The Free State of Jones

James Morgan Valentine, Newt Knight’s 1st. Lt. in the Free State of Jones

1st Lt. of Knight Company

1st Lt. of Knight Company

In 1864, with the nation at war, soldiers and civilians alike must daily have asked themselves, would life ever return to normal? At the same time, daily routines had to be continued if folks were ever to see better times. Resigned to the fact that hard-working people now must work harder than ever just to keep body and soul together, on a spring day in April, Indiana Welborn went to the family barn to milk the cow.

According to the story I heard some ten years ago, Indiana was milking the cow when she noticed to her horror that blood was dripping down on her from the barn loft above. She soon discovered that a wounded man had secreted himself in the family barn, and that it was his blood that dripped on her.  That man was James Morgan Valentine, Newt Knight’s 1st Lt. in the Knight Company. Morgan had been shot by Confederate Cavalry while swimming in a river, but had managed to make it to Lawrence Welborn’s barn, where he hid in the loft. After discovering him, Lawrence’s daughter Indiana took it upon herself to nurse Morgan back to health, and never told anyone about it until after the war. Or so the story goes.

Sometime in 2005, I had the good fortune to be contacted by Danny and Dwayne Coats, great-grandsons of Morgan Valentine. I eagerly ran this story by them, which they in turn confirmed had been told to them, too, by their own grandmother. According to Dwayne Coats, his grandmother told him “that the lady [Indiana Welborn] that took care of him told her the story herself. My grandmother also said that he had lost so much blood that his earlobes were completely white.”

As 1st Lt. of the Knight Company, Morgan Valentine was one of the band’s most important members, and obviously very close to Captain Newt Knight.  Like most of the Knight Company, Morgan also came from a strongly Unionist family, evidenced by the four Valentines, in addition to Morgan, who appear on Newt Knight’s roster (see Knight Company roster).  In addition, Morgan’s father Allen, like William Wesley Sumrall’s older brother, Harmon Levi, signed a letter of defense of Newt Knight in 1870, when Newt filed his first petition for federal compensation for the men of the Knight Company (see 1870 Letter of Support for Newt Knight’s Compensation Claim).  

Demonstrating once again the seamless personal and political ties that bound the Knight Company men to one another, I should note that Morgan’s second marriage was to Newt Knight’s niece, Mary Mason Knight. And that Morgan’s sister, Tolitha Eboline Valentine, married another stalwart Unionist, Warren Jacob Collins, brother of Jasper, and leader of the Hardin County jayhawkers of East Texas (see Collins Family Unionism, Mississippi to Texas).

In 1895, James Morgan Valentine testified on behalf of Newt Knight in Newt’s third and final claim for compensation (see  Newt Knight vs. the U.S. Court of Claims). In the next few days, I will abstract that deposition and post it on Robert Moore’s Southern Unionist Chronicles. I’ll cross-list it on Renegade South, so please watch for it!

40 replies »

  1. Thankyou for the interesting story about Morgan. Being from Patricks line, it appears that none of the family names of those who participated in Knights Co. and who also have geneology sites, know anything about Patrick, even though they all list him as the youngest child of William V and Elizabeth Moore. He married Julia Baldwin from Alabama ( her bible is in the hands of Michael Valentine in Australia ) Patrick is mostly not traceable untill he gets to Texas in Trinity Co. But he and Julia did have my Great grandfather in Mississippi, Daniel-1847, and even Patricks sister, Mary Marzilla is buried in Sosa, Jones, Miss. Patrick, married in Macon Co Alabama in 1845 ( recorded ) and then seems to be completely missing between 1847 untill 1860 when he appears on the census. From that point our line is easily followed, especially since there were so many children. Michael Valentine ( Australia ) believes that Patrick was part of the 4th Volunteer Calvary of Texas that fought at Glorieta, and that he either was killed or died from the trip back home. Some list him dead at Oct. 13, 1862, but I have never founnd any proof of that. However, if he did fight on the side of the South, How Ironic !
    There have also been some pretty famous people come out of Paticks line, the least of which was Cindy Walker, recently inducted into the Country Western Hall of Fame, and also the Subject of a Willie Nelson Album a couple of years ago. Cindy was the grand daughter of Jerusha Valentine, a daughter of Daniel & Elizabeth Gates, or great grand daughter to Patrick. Jerusha was the 3rd wife of E.F Eiland of which they had a daughter. Ella, I believe was her name which married a Walker, a Cotton Salesman. There is a ton of articals and stories about Cindy, as she wrote many famous country and western songs. She was also, quite obviously proud of her family.
    I finished your book yesterday, and was throughly entertained. I found myself very proud that a line of our family was against Slavery, regardless of their reasoning.
    Can’t wait to read your next book.

