Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island: Part 2

Berrien County in the Civil War
29th Georgia Regiment on Sapelo Island
Part 2: Place of Encampment

Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island

  1. Arrival On Sapelo
  2. Place of Encampment
  3. Camp Spalding
  4. Election of Officers
  5. Tidewater Time
  6. In Regular Service
William W. Knight wrote home from Camp Spalding, Sapelo Island, GA.

William W. Knight wrote home from Camp Spalding, Sapelo Island, GA.

The  Berrien Minute Men were two companies of infantry that went forth from Berrien County, GA during the Civil War. From October, 1861 to January, 1862, the campfires of the Berrien Minute Men  were made on the coast of McIntosh County at Sapelo and Blackbeard islands protecting the approaches to Darien, GA on Doboy Sound and the Altamaha River.  The Berrien Minute Men arrived on Sapelo in early October and were stationed on the island along with the Thomas County Guards, Thomas County Volunteers and Ochlocknee Light Infantry.

The regimental encampment on Sapelo was Camp Spalding, on the 4000 acre Sapelo Island plantation which had been established by Thomas Spalding. According to New Georgia Encyclopedia,

“Thomas Spalding (1774-1851), noted antebellum planter of Sapelo Island, was one of the most influential agriculturists and political figures of his day in Georgia…He cultivated Sea Island cotton, introduced the manufacture of sugar to Georgia, and promoted Darien and the coastal area as the economic center of the state…Spalding was an influential Democrat and a pro-Union advocate.  As the sectional crisis worsened in the late 1840s he was instrumental in ensuring the support of Georgia for the Compromise of 1850…Despite his ownership of more than 350 slaves, Spalding had considerable misgivings about the institution of slavery, exemplified by his reputation as a liberal and humane master. He utilized the task system of labor, which allowed his workers to have free time for personal pursuits. Slaves were supervised not by the typical white overseers but by black managers, the most prominent of whom was Bu Allah (or Bilali), a Muslim and Spalding’s second-in-command on Sapelo.” 

The Muslim community at Sapelo Island was among the earliest in America, and some scholars believe the ruins on Sapelo include the foundations of one of the first mosques in the country.  Descendants of the 400 enslaved men, women and children who lived on Thomas Spalding’s antebellum plantation still reside on Sapelo Island in the Hog Hammock community. In the description of Sherpa Guides,

“The Gullah village, with its unique cultural, artistic, and linguistic traditions, is without a doubt the most unusual community in Georgia. Old timers speak geechee, a colorful creole that blends English with a number of African languages, primarily from the western coast. Hog Hammock was created in the early 1940s when R.J. Reynolds, who owned most of the island, consolidated the scattered black land holdings around the island. Blacks exchanged their holdings in Raccoon Bluff, Shell Hammock, and other communities for property and small houses with indoor plumbing in Hog Hammock.”

Thomas Spalding’s South End Mansion on Sapelo Island had been inherited by his son, Randolph Spalding.  Randolp Spalding and his five siblings had received the  slaves from their father’s estate, as well. In Sapelo’s People: A Long Walk to Freedom, William S. McFeely writes,

Randolph Spalding, unlike his scientific father, better fit the popular image of the Southern plantation grandee; in his thirties as the war approached he liked fast horses and big house parties.” Among the tidewater plantation owners, “fears were great of a ‘plundering expedition’ aimed at the huge population of slaves along the coast.”

In McIntosh county 78 percent of the population was enslaved. In neighboring Glynn county 86 percent were slaves and the enslaved populations of the coastal Georgia counties were nearly as great: 67 percent in Camden county, 74 percent in Liberty, and 71 percent in Chatham.

1861 Harpers map of Georgia Slavery - detail of coastal counties.

1861 Harpers map of Georgia Slavery – detail of the Georgia coast showing the percentage of enslaved population in Chatham, Liberty, McIntosh, Glynn, and Camden counties.

“Charles Spalding, Randolph’s brother, wrote to an official of the Georgia militia on February 11, 1861 ‘that there are on the Island of Sapelo…about five hundred negroes which might be swept off any day unless protected by a small detachment of infantry on the island.” Spalding feared not only slave raiders, but the slaves themselves: ‘there are on.. [the nearby Altamaha rice plantations] some four thousand negroes, whose owners will continue to feel very insecure until some naval defenders are placed upon these waters.'”

That responsibility fell for a while on the Berrien Minute Men and the 29th Georgia Regiment. On Sapelo Island, the 29th  had duty manning Sapelo Battery  near Sapelo Lighthouse as well as additional gun batteries near Dean Creek.  A gun battery on Blackbeard Island at the Atlantic Inlet to Blackbeard Creek was the site of Captain Knight’s encampment. These positions were important in defending the northern delta of the Altamaha River and the port at Darien, GA from intrusion by Union forces.

A number of Civil War letters of John W. Hagan document the experiences of the Berrien Minute Men. Writing from Sapelo Island on October 11, 1861, Hagan gave his wife, Amanda Roberts Hagan, an update on her brothers Ezekiel W. Roberts and James S. Roberts, cousin Stephen N. Roberts, and the other soldiers of the Berrien Minute Men.

