Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Working on Wednesday: William R. Phillips (1818-1890), Merchant - Through 1865

William R. Phillips was the second oldest of John P. Phillips' children by his first wife, which makes him my "step 3rd great uncle" according to Ancestry.* He married Mary Smith Johnson (1829-1905) in 1843 and they (and their eventual 11 children) remained in Georgia when most of his relatives moved to Alabama three years later.

[Marriages (White), 1837-1851. Georgia, Marriage Records From Select Counties, 1828-1978 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013. Original data: County Marriage Records, 1828–1978. The Georgia Archives, Morrow, Georgia.]

In the 1850 U.S. Census William R. and his family were living in Pike County, Georgia, among other merchants, several of whom were more established than he was. At this point he does not appear to have owned any enslaved persons according to the Slave Schedules.

[Year: 1850; Census Place: District 68, Pike, Georgia; Roll: M432_80; Page: 212A; Image: 435. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: Seventh Census of the United States, 1850; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, 1009 rolls); Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29; National Archives, Washington, D.C.]

Ten years later this branch of the Phillips' clan was living in Griffin in Spalding County and it's clear his business was thriving. He's listed as the owner of 11 slaves on that year's Slave Schedules.

[Year: 1860; Census Place: District 1001, Spalding, Georgia; Roll: M653_136; Page: 194; Image: 196; Family History Library Film: 803136. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: 1860 U.S. census, population schedule. NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.]

From Georgia newspapers we can see that he continued to look for ways to make money as this Second Annual Report of the President of the Macon and Brunswick Rail Road Co quoted in the Macon Telegraph on Friday, February 15, 1861.


And undoubtedly that contract explains why William R., now a resident of East Macon in Bibb County, inserted this ad in several editions of the same newspaper around this time. 


This quote from a series of articles published by the Macon Telegraph in 1907 gives us a further insight in at least part of the "merchandise" William R. offered for sale.


On July 24, 1861, three days after the First Battle of Bull Run (known as Manassas in the South), William R. was one of the leading citizens who formed a Committee to gather money to send to aid the Confederate wounded.


In 1864 William R had returned to Spalding County where his name is found on 1864 Census for Re-organizing the Georgia Militia as a free white male who wasn't currently serving in the Confederate military or state government.

[1864 Census for Re-Organizing the Georgia Militia. 1864 Census for Re-Organizing the Georgia Militia [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2012. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors. Original data: Cornell, Nancy J. 1864 Census for Re-Organizing the Georgia Militia. Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000.]

After the fall of Atlanta in July of 1864, William R. was engaged in conveying salt from the coast according to this ad in the Augusta Daily Constitutionalist on October 27th.


In August of 1865 this comment appeared in the Macon Telegraph.


Given his stated assets of over $20,000 in the 1860 U.S. Census, William R. was required to apply for a Presidential Pardon in order to retain his property (except for his former slaves).
After Lincoln's death, President Johnson proceeded to reconstruct the former Confederate States while Congress was not in session in 1865. He pardoned all who would take an oath of allegiance, but required leaders and men of wealth to obtain special Presidential pardons.
The papers relating to one of these pardon applications make interesting reading, so I think I'll take up William R. Phillips' case next week.

*He's one of my great great great grandmother Timney P. Watts Warren Phillips' heirs whose existence was unknown to me until recently. Because he was a successful antebellum businessman we can find out more about his life than the average Southerner so I decided to do some more research.

© 2016 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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