The name of Valdosta

In 1912, the Valdosta Times ran a pair of articles about the naming of the city of Valdosta.  It is said that the town was named by  Col. Lenoreon D. DeLyon, editor of the South Georgia Watchman, which was published at Troupville and later at Valdosta, GA. According to Yesterday & Today, newsletter of the Lowndes Historical Society, Leonoran DeLyon, as editor, and [half] brother Isaac Mordecai DeLyon, as publisher, purchased the Georgia Watchman [Thomasville] newspaper very early in 1858 and moved it to Troupville. They were sons of Judge Levi S. D’Lyon, of Savannah, GA, whose Chatham county property would be the site of an encampment of the Berrien Minute Men and the 29th Georgia Regiment in the early stages of the Civil War.

Valdosta Times
February 18, 1912

The Name of Valdosta and Who Bestowed It

      Valdosta is not so old that knowledge of the man who gave it its name, or the origin of its unduplicated appellation, should be lost in the mists of antiquity, but nevertheless there are all sorts of answers to the question who named the town and where the name came from.
    The most generally accepted statement is that is was called after Governor Troup‘s old home in Laurens county. Another theory is that when the founders of the village that was to become the capital of Lowndes county and the future metropolis of South Georgia were casting about for a name for it, a poetically minded member happened to think of a beautiful Italian valley, the Vale de’Osta, and forthwith Valdosta was christened.
    The Times, though it may not know it origin, is able to make a definite statement as to the identity of the man who gave Valdosta its name. He was Lenorean DeLeon, editor of the Wiregrass Watchman, at old Troupville, in 1858-59, the first newspaper printed in Lowndes county.
    This statement is made on authority of Mr. I. L. Griffin, a pioneer citizen who was born at Troupville, and who knows the history of Valdosta from its founding.  Mr. Griffin states that after Valdosta was established and the county site moved from Troupville, Mr. DeLeon, who was a very talented man, suspended publication of his paper and moved along with the majority of Troupville’s population to the new town, where he became head of the village school, which he taught for several terms. He was an old-time, well-read Southern gentleman,of French extraction,and came to this section from Savannah.  About the close of the Civil War he removed to Texas, where he spent his remaining days.  His extensive reading made him familiar with foreign history and countries, and lends strength to the statement that he named the new town after the Italian valley.
     The new county proposition, or rather the clamor for county seats, was as insistent in those days as they are now, and the establishment of Valdosta was partly due to the demand of the people in the western part of the Greater Lowndes, for a division and a county seat for themselves. Brooks was thus cut off and Quitman established as the county seat, with Little river as the boundary.
     With its western half gone, a commission was appointed to select a new site for the county seat, which would be a little nearer the center of the abbreviated territory. After looking around, the commissioners decided that this was the ideal location for the county seat site, though it would still be near the western border.  They did not think the flat lands to the east and south so well adapted for the laying out of a town, while to have gone to the north would have placed the county seat too far away from the southern border. Four hundred and ninety acres of land were then purchased, the new town laid out and the name supplied by Mr. DeLeon. The latter fact, Mr. Griffin states, was well-known to many of the older citizens, among them Capt. W. H. Briggs and Mr. A. Converse, Sr., who lived at Troupville.
     The father of Col. W.S. West was the member of the legislature from Lowndes when Brooks county was formed and introduced the bill authorizing the moving of the county seat from Troupville to Valdosta.

♦♦♦♦

Valdosta Times
February 18, 1912

“Val-De-Osta” Was Name of Troup’s Farm

     An article that appeared in the Times last Friday in regard to the origin of Valdosta’s name has caused a good deal of comment in this city and section, among old-timers especially.
      The Times has a communication from an old resident of Valdosta which says: “In regard to your article in the issue of February 14, ‘The Man Who Named Valdosta’, the facts are these: Lenora DeLeon, whom I knew personally before he went to Texas in 1867 or 1868, named Valdosta after Governor Troupe’s plantation in Laurens county, old Troupeville having been named after the rugged old governor. See the suggestion of one by the other.
      “But it is a historical fact that Governor Troupe named his plantation after the Alpine Val-de-osta.”
These facts have several times been printed by the Times.
The confusion seems to have arisen by claiming that Valdosta was named after the Alpine valley and town of that name, when, as a matter of fact, it was named after Governor Troupe’s estate in Laurens county, the name of his home be adopted for the new town, which was made up largely of people who came from a town named after Governor Troupe himself, old Troupeville.
The Savannah Morning News of Sunday contained a correspondence from Valdosta, which made it appear that Valdosta was named after the Alpine city and valley. If the Morning News had printed the entire article that was sent it the facts in the case would have appeared, as it was stated in the full article that Valdosta’s name was taken from Troupe’s home, though the original Valdosta was in Italy.
A year or two ago Bishop Pendleton sent to the public library of this city a book by Felice Ferrero, the Italian historian, who was thoroughly acquainted with the valley of Val-de-osta and who wrote a most interesting story of that valley and of its people. More than 1,000 years ago it was one of the most beautiful spots in Europe and the old castles, the sewerage and the splendid highways that were built then still exist, though in a dilapidated condition.
In the near future the Times hopes to review the story which was written by this Italian historian, reproduce many of the things which he wrote of the Valdostans who formerly inhabited the Alpine valley and who, in many of their characteristics, remind one of the sturdy, hard-headed Valdostans of South Georgia.

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Old Land Mark Gone ~ Death Of “Uncle Billy” Smith

William Smith (1797-1882), pioneer settler of Lowndes County, GA, homesteaded on land lot No. 50, 11th District along the Withlacoochee River in the 1820s.  Smith would serve as clerk of the court, postmaster, and Ordinary of Lowndes County.

This section was then truly a wild southern frontier of the young American nation, replete with wild animals, panthers, bears, wolves, and snakes; Indians who resented the forceful and often illegal intrusion of settlers on to their native lands; and many febrile diseases, typhoid, malariascarlet fever, and other little understood diseases among them. Through this wilderness in 1823, General Coffee cut a military thoroughfare into north Florida. The Coffee Road opened up the territory and led to the creation of  Lowndes County by an act of the legislature on December 23, 1825.  It was around this time that the Knights first came to Lowndes county and settled in that portion which was later cut into Berrien County.    

The first Courts and first elections in Lowndes County were held at the house of Sion Hall,  who built an Inn on the Coffee Road.  But soon the commissioners of Lowndes County appointed to determine the location of the county courthouse chose William Smith’s place on the Withlacoochee as the site of the county seat, and named the place Franklinville, GA.

Lowndes at that time included all of present day Berrien County, and Lanier, Cook, Tift, Brooks, and Echols, besides. For a time the post office for this vast frontier county was at the home of Big Thumb Daniel McCranie. However, On July 7, 1828, the Post Office Department established a post office at Franklinville and appointed Mr. Smith as postmaster.

FRANKLINVILLE
    The erstwhile town of Franklinville did not exist long –  only about four years.  At its best, it could only boast one store and three or four families and the court house.

    The court house was built there in 1828-29, and was a small crude affair, costing only $215.00.  The first term of court in it was held in the fall of 1829.

    William Smith was the first one to settle there, and was living there when the site was chosen.  The only other families to ever live there, so far as can be determined were John Mathis, James Mathis and Sheriff Martin Shaw.  After a short residence there the three last named moved to that part of Lowndes cut off into Berrien in 1856.

William Smith, “Uncle Billy” as he was known, was a member of the State Rights Association of Lowndes County, GA,  along with Levi J. Knight, Hamilton Sharp, Aaron Knight, Jonathan Knight, John Knight and William Cone Knight,  Noah H. Griffin, Martin Shaw, Malachi Monk, Captain David Bell and many others.  The Association gathered  at the county courthouse at Franklinville in 1835 to toast State Rights.

Just a few years after its founding, Franklinville was found to be unsatisfactory as the seat of Lowndes county.

… an act was passed by the Georgia legislature, appointing a commission to select an appropriate place for a county site. Franklinville had been its capital, but was not near enough to the center. As the legend goes, Big Billy Knight and Big Billy Folsom were appointed. So it came about that where the wine-red waters or the Ockolocoochee and the black current of the Withlacoochee meet at the end of a long sandbar and go tumbling and writhing, eddying and curving down the long reach of moss-grown trees, like two huge serpents struggling for the mastery, the plat of a town was drawn, and it was called after Georgia’s great chevelier governor, “Troupville,”

William Smith moved to Troupville where he continued to serve as Postmaster.  There, he also operated “Tranquil Hall,” one of the three hotels in the town.  Tranquil Hall was widely famed for its hospitality, and when court was in session at Troupville, the judge and lawyers usually stayed at the tavern.  Tranquil Hall was situated on the public square, along with the court-house and jail, the stables belonging to the stage line and a convenient “grocery.”  The other inns were the Jackson Hotel , situated on the town square and run by Morgan G. Swain and his wife, and a hotel operated by Jonathan Knight for eight or ten years until he moved away to Appling County about 1849.

Troupville itself would suffer the same fate as Franklinville. When the Atlantic & Gulf railroad (later the Savannah, Florida & Western Railway) came to Lowndes County, it bypassed Troupville, following a route four miles to the south through the site now known as Valdosta, GA:

The railroad was in process of building when residents of Troupville began to move. William Smith, one of the pioneers, and known as “Uncle Billy” Smith, the day the deed was signed by Mr.Wisenbaker giving the railroad six acres of land on which to build the first station, tore off the wing of his hotel at Troupville and moved it to Valdosta, where he operated his hotel several years. The first house moved to the new town was owned by Judge Peeples and it was rolled from Troupville to Valdosta, being placed on pillars on the lot on Troup street where it now stands. Several other houses were also moved bodily and some few of them are yet standing. In a few weeks time Troupville as a town was no more.

— — ◊ — —

Advertisement for Tranquil Hall, upon its relocation from Troupville, GA to Valdosta, GA, 1870.

Advertisement for Tranquil Hall, upon its relocation from Troupville, GA to Valdosta, GA, 1870.

Albany News
January 7, 1870

The Proprietors of Tranquil Hall, formerly of Troupville, have opened a house at Valdosta, Ga., for the accommodation of the Traveling Public, where they will find the fare equal to that of any House on the line of the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad, and charges as reasonable.

WM. SMITH
MARGET SMITH

— — ◊ — —

Uncle Billy and his wife Margaret continued to operate Tranquil Hall at Valdosta, GA.  Eventually, in their declining years they sold out to Darius M. Jackson.

William “Uncle Billy” Smith died February 1, 1882.  His obituary was reported in the Valdosta Times:

The Valdosta Times
Saturday, February 4, 1882

Old Land Mark Gone.

