Baldwin County Georgia's
Oconee River Frontier
Forts and Towns
Landing/Rock Landing Garrison
a part of Washington County, for more than a century Rock Landing
was the main crossing point of the Oconee river. It was located 1/4 mile
downstream from the mouth of Buck Creek which was the boundary line between
Hancock and Washington Counties.
In 1777, William Bartram crossed the river at this point and visited the
nearby Indian site of Old
Oconee Town (link, pdf), which had then been deserted more than
70 years. Three indian trails converged here on the west side - Ocmulgee
Old Towns Trail, Cussetah Path and the Old Trading Path which continued
to Augusta. (see
Landing Garrison was one of the first forts on the Oconee River and
a trading post in 1789. Robert Forsyth, was the state agent at Rock Landing
in 1789. Gen. Elijah Clarke had the 1,100 acre land grant next to Rock
Alexander McGillivray formulated plans for the treaty between the United
States Commissioners, General Benjamin Lincoln, David Humphreys and Cyrus
Griffin, and the Creek Indians here in September 1789. Dissatisfied
with the negotiations McGillivray and his 2000 followers left without
a treaty. David Hillhouse furnished over twenty thousand rations
for commissioners and soldiers stationed at the Rock Landing.
Some of the Captains
stationed here were: Georgia Militia Captains Lieut. Col. Jesse Sanders
commander of the guard to protect the commissioners, (see
Payroll.) Captain Robert Watkins (1790), Captain William Sansoms (1790).
Captain Jacob Savage of the 4th Company, U.S. Army Artillery Battalion
(1790). According to John Popes " A Tour Through The Southern &
Western Territories of North America, etc. published in 1792, Captain
Joseph Savage, an artillery officer from Massachusetts, called it Fort
Massachusetts". James Seagrove, residing at Rock Landing, was
appointed first U.S. Indian agent to the Creeks in September1791 . Timothy
Barnard was his deputy.
According to the
Chronicle, Feb. 11, 1792, "the counties of Wilkes, Greene and
Franklin were ordered to aid the station commanded by Captain Savage, at
the Rock Landing; and cover the frontier from said station to Tugalo river"
and the Elbert county militia was ordered here in January 1792 to "aid
the station and to cover the frontier to the Tugalo river." Major General
John Twiggs was the commanding officer of the militia in 1792. Major
Call was commander of the federal troops in Georgia in 1791 and 1792. Lieutenant
Nicholl was an artillery commander in 1792. Major Henry Gaither became
the commander of the federal troops in 1792 and Captain John Howell, 1792
were also stationed here.
Samuel Beckom, a large
landowner of 10,000 acres on the east side of the Oconee, was the justice
of the peace here in 1792. The east side of the river was in Washington
County until 1807 and, the west side in Wilkinson County until 1807 when
they were added to Baldwin County. In 1807 Aaron
McKinzie operated a ferry here. See
In 1839 the John Williams Rock Landing Plantation estate and other property
was put up for sale. Thomas B. Lamar family and Thomas H. Latimer owned
the land later which was later sold to E. N. Ennis. The Napier family who
owned land on the west side of the river operated a ferry here in later
Rock Landing Garrison, about 8 miles south of Milledgeville in what was
then Washington County. A tobacco warehouse inspection station and about
15 homes enclosed by a fence was here. Some of the lot owners were William
Minor who owned 1/4 of warehouse, John Minor, Michael Graybill, Thomas
Cooper, and Ferris Case.
Fidius Federal Fort
in April 1793, Fort Fidius was located 2 miles below Fishing Creek
on the east side of the Oconee River in what was then Hancock County at
Holt's, later Buffington's Ferry. The ferry led to the settlement of Salem
on the Sandersville Road. The fort was east of Fort Wilkinson on a bluff.
Major James Seagrove
was the Superintendant of Indian Affairs. Colonel Henry Gaither was stationed
here in 1793 and left for St. Mary's due to his health.
Dr. Frederick Dalcho was a lieutenant of artillery and paymaster to the
regular troops in Georgia. 1794 and Major Richard Brooke Roberts was commander.
Constant Freeman, Jr. was agent for the war department in Georgia. Also
stationed here were Joel McClendon, John Whitney, Lieut. Staats Morris,
Thomas Farley, Frederick Myers and Lewis.
this fort on the western side of the Oconee was Ft. Advance, one of Gen.
Elijah Clarke's that was destroyed in 1794.
Fallen Timbers Officer Roster by
T.F. Beauvais states that Captain William Eaton, federal troops, was here
in 1797, the troops moved to the newly built Fort Wilkinson south of Fidus
and on the western side of the Oconee. See 1867
The town Montpelier, formerly
in Hancock County, was established in 1793. It was located
1/2 mile up the river from Fort Fidius. The land was survyed and platted
and lots were laid out 1/2 acres each. Some of the street names were
Market, Broad, Jackson, Washington and Federal. Land owners here were Peter
Doyle, James W. Greene. (1/2 of Lot No. 71) Joel McClendon (near river
bank 1803), Philip Cook, Lazarus Battle, John Ragan, John Cook, John Harbet,
George Lea, Samuel McGehee, David Hubbard, John Miles, Zachariah
Simms, Col. Thadeus Holt who established a ferry here at the site of Fort
Fidius, owned 12 lots when he died in 1814.