Sapelo Island, Ga.
Oct. 11, 61

My Dear Amanda,
I have imbraced the present opportunity of writing you a short letter which leaves my self and all the company in good health with a few exceptions. We landed in Savannah on Monday night at 8 Oclk and taken the Steamer on Tuesday eavening for our place of encampment which is on Sapelo Island. We landed on Sapelo on Wednesday morning & the same eavening Capt. L. J. Knight’s compny was removed to Sapelo all so and I found Ezeakle & James in good health & in good spearet. There is four companies stasioned hear now the Thomasvill guards & the Oclocknee light infantry & Capt Knights company and the company I came with. The health of the men on this Island is verry good and as to the reports which was going the roundes in Lowndes in regard to yellow feavor that is all faulce. Some of the men of Blackbeard did not take care of themselves, & by exposure and exerting too much they became bilious & I was realy surprised when I found all the boys in so fine health. As to James, Ezeakle & Stephen you would hardly know them. Ther is but four or five on sick report at this time and nothing is the matter with but colds & risings &c. Ezeakle will I think go home on the first boat & he will give moor satisfaction in regard to our fair than I can by writing. We have drew rashings but havent elected any of our offiscers for the company yet. We feel assured that John C. Lamb of Milltown will be our Capt but we know not who will be our Leutenants. All the boys was glad to see us and I think we will get along as well as any solders could expect. Capt Knights company has not drew any money yet but is to draw as soon as the Capt gets abble to go to Savannah. He has the Bloody Piles and is not able at present to travel. We have on this Island five canon mounted. The largest carries 16 lbs balls. The others are smaler & we calculate to mount moor as soon as posable. I do not apprehend any danger heare at present. There was a blockade came in sight here yesterday & we thought we should have a fight. The 3 companies was marched to the Battery or a detachment of the three companies. The cannon was uncovered & loaded & nessery arrangements was made for a fight when all at once the ship taken a tack in a different directsion. We do not now realy whether it was a blockade or an Inglish ship expected & last night at 11 Oclk a small steamer started out so that in case it should be an Inglish vessel they could convey her in.

Amanda, we are not regulated yet & I can not give you a full deatail but in my next letter I hope I shall be able to write something interresting. Some of the boyes are writing, some singing, some fiddleing, some dancing, some cooking, some play cardes & some are at work cleaning off our perade ground & places to pitch our tents. Cience I have bin hear I have seen several of the Thomas county boys. 2 of the old Allen Hagans boys from Thomas is heare. I feel satisfide that we will be healthey & fair as well as we could wish &c.

Amanda, Old man Crofford seemed to be in the nosion to buy my land when I saw him at Nailor. He said he would give me $1500 for my place if he traded with your father providing I would give him two payments from next January. Tel your father to make any trade with Crofford that he thinks proper, but if he wants time he must pay interrest on the payments. I must close for this time & I hope you wil write soon  & I think we had better change our Post office to Nailor because you can send evry Satterday or every other Satterday & get your mail shure & where we send too at present it is unsirtin when you get it. When you write you must derect it as I derect you nothing moor. yours affectsionate husband Til Death. John W. Hagan

N.B. address your letters to
John W. Hagan
Sapalo Island Ga
in care Capt Knight

N.B. Kiss Reubin for me
J. W. H.

By mid-October, 1861 the sick of the regiment on Sapelo Island were more or less recovering from their initial illness.  William Washington Knight wrote on October 12, “There is fourteen on the sick list but none of them very bad all able to be up some little.” Ten days later, William Washington Knight was himself sick with a “bowel complaint.” Of the Berrien Minute Men, he added, “father [Captain Levi. J. Knight] has been very sick but he is getting better so as to be about and attend to his businefs.    There are several of the recruits sick,   five that tolerable bad off although I do not think any are dangerous.    Some of the old company (Company C) are sick yet,    three pretty low.”  But by the end of October, a number of men had given up the regiment. Of the Thomas County Guards, James M. Blackshear provided a substitute and left.  Sixteen-year-old Elias Beall and W. R Pringle apparently went back home.    William A Jones left the Berrien Minute Men and went home on leave to Berrien County, never to return. Jones died of measles in Berrien County on January 18, 1862, leaving behind a pregnant wife  and a young son.

Measles would spread among the regiment  in the coming months at Camp Spalding.

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Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island: Part 1

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

Sketch of Civil War Earthwork on Sapelo Island

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

Berrien Minute Men on Sapelo Island

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

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

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

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

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

Slaves working in the rice fields.

Slaves working in the rice fields.

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

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

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

After a number of the men on Blackbeard Island were reported sick, rumors circulated back at home that the regiment was stricken with Yellow Fever. The families of the Berrien Minute Men had reason to fear.  In 1854, a yellow fever outbreak had killed thousands of people on the southeastern coast, including as many as 400 victims at Darien, GA.  But in his letters home, Private John W. Hagan of Berrien county wrote, “as to the reports which was going the roundes in Lowndes in regard to yellow feavor that is all faulce. Some of the men of Blackbeard did not take care of themselves & by exposure and exerting too mutch they became bilious.”  Hagan knew something about yellow fever. His father, John Fletcher Hagan, had died of yellow fever in 1853.

The Berrien County men may have just been unacclimatized to the muggy heat of the coast, or the men may have contracted malaria  in the coastal marshes.  Levi J. Knight, Jr. later wrote that one of the Berrien Minute Men, Private Enos J. Connell, became “unfit for duty, rendered so by a protracted illness contracted on Blackbeard Island… the disease when first contracted was said by his physician to have been Billious fever.” Enos J. Connell never entirely recovered and was eventually discharged in June 1862. Private Thomas N. Connell, died at Blackbeard Island on October 2, 1861, the cause of death being given in his service record as “bilious fever.” Bilious fever,  a now obsolete medical diagnosis, was often used for any fever that exhibited the symptom of nausea or vomiting in addition to an increase in internal body temperature and strong diarrhea. Bilious fever (Latin bilis, “bile”) refers to fever associated with excessive bile or bilirubin in the blood stream and tissues, causing jaundice (a yellow color in the skin or sclera of the eye). The most common cause was malaria.  What treatment the sick men may have received on Sapelo Island is not described, but one known remedy for intermittent fever was quinine derived from the Georgia Fever Bark tree, which grew in the Altamaha River Valley.