Death Of “Uncle Billy” Smith.

Mr. Wm. Smith, an old gentleman, whose history is intimately connected with that of Lowndes County, died last Wednesday morning at his residence in Valdosta in the eighty-fourth year of his age, leaving his aged wife (who we believe is about the same age) to tarry a while longer with us. The funeral services were held at his late residence Wednesday afternoon and his remains were buried in our cemetery Thursday morning at 10 o’clock. Mr. Smith was born in 1797, in North Carolina, and emigrated to Irwin, now Lowndes County, and settled the place now known as “Old Franklinville.”

       The Indians, bears and panthers were numerous in these pine forests then and Mr. Smith’s early life was one of some adventures. (Here we will remark that Mr. Smith promised us to write up a history of those early days for publication, but from a feebleness which had been growing on him for six months we suppose he was not able to do the work.)

       When Lowndes was made a county the county site was located at Franklinville, (Mr. Smith’s home,) and he was elected Clerk of the Court. An interesting account of the first court held was published in these columns about a year ago from his pen.

       Later, the county site was moved to Troupville and there Mr. Smith kept a hotel. “Tranquil Hall,” as it was known, was noted for its hospitable landlord and lady and for its splendid table. Travelers carried the good name of this country inn far and wide.

“Tranquil Hall,” with Troupville, was moved and helped to make Valdosta, when the Gulf Road came through here; but the hotel declined with the old people and about ten years ago they gave up the business, and sold the building. It is now occupied by Mr. D. M. Jackson.

Mr. Smith has more than once been Ordinary of the County, having held that office as late as twelve or fourteen years ago. He has held other positions of honor and trust, and in his prime of manhood was a leading and influential man. He had two sons, William and Henry, who died after the war, leaving families. All of Wm. Smith Jr.’s family have died, we believe, but Mr. Henry Smith’s widow, four children and one or two grandchildren are living. So Mrs. Wm. Smith, the widow of the deceased, survives all but four grandchildren and the great grandchildren. We hope the good old lady will find her remaining days as comfortable and as happy as they can be to one left alone at such an age. We would like, at some other time, to give Earthier reminiscences of the old gentleman’s life, if we can get hold of the data.

 † † †

To this obituary, Hamilton W. Sharpe added the following testament (By 1880, Hamilton Sharpe had removed to Quitman, GA where he operated a hotel known as Sharpe House.) :

The Valdosta Times
 Saturday, April 22, 1882

Mr. Wm. Smith. Christian Advocate. William Smith died in Valdosta recently in the eighty-fifth year of his age.

I have known him for over half a century. He was elected Clerk of the Superior Court of Lowndes County in the year 1827, which office he held consecutively for a number of terms, and filled other offices of trust and honor in that county. He was the proprietor of “Tranquile Hall,” located in Troupville, the then county site of Lowndes, and the house was long and favorably known as one of the best hotels in the state. The result of the late war between the States was very hard on him, as his all consisted of slave property. His life was long and varied, a true friend in every respect. He became a member of the M. E. Church South many years ago, but was not very demonstrative in his religious duties until late in life. He was a constant attendant on Church, and always enjoyed the services of God’s house. His departure was very sudden, but we have no fears as to his being well prepared for the change, which was a happy one to him. His children, one by one, all preceded him to the grave, but his wife, like himself very old, still lingers on these mundane shores.

Peace be to his memory.

H.W. Sharpe.

† † †

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Grand Jury Presentments of 1845, Old Lowndes County, GA

In June of 1845, The Grand Jury of Lowndes County, Georgia convened for its 20th year.

Judge Carlton B. Cole presided, with Peter E. Love as Solicitor General,  and Duncan Smith served as clerk of the Court.

1845 Grand Jury Presentments, Lowndes County, GA

1845 Grand Jury Presentments, Lowndes County, GA

Milledgeville Federal Union
June 24, 1845

Presentments

Of the Grand Jury of Lowndes county, June Term, 1845.
We the Grand Jurors, sworn, chosen and selected for the county of Lowndes, make the following presentments:

We have examined the conditions of our Court-house, and find it to be rather in bad condition, and would recommend some action to have it kept in a more cleanly situation.

We have also examined the condition of our Jail, and find it to be in a very unsafe condition, and would recommend good and sufficient repairs.

We have examined the Clerk’s books of our Superior and Inferior Courts, and find them kept in good order.

We have had under our consideration, the situation of the Public roads of our county, and would especially recommend the Inferior Court, to have them placed in a good condition as early as possible.

We have had under consideration, and have thoroughly examined the books and papers of the Treasurer of the Poor School Fund of said county, and find that the Notes are not taken in accordance with the rules and regulations, and furthermore, would recommend a speedy renewal or collection of said Notes; and we specially recommend further, a collection of sufficient amount to settle all the accounts that are yet unpaid.

We further recommend our Inferior Court, to levy a tax for county purposes.

In taking leave of his Honor Judge Cole, the Grand Jury render to him their thanks, for the prompt discharge of the duties of his office, and the courtesy he has extended to this body, during the present term of the Court – also to the Solicitor General, for his courtesy and prompt attention to business, during this term.

And before closing our duties, we would earnestly recommend to our citizens generally, and more especially to the persons who may represent this county in the general assembly of the State, to use their endeavors at the approaching election, for a Judge of this Circuit, to continue in office, the individual who now fills and has for some time filled the office. During the whole period of his services, his administration has been distinguished by the most eminent legal abilities, and a stern and impartial desire to execute the laws without fear of favor. We therefore deem it not only expedient, but necessary that one who has proved himself a good, faithful and able servant, should be continued in an office to which he adds so much dignity.

We the Grand Jury, request that our presentments be published in the Southern Recorder and Federal Union.

Robert Micklejohn, Foreman.

Judge Carleton Bicknell Cole (1803-1876)
Carlton B. Cole twice served as judge of the Southern Circuit and later presided over the courts of the Macon Circuit. In 1848, he was defense attorney for  Manuel and Jonathan Studstill, in the September 7, 1843 murder of William Slaughter, facing Augustin H. Hansell, solicitor general, for the prosecution. About Carlton Bicknell Cole: son of George Abbott Cole and Emmeline (Carleton) Cole. Born in Amherst, MA, August 3, 1803. Graduated Middlebury College, VT, in 1822. Taught and studied law in North Carolina. Admitted to the bar, 1826, and in 1827 removed to Macon, GA. Married Susan Taylor, September 6, 1827. (Children: Ann Eliza; Emmeline Carleton; John Taylor; George Abbott; Carleton Bicknell.) Incorporator and stockholder of The Commercial Bank at Macon, 1831. Judge of the Southern Circuit Court of Georgia, 1833-1847. Chairman of the Convention of Judges of the Superior Courts of Georgia, 1840. Operated a private law school at Midway, GA, 1844-1845. Opened a law practice in Milledgeville, GA, 1846. Admitted to practice before the Georgia Supreme Court, 1846. Chair of the Democratic Republican party of Twiggs County, 1847; A pro-Union Democrat in politics. Professor of Law, Oglethorpe University, 1847-1854. Resumed his law practice in Macon, 1854. Delegate to the State Constitutional Convention, 1865. Judge of the Macon Circuit Court, 1865-1873. Professor of Law, Mercer University, 1875-1876.  Died in Macon, GA, January 23, 1876.

Peter E. Love  (1818 – 1866)
Peter Early Love, Solicitor General of the Southern Circuit of Georgia, served at the Lowndes Superior Court of 1845.  He was born near Dublin, Laurens County, Ga., July 7, 1818; graduated from Franklin College (now a part of the University of Georgia), Athens, Ga., in 1829 and from the Philadelphia College of Medicine in 1838; practiced medicine while studying law; admitted to the bar in 1839 and commenced practice in Thomasville, Thomas County, GA; solicitor general of the southern district of Georgia in 1843; member of the State senate in 1849; elected judge of the State Superior Court for the Southern Circuit in 1853; elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-sixth U.S. Congress and served from March 4, 1859, until his retirement on January 23, 1861; resumed the practice of law in Thomasville, Ga.; member of the State house of representatives in 1861; died in Thomasville, Ga., November 8, 1866; interment in the Old Cemetery.

Duncan Smith (1816-1852)

Duncan Smith was born 1816 in Scotland. He moved to Lowndes County, GA some time before 1838, and by 1844 he had acquired 245 acres in the 10th Land District. Some time prior to 1846 Duncan Smith acquired Lot No. 72 in the town of Troupville. He was a member of the Democratic Republican party of Georgia. Justice of the Lowndes Inferior Court, 1840-44.  From January 16, 1844 to his death in 1852 Duncan Smith served as Clerk of Lowndes County Superior Court.

Grand Jurors
The jurors were Samuel E. Swilley, John W. Spain, John Carter, Sr., Enoch Hall, Matthew M. Deas, James Wade, Jesse Hunter, Mathew Young, James McMullen, John McMullen, James Sowell, A. S. Smith, William H. Devane, Sampson G. Williams, William Folsom, Thomas B. Griffin, David Matthis, Ezekiel W. Parrish, Dennis Wetherington, Joshua Limeberger, and Henry Strickland, with Robert Micklejohn serving as foreman of the Jury.

 

Grand Jurors of 1845, Lowndes County, GA

In June of 1845, The Grand Jury of Lowndes County, Georgia convened at Troupville, GA. The reader will bear in mind that in 1845, Lowndes encompassed all of present day Berrien, Cook, Brooks, Lanier, and parts of Tift, Colquitt, and Echols counties, as well.  So the citizens on this 1845 grand jury were the friends and neighbors of  the Knights, Giddens, Sirmans, and others who settled around present day Ray City, GA.

It had been 20 years since Judge Holt had convened the first Lowndes Superior court in 1825 at the home of Sion Hall on the Coffee Road. In the intervening years, not one, but three Courthouses had been built. The first courthouse was at Franklinville, but after a few years the county seat was moved to Lowndesville, and then to Troupville, in the fork of the Withlacoochee and Little rivers. The 1845 Court may have been conducted with a bit decorum, than the original. Then again, it may not have been. Troupville was said to be a wicked place, with horse racing & other gambling, drinking, games and amusements.

Judge Carlton B. Cole presided at the 1845 court session, and Duncan Smith served as clerk of the Court.

The jurors were Samuel E. Swilley, John W. Spain, John Carter, Sr., Enoch Hall, Matthew M. Deas, James Wade, Jesse Hunter, Mathew Young, James McMullen, John McMullen, James Sowell, A. S. Smith, William H. Devane, Sampson G. Williams, William Folsom, Thomas B. Griffin, David Matthis, Ezekiel W. Parrish, Dennis Wetherington, Joshua Limeberger, and Henry Strickland, with Robert Micklejohn serving as foreman of the Jury.

