William Brauner Cooper, Missionary Baptist

In the 1840s and 50s, Reverend William Brauner Cooper was pastor of the Missionary Baptist churches at Troupville and Thomasville, GA,  and at Monticello, Florida.  The American Baptist Register of 1852 shows in that year he had 40 church members at Monticello in Jefferson County, Florida, 29 at Ocklocknee Baptist Church in Thomasville, and 22 church members at the  baptist church of Troupville, GA which was then the county seat of Lowndes County, GA.

Rev. W. B. Cooper was a minister of culture who labored successfully to build up [the baptist] denomination in Florida… For meekness, prudence, and humility he was hardly ever excelled and not often equaled…. He was a very earnest minister, and the people loved to hear him. His style of preaching was very instructive. He was a leader in all moral, religious, and denominational works, and he frequently presided over Associations and Conventions. In Hamilton, Columbia, Madison. Jefferson, and other counties he did a grand work for Jesus and for his beloved denomination. – 1881 Baptist Encyclopedia

Wm B. was a farmer and slaveholder, owning considerable acreage at various times in Madison, Hillsborough, and Jefferson Counties in Florida, as well as a “claim” in Texas. He was a great great grandson of Benjamin Franklin

William Brauner Cooper was born 26 Apr 1807 in Abbeville, South Carolina, a son of Joseph Perrill Cooper (1777-1842) and Sarah Ann Franklin (1788-1874). His father served in the War of 1812, in Captain Zachary Meriwether’s company, Austin’s Regiment of the South Carolina Militia. This regiment was mustered from drafted men called into service at the very end of the war. Joseph Perrill Cooper enlisted for 60 days but left his unit after 43 days of service. After his death his widow’s pension claim was rejected ” by reason of insufficient service & personal abandonment.”

[William Brauner Cooper’s] father Joseph, born in Winchester, Virginia, of Quaker parents Jeremiah Cooper and Rebecca Perrill, and his mother Sarah Ann believed to have been born in Maryland of parents William Temple Franklin and Abigail Brauner, came to the Abbeville/Laurens area before 1805, settling on acreage near the Rabons Creek Quaker Meetinghouse. It was here that William B. Cooper and his fifteen siblings would receive their early education and religious training (Huxford Magazine, Vol 27).

William’s father, Joseph Cooper, was a man of rare culture and intellect, and the early education of the son was under his father’s training  (1881 Baptist Encyclopedia). [William’s] father was always very much interested in politics, was an ardent states rights man, and an intimate friend of John C. Calhoun. He, at one time, was a candidate for the state legislature, but whether elected, I am not certain. He had been a carpenter by trade, but taught school in the then thickly settled community, including Greek and Latin in the curriculum of the country district. I have heard my Mother tell how the classes studied out under the trees, and the discipline must have been in keeping more with modern ideas than the switch and ferule of that day, for the kind-hearted Quaker ruled without severity. He was much honored by his family, although he died in 1842, leaving a large number of his children to be brought to maturity by their energetic Mother. The majority of the five sons secured a college education,… (Findagrave).

In 1828, William B. Cooper attended an academy near his home, which was then in Laurens District, SC.   On leaving the academy he went to a [baptist] theological school [Furman Theological Seminary, now Furman University] at a place called High Hills, in Sumter District (1881 Baptist Encyclopedia). The school was named for Richard Furman, a clergyman considered the most important Baptist leader before the Civil War. His son, James C. Furman, became the first president of the Seminary and was the owner of 56 enslaved people. At that time, the school had two professors and about 30 students; the library had 1,000 volumes.

While at the institution William B. Cooper was converted, under the preaching of Daniel Mangram, of Newberry District, and was baptized by him at Mount Pleasant church, SC….He remained two years [at Furman]… (1881 Baptist Encyclopedia).

William B. Cooper first appears in Florida in Hamilton County, which then encompassed all of the land in the fork of the Suwanee River and the Withlacoochee River, and bounded on the north by the Georgia state line.   According to the Florida Baptist Historical Society, William B. Cooper then participated in the organization of the Baptist Church of Christ Concord at Tiger Swamp Meeting-house about one and a half miles south of the community of Wall, FL (now Jasper, FL). Among the founding members were Edmund and Unity Mathis, John Lee, Jesse and Sarah Lee, Perry G. Wall, John L. and Lenora Stewart, Philemon Bryant, Elihu Morgan, as well as William B. Cooper.

Edmund and Unity Mathis were primitive baptists from Lowndes County, GA where they were members of Union Church  having been received April 12, 1828, by letter from Fellowship Church. On June 12, 1830, Edmund Mathis was ordained a deacon in Union Church and continued as a deacon the remainder of his life. Their son, Bunyan Mathis, had brought his family to Hamilton County about 1829.  In fact, “a group of Georgians in search of new farm land migrated to Tiger Swamp located in middle Florida’s Hamilton County. Having established a settlement, several of the Baptists, led by Edmund and Unity Register Mathis, sought the help of Union Church of Lowndes (now Lanier) County, Georgia, to sponsor an “arm” (mission)… Mr. And Mrs. Mathis joined others of the Union Church in a request for that church to establish an “arm” at Tiger Swamp Meeting-house in Hamilton County, near their homes… The group requested the Union Church to provide a ministerial presbytery to help organize and constitute a churchThe request was granted.

According to the Florida Baptist Historical Society, On June 9, 1832, with the assistance of Elders Elias Knight, John Tucker and William B. Cooper, the Baptist Church of Christ Concord as it was then called, was organized. The church called Elias Knight to serve as pastor. The next year the “arm” became an independent church named “Concord” and Deacon Mathis and wife were among charter members. 

William B. Cooper led the church from 1833 to 1836 (Hamilton GenWeb), although in the latter part of this period he was apparently absent pursuing further education. In the spring of 1835 William B. Cooper entered Columbian College, Washington, DC. His choice of institutions may not have set well with some of his church members. Primitive Baptists favor informal training of preachers and consider theological seminaries to have “no warrant or sanction from the New Testament, nor in the example of Christ and the apostles.” There was already a growing “anti-missionary” sentiment among the primitive baptist, and the origins of Columbian College were decidedly missionary.

Columbian College (now The George Washington University) had been planned as “a college and theological institution under the direction of the General Missionary Convention of the Baptist denomination in the United States.” While the charter granted by Congress emphasized that the college must be non-denominational, it remained in the control the Baptists.  The college provided some scholarships for “promising young men…especially if they expressed an interest in becoming ministers of the Gospel.”  “Requisites for admission included an acquaintance with English grammar and arithmetic, a thorough knowledge of geography, and the ability to read and write Latin. The prospective student had to be able to translate, with a high degree of competence, Caesar’s Commentaries, and the works of Virgil, Sallust, select orations of Cicero, and the New Testament in Greek. A candidate for advanced standing from another college had to pass examinations in all subjects previously taken and had to show that he left the other institution in good standing. No one was admitted without satisfactory credentials of good moral character.

According to GWU:

When Columbian College was founded in 1821, the Baptist church and Congress hoped that it would be a national university. But Columbian College quickly got the reputation as a southern institution. There were students from northern states, but the largest contingent of students came from Virginia, then D.C, and to a lesser extent from other southern states on the eastern seaboard….Columbian College existed in a city where human slavery was legal for over forty years prior to emancipation…There are no records of students at Columbian College bringing enslaved people to campus. But the students had opinions about slavery and often freely shared them. In student publications from the time, one common target was abolitionists who the students argued threatened both slavery and national unity. There were also examples found in the pages of these student newsletters of outright support for slavery and by the 1850s, as the sectional crisis advanced, the southern cause. There were also examples of opposition to slavery among the students. The most well-known was Henry J. Arnold, who in 1847 was removed from the school for assisting two men, John R. Smith and a man known only as Abram, who were owned by the college steward. While a student at Columbian, Arnold provided Abram with a letter intended for an attorney and $14 so that he could file a lawsuit to potentially win his freedom in court. For this, he was immediately removed from the student body and the campus by the faculty, an action later approved by the trustees.

Although there is no indication that the college itself ever owned slaves, from the beginning of the college, important leaders and financiers were slave owners and profited from the slave economy. The records also reveal that enslaved people had an almost constant presence on campus working as servants or laborers. Some of these enslaved men and women lived with presidents and stewards on campus while the college hired the labor of others from their masters…The enslaved people that stewards brought to live on campus would have worked as servants (that was their official title) who cleaned and did laundry for the students, prepared meals, and maintained the upkeep of the college building and lawn. We know that enslaved people worked alongside white workers (native and immigrant) and possibly free African Americans…at least 51 of the Board members likely owned slaves at one time or another. A few of the Baptist board of trustee members in slave-owning states (the college was founded and controlled at this time by Baptists), such as Iveson Brooks and Richard Fuller, not only owned slaves but authored influential theological tracts in defense of slavery (GW Libraries). Richard Fuller (April 22, 1804 – October 20, 1876) became one of the founders of the Southern Baptist movement, which split [in 1844] from the Northern Baptists over the issue of slavery in the United States, which Fuller and the Southern Baptists refused to oppose. Northern Baptists held that slave ownership itself disqualified a man for missionary service.

The Historical Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates of the Columbian University, Washington, D. C., 1821-1891, shows that William B. Cooper graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1836. He received a Master of Arts from Columbian University in 1839.

After his graduation he went to Augusta, Ga., where he was ordained.   His first ministry was at Hamburg, South Carolina where he is reported to have experienced a rheumatic condition, causing him to seek a milder clime to the south (Huxford Magazine, Vol 27). He removed to Florida… and located at Madison Court-House, FL (1881 Baptist Encyclopedia).

