The Story of



Written by Mrs. Pearl Baker

For The

Wrightsboro Restoration Foundation

Thomson, Georgia

Printed by the Warrenton Clipper, August 1965

Transcriber's notes:  The following are excerpts from the book "The Story of Wrightsboro, 1768-1964".

Transcribed by Suzanne Forte (  January 2005


Chapter 1 - "The Move to Wrightsboro"

        If it had not been for the cruelty of a British Governor and the stubborn courage of a Quaker mill owner, Wrightsboro might never have existed.  The official was Governor William Tryon and the Quaker, Joseph Maddock.

        The Maddock family was English in origin, emigrating from Cheshire with William Penn in 1682.  They settled first in Chester County, Pennsylvania, then moved to Delaware.  Joseph and his family went to North Carolina in 1755 where he established his grist mill on the Eno River near Hillsboro.

        As the British representative in North Carolina, Governor Tryon was very unpopular with the Patriots, and they suffered greatly from his oppressive rule.  He imposed exorbitant taxes on all imported goods, property, and legal papers for the colonists, while exempting his favorites.  For example, a wedding license with its government stamps might cost the average colonist as much as three pounds, a prohibitive sum in those early days.

        In 1766 a group of rebellious citizens called "Regulator" called a meeting at Maddock's Mill to discuss their grievances, and decide on a course of action.  They invited Edward Fanning, one of Tyron's aides to attend and hear their side of the argument.  But Tyron, in a rage, sent the militia to arrest Maddock.  Maddock said that the Regulators met at his mill only because it was centrally located and "no liquor sold on the premises" to quote an old handbill, and was not punished.

        More meetings were held, without any results, and the colonists were running out of patience.  Tyron's deputies were seizing their cattle and horses for unpaid taxes, the value of the confiscated stock far out-weighing the amount owed.

        Maddock and another prominent Quaker, Jonathan Sell, decided that they and their people could not exist under such intolerable conditions any longer, so in 1767 Maddock applied for grants of land in the frontier territory of Georgia where they were assured of justice and freedom of religion.

        Up to this time, most of the settlements in Georgia had taken tenuous root along the sea-coast and up the major rivers.  The sea island were quite well populated, perhaps because people believed themselves safer from the Indians there.  Inland from the coast early traders had established posts, connected by paths and rough trails, and the militia had built isolated forts at wide intervals.

        The first cession of land that concerned Wrightsboro and the Quakers occurred in 1763, the boundary line extending along Little River to William's Creek, then south east to Briar Creek.  The Indians subsequently became indebted to the traders for the amount of 40,000 pounds, and it was suggested to them that they rid themselves of this debt by ceding more land to the Colonial Government which would, in turn, pay off the traders.  This they did, relinquishing, in sa second cession, a vast tract of land extending north to the Tugaloo River, thence westward, in all some 2, 100,000 acres.

        These lands were opened to colonization in 1773.

        Their North Carolina property disposed of, the Quakers set out on their 300 mile trip late in 1767, traveling by oxcart and horseback.  There were 40 families in the first group, with Maddock and Sell as their leaders, heading for the Georgia grants.

        The government had ordered a reserve of 12,000 acres to be set aside for the Quaker petitioners until February 1, 1768.  The boundaries of this reserve run up Briar Creek, northwest to the Indian Treaty line (re surveyed in 1767) then east along Little River.  The treaty line went southeast from Williams Creek, slightly above present day Camak, to the head of Briar Creek.  If, by February 1st, ten families had settled on their grants, the option would be extended until January, 1769.  Under the customary allotment system, a head of a family was allowed 200 acres with 50 acre each for his wife, minor children and servants, no grant to exceed 1000 acres.

        The first petition was presented by Joseph Maddock for 200 acres on which to build a grist mill.  He was granted land "on the north fork of Briar Creek, called Sweetwater" in 1768.  Later he built another mill near the town of Wrightsboro.

        Evidently, a settlement grew in the Sweetwater area, perhaps because the boundary between Indian and white lands was still being disputed.  Several contemporary writers mention a place called "Maddocks" above 30 miles from Augusta, which was a temporary stopping place for some of the Quakers, until their grants could be located and surveyed.

        Zechariah Ferris, a noted Quaker traveler and writer, refers to the visit at Maddocks and remarks that is was "ten or twelve miles south east of Wrightsboro".

