr. Powell’s school. While there an incident occurred, which, as it had a controlling influence on the mind of young Warren, is worthy of special notice.

A man was charged with forging a note on Gov. Irwin, and his trial came on in Wilkinson Superior Court, before the Hon. Stephen W. Harris, Judge. The prosecution was sustained by Colonel Abednego Franklin, Solicitor-General, assisted by Colonel Moses Fort. The prisoner was defended by Colonel Seaborn Jones, now of Columbus. Gov. Irwin was sworn and examined as a witness. His praise was in all the land. By leave of his teacher, young Warren was present as a spectator, the first privilege he had ever enjoyed of witnessing a trial in court. Standing barefoot, a coarse, ungainly lad of fifteen, clad in homespun, with wool hat in hand, gazing with intense curiosity, from a window, on the scene before him, all silence to hear the Governor deliver his testimony, what was his astonishment to hear Colonel Jones cross-examine the witness with as much boldness and rigor as if he had been only a common man! Speeches of counsel and the charge of the court followed; the whole proceeding filled him with an irresistible desire to be a lawyer. On his return home at night, he mentioned the subject to his sister, who expressed surprise and sorrow, raising two principal objections: first, that he had not the means, (his patrimony being less than $500,) to prepare for the bar, and in the next place she did not consider lawyers sufficiently moral. He replied that he must have an English education in some way, and as to any supposed vices prevalent amongst lawyers, he would endeavor to be an exception. His sister was nothing convinced, and disposed of his request without even consulting his guardian. She lived to see him, in less than twenty years afterwards, Judge of the Southern Circuit.

His brother, Eli Warren,  also became a lawyer and a judge, as well as a planter, state representative and representative to two Georgia Constitutional Conventions.

In the spring of 1810, young Warren entered as a clerk in the store of Amos Love, a pious Baptist, to whom Mr. Culpepper ministered in, Dublin. Owing to bad health, he left Dublin in the fall, and became clerk to S. & B. Worrel, in Irwinton, near his sister, and shortly returned to Mr. Love. Within a few weeks he was drafted into the militia service for the Seminole war; and in February, 1818, was elected Second Lieutenant of the Laurens Company, commanded by Capt. Elijah Dean.

[This was during Andrew Jackson’s invasion of Spanish East Florida on an expedition against the Seminoles in 1818, the First Seminole War.]

This was his first promotion; and highly gratified, no doubt, was he with his martial honors on the eve of an expedition. Not for the purpose of showing any military talent or conspicuous deed in arms, to entitle Lieutenant Warren to public admiration, do we attempt a brief sketch of the campaign in which he served; but to preserve a few incidents, of which he is, perhaps, the best if not the only living witness, in relation to the burning of the Indian town of Chehaw, near the present site of Starkville, Lee county. It was the burning of this town that led to an animated correspondence* between Gen. Andrew Jackson and Gov. Rabun. 

After General Gaines retired from Amelia Island, he took command of the state troops which had been ordered out by the Governor, and among them a company of Chatham militia, together with the Laurens and Wilkinson Companies. They were ordered to the Big Bend of the Ocmulgee River, below Hartford, under the command of Major Clinton Wright, of the U. S. Army, to discover the course of the Indians, who had been committing murders and robberies on that frontier. After organizing the guard, Major Wright, pointing his sword towards him, said, “Lieut. Warren, I shall look to you for the discharge of the duties of Adjutant of this detachment. Come to my fire as soon as possible.” The young subaltern went accordingly, and in vain alleged his ignorance of duty as a reason why he should be excused from the task. But the reply was, “You have nothing to do except to obey orders.” Thus forced into the position, Lieut. Warren performed its labor actively, much to his own improvement, and to the satisfaction of a meritorious officer, who was drowned soon afterwards in attempting to cross Flint River on a raft.

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

It was the opinion of all concerned at the time, that it was Philemi town which had been destroyed. The chief Howard, and two other Indians who placed themselves in the power of the troops, were murdered in cold blood. But the error had been committed rashly, under excitement, and could not be repaired. The companies were soon discharged, and returned home. Lieut. Warren resumed his situation in Mr. Love’s store.

In a few days, Major Davis, of the U. S. Army, called on Lieut. Warren in Dublin, and stated that he had orders from Gen. Jackson to arrest Capt. Wright. Lieut. Warren accompanied him to the hotel, .where he introduced him to Capt. Wright, who at once submitted. It may as well be remarked here that Capt. Wright had not been mustered into the service of the United States, and was, of course, not subject to the orders of Gen. Jackson. His arrest, by the authority of the latter, was therefore regarded by Gov. Rabun and the justices of the Inferior Court of Baldwin county, as a usurpation of power. After the discharge of Capt. Wright, upon Habeas Corpus, at Milledgeville, the Governor had him immediately arrested for disobeying orders, in not destroying the Hoponee and Philemi towns, as well as Chehaw, but, being at liberty on his parole of honor, Capt. Wright escaped.

We close this part of the memoir by a few extracts from the correspondence between Gen, Jackson and Gov. Rabun, as relevant. Referring to the outrage on the Chehaw village, Gen. Jackson in his letter of May 7, 1818, says:

“Such base cowardice and murderous conduct as this transaction affords, has no parallel in history, and shall meet with its merited punishment. You, sir, as Governor of a State within my military division, have no right to give a military order while I am in the field; and this being an open and violent infringement of the treaty with the Creek Indians, Capt. Wright must be prosecuted and punished for this outrageous murder, and I have ordered him to be arrested and confined in irons, until the pleasure of the President of the United States is known upon the subject. If he has left Hartford before my orders reach him, I call upon you, as Governor of Georgia, to aid me in carrying into effect my order for his arrest and confinement, which I trust will be afforded, and Captain Wright brought to condign punishment for this unparalleled murder.”

In his reply of June 1st, after referring to the communication of Gen. Glascock, on which Gen. Jackson based his censure, Gov. Rabun says:

“Had you, sir, or General Glascock, been in possession of the facts that produced this affair, it is to be presumed, at least, that you would not have indulged in a strain so indecorous and unbecoming. I had, on the 21st March last, stated the situation of our bleeding frontier to you, and requested you, in respectful terms, to detail a part of your overwhelming force for our protection, or that you would furnish supplies, and I would order out more troops, to which you have never yet deigned to reply. You state, in a very haughty tone, that I, a Governor of a State under your military division, have no right to give a military order whilst you were in the field. Wretched and contemptible indeed must be our situation if this be the fact. When the liberties of the people of Georgia shall have been prostrated at the feet of a military despotism, then, and not till then, will your imperious doctrine be tamely submitted to. you may rest assured that if the savages continue their depredations on our unprotected frontier, I shall think and act for myself in that respect.”

We have introduced these pungent passages, not only as a part of history, but to prepare the way to a graceful scene in Congress, twenty-four years afterward, between Ex-President Adams and Judge Warren, which we shall describe at the proper time.

Not having relinquished his design of becoming a member of the legal profession, Mr. Warren applied himself six months to a grammar school, in 1819, kept by Doctor William A. Hill, at the residence of General David Blackshear. Soon thereafter he was employed as supercargo, or agent, on a flatboat, to keep the accounts of the commissioners of the Oconee River, to buy provisions for the hands at work in cleaning out the river, and to disburse money set apart for this and other purposes connected with the inland navigation of Georgia. Having frequent intervals of leisure, he read Blackstone’s Commentaries, through while on the river, and before retiring from his situation, in February, 1820.

 

Commentaries on the Laws of England, by William Blackstone, are an influential 18th-century treatise on the common law of England by Sir William Blackstone, originally published by the Clarendon Press at Oxford, 1765–1769. The work is divided into four volumes, on the rights of persons, the rights of things, of private wrongs and of public wrongs. " As an elementary book, however, it may be enough to say that the whole body of American lawyers and advocates, with very few exceptions, since the Revolution, have drawn their first lessons in jurisprudence from the pages of Blackstone’s Commentaries; and no more modern work has succeeded as yet in superseding it."

