Biography of Rev. Robert McGinty
Wilkes County Pioneer
Submitted by Gerald K, "Jerry" McGinty
Robert was born in either Ireland or PA depending on when his father, John arrived in America from Ireland. He married Deborah Jackson, ca. 1770. Quaker records show that in 1778 she was in the process of transferring her membership from the Cane Creek Meeting in Orange Co., NC, to the Wrightsborough Quaker settlement in St. Paul’s Parish, GA. It is not known how they met or exactly where and when Robert and Deborah were married, but this could have occurred in PA. According to the 1850 census of Conway Co., AR, pg. 268, their first son, Joseph, was born in 1770 in GA, so we can assume that they were married before this time. It is also possible that our McGinty family was acquainted with this Jackson family back in PA.
Deborah’s father, Thomas, was killed by Indians in August 1770 leaving wife, Mary a widow. I think that Robert and Deborah arrived shortly after this and lived with Mary in her home for a time. This is why we do not see Robert buying land at this early date.
Recent information from a website that includes Quaker Wrightsborough Township Records of Landholders, Residents, and Associated Families 1768-1810, shows Deborah Jackson married to Robert McGinty. It also shows that her parents were Thomas and Mary Jackson and that her brother was Joseph. Earlier researchers thought that Deborah was the daughter of a Baptist minister named John Wright but this is an error. The Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, Vol. 1, by William W. Hinshaw shows an entry on pg. 405 of the Cane Creek Monthly Meeting minutes that says, “1778, 12 (day), 6 (month)., Joseph Jackson and Deborah, now McGinty, children (of) Thomas (Jackson), deceased, were granted a certificate (from), Cane Creek Monthly Meeting.” This confirms that she was in good standing and had permission to transfer to the Wrightsborough Monthly Meeting in GA.
There is a later entry from the Wrightsborough Monthly Meeting minutes, pg. 1049, dated September 4, 1779, showing Deborah Jackson, now McGinty, being received into the monthly meeting in Georgia. This entry also shows that her father was Thomas Jackson, and that he was deceased (ca. 1770). The Cane Creek Meeting was established in Orange Co., NC in 1751. These Quaker records prove that they had moved to the Wrightsborough, GA area which, at this time, was in newly formed Richmond Co. (est. February 5, 1777). This area was previously part of St. Paul’s Parish. It is also interesting to note that Robert is not shown separately in these Quaker records with Deborah, but he could have also been a Quaker at this time. He married a Quaker girl, moved to or near this Quaker settlement of Wrightsborough and has no Revolutionary War record.
Wrightsborough was named for Sir James Wright, Governor of the Colony of GA in 1760. At this time, the government of the GA Colony was located in Savannah. Most of the original settlers were from the Orange Co. area of NC. Thomas Jackson, who was from the Cane Creek meeting in NC and one of the first settlers, received warrant #252 for 250 acres. This warrant is dated February 7, 1769. On July 3, 1770, he also received a town lot, number thirty-one. A reconstructed 1807 map of Wrightsborough town, published in The Story of Wrightsboro, 1768-1964, by Mrs. Pearl Baker, shows that this lot was located between Tower Ln. and Habersham St. Settlers like Thomas were given both acreage to farm, and a lot in the newly surveyed town.
Thomas Jackson Land Warrant
The Wrightsborough settlement, founded in 1769 was originally in St. Paul’s Parish. After the war, on February 5, 1777, this area became Richmond Co. Later, in 1790 it became part of Columbia Co., and is now in McDuffie Co. (est. 1870). It is in an area near present day Thomson, GA, about thirty miles west of Augusta, GA. The general assembly of GA granted 40,000 acres of land to the Quakers for this settlement. At this time, the provincial government of the GA colony was located in Savannah and Gov. Wright personally owned substantial acreage adjacent to the granted tract. Beginning in 1768 forty Quaker families moved from the Hillsborough, Orange Co., NC area with their leader, Joseph Maddock, and settled in the area. They left NC mainly because Gov. Tryon did not like the Quakers and was making life miserable for them. Gov. Wright in GA was supportive of the Quakers and agreed to let them settle the land.
An interesting account of the Wrightsborough settlement is found in the book, Bartram, Travels and Other Writings, edited by Thomas P. Slaughter. William Bartram (1739-1823) was a noted naturalist, writer, botanist and explorer that visited the settlement during a 1773 journey through the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. He described the settlement as follows: “We arrived at a small village on Little River, a branch of the Savanna: this village called Wrightsborough, was founded by Jos. Mattock, Esq., of the sect called Quakers. This public spirited man having obtained for himself and his followers a district, comprehending upwards of forty thousand acres of land, gave the new town this name, in honor of Sir James Wright, then governor of Georgia, who greatly promoted the establishment of the settlement. Mr. Mattock, who is now about seventy years of age, healthy and active, and presides as chief magistrate of the settlement, received us with great hospitality. Wrightsborough is a late but thriving settlement…the inhabitants are for the most part emigrants from the North Colonies. The town is already laid out and about twenty houses built. Several traders are in it and goods are sold as cheap here as Augusta, sugar, rum, salt, dry goods, etc. The settlement being upon the head of Little River, a very considerable branch of the Savannah River. The soil is very fruitful, hills and vales watered and beautified by numbers of salubrious waters…mills are erected on the swift flowing streams…The inhabitants plant wheat, barley, flax, hemp, oats, corn, cotton, indigo, breed cattle, sheep and make very good butter and cheese. Fruit trees thrive very well here.
“I saw in Mr. Mattox (Mattock) garden, very fine large apples two years from the seed and grapes two years from cuttings…The distance from Augusta to this place is about thirty miles; the face of the country was chiefly a plain of high forests, savannas and cane swamps, until we approached Little River, when the landscape varies, presenting to view high hills and rich vales. The soil is a deep, rich, dark mould, on a deep stratum of reddish brown tenacious clay…The forest trees are chiefly of the deciduous order…Leaving the pleasant town of Wrightsborough we continued eight or nine miles through a fertile plain….”
The settlement thrived for a number of years, but between 1805 and 1809 for a variety of reasons, the inhabitants moved on and the Quaker town of Wrightsborough ceased to exist.
