Resolutions of the Berrien Minute Men

Resolutions of the Berrien Minute Men

Levi J. Knight, original pioneer settler of Ray City, was the military leader of the community. He served as a captain of the local militia company in the Indian Wars, and as a general in the state militia.

Almost immediately after the election of Abraham Lincoln,  Levi J. Knight formed a company of 103 volunteers, the Berrien Minute Men.

Resolutions of the Berrien Minute Men, passed December 10, 1860 at Nashville, GA

Resolutions of the Berrien Minute Men, passed December 10, 1860 at Nashville, GA

Georgia
Berrien County

At a meeting of the Company of Berrien Minute Men at Nashville this 10th day of December 1860, the following resolutions were offered by Capt. Levi J. Knight.
    Resolved that we the Berrien Minute Men, adopt the following uniform, viz, Blue Gray Cloth, turned up with black flat-plate buttons, gray caps, with a black leather band, and plate buckle in front.
   Resolved that  we hold ourselves in readinefs to march at a minute warning, under orders from his excellency  the Governor, to any place in this state or out of it, that his excellency’s orders may designate.
   Resolved that we prefer the Minnie Rifle, and Sword Bayonet, and request our officers to apply for them, as our first choice.
      On Motion, the above resolutions were unanimously adopted.

Although Civil War was imminent,  long months of preparation passed. A few of these original Minute Men would drop out and new recruits take their places before Captain Knight’s Company finally made their way to Savannah in the summer of 1861.

1860 Muster Roll of the Berrien Minute Men

1860 Muster Roll of the Berrien Minute Men

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berrien-minute-men-MusterRolls1860-2

berrien-minute-men-MusterRolls1860-99

Muster Roll of Capt. Levi J. Knight’s Company of Volunteers Styled, The Berrien Minute Men Enrolled 28 Nov. 1860
Levi J. Knight Capt.
Thos. S. Wylley 1st Lieut
William Giddens 2nd Lieut
William Y. Hill 3rd Lieut
1 Arch. McCranie 1st Sergt
2 Jno. R. Langdale 2nd Sergt
3 Wm H. Overstreet 3rd Sergt
4 Sirman W. Nash 4th Sergt
5 Moses Giddens 1st Corp.
6 John Knight 2nd Corp.
7 Wm C. Giddens 3rd Corp.
8 Jasper M. Luke 4th Corp.
9 Dr. H. M. Talley Surgeon
10 F. H. Rooks Private
11 Moses H. Giddens Private
12 Abraham J. Luke Private
13 David P. Luke Private
14 H. W. McCranie Private
15 Jacob B. Griffin Private
16 James M. Williams Private
17 John P. Griffin Private
18 Sion D. Griffin Private
19 John L. Hall Private
20 Berrien Hendly Private
21 David M. Luke Private
22 James H. Kirby Private
23 John F. Kirby Private
24 Joel J. Parrish Private
25 Jacob Davis Private
26 Thos N. Connell Private
27 Wm Bradley Private
28 Alex D. Patterson Private
29 Wm Dickson Private
30 Wm J. Lamb Private
31 Johnson M. Richardson Private
32 John M. J. McCranie Private
33 A. L. Parrish Private
34 David D. Mahon Private
35 Matthew O. Giddens Private
36 Jas L. ONeal Private
37 B. M. James Private
38 John Tison Private
39 D. P. McDonald Private
40 Danl. M. Patterson Private
41 Jno. W. Griffin Private
42 Irvin Jones Private
43 John F. Parrish Private
44 Levi T. Smith Private
45 Wm M. Kirby Private
46 Wm Anderson Private
47 Richard G. McCranie Private
48 Andrew Dobson Private
49 Solomon Griffin Private
50 Wm. W. Rutherford Private
51 Jackson M. Handcock Private
52 Jas M. Hall Private
53 Jas A. Hall Private
54 William B. Bradford Private
55 John C. Lamb Private
56 Martin Griner Private
57 Isbin T. Giddens Private
58 Saml Jefcoat Private
59 John P. Weekly Private
60 Jarrad Johnson Private
61 Wm Richardson Private
62 Jas Hendley Private
63 Wm Patten Private
64 John M. Handcock Private
65 John D. Handcock Private
66 Newton M. McCutchin Private
67 Patrick Nolon Private
68 John Studstill Private
69 Saml Gaskins Private
70 W. D. Williams Private
71 Isaac Goodman Private
72 Howell B Dobson Private
73 Thos D. Lindsey Private
74 Danl. McNabb Private
75 Robt McNabb Private
76 Jas McNabb Private
77 Boney Roe Private
78 Joseph S. Morris Private
79 Ed Maloy Private
80 John Giddens Private
81 Geo M. L Wilson Private
82 Danl. W. McCranie Private
83 John Lindsey Jr. Private
84 Lovic M. Young Private
85 Gideon Gaskins Private
86 Ashley Newbern Private
87 Elbert Mathis Private
88 Jas Mathis Private
89 Joseph Newbern Private
90 Joel G. Young Private
91 Wm Luke Private
92 Wm J. Watson Private
93 Joseph Gaskins Private
94 Wm Branch Private
95 John J. Young Private
96 George W. Flowers Private
97 Newit Ward Private
98 Robt. H. Goodman Private
99 John C. Clements Private