Commentaries on the Laws of England, by William Blackstone, are an influential 18th-century treatise on the common law of England by Sir William Blackstone, originally published by the Clarendon Press at Oxford, 1765–1769. The work is divided into four volumes, on the rights of persons, the rights of things, of private wrongs and of public wrongs. ” As an elementary book, however, it may be enough to say that the whole body of American lawyers and advocates, with very few exceptions, since the Revolution, have drawn their first lessons in jurisprudence from the pages of Blackstone’s Commentaries; and no more modern work has succeeded as yet in superseding it.”

He then entered the law-office of Daniel McNeel, Esq., in Dublin, and diligently applied himself to legal studies, not, however, with such entire devotion as to exclude matrimony from his thoughts. An attachment formed at school was crowned, October 19th, 1820, by his marriage with Miss Jane Desaubleaux, orphan of a French gentleman [Louis P. B. DeSaubleaux] who came to the United States during the Revolutionary War, and who constituted General Blackshear the testamentary guardian of his daughters. The patrimony of his bride for a long time was unproductive, but at length became valuable from the character of the property. 

At March term, 1821, of Laurens Superior Court, Mr. Warren was admitted to the bar. He immediately opened an office in Dublin, and attended several of the courts in the southern and middle circuits, with a fair prospect of business.

That same year he became the guardian of his wife’s younger sister, Penelope DeSaubleaux, who was still a minor. He acted as an administrator, along with William L. Mcree, for his father-in-law’s estate, liquidating DeSaubleaux’s slave holdings and Laurens county plantation for the benefit of the heirs.

Appointment of Lott Warren as an administrator of the estate of Louis P. DeSaubleaux and guardian of his minor child, Penelope DeSaubleaux

Appointment of Lott Warren as an administrator of the estate of Louis P. DeSaubleaux and guardian of his minor child, Penelope DeSaubleaux

In 1823, he was elected a major of battalion in the militia, and in 1824 a representative in the legislature from Laurens county. With a view to improve his situation he removed to the village of Marion, Twiggs county, in February, 1825.

Lott Warren was temporarily serving as Solicitor-General of the Southern Circuit during the presentments of the Grand Jury of Telfair County at the June term, 1825. Among the jurors at that term of court were Redden Wooten, John Lawson, and Daniel McDonald, the three of which would later move to Lowndes County, GA. The presiding judge was Thaddeus G. Holt who that same year presided over the very first session of the Superior Court of Lowndes County, convened at the home of Sion Hall, and where Levi J. Knight served as foreman of the Grand Jury.

In March of 1826,  Thomas D. Mitchell, Esq., Solicitor-General of the Southern Circuit, was killed in a duel with Dr. Ambrose Barber.  Governor Troup made a recess appointment to place Lott Warren as Solicitor-General of the Southern Circuit, the appointment being ratified by the Legislature in November, 1826.  While in office, it became his duty to prosecute several Indians in Thomas county, for murder. According to the Bench and Bar of Georgia,

That portion of Georgia was then on the Indian frontier, and the abode of a miserable population, such as the adjoining wilds of Florida had invited. Robberies and murders were frequent, sometimes perpetrated by white men and most generally shifted off on the Indians. The Hon. Moses Fort, Judge of the Southern Circuit, held the first court in Thomas county in 1826. Two Indians were convicted before him on the offence of murder. They had killed a man by the name of White as the latter and his friends were trying to recapture certain property which the Indians had stolen. The late William H. Torrance, Esq. was appointed by the court to see that the prisoners got a fair trial. His plea to the jurisdiction of the court, on the ground that the offence was committed in Florida, (within certain disputed lines,) having been overruled, very little could be said to the merits. The solicitor-general [Lott Warren] had the assistance of Mr. [Paul] Coalson, -if not in the argument, at least in the evidence. It is presumed, however, that the prosecution needed no very special aid, as there was no adverse public opinion to combat.
When the prisoners were brought before the court to receive sentence of death, they were told through an interpreter what was to be done with them, – hung by the neck until they were dead. The judge omitted to invoke the usual blessing, – “May God have mercy on their souls!” – for the reason that the prisoners did not understand English.”

He served in this capacity to April, 1828, inclusive.  He declined being a candidate for re-election.

About the time he retired from the office of Solicitor-General, the intellect and energy of Major Warren began to attract public observation. He was employed in almost every litigated case on the circuit. No one excelled him in zeal, and but few in strength, among his associates at the bar. He frequently came in collision with Shorter, Prince, Rockwell, Torrance, Strong, and other advocates of established reputation, and always sustained himself in argument. Mr. Warren was never eloquent, if flowery language, a cultivated voice, and classic gestures be indispensable to eloquence; but he was at all times interesting,—a close reasoner, with authorities well applied; and what was better still, he exhibited a degree of self-possession and common-sense which often secured him victory in the jury-box over a competitor far more astute and pretending.

In 1828, Lott Warren chaired a large public meeting held at the Twiggs County courthouse at Marion, GA to protest the “Tariff of Abominations” which had been enacted during Andrew Jackson’s administration. The tariff, which protected northern industry and was unfavorable to the Southern agricultural economy, would lead to the Nullification Crisis. On February 1, 1833 Lott Warren would play a prominent role in the formation of the Twiggs County Free Trade & State Rights Association; Thaddeus G. Holt served as the first chairman of that organization. The State Rights Party of Georgia would be launched in 1833 by prominent leaders of the Troup party, including William H. Crawford, John M. Berrien, George R. Gilmer,  William C. Dawson, and Augustin S. Clayton.  In Lowndes County, the effort to form a State Rights Association was led by William A. KnightLevi J. KnightHamilton W. SharpeJohn Blackshear, John McLean, John E. Tucker, and William Smith at Franklinville, GA, 1834.  At the Independence Day Celebration, 1834 at Franklinville, these men and other prominent citizens of Lowndes County repeatedly toasted Nullification in opposition to Federal authority.  Among the state rights Lott Warren was most concerned with were the right of Georgia to incarcerate Native Americans without interference from the Federal Government, and the right of Georgians to retrieve fugitive slaves from other states.  Lott Warren was a slave owner, as shown in the 1860 Census of “Slave Inhabitants” of Albany, Dougherty County, GA.

Lott Warren had always been a warm supporter of Governor Troup. In 1830  he was elected to the state Legislature as the senator from Twiggs County and was seated when that body convened, but the election was contested.  An investigation ensued in the Legislature, but ultimately his election was confirmed.

 In his senatorial career of only one session, he was active in the preparation and advocacy of measures which he deemed for the public good. He exerted considerable influence in debate, and returned to his constituents with praise. The organization of the Cherokee Territory, which led to the imprisonment of the Missionaries, and the fruitless mandate of the Supreme Court to enjoin the execution of the Indian Tassels, was the leading topic of the session, and received the cordial support of the Senator from Twiggs.

In November, 1831, Mr. Warren was elected by the legislature, Judge of the Superior Courts of the Southern District, for a term of three years. Although his manner of presiding was not altogether as affable and patient as some members of the bar desired, his decisions were in general satisfactory, from the sound reasoning on which they were based. Occasionally, when a question was raised, he embarrassed counsel by an intimation of his mind, yet seldom declined hearing the argument in full. It was evident, however, from his countenance, which he rarely attempted to control for effect, that his opinion had been formed, and that it was a useless consumption of time to combat it. In such emergencies, if counsel, gathering courage and fresh ideas from the necessity of the case, could succeed in impressing the Judge that his hasty conclusion was adverse to recognized authorities, a very patient hearing was accorded; and if he was really convinced of error, he always had the frankness to correct it in proper time. It has happened, that older members of the bar, entertaining a very liberal estimate of their own qualifications, and no extraordinary respect for those of the Judge, owing, no doubt, to his want of polish and urbanity,—have ventured to argue a point, contrary to rule, after the court had pronounced its decision. To such experiments, he promptly gave a quietus by reminding counsel that the protection which the Rules of Court afforded the Bench, after a question had been decided, was not altogether nominal in his court. On a few occasions, when even this hint was unavailing, and the attempt to argue was further persisted in, he has been known to order counsel to their seats.

