One Thing Leads to Another

It seems that I am able to find more family history stuff as I am casually surfing web and when I am not really looking for one thing in particular. Take for example this evening as sat down to do an idle search of web of for references regarding the post-Civil War period of 1865 to 1877 that is most commonly known as the “Reconstruction”. I wanted to get a feel for what sort resources on that topic were available. After poking around for a while I somehow wound up at the US Gen Web Georgia Archives.

Here there were links regarding American wars from the Revolution down to WWII and Korea. Knowing that my ggg-grandfather David Dobbs was for many years associated with the Georgia state militia from the War of 1812 until the eve of the Civil War when he was a trustee of the Georgia Military Institute, I first followed the link “War of 1812″ link. This took me to a page that listed rosters for American Revolution and War of 1812 units. I already knew that David Dobbs was a 3rd Lieutenant in Booth’s 4th Regiment of the Georgia Militia so when I found that unit listed I followed the link here I found some things that I did not know: 1) that the unit was mustered at Fort Hawkins in November of 1814 and that “Booth’s” refers to Colonel David A. Booth. It was the place intrigued me the most and so went off in search of Fort Hawkins.

Visiting the City of Macon, Georgia’s web-site I learned that Fort Hawkins was first built in 1806 and that it was an important military site during the War of 1812, Creek War (1813-1814), and the First Seminole War (1817-1818). I also learned that the fort was not garrisoned after 1819, that it was decommissioned in 1828 and that the LAMAR Institute (an archeological society) began excavating the site in 2006 (the 200th anniversary of the site). This lead me to Dianne Wilcox’s page which has a lot of detailed information regarding the history of Fort Hawkins and on Benjamin Hawkins himself, but very little on the War of 1812-period. She does note that General Andrew Jackson was there in March of 1814, on his way to Alabama and eventually the Battle of New Orleans (January, 1815) and that Jackson returned again in February of 1818 with 1,000 Tennessee volunteers on their way to Florida. Also I found a teacher’s packet (PDF) that provides some details regarding the archeological excavation at Fort Hawkins.

It was from the last site that I discovered Georgia’s Virtual Vault. The vault has search forms that allow for discovery of various images of original documents from Colonial Wills to Confederate Pension Applications. It was in the pension applications that I found that one of David Dobb’s nephew’s, Asa A. Dobbs, had filed for a confederate pension in 1900.

Following external links from Georgia’s Virtual Vault, I went to Georgia Legislative Documents, 1799-1999 and searched for “DOBBS”.

Here is what I learned regarding my ggg-grandfather, David Dobbs, from the Georgia Legislative Documents, 1799-1999:

In 1825, when he was sheriff of Elbert county Georgia and a major in the Georgia Militia, the Georgia legislature passed an act “to establish district elections in the county of Elbert” that reads in part:

That from and after the passage of this act the general election for governor, members of congress, and of the senate and house of representatives in the state legislature, and all county officers, may and shall be held at the following places, viz: in Maj. Allen’s battalion at Simeon Henderson’s, or at such place as may hereafter be selected for battalion mustering in said battalion; in Maj. Dobbs’ battalion at the house of David Dobbs, or at any other place that may be hereafter chosen for mustering said battalion; and at the Big Holly Spring and at the court-house for Maj. Richardson’s battalion.

…not sure what it means, but it sure does sound official.

In 1851, David Dobbs is mentioned in “An Act to incorporate the Georgia Military Institute, and for other purposes therein named”. In 1859, David Dobbs and several other citizens of Cobb County were authorized by the state of Georgia to build a railroad from Marietta to the Alabama state line. The legislation is entitled “An Act to incorporate the Polk Slate Quarry Railroad Company, and for other purposes.” And there is this rather disturbing item that appears in record for the year 1849. Rather than try and interpret it, I will let it speak for itself:

ACTS OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA, 1849-50. 1849 Vol. 1 — Page: 14 Sequential Number: 008

Full Title: AN ACT for the relief of David Dobbs of the county of Cobb.

WHEREAS David Dobbs hired to the Western and Atlantic Railroad of the State of Georgia, for the year 1848, a negro man by the name of Tom, to be engaged exclusively as a depot hand only, and not to perform any of the duties or to be exposed to any of the risks of a train hand, and the said negro man Tom having been ordered by one of the conductors on a freight train on said road, to assist in making up a train on said road, received an injury of which he died:

SECTION 1. Be it therefore enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Georgia in General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That his Excellency the Governor be, and he is hereby authorized and required to draw his warrant on the Treasurer of said State, in favor of the said David Dobbs, for the sum of eight hundred dollars, in full compensation for the loss of said negro man.

