Browsing "Wilkinson Stories"

Our Pioneering Aunts in Texas

Margaret and Flora Wilkinson, my second great grand aunts, were such close sisters that they wound up marrying two young men who were close friends and spending the rest of their lives in the same frontier community.

In 1829, the two were among the founding members of the Presbyterian church in LaGrange, Georgia. The town had just been formed in 1827 and the girls, in their late teens, had come with their family from the Fayetteville – Cross Creek area of North Carolina, where so many Scots had settled. Sadly, their father had died after only about a year in Troup County. The family had been in Monroe County and may have been staying with either the Johnston or Potts families, who were founding families in Monroe. Two of their brothers married Girls from those families and their father’s land purchase in Troup shows him as residing in Monroe County at the time of the purchase. Their father died in late 1828 – early 1829 leaving his widow and ten children. Within the next year all five of the oldest children married. There’s an age gap between the oldest five and the youngest five, which leads me to wonder if their father’s widow was a second wife.

In 1830, the two young women married two best friends. Margaret married Pleiades Orion Lumpkin. Born to Wilson Lumpkin, famous Indian agent who instigated the Cherokee ‘Trail of Tears’ and later governor of Georgia, Pleiades Orion Lumpkin’s name was probably enough of a burden to bear in life. His nickname was Dan.

At the tender age of 17, he was admitted to West Point, but had so many demerits that they overflowed onto the adjoining page of classmate Robert E. Lee. He earned more than one place in history, including a page in ‘Last in Their Class’ by James Robbins, which dubious honor he shared with George Custer. Regardless of his history at West Point, he was affectionately referred to as ‘Major’ throughout his life.

Flora married George Washington Browning, son of a wealthy English landowner who was one of the early settlers of Morgan County, Georgia. Today, Browning Shoals still carries the family name. Wash’s father stated in his will that he wanted all his sons to have the equivalent of a good English education. Wash practiced law in Palestine, Texas, which he helped to settle. George Washington had died just nine years before Wash’s birth. Many young men of the era were named after our founding father.

The couples were married in a double ceremony in LaGrange, Georgia. We know that the Brownings stayed for a time in Troup County in the Long Cane area where Flora’s mother and brother Neal lived. Wash’s aunt, Clara Browning lived nearby, having married

There’s no record of the Lumpkins until they showed up on a passport to enter the Mexican territory that is now Texas. However, land sales records show they must have followed other family members who moved across the Chattahoochee from Troup County into Alabama, where there was a brief and disappointing gold rush in 1834. My guess is that sometime around 1834 the two couples went to Alabama and then in 1835 set out for Texas by wagon.

By 1836 the two young couples were living in Houston County, Texas (now Anderson County) in fear of raids by the Kickapoo Indians, but that’s another post.

Neal K Wilkinson 1804 – 1865

Long Cane Home

Although it no longer stands, we were able to find this image of the house in the book “Pine Log and Greek Revival” published in 1964 by Davidson. This book is extremely rare and is usually found only in historical society libraries. This is the way the home looked in 1964, at approximately 120 years of age. From the caption:

‘This house in the Long Cane community, in the west side of U.S. 29, was the home of Jesse B. and Anne Wilkinson Haralson, built about 1845-50. It shows excellent proportion and workmanship on the front elevation, along Greek Revival lines, and is a type found elsewhere in the area. The interior woodwork was simple but well fitted, and there was a large basement room.

It is said that the house was moved after the War Between the States from its original site about two and a half miles west, near the Chattachoochee River, on the Potts Road, and in the vicinity of the old Boyd and Tatum places. It was the original home of the Wilkinson family, early settlers of the area.


Neal K Wilkinson came to Georgia with his father, Archibald Wilkinson, in about 1826. One can only speculate about why the family left North Carolina, but the Georgia Land Lotteries may have been an incentive. Other Wilkinsons, namely a Duncan and an Allen, had already migrated to the area in the very early 1800s (1804 or so) at a time when the area was still owned by the Creek and it was necessary to obtain a passport to enter. Whether or not they were relatives is unknown, but the familiar Scottish names give pause. Also, the counties were they lived, Meriweather and Harris, were originally part of Troup County, created in about 1826 about the time the Creeks left for Alabama.

Archibald died in late 1828 or early 1839 according to Troup County records, leaving his wife and ten children. Archibald did not leave a will, and originally parts of his effects were auctioned, including eight slaves. However, returns for his estate to his heirs were distributed all the way until 1845.

Neal was about 22 when they started the journey and 24 when his father died, yet unmarried. Two short years later he married Rebecca Johnston, whose family founded Johnstonville in Monroe County. As a matter of fact, the lottery records show that Archibald Wilkinson, Neal’s father, was living in Monroe County, GA when he purchased his original piece of land from Whitfield Sledge in 1827.

Neal and Rebecca’s first child was named John, but lived to only three years of age. His other children were James M., who died at the battle of Shiloh, David L, who died at nineteen, Archibald Daniel (my great grandfather), Elizabeth M., who died at 28 just three years after the Civil War ended, Neal Johnson, who fought in the Civil War, Annie V., who continued to live in the family home with her husband J. B. Haralson, Eza and William who both died in early childhood and Thomas J. Wilkinson.

It is interesting to note that although no record of a John Wilkinson accompanying the family to Georgia exists, his orphans are suddenly included in the returns of the estate toward the end of the distribution, around 1844. No definitive answer about John’s whereabouts has ever been established, nor the date of his death. However, a John Wilkinson is found marrying in Fayetteville, NC, the area where the family migrated from, in 1826. Perhaps this is John, and if so, he died in 1828 from being kicked in the head by a horse. He was visiting family in Chesterfield District SC, which borders eastern North Carolina. He and his wife, Ann McKenzie, had two small boys named John McKenzie and James Archibald, born in 1827 and 1828 respectively. One of the reasons I suspect this as being our missing John is because the orphan’s guardian according to the returns of Archibald’s estate was one John McKenzie, very likely father of Ann McKenzie.