Judge Warren never pretend[ed] to forget the obscurity and adversities of his youth; and while he manifest[ed] a due respect for the rights and feelings of others, he never permitted any infringement of his own to escape rebuke. Soon after he settled in Marion, a gentleman, who felt himself aggrieved by the testimony of Mr. Warren before a committee of the House of Representatives, made a very conspicuous and disrespectful allusion to him, in his absence, at a public dinner. As soon as he was informed of it, Mr. Warren dispatched a note by a gallant friend, opening the way to explanation, or, that failing, to another resort usual among gentleman who recognized the code of honor. Mutual friends interposed, and the affair was honorably adjusted. We mention this circumstance merely to show that Judge Warren [had] warm passions. His temperament [was] essentially sanguine. [From 1833], however, he [was] a pious member of the Baptist Church, and kept his constitutional ardor more in subjection.

In the 1830s, Lott Warren became a prominent member of the Twiggs County Temperance Society. On July 28, 1832 he was present at the constitution of this organization and was elected its first president.  He was a member of Richland Church. He served on the church committee organizing the protracted meeting of the United Effort Company held at Richland Church which commenced on the Friday before the second Sunday in May, 1835.

At the expiration of his judicial term, in 1834, without having placed himself in the power of a legislative majority opposed to him in politics, Judge Warren resumed the practice of the law.

In December 1834, in order to pursue his business interests, Lott Warren offered his Twiggs County property for sale; “577 and 3/4 acres of land, lying near Marion, most of it good planting land, finely timbered and well-watered; 200 acres in cultivation and in a good state for making a crop – also, a few hands, stock of horses, cattle, hogs, &c.”

In January 1836.  Lott Warren moved from Marion County to Americus, GA. Following the Battle of Chickasawhatchie Swamp in the summer of 1836, he was among those presiding at a testimonial dinner at Americus, GA given in honor and gratitude for the “arduous service” of the Sumter County Volunteer Militia in the campaign “against the Creek Indians.”  The Native Americans, resisting the forceful removal to the West and fleeing to Florida, also passed through Lowndes County where local militia companies engaged them at several locations including the Skirmish at Bill Parker’s Place, the Battle of Brushy Creek, actions on Warrior Creek, Skirmish at Cow Creek, actions on Little River and at Grand Bay, and the skirmish at Troublesome Ford.

In 1837, Lott Warren was a trustee of The Georgia Baptist Institute, at Talbotton, GA.  “Talbotton is situated on the ridge of country dividing the waters of the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers, and directly on the daily stage rout from Washington City to New Orleans.”   That same year he went into partnership with William H. Crawford, with  offices in Americus, GA and providing legal services in Muscogee, Marion, Stewart, Randolph, Early, Baker, Lee, Sumter, Houston, Twiggs, Pulaski, Lowndes, Thomas Decatur and Dooly counties. In December, 1837, at a Convention of the State Rights Party, Lott Warren was nominated as a candidate for the United States Congress. In the election of 1838, he won a seat in the the U.S. House of Representatives; Julius C. Alford, who led actions against the Indians in Lowndes in Lowndes County in 1836, was also elected to the House. Although Warren did not seek the nomination, at the Anti-Van Buren Convention held June 1, 1840 at Milledgeville, he was again advanced as a candidate in the election of 1840. Subsequently , he was duly elected.

On his motion, the one-hour rule was adopted. He had seen such unnecessary waste of time for the sake of notoriety in discussion, and for selfish purposes on the part of members of Congress, that he resolved to correct the evil. Guided by a strong will of his own, against the persuasion of many friends, he moved in the matter, and the one-hour rule was incorporated into the forms of the House. Though much complained of by longwinded talkers, the rule continues still unrepealed, and will remain a proof of the sagacity and nerve of the mover…

While absent in Congress, Judge Warren was ably represented at the bar by his partner in the practice, William H. Crawford, Esq., son of the former distinguished Secretary of the Treasury—Georgia’s candidate for President in 1824. From Americus he removed to his farm in Lee county, and from thence to the town of Albany, [then] in Baker county…. In 1843 he was elected Judge of the Superior Courts of the South-Western District, and re-elected in 1847 for a term which …expire[d] in December, 1852.

For many years the Judge has acted a prominent part in the affairs of his church, frequently officiating in the pulpit, and is ever foremost in the promotion of Sunday-Schools, Bible Societies, and other benevolent institutions. He has tender sympathies and a charitable heart. Avarice forms no part of his nature. His property, though not large, renders him independent. Much of his income has been expended in a generous hospitality. Preachers, religious persons of all denominations, and his friends generally, feel quite at home under his roof.

In person, the Judge is fully six feet high, and weighs about one hundred and ninety pounds. His forehead is large and round, eyes blue, and complexion fresh and sandy. He steps quick, and is a little restless when sitting, unless his attention is much engaged. Owing to his kind feelings, which are manifest in his countenance, he does not always preserve that order in Court which a more austere visage and deportment would command. When the noise amounts to an interruption of business, he frequently alarms the bailiffs by threats of a fine for a neglect of duty. Perfect silence then reigns for a moment, but soon the uproar is renewed, the Judge himself setting the example by some pleasantry with the bar.

As the style of “Lott Warren Division, No. —,” in Sumter county, would indicate, the Judge is a son of Temperance. His lectures on that subject are very interesting. In fact, his whole time is occupied, in some way, in trying to benefit his fellow-beings. In politics, he is strictly conservative, and prefers the Union as it is, to any change which might be proposed as a remedy for real or imaginary grievances.

We have endeavored to exhibit the character and qualities of Judge Warren with that fidelity which an acquaintance of twenty-five years enables us to exercise. His example ought to stimulate poor and friendless youth to strike bravely, and bear up with fortitude, in the contest of life. If such shall be the tendency of this memoir, the writer will have accomplished his object.

In politics Lott Warren was a Whig, and he, along with his brother, General Eli Warren, and nephew Judge James Jackson Scarborough all attended the 1852 Scott Convention, the Whig state convention held at Macon, Georgia to nominate General Winfield Scott as the Whig candidate for president, with his running mate William A. Graham.  James Jackson Scarborough was trained in law under the supervision of his uncles; In 1848, Judge Scarborough would preside at Troupville, GA in the Lowndes County trial of Manuel and Jonathan Studstill for the murder of William Slaughter.

The  1934 History of Bethel Association adds the eulogy of Lott Warren by the Albany church:

“Our beloved brother, Lott Warren, departed this life on Monday, 17th of June, 1861. Such was his prominence as a citizen, a Christian, and an able and active member of this church, that it becomes highly proper that a brief memorial of his life and character should be entered upon our record.

He was born in Burke County, Georgia, October 30th, 1797. After an energetic and noble struggle with many difficulties in his early years, he at length entered upon the practice of law, which he prosecuted, with some short intervals, with much ability and success to the hour of his death. He was called by his fellow citizens to many important positions of trust and honor. He was for a time a member of our State Legislature (of the House in 1824, and of the Senate in 1830); and also Solicitor-General (from 1826 to 1828), and Judge (from 1831 to 1834), of the Southern Circuit. [It was during this period that he presided over the presentments of the Lowndes County Grand Jury.]

But it was as a decided Christian and Baptist that Brother Lott Warren became entitled to a special and honorable place upon our church records. He was baptized by the Reverend Joseph R. Hand, and became a member of the Richland Church, Twiggs County, GA in 1834. Subsequently removing to southwestern Georgia, he united with the Baptist Church in Americus. In 1845 he united with the work of the Gospel ministry, and by his occasional fervent labors in the pulpit, he rendered much useful service to the cause of Christ.

Brother Warren was remarkably exemplary in all the relations of life. He was a man of warm, earnest and unquestioned piety, decided in his opinions, of whatever he believed to be right. He was a conscientious, decided and uncompromising Baptist, though kind and affectionate in his feelings towards all whom he believed to be good men. He was the advocate of strict discipline, contributed liberally of his substance to the support of his pastor, and other pious objects. He was a friend of the poor, a bold and able champion of the cause of temperance, and an unwearied and enthusiastic supporter of the Sabbath School enterprise. For many years he labored with indefatigable zeal as a teacher in the Sunday School connected with the Albany Church. He was a lover of gospel truth, a lover of the gates of Zion, and remarkably punctual in the discharge of his duties as a church member. It deserves a special place upon our records that the Hon. Lott Warren, the able Representative, lawyer, statesman and Judge, was emphatically the humble doorkeeper of our church. On days of public worship his watchful, affectionate and gentlemanly service was ever tendered where needful, to friends and strangers, to rich and poor, that they might be provided with comfortable seats in our worshiping assemblies. His humble, cheerful conduct in this particular was a delightful comment upon the expression of the Psalmist, ‘I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.’