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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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Confederate Letters of John William Hagan

In 1954, the Confederate letters of John W. Hagan were published by  Bell Irvin Wiley.  Hagan lived in the Cat Creek community near Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA.  In the Civil War, Hagan enlisted in  the “Berrien Minute Men,” a Confederate army unit organized by  Levi J. Knight, original settler at the site of Ray City.  Hagan served in the 29th GA infantry in Company  D, (later reorganized as Company K, the Berrien Minutemen),  and was elected 3rd Sergeant.  By 1864, he was serving as 1st Sergeant, and at times was in command of the Company.

Confederate Letters of John W. Hagan

Confederate Letters of John W. Hagan

John W. Hagan wrote regularly from field camps and battle lines to his wife and family back in Berrien County. His letters were typically addressed to Amanda Hagan, his wife, or  Rueben Roberts, his father-in-law.  He frequently mentions relatives, colleagues in the Berrien Minute Men, and other Wiregrass Georgia residents including James Roberts, Ezekiel Roberts, Stephen Roberts, Sherard Roberts, Kiziah Roberts, Bryant J. Roberts, John J. Roberts, George Roberts, James Roberts, Levi J. Knight, Jonathan D. Knight, William Washington Knight, William Sirmans, John Herndon, Wiley E. Baxter, Barzilla Knight, John M. Griffin, Thomas Griffin, Asa Newsome, William Roberts, Benjamin S. Garrett, J. L. Robert, Elias Thomas, Harriet Newell Wilson, Ellen Groover Clifford,  John Moore, Nancy Moore, Isbin B. Giddens, William J. Beatty,  James L. O’Neil, William Giddens, Burrell H. Howell, Moses H. Giddens, James Turner, Edward Maloy, U.D. Knight, Henry Harrison Knight, Edwin Griffin, Wiley E. Baxter, William Cameron, Jonas Tomlinson, Thomas Clifford, Jasper Roberts, John C. Clements, Thomas W. Ballard, James W. Mathis, James D. Pounds, James Giddens, Elias Lastinger, James Fender, Aaron Mattox,  Moses F. Giddens, and  William Anderson.

John W. Hagan witnessed  and described the death of Major John C. Lamb, who commanded the 29th Georgia Regiment until he was killed during the retreat from Vicksburg, MS in 1863.  Hagan also wrote about the execution of “Old Yaller” Elbert J. Chapman, who was shot for desertion even though he had left the 29th Georgia Regiment to serve with another unit.

John W. Hagan was captured during the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864 along with John Hearndon, Jonathan D. Knight, James D. Pounds, among others, and was sent to Camp Chase, OH for the remainder of the war .

