Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island: Part 1

Berrien County in the Civil War
29th Georgia Regiment on Sapelo Island
Part 1: Arrival on Sapelo

Sketch of Civil War Earthwork on Sapelo Island

1863 Sketch of Civil War Earthwork on Sapelo Island. near Sapelo Lighthouse,Doboy Sound, Georgia. Fron a reconnaissance made, under direction of C. O. Boutelle, Assistant U.S.C.S., by Eugene Willenbucher, Draughtman C. S. January 1863

Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island

  1. Arrival On Sapelo
  2. Place of Encampment
  3. Camp Spalding
  4. Election of Officers
  5. Tidewater Time
  6. In Regular Service

During the Civil War,  two companies of men that went forth from Berrien County, GA were known as the Berrien Minute Men. The first company, organized by Captain Levi J. Knight served temporarily with the 13th Georgia Regiment at Brunswick, GA, before going on to join in a new regiment being formed at Savannah,  GA.  The second company of Berrien Minute Men rendezvoused with Captain Knight’s company at Savannah and was also enjoined  in the formation of the new  regiment. The two companies were mustered in as Companies C and D of the as yet unnamed Regiment.  After brief training in the Camp of Instruction at Savannah and in coastal batteries defending the city, the companies were detailed for duty.

From October, 1861 to January, 1862, the campfires of the Berrien Minute Men  were made at Sapelo and Blackbeard islands protecting the approaches to Darien, GA on Doboy Sound and the Altamaha River. Darien was about 55 miles south of Savannah and 20 miles north of Brunswick, GA.  The environment of Darien, the sea islands and the Altamaha River basin were ideal for the cultivation of rice and long staple Sea Island cotton, and the agricultural economy of the southern tidewater was strategically important to the fledgling Confederate States.

According to historian Buddy Sullivan, “The soils of the Altamaha delta were extremely fertile, both for the production of cotton and sugar cane, but most especially for that of rice.” In the peak decade of the 1850s, the Altamaha delta produced over 12 million pounds of cleaned, hulled rice; “Darien was the center of some of the most extensive rice cultivation on the southeastern tidewater.”  The tidewater agriculture was particularly labor intensive and “paralleled by the prevalence of malaria, yellow fever and other tropical diseases  and their connectivity with  tidal marshes, mud and water attendant to  the breeding of mosquitoes…Slaves toiled in the wet, marshy rice fields under harsh, demanding conditions.”

“Captain Basil Hall, an English travel writer who visited the Altamaha district in 1828, observed that the growing of rice was ‘the most unhealthy work in which the slaves were employed, and that in spite of every care, they sank in great numbers.  The causes of this dreadful mortality are the constant moisture and heat of the atmosphere, together with the alternating flooding and drying of fields on which the Negroes are perpetually at work, often ankle deep in mud, with their bare heads exposed to the fierce rays of the sun.'”

Slaves working in the rice fields.

Slaves working in the rice fields.

When mosquito swarms peaked in the summer and early fall, the white plantation families of the Altamaha district left the care of the crops to their slaves and migrated to the drier Georgia uplands; they returned to their low country plantations with the first frosts.  Although the proliferation of mosquitoes in the summer months coincided with the incidence of malaria and yellow fever, no connection was made between the events. Instead the common belief was that the tropical diseases were “caused by the “miasma,” a noxious effluvium that supposedly emanated from the putrescent matter in the swamps and tidal marshes, and thought to float in the night air, especially in the night mists as a fog.”

It is perhaps no accident that the deployment of the Berrien Minute Men to Sapelo Island coincided with the waning of the fever season. It appears Captain Knight’s company of Berrien Minute Men (Company C, later reorganized as Company G) embarked from Savannah in September  and had arrived on Sapelo and taken up station on Blackbeard Island by the first of October, 1861.  Sapelo and Blackbeard islands are adjacent, being separated only by Blackbeard creek and a narrow band of marsh.

The Confederate soldiers on the islands had access, albeit limited and inconvenient, to the post office at Darien, GA on the mainland about  10 miles up the Altamaha River. A handful of surviving letters written by the men on Sapelo paint a picture of Confederate camp life on Georgia’s sea islands, including correspondence from William Washington Knight and John W. Hagan of the Berrien Minute Men, Robert Hamilton Harris and Peter Dekle of the Thomasville Guards, and Robert Goodwin Mitchell of the Ochlocknee Light Infantry.

After a number of the men on Blackbeard Island were reported sick, rumors circulated back at home that the regiment was stricken with Yellow Fever. The families of the Berrien Minute Men had reason to fear.  In 1854, a yellow fever outbreak had killed thousands of people on the southeastern coast, including as many as 400 victims at Darien, GA.  But in his letters home, Private John W. Hagan of Berrien county wrote, “as to the reports which was going the roundes in Lowndes in regard to yellow feavor that is all faulce. Some of the men of Blackbeard did not take care of themselves & by exposure and exerting too mutch they became bilious.” The Berrien County men may have just been unacclimatized to the muggy heat of the coast, or the men may have contracted malaria  in the coastal marshes.  Levi J. Knight, Jr. later wrote that one of the Berrien Minute Men, Private Enos J. Connell, became “unfit for duty, rendered so by a protracted illness contracted on Blackbeard Island… the disease when first contracted was said by his physician to have been Billious fever.” Enos J. Connell never entirely recovered and was eventually discharged in June 1862. Private Thomas N. Connell, died at Blackbeard Island on October 2, 1861, the cause of death being given in his service record as “bilious fever.” Bilious fever,  a now obsolete medical diagnosis, was often used for any fever that exhibited the symptom of nausea or vomiting in addition to an increase in internal body temperature and strong diarrhea. Bilious fever (Latin bilis, “bile”) refers to fever associated with excessive bile or bilirubin in the blood stream and tissues, causing jaundice (a yellow color in the skin or sclera of the eye). The most common cause was malaria.  What treatment the sick men may have received on Sapelo Island is not described, but one known remedy for intermittent fever was quinine derived from the Georgia Fever Bark tree, which grew in the Altamaha River Valley.

Company D of the Berrien Minute Men  (later reorganized as Company K) arrived on Sapelo Island in early October. Company D steamed from Savannah late Tuesday evening, October 8, 1861. Among the men of Company D were privates John W. Hagan, William A. Jones, and William Washington Knight, a son of Captain Levi J. Knight.  There was a wharf on the north end of Sapelo at the Chocolate Plantation, then owned by the Spalding family. But the steamboat landed Company D on the south end of Sapelo perhaps at the Spalding’s South End mansion. Company D disembarked at daybreak on Wednesday, October 9, 1861 and then proceeded to encamp at Camp Spalding.

Visiting the camp hospital, Private William W. Knight found of the Berrien men, “only three that were sick much. Several had been sick but were able to wait on themselves.”   William A. Jones was crippled with a severe infection on his knee.   Captain Levi J. Knight had been among the sickest, but was somewhat recovered. Assistant Surgeon William H. Way, of Thomas County, GA, was the only medical officer with the Regiment at the time.  William P. Clower would later serve as Surgeon of the Regiment.

Within an hour of landing at South End on Sapelo , Private Knight started the eight to ten mile trek to the camp of his father’s company on Blackbeard Island. He was accompanied by Sergeant John Isom, who was returning to Company C.

At the bivouac on Blackbeard island, Private Knight found his father still convalescing.  “Father looks very bad, but he is gaining strength very quickly,” he wrote.  No sooner had Pvt. Knight and Sgt. Isom arrived at the camp on Blackbeard, than Captain Knight’s company packed up and  marched back to Camp Spalding on the south end of Sapelo.  Pvt. Knight described the round trip as “seventeen miles, part of it the roughest country on this globe.”

The soldiers would spend the coming weeks establishing their camp and the routine of regimental life on their sea island outpost.