    Calvin E. Valentine

    • Calvin,
      Hey, I know about Cindy Walker! (best song ever–“You Don’t Know Me.”) Just wait ’til I tell my husband (Dr. G. and the Mudcats), who performs the “Jones County Jubilee” song at–he loves her songwriting!

      Thanks so much for bringing this line of the Valentine family to my attention. I did not know about your ancestor at all, as you no doubt figured out from reading my book since my Valentine genealogy table lists only the brothers Allen and Darrell. Most of the Jones County men also enlisted in the Confederacy once conscription laws were passed. They hoped the war would be over in a few months, and they also wanted to be in the same unit. It appears that Patrick died very early in the war, so it’s hard to say whether he wholeheartedly supported the Confederacy, and whether he would have stayed with it. The battles of Iuka, Corinth, and Vicksburg convinced many Jones County men to go back to their homes between October 1862-July 1863 and try and wait out the war. When they realized that the Confederacy was not going to leave them be, they either joined up with Newt Knight, or went on to New Orleans and joined the Union Army. The Patrick who joined up with Newt was Darrell Valentine’s son, and would have been your Patrick’s nephew.

      So glad you enjoyed the FREE STATE OF JONES.


  2. The interesting thing about the account of Indiana Welborn nursing the wounded Morgan Valentine is that it parallels an account by Thomas Knight in which Sarah Collins rendered him assistance. Thomas Knight may have simply compressed the timespan. Morgan was badly wounded when he jumped in swamp waters while Confederate troops were making preparations to hang him. It might be that he only managed to make it to the Welborn barn. After Indiana nursed him back to sufficient health, he could have walked on to Sarah’s farm. The main point of Thomas Knight’s account is not that Sarah nursed Morgan, but that she loaned him a horse and sent a slave with him so he could make his way back to the Knight encampment (and the slave could return her horse). Vikki, would fit with the accounts given you by the Coats brothers?

    • Ed,

      I was just reading Tom Knight’s account of Morgan’s wound yesterday and thought about writing an addendum to this post. First of all, it is more detailed, putting him in the company of Hinton and Gunter, and mentioning they were in the process of seizing some horses when the Confederate cavalry came upon them. I find Tom’s account–that it was Sarah Parker’s farm that Morgan escaped to–an interesting segueway to his insistence that it was Newt who then nursed Morgan back to health. Might the goal have also been to assert Newt’s humanity, since Tom was clearly on the defensive against people who saw his father as a ruthless killer during the war? In saying that, I don’t mean that Tom’s version necessarily was not true, only that that’s the way memory tends to work–we remember those aspects of stories that best fit the narrative we are seeking. (Historians, too, have to fight against that temptation!). As you say, we may be getting compressed versions of a story that evolved over several weeks.

      I think your point that Morgan might actually have visited Sarah’s home after his stay at the Welborn farm is a good one.

      I’ll email Danny and Dwayne Coats and ask if they ever heard any additional details.


  3. A quick follow-up: The 1860 census suggests that the households of James Lawrence Welborn (#299) and Sarah Parker (#341) may have been in reasonable proximity to each other. Also, Indiana’s actions are all the more bold if she was a child of 6 at the time. This is assuming she is the “I.V. Welborn” listed on the 1860 census as age 2 in the household of “J.L. Welborn” and on the 1870 census as “Vermal Welborne” age 12 in the household of “James L. Welborne.” If a child of that age might not reasonably said to have “nursed” Morgan, she could have provided him with food and other items he requested while he regained some of his strength. Do I have the right Indiana Welborn?

