William Poythress, Savannah, Georgia 1828

Following are the estate records of one William Poythress who died in Savannah 25 April 1828 (Register of Deaths in Savannah, vol. IV, pg. 218). Age at death was 28 and cause stated was “liver complaint”. Occupation was planter but residence listed was corner W. Broad and S. Oglethorpe, in the middle of downtown. Since William was a “planter” then his land was outside of town. Attending physician was a Dr. Bartow.

William Poythress had married Mrs. Sarah M. Ross 9 Aug 1823 (Marriages of Chatham County, Georgia Historical Society, Vol. 1, pg. 172). A decade following William Poythress’ death Sarah M. Poythress remarries (10 Mar 1837) to a John Beck in Savannah, (ibid., Vol. 1, pg. 104).

The estate papers transcribed below are principally routine letters of administration and petitions to the court on behalf of the deceased’s widow, Sarah Poythress, wherein she later asks permission to sell various items of the estate. As will be noted, the interesting potential link would be the parents of William Poythress.

A child Sarah Poythress is recorded in Savannah Register of Deaths (Vol. IV, pg. 12) dying 8 Apr 1819. Age at death was 9 months, place of birth Georgia, and death was at “Springhill”. Attending physician Dr. Sheftall, Sr. cited cause of death as “inflamation of the bowels”. This child Sarah is recorded in this paper in an “accounting” sense. She could have been the daughter of William and Sarah Poythress only if illegitimate which is possible. (Marriage of William Poythress and potential mother Sarah M. Ross was on 9 Aug 1823). Principal support for calling the child Sarah the daughter of William and Sarah Poythress would be that there are no other Poythress’es of record in Savannah at the time.

Our William Poythress (of “the estate”) dies 25 April 1828. A second (and likely illegitimate) child, probable son William Poythress, dies at age 6 on 4 Nov 1828. (See below: on May of 1828 widow Sarah applies for letters of Administration on the estate “in behalf of the heirs“; subsequently, in a petition to the court in Sarah’s behalf dated 22 Jun 1829 it is stated “..there are no other children or heirs to said estate“).

In the interim between the first document “on behalf of the heirs” and the second “there are no children or heirs” document, William the probable son dies on 4 Nov 1828. His death is recorded in the Register of Deaths of Savannah, Georgia, Vol. IV, pg. 224, aged 6, place of birth: Georgia, cause of death: “Palsy”, residence: “Country”. Attending physician was Dr. Bourquin.

This child William I am choosing to “assign” as a son of William and Sarah Poythress based on circumstantial evidence. The child Sarah has much weaker evidence as a child of this couple and may be suggested as a possible.

First, William is more likely to be the namesake of his father than Sarah is to be the namesake of her mother….based on lapsed time alone. Second, there were no other Poythresses of public record in the applicable time frame in Savannah. Third, the ages of the two children “can be made to fit” with the childbearing ages of the parents even if not with the marriage date. And fourth, the death of the child William Poythress especially fits within a very narrow time span “constrained” by wording in the estate documents. Even accepting the rule that what is possible is not necessarily probable, the circumstantial evidence appears satisfactory to make the “assignment” for child William and a “perhaps” for “daughter” Sarah.

William Poythress’ estate papers are lengthy and likely more a matter of interest than information. These papers comprise the legal piece of what we know about this family. William’s wife Sarah appears finally as the only heir and is shown petitioning the court to let her sell items from the estate. This action, the security deposits by friends and the failure of Sarah Poythress and the examiners to produce “any last Will..(to)..be proved” to the court tell us that William Poythress died intestate in 1828.

Widow Sarah Poythress appears later in the 1832 Georgia Land Lottery (Ga. 1st Military District) as a “fortunate drawer”. Sarah M. Poythress drew 40 acres of what was presumably “gold” land in Cobb County, Section 2, District 16, Lot # 471. Sarah had qualified to draw as a widow.

Sarah never “took up” (paid the $40 deed fee) the land she won in the 1832 lottery and it was eventually auctioned by the state on 10 July 1845 to land speculator J. L. Albritton (GDAH 286/48). Sarah would then have no further interest or record with respect to the title for this land. Letting ownership rights lapse was not untypical for those winning 40 acres of “gold land”.

