A Weaver and A Beck – One Came Home; One Did Not

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.

W.S. Beck Grave

Grave of William Simpson Beck, my 4th Great Grandfather.

Bringing us full circle, in September, 1867, two years after the war, my great, great grandfather James Wilson Weaver was born to John Weaver & Sarah Beck Weaver in Wilkinson County, Georgia. John Weaver came home and become a father; William Beck became a grandfather but had not come home.


4 thoughts on “A Weaver and A Beck – One Came Home; One Did Not

  1. Enjoyed your post. Have you visited Elmira? I live just a few hours away and did not know they were trying to rebuild the prison site. If they get it up and running I will have to visit.


    • Thanks! Glad you liked it. No, I’ve never been to Elmira. I go the picture of my relative’s grave from someone on ancestry.com. I’d love to see it one day, however and look up my 4th great grandfather’s grave.


  2. Larry: I’m a great grandson of John B Weaver and Sarah Elizabeth Beck. My grandfather was Charles Tucker Weaver, the next son after James Wilson Weaver. I’m just starting on Ancestry Family Tree. I’m confused about Sarah Beck’s parents. There was a William S Beck married to Ellifair Nalus. But the 1850 census shows her birth around 1827 with no daughter named Sarah. The 1860 census shows Sarah Beck living with Rudy, born around 1815; Rudy is identified as male, but I wonder if that’s incorrect. The 1880 census shows Rudy as the mother of Jasper N Beck, Sarah’s brother; Sarah and John B Weaver live in the next dwelling and have a daughter named Rudy, named for her grandmother? Can you help straighten me out on who Sarah’s parents are? Is there more than one William S Beck? A Rudy Beck (1815-1896) is buried in the Snow Hill Cemetery in Wilkinson Co. I’m assuming that is Sarah’s mother.


  3. Hi Charles, thanks for reaching out!

    Here’s what I’ve found. William Simpson Beck had a father also named William Beck (1750 1822). His mother’s name was Catherine but I’ve not been able to find her maiden name so far. So, there were two William Becks.

    William Simpson Beck’s wife shows up at least once in the records I’ve found as Ellifair “Rudy” Nalus. Her parents were John Nalus (1804 – 37) and Mary Fountain (1805 – 87). There was also a brother of William Simpson Beck called Rudy, which may account for the confusion as to whether Rudy is a male or female (given Ellifair’s either middle or nick name). That’s the Rudy buried in Snow Hill. Could be just a coincidence that WSB married a woman with either a middle name or nickname the same as one of his brothers. I also show Sarah Beck as one of WSB and Rudy’s siblings, so her parents would have been William Beck Sr. and Mary Fountain. So I think the Rudy buried in Snow Hill is William and Sarah’s brother.

    To make things a bit more complicated, WSB and his wife Ellifair, apparently named one of their daughter’s “Sarah” as well. This is, of course, the Sarah who married John Biggers Weaver.

    Hope that helps some!

    BTW, I have a picture that I *think* is of J.W. Weaver and his younger brother Charles (your grandfather) as boys. I also have some scans of newspaper clipping about J.W. Weaver’s death at the hands of a train. If you’d like me to send you those I’d be glad to. Also if you have any pictures of J.W. or Charles, I’d love to see those. I don’t have any pictures of J.W. Weaver as an adult or of my great, great grandmother Mary Weaver, his wife.

    Best regards



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