The soldier, the son and the land

A different kind of land deal

It was a most unusual land deal, recorded in a most unusual place.

Oh, it’s in the deed books of the County of Irwin, Georgia, which is where you might expect to find a land transaction.

But it’s also in the statute books of the State of Georgia.

irw004It was a gift from the man pictured here, James B. Clement of Irwin County, Georgia, born just after the Civil War to a father who had spent most of that war wearing Confederate gray. Reuben W. Clements had served as an officer in Company F of the Georgia 49th Infantry in 1862 until a bout with measles forced him to resign, and once he fully recovered he served again in Company H of the Georgia 4th Cavalry from 1863 to the end of the war.1

James the son was born on the 17th of November 1869.2 He was recorded as an infant in his parents’ household on the 1870 census.3

That same year, Reuben was elected Clerk of the Superior Court, a post he held almost until his death in 1895.4

James grew up there in Irwin County, and lived there his entire life. He appears as a 10-year-old schoolboy in his parents’ household there in 1880,5 with his bride and his widowed mother in 1900,6 as a widower with a seven-year-old daughter in 1910,7 with his 17-year-old daughter in 1920,8 and remarried with a young wife, baby daughter, adopted son and stepson in 1930.9

He was a lawyer, a graduate of Emory University,10 Judge of the County Court and a Georgia State Representative and Senator from Irwin County11 who wrote a history of the county used often by Georgia genealogists.12

And, from his father, he inherited two things. A powerful loyalty to the Confederacy. And a particular piece of land.

The statute book tells the story:

Whereas, the Honorable J. B. Clements, of the county of Irwin, is the owner of lot of land No. 51 in the Third District of Irwin county, which came to him by inheritance from his father, who was a true, loyal Confederate soldier, and it was on this lot of land that the Honorable Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States, was camping when captured by the soldiers of the United States in April, 1865, and in obedience to the request of his father, he desires to convey to the State of Georgia four (4) acres of land of the lot aforesaid, as shown by the attached plat, and that the State may authorize the acceptance of his deed thereto.

Be it therefore resolved by the General Assembly of Georgia, That the Honorable J. B. Clements, of the county of Irwin, is hereby authorized to convey by his warrantee deed to the Governor of the State of Georgia, and his successors in office, for the use and benefit of the State of Georgia, four acres of land as designated by the plat, the same being a part of lot No. 51 in the Third District of Irwin county.13

The deed itself can be seen today at the Georgia State Archives at Morrow, tucked into the back of a volume labeled entitled Register of Grants 1894-1912, volume AD. And it’s online in a collection called “Georgia, Headright and Bounty Land Records, 1783-1909,” at FamilySearch.14

And the plat — the survey — referenced in the statute? It’s there too:

JeffDavis02

Yet another piece of history, tucked away, in the statute books.


SOURCES

Clements photo: C.W. Motes, Vanishing Georgia, Georgia State Archives.