        William Bartram, botanist and diarist, visited Maddock in Wrightsboro in 17873, which shows that Maddock had more than one estate, perhaps putting his son Joseph in charge of the Sweetwater mill.  The Maddock genealogist, Mr. R. A. Stubbs, has a theory that this mill was located on or near today's Usry Pond, but further research tends to place it south of there.  In 1771 Maddock was granted 200 acres for a grist mill near Wrightsboro, on the creek later named for him. He also received a large grant to be used as a "horse pen" and to be held in trust for the Quakers, with Isaac Vernon as his co-trustee.

        It has been said that Maddock and Sell obtained a grant near Wrightsoboro on which to maintain a "Cowpen" for the community.  But at the Columbia County Courthouse at Appling, is a deed dated 1804, stating that Jonathan Sell (a son of the original grantee) sold a tract of land on Sweetwater, "Said tract formerly granted to Joseph Maddock and Jonathan Sell, intended for Cowpen, for people called Quakers".  It is quite probably that there was more than one such tract, because the Quakers had a good deal of livestock.

        These cow and horse pens were very essential to the colony's economy.  At one time the Wrightsboro people had a common herd of nearly 2000 head, "not counting the privately owned cows kept for milking.  The "Cow- pen" cattle were allowed to range freely, subject to a seasonal round up for branding and selling.

        The pen itself consisted of a fenced enclosure, cabins for the cow-pen superintendent and his helpers, with a nearby corn-field for supplementary feed.  The superintendent employed cow boys who fought rustlers and Indians and had to contend with characters who were not averse to changing a brand.  It all sounds like a 1770 style Western.  Although the name "cowboy" has existed since the 12th century, originating in Ireland, his Southern counterpart was known by the odd name of "pindar".

Chapter 2 - "Quaker Cabins and Paths"

        On December 6, 1768, finding that a great many more settlers were arriving than could be accommodated on the original 12,000 acres, Joseph Maddock, Jonathan Sell and Thomas Watson applied for an additional grant "on both sides of Germany Creek, not taken up by people already come".  Fifty seven families signed the petition , and on July 3, 1770, the grants were issued.

        It is not know, exactly, when the land was surveyed for the town of Wrightsboro (the plat has been lost) but in 1769 a petition was presented asking that "1000 acres of the reserve be laid out in a proper spot for a town", and the earliest town lot allocations were made in July 3, 1779.  The village was located on Town Creek (now called Middle Creek) and named for Sir James Wright, the colonial  governor of Georgia.  Town Creek formed the east and south east boundaries of the town and the Augusta-Wrightsboro Road, completed in 1769 ran through it.

        A re-survey of the town was made in 1807 and the old lines and markers were found by the surveyed.

        Although the town encompassed only 1000 acres, Wrightsboro township was much larger.  A map drawn for the Governor in 1770 shows it covering all of present-day McDuffie County and parts of Warren and Columbia.

        Most of the earliest settlers who ventured deep into the virgin forest found it dark and gloomy from the thick over-lapping tree branches, except where they found an open glade.  William Bartram, in his journal refers frequently to the "huge trees, with trucks six to right feet thick" and tells of riding through the forest at a gallop, surprised at the lack of undergrowth.

        After taking possession of their lands, the first thing the Quakers had to do was cut the trees to build a shelter and make a clearing in the woods.  When this was done, they "girdled" the rest of the trees on the land intended for framing and planted their seed around the stumps in holes dug with a hoe.  The earliest types of crude shelters were sapling "lean-tos", shingled with slabs of bark or white oak shakes.  These were purely temporary in nature, and the next step was to build a log cabin for winter occupancy while they waited for lumber to be cut and seasoned for their permanent homes.

Excerpts from other chapters:

        A wagon road from Augusta to Wrightsboro (via Quaker Springs) was completed in 1769 and followed, roughly, the present route of Highway 232, near Appling, Columbia County.

        A little later the once famous "Old Quaker Road" was built from Wrightsboro south east to Jacksonborough (Now Sylvania) by way of Wrens and Waynesboro.  Near Jacksonborough it intersected an older road that ran from Savannah to Augusta.  Road building was simple and inexpensive (in Oglethorpe's day, a road 60 miles long was created for 5 pounds, or $25).  No grading, ditching or paving was done, and construction consisted mainly of clearing trees and rocks, to make a ten or twelve foot right-of-way.  If a boulder proved to big to move, the road was routed around it.  In many cases, they followed the earlier Indian trading paths, because these were found to be the best and most practical routes.