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

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

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

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

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

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Mary Ann Knight and William A. Jones

Mary Ann Knight was born  July 1, 1838 near Beaverdam Creek,  the present day site of  Ray City, GA  Her parents, John Knight and Sarah Sally Moore were pioneer settlers of the area, then situated in Lowndes County, Georgia but cut into Berrien County in 1856.

Mary Ann Knight Jones married William A.  Jones On November 5, 1856 in Berrien County, Georgia in a ceremony performed by the bride’s grandfather, Elder William A. Knight. The Berrien County Marriage Records of 1956 include the following hand written entry:

 Go any ordained minister of the gospel Judge of the Superior Justice of the Inferior Court Justice of the peace or any person by the Laws of this State authorised to Celibrate  these are to authorise and permit you to join in the Venerable State of matrimony this William, A. Jones of the one part and this Mary Ann Knight of the other part according to the constitution and laws of this state and according to the rites of your church provided there be no lawful cause to obstruct the same and this shall be your authority for so doing given under my hand and seal this the 1st day of November 1856.

John Lindsey Ordy

Thereby Certify that William A. Jones and Miss Mary Ann Knight were duly joined in matrimony by me this fifth day of Nov 1856

William A Knight, O.M.

Mary Ann and W.A. Jones settled on a farm next to her brother, William Washington Knight in the new county of Berrien, in the vicinity of present day Ray City, GA. Other nearby neighbors included James A. Knight, Reverend Nathan Talley, William R. Brandon, and James M. Baskin. The farm of Allen Jones and Kiziah Knight Giddens Jones was in the same area.

In 1861 Mary Ann and William had a son, William Malachi Jones.

When the Civil War got underway,  William A Jones joined the Berrien Minute Men, along with Mary Ann’s brothers and other men of Berrien County. This was a company of volunteer infantry organized by Mary Ann’s father, Levi J Knight.  The Berrien Minute Men were mustered in as Company G, 29th Georgia Infantry, and William A. Jones was enlisted as a private on August 1, 1861 at Savannah, GA. Four months later the company muster rolls note that he was “absent with leave.” Later service records show that he died of measles in Berrien County on January 18, 1862. The location of his grave is unknown.

Mary had two children by William A. Jones, the youngest, Adam, apparently born after his father’s death.  Adam Jones was deaf and dumb, birth defects with a high probability for a baby whose mother is infected with measles in the early weeks of pregnancy.

For five years, the widow Jones raised her children as a single parent. On March 25, 1866 she married Green Bullard  in Berrien County, GA.

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The Estate of Green Bullard

Green Bullard

 

Allen Jones

Allen Jones (1800-1875)

Allen Jones was the second husband of Keziah Knight Giddens, widow of Isben Giddens.  She was a daughter of William Anderson Knight, pioneer settler of the Ray City area.  Following the demise of Mr. Knight, Allen Jones acted on behalf of the family in collecting a debt owed to the estate.

Allen Jones was born January 1, 1800, in Bulloch County, a son of Thomas and Martha Denmark Jones. He grew to manhood in Bulloch County.  On January 16, 1823 he married Ann Cone, daughter of Aaron Cone and grand-daughter of William Cone, R.S. She was born January 5, 1801

To Allen Jones and Ann Cone were born four children:

  1. Sarah Jones, born 1823, married Fleming B. Walker of Brooks Co.
  2. Susannah Jones, born 1827, married Benjamin F. Whipple from New York.
  3. Thomas A. Jones, born 1828, married Martha , Died in Savannah
  4. Aaron Cone Jones, born 1831, married (1) Jane Vickers (2) Mrs. Polly Williams Lovett

About 1837 Allen Jones bought a farm in the Grooverville area in that part of Thomas County  later cut into Brooks County, where he moved his family. Some time  in the early 1840s he sold his Grooverville property and moved to Lowndes county and settled on a farm in the Cat Creek District. While living there he served as Justice of the Inferior Court of Lowndes County 1845-1853.  Jones was a primitive baptist by faith, and joined with Friendship Church at Hahira, GA

His wife, Ann Cone Jones, died about 1855,  Afterwards, the widower Jones re-married to the widow of Isbin Giddens and daughter of William Anderson Knight, Kiziah Knight Giddens. The couple made their home in the new county of Berrien, in the vicinity of present day Ray City, GA near the homes of Reverend Nathan Talley, William R. Brandon, and James M. Baskin. The farms of William A. Jones, William Washington Knight and James A. Knight were in the same area.

In Berrien County Allen Jones served as a Justice of the Inferior Court, 1861-1862.

On November 1, 1861 Allen Jones lost his second wife, Kiziah Knight Giddens Jones.  At the time of her death, the estate of her father had not been settled.  This put her widowed husband, Allen Jones, in a curious position of having to file a fi fas action against a debtor, John W. Turner, in order to settle a debt owed to the estate of William A. Knight, so that the estate of his dead wife could inherit from her father’s estate, and he in turn could inherit from his wife’s estate.

