John Floyd (Georgia politician)

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John Floyd
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 7th district
In office
March 4, 1827 – March 3, 1829
Preceded by At Large districts
Succeeded by At Large districts
Personal details
Born (1769-10-03)October 3, 1769
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Died June 24, 1839(1839-06-24) (aged 69)
Camden County, Georgia
Resting place Floyd Family Cemetery
Nationality American
Political party Jacksonian
Spouse(s) Isabella Maria Hazzard
Children 12
Residence Fairfield and Bellevue Plantations
Occupation Civil Engineer, ship builder, Planter
Military service
Service/branch Militia
Years of service 1804 – 1815
Rank brigadier general
Unit First Brigade of Georgia Militia
Battles/wars Creek War; War of 1812

John Floyd (October 3, 1769 – June 24, 1839) was an American politician and brigadier general in the First Brigade of Georgia Militia. He was a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, as well as the US House of Representatives.

Personal life[edit]

John Floyd was born October 3, 1769 at Hilton Head, South Carolina in the Beaufort District, the only child of Charles Floyd and Mary Fendin.[1][2] He was reared at Walnut Hill, his father's plantation on Hilton Head.[1]

Charles Floyd, owner and planter of Walnut Hill Plantation, was born March 4, 1747 in Northampton County, Virginia, the son of Samuel Floyd and Susanna "Susan" Dixon.[1][2][3] His parents both died in Northampton County, Virginia, when he was six.[2] He went to live with his Dixon relatives, but at the age of nine, an uncle sent him to sea as an indentured cabin boy.[2] He spent fourteen years at sea, mainly on trading vessels sailing to ports in Europe, Africa and elsewhere. When this seafaring ordeal was over, he began life anew at Hilton Head, where he managed an indigo plantation.[1] He married Mary Fendin in 1768 at St. Helena's Church in Beaufort District.[1] Mary Fendin was born April 15, 1746 in St. Helena's Parish, South Carolina, the daughter of John Fendin Jr. and Elizabeth Thomas.[1]

The Floyds settled at Walnut Hill Plantation on the north side of Fish Haul Creek.[1] During the Revolutionary War in South Carolina, Charles was a member of the First Council of Safety.[3] These men who favored independence raised a volunteer militia, the St. Helena Guards, whose hats bore a silver crescent on which their motto "Liberty or Death" was inscribed.[1][3] In 1781, Charles Floyd, along with several others, all members of another war party called the Bloody Legion, avenged the death of Revolutionary War hero, Charles Davant, by the Royal Militia.[1] Charles Davant had married Elizabeth Fendin (Bland) who was sister to Mary Fendin and brother-in-law to Charles Floyd.[1] Captain Floyd distinguished himself in forays against the British and their colonial policies. In reprisal, his home was plundered and burned by the Tories.[1][4] About 1797, not long after he had moved his family to Georgia, Charles sold Walnut Hill Plantation to a wealthy planter, William Pope Sr.[1]

John Floyd, having spent his formative years in the midst of the Revolutionary activity, must have felt an all-around excitement brought on by engagements with the British. His military experience began at age fourteen. During the last year of the American Revolutionary War, he probably served with his father in the St. Helena Volunteer Guards.[5]

When John Floyd was sixteen, he was apprenticed to a house carpenter for five years. He became so proficient at his work, he was offered an early release from the contract but he refused, preferring to work the entire period.[4][6] At night he was privately tutored by a distant cousin, Bernard Elliott, in a variety of subjects including higher mathematics and French.[2] In later years, he spoke this language fluently with guests who dined with him at Bellevue Plantation.[7]

While he was coming home from work one afternoon, John Floyd met Isabella Maria Hazzard on the road as she was coming home from school.[2] Their relationship flourished. Her aunt, Mrs. Sarah Hazzard Waight, objected to the union, claiming that Isabella Maria could do much better.[2]

John Floyd married Isabella Maria Hazzard on December 12, 1793 in Beaufort District, South Carolina.[2] They had twelve children including General Charles Rinaldo Floyd, General Richard Ferdinand Floyd, Colonel Henry Hamilton Floyd.[2][8][9][10] Isabella Maria (pronounced Mariah) Hazzard was born January 3, 1773 in St. Marys, Camden County, Georgia, the daughter of Richard Hazzard III of Beaufort District, South Carolina and Phoebe Loftin of then British East Florida.[2] According to some, she was born at Loftin House, just south of the St. Marys River in Nassau County, Florida.[11] After her mother died, Isabella Maria was adopted by her father's cousin, Mrs. Sarah Hazzard Waight, of Beaufort, South Carolina.[2] She was educated at Beaufort and under the tutelage of her aunt, she was groomed for society.[2]

