Roster of Levi J. Knight’s Independent Militia Company, 1838 with Notes on the Soldiers

Second Seminole War
Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company, 1838

In 1836 as bands of Indians moved across Lowndes County, GA towards the Okefenokee Swamp, Captain Levi J. Knight’s company and other local militia companies engaged them in skirmishes at William Parker’s place, Brushy Creek, Warrior Creek, Cow Creek, Troublesome Ford and other places. In 1838, when Indians raiding from the swamp attacked and massacred nearby settlers and travelers militia companies were again called up, first on local authority of the Lowndes County Committee of Vigilance and Safety, then on the authority of Governor Gilmer.  J. T. Shelton summarized the situation in Pines and Pioneers:

In 1838, Governor Gilmer authorized the call up of eight additional volunteer companies, notifying Colonel Enoch Hall to have any company raised there to report to General Charles Floyd in charge of the militia at Waresboro.  Levi J. Knight promptly volunteered the services of a company of mounted riflemen of which he was captain, Barzilla Staten first lieutenant, and George Roberts second lieutenant, and sixty-five men who were “ready at a minutes warning-to march where ever you may order.” Knight had been operating for some time under the Committee of Safety for Lowndes County; He had searched the west side of the Okefenokee for fifty miles and found signs of about 500 warriors who had left ten days ago; he believed they would come back to steal corn and potatoes; he approved of the executive’s use of “efficient means to rid us of these troublesome neighbors.” Gilmer quickly accepted Captain Knight’s independent company and that of Captain Tomlinson into Floyd’s regiment. Knight, with a full company complement of seventy-five men served in the “sudden emergency” from August 15 to October 15, 1838.  

The 1838 muster roll of Knight’s company was transcribed and published in the South Georgia Historical and Genealogical Quarterly. Nearly a third of the men in Captain Knight’s Company had prior military service. Many had served under Captain Knight in skirmishes with the Indians in 1836.   Governor Schley had noted in his November 7, 1837 address to the Georgia Assembly that militia volunteers who served enlistments in 1836 had received “payment for articles lost ‘in battle, or in the immediate pursuit of the Indians, or while employed in actual service,’ which shall not extend ‘beyond the loss of horses and equipages, wagons and wearing apparel of the soldier.’ The Governor paid “all accounts for ‘subsistence forage, ammunition, clothing, tents, camp equipage, cooking utensils, medicine, hospital stores &c.’…  “The laws of the United States allowed each militia man in the service of the United States, two dollars and fifty cents per month in lieu of clothing.” No compensation was given for horses which died of natural causes.  Militia volunteers, privates and officers received the same pay as soldiers enlisted in the U. S. Army. Sick or wounded men were compensated for any expenses for medical treatment they received from civilian physicians.
The militia volunteers enlisting in 1838 probably expected similar compensation.

Muster roll of Levi J. Knight's Independent Company, 1838. South Georgia Historical and Genealogical Quarterly

Muster roll of Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company, 1838. South Georgia Historical and Genealogical Quarterly

 

(Editor’s Note: In 1838 the Indians in this section of Georgia went on the warpath, and the state malitia was called out to repel them. The following seven companies of state militia from Ware and Lowndes counties saw service in this war, and these rosters are taken from the records in the capitol at Atlanta. The following is the caption as copied concerning Capt. Levi J. Knight’s company:

MUSTER ROLL OF CAPT. LEVI J. KNIGHT’S Independent Company from Lowndes county, from 15th day of August, 1838 to 15th day of October, 1838, which entered the service on a sudden emergency to repel the invasion of the Indians into that county in the year 1838.

  • Levi J. Knight, Captain
  • Barzilla Staten, First Lieut.
  • George Roberts, Second Lieut.,
    Martin Shaw (1803-1876), First Sargent
    Martin Shaw (Jr.), born in SC April 1, 1803, a son of Pvt. Martin Shaw; apparently moved with his father and siblings to Liberty County, GA between 1811 and 1816; moved by 1825 to McIntosh County where he paid a poll tax of 31 cents and 2 1/2 mills in Captain Duncan McCranie’s district; moved to Lowndes County, GA about 1828; a Whig in politics; in 1834-1835, a member of the State Rights Association of Lowndes County, GA; deputy sheriff of Lowndes County, 1834-1836;   served as a private in Captain Hamilton W. Sharpe’s Company of Florida Volunteers in the Indian War of 1836; Sheriff of Lowndes County 1836-38, and at that time a resident of Franklinville, the then county seat of Lowndes County; after a short residence at Franklinville moved to that part of Lowndes County cut off into Berrien in 1856; married 1st in 1839, to Elizabeth Mathis, daughter of James and Rhoda Monk Mathis; married second Mrs. Matilda Sharpe of Colquitt County; served in the Indian War as a private in Captain Levi J. Knights company of Lowndes County Militia in 1838; served on 1849 committee to nominate a Whig candidate for Lowndes County representative to the state legislature; in 1852, administrator of the estate of Riley Deloach, Lowndes County, GA; in 1853, administrator of the estate of Abraham Deloach; He was cut out of Lowndes County into Berrien in 1856; elected one of the first Justices of The Inferior Court of Berrien county, serving 1856-1861; in 1858, served on Resolutions Committee to protest the proposed route of the the Atlantic & Gulf railroad to the south to bypass Troupville, GA; paid 1866 IRS “buggy” tax in Berrien County, GA; served as County Commissioner of Berrien County, 1872-73; 1872 offered as unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Berrien County representative to the state legislature; died suddenly at his home in Berrien County, GA (now Cook), two miles east of Adel, November 7, 1876; buried Old Salem Church cemetery, now in the City of Adel, GA and known as Woodlawn Cemetery.
  • William P. Roberts, Second Sargent
    A fortunate drawer in the 1827 Georgia Land Lottery.
  • Abram Register, Third Sargent,
  • Reubin Roberts, Fourth Sargent
  • James Johnson, First Corporal
  • Mark Ratcliff, Second Corporal
  • John Register, Third Corporal
  • Harmon Gaskins, Fourth Corporal

