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11/05/06

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History of Dougherty County, Georgia

Dougherty County was created from Baker County in December 1853.

 


Baker County before the creation of Dougherty
Transcription of book submitted by, Tim Stowell, July 2004

 Dougherty County was created from Baker County in December 1853. This book, as evidenced within the
text, was written by Rev. White in 1853 though published in 1854. Thus this history was written when Albany
was part of Baker County.


Historical Collections of Georgia
 by Rev. George White, M. A. 1854
Page 259 BAKER COUNTY

  This county was laid out from Early in 1825, and was named after Colonel John Baker, of Revolutionary memory. It is 37 1/2 miles in length, and about the same in width. The lands of this county have a wide-spread and well-deserved reputation for great productiveness and certainty of crops. Cotton and corn are the chief productions; but sugar-can, Upland rice, tobacco, page 260 and the various grains, fruits and vegetables, which grow in the same latitude elsewhere, thrive well here. Throughout this county there is a substratum of soft limestone, which is supposed to add to the fertility of the land. This limestone in many places forms the banks and bed of the principal stream, giving them somewhat the appearance of works of art. Many stream pass through the limestone formation, concealed from view until they empty into the Flint River. The occasional falling in of the earth above these streams forms funnel-shaped cavities, which are called lime-sinks. The county is well timbered, chiefly with the finest size and quality of yellow pine, though there are large districts in which oak, hickory, &c, predominate. Flint River runs almost diagonally through the county from northeast to southwest, and is navigable a part of the year, by steamboats, to Albany. The county is watered by several creeks, which empty into the Flint River. The face of the country is level, or gently undulating; the climate is equable and pleasant; the atmosphere is generally clear, and free from fogs; and the pine lands are considered very healthy. NEWTON, the capital, is situated on the west bank of Flint River, near the centre of the county, and is a place of some trade. Albany is situated on the west bank of the Flint River, in the northeastern part of the county. The location is pleasant and healthy; it is the centre of a large fertile district of country; is the head of steamboat navigation, and has a thriving trade. Albany was founded in October, 1836. The place where it now stands was then unbroken pine forest, without an inhabitant. The removal of the remaining Creek Indians, in 1836, from the southwestern part of the State, promoted the settlement of this fertile district by the whites and the population and productions of the country, and the consequent importance of Albany as a market town, has been steadily increasing. In 1841, the Legislature granted a charter for the "City of Albany," under which that place has since been governed, by a Mayor and City Council, annually elected by the citizens. It will not be inappropriate to mention in this place a railroad project which was originated here, and which, if accomplished, as recent events seem to indicate, will add very greatly to the importance and value of the whole southern part of the State. In 1847 the representation of Baker County obtained from the Legislature a charter for the "Savannah and Albany Railroad Company," which authorized the construction of a railway from Savannah to Albany, and thence across the Chattahoochee River, with such branches as the company may determine. On the 27th August, 1853, a company was organized in Savannah under this charter, whose purpose it is to construct a direct road from Savannah, through Albany, to Mobile, Alabama, with branches. The city of Savannah immediately subscribed one page 261 million dollars of the capital stock of the company; agents were appointed to produce the further necessary capital, and th work will probably be commenced within the year. Concord is a place of some business, and a post-office, situated on the Ichawaynochaway Creek, in the western part of the county. Oak Lawn and Gillionville are post-offices in the northern part of the county. Gum Pond is a post-office in the eastern part. The census of 1850 gives this county 755 dwellings, 755 families, 2,311 white males, 2,044 white females; free coloured males, 17; free coloured females, 7; total free population, 4,355; slaves, 3,765; deaths, 126; farms, 444; manufacturing establishments, 12. The population is supposed now (1853) to exceed 10,000. There are several saw and grist mills in this county, among which are Tift and Brisbane's, on the Kinchafoonee Creek, two miles north of Albany, Hampton and Harris's steam-mill, several miles southwest of Albany, each of which is capable of cutting fourt thousand feet of timber per day. The county is rapidly improving. Should the season prove favourable, it is estimated by resident merchants that the cotton crop of Baker, for 1853, will reach 30,000 bales. Intelligence, industry, and hospitality are prominent traits in the character of the citizens. Among the first settlers of this county were the TINSLEY'S, HOWARD'S, HALLS, HOBBY'S, WHEELERS, JERNIGAN'S, and the persons who's names appear in the list of the first Grand Jury. The following is an extract from the record of the proceedings of the first Superior Court held in Baker: -- GEORGIA, BAKER COUNTY. JANUARY TERM, 1827 The Honourable Superior Court met according to law, -- present, the Honourable MOSES FORT. The following persons appeared, and were sworn as the Grand Jury:-- 1. JOHN S. PORTER. 