I visited Wrightsborough on March 23, 2012, with my brother, Phil, his daughter, Andrea and our cousin Tom Wood. We saw the Quaker burial ground, a dam on Maddox Creek and other interesting sites. The dam was of particular interest, because Thomas Jackson’s 250 acre grant joined the Maddock land where the dam is built.
Another excellent account of the families that lived in the Wrightsborough settlement and their involvement in the Revolutionary War is the novel by President Jimmy Carter, The Hornet’s Nest, published in 2003. Although fictional, it is based on historical facts and tracks the movements of our own McGinty family.
As mentioned above, Deborah’s father, Thomas Jackson, was one of the founders of the Wrightsborough colony of the Society of Friends (Quakers) in 1769. The records show that he was born April 22, 1731, in East Marlborough, Chester Co., PA. His wife was named Mary (maiden name unknown), and they had at least two children, Deborah and Joseph. This is speculation, but Mary may have been the daughter of Joseph Maddock who led the Quakers from NC to Wrightsborough. More research is needed here. It is also interesting to note that Thomas was the son of Isaac Jackson who was born ca. 1705 in Ireland and came to America as a small boy, growing up in PA. In 1730 Isaac married Mary Miller in Chester Co., PA. Around 1751 Isaac moved the family to NC, and was a charter member of the Cane Creek Monthly Meeting in Orange Co. He shows in these minutes as one of about thirty original families. Son, Thomas shows in a 1755 Orange Co., NC deed, purchasing 350 acres of land from his father, Isaac (deed book 1, pg. 120). Thomas and family then moved with father, Isaac, mother, Mary, his brother, Nathaniel and sister, Ruth, to the Wrightsborough settlement in GA, ca. 1769 when he was about thirty-eight years old. According to colonial records of Gov. James Wright, he was murdered by Creek Indians in August 1770. Court records dated May 24, 1772 show wife, Mary appointed to inventory and settle his estate.
A letter from Gov. James Wright to the Earl of Hillsborough
December 12, 1771
“Documents of the American Revolution, 1770-1783”
Vol. III, pg. 269-270
Mary Jackson Administrix Bond, Thomas Jackson Estate
27 May 1772
The records of the Jackson family are somewhat sketchy but show at least nine generations up to Deborah. The family was living in England as early as 1505. From there, they went to Cavan, Ireland, probably around 1650 and then came to America and Chester Co., PA, sometime before 1727. Quaker minutes from Wrightsborough show Thomas’s son, Joseph, was “disowned” on April 1, 1780, for “bearing arms in a warlike manner, and of partaking of plundered goods, and also of accomplishing his marriage disorderly or out of the unity of Friends.” Joseph moved to Wilkes Co., receiving a 400 acre grant, which we have located. Later, Robert acquired Joseph’s land (no deed has been located) on Harden’s Creek, and lived there for several years. There are records of several land transactions and the mention of their slaves. Columbia Co. early deeds show this transaction on Pages 50-56: “Nov. 13, 1786, recorded, Aug. 23, 1799. Joseph Jackson of Wilkes County and Mary, his wife, to John Embree for 150 pounds, sells 250 acres in Wrightsborough Township on Upton Creek. Originally granted to Thomas Jackson by Sir James Wright, July 3, 1770, said Joseph being the only son and heir of Thomas. Mary relinquishes dower.” Joseph and Mary were divorced in 1801 and their property split between them. He moved to Clarke Co., AL, and married Jincy Smith in 1814. He died here ca. 1835.
The first record written of Robert was a deed that he witnessed in Wrightsborough Township, St. Paul’s Parish on August 6, 1777. This deed was a sale by Absalom Bedell to David Robertson for 250 acres. The deed references an original grant dated January 7, 1772. On the back of this deed is written, “Be it remembered that on the twenty-third day of November in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, personally appeared before me Robert McGinty and made oath that he saw the within named Absolom Bedell duly sign, seal and deliver the within deed for the purposes therein mentioned and that he also saw the within named Jonathan Robertson, one of the witnesses to said deed sign his name thereto.” This statement is signed by Jonathan Lindsay, J.P., and Robert. Since this deed was issued before the war by the British Crown, perhaps after the war it needed to be reaffirmed, and Robert was called to do this. Absalom Bedell had married Ruth Jackson back in North Carolina, before the move. She was the aunt of Deborah. Absalom was not a Quaker, and Ruth was dismissed at the Cane Creek Meeting in 1768 for marrying outside the church. Absalom became one of GA’s first justices, showing as a county judge in August 1779 and he also served as a major in the Rev. War, and signed the GA Declaration of Independence.
After the war, Robert and Absalom were neighbors on Little River in Wilkes Co. Wilkes Co. land grant books at the GA Archives in Atlanta, show that Robert had land here by 1783 that was later granted to him in 1785. An entry dated August 12, 1783, shows Absalom Bedell with 450 acres of land joining Robert McGinty (pg. 85, #207). Two
other entries show Robert’s land in 1784 (pg. 97, #274 and pg. 196, #580). There are also several “headright caveats,” involving Robert, on file at the GA Archives. These are in Wilkes Co. and all dated 1784.
After moving to Wilkes, Robert purchased for 30 pounds 270 acres of land from Peter and Sarah Buffington, who were from the Old 96 District of SC, on August 4, 1785 (Richmond Co. Deed Book B-1, page 221-222). It is possible that Robert had been leasing this land from Buffington prior to the purchase. This land was an original Crown grant that had been made to William Fanner in 1770 and was located on the waters of Germany’s Creek in Richmond Co. Robert sold this land October 15, 1785, to Thomas Napier (Richmond Co., Deed Book F-1, page 26-27) for 100 pounds. The deed date shows that, by this time, Robert had already relocated to Wilkes Co. A later “gift deed,” dated February 26, 1792, from Thomas Napier to his daughter and son-in-law, described the land location as being on the north side of Malone’s Branch. This land was at the junction of Malone’s Branch and Germany’s Creek.
