30 September 2016

Moravians in Appalachian Georgia

Scarcely a vestige today survives in the way of a memorial to tell of the brief sojourn in this State of the pious Moravians.  But the early annals of Georgia are too fragrant with the memories of this sweet-spirited sect to justify any omission of them in this historical retrospect…The missionary activities of the Moravians among the Georgia Indians were successful in a marked degree; and, with little opposition from the red men of the forest, who learned to trust them with implicit confidence, they penetrated far into the Blue Ridge Mountains and established at Spring Place, in what is now Murray County, a mission which exerted a powerful influence among the native tribes, converting not a few chiefs and warriors, and continuing to flourish down to the final deportation of the Cherokees, in 1838…[Georgia historian, Lucian Lamar Knight, abt 1914]

A couple of informational markers were placed near the Moravian Missionary Cemetery at Springplace to further commemorate the mission site.  In 1931, a rough hewn stone block was set, with a plaque declaring, "the Moravian Mission to the Cherokee Indians was Erected Near this Spot…" Twenty-two years later the Georgia Historical Society again marked the area:


As the marker states, the mission was founded in 1801 "by Moravian Brethren from Salem, N.C." It's worth noting, this was not the first time the Moravians entered the state of Georgia.  A group first came in 1735, part of a "worldwide missionary campaign during the mid-eighteenth century to unite Christians and convert non-Christians." [New Georgia Encyclopedia] The settlement was at Savannah, but only lasted ten years.  Many say the Moravians left after being pressured to take up arms against Spain, but others suggest the disintegration resulted from internal strife.

Though there are records of members of the Cherokee Nation converting to the Moravian religion, the numbers were not great.  There seems to have been more of an interest in education on the part of the Natives.

The Springplace Moravian Cemetery, also known as "God's Acre," contains virtually no tombstones.  Nonetheless, it's quite moving to stand at its center and read these powerful words:

Surrounding you underneath are the graves of these nine people as well as those of several unknown individuals.

100_0366· Cherokee Principal Chief Charles R. Hicks (d. 20 January 1827) served as Deputy Chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1817-1827.  In 1827, when Principal Chief Pathkiller died, Hicks rose to the position of Principal Chief.  Less than two weeks later, Hicks was also dead.  He had attended the council at New Echota, even though he was ill.  On his way home, Principal Chief Hicks camped in the woods and took on a more serious cold due to dampness.

· Margaret "Peggy" Vann Crutchfield (d. 18 October 1820) was the niece of Principal Chief Charles R. Hicks.  She was married to James Vann at the time of his murder in 1809.  Peggy became the first convert in the Cherokee Nation on 13 August 1810.  She later married Vann's former overseer, Joseph Crutchfield.  From a Moravian Mission diary:  "Toward the evening there was a marked change for the worse in Peggy Vann's condition.  While singing about salvation her soul passed from us.  Not only was she enthusiastic for the Savior, but also a real example for good within her Nation.  Over one hundred came to attend the funeral service."

· Minerva Vann (d. 3 May 1833) was a child of Joseph Vann (son of James) and Jennie Springston. From a Moravian Mission diary:  "Toward noon I arrived at the Vann's.  They were in tears over the death of their five-month-old daughter, who died of whooping cough."

God's Acre

· Robert Howell (d. 31 January 1834), a brick mason from Virginia, was hired by James Vann to oversee the construction of the Chief Vann house in 1803-1804.  Two of Howell's brothers may also rest in God's Acre.

The other five known burials are Dawnee Watie, a Cherokee student, d. 27 September 1812; Missionary Anna Rosina Gambold, b. 1 May 1762, d. 19 February 1821; the infant child of Rose, a servant, d. 15 October 1816; Mrs. Nicholson, wife of Joseph Vann's overseer, d. 7 December 1829; and Christian Jacob, born in Africa, d. 8 December 1829.

A couple of miles away from the Springplace Moravian Mission Cemetery is the Chief Vann house and plantation grounds.



Dr. George R. Lamplugh wrote the following in his review of Tiya Miles' The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story:

Cherokee entrepreneur James Vann built the first house on Diamond Hill in 1801, a much cruder structure than the current one, and he invited missionaries from the Moravian Church in Salem, North Carolina, to found a Christian mission and school at the site, which they named Spring Place…

Vann lived in the house on Diamond Hill with his mother, Wali; several Cherokee wives, the most important of whom was Peggy Scott Vann; and his children.  James’ favorite son, Joseph (later known as “Rich Joe”) Vann, inherited the home, and his slaves built the famous brick manor house that still survives.