PRIVATES

  1. Box, John (1795- )
    John C. Box (1795- ) born in South Carolina; came to Lowndes County, GA some time between 1830 and 1838; moved to Clinch County, GA prior to the 1860 census.
  2. Brance, James T. (1818-1906)
    James Thomas Branch, born February 6, 1818, Laurens County, GA; as a young man moved to Irwin County, GA; Married February 13, 1838 to Ruthie Ann Sumner; served in Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company, Lowndes County, GA, 1838; Commissioned as militia Captain, September 7, 1861; enlisted as a private Company F, 49th Georgia Infantry Regiment, March 4, 1862; transferred to Company A, 61st Georgia Infantry Regiment; May 1864 elected Justice of the Peace, 690th Georgia Militia District, Irwin County, GA; moved to Berrien County, GA about 1878; later moved to Worth County; died November 8, 1906; buried Hickory Springs Baptist Church, TyTy,GA.
  3. Bell, David
    David Bell; resident of Mattox’s District, Lowndes County, 1832; served as militia captain in Lowndes County; supporter of State Rights Association of Lowndes County; fortunate drawer in the 1832 Land Lottery; served for the January, 1837 term of the Grand Jury of the Lowndes Superior Court; served as a private in Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company of Lowndes County, 1838, during Indian Wars.
  4. Clements, John F. (1810-1864)
    John Franklin Clements born October 7, 1810 in Wayne County, GA;  served as Wayne County Tax Collector  1830-32; moved to Lowndes County (now Berrien) in 1832; served in Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company of Lowndes County; married Nancy Patten, a daughter of James M. Patten and Elizabeth Lee, in 1840; served on the Lowndes County Grand Jury of 1841; died on September 23, 1864; buried at Union Church Cemetery, Lakeland, GA.
  5. Clements, William
  6. Clements, David
    Marched with Levi J. Knight’s company in the Indian Wars of 1836;
  7. Cribb, John (1897-)
    John Cribb, born about 1897 in South Carolina; came to Lowndes some time prior to 1838; served in Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company of Lowndes County; appears in the 1840 and 1870 census of Lowndes County, GA.  John Cribb died between 1870 and 1880. His widow, Eady Cribb, and daughter, Elizabeth Cribb, appear in the 1880 census of the 661 Georgia Militia District, the Naylor District, Lowndes County, GA.
  8. Douglas, Eaton (1800- )
    Eaton Douglas, born 1800, Burke County, GA; relocated to Tattnall County, then Appling County, GA; married Maria Branch in Appling County, GA; Administrator of the estate of Penelope Branch, 1835, Appling County, GA; about 1835 he located on Land lot 506 in the 11th District, north of Stockton, Lowndes County (now Lanier), GA;  in 1838 served in Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company of Lowndes County;  served as 2nd Lieutenant under Captain John J. Johnson in the Indian War, September 22, 1840 to October 18, 1840; joined September 9, 1848 to Union Primitive Baptist Church, expelled by request September 11, 1863.
  9. Douglas, Barzilla (1821- )
    Barzilla Douglas, born about 1821, son of Eaton Douglas and Maria Branch; in 1838 served in Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company of Lowndes County;   married Dicey Bennett about 1839; established his household next to his father’s homeplace north of Stockton, GA; later moved to Florida.
  10. Devane, Francis (c1798-1868)
    Francis DeVane, born circa 1798 in North Carolina, son of Captain John DeVane, Jr. and Ann Julia Davis, and brother of Benjamin Devane; Private, War of 1812 in Captain Montesquieu W. Campbell’s Company, New Hanover County Regiment of Militia, NC; Private in the company of Bladen County, NC Militia commanded by Captain Sellers. married  Frances Giddens about 1815; tax defaulter, 1815-16, New Hanover County, NC; in 1825, acted as attorney for Lucretia Rogers and her children James Rogers, Ann Rogers and Benjamin Devane in the sale of 585 acres of land in New Hanover Count, North Carolina; relocated to Lowndes County (now Brooks County), Georgia in 1828, moving with the Rogers family;  in 1838 served in Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company of Lowndes County; Died March 8, 1868 in Berrien County, Georgia; buried Pleasant Cemetery.
  11. Devane, Benjamin (1796-1878)
    Benjamin Devane  was born 1796 in New Hanover County, NC,  son of Captain John DeVane, Jr. and Ann Julia Davis, and brother of Francis Devane; served in the War of 1812 as a Corporal  in the New Hanover Regiment of Militia, New Hanover County, NC, serving from July 20, 1813, to August 2, 1813, under Captain George W. Bannerman; in 1814 married Mary Rogers of New Hanover County and afterwards moved to Bulloch County, GA; moved to Lowndes County, GA around 1828;  enlisted as a private at Pedro, Fl, under Captain M. C. Livingston in the 2nd Regiment, East Florida Volunteers, June 16, 1837, and was honorably discharged at Newnansville, December 18, 1837; In 1838, Benjamin Devane served as a private in Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company, Lowndes County, GA; served as a private in Captain Thomas Langford’s Florida Mounted Militia, volunteering at Fort Collins, September 4, 1839, serving until March 4, 1840; In 1848 moved to Madison County, Fl; about 1858 moved to Brooks County, GA; in 1861 returned to Shady Grove, Madison County, FL; after the Civil War moved to Hillsborough County, Fl; received a land grant June 29, 1878, for services in the Indian War; received a pension for service in the War of 1812; died October 28, 1879 in Hillsborough County, FL; buried in Mount Enon Baptist Church cemetery near Plant City, FL.
  12. Durrance, William (1804-1841)
    William Durrence was born in 1804; married Lourany Deloach on February 19, 1824, in Tattnall County, Georgia and settled on land near Bull Creek; Justice of the Peace, 1829, Tatnall County; moved to Lowndes County, GA some time after 1830; In 1836 served in Captain Hamilton W. Sharpe’s Company of Florida Volunteers; In 1838,  served as a private in Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company, Lowndes County, GA; 1841, filed a fi fa action in Lowndes Superior Court, Troupville, GA, against Elias Skipper; died on March 8, 1841, in Lowndes County, Georgia, at the age of 37.
  13. Edmondson, James (1799-1870)
    James Edmondson, born 1799 in Bulloch County, GA, son of Revolutionary Soldier Isaac Edmondson and Ann Cox; married Sabra James about 1820 in Bulloch County; between 1825 and 1828 moved to that part Lowndes County, GA now in Brooks County; relocated one year later to near the Withlacoochee River, about 8 miles southwest of present day Ray City, GA (four miles east of Hahira); baptised into Union Primitive Baptist Church, December 12, 1832; a lucky drawer in the 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery, drawing Lot 55, 18th District, Fourth Section, Walker County, GA; transferred Muscogee County, GA land grant to Thomas Belote in 1832; appointed by the Georgia legislature December 12, 1834 as a commissioner to determine a new location for the Lowndes County courthouse and jail; served as a private in Captain Levi J. Knight’s Independent Company 1836-1838, in the skirmish with Indians at William Parker’s place and afterwards; owned in 1840, 490 acres, Lot 3, 11th District of Lowndes; owned in 1844, 980 acres and 5 slaves in Lowndes County, GA;  dismissed by letter from Union Primitive Baptist Church, October 9, 1847 and later joined Pleasant Church; died about 1870.
  14. Emanuel, Amos (1795- )
    Amos Emanuel, born about 1795 in South Carolina; married about 1819, wife Martha; located in Montgomery County, GA by 1820, owning Lot Nos. 250 and 240 in the 11th District, Montgomery County; involved in 1825 Fi Fas legal action with John J. Underwood against William Gibbs; sold at auction in Montgomery County, April 3, 1827, one slave woman, Mary Ann, property of Amos Emanuel; relocated to Lowndes County, GA about 1827; authorized by the Georgia Legislature  on November 14, 1827 “to establish a ferry across Little River where Coffee’s road crosses the same, in Lowndes County, on his own land“; enrolled for six months service, June 16, 1837 to December 16, 1837 in Captain John G. Johnson’s Company of the 2nd Regiment East Florida Mounted Volunteers; In 1838, served as a private in Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company, Lowndes County, GA; removed to 719th Georgia Militia District, Ware County, GA prior to 1840; July 2, 1844 Ware County Sheriff seized seven head of stock cattle, taken as property of Amos Emanuel, to satisfy debts owed to the Superior Court of Ware County.
  15. Griffis, Joel (1803-1871)
    Joel Griffis, born 1803 in Clinch County, Georgia, a son of Nancy and Samuel Griffis, elder brother of Pvt. Littleberry Griffis and Pvt. John Griffis, and nephew of Charles A. Griffis; the father, Samuel Griffis (1775-1851), also served with Captain Levi J. Knight in the Indian Wars; moved to Appling County with his parents when he was young; Captain of the militia in the 719th district, Ware Co, 1835-1840; served a short volunteer term of enlistment in Capt. Levi J. Knights independent company of Lowndes County militia in 1838; married Elizabeth Bennett, 1841, daughter of John Bennett and Sallie Register; lived on lot of land number 310, 12th district of Ware County; sold out to Abraham Hargraves, of Ware County in 1851, and moved to Land lot number 149, 12th district in the southwest corner of Clinch County; Joel and  Elizabeth Griffis were received and baptized in 1847 in Wayfare Primitive Baptist Church – He was excluded in March 1867; died 1871 in Clinch County, Georgia; buried at Wayfare Church, graves unmarked.
  16. Griffis, John (1809-1880)