Related Posts:

 

Reverend W. Harvey Wages

Reverend W. Harvey Wages

In the 1920s  Reverend W. Harvey Wages served as pastor of the Ray City Baptist Church.  He was tall and slender with blue eyes, an enthusiastic and talented young minister. Reverend Wages would go on to become a leading pastor of Georgia churches, a member of the State Baptist Executive Committee of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and chaplain of the Georgia House of Representatives.

W. Harvey Wages was born June 30, 1889 in Cedartown, Polk County, GA. Some time before 1907, the Wages came from Polk to Thomas County. On December 22, 1907, W. Harvey Wages married Eugenia Wilson  in Thomas County. She was born December 24, 1891.

By 1915 W. Harvey Wages had taken up the Baptist ministry in Thomas County, and in 1920 he was serving as pastor of the Baptist church in Pavo, GA. About 1921, Reverend Wages moved his family to Ray City, GA where he took over as pastor of the Ray City Baptist Church. Within a few months, he was also serving as pastor of the Milltown Baptist Church.

In October, 1922, Reverend Wages gave up the Ray City Baptist Church.

Atlanta Constitution
Oct 28, 1922 pg 6
Pastor Moves
    Milltown, Ga., October 26.-(Special.) – Rev. W. Harvey Wages, who resigned the pastorate of the Ray City Baptist church recently moved his  family here this week that he may be able more carefully to look after the Milltown church. Mr. Wages has been living in Ray City about a year, during which time he was pastor of the Baptist church there.  He has been pastor of the Baptist church in Milltown for several months. 

By 1923, Reverend Wages was also serving as pastor of the Stockton Baptist Church.  He continued to be quite active in many revivals throughout this section, as well as weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies. In 1923, Rev. Wages conducted a revival at Good Hope Baptist Church – Perry Thomas Knight had served as pastor of this church in 1909.

Atlanta Constitution
August 24, 1923 Pg 7

HOLD MANY REVIVALS NEAR MILLTOWN, GA

Milltown, Ga., August 23. — (special.)–The revival meeting season is still on in this section.
Rev. W. Harvey Wages, pastor of the local Baptist church, is conducting a revival meeting at Good Hope church in the southern part of Lanier county, near Naylor. Rev. Roy Powell, of Nashville, Ga., is the pastor of this church. The meeting began last Saturday and will go on through this week.


1923-milltown-weddings

 

September 29, 1923

Many Weddings in Milltown.

Milltown, Ga., September 29. – Mrs. Lula Sutton has announced the marriage of her daughter, Berta Sutton to Charles Ennis Vizant, of Jacksonville, Fla., which occurred some days ago at the home of her cousin, O. M. Cameron, the ceremony being performed by Rev. E.D. McDaniel of Avondale Baptist church, Jacksonville. Mr. and Mrs. Vizant are at home to their friend at 1546 Roselle street, Jacksonville, Fla.

The many friends of Miss Mary Knight, who is well known in this state will be interested in the announcement by her father and mother, Rev. and Mrs. L. J. Knight, of Milltown, Ga., that Rev. Dr. A. R. Faralane, of Kansas City, Mo. and Miss Mary Knight, of Milltown, Ga., late of Independence, Mo. were married at Independence, Mo., Friday, September 7.

Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Pierce, of East Lanier, announce the marriage of their daughter, Miss Bell Pierce to George Hires, of near Waycross, the ceremony being performed by Rev. W. Harvey Wages, of Milltown. They are living near Waycross.

Miss Audrey Nicholson, the attractive young daughter of Mr. John Nicholson, of Ousley, Ga., was married Sunday afternoon to Will Williams, of near Morven. The ceremony was performed by Rev. A. L. Colson, near Valdosta, being witnessed bu a few intimate friends. The young couple will make their home near Morven, in Brooks county.

 

1928-harold wages

– In 1928, Reverend W. Harvey Wages suffered the loss of his 11-year-old son, Harold Wages. The boy was buried at the New Shiloh Baptist Church cemetery,

June 9, 1928

Harold Wages Buried Near Thomasville, GA.

Thomasville, Ga., June 9. – Funeral services were held yesterday at New Shiloh Baptist Church, six miles north of Thomasville on the highway to Moultrie, for Harold Wages, 11-year-old son of Rev. and Mrs. W. Harvey Wages, who died Wednesday in Lithonia, Ga. Interment was in the church cemetery at New Shiloh.

Rev. Mr. Wages and his family resided here for some years, removing four years ago to Lithonia, where Mr. Wages is pastor of one of the churches. They have a number of relatives and friends in Thomas county and young Harold, when his family lived here, was popular with a large connection and regarded as a boy of many attractive qualities and fine intelligence. His death was the result of blood poisoning contracted only a few days before he died.

 

1915-jul-23-harvey-wages

Reverend W. Harvey Wages was active with the Masons, July 23, 1915.

July 23, 1915

Thomas County Masons Meet.

Thomasville, Ga., July 22. – (Special.) The Thomas county Masonic convention which met yesterday with the Coolidge lodge was greatly enjoyed by the large number of Masons in attendance from all of the various lodges throughout the county. The speech of welcome was made by the Rev. Harvey Wages, and other short talks were made by visitors from the different lodges.

The chief feature of the convention was the address of Congressman Frank Park, whose subject, “Masonry, Exposed,” was treated in an able manner.

After a big picnic dinner there was work during the afternoon in the various degrees.

Congressman Frank Park owned a large plantation in Worth County, and had been responsible for organizing the great Possum Banquet, with ‘taters and persimmon beer for President Taft in Atlanta in 1909.

Reverend W. Harvey Wages later served as pastor of Lynn Haven Baptist Church, Panama City, FL.  He died September 27, 1971.  He was buried at the Wilson Family Cemetery, Thomas County, Georgia, USA.  Eugenia Wilson Wages died  June 5, 1977 and was buried next to her husband.

Richard Seward Johnson ~ Ray City Farmer

Richard Seward Johnson (1855-1936)

Richard Seward Johnson. Image courtesy of Henry Aubrey Bullard. All rights reserved.

Richard Seward Johnson. Image courtesy of Henry Aubrey Bullard. All rights reserved.

 

Richard Seward Johnson, a son of Merritt H. Johnson (1814 – 1877) and Mary Ann Holland (1819 – 1894), was born about 1855.  His father, Merritt H. Johnson, was a farmer of Thomas County, GA who before the Civil War had $600 in real estate and $3453 in his personal estate. His father was not enlisted during the Civil War, instead appearing on the 1864 Census for Re-Organizing the Georgia Militia,   a statewide census of all white males between the ages of 16 and 60 who were not serving at that time.  Many of the men enumerated in this census were exempt from service, and Merritt H. Johnson may have been exempted on account of his age (50).

Richard Seward Johnson’s parents came from Johnston County, North Carolina to settle in Thomas County, GA some time before 1850, along with his maternal grandparents and many others of the Holland family connection. Enumerated in 1850 in Thomas County, GA and  in Colquitt County in 1860, his parents were apparently residing in that portion of Thomas County which was cut into Colquitt County in 1856.

Richard Seward Johnson left his parents’ household by the time he was 15, as indicated by his absence there in the Census of 1870.  He apparently made his way to Berrien County, GA where on April 28, 1878 he married Ida Isabelle Shaw.   She was a daughter of William Jasper Shaw and Elizabeth Wetherington, born on the first Christmas of the Civil War, December 25, 1861.

Marriage certificate of Richard Seward Johnson and Ida Shaw

Marriage certificate of Richard Seward Johnson and Ida Shaw

By 1878 Richard Johnson owned 100 acres of lot 498, 10th Land District on the south side of the Ray’s Mill community, 1144 GMD. This land was valued at $300, and another 50 acres valued at $300 were in Mary Ann Johnson’s name. Together, they owned $70 in household furnishings, $259 in livestock, $70 in books and tools. Another 100 acres of Lot 498 was listed as the property of Jerry R. Johnson.  Jonathan Knight held an adjacent plantation of some 12oo acres on lots 497, 496 and 517. Other neighbors included Thomas S. Murphy on portions of lots 497 and 498,  Marcus Giddens on portions of lot 497,  Senator Jonathan E. Bryant on Lot 515, Green Bullard on lot 469,  and James M. Baskin owned lots 470 and 471.

