Lowndes County, Georgia was created in December 1825, but there was no newspaper printed or published there until 1858. From the outset, legal advertisements required by law and other items for public announcement from Lowndes County were placed mostly in the newspapers of Milledgeville. Certain Savannah-based newspapers, mainly the Savannah Georgian and the Savannah Daily Republican, did receive business from Lowndes County. Their business was however minimal when compared to that of the Milledgeville press.
Administrators and Executors of estates, as well as Guardians, were required by law to advertise certain aspects of their duties in public newspapers. This also applied to some actions by the Clerk of Court and the county Sheriff. Between 1825 and 1858 three of the most popular newspapers selected by Lowndes County officials and residents to carry advertisements were the Georgia Journal, the Southern Recorder, and the Federal Union.
The Georgia Journal began printing in 1809. Established by two Virginians, Seaton and Fleming Grantland, it became a major newspaper during the years Milledgeville served as the State Capitol of Georgia. The Georgia Journal eventually merged with the Macon-based Georgia Messenger. In 1869 the Georgia Messenger was absorbed by the Macon Telegraph.
The Southern Recorder was printed and published in Milledgeville from 1820 to 1872. Started by Seaton Grantland and Richard Orme, it achieved great success. This newspaper began as a strong advocate of States Rights. As the War Between the States approached that stance changed to a more conciliatory tone favoring compromise versus war. The Southern Recorder was sold in 1872.
The Federal Union was established in 1830 by Tomlinson Fort. The political differences of Mr. Fort and the owners of the Southern Recorder were fierce. Mr. Fort leaned toward Unionism while his competitors toward States Rights. The outbreak of the War Between the States apparently brought out the southern patriotism of Mr. Fort. His newspaper placed itself strongly behind the Confederacy. In 1861 he changed the name of the Federal Union to the Southern Federal Union. Mr. Fort purchased the Southern Recorder in 1872. After that acquisition, he renamed his Milledge based newspaper the Union and Recorder.
During April of 1845, the Albany Patriot began publication under owners Nelson Tift and Seth N. Broughton. It gained immediate popularity in Troupeville and Lowndes County. This was the first newspaper to take significant southwest Georgia business from the Milledgeville based press. Due to the War Between the States, the Albany Patriot was forced to drastically reduce publication between 1862 and 1864. It stopped publishing completely in 1866.
It is important to remember that between 1820 and 1860 there were southwest Georgia newspapers for which very few if any editions have survived. One cannot therefore by direct research determine how much popularity or business those newspapers carried out of southwest Georgia. The active researcher will find mention of some of those “lost newspapers” in alternative sources like estate records. This evidence, in most instances, appears in the form of invoices and or acknowledgment of payment for ads and announcements run on behalf of the estates. Mention of those “lost newspapers” will also be found in the articles of competing newspapers, as picked up and run via what was referred to at the time as “exchange.”
Two prime examples of “lost newspapers” in the southwest Georgia area are the Thomasville Watchman and the Southern-Georgia Watchman. Sufficient research may be conducted to substantiate the following. The Thomasville Watchman began printing about 1853. It was owned and edited by Mr. Leonorean D. DeLyon who was born about 1819 in Savannah to a well-known family of that city.
The Albany Patriot February 25, 1853 page 2
Railroad Meeting on Saturday
The Brunswick and Florida Railroad meeting at the Court House on Saturday was well attended, and much interest manifested in the enterprise. The amount of stock subscribed was $43,000 which when added to with Thomas County makes $95,000. We think the country may be safely put down for $150,000 to $200,000. For the amount of stock subscribed by this county there are 67 shareholders, and among them 4 gentlemen who account for $40,000. The Corp of Engineers arrived here Saturday to survey from Brunswick to this place. Yesterday they commenced an experimental survey of the Albany Line in the direction of Sharpe’s store. The whole distance from Brunswick to Thomasville is 156 miles 1,580 feet. Thomasville is 122 feet above tidewater at Brunswick-The Watchman
The Daily Chronicle and Sentinel (Augusta, Georgia) August 27, 1854 page 2
From the Thomasville Watchman
A friend writing from Hahira, Lowndes County, Ga., under date of the 14th inst., says “We have the best corn crop I ever saw in this part of the country. You may say to our up-country friends, come to Lowndes, there is plenty of corn. Our cotton crops, some of them are very good, some middling, some poor. Health of our county very good.