    John Griffis born 1809 in Georgia; a son of Nancy and Samuel Griffis, brother of Pvt. Joel Griffis and Pvt. Littleberry Griffis; the father, Samuel Griffis (1775-1851), also served with Captain Levi J. Knight in the Indian Wars; married Easter Bennett (1817-1855) about 1830;  moved in his youth with his parents to Appling County, thence to Ware County; served as a second lieutenant in the Ware County militia, 719th district 1830-35; served as a private in Capt. Levi J. Knight’s militia company in 1838 in the Indian War; married about 1843 to divorcee’ Esther Padgett who had abandoned her husband, John Stalvey, and children; moved to that part of Columbia County, FL later cut into Bradford County, FL; died about 1880 in Bradford County, FL
  17. Griffis, Littleberry (1811-1895)
    Berrian “Littleberry” Griffis, born August 24, 1811 in that part of Ware County cut into Clinch County, GA, in 1850, and into Atkinson County in 1917; a son of Nancy and Samuel Griffis, younger brother of Pvt. Joel Griffis and Pvt. John Griffis; the father, Samuel Griffis (1775-1851), also served with Captain Levi J. Knight in the Indian Wars; married Easter Bennett (1817-1855) about 1830; moved with his family to the 12th land district of Ware county (now Clinch); October 30, 1833, purchased a note held by A. E. Thomas on Lot Number 57,  Sixth District, Carroll County, GA and sold same note August 15, 1850 to Miles J. Guest; In 1838 in the Indian Wars, served as a private in Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company, Lowndes County, GA; November 1st to December 31, 1839,served as a private in Captain David Johnson’s company of Ware County militia; purchased land lot 417, 12th district, Clinch County, about 1852 where he established his homeplace; married second, widow Mrs. Sarah Brooker; baptized October 2, 1874 into Bethel Primitive Baptist Church, Echols County, GA and dismissed March 9 1876 to unite in constituting Ramah Church in Clinch County, which he did April 15, 1876- expelled July 24, 1882; married third, Sidney Lee in Cinch Co, Dec 16 1878 -separated in August 1884-divorced 1892; died April 1, 1895; buried Moniac Cemetery, Charlton County, GA.
  18. Giddens, Thomas (1789-1857)
    Thomas Giddens, born 1789 in North Carolina, believed to be the son of Thomas Giddens, Sr., Revolutionary Soldier; brother of Frances Giddens Devane, Ann Giddens Rogers, Morris Giddens and Pvt. Duncan Giddens; married first  Mrs. Gregory; married second, on April 25, 1825, Mary “Pollie” Nevill in Bulloch County, GA; moved from Bulloch County to Mattox’s District, Lowndes County, GA some time before 1830; a fortunate drawer in the 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery, drawing Lot 280, 9th District, Walker County, GA; marched with Levi J. Knight’s company in the Indian Wars of 1836; volunteered April 3, 1838, at Troublesome, GA (now Statenville) and served under Captain David R. Byran in his company of Lowndes County militia, and was honorably discharged there July 22, 1838; served July, 1838 to October 15, 1838 as a private in Captain David R. Bryan’s mounted company; served as a Private in Capt Levi J Knight’s Company of Georgia Militia, 1838; In 1850 assigned power of attorney to Captain Levi J. Knight to secure 80 acres of bounty land due Giddens as compensation for eight months of military service during the Indian Wars; died February 22, 1857.
  19. Giddens, Frederick (1812-1867)
    Frederick Giddens born 1812 in New Hanover County, North Carolina, son of Thomas Giddens (1789-1857); his mother died when he was a boy and from age 12 he was raised by his step-mother Mary “Pollie” Nevill; came with his father to Lowndes County before 1830; December 8-9, 1833, fortunate drawer in the Cherokee Land Lottery, drawing Lot 325 in the 4th District of Cherokee County, GA; married Elizabeth Mathis, 1833, in Lowndes County, GA; Lowndes County 1834 tax records show he owned 80 acres of oak and hardwood land in Cherokee County; settled in  Lowndesin that part which was  cut into Berrien County in 1856, on the Nashville-Valdosta Road, the homeplace later being known as the Harmon F. Gaskins place; served as a Private in Captain Levi J Knight’s Company of Georgia Militia in 1836 in the skirmish at William Parker’s place and in 1838; Lowndes County 1844 tax records show the Frederick M. Giddens homeplace was 980 acres in Captain Sanderson’s District on Land lots 464 and 465 in the 10th District; February 6,1867, administrator of the estate of John W. Giddens, acting in the sale of 365 unimproved acres of Lot No. 334, widow’s dower excepted, in the 10th District of Berrien ; According to Berrien County court records,  Frederick Giddens sold property to Benjamin Wooding which included the grave of a Giddens’ infant, and subsequently a feud arose between the two over burial rights at what Giddens considered a family burial ground; died July 5, 1867 in Berrien County, GA; buried Woodlawn Cemetery, Adel, GA.
  20. Guthrie, Aaron (1788-)
    Born 1788 in South Carolina; Lowndes County Tax Digest show him in Captain Sermon’s District in 1840;
  21. Guthrie, John (1795-c1870)
    John L. Guthrie, brother of Aaron Guthrie; born 1795 in South Carolina; In the Indian Wars (Second Seminole War) served enlistments in Captain Johnson’s Company, Captain David R. Bryan’s Company, and Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company; donated the land for Guthrie Cemetery, Berrien County, GA; His son, Samuel Guthrie married Martha Newbern, daughter of Etheldred Newbern;  Died about 1870; buried Guthrie Cemetery.
  22. Guthrie, John, Jr. (c1821-1904)
    John Hamilton “Hamp” Guthrie, son of John L. Guthrie; born about 1821; in 1849 a member of the Berrien Tiger hunting party along with brother Samuel Guthrie; Census of 1850 shows he lived on 675 acres in Clinch County, GA; died 1904; grave unknown.
  23. Guthrie, Hamilton
  24. Giddens, Isbin (1788-1853)
    Pioneer settler of Berrien County, GA and brother-in-law of Captain Levi J. Knight; born in Blounts Creek, Beaufort County, North Carolina on November 4, 1788; lieutenant of the 334th District Militia, Wayne County, from 1816 to 1820;  Member of Kettle Creek Baptist Church, 1823; Member of Union Primitive Baptist Church, 1827; Fortunate drawer in the 1827 Georgia Land Lottery; marched with Levi J. Knight’s company in the Indian Wars of 1836;
  25. Giddens, William
    Marched with Levi J. Knight’s company in the Indian Wars of 1836;
  26. Giddens, Moses  (1821-1906)
    Son of Isbin Giddens and Kiziah Amanda Knight, born November 14, 1821, Appling County,GA; served with Levi J. Knight’s company in 1836 skirmishes with Indians; a private on the 1860 muster roll of Levi J. Knight’s Berrien Minute Men, Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment; died January 11, 1906, Alapaha, GA.
  27. Griffis, John J.
  28. Gaskins, John (1802-1865)
    Pioneer settler and cattleman of Berrien County, GA; born June 29, 1802 in Warren County, GA; marched with Levi J. Knight’s company in the Indian Wars of 1836; Gaskins’ own home was raided by Indians while the family was away; died July 13, 1865; buried Riverside Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.
  29. Griffis, Leighton
  30. Griffis, Richard
  31. Gaskins, Harmon (1811-1877)
    Harmon Gaskins, Brother of Pvt. John Gaskins; born January 15, 1811; among Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company of men who fought in the Indian Wars of 1836; appointed one of the first judges of the Inferior Court of Berrien County; Justice of the Peace;  Died September 4, 1877; buried Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA
  32. Giddens, Duncan (1808-1907)
    Duncan Giddens, Son-in-law of Pvt. John Mathis; born in North Carolina in 1808; came to Lowndes County, now Berrien about 1827-1828; 1st Lieutenant of the militia in the 664th District of Lowndes County 1834-1840; died in Brooks County, GA, on November 26, 1907; buried Old Giddens Family Home Cemetery, Sandy Bottom, Atkinson County, Georgia.
  33. Griffis, Charles, Jr. (1800-1875)
    Charles Griffis, Jr., born 1800 in Montgomery County, Georgia, and died 1875 in Appling County, Georgia.
  34. Hodges, John (1809-1875)
    John Hodges, born in Tattnall County in 1809 and came to Lowndes County at the age of nineteen; participated in the Battle of Brushy Creek; established a mule-powered cotton gin on his farm; died 1875.
  35. Hodges, Alex. (1816-1884)
    Alexander Hodges, brother of Pvt. John Hodges; born May 17, 1816 in Tattnall County, GA; became a Primitive Baptist reverend; Died April 6, 1884 at High Springs, FL; buried New Hope Primitive Baptist Church.
  36. Hodges, James
    James Hodges, Brother of Pvt. Alexander Hodges and Pvt. John Hodges.
  37. Harnage, George (1807-1895)
    George Harnage, born 1807; came to Lowndes from Liberty County, GA; a son-in-law of Jeremiah Shaw; marched with Levi J. Knight’s company in the Indian Wars of 1836; Primitive Baptist Deacon; died about 1895.
  38. Harnage, Isaac (1804-1868)
    Isaac Harnage, Brother of Pvt. George Harnage; buried Boney Bluff Cemetery, Echols County, GA
  39.  Hearndon, Wm. Z. (c1804-1865)
    William Z. Herndon, born about 1804 in North Carolina; married Amelia Ann Freaux (or Fruhock); made their home in  Appling, Lowndes and Ware County, GA; Served in Levi J. Knights Independent Company of Lowndes County from August 15, 1838 to October 15, 1838; about 1842 moved to Columbia County, FL; appointed U.S. Postmaster, January 20, 1853 at New River, Columbia County, FL; became a Methodist Preacher in Indian River County, FL; in 1860 moved to Fort Meade, Polk County, FL; died in 1865; buried at Homeland, FL.
  40. Henley, Elmore
  41. Johnson, David (1804-1881)