After the death of Kiziah, Allen Jones married a third time.  The marriage was March 8, 1862 in Berrien County to Mrs. Eliza Kinsey Newsom, widow of William Newsom. The wedding ceremony was performed by primitive baptist Elder Ansel Parrish.

The couple removed to Lowndes county. Mr. Jones acquired a farm about one mile from Mineola, GA where he died August 2, 1875.

He was buried on his estate lands, in a small cemetery; grave unmarked.

Mr. Jones died testate in Lowndes County, leaving a will dated February 11, 1871, probated August 2, 1875, in Lowndes  Court of the Ordinary.  It bequeathed his lands consisting of home place on Lot No. 51, 11th district of Lowndes County, to his wife Eliza and his children and her children, viz: Mrs. Sarah Walker, Mrs. Susannah Whipple, Thomas A. Jones, deceased; Aaron C. Jones, Mrs. Miriam Harrell, wife of John W. Harrel and Asa Newsom. 

Aaron C. Jones and Asa Newsom were appointed executors of the will.  They were fellow veterans of the Civil War, Jones having served with the 56th Georgia Regiment, Company B, and Newsom serving with the Berrien Minute Men, Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment.

†††

The Will of Allen Jones
State of Georgia
Lowndes County

In the name of God, Amen, I, Allen Jones, of said state and county, being of advanced age, but sound and disposing mind and memory, knowing that I must shortly depart this life, deem it right and proper both as respects my family and myself, that I should make a disposition of my property with which a kind providence has blessed me I do therefore make this my last will and testament hereby revoking and annulling all others by me heretofore made.

First, I desire and direct that my body be buried in a decent and Christian-like manner suitable to my circumstances and conditions in life. My said body shall return to dust – to the God who gave it, as I hope for salvation through the merits and atonement of our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Secondly, I desire and direct that my just debts be paid without delay by Executors hereinafter named and appointed

Thirdly, I give and bequeath to my beloved wife (Eliza) for and during her natural life only (without power to dispose of by will or otherwise) one lot of land number 27 in the Eleventh district of Lowndes county being the improved land on which we now live. I also give and bequeath to my beloved wife in the same reserved manner the farming utensils used on and belonging to the farm on said lot of land; and two mules, my carriage horse and carriage, my other live stock of each all and every kind where ever found, all the provisions on said farm side; growing crop (if any) and all my household and kitchen furniture and I direct my executor not to molest disturb trouble or bother my beloved wife within peaceably proper on and holding the property holding given her for and during her natural life.

Fourthly, The residue of my property both real and personal whatever and where ever it may be including that given to my wife in the third article of this will for and during her natural life only (after her estate ? is over) I give bequeath and bestow by equal shares  to the heirs of my natural body, and heirs of the body of my wife, to wit; Sarah Walker, Susan Whipple, Thomas A. Jones deceased, Aaron C. Jones, Miriam Harrell (alias Mrs. John P. Harrell), and Asa Newsome in fee simple and forever.

Fifthly, I hereby constitute and appoint my son Aaron C. Jones and Asa Newsom both of the county and state aforesaid sole executors of this my last will and testament this February 11th 1871.

Allen Jones

Signed sealed dictated and published by Allen Jones as his last will and testament in the presence of us the undersigned who subscribed from hereunto in the presence of said testators at his special insistence done —– in the presence of each other.

Hanford D. Tyler
John H. Tyler
Asa Newsom

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William H. Griffin, Wiregrass Jurist

William Hamilton Griffin (1853-1917)

William Hamilton Griffin was born in that part of Lowndes County, GA which was cut into Berrien County in 1856. He became a prominent public administrator and jurist of Wiregrass Georgia, and was involved in some of the most dramatic legal contests in Ray City history.

William H. Griffin

William H. Griffin

William Hamilton Griffin  was born July 18, 1853, on his father’s plantation, located in that portion of Lowndes county which is now included in Berrien county, GA. His honored parents, William D.and Nancy (Belote) Griffin, were also natives of Lowndes county.”

He was a cousin of Bessie Griffin, and Lester Griffin of the Connells Mill district (Georgia Militia District 1329), just west of  the Rays Mill community  (now Ray City, GA),

“The father, William D. Griffin, aided in effecting the organization of Berrien county and was its second treasurer, which office he held continuously until his death, in 1892, except one term, during the so-called -“Reconstruction” period, immediately succeeding the Civil War, when nearly all white voters were, under Federal statutes, practically disfranchised. The father was a soldier in the Confederate service during the latter part of the war and was with Johnston’s forces in the operations of the Atlanta Campaign.”

The paternal grandfather represented Brooks county in the state legislature, though his residence was on land now in Lowndes county. The great-grandfather, James Griffin, was a private soldier in the Revolutionary War.  James Griffin and Sarah Lodge Griffin were early settlers of Irwin County, GA.

William H. Griffin, the subject of this sketch, was afforded only the advantages of the common schools of his native county, the family fortunes, in common with those of most southern families, having been seriously affected by the war. He was educated in the public schools and academies at Nashville, GA. He soon developed traits of leadership and at twenty was elected clerk of the court for Berrien County, an office he held in 1874-5. From 1882 to 1885 he held of the office of Ordinary of Berrien County. While in this office he studied law, and in 1884 he was admitted to the Georgia bar. He at once began the practice of his profession at Nashville, but in 1885 he removed to Valdosta, GA.  There he formed a law partnership with Judge Benjamin F. Whittington, as Whittington & Griffin, this relation continuing for several years.

