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Bulloch History with Roger Allen

A tale of two Lewis Laniers in Bulloch

There were once two second cousins once removed whose names were the same: that is to say they were both named Lewis Lanier. Lewis #1 was born in Brunswick County, Virginia to Sampson Lanier Jr. and Elizabeth Chamberlain in 1753 and Lewis #2 was born in Duplin County, North Carolina to Lemuel Lanier and Sarah Hardy in 1756, separated by a distance of less than one hundred and fifty miles. As growing young men, they sought to serve their country in its time of need.
    Therefore, both men joined the militias to fight in the Revolutionary War. Lewis #1 enlisted as a private in the Essex County Virginia militia, and soon held the rank of Major. On the frigid Christmas night in 1776 when General George Washington led the assembled American forces across the Delaware River, Lewis #1 was actually in his boat. He helped capture or kill some 900 of the British forces in the ensuing battle. Lewis #1 was wounded twice during the war, and spent nine months on a British prison ship when he was captured in battle.
    Unfortunately, while he was crossing the river in the howling blizzard, Lewis#1 dropped his sword into the river. Washington gratefully replaced it with one of his own later on. Lewis #1 also fought in the Battle of Long Bridge in 1814, where the American rebel government escaped over the bridge as the British captured Washington. The bridge was burned by both sides: the Americans burned the Virginia end of the bridge to prevent the British from pursuing them; and the British burned the Washington end to prevent American forces from counter-attacking.
Lewis #2 enlisted in the Duplin County North Carolina militia, assuming the rank of Coronet, which would be the equivalent of a Second Lieutenant in the Cavalry.
    Lewis #1 married twice, first to Anne Butler in 1778, and then after she died to Esther Butts Thorne in 1803. Ann was the daughter of General Thomas Butler, whom Lewis #1 had called a coward and then wounded him (and been wounded by him) in a duel. In fact, he was on his way home to recover when he stopped by a plantation one evening to ask for a bed to rest. He woke up the next morning to hear the voice of his dueling opponent downstairs, went downstairs, and soon found that he and General Butler actually had much in common.
    Lewis #1 and Ann settled on the north side of the Ogeechee River, and after the death of Ann, moved with Esther to the community of Eureka, which was near present day Oliver.
    Lewis #2, however, married Margaret Waters. They settled on the south side of the Ogeechee River, on the edge of Lotts Creek, near the present day town of Aarons and Portal. This meant that they now lived almost across the river from each other, no more than several miles apart.
    Lewis #1 served as a member of the North Carolina House and then Senate from 1788-90. Moving to Georgia to settle on the land he was awarded for his military service, he became Justice of the Peace for the new Scriven County. In 1796 he was elected to serve as a Representative from Scriven and in 1796 was elected to serve as a member of the Constitutional Convention from Scriven.
    When his land was cut into the new Bulloch County, he was soon elected to serve as one of the first members of Bulloch County’s Representative delegation.         
Between the two Lews, many hundreds of Laniers settled in the Wiregrass region of Georgia. Lewis #1 died of old age     in 1839, while Lewis #2 suffered the tragedy of dying in the Little Ogeechee River when he was trapped by a flash flood while returning from visiting his sons on the other side.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look at Bulloch County's historical past. E-mail Roger at roger dodger53@hotmail.com

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