    David Johnson, born January 29, 1804, Bulloch County, GA, son of Martha Hardeman and David Johnson, Revolutionary Soldier, and grandfather of J.H.P. Johnson, of Ray City, GA; moved in 1822 to the Mud Creek District near the Alapaha River in Irwin County (now Clinch) where he was among the first to settle; about 1825 moved to Leon County, Florida Territory; about 1828 moved to Lowndes County, GA near present Valdosta, GA; married about 1828 to Nancy “Mary Ann” Burnett; moved to Ware (now Clinch) County GA; served as a Private in Capt Levi J Knight’s Company of Georgia Militia, 1838; from November 1, 1839 – December 31, 1839, captain of a Georgia Militia company ordered into Federal Service in the Indian Wars; commissioned Major General of the 2nd Brigade, 6th Division of the State Militia on December 16, 1850; elected April 1, 1850, Justice of the Inferior Court, Clinch County; served as Justice of the Inferior Court April 12, 1850-1854;  in 1855 a candidate for state senator from Clinch County; Justice of the Inferior Court January 10, 1861; on February 2, 1861, resigned commission as Major General of the 2nd Brigade, 6th Division of the State Militia; delegate to the 1868 Democratic district convention at Blackshear, GA; died April 9, 1881; buried Fender Cemetery, Lanier County, GA.
  42. Johnson, James R.
  43. Knight, Jonathan
    Jonathan Knight, Son of William Cone Knight; came to Irwin County (in the Lowndes territory) over the winter of 1824-25; a constituting member of Union Primitive Baptist Church; marched with Levi J. Knight’s company in the Indian Wars of 1836;
  44. Knight, John
    John Knight, marched with Levi J. Knight’s company in the Indian Wars of 1836; In 1844 John Knight owned Lot No. 453 in the 10th District, Lowndes county, with 490 acres of pine land. No slaves were assessed, with his total property tax being $0.85.
  45. Knight, Aaron
    In 1844, Aaron Knight owned the adjacent Lot No. 454, with all 490 acres in pines. No slaves were assessed, with his total property tax being $0.85.
  46. Knight, William
  47. Kirkland, Lemuel
  48. McDonald, Wm.
    William McDonald, born 1810; Lucky Drawer in the 1832 Georgia Gold Lottery, drawing Lot 1034 in Cherokee County; died on December 1, 1889; buried at Cat Creek Primitive Baptist Cemetery
  49. Mathis, Riley (1817-1864)
  50. Mixon, Michael
  51. Mathis, Tyre (1806-1891)
    Tyre Mathis joined Union Church by letter April 12, 1828, dismissed by letter December 11, 1847; buried Prospect Church Cemetery, Clinch County, GA
  52. Mathis, John (1802-1875)
    John Mathis, Brother of Pvt. Tyre Mathis; born 1802, Bulloch County, GA; Ensign of Militia, District 442, Appling County, GA 1822-25; married in 1827 to Jemima Lee b 1807 GA, daughter of Joshua Lee; Justice of Peace, District 664, Lowndes County, GA 1833-38; Coroner, Clinch County, GA 1851-58 and 1861-64; transferred his church membership January 22, 1859 to Prospect Primitive Baptist Church, Clinch County, GA near his home; owned land Lot 441, 7th Dist in Clinch County, GA; died 1875, Hamilton County, FL; buried Prospect Cemetery, White Springs, FL.
  53. Mixon, Joshua
  54. McKennon, James (1804-1880)
    James McKennon (or McKinnon) Born about 1804 in North Carolina; a private in the Indian War under Captain Levi J. Knight, Lowndes County Militia; enumerated in 1840 in the 586th militia district of Ware County; sheriff of Coffee County 1856 to 1858; died 1880, Coffee County, GA.
  55. McDaniel, Benj. (1790-)
  56. Newbern, Etheldred (1794-1874)
    Etheldred Dryden Newbern, born 1794 in South Carolina, the eldest son of Thomas Newbern; came with his family to Georgia about 1798, to Bulloch County; said to have fought in the War of 1812; had moved with his family to Tattnall County by 1815; moved with his family to Appling County, near present day Blackshear, GA; married 1823 to Elizabeth  “Betsy” Sirmans and homesteaded in Appling County; cut into Ware County in 1825; 1825 to 1827 served as First Lieutenant of militia, 584th district; 1828, moved to Lowndes County (now Berrien) to a site on Five Mile Creek; elected First Lieutenant of the militia in the 664th district of Lowndes County, Captain Levi J. Knight’s district; July, 1836, served as a  private in Captain Levi J. Knights Independent Militia Company in the skirmish at William Parker’s place; moved to a homestead on the west side of the Alapaha River; 1865 moved to Clinch County; purchased Lot 256, 10th District; died 1874; buried in an unmarked grave at Wayfare Church, Echols county, GA.
  57. Peterson, Eldred
  58. Peterson, Henry
  59. Prester, Henry
  60. Roberts, Lewis (1802-1854)
    Lewis Leonard Roberts, son-in-law of Jonathan Knight; his home was a polling place in the Lowndes County election of 1829; died September 1, 1854; buried Swift Creek Cemetery, Lake Butler, FL
  61. Roberts, Bryant (1809-1888)
    Bryant J. Roberts, born in Wayne County, GA on June 4, 1809 and came to Lowndes County in 1827; ensign in the 663rd district of the Lowndes County militia, 1827 to 1829; Justice of the Peace in the 658th district, Lowndes County, 1834-1837 term; private in Captain Levi J. Knight’s company of Lowndes County militia, and present at 1836 skirmish with Indians at William “Short-arm Billy” Parker’s place; Died July 8, 1888; buried Cat Creek Primitive Baptist Church.
  62. Sirmans, Jonathan (1796-1850)
    Jonathan Sirmans, neighbor of Etheldred Newbern; father of Rachel Sirmans, Hardeman Sirmans; step-father of Melissa Rowland who married Harmon Gaskins; buried Fender Cemetery, Lanier County, GA
  63. Sirmans, Hardy
  64. Shaw, Jeremiah (1800-1883)
    Owned portions of Lots 499 and 500, 10th Land District, Lowndes County (later Berrien);
  65. Sloan, Daniel
  66. Stalvey, John J.
  67. Slaughter, Moses (c1796-1868)
    Moses Slaughter, father of Samuel and William Slaughter; the murder of his son William in 1843 resulted in two sensational trials at Troupville, GA and the hanging of Samuel Mattox; owned 490 acres on Lot 240, 10th District, Lowndes County;
  68. Sirmans, Hardeman (1821-1896)
    Hardeman Sirmans, son of Pvt. Jonathan Sirmans; son-in-law of Captain Levi J. Knight
  69. Skinner, Randol
  70. Shaw, Martin, Sr. (1773-1863)
    Martin Shaw Sr., born about 1773 in South Carolina; married 1st to unknown in South Carolina; came to Georgia between 1811 and 1816; married 2nd, Elizabeth Chancey on September 12, 1816 in Liberty County, GA; moved by 1825 to McIntosh County, owning 400 acres of pineland and 200 acres of swamp in Captain Duncan McCranie’s district; a fortunate drawer in the 1827 Georgia Land Lottery, drawing 400 acres in Muscogee County, GA; moved to Lowndes County, GA about 1828, establishing residence in Folsom’s District; a fortunate drawer in the 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery; in 1834 a tax defaulter in Captain Caswell’s District, Lowndes County, GA; in 1835 paid taxes on 980 acres of pineland on Cat Creek in Captain Bell’s District on Lots 408 and 420, 10th District, Lowndes County and 40 acres in Cherokee County, GA; marched with Levi J. Knight’s company in the Indian Wars of 1836; served as a private in Captain Levi J. Knights company of Lowndes County Militia in 1838;  died 1863; buried Old Salem Church cemetery, now in the City of Adel, GA and known as Woodlawn Cemetery.
  71. Slaughter, John (1798-1859?)
    John Slaughter, born about 1798 in South Carolina, son of James Slaughter, and uncle of William Slaughter who was murdered in Lowndes (now Berrien) county, GA in 1843; married Sarah ? some time before 1825; came to Lowndes County about the time it was created from part of Irwin County, and settled in that part of the county which would be cut into Berrien County in 1856; served as a private in Captain Levi J. Knights company of Lowndes County Militia in 1838; Resided in Lowndes until 1840 when he removed to Jefferson County, FL; in the Civil War, his sons, Moses H. Slaughter and John H. Slaughter deserted Confederate service and took their families to seek refuge on the U.S.S Sagamore at Cedar Key, FL along with hundreds of other Floridians.
  72. Thomas, Dixon
    Dixson Thomas, according to family researchers born 1805 in Screven County, GA, eldest son of William Thomas and cousin of Ryall B. Thomas, Isham B. Thomas, and Elias Thomas; in 1831, occupied as a surveyor in Bulloch County, GA with his cousin Ryall B. Thomas; married on May 2, 1831 to Susannah Bennett in Bulloch County; juror for the July 1833 term of the Inferior Court of Bulloch County; by 1836 moved to the vicinity of Franklinville, Lowndes County, GA with others of the Thomas family connection; served August 6, 1836 to September 6, 1836 in Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company during which time was engaged in local actions against Creek Indians along Warrior Creek, Little River, and at Cow Creek; served September 19, 1836 to October 15, 1836 in Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company;  in November 1836, held on charges of riot, along with William M. Thomas – after the two escaped from custody charges were dropped; purchased in September, 1838 Lot number 180, District 11, Lowndes county for $250 – sold same to Joshua Hightower on January 14, 1845 for $250; purchased in November 1845 Lot number 89 and half of Lot number 50, District 11 Lowndes County for $150; purchased in March 1848 the remaining half of Lot 50 for $33 – “Lot 50 included all and every part and parcel of town lots originally lay out and runs off in the town of Franklinville, GA”; sold Lot numbers 50 & 89 to Thomas A. Jones in July 1851 for $600; in 1852, moved to that area of Camden County, GA which was cut into Charlton County in 1854; on March 5, 1855 received 80  acres bounty land in Lowndes County, GA, Warrant No. 47,191 for service in the Indian Wars; On April 05, cancelled warrant number 47,191 and requested William Smith to prosecute his claim and receive his (new?) Warrant when issued; In 1855 received 80 acres bounty land in Charlton County, GA, Warrant number 19383, probably at Trader’s Hill, then the government seat of Charlton County, GA; died October 10, 1857 in Charlton County, GA;  said to be buried at Mill Creek Primitive Baptist Cemetery, Nassau County, FL with others of the Thomas family connection, although the grave could not be located in 2016.
  73. Thomas, Harvey
  74. Thomas, Elias
  75. Thomas, Jesse