    • Ed,

      Now, that is really interesting stuff! Yes, you have found the right Indiana, because her full name was given to me as Indiana Vermell. But so young! It truly is hard to believe a six-year old girl acted so boldly. Perhaps the census was off and she was a few years older. Are there any Welborn genealogists out there who can shed light on this? Has anyone else ever heard this story?


    • Ed,

      I communicated with Dwayne Coats this morning, and he told me that while his grandmother had told him pretty much the same exact story about the girl who encountered the wounded Morgan Valentine in her barn, he does not remember whether she ever provided the girl’s name, So we’re left with an anonymous story that identifies her as Indiana Vermell Welborn. Would anyone like to come forth with a version they may have heard that either confirms or denies that Indiana was, indeed, that girl?


  4. Vikki,
    Did you not ask Herman Welborn about the incident with James Morgan Valentine? He would have been the one with the most accurate information on any and all people in the Jones County area.


    • That’s interesting, Ann–are there any details that you want to add? In the deposition that James Morgan Valentine gave on behalf of Newt Knight, (the one I quote from in the other post) he says he was wounded during the Lowry raid, but also says he was imprisoned for a time directly thereafter, which conflicts with the story about Indiana caring for him as he hid in the barn. Could it be he was twice wounded (which doesn’t seem likely, except that Tom Knight also has him being cared for by a woman after being wounded)? I would love to learn more on this.

      Thanks for posting,

  5. Hi there, I was googling Jasper Collins and came across your board. I am his great great grandson through his daughter, Fannie Missouri Collins – m. James Lafayette Shows, b. 1856. Just wondering if you had anything of interest to tell about the Shows family of Jones County? I am sure my g-g-grandfather James Shows must have known Newt Knight and Jasper Collins prior to the war as the population of Jones was not that large. I imagine they did know each other in the 7th MS INF BN. Anything you may have on this is probably more than I have in my records. God Bless.

    SSG Jamie Shows
    US Army

    • Hello Jamie, so nice to hear from you. My grandmother on my father’s side of the family was a Shows. Naoma Shows was the daughter of J.K.P. (short for James K. Polk) Shows, a Baptist minister. She and my grandfather, Aden Gallington Bynum, had nine children together, the last of whom was my father, Oma Stanley Bynum (named for his mother), b. 1917. I don’t know a lot about my Shows relatives because Naoma died within weeks of my father’s birth, and because my father left Mississippi long before I was born and never lived there again.

      Here’s the basics of what I know about the Shows genealogy: John Shows (Schaus), b. 1760 in the Mosel (Moselle) Valley of Germany, migrated to America around the time of the American Revolution. Like so many Jones County folks, he gradually migrated across the frontier, living in various locales along the way. Along with the Collinses and the Powells, there were Showses at the Stone Creek Baptist Church in Twiggs County, GA, during the early 19th century. By 1818, the Showses were in Mississippi.

      John and Nancy Shows had a large family: Adam, b. 1785, John, b. 1791, James, b. 1793, Cornelius, b. 179?, Mary, b. 1798, Sarah, b. 1801. There were more children, but I don’t know their names. I believe JKP Shows was descended from Adam.

      Interesting note: Early Mississippi historian, Franklin Lafayette Riley, b. 1835 in Simpson County, and who helped to found the Mississippi Historical Society, was the son of Mary Shows, above, who married Edwin Miles Riley.

      Hope this is helpful. Perhaps some other Shows descendants who know more about the family than I do would like to chime in.


  6. Actually, John Shows, contrary to his epitaph, was not born in Germany at all. His Grandfather was though, having arrived in Philadelphia, PA in 1736 on a ship named the Harle out of Rotterdam. Settling first near Bethlehem, PA and the joining the Moravian colony at Bethabara, NB, Johann Adam Schauss died in 1770. His son, John Conrad Schauss, settled in the Winston-Salem area until his death as well. John Shows (Revolutionary Patriot), left NC and while living near Augusta, GA in 1793 begat James Shows. John and his family as well as the Andersons, Wades, Powells and other families still represented today in Jones, left Twiggs County, GA approximately 1818 to settle in the Piney Woods. My Great Great Grandfather, James J. Shows, was born in 1830 in Jones County. What I am unsure about is the role of the Shows men in the Confederacy. I have found precious little information about them during that time. One record may say they were staunch Rebels, and yet another source identifies them with the Unionists. I cannot help but to believe the latter, as my Great Grandfather, James Lafayette Shows, married the daughter of Jasper Collins. Oh, almost forgot to mention, we keep names in this family forever – my sister’s name is Naomi.