The 43 letters he wrote home between 1861 and 1865 were published by Bell Irvin Wiley, and subsequently appeared in the Georgia Historical Quarterly.  The content of these letters may now be viewed online through JSTOR archives of the journal articles.

cover-georgia-historical-quarterlyTHE CONFEDERATE LETTERS OF JOHN W. HAGAN. Part I

Bell Irvin Wiley
The Georgia Historical Quarterly Vol. 38, No. 2  (June, 1954), pp. 170-200
Published by: Georgia Historical Society
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40577510

cover-georgia-historical-quarterlyTHE CONFEDERATE LETTERS OF JOHN W. HAGAN: Part II

Bell Irvin Wiley
The Georgia Historical Quarterly Vol. 38, No. 3  (September, 1954), pp. 268-290
Published by: Georgia Historical Society
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40577711
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Bryan J. Robert’s Account of the Last Indian Fight in Berrien County

Bryan J. Roberts, and his brothers Nathan and John, were among Levi J. Knight’s company of men who fought in the Indian Wars of 1836.  Many published accounts of the pioneer skirmishes with Native Americans at  William Parker’s place on the Alapaha River and at Brushy Creek have been related on the Ray City History Blog.

Here is the story the way it was told by B. J. Roberts 50 years after the event:

The Valdosta Times
May 14, 1887

INDIAN FIGHTERS

A Brief Account of the Fighting In This Section In 1836.

Mr. Bryan J. Roberts, father of Mr. W. K. Roberts of this place, is one of the pioneers of Lowndes, and has seen service as an Indian fighter in this and Clinch counties.  He is now in his 78th year and is spending the evening of his life very happily among his devoted children, having a few years ago divided a fine property among them, reserving for himself a sufficiency for his simple needs.  His children are all prospering and he is happy in seeing them happy.

In 1836 the rumors of depredations and murders by Indians in other portions of the State caused widespread alarm in this section, and the citizens organized companies for the protection of their families and property.  Capt. Levi J. Knight commanded the company to which Mr. Roberts belonged.

This company was on duty one hundred and five days, and during that time engaged in two bloody fights with the red skins.

In August, 1835, a squad of Indians raided Mr. William Parker’s home, not far from Milltown.  They carried his feather beds out into the yard; cut them open, emptied the feathers, cut and carried the ticks with them.  They also robbed him of provisions, clothing, and $208.25 in money.

Capt. Knight’s company was soon on the trail of this squad and in a short time overtook them near the Alapaha river, not far from the Gaskins mill pond.  The sun was just rising when the gallant company opened fire on the savages. A lively fight ensued, but it soon terminated in the complete routing of the Indians, who threw their guns and plunder into the river and jumped in after them.  A few were killed and a number wounded.  One Indian was armed with a fine shot gun.  This he threw into the river and tried to throw a shot bag, but it was caught by the limb of a tree and was suspended over the water.  This bag contained Mr. Parker’s money, every cent of which he recovered as well as all the other property taken from his house. The fine gun was fished out of the river and, afterwards sold for $40, a tremendous price for a gun in those days.  In the fight Mr. Peters was shot with this same gun.  One buck-shot struck him just above the waist-band of his pants, passed through and lodged under the skin near the backbone. He was also struck by two shot in the left side, which made only slight wounds.  The Indian was not more than thirty yards distant when he shot him.  Mr. Peters recovered from his wounds in less than twelve months.

Having driven the Indians into the dense swamp beyond the river, Capt. Knight marched his company as rapidly as possible in the direction of Brushy creek, in the Southwestern portion of the county.  When they arrived near that place, they heard a volley of small arms, and on arrival found that the battle had been fought and that the volley they heard was the last tribute of respect over the grave of their brave comrade-in-arms, Pennywell Folsom.  Edwin Shanks and a man named Ferrell were also shot dead in the fight.  Edwin Henderson was mortally wounded and died near the battlefield.  Mr. Robert Parrish, Sr., who lives near Adel, had his arm broken by a bullet in this fight. The Indians lost 27 killed and a number wounded.  We have no account of any prisoners being taken.  The battle of Brushy Creek was fought in a low, marshy swamp where Indian cunning was pitted against the invincible courage of the Anglo-Saxon, and in five minutes after the fight opened there was not a live red skin to be seen.