Robert shows as “McGintee” in the 1785 “remnant” tax digest, living in Wilkes Co., Capt. Karr’s district with 1˝ polls, one slave and 300 acres. Absolom Bedell was the tax collector. This tax list was published in Early Records of Georgia, vol. II, pg. 24, by Grace Gillam Davidson, Macon, GA, 1933. Land plats show that Karr and Bedell were Robert’s neighbors on Little River. There is no further record of Robert during the war years. Earlier researchers speculated that he might have gone with families that were taken to safety in the NC mountains by Elijah Clarke and his men during this part of the war but as yet, there is no proof.
The Revolutionary War (1775-1783) reached these settlements in late 1779. Robert’s actual involvement, if any, in the war is unknown. Conditions in this area during the war were very bad, and several families fled the area and lived in the NC mountains, returning after the war. He did receive a land bounty warrant after the war for 250 acres (tax-free). This was later increased to 287.5 acres (taxable) and the land was located in Washington Co. However, according to the office of the Surveyor General of GA, he never exercised the warrant nor took possession of the land. The land warrant was granted to him under a proclamation from Col. Elijah Clarke on February 2, 1784. However, it was common for citizens that did not actually bear arms to receive land grants. In his warrant there is no mention of him actually serving in the war.
An interesting paragraph in Sketches of Some of the First Settlers of Upper Georgia, by George R. Gilmer, pg. 155 describes some of the actions by Elijah Clark immediately after the war. “King George had granted land in the GA Colony very stingingly to his subjects. Everyone was especially hungry for more land. After the war, Elijah Clark and other N.C. settlers in Wilkes Co. took possession of the fertile territory between the Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers, without regard to the occupant rights of the Indians, established a republic, made Clark their chief ruler and were prepared to parcel out the lands when the GA militia, ordered into service by Gov. Matthews and the regular troops by Pres. Washington, drove them off.” Our Robert McGinty could have been involved here (speculation by me).
A search was also done at the National Archives, and there is no record of military service for Robert McGinty. Georgia’s Roster of the Revolution, by Lucian Lamar Knight, shows no record of Robert McGinty serving in GA. This book contains many official documents from the war. However, the DAR lists him as a patriot (reference code RXYJBAXK) but this certification is based on earlier, incorrect McGinty research.
There is a record in the National Archives of his brother, James McGinty, serving in the NC militia as a foot soldier with the rank of private. The records show that he served in Capt. Charles Polk’s company from July 1776 until after January 1779 when he was at Cross Creek. His brother, John II also served in this unit and was the company’s sergeant.
On September 16, 1785, Robert was given a 200 acre “headright grant” in Wilkes Co. (Grant Book HHH, page 448). The grant was bounded on all sides by vacant land and shows that it was on the waters of Little River. I have a copy of this land plat. The plats show that it was located next to the land of Samuel Hoof, somewhere along Beaverdam Creek, and north of Little River. On October 12, 1785, he was given an additional “headright” for 300 acres in Wilkes Co. (Grant Book III, page 90). The grant shows the location of the land with the north side bordered by Little River. Absalom Bedell shows, owning the property on the other side of the river. Bedell is shown on the grant as the justice presiding over the land court that gave Robert the grant. This is where Robert lived. This property was located just west of today’s Little River, GA. The then Governor of Georgia, Samuel Elbert name appears on both of these original headright grants. Both of these headright grants are confirmed by the office of the surveyor-general in Atlanta where all land grants since 1752 were recorded. The grant books are now in the Georgia Archives in Morrow, GA. A “headright” was land that had not been surveyed and divided into land districts and land lots. It was only surveyed in response to an application for a head-right grant and could be any shape the grantee desired so long as it conformed to the amount of his grant.
In February 1785 Robert signed the deed, selling 122 acres of land that was part of his father, John McGinty’s estate (Mecklenburg Co. deed book 12, pg. 491). This land was located on McAlpin’s Creek and was a tract originally granted to Thomas Polk, March 4, 1775, and sold to John McGinty, April 10, 1779. Robert sold the land to William Kenady for 60 pounds (note: Kenady later married Mary Ann McGinty, the granddaughter of Alexander McGinty Sr.). After this sale, Robert’s mother Rebecka and brother James moved to Wilkes Co., GA. This deed also names Robert as the son of John.
As I said earlier, on October 25, 1785, Robert sold the 270 acre tract on Germany’s Creek to Thomas Napier (Deed Book F, St. Paul’s-Richmond Co.) for 100 pounds. Several years later, in 1797, Napier’s land on Germany’s Creek, which was then 600 acres, was sold at a sheriff’s sale in Columbia Co. at the instance of Robert McGinty (Augusta Chronicle, June 3, 1797, pg. 3, col. 4). I am not sure what this was all about, but it indicates some problem arose with the property.
After settling in Wilkes Co., Robert and Deborah sold part of their land grants in several parcels. One hundred acres on the waters of Kettle Creek (HHH, 448) were sold to Thomas Daniel (deed book AA, pg. 248). Three hundred acres were sold to Edward Butler, November 24, 1786 (deed book CC, pg. 257). This is the land on the south side of Little River and is described as land “whereon said McGinty now lives.” This was the 1785 grant. There is an additional record of some land “granted by the government to said McGinty” that was sold to Charles Smith on August 4, 1787 (deed book CC, pg. 97). This is thought to be the other 100 acres from the original 200 acre grant (HHH, 448). All of these sales are shown in Early Records of Georgia, Vol. 1, Wilkes County compiled by Grace Gilliam Davidson in 1932. The book is located in the Jack Tarver Library at Mercer University in Macon, GA.
It is interesting to note that some of Robert’s neighbors on Little River were distinguished individuals, such as Silas Mercer, pioneer Baptist minister, Judge Absalom Bedell and Lt. Col. Micajah Williamson, Revolutionary War hero.
Robert converted from either Presbyterian or Quaker, to the Baptist faith and the church records show that he joined the Phillips Mill Baptist Church by “experience” on April 7, 1787. Deborah joined “by experience” on May 11, 1787. Records show that they were attending this church as early as 1785 along with Robert’s mother, Rebecka and his brother, James McGinty. These records are on microfilm, Philips Mill Baptist Church, Wilkes Co. GA, pub. 1111, Historical Commission, Southern Baptist Convention, Nashville, TN. (Abstracted in 1989 by Charlotte G. Tucker).