He was elected mayor of Valdosta in 1892, and served three consecutive terms. Governor William Yates Atkinson appointed him judge of the city court of Valdosta in 1897, for a term of four years, at the expiration of which he was reappointed for a like term, by Governor Allen D. Candler, and continued on the bench until 1905. During his eight years of service he tried 1,358 civil cases and 2008  criminal cases, a total of 3,866. His decisions were carried to the supreme court but 18 times and were reversed in only two cases.

In politics Judge Griffin was a Democrat, having always given that party his unqualified support. He served as mayor of Valdosta, judge of the city court, representative in the state legislature from Lowndes County, Chair of the Democratic Executive Committee of Lowndes County, and as referee in bankruptcy. His elevations to public office were a tribute to his worth and to the respect with which he was held by the community.

He was a member of the local lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and held membership in various bar associations. His chief recreations were fishing and hunting.

William H. Griffin was twice married — first, on May 18, 1879, to Margaret “Maggie” MacDonald, daughter of Dougal P. and Anna (Peeples) MacDonald, of Nashville, Berrien county. Maggie McDonald was born in 1864. Her father was listed on the 1860 roster of Levi J. Knight’s Berrien Minute Men, but he was also enumerated in Berrien County on the 1864  Census for Re-Organizing the Georgia Militia. Maggie was apparently raised by Dr. Hamilton M. Talley, as she appears in his household in Berrien County in the census of 1870. She died in 1890.

William H. Griffin was second married to Miss Carrie Abbott, of Randolph, VT, September 28, 1892. He had two children of the latter marriage—William Abbott Griffin, born in 1896, and Margaret Griffin, born in 1902. William and Carrie Griffin were members of the Methodist Episcopal church South.

William H. Griffin served as attorney for the estate of prominent Rays Mill turpentine man Robert S. Thigpen, engineering some of the largest property deals in Ray City history in the disposal of the Thigpen estate.  Thigpen’s holdings at the time of his death in 1898 included his turpentine plants and naval stores stock at Rays Mill, Naylor and Lenox, GA.

In 1899, William H. Griffin represented James Thomas Beagles, defending him for the Killing of Madison G. Pearson at Henry Harrison Knight’s store at Rays Mill (now Ray City),GA some 12 years earlier. The Beagles case was tried before Judge Augustin H. Hansell. Attorney Griffin made a most eloquent and affecting appeal in behalf of his client, Beagles, for a light sentence, and every one in the court room was moved by his strong and well-chosen words. Beagles was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to only two years incarceration.

In 1906, after his retirement from the bench Judge Griffin entered into a partnership with Hon. Elisha Peck Smith Denmark, and formed the law firm, Denmark & Griffin. It was said that “He enjoyed the confidence, esteem and patronage of the most prominent and important people and business interests of Lowndes and adjoining counties.”

In the matter of Green Bullard’s estate, William H. Griffin was retained by William B. Shaw to represent the interests of his wife, Fannie Bullard ShawGreen Bullard was a long time resident of the Rays Mill (now Ray City) area, and  owned land out Possum Creek Road and on toward the community of Cat Creek. The Shaws wanted the estate to be administered by Fannies’ brother, Henry Needham Bullard, rather than her half-brother, William Malachi Jones.   The other side of the family was represented  by Buie & Knight in the dispute. Mallie Jones was the son of Mary Ann Knight Bullard by her first husband, William A. Jones.

Judge Griffin’s name was synonymous with integrity. He “walked uprightly, worked righteousness, and spoke the truth in his heart.” He exemplified the best ideals of the profession. He was generous-spirited, and gave liberally of praise and commendation where he thought it due.  When the first train to roll through Ray City on the Georgia & Florida Railroad arrived at Valdosta, it was Judge W. H. Griffin that gave the welcome address at the celebration.

His death occurred at his home in Valdosta, April 15, 1917, and the throng of people, including many lawyers from other counties, who attended his funeral attested strongly the esteem and love there was for him in the hearts
of those who knew him.

Obituary of William Hamilton Griffin

Obituary of William Hamilton Griffin

Post-Search Light
Apr. 19, 1917

Judge Griffin Died Sunday

Prominent Valdosta Jurist Passed Suddenly Away From Heart Trouble – Well Known Here.

    The following account appearing under a Valdosta date line in the daily press Monday will be interest to Bainbridge friends of the deceased.
     Judge Griffin was well known here, and was related to Representative E. H. Griffin, of this city.
    “Judge William H. Griffin, one of Valdosta’s prominent men and a leading south Georgia lawyer, succumbed to attack of heart failure this afternoon at 1:45 o’clock after less than an hour’s illness.  He was alone at his home when the attack came on him, members of his family being at church.  Mrs. Griffin returned home soon after he was stricken and a physician reached his side in a few minutes but was powerless to relieve his patient.
    “Judge Griffin was sixty-four years of age, an active south Georgian, and for forty years a citizen of Valdosta. He was a member of the law firm of Denmark & Griffin, and controlled a large and lucrative practice.  He was a member of the two last general assemblies of Georgia and exerted a strong but conservative influence in that body.  He had been judge of the city court of Valdosta, mayor of the city, member of the school board and active in the public life of this city and section, which loses one of its best citizens in his death.
     “Judge Griffin is survived by his wife and two children, a son, Mr. Abbot Griffin, and daughter, Miss Margaret.
   “His son was in Macon, where an announcement of his father’s death reached him.
    “Judge Griffin’s funeral and interment will take place here probably on Monday.”