In 1844, these two boys would have been seventeen and sixteen respectively and perhaps their grandfather was finally able to locate the family that had left so many years before.

Sadly, both these young men died at a very early age, John of illness at his mother’s home in 1852 and James, a riverboat captain and newly wed, who drowned the following year.

Neal K participated in the 1832 Georgia Land Lottery and won land in the 4th district, 4th section. By 1840, his personal wealth is shown as $2600, part of which was probably his inheritance from his father. Over the years he continued to add land to his holdings, including that of his mother Rebecca, who lived next to him.

In 1860 the census shows him living next door to Thomas and Mary Wilkerson, both born in Georgia near his birth time. Not sure if they were cousins, but Mary purchased some of Archibald’s estate in 1829, when she was 18. In 1860, Neal Johnson, Elisabeth, Anna and Thomas are still living at home with their parents. Neal’s property and assets are valued at $9800 and he owns 11 slaves.

Neal K’s home was very close to the battle of West Point and the deprivation that all Southerners endured during the Civil War probably contributed to his death in February of 1865, just before the end of the war. His wife Rebecca survived him for fourteen more years and the two of them are buried in Long Cane Cemetery, along with several of their children. Their graves, plus two unmarked ones which are undoubtedly those of Archibald and Margarett, were moved to Long Cane when the family acreage was submerged by the Army Corps of Engineers to build West Point Lake.

Neal K met his civic duty as a juror on more than one occasion and here is a sample of his handwriting, on a court document from 1860, just before the onset of the Great War. It is the writing of an optomistic and confident man of education.

This headstone was probably erected years later at the time of Rebecca’s death, since hers is the same.

Headstone of Neal K WIlkinson

Alexander Wilkinson 1815-1855

The little cabin above was built about 1850 and still stands in eastern Alabama, near where Sandy and his little famiy lived and is probably a good representation of their home.
Alexander Wilkinson was born November 10th, 1815  in North Carolina.  1855 Tallapoosa, AL Census

He was one of the younger children of Archibald Wilkinson and his wife Margarett. He married Jane Adaline Potts from Monroe County. Historical records tell us that Archibald Wilkinson was living in Monroe County when he bought land in Troup County from Shirley Sledge, who had won the parcel in one of the Georgia lotteries. Because Neal K. Wilkinson married Rebecca Johnston, a girl who was also from Monroe County, I feel it is safe to assume that there was a relationship with these families prior to the migration to Georgia, but this is unconfirmed. All of the Wilkinson children received a tidy sum from their father’s estate, in the amount of about $3000. I have been told that multiplying that by 200 would give you today’s currency equivalent.

I have very little documentation on Alexander. He is referred to as Sandy in some of the notes regarding his father’s returns on his estate. A lot of the information I do have has come through the family bible of William E. Potts. His daughter Jane Adaline married Alexander. William E. Potts was born in Georgia, most probably in Wilkes County. His father, Moses Potts, left him land in Franklin County in his will. By 1827, he was living in Monroe County.

Perhaps these families met there, since Archibald the elder migrated from Monroe to Troup, as stated on his purchase of land from Shirley Sledge.

Alexander was probably about twelve when the family passed through Monroe County on the way to Troup. Perhaps the Potts and Wilkersons were friends, but I believe that the Johnstons and the Potts were definitely friends, which would explain the acquaintance.

William E. Potts must have had a decent portion of land since he is shown as having 15 slaves in 1850 on the Monroe County slave census as well as personal wealth of $10,000.

William E and Sarah Potts, parents of Jane

Jane Adaline was born September 17th, 1821 and her name is stated as Jane on a later census. Alexander is mentioned in the returns of his father’s estate up through 1844. Alexander and Jane were married in Troup County, September 21, 1837. Sandy would have been twenty two, and Jane just sixteen.

By 1838 the little family was in Alabama, according to the 1850 census which shows son William, aged 11, born in Alabama. A number of Sandy’s brothers and sisters had gone to Alabama, most likely because of newly available and land and also possibly because of a brief gold rush in Randolph County in 1834.

In 1849, the  family was living in Tallapoosa County, Alabama, where Sandy had purchased farm land. The Alabama Land Records show him purchasing 40 acres on May 1, 1849, another 39.98 on May 1, 1850, another 39.99 on March 15, 1851 and in October 1851, with his last purchase being 39.98 acres on June 15, 1854 for a total of 200 acres. There was a gold rush in Tallapoosa County during this time. This was an unusual gold rush since the gold was found by digging holes in the ground rather than mines. There is no way to tell if Sandy got gold fever or not, but he was a farmer.The 1850 census shows Sandy as 36 and Jane as 26. They did not appear to be prospering – their net worth was only $800 including their land. Their children were listed as son William A., born in Alabama, 11, and daughter Amarintha Fannie, also born in Alabama,  six months old.  Margaret E. was born in 1843, but had died by 1848.

Alabama Dog Trot Log Cabin from the 1850s located in Carrville, near where the young couple lived

In 1855, there was a nationwide epidemic of Yellow Fever. It’s possible that Jane had it because her twin girls Mary and Martha died the same day they were born in September of 1855. Sadly, Sandy died just two months later in November at the age of 40. According to family bible records, he died on the same day of the month on which he was born.