From the 1879 tax records it appears that most of Mary’s acreage had been transferred to Richard. Mary was not listed as a property owner, whereas Richard was shown with 140 acres on Lot 498, valued at $600. His brother, James R. Johnson had also acquired 100 acres of Lot 498.  His father-in-law, William J. Shaw had acquired 310 acres on portions of Lot 499 and 514.  Jeremiah Shaw owned portions of Lots 499 and 500. Another 220 acres of lot 498 belonged to Thomas S. Murphy.  Moses H. Giddens was on a 250 acre portion of Lot 497, James M. Baskin continued on lots 470 and 471, and Jonathan Knight maintained his extensive plantation on adjacent lots.

In 1880, Richard S. Johnson had 140 and James R. Johnson 110 acres on Lot 498.  Moses H. Giddens on was on parts of 497, Thomas S. Murphy on portions of 497 and 498, William J. Shaw on portions of 499 and 514, and James M. Baskin owned lots 470 and 471.

For the  about the next 50 years, Richard Seward Johnson and his bride raised children and crops at Ray City, GA.

  1. William Cauley Johnson (1879 – 1958) married Rosa Lena Knight
  2. Florence Johnson (1881 – 1969) married Johnnie S. Peters
  3. Mary Johnson (1882 – 1914 ) married  Henry Needham Bullard (1878 – 1938)  on May 26,  1901 in Berrien Co., GA.
  4. Bessie Johnson (1885 – 1980) married Joseph B. Patten (1887 – 1971) on February 12, 1910
  5. Lillie Johnson (1886 – 1963) married Charlie Register who served as minister of Cat Creek Church
  6. Manning Filmore Johnson (1890 – 1967) married Marie Lola Carter
  7. Manson Lowndes Johnson (1890 – 1975)
  8. Ida Bell Johnson (1894 – )

Ida Isabell Shaw Johnson died January 4, 1927 at Ray City, Berrien County, GA.  She was buried at Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.  Richard Seward Johnson died in 1936 and was buried at Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.

 

Final Report of General Julius C. Alford on Actions at the Little River and at Grand Bay, August, 1836

As described in previous posts, the July,1836 actions against Indians in this immediate area (Skirmish at William Parker’s Place and the Battle of Brushy Creek) were preceded and somewhat precipitated by the Indian uprising at Roanoke, GA (May 15, 1836) and the Battle of Chickasawhatchee Swamp (June 3, 1836).

In August, 1836 subsequent local actions were fought  along Warrior Creek, Little River, Alapaha River and at Cow Creek. Levi J. Knight, and other pioneer settlers of Berrien and Lowndes counties, participated in these actions.

The following is the official report of Major Julius C. Alford, addressed to General John W. A. Sanford,  describing these events, which occurred  from August 5 to August 25, 1836:

Federal Union
September 13, 1836

CREEK CAMPAIGN
Lumpkin, August 25, 1836

Major Generel John W. A. Sanford:

Sir – After your departure from Baker county, I continued to scour the swamp and executed the order left by you, for the removal of the troops to the head of Spring creek. Captain [Michael] Hentz’s in obedience to your order, charging him specially with reduction of the Indians fought by me on the fifth of this month, continued his pursuit of their trail to Flint river, where they crossed, near Newton. He sent me back an express stating the fact. In the mean time, I had the same day I received the express from Hentz, before the express arrived, gone in company with Mr. Tompkins and Howard of Baker county, and a considerable number of my own men, and pursued the trail of the Indians from near my battle ground, to where they crossed Spring creek, near where it runs into Chickasahatchie; we found the trail so much larger than we expected, that all expressed astonishment at the fact, that I should have believed I fought only sixty or eighty Indians, as you recollect I verbally reported to you at the time. Who could have induced you to think, general, that there were only fifteen or twenty? I cannot imagine, or is it a matter of any moment. I only mention the fact to correct it, believing as I do, that you would be gratified to know the truth. I requested Mr. Tompkins, Howard, and Greer, with others, to count the principal entering places of the trail as the Indians went into the creek, and there were twelve different trails of at least an average of ten track to a trail, where they crossed. Convinced of the fact, that Hentz was pursuing a body of Indians he could not conquer, I at once determined to follow him and overtake him if possible, although he had been gone several days. On my return to camp, and while I was stating the facts to my officers, his express arrived; it was near night. I issued my order for captains Greer and [Robert H.] Sledge, to prepare to march early next morning. They done so.

We set off on the tenth of this month, went thirty-five miles that night to West’s, near where the Indians had robbed a house on the line of Baker and Thomas counties: here we were joined by captain Everett and his company from Decatur county. We could get no pilot. There were but few people living in the settlement. Mr. West was so much alarmed, he could not tell us the way to his son-in-law’s house, two miles off, the one that was robbed. We started on the eleventh [Aug 11, 1836], as early as we could see, and found our way to the house. – Here we took the trail of a company of horsemen, who had gone up north, to a station, instead of Hentz’s trail, and went twenty miles out of our way. Finding we were wrong, and fearing we should not be able to right ourselves in time to overtake Hentz, I ordered captain Sledge to return to camp Alford. With captains Greer and Everett, and their companies, we took the general course of the Indians, and fortunately landed at night in half a mile of the right trail, but unfortunately only ten miles from where we started; here we camped at a deep steep creek, which I called camp Greer, in honor of my officer, who had that day, when the hope of overtaking the Indians was very faint, still resolved to follow me, if I continued to go ahead. Hentz was a long ways ahead, but so soon as the sign was right, we pursued him with all possible speed. On the 12th we passed two of the Indian camps and several large creeks, the head waters of the Oakalockney [Ochlockonee] and the Okapilca [Okapilco]; joined today by captain Newman and his company from Thomas county. Force increasing, trail warm, men ardent, all anxious for battle. About 3 o’clock in the evening, we saw before us, a house with many people all seemed to be greatly excited; at our approach and when we were still far off, I mentioned to our boys, that from the strange appearance of things all was not right; we galloped up, and the first to salute us was one of captain Hentz’s men, badly wounded. He informed us, that at eleven o’clock that day, they had attacked the enemy in a branch and had been compelled to retreat: the battle ground was four miles off, and captain Hentz, after being reinforced, had gone back about two hours, to try it again. —  Hentz’s defeat, with the sight of his wounded men, created a great sensation in our ranks.– All the men and officers manifested the most ardent wish to retrieve the fortunes of the day and punish the enemy; we strained our horses to the battle ground; the Indians had gone and Hentz after them; we pursued them till night, camped at Fulsom’s [James Folsom’s Place]; heard of Hentz two miles ahead. After we camped, I procured a pilot and found his camp — his men manifested great joy at my arrival, and truly, general, if there was any fight in me, I felt it then. The cowards that had refused to fight that day, had all run home, and here were a few brave fellow encamped near the enemy, mortified at defeat, swearing they would whip the enemy or die in the attempt; the citizens who had joined them in the day, had left them at night; it was now dark and getting late in the night. I ordered them to remain in the morning, until I came up, and returned to my camp. The story of the fight is easily told. The Indians seeing they would be overtaken by captain Hentz, had formed an extended line in a small branch swamp, where two branches ran together, making a narrow swamp of thick bushes, nearly in the shape of a half circle, with an one pine woods to enter it. The line, if straight, would (in the language of all that gave an opinion) have been at least five hundred yards long: of course, as is usual with them, they were in open order to extend their flanks. Their number of warriors must have been at least eighty strong, with the advantage of the cover of the branch swamp, their pick of the ground and superior numbers. That portion of captain Hentz’s company that would fight, could not maintain their ground. — The brave Tinsley, (our pilot in Chickasahatchie, [Chickasawhatchee Swamp] and those that fought with him, were compelled to retreat, after having five men badly wounded. Their number was about thirty, as well as I could learn, and I would mention every name if I could do so, without leaving out any, but I do not know them all, and therefore had better not undertake it, least some brave fellow might have his feelings wounded, by not being known. The balance of the command run and never came back. At three o’clock on the 13th, I was on my horse, with my command; we came up to Hentz’s command before light, on the banks of the Withlacoochy [Withlacoochee River] proper, here called Little river, the eastern branch being called Withlacoochy improperly, (see map of Georgia,) I kept my command in the rear some distance, and so soon as we could see the trail, sent Hentz’s company in pursuit, hoping the Indians would recognize them, and not seeing us, would fight again — we followed near enough to be ready in that event to help. The night before, the enemy had crossed the river, killed two beeves and recrossed and camped on the same side with Hentz, in the river swamp; we of course lost much time in trailing them, on their fox like chase. About ten o’clock, we received news of them going down the river on the west side; we strained off after them, crossed at a bridge where they had just passed. Several companies had now joined us, (to wit.) captains Night [Levi J. Knight],  [John J.] Pike, [Benjamin] Grantham, Burnett and many citizens without officers. The people of Lowndes and Thomas counties, are a gallant set of men, and acted most promptly indeed, submitted themselves to my command most cheerfully, and acted with us like good citizens ought to do, when their country is invaded. Major [Enoch] Hall and [Henry S.] Strickland and colonel [Henry] Blair of Lowndes county was in the field. The pursuit was bold and impetuous. The Indians entered the river swamp about four miles below the bridge, where it is wide and deep; not knowing our ground, we followed on horseback, on the trail made by their horses, (the had stolen three horses the night before the battle with Hentz, and captured eight from his company in the fight.) The Indians crossed the Withlacoochy [Withlacoochee] in the swamp, where there was no ford; so did we.