William Devane

William DeVane (1838-1909) Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com/

William DeVane (1838-1909), planter of Ray’s Mill, Berrien County, GA. His brother, Benjamin Mitchell DeVane (1835-1912), was a notary public and an alderman in the city government of Adel, GA. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com/

William DeVane was born in Lowndes, now Berrien County, March 30, 1838, and was a son of Francis DeVane. His grandfather, Captain John DeVane, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. William’s father and uncles Benjamin (1795-1879) and William Devane (1786-1870) had come to Lowndes County from Bulloch County, GA about 1831 along with  others of the DeVane family connection.

The 1850 census places William DeVane in his father’s Lowndes County household, along with his older siblings Benjamin and Patrick who worked as laborers. William, age 12, apparently was not yet assisting with the farm work, although records do not indicate that he was attending school at that time, either.   William’s brother Thomas was working the farm next door.  Some of the neighbors included Samuel Connell, William Parrish, Ansel Parrish, Absolom Parrish, James Parrish, James J. Fountain and Thomas Futch.

At the time of the 1860 census, William and Benjamin DeVane were still living in their father’s household and working at farming. The census records indicate William, age 23, attended school that year. Patrick DeVane and Thomas DeVane had farms nearby. Some of the neighbors were Nathaniel Cooper, William B. Turner, Henry J. Bostick, Fredrick M. Giddens, John A. Money, and Ansel Parrish.

During the Civil War, William and his three brothers all joined the army. William was the first to join, enlisting in Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment  as a private  on March 4, 1862 at Nashville, GA.  Benjamin DeVane enlisted in the same company May 9, 1862 at Nashville, GA. He was later elected 2nd Lieutenant of Company D, 50th GA Regiment and served to the end of the war. Patrick joined Company I on August 14, 1862 at Calhoun, GA. He fell out sick at Culpepper, VA on November 18, 1862 and died in a Confederate hospital on December 13, 1862; his estate was administered by William Giddens. William Devane’s brother Thomas Devane enlisted in Company H, Georgia 1st Infantry Regiment on 21 Dec 1862.

The 50th Georgia Regiment was sent to the defenses around Savannah.  Sergeant Ezekiel Parrish, son of the DeVane’s neighbor James Parrish, wrote home on April 23, 1862 describing their encampment situated near Savannah:

“about one or one and a half miles east of the city where we can have a fair view of the church steeples and the nearest part of the town…Our camps are very disagreeable now in consequence of the dryness of the weather, the ground being sandy and loose and the winds high. it keeps ones eyes full of sand almost all the time which is not a very good remedy…It is about one mile or little over to the river from our camps. We can see the steamboats passing almost constantly…Our camps are situated near extensive earthworks or entrenchments for the protection of our troops should the enemy attempt to attack the city by land. Fort Boggs [is] on the river below town about 1/2 miles below…it commands the river tolerable well. the marsh between the channel and the fort is about 1/4 of a mile wide and the fort is on a high bluff at the edge of the marsh and is covered from the view of the river by a strand of thick bushes on the hillside…Captain Lamb‘s Company [Berrien Minute Men, 29th Georgia Regiment] has moved from Camp Tatnall to a place on the river below fort Jackson and about one mile and a half from Berrien Light Infantry, Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment.

The 50th Georgia Regiment went on station at Fort Brown. Fort Brown was situated at the Catholic Cemetery at what is now the intersection of Skidaway Road and Gwinette Street.

Fort Brown was one of the anchors of an extensive earthworks protecting Savannah.

A line of formidable earthworks, within easy range of each other, in many places connected by curtains, and armed with siege and field guns, was thrown up for the immediate protection of Savannah. Commencing at Fort Boggs on the Savannah River and thence extending south and west in a semi-circular form, enveloping the at distances varying from one to two and a quarter miles, it terminated at the Springfield plantation swamp. The principal fortifications in this line were Fort Boggs, mounting fourteen guns, some of them quite heavy and commanding the Savannah River – Fort Brown, near the Catholic Cemetery, armed with eleven guns – and Fort Mercer, having a battery of nine guns. Between Springfield plantation swamp – where the right of the line rested just beyond Laurel Grove cemetery – and Fort Mercer, were eighteen lunettes, mounting in the aggregate twenty guns. Connecting Fort Mercer with Fort Brown was a cremaillere line with nine salients, mounting in the aggregate eight guns. Between Fort Brown and Fort Boggs were seven lunettes armed with eight guns. These works were well supplied with magazines. It will be noted that the armaments of these city lines consisted of seventy pieces of artillery of various calibers, among which 32,24,18, 12, and 6 pounder guns predominated. A considerable supply of ammunition was kept on hand in the magazines. – Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 17

 

On May 18, 1862 Ezekiel Parrish wrote from “Savannah, Ga Camps near Fort Brown”:

We are living very hard here now for the soldiers rations of bacon have been reduced to so small a portion that we are pretty hard {illegible} for something to grease with. Several of our last ration of bacon has been less than one pound to the man for four May’s rations, but of the other kinds of provisions we draw plenty to do well though the pickel beef is so poor and salt and strong that it is not very good and in fact some will do without before they will eat it. Occasionally we get some fresh beef but it is very poor without any grease to go with it…The water here is very bad and brackish and a continual use of it is enough to make anybody sick.

William DeVane, 24 years of age,  would serve only a short time before providing a substitute. Substitution was a form of Civil War draft evasion available to those who could afford it.

Substitution
With war a reality, the Confederate legislature passed a law in October 1861 declaring that all able-bodied white men were obligated to serve in the military. This statute allowed substitutions for men who had ‘volunteered’ for the militia. It also permitted those not required by law to enlist in the military to serve as substitutes. However, by the Spring of 1862, after a year of fighting and hardship, the flow of new volunteers became a trickle, which forced the 
Confederacy to pass the first American conscription law. In April 1862 the legislature authorized a draft of men between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five years. This law also allowed substitutes to be used. Later that year, in September 1862, the legislature extended the maximum draft-eligible age to forty-five years. The revision specifically stated that only those who were not eligible for the draft presumably those too old, too young, or foreign citizens – could serve as substitutes.  – Mary L. Wilson, 2005, Profiles in Evasion

The market price of a soldier, it is said, soon mounted to from $1500 to $3000. …To employ a substitute or to accept services as one was regarded by many, and almost universally so in army circles, as highly reprehensible.  – A. B. Moore, 1924, Conscription and Conflict in the Confederacy

After just over three months of service and without engaging in any action, DeVane secured a discharge from the army June 18, 1862, by furnishing a substitute. According to company rolls, John R. Croley  enlisted that same day at Fort Brown, Savannah, GA as a substitute in DeVane’s stead.   The 47-year-old Croley (also Crowley or Crawley) was himself exempt from military service. Croley had brought his family from Sumter County to Berrien County in 1860.

Shortly after assuming DeVane’s place, Croley and the rest of the 50th Georgia Regiment were sent to Camp Lee in Virginia. Croley was to have a rough time of it. Soon sick, he was left behind at the camp when the regiment pulled out on August 21, 1862. In February 1863 he was admitted to Chimborazo Hospital No. 2, Richmond, VA with Rheumatism. On March 12, he was admitted to the the C.S.A. General Hospital at Farmville, VA with diarrhea.