  1. “U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865,” entry for Reuben Walton Clements, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Aug 2013).
  2. Irwinville Cemetery, Irwin County, Georgia, James Bagley Clements; digital image, Find A Grave (http://findagrave.com : accessed 4 Aug 2013).
  3. 1870 U.S. census, Irwin County, Georgia, population schedule, p. 259A (stamped), dwelling/family 32, James B Clements; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Aug 2013); citing National Archive microfilm publication M593, roll 522; imaged from FHL microfilm 545657.
  4. Irwinville Cemetery, Irwin County, Georgia, Reuben Walton Clements; digital image, Find A Grave (http://findagrave.com : accessed 4 Aug 2013).
  5. 1880 U.S. census, Irwin County, Georgia, Irwinville, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 59, p. 504(B) (stamped), dwelling/family 402, James B Clements; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Aug 2013); citing National Archive microfilm publication T9, roll 153; imaged from FHL microfilm 1254153.
  6. 1900 U.S. census, Irwin County, Georgia, Mystic, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 50, p. 106(A) (stamped), dwelling/family 5, J B Clements; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Aug 2013); citing National Archive microfilm publication T623, roll 205; imaged from FHL microfilm 1240205.
  7. 1910 U.S. census, Irwin County, Georgia, Irwinville, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 76, p. 131(A) (stamped), dwelling/family 28, J B Clements; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Aug 2013); citing National Archive microfilm publication T624, roll 195; imaged from FHL microfilm 1374208.
  8. 1920 U.S. census, Irwin County, Georgia, Irwinville, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 101, p. 18(A) (stamped), dwelling/family 177, J Beglen Clemens; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Aug 2013); citing National Archive microfilm publication T625, roll 264.
  9. 1930 U.S. census, Irwin County, Georgia, Irwinville, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 2, dwelling/family 11, James Clements; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Aug 2013); citing National Archive microfilm publication T626, roll 370; imaged from FHL microfilm 2340105.
  10. See Class Rolls, 1890, Occupation and Address Register of the Graduates of Emory College (Atlanta : Emory Alumni Association, 1910), 93; digital images, Google Books (http://books.google.com : accessed 4 Aug 2013).
  11. “James Bagley Clements (’87),” Noted Alumni, Kappa Sigma Fraternity (http://www.kappasigmaemory.com : accessed 4 Aug 2013).
  12. James Bagley Clements, History of Irwin County (Spartanburg, S.C. : Reprint Co., 1978 (1932).
  13. Resolution No. 46 (19 Aug 1918), Acts and Resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of Georgia, 1918 (Atlanta, Georgia : Georgia State Printer, 1918), 925-926; digital images, Google Books (http://books.google.com : accessed 4 Aug 2013).
  14. Warranty Deed, J. B. Clements to State of Georgia, 26 July 1920; digital images, “Georgia, Headright and Bounty Land Records, 1783-1909,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 4 Aug 2013).
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6 Responses to The soldier, the son and the land

  1. Judy,

    Your latest post reminds me of a remark that the late Robert Young Clay would frequently make, namely “Look at the law”!

    I can offer two examples of the wisdom of the same. First was from when I was on the staff of the DAR back in the mid 1970s. This example involves an individual who was already recognized as a Revolutionary War soldier for his participation in several of the Georgia lotteries for which only such veterans were eligible, but whose specific service had never been determined.

    I discovered that he had received a land grant issued under an act of the Georgia legislature in 1785 (I can no longer recall the precise date) which stipulated that ANY able-bodied man would be issued 100 acres of land provided several requirements were met in addition to being able-bodied, to wit, having served in the Revolution in the forces of the Continental line (cannot recall if it also allowed those who had served in any of the state militia) and willingness to settle on the “frontier”, as the idea was to establish a buffer between the more “genteel” citizens of the coastal areas and the Indians in the interior. As the law stipulated service could have been rendered somewhere other than in Georgia, I was prompted to look for anyone of the man’s name (no longer recall his surname, but his given name was quite distinct, Christopher Columbus!) in another state/colony and found a federal pension for this man. He had been born in Delaware and emigrated to the area of Fort Pitt/Pittsburgh, where he enlisted in the army, then moved to Georgia to take advantage of the free land the state of Georgia was offering!

    In another instance while reading through the records of the Northern Neck region of Virginia looking for references to Jennings for a client, I encountered a deed that made no sense to me as it gave 4 different acreages for the land being sold, but it also referenced an act of the Virginia General Assembly of 1692.

    That act stipulated that any individual dying intestate in possession of real property must have said property distributed amongst his/her heirs within 9 months of death. The grantor was a son of the prior owner, and knowing that the deed was actually a distribution between the heirs, I took a closer look at the details stated regarding the acreage. In turned out that the first acreage was for land the mother had inherited from an uncle upon his death before she was ever married. The second number stated was a grant to the mother after her first marriage that in addition to the land she had inherited, incorporated additional acreage. The third acreage stated, was, as I recall, a grant to his mother following her second marriage (to the father of the son selling the land). The fourth acreage stated was exact 1/3 of the total acreage of the three grants the mother had received in her lifetime, and the two grantees were apparently husbands of the grantor’s sisters, though the same was never actually explicitly stated!

  2. Celia Lewis says:

    Wow! That was a significant piece of land indeed, Judy! Boing! Never know what one will find in a little legal land transfer…

  3. So….the rest of the story? What’s on the land today? How did the State of Georgia use the land?

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Sigh… I knew somebody would ask that. The fact is, it is today a historic site and park containing a total of 13 acres.. but I couldn’t find out where the other nine acres came from (purchase, gift, what…?). You can read about the Jefferson Davis Memorial Historic Site, now maintained by Irwin County, here.

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