Fascinating history, to say the least.

Springplace Moravian Mission Cemetery

17 September 2016

Fannin County, Georgia: Named for Col. J. W. Fannin

James W. Fannin.  Public Domain.  Wikimedia Commons.James Walker Fannin was born 1 January 1804, the son of a Morgan County, Georgia plantation owner named Dr. Isham Fannin.  At the age of 15, James Walker entered the military academy at West Point in New York.  He resigned six years later.  He then returned to Georgia, became a merchant, and got married.

In 1834, J. W. Fannin moved his family to Texas.  Less than a year later, likely because of his ties to the state, "Fannin was appointed by the Committee of Public Safety and Correspondence, an assembly of prominent Texans seeking independence from Mexico, to solicit funds and supplies from sympathizers in Georgia…" [New Georgia Encyclopedia] Fannin became a captain in the Texas volunteer army, and by the end of 1835, was commissioned a colonel in the Texas regular army.  Soon after, he was given command of a regiment containing many volunteers from Georgia.

"By February 12, 1836, Fannin had marched his regiment to Goliad, an old Spanish fort on the southwest bank of the San Antonio River…" [New Georgia Encyclopedia]

Fannin at Goliad: Story of the Brutal Massacre of 1836

As told by Lucian Lamar Knight in Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials, and Legends (vol. 2):

ONE of the most brutal massacres of history was the inhuman sacrifice of life at Goliad during the war for Texas independence, in 1836.  Colonel James W. Fannin, who lost his life in the massacre, was a native Georgian, who, removing to Texas in 1834, raised a company, which he called the Brazos Volunteers, and joined the army of General Houston.  On the fall of the Alamo, Fannin received orders from his commander to destroy the Spanish fort at Goliad and to fall back to Victoria.  He delayed his retreat for some time, in order to collect the women and children of the neighborhood, whose lives were exposed to imminent peril.  But he finally set out for Goliad with 350 men.

En route to this point he was overtaken by General Urrea, at the head of 1,200 Mexican troops.  There followed a battle which lasted for two days, during which time the Mexicans lost between 300 and 400 in killed and wounded, and the Texans only about 70; but Fannin, having been wounded in the engagement, was forced by the exigencies of the situation to surrender.  He agreed to capitulate only on condition that his troops should be paroled.  But, instead of being set at liberty, they were marched to Goliad as prisoners of war, and, on March 27, 1836, in pursuance of orders said to have been received from Santa Anna, were, in the absence of General Urrea, massacred in cold blood.

Per the New Georgia Encyclopedia:

[O]n Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, more than 330 Georgians, Texans, and others imprisoned at Goliad were marched out into the woods and shot. While some prisoners escaped the massacre, Fannin was kept inside the fort. He was taken to the courtyard, where he was blindfolded, seated, and shot through the head. His body was burned. During the Battle of San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836, Fannin's watch was discovered in the possession of a Mexican officer. The officials who found it assumed the Mexican was responsible for Fannin's murder; he thus met death in a like manner as Fannin.

Per History in the Headlines:

The injured Fannin was the last to be slaughtered. His three dying wishes were to be shot in the chest, given a Christian burial and have his watch sent to his family. Instead, the Mexican commanding officer shot Fannin in the face, burned his body with the others and kept the timepiece as a war prize.

Several places were named in Fannin's honor.  One such place is Fannin County, Georgia, created in 1854.  In 1895, Blue Ridge became the county seat.


Courthouse in the image above dates to 1937.  It now houses the arts association.  Below is the new courthouse.


Downtown Blue Ridge today:

Blue Ridge Georgia

01 September 2016

A Duel Between Colored Men

duelbetweencoloredmenSome say the custom of dueling had as its home, the antebellum South.  I think most of us would admit, when we think of a duel, we picture two white men.  But that wasn't the case 100% of the time.  Here is a newspaper article telling the details of the summer of 1868 duel between Jackson Brand and Eugene Morehead, both of Savannah, Georgia.  (Image is of a shorter article printed in Michigan's Jackson Citizen.) There is one commonality amongst all the duels I've covered, including this one:  politics.

Daily Constitutionalist (Augusta, Georgia)
5 June 1868 [via GenealogyBank]

From the Savannah News & Herald, 4th.

Duel Between two Colored Men – One Killed.