Robert Micklejohn (1799-1865)
Robert Micklejohn was born July 2, 1799 in Louisville, GA, which was named in honor of King Louis XVI and was then serving as the State Capitol of Georgia. At the age of five, he moved with his parents, George Micklejohn and Elizabeth Tanner,to Milledgeville, GA which became the state capitol in 1806. He married Mary Jane Sowell on September 3, 1823 in Milledgeville, GA. In 1830-31, he served as Tax Collector of Baldwin County. He came to Lowndes County about 1845 where he entered into a partnership with Richard Allen, Robert Prine, and his brother-in-law James Sowell. Invoices in probate records indicate Robert Micklejohn also worked for Captain Samuel E. Swilley as a tutor and clerk. By 1850  he returned to Milledgeville, where he served as clerk of the City Council and as a Justice of the Peace. Robert Micklejohn died on his 66th birthday, July 2, 1865. His grave is at Memorial Hill Cemetery, Milledgeville, GA.

Captain Samuel E. Swilley (1793-1846)
Captain Samuel E. Swilley was a military leader in the late 1830s conflicts with Native Americans. His company of men fought in the Battle of Brushy Creek, actions at the Little River and at Grand Bay, August, 1836, and led the Skirmish at Troublesome Ford.  Samuel Swilley came from Appling County to Lowndes in 1827, bringing  his wife and children  to settle about 23 miles south of the Lowndes county seat at Franklinville.  He established a large plantation  on Hammock Lake near present day Lake Park, GA, where he constructed a substantial log house on the edge of the woods and log cabins for his slaves in the midst of his corn fields. He built a water-powered mill  with a grist mill, cotton gin and sawmill.  In all, his land holdings in Lowndes county consisted of more than 5000 acres. He was a member of the Democratic Republican Party of Lowndes County.  Just a year after serving on the Grand Jury, in the fall and winter of 1846, a deadly fever struck the Swilley household taking the lives of  Mr. Swilley, his wife and most of their children. For years thereafter, it was referred to as the Swilley Fever.

David Mathis (1802-1875)
David Mathis was a Whig and a strong supporter of state’s rights. He was among the Pioneers of Old Lowndes Toast[ing] State Rights and American Independence at the Fourth of July 1835 Jubilee at Troupville, GA. In 1836, he served in Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company in  the Last Indian Fight in Berrien County.   “David Mathis, oldest son of John Mathis, was born in North Carolina in 1802, and was brought as an infant by his parents to Bulloch County, Georgia. He was married in 1822 to Miss Sarah Monk, born 1801 in Bulloch County a daughter of William and Jerushia Monk. David Mathis brought his family to what was then Lowndes County in the winter of 1825-1826, and settled on lot 102, 9th district. This is one mile east of the present village of Cecil, Cook County. In January 1826, he built his log home, a sturdy and comfortable home that he occupied until his death about fifty years later. This home was on the Coffee Road, main thoroughfare of travel in those days from middle Georgia into southwest Georgia and Florida. It was a stagecoach stop where the horses were rested. Many people in those pioneer days enjoyed the hospitality of the Mathis home.  Mr. Mathis was ensign of the militia in the 658th district, 1828-1840, and Justice of Peace, same district, 1829-1834. In the Indian Wars of 1836, he provided forage for the Volunteers of Hamilton W. Sharpe’s Company. He served as Justice of Berrien Inferior Court, 1861-1862. Mr. Mathis was a member of Pleasant Primitive Baptist Church into which he was baptized about 1840, but later transferred his membership to Salem Church which is now in the City of Adel. His wife was a member also. He died about 1875 and his wife died soon after. They were buried at Pleasant Church.”

John Carter, Sr. (1794-1880)
According to descendants “John Carter was born in Colleton District, South Carolina in 1794. John usually signed his name as John Carter, Sr., to distinguish himself from his first cousin John Carter. He was a son of Elijah Carter. He was married in Colleton about 1825 and his wife Lavinia, born 1799 in South Carolina. Her maiden name is unknown. Mr. Carter removed from his old home in South Carolina, near Little Salkehatchie River to Lowndes County, GA, in 1830.  Mr. Carter was a First Lieutenant in the militia in the 661st district of Lowndes County, 1832-33 and served again in the same company between 1835-39. He served an enlistment as a private under Capt. Samuel E. Swilley in the 2nd Regiment, 2nd Brigade of the Florida Mounted Volunteers, June 16th to Dececember 16th, 1837, in the 2nd Florida Indian War. It was noted he entered into this enlistment with 1 black horse. He was Honorably Discharged from Ft Gilleland on December 18. He enrolled at Ft Palmetto in [Levy County, Florida].  John Carter, Sr., was baptized into the membership of Union Primitive Baptist Church; August 9, 1840; and the next year, on June 9, 1841, was dismissed by letter with others, to join in the constituting of Antioch Church which was nearer his home. He became a charter member of Antioch and continued as a member there for some years, as did his wife.  Their home was cut out of Lowndes into Echols County in 1858.”

Matthew M. Deas (1794-1873)
“Matthew M. Dees, an early prominent citizen of Lowndes County, was born in South Carolina, in 1794, and was a son of John Dees, R. S., and his wife, Mary. The parents moved with their children to Tattnall County, Ga., at an early date, and it was there that the subject grew to manhood and married. His first wife by whom his children were born, was Jane Strickland, born 1795 in N. C. daughter, of Lewis and Martha Grantham Strickland, a pioneer Tattnall County family. In 1829, Matthew M. Dees removed from Tattnall County to Madison County, FL, and settled near the Georgia line, thence he moved to Lowndes County about the time the Indian War began, and he acquired lands in the present Clyattville district of Lowndes County. He served as Major of the 138th Battalion, Lowndes County militia, 1838-1841. About 1845 he moved to the Bellville section of Hamilton County, Fla., only a few miles from his former Georgia home, and lived there until his death about 1872. He served as County Commissioner of Hamilton County, 1849-1851, and as a Justice of Peace there, 1863-65. The first wife died in 1851, in Hamilton County, and Mr. Dees was married to Rebecca Downing, Jan, 9, 1853, in Hamilton County. She was born 1802 in South Carolina. She survived her husband several years. He is listed in the 1850 Census for Hamilton County, FL (56 years old) Maj. Dees died intestate in Hamilton Co. Fla., November, 1873”

Matthew Young
Matthew Young was among the prosperous planters living near Troupville, GA and making that town their trading headquarters. The 1850 agricultural census of Lowndes County shows Matthew Young owned 3040 acres of land, 300 acres of which were improved. He had $440 worth of farm equipment and machinery, five horses, a mule, 30 milk cows, two oxen, 70 other cattle, 75 sheep and 100 hogs. His crib was stocked with 800 bushels of Indian corn,  400 bushels of sweet potatoes, and 25 lbs of butter. He had 28 bales of ginned cotton at 400 lbs each, and 150 lbs of wool.

A.S. Smith
A.S. Smith was a Storekeeper at Troupville, GA.

Sampson G. Williams (1808-1896)
Sampson G. Williams lived in McCraney’s District, Lowndes County. was one of the fortunate drawers in the 1832 Cherokee Land lottery.  He was born January 31, 1809, a son of James Williams, Revolutionary Soldier, and Elizabeth Holleway.  Sampson Griffin Williams married Elizabeth McCranie, daughter of Daniel “Big Thumb” McCranie, on March 10, 1831 in Lowndes, later Berrien, and now Cook County. His place was 490 acres on Land lot 323, 9th District.  S. G. Williams served in Hamilton W. Sharpe’s company in the Indian Wars of 1836, and later was elected Senator in the Georgia Assembly.

Thomas B. Griffin (1816-1877)
Thomas Butler Griffin was born 1816 in Montgomery Co, GA, and lived in Old Troupville in Lowndes County, GA. He  was a wealthy merchant and planter, a member of the Lowndes County Democratic Party. He, along with Andrew J. Clyatt,  Duncan Smith, and John W. Spain, represented Lowndes County at the May 3, 1841 Convention of Democratic Young Men of Georgia, in Milledgeville, GA.     In a meeting at Swain’s Inn at Troupville, Thomas B. Griffin, was selected delegates to the Convention in Milledgeville to nominate a Governor of the Democratic party.  In 1843, He married Jane Moore, daughter of Jesse Moore and Rebecca Studstill. She was born 1827 in Bullock Coounty, GA, and died April 13, 1892 in Lowndes County.  Thomas B. Griffin, was the Sheriff of Lowndes county 1846-1848.  Thomas B. Griffin moved from Troupville to the new town of Valdosta,  and according to the Valdosta Historic Downtown Visitor’s Guide,  owned the first store in Valdosta, located at Patterson and Hill Avenue. Thomas B. Griffin was elected State Senator for the period of 1861-1863. In 1873, he was one of the incorporators on the Valdosta and Fort Valley Railroad. He died January 20, 1877 in Lowndes Co, GA.

Ezekiel W. Parrish (1818-1887)
Ezekiel W. Parrish, born February 16, 1818, in Bulloch county, Georgia, son of Henry Parrish and father of Ansel A. Parrish, was very young when his parents removed to southern Georgia and after his father’s death he remained with his mother until his marriage, when he bought land one mile from where is now located the town of Cecil and there engaged in farming and stock-raising. In 1864 he sold his farm and received its value in Confederate money, which he still held when the war closed, but fortunately he had retained about seventeen hundred acres east of Hahira in Lowndes county. He settled on the latter estate, erected the necessary buildings and made it his home until his death on September 1, 1887. Martha C. (Wootten) Parrish, his wife, born in Taliaferro county, Georgia, had preceded him in death, her demise having occurred in June, 1871. She was a daughter of Redden Wootten and wife, the latter of whom was a Miss Bird before her marriage.

Joshua Lymburger (1809-1848)
Joshua Lymburger or Limeberger came from Effingham to Lowndes county,GA  some time before 1834 and settled with his wife in Captain Dees’ district. He was a son of Israel Christian  Limeberger and Mary Catherine Schneider. Joshua Limeberger married Salome Schrimp on January 10, 1830 in Effingham County, GA.   In 1834, he owned 490 acres in Irwin county and was the agent of record for 2027 acres in Houston county under his father’s name. By 1848  he owned two lots of land [980 acres MOL]  in Lowndes County. Joshua Limeberger died May 13, 1848 in Lowndes County, GA.  His grave is at Forest Grove Cemetery, Clyattville, GA.