From this place Capt. Knight marched his company to what is now Clinch county.  He overtook the Indians at Cow Creek, where a sharp engagement took place, resulting in the killing of three and the taking of five prisoners. Mr. Brazelius Staten was dangerously wounded in this fight but finally recovered.

This ended the Indian fighting in which Capt. Knight’s company were engaged. Half a century has passed since then.  Nearly all the actors in that brief but bloody drama are at rest beyond the stars. A few of them are still among us, the valiant pioneers of this country, who bared their breasts to the bullets of the savages in order that their descendants might possess this fair land in peace.

The following is a list, as near as can now be ascertained, of the living and dead of Capt. Knight’s company.  The company numbered 120 men, many of whom came from neighboring counties, whose names cannot now be recalled.

LIVING–Bryan J. Roberts, Moses Giddens, John Studstill, Jonathan Studstill, Aaron Knight, Guilford Register, Echols county.) David Clements, William Giddens, John and Nathan Roberts, Fla.) (Zeke Parrish, Lowndes county,) John McMillain, John McDermid and Robert Parrish.

DEAD–George Henedge, Jeremiah Shaw, Daniel Sloan, John Lee, Moses Lee, James Patten, William J. Roberts, Isben Giddens, Jacob Giddens, Elbert Peterson, John Knight, Thomas Giddens, Harmon Gaskins, John Gaskins, William Gaskins, Sam Lee, Frederick Giddens, James Parrish, Martin Shaw, Archie McCranie, Daniel McCranie, Malcom McCranie, Alexander Patterson, James Edmondson, David Mathis, Thomas Mathis, Levi Shaw, William Peters, Jonathan Knight, Levi J. Knight and Brazelias Staten.

The Indians who passed through here belonged to the Creek Nation and were on their way from Roanoke to Florida to join the Seminoles.  They were first discovered in this county by Samuel Mattox, at Poplar Head, near where Mr. Tom Futch now lives.  Mattox was afterward hanged for murdering the fifteen-year-old son of Mr. Moses Slaughter.  Most of these Indians reached the Okeefenokee Swamp where they were joined by a large band of Seminoles.  From then until 1839 these savages did much damage to the white settlers in the vicinity of the Swamp, but in that year they were driven out and took refuge in the Everglades, where they were, with the exception of a small number, finally captured and sent to Arkansas.
Since the above was put in type another of the gallant old Indian fighters, Mr. Aaron Knight, has joined his comrades beyond the stars.

A 1915 reprint of this article also  noted “The Malcolm McCranie referred to was the father of Mr. Geo. F. McCranie, cashier of the Bank of Willacoochee and Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners of Coffee.”

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Isbin S. Giddens Visited Old Berrien Friends in 1905

Isbin Sylvester Giddens was born in Berrien county, Ga. in 1858,  a son of Elizabeth Edmondson and William Giddens.  “His family is Southern, his paternal grandfather having been a native of North Carolina, and his maternal grandfather of Virginia.  His father, William Giddens, was a planter in Georgia, a county judge and a soldier in the Confederate army. His mother, Elizabeth, was also a Georgian by birth. ” Isbin S. Giddens was the youngest of nine sons.

Isbin S. Giddens grew up on his father’s farm, near Ray City, GA in the 1144th Georgia Militia District, where he and his brothers helped work the farm.

By 1880, Isbin S. Giddens had moved to Manatee County, Florida where he was working as a grocer and living in the household of his brother, Matthew Giddens.

Some time before 1890, Isbin S. Giddens moved to Hillsborough County, FL where he served as county treasurer.  He enjoyed great success as a grocery merchant forming his own company,  I. S. Giddens & Co., wholesale grocers, of Tampa.  In 1900, the Giddens’  home was located on Seventh Avenue in Tampa, FL.  By 1905 Isbin S. Giddens had all but retired and, by 1910,  moved to the flourishing Hyde Park district of  Tampa, where he was engaged as a self-employed real estate broker.  Three  of his brothers also settled in Tampa, where they were among the prominent  citizens of the city: County Commissioner Marcus F. GiddensDr. John A. Giddens, a well known dentist, and Henry Clay Giddens, a successful business man.