Confederate service record of John R. Croley, substitute for William DeVane.

Confederate service record of John R. Croley, substitute for William DeVane.

Croley returned to duty April 29.  He was with his unit when the 50th GA Regiment entered the Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3, 1863. Severely wounded and taken prisoner of war, he was sent to one of the Union hospitals in and about Gettysburg.  His arm was amputated, but he did not recover. He died of wounds July 31, 1863.  The location of his burial is not known, presumably in the vicinity of Gettysburg.  A monument in his memory marks an empty grave at Keel Cemetery, Valdosta, GA.

Centograph of John R. Croley (Crawley), Keel Cemetery, Valdosta, GA. Croley was mortally wounded at Gettysburg, PA while serving as a substitute for William DeVane. Image source: Karen Camp.

Centograph of John R. Croley (Crawley), Keel Cemetery, Valdosta, GA. Croley was mortally wounded at Gettysburg, PA while serving as a substitute for William DeVane. Image source: Karen Camp.

Administration of the estate of John R. Croley in Berrien County, GA

Administration of the estate of John R. Croley in Berrien County, GA

Croley left behind a widow and four children in Berrien County. William DeVane sat out the rest of the war.

DeVane was married on May 10 1865 in Dooly County, GA to Miss Sarah Jane “Sallie” Butler of that county. She was born February 12, 1842, a daughter of Ezekiel and Eliza Butler.

Marriage Certificate of William DeVane and Sallie Butler, Dooley County, GA

Marriage Certificate of William DeVane and Sallie Butler, Dooley County, GA

Born to William and Sallie were eleven children:

  1. Emma Lorena DeVane, born February 18, 1866, married George W. Marsh of Sumter County, FL.
  2. Marcus LaFayette DeVane, born April 25, 1867, died September 15, 1889.
  3. Columbus Clark DeVane, born February 11, 1869, never married.
  4. Ada Belle DeVane, born April 10, 1870, married William J. Hodges of Lowndes County, GA
  5. Ezekiel H. DeVane, born December 4, 1872, married Beulah Parrish, daughter of Elbert Parrish.
  6. William E. Pemberton DeVane, born November 8, 1875, married Mary McClelland, daughter of Robert McClelland
  7. John F. DeVane, born August 2, 1877; died October 1878.
  8. Benjamin Robert DeVane, born October 15, 1879; married Bessie Whitehurst, daughter of Nehemiah Whitehurst
  9. Caulie Augustus DeVane, born September 15, 1882; married Alma Albritton, daughter of Matthew Hodge Albritton
  10. Connard Cleveland DeVane, born November 11, 1884; married Nellie Mae Coppage, daughter of Jehu Coppage
  11. Onnie Lee DeVane, born November 11, 1884; married John W. Strickland, son of William J. Strickland of Clinch County.

The homeplace of William DeVane was about four and half miles west of Ray City on the Nashville-Valdosta Road. It was situated on the north half of lot 457, 10th district. Possum Creek, a tributary of Cat Creek, crosses the northeast corner of this land. The place was given to William by his father before the elder DeVane’s death in 1868. William DeVane had received no deed however, and title was vested in him March 1870, by arbitration proceedings agreed to by all the heirs.

Home of William DeVane (1838-1909) Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com/

Home of William DeVane (1838-1909) Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com/

The 1870 Census enumeration shows that William DeVane’s household then included his wife, Sarah Jane, and children, Emma, Marcus, Columbus, and Ada, as well as an African-American boy, Rufus Prine, who at age 11 was working as farm labor.

Berrien County Tax records also document that after the War, William DeVane worked his farm with the help of freedman Joseph Prine. The relationship between Joseph and Rufus is not known.  Joseph Prine was born into slavery in South Carolina in 1816. The 1872 tax records show DeVane employed seven hands between the ages of 12 and 65. This count matches exactly with the 1870 Census enumeration of the Joseph Prine household, which then included Joe Prine (56), Jane Prine (54), Samuel Prine (22), Chaney Prine (33), Elza Prine (17), Jasper Prine (14), and George Prine (11), as well as the younger Prine children, Jinnie (8), Huldy (7), Eliza (5), and Philip(2).

In 1872, the William DeVane farm consisted of 508 acres on portions of lots 457 and 418 in the 10th Land District. To the north was Mary DeVane with 755 acres on Lots 418 and 412. Benjamin Mitchell DeVane also owned portions of Lot 418 and 419. John Baker had 122 acres on Lot 419. William H. Outlaw had 245 acres on Lot 419. To the south, John W. Hagan owned 356 acres on lots 503 and 504. J.S. Roberts also had some acreage on 503 and 504.  To the east, the Reverend John G. Taylor, Sr. had 400 acres on Lot 456.  By 1877 John Webb had acquired a 1470 acre tract just to the northeast of the William DeVane place.

 

William DeVane developed one of the finest plantations in Berrien County, containing 935 acres. It was situated on a public road and Possum Creek. The main house was six-rooms, and there was also a three-room house and a tenant house on the place. The six-horse farm of over 100 cultivated acres was said to produce a bale of cotton to the acre. Devane kept 120 head of stock on a fine stock range. His equipment included farm implements, oat reaper, cane mill and syrup kettle, two wagons, and two buggies.

Sallie Butler DeVane died June 15, 1896.  A death announcement appeared in the Tifton Gazette.

Tifton Gazette
July 10, 1896

Mrs. Sallie Devane, of this county, wife of Mr. William Devane, died on Tuesday of last week.

Grave of Sarah Butler DeVane (1842-1896), Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

Grave of Sarah Butler DeVane (1842-1896), Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

 

William DeVane died March 8, 1909.

Graves of William DeVane and Sarah Butler DeVane, Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Graves of William DeVane and Sarah Butler DeVane, Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Grave of William Devane, Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA

Grave of William Devane, Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA

 

A series of legal advertisements regarding the estate of William DeVane appeared in the local papers:

Valdosta Times
March 27, 1909

Notice to Debtors and Creditors All parties having claims against the estate of the late Wm. Devane, are requested to present them properly made out, to the undersigned. Those indebted to his estate will please make settlement at once.
The deceased at the time of his death was not indebted to any of the heirs.
C. C. Devane,
Hahira, Ga., R. F. D. 5.

*********************

Tifton Gazette
November 19, 1909

Notice of Sale.

We will sell to the highest bidder for cash, on the 24th day of November, in Berrien county, at the Wm. Devane estate, the following property: 935 acres of land; one farm containing 150, the other 785 acres; 175 in cultivation, 120 head of stock. Farming implements, oat reaper, cane mill and syrup kettle; two wagons; two buggies; 350 bushels of corn; six tons of cotton seed. Heirs of Wm. DeVane.

Valdosta Times
November 20, 1909

Public Sale

We will sell to the highest bidder, for cash on the 24th day of November, in Berrien county at the Wm. DeVane place, the following property: 2 farms containing 935 acres, 150 in one, 785 acres in the other; 111 acres in cultivation; fair Improvements—timber is fine; 120 head of stock and farming Implements. C. C. Devane, Hahira, Ga., R. F. D. No. 5.

**********************

Valdosta Times
August 14, 1912

FOR SALE—A fine plantation, One of the best in Berrien county, containing 935 acres, within 4 1/2 miles of Georgia and Florida railroad. Nearest station, Ray’s Mill. 6-horse farm in state of cultivation. Soil very productive, will produce bale of cotton to the acre, other crops in proportion. One six-room dwelling, one three-room and a tenant house on the place. Good water. Near schools and churches. Fine stock range. River runs through edge of land. Public road through farm. Will sell on account of division between heirs. If desired stock, mules, hogs, cattle, goats and farm implements can be bought at reasonable prices. C. C. DeVane, Hahira, Ga., R.F.D.

 

1894 African-American Voter Registration at Ray’s Mill, GA

1894 African-American Voter Registration at Ray’s Mill, GA

Given the history of slavery and racial discrimination in the United States, researching African-American genealogy can be a challenging puzzle.  Slave names were not often recorded.  Even after Emancipation, civil records of African-American citizens were often neglected. Further complicating matters,  most of the 1890 census records were lost in a fire and through a series of tragic missteps in the record handling. Fortunately, an 1894 record of the Poll Tax collection in the Rays Mill District (now Ray City, GA) helps to document early African-American residents of the town.    Many of these men were born in slavery and became “Freedmen” after the Civil War and Emancipation. A few were born in northern “Free” states.  After the War, they came  to south Georgia, primarily to work in the naval stores industry, collecting turpentine in the piney woodlands of the Wiregrass. Some lived in turpentine camps, some rented farms or houses, a few became property owners, business men and employers in their own right.