Brother Warren had his faults, but they were such as we might naturally expect to see in one of his ardent temperament, strong impulses and great force of character. The grace of God shone conspicuously in his life; his frailties were overshadowed by bright, prevailing virtues. He died suddenly when making a speech in the courthouse at Albany, in the defense of the life of a slave, who was on trial for commitment. He was smitten with apoplexy, sunk suddenly to the floor, and without a word, breath or struggle, passed into eternity. On the following day a large concourse followed his remains to the tomb, where they sleep in hope of a blessed resurrection.

 

From the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress:

Lott Warren, born in Burke County, near Augusta, Richmond County, GA, October 30, 1797.  He attended the common schools in the area. At the age of 19 he moved to Dublin, Laurens County, GA.  He served as a second lieutenant of Georgia Militia Volunteers in Andrew Jackson’s invasion of Spanish East Florida on an expedition against the Seminoles in 1818 (First Seminole War).   After the war he studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1821 and commenced practice in Dublin, Laurens County, GA. ; was also a regularly ordained Baptist minister, but never filled a definite charge; moved to Marion in 1825; elected major of the State militia in 1823; member of the State house of representatives in 1824 and 1831; served in the State senate in 1830; solicitor general and judge of the southern circuit of Georgia 1831-1834; moved to Americus, Sumter County, in 1836; elected as a Whig to the Twenty-sixth and Twenty-seventh Congresses (March 4, 1839-March 3, 1843); was not a candidate for renomination in 1842; moved to Albany in 1842; was judge of the superior court of Georgia 1843-1852; resumed the practice of his profession; died in Albany, Dougherty County, Ga., June 17, 1861; interment in Riverside Cemetery [Oakview Cemetery].

Related Posts

Judge Holt and the Fish-Grass Case

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

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

American Shad.

American Shad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

The Good Judge Holt

It is said that the Honorable Thaddeus Goode Holt presided as judge at the first session of the Superior Court of Lowndes County, GA in 1825, convened at the home of Sion Hall.

About the Judge…

As a lawyer and a judge on the Southern Circuit,  Thaddeus G. Holt was well known to Wiregrass pioneers. He was later a prominent citizen of Macon, GA and built a fine home there.  Judge Holt was father of  Captain T. G. Holt, Jr. of the Confederate cavalry, brother-in-law of Confederate general Alfred Holt Iverson who was disgraced at Gettysburg,   and great grandfather of Doris Duke who in the 1930s was known as “the richest girl in the world.”

Thaddeus Goode Holt, born September 20, 1793, was a son of Martha Goode and Thaddeus Holt.  His father, Thaddeus Holt, was a wealthy landowner in Baldwin County, GA and counted more than 4000 acres of land, numerous slaves,  grist mills and sawmills, a ferry and later a toll bridge among his holdings. The senior Holt served as a member in the Georgia Assembly in 1809, as a captain in the Georgia militia, and as a lieutenant colonel in the War of 1812.

Colonel Holt was somewhat of a brawler and participated in several duels during his life. He was bushwhacked by  John “Whiskey” Jones in October, 1813,  while traveling between his properties on the Oconee River in Baldwin County, and died a week later on October 14, 1813.
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Baltimore Patriot and Evening Advertiser
October 13, 1813
On Thursday last, Thaddeus Holt was shot through the body, (supposed with a rifle bullet) which entered below the breast bone and came out just under the right shoulder blade. He received the wound in Oconee Swamp on the way to his lower plantation by John Jones, (Whiskey.) It is worthy of remark, that early in Col. Holt’s life, he fought a man, both armed with knives, in which affair both were badly cut to pieces. In Kentucky, in a duel, he wounded through the leg; and directly after in many Indian skirmishes. Afterwards he was shot through the neck; and in the year ’95 had his mouth shot to pieces in a duel – all of which he survived, and lives to agonize his present wound, from which it is probable he will recover, being the 4th day since it was received.
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Thaddeus Goode Holt, attended the University of Georgia in 1814. While there, he resided in a cabin his father, Colonel Thaddeus Holt, had built in Athens,GA on Jefferson Road (probably present day Prince Avenue) within a mile of the University of Georgia “in which his five sons kept bachelor’s hall whilst they were students in the University.”
Old College, University of Georgia, constructed in 1806. Today, Old College is the oldest remaining structure on UGA's historic north campus.

Old College, University of Georgia, constructed in 1806. Today, Old College is the oldest remaining structure on UGA’s historic north campus.

After graduating from UGA, Thaddeus Goode Holt, studied law at the Litchfield Law School, Litchfield, Connecticut. The Litchfield Law School, founded by Tapping Reeve is often cited as the first formal school of law in the United States offering a vocational curriculum for future attorneys.
Article on the "First American Law School", published 1921.

Article on the “First American Law School”, published 1921.

In the 1887 work Virginia cousins:a study of the ancestry and posterity of John Goode of Whitby, a Virginia colonist of the seventeenth century, with notes upon related families, a key to southern genealogy and a history of the English surname Gode, Goad, Goode or Good from 1148 to 1887author George Brown Goode gives the following short biography:

Judge THADDEUS GOODE HOLT, of Macon, Ga., son of Thaddeus and Martha Goode Holt,  was born Sept. 20, 1793, and died May 8, 1873. Married, 1828, Nancy, daughter of John and Martha Flemming. Children: —

  1. Hon. Thaddeus Goode Holt, Jr., b. Oct. 16, 1836.  
  2. Allen F., m. E. J. Monghon.
  3. Ellen, m. D. E. Notris.
  4. Leroy, d. aet, 23.

Judge Holt was educated at the University of Georgia, at Athens, and became a prominent lawyer. He was Solicitor-General of the southern circuit of Georgia, 1819-22, and Judge of the southern circuit, 1824-28.

Avery’s History of Georgia mentions “a public meeting held in Macon, 1862, presided over by that noble gentleman, and distinguished ex-Judge Thaddeus G. Holt, to devise means to strengthen the army of the new nation.”

View of the exterior of the Holt - Peeler House, Macon, Bibb County, GA, built by Judge Thaddeus Goode Holt in the 1840s. Judge Holt served on the Southern Circuit of Georgia, and is said to have presided at the first session of Superior Court in Lowndes County, GA in 1825.

View of the exterior of the Holt – Peeler House, Macon, Bibb County, GA, built by Judge Thaddeus Goode Holt in the 1840s. Judge Holt served on the Southern Circuit of Georgia, and is said to have presided at the first session of Superior Court in Lowndes County, GA in 1825.

Related Posts:

Coffee Road Led to Creation of Lowndes County

When south Georgia was first organized into counties in 1818, the area of present day Berrien County was originally part of  old Irwin.  The land lots and districts in Berrien County are still derived from the original plat of Irwin County.  As related in a previous post (see Coffee’s Road Passed Seven Miles West of Ray City, the earliest roads in Berrien County date from shortly after the formation of Irwin.  In writing on the local histories of Wiregrass Georgia counties, Folks Huxford made a number of references to the Coffee Road, portions of which are  excerpted below.

1822 Map Detail showing Irwin County, GA

1822 Map Detail showing Irwin County, GA

The Coffee Road

The first two roads to be opened up in the new County of Irwin were the Roundtree Trail and the Coffee Road. The former extended from Pulaski County across the headwaters of the Alapaha River and entered present Tift County near Tifton, and then down the Little River. However, the Coffee Road became the great thoroughfare of travel.