In 1905, Isbin Giddens made a trip back to the old neighborhood in Berrien County.  His visit was reported in The Valdosta Times.

The Valdosta Times
December 16, 1905 pg 7

An Old Berrien County Boy.

Mr. I. S. Giddens, a retired capitalist of Tampa, Fla., was in Adel Monday, a guest of his niece Mrs. W.B. Wilkes.  Mr. Giddens was reared in Berrien County and went to Tampa when it was hardly as large as Adel.  He was treasurer of the county there for fourteen years and made a fortune in the wholesale grocery business.  He has a summer home in Monteagle, Tenn., and spends a good deal of the time there. His wife is visiting in Valdosta.  Her health has not been good for some time but is now much improved.  Mr. Giddens has many friend in Berrien who were glad to see him.  -Adel News.
Mr. Giddens is a brother of Mrs. J. B. Carter, of Valdosta, and Mrs.  Giddens has been a guest of Mr. and Mrs. Carter for a few days.

Grave of Isbin Sylvester Giddens (1858-1916), Woodlawn Cemetery, Tampa, FL.

Grave of Isbin Sylvester Giddens (1858-1916), Woodlawn Cemetery, Tampa, FL.

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The Biggles Farm

In 1880, Needham W. Pearson deeded 80 acres of land to his daughter, Elizabeth Pearson Biggles. She was the wife of James Thomas Biggles, subject of the previous post.

James Thomas Beagles and Mary Elizabeth Pearson Beagles

James Thomas Biggles and Mary Elizabeth Pearson Biggles

About 1901, James Thomas Biggles  returned to the Rays Mill area after completing a prison term in the Fargo Convict Camp for the murder of his brother-in-law, Madison G. Pearson. Re-joining his wife, Biggles purchased an 100 acre tract, adjacent to her land,  from Eugene M. Giddens. This tract had been in the Giddens family since the early 1800s. Isbin Giddens brought his wife, Keziah, and their two young children, William and Moses Giddens from Wayne County to settle in what was then Irwin County, near the present day Ray City GA in the winter of 1824-25. Present day county lines place the land in Lanier County, about 6 miles east of Ray City and just north of Highway 129.

After the death of James Thomas Biggles in 1911, the 100 acre tract that was in his name was sold at an administrator’s sale to J. V. Talley. The 80 acre tract was sold in 1924 by the heirs of Elizabeth Pearson Biggles, following her death in 1923. About that time Dr. Reubin Nathaniel Burch acquired both the 100 acre and the 80 acre tracts from different owners. Dr. Burch sold the property about 1930 and it was eventually accquired by the Roquemore family of Lakeland, GA for turfgrass production.

John A. Giddens, D.D.S.

Yet another college educated son of William Giddens, of Berrien County, was John A. Giddens.  Like his brothers, Henry, Isbin and Marcus,  John A. Giddens moved from Berrien County to live in Tampa, FL.  His biography appeared in Memoirs of Florida in 1902.

Rerick, Rowland H. (1902) Memoirs of Florida: Embracing a general history of the province, territory, and state; and special chapters devoted to finances and banking, the bench and bar, medical profession, railways and navigation, and industrial interests.The Southern Historical Association, Atlanta, GA. Vol II, Pgs 525-526.

