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.”

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. His wife, Nancy, was born 1802 in this state according to same 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, when they removed to Old Lowndes County. ” They settled in the portion of the 10th land district which in 1856 was cut into Berrien County.  They were originally members of Union Church which they joined on professions of faith, he being baptized Nov. 12, 1831, and she on Jan 7, 1832.

Mr. and Mrs. Boyd were neighbors of Dred Newbern and Jonathan Sirmans. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.  Fleming Bates and Matthew Albritton, of  Union Church, were appointe to lead the local organization of  “seven Baptist churches situated between the Alapaha and Flint River” into the new Ochlocknee Primitive Baptist Association.  The Ochlocknee Association grew rapidly and by 1833 included 35 churches and 1,010 members.   William A. Knight was appointed to travel these new churches to instruct them on their duties and responsibilities to the Association. By 1835,  when Union Church and other churches of south Georgia and north Florida again sought to divide from the Ochlocknee Primitive Baptist Association, Knight served on the presbytery in the organization of the new Suwannee  Primitive Baptist Association.

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:

  • 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, October1, 1825
  • Martha Ford Lee – constituting member, October1, 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
  • 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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Year of the Tiger

In Wiregrass Georgia, 1849 may have been the Year of the Tiger.  Several previous posts have related the story of the Berrien Tiger, a large panther which attacked Jim Hightower (aka James Stewart, step-son of Thomas B. Stewart) near the Alapaha River in 1849 (see Eyewitness Accounts of the Berrien Tiger).

Here is a family story shared by reader Lloyd Harris, of another “Tiger”  encounter which occurred that same year near Argyle, GA, about 35 miles east of Ray City.

When I was young my grandfather related a long ago memory of his grandfather’s encounter with a panther or panthers in the south Georgia wilderness. Our family story coincides with the Berrien Tiger accounts as they happened at approximately the same time. My great great grandfather, James Harris, told this story of his own childhood to my grandad when he was young.

James Harris, 1880s

James Harris, 1880s. Image courtesy of Lloyd Harris.

The  incident happened when James Harris was about five years old, and coincides with the 1849 date of the Berrien Tiger.

Family of James Harris

James Harris was the first of eleven children born to George Harris and Julia Ann Westberry. He was born near Quitman, Georgia, February 16, 1844. 

His father, George Harris, was the son of Thompson Harris (1784-1870) and Nancy Ursery (1784-  )   A Confederate Widow’s Indigent Pension application for Julia Ann (Westberry) Harris in 1908 reflects George Harris’ birth in 1817 in South Carolina. Another source relates that he was born in Appling County, Georgia between 1817 and 1822, after which the family lived in Clinch County.  George was a blacksmith and in addition assisted his father Thompson Harris in constructing covered bridges. His father’s work was known throughout Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. A trademark of their bridges was the integrated use of iron and bored wooden pegs to hold the timbers together.

George was a blacksmith and wheelwright. Family tradition relates that he assisted his father Thompson Harris in constructing covered bridges throughout Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee.

The church records of Union Church show that George and Julia Harris were received and baptized into its membership August 7, 1841, and were dismissed by letter March 12,1842. They became members of Providence Primitive Baptist Church near their home soon after that church was constituted in 1844. Their subsequent records cannot be traced due to the loss of church records.

The Harris home and farm in Clinch County, Georgia was on lot 325 in the 7th District which lot was traversed by the county line between Clinch and Ware Counties when Clinch was created in 1850 from Ware County. This property is situated about three miles north of the present village of Argyle. George Harris was granted this lot from the state on June 3, 1849; also granted the adjoining lot 324 on October 3, 1848. He sold lot 324 to his brother, William Harris, November 2, 1849, and then lived on lot 325 until he sold that parcel of land to Richard Bennett on August 12, 1852.

Tale of the Panthers

There is a family tale handed down through many generations relating to frontier life. The event happened in 1849 during the time the Harris family was residing in Clinch County. George Harris was away leaving his wife Julia and the children home alone in a pioneer homestead. Speculation would be that he was away with his father building bridges or hunting. During one night panthers roaming from the nearby Okefenokee swamp menaced the home ranging closer and closer to the cabin. To keep the predators from entering the home the frantic family prayed through the night and burned their beds, and chairs keeping a large fire going. The tactic flushed the space with light and served to repel an attack by the curious cats.

The Harris family story of a young pioneer family praying, hanging blankets over windows, and burning the bed, tables and chairs was passed down serving to entertain several generations with a true historical drama of frontier Georgia living in the nineteenth century.