On 10 Mar 1837 Mrs. Sarah Poythress marries John Beck in Savannah (citation above) which concludes the “Poythress genealogy” interest in this family for “forward” years.

The tone of new widow Sarah’s petitions to the court in 1828 and 1829 to sell assets from William’s estate imply that Sarah was likely not left well fixed financially at William’s death.

The death of two of the principals and a potential third….plus the remarriage of wife/mother Sarah makes this family a genealogical dead end for us in a “forward” sense. The remaining question is the one of parentage for the couple, William in particular because he has the potential to provide a Poythress link to Virginia.

At least three options may be suggested as lines of investigation. None is substantiated

with fact. Two offer potential links mainly because of common given names and proximity, slim reeds by most standards. However these three options are listed below with statements of the little factual evidence that exists:

1) William is the son of George Poythress of Burke County. This could be constructed with some reasonable guesses. George’s known death date is 19 Jul 1832. Guessing a birth date of 1765 implies death at 67. George m. 1. Mary Elizabeth _____ (1768- 1794). Resulting from this marriage was one child, Mary Elizabeth Poythress, born in Florida shortly before the death of her mother Mary Elizabeth ______ and George’s second marriage about 1795.

George m. 2. Harriet (Hetty) Carter (1777-1818) producing children John Carter Poythress (1796-1862) and (maybe)”this” William Poythress (1800-1828). We know Hetty Carter Poythress died on 24 Dec 1818 of typhus in Savannah. This suggests/implies a Christmas visit to see someone. We also know that George had other visits in Savannah. William himself was well fixed financially at what might be construed an early age and this could result from wealthy father George Poythress.

A tenuous link might be stretched between the fractious implications of illegitimate births and Sarah Poythress not having wealthy father-in-law George Poythress come to her financial aid following the death of William Poythress.

For our research purposes George as the father would be the happiest fit because we could then link William to father George but equally important, to Lewis Poythress in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, George’s known brother.

This William Poythress (1800-1828) could be the son of William Poythress of Screven County, Georgia (aged “over 45” in 1820 census). This conjecture would be supported only by identical surnames, compatible ages, and proximity. Arguing against this supposition is that William in Screven was not a wealthy man. For William to have “received” money, a scenario would have to be “forced”…..William putting his money in his son William’s name? Possible. Likely not probable.

William of Savannah could have been the son of Lt. William Poythress, a Revolutionary War veteran. We know that Lieutenant Poythress was given a sizable land grant and we suspect that it was in Georgia. Although Georgia made no Revolutionary War land grants it is possible this could have been a federal grant.

There is also a William Poythress drawing in Georgia’s 1827 land lottery and being awarded 202 ½ acres in Lee County. One of the qualifying categories to draw in this lottery was “indigent or invalid Revolutionary soldier”….but that is a long stretch of time. William would more likely have qualified under Georgia residency qualifications. Given names are identical, ages are compatible and there is some implication of wealth. This supposition would be a stretch without further facts.

No brief is intended for any of the three suppositions above. They are submitted as potential avenues of research.

[As a parenthetical observation and as if we didn’t have Sarah Poythress’es enough already: the remaining Poythress in the Savannah records is one Miss Sarah E. Poythress who marries James A. Sowell 1 Jan 1849. No doubt her identification should come to light in the future.]

The pages following describe each document in the estate file in sequence.

File folder, center tab: Poythress, William

Estate of, 1828

Folio: center of 3 fold 8 ½ x 11:

Est. Wm. Poythress

application[document dated 16 May 1828]

To Saml. M. Bond Clerk of the

Court of Ordinary Chatham County


I apply for letters

of Administration on the estate and effects

of William Poythress late of Savannah

deceased as widow of the deceased and

in behalf of the ?

Property of

Securities Jessie Sanderlin & Henry Morningstar.

Savannah 16 May 1828 Sarah Poythress (ls)

Let citation issue accordingly

16 May 1828 – –

Elias Fort I.I.C.C.C. (s)


[document dated May, 1828]

State of Georgia

CHATHAM COUNTY To all whom it may concern:

Whereas, Sarah Poythress –

of Savannah widow has

applied to the Honorable the Court of Ordinary

of Chatham County for Letters of Administration –

———————–on the estate and effects of

William Poythress late of Savannah

deceased as widow and in behalf

of the heirs.