1845 Florida map detail showing Madison County, FL

1845 Florida map detail showing Madison County, FL

While William  B. Cooper was away attending college in Washington, DC., hostilities had broken out at home in Florida  between Native Americans and white settlers. During the period called The Second Seminole War, from 1835-1842,  the remaining Native American inhabitants of Georgia, Alabama and Florida forcibly resisted removal to western lands. The summer of 1836 had erupted into a string of violent encounters.  In Lowndes County, GA  Levi J. Knight led a company of men on or about July 12, 1836 in a skirmish at William Parker’s place. In subsequent days, engagements were fought at Brushy Creek, Little River, Grand Bay, Troublesome Ford, Warrior Creek and Cow Creek in Lowndes County.  In September, 1836, Gen. Jesup ordered Maj. Dearborn with about two hundred United States regulars, into Lowndes county, for the protection of that and the surrounding country against the depredations of Indians.  Dr. Jacob Rhett Motte, a Harvard educated Army surgeon in Dearborn’s command journaled about their duty at Franklinville, GA  in Lowndes County, GA and in Madison County, FL.  In January, 1837, Dearborn’s force moved into North Florida. About February 23, 1837 Dr.  Motte and the troops encamped at Warner’s Ferry on the upper Withlacoochee River, close to the boundary line between Georgia and Florida:

While there [Warner’s Ferry] we built a stockade, for the protection of the neighboring inhabitants, when [after which] we should have left, as a place of refuge for them.

In consequence of an alarm at Hickstown, caused by a body of Indians attacking a plantation in the neighbourhood, on the 1st of March [1837] we crossed the Withlacoochee and marched to the relief of its inhabitants. The swarthy devils, however, had made themselves scarce by the time we got there; so all we had to do was, as the Scotchman says, “to coome back agen.”

We visited San Pedro, which is seven miles from Hicks-town. In truth the latter was nothing but an extensive field, which had once been the site of an important Indian town; but at the time we saw it presented not the least vestige of its former life and bustle or indeed of any life at all. San Pedro was a County-town [county seat], and we found it was the resort of many fugitives who had left their desolated homes to escape the rifles and scalping-knife; and were dwelling in miserable shanties that could scarcely protect them from the slightest shower. The few settlers on the road we traveled on our return, who had not deserted their clearings, were suffering very much from alarm of Indians, who were known to be concealed somewhere in the vicinity; for they would frequently, when prompted by their necessities, leave their lurking place, in the swamps, and commit depredations, and then retire with impunity loaded with their plunder.”

There is a legend that during this period, while the baptist church was still at Hickstown,  “Indians on the war path approached the church and [saw] through the windows the settlers kneeling in prayer.” “Their plan was to massacre the entire assemblage,” according to an old letter reported by State Librarian William T. Cash (1878-1954), “The Red Men then said to each other, ‘They are talking to the Great Spirit and He will be very angry with us if we kill them.” The letter said the Indians then slipped away quietly, but one of them was captured later and told the whites how narrowly they had escaped being massacred in the Hickstown church.” “ A picture of this incident hangs in the vestibule.”  – Middle Florida Baptist Association, 1995

 

The Florida Militia was also patrolling the Florida-Georgia border during this time. From William B. Cooper’s own Baptist Church of Christ Concord, deacon Edmund Mathis and his son Bunyan Mathis were among those enlisted in Captain John J. Johnson’s Mounted Company of the 2nd Regiment of East Florida Volunteers.  According to military records, the Mathises provided their own horses and were issued U.S. Army muskets, as were other men of the company, The officers of the company provided two horses  and each officer brought a slave as a personal servant.   “Thousands of enslaved men accompanied Confederate officers as their camp slaves, or body servants. These men performed a wide range of roles for their owners, including cooking, cleaning, foraging and sending messages to families back home.” Thousands more were enslaved  as “cooks, butchers, blacksmiths and hospital attendants, and slave owners remained convinced that these men would remain fiercely loyal even in the face of opportunities to escape…” –Diaries of Confederate Soldiers, Smithsonian Magazine

On April 21, 1838, the family and slaves of circuit riding Methodist minister Tilmon Dixon Peurifoy were massacred by Indians near Tallahassee, FL. Attacks at Old Town on the Suwanee River and in Alachua County, FL were reported in the same news accounts.

Reverend Cooper returned in 1839 to the Baptist Church of Christ Concord in Hamilton County, Florida where he became embroiled in the baptist controversy over the appropriateness of missionary work.

Like so many other Baptist churches of the period, the Concord Church in 1839 was confronted by the anti-missions movement. The primary anti-mission proponent was Elder [Elias] Knight, who was still affiliated with the Union Church in Lowndes County (now Lanier), GA.

Serving as the pro-missionary apologist was Hamilton County probate judge and ordained Baptist minister William B. Cooper. The discussion of the pros and cons of the missionary movement continued over a series of monthly church conferences. Finally, Elder Knight told the congregation that the church would take a vote. He explained that whichever faction was in the majority would grant to the opposing faction letters of dismissal so that the departed members could organize another church. The pro-missions’ faction won the standing vote by a slim majority. The missions’ proponents reportedly voted to provide letters of dismission to the anti-missions group, sang a song, shook hands with each other and said their good-byes. The anti-missions’ faction departed and eventually organized the Prospect Baptist Church, which subsequently became a Primitive Baptist congregation. [The Primitive Baptist movement embraced many of the theological positions and faith practices of the early hyper-Calvinists.]

During this contention, Deacon Edmund Mathis and his wife, Unity, were of the anti-missionary sentiment. Upon receiving letters of dismission, they returned to Lowndes County,  where they were received back by Union Church by letter from Concord, Sept. 6, 1839.  Bunyan Mathis and his wife, Elizabeth, went with the anti-mission faction that formed Prospect Church. Although they were at theological odds, William B. Cooper served on the initial presbytery for the organization of Prospect Primitive Baptist Church. Prospect Primitive Baptist Church was located on a bluff overlooking the Suwanee River 17 miles east of Jasper, FL.

It was apparently about this point that William B. Cooper’s Missionary beliefs caused him to abandon the Primitive tenet, and… take a pastorship at newly constituted Hickstown Baptist Church in nearby Madison County (Huxford Magazine, Vol 27).

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Hickstown Baptist Church

Portrait of Tukose Emaltha, a chief of the Miccosukee Indians, who was known by the english name John Hicks.

Portrait of Tukose Emaltha, a chief of the Miccosukee Indians, who was known by the english name John Hicks.

The Hickstown Baptist Church was constituted around 1832 to 1835 at the village of Hickstown, about six miles west of present day Madison, FL. The village was named for John Hicks, a chief of the  Miccosukee tribe whose Indian name was Tuckose Emathla. Hicks had moved his tribe to this region after Andrew Jackson’s 1818 punitive expedition against  Miccosukee villages east of Tallahassee, FL (Jackson’s forces included friendly Indians from Chehaw Village, GA, which was massacred by Georgia Militia troops while the warriors were serving with Jackson in Florida.)   Hicks came to realize that the government’s intention to move the Indians to reservations was inevitable and supported peaceful negotiation between the Native Americans and the government. Hicks was among the chiefs signing the 1823 Treaty of Moultrie Creek, under which terms the Native Americans were relocated to a reservation in central Florida. By 1826 Hicks’ tribe of Miccosukee Indians had removed from Hickstown.

In Madison County on US Hwy 90 a historic marker commemorates the Hickstown site with the following text:

The Miccosukee Indian chief, John Hicks, (English name for Tuckose Emathla) was a prominent Indian leader in the period between the First and Second Seminole Wars (1818-1835). It is believed that after General Andrew Jackson destroyed the Miccosukee towns to the west of here in the 1818 campaign against the Seminoles, John Hicks relocated his village near this site. This village, Hicks Town, was evacuated by the Indians by 1826 as Seminoles were removed to a central Florida reservation. John Hicks died in the winter of 1833-34 after a decade as a major spokesman for his people in treaty councils in which important decisions about the future of the Seminoles were made. White settlers occupied the site in the late 1820’s, and in 1830, Hickstown Post Office was established. By the late 1830’s, the village had disappeared as a center of population due to the Second Seminole War and the creation of an official Madison County seat at San Pedro.

The Miccosukee Indian chief, John Hicks, (English name for Tuckose Emathla) was a prominent Indian leader in the period between the First and Second Seminole Wars (1818-1835). It is believed that after General Andrew Jackson destroyed the Miccosukee towns to the west of here in the 1818 campaign against the Seminoles, John Hicks relocated his village near this site. This village, Hicks Town, was evacuated by the Indians by 1826 as Seminoles were removed to a central Florida reservation. John Hicks died in the winter of 1833-34 after a decade as a major spokesman for his people in treaty councils in which important decisions about the future of the Seminoles were made. White settlers occupied the site in the late 1820's, and in 1830, Hickstown Post Office was established. By the late 1830's, the village had disappeared as a center of population due to the Second Seminole War and the creation of an official Madison County seat at San Pedro. Image source: https://www.waymarking.com/

Hickstown Historic Marker, located on US Highway 90 in Madison County, FL. Image source: https://www.waymarking.com

 

It was around this time that the Hickstown Baptist Church relocated from Hickstown to the community of Madison, which by 1838 had become county seat of Madison County, FL

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“From that time on William B. Cooper’s story is that of a heroic worker and missionary. Neither dangers from the Indians nor toils of the road deterred W. B. Cooper. Throughout the Florida counties of Madison, Leon, and Jefferson, and the Georgia counties of Lowndes and Thomas, he prosecuted his labors with zeal unabated. In the face of bitter opposition from anti-missionary elements, he espoused the cause of missions” – A History of Florida Baptists

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Assuming a commanding role in the Florida’s Missionary movement along the Florida/Georgia corridor, he next became the first pastor of Little River/Troupville Baptist Church near present day Valdosta, Georgia, [The baptist church in Troupville was constituted in 1840.] In consort with Georgia’s Baptist leaders [he] strove to turn the tide  [that was] against the Missionary movement, becoming known in the annals of Florida Baptist history as “the first Missionary Baptist preacher of Florida” (Huxford Magazine, Vol 27).