12. NATHAN GRIFFIN. 2. JOHN KELL. 13. JOHN L. W. SPEARS. 3. STEPHEN JOHNSON. 14. ASA FOSCUE. 4. CURTIS NELLUMS. 15. THOMAS HOWARD. 5. JOHN KELLY. 16. HILLORY HOOKS. 6. WILLIAM KEMP. 17. JOHN GILLION. 7. JOHN DENNARD. 18. PATRICK SESSUM. 8. BEBRAJAH JOYNER. 19. CHAS. S. MILLER. 9. ROBERT KELLY. 20. JAMES J. GOODWIN. 10. BENJAMIN KEATON. 21. JOSEPH HOLLAWAY. 11. HENRY SMITH. page 262 The Grand Jury made the following report:-- The Grand Jury for the County of Baker having had laid before them for consideration, and from the peaceable and orderly condition of their county, know of no grievances of sufficient magnitued for presentment. Court adjourned. Ex'd MOSES FORT, J.S.C.S.O. THOMAS F. WHITTINGTON, Clerk. MISCELLANEOUS BATTLE OF CHICKASAWHACHEE This was the hardes fought battle of the war with the Creek Indians, in 1836. The Chickasawhachee Creek has a swamp, several miles in extent, lying partly in the second and partly in the third districts of Baker County, covered with timber and a dense undergrowth, and in a great many places to a considerable depth with water. In the latter part of June, 1836, the Creek Indians, after burning Roanoke, in Stewart County, and committing other depredations, departed for Florida, with the purpose of joining the Seminole Indians. Captains Rich and Hentz, with two small companies of militia, who were volunteers from Baker and adjoining counties, followed their trail into Baker County; and on the 26th of June, at night, knowing they were in the vicinity of the Indians, dispersed in small squads to protect their own families and those of their friends and neighbours. The next morning they heard the report of guns, and taking the trail, they found the Indians had murdered a gentleman, whose name we have forgotten, with his wife and three children, also Mr. William Hicks, and a Mr. Padget and his two children. Mr. and Mrs. Hollaway and their daughter were wounded, but made their escape. The dead bodies were shockingly mangled. The Indians, to the number of three hundred warriors, penetrated the Chickasawhachee Swamp, and took possession of an island in the middle of it, where they prepared to defend themselves against any attack which might be made by the whites. The Baker militia, after burying the dead, devoted themselves to the security of the inhabitants, until other troops arrived. On the 3d of July, a week after the Indians had entered the swamp, the two Baker companies, having been joined by Captain Jarnigan's company from Stewart County, Captain Holmes' company from Early County, a company from Thomas County, and a company of cavalry from Bibb County, numbering together about five hundred men, the whole under the command of Colonel Beall, it was determined to attack the Indian Camp. Accordingly, two hundred men were stationed outside of the swamp, to prevent the escape of the enemy; and these were subsequently joined by Captain Bostwick's company from Pulaski County. page 263 The remaining force penetrated the swamp, through undergrowth, mud, and water, sometimes to their waists, to the Indian camp, when a warmly-contested battle of more than half an hour was maintained, until the Indians were driven from the field, leaving nine dead, together with their horses and plunder. Several dead were seen to be carried off the field during the battle, and some were afterwards found by the whites. Of the Georgia troops, twelve or fourteen were wounded - one mortally. The Indians were dispersed; and being closely pursued by the different companies, were made captive, or killed, before reaching Florida. The consequences of this action were very important, as it prevented the junction of a band of brave and experienced warriors with the Seminoles, who were then giving the General Government much trouble in Florida. Although the troops engaged in it were militia, without experience or discipline, they behaved with great coolness and bravery. The following, supposed to have been written by an officer who was present in the above engagement, is taken from the Columbus Sentinel of 1836:-- "I will, as far as I have been able to learn them, give you some of the particulars relative to Colonel Beall's fight, in the Chickasawhachee. After marching about four miles in mud and water from knee deep to near their waists, the advance guard, discovered the enemy's tents pitched on dry ground, and such being their eagerness