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
[document dated 16 May 1828] application
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 ?
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,)
CHATHAM COUNTY )
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.
SWORN BEFORE ME
James Roberts (s)
Silas Hollis (s)
George L. Cope (s)
Folio, center of 3 fold 8 ½ x 11:
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]
CHATHAM COUNTY )
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
The condition of the above Obligation is such, That if the above bound
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.
SEALED AND DELIVERED IN PRESENCE OF
William ? Jessie Sanderlin
Notary Public ChatCy
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)
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
Total value assigned by appraisers ; $ 1470.25
Folio: center of 3 fold 8 ½ x 11:
Est. of Wm. Poythress
Order for sale of
Horse, Gig, and Waggon
Petition 10th August 1828
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)