In 1795, Charles Floyd, with his wife, Mary, and John Floyd, with his wife, Isabella Maria, moved from South Carolina to McIntosh County, Georgia.[2][8][9] They settled on adjoining farms near Darien, called "The Thickets".[2][7][8][12]

Bellevue Plantation and Fairfield Plantation[edit]

In 1800, the Floyds again moved, this time to Camden County, Georgia. They purchased large tracts of land located south of the Satilla River, north of the Crooked River and west of the marshes and the Cumberland River to what is now I-95.[9][10] Here, in this area known as Floyd's Neck, they built two large Plantations one mile apart: "Fairfield" and "Bellevue".[2][8][9][10][13]

John Floyd built Fairfield on Floyd's Creek for himself. Fairfield House was built in traditional Southern style.[14] The house sat near a high bluff that overlooked Floyd’s Basin toward the west and Floyd’s Creek toward the east. In 1831, John Floyd gave Fairfield Plantation to his eldest son, Charles Rinaldo Floyd.[7][9][14] Charles Rinaldo Floyd added a two-story armory in order to display his collected weapons: Swords, lances, daggers, knives, double barrel guns, dueling and long shot rifles, carbines, pistols, dueling pistols, bows and arrows.[14] At either end of the Fairfield House stood two tall brick chimneys with large interior mantles; the floors of the house were of Georgia heart of pine. There was a parlor, library and a small sketching room.[14]

John Floyd built Bellevue within view of the marshes leading to Todd's Creek for his father, Charles.[9][10][15] After his father died in 1820, John moved into Bellevue, enlarging it with two upper stories made of cypress.[10][15]

A blueprint of Bellevue, drawn by Hazlehurst Ross Noyes, a descendant of John Floyd, showed the three-level plantation house to be a substantial dwelling.[7][10] The ground floor or basement was made of tabby with walls over eight feet high and two feet thick; contained two huge fireplaces in which immense cauldrons hung on cranes, supplying hot water to the upper floor bathrooms; household storage areas; a kitchen area for last minute food preparation; the informal dining room and the curved billiard room.[8][10] The first floor contained the long hall, family bedrooms, dressing room, three bathrooms, children’s room, large formal dining room with double fireplaces and the drawing room.[10][15] The second floor contained guest rooms, fireplace and a library filled with John Floyd’s vast collection of books, some quite valuable.[10] Raised open piazzas on two sides of the building contained heavy round columns supporting the roof.[10] The piazza on the south side had a set of imposing steps leading down to the terrace and the manicured formal lawn beyond.

Both plantations were noted for their landscaping and gardens.[15] The curved billiard room at Bellevue overlooked a picturesque crescent-shaped garden, from which roses extended to a half acre.[10] Flowering bulbs and myrtles were dotted beneath the mile-long avenue of moss-draped live oaks and cedar trees connecting the two plantations.[16]

Two hundred acres south of Bellevue were set aside as parade grounds.[10] The land became so compressed from military drills and horse's hooves that nothing grew on it for over a hundred years.[10][15]

During the Civil War, both structures, including the outbuildings, were destroyed by intermittent incursions from raiding parties sent ashore from a blockading vessel anchored in St. Andrews Sound.[10] Not a trace of Fairfield is to be seen.

Traditionally, it is known in this family that the Floyds built Bellevue Plantation in the shape of an anchor to symbolize their fortunes provided by the sea.[8][17] Today, all that remains of this once-grand antebellum structure are the tabby ruins.

Floyd's Neck[edit]

During the nineteenth century plantation era, this vast area encompassed swamps, hammocks, pine barrens, forests thick with oaks, gum, cypress. On cleared grounds, cotton fields stretched for miles; massive fields of potatoes were grown on Pompey’s Island; corn fields and vegetable gardens were within site of both plantations.[14] The Floyds cultivated peach, orange, lemon, lime and olive trees.[15] Fishing in Floyd’s Creek yielded an abundance of drum, whiting, black fish, and mullet.[14] Hunting for wild game provided ample food for the Floyd family. Members of the Camden Hunting Club built a clubhouse at Bear Hammock on Floyd property.[10] On Independence Day July 4, 1835, after hunting for wild turkey and deer, an elegant meal was served. In honor of the day, club members toasted their sentiments. General John Floyd toasted, "The Federal Constitution – the reserved rights of the states, safeguards of the Union. We will defend them at every peril".[14]

Graded roads, sturdy bridges over creeks, were built on Floyd's Neck.[10] These roads led not only to other plantations but to Jeffersonton inland to the west and to Cabin Bluff on the Cumberland River to the east.[9] Bellevue was 30 miles from Jeffersonton, which at that time was the Camden County seat.[9][10] It took four hours on horseback from Bellevue to reach St. Marys. It took about one hour by horse-drawn conveyance from Bellevue to Cabin Bluff.[14] Depending on the tide and the wind, it took the Floyds four to six hours to sail in their privately owned boats from the Cabin Bluff dock to St. Marys.[14] It was two hours by steamboat.