They penetrated the very thickest parts of the swamp, in hopes to hide; we followed there; they crossed deep Lagoons, which by the time we came along, had no bottom; we floated our horses over after them; finally our advance, and announced the fact that we had overtaken them. I ordered the men to dismount and charge — when we came up, the Indians had thrown away their clothes and provisions and abandoned their horses, and fled in every direction; we retook the horses taken from captain Hentz’s men, as well as from the citizens, and returned them to their owners. The soldiers done what they pleased with the plunder. We could not pursue the enemy any further now: they had scattered and run off in the swamp in every direction, we hunted for them in vain until night — camped at Mr. Vicker’s. The soldiers and citizens put up at houses nearest the swamp; nothing to eat today for man or horse. Today, the 14th, captain Greer and his company rested. I pressed a fresh horse, and with my friend Graves, who never tires, I went back to the swamp, arranged the various companies who had repaired to scour the swamp. Today Capt. [James A.] Newman’s company came upon the rear, or flank guard of the Indians, and in sight of one of their warriors, fired eight or ten guns after him as he run, do not know whether he was hit or not — could see no more of them today. Determined never to desist so long as there was any hope, I issued my order for all to lie as near the swamp as possible, for hunger forced them to go some where to get something to eat, and to be at the swamp by sunrise, and all that were not there by one hour by sun, not to come at all — the order was promptly obeyed and captain Greer’s company and all the other companies were there at the appointed time; we rushed into the swamp, and after plunging for an hour, we heard guns fires at our horses; we supposed at once that the Indians had made an attack on the guard left to take care of the horses; I ordered every man to rush the spot, and on arriving, an express was the occasion of the firing, with information that the Indians were seen that morning four miles below, going towards grand bay, on the eastern branch of Withlocoochy [Withlacoochee River]. We pursued at the top speed of our horses — just before we came to the place where they were seen, there came upon us a heavy thunder shower, and we could not trail them well. I am of the opinion they had separated to meet at grand bay, a most extensive and impenetrable swamp, in the direction of Oakafonokee [Okefenokee] swamp. By the aid of several good trailers, we pursued their sign with much difficulty to the river, and saw where a few of them had crossed, but never could trail them any further that day. All agreed that if they got to grand bay, we could not drive for them successfully, and the citizens urged upon us to desist, and let them watch for their march from the swamp and cut them off between there and Oakafonokee [Okefenokee], be that when it might.  I gave up the chase and returned to Roundtree’s house, where I was kindly treated in my most exhausted and debilitated condition.  My staff was with me — captain Greer was at Hall’s several miles on our return march. In two nights and a whole day, I had one cup of coffee only, my men were but little better off. General, I done all, and suffered all that man can do and suffer, to crush the cruel and the cowardly savage, but I could not make them fight. I left them on the further bank of the distance Withlacoochy [Withlacoochee] bending their course toward the dismal Oakafonokee [Okefenokee] — where captain Night [Levi. J. Knight] of Lowndes county, informed me he believed all that had succeeded in escaping had concentrated, preparatory to their removal to Florida; he is a man of good sense and great energy, and I rely much upon his opinion; indeed, from all that I can learn, I am deliberately of opinion, that not one Indian has gone to Florida. The squaws I have with me informed the people at Thomasville, that the Indians would stop in Oakafonokee [Okefenokee] two moons, and then go to Florida in a body, and I learned in Lowndes, that the signs around the swamp are fresh and infallible. In anticipation of your order, I brought the Indians prisoners with me, on my return march, and met your express at camp. There are thirty-one women and children. Eighteen were taken at the battle of Brushy creek, in Lowndes county, where the men and officers who fought them, distinguished themselves. — These were Beall’s Indians. This battle has been reported in the newspapers, with the officers who commanded. Captain Snelly [Samuel E. Swilley] from Lowndes, with sixteen men, captured on the Allapahaw [Alapaha River] three prisoners and killed ten Indians. Captain Browning of a station in the upper part of Thomas county, captured ten women and children, out of the company of Indians pursued by captain Kendrick. The warriors of this party we could hear of, on our march to our left, pursuing the same general course with all the other Indians I have heard of. These together, composed the party of prisoners in my possession, which will be sent on towards Fort Mitchell this evening. On returning to my camp in Baker, I found that we had left no Indians behind us, and none have come in during our absence. I herewith transmit a certificate of the citizens of Baker county, that the swamps are now more clear of Indians, than they have been for five years. Under this state of affairs, I have left Camp Alford and marched to Lumpkin, preparatory to our being discharged. I am gratified, general, that my battalion has effected at the point of the bayonet, what heretofore no array of force, or parade of men could otherwise accomplish, the total expulsion of the Indians from Chickasahatchie swamp. Our time is nearly out; we now believe we have no more work to do. The opinion is now predicated upon good evidence, and we hope you will order us up immediately and discharge us. We have today, to bury one of the best citizens of Troup county, who died of congestive fever yesterday, Mr. Brittian Evans, a man of great merit at home as well as in camp. Before I close this my final report to you, permit me to make one suggestion. The frontier of Georgia will now be changed from Alabama to Florida. The war in Florida this winter will send the Indians back upon the people of Lowndes, Thomas, Irwin and the other southern counties. Our State ought to prepare for her defense in time, and prevent a useles sacrifice of the lives and property of our gallant brethren of that portion of our State. I forgot to mention that in driving the swamp, we cut off an aged Indian warrior from a body of his people, and in attempting to get round us to rejoin them, he passed a house in the neighborhood, and was there shot and killed by some boys, very much to the honor of these little warriors. I herewith transmit captain Kendrick’s report, of this operations on the trail you ordered him to pursue. Great Briton  In closing this communication, general, you will permit me to subscribe myself your friend and obedient servant,

JULIUS C. ALFORD,
Maj. Com. 3d Battalion mounted men.

