June 15, 2006


The Elias David and George Washington Reunion in Georgia

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Short of having personal writings from our ancestors such as diaries and letters it’s not possible for us to know what motivated them to migrate to new territory. But when I relate it to the number of times I’ve moved in my lifetime, it was always motivated by a quest to improve my conditions. Sometimes even going into the unknown held out a better promise than what you had. Sometimes the motivation is to give to your children a better opportunity than you thought they could have if you stayed where you were. Sometimes it’s the feeling of being smothered by urban sprawl. Sometimes it’s just an adventurous spirit. I think it must have been the same for our Rudd ancestors.

I’m not sure what was going on in Barnwell Co., SC in the mid to late 1830’s but in my reading about Beaufort County, the large plantations were moving towards the Savannah River. Rice had been introduced as a commercial crop that required fewer slaves. So I tend to think the smaller farmers were being squeezed by the larger plantations.

And we know that many of Elias David and George Washington Rudd’s neighbors had already left during the Mississippi Migrations and when Alabama Fever struck. Creek Nation Lands in Georgia were being ceded and Georgia had already completed several Land Lotteries by 1830. A new land was opening up to the West and without a doubt, both Elias David and George Washington knew the value of fertile land. The closer to a river, the better!

But whatever the reason, Elias David Rudd packed up his family and left Beaufort Co. SC and ventured into the forest of Jefferson Co., FL where he built a home and then left it behind to join his brother. Here is what I’ve discovered about their migration and my theory of how and when it happened.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingFrom the census records where the children of Elias David report the State of their birth it appears that Elias David left Beaufort Co., SC after his daughter, Rachel, was born in September 1826 and was residing in Jefferson Co., FL for the 1830 census. All of his children born after Rachel will eventually say they were born in Georgia with the exception of the last child Sarah who says she was born in Florida about 1838. But we know from the 1840 Dale Co., AL census for Elias David and Fannie that Sarah was born in AL.

Other than these two censuses, 1830 and 1840, we only have two other documents during this time period that provide us with some insight into the migration of Elias David’s family, marriage records for William Wesley to Christiana Williamson, and Seth Jackson to Nancy A. Rudd, that surfaced in Stewart Co., GA thanks again to those who came before us and laid the ground work for research of the Rudd family or we may never have found them without some personal knowledge of who to be looking for because both are wrongly transcribed.

William Rudd not Reed, this is William Wesley Rudd

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S. J. Rudd not T. F. Rudd, this is Seth Jackson Rudd

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Because two of Elias David’s sons were married in Stewart Co., GA I always wondered if Elias David and Fannie had moved their family to that area and when. It would appear they made a detour through Stewart Co., GA on their way to Dale Co., AL. As I proposed in the previous posting, one of the reasons I think Elias David might have left that area of Florida was the Second Creek War which began around 1835. But why Stewart Co., GA? The answer to that question might be tied to when his brother, George Washington Rudd, left Barnwell Co., SC.

Let’s look back at the statement that James Dallas makes in his letter about his grandfather, George Washington Rudd.

"My grandfather Rudd's name was Geo. W. Rudd. He came from N.C. & settled in GA.”
There are two distinct clues in that statement. One, that George Washington was born in North Carolina which based on his likely birth years indicate he was born shortly before his Rudd line leaves North Carolina, and second, he eventually settled in Georgia. Curious that James Dallas doesn’t mention that George Washington lived in Barnwell Co., SC for most of his life. But I assume the word “settled” indicates the last place that George Washington lived. From this, we do know that George Washington did in fact leave Barnwell and migrated to Georgia.

It’s still not definite whether Arthur and David Rudd are the sons of George Washington and brothers to Burrell of Coffee Co., AL because we don’t have any clear evidence and perhaps never will. But what we do know is that back in 1830 Barnwell Co., SC not only is George Washington listed in the census, but as I have shown you, we can identify him as the brother of Elias David using the census records and the land survey with the land grants and deeds of sale for the land.

The only other Rudd we can identify in the 1830 Barnwell Co., SC census is Arthur Rudd. And in future censuses we will see Arthur and David Rudd’s migration pattern mirror that of our Elias David Rudd clan. So let’s go with the assumption that even if Arthur and David aren’t his sons, at least they all migrate together out of Barnwell and into Georgia.

We should assume that David Rudd and Charlotte were married previous to the birth of their first documented child, Thomas, in Georgia about 1835. There could have been other children who did not survive but we know from this that by about 1835 they were in Georgia. And once we develop a listing of the children for Arthur with their reported birth year and place we see child # 5, Rebecca A. Rudd, born about 1835 in South Carolina and child # 6, Mary J. Rudd, born about 1837 in Decatur County, Georgia. Allowing for the margin of one year, 1834 to 1836 seems to be the year of migration for the George Washington Rudd family out of Barnwell.