        Small creeks were crossed on rude log and plank bridges, but ferries were employed, on larger streams and rivers. These were usually privately owned, and always charged a fee.  Some lesser rivers were crossed by Toll bridges, such as the one at Rayesville, on Little River.  Nathaniel Durkee, a tanner from Wrightsboro, was authorized to build this bridge in 1796.

        Even with the coming of the roads, many settlers preferred to ship their goods by water.  In some cases, produce would be floated down river to Augusta on a log raft, which was broekn up at the end of the journey and sold for the timber in it.  This method appealed to some plantation owners, because they could avid paying toll.

        Unfortunately, due to harassment by the Indians, and a bad growing season, the first year, the Quakers' crops were a failure.  If it had not been for their foresight in bringing with them a good supply of gun-powder, nails and salt, it would have been a very dismal prospect.

        Progress was slow, and as early as 1771, in constant fear of the Indians and disheartened by loss of property, almost a third of the people had left Wrightsboro Township for the comparative safety of Augusta and Savannah, some going back to the Carolinas.  Concerned that the settlement might die altogether, Governor Wright put their case before the Council and obtained some aid for them.  Joseph Maddock had taken the long trip to Savannah to plead for "two companies of militia for the protection of Wrightsboro" but was refused.  By 1772, many of the defectors had returned to their grants, convinced that Governor Wright and the council had their welfare in mind and would protect them.

        In 1777 the Rebel government proclaimed that they were with drawing the militia from the western front, because there were enough continental and provincial troops in the state fo take care of the situation.

        No actual battles took place in Georgia until 1778, when the British forces attacked along the coast and northward from Florida.  Savannah fell in December 1778 and the troops marched north to capture Augusta early in 1779.

        Soon all Georgia had fallen except for a pocket of resistance in Wilkes county called by the  British "the Hornet's nest".

            Prior to the British assault, the Briar Creek area had been raided by Continental troops who destroyed the property of those whom they considered British sympathizers.

        Up to this time, Wrightsboro had remained unharmed.  In 1780, the community possessed some 1800 head of cattle valued at approximately $10 a head, but during the winter of 1780-81, the town was attacked by Patriots who raided the country between here and Augusta.  They killed nearly fifty people, choosing the most loyal to Britain.  Thus the picture changed radically.  On July 12, Joseph Maddock appealed to Governor Wright for aid, and, as a Town official, was granted 300 dollars to buy food for the people who had been burned out.  The next day Jonathan Sell was granted $25 for his own use.

        Now that the British had gained supremacy again in the Augusta area, Sir James Wright appointed several companies of militia for the defense of Wrightsboro against the Continental troops.

        The officers of these companies were Captain James Bishop and Lt. Samuel Hart, to patrol northward of the town, Captain James Watson and Lt. James Coats, from the town toward Augusta; and Captain George Nicholls with Lt. John Lang, who had the Williams Creek Territory.

        The same summer, Joseph Maddock and his old friend, Jonathan Sell, were appointed Commissioners of Roads in Wrightsboro township

        On Sir James Wrights' return to Georgia, after his flight in 1776, he found that all his property had been taken from him under the acts of banishment and confiscation passed by the Rebel Assembly in 1778.  He had possessed eleven plantations covering 24,578 acres in all, and employing 523 slaves.  After the war, when the commissioners of confiscation sold this property, it brought $200,000.  His holdings in Wrightsboro township amounted to 3324 acres. including the Quaker Meeting House tract.

        The Commissioners sold part of this land to Robert Flournoy for 204 pounds sterling in 1783, and another portion to one William Brown.  On April 11, 1787 Brown sold his share to John Stubbs and Daniel Williams "for themselves and the people called Quakers, a tract of land including the Meeting House tract, and a good spring of water" for 15 pounds according to a deed in the Columbia county courthouse.  Robert Flournoy, on Feb. 20th 1793, signed a quit-claim deed relinquishing all his rights "to a parcel of land containing 43 acres, to the society of people called Friends, known as the Meeting House tract, granted to Daniel Williams and John Stubbs as trustees"  (Perhaps he had lent the Quakers some money, taking the property as security)  Flournoy was a man of some importance, a surveyor for the state, he was quite wealthy buying and selling many parcels of land.  For instance, in 1795 he paid out $50,000 (an astronomical sum in those days) for 14,000acres in the Fort Creek district.  He was a good friend to the Quakers and married a girl of that faith, a Mary Cobbs of Warrenton.

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