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William Patten Drew Lots for Inheritance

William Patten (1820-1907) and his brothers, John Jehu Patten, Jethro Patten, James Patten and Matthew Elihu Patten all lived within the vicinity of Rays Mill, GA (now Ray City) and  Milltown, GA (now Lakeland). They were sons of Elizabeth and James M. Patten. Their mother, Elizabeth Lee Patten, was a daughter of Joshua Lee, who about 1830 dammed the northern outflow of Grand Bay, and constructed a grist mill at Allapaha, GA (now Lakeland), GA. Their sister, Nancy Patten, married John F. Clements in Lowndes County in 1840.

William Patten, of Berrien County, GA Image detail courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

William Patten, of Berrien County, GA Image detail courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

William, the oldest of the Patten brothers, married Elizabeth Register on May 4, 1845. She was a daughter of Samuel Register, of Registerville, GA (now Stockton, GA), born in Lowndes, now Lanier County, August 31, 1828. The couple made their home near Ten Mile Creek in the area later known as Watson Grade where they raised 12 children.  William Patten was Justice of Peace in the 664th district, Lowndes County, 1845-1848, and 1849-1856.

It is widely reported that William’s father, James M. Patten, died in 1846. His grave marker bears that date, but legal  notices published in the period newspapers clearly indicate he died prior to March 4, 1845. On that date William Patten applied for letters of administration on the estate.

William Patten applied on March 4, 1845 for letters of administration on his father's estate. March 25, 1845 Milledgeville Southern Recorder

William Patten applied on March 4, 1845 for letters of administration on his father’s estate. March 25, 1845 Milledgeville Southern Recorder

Milledgeville Southern Recorder
March 25, 1845

Georgia, Lowndes County

Whereas William Patten applies for letters of administration on the estate of James M. Patten, late of said county, deceased-
These are therefore to cite and admonish all and singular, the kindred and creditors of said deceased, to be and appear at my office within the time prescribed by law, to shew cause, if any exists, why said letters should not be granted.
Given under my hand at office, this 4th day of March 1845. 
William Smith, c.c.o.

William Patten  was appointed the administrator of his father’s estate. Since the legal rights of women were severely abridged in those days, William Patten also acted as legal guardian for his minor siblings, Sarah Patten, James Patten, Elizabeth Patten, John Jehu Patten, Mathew Elihu Patten and Mary Patten.

Altogether there were 11 heirs to the James M. Patten estate, and a distribution of the deceased’ livestock was conducted at the March 1849 Term of the Lowndes Court of the Ordinary, with Levi J. Knight, Justice of the Peace, presiding and Thomas B. Griffin, Clerk of the Court. The livestock was divided into 11 lots. According to the court records, the lots were “numbred 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and were assnged to the distributees in the fowollowing maner to wit the names of the distributees were writen on another piece of paper and put into another hat. The hats were both well shaken. A name was then drawn from the hat containing the names then a number was drawn from the hat containing the number and in that manner continued till all were drawn.

William drew Lot number 5, consisting of “29 head cattle marked crop & split in one eare and under l— in the other, branded VV, approved to $4 per head” and took possession of similar lots on behalf of his six wards. William also purchased from his father’s estate a crosscut saw at $7.00, one bed & furniture at $11.00, one grub hoe at $.50, one desk, powder canister & trunk at $2.75, and five bee hives at $5.37.

William Patten was baptized into Union Primitive Baptist Church on September 9, 1848.  The church was constituted in 1825 on the banks of the Alapaha River by his parents, Elizabeth and James Patten, and maternal grandparents, Martha and Joshua Lee, along with William A. Knight, Sarah Knight, Jonathan Knight, Elizabeth Knight, Mary Knight, Josiah Sirmans, and Matthew Albritton.  William Patten served as clerk of Union church from May 10, 1851 to 1854 when he was dismissed by letter March 11, 1854, to unite with Jethro Patten, Aden Boyd, Nancy Boyd and others in organizing Empire Church. The Boyds gave the land for the church, located near Five Mile Creek  about six miles northeast of present day Ray City out the Sam I. Watson Highway, on Empire Road. Jethro Patten served as first deacon to the church.

William Patten remained a member of Empire church until his death.  William and Jethro were ordained to the ministry by Empire Church and served as pastors to several churches in Clinch and Berrien Counties.

In 1856, William Patten’s place was cut out of Lowndes into Berrien County and he was immediately elected to the office of Justice of the Peace in the newly formed 1144th district, an office he held from 1856 to 1869.  In 1862 he was Captain of the militia district.

There is nothing in the 1850 Census of Enslaved Inhabitants of Lowndes County or 1860 Census of Enslaved Inhabitants Berrien County to indicate that the Pattens were slave owners.  But like many other southern white men, both slave owners and non-slaveholders, the Pattens went off to fight for the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Historian Gordon Rhea attributes non-slaveholders’ commitment in the Southern cause to deep held belief in white supremacy, increasing isolation and alienation from the North, and the southern theological interpretation of biblical support for slavery.  Near universal messaging from Southern religious, political and community leaders  reinforced the fears in white southerners of slave rebellion, collapse of the southern economy, loss of status and privilege, and the alleged criminal desires of freedmen.

It is said that William Patten, John Jehu Patten, James Patten, Matthew Elihu Patten and Jethro Patten all fought for the Confederacy. It appears that Jethro Patten served in the 12th Georgia Militia. Jehu and James served with Company E, 54th Georgia Regiment. William served with Company I, 54th Georgia Regiment. Other Berrien Countians in Company I included John Gaskins, Fisher Gaskins, William Gaskins, Joseph Gaskins, and Lemuel Elam Gaskins.  Matthew E. Patten’s Civil War service is not known.

Children of William Patten and Elizabeth Register Patten:

  1. James Irwin Patten born February 15, 1846; married 1st cousin Leanna Patten, daughter of Jethro Patten and Nancy Brown; died 1934
  2. Lewis C. Patten born October 11, 1847; never married; died September 18, 1890.
  3. William C “Babe” Patten born December 28, 1849; married (1) Sarah Lee (2) Laura Watson.
  4. George W. L. Patten born April 21, 1852; died August 8, 1864.
  5. Henry R. Patten born April 17, 1854; died single, November 23, 1873.
  6. Sylvester M. Patten born May 15, 1856; married Eliza Watson; died 1940
  7. Elizabeth Roena Patten born June 27, 1858; married Levi J. Clements; died 1951
  8. Samuel Register Patten born July 8, 1860; married (1) Laura Curry, daughter of Charles W. Curry (2) Matilda Patten, daughter of Matthew Elihu Patten; died 1938
  9. Marcus Sheridan Patten born 1861; married January 1, 1901 to Mittie Walker, daughter of Edgar D. Walker; died 1950
  10. Catherine Matilda Patten born December 20, 1864; died single July 2, 1893.
  11. Mary Jane “Mollie” Patten born November 30, 1866; married John Thomas “J.T.” Webb (1863-1924); died 1955.
  12. Edward Levi Patten born March 31, 1869; died single July 7, 1928.

In 1865 William Patten joined the Masonic fraternity, receiving his degrees in the old Butler Lodge No. 211 at Milltown, GA (now Lakeland). Other members of Butler Lodge included Thomas M. Ray , Hardeman Sirmans and Jesse Carroll.  William Patten was demitted September 18, 1880, and on account of the attitude of his church towards Masonry, never affiliated with a lodge thereafter.

In 1867 William Patten owned all 490 acres of Lot 385 in the 1144th Georgia Militia District of Berrien County. Lot 385 was north of Milltown (now Lakeland) between the forks of the Alapaha River and Ten Mile Creek. To the west, on Lot 384 his brother James Patten also had some property and the rest of that lot was owned by J. C. Clements. Lot 353 to the northwest was but a small part of the holdings of M. C. Lee.  By 1874, William Patten acquired an additional 490 acres on the adjacent Lot 351 which straddled the Alapaha River.

In 1880, William Patten’s place consisted of 60 acres of tilled land and 920 acres of woodland. He put in 17 acres of corn producing 60 bushels, 20 acres of oats producing 300 bushels, 20 acres of cotton producing 8 bales, 1 acre of cane producing 300 gallons of molasses. He produced well over 100 bushels of sweet potatoes. His orchards included over 100 apple trees and 100 peach trees. His real estate was valued at $800. He owned $50 worth of farming implements and machinery, and $450 in livestock. For the year 1879, he spent $20 on building and repairs, $70 on fertilizer, and $30 on labor. He had one ox, 28 milk cows, and 37 head of other livestock. His herd dropped 16 calves that year and he slaughtered only one animal. On June 1, 1880 he had 75 sheep. His flock dropped 35 lambs that year and he slaughtered three animals. Five sheep were killed by dogs, and ten animals died of stress of weather. He sheared 50 fleeces for 120 pounds of wool. He had 17 hogs, about 20 barnyard chickens and about 50 other poultry. The estimated value of all farm production was $530.

When the 1300th Georgia Militia District was formed in 1889, William Patten was elected Justice of the Peace in that district serving in the office until 1893.