Approval Date: Approved, December 20th, 1849.

David Dobbs, the second son of Josiah Dobbs and Susannah, was born about 1792 in Elbert Co., Georgia. David began military service in 1814 in the 4th Regiment of the Georgia Militia as a 3rd Lieutenant under command of Colonel David Booth. He fought in the Creek War of 1814 and the 1st Seminole War of 18181.

The Creek War (1813-1814), also known as the Red Stick War and the Creek Civil War, began as a civil war within the Creek (Muscogee) nation. It is sometimes considered to be part of the War of 1812. The war began as a civil war, but the United States was pulled into the conflict in present-day southern Alabama, at the Battle of Burnt Corn. In September of 1814, the Governor of Georgia received a request from the US War Department to send 2,500 troops of the Georgia militia to Fort Hawkins on the Ocmulgee river which was near present-day Macon, Georgia to provide support and reinforcements for General Andrew Jackson who was currently enroute to Mobile in response to British and hostile Indian activity in the west Florida region. A regiment detached from Major-General Daniel’s division, commanded by Col. David S. Booth arrive at Fort Hawkins sometime in November along with other units of the Georgia militia. These militia units were divided up between Major-General John McIntosh and Brigadier-General David Blackshear and the plan was for McIntosh to proceed west to Fort Mitchell on the Chattahoochee River in present-day Alabama. While Blackshear was to take his units south to Hartford in Pulaski county Georgia where he was to cross the Ocumulgee river and then proceed about 40 miles west to the Flint River. There were reports of Seminole uprising and British activity there north of the Florida territory. It is not known for certain if David Dobbs was with Blackshear forces, which had to literally cut a road through the wilderness to get to the Flint river, or whether he was with McIntosh forces in Alabama. Yet it does appear more likely that he was part of a force of the Georgia militia that was sent to provide support of Jackson’s effort to stop another British invasion of the US which was expected at either Mobile or New Orleans.

In a letter from General McIntosh to General Blackshear dated 9 January 1815, McIntosh mentions:

“I have sent a battalion from this [camp west of Chattahoochee], under Col. Booth, to the Tallapoosa [probably to Fort Jackson  near Wetumpka, Alabama],with all the artificers I could collect, to build boats to take us down that river, and the Alabama to the Mobile, with our provisions, – considering this mode as the best I could adopt under existing circumstances, being informed that provisions are not to be had in that quarter, and the want of wagons to convey them any other way compels this alternative.”2

The purpose of sending more troops down to Mobile was to provide support for General Jackson. McIntosh already knew that a large British force was threatening New Orleans, but he did not know that the Battle of New Orleans had already be fought and won by the US the day before he wrote this letter.

After the Indian wars, David continued service in the Georgia militia, was promoted to Major and shortly afterward to Colonel, the rank he held throughout the remainder of his life. He was a founder and on the board of trustees for Georgia Military Institute (GMI) from its inception in 1851 to at least 1857.3 From 1818 to 1835, David settled down to farming in Elbert County. He appears as a witness, along with his brother John, on the will of John McMullan (his future wife’s grandfather) on 14 January 1818 in Elbert, Georgia4. David married Elizabeth McMullan, daughter of Patrick McMullan and Sarah Walker, on 28 April 1819 in Elbert Co., Georgia5. He appeared on the census of 1820 in Christian, Elbert Co., Georgia6. He was Sheriff of Elbert Co., Georgia, in 18257. He appeared on the census of 1830 in Elberton, Elbert Co., Georgia.

In 1829, gold was discovered on Indian land in Georgia and in the years following the discovery, the Cherokees of Georgia were gradually forced off their land and made to move west of the Mississippi River. The land was re-distributed to white settlers through a series of land lotteries8. David Dobbs and some of his relatives were “fortunate drawers” in the lotteries.

In the mid-to-late 1830′s, David Dobbs moved to Cobb County which had been formed from part of the Cherokee Nation. David Dobbs was as farmer/plantation owner in Marietta, Cobb County until his death in 18729. In 1850, he owned 39 slaves ranging in ages from 90 yrs old to 1 yrs old10. In 1860, the eldest slave was reported to be a female 98 yrs old.  Does this mean that this enslaved woman was actually 100 years old in 1860? In 1860, David Dobbs owned 62 slaves11.