Jane was left alone with little William, Amarintha (Fanny) and Sarah, who was a babe in arms. In 1857 she was still living in Tallapoosa County when William died. She sold the farm and took her little girls back to Monroe County to live with her father and mother.

In 1860 we find her living with her parents and her two daughters Fannie (Amarintha) – 10, and Sarah – 6. She is a 37 year old widow. Her father’s personal property and real estate is valued at $25,000 by now so they were comfortably off at this time. Of her five brothers aged 30 to 15 still living on the family farm, four will be killed in the Civil War.

In the 1870 census she is living with her father, 81, and her two daughters Fannie A. (23) and Sarah (16) in Johnston’s District, Monroe County. We have no record of her death or burial place. She may have moved away with one of her daughters when they married. The History of Monroe County states that there are many unmarked graves in the Potts cemetery where Mahlon is buried. We can probably assume that William E and his daughter Jane Adaline are buried there as well.

I copied this will from the archives in the basement of the Tallapoosa County courthouse in Dadeville, AL


I A J Wilkinson being of sound mind but afflicted in body do here by make and constitute this my last will and testament revoking all others. And the first I grant all my just debts paid and after that I grant my beloved wife Jane Adaline to have full control of the remainder of my estate during her lifetime or widowhood. I also grant my said wife Jane Adaline to buy or sell and dispose of any of my estate just as suits her during her lifetime or widowhood. And the second, in case my wife Jane Adaline marrys I want all my esate equally divided between her and Amarintha Francis Wilkerson and Sara Wilkerson my two children. And third I grant all my perishable property and land sold and if that should not be enough to pay off all my just debts, sell enough other property to pay off said debts. I also leave N. G. Hjamond muy executor to carry out my last will and testament. Witness thereof of the said A J Wilkerson have hereunto set my hand and seal this November the 6th 1855.

A Burns (mark)
N. G. Hammond (brother in law – married to his sister Mary Ann – this young couple were also living in the area at the time)

Jane Wilkinson Cravey 1803 – 1879

Jane Wilkinson was one of the oldest children of Archibald Wilkinson. She came with her father to Georgia in 1826. By the standards of the time, she was an old maid.

The family stopped first in Monroe County. At that time, the Georgia Land Lotteries were taking place every few years and a two year residence requirement was in place to participate. However, many land speculators turned around their winnings and sold to the highest bidder. Jane’s father purchased a 202.5 land lottery parcel from a Mr. Sledge in 1827.  At that time, there were only a few families in the newly formed Troup County, which makes our family one of the first settlers of the area.

Archibald died toward the end of 1828 or beginning of 1829.  He left no will, but he had a lot of property, slaves and goods.  The dispersal of same meant that each of children had a tidy sum to set off in life with. Jane probably had about $3000 in cash, which was a lot 190 years ago.

In 1830 several of the older girls married, including Jane.  She married James Cravey in December of 1830.  There was an age difference of about seven years between the couple. Their first child, Margaret, was born in 1833 in Georgia.

The young family moved to Alabama, as did several other brothers and sisters. It is my conjecture that they moved there in 1834 when there was a brief gold rush.  Additionally, the land lotteries in Alabama also made more Creek land available to white farmers.  Two more girls were born in Alabama, but by 1843 the family had settled down in Washington County, Florida and there they stayed.

James Cravey disappears from records after 1860.  The couple’s eldest daughter Margaret never married and is buried near her mother in New Hope Cemetery in Washington County. Talitha Cumi Cravey married William Thomas Jeffries and died very close to the same time as her mother. She is buried there as well.


The only son of the family, James Wilkerson Cravey (family last name went back and forth between Wilkinson and Wilkerson), fought in the Civil War.  He enlisted in 1862 and is described as being 5 ft. 8 in., and having fair complexion, blue eyes, dark hair. His regiment saw a great deal of active duty.


Regiment: 6th Infantry Regiment Florida
Date of Organization: 14 Apr 1862
Muster Date: 9 Apr 1865
Regiment State: Florida
Regiment Type: Infantry
Regiment Number: 6th
Regimental Soldiers and History: List of Soldiers

