|"Eyewitness Accounts of Houston County, Georgia, 1821-1871"
by William A. Mills
(The account below of like in old Perry is from a resource document
recently discovered by Mr. Mills)
Of the first and early citizens of the town, whom I remember are:
Howell Cobb, Dr. E. T. McGehee, James E. Duncan, Edward Welch, William
Wellborn, Johnson Wellborn, Peter V. Guerry, John M. Moore, James M.
Kelly, John M. Allen, Charles H. Rice, Asa Royal, Bentley Outlaw, John
Isaiah Chain, Levin F. Chain, Arthur A. Morgan, Michael E. Madden, Dr.
Dr.McKinney, William H. Rudd, Kent, Phineas Oliver, Nathaniel Quick,
Pattishall, Littleton, Spivey, and Edwin Monger.
I remember also: Esquire Lewis, John J. Owens, David O. Smith, and Richard
Smith, who lived on Mossy Creek; Hardy Hargrove, W. P. Bryant, S. S.
R. W. Baskin, and Isaac C. West, near West's Bridge on the Hayneville
Joseph Tooke, George Williams, Dr. C. F. Pattillo, Henry Wimberly, William
Coalson, E. K. Hodges, and Terrell Perry, at Hayneville; John
Smith, and David M. Brown, near Hickory Grove; William Brown, S. D.
and James Fitzgerald, near Henderson; H. B. Hathaway, at old Centreville;
Rawls, S. C. Bryant, Thomas Johnson, Rev. Samuel,Jenkins, Rev. Benjamin
in the Upper Fourteenth District; James A. Everett, Rev. Enos Young, R. H.
Allen Wiggins, and Edgeworth, at and near Fort Valley; Carlton Wellborn,
Joel Walker, and Feagin, near Wellborn's Mills and Ferry; Dupree,
Alexander Smith, Needham
Smith, John Tomlinson, Rev. Thomas Speight, William Haddock, Rev. J. A.
James A. Bryan, H. L. Dennard, Allen Sutton, Baldwin Higgs, and Benjamin
Bryan, between Mossy Creek and the river; Simon Bateman, Cullen Talton,
Dennard, John Killen, Pifash Jenkins, Neil Smith, James Dean, James H.
Killen, and Williamson Crawford, near Perry.
Very nearly all of these have passed away. Some are resting in our quiet
cemetery; others in different parts of the country; others emigrated
west, and but few are now living. The personal appearance, habits, and
distinctive peculiarities and traits of character of each, which
daguerreotyped them on my memory, could not be written in the time and
space allotted here. Those of them who were farmers, followed the plow,
used the hoe, pulled fodder, picked cotton, cut and rolled logs, and
split rails. And yet, as a rule, they were longer lived; and in physical
development, vigor and elasticity, were better specimens of manhood after
middle age, and when old, than we can find now. Query: Does
not this fact explode the opinion so frequently advanced now-a-days, that
"white men cannot cultivate the soil in this climate" ?
Some few of them accumulated wealth, others moved in, and those who did
not grow rich, were bought-out by the fortunate ones and new comers.
Large plantations and bodies of land, owned by a few with numerous
slaves, succeeded till scarcely a vestige of the first settlements was
left. Whether better or worse, let those judge, who have lived in
Houston long enough to realize the difference in the county now, and when
it was dotted with small farms, teeming with the richest abundance of the
necessaries of life, with its grand old forests, and alive with lowing
herds, and its wild native inhabitants.
In the lists above, I have intentionally omitted the names of several who
were a terror to the community, especially when intoxicated. Several
cosmopolitans floated into town, one of whom was periodically a raving
maniac. Another was a consumptive, and died alone, on a sand bank just
below the cemetery, where his corpse was accidentally found several days
afterward. Another was taken by a crowd, and "well-ducked", after which he
disappeared. A man living in the county, was once "cow-hided" on the
square by another citizen; and a woman (white) was severely whipped with a
wagon whip, on the street, by a man (?).
A traveler came along, and a thing occurred during his short stay, which,
if told, might tease "Yours Till Death"; and I have no disposition to do
that just now. Therefore, with a story told long ago by a citizen of the
town, will withhold it for the present.
Wm. A. Mills