Note: The following is one of a series of articles looking at events in the history of Bulloch County.
Statesboro’s “Kell Rifle” militia detachment was named after Adjutant General John McIntosh Kell. The Bulloch County Banner issue of March 2, 1893 announced the unit’s formal election of officers.
H. G. Everitt was elected the unit’s captain, J.L. Coleman, the first lieutenant, G.W. Williams, the second lieutenant, and H.V. Johnson, the junior second lieutenant.
The enlisted men of the unit were led by first sergeant L.I. McLean, second sergeant J.O. Franklin, third sergeant R.F. Donaldson, fourth sergeant John Harris, and fifth sergeant B.B. Mercier.
The corporals were J.C. Jones, R.J. Proctor, C.H. Wilson, and C.C. Lee. S.L. Blackburn was color-bearer, H.B. Davis over saw the commissary, A.M. Johnson the chaplain, and Dr. W.D. Kennedy the surgeon.
Everitt promised his “Company shall be second to none in the State as to appearance and drilling.” He reported that his company was in good condition and would drill regularly for inspection.
The Bulloch Times of April 5, 1894 described the Kell Rifles: “37 or 38 strong, (the) officers wore coats (braided) front and back, with sword slit in left side (and) braided in silver on the collar “1 Ga.”
An article entitled "The Kells in Savannah" was printed in the Bulloch Times on May 16, 1895, which stated "The Kell Rifles had on their best looks yesterday morning when they left for Savannah."
The trip was "in anticipation of capturing one or two of the big prizes offered to the visiting military companies. All the morning the boys were hurrying back and forth and joking with each other."
The roll call: Averitt, Blackburn, Brown, Davis (2), Everitt, Forbes, Hall (2), Harris, Jenkins, Jones, Kendrick, Olliff (2), McLean, Martin, Moore, Proctor (2), Reese, Sasser, Scarboro, Stubbs, Veal, Waters and Wilson.
The Kell Rifles were led onto the train by their officers: Captain H.G. Everitt, and their lieutenants, J.L. Coleman and H.V. Johnson. After "The Battle of Savannah" the troop returned home on the train.
On July 29, 1897, the Bulloch Times reported that "the Bulloch Troop assembled in Statesboro for their regular drill. They were out 20 strong, under command of Mr. H.B. Strange."
It reported "The field movements were all executed with great credit to the company. A good crowd of spectators witnessed the drill, a number of whom being ladies."
The Bulloch Times issue of February 25, 1898 revealed that "The Kell Rifles will soon have a new and good rifle range. Captain Everitt has been instructed by a man who has the money to go ahead and fix up a range."
And, "The members of this company and its friends will appreciate this generous act of patriotism. We are not authorized to give the gentleman's name."
What's more, "The company has received several good members lately, but four of five more are needed and we hope they'll put in their applications right away."
The article also stated that "If we should have war with Spain a large number will doubtless come in, but the thing to do is enlist and fit yourself for immediate valuable service.
The Bulloch Times revealed "Capt. H.G. Everitt has handed in his resignation as captain of the Kell Rifles, and First Lieutenant Coleman will doubtless be his successor."
Then, on Jan. 21, 1898, the Bulloch Times announced "the Kell Rifles returned yesterday from Savannah, where they had been to participate in the general parade in observance of Lee's birthday."
Roger Allen is a local lover of history who provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.