Col. Thomas E. Blackshear’s Report on the Battle of Brushy Creek

Col. Thomas Edward Blackshear

Col. Thomas Edward Blackshear made an official report to Governor Schley about the engagement between whites and Indians that took place on Brushy Creek on July 14, 1836 in what is now Cook County, GA  but at that time in Lowndes County.  Image source:  http://thomascountyhistory.org/antebellum-1825-1860/

Col. Thomas Edward Blackshear made an official report to Governor Schley about the engagement between whites and Indians that took place on Brushy Creek on July 14, 1836 in what is now Cook County, GA but at that time in Lowndes County. Image source: http://thomascountyhistory.org/antebellum-1825-1860/

Historian Folks Huxford said the Battle of Brushy Creek was, “An engagement between the whites and Indians took place on Brushy Creek in what is now Cook County  but at that time (1836) in Lowndes County.  This battleground is well known locally in Cook and Berrien counties and the whites consisted of the settlers who were serving in the militia, most of them living within 20 of 25 miles of where the battle took place.”

The Battle of Brushy Creek, GA in the summer of 1836 was part of the larger conflict between the Creek Indians and pioneer settlers of the Georgia frontier. Lasa Adams, who joined the Thomas county Militia in 1836 the week after the engagement at Brushy Creek, gave this synopsis of the escalation:

Mr. Adams gave a different origin of the War of 1836 than that generally understood, and wrote thus:  “The Government was to send the Indians west; between three and five hundred of them were dissatisfied with the treaty and withdrew and though they would go and unite with the Seminoles in Florida near Tampa Bay; so they started and crossed over the Chattahoochee River and burned up a town called Roanoke, Georgia. The whites formed companies and went in pursuit and had a fight with them in Chickasawhatchee Swamp near Albany.  The Indians were scattered and between 100 and 300 were in the gang in the Brushy Creek battle.  Several more small squads went through the country, from fifteen to twenty in the squad, each in a different direction.”

A more immediate and local prelude to the Brushy Creek battle was the Skirmish at William Parker’s place on the Alapaha River, where Levi J. Knight’s company of militia fought  with Indians on July 13, 1836.  Knight’s company then marched toward Brushy Creek to join with militia companies there under the leadership of Major Michael Young (Thomas County),  Capt. James A. Newman (Thomas County),  Capt. John Pike (Lowndes County), Capt. Hamilton Sharpe (Lowndes County), and Capt. Henry Crawford Tucker. By the time Knight’s Company arrived at Brushy Creek, the fighting there had concluded and the burial of the dead (Pennywell Folsom) was in progress.  Levi J. Knight’s official letter informing Governor Schley about the Skirmish at William Parker’s place was transcribed in a previous post; Levi J. Knight Reports Indian Fight of July 13, 1836.

The  official report of the Battle of Brushy Creek was written by Col. Thomas E. Blackshear in a letter (transcribed below) to Governor William Schley on July 19, 1836, just days after the engagement was fought.

Col. Thomas E. Blackshear's letter to Governor Schley reporting the Battle of Brushy Creek.

Col. Thomas E. Blackshear’s letter to Governor Schley reporting the Battle of Brushy Creek.

Milledgeville Federal Union
July 26, 1836

INDIANS IN THOMAS COUNTY

The following is a copy of a letter received by the Governor, on the 24th instant.

“His Excellency, Governor Schley,

“I have to inform your Excellency that on the night of the 11th inst., authentic information reached Thomasville that a party of Indians about fifteen in number were seen in the upperpart of Thomas County marching in the direction of Florida.  By seven o’clock A. M. the next day, a company of men, forty-six in number, under the command of captain James A. Newman, was dispatched in pursuit of them. On Thursday thereafter, this company was joined by a company of about forty men from Lowndes County under the command of captain [John] Pike, when the companies elected Michael Young to take command of the battalion.

“Scouting parties being dispatched, the Indians, fifteen in number, were discovered in the fork of the Big Warrior creek and Little River.  The Battalion immediately proceeded across the River and scoured a very thick, muddy swamp about two miles wide and three long without making any discovery.  A company of thirty-one men from Thomas County under the command of  Captain Luckee  and of thirty-one men, from Lowndes, commanded by Captain  [Hamilton W] Sharpe then joined the battalion. The next morning Captain Sharpe was sent up the east side of the river to ascertain whether or not the Indians had crossed the river and left the swamp.  Having found their trail he dispatched a messenger to the Battalion and proceeded to follow after the Indians.  After pursuing them about three miles he came up with them, about sixty warriors and their families, a battle ensued in which he lost one killed (Mr. P. Folsom) and one wounded when he was forced to retreat.

“The Battalion hastened to his assistance, and in about three miles came up with them again, posted in a very advantageous position on a pine ridge, their rear protected by a cypress pond and in their front a wide, open, boggy meadow.  A general engagement commenced about 9 o’clock A. M., and after a severe fight for about two hours, the Indians were completely routed, with a loss of twenty-two Indians and two negroes killed, that were seen, many wounded and eighteen of the women and children were taken prisoners.–

“The battle was fought over a distance of three miles, through several cypress ponds and bays and a very thick hurricane.  The loss on the part of the whites were two killed (Barton Ferrell of Thomas county and Edmund Shanks of Lowndes,) and nine wounded.  Several horses were killed, several ran off during the engagement and have not since been heard of.  The prisoners have been confined in the county jail under a guard for their safety.  Your Excellency will please direct what disposition to make of them.  The expenses of the detachment will be furnished you as soon as the Quartermaster can make out his account.”

Your’s Respectfully,

THOMAS E. BLACKSHEAR
Colonel commanding 69th R.G.M.

Lasa Adams, who joined the Thomas county Militia the week after the engagement at Brushy Creek listed among the wounded “Daniel McLean of Thomasville, William Drew of Lowndes (now Brooks), James Blackshear of Thomas County, Capt. Charles Screven Gaulden of Lowndes (now Brooks), and Robert N. Parrish of Lowndes (now Cook) County. Mr. Adams could not recall the others who were wounded, saying they were from Lowndes County and he did not know them personally.  Mr. Adams said the Indians who were captured were kept in jail at Thomasville about a month and then sent west.  He said there were eight or ten women and children.”

Related Posts:

Lasa Adams’ Account of the Battle of Brushy Creek and Actions on Warrior Creek

Lasa Adams (1811-1894)

Grave of Lasa Adams, Bethel Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Brooks County, GA

Grave of Lasa Adams, Bethel Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Brooks County, GA.  Image source: Robert Strickland

Lasa Adams  [sometimes referred to as Lacy Adams] was born May 13, 1811, in Georgia, a son of Dennis Adams. While yet a boy, his parents moved first to Alabama then to Gadsden County, FL, where he grew to manhood on a frontier still troubled by conflict with Native Americans who resisted being displaced from their ancestral lands.

According to William Harden’s History of Savannah and South Georgia, Lasa Adam’s  father established the family homestead in Gadsden County, FL:

 “Dennis Adams located near the present site of Wakena, Gadsden county, becoming one of the original settlers of that locality. His brother-in-law, a Mr. Carr, located on a tract of land two miles away. Indians were then very troublesome in that locality, and one night when Mr. Carr and his wife were away from home raided his place, and brutally massacred their two children. A slave made his escape to the Adams farm, and told Mr. Adams the tale, and Mr. Adams sent to Thomasville, Georgia, for aid. The following night the red skins paid a visit to the Adams cabin. The family were well prepared, and after several of the Indians had been killed the remainder retreated.”

It was around 1834 that Lasa Adams came to Thomas County, GA and on December 1, 1834 he married Sarah Wooten, daughter of Redden Wooten of the Tallokas district (territory now in Brooks). Another of Wooten’s daughters married Morgan G. Swain, who owned a hotel at Troupville, GA.

“Lasa Adams was young when the family came from Florida to Georgia to escape the malignant attacks of the Indians, although many red skins were then living in this vicinity, the dense forests being their happy hunting ground. The few daring white people of the county built a strong log fort to which the women and children were sent when ever trouble with the savages was brewing, and he immediately joined the company formed for protection against their raids, and took part, in 1836, in the battle of Brushy creek, when the Indians made their last stand in Georgia.”

Lasa Adams left this area in the 1850s to make his home in Florida, but not long before his death June 17, 1894, he returned to Brooks County after an absence of forty years.  On May 5, 1893 Lasa Adams,  responded to a questionnaire by William T. Gaulden about the Battle of Brushy Creek.  Although he joined the militia the week after the battle was fought, he was intimately familiar with the participants and subsequent engagements against the Indians.