George and James Harris in the Civil War

George Harris  and his son James both served in the War Between the States. George  Harris enlisted as a Private in the fall of 1862 as a member of the 3rd Cavalry Battalion which was formed during the winter of 1861-1862 with six companies. He along with his unit served on the Georgia coast, scouting and patrolling, until a reorganization of troops occurred on January 1, 1863.  George Harris’ unit was merged into the 4th (Clinch’s) Georgia Cavalry Regiment , and he was placed in Company I. Lieutenant Colonel Duncan L. Clinch and Major John L. Harris were in command.

At the reorganization,  James Harris joined his father’s unit, Company I, 4th Georgia Cavalry as a private.  He participated in the Battle of Olustee, Florida and in the battles around Atlanta. Family tradition relates he contracted measles during the siege of Atlanta and was in the city when it fell to the Union armies under General William T. Sherman. His unit apparently left him outside of the city but in the line of the advancing enemy soldiers. James was convalescing on a farm (place unknown) when “Yankees” were seen approaching. He was hidden by the host family in the stump of a huge oak tree that had “bushed” up. James remained concealed in the oak bush throughout the hot summer day until the Yankees left. Though suffering from sickness, and within a stones throw of the Union soldiers, he remained quite and motionless evading capture! Records also indicate he participated in battle at John’s Island, South Carolina. He surrendered at Thomasville, Georgia and was paroled at Tallahassee, Florida on May 15, 1865.

After the war James Harris married Mary Alice Stone.  She was born February 16, 1842, the daughter of George W. R. Stone and Nancy Howell. The Harris and Stone families are listed in the 1850 Census of Ware County.  James and Alice raised a family and engaged in farming near Adel, GA in present Cook County. He was a skilled blacksmith and wheelwright, as well. James Harris is listed in the 1880 and 1900 census of Berrien County, Georgia.

For James Harris, 1897 was a particularly trying year.  That summer a hailstorm hit the Harris farm, damaging his house and property.

James Harris' plantation hit by storm, 1897.

James Harris’ plantation hit by storm, 1897.

Tifton Gazette
June 18, 1897

Storm Near Cecil.

Cicil, Ga., June 12. – A heavy and damaging hail storm passed three miles north of Cecil late yesterday afternoon.  The cloud traveled in a southeasterly direction, touching the plantation of Mr. James Harris, three miles northeast of this place.  The storm was accompanied by a terrific wind, which destroyed a large amount of Mr. Harris’ fencing and a portion of the roof of his dwelling.  No deaths or personal injuries have been reported.

In November, 1897,  Harris took another blow when his gin was burned down.

James Harris' gin house hit by fire, 1897.

James Harris’ gin house hit by fire, 1897.

Tifton Gazette
November 19, 1897

Gin House Burned

Cecil, Ga., Nov. 17 – At a late hour last night the gin house and contents of Mr. James Harris living two miles northeast of this place, was destroyed by fire. The origin of which is unknown, but is thought to be an incendiary’s work. The amount of the damage could not be learned to-day, but it is thought that it may exceed $1,000. SHEBA.

James’ father, George Harris,  died between 1892 and 1894 in Echols County, Georgia. His mother, Julia Ann Harris, applied for a Confederate Widows pension in 1908 and 1909 in Berrien County, Georgia. George Harris and his wife are buried in Union Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery in Lanier County, Georgia in unmarked graves.

In 1919, James Harris sold his farm near Cecil, GA.

James Harris sells out in Cecil District, Georgia, 1919.

James Harris sells out in Cecil District, Georgia, 1919.

Tifton Gazette
August 29, 1919

    Adel News.  There has been a good deal of activity in the sale of farm lands in Cook county this week.  Mr. W. S. Kirkland sold his farm to Mr. Jim Buck Whiddon and later bought Mr. John Taylor’s place which he also sold.  It is understood that the first brought $15,00.  Both of the places are in the Brushy creek neighborhood.  Mr. James Harris sold his place in the Cecil district to Mr. General Taylor for $15,000 also.

James Harris was a resident of Cecil, Georgia in Berrien/Cook County until his death. He died in Adel, Georgia December 12, 1928.   Alice died October 28, 1928, in Adel Georgia.  They are both buried at the Fellowship Baptist Church Cemetery in Cook County near Cecil, Georgia.

Rjames-harris-gravesite

Special thanks to Lloyd Harris for the contribution of images and content for this post.