It was the main thoroughfare from the older settled portion of the state into South Georgia and  Florida; and practically all traffic from and into Florida west of the Okefenokee Swamp, was over that road.  It led from Jacksonville on the Ogeechee [Ocmulgee] River in Telfair County, southwesterly through the then county of Irwin (but now Coffee, Irwin, Berrien) through the then county of Lowndes (but now Berrien, Cook  and Brooks) into Thomas County and via Thomasville southwardly to the Florida line.

Coffee Road was opened up by the State under authority of an Act of the Legislature approved by Governor John Clark on December 23, 1822.  It was significant that the road commenced at Governor Clark’s home town, Jacksonville, GA, and that the two men appointed to superintend the construction, John Coffee and Thomas Swain, were neighbors of the Governor.  Swain was the operator of the ferry where the Coffee road crossed the Ocmulgee River near Jacksonville. Perhaps these three men foresaw the great stream of commerce which would flow down this road into south Georgia and Florida; and the political power of the time was in their favor.

The clearing of the road was undertaken at a cost of $1500.00  (see Coffee’s Road Passed Seven Miles West of Ray City. Enoch Hall, a Lowndes county pioneer and son of Sion Hall and Mrs. Bridget “Beady” Hall, was an overseer in  laying out the route of the Coffee Road.   Ed Cone, a Coffee Road researcher, observed “Mainly, it was built with slaves and volunteers. Some also suggest that the militia was involved, I find no evidence of this. There was reported to have been about forty slaves that were assigned to this project and Gen. Coffee probably paid their owners for their use.

 The road was duly opened and became known as the ‘Coffee Road’ from the fact that Gen. John Coffee of Telfair County, one of the Commissioners, had charge of its opening.  It ran through the present counties of Berrien and Cook into Brooks and thence into present Thomas. It afforded the main highway of travel for some years down into Lowndes and Thomas and Decatur Counties and into West Florida.

Just two years after the opening of Coffee’s Road, Lowndes County was cut from Irwin. The area of Lowndes county was still a huge country which then included most of present day Berrien County and many surrounding counties.  In those early days of Old Lowndes County, most of the settlement had occurred along the route of Coffee’s Road, or else along the Alapaha and Little rivers.  It should be noted that the route of the Coffee Road was somewhat fluid, as the location of bridges and ferries tended to change over time. In 1854, the Coffee Road was made the boundary between Coffee County and Irwin County, but the Legislature soon realized “the said Coffee road is undergoing changes every year, and subject to be altered and changed by order of the Inferior Courts of said counties.

COFFEE ROAD WAYPOINTS

Jacksonville, GA    Milepost 0

Swain’s Ferry    Milepost ~3
According to Ed Cone, General Coffee, a resident of Telfair County, began work on his road in 1823 at Thomas L. Swain’s Ferry on the Ocmulgee River near Jacksonville, Georgia (Telfair County).  But at the 1831 July term of the Irwin County Inferior Court,  “William Matchett, Daniel Grantham, Sr. and Micajah Paulk, Jr., [were] appointed to lay out and mark a road beginning at Thomas Swain’s ferry and running to Lowndes County line to intersect Coffee road,” The statement, from the History of Irwin County , is confusing but perhaps suggests Swain’s Ferry was not the original Coffee Road crossing over the Ocmulgee.  By the January term, 1836, the “regular” route of the Coffee Road was over the Swain’s Ferry crossing and  Frederick Merritt, Andrew McCelland and Micajah Paulk were appointed commissioners on the section of road from Swain’s ferry to Marsh’s ferry on the Alapaha River.  If the remnants of the Old Coffee Road are still an indicator, Swain’s ferry was somewhere in the vicinity of Red Bluff or Mobley Bluff on the Ocmulgee River.

Leonard Harper’s Place    Milepost ~18

Micajah Paulk’s Place    Milepost ~28

Jacob Paulk’s Home-place    Milepost ~32 
Jacob Paulk’s Home-place was on the Coffee Road on a portion of Lot 10, 5th District of Irwin County, “about one mile north of Willacoochee Creek and six miles east of Ocilla. Paulks of America notes, “Paulk was described as having been a kindly disposed man, very hospitable and godly. He was the owner of many slaves of which he treated with kindness. He was ordained a deacon in the Brushy Creek Primitive Baptist Church.” Paulk was one of the builders of a great wolf trap near the church.

Willacoochee Creek Crossing   Milepost ~33 
As with other waypoints on the Coffee Road, the site of the Willacoochee Creek crossing necessarily changed over time.

Marsh’s Willacoochee Creek Ferry
In 1828, the Coffee Road crossed over Willacoochee Creek on Lot 381 in the 5th District of old Irwin County. Reuben Marsh, who located on this lot in 1828 established a ferry here.

Willacoochee Crossing on Lot 351
An 1869 map of Berrien County, GA faintly shows by that time the Coffee Road crossed over the Withlacoochee River on lot 351, 5th District. This crossing, bridge or ferry, was slightly north of the former Marsh’s ferry over the Willacoochee.

Micajah Paulk, Sr’s  Place    Milepost ~38 
At least by 1838, the route of the Coffee road went by the home of Micajah’ Paulk, Senior, between the river crossing over Willacoochee Creek and the Alapaha River. It seems from Irwin County census, tax, land and court records that there were at least three men in old Irwin County, GA  under the name Micajah Paulk.  One of these men, known as Micajah Paulk, Sr, lived in the fork above the confluence of the Alapaha River and Willacoochee Creek. While the relations of the three men are not easily discernible, it is clear that this Micajah Paulk, Sr. was NOT the father of the well-known Micajah Paulk, Jr whose property was on the east bank of the Willacoochee River on land lots 289, 290, and 310 of the 5th district in Coffee County, where the Union Primitive Baptist Church is located, five miles north of Luke Bridge, and whose home was also on the Coffee Road more than five miles to the north.

Glory, GA    Milepost ~41
Glory was a community that  grew up along the Coffee Road in Berrien county. In 1906 it was described as, “a post village on the Atlantic Coast Line railroad, about twelve miles northeast of Nashville, GA. It has some stores, which do a good local business, and does considerable shipping. The population in 1900 was 54.”

Irwin Courthouse Road Junction    Milepost ~42
This waypoint only lasted a year or two. From 1835, the next waypoint on the Coffee Road was the junction with the Irwin Courthouse Road. This road was ordered by the Irwin Inferior Court to run “from Irwin courthouse to Alapaha River at Marsh’s ferry.”  The January 1835 court appointed Shadrach Griffin, Ruebin Gay and Richard Tucker to lay out and mark the road. “At January adjourned term, 1836, commissioners were authorized to turn the road leading from courthouse to Ruebin Marsh’s ferry on Alapaha to near John Benefield’s on to Elisha Grantham’s ferry on Alapaha and strike Coffee road nearest and best way.”  Elisha Grantham’s Ferry apparently was upstream from Marsh’s Ferry on the Alapaha and provided a more direct route between the Irwin County Courthouse and the Lowndes County Courthouse.

Alapaha River Crossing    Milepost ~42
It again appears there were several crossings of Coffee Road over the Alapaha River, being in service at different places and times.

Marsh’s Ferry
William Green Avera stated that in the early days of the county, Coffee Road crossed the Alapaha River at Marsh Ferry.   James Bagley Clements’ History of Irwin County  documents in numerous places that Reuben Marsh operated a ferry across the Alapaha River by 1835.  An Inferior Court order in 1842 appears to be a re-authorization of Marsh’s Ferry: “At the January term, 1842, an order was passed by the Inferior Court [Irwin County] an order was passed establishing a ferry across the Alapaha River at a place known as Marshes Ferry. The rates were fixed as follows: man and horse, twelve and one-half cents; man, horse and cart, twenty-five cents; two-horse wagon, fifty cents; four-horse wagon, one dollar; pleasure carriages, one dollar; gigs, fifty cents; jersey wagons, thirty-seven and one-half cents; mules and horses, 3 cents per head; cattle, 3 cents per head, sheep and hogs, one and one-half cents per head; foot  persons, free. Rates to be advertised at ferry.”