A public warehouse was
built mainly for storage and inspection of tobacco. J. W. Deveraux
had a store here and in Sparta in 1797. John Miles, a revolutionary soldier
and justice of the peace, was named commissoner for the improvement of
the Oconee River in 1801. Montpelier Church, the oldest church in Baldwin
County, was established here in 1794. It was moved 4 miles east to
it's present site in 1843 on lands granted by Col. Benjamin Hall. See
Built in 1797, below
the future site of Milledgeville, Fort Wilkinson was built on a high bluff
on the western side of the Oconee. On the eastern side lay the county of
Hancock later to become Baldwin in 1807. It was the first fort on the west
side of the Oconee (other than Elijah Clark's ill-fated forts). See 1867
It was named for James Wilkinson, the commander in chief, of the U.S. Military.
Benjamin Hawkins was the indian agent who lived here who established a
trading post and fort for developing friendly interactions with the Indians.
Georgia troops from Fort Fidius were moved here and Henry Gaither was the
Lieut. Colonel commanding the troops of the 3rd Georgia regiment.
On June 16, 1802, the
Creek Indians and U.S. commissioners signed the
of Fort Wilkinson,which ceded Creek lands in two different areas to
Georgia. The northern cession involved land west of the Oconee River, which
the legislature divided into two new counties -- Wilkinson and Baldwin
-- on May 11, 1803 (Ga. Laws 1803 Extra. Ses., p. 3). The U.S. Commissioners
were James Wilkinson, Benjamin Hawkins and Andrew Pickens. Fort Wilkinson
was the upper corner boundary of Wilkinson County and remained so until
Edward Price, the
trading house factor arrived here in 1797. Price was succeeded by Edward
Wright who was replaced by Jonathan Halsted, United States Agent
of Indian Affairs and Factor in 1802 by H. Dearborn, Secretary of
War, with the appointment to continue at the pleasure of the President.
The salary was $1,000 per annum. About 1806, Halsted was transferred to
Fort Benjamin Hawkins (present day Macon), Georgia as Indian Agent and
of the Army.. by Charles K. Gardner, pub. 1853, lists John Whitney
as Commisioner of military stores at Ft Wilkinson and Quartermster
of Gaither's Battalion in Georgia. He died April 21, 1800. Samuel
Lane of Maryland was Assistant Military Agent here in May 1802, resigned
Aug. 12, 1802. Southworth harrlow was a Surgeon's Mate in April1802
Officer Roster by T.F. Beauvais, states "Captain Edward Butler
died at Fort Wilkinson, Georgia, 6 May, 1803; his brother Colonel Thomas
Butler, 2nd Inf., at Wilkinsonville (Fort Wilkinson) Georgia, had run in
with Gen. Wilkinson over orders to get haircut, and became insolent, was
court-martialed and sent to New Orleans where he died 1805
Sep 7 of Yellow Fever (other source gives year as 1804) " W.
R. Boote was the captain of the 2nd Inf. under Colonel Thomas Butler.
Simon Magruder Levy, West Pointís second
graduate, was an assistant engineer here in 1805. Other officers stationed
here in 1805 - 1806 were Capt. Hugh McCall, William R. Boote, 1st Lieut.
Bartol D. Armistead, Henry R. Grah, 2nd Lieut Samuel Williamson, 2nd Lieut
John Miller, Ensign Chrles Magnan, and Ensign Anthony Foster
Col. Thaddeus Holt was granted
Land Lot 268 in the 5th district in the 1805 Land Lottery consisting of
128.33 acres in 1806, as well as other fractions of land on the Oconee
1805 map. Fort Wilkinson was located in No 284 adjacent to No.
268. He lived in the settlement called Fort Wilkinson, operating
Holt's Ferry until his death in 1814. His mansion house was
"a handsome double story building and with the convenient out houses annexed
to it is one of the most desirable situated one in the neighborhood."
1807 Aaron Burr spent the night here before crossing the ferry on
the way to Augustus. See
Capture of Aaron Burr in Alabama.
The fort was moved
in 1807 and operations moved to Fort Hawkins on the Ocmulgee river. History
of Baldwin County states it was "garrisoned under the Georgia militia
under Major Samuel Beckham until Indian forays had ceased."
In 1917 "The
Nancy Hart Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution" at Milledgeville,
Georgia, was granted five acres of land including the site of "Old Fort
Wilkinson" and the spring near said site and a roadway from the public
road to the said site in the 321st District G. M. of Baldwin County, Georgia,
for the purpose of protecting, marking, preserving, caring for and controlling
this historic spot" Acts of the General Asembly. Current
Babb McAdams copyright 2008
Additions and Corrections Will Be Appeciated.