Why did his family convert? Probably the main reason was that Silas Mercer, pastor of the Phillips Mill church, and his son Jesse, were neighbors and friends of Robert after he moved to this area from Wrightsborough. I have land plats showing Silas Mercer’s property, very close to Robert, on Harden’s Creek. Although reared an Episcopalian, Silas Mercer had also became a Baptist from conviction. He baptized his 17-year-old son Jesse and Robert, at the same time, into the Phillips’ Mill church. Also, Deborah’s father and brother had been excommunicated by the Quakers, as well as her aunt, Ruth Jackson. This might have caused ill feelings. There could be other contributing reasons. At this time in history, there was a severe shortage of ministers in the Presbyterian Church, particularly in these new southern territories. The Presbyterian Church had a rule that only well educated men could become ministers. Because of demand, there were not enough that met this requirement. The Baptist religion did not require any education for becoming a minister. What the Presbyterians could not do, the Baptists accomplished. To them, the gospel was simple, uncomplicated and within the reach of all. It required no complex organization to form a Baptist church. A group of like-minded Christians could form a congregation and select as their minister a dedicated Baptist who felt the “call.” The Phillips Mill church certainly had an experienced minister in Robert’s neighbor, Silas Mercer. The success of the Baptists in attracting new members was phenomenal among the Scotch-Irish during this period. This conversion of Robert McGinty to the Baptist faith was a significant event in McGinty history. Future generations in GA, AL and other states, remained devout Baptists with several becoming well-known ministers and pastors.
When we examine the early Phillips Mill Church history, we see some of the hardships experienced by the congregation, which included Robert and his family. Since the original building where Robert was baptized in 1787 only had a floor, shutters and doors for a short time, if at all, it was probably a log structure. Pews were benches without backs. The site was known as “meetinghouse hill” due to the ridge on which the building was located. The building was on a hillside with a spring below running into Little River. It was also known as “meetinghouse spring.” In 1801 a new church was built on a different site, “on top of the hill above the old one.” The old meetinghouse building was moved to Raytown where a new church was formed.
The Phillips Mill Baptist Church was founded June 10, 1785, by sixteen members who met at the home of George Lea. The first meetings were held at the grist mill owned by Joel Phillips. On August 5, 1786, church member, Joel Phillips (Sr.), conveyed land to pastor, Silas Mercer for a new church site (Wilkes Co. deed book SS, pg. 54). The church was later moved to its current location, about four miles from this original site. Silas Mercer, one of the great Baptist preachers in early GA, was the first pastor. Silas came from the church at Kiokee, which was the first Baptist church in GA, established in 1772. It was located about twenty miles northwest of Augusta GA. His son, Jesse Mercer and Robert McGinty were both received into the Phillips Mill church by profession of faith and baptized by Silas in 1787. Jesse was fifteen years old and Robert, about thirty-seven. They remained close associates in the Baptist church for the rest of their lives.
It is very possible that Robert met Silas Mercer and his son Jesse when they were at the Kiokee Baptist Church. Silas’s father, James Mercer, had some years before, moved the family from NC to land in Wrightsborough. Kiokee was about ten miles from Germany’s Creek where Robert and Deborah had lived prior to moving to Wilkes Co. Land plats in Wilkes Co., dating from 1784 also show that Robert and Silas Mercer were neighbors (Thomas Wingfield warrant #530). However, Robert and Deborah did not officially join this Baptist church until 1787.
In 1787 Robert was appointed by the congregation at Phillips Mill, “trustee to get the meetinghouse floored and seated.” By 1791 this had not been fully resolved according to the church minutes and Robert and two other members were ordered to “see how cheap they could get a workman to joint and lay the meetinghouse floor, make seats with backs and a pulpit, and to make doors and window shutters to the same.” In 1787 Silas Mercer, pastor, referred to Robert as “one of our beloved brethren at Phillips Mill.”
He shows in the 1787 tax records of Wilkes Co., living in Capt. Heard’s District, with 374 acres of #2 grade land (pg. 38 & 39, Georgia’s Virtual Vault). Also listed here is his brother, John McGinty II.
During the 1789 Spring Term of the Superior Court of Wilkes County (March 31, 1789), Robert was selected to serve on a “special jury.” The hearing was an appeal by David Hillhouse and William Terrell against a decision previously rendered for Nathaniel Bullock. Robert, and the jury, denied the appeal and found in favor of Bulloch for the amount of “three hundred and fifty pounds, or the Negroes agreeable to contract, and thirty pounds, by the first of June next and the cost of suit.”
In 1790 Robert became a licensed minister at Phillips Mill Church and began a long career of service in the Baptist Church. He remained at Phillips Mill Baptist until January 7, 1791, or about four years.
By 1787 Robert and family had moved to property formerly owned by Deborah’s brother, Joseph Jackson, located on Harden’s Creek, about two miles south of their previous home on the 300 acre grant. They show in this deed as a neighbor to Henry Karr. “On November 27, 1787, Henry Karr sold 380 acres to Archibald Simpson and lists his property as adjoining Robert McGinty on the SE and John Querns on the SW, Samuel Whatley and George Lea on the NE, and all other side by Jones Spring Branch and Robert Day.”
We have located this Jackson plat and placed it on a current map. This land is in what is now Hillman, Taliaferro Co., GA, and includes the “electric mountain” where The Electric Health Resort was located from the 1880’s until the early 1900’s. This mountain had electrical properties and people came for the curative powers of the electrical shock.
He is shown on the 1790 tax returns of Wilkes Co., GA, in Capt. McCormick’s District, owning 250 acres. He is shown in the 1790 census of Wilkes Co. as living in what is now Taliaferro Co., north of Sharon, GA. This was very close to or in the Wrightsborough Quaker settlement. He sold the final two hundred fifty acres in Wilkes Co. to Nathaniel Dean on March 26, 1791, but the sale was not registered until August 21, 1794. Wilkes Co. tax records of 1791 show him owning 150 acres, type #3 land, in Capt. Collier’s Dist. The Philips Mill Church records show that on January 7, 1792, Robert and Deborah were “dismissed by letter.”
