Echols County History


"The history of the area known as Echols County began around 1810 when it was known as Indian Lands. By 1820 the area was included in Irwin and Appling Counties, with the major portion in Appling. By 1830, the smaller portion was located in Lowndes County, with the major portion being in the new county of Ware. In 1850 new county boundaries were made from Clinch. Echols was formed out of the lower sections of Clinch and Lowndes Counties in 1858 "


We wish to thank Robert S. Morrell, Publisher of the Valdosta Daily Times Newspaper for allowing us to use the following articles on our Echols County History page.

Did DeSoto Travel to Echols First

by William Archibald Touchton (30 June 1972)

     Several years ago I had the opportunity to read something which interested me and I hope, all others especially those resident in Echols County. This was translation of old spanish records of the explorers into the then new world by A.H. Wright of Ithaca N.Y. He brought out the fact that Pamphilio de Narvez, in 1528, less than 50 years after Columbus's historic voyage, left his ships in Tampa Bay. With his band he set out northward, crossing a "wide and deep river," later identified as the Suwanee somewhere near what is known as "Boney Bluff." He continued on along Tom's Creek to its source East of Boggy Bay and probably on the crossing of the Alapaha River near Mayday, before being compelled to retrace his steps.
     Eleven years later Hernando de Soto followed the same trail along which he encountered opposisiton from the Indians and entering territory later to become Echols County. From the meagre records kept of this exploration Desoto located an Indian town called Yupaha on or near the present site of Statenville.
      The river Alapaha, (more often spelled with two "l's" in early records from one translation means "swalowed up" or "disappearing." Because in low times the water runs underground at a number of places where it enters Florida, leaving its bed below of dry sand.
     This causes the writer to believe that Echols County was the first Georgia land visited by early explorers.
     Echols County was created by an Act of the Legislature in 1858 from Territory originally in Appling and Irwin Counties.
      The original survey of these counties reached into Florida near Jasper and the Florida Survey reached up to near Stockton, the now area of Echols County having been Georgia and Spanish Florida.
      After Florida was organized as a State, it and the state of Georgia formed Commissions to settle the line dispute and employed the Surveyors-General of both States to mark out the dividing line presently known as the Orr-Whitner line.
      It took three surveys to complete the line which ran from the confluence of the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers on the West, to Endicott's Mount on the St. Mary River on the East, and the river to the Atlantic Ocean, putting all the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. The curvature of the Earth required the changing of the Degree each six miles.
      The first officers of Echols County were: Jesse P. Prescott, clerk of the Superior and Inferior Courts, James S. Carter, sheriff, James Y. Higdon, ordinary, John E. McMullen, tax receiver, Samuel E. Prescott, tax collector, James Carter, treasurer, Duncan McLeod, surveyor, John Sellers, coroner and Noah H. Griffin, Robert Prine, John P. Allen, James R. Miller, and Joshua T. Carter, justices of the interior court.
     When the county was about a year old the General Assembly incorporated the town of Statenville on the old site of the village of "Troublesome", named for that given the Creek near by.
     The new town was named for Capt. James W. Staten, the first representative in the Georgia Legislature from Clinch County. Its boundary extended one-half mile in all directions from the Courthouse.
     The writer learned from old settlers that the following were the County's Courthouses:
1. A four-room structure having about the dimensions of 24 x 30 feet. It faced West with an office for the clerk in the southwest corner, the ordinary in the northwest corner, the sheriff in the north-east corner which doubled for a jury room, and a larger room in the southeast corner as a courtroom.
The jail was a long structure to the east. Wooden shutters served as windows in the jail.
2. The above structure served until about 1888 when the county felt the need for a more impressive building.
The county officials secured a loan of $90 from Capt. James Staten, and donations. Then a new structure was built also of wood.
     Its front was to the west and contained two stories. The bottom had an 8-foot hall way from west to east down its center, with two offices on each side.
     Its four offices were: in the southwest, clerk superior court; Northwest, Ordinary, Northeast, sheriff, and southeast the school commissioner. A stairway from the east end of the hall to the upper story which was occupied entirely as a Courtroom. Its general dimensions were about 35 feet by 50 feet.
3. This second courthouse served until destroyed by fire during the night of December 31, 1897 when almost all the county's public records (were destroyed). (A new courthouse) was constructed along the same lines as the second, but with three offices on each side of the hallway, and an upstairs porch from which the sheriff announced the opening of court.
4. The writer served as clerk Suprior Court, beginning his service in the third courthouse, and the latter part in the present structure built in 1955.
     The original jail was a log structure with two cells, one for whites, the other for colored. It had puncheon floor and ceiling made of flattened layer of logs as a floor and round for ceiling, in order to "hold" the prisoners from escape.
     This jail was destroyed when a black prisoner set fire to his straw mattress. He died in the fire.
     The second jail was a brick structure on the banks of the creek about two blocks to the north of the courthouse. This site served until the present modern jail was constructed along with the present courthouse.

In this edition of the newspaper, there is also a 1948 photo of the old courthouse being replaced by the new one.

