Welcome to the story of the Wiggins family…

To Preserve Family and Farm is the historical account of the encounter between the Army of Major General William T. Sherman and the Wiggins family of Emanuel County, Georgia during the “March to the Sea” which occurred in November 1864 and continued until November of the following year. Originally, this story was handed down for decades in our family. However, in 2002, we discovered an official record of some of these events in Sarah Wiggins’ claim before the Southern Claims Commission which included a shocking statement by Sarah Wiggins that she was a Union loyalist and willingly assisted Sherman’s Army.

As the great-great grandson of John and Sarah Wiggins, the main characters in this story, I have attempted to be as historically accurate as possible and provide as many supporting citations as possible. However, many of the events and circumstances of this story continue to be clouded by 150 years of oral retelling.

There are currently 15 chapters (located under “The Story” tab at the left) that I continue to update on a regular basis as more information becomes available. For ease of reading, I recommend you start with the Introduction before heading for Chapter 1. Also, new information is posted under the “Recent Posts” tab at the left.

I would welcome any comments or information you can provide about any of the events or characters in this account. While I’m happy to share this info with anyone, I would ask that you obtain permission prior to reprinting any of my original work in this blog. You may email me at daviswiggins At yahoo.com.

19 thoughts on “Welcome to the story of the Wiggins family…

  1. David Gambrell says:

    As indicated, I am David H. Gambrell, , Atlanta, GA. My wife of 56 years is the former Luck Flanders of Swainsboro, Georgia. While recently pursuing one of my Emanuel County hobbies, I stumbled on your blog “To Preserve Family and Farm” and have found it fascinating and have shared it with my wife. As you probably know, there, there is a good deal of mystery about the “Right Wing” of Sherman’s Army as it passed through Washington, Johnson and Emanuel Counties, right after Thanksgiving in 1864. Part of the mystery is the location of “Sutherland’s Mill”, the identity of Sutherland, and the exact route followed on the Army’s passage between Sutherland’s Mill and “Summerville” while crossing Emanuel County. This is the march that brought this army in contact with the Wiggins family at their home place in Blun. My “google” of “Sutherland’s Mill” put me in touch with a chapter of your story.

    My interest in this subject is a long story which I will summarize by saying that I wrote several articles for the Swainsboro Forest Blade in November 1989 memorializing the 125th anniversary of Sherman’s March. Among other things, my research produced, from the National Archives, “Route Maps” generated by Sherman’s engineers as they progressed on the march. These maps are remarkably accurate although based on “dead reckoning” in the absence of established base points. The maps for the 17th Corps along the Old Savannah Road are the ones used by Dr. John Derden of East Georgia College for his annual bus tour of Sherman’s March along the Old Savannah Road between Wadley and Midville.

    The route of passage of the 15th Corps south of the Old Savannah Road, generally following the “Lower Savannah Road” is displayed in Sherman’s Route Maps, but it strays from today’s roads at several points and the exact route has never been traced to my knowledge. You have mentioned a map as a part of your work but I have not seen it in the chapters of your work that I have read. The route posted by Schwabe in his map is accurate in a general way, but is not as precise as the “route map” which I have used.

    It seems clear from comparing the engineers’ route map along the Lower Savannah Road that the Army left that road somewhere east of present day U. S. Highway 1, bearing northerly, either as a shortcut to “Summerville”, or to avoid the Canoochee Swamps further down toward Hawhammock. Names appear on the map referring to residents, such as Scott and Scarboro (?) and locations are noted such as “Summerville Steam Saw Mill”. In the vicinity of Summertown, the route clearly follows the Old Swainsboro-“Summerville”-Midville Road, and that part of the route brought the Army in direct contact with the Wiggins Place.

    The exact route of this shortcut, and certain other variables from today’s road system, could be clarified by some precise engineering and map work which I have considered having done.

    One reason this subject has been of interest to me is that on the previous night the same Army camped near and passed through the Flanders Place in western Emanuel County along the Old Mount Vernon-Louisville Road (now called the Pinetucky Road) just east of the Sutherland’s mill site on Sardis Creek. This was the home place of my wife’s ancestor, W. A. Flanders, and where her grandfather and father were born. Incidentally, my wife claims a relationship with the Wiggins Family, through her Moring ancestors.

    Both she and I have been fascinated by your family’s story and its relationship to the subject of Sherman’s March in Emanuel County.

    Is there any possibility that we might further compare notes? I will be glad to send you copies of the articles which I wrote for the Forest Blade, including the 15th Army Corps route map, and I would be pleased to have a copy of your map, and any further information which you may have on this subject. If your book has already been published, please let me know as I would like to have a copy for my Emanuel County archives. I was also interested in the story about Henry Blun. Over the years, I have heard a number of references to him and other Savannah bankers regarding their interests in Emanuel County properties, including the “Emanuel Farm Company” near Blundale, and in other locations, predecessors I think to large paper company holdings in that area.

    I will look forward to hearing from you.

    David H. Gambrell, Atlanta, GA

    • David Johnson says:

      By my map estimation, Sutherland’s Mill was located at the pond (east side of N Main Street; about 5000′ NNW of Swainsboro town center) at the intersection of Mudoc Rd and N Coleman St. Shows on Google street map but not aerial.

      David W Johnson
      LTC, US Army, Retired

  2. arrowandbow says:

    Mr. Gambrell,
    Thank you so much for your comments. It is exciting to find someone else with interest in this topic. I will send you a detailed response via email and look forward to sharing more info.

  3. Delmer Ellis Rachels Jr. says:

    I am the grandson of Emily Add Wiggins Davis and John West Davis I would like to read the history of my family. I would appreciate it if you can send me a way of viewing the document from the diary that was written by you. I am having trouble getting getting with the website.

    • arrowandbow says:

      Thanks for writing. If you can click on the CHAPTER you want to read on the right side of the title page, it will open a new page. After the new page opens, click on the title to read the chapter. If that doesn’t work, please let me know.

  4. I found it very interesting when reading this about the Wiggins family and the Barbers (who are my family, Thomas Holden Barber having been my gg grandfather’s cousin) to see that Mr. Gambrell who commented above is married to a Flanders from Emanuel Co., because my husband is descended from Capt. Alexander Chestnut Flanders of Emanuel Co, who was born in 1828 and fought in the Civil War. I believe he had an uncle William, not sure if that was the W.A. mentioned above. I have noticed several times in trying to trace my Barber family that his Davis relatives would turn up, and also in tracing my Dekle ancestors from Emanuel Co, his Flanders relatives would turn up in the same area at the same time.

  5. Thomas N. Monroe says:

    I live in Scotland, Ga in a building reported to have been the
    retail store of some descendants of Alexander Chestnut Flanders.
    In tracing my lineage, I found that I am descended from
    Alexander’s brother,William A, who enlisted within one day of
    Alex. I remember stories that my mother told of hiding livestock and other valuables in the wood so that the Yankees can’t get them.

  6. Thomas N. Monroe says:

    Her grandmother was Roxie L Wiggins and her grandfather was J Frank Flanders.

  7. Thomas N. Monroe says:

    Correction: her mother was a Wiggins ; her father was John Frank Flanders.

  8. Bummer says:

    John,
    Robert Moore posted in regards to your blog. Great read and will add to daily reads. Good luck in your continued dynamic research.

    Bummer

  9. Thomas N. Monroe says:

    Are you the author of this piece?

  10. This is great !! I was born in Twin City, and plan on moving back soon,

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