THESE are therefore to cite and admonish all and singular the kindred and

creditors of the said deceased, to file their objections (if any they have) to the

granting of the administration of the estate of the deceased to the applicant in the

Clerk’s Office of the said Court, on or before day of

June next; otherwise letters of administration will be granted.

WITNESS the Honorable Elias Fort ————————————-one of

the Justices of the said Court, the day of

May ; A. D. one thousand eight hundred and twenty– eight

Saml. M. Bond, C.C.O.


[document dated 5 Jul 1828]

I certify that the written citation has been published for 30 days in the Savannah

Republican Gazette….for the Republican.

E. ____ _____ [illegible]

[document dated 5 Aug 1828]

State of Georgia,)


By the Honorable Court of Ordinary of Chatham County.

To James Roberts Silas Hollis

+ George L. Cope

These are to authorize you, or any three of you, to re-

pair to all such parts and places, within the County and State aforesaid, as you

shall be directed unto, by Sarah Poythress administratrix

of the Estate—————————- of William


late of said county deceased, wherever any of the Goods

and Chattels of the said William Poythress

are or do remain, within the said parts or places and

the Goods and Chattels, which shall be there shown to you by Sarah

Poythress Administratrix as aforesaid.

you shall view and appraise according to their just value; being first shown to

make a true and pefect inventory and Apprisement of the said Goods and Chat-

tels. And you shall cause the same Inventory and Appraisement to be returned to

the said the court of ordinary

under your hands, or under the hands of any three of you, on or before the fifth

—————— day of November next ensuing the date bound (?). .

Witness the Honorable Elias Fort

one of the Justices of the said Court, this fifth

day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand

eight hundred and twenty– eight

YOU James Roberts, Silas Hollis + George L. Cope

do swear that you will make a true Appraisement and Inventory of all and singular the

Goods, Chattels and Credits of William Poythress

deceased, as shall be produced and shewn to you by Sarah Poythress administratrix

of the said William Poythress

deceased; and that you will return the same, certified under your hands, to the said the

Court of Ordinary—————————-within the time prescribed by law.


James Roberts (s)

Silas Hollis (s)

George L. Cope (s)

Folio, center of 3 fold 8 ½ x 11:

N 80

Estate Wm. Poythress

Bond filed day

5 August 1828

sig: Wm (?)

Depy. Clk. I.I.C.

[document dated 5 Aug 1828]

State of Georgia ) [preprinted form, handwriting shown in italics]


Know all men by these Presents, That we

Sarah Poythress Jesse Sanderlin and Henry Morningstar

are held and firmly bound and obliged unto the Honorable the Justices of the Infe-

rior Court of Chatham County, for the time being, acting as a Court of Ordinary

in the sum of Two Thousand dollars

Dollars to be paid to the said Justices, their Successors in Office or Assigns: for

which payment well and truly made and done we bind ourselves, jointly, and

severally, and each of our heirs, executors, and administrators, firmly by these pre-

sents. Sealed with our Seals, and dated at Savannah. the Fifth—-

day of August in the year of our lord one thousand eight hundred and

Twenty Eight

The condition of the above Obligation is such, That if the above bound

Sarah Poythress

Administrat rix________________of the Goods, Chattels and Credits of

William Poythress late of said County

Deceased, do make a true and perfect Inventory of all and singular the Goods,

Chattels and Credits, of the said Deceased which have or shall come to the hands

possession, or knowledge, of the said Sarah Poythress

or into the hands or possession of any other person or persons for her

and the same so made do exhibit into the said Court of Ordinary, when she

shall be thereunto required, and such goods, chattels and credits, do well and truly

administer according to Law, and make a just and true account of her actings

and doings therein when required by the Superior Court, or Register of Probates

for the County; and all the rest of the goods, chattels and credits, which shall be

found remaining upon the account of the said administration, the same being first

allowed by the said Court, shall deliver and pay to such persons respectively as are

entitled to the same by Law; and if it shall hereafter appear that any last Will and

Testament was made by the said deceased, and the same be proved before the

Court, and the Executors obtain a Certificate of the Probate thereof and the said

Sarah Poythress _?_ if required, render and deliver up the said Letters of Administra

tion, then this Obligation to be void, else to remain in full force.