The Albany Patriot March 9, 1855 page 3
Products of Southern Georgia
The Thomasville Watchman ascertains from census reports the counties of Clinch, Thomas, Lowndes and Decatur in Southern Georgia and Hamilton, Madison, Jefferson, Leon, Gadsden and Jackson in Northern Florida produce 57,507 bales of ginned cotton (400 pounds to the bale), 80,1780 pounds of wool, 991,440 pounds of tobacco besides a most ample fruit crop from 403,954 acres of cultivated land. At the present time The Watchman thinks the exports exceed by 50 percent the cotton, wool and tobacco produced in 1850. Some idea of the peril and delay the produce of these counties is now exposed may be conceived from the following statistics from the Key West Custom House-the amount of salvage paid for 1854 was $88,000 paid on $880,000 worth of property saved by the wreckers. The total value of vessel and property wrecked and in distress was $2,250,000.
In 1858 Mr. DeLyon made the decision to leave Thomasville and print and publish at Troupeville. He named the newly located newspaper the Southern-Georgia Watchman. The author of this article has found no conclusive evidence as to what stimulated Mr. DeLyon to make this move. It may have been related to print competition entering the Thomasville area?
The Daily Morning News (Savannah, Georgia) March 8, 1858 page 1
Mr. L.D. DeLyon, editor of the Thomasville Watchman, announces his intention to remove to Troupville, Lowndes county, where the Watchman hereafter will be published.
The Savannah Daily Republican March 8, 1858 page 2
The Thomasville Watchman is about to be moved to Troupville.
The Federal Union April 13, 1858 page 2
The Southern-Georgia Watchman-The press of The Thomasville Watchman has been removed to Troupville and the paper has reappeared under the above title. We congratulate the people of Lowndes in having a paper published in their midst, and with our friends Messrs. DeLyon ever happiness and success in their new home.
The Southern-Georgia Watchman operated for about three years. There are indications that during the year 1860 Mr. DeLyon moved his printing equipment from Troupville to the newly established town of Valdosta. When doing so he renamed his newspaper the Valdosta Watchman. Only one or two physical copies of the Thomasville Watchman, Southern-Georgia Watchman or the Valdosta Watchman remain in existence.
No later than May of 1867 the South Georgia Times began printing and publishing on a weekly basis in the town of Valdosta. Owned and operated by Mr. Phillip C. Pendleton, this newspaper quickly became the dominant point of advertising and source of news for the people of Lowndes County, Georgia. The South Georgia Times was published under that title into the year 1874. At some point during that same year however the name was changed to the Valdosta Times. From that point forwarded it was edited and managed by C.R. Pendleton, one of the sons of Mr. Phillip C. Pendleton.
Those wishing to learn more about historic Georgia newspapers should consult the website Georgia Historic Newspapers-Digital Library of Georgia-Georgia-Public Library Service, Board of Regents of the University of Georgia. The information made available to the public on this website presents a wonderful opportunity for research. There are also ways for the public to volunteer. Those who have made this site a reality, as well as those who support their efforts, are to be commended.
Mr. Hightower’s family/ancestors purchased their first land in Lowndes County, Georgia in 1827. He grew up just outside of Valdosta, attended Lowndes High School and holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Valdosta State University. After leaving VSU he went to work for a European firm based out of Hamburg, Germany. He then traveled for 33 years, at times based inside and outside the United States, with a variety of International companies. Genealogy and history have always been two of his favorite areas of interest. Since retiring and moving back to Valdosta he has published one book pertaining to the historical records of Lowndes County, Georgia and currently has another on similar subject matter pending publication. He has formerly served on the Board of Directors of the Huxford Genealogical Society and currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Lowndes County Historical Society.
Please note: These articles are based on research conducted by the writer/author utilizing a variety of reliable source material. Those wishing to learn more regarding source material utilized or those who may have any other questions should contact the writer/author via South Georgia Today. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without express written permission from the author.