John A. Giddens, D.D.S., a well known dentist of Tampa, is a native of Berrien county, Ga., born July 24, 1860.  He was the son of William Giddens, a Georgia planter and Confederate soldier who died in 1900, and Elizabeth (Edmundson) Giddens, of Georgia, who died in 1882.  Dr. Giddens was reared on his father’s plantation, received his early education in the public schools of the vicinity and the Thomasville high school. At seventeen years of age he became a teacher in the public schools but after one year resigned in order to take up the study of dentistry.  He entered the dental office of Dr. Alfred Smith of Valdosta, Ga., and remained there until 1881 when he matriculated at the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery.  He was graduated from this famous institution in 1883 and at once entered upon the practice of his chosen profession in Berrien county, Ga., but remained there only one year and in the fall of 1883 removed to Florida, selecting as his location, the thriving city of Tampa.  Two years later he went to Key West, practicing in the last named place for ten years.  In September, 1897, he returned to Tampa, which has been his home since, and where he has built up a large and lucrative practice.  Dr. Giddens is a member of the Florida State Dental society and belongs to the Methodist Episcopal church South, of which he is a steward and local clergyman.  He has been married twice, first in January, 1889 to Mary, daughter of James R. Curry, of Key West. She died in November, 1893.  His second wife was Miss Carrie Hammerly, of Tampa, formerly of Virginia, to who he was married September 15, 1898.  He has two daughters, Pauline C. and Fannie E., aged eleven and nine years respectively. The family is quite popular and enjoys a wide circle of acquaintances and friends.

Henry Clay Giddens ~ Man of the South

Henry Clay Giddens, portrait from Men of the South, 1922.

Henry Clay Giddens, portrait from Men of the South, 1922.

Another Giddens brother detailed in Memoirs of Florida was Henry Clay Giddens, who was born and raised in Berrien County, GA.  His parents were Elizabeth and William Giddens.

Rerick, Rowland H. (1902) Memoirs of Florida: Embracing a general history of the province, territory, and state; and special chapters devoted to finances and banking, the bench and bar, medical profession, railways and navigation, and industrial interests.The Southern Historical Association, Atlanta, GA. Vol II, Pgs 525-526.

Henry Clay Giddens, a worthy business man of Tampa, was born in Berrien county, Ga., November 2, 1863.  His family is Southern, his paternal grandfather having been a native of North Carolina, and his maternal grandfather of Virginia.  His father, William Giddens, was a planter in Georgia, a county judge and a soldier in the Confederate army; his wife was Elizabeth Edmundson Giddens, also a Georgian.  Henry C. is the tenth of eleven children and the youngest of nine sons.  Eight of these children are still living.  He is one of the four brothers who settled in Tampa, where the are among the prominent  citizens: Marcus F., Isbin S., county treasurer and member of the firm I. S. Giddens & Co., wholesale grocers, and Dr. John A. Giddens, a well known dentist. Henry C. Giddens was reared and received his early education in his native county.  He took a course in the Eastman business college, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where he graduated in September, 1885.  At the age of twenty he came to Tampa and clerked one year in the store of C.L. Friebele, and for six years was bookkeeper and general manager for E. A. Clarke & Co. November 1, 1891, he embarked in the clothing business as the partner of  W. B. Henderson, one of the leading men of Tampa.  Mr. Giddens has been treasurer of the Building and Loan association ever since its organization ten years ago.  He is a member of the Board of Trade and of the order of the Knights of Pythias,  and is one of the pillars of the Presbyterian church of which he is deacon.  He was married June 27, 1887 to Sallie M. Graham of Tampa, a native of Alabama, and they have two children, Henry Chalmers, born August 22, 1895, and James Graham, born July 10, 1891, died April 27, 1901.

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  An updated sketch of  Henry Clay Giddens was published in Men of the South in 1922.

Moore, Daniel Decatur. 1922. Men of the South: a work for the newspaper reference library. Southern Biographical Association. New Orleans. Pg 272.