Regimental History


Early in the spring of 1862 the 6th Florida Regiment was organized at Chattahoochee by the election of Jesse J. Finley as Colonel; Angus McLean, Lieutenant-Colonel; Daniel Kenan, Major.This Regiment was organized by the State and immediately turned over to the Confederate service and ordered to report to Gen. E Kirby Smith at Knoxville, who was then Commander of the Department of East Tennessee. There the 6th and 7th Florida Regiments and the 1st Florida Cavalry, Dismounted, were placed under the command of William G. M. Davis as senior Colonel.In the early spring of 1862 General Smith, with his command, was ordered to join General Bragg in his march into Kentucky in pursuit of General Buel, who was then under retreat. The 6th Florida Regiment went through the Kentucky campaign when General Bragg retreated from the State before General Buel, who had been heavily reinforced and who had again assumed the offensive.Coming out of Kentucky, Colonel Finley was ordered to occupy and defend Cumberland Gap against a possible approach by the enemy. The 6th Florida Regiment was afterward relieved by General Gracie’s Brigade, and the 6th was ordered back to Knoxville where it remained in winter quarters during the winter of 1862-63.The Regiment remained in Knoxville until the following summer, when General Smith’s command was ordered to report to General Bragg at Chattanooga. In the meanwhile, however, Colonel Davis was commissioned a Brigadier General and the 54th Virginia was added to the Brigade, and Colonel Trigg was assigned to the command of the Brigade as senior Colonel.The 6th Florida Regiment was in the bloody battle of Chickamauga, in the reserve corps of the first day’s fight and ordered to make a charge on a Federal battery of artillery.
This charge was made by the Regiment alone through an old field — the battery of the enemy being on the crest of a ridge about the center of the field. In making the charge it was enfiladed by the battery of the enemy to its left, which was near enough to use cannister and grape-shot. The Regiment carried the position and the battery in front retreated. It was now about sun-down, when the Regiment received preemptory orders to retire from the field, which it did bivouacking just outside of the field. In making the charge the Regiment bore itself with distinguished firmness and gallantry.In the next day’s battle the 6th Florida Regiment and the 54th Virginia were supporting a battalion of Confederate artillery, which was not then engaged, when they were ordered to the right to reinforce Gen. Patton Anderson and General Kelly, whose pickets only were then engaged, their ammunition being nearly exhausted. When the two Regiments came up General Anderson gave them their proper alignment for moving squarely upon the enemy, which they did; and about sun-down they cleared the heights of Chickamauga and about five hundred (500) of the enemy, who were armed with Colt’s revolving rifles surrendered — Colonel Trigg, the Brigade commander, and the 7th Florida Regiment under Colonel Bullock having first come up. This was about the last fighting on the second day’s battle of Chickamauga.The army under the command of General Bragg achieved a complete victory over the enemy, but remained a day on the battle field after the battle.
In the meantime Federal General Thomas rallied the fleeing forces of the enemy and occupied the strong fortifications at and around Chattanooga; and General Bragg, occupying Missionary Ridge, laid siege to the beleaguered city.During the winter the Confederate Army was reorganized and all the Florida Regiments, then in the Army of Tennessee, were brigaded together comprising the 6th Florida Regiment, under the command of Colonel McLean, the 7th Florida Regiment, under the command of Colonel Bullock, the 1st and 3d Regiments (consolidated), under the command of Colonel Dilworth, the 4th Florida Regiment, under the command of Col. W. L. Bowen, the 1st Cavalry, Dismounted, under the command of Col. George Troup Maxwell and Colonel Finley was commissioned Brigadier- General and assigned to the command thereof.At the battle of Missionary Ridge, in which the Brigade participated, the 6th Florida Regiment and the 1st and 3d Regiments were in the main Confederate line of battle on the crest of the Ridge; while the 7th Regiment and the 4th Regiment and the 1st Florida Cavalry, Dismounted, were on the picket line in the valley under orders on the advance of the Federal forces to fall back to the intrenchments at the foot of the Ridge; this they executed and they were driven out of the intrenchments by the overwhelming numbers of the enemy and a large portion were captured in ascending the steep acclivities of the Ridge.The 6th Florida Regiment and the 1st and 3rd Regiments were posted in the dip of the Ridge near General Bragg’s headquarters, and occupied their position on the fire line until peremptorily ordered to retire — they being about the last of the Confederate troops to leave the Ridge.The Confederate Army then fell back to Dalton; there it went into winter quarters, and Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, succeeding General Bragg, assumed command of the Army.The Brigade was in the battle of Rocky Face in front of Dalton in February when, after two days fight, General Sherman fell back to Chattanooga to wait reinforcements. Having received reinforcements, he advanced again in May with superior numbers and, after a two days’ battle and an attempt to flank General Johnston’s army, the latter commenced the famous retreat under General Johnston to Atlanta.The army then fell back to Resaca and deployed into line of battle in a strong. position and, after a two days’ battle (in which General Finley was wounded) again took up the line of retreat. And, not to be tedious — the Brigade was in all the battles from Dalton to Atlanta, bearing itself with its customary intrepidity and bravery.It was then that General Johnston was removed from the command of the Army and was succeeded by General Hood. The Brigade participated in the battles of Atlanta and Jonesboro, in which last battle General Finley was again wounded.The Brigade was with Hood in his unfortunate and disastrous campaign into Tennessee; and after the retreat of the Confederate Army from Nashville, it was transferred, with General Hood’s command, to North Carolina and was in the battle of Bentonville just before the surrender of General Lee at Appomattox.
Col. Daniel Kenan, in the battle of Bentonville, was wounded in the leg so severely that amputation was necessary; and Col. Angus McLean was killed in the battle of Dallas on the retreat from Dalton to Atlanta.It may be truly said that the Florida troops, in both the Tennesseee Army and in Virginia, conducted themselves with patriotism and gallantry.

Source: Soldiers of Florida in the … Civil War … page 153

Chickamagua after battle report:Report of Col. J. J. Finley, Sixth Florida Infantry.HDQRS. SIXTH REGT. FLORIDA VOLUNTEERS,
Near Chattanooga, Tenn., September 25, 1863.