Grave of William Hamilton Griffin, Sunset Hill Cemetery

Grave of William Hamilton Griffin, Sunset Hill Cemetery. Image source: Robert Strickland.

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The Estate of Green Bullard

Green Bullard was a long time resident of the Rays Mill (now Ray City) area, and husband of Mary Ann Knight.   The Bullards owned land out Possum Creek Road and on toward the community of Cat Creek.  (See Green Bullard and Green Bullard Fought Sickness in the Civil War)

Following Green Bullard’s death in 1907, there was some dispute among his children and step-children over the administration of his estate.

One side of the family, represented by Buie & Knight, wanted Henry Needham Bullard appointed as administrator.  The other side, represented by William Hamilton Griffin, wanted Mallie Jones as administrator. Attorney William Hamilton Griffin,  who was judge of the Valdosta City Court and a former mayor of Valdosta. Col. Griffin was a native of Berrien County and had served previously as clerk of the Berrien County court and as Ordinary of Berrien County.

Children of Mary A. Knight and William A. Jones (1835-1866)

  1. William Malachi Jones (1861-1925)
  2. Adam Allen Jones (1863-1922)

Children of Green Bullard and Mary A. Knight

  1. Sally Louise Bullard  (1866 – 1919) married Albert B. Surrency
  2. Susan Bullard (1871 – 1950)  married Jesse Shelby “Doc” Shaw
  3. Fannie Bullard (1874 – 1941) married William Berrien Shaw
  4. Henry Needham Bullard (1878 – 1938) married Mary Johnson
  5. Louis Malone Bullard (1881 – 1945) married Dollie Howard Knight

The court challenge was reported in the April 11, 1908 edition of the Valdosta Times.

April 11, 1908 Adminstration of the estate of Green Bullard is contested by daughter Fannie Bullard Shaw

April 11, 1908 Administration of the estate of Green Bullard is contested by daughter Fannie Bullard Shaw

Valdosta Times
April 11, 1908

Contest Over Administration

    Mr. William B. Shaw, of Bainbridge, representing his wife [Fannie Bullard Shaw], accompanied by his attorney, Judge W. H. Griffin, and Mr. Will Simms, went to Nashville yesterday to appear before the ordinary there and have Mr. Henry Bullard made administrator of the estate of Greene Bullard.  Other heirs wanted Mr. Mallie Jones made administrator.  Judge Griffin represented one side and Buie & Knight the other.  Judge Patterson heard the arguments and later appointed the clerk of the superior court, probably as a compromise, or  until the matter may be given further consideration.

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Green Bullard

Green Bullard

William “Green” Bullard was born February 1, 1829 in Georgia,  son of Amos Bullard and Cynthia Lastinger.   He came with his parents from Waynesboro, Burke County, GA to Lowndes County, GA some time in the 1840s.

Enumeration of Green Bullard in the Census of 1850, Lowndes County, GA

Enumeration of Green Bullard in the Census of 1850, Lowndes County, GA

Green Bullard, age 21, was enumerated in 1850 in Lowndes County, GA in the household of his father, Amos Bullard, along with his minor siblings, Martha and Mary.  Also in the Bullard home was 14-year-old Candis Leaptrot.  Next door was John Knight, his wife Sarah, and children William J. Knight, Levi J. Knight (known as Jr. to avoid confusion with his uncle General Levi J. Knight), James A. Knight, Mary Ann Knight, Henry Harrison Knight, Sarah A. L. Knight, and Kiziah A. L. Knight.

According to Census agriculture schedules, Amos Bullard’s farm was valued in 1850 at $400, consisting of 490 acres of which 30 acres were improved. The Bullard farm inventory included $20 of farming implements and machinery, one horse, 15 hogs, 100 bushels of Indian corn, one 400 lb. bale of cotton, 60 bushels of peas and beans, 10 bushels of sweet potatoes, 200 pounds of butter, and $50 worth of butchered meat.

By 1860, Green Bullard had established a household of his own, a home that he shared with Milley Gardell and her daughter Elizabeth D. Gardell.  Milley, born Amelia Jones, was the widow of John Gardelle

1860 census record of Green Bullard in Berrien County, GA

1860 census record of Green Bullard in Berrien County, GA

http://archive.org/stream/populationschedu111unit#page/n401/mode/1up

Green’s dwelling was next door to the farm of his brother, James Bullard, who owned 490 acres with 32 under cultivation. Green had a personal estate of $500, but apparently no land as yet, for he does not appear in the  1850 Census non-population schedule for agriculture. It seems probable that he was helping his brother with farm labor.

After the Civil War commenced Green Bullard went to Nashville, GA  with his nephew Alfred Anderson and signed up on March 4, 1862 with the Berrien Light Infantry, which was being formed at that time.  Bullard  fought dysentery and Typhoid pneumonia while in the army (see Green Bullard Fought Sickness in the Civil War), but was also present with his unit for significant battles at The Wilderness (May 5–6, 1864), Spotsylvania Court House (May 8–21, 1864), North Anna (May 23–26, 1864), Cold Harbor (June 1–3, 1864, Petersburg Siege (June 1864-April 1865, and Cedar Creek (October 19, 1864.) By January, 1865 Bullard was too weak to continue fighting. He was sent to the hospital with dysentery and was furloughed. Less than a month later the War ended.