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Lowndes Grand Jury of 1833

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

WILLIAM SMITH, Clerk.
June 12, 1832 51

 

About the Jurors:

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

Jesse Lee (1780-1853)
According to Folks Huxford, Jesse Lee was born in Marion District, SC, in 1780, son of Moses Lee. He was a brother of Joshua Lee, who about 1830 dammed the northern outflow of Grand Bay, and constructed a grist mill at Allapaha, GA (now Lakeland),GA. Jesse Lee and his wife, Sarah, had five known children (perhaps others): John Lee, born 1808, married Elenor Wetherington; Moses C. Lee, born 1814, married Jincy Register; Aseneth Lee, born 1820, first married Samuel E. Register; Elizabeth Lee, born 1825, married William D. Wilkerson; Winnifred Lee, born 1827, married John Studstill. Record is found in Marion County, S. C., of deed from Mr. Lee joined by his wife Sarah, to Malcolm McIntyre, dated July 30, 1806, for 100 acres same being a part of a 4434-acre tract granted Moses Lee (Deed book C, page 14, Marion Co.). Two years later they were living in Pulaski County, Ga,, when Mr, Lee and his wife Sarah, were witnesses to a deed dated April 23, 1808, from John Fielder to John Lee, of Laurens County, to Lot 56, 24th District (Pulaski County deed book A, page 3)In the War of 1812, Jesse Lee served as a private under Capt. Fort in a detachment of Georgia militia stationed at Forts Mitchell and Green on the Ocmulgee River in Pulaski County.  His brother, Joshua served as a captain at Fort Green. Jesse and Joshua Lee moved their families to Appling County about 1819, and a few years later they moved to the Tiger Swamp area of Hamilton County, FL., just south of present day Jasper, FL. There, Jesse and Sarah Lee were charter members in the organization of The Baptist Church of Christ Concord which was constituted June 9,1832 as an ‘arm’ of the primitive baptist Union Church of Lowndes County, GA.  Shortly thereafter, the Lees moved to Lowndes County, GA, settling in the portion now Lanier County. There Jesse Lee died in 1853, and on May 2, 1853, his son, Moses C. Lee, and son-in-law, Samuel E. Register, applied for administration of his estate; they were appointed, and administered the estate. Mrs. Lee died about 1848. They were buried in the cemetery at Union Church; graves unmarked.


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

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

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

Elijah Beasley (1775-1863?) 
a pioneer land owner of Wiregrass Georgia.  In 1820, Elijah Beasley, Rebecca Burnett Beasley and their family were residents of  that part of  Irwin County, GA which was cut into Lowndes in 1825 and later cut into Brooks County.  Irwin county court records show in 1821, Elijah Beasley served on the Grand Jury of Irwin County, which returned a presentment against Isham Jordan for adultery and fornication. In 1822, Elijah Beasley put up the surety bond in Irwin County for Robert H. Dixon, administrator for the estate of Moses Jurnigan. That year, 1822, Beasley also served as a Justice of the Inferior Court of Irwin County, GA.  In the Act of the Georgia Assembly that created Lowndes County, Elijah Beasley was appointed as one of the commissioners charged with selecting a county site for the old Irwin County. The 1830 census places the Beasleys in Lowndes County.  In the newly created Lowndes County, Elijah Beasley was enumerated adjacent to many others of his wife’s Burnett family connections.   Tax digests from that year show Elijah Beasley owned Lot 267 in the 12th District, Captain Pikes District (then Lowndes County, now Brooks), and he also paid taxes in Irwin County.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A note on the Estate of William Anderson Knight

William Anderson Knight

William Anderson Knight, forefather of the large and influential Knight family of Wiregrass Georgia,  was among the earliest settlers of Lowndes County, GA and the first to settle at Grand Bay near the present day town of Ray City, GA. He and his wife, Sarah Cone Knight, were constituting members of the primitive baptist Union Church which became the mother church of all the primitive baptist congregations in this section of Georgia. He served as a state senator in the Georgia Assembly, and was the father of General Levi J. Knight. William Anderson Knight  died December 8, 1859, the settlement of his estate extending into the years of the Civil War.

Grave of William Anderson Knight, Union Church cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Grave of William Anderson Knight, Union Church cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Allen Jones,  husband of Keziah Knight and son-in-law of William A. Knight,  secured a judgement against lands owned by Dr. John W. Turner to satisfy debts owed to the estate.

Savannah Daily Morning News, December 6, 1862. Transactions on the estate of William Anderson Knight.

Savannah Daily Morning News, December 6, 1862. Legal advertisement for property seizure to satisfy debts owed to the estate of William Anderson Knight.

Savannah Daily Morning News
December 6, 1862

Berrien Sheriff’s Sale

Will be sold, before the Court House door, in Nashville, Berrien county, on the first TUESDAY in January, within the legal hours of sale, the following property, to wit: Lots of Land No. 517, 496 and 497, in the Tenth District of said Berrien county, levied on as the property of John W. Turner, to satisfy a fi. fa. issued from the Superior Court of Clinch county, in favor of Allen Jones, who sues for the use of himself and the heirs of William A Knight, deceased. This November 12, 1862.  

nov 17         JOHN M. FUTCH, Sheriff

The land lots referenced in the legal advertisement were of 490 acres each.   Dr. Turner’s property was seized during the Civil War while he was serving as a private with the Berrien Light Infantry, Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment.  At the time of the seizure, Turner was in Virginia in a hospital with smallpox.

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Homecoming for Sergeant Mitchell Moore

Mitchell Haygood Moore (1920-1944)
Killed in Air Combat over Germany,  November 26, 1944, World War II

Grave of Mitchell Haygood Moore, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Grave of Mitchell Haygood Moore, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Mitchell Haygood Moore, a young salesman from Sirmans, GA, was a son of Atticus H. Moore and Pearlie Belle Tomlinson.  In 1943, he married Mildred Lorene Clements, of Ray City, GA. His bride was a daughter of Alma and Hosea  “Hod” P. Clements.

Marriage announcement of Mildred Lorene Clements and Mitchell Haygood Moore. Clinch County News.

Marriage announcement of Mildred Lorene Clements and Mitchell Haygood Moore. Clinch County News.

Clinch County News
Friday, December 3,  1943

The marriage of Sgt. Mitchell Haygood Moore of Lanier county, and Miss Mildred Lorene Clements of Ray City, took place recently at the Methodist church in Ray City, Rev. L. D. McConnell officiating.  Sgt Moore is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Atticus H. Moore, former Clinch county residents who were cut off into Lanier when that county was formed in 1920. The bride is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Hosea C. Clements of Ray City.

It was in the midst of WWII and Moore was as a Staff Sergeant in the Army Air Force.  Other Ray City AAF men included B-26 pilot James Swindle, B-24 pilot Max Maurice Johnson, and flying officer Jim Paulk.  Staff Srgt Charles B. Shaw, Jr., Ray City, served as a B-17 mechanic in the 8th Army Air Force, Snetterton Heath, England. Howell Shaw served at Sedalia Army Air Field and William C. Webb served in the Medical Corps of the Army Air Force. Lt. Jamie Connell, of Nashville, served as a  navigator-bombardier. Saunto Sollami served in the Army Air Corp and came to the area after the war.

Sgt. Moore was assigned  to the 854 AAF Bomber Squadron, 491st Bomber Group, flying as a crewman on a B-24 Liberator.  Some say he was a bombardier, others say he was a tail gunner. The 491st was one of seven Heavy Bombardment Groups – 488th through 494th – activated in the autumn of 1943.  By April of 1944, the 491st was  in England, and the group engaged in the long-range strategic bombardment of Germany.

A B-24 Liberator Bomber belonging to the 854 AAF Bomber Squadron. This plane was one of 15 B-24s was shot down on the Misburg Mission, November 26, 1944.

A B-24 Liberator Bomber belonging to the 854 AAF Bomber Squadron, 491st Bombardment Group. Of the 28 B-24s that flew the Misburg Mission, November 26, 1944, 16 were shot down. This plane was one of the losses.

In July 1944 the 491st Bombardment Group supported the Allied breakout at St. Lo and assaulted V-weapon sites and communications lines in France during the summer of 1944.  After August, 1944 the 491st concentrated its attacks on strategic objectives in Germany, striking communications centers, oil refineries, storage depots, industrial areas, shipyards, bridges and other targets in such places as Berlin, Hamburg, Kassel, Cologne, Gelsenkirchen, Bielefeld, Hanover, and Magdeburg; on one occasion the 491st attacked the headquarters of the German General Staff at Zossen, Germany.

The Misburg Mission ~ November 26, 1944

Destroying Germany’s petroleum production was a major Allied strategy to shorten the war.  One of the vital German petroleum plants was the large Misburg refinery with 1,060 workers, located about 5 miles east of Hanover, Germany.   On  November 26, 1944,  the 491st bomber group participated in the ninth bomber mission against the refinery at Misburg, part of a massive air strike against Germany by the American Army Air Force on that day.  Combined with other aerial engagements, the day would mark the second largest air battle of WWII.

WWII aerial reconnaissance photo of bombing of the oil refinery at Misburg, Germany.

WWII aerial reconnaissance photo of bombing of the oil refinery at Misburg, Germany. Image courtesy of San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive.

November 26 was to be a black day for the 491st.  Through a series of unfortunate incidents, the bomber group’s defensive integrity was disrupted and the group fell under heavy attack by large numbers of enemy fighters.  As fighter cover for the bomber group, 47 American P-51 Mustangs engaged with more than 250 Luftwaffe fighters in the German skies.

The 491st dispatched 31 B-24s on that day;  three turned back, 28 reached the target, 16 never returned.  According to the 491st Bomber Group website, Mitchell Moore was flying as a Left Waist Gunner on the Misburg raid.

Although more than half of its planes were destroyed, the group fought through the  German interceptor planes, and successfully bombed the target. For this action the group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation.

Atlanta Constitution reports bombers lost in November 26, 1944 raid on Misburg oil refinery.

Atlanta Constitution reports bombers lost in November 26, 1944 raid on Misburg oil refinery.

Atlanta Constitution
November 27, 1944

U.S. Planes Shoot Down 122 Germans

1,100 Heavy Bombers Blast Misburg Oil; 700 Fighters Along

LONDON, Nov. 26. — At least 122 Nazi fighter planes of approximately 200 which rose to protect Germany’s largest natural oil refinery at Misburg were shot down in aerial combat todayby and American fleet of 700 fighters and 1,100 heavy bombers.

The American fighters reported downing 110 of the Nazi interceptors, while 12 were destroyed by bomber crews. The escort planes also destroyed seven German planes on the ground in strafing attacks.