CAPT.: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by my regiment in the battle of the Chickamauga on Saturday and Sunday, the 19th and 20th instant:On the morning of the 19th, soon after we had crossed the Chickamauga Creek, the regiment was thrown into line of battle with the other regiments of the brigade in an open field, with the enemy’s batteries some distance in our front, but sufficiently near to shell us with effect. Here, by order of the brigade commander, Col. Trigg, our line was formed on a depression in the field for cover from the enemy’s fire. Notwithstanding this precaution, the while of my line was subjected over, and near, diagonally in many places from right to  left, frequently striking in front and ricochetting over my men, who were in a lying position.It was at this time that a shell from the enemy’s guns exploded upon the right of the third company, instantly killing First Lieut. James Harys, then  in command of his company, and his first sergeant, S. F. Staunton, and also Second Sergt. W. R. F. Potter, and wounding Lieut. W. S. Simmons on the left of the second company, commanded by Capt. White.The brigade was then ordered farther in front and my regiment put in position for the support of [Peoples’] battery upon the crest of a ridge. Here we were four about two hours subjected to a heavy fire of shot and shell without any casualty.We remained in this position until about 3.30 p. m., when the whole brigade was ordered to advance to the relief of [Robertson’s] brigade, of Hood’s division, which had for some time been engaging the enemy about half a mile in front. This advance was made under a heavy fire of the enemy’s batteries until we reached an open cornfield in front of my regiment, where the fire became now hot and galling.At this moment the order for a general advance was given and my regiment moved forward through the open field at a double-quick to the crest of the ridge the distance of about 300yards under a raking fire from a battery of the enemy which wasposted on my left, as well as from small-arms and sharpshooters in front. When the crest of the ridge was attained, which brought us within about 60 yards of the enemy’s advance, another battery in our front, and still another diagonally to our right, opened a hot and fierce fire upon us, still aided by the battery upon our left, which kept up without intermission an enfilading fire upon my whole line, which told with terrible effect upon my command.After engaging the enemy in this position for about half an hour without any support whatever, we were ordered to retire by the colonel commanding the brigade, who advanced with my regiment in the charge, witnessed its conduct, and also fully apprehended the necessity of falling back to prevent the utter annihilation of the whole regiment.While engaged with the enemy form the crest of the ridge, his battery in our front was not more than 150 yards from our lines, and upon our first arrival in this position some of his infantry were not more than 50 yards in our front. From his point we poured in a well-directed fire upon the infantry and the gunners in our front, which soon drove them back to the rifle-pits in rear of their battery (which I estimated to be about 150 yards in rear of their battery), leaving the guns unmanned and the battery flag cut down. At this moment, if my regiment could have been supported, I am of the opinion that my brigade commander could have made a successful charge upon the other two of the enemy’s batteries, which had been playing upon us with terrible effect from our first advance to our final retirement. My failure to receive support will be properly accounted for, doubtless, in the report of my brigade commander.The casualties of the regiment in the battle on the 19th briefly sum up as follows, to wit:
Officers and men. K. W. T.
 Officers............. 2 11 13
 Enlisted men......... 33 119 152
 Total........... 35 130 165
 K=Killed. W=Wounded. T=Total.

I cannot conclude the report of the part taken by my regiment in the battle of this day without bearing testimony to the firmness, courage, and constancy which they exhibited under one of the
fiercest and hottest fires which it has ever been the fortune of a command to encounter. But I need not enlarge upon this, as my brigade commander witnessed its conduct from the beginning to the end of this trying day, and will do ample justice to my brave and heroic officers and men in the report which he will be called upon to make. With him I leave my command, who have purchased whatever reputation they may have von upon the sanguinary field at fearful cost of life and blood.I have no particular case of gallantry to mention upon this day. Where all fought with so much valor it would be invidious to discriminate.In regard to the battle of the 20th, I have the honor to report that while First Florida Cavalry (dismounted) and the Seventh Florida Infantry were detached, and while the colonel commanding the brigade was with them to direct their movements, I was ordered forward with the Sixth Florida Regt. and Fifty-fourth Virginia Regt. to relieve Gen. Gregg’s and Col. Kelly’s brigades, which had for some time been closely engaging the enemy on Chickamauga Heights. With these regiments I moved forward with haste to the point indicated, and taking the formation which was supposed to give me the most desirable front to the enemy, we advanced with steadiness and in good order until we passed the pickets thrown in front of Gen. Gregg’s and Kelly’s brigades, and opening fire upon the enemy we continued to advance steadily and constantly until we swept the heights, silencing the fire of our adversary, driving him from his position, and causing him to retire. For a part of the time during our advance we were exposed to a hot fire not only from small-arms and a battery in front, but also from a battery which was upon our right in an oblique direction. At this moment I ordered the firing to cease, and the guns to be loaded and bayonets fixed, in order to take the gun which had been playing upon our front, but before this could be accomplished the enemy had retired and succeeded in withdrawing his piece.At this time, the colonel commanding the brigade came up with the Seventh Florida Regt., and having learned upon the way the position and situation of the enemy, quickly and promptly made a disposition of his forces, and ordered a movement by which some 500 of the enemy were captured, besides a large number of small-arms.In this engagement the casualties in my regiment were as follows, to wit: Killed, 1 private; wounded, 2 lieutenants, 4 privates; total, 6 wounded; missing, 1 private, supposed killed.During the operations of this day I cannot speak too highly of the good conduct and gallantry of both the officers and men of the Fifty-fourth Virginia Regt., commanded by Lieut. Col. John J. Wade. For my own regiment I can pay them no higher and no more deserved compliments than to say that they fully sustained the reputation which they so dearly earned in the bloody conflict of the day before.I have the honor to submit the forgoing report, which has been written in great haste at night upon the field, and under circumstances of the greatest inconvenience.

Col., Comdg.Capt. JAMES BENAGH,
Assistant Adjutant-Gen.Source: Official Records
[Series I. Vol. 30. Part II, Reports. Serial No. 51.]

A Brief History of Fredonia, Alabama

The photo above shows the only building left at what was once a thriving crossroads in Fredonia.


This article was published at least 50 years ago in the LaFayette, Alabama paper. There is no date on the article and it was clipped and saved by my grandmother, Jimmie Lee James Wilkinson, who lived in Fredonia as child and as a bride.

– Diane Cox


Wilkinson home in Fredonia, AL

Wilkinson home in Fredonia, ALThis photo shows the family home, purchased around 1888. This photo of my great grandfather, Archie Wilkinson, his wife Mary Virginia Philpott Wilkinson, and my grandfather, George Maley Wilkinson (with pet goat!), was probably taken around 1898.

