Jesse Pleasant Prescott

Jesse Pleasant Prescott was the sixth child born to Moses and Susannah Warren Prescott but the first born after they moved their family to Southeast Georgia in 1821. His birthplace is usually given as Appling County but the exact location is unknown. About 1825, they settled on land in Clinch County that would eventually become the southwestern corner of Echols County. Jesse must have been among the first children born to white settlers there. Except for a few years, this area including part of Statenville and extending towards Lake Park in Lowndes County, would be his home for the rest of his life.

Frontier conditions prevailed during the childhood of Jesse and his 13 siblings. Fighting went on between Indians and white settlers for a number of years up to about 1838. Late in life, Jesse described a fight at Brushy Creek in 1836 after which the wounded and the captured Indians were taken to his father's house. Moses and other settlers were in military units formed to fight the Indians, who finally retreated deep into Florida.

Like many of the sons and daughters of the settlers, Jesse chose as his wife someone whose family had migrated, like his, from the Barnwell district of South Carolina. On Aug. 30, 1840, he married Sarah Brooks, whose stepfather Isham H. Clayton had migrated from Barnwell to Ocean Pond (now in Lake Park) about 1831. Her father was Thomas Brooks. Sarah's mother Susan Prior-Grubbs was twice widowed when she married Isham Clayton and had children from all three marriages. One, Forma Clayton, married Jesse's younger brother Ransom T. Prescott.

When Moses Prescott moved to Florida in 1843, most of the family also moved, but Jesse only stayed a few years, returning in 1849 to what would become Statenville. He began to take an active role in the public affairs of the community, and at one time or another held just about all the local offices as well as serving a term in the Georgia General Assembly (1878-79) and on the staff of the governor (1860) with rank of colonel. When Echols County was formed from Clinch and Lowndes in 1858, he was the first clerk of the Superior and Inferior Courts. He was a delegate to the Secession Convention in January 1861 (how he voted is unknown). He was at various times justice of the peace, tax assessor, and postmaster of Troublesome, the old name for Statenville. He was chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee of Echols. He was a charter member of a Masonic lodge (Alapaha Lodge 209) and of two Baptist churches (Statenville and Lake Park).

We know nothing about Jesse Prescott's education, but it is certain that he became an educated man. Letters he wrote have survived in state archives. Early in the Civil War, Col. D.C. Campbell wrote Jesse asking for a report on "all arms belonging to the State of Georgia." In a one-sentence letter, he answered succinctly "there are not guns belonging to the State within the limits of this County" (July 29, 1861). Presumably he meant that all the guns in Echols County were privately owned. Jesse and Sarah raised four sons, Elijah Josiah Warren, Thomas Moses, Hiram Duncan, and William Echols. Their only daughter, Amanda Malissie, was nicknamed Daught (short for daughter) and as an adult became Aunt Daught to everyone who knew her. The boys carried on their father's interest in politics and community affairs, holding the same local offices. All of them continued to live in Echols County and are buried in Statenville Cemetery. When Thomas Moses died in 1911, the Atlanta Constitution noted that he "wielded great political influence in this county." Eli predeceased his father (1890) but in his will, Jesse left a portion of the estate to Eli's daughter, Jimmie Clayton, to provide for her mother, Nannie Prescott. There were 18 grandchildren, three of whom became physicians.

Sarah Brooks Prescott died of tuberculosis 16 February 1889. In an obituary, a family friend (J.E. Sharpe) described her personality: "She was noted for her independence and unvarnished style and will power. . . in her there was no guile. No Phariseeism or hypocrisy could be found in her large and generous heart."

At age 71 (14 August 1893, Jesse took as his second wife Elizabeth Cox, the widow of Dr. J.J. Cox, who had been the first medical doctor in Lake Park. His friend James Sharpe, justice of the peace, performed the ceremony. The Jasper News in describing the wedding noted: "His people have bestowed upon him every office within their gift . . . nor have they ever been disappointed . . .." Elizabeth was described as a "model woman."

They lived in Lake Park. He may have wanted to be near his namesake grandson Dr. Jesse Pleasant Prescott, who established his medical practice in Lake Park. In his will, he gave instructions to be buried in Statenville Cemetery in "the old family lot." This burial ground was expanded to establish the town cemetery that is still in use. When he died December 23, 1903, he was buried there with Sarah. Elizabeth on her death was buried with her first husband.