Thirty-seven American bombers and 13 fighters were reported missing from operations.

But it was the third largest bag of Nazi fighters shot down in combat. Just last Nov. 2, American pilots picked off 134 enemy planes Merseburg oil center – 13 miles west of Leipzig – and Germany sacrificed 117 in the same area on Sept. 11.

A gigantic battle swirled through the skies over Misburg.

Through the dense clouds stained with exploding flak from hundreds of ground guns, American pilots engaged the Germans in temperatures ranging from 40 to 50 degrees below zero.

NINTH ATTACK

Today’s attack was the ninth on the Misburg refinery, which lies 15 miles east of Hannover and has a yearly production of 220,000 tons. It followed up yesterday’s raid by 2,000 American planes on the Leuna works at Merseburg, one of Germany’s largest synthetic oil plants. Only a dozen enemy fighters were encountered on the Merseburg mission

Mitchell’s plane was one of those which did not return from Misburg.  The war raged on, and at home in Ray City, friends and families grieved and waited for word of Mitchell Moore.

The Nashville Herald,
January 4, 1945

Missing In Action

The friends and relatives of S-Sgt. Mitchell H. Moore regret too know that he has been reported missing in action over Germany since November 26, 1944.
Sgt. Moore was an aerial (torn) receiving his training at (torn) Miss., Loredo, Texas, (torn), later leaving for overseas (torn) peka, Kansas in September (torn).
His wife if the former (torn) red Clements of Ray City (torn) the present time is with her (torn) Mr. and Mrs. H.P. Clements.

On April 11, 1945, The Atlanta Constitution reported that Sergeant Mitchell H. Moore had been classified as killed in action.

The following month, on May 8, 1945 Germany surrendered – It was Victory in Europe day.   After the surrender, a memorial service was held for Staff Sergeant Mitchell H. Moore.

The Nashville Herald
July 19, 1945

Memorial Service For S. Sgt. M.H. Moore

According to an announcement made this week by the family of the late S. Sgt. Mitchell H. Moore, a Memorial Service will be held in his honor on Sunday afternoon, July 22, at 3:30 o’clock at the Unity Methodist church near Lakeland.
S. Sgt. Moore was killed in action over Germany November 26, 1944. He was well and favorably known in this section and has many friends who regret his untimely death. All friends of the family and others desiring to do so may attend the services.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

It would be four more years before Moore’s body was returned to the United States.  The return of the living and the dead was the post-war mission of  the U.S. Merchant marines, ships worked by men like J.B. Mitchell Sirmans aboard the armed merchantman SS Wheaton Victory or Brocy Sirmans on  S.S. William G. Lee.   Moore’s final voyage was aboard the SS Haiti Victory.

Remains of S Sgt Mitchell Moore returned aboard SS Haiti Victory, 1949

Remains of S Sgt Mitchell Moore returned aboard SS Haiti Victory, 1949

 

May 8, 1949, four years to the day after Victory in Europe was declared, the U.S. Army announced the body of S. Sgt Mitchell Moore was among those of 104 Georgians being returned by the SS Haiti Victory.

May 8, 1949, four years to the day after Victory in Europe was declared, the U.S. Army announced the bodies of 104 Georgians were being returned aboard the SS Haiti Victory, among them the body  of S. Sgt Mitchell Moore.

Atlanta Constitution
May 8, 1949

Bodies of 104 Georgians On Way Home From Europe

Remains of 104 Georgians, including 14 Atlantans, who lost their lives during World War II are being returned to the United States from Europe aboud the U. S. Army transport Haiti Victory, the Department of the Army announced.
Armed forces dead originally buried in temporary military cemeteries in France, Holland and Belgium are among those being returned. Next of kin will be notified in advance of the arrival of the remains at the Regional Distribution Center of the American Graves Registration Service.

Funeral services for Mitchell Moore were held at Unity Methodist Church, and the remains were re-interred at Union Church Cemetery (Burnt Church) near Lakeland, GA.

The Nashville Herald
June 16, 1949

S-Sgt. Mitchell Moore Returned to States for Burial

Funeral services will be held Sunday at the Unity Methodist Church of Crisp Community for Staff Sergeant Mitchell Moore, who was killed with his entire crew when their plane was shot down over Hanover, Germany, November 26, 1944. Sgt. Moore will be laid to rest at the Burnt Church cemetery.

Services will begin at 4:30 Sunday afternoon with the Rev. J. W. Herndon of Norman Park, and the Rev. Bishop of Lakeland, officiating.

Sgt. Moore is survived by two brothers, W.W. Moore of Nashville, and J.P. Moore of Stockton, and three sisters, Miss Rosa Lee Moore, Mrs. Shelton Davis, and Mrs. G.E. West, all of Stockton.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

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The Nashville Herald
June 23, 1949

Sgt. Mitchell Moore Laid To Rest Sunday

Staff Sergeant Mitchell H. Moore was laid to rest Sunday at the Unity Methodist Church of Crisp Community in Lanier County.

A military burial was given to the air forceman, who was killed over Hanover, Germany in 1944, by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Club of Lakeland. The Rev. J.W. Herndon of Norman Park and the Rev. Bishop of Lakeland officiated.

Sgt. Moore is survived by his wife, the former Miss Mildred Clements of Ray City, two brothers, W.W. Moore of Nashville, and J.P. Moore of Stockton, and three sisters, Miss Rosa Lee Moore, Mrs. Shelton Davis, and Mrs. G.E. West, all of Stockton.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

Application for WWII headstone for Mitchell H. Moore.

Application for WWII headstone for Mitchell H. Moore.

The widow, Mildred C. Moore applied for a monument for her husband;  A stark white marble marker to mark the grave of a young man who gave his life in the service of his country.

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The Family of Aden Boyd and Nancy Sykes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

aden-boyd-nancy-sykes

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

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aden-boyd-nancy-sykes-detail

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

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

1860-boyd-family1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Old Union Primitive Baptist Church, also known as Burnt Church

   Located in present day Lanier County, GA, the old Union Church lies about 10 miles east of where Levi J. Knight settled on Beaver Dam Creek (now Ray City, GA).  It was the first church to serve the pioneer settlers of this region.  L. J. Knight’s parents, Sarah and William Anderson Knight , were among the organizing members of the church.  Built on land provided by Jesse Carter, the church was originally referred to as Carter’s Meeting House, and later designated Union Church.

The church and cemetery  were on a trail used by the Creek Indians traveling between the Chattahoochee River and the Okefenokee Swamp.  During the Indian Wars, 1836-1838,  the church building was partially burned.  The fire-damaged timbers were used in the reconstruction, and since that time Union Church has also been known as Burnt Church.

  “Union Baptist Church, on the Alapaha River ….was constituted October 21, 1825, the first church in the old area of Irwin County.  The original members William A. Knight; his wife, Sarah; Jonathan Knight; his wife, Elizabeth; Joshua Lee; his wife, Martha; James Patten; his wife, Elizabeth; Mary Knight; Josiah Sirmans, deacon.  The Rev. Matthew Albritton served the church as its first minister.”

Union Church, Lanier County, GA

Union Church, Lanier County, GA

In Pines and pioneers: A history of Lowndes County, Georgia, 1825-1900,  author J. T. Shelton gave the following description described a Big Meeting at Union church:

“The old church had a door on every side for easy access, a rostrum along one wall with seats facing it from three directions. The arrangement allowed the seating of slaves on one side. With feet planted firmly on the wide floor boards, the congregation sat on the pews, each a single plank. The women of the church had scrubbed down with potash and homemade soap both pews and flooring, and the wood had a soft, silvery sheen. The pulpit was seven feet long, twelve inches wide and two inches thick; three to five preachers sat on a long bench behind the  pulpit until each had his turn to address the assembly. The exhorter then paced up and down the generous space provided, and he held forth for two hours before the next preacher had his chance. Listeners came and went; mothers carried out crying babies; little boys believed that they would starve to death before they could get outside to the loaded dinner tables that were as much a part of Big Meeting as the preaching.”

In 1928-30, The Clinch County News published a series of articles on the history of Union Church, portions of which are excerpted below:

HISTORY OF OLD UNION CHURCH
Established 1825

Chapter I

Union Primitive Baptist Church, the mother of all the churches of this faith in this immediate section of Georgia, was organized or constituted October 1st, 1825.  The presbytery consisted of Elders Fleming Bates and Mathew Albritton.

As is well known, the church is located on the banks of the Alapaha River about 1 1/2 miles south of Lakeland formerly old Milltown.  It stands to-day where it has always stood for the past 108 years (1933). The cemetery close by contains the graves of many pioneers and old citizens of east Lowndes, southeast Berrien and western Clinch counties.  Baptisms have always taken place in the nearby river, it not being over one hundred yards from the church to the river.  A high bluff with a sharp bend in the river’s course is the visitor’s introduction after he has passed the church.  Several steady-flowing springs of fine drinking water are to be found on the banks, and eminating from the walls of the bluff.  Part of the bluff slopes off to the river’s edge at the river bend thus making an ideal place for baptism purposes.

The little log-house which was the first building on the site of the present church, had come to be known as Carter’s Meeting House prior to the organization of the church.  For some months prior it had been the scene of monthly meetings or services, and it was the expression of the desire of the settlers to have some kind of divine services in their midst, for there was not a church to be found of any denomination from the Altamaha River to the Florida and Alabama lines.  The settlers in this immediate vicinity were more numerous than in most of the settlements, and many of them Carters.  The meeting-house took its name from old man Jesse Carter and he probably gave the land and his boys had a hand in building the original log house to hold services in.   The earliest settlers had only been living here four years at the time, while the most of them had not living here hardly a year.  Knights, Carters, Giddens and Lees made up most of the settlers west of the river while on the east side of the river were to be found Tomlinsons, Sirmans and Fenders, Corbitts and Mathises.  Further down the river could be found the Wetheringtons, Swilleys, Peters, Walkers, and Roberts.