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Knights Come to Lowndes County, GA

In the winter of 1824-25 a group of Revolutionary War “Baby Boomers” came west from Wayne County, Georgia to settle in what was then Irwin County, near the area that would one day become known as Ray City, Georgia.  They were  politically connected and probably had full knowledge that the huge area of Irwin county, occupying the central third of the southern Georgia, was about to be divided into smaller counties.

Among the leaders of this small band of settlers were William Anderson Knight and wife Sarah Cone Knight, his brother Samuel Knight, and his son-in-law Isben Giddens. They brought with them their families, children, livestock, and their possessions to make a new home in the new county of Lowndes, which was created from parts of Irwin County in 1826. These pioneers were experienced at opening up a new county. They were frontiersmen with militia experience, and also experienced at carving farms and plantations from the wilderness of the Wiregrass. In a sense, they were the first ‘Americans’, born between the time of the Declaration of Independence and the ratification of the Constitution of the United States. They were raised in a time of war; their fathers served as Revolutionary Soldiers. Like the baby boomers of later wars, they grew up in a sort of post-war boom period, where Americans were celebrating their new-found independence and freedom.

The Knights were true Wiregrass pioneers. They came to this section from Wayne County, where William A. Knight had been among the very first settlers, arriving there about 1803. The Knight’s Wayne County place was situated near the Old Post Road, one of the earliest roads in Georgia. On the land adjacent to Knight’s, another Wiregrass pioneer, William Clements, had settled his family.  The Knights and the Clements became steadfast friends with many family and business dealings; William Knight and William Clements served together on the Wayne county Grand Jury of 1813 and worked together in other civic capacities.

Old Post Road Historic Marker, Glynn County, GA

Old Post Road Historic Marker, Glynn County, GA

The Old Post Road…was originally an Indian trail extending from St. Augustine, Florida, northward through south Georgia into the rolling country known as the Sand Hill section. Mitchell’s map of 1756, now in the Library of Congress in Washington, shows this trail. During the Revolutionary War the American forces marched along it on their way to attack a British contingent at Fort Tonyn, which was somewhere south of [U.S. Hwy 84]. Historians have not been able to determine the exact site. The road continued to be used as a stagecoach route and post road between Savannah and Florida until the War between the States.

When Wayne County had been created in 1803, William A. Knight was one of five commissioners empowered by the Georgia Legislature to determine the site of the county seat in the new county, and “when it was done it was located on lands owned by Mr. Knight and by William Clements.” The Wayne county seat became known as Tuckersville, after resident John Tucker who served as the first postmaster there. (Waynesville was not officially designated as the county seat until 1829.) William A. Knight served as a post master after John Tucker, and William Clements served as a Wayne County road commissioner. Tuckersville  was located  somewhere north of Waynesville on the Post Road near the Buffalo Swamp, once the home and feeding grounds of herds of Georgia buffalo. The town disappeared from maps after 1850 and its exact location remains a mystery. wayne-historic-marker In its first twenty years, Wayne County was slow in developing.  William A. Knight served as the tax collector for 1806 and 1807, but no monies were returned to the state Comptroller General’s office for those years. According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia “The area contained hundreds of acres of pine barrens and wiregrass country. Much of the land was undesirable for settlement… Many of the early white settlers were families who, having lost their bids to win richer land in Baldwin or Wilkinson counties in the 1805 land lottery, settled for the isolation and less desirable land offered by Wayne County.”   Perhaps the lack of economic development in Wayne County finally discouraged the Knights. For whatever reason, it appears they decided there were better opportunities in opening up a new county than remaining behind in Wayne County.

As a member of the state Legislature, William A. Knight undoubtedly knew of the impending division of the vast Irwin County into smaller counties. The military road constructed by John Coffee and Thomas Swain in 1823 had opened up the south central Georgia territory to pioneer settlers (see Daniel McCranie). Coffee’s road, as it was soon known, passed from Jacksonville, GA through the site of present day Nashville, GA and on southward to the Florida line.

Coffee Road Historic Marker, Nashville GA

Coffee Road Historic Marker, Nashville GA

When the Knights left their farms and came to south central Georgia to build their “log cabin in the wilds of the Wiregrass”, this area of Georgia was all part of the huge Irwin county. Lowndes was created from 2080 square miles carved out of Irwin, which had been plotted into Land Districts. Located on the center of Georgia’s southern border with Florida, Lowndes was still a quite large county. It would later be further divided into six present day counties; Lowndes, Brooks, Cook, Tift, Clinch, Lanier, and Berrien counties.