The tables below list Dobbs who were slave owners in Georgia as found in the US Census Slave Schedules for 1850 and 1860:

From 1850 US Census Slave Schedule

Name Home in 1850 Relationship to David Dobbs Number of Slaves
John Dobbs Division 12, Cass, Georgia Brother 17
Elisabeth (Long) Dobbs Division 15, Cherokee, Georgia Widow of 1st cousin Balaam Dobbs 3
Asa Dobbs Big Shanty, Cobb, Georgia Brother 26
Joseph (Josiah) Dobbs Big Shanty, Cobb, Georgia Brother 14
David Dobbs Marietta, Cobb, Georgia Self 39
Jesse Dobbs Elbert, Elbert, Georgia Brother 20
Samuel Dobbs District 19, Harris, Georgia Unknown 1
John Dobbs Division 56, Madison, Georgia Unknown 3
Elijah Dobbs Division 59, Meriwether, Georgia Brother 26
Silas Dobbs Division 59, Meriwether, Georgia Brother 12

From 1860 US Census Slave Schedule

Name Home in 1860 Relationship to David Dobbs Number of Slaves
Jas D Dobbs Disrict 6, Carroll, Georgia Nephew (son of Silas Dobbs) 1
Linsy Dobbs Disrict 6, Carroll, Georgia Nephew (son of Elijah Dobbs) 1
Elijah Dobbs District 10, Carroll, Georgia Brother 45
J Dobbs District 17, Cass, Georgia   21
S W Dobbs District 17, Cass, Georgia Unknown 12
E Dobbs District 4, Cass, Georgia   16
J Dobbs District 4, Cass, Georgia   9
S W Dobbs District 827, Cass, Georgia   72
G F Dobbs Northern District, Clayton, Georgia   2
T J Dobbs Gritter, Cobb, Georgia Nephew (son of Josiah Dobbs) 1
David Dobbs Marietta, Cobb, Georgia Self 62
D J Dobbs Town District, Cobb, Georgia Son 8
D M Dobbs Town District, Cobb, Georgia Nephew (son of Jesse Dobbs) 3
J C Dobbs Town District, Cobb, Georgia Unknown – (brother of J P Dobbs below) 1
J P Dobbs Town District, Cobb, Georgia Unknown – (brother of J C Dobbs above) 2
Mary (Prothro) Dobbs Town District, Cobb, Georgia Sister-In-Law (widow of Jesse Dobbs) 2
W B Dobbs Town District, Cobb, Georgia Nephew (son of Josiah Dobbs) 2
W M Dobbs Town District, Cobb, Georgia Nephew (son of Jesse Dobbs) 10
L G Dobbs District 1186, Harris, Georgia Unknown (first name Louraney   – widow of Samuel Dobbs 4
John Dobbs Not Stated, Madison, Georgia Unknown 3

Maynard Jackson (1938-2003), former Atlanta Mayor (first Black mayor of a major U. S. city) and grandson of John Wesley Dobbs, was a descendant of Dobbs slaves12. The history of this Dobbs family is detailed in the book “Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn: A Saga of Race & Family” by Gary Pomerantz (1996). In his book, Mr. Pomerantz gives the history of Mayor Jackson’s family and begins the saga with his gg-grandparents, Wesley and Judi Dobbs both of whom were originally slaves of David Dobbs’ brother, Josiah.

In examining the details of the US Census Slave Schedules for 1850 we find that John Dobbs of Division 12, Cass, Georgia has three slaves who are listed as mulatto (a term of Spanish origin used to indicate a person of mixed-race): a male age 50, a female age 6, and a male age 2. In the case of David Dobbs of Cobb, Georgia there are also three slaves who are listed as Mulatto: three females ages 18, 5 and 2. In the 1860 Slave Schedule listing for David Dobbs there is one female, age 18, listed as Mulatto.

Then there is the story of my ggg-grandfather refusing to drink with a drunken preacher who has come to town to collect a debt. This story appears in a late 19th century chap book described as a “Burlesque reports of cases…before justices of the peace.” It was found in “Joseph Gault’s fifth edition of his Reports: entitled A coat of many colors” by John Gault, published by Americus Law Book Co., 1902. The chapter is entitled “A Preacher Collecting Money”…

A Preacher Collecting Money.