Elder William A. Knight, at that time a layman, was one of the leading spirits in the formation of the church.  As already stated it was Elders Bates and Albritton who presided at the organization of the church, but to “Old Father Knight” as many people called him in his lifetime, may be attribute more than anyone else the religious activities of the community in those days when the first settlers were moving in.  He led in prayer and in song, and when the preacher failed to keep an appointment because of lurking Indians, high waters or other providential hindrances it was Bro. Knight who took charge and carried on the service. Five years after the church was organized he was licensed to preach the Gospel and two years later (1832) he was ordained to the full Gospel ministry.

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 Union Church had been constituted under the auspices of the Piedmont Primitive Baptist Association, but by 1827 the establishment of a number of new churches prompted a desire to divide the association.  According to a history thesis by Michael Otis Holt,

On August 24, 1827, a council met in Thomas County, Georgia to determine the feasibility of forming a new association in the region. The council arranged for another meeting at Mt. Gilead Church in September and requested that all interested churches send messengers with a statement of faith and the date of their constitution together with names of the ministers taking part in it. The careful attention to detail was necessary, because many churches in the area had cut corners in their organization. An example is Shiloh Church in Ware County. In 1833, the Ochlocknee Association would not accept Shiloh Church because it was constituted “illegally.” However, the association did offer instruction on how to craft a new constitution, which Shiloh did. The council decided to go ahead with the plans for a new association. In October, 1827, the Piedmont Association, “received and read a petition from seven Baptist churches situated between the Alapaha and Flint River praying ministerial aid to constitute them into a new association.” The Piedmont set Matthew Albritton and Fleming Bates to oversee the organization of the Association. Both were members of Union Church, near present day Lakeland, Georgia, which requested and received dismission from the Piedmont to join the new association.

The association held an organizational meeting at Bethel Church in what is now Brooks County, Georgia, in November, 1827. Six churches took part in the constitution of the Association. Union Church, was almost certainly the church that joined at the first session of the new association, which called itself Ochlocknee. In the first year of its existence, the Ochlocknee Association claimed 138 members among its seven churches. The initial meeting went well and Bates and Albritton reported to Union Church that, ‘much harmony and love abounded.’ 

The new association grew quickly. By 1833, the Ochlocknee had thirty-­five churches with 1,010 members. Though migration to the region was steadily increasing during this time, it did not account for all of the increase. In 1833, 179 were baptized into the association’s churches. Fourteen new churches applied for membership during the same year. So many neophytes comprised the new churches that the association appointed William Knight to instruct them on the proper duties of churches to the association. The rapid expansion expanded the Ochlocknee’s borders to extend from the Piedmont Association to the St. John’s Association. The expansive size of the association prompted a proposal to divide at the 1833 meeting.

In 1834, Friendship, Union, and Elizabeth churches in Georgia, and Providence, New Zion, Concord, Newington, and New River in Florida, were dismissed from the Ochlocknee Association to form a new association.  In a reflection of the intense territorialism of the associations of the period, the new body was given a boundary that extended up the Suwannee, Withlacoochee, and Little River. The association took the name Suwannee River and scheduled a constitutional meeting at Concord Church for December, 1834.  The delegates duly arrived at the meeting, but the ministers failed to show. At a  rescheduled meeting held in September, 1835, only one appointed minister showed, so the delegates co­opted William A. Knight as the other member of the presbytery and proceeded to formally organize the association.

The Suwannee River Association did not experience rapid growth like the Ochlocknee. The Second Seminole War was the primary cause for the association’s slow growth and sparse representation. The 1838 session recommended that the churches increase their days of fasting and prayer, ‘that the Lord might divert the judgments which seem to hang over us.’ They also suggested they put off any general business of the association, “by reason of the unsettled affairs of our country.”  The 1839 session met in the safer Georgia territory and again suggested more prayer and fasting, “so that the warwhoop of a savage foe, might not be heard any longer in our land to the great disturbance of our fellow citizens, while numbers of our women and infant children are falling victims to their relentless hands.”  Nearby associations “lamented the situation of the Suwannee Association, on account of the Indian War in that vicinity.” 

By the beginning of the 1840s, tensions in the region had eased and the Suwannee was experiencing growth. The 1840 minutes of the Suwannee Association speak of a revival that was strongest among its congregations in Georgia. However, this period of growth and expansion would eventually produce discord and division among the Baptists of South Georgia.

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In 1856 the Union Association was constituted with twelve churches formerly belonging to the Suwannee Associationmost of whose churches were in Florida.  A division was agreed to, making the State line the dividing line between the two Associations The constituting presbytery  was composed of Elders J. E. W. Smith, William A. Knight and J. B. Smith met at Union Church. Her ministers were Elders William A. Knight, Moses Westberry, Ansel Parrish, J. D. Hutto and E. J. Williams, with perhaps two licentiates. Harmony prevailed for a number of years, and the progress of the Association was upward and onward.

Clinch County News
September 20, 1929

HISTORY OF OLD UNION CHURCH
Established 1825

Chapter XIII.

As has been stated before, the minutes of the church from the beginning in 1825 to 1832 have been lost.  We understand, however, that Rev. William A. Knight was the first pastor as well as the guiding hand of the church during these early years.  It is certain that he was one of the charter members and the only ordained minister holding his membership with the church during that time. Assuming that he was pastor during those seven years, the list of pastors up to recently [1929], is as follows:

  • William A. Knight                          1825-1832
  • Matthew Albritton (died)              1832-1850
  • William A. Knight (died)               1850-1860
  • Ansel Parrish                                1860-1865
  •                               (No record, 1865 to 1873)
  • Timothy William Stallings            1873-1888
  • Wm. H. Tomlinson                       1888-1900
  • Timothy William Stallings           1900-1902
  • A. A. Knight                                     1902-1907
  • J. A. Chitty                                       1907-1911
  • Aaron A. Knight                                1911-1913
  • Isham Albert Wetherington                        1913-1915
  • Orville A. Knight                          1915-1916
  • E. R. Rhoden                                1916-1918
  • I. A. Wetherington (died)         1918-1923
  • Wm. H. Tomlinson                    1923-1925
  • Orville A. Knight                        1925-1927

If the writer could properly write the life of these earnest consecrated servants of the Lord, it would be equal to writing an account of the religious life of this section in the Primitive Baptist denomination.  Fearless in fighting sin and bold in preaching Christ and faithful in contending for the Faith, they have served nobly and well and unborn generations will bear witness to the fruits of their work.  With few exceptions the writer has not sufficient biographical data at hand now to write of their individual lives, but we know of their godly records.  We hope to write later of the lives of these great preachers.

Church Clerks

The clerks of the church likewise contain a list of fine men, known throughout their communities and  counties for their good, upright lives, and their staunch Christian characters. We do not know who the first clerk was.

Elected

  • Owen Smith              September 7, 1832
  • Joshua Sykes              January 12, 1839
  • Isaac D. Hutto                  April 13, 1845
  • William Patten                  May 10, 1851
  • William Lastinger              July 8, 1854
  • John Studstill                       Jan 9, 1858
  • William Giddens                May 7, 1863
  • E. R. Rhoden                 October 8, 1891
  • W. R. Rhoden         November 10, 1894
  • J. L. Robertson        February 12, 1898
  • Wm. J. Knight                  May 12, 1900
  • J. A. Weaver                 August 10, 1901
  • G. L. Robinson      September 12, 1924
  • J. A. Weaver          September 12, 1925
  • J. S. Shaw                     October 8, 1926

A good portion of the minutes is in the handwriting of assistant clerks.  These assistant clerks were generally elected by the church, but of late years there have been no assistants.  The list of assistant clerks is as follows:

  • William A. Knight          1834-1837
  • Levi Drawdy                  1837-1848
  • James Walker                1853-1854
  • Richard H. Burkhalter 1861-1862
  • John P. Tomlinson       1887-1900
  • John T. Watson            1900-1902

Deacons

The church has had but few deacons during its 105 years [as of 1929] of existence.  There were apparently never over two at the time, and when elected they served for life unless sooner dismissed by letter or otherwise.  The list given below is full of as fine men as ever lived in this section.  We do not in the list make any attempt to show how long they served except in those cases where they died members of the church.  We do not know who the first deacons of the church were.  List follows:

Bro. Edmund Mathis, one of the deacons, having removed his membership, Bro. Joshua Lee was elected in his place March 10, 1833, and ordained April 13, 1833 by Elders Peacock, Friar and Knight.

September 6, 1839, Bro. Edmund Mathis was received back into the membership by letter from Concord church, Hamilton County, Fla., and acted as a deacon until dismissed again by letter April 10, 1841.

On June 13, 1841, brethren Jacob Hughes and John Lee were ordained deacons.  Members of the presbytery not shown by minutes.

March 13, 1852, brethren Richard H. Burkhalter and J. D. Peters were elected deacons.  They were ordained June 12, 1852 but the minutes do not show who constituted the presbytery.  Bro. Burkhalter died in 1862 and Bro. Peters also died a member but we do not know when.

The minutes do not show any further ordination of deacons until 1891 when Bro. John P. Tomlinson was elected on May 9th.  On June 13, 1891 he was ordained by Elders J. A. O’steen and T. W. Stallings.

On December 9, 1899, Bro. James L. Robinson was elected a deacon but was never ordained.

On November 10, 1906 Bro. Israel G. Carter was elected a deacon and ordained January 12, 1907 by Elders B.P. Lovett from Salem Church, I. A. Wetherington from Unity church,  A. A. Knight , the pastor.

On October 9, 1909, Bro. J. A. Weaver was elected deacon, and ordained February 12, 1910 by Elders Wetherington, Chitty and A. A. Knight .

Treasurers

The minutes do not disclose that the church ever had any treasurer until 1909 whem on October 9th, Bro. J. A. Weaver was elected as such.