Poll Taxes

After the Civil War, the poll tax evolved regionally to be a complex legal device to disenfranchise African-Americans. Georgia led the way in 1868 (effective in 1871), and by 1900 in every formerly-Confederate state had poll taxes aimed at preventing black citizens from voting.

According to Today in Georgia History,

The poll tax, a bulwark of the Jim Crow era, was one of many roadblocks thrown up to keep African-Americans from exercising their right to vote. Although the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1870, guaranteed former male slaves the right to vote, the poll tax, which all voters had to pay was designed to prevent voting. Georgia’s 1877 constitution authorized the tax, which limited voter participation among both poor blacks and whites. But most whites got around the provision through exemptions for those whose ancestors fought in the Civil War or who could vote before the war. 

Georgia’s “grandfather clause” allowed any adult male whose father or grandfather had voted  prior to the abolition of slavery to vote without paying the tax. Georgia created a cumulative poll tax requirement: men 21 to 60 years of age had to pay a sum of money for every year from the time they had turned 21, or from the time that the law took effect.

Tax Payers
Ray’s Mill District, Colored, 1894

William Adkinson
Dixie Alston

Peter Burges
Thomas Burges
Saul Brown
William Brown, Sr.
John Black
B. B. Brown
Joe Brown

Walter Curt
Jesse Coleman
Len Coleman

James Davis

David Ellison
S. M. Eady
Sam Eady

Brister Hufman

Henry Gowdine
Henry Gilliard
William Grayham
William Gerald

West Kelley

John Livind

Joe Medlay
Carter Moore
William Mathis
Alex McKnight
S. J. Myers
Sandy Murphy
William McGowin
Richard McGowin
Henry McCoy

Preston Richardson
E. L. Rias
Ebb Ross
Randolph Ried
William Smith
Mack Spights
Gilbert Sloan

Wiley Tarrell

A. Vandross

John Wamble
George Williams
Ed Wilson
John Wade
Alex White
James Whitfield
W. D. Williams

SOME NOTES ON THE TAXPAYERS:

DIXIE ALSTON
Dixie Alston was an African-American born during the Civil War, in March of 1862. He was born in South Carolina, as were both his parents.  In 1883 he married Amelia [unknown], also a native of South Carolina.  It appears that Dixie and Amelia moved to south Georgia sometime in the early 1890s.  In 1894, Dixie Alston registered to vote in the Ray’s Mill (now Ray City) District of Berrien County, GA.  He subsequently appears in the census of 1900, enumerated as Dixie Aulston, in the 1148 Georgia Militia District, Berrien County.  His household in 1900 included his wife Amelia (age 46), and children, Sarah (18), Lillie (17), Dixie (10), James A. (7), William (5), and Orie B (1).  The Alstons were living in a rented house, and Dixie was working as a turpentine laborer. In 1910 Dixie Alston and family were enumerated in the 1157 Georgia Militia District where Dixie continued to work as a turpentine laborer.  Whereabouts of Dixie Alston after 1910 are unknown, but his son Dixie Alston, Jr. later lived in Nashville GA where he worked for the Keefe and Bulloch turpentine operation.

ROBERT B. “BB” BROWN
BB Brown was born in South Carolina about 1856 he married Corinna, a South Carolina woman, about 1875 and they made their home in South Carolina until some time after 1881. By October 1886, the Browns moved to Georgia. BB Brown paid the poll tax in 1894 to vote in the Rays Mill District of Berrien County, GA. The census of 1900 shows the Browns owned a farm in the Rays Mill District free and clear of mortgage. They were neighbors of Levi J. Clements, Alfred Hill, and Ben Knight. In 1910 their neighbors on nearby farms were John Miles Clements, Georgia Cooper, Jeff Williams and James W. Williams. The 1920 census shows the Brown farm was situated at Rays Mill on the Willacoochee Road. Their immediate neighbor was Robert E. Lee and his family. Corinna Brown died sometime before 1930. By this time the Brown farm had been cut into Lanier County. The widower Brown continued to work his farm with the assistance of his children.

SOLOMON “SAUL” BROWN
Solomon Brown was born  about 1862 in South Carolina. He apparently came to the Rays Mill, GA area  some time before 1894. The 1910 census shows him in Rays Mill, widowed, living alone in a rented home and working as a farm laborer.

WILLIAM L. BROWN
William L. Brown was a farmer from South Carolina. He was born in May of 1862. About 1882 he married Lessie. They were in Berrien County, GA by the 1890s where William paid the poll tax in the Rays Mill District in 1894. The census of 1900 shows he was working a rented farm near the homes of Richard Eady, William Revell, and Frank Gallagher.

PETER BURGES
Peter Burges, or Burgess, was an African-American born in August of 1865 at the conclusion of the Civil War. He was a native of South Carolina, as were both his parents.  By 1894, Peter Burges made his way to  the Ray’s Mill (now Ray City) District of Berrien County, GA where he was registered to vote. In the census of 1900, he was enumerated in the 1144 Georgia Militia District, the “Ray’s Mill” District, Berrien County. He was single, living alone in a rented house, and working as a turpentine laborer. He subsequently appears in the 1144 G.M.D census of 1910 as a farm laborer, and in 1920 he was renting a farm on the Willacoochee Road.

TOM BURGES
Tom Burges was born about 1850 in Georgia. He was enumerated in 1910 in the 1300 Georgia Militia District. At age 60 he was widowed, living alone in a rented house, and working at a sawmill. He was a neighbor of African-American teacher William M. Clark, sawmill employee Burris Hall, turpentine teamster David Story, turpentine employee John Merritt, and washerwoman Sallie Sanders.

JESSE COLEMAN
Jesse Coleman appears in the Berrien County tax records of 1884. His taxable property included $5 worth of livestock and $5 worth of furniture. In 1890 Jesse Coleman paid the poll tax in the 1329 Georgia Militia District, the Connells Mill District just west of Rays Mill. He had $57 in livestock, $15 in furniture, $10 in tools, and $2 in other property.

JOHN L. LAVIND
John L. Lavind was an African-American farmer from South Carolina. He was born in 1868. About 1886 he married Sarah Sloan, a woman from South Carolina. John and Sarah appear in the 1900 Census in Berrien County where they were neighbors of Arch Parrish. The Lavinds were working a rented farm in the 1145 Georgia Militia District, the Adel District. Living with the Lavinds and assisting with the farm labor were Sarah’s siblings, Alicia A Sloan and Davis Sloan. It appears that Sarah Sloan died sometime in the early 1900s. Census records indicate that John Lavind (enumerated as John Lavine) married a second time in 1908 to a widow woman named Kerene. In 1910, he was making payments on a farm at Adel and working as a self-employed farmer. His neighbors were sawmill workers Beacher Ward and Charlie Beland. In 1920, John and Karene were renting a farm on the Adel and Nashville Road which John was working on his own account. The were neighbors of Theresa Devane Hutchinson, widow of James Henry Hutchinson; her son, Vaude McIntyre Hutchinson was a school teacher.

HENRY MELVIN
Henry Melvin was born in North Carolina about 1863. He apparently came to live in the Rays Mill, GA district some time before 1894. In 1900, he was enumerated in the Mud Creek District of Clinch County, GA where he was renting a house and working as a turpentine laborer. On September 14, 1901 Henry Melvin and Delia Jenkins were joined in Holy Matrimony in Clinch County, GA in a ceremony performed by Joseph Powell, Justice of the Peace. The 1910 census shows Henry and Delia were renting a farm in the 586 Militia District of Clinch County, where they raised crops and children. Some time before 1920 Henry Melvin returned to Ray City, bringing his family to live on the Ray City & Willacoochee Road, on a rented farm which he worked on his own account. Henry Melvin died November 1, 1920 in Berrien County, GA. Anna remarried, probably about 1921, to Emanuel Smith. The Smiths rented a farm near Ray City, where they were neighbors of Walter H. Knight, John S. Fender, J. Mancil Ray and James F. Ray, James R. Johnson, and Lucian H. Grissett. Sometime before 1935 the Smiths moved to Lakeland, GA

HENRY MCCOY
Henry McCoy was born in October 1859 in North Carolina. About 1886 he married Anna. Some time before 1894 they came to Rays Mill, GA where Henry rented and worked a farm. Most of the McCoy’s neighbors were turpentine workers including Odum Wiley, D.D. Oxendine, Peter Burges, and Isham Hill. In 1910, Henry and Anna owned a home on North Street in Ray City. Henry worked as a drayman; Anna worked as washerwoman. Among their neighbors were hotelier Wilson W. Fender, merchant Louis Levin, telegraph operator Ralph E. Spear, blacksmith Rollie N. Warr, policeman Henry Hodges, carpenter Gordon J. Knight, and postmaster Charles H. Anderson. Henry McCoy died sometime after 1910. His widow married Sam B. Cooper on April 22, 1918 in Berrien County in a ceremony performed by Justice of the Peace J. W. Moore. Sam Cooper worked in a shop as a tailor and owned a home in Ray City, in the “Negro Quarters” according to 1920 Census records.