There was a man who resided in the 16th, district of Cobb county, by the name of Fowler, who was a preacher of the Missionary Baptist order. He was one day at Marietta, and our friend, Billy Green, (not Dandy Billy of the 20th, district, but Town Billy, alias snorting Billy,) was there; and also a man by the name of John McLain was there. Previous to that time Billy had ca sa’d McLain and had the cost to pay, and he was lying in his complaints to his brother Fowler, that McLain was due him, on fifas, some sixty dollars, and that he could not get one cent out of him.

Brother Fowler said to his Brother Green, to hand him the papers, and he could get his money, for he just now saw McLain with a roll of money as thick as his wrist. Brother Green handed his demands to brother Fowler, and said that he would give brother Fowler five dollars if he would secure his demands against McLain. He swore he would do so or whip him, and started across the Square to McLain.

Fowler was one of those tall, long girted men, and had on a long skirted, homespun cotton coat, with very large pockets; he had in one pocket his family Bible, and a large wine bottle full of corn whiskey in the other. Green and several others followed on to see McLain fork over the money to Fowler; but on the demand McLain refused to pay it.

Fowler swore if he did not fork over the money in two minutes that he would whip him. McLain said whip and be d-d, and at the same instant McLain struck brother Fowler on the side of his head with a short stick he held in his hand; down came Fowler on the ground, ‘McLain covered him. Brother Green cries out hurrah! hurrah ! brother Fowler, by the life I fear you will never be able to get my money if you do not fight faster.

By this time there were several other brethren present, to-wit: one Hartwell Jones, John Rainy, and others, who cried out, part them I part them! and jumped in and parted the combatants. In the scuffle brother Fowler got his long homespun cotton coat split from the waist to the coller, and his pockets, being very heavily charged, the skirts fell round before him. He went to a well in the public square and washed, accompanied by brother Jones, Raney and many more.

Brother Fowler said to his brethren, let us take a little of the over-joyful; and thrusting his hand into his pocket, pulled out his Bible, when he exclaimed: Oh I oh I that is my Bible.

Running his hand into the other pocket he pulled out a large wine bottle of corn whiskey, then cried out, here is the article, and turned it up to his mouth, and it went good, good, good, three times, and he set it down. Come up brothers and take a little of the over-joyful; come brother Jones, you and brother Raney and all of you, and take some.

At that time I was standing by David Dobbs, some ten paces off, and brother Fowler said come up brother Dobbs and take a little. Dobbs thanked him, and said he hoped he was not a brother of his, for I am in the Baptist Church.

So am I, and a preacher of that order, said Fowler. I am sorry of that, said Dobbs.

About this time Green cut the coloquy short by saying, well brother Fowler, you did not get my money. No, said Fowler, but if they had not parted us I would have whipped his soul- case out or made him fork it over. Fork over the devil, said Green, you will never get that money by whipping McLain.

Fowler ran away, and he was the last collector in Cobb of that order.


1. Index to the Compiled Military Service Records for the Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During the War of 1812 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration) , M602, 234 rolls.

2. Stephen Franks Miller, Memoirs of David Blackshear (J.B. Lippincott: 1858) page 440

3. Gary Livingston, Cradled In Glory: Georgia Military Institute 1851-1865 (New York: Caisson Press).

4. Will Of John McMullan Will Book L.

5. Dodd, Georgia Marriages to 1850, [database online] Provo, UT:, 1997, Dobbs, David married Mcmullin, Elizabeth on 28 Apr 1819 in Elbert County, Georgia.

6. 1820 United States Census, Elbert Co., Georgia, Washington: National Archives And Records Administration, Occupation farmer. No slaves.

7. History Of Elbert County., Georgia

8. Williams, David. The Georgia Gold Rush. Univ of South Carolina Press. 1995. pages 56-58

9. Smith, James F. The Cherokee Land Lottery, Containing a Numerical List of the Names of the Fortunate Drawers in Said Lottery (New York:, 1838), pg 138; Sarah B. G. Temple, The First Hundred Years, a short history of Cobb County, in Georgia, Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society, Inc.: 1989.

10. 1850 Slave Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004. Original data: United States. Seventh Census of the United States, 1850. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1850. M432, 1009 rolls.

11. 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1860. M653, 1,438 rolls.

12. Pomerantz ,Gary M. Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn. Penguin Books (1996)