They then relocated the family to Washington Co. and moved their membership to the Mount Pelia Baptist Church. In 1793 this area of Washington Co. became part of Hancock Co., and in 1807 part of Baldwin Co. In 1797 Robert attended a conference back at Phillips Mill and the minutes show that he was from the Mount Pelia church. There is a very good possibility that Mt. Pelia was Robert’s first church as a pastor. Records at Mercer University indicate that this church was also named Montpelier and that it later united with the Hephzibah Baptist Church (1804) and that the name was changed to Mt. Olives Baptist Church in 1812. I visited this area in April 2006 and found a historical marker showing the general location of Montpelier. It is east of the Oconee River, off Hwy. 22/24 near Milledgeville, GA.
The Washington/Hancock Co. records show that on November 10, 1792, Robert purchased 116 acres on Town Creek from Isaac Williams. This deed shows Robert McGinty, “of the same place,” confirming that he was in Washington Co. by this time. I have a copy of this land plat. At this time in GA history, this area was the western frontier. Indian lands lay beyond. He lived on this land until ca. 1799 and then moved a few miles north to land on Rocky Creek, then located in Hancock Co. (became Baldwin Co. in 1807). He sold the 116 acres back on Town Creek to William Bivins, October 1, 1800, for $1,200.
The tax lists of Hancock and Baldwin Co. show Robert as a property owner on Rocky Creek from 1804-1821. Part of this time, he lived in Capt. Jacob Gumm’s district. Jacob Gumm is buried in the small Gumm cemetery nearby (GPS 33 08’ 32” N 83 09’ 07” W). In the 1808-1809 Baldwin Co. tax list, he is also shown as executor for the estate of Levi Daniel. He is shown in Daniell’s will as a “trusted friend.”
In October 2004 my brother Phil located the exact position of Robert’s land. Today, the southern border of his lot is the shore of the man-made reservoir, Lake Sinclair. These 287˝ acres of land was originally in Washington Co., and owned by Peter Perkins. It was surveyed November 11, 1784, when Washington Co. was originally formed. Later, in 1793 this area became Hancock Co. and in 1807, it became part of Baldwin Co. We have the original Washington Co. survey map of the Perkins land. Perkins sold the land to Stephen Horton in 1797. Horton then sold the land to Robert on April 6, 1799 for $460. This land is 2.8 miles south of the Island Creek Baptist church where Robert was so active for many years. The 1811 tax list of Baldwin Co. shows that the District was now Captain McGinty’s. After Robert moved to Jones Co., in 1821 this land is shown as being owned by his son, William McGinty.
The Baldwin Co. tax lists for both 1808 and 1809 show Robert with 287˝ acres of land and six slaves. Slave ownership was apparently not in conflict with his Baptist ministry.
Note: Washington Co. was formed in 1784. Hancock Co. was formed in 1793 from parts of Greene and Washington. Baldwin Co. was formed in 1803 from parts of Wilkinson, Washington and Hancock, with additions from Washington in 1807, 1812 and 1826.
There is mention in earlier research about his having a bounty warrant, number 1446, for the land in this county, but there is no record in the GA surveyor-general office showing that he was ever actually granted the property. There is also some research showing that warrant 1446, which he was said to receive, was only shown as an example in the records and was not actually given to Robert. Records at the GA Archives show that he served as Justice of the Inferior Court in Hancock Co. from December 17, 1793, through June 16, 1796. He was a member of the Hancock Co. Grand Jury in September 1797. He served a second term as Justice from 1801-1807. He was also a justice of the peace in Hancock Co. from 1799 until 1812. We do know that their family was large by then with twelve sons and one daughter all born by around 1800.
There is an interesting article that was published in the Augusta Chronicle, September 17, 1796. It reads as follows: “State of Georgia, Hancock Co., Whereas I the subscriber, did on the twenty-first day of April last, speak slanderous words against the character of Robert McGinty of Town Creek, in said county, in the hearing of Joseph McGinty, and perhaps some others; saying that the said Robert McGinty was an old dammed thieving son of a bitch; That he had stole my corn. Which words, I do hear by certify to have been spoke through heat of passion; and without any foundation: But on the contrary. From the best information that I have received, and as far as I know of my own knowledge, I do believe the said Robert McGinty to be an honest man. Given under my hand this 10th day of August 1796. William Minor.” Land records show that William Minor was a neighbor of Robert and a major land owner. This dispute was probably centered on Minor’s corn and the grist mill that Robert owned. Today there is a Minor Road in this area of Baldwin Co.
On June 1, 1799, he and Deborah joined the Island Creek Baptist Church, (est. 14 Mar 1794) in the newly formed Hancock Co., “by letter.” This church is still located west of Sparta, GA. He was listed as an ordained minister. Five of their sons were baptized there, Joseph on March 11, 1800, Thomas on September 1, 1804, Washington on August 31, 1805, William on November 11, 1827 and Robert Jr., December 1, 1827.
On April 26, 1800, a petition was published in the Augusta Chronicle, pg. 3, col. 1, concerning Robert and the title to 116 acres of land that was formerly owned by Isaac Williams. Apparently, the deed had been destroyed or lost and the Hancock Co. superior court ordered that the deed be either produced by their next session or that a new deed would be created after publishing the issue in one of the local “Gazettes” for three months. He is also shown as a justice of the peace in Hancock Co., beginning January 29, 1801.
In 1801/02 he served as pastor of the Horeb Baptist Church in Hancock Co. According to the church records, the current pastor became ill and Robert was asked to serve for one year. Church records show that “In February, 1802 Bro. McGinty made known to the church that he could not attend them any longer. On leaving, the treasurer was ordered to procure a suit of clothes for Bro. McGinty.”
