David J. and Mary Blalock Berry in Georgia
Generation 1 Robert and Elizabeth Cate Berry
Generation 2 David J. Berry and Mary Blalock
Georgia began as a narrow strip of counties moving northward from Savannah and the Atlantic Coast along the western side of the Savannah River. Lands west of the first counties belonged to the Creek Indians except for that north and west of the Chattahoochee River. The Chattahoochee came to be a generally recognized separation line between the Creeks and the Cherokees, although there were exceptions because the tribes often were at war with each other.
The surge of white population in the first counties of Georgia by 1790 made it necesssary for the Federal Government to negotiate with the Creeks for additional land. In a series of such negotiations, the Creeks were convinced to cede portions of their territory. Land lotteries began allowing white settlement to push westward slowly. Such agreements were yet to be reached in the territory of the Cherokees, even though numerous fur traders continued to travel in and out. Some of these white men married Cherokee women and established a residence in the territory coinciding with a home elsewhere.
Word of new areas allowing white settlement surely reached North Carolina. First to respond among the Robert Berry-Elizabeth Cates Berry family may have been their son John. Positive identity is lacking, but a John Berry died in Jackson County GA (created by 1800) in 1804. Jackson County’s easternmost border was then about 25 miles west of the Savannah River. Robert Berry’s will in 1812 mentioned a deceased son John, and provision was made for his children. In 1815, “sons of John Berry” are listed in a Jackson County GA court filing.
Travel from Orange County NC to that area no doubt was via the ‘Western Road”, which ran south and west from Richmond VA through Orange County then on to the Savannah River, crossing the river on about the same latitudinal line where Jackson County was located (25 mi west of the river), then the road followed the river southeast to Augusta and Savannah.
This route would have served David J. Berry well when he chose to leave Orange County after the 1820 census and remove to Georgia. We do not know the exact year nor point of his first settlement in Georgia, but David J. Berry came at the time of another influx of white settlers attracted by new lands ceded by the Creek Nation at the Treaty of Indian Springs in January 1821. The 4th Land Lottery granting lands west of the Ocmulgee River and east of the Flint River brought Fayette and Henry Counties into being. Fayette borders Henry’s western side. At the time, Henry’s northern border extended all the way to the Chattahoochee River. Both counties were soon to figure in the life of David J. Berry.
David J. Berry sold his land in Orange County in 1825. David, with his wife Mary Blalock Berry and their children, were present in Fayette County by 1829 because his name appeared on Fayette’s Tax Digest of that year (poll tax only, no land). The 1830 census of Fayette County included David J. Berry. David’s son Robert Berry married Eliza Everett in Fayette County in 1833. David was included in Fayette’s Tax Digests of 1833 & 1834 as administrator of the estate of Joshua Norman. Evidently David moved his family across the border to Henry County soon thereafter.
In January 1836, James Richardson Sr of Walton County GA sold land lot 42 (202 acres), 12th District, Henry County GA to David J. Berry of Henry County GA. Two years later, David J. Berry died. In November 1838, W. P. Allen of Fayette County GA, administrator of the estate of David J. Berry, deceased, sold lot #42 at public sale – highest bidder being Abner Camp. Robert Berry was a recorded witness to settlement of the estate.
Robert Berry lived in Fayette County at the time of 1840’s census. He soon felt an itch to move.
By 1830 negotiations were well underway for lands in the Cherokee territory, north and west of the Chattahoochee River, and this wide expanse of land had been given the single name Cherokee County. These lands stretched north to the Tennessee line and west to Alabama. A final lottery in 1832 granted these lots – limited to 40 acres if considered to be in or near locations where gold had been discovered; 160 acres otherwise.
Cherokee County gave birth to many new counties as a result of 1832’s land lottery, Cobb County being one. Cobb’s southern boundary was the Chatthoochee River. These developments less than 50 miles away captured the attention of Robert Berry and his Everett inlaws back in Fayette County.
They moved north up the Hightower Trail, crossed the Chattahoochee, and settled near the town of Roswell in Cobb County. Robert Berry was a Cobb resident at the time of 1849’s Tax Digest (poll tax only, no land). His inlaw John S. Everett preceded him and was listed in the digest for 1848, as was Abner Camp.
Robert Berry, Eliza Everett Berry, and family were counted in the 1850 census of Cobb County. They acquired landlot #199, 1st District, 2nd Section, Cobb County in 1855, and soon added adjoining lot #238. Both these lots were transferred from Cobb to newly formed Milton County in 1857.
Robert and Eliza saw their children reach adulthood, and the couple lived out the remainder of their lives as Milton Countians on the outskirts of Roswell, which continued as part of Cobb County. Eliza E. Berry died in 1891. The year of Robert’s passing has not been established, but he was not identified in Eliza’s obituary or other family record of that period.
Georgia had not finished changing county lines. Milton County ceased to exist after 1932’s election, when Milton voters chose to merge with Fulton County. The town of Roswell elected to leave Cobb County and become part of Fulton as well. These changes became effective in January 1933.
In evaluating the fate of the Cherokees and relocation to lands which became Oklahoma, it is significant to refer to earlier land definitions across the Southern United States. As part of planned expansion from boundaries of the 13 original states, Georgia had laid claim to a narrow strip stretching westward to the Mississippi River. Soon after 1800, the Federal government began taking this area to create new territories (later states) of Alabama and Mississippi. In return for Georgia’s giving up claim to these lands, the administration of President Andrew Jackson granted the state full settlement of all lands from the Chattahoochee northward to the Tennessee line and westward to the Alabama line. That led to the 1832 land lottery and forced Federal removal of the Cherokees by 1838.
A few aged Cherokees balked, or were overlooked. One holdout was Sope, whose foothold legacy continues in modern Cobb County through the naming of a creek and community for him. This creek is little more than 5 miles west of the area where Robert Berry and his wife Elizabeth Everett Berry brought their family in the 1840s.
Sources: Thorndale & Dollarhide’s Map Guide to U.S. Federal Censuses, Georgia 1790-1920 (Bountiful UT, American Genealogical Lending Library, 1987)
1820 Census Orange Co NC; 1830 & 1840 censuses Fayette Co GA, 1850 census Cobb Co GA, 1860-1880 censuses Milton Co GA
Tax Digests: Fayette Co GA 1829, 1833 & 1834. Cobb Co GA 1849
Land Lotteries of Georgia (series), compiled by Martha Lou Houston (orig. publ. Milledgeville GA, Grantland & Orme, 1827, reprints including 1832 lottery, Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Co, 1967)
Henry County GA Deeds, Book J, p 88.
Cobb County GA Deed, Ellis Wright to Robert Berry, 1855
Milton County GA Deeds, Books C & D.
B. C. Yates Historic Cobb County (year of publication not identified, Cobb County Federal Savings & Loan Assoc., Marietta GA)
Author George Pettett