Lopahaw Bridge
The General Assembly acted in 1836 to fund the construction of a bridge across the Alapaha River stating”it is all important that a bridge should be built across the Lopahaw, at or near Coffee’s Road.”  According to the Legislative Act authorizing the Coffee Road, it crossed the Alapaha “at or near Cunningham’s ford on said river.”  In 1836 a public bridge was constructed over the river, but this bridge was condemned at the January 1856 term of the Irwin County Inferior Court.

 

Tyson’s Ferry
At the 1856 term of the Irwin County Inferior Court, according to James Bagley Clements’ History of Irwin County“Cornelious Tyson was granted authority to erect a ferry on Alapaha River on the Coffee road at the location of the condemned bridge and he is allowed to charge the following rates: man and horse, six and one-fourth cents; horse and cart, twenty-five cents; four-horse wagon, fifty cents; horse and buggy, thirty-seven and one-half cents.”  An  1869 District Survey Plat of Berrien County places Tyson’s Ferry on Lot

 

Cornelius Tyson’s Place   Milepost ~44.0
Cornelius Tyson’s home place according to 1836 Irwin County court records was on or near the Coffee Road.  His property as shown in the county tax records of 1831 and 1832 included Lots 422 and 424 in the 5th Land District of Irwin County. Lot 424 straddled the Alapaha River and Lot 422 was just southeast of the river.  His place was within the area that was later cut into Berrien County in 1856, Tyson being one of the five marking commissioners appointed by the state legislature in 1856 to fix the boundary lines of the newly created Berrien County. He was one of the original Inferior Court judges of Berrien County. Cornelius Tyson is enumerated in Berrien County, GA as Cornelius Tison in the Census 1860.

The Kirby Place    Milepost ~53
Farm and residence of William Kirby and Amy Griner Kirby.  The Kirbys were married in Bulloch County, GA in 1822 and came to Lowndes County, GA about 1829 settling just north of Mrs. Kirby’s parents“on the Coffee Road, one mile northeast of the present site of Nashville lCourt House]”. Mr. Kirby died in 1855. The widow Kirby’s place was the site of the first session of the Berrien County Superior Court held in November, 1856, according to William Green Avera.  Mrs. Kirby was a daughter of Emanuel Griner.

The Griner Place    Milepost ~54
Emanuel Griner in 1829 brought his family from Bulloch county to then Lowndes County, GA where he settled on the Coffee Road at the present site of Nashville, Berrien County.  His son, Daniel Griner, established a residence on land situated on the northwest corner of present day Marion Avenue and Davis Street.  Nashville, GA was founded about 1840 and in 1856,  was designated seat of the newly formed Berrien County. In that year, Daniel Griner sold a portion of his farm to the Inferior Court to become the site of the first Berrien County Court House.

Withlacoochee River Crossing   Milepost ~63
Likewise, the Coffee Road had multiple crossings over the Withlacoochee River, at different places and different times.

Futch’s Ferry
Futch’s Ferry was a later crossing at the Withlacoochee River on the Coffee Road.

Among the earliest waypoints on the Coffee Road were the homes of David Mathis, Sion Hall, Daniel McCranieHamilton Sharpe, and James Lovett.

McCranie’s Post Office    Milepost ~64
“The first post office in original Lowndes County was established in 1827 at the home of Daniel McCranie in present Cook County.  This was on the Coffee Road.  The Coffee Road was the main stagecoach route from the upper part of the state, and was also the mail route.” 
According to the Record of Connell-Morris and Allied Families, Daniel McCranie’s place was on Land Lot 416 in the 9th District of original Irwin County, GA. He purchased this land and built his home in 1824.

Hutchinson Mill Creek Crossing  Milepost ~68

Mathis House Stagecoach Stop   Milepost ~69
In January 1826, David Mathis built a log home, a sturdy and comfortable home  for his wife, Sarah Monk, and family. This home was on the Coffee Road, one mile east of the present village of Cecil, Cook County. It was a stagecoach stop where the horses were rested. Many people in those pioneer days enjoyed the hospitality of the Mathis home. 

Frank’s Creek Crossing   Milepost ~71

Salem Church (Est. 1856)   Milepost ~72
Salem Methodist Church was built on then Coffee Road (now Salem Church Road) in 1856, on land that was deeded by Eli Driver Webb. The first trustees were Randall Folsom, Joseph T. Webb, William Varn, William D. Smith and Berry J. Folsom. It is believed that the first pastor of Salem was either Rev. Joseph T. Webb or Rev. Hamilton W. Sharpe, both local Methodist preachers of that era…The exact year this church was organized is unknown but it is believed that the original church building was a small log structure constructed near a spring fed branch behind the present 110-year-old home place of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Folsom.  – South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church

Public School (circa 1856)
“Many of the citizens of the community attended school in a one-room school across” 
Coffee Road from Salem Methodist Church “and, when needed, the church was also used for classroom space.”  – South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church– South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church

 

Junction with Franklinville Road   Milepost ~74
The Franklinville road joined the Coffee Road just east of Little River. It ran 11 miles east to Franklinville, founded 1827 as the first County Seat of Lowndes County. The connection provided a direct route from Franklinville to Thomasville, seat of Thomas County. 

Little River Crossing 

Joyce’s Ferry   Mile Post ~75
Washington Joyce’s Ferry over the Little River on the Coffee Road.  According to Robert Edward Lee Folsom’s 1889 Historical Sketch of Lowndes County,  In 1824… Washington Joyce settled on the east bank of the Little River, and built a ferry at what is now the Miller Bridge.  In this regard, it seems REL Folsom’s account may be confused. The route of Old Coffee Road west of Little River suggests that Joyce’s Ferry was at or near the location of the present day Hwy 122 bridge, not at the site of Miller Bridge.  Washington Joyce’s home site was the first white settlement in present [1899] Lowndes county. His father, Henry Joyce, had operated ferries across the Ocmulgee River,and the Oconee River.  An 1832 a bill introduced in the Georgia legislature seems to incorrectly place Joyce’s Ferry on the Withlacoochee River, said bill “to open and define a road from Hawkinsville, Pulaski County, through the counties of Irwin and Lowndes, the said road to be laid out and defined on the route now known as Roundtree’s Trail, to intersect Coffee’s road, at or near Joyce’s ferry, on the Withlockcoochee [Withlacoochee?].” Some time before 1840, Washington Joyce moved to Randolph County, GA.

Folsom Bridge
Replaced Joyce’s Ferry. Another waypoint on the Coffee Road, to the northeast of Hall’s Inn, was the Folsom Bridge,  where Coffee’s Road crossed the Little River.  William Folsom’s place was located about a mile and a half east of the bridge.

Miller Bridge    Milepost ~77 (on rerouted Coffee Road).
A later crossing over the Little River two miles down river from Joyce’s Ferry.  This southern route to present day Morven, GA would have  bypassed Hall’s Inn.

Hall’s Inn   Milepost ~77
The home of Sion Hall, who had settled in the territory of present day Brooks County near Morven immediately upon the opening of Coffee Road  in 1823, was the county’s earliest tavern.  Hall’s home was the place of the first Superior Court in Lowndes County, with Judge Thaddeus G. Holt presiding and Levi J. Knight foreman of the Grand Jury.   Being located on the only thoroughfare in the section, ” it was therefore accessible to other pioneers settling in the area.  When Lowndes county was being organized, the Georgia legislature designated Hall’s residence as the site for elections and county courts, until such time as a permanent site could be selected.  The Sion Hall home was situated about 1 1/2 miles northward from Morven, and was on land lot No. 271, in the 12th District of old Irwin County….  The home of Hon. Sion Hall was a public inn on the Coffee Road for many years, and many people stopped there for a meal or to spend the night, and the place found favor with the traveling public.  The Hall home was capable of accommodating as many as twelve or fifteen people at one time without inconvenience.  Overflow guests were allowed to sleep on improvised beds on the floor.  ‘Hall’s’ was always a stopping point usually for the night for judges and lawyers going from Troupville to Thomasville during the semi-annual court sessions.”

Pike Branch Crossing   Milepost ~78
Captain John J. Pike was a son-in-law of Sion Hall. Pike led a company of men in the 1836 Battle of Brushy Creek. He died in 1837 in Lowndes County, GA at the age of 39.