William Anderson Knight chose a home site on the northwest edge of Grand Bay in what was soon to be Lowndes County. This area, in the 10th land district of Irwin County, had good water and better soil than the typical pine barrens of Wayne County. It was situated between the Alapaha River to the east and the Withlacoochee and its tributaries to the west.

Children of William A. Knight and Sarah Cone:

  1. Thomas Knight, born February 6, 1799
  2. Kezia Knight, born November 20, 1801
  3. Levi J. Knight, born September 1, 1803
  4. William Cone “Big Billie” Knight, born October 8, 1805
  5. John Knight, born July 7, 1807
  6. Sarah Knight, born October 10, 1809
  7. Elizabeth Knight, born September 23, 1811
  8. Aaron Knight, born July 17, 1813
  9. Jonathan Knight, born January 16, 1817

William A. Knight’s place was near the route, such as it was, from Waynesville to Thomasville, GA. About nine miles to the west was Coffee’s Road; equidistant to the east was the site of Union Church, the Primitive Baptist church organized in 1825 by Reverend Fleming Bates and Reverend Matthew Albritton with the Knights, Pattens, Lees and Sirmans as founding members.

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.

Knight and Union Church played a significant role in the rapid growth of Primitive Baptist churches throughout the Wiregrass region.  Union Church was at the head of the local organization of these churches into a Primitive Baptist Association, then known as the Ochlocknee Association. In 1833, Knight was appointed to travel these new churches to instruct them on their duties and responsibilities to the Association. By 1835,& when Union Church and other churches of south Georgia and north Florida sought to divide from the Ochlocknee Primitive Baptist Association, Knight served on the presbytery in the organization of the new Suwannee Primitive Baptist Association.

The Knight’s were influential in the development of Lowndes county from the very beginning, from the  convening of the first superior court to the representation in state politics. William A. Knight became the first state senator elected from Lowndes county to serve in the Georgia Assembly, and his son Jonathan Knight became the first state representative.

Following his parents , Levi J. Knight  brought his new bride, Ann Clements Herrin Knight, to homestead in Lowndes County in 1827. Anne was the daughter of the Knights’ Wayne County neighbors,  William and Elizabeth Clements.  L. J. Knight chose a spot not far from Grand Bay, on Beaverdam Creek,   where he established his  home site.  Perhaps even then he saw that the headwaters of Beaverdam Creek could some day be impounded to provide water power for a settlement.  Levi J. Knight’s homestead became the nucleus of a community, first known simply as Knight, GA that later grew into present day Ray City, GA.

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Delilah Drawdy ~ Centenarian

Tifton Gazette
Feb. 28, 1913

 

Berrien News Item, Feb 28, 1913 - Delilah Drawdy

Berrien News Item, Feb 28, 1913 – Delilah Drawdy

Berrien county boasts of a lady resident 102 years old, Mrs. Delilah Drawdy, says the Sparks Eagle. She has over three hundred grand-children and moved to Georgia from North Carolina. She can thread a needle without glasses; has a good number of quilts she made herself; is able to do house work; goes whereever she wishes; enjoys her meals, and can talk very interestingly of the changes in the modes of travel during her century and more of life.

Dr. P. H. Askew and Delilah Hinson Drawdy, circa 1904.

Dr. P. H. Askew and Delilah Hinson Drawdy, circa 1904. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

Ridin’ in a REO–In  what is believed to be the first car in Berrien County, Dr. P.H. Askew and Mrs. Delilah Drawdy ride in style in a REO two-seater. Dr. Askew wanted Mrs. Drawdy to be his first passenger in his new car, and when asked if she was afraid to go for a ride in the REO, she replied, “Why should I be? I’ll have a doctor driving?”

The photo was taken about 1904,  the first year the REO Motor Car Company produced automobiles.

 Dr. Pleasant H. Askew was a prominent physician, businessman and landowner of Nashville, GA. In the 1920s he purchased a farm from Sullivan J. Knight along Cat Creek about five miles north of Ray City, GA; it was one of several Berrien County properties he owned.

Delilah Drawdy died in March, 1914

Obituary of Delilah Drawdy

Obituary of Delilah Drawdy

 Tifton Gazette
March 27, 1914

Died at Age of 102.