John W. Spain (1818-1870)
John William Spain, born December 4, 1818, a son of Levi Spain and Rachel Inman Spain. His father  died while John was a minor;  about 1830 his mother married Major Frances Jones, a weathly planter who built one of the earliest plantation mansions of Lowndes county, known today as Eudora Plantation (in present day Brooks County).  Married Member of the Democratic Republican Party. John W. Spain was elected as the Lowndes county representative to the state legislature for the 1841-1843 term. John W. Spain, along with Andrew J. Clyatt,  Duncan Smith, and Thomas B. Griffin, represented Lowndes County at the May 3, 1841 Convention of Democratic Young Men of Georgia, in Milledgeville, GA. In 1844, the Georgia Legislature passed an act “to establish John W. Spain’s bridge across the Withlacoochee river, on his own land, in the 12th district of Lowndes county, and rate the ferriage for the same.” In the 1850s he served as postmaster of the post office at Piscola, Lowndes, County, GA.  Among his properties, Spain owned Lot #10 of the 15th district, in Brooks County. In 1859, he served as a Brooks County Road Commissioner. At the onset of the Civil War, he provided $2000 to equip the Brooks Rifles militia company with rifles.  Applied for and received a presidential pardon from President Andrew Johnson for acts of Rebellion, August 28, 1865. Died November 7, 1870; grave at West End Cemetery, Quitman, GA.

Enoch Hall (1804-1886)
Enoch Hall, a Lowndes county pioneer and son of Sion Hall and Mrs. Bridget “Beady” Hall, was an overseer in the laying out of the Coffee Road, and settled with his father near present day Morven, GA, about 1823 shortly after the opening of the road. Justice of the Lowndes County Inferior Court, 1832-37. Served as Lt. Colonel, Lowndes County, 81st Regiment, Georgia Militia, under Colonel Henry Blair. Enoch Hall led, as a Major, a company of men in Actions at the Little River and at Grand Bay, August, 1836  Together with his father, Sion Hall, the Halls held 2,680 acres of pine lands in the 12th Land District of Lowndes County, 1220 acres in Cherokee County, 2027 acres in Lee County, 2027 acres in Carroll County and 4054 acres in Randolph County, GA. Died September 2, 1886; grave at Hall Cemetery, Morven, GA.

James Wade 
James Wade, Soldier, McCraney’s, Lowndes County, GA was one of the lucky drawers in the 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery. He served on the May 1933 term of the Lowndes County Grand Jury.  He was one of the Commissioners appointed by the Georgia legislature in 1834 “to contract for and cause to be built in the county of Lowndes a suitable Court-house and Jail.”

Jesse Hunter (1811-1871)
Jesse W. Hunter was born about 1811 in Georgia, a son of Abraham Hunter and Ann Rushing. According to the History of Brooks County, he came to Lowndes County  about 1823,  shortly after the opening of the Coffee Road, with his mother and father, who settled in the fork of the Okapilco and Mule Creeks. The 1844 Lowndes County Tax Digest shows Jesse W. Hunter owned 301 acres of pine lands in Lowndes County and 360 acres of hardwood in Cherokee County. His Lowndes county home was cut into Brooks county when it was formed in 1858.  During the Civil War, he was drafted into Company F, 5th Georgia Regiment, but petitioned Governor Brown for a discharge on account of age and infirmity. Jesse W. Hunter died August 16, 1871. The grave of Jesse W. Hunter, and the grave of his wife Elizabeth are at Union Church Cemetery (aka Burnt Church), near Lakeland, GA.

James Sowell
James Sowell was a brother-in-law of Robert Micklejohn, who served as foreman of the 1845 Grand Jury of Lowndes County.  He was born 1801 in Bertie  North Carolina, a son of Ezekiel Sowell and Ann Layton. He came with his family to Georgia some time before 1823, and on December 8, 1826 James Sowell married Milly Rape in Henry County, GA.  James Sowell, Hood’s District, Henry County was a lucky drawer in the 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery, drawing lot number 159 in the Tenth District,Third Section of the Cherokee Country.  Tax digests show that James Sowell had arrived in Lowndes County, GA by 1844, settling in Captain Samuel E. Swilley’s District.  The 1850 census shows James and Milly in Lowndes County with their nine children. Some time before 1860, James Sowell moved his family to Florida where they were enumerated in Hamilton County.

James McMullen (1806-1865)
According to A History of Savannah and South Georgia, Vol 2, “James McMullen  was born and reared in Georgia. His father was one of the earlier settlers of Georgia, having located in Thomas county while that section of the country was in its pristine wilderness. He was of thrifty Scotch ancestry and a man of sterling integrity.  James McMullen was trained to habits of industry and early showed natural ability as a mechanic.  Although he never learned a trade, he became an expert with tools, and could do general blacksmithing, or  make either a barrel or a wagon. After his marriage he lived for a while in Thomas county, from there  removing to that part of Lowndes county that is now a part of Brooks county. Purchasing land in the Hickory Head district, he was there a resident until his death at the age of sixty years. He married Harriet Rountree, who was born in Lowndes county, where her father, a pioneer settler, was murdered by negroes while taking the produce of his farm to one of the marketing points in Florida, either Tallahassee or Newport. She too died at the age of three score  years…In his political affiliation James McMullen was a Whig, and long before there were any railroads in Georgia he served as a representative to the state legislature.”  His daughter, Martha McMullen, married Edward Marion Henderson, who died of wounds after the 1836 Battle of Brushy Creek. In 1859, James McMullen served as a Brooks County Road Commissioner. Died December 6, 1865; grave at James McMullen Cemetery, Brooks County, GA.

John McMullen (1808-1868)
According to the 1913 text Georgia’s Landmarks, Memorials, and Legends, “John and James McMullen, brothers, were among the earliest pioneers to enter the pine solitudes of this section [present day Brooks County] of Georgia…”   John married Nancy Rountree and James married  Harriet Rountree, daughters of Francis Rountree, of Lowndes County, GA. In 1859, John McMullen served as foreman of the first Grand Jury in Brooks County.

William H. Devane (1817-1869)
William H. Devane was a farmer in the 53rd Division of Lowndes County, GA. He came with his parents to Lowndes County as a boy around 1828. His father, Benjamin Devane,  was a veteran of the War of 1812, and served in the Indian Wars in Florida and Georgia; In 1838, Benjamin Devane served as a private in Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company.  William H. Devane married his first cousin, Margaret A.Rogers, about 1841.  In 1859, he served as a Brooks County Road Commissioner. At the onset of the Civil War,  William H. Devane sought to raise a company of Brooks County volunteers, but ended up enlisted in Company E, Georgia 1st Infantry Regiment.

David McCall (1802-1881)
David McCall, Jr, was born in 1802,  a son of David McCall and Frances “Fannie” Fletcher. He married Eleanor Johnson on  July 20, 1825 in Tatnall County, GA; she was born in 1810. In 1835 they made their home in Appling County, GA.  Some time before 1844, they relocated to Lowndes County, Georgia.  He was later a hotel keeper in Valdosta, GA.

William Folsom
William Folsom was the uncle of Penneywell Folsom, who fell at Brushy Creek in the Indian Wars of 1836. The Folsom place was located near the Coffee Road, and about a mile and a half further west is where the road crossed the Little River. “The Folsom bridge, a noted crossing place, spans the [Little] river here.”  The Folsoms had built a small fort against Indian attacks, and it was from this fort that the Lowndes county pioneers marched to the encounter at Brushy Creek.  In 1837,  William Folsom served on the commission appointed to select a new site for the Lowndes county seat of government;  a location at the junction of the Withlacoochee and Little Rivers was chosen, and Troupville became the county site.

Dennis Wetherington (1807-1885)
Dennis Wetherington, an early settler of Lowndes County, was born in South Carolina, October 1, 1807, a son of Peter Wetherington.  He moved to Lowndes County with his parents between 1825 and 1830. In 1831, he first married Sarah Carter, a daughter of Captain Jesse Carter and Mary “Molsy” Touchton. The couple settled on a farm in the present day Naylor District. Dennis Wetherington was baptized into the membership of Union Church, February 11, 1832, and was dismissed by letter to join in constituting Unity Church nearer his home, about 1842. Molsy Carter Wetherington died about 1850. After her death, Mr. Wetherington married 2) Rebecca Roberts, daughter of John C. Roberts, who lived on Cow Creek. Upon Rebecca’s death, he married her sister, Elizabeth Roberts. This according to Folks Huxford.

Henry Strickland (1794-1866)
Henry Strickland was born in 1794 in Georgia.  He married Sarah Lanier November 6, 1820 in Effingham County, GA. He moved his family to Lowndes County about 1831 and settled in Captain Caswell’s District.  The 1834 Lowndes County tax digest shows he owned 930 acres in Lowndes County, 400 acres in Effingham County, 490 acres in Appling, 490 acres in Thomas County, 250 acres in Baker county, 2027 acres in Lee County, and 2027 acres in Meriwether County. Henry Strickland was Justice of Lowndes Inferior Court from 1833 to 1837 and again from 1857 to 1859;  December 23, 1835 appointed commissioner to select the site of the Lowndes County courthouse and jail; Major of the 138th Battalion, Georgia Militia, 1836 to 1838 – participated in actions at the Little River; December 22, 1837, appointed to the board of trustees for the proposed Lowndes County Academy at Troupville; Primitive Baptist; affiliated with Friendship Church along with wife, Sarah, soon after moving to Lowndes County;  membership received by letter in March, 1846 at Old Antioch Church, now in Echols county,  elected church clerk;  died 1866.

Magnum Post Office Briefly Served Pioneers of Old Berrien

Lowndes County, GA,  1839

After south Georgia was first opened to settlers in the 1820s, the federal government established post offices to serve the pioneers.  But for many years, the  Post Offices of the Old Berrien Pioneers were few and far between.

As of 1836 there were only two post offices in all of Lowndes County, GA, an area which then encompassed present day Lowndes, Berrien, Cook, Brooks, Lanier, and parts of Tift, Colquitt, and Echols counties. These post offices are shown on the 1839 Map of Georgia & Alabama exhibiting the post offices, post roads, canals, rail roads & c.; by David H. Burr (Late topographer to the Post Office), Geographer to the House of Representatives of the U.S.

In 1836 area settlers traveled to post mail either at the county court house at Franklinville, GA, or at a post office on the Coffee Road which existed only briefly in Lowndes County. Contemporary accounts give the name of this post office as Mangum, although the 1839 Burr postal map, the official U. S. Postal Service Record of Appointment of Postmasters, and List of the Post-Offices in the United States give the name as Magnum.