Mr. Adams recalled that the Indians were Cherokees who were fleeing “to the Seminoles in Florida, near Tampa Bay” to escape the forced relocation to western territories.  Adams questioned the purported force of Indians ranging through the district that July of 1836 “estimated to be 300, but I have my doubts. I think 150 would be a fair count. About 300 men were after Indians but only about one hundred were in the battle,” which took place “about the 12th or 13th of July, about 10 or 11 o’clock a.m.” and lasted about two hours.

The engagement at Brushy Creek was fought under the leadership of Major Michael Young (Thomas County),  Capt. James A. Newman (Thomas County),  Capt. John Pike (Lowndes County), Capt. Hamilton Sharpe (Lowndes County), and Capt. Henry Crawford Tucker.  (Captain Levi J. Knight  (Lowndes County) and his company of arrived just after the conclusion of the battle, coming straight from a skirmish with a squad of Indians at William Parkers place in eastern Lowndes County.)

Adams gives an accounting of those killed at Brushy Creek, listing the dead as Pennywell Folsom and Edward Shanks, of Lowndes County, and a man from Thomas County, Gabe Ferrill, who is variously identified in other accounts as Bartow Ferrell or Burton Ferrell. (A Berton Ferrel also appears in the 1830 census of Thomas County). Among the wounded were Captain Charles Screven Gaulden, Lowndes County;  Daniel McClane, Thomasville, GA; William Drew, Lowndes county; James Blackshear, Thomas county; Robert Parrish, Lowndes County. (To this list of wounded Norman Campbell, who also completed a questionnaire, added Agnes McCauley,  Malcolm McLane, Monroe,  and Edward M. Henderson.  Edward Marion Henderson, who was then Sheriff of Lowndes County, GA died on July 20 as a result of his injuries.)

The story of how Pennywell Folsom fell at Brushy Creek was posted previously.  According to Ferrell family research, a brief note on the death of Burton Ferrell appeared in the Milledgeville Southern Recorder a few days after the incident.

Milledgeville Southern Recorder
Tuesday August 2, 1836

KILLED…. On Friday the 15th ultimo in the county of Lowndes, BURTON FERRELL of the county of Thomas, was killed in battle with a band of Creek Indians. It is not the intention of the writer to eulogize the deceased, but this much it is considered necessary to say, that Mr. Ferrell was brave almost to a fault; for he refused to take shelter which the trees might have afforded him in the fight, and rushed fearlessly in the front of the company, and was shot through the body at the first fire of the enemy.

Adams noted that among the Indians, those killed  at Brushy Creek were “about 15 or twenty, including women and children” and captured were “eight to ten women and children…no men taken.”  These prisoners were taken to Thomasville, GA where they were held about a month before being sent west.

Following the Battle of Brushy Creek,  Lasa Adams was drafted to serve in a Thomas County company under Captain Grantham in further actions against the Indians on Warrior Creek.  The local militia was joined on August 12, 1836 by forces of General Julius C. Alford, who had pursued the Indians from the Alabama border above Chickasawhatchee Swamp north of Albany, GA. General Alford assumed command of the combined forces which by now included Capt. Grantham’s company as well as the companies of Capt. Pike, Capt. Newman, Capt. Burnett, and Captain Levi J. Knight. Following the advice of Captain Knight, their goal was to prevent the Indians from reaching Grand Bay, near present day Ray City, GA, and thus cut off their rendezvous with the force of Indians gathering in the Okefenokee Swamp.

In August of 1836 the Georgia newspapers were full of celebratory news of victory over the Indians in engagements all across the state. From the perspective of half a century of reflection on the conflict, Adams offered “My opinion is the whites were in the wrong.”

Lasa Adam’s  responses to the questionnaire on Indian Times, along with his sketch (provided below) of his service in Captain Benjamin Grantham’s company of Thomas County militia during the 1836 Indian War, was posthumously published in the Valdosta Times, November 16, 1895.  Adams describes how  his company came to the aid of a  Company of men, who were the advance force of General Alford.  Adams variously refers to the captain of this company as  Captain Hawthorne, Hatthorn or Haththorn.  Undoubtedly, he is actually referring to Captain Michael Hentz, and his Company of Baker County Militia  who was operating under the orders of General at the time and place described.

“Government let out Indian Claims at Cherokee, Georgia, and were to send them out west. Between 3 and 5 hundred were dissatisfied with the treaty made with the chief – and they withdrew and thought they would go and unite with the Seminoles in Florida near Tampa Bay. So they started and crossed over the Chattahoochee River and burned up a town called Roanoak, Georgia. The whites formed companies and went in pursuit of them, and had a fight in Chickasawhatchee Swamp above Albany. Indians were scattered and between 100 and 300 were in the gang that was in the Brushy creek battle. Several more small squads went through the country from 15 to 20 in squads, in different directions.

At Brushy Creek, Capt. Scriven Gaulden had a company from Lowndes county, Col. Mike Young from Thomas county, Capt. Hamilton Sharp of Lowndes county, Georgia.

They all united, and Capt. Scriven Gaulden led the front guards to battle and made the attack on Indians at Brushy creek and then the fight commenced. Captain Scriven Gaulden was hit by three balls from Indian guns only one took effect  right cheek “I think,” one passed through his hat, one hit his pistol in pants pocket (pistol saved his life.) Several more were slightly wounded but don’t remember the names of none, as they were from Lowndes county and strangers to me. All Indians not killed and captured kept their course for Tampa, Fla.

In about a week or so after the Brushy creek battle, I was drafted together with 30 or 40 more men, and Capt. Grantham was elected our captain. We were ordered up on the Warrior creek, as squads of Indians were continually passing down that creek. One day while on a scout we heard guns firing. Capt. Grantham ordered a force march and we went as quick as he could in order, and when we got nearly to the place Capt. Hawthorne had followed a squad of Indians from above Albany and had attacked them, and the Indians had whipped him out and he was retreating and the Indians had captured six horses from his men.

Then Capt. Grantham, with his men and a few of Capt. Hatthorn’s pursued the Indians and run them in the Little River swamp near James Rountree’s place in Lowndes county (now Cook), and we had to stop, as night overtook us. We camped over the other side of the river, expecting the Indians to come through next morning. That night Buckston, Ison Vaun and myself were detailed to go to Capt. Hatthorn and tell him to come down and draw supplies at Lawrence Folsom’s place. We returned from Capt. Haththorn’s to our camp, and we received news that Indians had gone across the river that night. The Indians had used a little stratagem to fool us. They made a display that night with torch lights as if they were going across the river, so next morning we had to go back to Capt. Haththorn to carry the news that Indians had crossed the river, and about daylight as we were on our way to carry the news we discovered Indians jumping over the road to keep from making any sign, and they were going down the river. So we returned to our camp and reported what we had seen and Capt. Grantham ordered a force march to a ferry three miles below on the river, expecting to head them off, but they had beat us to the ferry and kept down the river swamp. We struck their trail and followed them down the swamp near Maj. Simmon’s plantation and pushed them so close that the Indians took into the swamp and we recaptured the six horses taken from Capt. Haththorn’s men. That night General Aulford [Julius C. Alford] came to us with 30 or 40 men and took command of the forces. A good many volunteered and joined us. Gen. Aulford ordered all the men to string across the river 20 yards apart and drive up, as we had got ahead of the Indians. We had gone about one mile up the river when the Indians used another trick to draw us off. The Indians were seen in Jones’ peach orchard on one side of the rive and in John Blacksher’s peach orchard on the other side. They were fired at by scouts at long range in John Blackshear’s orchard. This shooting frustrated our drive up the river, and we made for Blackshear’s.  A little Indian girl about eight or ten years of age went next day to the house of James Williams and Mrs. Williams was at the wash tub washing. The little girl went and put her hands in the tub before Mrs. Williams saw her, and like to have frightened Mrs. Williams to death. Mrs. Williams kept the little girl and raised her and sent her to school and she married a man by the name of Artley. This was another one of their tricks, sending the child in to make us believe they were in that neighborhood.