In 1803 he served as pastor of the Island Creek Church and in 1808-1809; he was the substitute pastor or, as they were called, “supply.” He was also clerk of this church from 1815-1821. I visited this church on January 24, 2002, with my cousin Tom Wood who lives in Milledgeville, GA. The church is located N.E. of Milledgeville, GA, off of Hwy 22, on Carr’s Station Rd. It is a neat, well-maintained small white wood building out in the open country. According to church history, this is the third building. The first and second church buildings were both nearby. There are two entrances in the front of the church. In the primitive Baptist churches, it was customary for the women and men to be segregated with the men sitting on one side of the church and the women on the other side. One front door was for the men and the other for the women. Another primitive church that appears to be the identical building plan is the Camp Creek Primitive Baptist Church (est. 1817) in Baldwin Co., GA. The small cemetery at Island Creek church is full of graves, but there are only a few stones with inscriptions. There are no known McGintys thought to be buried there because none died during their years of membership.
The original minutes of the Island Creek Church are located in the Jack Tarver Library at Mercer University in Macon, GA. Robert wrote some of these minutes when he was clerk of this church from 1815-1821 and they are there in the original book. It is interesting to note that the church was called “The Church of Christ at Island Creek” at this time. I reviewed this material at the library on January 25, 2001, and have since studied the microfilmed minutes.
On May 1, 1803, a committee of twelve Baptist leaders including Robert McGinty, met at the Baptist church in Powelton, Hancock Co., GA, and formed The General Committee of Georgia Baptists. This was actually their third yearly Baptist conference. Abraham Marshall was named chairman. He was a legendary Baptist minister in GA. Jesse Mercer, son of Silas, was also there. They adopted the following resolution: “Resolved, that the encouragement of itinerant preaching, the religious instruction of our savage neighbors, and the increase of union among all real Christians, which were the leading objects of the late conference, shall be zealously prosecuted by this committee.” This “conference” might be called the first regularly appointed Baptist convention ever held in GA. The group agreed to meet annually and the Georgia Association was born.
On October 4, 1804, Robert preached the sermon at the Georgia Association meeting. The title of the sermon was “And there was given to me a reed, like unto a rod, Revelations 11:1.” This meeting was held at the New Ford Baptist Church in Wilkes Co. Jesse Mercer was also present and was the clerk.
He participated in the Ocmulgee land lottery drawings of 1806 in Hancock Co. These draws were in Capt. Jacob Gumm’s district. He drew twice but was not successful. His brothers, James and John, also drew and were unsuccessful. His son, Joseph McGinty was successful in his draw. His son, Robert McGinty Jr. also had one draw along with son, Thomas McGinty, with two draws.
As the Indians were being pushed steadily westward, it usually took up to five years for their vacated land to be surveyed and divided up into lots of two hundred and two acres each. In typical land lotteries, plats of each lot were traced on small cards, about the size of those now used in the game of Monopoly™, which were deposited in wire cages, along with a number of blank cards. At highly publicized events, the cards were drawn one by one, in full view of the assembled crowds. Every white adult male was entitled to one free draw, married men or widows with children had two draws, and extra chances went to Revolutionary War veterans, those who had served honorably in certain public offices, or had some other distinction. After arriving in Hancock Co., Robert became involved in the local government. An article in The Land Between - A History of Hancock County Georgia to 1940, chapter IV, by Forrest Shivers, explains how the county was organized. “Before it became a separate county, the area of Hancock had been organized into militia districts and these units played an essential part in local government. The boundaries of the districts also defined the territorial jurisdiction of the justice of the peace courts, the election districts, the return of property for taxation, stock and fence laws, the conveyance of land, and all other matters specifically referred to the districts in the law of the state.
“The new county had nine militia districts, each designated by the name of the captain commanding. (The districts were not numbered until the early years of the next century.) The captains were elected by all the able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 50 in their districts and hence eligible for military duty. No district was supposed to have more than sixty-three militiamen.
“The nine-militia districts in the county in turn formed two battalion areas, one commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Lamar and the other by Lieutenant Colonel Harmon Runnels. The governor and legislature appointed David Adams and Richard Bonner tax receivers for their respective battalion areas. They also appointed five justices of the Inferior Court: David Dickson, Matthew Rabun, Peter Boyle, Robert McGinty and John Hamilton. The position of justice of the Inferior Court was an important one. Though the court originally had quite limited jurisdiction, it was granted increased powers in the Constitution of 1798 and subsequent legislation so that it would eventually exercise most of the administrative power of the county government. At the same time, six justices of peace were named: John Harbert, Davis Long, James Thweatt, Jesse Veazey, Daniel McDowell and Joel McLendon.” Robert held an important position here in addition to his church work.
There is also evidence that Robert was a candidate for the State Legislature around this time. This same article, word for word, appeared in the June 6, 1807, and August 8, 1807, editions of the Farmer’s Gazette. It reads: “From good authority, we learn that Col. Epps Brown, Robert M'Ginty, esq., William Chandler, esq., Richard A. Blount, esq., are candidates to represent this county in the House of Representatives of the next General Assembly.”
On April 16, 1810, he was issued a passport by the Governor of GA to travel through Creek Indian lands. On October 15, 1810, he was issued another passport for the same purpose (Passports Issued by the Governors of Georgia, 1785-1809, by Mary G. Bryan). These passports were, no doubt, for the purpose of investigating the proposed Creek Indian missionary movement that was well underway. Later, the Ocmulgee Baptist Association agreed to engage in the works of “Indian Reform” among the Creeks and at their annual meeting in 1820, and approved a formal plan to establish a school in the Creek Nation in the area that “lies between the Euchee Creek and the Tallapoosy River.” The school was known as the Withington Station, and was located about thirty miles south of today’s Montgomery, AL, which at that time was in the midst of the Creek nation. The plan was titled as follows: “A plan of a school to be the germ of a religious establishment among the Creek Indians.” By 1823 the school had opened and was flourishing with an initial enrollment of thirty-seven male and female Creek Indian children.
On November 10, 1810, the Ocmulgee Baptist Association (named for the Ocmulgee River, which was the western boundary of white settlements in GA) was formed at Rooty Creek Baptist Church in Putnam Co. It was the fifth association formed in GA and had about 1,200 members. Robert McGinty was part of the committee that formed this association of twenty-four churches. He was then the moderator (chairman) from 1817-1822. At the 1817 meeting, which was held at Elim Baptist Church in Jones Co., GA, Robert preached the introductory sermon from 1st Corin., 2:12, “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.” He was also elected moderator of the association at this meeting. The Island Creek church became a member of the Ocmulgee Assn. in 1816. It was formerly part of the Georgia Assn. While serving as moderator of the Ocmulgee association, he continued as the delegate or messenger from the Island Creek church in Hancock Co., from 1816-1821. He was also president of the Ocmulgee Missionary Society around 1819 and for some years after.