Camden County, Georgia tax returns in 1809 show the combined land holdings owned by Charles and John Floyd amounted to 5,825 acres.[10] In subsequent years, they accumulated more property, becoming one of the largest land owners in Camden County.[9][10][15] In addition to lands covering Bellevue and Fairfield, their holdings included: The Hermitage, Leeds Grove, Grants Tract, Jones Tract, Bryant and Grays Tract, Brookfield, Bear Hammock, Cabin Bluff, Shellbine, and Black Point; property in McIntosh County.[9][10][14] John Floyd’s timber business prospered and the export of cotton brought in high returns.[5] The Floyds were among one of the wealthiest families in Camden County.[8][15]

On May 25, 1808, John and Charles Floyd had purchased Little Cumberland Island from the heirs of General (Nathaniel) Nathanael Greene.[9] On August 24, 1837, John Floyd sold six acres on the north end of Little Cumberland to the United States Government for a lighthouse to be erected on St. Andrews Sound: "John Floyd... hath granted, bargained, sold unto the United States of America Six acres of Land on the Island of Little Cumberland and at the north part of the same and selected as a site for the contemplated Light House to Saint Andrews inlet as the Plat thereof".[9] Floyd received $500.00 from the transaction.[9]

The Floyds became extremely successful planters cultivating rice, indigo, and Sea Island cotton.[8] They also engaged in boat-building. John Floyd, a civil engineer as well as a master builder, used his workers and his expertise to construct schooners and merchant vessels for shipping and trade.[8][10][15] The family had over two hundred slaves; held hunts for wild game, competitive shooting, horse and boat racing; hosted sports club parties, balls and dinner dances at Bellevue; they owned town houses in St. Marys.[8][9][10]

Military[edit]

On May 2, 1804, John Floyd was commissioned Captain of the 31st Militia in Camden County, Georgia.[9] Two years later, on June 26, 1806, he was commissioned Brigadier-General, First Brigade of Georgia Militia.[9][17]

At the beginning of the War of 1812, General Floyd commanded a force at Point Peter near St. Marys in Camden County.[9] He was asked by General George Mathews, special agent during the Patriot War, to hold his militia in readiness to aid in the overthrow of the Spanish government in East Florida.[9] Even though the U.S. government feared Britain was about to take possession of Florida, Floyd, who was critical of the invasion into Florida, sought advice of Georgia Governor David Mitchell as to the propriety of this request.[18] In October 1812, Floyd, along with about 120 of his volunteers, reached New Camp Hope in East Florida. The Spanish Governor of Florida worked with the Seminoles and enlisted them in fights against the rebels as well as the invaders. Floyd wanted a fast and decisive strike, countering the Indians with a devastating blow.[18] Difficulties arose. Military supplies ran short, food was scarce, his men came down with dysentery and fever. His pessimistic militia troops resisted such an expedition, and ultimately, the attack plans never materialized.[18] If the Patriots had succeeded, General John Floyd might have become Governor of territorial Florida. President Madison had requested acceptable names to fill the position and General Mathews recommended General John Floyd as "most acceptable".[18]