Historic Marker - Union Church, organized 1825. Sarah and William A. Knight were founding members.

Historic Marker – Union Church, organized 1825. Sarah and William A. Knight were founding members.

Some other members of Union Church:

  • George Harris – received August 7, 1841, dismissed by letter March 12, 1842; joined Providence Primitive Baptist Church near their home soon after that church was constituted in 1844
  • Julia Ann Westberry Harris – received August 7, 1841, dismissed by letter March 12, 1842; joined Providence Primitive Baptist Church near their home soon after that church was constituted in 1844
  • William Hughes  – joined by letter, December 8, 1838
  • William Wesley Johnson – baptized August 10, 1839
  • Amelia Sherley Johnson – baptized June 13, 1840
  • John Lee – joined by letter, June 8, 1839
  • Elender Wetherington Lee – joined by letter, June 8, 1838
  • Joshua Lee – constituting member, October 1, 1825
  • Martha Ford Lee – constituting member, October 1, 1825
  • Moses C. Lee – baptized September 11, 1841
  • Jincey Register Lee – baptized September 10, 1854
  • Thomas Mathis – united 1839, dismissed by letter December 12, 1840
  • Eady Mathis – united 1839, dismissed by letter December 12, 1840
  • Tyre Mathis – joined by letter April 12, 1828, dismissed by letter December 11, 1847
  • Nancy Lee Mathis – joined by letter April 12, 1828, dismissed by letter December 11, 1847
  • Mehala Rice Monk – joined by letter 1838
  • Elizabeth Skinner Register – received by letter into Union Church, September 13, 1828, from Fellowship Baptist Church, Appling County, and dismissed by letter April 10, 1841 from Union to participate in constituting Wayfare Church
  • William Patten – baptized September 9, 1848, dismissed by letter March 11, 1854 to organize Empire Church

 

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Elder Orville Augustus Knight (1874-1950)

Elder Orville Augustus Knight (1874-1950)

Orvil A. Knight with his first wife, Ellen Cook, and daughters Callie (middle) and Cordia (right.)  Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Orvil A. Knight with his first wife, Ellen Cook, and daughters Callie (middle) and Cordia (right.) Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Orville Augustus Knight was a son Rhoda Futch and George Washington Knight.  He was born and raised in Berrien County in the 1144 Georgia Militia District, the Rays Mill District.  For twenty years or more O. A. Knight made his home near Ray City, GA, and most of his life he  was engaged in farming on his own account.  He became a member of Empire Church, a few miles northeast of Ray City,  and in 1915 at the age of 41 was ordained as an Elder of the Primitive Baptist faith.   In 1925, Orville A. Knight became pastor of Union Church near Lakeland, GA. His great grandfather, William Anderson Knight, had served 100 years earlier as the original pastor of Union Church. That year he also served as pastor at his home church, Empire.

Orville A. Knight was first married in 1892 to Mary Ellen Cook (1876-1939). She was a daughter of John Jasper Cook and Lucretia Sirmans, and sibling of Aaron Cook and Charlotte Cook. Following her death, Knight was married a second time in 1939 to Mrs. Margaret Texas “Maggie” Overstreet. She was the widow of James Willis Overstreet, and a daughter of Elbert Mathis and Martha Susan “Mattie” Pounds.

Children of Orville Augustus Knight and Mary Ellen Cook:

  1. Callie R Knight (1893 – 1914)
  2. Cordie B Knight (1895 – 1965)
  3. Dollie Knight (1898 – 1899)
  4. Lonnie Alvin Knight (1900 – 1978)
  5. Lola E Knight (1905 – )
  6. Willie Ernest Knight (1906 – 1969)
  7. George Selman Knight (1909 – 1917)
  8. Myrtle Knight (1913 – 1980)

From “Gospel Appeal:”  Elder Orville A. Knight was born February 28, 1874, in Berrien County, Georgia, and passed away at his home in Valdosta, Ga., Dec 27, 1950.

Orville A. Knight united with Empire Church, Berrien County, Ga., on July 22, 1909.  He was baptized by Elder W. H. Parrish.  On Nov. 27, 1915, he was ordained to the full work of the gospel ministry.  Elders forming the presbytery for his ordination were I. A. Wetherington, H. W. Parrish, B. L. Starling, and A. A. Knight.

Elder Knight was called to serve his home church, Empire, in 1925 and over the years of his ministry also served as pastor of Ramah, Prospect, Olive Leaf, Bethany (Arabia), Unity, Cat Creek, Wayfare (Cow Creek),  Ben James, Union (Burnt Church), Providence and other churches.

In 1903, Elder T. R. Crawford wrote in the Goodwill of his impressions of Elder Knight and described him as “one of the most loved, esteemed, honored and respected servants of the most High God that has ever graced the pulpit of the churches of the deep south.”

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John W. Hagan Witnessed “Unholy War” and the Execution of Elbert J. Chapman

John W. Hagan

John W. Hagan of Berrien County, GA

John W. Hagan of Berrien County, GA

John William Hagan, born October 10, 1836 in Jefferson County, FL, was a son of John Fletcher Hagan and Elizabeth Dayton. He came to Berrien County, GA around 1858 when he married Amanda Armstrong Roberts. She was the 15 year-old daughter of Reubin Roberts (1807-1874)  and Elizabeth A. Clements (1815-1862), and a niece of Bryant J. Roberts (see Bryan J. Roberts ~ Lowndes Pioneer  and Bryan J. Robert’s Account of the Last Indian Fight in Berrien County).

With the outbreak of the Civil War John W. Hagan enlisted for service in the Confederate States Army, mustering into the 29th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Company D, the Berrien Minute Men, in the fall of 1861.  Hagan had prior military experience, having served in 1856-1858 as a private in the Florida Mounted Volunteers, in Captain Edward T. Kendrick’s Company, in actions against the Seminole Indians.  Perhaps because of his education and prior experience , albeit limited,  he was elected on October 1, 1861 to serve as 3rd Sergeant of Company D (Company K after reorganization) of the 29th GA Regiment.

Initially, the 29th Regiment was engaged at advanced batteries providing coastal  defense for Savannah, GA.  In the spring of 1863, the regiment was sent to Charleston, NC, but was quickly dispatched from there to Mississippi in a futile attempt to shore up the defenses of Vicksburg against the advances of federal forces under Ulysses S. Grant.

John W. Hagan wrote regularly from field camps and battle lines to his wife and family back in Berrien County. His letters frequently contain mention his relatives and colleagues in the Berrien Minute Men, including Bryant J. RobertsLevi J. Knight, Jonathan D. Knight, William Washington Knight, Henry Harrison KnightJames Fender  and many others.   In all there are 43 confederate letters of John W. Hagan.

In his letter of July 23, 1863 Hagan,  after two years  of war, was obviously disgusted with the looting and destruction the Confederate Army visited upon its own citizens. Writing to his wife, he stated ” I beleave our troops are doing as much harm in this country as the yankees would do with the exception of burning houses.”

While Hagan was with the 29th Regiment in Mississippi deserter Elbert J. Chapman, a private known to the company as “Old Yaller“, was captured and returned to his unit. Chapman, while absent without leave from the Berrien Minute Men, was still acting the part of a soldier fighting with a Texas Cavalry unit.

John W. Hagan in a letter to his wife dated  May 29, 1863 posted from “Camp near Deaconsville, Miss”    included the following:

“Amanda, I have some news to write you. One of our deserters was arrested yesterdy & brought to camp. E. J. Chapman was taken at Canton City. He was a member of a cavelry company in Canton & arrested & brought to camp by one of the Sharp Shooters. He says he has bin in service in this State 5 months, but we do not know what to beleave about him. He also says B. S. Garrett was taken up in this state & shot as a Yankee spye.  If  such is the case I am satisfide with his death but I am sorry he did not get his deserts from the proper hands.  I do not know what will be done with Chapman.  We are going to carry him to Canton City to day or tomorrow, turn him over to the military authority to be  dealt with according to the nature of his offence.”  -May 29, 1863

A month later Hagan, obviously weary of the death and destruction of war, wrote of the court martial and execution of Chapman.

Camp near Forrest City , Miss     July 23rd, 1863

My Dear Wife, I this evening seat myself in this benighted reagen [region] to write you a short letter which leaves Thomas & myself in fine health &ct. I have no news to write cience [since] our retreat from Jackson.  We fought the Yankees 8 days but was forced to retreat for want of  more force.  When we first arrived in Jackson after retreating from Big Black [river] I was confident we could stand our ground & give the Federals a decent whiping. But the longer we stayed and fought them the more reinforcements they got & if we had have stayed & fought a few days longer I fear we would have suffered, for our lines was so long we did not have men to fill the entrenchments & support our batteries.  So we retreated in good order & we had a trying time when we made the retreat. Our Regt was left on the field to hold the enemy in check while the other portion of our Brigade made there escape. The projic [project] was not made known to but few of the men and offercers of the Regt & when we went to leave the field it was suppose by the most of the men that we was only changing our position & they did not know we was retreating until we was all out of danger.  The retreat was well conducted & we lost no men or property on the retreat. We are now stationed near the rail road & expect in a few days to be shiped to some place.  Some think we will go to Tennessee & some think we will go to Charleston or Savannah, but I have but little hope of going to either Savannah or Charleston.  But I beleave we will go to Tennessee or to Mobile.  The fact is, this army is too small to do anything in this country & I think will it will be divided & some sent to Savannah & Charleston & some to Mobile & the rest will be sent to Gen Bragg in Tennessee.  Gen Johnston has given up command to Gen Hardee & has gone on to assist Gen Bragg. We are now waiting for transportation & as soon as transportation can be furnished we will leave for some place we cannot say whear to.  We have had some hard fighting cience [since] we have bin out hear, but our Regt has suffered the least of any Regt in our Brigade or divission. We only lost 9 in killed & wounded while other Regts lost 3 times that number.  I would give you a ful account of the fight & the causilties but I wrote a letter to James & Ezekiel & give them a list of the killed & wounded & requested them to send the letter to you. I did not know then but we would march on to some other place whear I would not have an opportunity of writing to you.