Mount Zion Camp Ground
Near Coffee Road immediately south of Pike Branch.  According to a historical marker on the site, “The first Camp Meeting was held on this site in 1828 by a “few scattered Methodists” before any Methodist Church in the area was organized. William Hendry, William Blair and Hamilton W. Sharpe, as a committee, selected the site. Rev. Adam Wyrick was the first visiting preacher. In 1831 Sion and Enoch Hall deeded the land on which the Camp Ground stood to the Methodist Episcopal Church. Housed first in a brush-arbor, the weeklong meetings were held without interruption until 1881. Then the camp meetings ceased and the nearby church was built. Meetings were practically continuous each day from sunrise until after “candle-lighting.

 

Sharpe’s Store   Milepost ~78
“The next point of interest on the Coffee Road after leaving McCranie’s post office was ‘Sharpe’s Store‘ which was in present Brooks County and situated some fifteen miles westward from old Franklinville  [approximately 25 miles southwest of the point where the Knights settled at the present day site of Ray City, GA]. Hamilton W. Sharpe, then a young man hardly in his twenties, had come down from Tatnall County over the Coffee Road, and decided to locate near the home of Hon. Sion Hall at whose home the first court in Lowndes was held a few months afterwards.  So young Sharpe built a small store building out of logs near the Sharpe home; that was in 1826.  He along with others expected that the permanent county-seat would be established there.  A post office was established at Sharpe’s Store in 1828.

Reverend Howren’s Place (1836)
Reverend Robert H. Howren brought his family to old Lowndes County in 1836 as conflicts with Native Americans were rising in Florida and Georgia.  The Howren’s settled on Coffey’s Road and became neighbors of fellow Methodist Hamilton W. Sharpe.

Sim Philips Place   Milepost ~83

 

Okapilco Creek Bridge   Milepost ~88
The 1827 Coffee Road crossing over Okapilco Creek was about ten miles west of Sharpe’s Store. Thomas Spalding, traveling with an expedition to survey the Georgia-Florida line, in his journal called this “the Oakfeelkee Bridge, which had been erected by Gen. Coffee;” the expedition crossed the bridge on March 30, 1827.  According to mapping done by the Wiregrass Region Digital History Project, this section of the Coffee Road followed a route south of present day Coffee Road, such that the 1827 Okapilco Bridge was about 1.5 miles down stream of the present Coffee Road crossing road over the creek.

Little Creek Ford   Milepost ~85
About a half mile west of Okapilco Creek the Coffee road forded a small tributary of Mule Creek.

Bryant Settlement   Milepost ~86
According to Robert Edward Lee Folsom, “The first white settlement in this [old Lowndes County] section was made on this [Coffee] road in the fork of the Okapilco and Mule creeks in Brooks county, at an old Indian town, by Jose Bryant, in 1823.”

Hendry‘s Mill   Milepost ~87
Another three quarters of a mile west at the crossing of Mule Creek was Hendry’s Mill. William Hendry and Nancy McFail Hendry brought their family from Liberty County, GA to Lowndes County (now Brooks) about 1827, and settled  in the vicinity where Coffee Road crosses Mule Creek, about midway between Pavo and Quitman, GA. William 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.  

Okapilco Baptist Church (Est. 1861) ~ Mile Post 89
Okapilco Baptist Church was organized on Feb. 21, 1861. This church was an important church in that it represented an early place of worship for the early settlers in that area.

Lovett’s Dinner House ~ Mile Post 97
Lovett’s Dinner House was about 10 miles west of Hendry’s Mill. “There were no further inns on the Coffee Road until James Lovett’s home and inn was reached, which was about fifteen miles east of Thomasville near the then Lowndes and Thomas county line.  Lovett’s was reached about noon after setting out from Hall’s after breakfast.  Most travelers stopped there for dinner, hence Lovett’s hospitable home was called a ‘dinner house.'”  According to Ed Cone’s Coffee Road website, “This dinner-house was operated by James Lovett and is located at the crossroad of the Salem Church Road and the Coffee Road about two miles west of Barwick, GA. James Lovett married Catherine (Katy) Zitterauer and they are the parents of Rachel Lovett who married James Cone. They are ancestors of a large Cone family in Thomas County. The “Lovett’s Dinnerhouse has been remodeled but still stands.”

Aucilla River Ford  Milepost ~103
About five miles west of Lovett’s place the Coffee Road crossed over the headwaters of the Aucilla River.   Thomas Spalding, traveling Coffee Road on an expedition to survey the Florida-Georgia boundary,  recorded in his journal on March 31, 1827, “crossed the Ocilla [Aucilla] a small stream where we crossed it, a few miles below, we understand it swells into a lake, after receiving 3 or 4 streamlets from the west.”

Mr. Horn’s Place
Thomas Spalding recorded in his journal on March 31, 1827, “At Mr. Horn’s near one of the streams of this river [Aucilla], we met with good land, and some extension of improvement, he had resided here 6 years, and was a fine looking old man. — He had been forted, and was just taking down the palisades, erected as defence against the Indians. We were now in the vicinity where the late Indian murders were committed, and we had confirmed from his lips that we had previously heard, that these deaths and plunderings, and expence, were produced by two scoundrel young men; who had stolen some Indian horses, and fled into South Carolina with them, their names were known, and if they themselves are not living here, their brothers are. Their circumstances are familiar to every one — yet the law sleeps.

Thomasville, GA  Milepost ~110
On December 24, 1825, …. Five commissioners were named to select a county seat for Thomas, purchase a land lot or land lots, and lay off lots for sale to the public. These early commissioners were Duncan Ray, William J. Forson, Simon Hadley, Sr., Michael Horn, and John Hill Bryan (who was probably “Thomas” Hill Bryan ) …The commissioners purchased lot 39 (in the 13th district of old Irwin) next to the Kingsley place from Thomas Johnson for $210, and this site was declared the county seat.  One Aaron Everett was employed to lay off and survey a courthouse square and other adjacent lots. Soon these lots were sold at public sale but brought low prices.  Consequently, on December 22, 1826, an act of the legislature declared ‘the courthouse and jail of said County of Thomas is hereby made permanent at a place now known and called by the name of Thomasville, and shall be called and known by that name.’ By 1827 Thomasville was an outpost in a pine wilderness. A courthouse was built of roughly split pine logs. In November, 1827, Superior Court was held, and Judge Fort sentenced three Indians to be hanged for murdering Phillip and Nathan Paris, white men who lived in the Glasgow District of the county. Moreover, there were a few dwellings. E. J. Perkins had a home and grocery. Nearby was another home, and James Kirksey operated a store, although this soon burned. One of the first important stores was run by Simon A. Smith and his son. Other families moved in and in 1831 the small settlement was incorporated. Isaac P. Brooks, Edward Remington, Malcolm Ferguson, James Kirksey, and Murdock McAwley were appointed commissioners for the town. – Ante-bellum Thomas County, GA

Duncanville, GA Milepost ~122
Said by REL Folsom to be the southern terminus of the Coffee Road in Georgia.  According to the Table of Post Offices, in 1830 Duncanville was one of only two post offices in all of Thomas County, GA. The postmaster was William Coggins.  According to the January 8, 1859, issue of the Georgia Watchman the Duncanville District was the location of the plantation of General Thomas E. Blackshear, who commanded the 69th Regiment, Georgia Militia in the Indian Wars of 1836.

1861 letter envelope addressed to W. D. Mitchell, Duncanville, GA

1861 letter envelope addressed to W. D. Mitchell, Duncanville, GA

 

Georgia-Florida Boundary.   Milepost ~125
About 15 miles south of Thomasville.

Tallahassee, Florida        Milepost ~145

 

Construction and Maintenance of Coffee Road

“The Coffee Road was maintained by road-hands in the various counties through which it passed, and was in no sense a state road as would be understood nowadays.  The only part the state had was in the opening of it before people ever settled in the territory through which it passed. Gen. Coffee, at the expense of the State, employed a crew of men, some thirty or forty, free-labor, and with the help of state surveyors, projected the road through a wild and uninhabited territory.  It was just wide enough for two vehicles to pass and was not ditched or graded as is done at present (roads never had ditches until after the Civil War and very few then for many years). “

The streams were either “forded” or crossed by means of ferries owned by private individuals.  Fares for ferries were fixed in each county in those days by the Inferior Court.  In times of high water the streams which were “forded” would often “swim” the horse and vehicle for two or three days and at times even longer, and only those on horse-back could have any reasonable hope of making a trip without interruptions.  There were no bridges on any of the streams until after the Civil War.