  Henry Clay Giddens, retail clothier, of clothier, of Tampa, Florida, is a native of Berrien county, Georgia, where he was born November 2, 1863.
Mr. Giddens attended the common schools at his home and then took a commercial course at the famous Eastman Business College, Poughkeepsie, New York.
He located in Tampa, in 1883, at the age of twenty, when that city was a mere village and when there were only two or three mercantile establishments in the town.  He “looked for a job” and found one with C.L. Frieble, one of the pioneer merchants of the place. He was later employed as a clerk by E.A. Clarke & Company and was soon promoted to manager of the store.
Six years after his arrival in Tampa, Mr. Giddens found himself established in his own business, Henry Giddens & Company, his partner being the late W.B. Henderson.  This business has been continuously in operation ever since and, with the growth of Tampa, has become one of the largest retail clothing establishments in the State, occupying the corner store of the Giddens building, at Franklin and Lafayette streets. The firm has been incorporated as the Henry Giddens Clothing Company.
Mr. Giddens is a member of the Board of Trade, one of the most active directors of the Young Men’s and Women’s Christian Associations and the Old People’s Home, and always alert in the interest of Tampa.  He served on the City Council four years and on the Board of Public Works four years and is now president of the Board of Trustees of the Tampa Public Library, to which he gives much time and attention.
Mr. Giddens married, in 1887, Miss Sallie Graham, and they have one son, H.C., Jr., who is vice-president of the Henry Giddens Clothing Company.

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Matthew F. Giddens ~ Teacher, Businessman, Public Administrator

A  biographical sketch recently encountered in Memoirs of Florida tells the story of Matthew F. Giddens, who grew up in Berrien County, GA.

To set the  context, Matthew F. Giddens was a son of William Giddens, born in 1845 in that part of Lowndes county which was later cut into Berrien County.  Mathew’s grandfather, Isben Giddens was among the earliest settlers of the area.  Isben Giddens and William Giddens both served in the Lowndes County Militia during the Indian Wars of 1836-1838, under the command of  Captain Levi J. Knight.  The Giddens were among those who took part in the Battle of Brushy Creek, one of the last real engagements with the Creek Indians in this region.

Matthew F. Giddens attended the Valdosta Institute, founded by Samuel McWhir Varnedoe in 1866 in Valdosta, GA.  Giddens may have been a classmate of John Henry “Doc” Holiday, who attended the Valdosta Institute during the same time period.

Valdosta Institute, 1866. Valdosta, GA

Valdosta Institute, 1866. Valdosta, GA.http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/id:dlg_vang_low042 Was Mathew F. Giddens a classmate of “Doc” Holliday at the Valdosta Institute? They both attended the institute some time between 1866 and 1870.

Rerick, Rowland H. (1902) Memoirs of Florida: Embracing a general history of the province, territory, and state; and special chapters devoted to finances and banking, the bench and bar, medical profession, railways and navigation, and industrial interests.The Southern Historical Association, Atlanta, GA. Vol II, Pgs 526-527.

Matthew F. Giddens, of Charlotte Harbor [Florida], superintendent of public instruction of De Soto county, was born in Lowndes county, Ga., December 18, 1845.  His father, William Giddens, a native of Georgia, was a planter and during the war served in the Confederate States army until he was elected judge of his county court [Berrien County]. The  wife of judge Giddens, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Edmondson, was also a Georgian by birth.  M.F. Giddens was reared and educated in Berrien and Lowndes counties, Ga., and attended the Valdosta institute.  After he had completed his education he taught school for some time. During the last two years of the war he served as a private in Company G, Twenty-ninth Georgia artillery, which, later became an infantry command, and although slightly wounded once received no severe injury and did not miss a day of service.  He was captured in the battle of July 22, 1864 near Atlanta, and was held until the close of the war.  In 1870 he came to Hillsboro county, Fla., and engaged as clerk in a store for some time, later conducting a mercantile business in Manatee county for two years. He next embarked in the cattle business an remained in it for ten years. He was county commissioner for two years before his removal to De Soto county, and in the latter county was school commissioner until he was elected to his present office of superintendent of public instruction in 1897.  In November, 1890, he was re-elected to the office without opposition.  Mr. Giddens has sixty schools under his supervision, which he inspects each year. He has the educational interests of the county at heart and has done much to advance the condition and efficiency of this important part of the public administration. He is also active in fraternal and church organization, as a trustee of the Methodist church, and is a master Mason.  By his marriage in 1872, to Mary Knight, of Hillsboro county, he has five sons and two daughters, Sumner, La Rue, Marcus, Paul, Grady, Virginia and Eva.