Another article from the Valdosta Daily Times, 30 June 1972, gives even more insight into the origins of our county.


Echols Once Claimed By Georgia And Florida
by Times Staff Writer

   Echols County was created in 1858 when Gov. Joseph E. Brown signed a bill ceding lands from Lowndes and Clinch Counties in order to form a new county and named it in honor of General Robert M. Echols of Walton County (Georgia).
     The county was originally a part of lands signed over in the state in 1814 by treaty with the lower Creek Indians. Irwin and Appling Counties were formed from a division of these lands in 1818 and Lowndes, Clinch, Echols and several other southwest Georgia Counties formed in the suceeding years by further divisions of the same lands and addition of other lands.
     The land between Georgia and Florida had never been settled and Echols County was in a section of the land claimed by both states.
     The county originally consisted of about 435,886-1/2 acres. According to a 1958 land digest Echols County now contains about 252,805-1/4 acres.
     A survey by two men, one Georgian and one Floridian, established the Orr-Whitner line marking clearly a dividing line between Georgia and Florida.
     Echols County, except for about one-third of its land area was included in Georgia while the other third was surrendered to Florida due to the survey. This move settled the land dispute.


Note: I was told that the original name was Statesville, but due to a mis-print in the Post Office stationery, it was printed as "Statenville", and because of the cost of reprinting, it was never changed.....Can anyone prove/disprove this?


Statenville

"Statenville, the county seat of Echols county, was incorporated by act of the legislature in 1858. It is located on the Allapaha river, the nearest railway station being Tarver on a division of the Atlantic Coast Line railway, which runs from Dupont Junction into Florida. It has a courthouse, a money order postoffice with rural free delivery and a few stores, adequate to the needs of the town, which has only 180 inhabitants. It has schools of the public school system and in the town and vicinity are churches of the Methodist and Baptist denominations.".....Cyclopedia of Georgia, by Allen D. Candler & Clement A. Evans - 1906


Commissioners of the first County Meeting of Statenville Georgia
(From Touchton Family Files)
R. W. McAlhaney - President
Jesse P. Prescott - Clerk
Benjamin Stalvey - Treasurer
John C. Touchton - Marshall

"Statesville (sic)(Statenville), the county-seat of Echols was incorporated on December 13, 1859 with the following commissioners: Jesse P. Prescott, John T. Allen, R.W. McAlhaney, Benj. Statsvey (Stalvey), and James S. Carter"....Cyclopedia of Georgia, by Allen D. Candler & Clement A. Evans - 1906


Robert M. Echols
Soldier and Statesman
Robert M. Echols (c.1798-1847) was a Colonel of the 13th. US Regiment in 1847, during the US - Mexican War. It was in Mexico that he was killed when he fell from his horse.

More on Robert M. Echols
"Brigadier-General Robert M. Echols was a soldier of high rank who, at the outbreak of the war with Mexico went to the front as Colonel of the 13th U.S. Regiment. He made a record for gallantry during the struggle and was breveted a Brigadier-General; but, while on dress parade, at the National Bridge, in Mexico, he was thrown from his horse, sustaining injuries from which he died on 3 September 1847. He was a native of Wilkes County, where he was born four miles from the town of Washington; but the family soon after removed to Walton County, settling on a plantation some five miles to the west of Monroe, at a place called Arrow Head. Before going to Mexico he achieved some distinction in public life, having served in both branches of the Legislature, where he was three times elected president of the Senate. General Echols was buried in Mexico, but several years later an appropriation was made by the General Assembly for the removal of his remains to Georgia and he was re-interred in the soil of his native State, near his old home in Walton County, the leading officials of Georgia participating in the impressive ceremonies. The immediate family of General Echols has become extinct."....Cyclopedia of Georgia, by Allen D. Candler & Clement A. Evans - 1906

James W. Staten
When the town of Troublesome became the county seat of Echols County, Georgia, the name was changed in honor of James W. Staten.

There is a dispute as to whether the name ever officially became Statenville, or if it is Statesville as appears on some older records. The residents however, maintain it has always been Statenville and Statesville was nothing but a misprint.

The following is a compilation of the life of James W. Staten from various records. This will be added to as new records are verified, and when time permits, changed to a biography.
Staten.gif - 41303 Bytes
James W. STATEN
(1824-1892)
m. 1846 Caroline E. Malloy
Children:
W.F Staten
Delia Staten
John B. Staten
C.F. Staten
Fannie
Baller Staten
Catherine Staten
Josephine Staten
J.L. Staten
W.T. Staten
Samuel Staten
The 1850 Clinch County, GA Census gives the following listings:
STATEN,James W. - 27/GA, Farmer - RE Value 1500
Caroline (E. Malloy) 27/SC
Willamon (m) 4/GA
Delila 2/GA
Barzillai 1/12-GA
Angus P. MALLOY 18/SC

In the house next door, we find: STATEN, Catherine - 50/NC - RE Value 800
Margaret C. - 19/GA
Samuel 17/GA Laborer
Sarah - 15/GA
Barzillai - 12/GA
Elizabeth 10/GA
Catherine WATSON - 70/NC




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