1839 map of Lowndes County, GA showing post offices and stagecoach routes.

1839 map of Lowndes County, GA showing post offices and stagecoach routes. (Detail of 1839 Map of Georgia & Alabama exhibiting the post offices, post roads, canals, rail roads & c.; by David H. Burr (Late topographer to the Post Office), Geographer to the House of Representatives of the U.S.).

Actually, the Burr map was out of date by the time it was published in London in 1839.

In 1836, the Franklinville post office was located near  the Withlacoochee River about 10 miles southwest of the homestead of Levi J. Knight at Beaverdam Creek (now the site of Ray City, GA).  But in 1837 this post office was transferred another 12 miles farther southeast to Troupville, GA when the county seat was relocated to the confluence of the Withlacoochee and Little rivers.

The Magnum post office, as shown on the 1839 Burr map, was situated  another 15 miles to the west of Franklinville, GA.  Prior t0 1836 it was been known as the Sharpe’s Store post office, where Hamilton Sharpe served as postmaster and operated his country store on the Coffee Road. Sharpe, who had become busily engaged with politics and with the Indian Wars, stepped down as post master in 1836. The Sharpe’s Store post office was renamed Magnum post office, and John Hall, Sr. took over as postmaster effective April 1, 1836.

Milledgeville Federal Union, Apr. 28, 1836.

Milledgeville Federal Union, Apr. 28, 1836.

The Milledgeville Federal Union
April 28, 1836

THE POST-OFFICE, at “Sharpe’s Store” Lowndes county, Georgia, has changed its name to that of Mangum and John Hall Esq. has been appointed postmaster.

Postmaster John Hall, Sr. was a brother of Sion Hall.  Sion Hall, one of the very earliest settlers of Lowndes (now Brooks) county, had established a tavern on the Coffee Road about 1823.   Sharpe’s Store had opened about four years later near Hall’s Inn, which served as the first site of Superior Court meetings in Lowndes County.

The Magnum, or Mangum, Post Office was short-lived, though. Postal records show that on January 28, 1837 the name reverted to Sharpe’s Store Post Office, and Hamilton Sharpe resumed as post master. Sharpe served as postmaster until 1848, and the Sharpe’s Store Post Office continued under other postmasters until closing in 1853.

1836-37 Postmasters at Magnum  and Sharpe's Store Post Offices, from official Records of Appointment of U. S. Postmasters.

1836-37 Postmasters at Magnum and Sharpe’s Store Post Offices, from official Records of Appointment of U. S. Postmasters.

After the post office moved from Franklinville to Troupville in 1837, the Knight’s and other early settlers of the Ray City area had a round trip of about 44 miles to get their mail.  The round trip to  the post office at Sharpe’s Store was about 50 miles, although it was may have been on the better travel route via the Coffee Road. But for the Knights, the bustling town of Troupville, with its social happeningstravelers and ramblers, commerce and trade, religion and  politics, court proceedings, legal affairsamusements, hotels and inns, was undoubtedly the preferred destination. On the other hand, Hamilton W. Sharpe, like Levi J. Knight, was a political and military leader of Lowndes County, and the two are known to have had frequent associations.

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Fourth of July, 1834 and the State Rights Association




In 1834, William A. Knight, Levi J. Knight, Hamilton W. Sharpe, John Blackshear, John McLean, John E. Tucker, William Smith led the effort to form a State Rights Association at Franklinville, GA,  then seat of Lowndes County.  Lowndes, at that time included all of present day Berrien County, and the community  settled by Wiregrass pioneer Levi J. Knight  which would become known as Ray City, GA.  The following year, the  citizens of Lowndes again met  to toast States Rights at Franklinville on Independence Day(1835)  In 1836, they would designate their new county seat as Troupville, in honor of “the great apostle of state rights,” George M. Troup.

George M. Troup

George M. Troup

The State Rights Party of Georgia had been launched in 1833 by prominent leaders of the Troup party, including John M. Berrien, George R. Gilmer, William H. Crawford, William C. Dawson, and Augustin S. Clayton. The  State Rights activists were committed to the notion that individual states could exercise nullification of federal laws which they found objectionable, although this doctrine  was condemned by the Legislature of Georgia and other state governments.  Furthermore, according to the State Rights supporters, individual states where bound by the Constitution only to the extent that they found agreeable;  states could secede from the Union  at will.  These ideas emerged in response the Alien and Sedition Acts – a sort of 17th century version of the Homeland Security Act – which the Federalists enacted as war with France loomed on the horizon.

According to the Library of Congress:

Signed into law by President John Adams in 1798, the Alien and Sedition Acts consisted of four laws passed by the Federalist-controlled Congress as America prepared for war with France. These acts increased the residency requirement for American citizenship from five to fourteen years, authorized the president to imprison or deport aliens considered “dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States” and restricted speech critical of the government. These laws were designed to silence and weaken the Democratic-Republican Party. Negative reaction to the Alien and Sedition Acts helped contribute to the Democratic-Republican victory in the 1800 elections. Congress repealed the Naturalization Act in 1802, while the other acts were allowed to expire.”

The infringements of the  Alien and Sedition Acts had prompted   Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to secretly author the Kentucky (1798) and Virginia (1799)  Resolutions which first proposed the argument that state legislatures had the right to nullify Federal statutes.   In these resolutions lay the seeds of disunion which culminated in the Civil War.

The 1834 convening of the State Rights activists in Lowndes County was full of rhetoric over the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, South Carolina’s attempts at nullification, Andrew Jackson’s Nullification Proclamation which disputed a states’ right to nullify federal law, and the subsequent Force Act, which authorized the use of military force against any state that resisted federal law.

 

Georgia Journal
September 3, 1834 — page 3

According to previous arrangement, the citizens of Lowndes county friendly to State Rights met in Franklinville on the 4th of July, for the purpose of forming a State Rights Association – when, on motion, Wm Smith was called to the Chair, and John McLean appointed Secretary.  The object of the meeting was then explained by Hamilton W. Sharpe, Esq.  A committee of five persons, to wit: H. W. Sharpe, John Blackshear, John McLean, John E. Tucker, and Levi J. Knight, was appointed to draft a preamble expressive of the political sentiments of the meeting, and a constitution for the government of the association.

The meeting then adjourned until Friday the 1st day of August.

WM SMITH, Chairman

John McLean, Secr’y

————————–

Friday August 1.

THE STATE RIGHTS PARTY OF LOWNDES COUNTY, met pursuant to adjournment, on the first day of August, when Wm A. Knight was appointed President, Matthew Albritton and John J. Underwood Vice President, and William Smith recording Secretary and Treasurer. A committee of three persons was appointed to wait on the President, notify him of his appointment, and conduct him to the chair, after which he addressed the meeting at considerable length.

The preamble and Constitution being called for, H. W. Sharpe, from the Committee, reported the following, which was unanimously adopted.

PREAMBLE.

Your Committee, to whom was confided the trust of preparing a Preamble and Constitution to be submitted to this meeting, for the formation of a State Rights association in the county of Lowndes, beg leave to submit the following:

This meeting, which is called in conformity to the request of the State Rights meeting which was formed in Milledgeville on the 13th Nov. last, is deemed by your committee to be of the utmost importance, in producing unanimity of action in suppor of these great conservative principles of State Rights hitherto of such great importance in prostrating the approaching spirit of consolidation.  The triumph of those principles so much to be desired, calls loudly for the formation of local and county associations, as the best means of disseminating those great political truths maintained by the illustrious Jefferson, affirmed by the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions, and sanctioned by the purest patriots of our country.  The state of political parties in Georgia, and throughout the Union, calls loudly for this concert of action to preserve all that is dear to freemen.

There seems to be a spirit abroad in the land, which is likely to fatal to constitutional liberty, and subversive of the Republican doctrines of ’98 and ’99; and in their place is sought to be established antagonist doctrines, calculated to change our political institutions, & destroy our civil rights.  If these doctrines should prevail, then farewell to freedom and State Sovereignty.  Then will the altar of our political faith be destroyed, and its glories extinguished.

Our opponents, to wit, the self-styled Union party of Georgia, would dissemblingly profess to accord with the views of the illustrious Jefferson, and hypocritically pretend to adopt, as the rule of their faith, the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions of ’98 and ’99.  They must have forgotten that those far-famed resolutions declare: “That there being no common judge, each party has a right to judge for itself, as well as of infractions as the mode and measure of redress.”  Now this is the doctrine which we profess to believe; this then would have been the State Rights doctrine of the Union party, if they had gone no farther; but in a subsequent Resolution, they declare that in case Congress should pass an unconstitutional law, no State has a right to judge any thing about it.  How this last sentiment can be made to agree with the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, we leave our opponents to determine.

It is plainly deducible from the whole tenor of their proceedings, that the ultra-Federal doctrines of the Proclamation of the fatal 10th Dec. 1832, are approved and cherished. The tyrannical and despotic provisions of the Force Bill are sanctioned, its authors and supporters applauded, and the sovereignty of their own State denied.  Then if these doctrines should eventually prove successful, it must result in the final overthrow of constitutional liberty, and the establishment of a consolidated despotism on the ruins of State Sovereignty.

While our opponents are thus actively and zealously engaged in disseminating and circulating these dangerous doctrines, they spare no pains in casting odium and reproach on those of us who are friends to State Rights and State Sovereignty.  The terms “rebel, ”disunionist, ”traitor’ and other opprobrious epithets, are frequently applied to those who would exert their influence to arrest the Federal Government in its march towards absolute power and despotism.  We, as a portion of the State Rights party of Georgia, would cast back these epithets, and say, let posterity judge who are the friends of the Union and liberty, when the transactions of the present day shall become matters of history.

We will now give our opinion of some of the leading political subjects, which seem to be the divisional line between the two parties now in Georgia.

We believe the doctrines of the Proclamation of the 10th Dec. 1832 to be radically wrong, and will have a tendency to destroy the original principles of our government, for it re-asserts the doctrines of the Federalist of former days; “That the States of this Confederacy never had a separate existence; that a State has no right to decide upon the constitutionality of any act of Congress, nor to arrest its progress in its own limits.

It denies the right of secession, even under the most oppressive laws, maintaining that the states have not retained their entire sovereignty, and that the allegiance of our citizens is due to the United States in the first instance, and threatening the employment of the sword and bayonet to coerce a State into submission.

The passage of the Act called the Force Bill to be a high-handed measure, unauthorized by the Constitution. The President, overlooking his former principles, demands of a submissive Congress, their sanction of these extraordinary powers and doctrines, and the means of carrying them into effect.