    • Thanks, Jamie, for all the great information on the Showses! It has been my sense that during the Civil War they mostly supported the Confederacy, but it wouldn’t be surprising if they had their Unionist factions as well. Wasn’t there a Brown Shows who also married a Collins? I’ll have to check my records on both issues.

      Nice to know about the Naomi connection!


  7. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the Free State of Jones.
    My great-great grandfather was William Bryant Valentine, brother to James Morgan. To the best of my knowledge he was also a supporter of Newt, yet his name does not appear on the muster roll. John J. Vallentine (William Bryant’s brother but my records have the middle name as Ira could the I have been mistaken as a J?)
    Paterick Vallentine (William Bryant’s uncle) M.B. Vallentine (Since this was a hand written document could this be mistaken for W. B. or William Bryant?) R.H. Vallentine (Richard Hamel, William Bryant’s brother). The oral tradition that was passed down to me was that the Valentine deserted and aligned with Newt. They were rounded up by Lowery and captured in Ga. William Bryant’s son William Arnold became a constable in Jones County. I have copies photos of William Arnold, and the 1916 Valentine family reunion with William Bryant seated in the center of the photograph.

    • Michael,
      Your message reminded me that a few months ago I was examining Newt’s 1870 handwritten roster, and realized that M. B. Valentine would almost certainly have been W. B. [William Bryant] Valentine. First of all, censuses reveal no M. B. Valentine who is of age and association to be part of the Knight Band. Second, the handwriting on the roster is ambiguous enough that it could be either a “W” or an “M,” and I think it has been mistaken by transcribers for an “M” throughout the years. Even in the military records for the MS 7th battalion, there seems to be confusion. I found records for both a W.B. and M. B. Valentine, but they are clearly the same man. This same man deserted the 7th battalion, was captured by Lowry’s men, then sent to Kennesaw Mountain, where like several other Knight band members, he was sent to prison at Camp Douglas, Ill. I have therefore corrected the roster printed on this website to reflect the great probability that M.B. was actually W.B Valentine.

      I have also long believed that “J. J. Valentine” is really J. I [Ira] Valentine. When I went back to my files, I made an exciting discovery that proves that theory true. I found that proof in the Adelbert Ames Papers held at Smith College, which contain yet another version of the 1870 Knight Band roster. On that roster, John Ira’s middle name clearly appears! So all doubt is removed there, and I have made that correction as well on this site’s roster.

      Thank you for drawing this to my attention! I am pleased to have corrected the record.


    • Michael Valentine,

      This is a new response to your comment on Sept. 13, 2009, asking about why William Bryant Valentine’s name is not on Newt Knight’s 1870 roster, since he is known to have supported of the Knight company.

      I still can’t answer why his name is not on that roster, but I recently found evidence that W. B. Valentine did support Newt’s effort to gain compensation from the government for the Knight Company. In those Court of Claims files, 1887-1900, there is an affadivit signed in 1890 by W. B. Valentine, age 54, and A. M. Drennan, age 82, on behalf of Joseph Yaughn (Yawn), one of the men listed on Newt’s roster.


  8. This is all becoming very confoluted. There were several Valentines that served in some way with Newt Knight. William Bryant, Richard Hampton, John Ira (all brothers-sons of Allen Valentine), Martin Van Buren, William Patrick (brothers-sons of Darrell Valentine).

    Some of my relatives that were captured by Gen. Sherman’s army July 3, 1864 at Kennesaw Mountain, Ga. were William Bryant Valentine, Martin Van Buren Valentine, William Patrick Valentine, William M. (Will) Welch, Merida Coats, Simeon Coats, and Matt Coats. They told their Yankee captors they were loyal citizens forced to join the Rebel Army but they remained prisoners at Camp Douglas, ILL. until the end of the war, unfortunately William Patrick died there due to the appalling conditions.