Adel, March 17. Mrs. Delilah Drawdy, who died at the age of 102 at Rays Mill Sunday, removed one of the most remarkable women in the state. She married Noah Green when she was 15, and to them was born 10 children, five of whom are still living. The oldest child is eighty-four years of age, and the youngest is sixty-four. Mrs. Drawdy was twice married, her second husband being Levy Drawdy, with whom she lived twenty-five years. Two sons were born to them, one of which survives her. Her grand children, great grand children and great great grandchildren number over 400.
    Mrs. Drawdy was a grand mother of sheriff J. M. Shaw’s first wife.  She retained her faculties well, despite her age and remembered when the “stars fell.”

Other remembrances included:

Mrs. Drawdy, probably the oldest woman in the State of Georgia died at her home in Rays Mill Sunday. She was 102 years old, and was the grandmother of J. H. May and Mrs. J. M. Shaw of Adel…. She was able to sit up and sew until a few weeks before her death , and at the age of 101, she made a quilt for her grandson, J. H. May. Her eyesight and hearing were good and she maintained her metal faculties until the last. She joined the Primitive Baptist Church in 1852. Burial took place at Milltown Monday. She was born in North Carolina and moved to Georgia when she was 15 years old. Surviving children, William Green of Stockton, Mrs. Baten of Sparks, Mrs. D. M. Drawdy of Rays Mill, H. H. Green of Rays Mill, Mrs. H. Cox of Dupont and S. M. Drawdy of Hahira.

Affectionately known as “Dillie, her maiden name was Delilah Ann Hinson.  She was born on Christmas Day, 1812 in Anson County, North Carolina a daughter of Frances Steward and Charles “King” Hinson. As a young woman she came with her father to Pulaski County, GA.  About 1827 she married Noah Green, also of North Carolina.  Census records for Noah Green show he and Dillie made their household in Captain Lenam’s District, Pulaski County, GA.

Children of Delilah A. Hinson and Noah Green:

  1. William Hiram Green (1834-1916)
  2. Elizabeth Green (1834-1886)
  3. James Green (1836-)
  4. Frankie Angeline Green (1840-1922)
  5. Charles R Green (1842-)
  6. John B Green (1843-)
  7. Susannah Green(1846-)
  8. Houston H Green (1849-1925)
  9. Sarah Ann Green(1853-1945)

Family tradition says about 1854-55 Noah Green relocated his household to that part of Lowndes county which was soon to be cut into the new county of Berrien.  But almost at the moment of arrival at the new homestead, Noah Green suffered a heart attack and died,  leaving the widowed Dillie to raise a family on her own.

Within a year or two Delilah Hinson Green married again.  Her second husband was the widower Levi Drawdy, a prosperous farmer in Berrien County.  He was a son of John Drawdy, born October 15, 1803, in the Barnwell District of South Carolina. His uncle Daniel Drawdy was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. Drawdy’s first wife, Rebecca Carter, was a daughter of Elijah Carter, Sr., who lived on Little Saltketcher Creek on the Barnwell-Colleton line in South Carolina. Levi and Rebecca Drawdy made their home in Barnwell county until 1834 when they moved to settle on land on the west side of the Alapaha River in present day Lanier County, GA. Many of the Carter family connection had already come from South Carolina to settle in the same area. On June 7, 1834 Drawdy and his wife Rebecca were baptized into the membership of Union Church. He served as a private in 1838 in the Indian War, in Capt. Jesse Carter’s Company of Lowndes County militia. In 1853, Rebecca Carter Drawdy died and was buried at Union Church near their home. She was survived by her husband and ten children.

About 1854,  the widower Levi Drawdy and the widow Delilah Ann Hinson Green were married.  The couple made a blended household out of their large families. At the time of marriage they had 18 children between the two of them. Their union produced two more.

Children of Delilah Hinson and Levi Drawdy:

  1. Sylvester M. Drawy
  2. Perry Drawdy

Mr. Drawdy was buried at Union Church. He left a will dated July 25, 1864, which was probated August 25, 1881, in Lowndes Court of Ordinary. His son, Daniel, was designated as executor. His home place and farm, Lot of Land No. 389 in 11th district of Lowndes, was divided among the wife and surviving children: Daniel Drawdy, Levi Drawdy, Jr., Sylvester M. Drawdy, Mrs. Christina Drawdy Wetherington, Mrs. Elizabeth Green Touchston, Mrs. Kiziah Drawdy Rhoden, Mrs. Sarah Drawdy Chitty,  and Fairiby Drawdy.

Delilah Ann Hinson Green Drawdy died in 1914. She is buried along with other members of the Green and Drawdy families in the cemetery at  Union Church.

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