On no former occasion has the hand of power been exerted over the Constitution of a free country with more daring assumption.

In has, under the pretence of collecting the Revenue, at one fell swoop abolished the State governments, conferred upon the President unlimited powers, and placed at his disposal the Army, Navy, and Militia of the United States, not only to be used at his own caprice, but also authorizes him to confer this power on a deputy Marshall, or whoever he may think proper.  It also give him the power to make a Custom house on a ship of war, and place it at the entrance of any harbor he amy think proper, there to exact at the mouth of a cannon, in the name of duites, the honest earnings of the laboring man, and bestow the money as a bounty upon the lordly manufacturer. The provisions of this act are a disgrace to our Statute Book, and a monumnet of the servile spirit of the 22d Congress, and should be torn from our public archives and consigned to the flames that consumed the records of the Yazoo speculation.

Your Committee, however, can but hope, that there is yet a redeeming spirit among the people of this Government, to check the rapid strides of absolute power which is threatening our institutions with a change from a Republic to a Despotism.

In order that the doctrine of State Rights and State Remedies may be promoted, we, its friends and advocates of the county of Lowndes, think it the utmost importance to organize an Association to act in concert with the Central Committee and all Associations of a similar kind.

Therefore, be it resolved, That it is expedient to form a State Rights Association based upon the doctrines of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of ’98 and ’99, as put foth and contended for by Mr. Jefferson adn other republicans of that day.

In compliance with the duty imposed on your Committee, they would respectfully submit the following

CONSTITUTION

Art. 1. This Association shall be known as the State Rights Association of the county of Lowndes, and have for its object the dissemination of sound political doctrine, based upon the Republican doctrine of ’98 and ’99, as put forthe by Mr. Jefferson and other patriots.

Art. 2. The offices of this Association shall be a President, two Vice Presidents, and a Secretary, who shall also act as Treasurer.

Art. 3. The President shall perform the duties which appertain to such an office in all Associations of a similar kind, and shall call meetings of the Association and appoint Committees; and in his absence, one of the Vice Presidents shall preside.

Art. 4. The Secretary shall keep a correct account of the proceedings of the Association.

Art. 5. Any person may become a member of this Association by signing the Constitution.

Art. 6. This Constitution may be altered or amended by two thirds of the Association, at any annual meeting.

Art. 7. The officers of this Association shall be elected on the 4th of July in each and every year, unless it fall on the sabbath, the the Saturday preceding.

On motion of H. W. Sharpe, Esq. it was

Resolved, That the State Rights papers in Milledgeville be respectfully requested to publish the preceedings of this meeting.

Resolved, That the Editors of the Southern Recorder be directed to print one hundred copies of the Preamble and Constitution adopted by this Association for distributing among the people of this county, and forward their account for payment to the Recording Secretary.

The Association adjourned to meet at Franklinville, on Friday before the first Monday in October next.

WILLIAM A. KNIGHT, President

WILLIAM SMITH, Secretary

From Georgia Journal, Sep. 3, 1834 — page 3

1834 William A. Knight elected president of Lowndes County State Rights Association at Franklinville, GA. Members include Levi J. Knight, Hamilton Sharpe, William Smith, Matthew Albritton, John J. Underwood, John McLean, John E. Tucker, John Blackshear

Georgia Journal, Sep. 3, 1834 — page 3

1834 William A. Knight elected president of Lowndes County State Rights Association at Franklinville, GA. Members include Levi J. Knight, Hamilton Sharpe, William Smith, Matthew Albritton, John J. Underwood, John McLean, John E. Tucker, John Blackshear

1834 William A. Knight elected president of Lowndes County State Rights Association at Franklinville, GA. Members include Levi J. Knight, Hamilton Sharpe, William Smith, Matthew Albritton, John J. Underwood, John McLean, John E. Tucker, John Blackshear

1834 William A. Knight elected president of Lowndes County State Rights Association at Franklinville, GA. Members include Levi J. Knight, Hamilton Sharpe, William Smith, Matthew Albritton, John J. Underwood, John McLean, John E. Tucker, John Blackshear

1834 William A. Knight elected president of Lowndes County State Rights Association at Franklinville, GA. Members include Levi J. Knight, Hamilton Sharpe, William Smith, Matthew Albritton, John J. Underwood, John McLean, John E. Tucker, John Blackshear

 

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Levi J. Knight ~ in the Antebellum Wiregrass

Antebellum Wiregrass

By the early 1840s Levi J. Knight, pioneer settler of Ray City, GA, was well known across the state for his military and political leadership, and had been noted in the national press for his actions in the Indian Wars. In his home county of Lowndes, (now Berrien), GA Knight  had a well established estate and was consolidating his real property.   On April 11, 1842 he  purchased 9 lots in the 10th District.  These Lots were available for purchase to anyone with the cost of the $18 survey fee. The Digest of the Taxes of Lowndes County for the Year 1844 shows the following about the property held by the Knight family:

Levi J. Knight owned 7350 acres of pines in the 10th district, Lowndes County, 40 acres of “oak & hickory” on Lot No. 830 in the 18th District, Cherokee county, and seven slaves.

William A. Knight, father of Levi J. Knight, owned 2940 acres of pine land in the 10th district  in Lowndes county, this land improved with bridges and ferries valued at $200. Also three slaves and 250 acres of pine land on Lot 250 in the 7th District in Early County. His tax liability for the year was $15. 26.

John Knight owned Lot No. 453 in the 10th District, Lowndes county, with 490 acres of pine land. No slaves were assessed, with his total property tax being $0.85.

Aaron Knight owned the adjacent Lot No. 454, with all 490 acres in pines. No slaves were assessed, with his total property tax being $0.85.

1844-property-taxes-family-of-levi-j-knight-thumb

In 1846, Lowndes County Deputy Sheriff Jesse W. Carter advertised a Sheriff’s sale which included Levi J. Knight’s property in Lot No. 292 in the 10th district. The land was sold to satisfy a debt Knight owed to Elias Roberts.

The Milledgeville Federal Union, April 28, 1846 — page 3 Lowndes Sheriff’s Sale. Will be sold on the first Tuesday in June next, within the legal hours of sale, before the Court house door in the town of Troupville, Lowndes county, the following property, to wit:… …at the same time and place, will be sold 490 acres of land, known as lot No. 292, in the 10th district of originally Irwin now Lowndes county; levied on as the property of Levi J. Knight, to satisfy a fi fas from Lowndes Superior Court-Elias Roberts vs. Levi J. Knight: property pointed out by defendant. JESSE W. CARTER, D.S. April 16, 1846.

Elias Roberts, plaintiff in the above case, was a fellow veteran of the Indian Wars. He had settled a home place in western Lowndes county bordering on Mule Creek.  About him, historian William Harden wrote,

Elias Roberts, having bought land bordering Mule creek, first built a house of round logs to shelter his family. Then his slaves laboriously whip-sawed boards from the native timber and with a skilled house-joiner and carpenter to direct the operations, a commodious two-story dwelling was erected. The boards were two and a half inches thick, were dove-tailed together at the ends, and were fastened to the studding with wooden -dowel-pins in lieu of nails. When finished, and for some years afterward, this was the most pretentious residence in all this countryside…  Before coming into this part of Georgia, he had served under General Jackson in the Florida Indian wars, and after coming here was a member of a company organized for protection against the Indians over the border, the company being several times called out to drive the red men back to their reservations. During such troublous times the Roberts homestead above described became the place of refuge for the women and children of the settlement, so that it served both as a residence and a fort. Elias Roberts had been a participant in the battle of Brushy Creek in 1836, when the Indians made their last great stand in defense of their hunting grounds.

In 1847, L. J. Knight’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth,  married Hardeman Sirmans.  According to historian Folks Huxford, “Mr. Sirmans served in the Indian War as a private in a volunteer company of Lowndes County militia commanded by his father-in-law, Capt. (afterwards General) Levi J. Knight, August 15th to Oct 15 1838. He was 1st Lieutenant of the 664th militia district, Lowndes County, 1845-46, then served as Captain in same district 1847-1851. Folks Huxford also states in his sketch of Levi J. Knight that when the Mexican War broke out in 1848,  Knight enlisted and served as a captain of volunteers the greater part of that war. About this service, little else is known. In 1850 Levi J. Knight resigned his commission as Major General of the 6th Division of the Georgia Militia, an office he held since 1840. He tendered his resignation in a simple letter to Governor George W. Towns posted September 16, 1850 from Troupville, GA. (see The Commission of Major General Levi J. Knight.) Resignation notwithstanding, state newspapers continued at least through 1854 to report Maj. General Knight as in command of the 6th Division, Georgia Militia with his Head Quarters at Troupville, GA . The 1850 census of Lowndes County, Georgia showed Levi J. Knight’s real estate holdings by that time had amassed a value of $5000. At the time of enumeration his occupation was listed as farming. The  Knight household in 1850 included Levi J. Knight (47)  Ann D. Knight (48), and children William Washington Knight (21), John Knight (18), Mary A. Knight (14), Levi A. Knight (12), Jonathan D. Knight (10), Keziah A. Knight (7).  Also in the Knight home was Elizabeth Clements, age 80, blind, born in Ireland.  Sons William and John assisted their father with farming, The General’s neighbors were his son-in-law Hardeman Sirmans, and William Patton, who was Justice of the Peace. These were difficult and contentious political times. The threat of southern rebellion over the constitutionality of slavery, the fugitive slave law, and the admission of free states to the Union was imminent. In November of 1850, Levi J. Knight  was selected by “the People of Lowndes county, believing that no just cause of resistance now exists” as the Whig delegate to a state Convention that had been called “to resist past aggression – the admission of California into the Union.”  In light of the Compromise of 1850 which had been passed by the U.S. Congress the previous month, Knight pledged that he believed the people of Georgia could honorably acquiesce  in reference to the subject of slavery;  that he would exercise “Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation” at the Convention; and that he would  commit no act nor give his vote for any measure that would tend directly or indirectly to subvert the Constitution of Georgia, or the United States. As one of the most educated men in the county, L. J. Knight was frequently called upon by his neighbors to handle legal affairs. In 1850 he acted with power of attorney for Thomas Giddens, an illiterate veteran of the Seminole Wars, to receive 80 acres of land due Giddens as compensation for eight months of military service. 1850-ljknight-power-of-attorney In the election of 1851, Levi J. Knight was re-elected to the State Assembly as the Senator from Lowndes, Ware, and Clinch counties. Following his retirement from the Georgia Militia, General Levi J. Knight engaged in the construction of Georgia railroads.  He became one of the principals in the Brunswick & Florida Railroad, apparently as both a commercial venture and as a strategy in response to looming military conflict  (see General Levi J. Knight ~ Railroad Tycoon and General Knight’s Railroad Rolls Into Civil War ). In 1856 L. J. Knight was instrumental in the laying out and establishing of Berrien County, newly created from portions of Lowndes, Irwin and Coffee counties. One of Knight’s unhappy senatorial duties in 1856 was  to serve as chair of the legislative delegation sent to pay last respects to Andrew J. Miller, a member of the Georgia Legislature for 20 years and twice president of the state senate.  