With the end of the Civil War, Green Bullard returned to home and farm. Within a year, he married Mary Ann Knight in Berrien County, Georgia.  Mary Ann Knight was “the girl next door” from Green Bullard’s younger days.  As mentioned above, Mary Ann Knight was the daughter of John Knight and Sarah Sally Moore,  who were the neighbors of Amos Bullard, Green’s father. She was born  July 1, 1838 in Rays Mill, Lowndes (nka Berrien) County, Georgia.  She was also the widow of William A. Jones. Her husband served in the Berrien Minute Men in the war, and was among those who succumbed to ravaging illnesses of camp life;  he died of measles in Berrien County on January 18, 1862.  Mary had two children by William A. Jones, the youngest, Adam, apparently born after his father’s death.  Adam Jones was deaf and dumb, birth defects with a high probability for a baby whose mother is infected with measles in the early weeks of pregnancy.

Green Bullard and Mary Ann Knight were joined on March 25, 1866 in Berrien County, GA.  The ceremony was performed by William Patten, Justice of the Peace.

Marriage certificate of Green Bullard and Mary A. E. Knight, March 25, 1866, Berrien County, GA.

Marriage certificate of Green Bullard and Mary A. E. Knight, March 25, 1866, Berrien County, GA.

In 1867 Green Bullard signed the standard loyalty oath required to restore voting rights of southerners during Reconstruction.

Loyalty Oath of Green Bullard,  signed July 23, 1867, Berrien County, GA

Loyalty Oath of Green Bullard, signed July 23, 1867, Berrien County, GA

The census of 1870 enumerated Green Bullard’s blended family in the 1144 Georgia Militia District of Berrien County, GA, the Rays Mill District.  The Bullard household included Green and Mary, their three year old daughter, Sarah Bullard, Mary’s sons William Malachi Jones and Adam Jones, and Green’s widowed sister, Celia Bullard.  Mary and Celia kept house while Green and William worked the farm.

1870-enumeration-of-green-bullard

1870 census enumeration of Green Bullard

http://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0135unit#page/n443/mode/1up

The records of appointments of U.S. Postmasters show that Green Bullard  was appointed postmaster of Knight’s Mill (later known as Rays Mill) on August 3, 1868. Bullard held the position until June 29, 1871 when the Knight’s Mill post office was discontinued.

Berrien County Property Tax records of 1872 show Green Bullard owned 980 acres including all of lots 420 and 469 in the 10th land district.   The land was valued at $1300 total. The records show he owned “other property” valued at $379, for an aggregate estate of $1679. Green Bullard employed one “hand” to help with the work.

By the following year, Green Bullard had expanded his operation to 10 hands. The tax records also noted a ten year old   male in his household was deaf and dumb. He had $270 cash or liquid assets, and his total property was valued at $2742. By 1878 his personal estate also included $742 worth of livestock.

1880 census enumeration of Green Bullard, Berrien County, GA

1880 census enumeration of Green Bullard, Berrien County, GA

http://archive.org/stream/10thcensusl0134unit#page/n381/mode/1up

The Census of 1880 found Green Bullard still employing his step-son Malachi Jones to work on the farm.  Step-son Adam Jones was not enumerated in the Bullard household at this time but would appear in later census records.   The Census enumeration noted that three daughters of Green Bullard and Mary Ann Knight,  Sally (13), Susan (9), and Fannie (5) were all at school.  They attended the King’s Chapel School, located just across the county line, in Lowndes County.  Among the other students at King’s Chapel was Jesse Shelby “Dock” Shaw, who would later marry Susie Bullard.

The 1880 Census – Agricultural Production Schedule shows the Green Bullard farm consisted of 125 acres of land tilled, fallow, or grass (pasture or meadow), and 850 acres of unimproved woodland and forest. In 1879 Bullard had planted 17 acres in Indian corn which produced 200 bushels, 28 acres of oats produced 330 bushels, and 22 acres of cotton which produced about 8 or 9 bales. He had another 2 or 3 acres planted in sugar cane. Bullard owned one horse, one mule, and one ox. He had 16 milk cows and 54 other cattle. His stock dropped 13 calves and he purchased another 29. He sold 7 calves and two died. He had 45 sheep on hand and had 11 lambs dropped. Ten sheep died of disease. He sheared 36 fleeces for 100 pounds of wool. His other livestock included swine and poultry. The farm, land, fences and buildings were valued at $1,400, farming equipment and machinery at $15, and live stock at $694. In the previous year, Bullard had purchased about $350 dollars worth of fertilizer. His total farm production value was estimated at $600.

By 1881, the property tax appraisal of Bullard’s livestock grew to $1008 , and he was holding $500 of crops, probably cotton, for sale. His total estate was valued at $4368. Green Bullard continued to prosper through the 1880s, farming his land on lots 420 and 469:

1895-feb-15 Tifton Gazette green bullard

1895-feb-15 Tifton Gazette green bullard

Tifton Gazette
February 15, 1895

Mr. Green Bullard, of Berrien county, has thirty odd bales of Sea Island cotton stored away and has not sold a bale in four years, despite the fact that he raises some every year.  Mr. Bullard raises his provisions at home and sells other product necessary for expenses.  He makes money by making cotton entirely a surplus crop. — Valdosta Times.