Now, let’s go one step further and add to this that William Rudd and Christiana Williamson, who says she was born in Georgia, were married on January 20, 1835 in Stewart Co., GA. Now, it’s possible that William Wesley who had been living in Jefferson Co., FL could have met Christiana Williamson who perhaps might have been living across the Florida/Georgia border, but why would they then travel to Stewart Co., GA to get married? Personally, through my research of our families in Barnwell and Beaufort, I’ve developed a belief that Christiana Williamson is from the Williamson clan who are early residents of Barnwell Co., SC. The family eventually expands to Screven Co., GA and they have large holdings in Beaufort Co., SC. I think it’s likely when Christiana says she was born in Georgia, it was Screven Co., GA which is directly across the Savannah River from the Lower Three Runs where George Washington Rudd lived in Barnwell. My impression is that Christiana Williamson and perhaps other members of her family migrated with George Washington Rudd’s family into Georgia and eventually into Dale Co., AL. I believe shortly after George Washington Rudd arrived in Stewart Co., GA, William Wesley and Christiana were married on January 20, 1835. Perhaps they were informally married eariler and only legally registered their marriage when they arrived in Stewart Co., GA. That surely wasn't unusual for the times. This leads me to my third hypothesis as to why William Wesley may not be reflected in the 1830 Jefferson Co., FL census with the Elias David Rudd family; he stayed behind in South Carolina and came to Georgia with his uncle, George Washington.

Going back to Elias David in Jefferson Co., FL and his two unknown daughters, in my previous posting I proposed those daughters were Martha Rudd who married James Carter on January 8, 1835 and Rebecca Rudd who married Thomas Peak about 1833. I’m surely more certain about Rebecca than I am of Martha because of Rebecca and Thomas Peak’s close proximity to Seth Jackson in the Stewart Co., GA census. But if we assume Martha is Elias David’s daughter, then she married James Carter about two weeks before William Wesley married Christiana Williamson in Stewart Co., GA. This could indicate the time frame for Elias David and Fannie’s migration from Jefferson Co., FL to Stewart Co., GA.

The next record we have is Seth Jackson Rudd, Elias David’s son, married Nancy A. Rudd on August 5, 1838 in Stewart Co., GA. So this begs the question, was Elias David in the area of Stewart Co., GA between 1835 and 1838 based on these records? Well, two additional pieces of evidence have emerged.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingJacque Rudd and I visited Stewart Co., GA during the genealogy research trip we took to Georgia, Alabama and Florida in the summer of 2002. Perhaps one day Jacque and I will collaborate on a posting about our week of adventure looking for Rudds in courthouses and graveyards from Stewart to Dale to Decatur to Gadsden, down roads that seemed to be taking us nowhere, never really knowing where we would be at the end of the day. It was Jacque's first time to visit Old Friendship where Elias David and Fannie are thought to be buried. But it was a first for both of us to visit Seth Jackson's grave. Words can not express the feelings we both felt standing at the site of Seth's final resting place. It's sadly deteriorating and we do worry that within the next few years Seth's ancestors may not be able to identify his final resting place.

During our adventure we discovered some very interesting things. One of them was a book, “The History of Stewart County, Georgia, Section I”, by Helen Eliza Terrill, that held the following entries:

In December 1836 Elias Rudd is listed as a buyer at Estate Auction of John Benton, Stewart Co., GA.

In March 1839 Elias Rudd is listed as a buyer at Estate Auction of Samuel Williams, Stewart Co., GA.
Yeah, it was most definitely a whoohoo moment!

This seems to indicate that Elias David was indeed living in the Stewart Co., GA area. And if he wasn’t in Stewart by the time his son William Wesley married Christiana Williamson on January 20, 1835, he was there shortly after and remained in the area until at least March of 1839.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingNow this brings me to my theory that when George Washington Rudd left Barnwell, he went to Stewart Co., GA and reunited with his brother, Elias David. And this is why Elias David went to Stewart Co., GA. There was a well used migration trail out of Augusta, GA that ran across the State of Georgia to Montgomery, AL known as the Macon-Montgomery Trail. It passes just north of Stewart County as it heads through Columbus, GA on the way to Montgomery, AL.
Click for larger view of trails.

Given the fact that in 1835 the Creek Indians were once again on the warpath in the area of the Georgia/Florida border where the Old Trading Path Trail ran, it’s doubtful that George Washington would have used that trail for migration into Georgia. This is one of the reasons why I don’t believe George Washington was ever in Jefferson Co., FL. The other reason is that it's evident that Elias David left Jefferson Co., FL around the time that George Washington left Barnwell Co., SC. Therefore, neither Martha Rudd nor Rebecca Rudd were his daughters.

George Washington Rudd was between 51 and 55 years old when he migrated with his family out of Barnwell to “settle in Georgia” as James Dallas writes in his letter. It’s most probable that James Dallas never knew his grandfather, George Washington, because he appears to have died within 5 years of leaving Barnwell. He does not appear in the 1840 Decatur Co., GA census. Remember that James Dallas was telling a history that had been told to him by people who knew his grandfather. He was surrounded by uncles and aunts, cousins and others who probably also migrated into Georgia from South Carolina. He was getting to be an old man and wanted to pass on what he knew about his family history. That’s why he wrote the letter.

I’m so thankful he did. He left us a wonderful gift. A treasure trove of information in just a few words.

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