The following brief history of Fredonia appears in that community’s scrap book, prepared for entry in the County Community contest. It is our understanding that the author is Miss Eunice Turnham. We believe you will be interested in this story of the community, as follows:



Over a century ago when the Creek Indians still inhabited Alabama, when virgin forest still covered the land, and before Chambers County was laid out, two brave pioneer families made their way into her domain.

In the early twenties (1820s), John and Sally McDonald Hurst, and Asa and Margaret McDonald Cox pitched their tent under a giant oak on the spot that is now the main street of Fredonia.
Trade was soon begun with the Indians. They exchanged beads and trinkets for furs.Cox soon entered some government land but Hurst did not seem to care for broad acres, possible a character of ministers of the Gospel, for he combined preaching with trading. However Hurst erected the first building there, a log house with the front serving as a store and back as living quarters, on land given him by the Indians. This “free gift” suggested to him the name he soon gave the village.
Other white families soon followed, including the McDonalds, Umphries, Carlisles, Barkers, Wards, Zacharys, Bowens, Blackstons and Robinsons. (Wards had a daughter who married the youngest Wilkerson, Archibald Alonzo.  The Zacharys went on to own thousands of acres and my great grandfather Benjamin James was overseer for them – Diane Cox).
James Monroe Edwards, Pastor at Fredonia Methodist Church

James Monroe Edwards, Pastor at Fredonia Methodist Church

In 1832, the year before Chambers County was formed, a Methodist Society was formed. John Hurst’s store served as a meeting place. There were thirteen charter members. The next year a Methodist Church was built, being the first in the county. (See additional history in my other Fredonia article). In 1833 two preachers were sent by the South Carolina Conference. They were Hugh M. Finley and Sidney Squire. Finley died that same year and his is the first grave in the village. It is located at the Methodist Church cemetery. Another church was later built on the same site as the first (see photo in photo section). Before remodeling, this second church had a slave gallery and the slaves were preached to on Sunday afternoons. My grandfather, James Monroe Edwards, was a minister at this church and is buried in front of the church.

In 1833, Captain William Smith was sent to guard the white families against the Indians. As this was the same year Francis Scott Key was sent to Alabama to represent the Federal Government in the conflict with the State over the removal of the Indians to their new home west of the Mississippi, it seems likely that Captain Smith was sent by the State to protect the white families.

The Baptist Church was organized in 1834, and a small barnlike building was used for services the first year. The Baptist cemetery is located across the road from the site of the first meeting place.

The people of Fredonia were interested in education at an early date and established a Female Academy and a Military Academy which were among the first schools of the state.

The Southern Military Academy was founded in 1851, with Gibson F. Hill, Esq., Principal and Proprietor. Major N. J. Armstrong, graduate of State Military Academy, South Carolina, a Dr. Putnam and J. S. Parker were instructors. In 1854, by a special act of the Legislature, a bill was passed providing for a lottery to be held to raise funds for the Southern Military Academy. $60,000 was given in prizes in this lottery and the Academy received $25,000. The Academy was located one mile west of Fredonia on the left side of the road. (My family’s farm was also to the west of Fredonia on the left side of the road). This Academy is believed to be the beginning of Alabama Polytechnic Institute.

The town grew rapidly until the War Between the States. John Hurst’s store was enlarged and many more stores were erected. Moore and Umphries, Dry Goods and Liquor; Dick Taylor, Fine Wines and Whiskey; R. Haines, Dry Goods and Whiskey; Noland and Satterwhite, General Merchandise and Whiskey; G. C. Johnson, Dry Goods; the last named being the only store that did not sell whiskey.

In “The Formative Period of Alabama” we read that drinking was almost as common as eating, also that saloons might be independent shops but were most often in conjunction with Dry Goods, Grocery Stores or Inns. Fredonia also had a hotel, a livery stable owned by Satterwhite and Birdsong, two wood workmen – Marion Sikes and William Wimbush, and two blacksmith shops. Later stores included Zachary, Walker, Robinson, Heath and Walker, Robinson Heath and Clemons, Noland and Satterwhite. Liquor became more poplar and there were three bar rooms doing a flourishing business at one time.

James L. Robinson came to Fredonia from Georgia to clerk for Merriweather Walker and Alfred Zachary in a general merchandise store and boarded with the Hurst family. In 1856 he met Mary Fletcher Turner who had come to Fredonia to teach in the mixed school. He married her. Although he operated a saloon at one time, he later went to Montgomery and secured a charter for the purpose of prohibiting the sale of liquor in that district.

The seventy-ninth Masonic Lodge in the state of Alabama was established at Fredonia, in a two story building, first used by the Sons of Temperance, the first temperance movement in this section. This temperance organization was revived after the war and called Good Templars.

Fredonia was well represented in the Confederate Army during the War Between the States. A raid was made on the plantation of Alfred Zachary by a detachment from the Federal Army. They took the horses from the farm and left their old broken down ones.

During the latter part of the Nineteenth Century Fredonia was still a prosperous community. The primary interest at that time was agriculture. Both the Military Academy and the Female Academy were gone, but Fredonia still had a good grade school and high school combined. (The building is still there). During this period some prominent names were Bowen, Stodghill, Wimbush, Heath, Cumbee and Page, with the Smartt, Fuller, Adams, Barker and McKinney plantations nearby. (Editor’s Note: the Wilkinson family place of 400 acres was near the crossroads.)

