My maternal grandmother, Evelyn Hammock Gideon grew up in Ocilla, Georgia. Her mother was Bessie Lee Weaver Hammock.
Bessie’s father was James Wilson Weaver. He was the school superintendent for Irwin County (where Ocilla is) from 1905 – 1921. They called him “Professor Weaver,” though I’m not sure what level of education or experience he had. After retiring from the school system, he was the office manager for the Lord Lumber Company in Toomsboro, Georgia. On November 3, 1927 while walking to work along the railroad tracks, he was struck by a train and killed.
J.W. Weaver’s father, my 3rd great grandfather, was John Biggers Weaver. He was born in Wilkinson County, Georgia in 1830. Wilkinson is one of Georgia’s “original” counties and is named for Revolutionary War general James Wilkinson. On October 2, 1861, seven months after Georgia left the Union, he enlisted as a private in Company B, Georgia 2nd Regiment, 1st Brigade. In May, 1862 he was promoted to 2nd Corporal of Company K, 57th Regiment, Georgia Infantry known as the “Oconee Grays.”
They were among the defenders of Vicksburg during the Federal siege which lasted from May 18 – July 4, 1863. When the city fell on July 4, Weaver along with 24,000 other Confederates were taken prisoner by the Union Army. He was later exchanged for a Union prisoner.
Weaver went back to fighting and was captured again on February 22, 1864 during a Federal raid on Whitemarsh Island near Savannah. His unit was working to build up the defenses of the island which stood between Fort Pulaski, already in Federal hands, and Savannah. As a result of the raid, eleven Confederates were captured. This time he was sent to the POW camp at Ft. Delaware, Delaware.
In February, 1865 Weaver was “paroled” (signing the parole meant you agreed not to fight against the Union until you had been officially exchanged. Once exchanged, you were again a soldier and could be sent back to fight). He was exchanged again in March, 1865 at a place called Boulware & Cox’s Wharves on the James River in Virginia. This appears to be the end of his time of service in the war. Only a month later, Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia surrendered to Grant at Appomattox.
After the war, on May 18, 1866, John Biggers Weaver married a woman named Sarah Elizabeth Beck. Her father, my 4th great grandfather, was William Simpson Beck, born in 1815 in South Carolina. He had enlisted in Company K, Georgia 59th Infantry Regiment in June 1862. Beck was captured at the Battle of the Wilderness on May 6, 1864.
From there he was sent to the notorious POW camp at Elmira, New York where he died of disease on October 12, 1864 at the age of forty-nine. He is buried in the Confederate section of Woodlawn Cemetery there in grave #567.