    The bronze plaque at the Confederate Mound located at Oakwood Cemetary just outside Chicago’s Southside has William Patrick’s name listed.

    *see Yvonne’s post

    • Hi Ann,

      Your facts match very well what I have in my files (and which are laid out in my book). Clearly, however, John Ira Valentine has been misidentified as J. J. Valentine in many transcriptions of Newt Knight’s 1870 roster. Looks like we all agree that William Bryan Valentine was part of the Knight Company. The only question is whether there was also an M. B. Valentine who was part of the band. It could be that Martin Van Buren Valentine was the M. B. Valentine listed on Newt’s roster, although his initials are usually given as M. V. B., not as M. B. I still strongly suspect that the man listed by Newt was William Bryan Valentine, with the W looking more like an M. What do you and others think?


  9. According to the family history Martin Van Buren was referred to as Martin Buren and most likely he and his brother William Patrick both were members of Newt’s gang. Truly William Bryant could be the one listed as not all of the members were listed on one roster as some came and went. My ggrandfather (Levi Valentine) had at least two sons to die in the Civil War fighting for the Confederacy but the second to the oldest son died in the swamps of the piney woods trying to defect from the confederacy to join Newt.

    The main point is that the Patrick mentioned by Michael was not the uncle of William Bryant but a first cousin.

  10. Ann,

    My records also show Patrick (son of Darrell) to be a first cousin rather than uncle of William Bryan Valentine. Thanks for identifying Martin Van Buren Valentine as Patrick’s brother.


  11. Vikki,

    Happy to do so! I know the Valentine families very well, not as a historian but, through family history. I do need to correct one thing it is William Bryant (Briant) not William Bryan, nicknamed (Humpey). He was the eldest son of Allen and Cynthia (Welch) Valentine, he was married to Miltilda Ronnell Coats daughter of Daniel and Ann Eugena (Garrick) Coats.

    The William Patrick uncle to William Bryant is the one that Calvin (above post) speaks about that moved to Texas and died early on during the war.


  12. I was very interested to find this story about James Morgan Valentine. I am a descendent of his and also his Brother William Bryant. I would be interested in finding out more about the Valentine Family. Do you have any information you can provide about where I can find out about this family? One of your previous comments by Ann mentioned that she is a family historian. I would be very interested in getting in touch with people or resources that can tell me more about this family.

  13. Hi Cameron,

    Welcome to Renegade South. I hope one of our Valentine commenters, such as Ann, will respond to your post. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in learning more about your Valentine ancestors’ connections to the Free State of Jones you might read my book of the same name. There’s even more on James Morgan Valentine in my just-released book, The Long Shadow of the Civil War The new book also has a good deal of material on Morgan’s sister, Tolitha Eboline Valentine, and her husband, Warren J. Collins.

    Good luck!

  14. Cameron,

    If you have access to, I along with other contributors have a family tree listed as SOUTHERN BRED FAMILIES. You may contact me there if you have additional questions. Hope to hear from you soon.

    Ann Valentine

  15. Vikki,

    Wow! I did not realize that your new book had appeared on the scene. Can’t wait to get the new read.

    Ann Valentine

    • Thanks for your interest in the new book, Ann. Yes, it’s now available from the UNC press and Amazon, although the official release date is April.


  16. I am Allen and cynthias great grand daughter, I live in la. I am a second Family of John and cynthia (sis) valentine from Soso,Miss . I have quit a story for you,. Talk soon carolyn

  17. Have any of the descendants of Allen and Elizabeth Moore Valentine shared a DNA project with the other Valentine familes of Orangeburg or Barnwell Counties South Carolina. There was James Valentine Sr., James Valentine Jr., William Valentine, John Valentine, Thomas Valentine living in Orangeburg County South Carolina during the Revolutionary War. Have other information on these families and would like to share with other Valentine familes. I am interested in a Valentine Family DNA Project.
    Sincerely Arlene Kateen

    • To: Arlene Kateen

      I read your email to Vicki and have read both of her books on Jones County Mississippi. My grand father Henry W. Valentine, was a son of James Morgan Valentine. I know that Valentine line was from Orangeburg District of South Carolina. I would like to know more about this Valentine line from Orangeburg. Would you please share your information with me?