General Aulford went over the river after the squad in Jones’ peach orchard, and I never saw him in about two weeks. We were ordered back to the Warriors and General Aulford followed Indians down in Florida and the Indians went into the Okeefenokee Swamp and he gave them up. 

I think that was the last squad that passed through. If any more passed, the squads were so small they made no signs and did not bother anyone.

Lasa Adams.”

Additional Notes about Lasa Adams:

“Lasa Adams bought land in what is now the Tallokas district, Brooks county, and engaged in farming. He married Sarah Wooten on December 1, 1834 in Thomas County, GA. There was one son born to that marriage, Dennis R. W. Adams, born 1839.

“There being no railways in the state all transportation was by teams, and after his land became productive he used to take his cotton to Newport, Florida, going in company with several of his neighbors, some of whom perhaps lived miles away from him, each man taking provisions with him, and camping and cooking by the wayside.”

After the death of his first wife, Mr. Adams married Miss Orpha Lee Holloway, born 1825, youngest daughter of William and Orpha Holloway who were among of the very first settlers of what is now Brooks county.  This marriage took place April 17, 1842. There were four children by the second wife:

  1. Rhoda Ann Adams, born 1843, married William Hurst of Brooks County, GA.
  2. Jane Irene Adams, born 1845, married J. M. Yates of Brooks County, GA.
  3. James C. Adams, born 1850, married Mary Holman of Jefferson County, FL.
  4. Cason F. Adams,  born 1852, married Texas Smith, daughter of J. R. M. Smith.

Lasa Adams was elected Sheriff of Thomas County in 1842 but resigned a few months after assuming office.

Lasa Adams Sheriff's Sale, 1842

Lasa Adams Sheriff’s Sale, 1842. [Note: This legal advertisement appeared in the Milledgeville Southern Recorder, Mar. 29, 1842 – the date printed in the ad is typo.

During his short term as Sheriff of Thomas County, one task Lasa Adams dealt with was the sale of two town lots in Troupville, and other goods, to satisfy a debt owed by Joseph S. Burnett and Hiram Hall to Bazzel Kornegay, of Thomas County

In 1852, Lasa Adams returned to Florida:

“In 1852, Lasa Adams sold his Brooks county land, moved to Florida, locating in Madison county, where he purchased a squatter’s claim to a tract of government land situated about sixteen miles northeast of Monticello, and about the same distance northwest of Madison. A few acres had been cleared, and a log cabin had been erected. He continued the improvements, and there carried on general farming for some time. In 1864 he enlisted in the Florida Reserves, and continued in the Confederate service until the close of the war, when he again assumed charge of his farm. Selling out in 1870, he was for four years a resident of Jefferson county, Florida. Coming from there to Thomas county, Georgia, he bought land three miles south of Boston, and was there employed in tilling the soil for many years. Shortly before his death, which occurred in  1894, he returned to Brooks county, Georgia, and there spent his last days, passing away at the venerable age of eighty-three years.”

Lasa Adams was buried at Bethel Primitive Baptist Church cemetery. His second wife (Orpha Lee Holloway) died September 28, 1887, and is also buried at Bethel.

Related Posts:

Lasa Adams account of the Battle of Brushy Creek, Lowndes County, GA

Lasa Adams account of the 1836 Battle of Brushy Creek, Lowndes County, GA

Mary & Saunto Sollami Buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery

As mentioned in previous posts, Mary Elizabeth Lee, daughter of  William D. “Bill” Lee and Mollie Bell Clements  of Ray City,  married Saunto Richard Sollami.   The Sollamis made their home in Thomasville, GA.

Mary Lee Sollami died  December 1,  1993 in Thomas County, GA.  Saunto Richard Sollami died December 6, 2003.   The are both interred at Ray City in Beaver Dam Cemetery, in the Lee family plot. Also buried at Beaver Dam is their infant son, born January 3, 1945.

Gravemarker of Mary Lee Sollami (1915 -1993), Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Gravemarker of Mary Lee Sollami (1915 -1993), Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

In memory of Saunto Richard Sollami (1919-2003), Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

In memory of Saunto Richard Sollami (1919-2003), Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Infant son of Richard and Mary E. Lee Sollami, Jan 3, 1945. Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Infant son of Richard and Mary E. Lee Sollami, Jan 3, 1945. Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Francis Marion Shaw and the Wrought Iron Range

In 1884 or early 1885 a traveling salesman for the Wrought Iron Range Company was working through his territory in Wiregrass Georgia. Apparently sales were brisk for he was closing deals in Irwin, Decatur, Mitchell, Colquitt, Worth, Thomas and Berrien counties.  One Berrien County customer was Francis Marion Shaw, long time resident of the Ray City, Georgia area.         
Wrought Iron Range Salesman, circa 1890

Wrought Iron Range Salesman, circa 1890

In the Feb 24, 1885 edition of the Milledgeville Union & Recorder, F.M. Shaw of Berrien County was listed among those giving testimonial to the purchase of a “Home Comfort” Wrought Iron Range

WROUGHT IRON
COOKING RANGES.

We the undersigned citizens of the following counties have each purchased Wrought Iron Ranges and cheerfully add our testimony to that of many others as to their superiority and excellence in every respect over any other stove we have ever seen or tried. These ranges take less fuel and cook quicker and more thoroughly than any cooking apparatus now made. The are cleanly, economical and durable, and in our opinion their equal has never been made and the superior never will be. We recommend these ranges to our fellow citizens, feeling sure that should they become purchasers, they and their families will be thoroughly pleased, and never regret having bought a “Home Comfort” Wrought Iron Range.
———-

Irwin Co.
Wm. Granthon   Dan Tucker
M.T Palk       Mrs. R. Palk
H. Harper      G.J. Harper
W.A. Mobley    A.E.M. Lord
Robt. Fussell  Wm. Pridgen
M. Dixon       C. Chancey
J.M. Barnes    S.P. Troupe
John Clemants  Isaac Gibbs
W.E. Fletcher  M.D. Luke
J.D. Rogers    J.S. Boberts
Thomas Gibbs  
COLQUITT CO.
O.N. Flours      S.S. May
G.A. Hiers       J. A. Alderman
D. W. Hooker     John Manning
Daniel Burnie    M.J. Alderman
C.J. Strickland  R. Weeks
W.H. Norman      Jas. Tillman
A. Baker         J.A. Tillman   
BERRIEN CO.
G.W. Sineath     Wm. Castleberry
J.J. Sineath     J.W. McKinney
W.W. Folsom      Reuben Inman
R.H. Hutchison   N.B. Jones
E. Parrish       Mrs. B. Morrison
L.A. Folston     J.H. Shaw
E.C. Parrish     F.M. Shaw
A.H. Shaw        J. McCraynie
G.B. Scott       J.P. Lovett
R. J. Griffin    Hughy Taylor
John Lindsey     J.W. Sutton
W.R. Watson      H. Giddens
Josh. Gaskins
DECATUR CO.
J.G. Merrett      J.A. Ponder
Mrs. S. Crocker   J.E. Harrel
Aoel Umphreys     J.B. Umphreys
A.B.Belcher       W.J. Dollar
T.M. Chester      John R. Brook
J.J. Gaimons      J.D. Harrell
H.J. Logue        J.M. Whigham
Jas. Bell         G.W. Knight
C.F. Knight       J.A. Smith
T.O. Duggan       M.J. Connel
R.E. Wigham       T.M. Whigham
Mrs. M.J. Martin  J.J. Knight
Jas. Little        T.T. Mites     
MITCHELL CO.
T.J. Marceant     W.C. Culpepper
J.J. Moye         E.H. Akridge
J.R.Holton        J.J. Grimer
C.P. Parmer       W. Williams
J.F. Mansfield    W.H. Jones
A.G. Shirrah      F.W. Nix
L.A. Brooks       J.A. Glousen
E. Shanklin       W.S. Bowls
THOMAS CO.
H.A.Hall          J.M. Pilcher, Jr.
S. Collier        Mrs. M. Collier
J.M. Chastain     John Jones
B. Chastain       John S. Culpepper
J.C. Shepherd     Henry White
W.B. Mire         H.R. Brinson
C. Singletary     R. Singletary
R.B. McCond       S.L. Ballard
WORTH CO.
A.W. Willis       Ben Cravy
G.W. Cravy        J.W. Overstreet
J.J. Henderson    B. Hobley
Hon. W.A. Harris  S.C. Mayo
B. Willis         J.D. Summer
J.M. Champion     A.B. Kierce
E.T. Goodman      T.J. Harris
W.J. Jackson      J.M. Springs
Mrs. N.A. Wilder  S.D. Parker
J.H. Dickson      
  2tFeb. 17, 1885        32     J. T. Drew       ChassongJos.