By 1811 many new churches had been formed in GA by the original twelve preachers who were part of the Association in 1803. Robert was one of these men, “who engaged themselves devotedly in itinerant labors, and constituted churches all over the eastern half of GA, and the general spirit of earnestness, piety and zeal prevailed.”
In 1811 Robert helped found the First Baptist Church of Milledgeville in Baldwin Co., GA. Church records say that he drafted the original constitution for the church. Jesse Mercer was also one of the advisors that helped start this church.
The 1811 tax list of Baldwin Co., shows Robert now living on the same 290 acres from Perkins in Capt. McGintys’ District. Also living in this district was Robert Jr., Washington, John, and several related Moores. Was this him, or one of his sons? More research is needed here.
He is shown in the 1813 Baldwin Co. tax list, living in Capt. Thomas’ district. He is then shown in the 1818 Baldwin Co. tax list, living in Capt. Hightower’s district with 145 acres of type two and 145 acres of type three lands. His land adjoined that of a Sanford on the waters of Rocky Creek. He also shows seven slaves. Apparently, he owned and operated a grist mill on Rocky Creek. The following was published in the Georgia Journal: “1818, December 1st. The subscriber, living in Baldwin County, Rocky Creek, 7 miles northeast of Milledgeville, wants to employ a man as a Miller, for ensuing year, who understands grinding and keeping a good geared mill (Signed) Robert McGinty.”
Robert and Deborah remained members of the Island Creek Church for twenty two years, departing by letter on November 17, 1821, when they moved on to Jones Co., GA, and he became pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church for a short time. He was then referred to as “Elder McGinty.” The Ocmulgee Baptist Assn. minutes of 1822 show him as the messenger to the annual meeting from Bethel church in Jones Co. (Tarver Library, Mercer Univ., Macon, GA, reel # 1180).
Since it is known that Robert was very involved in association work from this point forward in his life, it is important to understand what changes were taking place in the Baptist church at this time in history. From the beginning, Baptist churches were not independent of each other. Whitney, in his History of British Baptists, covering the church history in the 1600’s, shows that they always sought the fellowship between the different churches to carry on evangelistic work. This continued in America.
The first Baptist church that was established in GA was founded in 1772. It was the Kiokee Baptist Church in Columbia Co. near Augusta. Over the next two years several others were formed. In 1774 these churches formed an association called the Georgia because it was the only one in the State. It was constituted at Kiokee by the work of Elder Daniel Marshall, the pastor. Over the next ten years, the association flourished and by 1784 there were about fifty-five churches with over 5,000 members. Beginning in 1794 new associations were formed including the Hepzibah, the Serepta and the Savannah. About this time, the question of foreign missions began to be considered by GA Baptists. Cary, the great pioneer in modern missions, had already been to Hindustan for a number of years and by 1812 great interest was developing in GA. The first mission society is thought to have been in Savannah in 1813. This society sent out a stirring address on the subject of missions, which resulted in the formation of other societies.
By 1815 Jesse Mercer, one of the most influential Baptist of the day, started a society to “evangelize the poor heathen in idolatrous lands.” In July 1815 the Ocmulgee Missionary Society was formed and proved to be strong and influential. Later, in 1819 Robert McGinty was elected president of this society.
At the same time a strong anti-mission spirit which condemned the whole movement was underway. This caused great division in the church with some becoming “Missionary Baptists” and others anti-missionary, or “Primitive Baptists.” There was thought to be a need for a general organization where brethren from different views could meet and resolve their differences. The new organization was called the General Baptist Association of the State of Georgia. It was formed at Powelton, GA, June 27, 1822. Robert was the first moderator. He wrote the following letter following the session in September 1822: “The transactions of your first convention have been presented to our body, by our much esteemed brother, Jesse Mercer, and have been taken into consideration. We have now to state that your specified objects meet our unanimous approbation. We cannot close this poor token of love without expressing our hope that the General Baptist Association of Georgia will prove a lasting blessing to the cause of the Redeemer’s kingdom. We further request your next convention be within our bounds. R. McGinty, Moderator.” At the time there were eight separate associations in GA with about 16,000 members. The new association did not receive full support for many years. In 1828 the name was changed to the Baptist Convention of the State of Georgia (Georgia Baptist Convention). However, by 1846 it was representing only 38,000 members out of estimated 60,000 total in the association. There were bitter feelings and divisions within the church in the period 1830-1840 over the missionary issue.
The 1820 census of Baldwin Co., GA, shows Robert, over age forty-five (which is the highest age bracket on the census form) and his wife, also over forty-five, with son William living next door (pg. 36-37). In this census, Robert is shown with one male child, sixteen to twenty-six and three male and six female slaves. Robert and his sons, William and Josiah, are also shown in the Baldwin Co. land lottery draws of 1821, in Maj. Richard W. Ellis’s Battalion. Robert is shown here as Robert, Sen. (senior).
In 1823 he moved from Jones Co., to Monroe Co. and around the age of seventy-six, became the pastor of the New Providence Baptist Church. Monroe County, Georgia, a History, pg. 275, says that this church was organized in 1820 and was located on Providence Hill near Tobosofkee Creek. This location is southwest of Smarr, GA. My brother and I have visited this area. He was pastor here until 1828. At this time he also became very involved in the Flint River Association and continued active there until 1830. According to the tax digest of 1828 located at the GA Archives in Atlanta, he owned lot 80 in the twelfth district that contained 202˝ acres. This lot was adjacent to lot 91 and 92 that were owned by his son, Thomas. The original grantee of lot #80 was John Prescot. He sold the lot to Jos. Duckworth, January 26, 1822 (deed record vol. A, #253), for $200. Sometime after this, Robert came into possession of this lot, but the deeds transferring title to him have not yet been found. He then shows in the 1830 and 1840 census, living in Monroe Co. In the 1830 census, page 225, he is listed at age 70-80 with a female age 60-70 who I think was his wife, Deborah. She must have died in the early 1830’s because she is not shown in the census of 1840.