      James Morgan’s parents were Allen Valentine and Cynthia Eveline Welch.

      Allen Valentine’s parents were William Valentine and Elizabeth Moore.

      Sincerely, Dennis Valentine

  18. please tell where i can read about the accounts of Tom Knight’s account of Morgan’s wound about hinton and Gunter

  19. Lee:

    Tom Knight’s book “Life and Activities of Captain Newton Knight” has recently been reprinted in a facsimile paperback edition by Carolyn and Keith Horne of Laurel, who own the rights. If you live in the area, you can purchase a copy from them.

    The account of James Morgan Valentine’s wounding appears on pg 67-68. I’ve transcribed it below. Please note Tom’s writing style was all his own. By the way, the Aunt Sallie Parker (nee Sarah Collins) who aided him was my 3xgr grandmother:

    “Mr. George Valentine told me just a few days ago that Morge Valentine and his brother and another man a good friend to my father, that Morge and Josh Hinton and Jim Gunter, went where an old man Gunter lived and caught out three of the old man’s horses and rode them off and they hadn’t gone very long before they rode into a company of cavalry, and the cavalry began shooting at them and Hinton and Gunter jumped off of their horses and ran through the thick bushes and got away, but they hit Morge Valentine in one of his shoulders and they caught him and carried him over on Tallahala swamp, and it was getting late in the evening, nearly dark, and decided to hang him. They put a rope around his neck fixing to hang him. While they were fixing to hang him, it was close to the edge of the creek, he got a chance and slipped down into the water and swam across to the other side of the creek. They shot at him several times as he was getting into the swamp but their shots failed to stop him. He kept going down this creek and as soon as they could get across, and as soon as they could get their dogs across they struck his track. He had swum back on the other side. He swam the creek five times. They supposed he was drowned in the creek with the rope on his neck and one shoulder broke. He wasn’t drowned. He got out of the swamp though it was dark and went to Aunt Sallie Parker’s. That night she let him have her horse to ride over to where my father was at Salbatty camp. She sent a negro boy with him to bring the horse back. As soon as he got there my father began to doctor him and kept him there in the camp and when he got able to go he carried him to his house until he got well. Feeling a little uneasy that the cavalry might find him, he dug a big pit in the back yard and covered it and kept him in there until he was able to go home. My father did the doctoring to him until he got well. They say he never left my father any more.”

  20. Hello,

    This is the first time that I have posted anything in a year, and still not able to frequent the site very often.

    The Mississippi Valentines migrated from Barnwell, Orangeburg, SC., (children of william and mary elizabeth moore) Allen b: 1808,(sintha eboline welch) Benjamin b: 1810,(margaret sellers) Levi b: 1812,(martha tyler) Darrell b: 1814,sara susannah welch) Mary Marzilla b: 1818,(james richard welch) William Patrick b: 1821,(julia ann baldwin).

    For those of you who have access to, I along with several cousins have a tree (SOUTHERN BRED FAMILIES) that may be of some help. Also, there is a DNA project headed up by David Valentine descended from Levi: at this time it is 98% with certainty that the above family is related to the SC, Levi L. Valentine that migrated to GA. David is trying to locate a male descendant from John, James, or Thomas out of SC.

    The ‘SOUTHERN BRED FAMILIES’ tree contains information on many of the ‘Piney Woods’ of Jones/Jasper Co. and surrounding counties, et., welch, knight, gunter, holifield, ainsworth, kervin, bynum, jefcoat, coats.

    Till next time,

    • Ann, David Valentine is my first cousin. His father and mine were brothers. My name is Thomas Thornell Valentine and I live in Hernando MS. Would love to talk with you.

      • Tom, I believe I read what you wrote in I would like to speak with you on this. I do not go on these lists much. Please do your best to track me down.

  21. I am on Facebook, Carolyn v Johnson , daughter of Lawrence c valentine , granddaughter of John f Valentine , Cynthia Valentine of , sodium, miss

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