The Creek Indians, who allied themselves with the British forces, began attacks on white settlements in eastern and central Alabama and western Georgia. Indians from the Upper Creek Towns, known as Red Sticks, who resented the encroachment onto their lands, sought aggressively to reduce influences upon their tribal unions and wished to return their society to a traditional way of life in culture and religion.[19] In September, 1813, in response to the threats and to quell the Red Stick rebellion, General John Floyd was ordered to command Federal troops who were assembled at Camp Hope on the Ocmulgee River.[20] These forces constructed forts in a defensive line along the Federal Road from the Ocmulgee River to the Alabama River.[21] A stronghold, Fort Mitchell, was erected on the west bank of the Chattahoochee River.[6] In November 1813, Floyd and his men waged an overwhelming offensive, the battle of Autossee.[19] Autossee was located on the east bank of the Tallapoosa River and was one of the most populated towns of the Creek Nation.[6] The men were to strike at daybreak, encircle the town, thereby blocking the Indians’ escape. Scouts discovered a second town just a few yards downstream, forcing Floyd to change tactics and divide his regiments.[19] The attacks by both sides were fierce but it was the Red Sticks who suffered the greatest casualties. In unprecedented gore, Indian men, women and children were shot, stabbed by bayonets, bombarded with volleys of fire, and, burned to death in their own houses.[14] Both Indian villages were completely destroyed.[14][19] Charles Rinaldo Floyd, who at age sixteen, accompanied his father at the battle of Autossee later described it: "The Indians never repair the desolation of a town; so Autossee has been deserted ever since the battle, except by wolves and ravens; and the skeletons of the slain are still bleaching amidst the ruins".[14] At Autossee, General Floyd sustained a serious wound to his knee.[22] He recuperated over the Christmas holidays at Fort Mitchell.[19]

In early January 1814, General Floyd, having replenished rations, firearms and artillery, marched with 1500 men via the Federal Road deep into Creek territory.[21] About forty miles west of Fort Mitchell, they constructed Fort Hull as a supply base.[19] He and his troops advanced to Calabee (Chalibee) Creek where they constructed a fortified camp, Camp Defiance.[19] On January 27, 1814 his troops fended off a predawn surprise attack by over 1300 Indian warriors on the banks of Calabee (Chalibee) Creek.[19] If it had not been for the aid of the friendly Lower Creek Indians, who had allied themselves with the white state militias, and the quick actions of the veteran companies, General Floyd might have lost this brutal battle.[21] His campaigns to subdue the hostile Upper Creek and Choctaw Indians were so effective, he was promoted to the rank of Major-General.[4][8]

At the close of the war (1814-1815), he was sent to defend Savannah against the presumed attack by the British.[19] Because coastal Georgia plantations were defenseless against invaders he requested that his family temporarily settle in Savannah.[9][19] Before it was extended, a portion of Abercorn Street in Savannah was named Floyd Street in recognition of General Floyd.

Legacy and political background[edit]

General John Floyd was one of three men appointed to survey the Georgia-Florida line.[9][10][23] He was chairman of the committee who reported the survey results to the Executive Committee in Washington, D.C.[10][23] He was one of the presidential electors for US President Andrew Jackson, who was elected to office in 1829 and served for eight years.[17] In March 1829 while still a United States Congressman, he attended the inauguration of President Andrew Jackson in Washington, D.C.[5]

He became a founder and a leader of the States Rights Party of Georgia.[10][14] For several years he served as a Justice of Inferior Court of Camden County.[7][14] From 1820 to 1826, he was a member of the Georgia House of Representatives.[4][9][22] From March 4, 1827 to March 3, 1829, he served as a member of the United States House of Representatives.[4][9] He was honored when Floyd County, Georgia was given his name.[7][10][17][24]

Deaths and burials[edit]

Floyd Family Cemetery[edit]

The Floyd Family Cemetery is located about a quarter of a mile away from the former Fairfield Plantation site on Floyd’s Neck in Camden County, Georgia.[2][8][9][10][15] It sits on high ground not far from a bend in Floyd's Creek, noted on maps as Fairfield Point.[9][15] Enclosed by a low rectangular brick wall, secured by a small wrought iron entry gate, nine visible grave stones and over fifteen unmarked graves lie in seclusion under a thick canopy of moss-draped trees.

Brigadier-General John Floyd died June 24, 1839 at Bellevue Plantation.[2][8][9][10] His parents predeceased him.[2][7] All three are buried at the Floyd Family Cemetery and all three of their gravestones are clearly marked.[2][9][10][15] His wife, Isabella Maria Hazzard Floyd, died at Bellevue Plantation August 18, 1859,[9] she is buried at the Floyd Family Cemetery – her grave is unmarked.