Sarah Poythress

William ? Jessie Sanderlin

Notary Public ChatCy


Henry Morningstar

Folio, three fold of 8 ½ x 11

Est Wm Poythress

Warrant of Appraisement

[document dated 18 Aug 1828]

We do certify under Oath, that as far as was

presented to us by the administratrix the within

contains a true appraisement of the Goods, Chattel

and Credits of the Estate of William Poythress

deceased, to the best of our Judgement and


Jas. Roberts (s)

Silas Hollis (s)

Geo. L. Cope (s)

Georgia )

Ch. County) I do hereby certify that the

above appraisers were Sworn to perform

their duty as appraisers according to law. This

Eighteenth day of August – 1828

Ben Sheftall J. P.

Inventory and appraisement of the Estate

of William Poythress deceased – – –

1 negro man named Tom 300.00

1 negro boy named Patrick 325.00

4 Molly and 3 children 550.00

1 negress named Mary 150.00

1 sorrell horse 9; 25.00

1 Gig and harness 9; 35.00……

[items above barely legible and are the “items” of value, the remainder of the inventory

(19 additional items) appears to be personal items; the listing is also illegible due to poor

quality of the microfilm. Of the remaining 19 items two are valued at $ 20 and the remaining items at less than $ 5 each. Sample items: 1 lot of silver spoons, 1 pair of

candlesticks, etc.]

Total value assigned by appraisers ; $ 1470.25



Folio: center of 3 fold 8 ½ x 11:

Est. of Wm. Poythress

Petition and

Order for sale of

Horse, Gig, and Waggon

Petition 10th August 1828

Wm Hind

Dpty Clerk toCC

[document dated 19 Aug 1828, granted same day]


To the Honorable the Justices of the

Inferior Court for the County of Chat

ham having Ordinary Jurisdiction

the Petition of Sarah Poythress Administratrix

of William Poythress late of said County dis



That your petitioner hath taken

possession of the Estate of said deceased that

among the effects of said Estate your pe

titioner has caused to be inventoried and ap-

praised One Horse and Gig and Waggon with

articles of Household furniture and bedding –

that the same is of little value and are daily

encurring (sic) and (sic) expense where they are your

petitioner being compelled to employ a person to

take care of this horse petitioner therefore prays

your Honors to grant an Order authorizing

the petitioner to advertise and sell the said

articles above mentioned – And your petitioner,

her duty bounded.

Sarah Poythress, Adminis.

by Henry Morningstar

Sav. 19 Augt 1828

Chambers 19th August 1828

On reading the Petition of Sarah Poythress admin

istratrix of William Poythress deceased praying

an Order to sell a Horse Gig and Waggon

sundry Articles of Bedding and Household Furniture

and stating that the same is for the Benefit of the

Estate It is ordered that the said Sarah Poythress

do sell and dispose of the said articles

mentioned about her giving ten days

notice of the time and place of said sale ,

in one of the Gazettes of the City of Savannah.

Elias Fort I.I.C.C.C.

___Sheftall L.L. C.C.C.

19 August 1828 __________ I. I. C. C. C




Folio: center of 3 fold 8 ½ x 11:

Estate Wm Poythress

Petition of Sarah Poythress, w.

To sell two Negroes

Filed June, 1829


[document dated 22 Jun 1829]


To the honourable the Justices of

the Inferior Court of Chatham County

sitting for ordinary purposes.

The petition of Sarah Poythress ad

ministratrix of William Poythress late of

Savannah deceased respectfully showeth

That your petitioner is in possession

of the following named negro slaves, viz

Tom, & Patrick, men, and Mary a woman

belonging to the said Estate that – the hire

of the said slaves for one year together with

the other personal property of the Estate

will not pay the debts due by the same –

that there are no children or other heirs to

said estate, for cepting your petitioner on

whom notice of this application can be

served. Your petitioner therefore prays

that by an order of court she may be

allowed to sell and dispose of the said

three negroes, Tom, Patrick + Mary in terms

of the act of Assembly in such cases made

and provided and your petitioner will pray


Sarah Poythress (s)

Sav. 22 June 1829

[no indication of court action on above included in these papers]

File on Estate of William Poythress, Savannah, Ga. 1828 is concluded.

(prepared by John M. Poythress, 27 Sept 1998)