The joint committee of the Senate and House appointed to attend the funeral could not reach this city [Augusta] in time. The Mayor received the following dispatch from the chairman : — Macon, February 5. Hon. W. E. Dearing, Mayor: — A joint committee of both Houses came this far on their way to attend the funeral of the Hon. A. J. Miller; but the trains failed to connect, and we cannot reach Augusta in time. Levi J. Knight, Chairman.

In the fall of 1857, Levi J. Knight suffered the passing of his wife, Ann D. Herrin Knight, she having died on October 14, 1857.  The burial was at Union Church cemetery, in present day Lanier County, GA.

Grave of Ann D. Knight, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Grave of Ann D. Knight, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

On Sept 1, 1858, the General’s youngest daughter, Keziah, married her cousin, James A. Knight.  The Census of 1860 shows the couple living in the General’s household. November, 1859 Levi J. Knight was among the gentlemen “appointed by the Governor, Delegates from the State at Large, and from the several Congressional Districts, to represent the State of Georgia in Southern Commercial Convention, to be held in the City of Savannah, on the 8th of December next.” In the winter of 1859 Levi J. Knight’s mother and father both passed away.  His mother, Sarah Cone Knight, died of old age in November 1859 at the age of 80. The following month his father William Anderson Knight, revered Primitive Baptist minister, also succumbed at the age of 82.  Their deaths are recorded in the 1860 Berrien County Mortality Schedule under the names William Knyte and Sarah Knyte. The year came to a close with Levi J. Knight disposing of some of his Lowndes county property:          

Weekly Georgia Telegraph. Dec. 13, 1859. Advertisement. Pg. 1 FOR SALE! In Lowndes County – fourteen hundred and seventy (1470) acres land – particularly desirable for planting and conveniently located in one body. For description, apply to Gen. Levi J. Knight. Milltown, Berrien county, Ga., or to W. COWLES nov 12              at E.L. Strohecker & Co.

The 1860 United States Federal Census lists Levi J.Knight’s occupation as a farmer, with real estate valued at $5000, and a personal estate of $1500. Related Posts:

Map of Old Troupville, GA with Notes on the Residents

Troupville, Lowndes County, GA

From pioneer times to the present day, Ray City, GA , has been under the jurisdiction of three different counties and six different county seats of government.    From 1825 to 1856  the community fell within the borders of Lowndes County. During that period,   the county seat of government was first at Franklinville, GA, then briefly at Lowndesville, and in 1836 moved to the town of Troupville,GA.

Previous posts about Troupville GA:

In its heydey, Troupville was the center of commerce and social activity for the region.  Among the prominent pioneer settlers who frequented the town were the Knight family.  Reverend William A. Knight, was the religious leader of many of the Primitive Baptist churches in the area and the father of Levi J. Knight,  earliest settler at the site of present day Ray City, Berrien County, GA.

White’s Statistics of the State of Georgia, published 1849, describes Troupville thus:

Troupville is the [Lowndes County, GA] seat of justice, immediately in the fork made by the confluence of the Withlacoochee and Little rivers.  It has the usual county buildings, three hotels, two churches, four stores, several mechanics’ shops, two physicians, and four lawyers.  It is distant from Milledgeville 180 miles S.; 40 from Thomasville; 75 from Waresborough, and 75 from Irwinville.  It is a healthy and pleasant village.  Population about 20 families.

Here is a conceptual layout of 0ld Troupville adapted from a sketch of the town made by C. S. Morgan, and   superimposed on  a modern map of the confluence of the Withlacoochee River and the Little River .

Map of Troupville, GA adapted from C. S. Morgan

Map of Troupville, GA adapted from C. S. Morgan

In addition to the structures depicted on this map, the following Troupville property owners are known:

  • Lot No. 1       “on the east side of the Courthouse” property of William  McAuley prior to 1841
  • Lot No. 2        1/2 acre “water lot”, Jesse Townsend, prior to 1846
  • Lot No. 3        1/2 acre, John J. Underwood, prior to 1844
  • Lot No. 4        1/2 acre, John J. Underwood, prior to 1844
  • Lot No. 5        1/2 acre, John J. Underwood, prior to 1844;  1/4 acre “water lot” property of Jared Johnson, prior to 1846
  • Lot No. 6        1/2 acre, John J. Underwood, prior to 1844
  • Lot No. 7       1/4 acre,Uriah Kemp, prior to 1839; south half (1/8 acre), Daniel S. Graham prior to 1841.
  • Lot No. 8       Uriah Kemp, prior to 1839
  • Lot No.  9      Uriah Kemp prior to 1839, Hiram Hall prior to 1842
  • Lot No. 10     1/2 acre, Hiram Hall prior to 1842, John J. Underwood, prior to 1844
  • Lot No. 11     1/4 acre “well improved” lot owned by John Studstill up to 1845; Richard Allen after 1845
  • Lot No. 13      south half (1/8 acre), James A. Boyet prior to 1842.
  • Lot No. 14      “on the east side of the Courthouse” property of William  McAuley prior to 1841
  • Lot No. 15      1/4 acre  “water lot”, Jesse Townsend, prior to 1846
  • Lot No. 16       1/4 acre, William P. Murdoch prior to 1852
  • Lot No. 17     Daniel W. ThomasTen Pin Alley
  • Lot No. 21     1/4 acre, John J. Underwood prior to 1846.
  • Lot No. 25     1/4 acre, William Lastinger prior to 1840; Hiram Hall prior to 1842, Burnett & Hall  (Joseph S. Burnett and Hiram Hall) 1842 to 1843.
  • Lot No. 28     1/4 acre mol, Thomas O. Townsend prior to 1847
  • Lot No. 29     1/4 acre, John J. Underwood prior to 1844, Samuel Maulden, prior to 1847
  • Lot No. 32     1/4 acre, Hiram Hall prior to 1842, Burnett & Hall  (Joseph S. Burnett and Hiram Hall) 1842 to 1843;  John J. Underwood, 1843 -1844;  property of Hiram Hall, 1844 and described as   ” the place whereon John J. Underwood now [Aug 13, 1844] lives.”
  • Lot No.  34    property of William  McAuley prior to 1841
  • Lot No. 35     Henry J. Stewart, , prior to 1850. Stewart was an Attorney at Law and served as Postmaster in 1848.
  • Lot No. 37     Joseph S. Burnett and Hiram Hall prior to 1841
  • Lot No. 38     1/4 acre, William McDonald, prior to 1838
  • Lot No. 39     1/4 acre, William D. Branch, prior to 1840
  • Lot No. 42     1/4 acre, William D. Branch, prior to 1840
  • Lot No. 45     5 acres mol (Wilson’s Survey), Mikel Myers, prior to 1848
  • Lot No. 46     Peter K. Baillie, prior to 1842
  • Lot No. 50     1/4 acre, “on which is situated the Methodist Episcopal Church,” property Duke K. Jimson prior to 1846.
  • Lot No. 53     1/4 acre, Duke K. Jameson;  also Richard W. Kirkland prior to his death in 1848
  • Lot No. 57     1/4 acre, John J. Underwood prior to 1846.
  • Lot No. 58     1/4 acre, John J. Underwood prior to 1846.
  • Lot  No. 59    1/4 acre, John J. Underwood prior to 1844; Thomas O. Townsend prior to 1845
  • Lot  No. 60    Thomas O. Townsend prior to 1945
  • Lot No. 61      1/4 acre, Duke Blackburn prior to 1838;  Uriah Kemp,  prior to 1839
  • Lot No. 64      1/4 acre,   Uriah Kemp,  prior to 1839; John J. Underwood, prior to 1844
  • Lot  No. 65    Thomas O. Townsend prior to 1845
  • Lot No. 66     Thomas O. Townsend prior to 1845
  • Lot No. 67     1/4 acre, John J. Underwood prior to 1846.
  • Lot No. 68     1/4 acre, John J. Underwood prior to 1846.
  • Lot No. 69     1/2 acre, John J. Underwood, prior to 1844
  • Lot No. 70     1 1/2 acre, John J. Underwood, prior to 1844
  • Lot No. 72     Duncan Smith prior to 1846.
  • Lot No. 73     2 acres mol, Lodowick Miller, prior to 1842
  • Lot No. 91     1/4 acre, John J. Underwood, prior to 1844