I also give them a tolerable fair account of the fight.

Amanda, I never new [knew] how mean and army could do in a country.  I beleave our troops are doing as much harm in this country as the yankees would do with the exception of burning houses.  But our men steal all the fruit, kill all the hogs & burn all the fence and eat all the mutton corn they can camp in reach of.  Our army have destroyed as much as 200 acres of corn in one night. We carry a head of us all the cattle we find & at night they are turned into some of the finest fields of corn I ever saw & in fact wheare this army goes the people is ruined.  I am disgusted with such conduct & feel that we will never be successful while our troups are so ungrateful.  I dread to see our State invaded but I hope this war will cease soon, but I havent grounds to build my hopes upon. But I & every Southern Soldier should be like the rebbel blume which plumed more & shinned briter the more it was trampled on, & I beleave this siantific war fear [scientific warfare] will have to ceace,  & we will have to fight like Washington did, but I hope our people will never be reduced to distress  & poverty as the people of that day was, but if nothing else will give us our liberties I am willing for the time to come. I am truely tyerd of this unholy war.  Amanda, you must use your own pleasure about fattening the hogs, but I think you had better fatten all the hogs that you think you can make weight 100 lbs by keeping them up until January or Febuary for pork will bring a good price, & in case our portion of the State is invaded that much will be saved, & if our troops should pass through there & are as distructive of as army is, we would have nothing, & if such a thing should happen I want you to turn every thing in to money & leave for some other place. But I hope such a thing will never happen, but if Charlston should fall Savannah is shure to fall, & then our country will be over run by troops. This country is now in a glumy state, but the dark part of the night is allways jest before day, so we may be nearer peace than we think.

We had a hard cien [scene] to witness on the 22nd.  E. J. Chapman was shot to death by sentance of a cort martial.  It was a hard thing to witness, but I beleav he was a fit subject for an example, for he confessed being guilty of everything that was mean. & if you write you must direct to Forrest City & I will write again soon. I do not have any eyedia [idea] of having an opportunity of goine [going] home until the war is ended but if times gets no better than at at present I shal not want to leave the field. But if times gets esy you know I would be proud to see you & my little boy.  I have so far ben verry lucky & I hope I shal continue so. Tom [Roberts] sends his love to you all & says you must not look for him nor be uneasey about him for he isn’t far the way. I must close I must close as I have to write on my knee.

I remain as ever yours affectsionately

John W. Hagan

Of course, the execution of E. J. Chapman, CSA for desertion was hardly an isolated event. So many soldiers deserted, the Confederate States Army eventually developed an amnesty policy in an attempt to return them to duty. But before that, many deserters were executed. On March 2, 1863 John W. Gaskins of the Berrien Light Infantry, Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment wrote home to his family that three men in the Regiment had been shot for desertion. Two of his company mates from Berrien County, Absolom B. Dixon and Irvin Hendley, had served on the firing squad that shot Private Isaac Morgan, Company B, 50th Georgia Regiment.

About the post war period, historian Bell I. Wiley reported,

After release from military service Hagan returned to Berrien County where he lived until 1881.  He then moved to Lowndes County where he acquired a large tract of land and was a successful farmer.  He changed his residence to Valdosta in 1896 and entered the livestock business in partnership with Jessie Carter.

Hagan became engaged in politics and was a local leader of the Populist Party

He represented Lowndes County in the Georgia House of Representatives for two terms (1886-87, 1890-91) and beginning in 1904 was for four terms a member of the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners, during two of which he served as chairman. He died in Valdosta on May 17, 1918 at eighty-one and was buried at Union Church Cemetery (then called Burnt Church) near Lakeland, Georgia.

Children of John William Hagan and Amanda Armstrong Roberts:

  1. Susan E. Hagan, born March 30, 1860, Lowndes County, GA; died August 25, 1860, Lowndes County, GA
  2. Reubin Columbus Hagan, born May 21, 1861, Lowndes County, GA; married Laura Roberts
  3. Georgia Hagan, born March 17, 1866, Berrien County, GA; married  James John Bradford, November 14, 1888
  4. Emma Tallulah Hagan, born June 08, 1867, Berrien County, GA; married J. A. Smith
  5. Fannie Ellen Hagan, born October 27, 1868, Berrien County, GA; married James Baskin
  6. Ida Ann Hagan, born August 16, 1870, Berrien County, GA; married John T. Smith
  7. Amanda Josephine Hagan, born March 05, 1872, Berrien County, GA; married Frank Arnold

Child of John William Hagan and Mary “Pollie” Smith Giddens (widow of Aaron Giddens):

  1. Texas Hagan, born June 19, 1875

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Andrew College Alumnus Mildred Clements

Andrew College

In 1940-41 Mildred Clements, of Ray City, GA, attended Andrew College at Cuthbert, GA. At the time, Andrew College was a small Methodist junior college for women. The choice of schools was appropriate , as Mildred Clements would observe a lifelong commitment to the Methodist church.

The Valdosta Times
April 6, 1941

The friends of Miss Mildred Clements are glad to learn that she has improved from her illness and returned to Andrew College Tuesday where she will graduate this term.

Andrew College, Cuthbert, GA

Andrew College, Cuthbert, GA

Born Sept. 14, 1921, in Berrien County, Mildred Lorene Clements was a daughter of Alma May and Hod P. Clements.  H. P. Clements was a banker and prominent businessman of Ray City. He was college educated and appreciated the value of a college education for his children.

20130712-075023.jpg

Andrew College Historical Marker

While Mildred attended Andrew College, her sister Frances and cousin Annie Ruth Clements went to Georgia State Women’s College.

According to the Andrew College website:

The Charter of Andrew College, granted in 1854 by the Georgia Legislature, is the second oldest charter in the United States giving an educational institution the right to confer degrees upon women. Originally named Andrew Female College, Andrew operated as a women’s four-year college for 63 years. In 1917 Andrew became a junior college and in 1956 the institution became co-educational. During the Civil War, classes were stopped and the College served as a hospital for wounded confederate soldiers. When classes resumed in 1866, a physical education course was added to the College’s curriculum, the first such course to be required of women in the South. In 1892, Andrew’s buildings burnt to the ground. However, the people of Cuthbert raised the funds necessary to build Old Main, the College’s landmark building, that very same year. Only a handful of colleges in Georgia are older than Andrew and few possess such a rich and celebrated history. Andrew College is recently celebrated the culmination of its Sesquicentennial (150 years of service) and a progressive Campus Master Plan was recently approved by Andrew’s Board of Trustees. “Andrew is small, but there are those that love her.”

After college, Mildred Clements married Mitchell Haygood Moore, a young salesman from Sirmans, GA.  During WWII he joined the Army Air Force and was assigned as a Staff Sergeant to the 854 AAF Bomber Squadron, 491st Bomber Group, flying as a crewman on a B-24 Liberator.  Some say he was a bombardier, others say he was a tail gunner. The 491st was one of seven Heavy Bombardment Groups – 488th through 494th – activated in the autumn of 1943.  By April of 1944, the 491st was  in England, and the group engaged in long-range strategic bombardment of Germany.  In July 1944 it supported the breakout at St. Lo and assaulted V-weapon sites and communications lines in France during the summer of 1944.  After August, 1944 the 491st concentrated its attacks on strategic objectives in Germany, striking communications centers, oil refineries, storage depots, industrial areas, shipyards, and other targets in such places as Berlin, Hamburg, Kassel, Cologne, Gelsenkirchen, Bielefeld, Hanover, and Magdeburg; on one occasion attacked the headquarters of the German General Staff at Zossen, Germany.  On the date of Mitchell Moore’s death, 26 November 1944, the 491st bomber group was on a mission to bomb an oil refinery at Misburg, Germany when the group was attacked by large numbers of enemy fighters.  There were 31 B-24s dispatched on that mission, 28 reached the target, 16 never came back. Although more than half of its planes were destroyed, the group fought off the interceptors, and successfully bombed the target. For this action the group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation. According to the 491st Bomber Group website, Mitchell Moore was flying as a Left Waist gunner on the Misburg raid when he was killed in action.

 

After the war, Mildred applied for and received a marble headstone from the Army Office of the Quartermaster General, to mark his grave at Union Church Cemetery, near Lakeland, GA.

Application for WWII headstone for Mitchell H. Moore.

Application for WWII headstone for Mitchell H. Moore.

Later, Mildred married WWII veteran and high school classmate Lawson Fountain.  After the war, Lawson Fountain had gone into the banking business with Mildred’s father, Hod P. Clements and was for many years a fixture  in Ray City’s financial institutions.  Lawson Fountain has been the subject of previous posts: Lawson Fountain ~ Ray City Banker and Shoe String Bandits Strike Ray City Bank.

Obituary of Mildred Clements Fountain.

Mildred Clements Fountain

Mildred Clements Fountain, 84, of Ray City passed away Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2005, at her residence after a lengthy illness. She was born on Sept. 14, 1921, in Berrien County to the late Hosea and Alma Clements. Mrs. Fountain taught school for many years, teaching in Enigma, Hahira and Pine Grove. She was a very active member of the Ray City United Methodist Church serving as president of the United Methodist Women for 21 years and many other positions in her church. She was preceded in death by her husband, Mitchell Moore who gave the ultimate sacrifice in WWII and her husband, Lawson F. Fountain who was the president of the Bank of Ray City. Survivors include her son, James L. Fountain, Ray City; sister, Frances Carter, Valdosta; two nieces, Sherry Buffaloe, Lexington, Tenn., Laurel Thomas, Valdosta; nephew, Larry Carter, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; several great-nieces and nephews. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 22, 2005, in the Ray City United Methodist Church with burial following in Beaver Dam Cemetery.

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