Oct 20, 2011 - Wilkinson Stories    No Comments

Archibald Willkinson and his Children

Abt 1774 – Abt 1829

The founder of our Georgia branch of Wilkerson/Wilkinsons was my third great grandfather Archibald Wilkerson/Wilkinson. (Spelling was phonetic and varies.) Based on various census documents and the age of his children, our guess is he was born some time around the mid 1770s, very possibly in Scotland. His parents probably came over by ship to the Cape Fear area of North Carolina.There was a large clan of Wilkinsons who settled in this area, and many of them shared the same first names as Archibald, his wife and his children.Little documentation exists for Archibald.

Some have speculated, based on the age of his youngest child when he arrived in Troup County, that Margarett was his second wife. On the other hand, one of his two older daughters was named Margarett, so that may have no basis.

We can only guess at his life, but we do have a few written records: the administration of his estate, a purchase of property as a newly arrived settler of Troup County, and the information that he moved there with his wife Margarett and ten of their known children in 1827. The family is shown by land records to have come to Troup from Monroe.

Archibald, the patriarch, did not live long thereafter and died prior to March of 1829. He left no will, so returns on his estate were published until 1845, when all assets were finally distributed. It is this information that has provided much of the basic information about his children and their marriages.

We know he had a spirit of adventure, setting off into what had been until very recently the frontier, inhabited by Creek Indians and fur traders.Our family verbal history maintained that Archibald originally came to Georgia from Robeson County, NC. One of his daughters later indicated that her father and mother were natives of Scotland on the census. My research has led me to believe that he came to this country from Scotland as a very small child, probably somewhere around 1770 to 1775. The family first names are certainly very Scottish and repeat many of the same names in other branches of the Scottish Wilkerson clan that settled in the general area of Fayetteville, Cumberland County, North Carolina.

I have found records of an Archibald Wilkinson in Cumberland County, Richmond County and also in Robeson County, which is just south of Cumberland. Just south of Robeson, in Chesterfield District, SC, there are also records of an Archibald Wilkinson. So, it is easy to see how confusing this search has been.Old maps show a distinct road across the frontier and most travelers, especially ones moving a large household, would have followed the same path from North Carolina to Troup. They would have come down through Cheraw, South Carolina, past Columbia, through what is now Augusta, GA. They would have moved across the state from Wilkes to Taliaferro, through Greene and Morgan Counties and on to Jasper County and from there to Monroe.

Once the 1827 Lottery was held many moved on to their winnings in the western part of the state. Others, like my distant grandfather, purchased parcels from speculators. There were earlier lotteries held, but our family was in the state only for the 1827 one.

The family moved from Monroe County, Georgia to Troup, but all of the children except the youngest Joseph, who was a babe in arms of less than six months, were born in North Carolina.

Archibald purchased 202.5 acres from Whitfield Sledge in District 5, Lot 267 for $250.  (Archibald would not have been eligible to participate in the lottery, because a three year residency was required.  Many speculators played the lottery with the intent of re-selling the parcels). Mr. Sledge purchased this from William L. Astin, who won it in the land lottery. At this time, Troup County was newly created from the Cherokee Land Lottery, and the removal of the Creek Indians.

There may have been earlier relationships between the families of Archibald Wilkinson, William E. Potts, William Browning, and David Johnston. Two of Archibald’s sons married girls from Monroe County.   Neal K., the oldest son to accompany him on the migration, married Rebecca Johnston, daughter of David Johnston who was one of the original settlers of Monroe County. Alexander (Sandy), one of the younger sons, married Jane Adaline Potts, daughter of William A. Potts, who lived in the same district in Monroe County as David Johnston.

Early census records show David Johnston in Jasper County as early as 1800. He migrated there from Newberry District in South Carolina, which is just south of Cumberland and Robeson in North Carolina. Indeed, at times the county lines between North and South Carolina varied. There were also Wilkersons in Jasper County at this time, but no relationship has been proven. It is however interesting that the descendants of these Wilkersons were found living in the same areas of Long Cane, Georgia as well as Chambers and Macon Counties in Alabama in future years. The Potts family was also in Jasper County then moved on to Monroe. Some eventually moved on to Troup and founded the Potts Store where later descendants of Archibald traded.

A common thread between these men may have been service in the Revolutionary War, for which frontier lands were often the reward for valor.

Archibald’s descendants attended the Long Cane Church. Tradition would indicate that Archibald and Margarett were buried on the family farm, which is now under West Point Lake. The Corp of Engineers moved the graves of Neal K, Rebecca, John, David, James, Elizabeth and Ezra to the cemetery at Long Cane Church. There are two unmarked graves there as well, perhaps those of Archibald and Margarett.

Marriages of the Children

As the family crossed the state, they may have made friends or visited with former friends from the Carolinas. As you can see, the children married six people from states through which the family would have journeyed on their trek from Robeson County to Troup County.

Archibald’s time in Troup County was short. He died intestate before 1829. He left behind ten children ranging from 24 years old to less than two years and a widow, Margarett. His possessions were handled by different administrators, including neighbors W.W. Carlisle and David B. Cameron. Three appraisers were appointed by the court to inventory his possessions. Records of the sale of his worldly goods to thirty different purchasers can be found in the Troup County Archives. His slaves, Mack, Sarah, Dick, Sealy (sp?), Harriet and Arthur were all purchased by the administrator of the estate, David B. Cameron, on November 25th, 1829, with the exception of Tempy who was retained by the widow. We might guess that she was the younger children’s nursemaid. It appears that Margarett must have been in her mid to late forties when she became a widow.

The family moved to the area just one year before the city of LaGrange was formed. The land that Archibald purchased was in the Long Cane District. Other nearby landowners included the Potts and Tatum families, whose properties were all adjacent to the Wilkinson land.