A duel was fought yesterday at Screven's Ferry, on the Carolina shore, between two colored men of this city, respectively named Jackson Brand and Eugene Morehead, which resulted in the death of the former.

The facts, as far as could be ascertained, are as follows:  Jackson Brand was President of the Colored Conservative Club No. 1 and Eugene Morehead Vice-President.  Brand was not long ago a violent Radical and a member of the Union League, but changed his politics and became an ardent supporter of the Conservative principles.  Among the members in the Conservative club of which he was president, were  a few who believed he was playing a double game, among them was Morehead, who kept a close watch upon him.  On Monday last Morehead observed Brand leaving the house of a noted Radical, and at once accused him of double dealing, and said, among other things, that he (Brand) had made a speech in the Loyal League, in which he had stated that it was his intention to wash his hands in the blood of every Southern man.  Brand denied the charge and a hot quarrel ensued, which, but for the interposition of friends, would have terminated in a fight on the spot.  They separated, and the next day (Tuesday) Brand sent a challenge to mortal combat to Morehead, Alex. Hardee, Secretary of the Conservative club, bearing the missive.  On handing the note to Morehead, Hardee was asked by him what it was all about.  Hardee replied that it was a challenge to fight, and that Brand had sent it, whereupon Morehead, who is unable to read or write, asked Hardee to read it, which was done.  Morehead then asked Hardee to write an acceptance of the challenge, and state that he would choose double barrelled [sic] shot guns, loaded with sixteen buckshot, the distance sixteen paces, and the duel at Screven's Ferry the next morning at 7 o'clock.  The challenge was written, carried, agreed to, and every preparation made for the meeting on the "field of honor" the next morning.

Early yesterday morning found the parties on their way to the ground.  Brand was accompanied by his second, Alex. Hardee, and Morehead by his, [Haine Spearlug?].  There were about a dozen friends along but no surgeon.  About a quarter past nine the preliminaries were arranged and the opponents placed opposite each other, fifteen paces distant, with double barrelled guns, one barrel of each being loaded with sixteen buckshot.  Brand seemed somewhat nervous, while Morehead was perfectly cool and collected.  At the command both simultaneously fired, and Brand fell, exclaiming "I'm not whipped yet," while at the same time was heard the exultant shout of Morehead, "By God, I've got him," and afterwards he remarked that Brand seemed so "scared like" that he thought he would not kill him but shoot him in the legs and give him time to repent of his treachery.  Brand's second went to him as soon as he fell, and found that the charge from Morehead's gun had entered both thighs.  Brand was quite weak from the loss of blood, and he could not stand up, but said if his second would hold him up he would exchange shots again.  His second very properly refused to allow any further hostilities.  Morehead then walked over to where Brand was lying, and shook hands with him.  With the assistance of Morehead and the others, Brand was carried to the boat, and brought to the city, and then placed in a vehicle and carried to his house near the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad Depot.  Drs. Bulloch and Morrison were sent for, but the sufferer had been so long without medical aid, that their skill was unavailing, excepting to alleviate the pain, and he died at a quarter to twelve, two hours and a half after receiving the wound, which severed one, and probably both of the femoral arteries.

Dr. Myers, coroner, held an inquest at half past three o'clock.  The seconds of the parties testified substantially as above stated, and Drs. Bulloch and Morrison that they had been called in, and found the wounded man very weak from loss of blood, and that so much blood had been lost, that it was impossible to save him.  The jury rendered a verdict as follows:  "We find that the deceased came to his death from a gun-shot wound inflicted from the hands of Eugene Morehead, in a duel on the South Carolina shore."

The deceased, who is about 35 years old, will be buried to-day.

From parties who were present at the duel, we learn that each of the duelists seemed determined to shoot the other, but the nervousness of Brand made him miss.  Both parties were advised not to go, but would not heed the advice.  Their neglect in not providing a surgeon was most criminal, and caused the death of Brand who otherwise would now, most probably, be alive and out of danger.  We understand that Morehead, upon being asked why surgeons had not been obtained, replied that he went to one, and he charged fifty dollars, and "I couldn't afford it; anyway, I didn't intend to be killed, and I thought the other fellow would have sense enough to bring one."

Jackson Brand was laid to rest at Laurel Grove Cemetery South in Savannah.  According to the inscription on his tombstone, broken and lying on the ground in 2012, Jackson was 39 years old at death.  His stone was Erected By his affectionate Wife, Sarah Brand.