RICHARD MCGOWAN
Richard “Dick” McGowan was born a slave in North Carolina in the 1840s. He was brought to Berrien County (then Lowndes) as a young man, and lived most his life near Ray City, GA.  Freed after the Civil War, he continued to live for a while on the plantation of his former owner, Hardeman Sirmans.

JOSEPH MEDLEY
Joseph Medley was born about 1856 in the state of New York. In 1883, he married a Virginia woman named Jane. By 1885 The Medleys had moved from New York to South Carolina, and by 1888 they were in Georgia. Joseph paid the poll tax in the Rays Mill District of Berrien County, GA in 1894. The 1900 Census shows the Medley family in the neighboring Georgia Militia District 1300, the Milltown District, where Joseph owned a farm free and clear of mortgage. The census appears to show that the Medleys also rented a farm in addition to the farm they owned. Joseph farmed while Jane worked as a laundress. Both were enumerated as literate. They were neighbors of Joseph Dedge, Edwin Powell, and John Ed Thigpen brother of Robert Silas Thigpen. In 1910, the Medleys continued to farm in the 1300 GMD. Their son, William Medley, worked as a sawmill fireman, and son Aulie Medley assisted with the farm labor. Next door were Elmore Medley and Rainey Medley who were both employed in turpentine production. Other neighbors included John D. Patten and Matthew G. Patten. In 1920, Joe Medley, age 76, was no longer working. The Medleys rented a house at Milltown on the the Nashville Road. Their son William worked as a farm laborer and Henry worked as a truck driver at a cross tie camp.

SAM JULIAN “JIM” MYERS
Sam Julian “Jim” Myers was born October 1870 in South Carolina. By 1894 he came to Berrien County, GA to work as a turpentine chipper. He paid the 1894 poll tax in the Rays Mill District. In 1897 he married Rosa Sloan and they acquired a home on payments in the 1145 Georgia Militia District of Berrien County. Rosa’s brother, Sydney Stone, lived with them and also worked as a turpentine chipper. Also boarding in the Myers household was Dr. Ervin Green; the 1900 Census taker added the notation “Quack” by Green’s occupation. By 1910 Jim Myers took up the ministry in the Methodist faith and moved his family to Adel, GA to a home on Maple Street. By 1920, Reverend Myers took his family to Fitzgerald, GA where they lived on Lemon Street.

ELIOTT RIAS
Eliott Rias was an African-American citizen of Rays Mill, GA for 40 years. He was a son of Pompy and Clarender Rias, born about 1863 in South Carolina. After the Civil War and Emancipation, he and his brothers and sisters grew up helping his parents work their farm in Laws Township, near Kingstree, Williamsburg County, SC. Some time after 1880, Eliott left South Carolina and came to Georgia to work as a turpentine laborer. He appears in the property tax digest of Clinch County as a Freedman, paying the poll tax for 1887 in the 586 Georgia Militia District, the Mud Creek District. About 1892, Eliott married a South Carolina woman named Henrietta. By 1900, Eliott and Henrietta were living at Rays Mill with their four children. They were renting a house and Eliott was working as a turpentine laborer. In 1910 Eliott Rias was renting a farm, which he was farming on his own account. Henrietta was keeping house and minding their seven children. Pauline Hodges, an African-American school teacher, was boarding with them. Among Rias’ neighbors were John L. and Cassie Hall, Babe Baldree, Barney Chism, John Whitfield, Tom Burgess and Mack Speights. By 1920, Eliott and Henrietta were working a rented farm at Rays Mill on their own account.  Some time before 1930, Henrietta Rias passed away. All of Eliott’s children were grown and moved away. Eliatt Rias was left alone, living in Rays Mill in a home he rented for $3.00 a month. He worked as a carpenter. He was a neighbor of Sherrod Fender, Henry Studstill, Arrin H. Guthrie, Perry Guthrie, Herman Guthrie, and Ivory Wright.

EBENEZER ROSS
Ebenezer “Ebb” Ross was an African-American farm laborer born in Georgia about 1857. The 1870 census shows Ebenezer, age 23, and his wife Fannie, age 17, living in Berrien County, Georgia Militia District 1144, the Rays Mill District. Ebenezer Ross had a net worth of $30. In the 1870s and 1880s the Rosses were neighbors of William and Frances Giddens, Mary and Richard Anthony, Jesse and Margaret Carroll, John T. and Catherine Carroll, Peter and Josephine Best, and Nancy Parker. The 1875 Berrien Property Tax Digest shows Ebenezer Ross paid the poll tax, and his entire taxable property was valued at $20.00. The following year the value of his estate had dropped to just $2.00. In 1880, the Rosses home enumerated in the 1300 GMD. Living next door with the Carrolls was mail rider Everet Roberts. The 1890 tax digest shows the Rosses were faring slightly better. Eb was working for J. H. Wright, one of 58 freedmen employed by Wright.

MACK SPEIGHTS
Mack Speights was an African-American turpentine laborer who lived for about 40 years at Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA. According to family members, he was born June 14, 1867 in Ridge, Williamsburg County, South Carolina, a son of Elias McBride Speights and Norah Speights. He married Martha Ellen Cooper in South Carolina on August 14, 1889. He apparently brought his young family from South Carolina to Rays Mill about 1893 and appears on the list of voters in the Rays Mill District in 1894. Like many young African-American men, he came to work in the naval stores industry, turpentining the piney woodlands of the Wiregrass. By 1910, Mack Speights was renting a farm at Rays Mill where he and Martha were raising their eight children His oldest sons, Elias and William, worked as farm labor. The Speights were neighbors of Joseph S. Clements, Brodie Shaw, Bruner Shaw, Bryant Fender, and Frank Gallagher. By 1930, Mack and Martha had moved to Gainesville, FL with several of their children and grandchildren.

ABRAHAM L. VANDROSS
Abraham L. Vandross , an African-American turpentine laborer, was born about 1867 in South Carolina. He was on the list of voters in the Rays Mill District in 1894. About that same time he married a woman named Hannah. By 1900, Abraham and Hannah had moved to the Dry Lake District of Brooks County, GA where they lived in a rented home. By 1910 Hannah and Abraham returned to Berrien County to the 1300 Georgia Militia District, where they acquired a home which they owned free and clear of mortgage. Abraham continued to work for wages as a turpentine worker; Hannah worked as a washerwoman. They also took in a boarder, Albert Johnson, who was a sawmill employee. In 1910, the Vandrosses were neighbors of William M. Clark, an African-American school teacher. The 1920 Census shows Abraham and Hannah’s home was on Oak Street, Milltown (now Lakeland), GA. Their boarder in 1920 was Reverend Jordan R. Gay.

JOHN WAMBLE
John Wamble was a widowed African-American farmer. He was born about 1850 in Georgia.  At the time of the 1900 Census, he was living near Rays Mill, GA with his two teenaged sons. The Wambles were neighbors of Richard Morehead, Benjamin Moorehead, David C. Clements and Rubin Knight.  His son, Horace, married about 1907 and made his home on the Nashville & Valdosta Road near Cat Creek.

JOHN WADE
John Wade was a Freedman living in Rays Mill, GA with his wife, Emma, and their large family. John Wade was born about 1824. The property tax digest of 1887 shows his taxable property consisted of $7 dollars worth of livestock and $20 in household and kitchen furniture. The 1880 census shows the Wades living and farming in Lowndes County, GA.

JAMES WHITFIELD
James Whitfield may have been an African-American farmer who later lived in Grooverville, Brooks County, GA.  He was born about 1868. This James Whitfield cannot be definitively placed in Rays Mill, however, his son, James Whitfield, Jr. lived in Nashville, GA in the 1920s.

GEORGE WILLIAMS
The 1900 census shows George Williams  in the 1145 Georgia Militia District of Berrien County. He was working as a log turner at a sawmill.  He was born in North Carolina about 1858.  In 1900, he was living alone, apparently in housing at the sawmill.

Related Posts:

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.  According to a history thesis by Michael Otis Holt,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clinch County News
September 20, 1929

HISTORY OF OLD UNION CHURCH
Established 1825

Chapter XIII.

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

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

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

Church Clerks

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

Elected

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

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

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

Deacons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Treasurers

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

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

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

Some other members of Union Church:

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

 

Related Articles:

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.

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