Most Scottish immigrants were Presbyterian, having sought to evade religious oppression in the old country. This is borne out by the fact that two of the older daughters who were in their late teens at the time were among the fourteen founding members of First Presbyterian Church of LaGrange in On March 21, 1829, ninety-five days after the town of LaGrange was chartered.

It is my theory that John had already married before the family left North Carolina and therefore did not make the trip to Georgia. After their father’s death, the remaining oldest children began to marry. First to marry were Flora and Margarett, who appear to have been very close. They were even married on the same day – August 24, 1830 in Troup County. The two sisters married young men from Morgan County, Georgia. Jane married James Cravey in December of 1830 and Neal K. married Rebecca Johnston of Monroe County, GA, on February 7th, 1831.

The land was rolling and beautiful with creeks and streams and the Chattahoochee River close by.

“Long before the white men came to this region the proud Creek Indians called it home. When the covered wagons arrived bringing settlers and merchants from northeast Georgia and the Carolinas, they found a warm welcome and a deep satisfaction in their decision to settle here.

The beginning of the community was made when log homes were built and farmers began to till the fertile soil. The settlement had no name but soon it became known as Franklin. A busy trading post was established and the owners began to sell calico, sugar, blankets, pins and other necessities to the Indians and newcomers.

In 1832 the unsettling news was brought that there was already a village named Franklin to the north in Heard County.

To avoid confusion another name was selected and a new sign was nailed up at the trading post which read West Point, Established 1832.There were about 100 people living here (West Point/Long Cane area) at that time and they began to think about the need for a school and a church. This problem was solved with the erection of a large log structure which served as a school and common church building, and was located close to where the Confederate Cemetery is today.

“The swiftly flowing Chattahoochee was beautiful and teeming with fish, but its width and depth were discouraging to the settlers who wished to cross over to the west side. A number of ferries came into use and canoes were plentiful but a more permanent crossing was needed.”


Jane – Born 1803 – Died 1877

Jane was the oldest come to Georgia. She was born in 1803. She married James Cravey, who was seven years her junior, in Troup County on December 8, 1830. Sometime between 1833 and 1837, the Craveys moved to Alabama. They lived in Coffee County, Alabama, then moved south to Washington County, Fl.

Neal K. Born May 20, 1804 – Died February 27, 1865

Neal K.
married Rebecca Johnston, whose family were original pioneer settlers of
Monroe County and for whom the Johnstonville Historic District, now
located in Lamar County, GA is named. They were married in Troup County on
February 7, 1831 The marriage dates of the other three older girls all fall in 1830. It appears that he is making sure they are wed before he is wed himself, since he is now the head of the family.

John (I am not dead certain about this one part)

John Wilkerson did not accompany the family on the migration, having just married Ann McKenzie on July 3rd, 1826 in Fayetteville. He remained there and they had two sons, John and James. John died in 1828 in Chesterville, SC of a kick from a horse. His orphans are mentioned in the final two years of returns on his father’s estate. His wife supported her little family as a Mantua Maker, a popular ladies dress pattern of the times and was assisted by two other McKenzie ladies, who lived with her until she died.

Margarett – Born before October 1812 – Died after 1880

Margarett married Pleiades Orion Lumpkin (nickname – Dan), son of Wilson Lumpkin, Governor of Georgia. As governor of Georgia, Wilson Lumpkin oversaw the Land Lottery of 1832, which eventually led to the removal of the Cherokee in the Trail of Tears. Later, as president of the Western and Atlantic, he oversaw North Georgia’s growth after the immense Panic of 1837. Marthasville, now known as Atlanta, was named for his daughter twice (Martha Atalanta Lumpkin).

Flora – Born before October 1810 – Died before 1860

Flora married George Washington Browning, son of William Browning. The 1830 Troup County census shows the young couple living in Capt. Morris’ District.

These two sisters seem to have been inseparable in the early years of their lives. The two young families moved west to Texas together where the husbands fought in the battle for Texas Independence. P.O. went on to be a Texas congressman and Wash was a lawyer and the first commissary for Fort Houston.

Alexander J. Wilkinson – Born November 10, 1815 – Died November 10, 1855

Alexander married Jane Adaline Potts of Monroe County. The Potts family were well to do millers. Other members of the Potts family also settled in Long Cane and there is a Potts store still there today.
Sandy and Jane moved to Tallapoosa County, Alabama. Things did not go well for them there and 1855 was an especially devastating year for Jane, for first her twin babies died at birth, then her husband of only
forty years of age died two months later.

Archibald Alonzo Wilkinson – Born July 14, 1818 – Died 1867

Archibald Alonzo was deaf. His first wife was Bethany Ward of Greene County. There is evidence to indicate, in the form of written documentation, that he was an alcoholic. Bethany died very
young and in her will indicated that her children and her two slaves were to be the wards of her father, Stephen Ward. She and AA were not living together at the time. He later moved
to Arkansas to join his sister Mary Ann and her husband. While there, he married Frances Milner, the widowed sister of Mary Ann’s husband.

Rebecca Wilkinson – Born December 26, 1824 – Death date unknown

Rebecca married John Milton Andrews and the couple lived in Chambers County, Alabama. They had a number of daughters and Mr. Andrews, who was older than Rebecca by fifteen years, died in 1857.
at the age of 49. No further information is available about Rebecca other than this.

Mary Ann Wilkinson – Born September 6, 1825 – Died September 18, 1899

Even though Mary Ann and her family also lived in Alabama at the same time as Sandy and Jane, they moved on to Arkansas sometime between 1850 and 1860. Archibald Alonzo joined them there and helped
them work their farm.

Joseph Wilkinson – Born July 28, 1827 – Died January 1, 1834