SOME RESIDENTS AND BUSINESS OWNERS OF TROUPVILLE, GA

  • John Ashley, attorney, 1848
  • Sumner W. Baker, attorney, 1856
  • George W. Behn, attorney, 1845
  • M.J. Bennett
  • W. B. Bennett, attorney, Associate Editor of the Thomasville Southern Enterprise, 1858
  • M. B. Bennett, attorney
  • James B. Bliss, jeweler, 1843
  • Elisha Ward Bozeman  – not a Troupville resident, but  in the 1850s he was  a “hack driver”  who regularly drove carriages through the town on the route from Thomasville, GA to Monticello, FL. He was later a resident of Quitman, GA
  • Henry Briggs, Doctor and apothecary shop owner.
  • Anthony C. Bruner, Methodist Preacher in 1842
  • Joseph S. Burnett, sheriff, 1839
  • T.A. Caruth, 1857 pastor
  • John B.Cashan, merchant
    • Deborah Cashan, wife of John B. Cashan
    • Children of John B. Cashan
      Ann E. C. Cashan
      Sarah J. Cashan
      John B. Cashan, Jr.
      James S. Cashan
      Jones E. Cashan
  • Albert Converse
  • Mary Converse
  • Reverend William B. Cooper, first pastor of Little River Baptist Church
  • D. R. Creech, traveled to New York City, October 1857
  • O.P.Dasher , traveled to New York City, October 1857
  • William H. Dasher, Attorney at Law, 1852-56
  • T. S. Davies, Attorney at Law, doing business as the firm Davies & Rockwell, 1846.
  • William H. Goldwire, Attorney at Law, 1852
  • A. Davis, Pastor 1858
  • William Wesley Dowling, Farmer 1849-1854
    • Ardelia Frier Dowling, Wife of William W. Dowling
    • Children of Ardelia and William W. Dowling
      John Moses Dowling
      Sarah Elizabeth Ann Dowling
      Ryan Eli Dowling
      Henry Taylor Dowling
      Mary Emily Dowling
  • Thomas William Ellis,  Doctor and druggist
    • Piercy Dixon Ellis, wife of Dr. Ellis
    • Elisabeth Ellis, daughter of Dr. Ellis
    • Caroline Ellis, daughter of Dr. Ellis, married John B. Cashan in Dooly Co., 22 Jul, 1849
  • Ryan Frier, minister of the Little River Baptist Church, 1842
  • Reverend Jonathan Gaulden, organizing member of the Little River Baptist Church.
  • William Oglethorpe Girardeau – of Monticello, FL, had a law office in Troupville, 1848, in partnership with Charles S. Rockwell
  • William Godfrey, Grocery merchant circa 1850
  • Henrietta O. Goldwire, member of the Little River Baptist Church
  • James O. Goldwire, constituting member and deacon of the Little River Baptist Church
  • Marie I. Goldwire, member of Little River Baptist Church
  • William H.Goldwire, second pastor of Little River Baptist Church, Attorney at Law, 1852
    • Ann C. Goldwire, Wife of William H. Goldwire
    • Children of Ann C. and William H. Goldwire
      Matilda M. Goldwire
      Sophia B. Goldwire
  • Old Monday, a slave of the Goldwires
  • Thomas Butler Griffin
    • Jane Moore Griffin
    • Children of Thomas Butler Griffin and Jane Moore Griffin
      Marcus J. Griffin
      Samuel Moore Griffin
      Iverson Lamar Griffin
  • W.W. Griffin, Methodist Episcopal preacher, 1843
  • Joshua Griffith, Sales Agent for the Wiregrass Reporter (Thomas County newspaper)
  • Barney Howell –  in the 1840s “was mail carrier between this neighborhood [Thomasville] and Monticello, Florida, making the horseback journey with great regularity and going via Troupville, which was then county seat of Lowndes County.”   He was a resident of Thomas County, and a brother of Caswell Howell.
  • Thomas Hughes Hines, Attorney at Law, residing at Stansell’s hotel, 1850; doing business as the firm Nelson & Hines, 1852, and on his own account in 1853
  • Seaborn Jones, died November 9, 1849, accidently shot by his nine-year-old son, William Jones
  • Jonathan Knight, hotel operator circa 1840-1849
  • D. B. Johnson, student at Troupeville Academy, circa 1849
  • Isaac de Lyon, publisher of the South Georgia Watchman newspaper
  • Leonoren de Lyon, editor of the South Georgia Watchman newspaper
  • Robert Marlow, member of Little River Baptist Church
  • R. J. McCook, Methodist Episcopal Preacher, 1856
  • Charles C. Morgan
  • David B. Morgan, Attorney
  • William L. Morgan, Attorney at Law and Secretary of the Lowndes County Inferior Court, beekeeper, Solicitor General of the Southern Circuit (1843), representative to the 1845 Georgia Democratic Convention
  • Thomas L. Nelson, Attorney at Law, doing business as the firm of Nelson & Hines.
  • James W. Patterson, Attorney, 1854
  • Dr. W. H. Perry, of Troupville, received his medical degree in Augusta in 1843.
  • Henry Peeples, Merchant
  • John Peeples
  • Richard Augustin Peeples, Merchant, later mayor of Valdosta
  • Tillman D. Penrifoy, Preacher, 1840
  • Col. Ephriam H. Platt, Attorney and real estate agent, 1853 -1858.
  • GeorgeRobie, Teacher, 1842
    • Frances Barrett Robie, wife of George Robie
    • Georgia A. Robie, daughter of George Robie, b. 1842 at Troupville, GA
  • Charles S. Rockwell, Attorney at Law, doing business in 1846 as the firm of Davies & Rockwell, and in 1848 as the firm of Rockwell & Girardeau.
  • John Slade,  Methodist preacher riding on the Troupville circuit.
  • William Smith, Innkeeper of  Tranquil Hall and Postmaster of Troupville
  • Aaron Smith – Storekeeper
  • Duncan Smith, Clerk of court, 1851
  • Henry H. Smith, head of Troupville Bible Society, 1856
  • Mose Smith – Storekeeper, owned the first store in Troupville
  • Moses Smith, Jr.
  • S. Spencer, Attorney at Law, doing business as the firm of Spencer & Stewart, 1843
  • H. S. Stewart, Attorney at Law, doing business as the firm of Spencer & Stewart, 1843
  • George W.Stansell, Hotel keeper
    • Eliza E. Stansell, wife of G. W. Stansell
  • John Strickland
  • Elizabeth Wooten Swain, 1st wife of Morgan Swain
    • Children of Elizabeth Wooten and Morgan Swain
      Joel Wooten Swain
      Rachel Inman Swain
  • Rebecca Griffin Swain, 2nd wife of Morgan Swain
    • Children of Rebecca Griffin & Morgan Swain
      Silvania Swain
      Emily Swain
      Thomas Swain
      William Swain
      Morgan Swain, jr
  • Morgan Swain, Innkeeper, jailor, blacksmith, and sheriff
  • Tarlton Swain, brother of Morgan Swain
  • Daniel W. Thomas, Shopkeeper, residing at Stansell’s hotel, 1850.
  • John Towells, Sheriff, 1844
  • Solomon W. Walker, Farmer
    •  Mary King Walker
    • Children of Solomon W. Walker & Mary King Walker
      Solomon Wesley Walker
      Matilda Walker
      Nancy Jane Walker
      Sophia Walker
      Henry Clay Walker
      William Webster Walker
      Isham F. Walker
      Mary Walker
  • Lewis P. D. Warren, Attorney, admitted to the bar at Troupville, 1848
  • Powhatan Whittle, Attorney
  • William Wilder
    • Sarah Wilder
      Hopkins Wilder;
      John W.Wilder;
      Jane M.Wilder;
      Bathsheba Wilder;
      Andrew J.Wilder;
      Edward Gross Wilder
      Sarah E Wilder

OTHER BUSINESSES AND COMMERCE OF TROUPVILLE, GA

  • Farmers House – a tavern or inn owned by William P. Murdoch,  1852
  • South Georgia Watchman newspaper
  • St. John the Baptist Masonic Lodge, 1854
  • Troupville Academy   –  was authorized by Georgia statutes  in 1852.
  • Little River Baptist Church  –  constituted June 21st, 1840,  construction completed in 1842, although services were held earlier in the home of James O. Goldwire, in other homes and in the Court House. Name changed to Troupville Baptist church in 1844, eventually became First Baptist Church of Valdosta.
  • Troupville Methodist Church  –    In 1842, Anthony C. Bruner was the Methodist Preacher at Troupville,  Later, John Slade was a Methodist preacher riding on the Troupville circuit.
Sketch of Old Troupville, GA by C. S. Morgan

Sketch of Old Troupville, GA by C. S. Morgan

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Bowling at old Troupville, Georgia

1850s-bowling

Ten Pin bowling was a pastime at antebellum Troupville, Georgia.

Until the creation of Berrien County in 1856, the seat of county government for the pioneer settlers of Ray City, GA was situated at Troupville, Lowndes County, GA.  Troupville  was not only the center of governance, but also the commercial and social center of the county.  As related in J. N. Talley’s account of An Antebellum Trial at Troupville:

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

A brief legal notice which appeared in the April 2, 1852 edition of the Albany Patriot indicates that one of the “worldly amusements” available at Troupville was a ten pin alley, or bowling alley, operated by Daniel W. Thomas before his death.

1852 administration of the estate of Daniel W. Thomas, Troupville, GA.

1852 administration of the estate of Daniel W. Thomas, Troupville, GA.


Albany Patriot
April 2, 1852

Administrator’s Sale

Will be sold on the first Tuesday in May next, by order of the Judge of Ordinary, within the usual hours of sale, before the Court House door in Troupville, Lowndes county, the following property to wit:
Lot of Land No. ninety-one (91) in the 12th dist. of originally Irwin now Lowndes county, containing 410 acres more or less.
Also Town lot No. 17 containing one-fourth of an acre, well improved, with a Ten Pin Alley on said lot. Said lot is laid out in the town of Troupville, in Clyatts first survey. Sold as the property of Daniel W. Thomas late of Lowndes county deceased, for the benefit the benefit of the heirs and creditors of said deceased. Terms on the day of sale.

THOMAS B. GRIFFIN, Adm’r.
March 19, 1852.

Daniel W. Thomas (1820-1851) originated from Connecticut, but came to Troupville, Georgia some time before 1847. He was a shopkeeper and a bachelor , residing in a Troupville hotel owned by George W. Stansell. A Democrat in politics, he was elected as one of three Lowndes county representatives to the 1847 gubernatorial convention.

The Ten Pin Alley at Troupville may have resembled an early wooden outdoor bowling alley pictured below at Eudora, KS.  (Image courtesy of Eudora Area Historical Society)

The Ten Pin Alley at Troupville, GA may have resembled this early example from Eudora, KS. Image courtesy of Eudora Area Historical Society.

The Ten Pin Alley at Troupville, GA may have resembled this early example from Eudora, KS. Image courtesy of Eudora Area Historical Society.

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An Antebellum Trial at Troupville

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

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

AN ANTEBELLUM TRIAL AT TROUPVILLE

By J. N. TALLEY, of the Macon Bar

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Cause of Death Revealed by Hole in Hat.

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

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


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

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

Samuel Mattox escapes from Troupville, GA jail, 1843.

Federal Union, Nov. 21, 1843 — page 1

GEORGIA:

A Proclamation

By Charles J. McDonald, Governor of said State.

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

CHARLES J. McDONALD.

By the Governor,

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

Nov. 7 1843.

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

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

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

Resuming the account by J.N. Talley:

Mattox Convicted

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

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

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

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

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

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

Milledgeville Southern Reporter
August 13, 1844

Troupville, Lowndes Co.,
July 30, 1844.

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

Truly yours, &c.

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

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

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

Tifton Gazette
March 8, 1901

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

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

The Studstill Case

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

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

An Old Indictment

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

GEORGIA, LOWNDES COUNTY.

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

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

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

The Court Room

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

Procedure Reviewed

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

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

 

The Trial Proceeds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Argument Long and Loud

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

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

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

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

 

Conviction Affirmed

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

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

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

 

Jonathan Receives Pardon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dumb Act

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

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

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

 

Old Troupville

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A Vanished Town

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

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

-30-

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