The Flint River Association, tenth in the state, was formed October 16, 1824, at Rocky Creek meetinghouse in Monroe Co. It consisted of fourteen churches, five ministers and about 525 members. Robert McGinty was the moderator of this first session. In 1825 at the second session, Robert gave the introductory address. He was the moderator (chairman) of the association for the first five years, 1824-1828 (Flint River Assn. Minutes, Mercer University). This association was created out of the Ocmulgee and was a strong missionary group of churches. The association responded to the needs of people at home, such as the Indians and Negroes and abroad where they could. They heartily embraced the total world mission program. The minutes of 1824 show Robert, in the first circular letter had admonished the people of God, “In the name of Him in whose service you are engaged, go on.” Robert chose the Missionary Baptist Church while some of his children, such as Washington and Thomas, remained in the Primitive Baptist Church. Robert remained active in the association until age and infirmity compelled him to decline service. In 1829 he notified the association that he wanted to be excused from the moderator position because of age and infirmity (Flint River minutes of 1829 item 3). However, in 1830 he accepted the position of “circular letter writer” for one more year. We think that after Deborah’s death, he moved in with his son William near Montpelier Springs, south of Forsyth, GA, in Monroe Co. According to the Christian Index, William moved to this area in 1836. He shows as living in William’s house in the 1840 census of Monroe Co., age 80-90 (pg. 158). We know that William was a member of the New Providence Primitive Baptist Church at this time. William was listed as “messenger” for this church to the Flint River Assn. in 1841. This means that he represented the church at association meetings. The exact church location and Robert’s burial place have yet to be found. Various sources show the approximate location of the original church, and my brother and I visited the area in November 2004. Flint River Assn. records and other references show that it was originally located six miles south of Forsyth, GA and three miles southwest of Smarr, GA. Sometime after the railroad was completed in 1836 the church building was moved to its present location in Smarr, GA.
Court records in 1832 show Robert, “clergyman, residing in the county of Monroe” as a witness to a Revolutionary War pension application by a Mathew Durham.
In Georgia Baptists: Historical and Biographical by Jesse H. Campbell, published in 1847 he offers the following on Robert McGinty: “He was a man of general information, an excellent moderator, a person of easy and polite manners, and a sensible, sound preacher.” In the book, History of the Baptist Denomination in Georgia, published in 1881 Robert is described as follows: “Rev. Robert McGinty was a man of high standing and good influence; polite and easy in his manners; pious in character; strongly missionary in spirit; an excellent moderator and a sound, sensible preacher. He was one of those who helped form the General Committee, at Powelton, in 1803 and was a member of the Committee. He was moderator of the Ocmulgee Association, president of the Ocmulgee Missionary Society, and for years the moderator of the Flint River Association. Raised (which is an error) in Wilkes Co., he was baptized at the same time and place as Jesse Mercer, in 1787 and was ordained before 1799.”
He is also mentioned as one of the “most prominent actors among the historical characters of the Georgia Baptists who moved in the drama enacted in the first decade of the nineteenth century, and put in train events which molded the destinies of our denomination in the State.” In this section his name is shown as R. E. McGinty, but it is thought that this middle initial was picked up from earlier research that was in error. There is no proof that he had a middle name.
Robert’s last will and testament (Record of Wills, Book A, pg. 164, Forsyth, Monroe Co., GA) was probated February 10, 1841, in Monroe Co., GA. He gave his servant, Molly, her freedom. He gave all of his twelve children twenty-five dollars each with equal shares of everything else and appointed two of his sons, Thomas and William, executors for the balance of his estate.
In 1836, he his sons sold the following property on his behalf:
Prior to his death, this announcement then appeared in the Macon Georgia Telegraph, January 5, 1841, page 3. Here, he mentions granting the POA to his two sons for them to sell part of his property (above). His will was probably written around this same time because he mentions dividing the proceeds among his children.
The newspaper announcement of the sale of his slaves shown below appeared in the Southern Recorder, published in Milledgeville, April 6, 1841. It was also announced for several weeks in other publications.
On June 1, 1841, these four Negros, Lucy and her three children, Henry, Susan and Emeline were sold to James Bivens for $1,350. On June 2, all of his personal property was sold at the residence of son, William. This list of property is on file at the Monroe Co., GA courthouse, Court of Ordinary, Book E, pg. 322-324 and is very interesting. Several McGinty relatives purchased items including Robert C.C., William, James, Elijah, Thomas, Josiah, and Shadrach. The items included household furniture, kitchen utensils, toilet items, poultry, livestock, food items and his book collection. He was well-read and the books included law, history and religious titles. These purchases totaled $1,525. We have no record of Deborah’s death. She shows in the 1830 census but is not shown in Robert’s Will. It is thought that she died between 1830 and 1840.
The exact date of his death and burial site is still unknown. However, recent discoveries in the tax records show that at the time of Deborah’s death, they lived on lot #80 in dist. 12. They should be buried nearby. His death was not reported in the minutes of the Ocmulgee Assn., probably because he had not been a member for some time. There is a notice in the Christian Index, December 3, 1841, with the minutes of the Flint River Association, October 16-19, 1841, which includes a report on the death of ministers. It reads as follows: “We notice with much reverence, and long won worth and merit, the departure of our honored and aged father and brother, Robert McGinty, who we remember in useful life, and even when age had taken the vigor of youth and active usefulness, as one of the pillars: Yes, he has gone up to reap his reward!”
Robert McGinty had been a minister in the Baptist Church for more than fifty years. Many of his descendents were also noted ministers and his longevity is also found in several future generations of McGinty.
At the time of his death in 1840/1841 it is possible that all thirteen of his children were living because they are all mentioned by name in his will. The number of McGinty descendents from Robert and Deborah are so numerous that future researchers will have plenty of opportunities to sort out the branches of their family tree.
Submitted by Gerald K. “Jerry” McGinty from his book, “Our McGinty Family in America.”