for fight, they cracked away at an Indian who chanced to be walking down to the water to wash his hands. This alarmed the whole camp, and they rushed out and commenced a regular fire at our men, behind the cover of trees, &c, led on by a chief, who did all that he could to encourage his men, until an unerring ball from a rifle laid him prostrate upon the earth. The firing lasted about twenty minutes, when the charge was made and the enemy fled with precipitation, leaving thirteen dead upon the field, and ample evidence of a much greater number being slain; many were seen to be picked up and carried off; they were pursued from some distance. The Indians had thirty-six tents, and an incredible quantity of beef, bacon, horses, saddles, bridles, homespun, cooking utensils, &c., &c., all of which fell into the hands of the victorious whites. Many rifles where also taken; in a word, the whole camp equipage was taken and destroyed by the troops. Their situation now is desperate. The whites had nine wounded, of which one has since died, Mr. John Hardison, of Early. Mr. James Buchanan of this place, a gallant soldier, had his thigh broken, but is doing well. It is generally admitted that if the advance guard had reserved their fire until the main body could have gotten up, every rascal of them would have been taken. As an evidence of their desire to fight, when it was necessary for a guard to be placed over the horses, during the absence of the troops, the officers were compelled to detail them regularly for that purpose, no one being willing to remain. After Buchanan fell, he called some men to him and begged them to hold him up until he could shoot, but his gun had been wet, and it would not fire. Two dead Indians have been found since the battle, and some twenty-five or thirty horses and mules taken. The swamp is from four to eight miles wide, and fifteen miles long, and now and then page 264 spot of earth appears. It is infested with alligators, bears, wolves, &c.; not a human being save the savage has ever explored it. It is impossible to say how many Indians there are. Tom Carr's estimate is generally believed to be correct. He was in the battle, and fought gallantly ...he numbers them at three hundred; there were, at any rate, thirty-six cloth tents. Beall had two hundred and seventy-five. The Indians will now, without doubt, use every effort to escape, for their situation is, as I have before stated, desperate. It is feared by some that they have already gone; if they have not, their time has well nigh drawn to a close, for the boys are mad and determined to have them. Beall has now three hundred men under his command; our battalion will augment that number to five hundred. It is believed that yet a greater number of men will be necessary to force the Indians from the swamp, or to keep them in it." We copy from the Albany Patriot of May 14, 1854, the following account of a tragic incident connected with the Creek war.  "Near the road leading from Albany to Blakely, in a solitary place about two miles from the Chickasawhachee Swamp, stands a dilapidated house, which is now uninhabited, and has a very desolate appearance. To a believer in ghosts, it would present a favourable spot for their nocturnal visits. A traveller approaching it in the twilight, would almost expect to see something frightful start up before him. This was the scene of a bloody tragedy in the last Creek war. It was then inhabited by a man and his wife, with several children and servants. A former resident of the place had offended the Creeks, and they, with that unrelenting spirit peculiar to their race, had determined to have revenge. A party of them in their flight from Alabama to Florida, passed near this place. They believed the object of their hatred was within their reach-- the demon of revenge stirred within them, and they determined to sacrifice their victim and his whole family. Concealed by the forest, they approached the house while the unsuspecting family and several neighbors were assembled at breakfast. "Alarmed by the shouts of the savages, they attempted to escape. A horrid massacre ensued. The blood of father, mother, children, neighbors, and servants was mingled together. "A party of whites next day visited the spot. They found some dead, some dying, and some, though shockingly mangled, still survived. "In their blind rage, the savages had missed the object of their vengeance, and brought destruction upon and innocent family. The appearance of the place is in keeping with it's history; the woods look dark and gloomy; long moss hangs in curtains from the trees, as if nature, in sympathy for the murdered family, had clothed herself in the habiliments of woe." * *To Nelson Tift, Esq., of Albany, Baker County, we acknowledge ourselves much indebted for valuable information relating to the section of country in which he resides. We feel it to be a duty we owe to this intelligent and enterprising gentleman to state that he furnished us with the above sketch of Baker County.

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