The 1829 Gazetteer of the State of Georgia, in describing the road from Milledgeville to Tallahassee, stated:

“This is a stage road once a week. Fare $25. Leaves Milledgeville on Wednesdays… The road via Jacksonville and Thomasville is [246 miles] and is destitute of water for many miles.”

Using a historic standard of living for comparison, the $25 fare would have equated to about $612 in 2010 dollars.

Charles Joseph La Trobe, an early traveler on the Coffee Road, wrote about his experiences in 1837.

Charles Joseph La Trobe, an early traveler on the Coffee Road, wrote about his experiences in 1835.

In 1833, Charles Joseph La Trobe, an English traveler and writer, rode from Tallahassee, FL to Milledgeville, GA  via the weekly stagecoach.  Before departing Tallahassee, La Trobe apparently sampled the local hospitality:

In referring to Tallahassee beverages, the traveler [La Trobe] described the mint-julep, mint-sling, bitters, hailstone, snowstorm, apple-toddy, punch, Tom and Jerry and egg-nogg. He was about to give the recipe for mint-julep when he used the following language: “Who knows, that if you get hold of the recipe, instead of being an orderly sober member of society, a loyal subject, and a good Tory; you will get muzzy, and hot-brained, and begin to fret about reform, and democratic forms of government, – doubt your bible – despise your country – hate your King – fight cocks, and race like a Virginian – swear profanely like a Western man – covet your neighbors’ goods like a Yankee speculator – and end by turning Radical Reformer!”  –Thomasville Times, Jun. 22, 1889 — page 7

Despite his warnings to others, La Trobe made notes on the recipes of these concoctions for his own personal use. One wonders if the aftereffects of too much ‘Julep’ were not causative of the ill description of the trip to Milledgeville in his book, “The Rambler in North America:

“…we were well aware that there was some sore travelling in advance.  The roads through the south of Georgia are in the roughest state. The public vehicle which, as it happened, we had all to ourselves, rattled however over the country, when practicable, at the heels of a pair of stout young horses, from stage to stage, with a good-will and rapidity, which would have been very satisfactory, had the impediments in the roads and in the state of the crazy carriage permitted constant advance; but we only reached Milledgeville, the capital of Georgia, after three days and nights of incessant travel and that after a goodly proportion of breakdowns and stickfasts, besides having to wade many deep creeks and swim one or two.
The streams were all flooded and ferries and bridges were seldom seen and I would rather take my chance for swim than pass over the rocking and fearful erection they call a bridge which under that name span many of the deep rivers on the road nearer the coast, and however rotten, are seldom repaired till some fatal accident renders the repair imperative.  Yet the coolness with which the coachman, after halting for a moment on the edge of the steep broken declivity, and craning forward to look at the stream in advance, broad, muddy, and rapid, running like a mill-race, will then plunge into it with his horses, descending down till the water covers their backs, is admirable.  On these occasions we always thought that a preparation to swim was no sign of cowardice, and made our precautions accordingly.  From all this you may gather that travelling in the South is still in its infancy, and I may add shamefully expensive.  You pay exorbitantly for the meanest fare.
Of the scenery, I need say but little.  A great proportion of our route lay over an uninteresting pine-covered country, but there were frequent towns springing up along the line which will doubtless become more and more frequent…’

Prior to the opening of the Coffee Road in 1823, there were very few pioneer families in all of Irwin County ( then encompassing present day Lowndes, Thomas, Worth, Berrien, Cook, Brooks, Coffee Lanier, Tift, Turner, Ben Hill, Colquitt, and parts of Echols and Atkinson counties). Folks Huxford dated the earliest settlement of present day Brooks County. originally part of Lowndes, as occurring in 1823 after the Coffee Road was opened.

“The influx of settlers was so great that within two years after the Coffee Road was opened up there had moved in approximately two hundred families, so that the southern half of the county [of Irwin] was cut off and made into the new County of Lowndes.

Mapquest Route connecting remaining sections of Coffee Road.

Mapquest Route connecting remaining sections of Coffee Road.

Levi J. Knight and Lowndes First Superior Court.

Levi J. Knight, the earliest Wiregrass pioneer to make his home on Beaverdam Creek at the site of present day Ray City, GA was among the prominent men of early Lowndes County (later, Berrien County.) When the first Superior Court in Lowndes County was convened in 1825 at Sion Hall’s Inn on the Coffee Road, Levi J. Knight served as foreman of the Grand Jury.  L. J. Knight’s father, William A. Knight was also present for the court session, which was a social event as much as a judicial one.  If the first court was indeed convened in 1825 it was quite a Christmas affair, as the county of Lowndes was only created by the Georgia legislature on December 23, 1825.

An 1888 article in the Valdosta Times reflected upon that first court session, Judge Thaddeus G. Holt presiding. While the name of the Solicitor-General is not given, in December, 1825 that position would have been filled by Thomas D. Mitchell. (Mitchell was killed in a duel in March 1826).

The Valdosta Times
Valdosta, GA
Oct. 13, 1888
The First Superior Court.

…I now turn the leaves of time back nearly seventy years to the time when Jackson having purchased Irwin and Early counties of the Creek Indians the people east of the Ocmulgee river began to cross over and settle the vast region of wilderness now known as the wiregrass.
    West of the Alapaha the first white settler was Joe Bryant in the fork of Ocapilco and Mule Creek.
    The first house built in Lowndes was by James Roundtree, and on the lands now owned by West and James Roundtree in the northwest corner of the county [Lowndes].  Here was born in 1823 Irwin Belote, who is in fact the oldest inhabitant, save uncle Mose Lucas, who came here a grown man and is over 100 years old.  Ah, met Irwin has had a time of it, but in his time a country that was well supplied with Indians, bears, panthers, wolves and other unfriendly neighbors, has been populated and made to produce support for many thousand people.
    Of course our forefathers were rough, but like Gen. Taylor were also ready in good deeds.  Pardon me kind reader if in recording some scene of the twenties or thirties you recognize a venerated ancestor, they were honest, brave men, but saw some fun when whiskey, that would put to shame our $2.00 cost, could be bought at three and four bits a gallon.
    I believe Holt was judge, I know Levi J. Knight was foreman of the grand jury, and Sion Hall’s house, now in Brooks county near Morven was the place of our first superior court.
    The men of Lowndes were gathered from the Alapaha to Mule Creek, from the village of LeConte to the Florida line, as much to see, hear, get acquainted, drink whiskey and swap horses as any thing else.
    And Father Knight was there the first minister in the county, and John C. Underwood was there.  They said I favored him when a boy, of whom more hereafter.
    Uncle John and Uncle Isben and Jack Sweat and Elze Lellman — well why enumerate.
    There were idle brains and the devil rolled up his sleeves and entered his shop as the peeped through tumbler bottoms.  After the half pints had vanished some of the old men could see their youthful days again and began to act.
    “Boys lets have a foot race,” said Hall as the crowd began to brag–old men of “when-I-was-young,” and young men of the present, “Why, uncle Green, Jack can beat you now, and give you ten steps the start for a quart!”  “Bet a quart he can’t”, came from the crowd.  Judges were selected, also a track, and as they ran Jack who was sober tripped uncle Green who was “stimulated” and sprained arm and no doctor the consequence.
    Uncle Green was carried into the dwelling of Mr. Hall.  Near the fire place the court was in session.  At the farther end of the room were two beds on one of which lay uncle Green.  “Father Knight, I’m ruined, I’m eternally ruined!” wailed uncle Green.  “Hush Green, hush!” said uncle John, who had also seen through the glass.  “Durn you, you’ll disturb the court!”
    The judge, convulsed with laughter, adjourned in honor of the occasion.  Men were men in those days.

One Year later, the legislature moved the county site from the house of Sion Hall to the house of Francis Rountree.

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