Charles Rinaldo Floyd Monument[edit]

The Charles Rinaldo Floyd Monument stands alone at the former Fairfield Plantation site.[9][10] Upon his prior request, his body was wrapped in an American Flag and he was then buried beside a pine tree at Fairfield Plantation.[7][9][10][14][15] The marble obelisk marking his grave was erected by soldiers who served under him, in honor of his valiant and patriotic service.[7][9][10]

The General's will[edit]

General John Floyd wrote his will in 1833, six years prior to his death.[2] He bequeathed his lands, including Bellevue Plantation, a few slaves, out buildings, tenements, appurtenances, all physical property, including the townhouses owned in St. Marys, cash and bonds, to his wife, Isabella Maria Floyd, with the proviso that nothing was to be sold during her lifetime unless it was for payment of debts, and after her death, all property would revert into the Estate.[2] General Floyd directed bequests to his heirs, all of his living children, also with a proviso that should a difference of opinion arise, contrary to his wishes or intentions, the disagreeing parties shall call in an umpire whose final decision would be binding.[2] (Fairfield Plantation had long before been given to Charles Rinaldo Floyd; Richard Ferdinand Floyd lived at The Hermitage; Sarah Catherine Wigg Floyd and her husband, Dr. Aime DeLaroche, lived at Black Point).[10][15] His remaining Estate was then divided; the disposition of slaves was equally allotted and they were not to be transferred out of the family; his war and hunting weapons were to be equally distributed among his sons.[2] In 1839 the will of Brigadier-General John Floyd was probated in Camden County Georgia Inferior Court.[2][14] Charles Rinaldo Floyd, Richard Ferdinand Floyd, and Everard Hamilton qualified as Executors.[2][14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Neuffer, Claude Henry (1983). Names in South Carolina. Spartanburg: The Reprint Company. ISBN 0871523892. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Hamilton, Mary Hazzard Floyd (1908). A Little Family History. Savannah: The Morning News. 
  3. ^ a b c Tonge, Alice Collar (January 1963). "Capt. Charles Floyd, 1747-1820". Georgia Genealogical Magazine 3. 
  4. ^ a b c d e White, George (1854). Historical Collections of Georgia. New York: Pudney and Russell. 
  5. ^ a b c Gregory, Elizabeth. "General John Floyd The Hero of Autossee". Armstrong State College. Retrieved 08/07/2013.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  6. ^ a b c Northen, William J. (1974). Men of Mark in Georgia. Spartanburg: The Reprint Company. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Vocelle, James T. (1989). History of Camden County, Georgia. St. Marys: Camden Printing Company. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Coleman, Kenneth and Charles Stephen Gurr (1983). Dictionary of Georgia Biography. Athens: The University of Georgia Press. ISBN 0820306622. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad Reddick, Marguerite Godley (1976;Reprint 2006). Camden's Challenge: A History of Camden County, Georgia. Woodbine: Camden County Historical Commission.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag Thompson, Eloise Bailey (2008). Wandering in Camden. St. Marys: River City Publishing. 
  11. ^ Ward, James Robertson (1985). Old Hickory's Town. Jacksonville: Old Hickory's Town Incorporated Jacksonville. 
  12. ^ Coulter, E. Merton (1937). Georgia's Disputed Ruins. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. 
  13. ^ "Georgia State Historic Markers". Georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu. Retrieved 2013-07-27. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Floyd, Charles Rinaldo (1816–1845). "Charles Rinaldo Floyd Papers and Journal". Journal 1816-1845. MS 257, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Bailey, Eloise (1982-09-16). "Bellevue-Floyd Family". Camden County Georgia Tribune. 
  16. ^ Cooney, Lorraine M. (1933). Garden History of Georgia 1733-1933. Atlanta: Peachtree Garden Club. 
  17. ^ a b c d Wagner, Diane (2004-08-25). "Floyd County". PastTimes, News Publishing Company. 
  18. ^ a b c d Patrick, Rembert W. (1954). Florida Fiasco: Rampant Rebels on the Georgia-Florida Border 1810-1815. Athens: University of Georgia Press. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Bunn, Mike and Clay Williams (2008). Battle for the Southern Frontier: The Creek War and the War of 1812. Charleston: The History Press. ISBN 1596293713. 
  20. ^ Knight, Lucian Lamar (1913). Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials and Legends. Atlanta: The Byrd Printing Company. 
  21. ^ a b c Southerland, Henry de Leon Jr. and Jerry Elijah Brown (1992). The Federal Road through Georgia: the Creek Nation, and Alabama, 1806-1836. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press. ISBN 0817305181. 
  22. ^ a b Floyd, John (1949). "Letters of John Floyd, 1813-1838". Georgia Historical Quarterly 23 (1). 
  23. ^ a b Walker, Mrs. J. L. (1922-01-01). "General John Floyd". The South Georgia Historical and Genealogical Quarterly I (I). Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
  24. ^ "New Georgia Encyclopedia: Floyd County". Georgiaencyclopedia.org. 2011-11-22. Retrieved 2013-07-27. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
At Large districts
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 7th congressional district

March 4, 1827 – March 3, 1829
Succeeded by
At Large districts