Enumeration of Green Bullard in the Census of 1900,  Rays Mill District, Berrien County, GA

Enumeration of Green Bullard in the Census of 1900, Rays Mill District, Berrien County, GA

http://archive.org/stream/12thcensusofpopu179unit#page/n776/mode/1up

According to Bryan Shaw,  in December of 1901 Green Bullard deeded 132 acres of his property in Lots 500 and 501 of the 10th Land district near Cat Creek to his daughter [Susie] and son-in-law [Dock Shaw].  The farm home of Dock and Susie Shaw was located about 2 1/2 miles south west of Ray City, Georgia on the east side of Possum Branch Road, just south of the crossing over Possum Branch (See JESSE SHELBY “DOCK”
SHAW FARM HOME NEAR RAY CITY, GEORGIA)

By the fall of 1907, Green Bullard was in his 78th year and the health of the old veteran was failing.

November 2, 1907 Valdosta Times reports Green Bullard is very ill.

November 2, 1907 Valdosta Times reports Green Bullard is very ill.

Valdosta Times
November 2, 1907

Mr. Green Bullard of this section [Cat Creek] is very ill.  He has many friends who wish him an early recovery.

Green Bullard died on Friday, November 15, 1907.  He was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, GA.

Grave of Green Bullard, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave of Green Bullard, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Children of Mary A. Knight and William A. Jones (1835-1866)

  1. William Malachi Jones (1861-1925)
  2. Adam Allen Jones (1863-1922)

Children of Green Bullard and Mary A. Knight

  1. Sally Louise Bullard  1866 – 1919
  2. Susan Bullard 1871 – 1950
  3. Fannie Bullard 1874 – 1941
  4. Henry Needham Bullard 1878 – 1938  (married Mary Johnson, 26 May 1901 – Berrien Co., GA,  a daughter of Richard Seward Johnson and Ida Isabelle Shaw)
  5. Louis Malone Bullard 1881 – 1945

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DEATH OF MRS. BULLARD

One hundred and three years ago today, on this date, December 27, 1908, Mrs. Mary Ann Knight Bullard died at the home of her son, Henry Needham Bullard, in Valdosta, Georgia.  Mrs. Bullard was a lifelong resident of the Ray City area.

Mary Ann Knight was born July 1, 1838 in the Knight settlement at the location now known as Ray City,  Berrien County, Georgia.  Her father was John Knight and her mother was Sarah “Sallie” Moore. She was a niece of General Levi J. Knight.

On November 5, 1856 Mary Ann Knight married William A Jones in Berrien County, Georgia. The bride’s grandfather, Elder William A. Knight, performed the marriage.  The Berrien County Marriage Records of 1856 include the following hand written entry:

 Go any ordained minister of the gospel Judge of the Superior Justice of the Inferior Court Justice of the peace or any person by the Laws of this State authorised to Celibrate  these are to authorise and permit you to join in the Venerable State of matrimony this William A. Jones of the one part and this Mary Ann Knight of the other part according to the constitution and laws of this state and according to the rites of your church provided there be no lawful cause to obstruct the same and this shall be your authority for so doing given under my hand and seal this the 1st day of November 1856.

John Lindsey Ordy

 Thereby Certify that William A. Jones and Miss Mary Ann Knight were duly joined in matrimony by me this fifth day of Nov 1856

William A Knight, O.M.

After William Jones was killed in the Civil War, the young widow married Green Bullard.  Green Bullard was a Civil War veteran who served with Company I,  50th Georgia Regiment, the Berrien Light Infantry. They were married March 25, 1866 in a ceremony performed by William Patten, Justice of the Peace.   For forty years the Bullards lived near Ray City, GA in what is now Lanier County.  Green Bullard died November 15, 1907, and was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave marker of Mary Ann Elizabeth Knight Bullard, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave marker of Mary Ann Elizabeth Knight Bullard, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Mary Ann Knight Bullard died in the morning on the last Sunday of the year, December 28, 1908.  She was buried next to her husband, Green Bullard, at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Valdosta Times
January 2, 1909 pg 3

DEATH OF MRS. BULLARD.

An aged and good Woman Passed Away Early Sunday Morning.

Mrs. Mary Ann Bullard, one of the oldest and best known women in this section, died at the home of her son, Mr. H. N. Bullard, in this city about one o’clock Sunday morning.  Her remains were carried to Berrien county and interred at Beaver Dam church, near her old home, on Monday.
    Mrs. Bullard was the widow of Green Bullard, one of Berrien county’s pioneer citizens, and resided in that county for probably fifty years.  She was a daughter of John Knight, and a sister of Capt. L. J. Knight, of Quitman; of the late H. H. Knight and of Jack Knight, of Berrien county, and has two sisters living, Mrs. Louis Clyatt, of Lake City, and Mrs. Linny Griffin of Berrien county.  She leaves a large family connection throughout this section.
    Mrs. Bullard was married twice, her first husband being a Mr. Jones, who died during the civil war, leaving his young widow with two small children.  She was united to Mr. Bullard about the close of the war and lived happily with him until his death in November, 1907.  Her children are Mallie and Adam Jones, of Berrien county; Mrs. Sallie Surrency, of Florida; Mrs. Susie Shaw, of Berrien county; Mrs. Fannie Shaw, of Bainbridge, Ga.; H. N. Bullard of this city, and Lewis Bullard of Ray’s Mill.
    For three or four years Mrs. Bullard had been in feeble health, having suffered from two or more strokes of paralysis, complicated with heart trouble.  She was about 70 years old, and despite the loving care of her family her end could not be prolonged.
    Her death is mourned not only by her children and relatives, but by a large number of friends, who had grown to love her after a long and intimate acquaintanceship.

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