Cane Syrup Comes to Berrien County

Ray City History
Sugar Cane

Sugar cane cultivation was introduced into south Georgia by John Moore when he moved to Lowndes County around 1828. John Moore established his home in the sparsely populated area north of the Grand Bay swamp. At that time, the nearest village to the Moore homestead was called Allapaha, a community which later came to be called Milltown, and in 1920 became the city of Lakeland, GA. The Moores were among the earliest pioneers in this section of the country.

By 1876 sugar cane was one of the field crops of south Georgia, and an important staple in the farming and agriculture of Ray’s Mill (nka Ray City), and the section. “Sugar, Syrup, and Molasses are made on a considerable scale in the southern part of this State from tropical Cane.” Hundreds of gallons of cane syrup could be produced from a single acre of sugar cane. “Mr. John J. Parker, of Thomas County, produced in 1874, on 1 acre, 694 gallons of Cane Syrup, worth, at 75 cents per gallon, $520.87; total cost of production, $77.50—net profit, $443.37.”

In 1879 the Columbus Daily Enquirer reported, “The Berrien county News contends that cane planting can be made as profitable in Southern Georgia as in Mississippi, Louisiana or elsewhere, and that Southern Georgia syrup cannot be excelled by that made anywhere.”

See more about  Ray City History at Ray City, GA. / Sugar Cane.

For more about the historical and modern production of cane syrup in south Georgia, see http://www.southernmatters.com/

Turpentine in Wiregrass Georgia

Turpentine and naval stores industry became an economic engine for Ray’s Mill, Berrien County and the other counties of Wiregrass Georgia.

Turpentine Still in Thomas County, GA circa 1895

Turpentine Still in Thomas County, GA circa 1895

An  1881 news item sums up the Wiregrass workman’s appraisal of the original growth pine forests.

Columbus Daily Enquirer-Sun, Jan. 15, 1881. Pg 3

— In regard to “The Turpentine Industry,” the Berrien county News says: “This comparatively new industry is attracting much attention in our vicinity.  The people of this section, who in a great measure, own the timber, have allowed it to lie idle and undeveloped, notwithstanding the turpentine is a great source of revenue.  This timber has stood upon the earth for centuries, and it may stand there as much longer, and the owners will derive no more benefit from it than from an equivalent sum of money locked up in a safe for the same length of time.”

As in other Wiregrass communities, turpentine and naval stores became major industries in Ray City, GA.  Robert S. Thigpen, a wealthy resident of Berrien County, GA,  owned a turpentine plant in Ray’s Mill.  The plant, sold in 1898 for $13,000, would have valued at more than $10 million in 2008 dollars.

Among  other Ray City and Berrien County residents who prospered in the industry was Walter “W.D.” Brown, who had a turpentine operation near Ray’s Mill in 1904. Wilson W. Fender  was in the turpentine business, as was Lorenzo D. Carter.  Arthur Shaw and brother-in-law, William Clements,  operated a turpentine still at Willacoochee, Georgia, Brothers Chester Shaw and Lacy Lester Shaw were also involved in the turpentine business.

John Whitford worked for one of the turpentine and naval stores concerns in the area.  His neighbor, Brass McKnight, was employed as “stiller” in the turpentine industry.  Another area turpentine barrel maker was William Watson.  Men like Jessie Norris, Elbert Thomas, John Fox, Levey Jones, Jack Jackson, Harrison McClain, Jessie Williams, Tom Thompson, Jim Stripling, George Taylor, and Daniel Holden and others worked on turpentine farms.  Many of these men may have worked one time or another for Lorenzo D. Carter, a naval stores operator and employer in Ray’s Mill (aka Ray City), GA in the early 1900s.

The firm of Sapp & Fender also conducted turpentine operations in Ray City.  David Asa Sapp was the manager; among his employees in 1917 were Leiland Scott, Si Randolph, Elisha  Graham, George Greene, James Hodges, Ellis Jenkins, Barney Johnson, John Jones, Robert Jones, Ruther Golden Jones, Ira Little, Will Mitchell, John Sam Robinson, Ernest Singleton, Arthur Stripling, Anderson Walker, John Waters, James Wooten, Turner Wooten, Willie Barnes, Arlie Brown and Handy Simpson. The company chauffeur was Henry Groover Page.

The Y. F. Carter Naval Stores concern began operation in Ray City about 1916 and by the 1930s it was the largest firm in the community, where approximately fifty men were employed.  This firm operated over ten crops of boxes, a “crop” consisting of 10,000 trees.  The turpentine rights for these trees were typically leased from local land owners..

Disputes over valuable lumber and turpentine rights sometimes ended up in court.  One such case was that of Shaw v. W.L.  Fender et. al., where the timber on land owned by Francis Marion Shaw  was being worked for turpentine  operations. William Lon Fender was a local turpentine man and in 1905 was treasurer of the South Georgia Turpentine Operators’  Association.

Collecting the turpentine was hard and sometimes dangerous work. The working conditions could be grueling and the pay was  meager.  But the vast, untapped pine forests of the Wiregrass provided abundant employment opportunities for those who could take it.  African-Americans, many sons of former slaves, came to the area to find work in the turpentine and sawmill operations. Other turpentine woodsmen, like Benjamin F. Morehead and Lewis Hudson, were born and raised in the local area of Ray’s Mill, Georgia.

Fire was a constant threat where the highly combustible turpentine rosin was present.  The March 22, 1905 Pensacola Journal related the disparaging ruminations of a Valdosta turpentine man about the low paid laborers and their risky work.

…I sent a negro with a team into the wood some time ago to haul drippings and the negro let the  wagon burn up, even the tongue. He was ‘totin’ the rosin up in a bucket, and I guess threw a match down on a dead pine top. When he looked around the pine top was in a blaze and the rosin-smeared wagon was catching. The negro tried to put it out and finally started the team toward a cypress pond but the wheel became locked against a tree and it was all the darkey could do to save the mules.”

As in other industries, African-American turpentine workers at the turn of the 19th century were subject to poor treatment by their employers. Violence could be the result. One such case was that of Joe Willmont.  Willmont was arrested while working turpentine at Ray’s Mill in May of 1911, where he was hiding out under the alias Will Nelson. Willmont/Nelson had arrived in Ray’s Mill after fleeing an alleged double murder at the West Bay Naval Stores Company in West Bay, Florida.  The killings occurred when supervisors at the Florida company attempted to ‘whip’ Willmont for quitting the company.

According to A. P. Malone, author of Piney Woods Farmers 1850-1900: Jeffersonian Yeomen in an Age of Expanding Commercialism, most black laborers who came to the Wiregrass to work in the sawmill and turpentine operations did not acquire real estate here.  Many lived in turpentine or sawmill “camps,” and moved on to other areas after the available timberlands had been exhausted.  “However, some – perhaps as many as one-fourth – married locally and stayed in the area, often because they had some skills which enabled them to purchase town or farm property. Examples in Berrien County of such individuals are Neil Shipman, Cap Taylor, and Nathan Bridges.”

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